Motorists may notice something has changed as they head into Kittery on Interstate 95.
The welcome sign still lets them know they’re in the state that represents “The Way Life Should Be.” But the newer sign below that declared Maine “Open for Business” has vanished.
The disappearance of the sign – a gift to Gov. Paul LePage from supporters – was noticed and reported to the Maine Department of Transportation this morning. A maintenance foreman went to the site to confirm it was missing and to search the area for the sign. He wasn’t able to find it, and the sign was reported stolen to Maine State Police, said Mark Latti, a Transportation Department spokesman.
Was the sign’s removal a political message? The work of apolitical vandals? Payback for the removal of the Labor Department mural?
In any case, it doesn’t seem like it would have been easy to carry away. The sign was large – 4 feet by 8 feet – and was attached to posts with bolts. It was placed high enough that a ladder would have been helpful.
The Governor’s Office has not made a decision about whether a new sign will be put up, said Adrienne Bennett, a spokeswoman for LePage.
“From our point of view, it’s a crime and it’s unfortunate that somebody would stoop to that level. We’re going to continue to use that motto – that we’re open for business – and push forward with our initiatives,” she said.
Bennett encouraged anyone with information about the sign to contact State Police.
Cynthia Rosen, a Knox County tea party activist, and her husband, John Stewart, raised $1,376.73 for the sign, including shipping from the company in Alabama.
LePage was presented with the sign at an inaugural reception. It was unveiled in March.
Rosen said the sign was meant as an expression of confidence in LePage. She didn’t know what its removal was meant to convey.
“Is it an expression against Paul? Of having businesses in our state?” she said. “I don’t know. I would hope that those who have been extremely vocal about their negative feeling about some of the proposals and policies would not choose this way to demonstrate their opposition.”