Friday, June 25, 2010

Courtney DeWitt Remembered in Student Photography Exhibit

In December of 2006, Wells High School student Courtney DeWitt, a sophomore, was just 15 years old when she passed away from injuries received in a car accident. The accident happened after school as she, a passenger in a car, was bound for home, a short distance away.
According to her mother Joleen, Courtney displayed a developing love of photography. She enjoyed experimenting in the digital format. In honor of Courtney and her budding passion for taking photos, the library at Wells Junior High School in conjunction with the WJHS Student Council held a photography contest for students in April. On June 9th, a weeklong exhibit of those photos, including an assortment taken by Courtney, opened for public viewing.
Present at the exhibit’s reception and opening were Courtney’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Corey DeWitt, and their daughter Michaela. For the past school year, Michaela has been an eighth grade student at WJHS. In the fall she will enter Wells High School as a freshman.
On the walls of this vast third floor library were 120 photos, most from the contest and a handful of “courtesy” photographs. There were also numerous photos taken by Courtney displayed in a section dedicated to her. Joleen DeWitt said that many of the photos in Courtney’s display came from her bedroom wall and door.
Photos in the exhibit reflected the categories from the contest. Students focused their cameras on animals, nature, pre-teen/teen scenes, school scenes, sports, style and “other” subjects. The categories were suggested by WJHS Library Media Specialist Lynn Mercier and Courtney’s parents.
According to Mercier, a driving force behind the exhibit, there were 58 students who entered the contest. Students were allowed more than one entry and, collectively, they submitted 115 entries. Mercier said that the photos were judged by a panel of 20 student and adult judges who selected winners for first, second and third place recognition. There was also a “Student Choice” contest in which four hundred students voted for their favorite images in the various categories.
“It’s very heartwarming to know she’s still remembered (and) that somebody wants to do something in her memory,” said Joleen DeWitt of the exhibit. “It makes you feel good.”
“It is nice, very nice,” added Corey DeWitt. “The kids are amazing with what they’ve done with the pictures. I didn’t know they could be this creative but they always amaze you.”
Mercier indicated that she got the idea to hold a contest and do an exhibit in Courtney’s honor while reading an article about the DeWitts in the York County Coast Star from March of 2009. In 2006 when the family was picking out a space for Courtney at Ocean View Cemetery, Michaela, indicated that she wanted to be able to see her sister’s place of rest from her school library’s windows, which look out, upon Ocean View Cemetery. Touched by this, Mercier was inspired to bring the contest and exhibit to life.
According to Mercier, The Courtney DeWitt Photography Competition and Library Exhibit is planned to be an annual event. While the photography exhibit in the WJHS Library is now closed because of summer recess, it will reappear at the end of summer at the Wells Public Library and may be displayed elsewhere in the fall. The photo exhibit was organized as a group effort by Joleen, Corey and Michaela DeWitt and members of the WJHS Student Council including Advisors Lynn Mercier and Cindy Mitchell.
Mercier said that any certificates and prizes for winners in the photo contest would be awarded in the fall after the display ends. She says that she plans to include the exhibit’s photos in a booklet and include it in the library’s collection.
Those that received top recognition in the Student Choice portion of the photo contest include Anna Libby (5th and 6th grade in the Nature category), Sophie Lamb (7/8 Nature), Hannah Moody (5/6 Animals), Olivia Welch (7/8 Animals), Dawson Sibley and Isabelle Smith (tied in the 5/6 “Other” category), Elizabeth Thompson (7/8 Other), Madalin Pagliarulo (5 through 8 Teen Scenes) and Tyler Bartlett (5 through 8 Sports).
The DeWitts now award a college scholarship in Courtney’s name to a deserving senior before graduation at Wells High School. Article by Reg Bennett.
Photo caption: In the Wells Junior High School Library on June 9th are (from left to right) WJHS Library Media Specialist Lynn Mercier, Michaela, Corey and Joleen DeWitt. (Reg Bennett photo)

