Residents voted to dedicate the town’s new fire station to retired Fire Chief Stanley Bowden during the town meeting Thursday night, after a petition with more than 500 signatures put the question on the warrant.

Tracy Gran, who initiated the petition, spoke of Bowden as a “human treasure,” of the stature of Sam Wagner, a town doctor whose name adorns the middle school where the town meeting was held.

“It doesn’t have to be a large mammoth name,” he said “but perhaps someone would see it and say ‘Who was Stanley Bowden?’ Hopefully people who know him would say, ‘Well he’s a town legend. He would help everyone, over and above first responder.’”

Bowden served on Winterport Fire Department for 53 years, 11 of those as fire chief, and for 45 years on the ambulance service, with 10 of those as its director.

Gran spoke about the ease with which he collected signatures for the petition. In the process he heard tales of Bowden's good deeds, from saving a woman's bird stuck in a tree, to calming another woman when she was dying by stroking her hair.

“Everyone had a story about Stan” he said. “The man is unique in that way.”

The stories continued into the town meeting discussion of the article. Ray Porter spoke of joining the Fire Department when he was 12, back when such things were allowed, and being trained by Bowden.

Michael Staples told an anecdote about sliding off the road on bald tires in a winter storm, and being too broke to call a tow truck. Bowden came by in a truck and stopped to to make sure he was OK, then said, "Here, let me pull you out."

"I thought, 'Let you pull me out?'" Staples said, emphasizing the word let. “And he did it with an attitude like he was doing himself this huge favor. As I came to know Stan, I realized that he did regard it as a privilege, and so should all of us if we’re fortunate enough to be in a position to be of help someone else.”

Joe Tyler suggested that instead of naming the building for one person, a monument should be installed with a plaque commemorating multiple Winterport residents who have contributed to the town.

The council offered no recommendation for the article, and one councilor said his reason for withholding a recommendation was that there are many residents who should be recognized.

Staples suggested that a monument and plaque be pursued as a separate project.

A motion to vote on the article by written ballot passed, with many opposed. The votes were cast and counted, and the results were overwhelmingly in favor of the dedication: 89 voted for the article and 18 voted against it.

After the meeting, townspeople lingered to offer Bowden their congratulations.

Bowden spoke with The Republican Journal about his time growing up in Winterport. He remembers hearing the sirens go by as a young boy and wanting to go along with the first responders. Once he joined their ranks, he said, he realized just how much they were needed.

“I am so proud just to be a part of the Ambulance Service and the Fire Department and continuing on as I am,” Bowden said. Though he is retired, he still rides along on every call, even in the middle of the night, Ambulance Director Phil Foley said.

Bowden continued, “I’ve been so fortunate just to help a little bit to make somebody’s day a little bit better. Sometimes we lose our people and that’s very, very, very devastating to all of us. But I’ve also seen a lot of people that I’ve gone to, I’ve seen them do just fine.

“It makes my heart feel real good to see the people walking around who we brought to the hospital. It’s the hospitals that really do the people good, but we help the people along the way. That makes my heart feel good.”

Warrant passes unchanged

The warrant was approved in just under an hour, with no amendments proposed to the council’s recommendations. Questions were raised about changes in the budget from previous years and Town Manager Phillip Pitula responded to those.

Even though the annual report shows a surplus in road maintenance for fiscal year 2015-2016, Pitula said, the proposed road maintenance budget is increased because Public Works exceeded its budget in fiscal year 2016-2017. Printouts of the 2016-2107 fiscal year expenditures were available at the town meeting.

Regarding the recommended increase in the amount to be raised for the Cemetery District, Pitula said the Cemetery Committee had been accessing funds in the Perpetual Care Reserve Account over the past few years in order to avoid raising the funds they need through taxation, but this year they asked for what it costs to maintain the cemeteries. A resident spoke in support of the the increase because he said there are many broken stones he would like to see repaired.

About the proposed decrease in funding for General Assistance, Pitula said, fewer people are requesting General Assistance: only $527 was expended from that account last year. From Jan. 4, 2016, to April 14, 2017, the city received 17 applications for General Assistance, of which six were funded, Pitula told The Republican Journal June 19. The others were rejected because they did not qualify according to state guidelines, he said.

Election results

Peter Rioux, with 193 votes, and Ann Ronco, with 240 votes, were elected to serve three-year terms on the Town Council. Also running for those seats were Philip Foley, who received 154 votes; Kimberly Clark, who received 147; and Shawn Crossman, who received 92.

Thomas Skratt was elected assessor for a term of three years, with 231 votes. Also running was Joseph Tyler, who received 205 votes.

Jessica King was elected to the RSU 22 Board of Directors for a three-year term. King received 276 votes, while Philip Tate received 128 votes for the position.