Blog Archives

Westport Island Run Day

And, a Westport Islander takes home the “gold”

overall winner shows off his medalYesterday was a beautiful day in the neighborhood for the 10th Annual Westport Island Shore Run. And, it was a great day for Westport Island college sophomore, Chase Hughes, who “took home the gold.” He ran first place overall with a winning time of 40:53 minutes — besting last year’s first place winner.

Trying to run a race on Westport Island is no small feat where the temptation is to stop and smell the occasional rose, take in the view from an Adirondack chair on Heal’s Cove, check out the “oyster fields” in Squam Creek, say “hello” to the fishermen and let the dog take a paddle here and there along the shoreline…

All in all, a good day. According to Race Director Rob Whitney, the Fire Department will take in about $1,300 from the run; and the department sold another $200 or so in T-shirts and hats… See the complete race results.

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Westport Fire Department Summer BBQ

Brings neighbors together; Inspires junior firefighters…

Westport Volunteer Fire Department in front of rescue vehicle

Thank you!

This year’s barbeque raised more than $1,500 for the Westport Volunteer Fire Department and allowed at least a dozen junior firefighters to earn their “Fire Chief” hats. The weather, the music and the company made for a great summer evening.

Word on the street from last year had it that the Summer Barbeque was kind of boring for kids. So this year, there was a scavenger hunt and some firefighting to do. Those that could extinguish a simulated fire flaming from four windows of a fireman’s training house earned their Fire Chief’s hat and bragging rights. Few junior firefighters could resist the opportunity to squirt water from a high pressure fire extinguisher and put out a fire. Who could?

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Two Westport Island Firefighters Earn State Certification

Jason Abbott and Stacey Hutchison, graduated on Sunday, July 13, from the Tri County Firefighter Academy One and Two Programs in a ceremony at the Orion Performing Arts Center in Topsham. Jason also earned top honors as class valedictorian and delivered the class address.

Graduates came from 11 departments spanning Yarmouth to Westport Island and west. They completed classroom work and practical exercises encompassing firefighting resources and equipment; survival; live fire events; search and rescue; incident command and hazardous materials. The program concluded with State written and practical exams.

Jason and Stacey, who both have full-time jobs and families, committed over 300 hours on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, as well as long Saturdays, for almost six months to fulfill the requirements to become state certified firefighters for the Island. Westport’s Fire Department, like many local departments, is an unpaid all-volunteer team of first responders for medical, fire and hazmat incidents.

On behalf of his classmates, Jason asked, “Why did we put ourselves through this?” And, continued…“I believe it’s because we are all here with one basic goal: to help people, whether its people in our own hometown, or its helping people while we’re working for some full-time department somewhere. Our goal is to help people in some of their greatest times of need. We have all heard this call, and we have all answered.”

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Westport Volunteer Fire Department Snuffs Chimney Fire

What should have been just another Wednesday night meeting for the Westport Volunteer Fire Department ended up being a full dress exercise. A chimney fire at 325 Main Road interrupted the supper hour and kept firefighters busy for an hour or two on a wintery cold evening.

Volunteer firefighters Jason Abbott and Stacey Hutchison got to put their Basic Firefighter training to good use. They are both currently enrolled in training that will last until June for two nights and one weekend day each week to complete state certification coursework. The training is a huge after-hours commitment that they put to good use today. They were the point men up on the roof to extinguish a chimney fire that was limited to smoke and minor property damage. No one was hurt.

Thank you to a great turnout from the Westport Volunteer Fire Department and to Wiscasset Fire Department for mutual aid assistance with a second tanker truck.

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Looking Back on Westport Island 2013

dog running towards the camera under icy branchesAnother year of passages…a year older, and hopefully a year wiser…

On a civic note — we gave thanks to: Bruce Whittemore for crafting a sign marking the Westport Volunteer Fire Department; the Bristol Fire Department and a generous Island donor for giving our fire department a new rescue vehicle — making response to medical calls more efficient; Roni and Mario De Pietro for donating an 1832 Tarbox family bible to the History Committee; Sarah Rhinelander for starting the Good Egg Exchange, a community bulletin board…and to taxpayers and the Wright Landing Committee members for landscaping and maintaining the Landing — giving us a scenic, community access point to Island waterways and fishing grounds.