North Berwick Library Plans for Large Renovations

By Betsy Caron
Staff Columnist
The D.A. Hurd Library of North Berwick is building a 3,560 square foot expansion and renovating their current 1928 building in order to become more handicapped accessible and energy efficient, enhance their children’s section and upgrade their technology capabilities.
The project — estimated to be completed over the course of about five years — will cost $1,250,000. The library has already raised $200,000 and hopes to receive donations and support from patrons and businesses throughout the community. The library’s board of trustees held an event at the Hurd Manor on June 17 to officially announce the plan and present the fundraising campaign
“We’re going to try and raise all the money ourselves without having to go to a bond issue,” said library director Beth Sweet. “We needed the expansion. Basically, the library is just bursting at the sides. The entire building is not handicapped accessible, so we need to do something about that.”
Rumors about a library expansion have been whispered throughout North Berwick for years, but Sweet said the committee is officially moving forward.
“There’s been a lot of stops and starts,” she said. “Now we’re going to go ahead and jump right in.”
The renovations will include a technology upgrade and revamped heating and plumbing systems.
“All the systems need to be more energy efficient,” Sweet said. “We need to upgrade the technology in the structure because we have wires everywhere. The dream would be to go wireless.”
Once the expansion is built, the children’s section will be moved from the basement to the first floor main room at the front of the building. The area will still be separate from the rest of the library, leaving the opportunity to continue the already-popular children’s programs.
Corinne Feehan, the children’s librarian for the past 10 years, is looking forward to the expansion and a new place to hold her activities.
“The patrons really like the fact that we are separate from the rest of the library,” Feehan said. “We can have children’s programs that are a little bit louder than you might actually find in your traditional library.”
Hussey Seating, Pratt and Whitney and the Merigold Fund have been the project’s largest donors, and the library will be holding various fundraising events over the course of the summer and coming year: a book sale, live concerts, a raffle and an auction.
A Pay Pal site has been set up on the library’s website to accept donations and even ticket sales, and pledge sheets for monetary contributions are available at the library.
“We are getting support and I think we’ll continue to get support as things move forward,” Feehan said.
The library staff and patrons hope the fundraising process moves quickly, but until then, the community can continue to enjoy its historic building and the 34,000 books that lie within.
Photo caption: The D.A. Hurd Library staff - (from left) assistant director, Pam Smart; library aide, Victoria Cook; children’s librarian, Corinne Feehan; library aide, Kim Parker; library director, Beth Sweet. (Betsy Caron photo)

Sharon Staz, KLPD head, named to Fact Finding Mission to Japan this July

Sharon Staz, General Manager of the Kennebunk Light and Power District (KLPD), has been selected to join the Solar Electric Power Association’s Fact Finding Mission to Japan this July. The mission, for utility decisions makers, will assemble in Tokyo and travel throughout Central Japan, ending in Kyoto.
The purpose of the mission is to provide opportunities to exchange information with Japanese utilities, solar integrators, technology researches and policy makers. The weeklong mission will include peer-to-peer, utility-to-utility meetings, residential and commercial rooftop PV installation visits, tours of research facilities, and meetings with leading solar manufacturers and project developers.
The delegation will visit the Ota City PV Demonstration Project, 2.13 Megawatt roof-mounted systems aggregated on 533 houses along with the Research Center for Photovoltaics and other installations.
KLPD’s general manager since 1998, Staz was named the Northeast Public Power Association’s (NEPPA) Person of the Year in 2008. NEPPA has 76 member utilities throughout the six New England states. Staz was elected to the American Public Power Association Board of Directors in 2004, becoming the first Maine person ever elected to serve on that board.
NEPPA also honored Staz with the prestigious Francis “Skip” Willey Jr. Individual Achievement Award in 1998. Staz currently serves as Secretary and Legislative Liaison for DIRIGO, the consumer-owned utility association of the state of Maine. In 2006 she served on the Governor’s Renewable Energy Task Force and the Governor’s Maine Energy Council.
Before coming to Kennebunk, Staz served 12 years as Manager of the Princeton (Mass.) Municipal Light Department where she received the American Public Power Associations’ Seven Hats Award in 1989 for outstanding service to the community.
Staz is currently Chair of the Northeast Power Association’s legislative committee and is a member of Kennebunk Energy Efficiency Committee.
Photo caption: Sharon Staz (Courtesy photo)

