Westport Column: Working without power and internet

Posted:  Tuesday, March 13, 2018 - 7:30am
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Dear friends and neighbors,

Isn’t it nice to have electricity? We sure do take things for granted when we have light at the flip of a switch or water at the turn of a handle. I’m not sure what this week’s storm will bring, but last week’s dumped 19 inches of heavy, wet snow on our Island to beautifully adorn the trees while also wreaking a lot of havoc. A broken tree on McCarty Cove Road pulled down lines and trapped us from a plow until Saturday. We are fortunate to have a generator, but we also learned how to siphon gas from the truck because we ran out of fuel before we could get more. Next time we will be better prepared when a storm is forecast. We keep learning!

Another issue is the internet. Since my husband Dick works out of an office at home, he relies on good internet to send and receive big files. We live a mile east of Route 144 at the end of a dirt road, and we have had some challenges. (I suspect most people can relate!) When it works, we get a relatively strong signal from a tower on the Isle of Springs. Our ISP is now known as Redzone, which is the third owner in the past 10 years. However, when the tower goes down, a seasonal island is not at the top of Central Maine Power’s maintenance list. After the Halloween storm, we had to look into alternatives. In a pinch we use data on our smart devices to send and receive emails. But to word process or do anything substantial, we invested in a Jetpack, which is a router that connects to a cell signal. None of this is cheap, but Dick wants to keep his business running.

The dilemma of getting good (or any) internet in rural places continues to be a problem in Maine. If this is a concern for you, please call the Town Office (882-8477) so they can record your name and address. Jack Swanton is a member of our Island’s Cable Contract Negotiating Committee, and he is also soliciting contact information on Westport Island’s Facebook page. The Cable Committee is entering all addresses on a spreadsheet to be submitted with a ConnectME grant request that must be filed by the end of the month. Hopefully this data will enable our acquisition of a satisfactory cable network for the entire Island soon!

On another note, you may have noticed some action at the Old Town Hall. The interior of the building (including the kitchen, stage, and balcony) is in the process of being repainted. The Town Hall Committee Guidelines recommend that painting be done every 10 years. Although the bulkhead was repainted four years ago and the north wall eleven years ago, the entire interior has not been repainted since 1996. To prepare for this venture, committee members Bill Cooney, Bill Hopkins, Ron Stoodley, Jeff Tarbox and David Forest moved all chairs, tables and furnishings into the center of the hall to make room for the painters. Bill Cooney took on the crucial task of protecting Westport’s ever faithful Town Hall loon for safekeeping. Thanks to the Committee for all your efforts! If you know the origin of said loon, please contact your newshound at pat-dick@midcoast.com or call 231-4049.

Be safe in the storm, and may the luck o’ the Irish be with ye! P.S. Althea Cromwell just called to say “thank you” to whomever put the flag up at the Fire Station. She is proud to live in America!