Stockton Springs Report
The Stockton Springs Select Board meets at 6 p.m. Thursday, September 19 at the town office. The school budget vote, having been held on September 17, will certainly be on their agenda. We offer our appreciation for all they do to guide us through these difficult economic times.
The town website www.stocktonsprings.org is still posting that we have vacancies on the Zoning Board of Appeals, Board of Assessment Review and the Planning Board. If you are interested in service on a municipal committee please contact the Town Manager or a member of the Select Board at 567-3404.
The Stockton Springs Library's Tuesday reading group, having just read and discussed "Sense and Sensibility" by Jane Austin, thought people would enjoy the movie. The screenplay for the 1995 box office hit was written by the movie's leading star Emma Thompson. Critics suggest that she exaggerates the wealth of the Dashwood's to make protagonists Elinor and Marianne's fall from grace seem steeper. And MS Thompson made MS Austin's male character's a bit more sinister to give the modern audience a J.R. Ewing to love to hate. You can decide for yourself at 7 p.m. Tuesday, September 24. The library's Pat Curley invites all to “Come to the Movies! It is a free event and refreshments will be served.” She also would like to thank all the volunteers and guests that made The Annual Victorian Tea such a success. I was called up to the library on a maintenance issue during the event. To see fellow Legionaries Ed Burns and Tom Lane dressed in black slacks and white shirts and serving little tiny cookies and tea in little tiny cups was worth the trip. I bet some of the men who they once commanded would love to see it, too.
The Searsport TIE is proud to announce its 5K Race to support SDMHS. Registration forms are available on the counter of your local stores and through any TIE member. The race is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. Sunday, September 22. I hope to see you there.
Please mark your calenders for September 27. On that date the Sandy Point Community Club will be holding their Soup and Bread Fundraiser for the Searsport Food Cupboard. Details will be announced in next week's column.
I was visiting my friend Paul Bock the other day. He and his wife Sharon Catus had just completed their report on their archaeological investigation of the Indian Carrying Place on Cape Jellison and he wanted to share it with me. While I was there he asked me to step across the road and see his neighbor, who was bending wooden slats for a canoe. I will never ceased to be amazed at the things you see on the cape. Stockton Springs resident Dave Doonan is a skilled builder of canvas-covered northern white cedar canoes and his wife Fran is equally skilled at making ash baskets. Dave made the form for the canoe and the box for bending wood. The inside gunwales of the vessel are ash and the outside gunwales are cherry. They are wood canvas canoes with cedar hulls. It takes two hours to bend the ribs and 90 hours to construct the whole boat spread out over two or three hour work periods. Retail, the finish product sells for $3600. He has made 49 between the one he makes and the ones he used for teaching. He teaches a seven day course at his house, custom scheduled for the student or students. Fran told me that "fathers, sons, niece, combos.” are their usual clients. A man and his niece from New Orleans came to Maine to take their course. According to Fran, “She did all the work. He did all the talking.” You can contact Dave and Fran at email@example.com or visit their website, www.mainejourneys.wcha.org.
The week before last, I introduced you to the our newest resident, Olivia Harper Patterson, granddaughter to Stockton Springs Town Garage employee Bruce Gray. What I didn't tell you was that while Bruce was patiently awaiting the arrival of one Stockton Springs newest residents, his co-worker George Russell was on his way to Fort Jackson, South Carolina to pick up his stepson, Alexander Moulton. Alexander participated in the US Army high school program. After one more year of high school, the young soldier will be off to active duty as a supply specialist. Bruce and George not only keep our roads clear for travel, they provide runways for the youth of their families to launch themselves into life. Good work, guys.
When I first began to write our column, I tried to make it flow. I tried to connect one paragraph to the next so the reader might be inclined to continue to read it. This is a good way to write a book, but a lousy way to write a newspaper. My editor pointed this out to me when he told me that people like to have blocked subjects identified by headings. Looking through the paper, it occurred to me that he was right. I do like my newspaper to have headings and blocked subject matter. So, I started dividing the column up into the three subjects that I discuss; municipal, volunteer and resident news.
By the volume that I write on volunteers, one might believe that our town is run by them. This is not true. It is impossible for me to report all the activities of our municipal employees. Each time I see any of them, they are on the run. As each year passes less and less of our tax dollars stay in our town and more and more residents fall short when it comes time to pay their property taxes. Each year this results in more work placed on our municipal employees with less resources to fulfill their duties.
Faced with increasing contributions to RSU 20, decreasing revenue and the inability to further cut town services, the Stockton Springs Select Board opted not to include any of our usual charitable contributions on this year's warrant. One organization successfully petitioned to get on the warrant. During discussion at town meeting, the subject of Select Person Lesley Cosmano's efforts to collect non-perishable goods for the Searsport Food cupboard was broached. And it was made known that her effort began by asking summer people to donate the unused food in their cupboards before going home for the season. One resident asked that if collecting used food would be enough to fill the need.
Lately, I read where a retired teacher questioned whether it was possible for volunteers to replace art teachers, who were cut from this year's proposed school budget.
It should be obvious to anyone that it is impossible for volunteers to fill all the needs of a community. Volunteers illuminate a community. That is their purpose and that is all they can do. When I first came to town, our library was a family home. It has since been donated to the Stockton Springs Historical Society, who in turn offered space for the Stockton Springs Community Library. Although it is partially funded by the town, the majority of its funding is donated and all of its workers are volunteers. We have awards. From Mary's Room, our state-honored children's room to our inter-library loan programs, the library offers enlightenment to any who hold their blue card in their hand. And for those residents with children, you will need to ensure that your child holds one of those cards. SDMHS librarian Brian Richards tells me that students will benefit from a library program that our school library doesn't offer, but our voluntary library does. Contact your child's teacher or Mr. Richards for more information. Thanks to volunteer efforts and donated monies, our library grounds are a garden spot and nobody can drive down Main Street in town without noticing the warming and welcoming light coming from that old sea captain's home.
And when I say that our municipal employees are on the run, allow me to note that they generally smiling. They are surrounded by volunteers who step in from time to time, not to replace them, but lighten their load. At the end of each month, volunteers from the Recycle Committee meet at the town garage to offer electronic waste drop off. Volunteers gave us our Memorial Park, the rebirth of Cape Docks and the Sandy Point Beach. Fort Point Light keeper Teri Cole has reopened our ancient lighthouse for public viewing at different times throughout the year.
Down every street and around every corner, volunteers are shining their light in the beautiful town of Stockton Springs.