Friday, June 18, 2010

South Berwick’s Strawberry Festival Set for June 26

Always the last Saturday in June, this year the festival will be on 26 June 2010. The South Berwick Strawberry Festival officially kicks off summer for this quaint, southern Maine town of South Berwick. The kids are out of school, camps are open and the weather is getting warm. All over town one can see the bright red, white, and green strawberry flags that not only line the main streets, but can also be seen flying from many houses. The day is filled with food, entertainment, games, and crafts.
For thirty-five consecutive years, hundreds of volunteers from South Berwick have come together for a South Berwick tradition. As always, official Festival activities will take place only on the grounds of Central School, on Main Street, in the center of town. A stop at the Strawberry Festival Information Booth is a must to find out more about the day’s schedule for the entertainers, as well as where all the various activities are located and to purchase strawberry festival memorabilia.
Preparation of the strawberries start on Friday, the morning before the Festival at the Community Center, where over a hundred and fifty volunteers get together for a good old fashioned social to hull, slice, and sugar the berries. Other volunteers slice the biscuits, prepare the whipped cream and move everything under the Strawberry Shortcake tent so all will be ready for the Festival goers when it opens at 9 a.m. Things stay pretty busy for the entire Festival until it calls it quits at 4 p.m.
The Strawberry Festival Committee is pleased to announce that they we are continuing to serve Strawberry Shortcake and Cheesecake on biodegradable bowls, plates and spoons. These items are made out sugar cane called Bagasse tableware. Bagasse is the biomass remaining after sugarcane stalks are crushed to extract their juices. Additionally, we will be recycling all of the hulls from the berries for anyone who would like them for composting. The boxes and the plastic containers for the berries will also be recycled.

Old Fashion Trolleys

Transportation to and from the Festival is FREE via an old fashion trolley ride. Running every 20 minutes, the trolleys will provide free transportation to the Festival from parking locations at Marshwood Great Works School on Rt 236, Community Center on Norton St, Powder House Hill, and Agamenticus Field.

Strawberry Tent and Food

Strawberry shortcakes have always been a favorite of the Festival. They will begin serving at 9 a.m. until we run out. Last year we served up over 250 cases of fresh strawberries, 85 gallons of whipped cream and over 330 dozen biscuits. Strawberry cheesecake has also been added to the menu and complimented with, you guessed it, strawberries. The cost of these items is still only $4.
In addition to shortcakes and cheesecakes there is also a huge Food Court. There will be a pancake breakfast from 6 – 10 a.m. Throughout the day there will be other various food items sold by local non-profit groups. The Fire Dept will be selling hamburgers, hot dogs, fries and cold drinks. The Community Pantry will be serving up frozen lemon aid. Knights of Columbus--fried dough; Masons--chicken BBQ and other assorted non-profit groups serving sandwich wraps, teriyaki, nachos, fruit cups, cotton candy and water.

Road Race

The day’s activities begin at 8 a.m., a 5 mile Road Race and 2.5 mile Fun Walk, sponsored by the South Berwick Recreation Department and local businesses, kick off from Marshwood Middle School on Academy St.


