Looking Back


May 26, 1993

Less available surplus money, and a $1 million increase in debt payments mean that Regional Waste Systems needs to increase the incinerator disposal fee by 16 percent – from $43 to $50 a ton for most member communities. And if the proposed recycling center and landfill in Gorham is built, the fee could jump another $7 a ton in 1994 to finance $10 million in new money for that project. Westbrook’s yearly costs could jump from $290,095 to $319,680.

On a recent warm Friday afternoon, the staff at Cook’s Trustworthy Hardware Store in Gorham had a small problem. A hummingbird feeding on the nectar of a hanging flower plant near the open doors decided to go shopping instead. The buzzing bird was flitting from corner to corner, and Diane Allen, Mark Allen and Thad Moody were anxious to get it free. They moved outdoor hanging flower pots inside, near the entrance. Sure enough, the bird was attracted to the area and the three store workers were able to shoo the flier back outside.

A Gorham man is working as a plumber and heating technician in Moscow. Fred Gavett, 60, arrived in the Russian capital in March while winter conditions still raged. He is part of a Western nations goodwill group that is helping to repair old buildings while promoting better relations with the new republic. He calls his family regularly from the U.S. Embassy telephones. “He says it’s a beautiful city with the architecture, but mechanically the stuff needs a lot of work,” said his son, Brandon.

Two City Council Democrats and two Republicans came together Monday on a package that would chop the mayor’s $6,651,755 budget by $375,710, and submitted the recommendations to the Finance Committee. If the City Council and Mayor Fred Wescott accept their ideas, it would chop 39 cents off the city-services tax rate of $6.70.

Lew Randall believes in spreading municipal sludge on his farm fields, but wants its processing to change. Doing so would reduce complaints from neighbors about the smell, he said. The Westbrook farmer, 73, owns 160 acres on both sides of Stroudwater Street and another 200 acres in Gray. For five years now, sewer system waste from South Portland has been spread on those properties where his beef cattle graze. At his farm, Randall pointed to large, thick chunks of sludge still sitting on some sections of fields – nine moths after being spread there. “What they need to use is a slide slinger spreader. It grinds the sludge up and throws it out 40 feet. When it gets on the ground, it’s the size of corn flakes,” he said. “By spreading it the right way, there will be hardly any smell.” The sludge disposal contract is with ESCO Co. of Medomak. Alva Achorn, company owner, said Monday he will make sure a slinger spreader is used on Randall’s farm this year.

Charles Johnson was given a big surprise when he turned 92 on May 18. His nephew, John Bodge, and John’s wife, Barbara gave a party for him in their residence on Fort Hill Road in Gorham. Charlie was from a family of nine and has four living sisters. He feels he is the oldest living Gorham native. He was born and has lived all his life on Fort Hill Road. He operated a farm, and during World War II he was employed by Cumberland County Power and Light Co. at their power plant in Westbrook. He was an auxiliary military policeman and wartime sheriff.

May 28, 2003

Supporters of Walker Memorial Library told Westbrook city councilors last week that budget cuts could force the library to close on Saturdays and would allow a building in need of repair to deteriorate to the point of “no return.” Mayor Don Esty’s proposed budget would give the library $9,000 less than the current budget of $333,000. It would cut two part-time positions and would hold off on repairing leaking windows and replace $9,000 in the book budget with money bequeathed to the library by a former patron. But members of the City Council’s Finance Committee couldn’t agree on where to apply money if it were restored. Library employees left the meeting empty-handed.

Brian Emery wanted to do an Eagle Scout project a little different from others. So Emery, a junior at Westbrook High School, has come up with a design for the school’s memorial to Sept. 11, which will surround the 20-by-38-foot flag the school raised on an 80-foot flagpole last year during a ceremony to commemorate the terrorist attack. Emery’s design would enclose the flag in a half-circle of bushes to set it off from the rest of the lawn in front of the school. The American flag would be surrounded by the state, city and school flags. Benches would face the flags. The project has a $7,000 budget, which was raised through donations from D&G Machine Products and City Councilor John O’Hara. Emery is hoping to follow his brother, Lew, into the U.S. Naval Academy after graduation.

For Pam Turner, Baxter Memorial Library director in Gorham, Saturday’s grand opening ceremonies for the expanded and renovated South Street building are a long time coming. In one form or another, Turner and other library supporters have been working for an expansion since the early 1990s. Work finally began in April 2002 and the $2.5 million project is wrapping up this week in advance of the May 31 opening.

Cast members from Shaw Middle School in Gorham have been rehearsing several afternoons a week to breathe exuberant life into Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” which will be performed June 1 at the McCormack Performing Arts Center at Gorham High School.

Kristina Plourde of Westbrook set a Sacred Heart University record of 39:04 in the 10,000 meter run while competing in a meet at the University of New Hampshire on May 7. Plourde, the daughter of Stephen and Sally Plourde, is a graduate student at Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, Connecticut, enrolled in the doctoral of physical therapy program.

When this photo of Brown Street at North Street was taken the store on the corner was Dyer’s Market and the bar on the opposite corner was Andy’s Tavern. The building to the right of the store on North Street was the Robert G. Fortin Furniture Company. The furniture building was replaced with apartments and Andy’s Tavern is now Live at 212. To see more historical photos and artifacts, visit the Westbrook Historical Society at the Fred C. Wescott Building, 426 Bridge St. It is open Tuesdays and Saturdays, 9 a.m.-noon, and the first Wednesday of each month at 1:30 p.m., September-June. Inquiries can be emailed to westhistorical@myfairpoint.net. The website is www.westbrookhistoricalsociety.org.