Stockton Springs Report
Often I have spoken about the benefits of writing a town column. I have not in the past felt the need to point out that one of those benefits was not a paycheck. Your town column is pretty much a public service the newspaper offers, so local residents will know what is going on at town meeting and when to set out their recycling. Town columnists are volunteers. Some may be professional journalists, but I believe most are people who have some time on their hands and a desire to help out. I know that Stockton Springs' last columnist took on the job because she saw a lack of information in the paper about local school events and took up the gauntlet be part of the solution.
I am not so noble. I took the position when she traded up her volunteerism to work on our School Board. My true reason for volunteering is that I love to write. If someone asks me to write something, I'm going to jump on the opportunity. But I am not a journalist and, at times, not a very accurate columnist. Please keep this in mind as you read these retractions.
I will leave the most important one for the professionals and lead with telling you that Wesley Shute is not the head of maintenance at the mill. My reasons for saying that did not lie in anything sinister. Wesley goes to the mill every morning except Sunday at 3:30 a.m. I know because, for biological reasons, I am up at that hour. Often he doesn't come home until after I am done for the day. And on Sundays he still “goes in.” I don't know what “goes in” means, but it takes about four hours. Knowing now that Wesley is the head of the GMS, or outdoor crew, and not the head of maintenance makes me feel sorry for the man or woman who is the head of maintenance. Surely, he or she hasn't the time to read the paper, so if you see him or her, please offer my apologies.
Another (yet still important) retraction
If you read the Stockton Springs Report online last week, you may have found out, as I did, that we still have commercial fishermen who call Stockton Harbor their home port. I did not know that. I did know some part-timers, like Wesley, still lobster around here. However, I thought that was the extent of it. Bruce Suppes indirectly advised me that Stockton Harbor “is not strictly a leisure waterfront.” He was pretty adamant about it, too. He went all caps when he typed not and caged leisure in quotes. I welcome this revelation. And hopefully Holly will have her holding tanks up and running before too long and the town may increase the number of fishermen who call Stockton Harbor their home port. But don't quote me on that.
From the Town Office
Town Manager Rich Couch emailed to advise us that our cable access channel was back up on Friday morning, Sept. 7. As would be the case, the one computer that was not replaced in the technology upgrade was the one that runs the cable access. And it had a fatal hard-drive issue. The computer was a second-hand purchase over a decade ago. “We got our pennies' worth,” Couch stated. “The computer used for public access doesn't have to be the latest and the greatest; it just needs to work. Yankee thrift is still alive in Town Hall! We were able to modify one of the better of the old computers for use with the cable access channel. For less than the cost of a new PC, and with Sam Fuller at the keyboard, we are back up and running.”
Couch also informed me of the new addition to the town website, www.stocktonsprings.org. The site's newest feature, Upcoming Events, is intended to provide us with current information at the touch of our fingertips. I don't know who is responsible for the introduction to the site, but whoever wrote it did a wonderful job. “The Town of Stockton Springs is a small coastal community in Waldo County, Maine. We are located between Belfast and Bucksport on Coastal US 1. We are home to Fort Point State Park, Sandy Beach Park, Stockton Harbor, and we are just south of the impressive Penobscot Narrows Bridge. Once you have visited our website, consider visiting in person.” That is pure poetry.
From the Recycling Committee
Cynthia Wells came by and advised me that our single-stream recycling is doing well. We have not had any rejected loads so far and the collectors have averaged three tons per pickup. Please remember than no Styrofoam or cloth may be set out. She asked that we keep up the good work and that we can always do a little more. I think Cindy used to be a football coach or something of that nature. The more we recycle, the fewer dump stickers we have to buy and the less negative impact we make on the environment.
Hazardous waste disposal will be on Saturday, Oct. 6, in Bangor. Residents will be required to pick up the needed form at the Town Office.
The Universal E-waste collection continues to be the last Saturday of the month. This month's date is Sept. 29 between the hours of 9 a.m. and noon. We are now using a new company out of Ellsworth, so we are providing jobs to Mainers. This is a no-fee service for residents of Stockton Springs and Prospect. Cindy advises that “we accept anything with a plug or battery, fluorescent bulbs and waste oil. We do not accept large appliances, refrigerators, etc.”
The Indoor Screen Window Workshop started on Sept. 8, with few participants. The lack of interest has been assigned to the warm weather and the fact that some of us have forgotten the story of the ant and the grasshopper. Coach Wells advises, “Winter is coming!” The next workshop is scheduled for Oct. 13. Call 567-3923 to register or query. Cindy advises that a successful build and insulation will result in a significant reduction in noise, dust and, most importantly, fuel cost.
