Well, I hope you all had a wonderful and safe New Year’s Eve. With the holidays, parties and way too much food behind us, I am going to be very happy to put away my red sweaters decorated with Christmas trees and holly. Unfortunately, Christmas only comes once a year, so it is hard to wear out my holiday togs, so I just unpack the same ones year after year.

Maybe I will stop in and see what the Country Sleigh has for a post holiday sale and pick up something new for next year. There, I have made a New Year’s resolution! I actually have another resolution that will make Patricia Burke very happy. I am going to mail out my New Year’s cards this week. This will be the first time in five years.

Hearing on the Bridge

I was thrilled to see so many people in attendance at the last selectmen’s meeting in December. Although the Maine Department of Transportation did not give us very good news, it is nice to know that so many residents do care about what is happening in Naples.

As I have mentioned and you have certainly read in any of our local newspapers, due to MDOT budget constraints, the initially proposed drawbridge is now on the table as a fixed, raised bridge. There will be a public hearing on this subject Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. at the Songo Locks Elementary School. This is an important issue for all of us who live, work or vacation here; so I hope you will all put it on your calendars.

An Accessible Solution

Most of you know that Helen Dingley, owner of Kent’s Landing recently passed away. What many of you may not know is that for years, Dingley allowed the public to use her property to gain access to Long Lake in the winter months. This included snowmobilers, ice fisherman, cross country skiers and all-terrain vehicle riders.

Unfortunately with her passing, this access, which was the only suitable site in Naples, has come to an end. Although we do have our town beach, the entry point to the lake is much steeper and not user friendly. Also, there has been a great deal of landscaping done on at the town beach along with a stone seawall which the selectmen were concerned might be damaged if we were to allow passage to the lake from the beach.

When this issue became public knowledge at the selectmen’s meeting, once again the fine citizens of Naples stepped forward. Members of the Muddy River Sno-Seekers, local ice fisherman and residents came up with a plan for a removable ramp, which would protect our beach but also allow for the much needed winter access to Long Lake. I am happy to report that after several weeks of hard work by these volunteers who donated their time and materials, the ramp is now complete.

We would like to thank all of the community members who saw this project through to fruition, as access to the lake is an integral part of the success of the Naples Winter Carnival. In fact, it is the key to most of our winter activities. This is just another wonderful example of how our town works together to get things done and make life more enjoyable for everyone.

Volunteers needed

Speaking of the winter carnival, plans are still on going as the dates draw closer. Carnival organizers are still looking for volunteers to help with the Poker Rally and other events. If you are interested in getting out and being part of the excitement, please call Dan Allen at 318-6965 or 693-6832. It is so exhilarating to be out on the ice, have a bowl of chili and participate in a wonderful community event. Please do not miss the fun Saturday, Feb. 16 and Sunday, Feb. 17.

Getting the Blues

It may be January, but plans for the Maine Blues Festival are already heating up. The festival started as the brainchild of Mike Bray of Bray’s Brew Pub and Kevin Kimball in 2006. With the help of many volunteers, including Naples Main Street, we started relatively small that first Father’s Day weekend three years ago, but the festival quickly grew. It has gotten the attention of many, including Chip Eagle, publisher of the nationally recognized Blues Revue magazine.

Due to the growing success of the festival, we have partnered with the Bridgton Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce to organize this event. With the help of Mike McClellan, executive director of the chamber and his able staff, we will be able to utilize their vast resources and professional guidance, as in some ways; we have become the victims of our success.

There will be many venues where you will be able to listen to your favorite artists, or just mingle with family and friends. Some of these include the Tiki Bar, Freedom Cafa, Bray’s Brew Pub and Shakers.

This year’s festival will be held on Father’s Day weekend, June 14, and will bring an unprecedented number of blues artists to Naples. Tickets are available now through the Bridgton Chamber or by calling 647-3472. At $10 for advance tickets, this is an event that should not be missed whether or not you are a blues fan.

Literate Resolutions

As always, the Naples Public Library is working on yet another program to encourage the love of reading. Their new offering, called “Resolve to Read,” is a fun reading incentive program for children from infancy to fifth-grade. Each child will keep a book log of selections they have read, whereby they can earn “library bucks” for each book they check out and read in January. On Feb. 2, each participant will be invited to the library store to spend their earned bucks on books, games, puzzles and more. For all of you parents with eager readers, please contact the library at 693-6841 or log on to its Web site at, for more information about this program or others.

Resolve to be Involved

Over the last week I have read many retrospectives about 2007 here in the Lakes Region. I would like to touch on a prospective for 2008. As we slip in to the New Year, there are many challenges facing “Our Town” in 2008.

Obviously, school consolidation resolution is one, and the Causeway Bridge replacement, public parking, public restrooms, budget issues, zoning, money for our Fourth of July fireworks are on the list. If you, as a Naples resident were to make one New Year’s resolution, I would ask you to get involved in our community.

There are so many ways for each and every one of us to contribute something to this wonderful town and I would love to see more faces. Naples Main Street is always excited about new committee members; our Lakes Region Habitat for Humanity group needs volunteers; Project Graduation would love more participation; and the Blues Festival would love additional sponsorship. If you are unsure about how to get involved, please contact the town office or let me know and I will do my best to get you in the right direction.

I would like to thank all of you who have read this column and have given me comments. As always, if you have ideas or suggestions for making this a more informative article, please let me know. Have a wonderful and healthy 2008.

Access on to Long Lake winter activities is ensured as ice fishermen, members of the Muddy River Sno-Seekers and Naples residents built and installed a new ramp at the Naples Town Beach last month.

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