2013: Year in Review

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

A look back to how 2013 unfolded in the pages of The Bridgton News:

January 3

School safety: In the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn. shooting, local school districts take a close look at lockdown procedures and implement physical security measures at facilities.

No bully zone: Lexi James was teased and bullied when she was in school because of her flowing red hair and a slight stutter. She was also made fun of when she talked about being a singer. James proved the doubters wrong as an up-and-coming performer. And, she is using her celebrity status to promote an important message, bullying is never okay nor is name-calling or physical intimidation "kids just being kids." James performed a special anti-bullying program to Lake Region Middle School students and a benefit concert.

Change at the Inn: After a 10-year run as innkeepers, Rick and Julie Whelchel sold the popular and award-winning Noble House to Cindi Hooper and Julie Astin of Houston, Texas.

January 10

Change in leadership: Gary MacDonald announced his intention to retire as SAD 72's superintendent of schools in June, ending a 30-year career in education as a teacher, principal and district leader.

Keep tar out: Area towns consider resolutions to prohibit the flow of tar sands through an existing pipeline, which cuts through the Lake Region.

What did I see? Chris Maglione of West Bridgton videotaped what he thought was a UFO.

January 17

Change at the Chamber: 2013 became the year of musical chairs at the Greater Bridgton-Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. First, Jim Mains gave up the executive director's seat to accept the general manager post at Bridgton Highlands Country Club. As the year came to an end, Chamber leaders will again be looking for a new director with the announcement that Barbara Clark will leave due to unforeseen personal reasons on January 10.

January 24

Honor overdue: Better late than never as Steve Andrews found out when he finally received his Purple Heart medal 46 years after his military service. Recovering from a brain tumor and undergoing rehabilitation, Andrews was honored in a ceremony at the VFW Hall in Harrison, attended by U.S. Senator Susan Collins, along with military officials.

January 31

Trickle down hurts: The state's financial problems were felt locally as towns lost revenue sharing money (Bridgton saw a shortfall of $372,778) while the school district was informed it would need to cover the state's portion of retirement money.

February 7

Valiant fight: The community turned out in a big way to help find a bone marrow match for Fryeburg native and longtime Maine Game Warden Gregg Sanborn. The Friends of Gregg raised awareness regarding donors hip, as well as raised money to assist the family. Gregg lost his battle, but he will be remembered at every future FA basketball game. Last week, the Friends unveiled a new scorers' table bearing Gregg's name.

Busy business front: Bridgton's business landscape changed in 2013 with the arrival of the Standard Gastropub, Cupcake Love and Depot Street Taphouse. On the move were Stone Surface (to the old Bridgton AG/Chapter 11 building) and Beth's Kitchen Café (to the former Cool Moose store).

February 14

Piece of history lost: fire destroyed the historic Stearns, Hall & Walker building in the heart of Lovell on an early Saturday morning. Sixty firefighters from five towns responded. By fall, a smaller multi-office complex was built on the site.

Face time questioned: After some derogatory comments were made by readers of the Bridgton Police Department's Facebook page regarding photos posted of arrestees, selectmen debated whether posting should continue. Photos and arrest information were removed, but a local resident created the “Bridgton Arrest” page on Facebook to continue to post both arrest information and photos.

Sell or keep? With Salmon Point Campground requiring updating and Bridgton needing capital to address future infrastructure improvements, the idea of selling just the camping area (for residential construction and thus add to the tax base) was raised. Voters would reject the proposal in June by a 277–167 margin.

February 21

On top of the world: Lake Region won the state WorldQuest ("the ultimate international knowledge competition") title behind the efforts of Amina Meziani, Mackenzie McHatton, Mizuki Ishida and Sage Tocci.

February 28

Family values vs. teen health? When it came time for SAD 61 to update the high school nurse's job description, Kari Jolly suggested that it include condom access and distribution after hearing from students regarding some having unprotected sex and cases of sexually-transmitted disease here. Opinions were mixed amongst some parents who attended meetings. Some wanted to see "specifics" regarding how distribution would be handled, while others felt parental consent should be part of the equation. The item was tabled and will be up for more discussion in 2014.

New clerk: Melissa St. John became the Harrison Town Clerk with the retirement of Judy Colburn.

March 14

25, too long a commitment? Fryeburg Water Company and Nestlé thought a 25-year contract would be beneficial for each entity — the FWC would be guaranteed a stable income while Nestlé would be guaranteed a long-term water source. Many residents, who packed the Legion Hall for a public hearing conducted by the Maine Public Utilities Commission, were leary of such a long pact, feeling a five- or 10-year agreement would be a better safeguard.

March 21

Last call: Merry Watson retired as a firefighter in Naples after 37 years.

March 28

Long haul back: United Parish members celebrated the reopening of their church after a kitchen fire caused damage to the Harrison structure.

Moving up: Jay Robinson moves up from serving as Molly Ockett Middle School principal to superintendent of schools for SAD 72.

April 4

Top art instructor: Cathy Grigsby of Bridgton, an art instructor at Stevens Brook Elementary was named the Art Teacher of the Year.

April 11

Final wish: Sam Pitts, also known as Mr. Oak, saw a wish realized before his death when the gazebo in Crystal Lake Park in Harrison was completed (construction led by his grandson, Justin McIver).