Thanks also to the History Committee for starting a digital library that will make historical photographs and documents accessible via the Maine Memory Network. The first digitized items were the “Sarah Tarbox Letters.” The letters, written from 1836 to 1855, give a glimpse of a time when Islanders traveled by steamer and horse-drawn coach. Visit mainememory.net to view holdings, which will continue to grow.

On a cosmic note: We got a glimpse of the December 8 Aurora Borealis, or northern lights, from Kehail Point — thanks to Michael Lewinski.

On a caring note: The Maine State Legislature memorialized Islander Richard “Bruce” Stedman who died this year. Bruce served the U.S. Navy in WWII and dedicated an extensive career and his personal passion to the United Nations and making the world a more peaceful place. We were also saddened by the loss of Phyllis Colby Hodgdon Mortimer who served as Westport Island’s Town Clerk for 43 years. …And, we share the grief of others who lost loved ones.

On a commercial note: Half Yard Productions, a National Geographic-contracted crew, filmed the labors of two wormers on Westport Island as part of a new TV show.

On a climatic note: We sat out Winter Storm Nemo on February 9 and 10. The storm left us with snow aplenty and without power. We ended the year with ice and snow that strained Island trees and challenged footing, but thankfully left us with electrical power.

On a contemplative note: Like the seasons, the robins and the osprey came and went — and the grasshoppers came and stayed — seemingly longer than most summer people.

On a congratulatory note: Eight-year old Mara Abbott won the T-Shirt Design Contest for grades K-6 sponsored by Focus on Agriculture in Rural Maine Schools (FARMS).

On a celebratory note: Three of our volunteer fire fighters and one resident Portland fire fighter made the grueling Fight for Air Stair Climb in Boston. They raised a few thousand dollars for the American Lung Association. The Community Association pulled us together for some fun, including humor by cartoonist Jeff Pert; the summer barbeque; and the Island Christmas Program! Moreover, we live where poets and artists from here and away draw inspiration.

Between the Conservation Commission’s Island Cleanup and the Fire Department’s Yard Sale, we cleaned up during 2013. Here’s to starting anew in the year to come.

Photo credits: Rescue Vehicle, Jeri Pendleton; Aurora Borealis from Kehail Point, Michael Lewinski; Robin’s Eggs, Dedee Greenleaf-Hodgdon; and Mara in the Snowbank, Alexa Abbott

Westport Island: Sneakers on the Ground

The 9th Annual Shore Run

Today… was a beautiful day in the neighborhood: just like last Sunday. And, last Sunday couldn’t have been more perfect (well, maybe a little less humid) for the 9th Annual Westport Island Shore Run benefiting the Island’s volunteer fire department. This year’s run brought in another $1,200 according to Rob Whitney, the race organizer.

Word is Westport Island is a tough 10K course because of hills. “Tough” may be more about location, location, location. Just when exhaustion has set in on the last half mile, you have to kick it up a notch to clear the climb from the causeway on West Shore up to the Main Road.

Although runners are not necessarily taking in the scenery, for the 3.5 mile walkers, the views aren’t too shabby. If you’re not a runner, think about joining the walkers next year for a beautiful walk in the neighborhood…

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Westport Takes to Rte. 1 on a Summer Saturday

The Fire Department Yard Sale and the Marketplace Cafe

A sunny Saturday, breakfast and a yard sale; or a sunny Saturday, a yard sale, and breakfast. Either way, Westport Islanders likely ran into neighbors on Rte. 1 in Wiscasset last week when the Volunteer Fire Department ran its once-every-five-years-or-so yard sale.

Hundreds of browsers stopped by the old Ames hardware store to view or buy everything from bicycles to duck decoys, furniture, a spinning wheel, and more. The Fire Department netted a little over $2,000 and inherited a couple of pieces of new equipment they won’t have to buy for now.

When fire department volunteers needed refueling, after a 5 a.m. start to set up for the sale’s 8 a.m. opening, Marketplace Cafe helped put together hot dogs for hungry volunteers.