Throughout the day, a variety of entertainers from around the area will be performing on two stages set up around the grounds.
At the Central School Field Stage, Marcus Gale gets things going at 9-10 a.m.; Northern Explosion Cloggers, a great group of cloggers, go on at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m., and 12:30 p.m. Funky Diva’s of Gospel at 2-4 p.m.
At the Central School Front Court stage, Vic and sticks Recycled Rhythm Band at 9 and 10 a.m., Women of Note, an cappella group at 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.; Rylie Harrod 1:30 – 2 p.m. and Seacoast Men of Harmony at 2:30 – 4 p.m.
In the Field Area from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., there’s Wildlife Encounters. For the kids there will be a climbing wall, pony rides, a giant tiger slide, dunking booth, exotic animals’ exhibition, pony rides, a bungee jumping setup and much more.


Over 100 juried artisans will be on hand to display and sell their hand-made wares, including clothing, pottery, wood products, jewelry, paintings, photographs, candles, jams and dips, furniture, and much, much more. These crafters will be located both at the side of Central School and in the area around the food court.
Remember be kind to your pets and have them stay in the coolness of your home.
You can visit us at our website at
Photo caption: Come to South Berwick on June 26 and help celebrate the annual Strawberry Festival. (Courtesy photo)

Wine Dinner Features Eileen Crane, Founder of Domaine Carneros

By Jim Kanak
Staff Columnist
Bintliff’s Restaurant in Ogunquit is the scene of a rather rare wine dinner phenomenon this summer. While normally such dinners involve wine brokers or sales representatives, Bintliff’s dinners include the actual wine maker from the vineyard being highlighted. The first of these occurred on June 4, when Eileen Crane, the founding winemaker and CEO of Domaine Carneros of California attended a five-course dinner accompanied by two still wines and three sparkling wines from her vineyard.
“It’s very challenging to get the winemakers themselves,” said chef Norm Herbert, Jr.. “They are in high demand. When the wine maker is present, it’s a lot more fun.”
Hebert created a menu that began with a reception featuring baked brie en croute stuffed with spicy roasted pears and almonds, with a selection of Maine cheeses. Domaine Carneros Brut sparkling wine accompanied the food.
The reception was followed by an appetizer course of BBQ shrimp (paired with a Rose sparkling wine), a first course of pan roasted pork tenderloin over slow roasted peaches and Maine fiddleheads (with avant garde pinot noir) and a second course of roasted flank steak stuffed with roasted eggplant, baby spinach, goat cheese, and tomato demi-glace (with Domaine Carneros pinot noir). A dessert of lemon curd in puff pastry with grilled pineapple, Maine blueberries, and ginger syrup (with Vermeil Demi-Sec sparkling wine) completed the meal.
“We paired the wines with particular foods, trying to incorporate that spirit with the food preparation,” Hebert said. “For the first course, we made the sauce with the paired wine. That makes for a nice, cleaner package. The dessert ginger sauce was made with the sparkling wine.”
Hebert said the restaurant was sold out for the dinner, with more than twice the number of diners that usually attend such dinners at the restaurant. Part of the attraction was Crane, Hebert said. Known as America’s Doyenne of sparkling wine, Crane was selected personally by Claude Taiittinger, who founded Champagne Taiitinger in the 1970s, to lead Domaine Carneros upon its founding in 1987.
“She’s very highly ranked,” Hebert said. “The Amelia Earhart of the wine industry.”
Hebert said the restaurant tries to do four to five wine dinners each year. The next one is set for Aug. 19 and it also includes a wine maker - Peter Merriam of Merriam Vineyards in Sonoma.
“He is from New England,” said Hebert. “He owns a house here and will be the presenter and speaker.”
Hebert said the menu and price would be available on the restaurant’s website ( soon.
Photo caption: Norm Hebert, Sr. (left) and Norm Hebert, Jr., of Bintliff’s Restaurant with winemaker Eileen Crane. (Courtesy photo)