From the Recreation Department
The first adult exercise class was held at the Town Office on Wednesday, Sept. 12, and ran from 1 to 2 p.m. Volunteer instructor Cynthia Wells describes the class as “mild exercise, stretching and physical/mental fun.” This program, which cost $10 for the 10-week course, is available to anyone over the age of 18, including those with disabilities. The program and the Town Office in which it is held are handicapped-accessible. Call Cindy at 567-3923 for more information.
From the Steeple Committee
Our home telephone and e-mail box were abuzz this week with the news of the arrival of the clock base of the Stockton Springs Community Church's replacement steeple. Barbara Money called to advise me of its arrival. It is being placed in the bone yard next to the Town Office. Being in construction, that is what I call a vacant lot used to store building material. Pete Harvester “carbon-copied” an e-mail to my box that was sent to Shawn McDougal, who will be helping to set the steeple in place. The ladies at the Town Hall call it "the place where they put stuff."
Barbara described the sections to me as the "clock base," and I asked if there was to be a clock. She told me that tradition dictated that a church would buy the steeple and the town would buy the clock. That sounds like food for future thought. As you can see by the accompanying picture the base is so large that it could not be moved in whole on the road, and had to be built is sections.
If one believes this is just a story about historic preservation or a town's desire to once again see the steeple as they descend Stockton Hill, indicating that home is near, then one has not followed this story. This is the story of a town, a county, a state and even parts of the country that banded together for a common goal. The base sitting in the bone yard is evidence of seeing that goal become an accomplishment. I think Pete's e-mail truly describes his feelings about that achievement.
He wrote, “A beautiful, sunny morning here in Stockton Springs today. Your bridge crew should be able to make some good time today. Great news for us. Our "Steeple Ladies" efforts are finally becoming visible. Our first completed steeple section is due to arrive, at the lot next to the Town Office, at about 10:00 today. It is the first of two halves of the so-called "clock" (no clock) section. The other half will be delivered on Wed. and then the two halves put back together the rest of the week. I am not sure when the steeple builder will complete this. His next step, starting next week, will be to build the support structure through the church roof. If his schedule holds true it should be ready for load by the 28th of September. I trust that this will still work into a crane schedule for you.”
I share your enthusiasm, Pete. My hat comes off to the Stockton Springs Steeple Ladies. We should send them to Augusta. The last fundraiser yielded $1,240, which brought the total of this season's fundraising efforts to $16,007. Donations can be made to Save Our Steeple, c/o Seaboard Federal Credit Union, P.O. Box G, Bucksport, ME 04416-1207 Attn: Darlene.
From the columnist
I have learned that, as of this writing, Fred Whaley from the backside of the cape is now in Harbor Hill. His wife, Mary Ann, is hospitalized in Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, undergoing chemotherapy. It is our hope that her daughter Rachael will be bringing her home soon. Fred and Mary Ann are kind and fascinating people. The charming couple moved here upon their retirement. Fred was the president of the Buffalo Cemetery Association in Buffalo, N.Y., which encompassed 40 cemeteries. The mausoleum in Buffalo was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and Fred has a replica statue of it awarded to him by Mr. Wright. Mary Ann is an opera singer who has been to Russia with the Surry Opera. She is a volunteer at the library and was often seen in the library's garden, digging in the dirt. Please keep this warm and wonderful pair in your hearts and prayers.
I hope everyone enjoys the new format. I like it, as I feel it gives the column a real newspaper look. I have to admit that, at first, I wasn't too hot about the idea. The purpose of the headings is so people can see what the paragraph is about and skip over it should they have no desire to know what is going on with the Recreation Department, for example. I can understand that. Now, as a writer, giving people the option to skip over what you wrote goes against the grain. But the Republican Journal is the oldest weekly newspaper in the state of Maine, and I imagine they know what they are doing. Who am I to argue with them?
I have read where other columnists have to beseech people to send in something to write about. I wonder what that is like. I won't draw any conclusions as to why, but I definitely do not have that problem. I have received information that was time-sensitive that I failed to get in. Please understand that I am always well over their desired word limit and I don't wish to try their benevolence.
And there may be some question about degrees of importance that I assign to what gets in. My dilemma here is that what is most important to one group may not be as important to others. Plus, I make mistakes. Hopefully, I will survive the learning curve and provide you with a better column. In the interim, please understand that I am not a professional journalist. I am but a lowly troubadour trying to sing the praises of Stockton Springs, the town I love.