For those who didn’t know, Westport Islander Cindy Bradford bought the Marketplace Cafe at the Wiscasset Marketplace (across from Shaw’s) this past spring. Frequenters of the Southgate Family Restaurant in Bath will be happily reunited with super waitresses Cindy Bradford and Kelley Lester who had been welcoming fixtures at Southgate for the past 14 years. Stop by for a great breakfast (or lunch) and to support your neighbors…

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Westport Island Spells Summer with a “Q”

Barbe-que that is…courtesy of the Westport Volunteer Fire Department

Mother Nature defied weather forecasters’ rain predictions for an all-sunny evening of fun at the Fire Department Summer Barbeque. About 200 people turned out to support the Department’s annual fundraiser. And, once again, the Back to Basics Bluegrass Band was on hand to get hands clapping and toes tapping…

Team Westport Took it to the Top

Islanders raised pulses and dollars in the Fight for Air Climb

The 2013 Fight for Air Climb has passed, but Westport Island left footprints in Boston. As of today, the Westport Volunteer Fire Department’s three climbers raised $2,425 from their supporters for the American Lung Association. (Paul Bonyun achieved “VIP status” by raising $1,500). Portland Fire Department’s 37 climbers — with Westport Island’s Angie Calvo as one of its climbers and top fundraisers — raised $7,602.

Times for climbing the long, warm 41 stories of One Boston Place in full turnout gear were:

  • Angie Calvo (#1200): 14.58 minutes
  • Paul Bonyun (#1474): 14.57 minutes
  • Libby Mooney (#1476): 36.31 minutes
  • Jason Abbott (#1475): 10.57 minutes

Of note, Westport fielded two of the most senior firefighter climbers. They were awesome. Check it out…

Music courtesy of the United States Air Force Band; two included pictures courtesy of Alexa Abbott

Warming Up a Westport Island Winter

Four Islanders head to Beantown for the “Fight for Air Climb”

Four Westport Islanders have been keeping warm during the recent cold spate — running, walking, climbing…and pushing and pumping both their fire gear and their cardiovascular systems.

On Saturday, February 2, Island residents Paul Bonyun, Jason Abbott, Libby Mooney and Angie Calvo will participate in the American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb and will race up to the top of One Boston Place. Paul, Jason and Libby will represent the Westport Volunteer Fire Department (WVFD), and Angie will represent Portland Fire Local 740 — currently the #3 fundraiser. (Links to their team pages are provided to keep track of their fundraising progress or to contribute.)

Paul BonyunAll participants will be climbing from the basement to the top of One Boston Place – 41 floors: 789 steps with an elevation gain of 493 feet. As members of Fire Department teams, they will be wearing their turnout gear, firefighting boots, helmets, air tanks and masks — literally fighting for air during their urban climb. Why? For an insight into team spirit, read a letter from WVFD Team Captain Paul Bonyun…

In August of 2012 I heard about this challenge. People would participate in a stair climb, 758 stairs to be exact. I heard fellow firefighters talking about joining in and raising money for a good cause. I felt an inner desire to join the cause. That inner desire soon turned to an inner fire. It became a bit of an obsession; not a “want” to do but a “had” to do.

I asked myself why this had become so important to me. The answer did not take long to form in my brain (my injured brain by the way). I realized it was important to raise money to support the good work of the American Lung Association; to promote clean air and healthy lungs. But my inner fire was about more than that. It was about the importance of health and a healthy lifestyle as well. It was leading a healthy life style to which I attribute my current health status.

Seven years ago I was cutting a large oak tree down when it broke off and gave me a good whack in the head. It left me with a traumatic brain injury and a ride with Life Flight to Central Maine Medical Center where I lay in a coma for a couple of weeks. During my recovery I struggled to relearn how to walk, how to think, and how to talk. My balance was a serious issue as I was weakened on my left side due to the damage to the right side of my brain. My recovery was steady, but very slow. First I learned to walk a hallway, then a short flight of 4-5 steps. When I first returned home I could not navigate the 14 steps from our living room to our kitchen. My wife had to wait on me and I found myself determined to return to my former independent lifestyle.

I began to work out on a regular basis. Before the accident I had been eating healthy foods and exercising on a regular basis. The doctors were sure that is what gave me the edge to return to life as I had known it. I have no doubt had I been a smoker, overweight or on meds for high blood pressure I would not have had such a miraculous recovery.

When faced with the idea of the stair climb challenge, my first thought was, “I can do this.” I knew I could train myself and work with my team of Westport Island Fire Department members to reach this goal. I wanted to prove my inner strength and soothe that inner fire by joining this cause to help others fight for a better life like I had. I will climb those 758 stairs and I will do it for myself and my fellow firefighters as well as all the people who are helped by the good work of the American Lung Association.

Go Teams!!! Go Islanders!!!

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