Looking Back


Aug. 11, 1993

A proposed new Westbrook school health education philosophy touches on some “pregnant” issues, including AIDS and AIDS education, Superintendent Edward Connolly warned the School Committee this week, and they may want to read it carefully. It will come before the committee Aug. 18. He offered no details of what the philosophy says. He said that if adopted, the school department will require more health education and more at a younger age. Besides AIDS, topics will deal with the issues of sexual abstinence versus birth control and whether condoms should be distributed. He promised there would be major public discussion before any changes are made.

Starting next month, the Gorham municipal center grounds will become a parking lot for those high school students who drive to classes. They will be asked to park there and then board a shuttle bus to the school. Police Lt. Ron Shepard told the Town Council last week that ongoing construction work at the school has resulted in inadequate parking space for students.

John Marcellino, Westbrook’s new director of parks and cemeteries, has asked for a 15-hour-a-week secretary at $5 an hour, but he ran into a flurry of opposition last week. Mayor Fred Wescott and some aldermen saw it more important for Marcellino to be working in the field than at a desk. Others wondered why his predecessor, Richard Dunbar, never asked for a secretary. After sharp debate, the City Council voted 4-2 to ask the Committee of the Whole to review the need.

A second attempt to recall the Gorham municipal-school budget has been withdrawn. Bill Chicoine, who initiated the second drive earlier this month, decided on Friday not to follow through. He had until Aug. 16 to get 909 certified signatures to launch a recall referendum vote. Chicoine says he decided to withdraw the petition because the budget issues had been too divisive.

Peter Stickney, Prides Corner Congregational Church organist and senior and youth choir director for the past six years, is leaving to pursue a doctorate in music education from Temple University, Philadelphia. A combined choir sang a special song, “Friends,” after the morning service Aug. 1, and a reception was held for Peter after church.

Aug. 13, 2003

The Maine Human Rights Commission Monday ruled unanimously in favor of Kathy Reynolds, a Westbrook firefighter who filed a complaint against the city, saying she suffered sexual discrimination for more than a decade. Reynolds, a 13-year veteran with the department, cried as she listened to the decision. Lawrence Winger, the lawyer for the city, said the city has denied and continues to deny the allegations. The ruling doesn’t carry any penalty for the city, but it could be the basis for a lawsuit if Reynolds cannot reach a settlement. Reynolds is represented by attorney Rebecca Webber.

In an attempt to reduce the $4.2 million cost, the Westbrook City Council has put off accepting a bid from a contractor for reconstruction of William Clarke Drive, further delaying the project. The majority of the work would be paid for by the city with money from its downtown tax-increment financing fund. The state is contributing about $720,000. The city is working with low bidder R.J. Grondin & Sons to see if it could save money through changes to the reconstruction, including expanding the tines when the contractor could work to get it done faster.

The Westbrook Republican Park nominated Bruce Chuluda to run as its candidate for mayor at the party’s first caucus before the fall election. Chuluda will most likely face incumbent Democratic Mayor Don Esty, who has not officially announced any plans to run for re-election.

The opening of the new $16 million Gorham Middle School will be delayed until October, meaning students will spend one more month in Shaw School before making the switch. School starts Sept. 2. The project is expected to be substantially completed by the end of this month, but school officials wanted to make sure all the new systems were thoroughly tested and functioning before putting students in the school.

For Gorham resident Gail Platt, sewing detailed cloth figurines and dolls has evolved from a fun hobby to a full-time cottage business in her Maple Ridge Drive home. Platt’s unique creations will be on display and for sale at a crafts show this weekend at the Maine Audubon Gilsland Farm in Falmouth. Platt spends more than six hours a day stitching in the details and character to the dolls, which draw customers at stores around the country. Most of the dolls are sold to a wholesale distributor, who then passes them onto stores.

The Prides Corner Union Bible School was organized Aug. 1, 1909, meeting in Clark’s Store on Bridgton Road at Brook Street. Three years later the group reorganized as the Prides Corner Union Church. The group purchased land on Elmwood Avenue and started raising money to build a church. On June 20, 1915, a formal dedication of the new chuch was held. In 1952, the church became affiliated with the Congregational Christian Churches. In May of 1958 ground was broken for a new, larger church on Pride Street, and the completed Prides Corner Congregational Church was dedicated on April 10, 1960. The old church building on Elmwood Avenue was eventually remodeled as a commercial building and now houses a hair salon and day spa. 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 westhistorical@myfairpoint.net. The website is www.westbrookhistoricalsociety.org.