YCCC Summer Enrollment Soars

York County Community College Dean of Students, Dr. Corinne Kowpak, announced recently that the college has reached another record summer enrollment. With a total of 501 students enrolled in the 2010 Summer semester, the college has realized an increase of 41%, compared to Summer 2009, with 51% of those students being new to the college.
“In total, we have 58 sections running this semester, including 5 at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY),” Kowpak advised. “Of those sections, 77% are enrolled at 80% or more. We were very successful in developing a schedule that was responsive to the needs of the summer enrollees.” In addition to the sections offered at PNSY, 37 are being taught at the College Drive campus in Wells, while another 16 are being taught online.
“We are pleased to see continued record numbers,” offered Dr. Charles Lyons, college president. “YCCC is the youngest in the Maine Community College system, but is the fastest growing. The quality of education combined with the affordable tuition and flexible course schedule are all contributing to these impressive numbers. We are pleased to be able to accommodate those in York County looking to further their education.”

Friday, June 11, 2010

Food Network Comes to Wells to Feature the Maine Diner

By Candi Enman
Staff Columnist
It’s shaping up to be an exciting year for the Maine Diner. The iconic Wells eatery received the prestigious Maine Restaurant Association’s 2010 Restaurateur of the Year Award; was invited to be part of the New Orleans Roadfood Festival, a French Quarter street fest “honoring legendary eats;” and recently the Diner was voted by NECN viewers as the Best Diner in New England.
And it just keeps getting better.
The Diner had to close its doors to unsuspecting guests on two separate days - May 30th and June 2nd - for the filming of an upcoming episode of “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.” The wildly popular Food Network series features a road trip concept with host Guy Fieri traveling around the country in his ’67 Chevy Camaro SS Convertible to spotlight small, independent eateries. Food Network viewers recommend their favorite local dining spots to be featured on the show and the Maine Diner was a top pick.
“Show producers told us we had been on their radar for a number of years,” said Maine Diner co-owner, Myles Henry. “They seemed to love the restaurant and the crew and complimented our cleanliness and organization. They said they had never seen a place pump out such high quality food.”
With his trademark bleached blond spiky hair, “Triple D’s” host, Fieri, a chef and restaurateur, has become somewhat of a culinary rock star. He also hosts Food TV’s “Guy’s Big Bite” and “Guy Off The Hook,” as well as NBC’s primetime series, “Minute to Win It.”
“Guy was great. He interacted with the staff and interviewed our customers. He’s down to earth and humble, with real people skills,” remarked Henry. Fieri left behind his insignia just above the kitchen door, a tattoo-like painted image of his face and the words “Guy Ate Here.”
Relying on his family’s home-style recipes, many that were his grandmother’s, Henry and the Diner staff served up Seafood Chowder, New England Cod Fish Cakes and their scrumptious signature Lobster Pie for the show taping.
Now in its 27th year, the Henry family is very proud of the staff, many of whom have worked at the Diner for more than a decade, or even two. They eagerly await the episode’s airing, anticipated to be sometime in the next six months.
“Food Network will let us know within one month of the air date and we’ll post it on our website and on our Facebook page,” added Henry. Friends of the Maine Diner can also stay up to date by signing up for email announcements on their website at
If you’ve never eaten at the Maine Diner, you might want to get down there soon to see what the buzz is all about. Summer is just around the corner and in the next few weeks you may have to wait in a long line to sample their tasty, regional road food creations. Five million customers can’t be wrong.
“Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” airs Mondays at 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., Fridays at 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. (all times Eastern).
Photo caption: Fieri’s insignia above the Diner’s kitchen door (Candi Enman photo)

Berwick Veterans, Families Prepare to Salute ‘Old Glory’

