Wow. Well, I am writing this news column on Jan. 7. I am rather blown away — and I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that — by this week's unprecedented historical national news. Watching events unfold over the hours certainly took one’s mind off of COVID seclusion. May democracy prevail, and may we all be able to hold our heads high as Americans, sooner than later.

I’m enjoying having these growing minutes of daylight at the end of the day to go out and feed the sheep. They’ll be wanting some grain supplements as the January cold seems about to set in, despite their 4-plus-deep inches of wool coat they’re all wearing.

Public hearing

The Jackson Planning Board will hold a public hearing during the next Planning Board meeting Tuesday, Jan. 19, at 7 p.m. (snow date Jan. 21) at the Town Office complex. The agenda is: Proposed changes to Jackson Land Use Ordinance, Section V: Access Management Standards. Masks and distancing will be in place as per state guidance.

Dog licenses

Don’t forget you only have through Jan. 31 (last office hours will be Friday, Jan. 29) to get your dog licenses. After that there will be a late fee of $25 per dog(!) as required by the state.

School committee

Thank you to Jonathan Lorenz for stepping up to finish out Lisa Cooley’s term on the school board.

Fire Department

A big shout-out to our Jackson Fire Department. Our fire chief, Don Nickerson, shared with me that 2020 was the busiest year the department has ever had, with 79 call-outs. Of those, maybe half were for fires; the rest were accidents. Please consider volunteering for our all-volunteer Fire Department. Training is provided. There are many ways to help beyond riding a truck and holding a hose.

Jackson volunteerism

Speaking of volunteers, and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, we want to get the word out there that we, as a town, are in great need of a code enforcement officer, as well as a third selectman, and a Planning Board member (and alternate). We are a small town, many hands make light work, and we all need to work together. Please contact Brenda at the Town Office if you have the slightest interest and learn more about these positions, what they involve, the time commitments, how you can help make our town the best it can be.

Jackson history nugget

Maine, and New England, used to have an extensive harness racing community. It’s dwindling to a few agricultural fairs, and the Hollywood Casino Raceway in Bangor — the only commercial raceway left in Maine now, after the permanent closure of Scarborough Downs this fall.

I did enjoy seeing the trotter races at Fryeburg Fair in 2019. The horses move at an amazing clip; the drivers are very skillful.

In memory of bigger harness racing days, I thought I’d share this ad from The Republican Journal, listed on May 30, 1851: “The Drew Stud. This celebrated horse, owned by Hira Drew Esq. of Exeter Maine will stand at Jackson and Monroe during the season. The Drew Stud is of a dark bay color, weighs about 1,000 lbs. And is believed to be the fastest trotting horse in New England. TERMS – Warrant: $10.00, By the Season: $7.00, Single Service: $4.00.”

Stay warm by the wood stove, and do send me your news.