March 23, 1988

The man who held up the Maine National Bank office in Westbrook Wednesday got away with $10,500. He has had a week to enjoy his riches, and police don’t seem to be very close to grabbing him. They put out Friday a sketch of the man made by an artist using information supplied by tellers. Thus far, it hasn’t turned up a name and address of the hold-up man, or much else about him. The bank is a free-standing building in Westbrook Plaza.

The cumulative toll of development since 1940 near the Gorham Municipal Center has doubled the drainage flow in the area, and existing drainage systems are no longer adequate, the Gorham Planning Board learned Monday. Les Berry from BH2M Engineering outlined the results of a comprehensive watershed study that was requested by the board in conjunction with the proposed Village Crossing development, a 32-lot, single-family, clustered subdivision planned just south of St. Anne’s Church, on the south side of Route 25 across from the Municipal Building. The solution outlined by Berry is a controlled, planned flood that would handled the rainfall from a 25-year storm (5.4 inches). The solution would be accomplished by using several methods, including building two detention ponds, one of the north side of Route 25 that would moderate the rate of flow through an existing 24-inch culvert. The other would be at the edge of the proposed Village Crossing property on the south side of Route 25. An expanded drainage ditch would handle the flow from the first pond to the second. The study was requested by St. Anne’s, which said drainage problems caused the breakup of blacktop in the parking lot.

Members of the newly formed Drop-Out Prevention Committee were announced at the March 14 meeting of the Westbrook School Committee. The committee will be headed by school social worker Elizabeth Dewar, and will include John Chase, Jack Dawson, Pat Donovan, Elinor Doughty, Joseph Driscoll, Roger Dunning, Steven Harnois, Jane Johnson, Sharon Martin, William Michaud, Larry Murison and Maura Sullivan.

The Westbrook School Committee and city aldermen met to discuss a possible $5.9 million bond. Expanded programs of education are at the root of Westbrook’s school bilding needs. Enrollments alone won’t call for new school construction for adecade, but programming demands will. Superintendent Edward Connolly said the high school’s needs total $5.9 million, and would include a new classroom-lab-cafeteria building, $2.5 million; new gym, $1.1 million; converting present gym for lockers and other uses, $630,000; converting old cafeteria to a library, $322,5000; two elevators and ramps, $175,000; electrical and mechanical systems improvements, $250,000; renovations, $300,000; replacing window walls, $600,000. The $5.9 million would also include asbestos removal, boiler replacement and roof repair at two elementary schools.

After a long battle by its owners to save it, an ash tree that had been on this earth for 120 years was felled Friday in an operation that took several hours, several men and a crane. The tree had presided for all those years over the Flaggy Meadow Road residence of David and Virigina Lewis in Gorham. “I almost cried when it was taken down,” Mrs. Lewis said. She said that fears about the effects of the tree’s limbs coming down, both on the wires near the house and on humans who might be passing under, were the chief reasons why she and her husband decided to take the tree down.

March 25, 1998

Bruce Doughty has reported that it may take three years to raise $225,000 from the public for Westbrook High School field improvements, and Mike Kane said it will be up to the City Council whether to go ahead will all of the work, presently under way, or hold off on part of it until the money is in hand. If the council decides to go ahead, someone will have to find the money. Doughty is chairman of the citizen fund drive. Kane, assistant superintendent of school, has shepherded the fields project. Doughty reported to the Westbrook School Committee on fund drive progress Jan. 28, and he said last week that the figures haven’t changed much: $12,500 raised toward the $225,000 goal.

Westbrook has threatened to use eminent domain to take 38 acres held by Raymond Boivin as trustee next to the Polly Carmichael land where General Electric plans a new power plant. In a letter, City Solicitor Michael Cooper invites Boivin to settle for $375,000. Both Carmichael, who was persuaded to sell an option at $6,000 an acre, and Boivin, offered $9,868 an acre, think the city is being unfair. Cooper’s letter says the city needs the land to expand the Five Star Industrial Park. Carmichael’s property is the site planned for the 520 megawatt, $200 million, gas-fired generating plant proposed by GE and Westbrook Power Corp. Boivin, 589 Saco St., who holds the property in trust for his father, Alphonse, said the city’s offer is grossly unfair. “I think they’re a bunch of bandits down there,” he said of city officials.

A husky puppy was stolen from its cage at the Animal Refuge League on Stroudwater Street in Westbrook in the afternoon of March 17. “Someone came in and just pulled the dog out of its cage and exited through the back of the building,” said Stevan Briley, executive director. He said no one at the ARL actually witnessed the theft. To Briley’s knowledge, no animal has ever been stolen from the shelter.

Ensign Raymond F. Barnes Jr. son of Ray and Cheryl Barnes, 15 North St., Gorham, graduated in January from Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Fla., and is in pre-flight indoctrination there. The Barnes’ son Christopher is on the dean’s list at Amherst College, where he is a freshman majoring in astronomy and astrophysics.

Parents of Gorham children who will be entering kindergarten in the fall are asked to schedule an appointment for screening on either April 7, 9, 16 or 28. A “Getting Ready for Kindergarten” parent meeting will be held March 31 in the Little Falls Kindergarten Center.

The Westbrook City Council has set a public hearing for April 6 to help determine the fate of the dilapidated buildings at 198 and 230 Brown St., both vacant and boarded up. The city would like them demolished. The federal office of Housing and Urban Developent owns the building at 198. The building at 230 is in private hands. The city would have to decide whether to give the owner another chance to make improvements or to condemn the building. The area in question has been a sore spot for Westbrook police for many ears, consistently generating a disproportionate number of calls for service, according to Deputy Chief Paul McCarthy. “They just attract vandals. They’re targets. I would like to see them torn down,” he said.

Day’s Jewelry Store is show at its 857 Main St. location. The first Day’s Jewelry Store in Westbrook was opened in 1947 at 866 Main St. In 1971 the store expanded to carry appliances, renovating an adjacent space that was recently vacated by longtime occupant Hood’s Drug Store.In 1974, the Westbrook Urban Renewal Authority acquired the building and slated it for demolition. Day’s moved across the street to 857 Main St. to a space that became available when Romonow Furniture closed its Westbrook store.
Day’s remained here several years before closing the Westbrook store and moving to South Portland.Fajita Grill presently occupies 857 Main St. To see more historical photos and artifacts, visit the Westbrook Historical Society at the Fred C. Wescott Building, 426 Bridge St. Inquiries can be emailed to [email protected] The website is www.westbrookhistoricalsociety.org. 
Photo and research courtesy of Mike Sanphy