On a day to celebrate the American Flag, members of Charles S. Hatch Post #79, The American Legion, will also honor “Old Glory” in a special outdoor flag retirement ceremony.
On Monday, June 14th, at 7 p.m. at the front entrance of the Berwick Town Hall on Sullivan Square, the citizens of Berwick are invited to join us for our Flag Day ceremony. Anyone who has a worn, torn or tattered “Stars and Stripes” can bring it to the Berwick Town Hall before close of business on June 14th for inclusion in this ceremony.
The American flag was authorized by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777, but commemoration of this significant event was slow in its development. The Stars and Stripes first flew in a Flag Day celebration in 1861 in Hartford, Conn. The first national observance of Flag Day came on June 14, 1877, 100 years after the original resolution establishing the nation’s symbol.
On June 14, 1916, President Wilson issued a proclamation calling for a nation-wide observance of Flag Day and while Flag Day was a popular celebration for many years after this proclamation, it didn’t receive its official congressional designation until 1949.
Please come join the members of Post #79, our auxiliary and local Scouts on June 14th as we properly retire unserviceable American flags. In the event of inclement weather, this ceremony will be rescheduled for 7:00 PM on 21 June. Can’t make it? Then remember Flag Day, June14, 2010 where you live and/or work. Show your colors!

Friends of the Ogunquit Heritage Museum Hosts Its First Open House

On Sunday, June 6, 2010, the Friends of the Ogunquit Heritage Museum held an open house to welcome members and the public to the 2010 exhibition. In spite of very stormy weather, the event was attended by almost 100 guests and members of the Friends, as well as a number of celebrated political names such as Barney Frank, Congressman from Massachusetts, and Chellie Pingree, Congresswoman representing Maine’s first district in Washington.
This year, the Friends of the OHM used the open house as the occasion to present to long-time curator, Barbara Woodbury, and her husband, Peter Woodbury, a bronze plaque dedicated to their long and devoted stewardship of the Ogunquit Heritage Museum. Without the Woodburys, it is likely that the Museum would not have survived and thrived as it has since its inception in 2002.
Highlighting the Ogunquit Beach this year, the Museum posted photographs from the earliest days of the beach, along with an historical recounting of how the beach was saved from private development and kept as a public park for use by the public today.
On view in the same room are clippings and photos of the storm of 1978 that sent the Lobster Bar crashing against the bridge and out to sea. Also featured is Isabel Lewando’s coverage of the repair of the dunes by the Army Corps of Engineers, and the subsequent battle fought by SCROD (the organization formed to challenge the work carried out by the ACE and return the dunes to their former state). Of special note are the 1900s photographs taken and preserved by Florence Whittier Tyler.
In the Museum’s Art Room, there are numerous artists’ renderings of the Ogunquit Beach, along with a very powerful oil by Channing Hare of Richard Perkins at the beach.
The Architecture Room this year is dedicated to an exposition of the construction of Dunelawn, its history as a hotel for more than 30 years, and its eventual conversion into the present-day Dunelawn Condominiums.
As in the past, a refurbished fisherman’s shack has been assembled by the Museum to illustrate the paraphernalia and necessities of early fishing life in Perkins Cove.
Visitors to the Museum will be welcomed from Tuesday through Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is free, though donations are greatly appreciated. The Ogunquit Heritage Museum is located at 86 Obed’s Lane in Ogunquit. For more information, please contact the OHM at (207) 646-0296.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Corners and Hills Reflect Rich Eliot History

