Stockton Springs Report
From the Town
Happy New Year! The Selectboard begins their 2014 meetings at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 2 at the town hall.
Town Manager Rich Couch advises that “30 of our furry four legged residents took advantage of the Rabies Clinic at the town hall on Dec.18.” He offers thanks to Dr. Lahaye and the Searsport Veterinary Hospital for helping the Town's Animal Control Officer with this clinic. He reminds that “whether your pooch is named Lulu or Lucy, Feebie, Jakie, Kooper, Ayla or Max - their dog license expires on Dec. 31. Please renew their license at Town Hall. There are fines involved after Jan. 31.” We have been duly warned.
During the recent power outage, Couch sent out an email notice that “Stockton Springs Town Hall is open and the heat is on and generator is on stand by.” He went on to assure those who signed up for the town email list (by emailing your request to email@example.com) that “You are welcome in your Town Hall.” Others in town were on hand to ensure their neighbors did not go without during the storm. Couch advises that with generous assistance from the Post 157 of the American Legion and The Good Kettle, nourishment was available to residents forced from their homes by the lack of electricity. I understand that a spaghetti dinner was served that night.
Seeking an official statement, I tracked Couch down (via email) to his folks house. Mrs. Couch let Richard use her internet, so I can drag him away from his family celebrations. He mentioned that he was using your Village soup account to keep abreast. So, thank you, Mrs. Couch, for your contribution to the well-being of our town. Couch advises the following.
“The Town of Stockton Springs was busy during the recent ice storm. The Public Works crew was working pretty much around the clock for days straight. The Town Manager approved a weekly time sheet for the Public Works Foreman for 89 hours! As a point of reference, there are only 168 hours in a seven day period. And no, we do not pay them to sleep! The Public Works crew was assisted by members of the Stockton Springs Fire Department who were on the scene with chain saws and equipment needed to keep roadways passable. Our Town's EMA Director was on the job 24/7 making sure that folks that needed assistance got the help they needed. The Town Manager/Road Commissioner and the Police Supervisor helped clear roads on Christmas Eve morning. On Tuesday afternoon, the Town Manager made the rounds visiting door-to-door with golden year residents who he was afraid might be alone and cold. Some were so toasty they didn't even feel they needed shoes! Folks who needed help with generators and other 'heavy lifting' had what they needed from family, friends, and neighbors. Clearly - all hands were on deck and ready to help.
“Some may have seen the Town Manager and Assessment Assistant shopping at Tozier's and buying large quantities - family size items - enough to feed folks who needed the warming room at Town Hall which was opened all day Christmas Eve and a good portion of the day on Christmas Day. Thanks to the American Legion and generous donations from a variety of sources - no one went hungry! 18 people broke bread together on Christmas Eve at Town Hall. On Christmas there was 'enough food for 1/2 an army' (we are a small town). The Town Manager made the first pot of coffee as he headed to be with family and friends from 'away.'
“Our Town columnist closes each column with 'the beautiful Town of Stockton Springs.' It is debatable whether or not the ice covered trees and power lines are 'beautiful.' There are lots of pictures. I supposed that distinction depends on the eye of the beholder. Where there can be no debate is the beauty and the wonder of the people who call the 04981 zip code home. Was neighbor helping neighbor the spirit of the holiday season or the spirit of the winter season? I'd like to think we all would have been just as helpful in February or March as we were the week of Christmas. However, that is not an invite for Mother Nature to put us to the test!”
Thank you, Rich, for taking time out from your holiday to look after your town. But I hope you paid some attention to your mother and got off her computer.
