Looking Back


June 16, 1993

Principal William Michaud wants beepers, or pagers, banned from Westbrook High School, and warns that they “can be used for criminal activity.” Michaud didn’t spell out what kind of criminal activity he meant. Michael Belanger, manager of the Radio Shack store at Pine tree Shopping Center, who sells the devices at about $50, said the criminal activity almost certainly would be the sale of narcotics.

Our newspaper press was years in arriving. What had been long a dream recently became a reality and this new era of American Journal-ism feels great to all of us. Getting the paper a press was an early goal of publisher Harry T. Foote, who came to the paper in 1965. Most of the years since then have included work, thought and planning toward its attainment. The May 5 issue was the first printed by us right here at 4 Dana St. on our six-unit Goss Community, the preferred make and model of American newspapering. It is big, nearly 50 feet long and 7 feet wide, and takes up an entire end wall of the back wing of our plant. The supporting cast includes a semi-automated Chemco Spartan roll-film-fed process camera, a NuArc fliptop plate burner and a National plate processor.

Westbrook High School’s top students have been announced. Valedictorian is Amy Grant, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Grant. She’s headed for Bates College. Salutatorian is Jennifer Calderbank, daughter of JoAnn Calderbank and Dr. James Calderbank. She will attend Colby College. Honor essayist is Jill Forrester, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Forrester, and Anne Whitten. She will attend the University of Vermont.

A Gorham man who lives at 173 Main St., the house where two people were arrested recently for selling drugs and giving liquor to minors, claims police are harassing tenants there. Police deny the charges and cite the number of complaints they get as reasons for going to the village house owned by Peter and Roberta Erskine of Portland. Police have been called there more than 15 times since April 1992 for noise complaints, assaults, burglaries, thefts and narcotic problems. Resident Troy Nason believes police pick on the house because it is conveniently located on Main Street. Nason said downstairs tenants, who caused most of the complaints, moved about a month ago.

Jerry Durgin was selected as the new athletic director at Gorham High School. He replaces Tim Wiblin, who is leaving to attend grad school. He has held the job since 1987. Durgin was picked from 45 applicants. He will be paid $40,000 and starts July 1. He is the athletic director, dean of students and an English teacher at Fryeburg Academy. “He was named athletic director of the year by his peers in 1992. He came highly recommended,” said Superintendent Timothy McCormack.

Adam Lord, son of Roger and Judith Lord, Phinney Street, Gorham, has a special record as he graduates from Gorham High School in June. He has had perfect attendance for all 13 years of his schooling. It began with kindergarten at the old Millett School and continued at Narragansett and Village schools, Shaw Junior High and Gorham High.

June 18, 2003
Ever since her mother, Renate Plummer, was killed in a car accident at Dingley Springs and Shaws Mill roads in Gorham in the fall of 2000, Darlene Ridlon has been keeping the site clean and periodically putting up flowers and a small cross. Four days after putting up a wrought iron hanger her husband had made and two pots of begonias on Memorial Day, someone had taken the flowers and the hanger. “I just couldn’t believe it. They were gone,” she said. Ridlon reported the theft to the Gorham police but there was little they could do.

The Westbrook Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors picked Ray Richardson to be its new president, though several board members questioned whether his political persona would interfere with his chamber work. Richardson, a well-known Republican activist, writes a conservative political column for a weekly and chairs the Westbrook Republican Committee. He will replace City Councilor Bruce Chuluda, who is stepping down after five years. Richardson told the American Journal he was optimistic that the relationship between the city and the chamber would improve under his leadership.

The Westbrook City Council approved Monday five bonds totaling $10 million that will pay for the reconstruction of William Clarke Drive and the construction of the boardwalk and public safety building. The bonds will also pay for dump trucks, a street sweeper, sidewalk plow and salt shed, and repairs to the windows at Walker Memorial Library.

Melissa Binette and her brother, Matthew Binette, children of Martha Binette of Quaker Road, Westbrook, and the late Michael J. Binette, both received advanced degrees in graduation exercises last month. Melissa graduated from the University of New England with a master’s in occupational therapy. She and her mother then flew to North Carolina to see Matthew graduate from the University of North Carolina with a law degree.

Gorham voters approved the demolition of Shaw School during the June 10 election. The $2.4 million project was approved, 743-438. The work includes tearing down the oldest section of the building, which fronts South Street, and renovating the gym and some rooms into office space for the school superintendent and Recreation Department.

This windmill was built in the 1870s by John Wheeler at his wood and coal yard at Main and Haskell streets. The sign painted on the windmill proclaims it to be a Hercules Wind Motor, which Wheeler used to power the saws in his mill. A gas and service station was later built on the site, and later still, the Westbrook Public Safety Building was constructed there. 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. Inquiries can be emailed to westhistorical@myfairpoint.net. The website is www.westbrookhistoricalsociety.org.