By Betsy Caron
Staff Columnist
In honor of the town’s 200th birthday, the Eliot Historical Society is challenging its residents to locate the 18 new handmade signs put up to recognize historic and significant locations throughout the town. The signs are part of Eliot’s weeklong bicentennial celebration, which will be held Aug. 7 to 14.
“The actual 200th was in March, but the actual week of celebration will be the same as it was 100 years ago,” said historical society treasurer Julie Johnson.
The signs were put up on May 23. Residents familiar with the town may be able to locate places like Farmer’s Corner, where inventor Moses Gerrish Farmer once lived, or Rosemary Hill, representing Rosemary Cottage.
Each sign was hand carved and painted by members of the historical society. Fran Hartford, a retired carpenter and 30-year industrial arts teacher at Marshwood High School, carved the wood over the course of two weeks beginning in March.
Johnson painted the background and blue lettering on all signs representing the hills and corners, putting about six hours of work into each one. Polly McDonough designed and painted the new town hall sign, taking around 60 hours.
“The picture on the left is a Garrison, and it dated back to 1679. It’s called a Hammond Garrison,” McDonough said of the house she painted on the town hall sign. “On the right is a picture of the Nightingale, which is a ship built in Eliot in 1851. There were shipbuilding companies here.”
McDonough said she wanted to paint images representative of Eliot’s past. “The Nightingale is kind of a symbol of Eliot,” she said. “It’s fairly well known. For the Hammond Garrison, I wanted to pick something that went way back before Eliot was an incorporated town.”
The historical society did a similar project in 1985 for Eliot’s 175th celebration, but the older signs have since deteriorated.
“There was one still standing when we put them up on Sunday morning down on Welch’s corner,” Johnson said. “All you could really make out was the ‘w,’ and if you didn’t know what it said you would not know what it was.”
Other events planned for the celebration week include a parade, open houses and displays, fireworks and a bicentennial ball, where many guests plan to appear in period costumes.
“A ball is a time for a lot of people to come together,” McDonough said. “There’s food and music, dancing, and so it’s fun.”
The ball, which is being held at the Regatta at Eliot Commons on Aug. 7, will also offer a more modern twist with a DJ and square dancing.
A complete calendar of events will become available online as the celebration draws closer. Until then, the Eliot Historical Society hopes the community will take a drive around town to find and discover the new signs and Eliot’s rich history.
Photo caption: Left to right: Fran Hartford, Polly McDonough, (President) Dennis Lentz, (Treasurer) Julie Johnson and Paul Johnson. (Betsy Caron photo)

Traveling Through Time to Raise Awareness of Counting House Museum

A group of third grade students at Central School has been working on a service-learning project with the Old Berwick Historical Society to build an awareness of the Counting House Museum as a family destination to learn about the history of the town. Katherine Bousquet’s class began working on this project earlier this spring.
“Service learning is unique,” said Bousquet. “Children enter an actual partnership with someone in the community to solve an existing problem. Thus, service! At the same time, the work the students do must be related to the curriculum and the goals for learning!”
Students met with historical society volunteers and learned that while the museum receives many visitors each year, the number of families with children was fewer than what the museum had hoped. The students worked together to come up with ideas and plans for how they might reach families in the community and spark an interest in visiting the Counting House.
“They’re so creative,” said historical society president Wendy Pirsig of the children’s ideas. “And the students have really dedicated themselves to this valuable project of getting the word out about the museum as a community resource.”
The decision to host a booth at South Berwick’s second annual Kids’ Day on June 5 in was made by the students in an effort to raise community awareness. After numerous trips to the Counting House, research online and in books, visits to other local historic sites such as the Hamilton House and the Sarah Orne Jewett House and the annual Hike Through History at Central School, the children used their knowledge to develop fun and educational activities for a booth at Kids’ Day.
There will be a range of activities from learning about and making a toy that a child in the 1800’s would have played with, to hand-sewing their own initial. Visitors can enjoy a skit of what it was like to be a mill worker in the 1800’s and learn a dance from the time period. There will even by an “I Spy at the Counting House” book where they find, identify and discover information about objects from the past.
In the words of Erica Bergendahl, “Being at the museum, I felt like I was back in history.”
In addition to the activities, there will be a brochure pertaining to the museum written for kids by kids.
“We want families to visit the museum,” said Jake Doyle, another pupil. “It is not like an ordinary museum, it is all about our town.”
Through this project, the students were able to become actively engaged in their town, as well as learn the value of community involvement.
“Many people donated their time and talents to making this project a success,” said Bousquet. “It was the volunteers from the Counting House, Kids’ Day, the parents of the students and the support of teachers at Central that have enabled the students to learn so much and to accomplish their goal.”
Fiona Scharff said, “This service learning project shows me that if we all work together we can do amazing things.”
The students hope that by seeing how fun and interesting history can be at their booth, kids and their families will take a trip to visit the museum this summer.
The Counting House Museum is open Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. from June through October. Admission is free.
Photo caption: Katherine Bousquet and her students visited the Counting House Museum recently. They have developed skits, brochures and a booth at Kids Day to raise awareness of the museum as a family destination. (Courtesy photo)

