Westport Column: History Committee working hard

Posted:  Monday, January 29, 2018 - 2:15pm

Hello friends and neighbors!

Welcome to February. I must admit that I am happy to close the chapter on January, a month that always seems filled with chaotic weather, fender benders, falling on ice, colds and flu, gray days, and long cold nights. If we are lucky, Punxsutawney Phil will not see his shadow on Groundhog Day, and an early spring will be on the horizon! Out of 130 predictions, Phil has only foretold an early spring 18 times. But according to Stormfax, Phil’s predictions have only been accurate 39 percent of the time. Long winters have created quite an interesting construct for bored people and restless rodents!

February is a good time to catch up on indoor chores, and that’s exactly what Westport Island’s History Committee is doing these days. One of the tasks assigned to this group of approximately 12 volunteers is refolding all of the historic textiles every six months so that permanent folds do not develop in the fabrics. The textile collection includes family quilts as well as an American flag from 1897 that displays only 45 stars. (A trivia question for history buffs: which five states joined the USA after 1897?)

Last Saturday some members of the History Committee spent time cataloging and labeling items, with a goal of creating both awareness of and accessibility to the artifacts. Ultimately the Committee hopes to have a complete list of all items in the Westport Island collection that researchers or any interested folks might be able to view and study. Unfortunately we don’t have a museum with display cases, so storage continues to be a challenge. Kudos to Jeff Tarbox, Debbie Williams, Mary Coventry, Mary Ellen Barnes, Amy Mussman, and Paul Bonyun for helping out last week. More folks will be working at the Old Town Hall again next Saturday. Thanks to everyone for volunteering your time and efforts!

It is no secret that volunteers are invaluable to small towns like Westport Island. Recently the Selectmen praised the work of our Emergency Management Team, Roger Higgins and Gaye Wagner, who spent many hours assessing the damage to our Island after the Halloween wind storm. Along with representatives from other area towns, Roger and Gaye met with members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for an applicant briefing regarding public assistance for the windstorm. A request for grants was officially submitted online, and FEMA has received and approved funding for Westport Island. A program representative will be determining the exact reimbursement figure in the coming weeks. When you see Roger and Gaye, please thank them for all they do to help Westport Island!

There are many ways to contribute to town life on our Island. According to the most recent Annual Report, Westport Island currently has fifteen volunteer committees and two 501(c) (3) non-profit organizations that only work when folks like you and me get involved. Why not consider stepping up in 2018? Anyone in the Town Office can direct you to the appropriate chairperson if you are interested, or contact your newshound pat-dick@midcoast.com!