Blog Archives

Westport Community Association Celebrates 60 Years

…of putting the spirit of “community” into a town

Whether caretaking community landmarks, building community identity, showcasing Island talent or sparking community spirit, the Westport Community Association has played a key role.

60th Anniversary logoThe Community Association will be marking 60 years of community service this Sunday, August 16, with a celebration at the Town Hall and the Community Church, 1217 Main Road. The Town Hall will be showcasing old and new Island made quilts, arts, and crafts; while a “Musical Celebration” fills the church. Come one, come all — the events are free; refreshments will be served.

Interior of Westport Community ChurchThe Community Association was formed in 1955 primarily to restore the Westport Community Church. After being used for church services and Sunday School from 1864 to the 1900’s, the building had fallen into disrepair. After repairing and returning religious services to the church for ten years, the Maine Methodist Conference gave the church to the Community Association. Thanks to the stewardship of the Association, the church is an Island landmark used for weddings and memorial services as well as the yearly Island Christmas Program.

flag at entrance to Westport IslandBeyond the church, the Association has undertaken fundraising on behalf of countless projects for the betterment of Island life: the fire station; “comfort” renovations at the historic Town Hall (ceiling fans, a well, plumbing and modernized restrooms); and support of historical milestones such as Lincoln County’s Bicentennial in 1960 and the Island’s Sesquicentennial in 1978.

Westport Island welcome sign with invitation to Community Association anniversaryYou can’t pass onto Westport Island without seeing the flagpole and welcome sign. The original flag was purchased by Jack Smith on behalf of the Community Association for the country’s Bicentennial in 1976. The original welcome sign was made in 1960 by J. Louis Doyle (architect from Boston, summer resident of Westport and Community Association President at the time) for Lincoln County’s Bicentennial Celebration, which included Association sponsored events on the Island.

From square dances to Halloween parties, from the Island Christmas program to the fire department barbeque…and well beyond to programs that showcase Island talent and history — the Community Association makes the Island a better place. Now, that’s something to celebrate. Events will conclude with a singing of “Roots in the Rock” and “Rollin Home” and a champagne toast at 5:15…

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2014: The Year on Westport Island

A look back…

Like every other year, 2014 had its ups and downs – a capsule of time in a history that marches on. A few remembrances as we head into 2015…

On a caring note: We remember those we lost this year: Philip Gesner, Neil Greenleaf, Butch Morton, John Nelson, and Leroy Olson. We honor their contributions and extend our thoughts to family members…

On a civic note: Voters opted to stay in Sheepscot Valley RSU #12 and opted to dismiss the Budget Committee. For the most part, Islanders voted with the rest of the state in November, re-electing Governor LePage, U.S. Senator Susan Collins and U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree. And, we welcomed the newly formed Horticulture Committee which has taken responsibility for the beautification of the Wright Landing.

On a community service note: Fire Department volunteers had a busy year: responding to medical calls, extinguishing a chimney and brush fires, providing medical assessment and traffic control for multiple car accidents, performing a water rescue, and — as always — community service.

On a climatic note: Our most talked about weather event this year was Thanksgiving – three days without power Island-wide – and lots of creative approaches to the “traditional” turkey dinner for those without generators…

On a contemplative note: Although our harbingers of the summer season, the osprey, came and went as is nature’s plan — the turkeys, raccoons and coyotes may be staging a takeover….

We will miss and extend best wishes to Islanders who moved away — and we thank those who had served in positions to better the Island: Chris Fabian, Angie Calvo, Art Ballard, Curt Downer and Carol Way.

On a congratulatory note: We had a banner year of weddings. Congratulations to all who took their vows on Westport. A Westport Islander, Chase Hughes, took home the gold at the 10K Island Shore Run for the first time in recent years. Selectmen honored Treasurer and Tax Collector, Susan Partelow, with a Spirit of America award to thank her for her service as they began preparations for her retirement. And departing History Committee Chair Mary Ellen Barnes’ transition to a regular member was marked with a celebration of her contributions as a founding member of the History Committee.

On a celebratory note: Westport Volunteer Firefighter Paul Bonyun once again completed February’s grueling Fight for Air stair climb in Boston. And Westport Volunteer Firefighters, Jason Abbott and Stacey Hutchinson, completed Firefighter I & II training, earning state certification — as well as promotions to Deputy Chief and Captain, respectively. Vera Cleaves — a World War II vet — celebrated her 100th birthday and made the cover of our annual report. And, Squam Creek reopened to clamming after almost 15 years!

As usual, The Community Association pulled us together for some fun and laughs, including a square dance reminiscent of days past. We laughed with ventriloquist Bert Prater and his pal, “Roadkill” while they poked fun and had good-natured audience members simulating puppets on stage while dancing to the tune, “I’m a little teapot.” The summer barbeque added entertainment for children this year; the Island Christmas Program starred young talent that wowed; and Santa surprised holiday visitors to the Town Office Building. Nita Greenleaf organized a Valentine’s Day Dinner for cupids and their valentines.

And, speaking of silver linings, when a resident parked a tad “too close” to the Town Office Building, we learned the wall was crumbling from dry rot. All has been repaired and is better now than before…. Which leaves us with a possible New Year’s Resolution…

It might be time to take stock and invest a little TLC in what we have.

Happy New Year!