Wells Voters Face Decision on Lighted Electronic Sign Regulation

By Jim Kanak
Staff Columnist
For the second time in recent months, Wells’ voters face a ballot question rife with controversy. Question 18 on the June 8 ballot asks voters to weigh in on proposed amendments to the town code relative to the definition and permissibility of the lighted electronic signs that a half dozen businesses on Route 1 currently display.
Those in favor of the amendment (a ‘yes’ vote on Question 18) argue that the amendment is needed to regulate the size, brightness, frequency of message changing, and area of town where the signs can be permitted. Opponents of the amendment (a ‘no’ vote) argue that the signs in question are not permitted under the existing code and should not have been allowed, and that the amendment, in fact, would legitimize the signs in town code.
“The signs have been allowed and they aren’t going away,” said Town Planner Mike Huston. “The Code Office believes they are permitted and the Board of Selectmen has said they won’t go to court to eliminate (those that have been permitted).”
Former selectwoman Joan Mooney urges that the amendment be defeated. “How did (the signs) get approved in the first place if they weren’t in the ordinance?” she said. “A lot of us feel that we’re starting to look like Saugus (Mass.). We want to stop it now. They shouldn’t have issued the first one. I would rather that we revert to the current ordinance.”
The proposed amendment creates a definition in Chapter 145 of the town code for an “Electronic Message Center” that “either in whole or in part may be changed by means of electronic programming.” The amendment would also establish standards for such signs, including placing limits on their brightness, frequency of changing the message (not more than once every ten minutes), size (40 square feet with no side longer than ten feet), distance from the road (a minimum of 25 feet), area of town where they are permitted (the general business district only, primarily the Route 1 corridor), and limits them to one per lot.
Wells resident Linda Dumey, another opponent of the change, said the signs violate the town’s Comprehensive Plan guidelines. “They’re in opposition to the Comp Plan,” she said. “Things are supposed to be in a traditional Maine style. Changeable signs aren’t allowed. If there are six signs now and another one in the pipeline, there’s nothing we can do. It’s a horrifying prospect unless you like the Las Vegas or tacky beach town look.”
Currently, the town code permits internally illuminated signs, including neon signs, and prohibits animated signs. Selectman Jim Spiller says the distinction between the two has been lost on those who argue the signs are not now permitted by the code. “People have to understand that the statement that this type of sign has never been allowed is wrong,” he said. “We have always allowed illuminated signs. These aren’t animated signs. They automatically change. There’s a clear differentiation. That’s where people are misguided. We told (Mike’s Clam Shack) “no’ when he included animation (on his sign), so he stopped doing it.”
The town code currently includes a definition for “changeable copy sign “ as any sign that may be manually changed, but not automatically. Mooney argues that these are the only type of changeable signs permitted.
In regards to the prohibited animated signs, such signs are defined as those that “display movement or the optical illusion of movement of any part of its structure, design, or pictorial segment, including the movement of any illumination or the flashing or varying of light intensity, or the automatic changing of all or any part of the sign’s facing.”
Spiller’s comment aside, whether electronic signs are captured under the last part of that definition has remained part of the debate.
Both Spiller and Huston insist that the proposed amendment is the only way to truly regulate the location and control proliferation of the signs.
“If you don’t like these signs, pass this and limit the annoyance factor,” said Huston. “If the vote is ’no,’ we already know businesses on Route 9 and others will come in for these. And currently, the maximum sized sign allowed in the GBD is 150 square feet.”
Spiller said, “People should realize how important it is to pass this.”
Dumey offered a different analysis. “The proposed amendment doesn’t offer any protection at all,” she said. “We could end up with 200 more of these. If we permit them, we’ll be giving our blessing to them.”