Looking Back


July 7, 1993

A Gorham woman told police last week that her husband was growing marijuana in the backyard, but he said she was the culprit. The dispute apparently occurred after they fought about something. Police searched the couple’s property and found 85 young plants, ranging from 6 inches tall to 3 feet, growing in the garden behind their home. Lt. Ron Shepard said police sent the plants to the state crime lab for testing and weighing.

Four Seasons Crafters Outlet has leased 2,550 square feet of space at Westbrook Plaza and is renting retail spaces in it to crafters and artisans. The business has rented 110 spaces and expects to reach its 136-space capacity soon.

The S.D. Warren paper mill’s taxable valuation in Westbrook is down more than $8 million this year, the City Council heard Thursday. Council President Kenneth Lefebvre greeted that as “good news,” on this logic: Total city valuation is down $3.2 million, so more than half of the S.D. Warren loss has been made up by others’ gains. In fact, $5.1 million was added during the year by one manufacturer, Global Zero, 80 Eisenhower Drive. It makes plastic video cassettes. Warren pays about 40 percent of Westbrook’s taxes.

Florence Libby, 416 Saco St., a leader of the drive that raised $216,000 to send the Westbrook High School marching band to California, denounced the Westbrook City Council Thursday as it got ready to vote on a budget that the superintendent says will kill the band. “I’m deeply embarrassed. There are two TV stations here and the city of Westbrook will be portrayed as a bunch that can’t get their act together.” The council wants a $350,000 cut in the school budget.

Plans are well in hand for the 10th annual Celebrate Gorham Festival, July 10, organized by the Gorham Arts Council. It starts with a cross-country race at 8:30 a.m., followed by a parade at 10. The Narragansett School grounds will be turned over to concessionaires, with food booths, games, crafts, face painting and pony rides. Eight bands will play up to 5 p.m., followed by the fire department barbecue. Fireworks start at 9 p.m.

Maureen and Thomas Haley, 144 Longfellow St., Westbrook, have returned from a 10-day trip to visit Jim and Marg Booth of Rhyl, North Wales. Three years ago Maureen and Thomas answered the Booths’ classified ad seeking to meet people from Maine. The couples have kept up a correspondence since. The Haleys lived the Welsh lifestyle the whole time, enjoying the everyday activities and market trips.

July 9, 2003
Residents will have a chance to speak next week about the proposed plan for a Gorham bypass, a $26 million project that would displace more than two-dozen homes that have been built since the idea was first proposed three decades ago. Ray Faucher, project manager for the state’s bypass study, said the July 16 meeting was scheduled after the state released an assessment of the property and environmental impacts along the proposed bypass routes last month. The two bypass routes include one road that would connect Route 25 at Mosher’s Corner to a point west of the village back on Route 25. The second road would connect Route 114 south to Route 25 west of the village, but at a separate intersection than the other bypass. Faucher said the bypass routes, endorsed by the Gorham Town Council in January 2002, could only be built if up to 25 homes are demolished and wetland filled.

Bruce Chuluda announced this week that he plans to seek the Republican nomination to run for Westbrook mayor. He is the former president of the Westbrook Chamber of Commerce and current city councilor representing Ward 2. Chuluda said he wants to slow the pace of city projects and give elderly residents some tax relief.

One of the oldest operating restaurants in downtown Westbrook, The Cornerstone, closed abruptly this week, putting 22 people out of work. Joe Reali, restaurant owner, said he made a “spur of the moment” decision to close last week because he couldn’t get the building owner, Lou Chiasson, to do badly needed repairs. “It’s a very sad situation,” said Reali. “A lot of the customers and employees are real good friends, I really feel bad.”

Rookies, new restaurant opening this month in downtown Westbrook, received almost unanimous approval for its licenses from the Westbrook Municipal Officers Monday. City councilors and Mayor Don Esty voted in favor of a victualer’s and liquor licenses and pinball and video machines for the restaurant. Ed Symbol, one of the managing partners, said the time is right to open a restaurant downtown because Core Inc. employees will be filling a new office building across the river.

White Rock Grange No. 380, Gorham, recognized Jan LaBrecque with its Community Service Award for 2003. LaBrecque was a representative to the Legislature from Gorham for four terms and served more than six years on the Gorham Town Council. She also served for six years with Gorham Rescue. Additionally, she has volunteered with the North Gorham Library and both Boy and Girl Scouts.

Virginia Door of Gorham, known as the dance teacher around town, has another claim to fame – her garden of peonies, which date back 80 years or more. “They’re just beautiful and I don’t do a thing,” she said. “I’m certainly not going to disturb them. ‘If it’s not broke, then don’t fix it’ is my philosophy.”

The American Legion Hall at 17 Dunn St. was built in 1929 by local contractor O.G.K. Robinson. The Legion occupied the first floor and the second floor was a large open space designed for use by then-nearby high school. Since this was a community project to help the school system, S.D. Warren Company provided carpenters, electricians and plumbers to assist in the construction at no charge. The building was used as a gym and for graduation ceremonies from 1930-36. After the high school expanded and no longer needed the Dunn Street space, the Legion took over the second floor to use for dances and other functions. For several years the Westbrook Historical occupied the second floor. The Legion still occupies the first floor and a church group leases the second. 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.