From the Town Columnist
It is but by the grace of the Lord and the skill and determination of our power and cable company employees and our public works employees that I write the Stockton Springs Report this week. Some around us are still without the power that we lost at 10:30 p.m. Dec. 23. Had my wife not awoke with the flu after midnight, we might not have discovered the outage until the morning. Our home is well-insulated and our bed covers prevent the ambient heat of the room from disturbing our slumber. As she sought the battery lantern on her bedside table, I proceed out of the room to light the oil lamps that hang on the walls of our home,in locations chosen to illuminate the house and eliminate the need to carry one around with you. Then I built a fire in the glass door sealed fireplace in the living room. It was the first fire that I built in it since the chimney sweep inspected it in September. He said that it was in excellent condition for a fireplace with a built in box that was popular in the seventies. Unfortunately, an fireplace built on the outside of a house loses heat, but at the time ours was the last technology. He advised that most near the water have since rusted out, but ours is in excellent condition. I knew all of this before I called him. The fireplace was built by local craftsman, Jimmy Shaver and has been excellently cared for by the previous owner Jack McLaughlin, and then myself, since it was built. But yearly inspections of your chimney are part of living in Maine.
However, it would take more than a clean fireplace to make her happy on Dec. 23. Even the restoration of power twenty hours later did little to lessen the blow of a holiday illness and the cancellation of our Christmas plans. We were to be at the oldest grandson's house in time for him to see what Santa had rewarded his excellent behavior with this year. Our first grandchild is now a ten year old friend and our changing relationship is one of the things that makes each sunrise a welcomed sight. Then, we were to be off to Bangor to have Christmas dinner with our youngest son and his family. Melissa is a wonderful cook and they eat on a trestle table with benches. She is from the Mercer/Brassbridge family of Frankfort and granddaughter Addie is another tie that binds the two ancient Maine towns. From there, we were to return home to call our daughter in Georgia and see what Santa brought young Alexander Monroe Wofford. Maybe he got a gavel and a robe. His great-grandfather was a federal judge in Atlanta. For supper, we were invited to honey's dad's house for a McLaughlin Christmas dinner. Unfortunately, it was not to be. I managed to get some chicken noodle soup into her on the day the storm and the flu struck. And I got some Vick's Vapor Rub on her on Christmas Day. She opened the gifts I bought her at Silkweeds and the Grasshopper from our bed. Then, she hugged my neck, puked in the bucket and fell back under a mountain of bed covers. I sat there for a while, hoping it was the flu and not the gifts and/or the hug.
On Dec. 27, she arose from her sick bed in the morning and had coffee for the first time since the flu bug slipped down her chimney. She is moving slow, but we believe she kicked it. As for me, I spent the holiday reading A Narrative of A Revolutionary Soldier. It is the story of former Sandy Point Selectman and American Revolutionary Massachusetts soldier Joseph Plumb Martin. After reading the historical record, Martin felt the need to offer his first hand account. He never discredits the official record. He merely adds his personal account as a participant of eight campaigns under General George Washington. It is an early nineteenth century gift from a man from Sandy Point to the community and country he loved. He published it anonymously and never sought to profit from it. The book is also published as Private Yankee Doodle. I have read the book before and felt that it would be a good read for someone confronting problems secondary to a bad Maine winter storm. The book is a daily account of his attempts to deal with Mother Nature while attempting to find and fight the British invaders. If you have read the book, then I am sure you understand how I cannot compare my hardship to his suffering. If you have not read it, it is available at the Stockton Springs Community Library, a twentieth century gift from the people of Stockton Springs to the community and country they love.
I like to start a new year by breaking a rule. So, this year, I will break an unwritten rule about columnist sticking to information regarding their town. It is a good rule and I understand the reason for it. Normally, I am a rule maker and not a rule breaker. But it is the new year and I am sure my editor will understand my desire to give a shout out to my friend and fellow columnist, Barbara Tilley. She had been chosen as the 2013 Spirit of America Volunteer of the Year winner for the town of Prospect. I am not surprised by this decision, as I have long been a fan of the town columnist/community activist. I bring it up to point out that whether we are talking about the Brassbridges of Frankfort or the Tilley's of Prospect, we have some mighty fine neighbors in the beautiful town of Stockton Springs.