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Stepping Out of Westport Winter Hibernation

In search of shadows, food and other humans…

In a winter that seemingly has us in training for olympic snow shoveling, today’s sun was a welcome valentine. And thankfully, some Islanders are not deterred by sleet, nor snow, nor blowing winds and have extended themselves to bring the Island a little post-Groundhog, Valentine’s Day cheer.

A quarter of the way down Westport Island, you’ll see master woodturner Ken Shepherd’s Valentine creation. Shepherd’s creations always greet passersby with eye-catching images of the season or the times.

Paul Bonyun, representing the Westport Volunteer Fire Department, and Angie Calvo of Westport, representing the Portland Fire Department, completed the grueling Climb for Clean Air on February 1. They raced up 789 stairs wearing full turnout gear in a vertical race to the top of One Boston Place to raise money for healthy lungs and healthy air. Paul Bonyun with Portland Firefighters, including Angie Calvo Portland Firefighters were a top fundraising team ($6,766); Paul a top fundraising individual ($1,670). Angie completed the race in 12 minutes 52 seconds, and Paul clocked a 16:32 — impressive. (Angie is pictured with fellow Portland Firefighters under the raised arm; Paul on far right)

Joyce Spicer, Nita Greenleaf, Louise SpeeceNita Greenleaf flanked by her daughter Joyce Spicer and friend Louise Speece organized and cooked up a tasty Valentine’s Day dinner at the Town Hall for friends and neighbors to share time and break bread. It was a pork and gravy feast with all the fixings, topped off by an assortment of desserts.

And, on Saturday, February 15, the Community Association sponsored a “crafting bee” with Artisan Jill Cooney. For two dollars and two hours, participants channeled their creativity, chatted with friends and walked off with a sunflower wall hanging.

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Photo of Paul Bonyun with the Portland Firefighters courtesy of Chris Fabian

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 Town Hall Goes Ghoulish

For the Community Association’s annual Halloween bash

In what is becoming one of the Community Associations’ best attended annual events, 75 or so Islanders and friends turned out for the Halloween bash on October 26. Laurie Jaramillo photographed the event which featured DJ Larry Weddleton, a costume contest, dancing and fun. When asked to sum it all up, Laurie said simply, “It was a blast!”

There were witches, pirates, robots, superheroes and mystery guests aplenty.  Selectman Jerry Bodmer, Newt Blakesly, Brad Adler, and Dedee Greenleaf Hodgdon — along with Dedee’s good friend and guest judge, Bonnie Dore from Vermont —  devoted careful thought to judging best costumes. There were both adult and junior class winners for: scariest, funniest, most original and best overall.

Best costume winners included — in the adult class: Dick Tucker, scariest (lion); Pat Smith, funniest (clown); Jill Cooney, most original (witch); Erin and Jessica Bailey, best overall (Maine tourists); and in the junior class: Danny Hopkins, scariest (wicked jester); Vivian McKinney, best overall (Storm from X-Men); Jacob Carver, funniest (pirate); and the mystery “button boy”, most original (spider).

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photos courtesy of Laurie Jaramillo, Pat Smith and Jerry Bodmer

Put December 8 on your calendar for the final event of the season, the Island Christmas Program, at the Community Church.

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…

Cartoonist Jeff Pert Brings Lobster Humor to Westport Island

Maine life through the eyes of crustaceans…

Over 20 people came for — and got — a few laughs tonight courtesy of Cartoonist Jeff Pert and the Westport Community Association.

Pert peppered his tale of becoming a Maine cartoonist with a collection of his quirky moose and lobster cartoons.

Spurning life in the city and dreams of becoming a film maker post college, Pert left LA (Los Angeles, not Lewiston/Auburn) and Boston behind and returned to Maine. He worked for L.L. Bean for 13 years and started doing political cartoons for the Brunswick Times Record. Against the backdrop of Maine, L.L. Bean and fond memories of hauling lobster traps with his grandfather in Phippsburg, Pert’s imagination and cartooning talent turned to Maine wildlife and crustaceans — most notably moose and lobsters.

Drawing on cartoon inspiration from the likes of Peanuts‘ Charles Schultz, On the Far Side’s Gary Larsen and Dennis the Menace’s Hank Ketcham, it’s probably natural that Pert might start thinking about what lobsters say when facing a pot of boiling water. Those thoughts and the “Hey Bob how’s the water?” cartoon started him on his rise to cartooning fame. In his words, moose and lobsters, two of nature’s oddest creatures, do half the chuckle work for him. He just puts them in everyday human situations.

Pert cannot yet make his living exclusively with his images — but his brother does. His brother creates merchandise with Pert’s cartoon images and has made them a fixture in gift stores throughout Maine and elsewhere. Down East Books has published Pert’s first book of cartoons: Cartoons from Maine: How’s the Water, Bob? Other projects on the drawing board include another book, a “surf and turf” cartoon strip and cartooning dysfunctional dogs.

Life is good when your job is fun and it brings some fun into the life of others. …Now if he could just figure out how to get our best Island “laugh-er”, Pat Smith, to listen and laugh at all his talks, life would be that much more fun…

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Westport Community Association 2013 Schedule

If you didn’t receive the Westport Community Association’s 2013 Calendar of Events…click here for a Community Bulletin Board with the 2013 schedule.
two turkey vultures on a rooftop