Not your grandfather’s Select Board

Sun, 06/20/2021 - 11:30am

About this blog:

  • Barnako, wiscasset, Maine Art Gallery

    Frank Barnako is a seasonal resident of Wiscasset at Clarks Point on the Sheepscot River.   His career in journalism included on air and news director positions with CBS and NBC Radio and TV stations.  He was a pioneer in the Internet, helping to create and co-found where he also developed a 200-station radio network and wrote daily columns focused on the stock market, business news, and technology. Barnako describes himself as “an aspiring photographer,” whose work can be seen at<>. He is a member of the town’s Investment Advisory Committee. Email him at

Last week, CNBC's Jim Cramer said rising prices at the supermarket, gas station, and restaurant will be short lived.  But what about the Lobster Roll???  The going price for a hot dog bun stuffed with lobster at the world-famous Red's Eats in Wiscasset is nearly $34. Unheard of. It's so 'unheard of" that a New York Times Style department reporter filed a story about it last weekend. "The price spike in lobster meat is, in part, a matter of supply and demand exacerbated by the pandemic," he wrote. "Home cooks, stuck inside during the lockdown, turned to seafood to expand their palates and learn new kitchen skills over the past year."

From our house overlooking the Sheepscot River, we can see supply is an issue.  Only a half dozen lobster pots are in the water. On Sunday, the 20th, we saw several boats pushing traps over the side. Tim, the manager at the North End Lobster Co-op, told me July 4th is when most lobstermen sink their traps. So, lobster prices may stay high for at least a couple more weeks.  What 'supply' does not explain is that only a few hundred feet away from Red's, Sprague's Lobster, on the town pier, is reported serving up rolls for only $26.  And there's no standing in line in the hot sun.

Last week, the Board of Selectmen held an organizational meeting after voters recently elected two new members, Terri Heller and Dusty Jones.    Heller is a transplanted Texan who it seems has been attending every community get together there is, volunteering to help or lead.  Jones, like Heller, lived Texas before coming to Maine.  He is in his 40s and is a behavior analyst practicing in Bath.  The Select board now includes three women and two men. The chair is Sarah Whitfield, a life-long Wiscasset resident. She completed a PhD program earlier this year.Jones is in his 40s, Whitfield is in her 30s. This is not your grandfather’s Board of Selectmen.  

Five years ago, the Board was a lot older and more male. The new, younger Selectmen, I think, are reflecting a change in what I might call the social fabric of this small New England village. Fewer people remember when the Yankee power plant was here and its taxes paid a Lion King’s share of the town’s expenses and maintenance.   Newcomers are realistic about expenses and even idealistic about the future.

Some of the newcomers also have resources and plans.  There are new restaurants, a new coffee shop, and an upscale barber salon. Town Manager, Dennis Simmons, has become a bridge between the Board and several community groups with plans for improving the appearance of the town.  Another new resident, Peter Wells, a landscape architect, is leading efforts to organize Schoonerfest, a mid-August festival to honor Wiscasset's maritime history, complete with shanty singers, boats, races, and historic schooners on the waterfront,

And there are new things to do.  An old roadhouse has scheduled a Wild West themed murder mystery dinner theater event for later this month. Dressing up is optional. And the Wiscasset Art Walk begins its ninth season on Thursday afternoon.