Stockton Springs Report

By Jeff Davis | Sep 20, 2012
Photo by: Jeff Davis Local residents participate in Spin In Public Day on the lawn of the Purple Fleece in Stockton Springs.


The fishermen of Stockton Springs

Curiosity being what it is, recent discussions about Cape Docks got me to wondering about our town's commercial fishermen. I am told that most are part-timers. However, part-time fishing and recreational fishing are not the same. The part-timer fishes to feed himself or his family. Perhaps his 40-hour-a-week job wasn't paying the bills, or he could be trying to break into fishing full-time. Perhaps the person is not a fisherman at all, but a fisherwoman. But I know of none.

After speaking with Holly Wyman of HD and Sons Seafood, I have a better understanding of the subject. My understanding is that Billy Grant is a part-time lobsterman trying to go full-time. Good luck, Billy. I'm sure he can do it. Saltwater runs in his veins. I understand that Todd Ritchie, Darren Shute and Brian Libby are part-time fishermen. I don't know Todd or Brian, but I know Darren. He is an electrician. If he is as good at fishing as he is at wiring, then I'm a bit surprised there are lobsters left in Penobscot Bay. I am told that our only full-time commercial fisherman is Kenneth Wyman. At first, I thought I didn't know him, either. Then, I realized they were talking about Skeet. Everybody knows Skeet.

I've known Skeet for quite a while, as he came to our assistance when I first moved to town. I had come home from work and spied a whale in Grants Cove out in front of the house. It didn't really surprise me. I was in Maine. I expected to see whales, lobsters, blueberries, and men in yellow rain slickers. However, when I told my wife, she didn't believe me. She didn't even look, and chose instead to call her cousin next door and tell her about the foolish man from away she married, who didn't know a seal from a whale. Lee Shute, believing that all things are remotely possible, looked out her window and informed her young cousin that she did marry a foolish man from away, but this time he was right. It appeared that a pilot whale with a brain disease had made its way into the bay.

After unsuccessfully trying to get a state agency on the scene, my wife called Travis Harriman, who at the time was the harbormaster. He and Skeet came down and rowed out in my father-in-law's boat and pushed the stranded fellow back out to sea. I thought for sure that I was in the presence of New England's answer to Captain Ahab. Had Skeet and Travis been wearing yellow rain slickers, it would have been perfect.

I'm proud to have taken up residence in a seafaring town. And I'm proud of our local fishermen, be they recreational, part-time, or old salts like Skeet. As one tired fellow told me as he was waiting to do business with Holly at HD and Sons, “I don't care. I just want to fish.”

Fishers of children

I hope you like this topic. I'm trying to get away from segues and just use topics. But old habits die hard, so I segued the topic. I received a phone call from a very pleasant fisher of children, Brandie Ward from the Stockton Springs Elementary School's PIE group. Ms. Ward called to remind us that our Town Office has a drop-off for those collecting box tops for Box Tops for Education. Unlike the Campbell's Soup label program, in which the PIE also participates, the Box Tops for Education has a deadline, and that deadline is Oct. 5. The group receives 10 cents for every box top turned in to the organization. In 1996 General Mills started the program that now involves many other companies. Last year Hanes Imagewear and Betty Crocker joined BTFE; resulting in a collection of $74 million dollars that was donated to American schools. For a complete list of qualifying box tops, visit

School Board Director Sharon Catus advised me that the tentative date for the public forum on the future of the Stockton Springs Elementary school is Oct. 4. Check back next week for more information. The Recreation Department’s exercise class was starting up when her meeting was getting over. She said the gym was packed. I imagine a good time was had by all.

Stockton Springs Community Library

Congratulations to Rose Dudley of Belfast for holding the winning raffle ticket for the Colonial dollhouse in the library's fundraiser. The unique 10-room electrified dollhouse is valued at $1,500. Not a bad deal for a raffle ticket that cost $2 or three for $5. All proceeds of the raffle go to the library. The volunteers at the library wish me to thank all those involved in the successful fundraiser.

Meanwhile, back at the Town Office

I had the pleasure of visiting Town Manager Rich Couch in his office. I had never been in the town manager's office. We have only had two, and although I had nothing against the other, I just had no occasion to visit him. The first thing I noticed was a big, hairy dog blocking the door way. When I see a person bring his/her pet to work, I generally suspect that I am about to meet a fine, upstanding individual. After just a few minutes in the office of Rich Couch, my suspicions were confirmed. The second thing I noticed was that he has a comfortable visitor's chair. Sometimes people in authority will have a nice, padded chair and have their visitor sit in a smaller straight-back. I once had a boss who had the legs cut off a little just so he would be sitting higher than you. Mr. Couch's office suggests a man who is comfortable with his life and who wishes his visitors to be comfortable as well. I am no expert on Feng Shui. That's just my opinion.

I was there to discuss the town's heat program and, in the end, we decided that he would just e-mail me one of his nicely written press releases. It reads as follows:

"As the temperatures drop and the leaves are starting to turn, we are reminded that winter will soon be upon us. For some in Stockton Springs, that means luggage and a trip to warmer climates for a few months. For those folks – safe journeys and hurry home to Stockton Springs! For others who remain, that means getting ready for Jack Frost’s annual visit. The town of Stockton Springs has some programs in place to help those who brave Maine winters.

To keep the drafts at bay, the town has a Storm Window Workshop, which takes place at Town Hall. The next workshop is Oct. 13.

