2019’s stories that moved and mattered

Tue, 12/31/2019 - 7:00am

    The past year held endings and fresh starts, serious news and the fun, and some seeds for 2020 and beyond:

    In January, Sundog Solar installed a solar array at Wiscasset Water District, and Concord Coach Lines suspended its Wiscasset stop for lack of plowing at the former Huber’s Market. Concord went on to restart its Wiscasset stop in July, at Irving Circle K.

    In March, Dresden voters agreed to change the town clerk and tax collector from elected to hired jobs.

    In April, Shawna Gatto was convicted of the 2017 murder of Kendall Chick, 6, of Wiscasset. In June, Gatto was sentenced to serve 50 years. She appealed to Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

    In spring, Alna continued working on, then moved into its new, modular town office on Route 218 next door to the old one which was then vandalized with graffiti and strewn items. In July, selectmen accepted Alton King III and Jean Bradford’s $125,000 offer on the cape, which then became a home again, for the couple and their seven children.

    And next door at the new town office, gardens were growing through the efforts of donors and town officials and other volunteers, memorializing loved ones and feeding fellow residents.

    In June, Wiscasset said good-bye to the Providence. The storm-damaged sloop arrived in September 2018 for repairs.

    Also in June, Wiscasset dropped the interim from Town Manager John O’Connell’s job title.

    And Josie Harrington, a Chop Point School, Woolwich student who trained with Wiscasset Middle High School’s track and field team, became the state Class C high jump champion.

    Miss Wiscasset Diner’s closing in July and followup stories drew some of our biggest online views of 2019. Owners and husband and wife Mark Suarez and Kelley Coady said the decision came down to not having enough help. 

    The same month brought Water Street Kitchen & Bar’s ribbon-cutting, with predecessor Le Garage’s Cheryl “Shep” Rust among the well-wishers.

    In the summer came the wider sidewalks downtown, as part of Maine Department of Transportation’s project. The traffic lights turned on in the fall.

    Wiscasset harbor got an August visit from My Seanna, the yacht of Bravo network fame. The luxury liner spent the night.

    And Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset began a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program to help inmates fight opioid abuse, including after they leave jail.

    Also in August, Amtrak took a trip from Brunswick to Sagadahoc, Lincoln and Knox counties and back, to gather information for a seasonal, weekend passenger service Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority was considering. 

    September brought progress on the makeover of Alna’s Head Tide Dam. A dedication happened on Halloween and the new platform overlooking the Sheepscot River opened before Christmas.

    Edgecomb Days attendees tried out Edgecomb Community Church’s new Labyrinth in the Field.

    In October, authorities said a Rhode Island man was rescued by boat after he apparently fell asleep at the wheel of a tractor trailer on Route 1 in Woolwich. And a falling tree damaged and briefly closed Wiscasset Public Library. And Dresden decided to join Wiscasset Parks and Recreation as a community partner, getting residents discounts on membership.

    Also in October, Wiscasset Scarecrowfest’s move to the common was a hit. And Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum took an 1891 locomotive across Alna’s Trout Brook. The same train had last crossed the brook in 1933, over a different bridge. The new one, a donated, 1918 bridge, arrived in pieces at the museum in October 2017.

    In November, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R - Maine, announced $25 million in federal funds toward replacing the 86-year-old Station 46 bridge on Route 1 in Woolwich. In December, MDOT told Woolwich residents replacement versus rehabilitation was still to be determined. 

    Westport Island updated its comprehensive plan. Woolwich voters chose in-house ambulance service and, in a petition-initiated referendum, opposed Central Maine Power’s corridor project.

    In December, Wiscasset selectmen OK’d the state’s $1,000 fine for the town’s handling of the August burn of Huber’s Market, now the site of Dollar General. 

    Westport Island History Committee opened the museum exhibit, “My Island Home” – highlighting island life during the life of Westport Island’s Verlie Colby Greenleaf (1891-1992) – at Maine Historical Society in Portland. The exhibit ends April 25.