Making the grade: After being named a "failing school," Lake Region High School was called a "model" by Commissioner of Education Stephen Bowen for other Maine schools after revamping its curriculum and changing the learning environment which resulted in higher SAT scores (37th, up from 86th, out of 110) and an improvement in the graduation rate from 76% to 91%.

April 25

Done: Nancy Mayhan retired from the Bridgton Water District after 33 years as administrative clerk.

At the marathon: Raymond native Katie Eastman reached mile 24 when a bomb triggered at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Eastman worried about her parents and sister who were near the finish line. They were not injured. Katie did not finish the race.

May 2

Spice, not so nice: LRHS students learned about the dangers of a synthetic drug, known as "Spice" or "fake weed."

May 9

Should they stay or disband? A citizen initiative asked Fryeburg residents to consider disbanding the local police department in favor of Oxford County Sheriff's Office coverage. Both Sheriff Wayne Gallant and Fryeburg Police Chief Philip Weymouth spoke of mutual respect for each other's department at a public hearing. In the end, voters decided by a 513 to 393 margin that local control was more important than some possible financial savings.

May 23

On the first try: Shaving the initial proposed budget about 2%, voters approved the SAD 61 package ($28.5 million) by a 424–282 margin.

National spotlight: Bridgton was under the microscope when famed horror writer Stephen King walked national media through town to promote the tremendously successful summer mini series, "Under the Dome."

May 30

Another goner: people were certainly on the move in 2013! Bridgton Rec Director Tom Tash left for a marketing job in Auburn. Tash was replaced by Gary Colello.

June 6

Reason to celebrate: After a decade of ups and downs, Bridgton Recreation Advancement Group (BRAG) members celebrated the grand opening of the new sports complex, located off Route 302. Fields were dedicated in memory of Laurie Carter Bergen (softball diamond) and Roger and Mary Macdonald (baseball field).

June 13

Bike & Build: Melissa Panter, 22, of Casco cycled from Maine to California as part of the "Bike & Build" program, during which time she helped construct homes and other facilities with her team of riders.

July 4

Diploma awarded: Lawrence Baker, a member of the Class of 1947, finally received his Fryeburg Academy diploma 66 years later. Baker left school as a sophomore to serve as a Marine in World War II and the Korean War. A change in Maine law in 2001 allowed schools to award diplomas to students who left due to military service.

July 25

Church shakeup: St. Joseph Church in Bridgton and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Fryeburg welcomed a new pastor, the Rev. Innocent Okozi.

August 8

Break in tradition: Erin Mayo became the first female to lead Fryeburg Academy in the school's 222-year history as Head of School when trustees selected her to succeed retired Headmaster Daniel Lee.

August 15

Keeping up with technology: With the movie industry going digital, local theaters and public access cable had to ante up to meet the demands of technology upgrades.

August 22

B or C? SAD 72 residents and school board members debated the merits of two plans to replace the C.A. Snow School in Fryeburg. While the state pushed a consolidation plan that would create a major campus at the Molly Ockett Middle School site in Fryeburg, few supported the idea of shutting down elementary schools in Lovell and Denmark. So, Option C was dumped, and now SAD 72 officials are working with the state to craft a plan that would add the Snow School to Molly Ockett, while also adding instructional space there so that all district fifth graders would be educated there — thus meeting the state's mandate to eliminate the use of portable units. A space would also be built to house the SAD 72 Central Office.

August 29

Be part of the solution: LRHS grads and sisters, Tammy Drew Hoidal and Laura Drew Farraher, hope to help children address the problem of bullying through their likable character, BOB, which stands for Bystanders Opposing Bullying. Friend Erica Lowell Chute handled the art work.

Building projects: One effort — construction of the Doris & David Hastings II Community Center in Fryeburg — neared reality, while another will be getting off the ground in 2014. About $300,000 of the $1.5 million Fryeburg project remains to be raised. If the funds are secured, construction could start in April 2014. Meanwhile, fundraising will be needed to address needed structural repairs to the granite foundation of the Temperance Barn at Narramisic in South Bridgton.

September 12

50 years of service: Edna Fadden retired from Chalmers Insurance after five decades.

September 26

It is time: That was Mike Tarantino's thought when he stepped down as chairman of the Bridgton's community development committee. After 16 years of community development service, Tarantino felt it was time to step aside.

October 17

Easy searching: Looking for information published in past editions of The Bridgton News? It could be at your fingertips. Through a grant, the Bridgton Public Library has digitally scanned past editions, enabling patrons to use the "search" function to locate sought after items.

October 24

Tribute to Georgie: The late Georgie Forney will be remembered for her love of reading and teaching young children every time a child enters a reading hut inside the Stevens Brook Elementary library. The hut bears the name, "Georgie's Reading Room." The popular teacher passed away at the age of 73 after a battle with Alzheimer's disease.

November 28

Grand honor: Grandy Oats of Brownfield was honored as 2013 Food Producer of the Year by the Maine Grocers Association and the Food Producers Alliance. The local company produces 900,000 pounds of granola (11 flavors), trail mix (six types), roasted nuts (seven varieties), instant oat cups and organic oats.

December 5

Responding to a need: When word went out that the local Fuel Collaborative was out of money before the home heating season hit full stride, residents came to the aid of neighbors. One person donated 10 new infrared heaters, while others stepped forward to make donations and matching grants.

Good-bye 2013

Welcome 2014!



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