The Town also has a Heating Assistance Fund, which is available for those in need. This fund is administered by the Select Board and Town Manager and was created by the generosity of a number of compassionate volunteers who saw a need and took steps to raise funds to help their neighbors. Although there won’t be a dinner this year or an auction, donations for the Heating Assistance Fund are being accepted. Checks should be made out to the town of Stockton Springs and labeled “Heating Assistance Fund.” Town Manager Rich Couch advises, that, 'about half of the funds raised remain available. However, the fund is first come first serve.' The fund is responsibly administered and 100 percent of every donation goes to those in need.

For more information on the Storm Window Workshop, or the Heat Assistance Fund, contact Stockton Springs Town Hall at 567-3404 or visit the town website at"

Very nicely put, Mr. Couch.

Sandy Point Community Club

With so many things going on in town, it's hard to know which ones to attend and which ones to pass on. I wish I had not passed on the Community Club's Sandy Point Beach bonfire. It must have been quite a party, as the police showed up. On Sept. 14, between the hours of 6-8 p.m., the club held the social event for all who wished to attend. A bonfire was started and a smaller fire was available for those who wanted to blacken a hot dog. Mac Smith, club volunteer, member of American Legion Post 137, a veteran of our military and a man who makes things happen, helped organize this event. He invited folks, alerted the press and possibly even struck the match that lit the fire. He may even have been the man who greeted the officers. However, the one thing Mac failed to do was inform the police about the bonfire on the beach. Maybe he knew they would be too busy serving the community to attend socially and decided to build it and see if they would come. Thankfully, we have a benevolent force and everyone had a good laugh. That is what you're supposed to do at the beach: laugh.

Worldwide Spin In Public Day

How is that for a topic? In 2009, like-minded spinners banded together to celebrate the art they love, spinning fiber into yarn. Since that first event, Spin In Public Day has spread throughout the country, and on the third weekend in September spinners meet in a public area to share their art. On Sept. 14, the Purple Fleece in Stockton Springs opened its yard to local spinners in celebration of SIP Day. Under a portable canopy and in a drizzling rain, Debbie Bergman, Cindy Buckley, Holly Simpson, Joyce O'Roak and Joan Stansfield spun fiber into wool on their individual wheels and spoke with me about the joy of spinning. Ms O'Roak gets some of her wool from her daughter's sheep in Pennsylvania. She pointed to the mess of orange fuzz at her feet and told me that it was the scrap from a clothing factory. Steadily and with ease, she fed pieces of fur balls into the machine and treadled as the wheel turned it into yarn.

I asked what they did with all the wool they made. Of course the Purple Fleece sells it. And I was pretty sure I was sitting among a group of knitters. However, the question brought a momentary stillness in the air. It was as though I had failed to understand that spinners are concerned with the journey as much as the journey's end. Some stated that they turned their wool into knitted gifts. Joan Stansfield knits prayer shawls for Waldo County Hospice. She was the one who summed up the day best with a quotation that she could not quite remember. But the implication was that knitting is not at the root of the world, but the gifts it provides are. I was so impressed with Stockton's Spin In Public Day that I submitted the photograph I took of the event to the Spin In Public Day committee to use on their website.

Mark your calendars for next year's event. In the meantime, go by and visit the Purple Fleece. It is located at 103 Station St., and presents another option for weavers, spinners, and other fiber artists by offering yarns for weaving and knitting, sheep fleece and other fibers for spinning and felting, equipment and supplies, dyes and individualized classes for those who want to know more about the fiber arts. Contact them at info@purplefleece or call 323-1871.

Sandy Point Congregational Church news

Veronica Magnan e-mailed to announce the Sunday School's bottle drive to benefit the Kingdom Kids Orphanage in Haiti. The drive will end Sept. 28. Donations can be dropped off in the red truck sitting in the parking lot of the Good Kettle on Route 1 or call 567-6097 for pickup. She wishes to publicly thank Gay Dion of the Good Kettle for providing a place for collection.

From the columnist

Laverne spoke on the telephone with Marguerite Fernald, of Rosens fame, and formerly of Cape Jellison. Marguerite is still the ruling the roost at Harbor Light Square, and is still on the road passing out her homemade goodies and flea market finds to the elderly and infirm others of our community. Unfortunately, on Sept. 15, while turning into Harbor Light Square, he car died and she lost the power steering. Thankfully, the Harbor Light Square sign stopped her and she was not hurt. The car was totaled, but Marguerite thinks they can pull and straighten it enough to get her back on the road. She has cookies to deliver.

I ran into Marsha Ellis, formerly of The Trend, while shopping at Tozier's. I was shocked to see her carrying a pocketbook and wearing a nice pink blouse. Normally, I see Marsha decked out in Tozier's green and bent over a carton of canned goods. I knew she was due for retirement, but I thought it was later this month. Marsha tells me that she retired on June 13. She smiled from ear to ear when she told me, so I assumed that she was enjoying her retirement. She told me that she spends a lot of time with her grandchildren and working in her garden. She said her garden was a full-time job. I knew that woman could not possibly stop working.

The entire town is heartbroken over the loss of 16-year-old Owen Krause, who died last Wednesday morning in a car accident on Route 1A in Prospect. I pray the Krause family knows their grief has rippled throughout the community and not one single soul in town has not been struck by their loss.

We are fortunate in the fact that we seldom lose one of our town's children. But, as a byproduct of living a small town, each loss strikes home. The death of young Owen brings back the memory of the last child we lost; and then the one before and the one before that. Each memory awakens the memories of another accident, on the road or in the water, that took the life of one of our precious children. It would be in vain to hope that we shall never lose another, but we should take that fearful knowledge with us every time we turn that key.

It could be debatable as to whether or not it is an asset or a liability, but there is no doubt that we will continue to grieve the loss of a child whom some of us never met as long as we continue to live in Stockton Springs, a town where community matters and your neighbors are your friends.

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