The following excerpts are taken from reporter Linda Hersey’s blog, The South Portlander:

DeAngelis urges dog task force to expand beyond beach

(Monday, July 7)

Former City Councilor Rosemarie DeAngelis urged the City Council Monday night to expand the recently formed Willard Beach dog task force to look beyond the beach and consider citywide rules.

“We have many parks,” said DeAngelis, who noted she served on a similar group in 2005, with current councilor Claude Morgan in his then-capacity as president of the South Portland Dog Owner”s Group. “We need to look at city-wide rules.”

DeAngelis said that the previous task force looked at a wide variety of potential solutions, including enforcing leash laws and changing the times dogs are allowed in public areas, like Willard Beach. She claimed that the group was unable to reach any compromise

“This is not a new issue, simply an abandoned one,” she said.

Freaky Bean opens on broadway

(Monday, July 7)

So Po has a new coffee shop, and it’s a drive-through.

Freaky Bean, a Maine-owned company that has developed a cult following, had its grand opening this morning at a new shopping plaza on Broadway, where Newick’s restaurant used to be.

During the Monday morning commute, a young woman stood on the median strip on Broadway and held a sign that announced the opening at 740 Broadway.

Freaky Bean roasts its own coffee and uses beans that are “fair trade” and organically grown.

Freaky Bean shops are popular with the green crowd, though there has been some protests over the drive-through in South Portland, a first for Freaky Bean.

Drive-through businesses encourage vehicles to idle, contributing to the emissions that cause global warming.

Owners Jon Stratton and Andrew Kessler have vowed to keep their mission community-oriented and emphasize coffee shops that are pedestrian-friendly as they expand further.

If the popularity of the nearby Dunkin’ Donuts is any indication, SoPo’s new Freaky Bean is likely to be an instant hit.

History-making Fourth of July

(Sunday, July 6)

“I will not read the Declaration of Independence. I will present it,” declared Ben Franklin on Friday at the Fourth of July Celebration at Mill Creek Park.

Ben Franklin, a.k.a. John Kierstead, joined festivities sponsored by the South Portland Historical Society, which also sold T-shirts, books and memberships at the event.

About 20 people had gathered at Mill Creek Park for what Historian Kathy DiPhilippo hopes will be an annual get-together on July Fourth.

The event was scheduled to feature the presentation by Franklin as well as a walking tour to Thomas Knight Park, under Casco Bay Bridge. There also were one-legged foot races and refreshments.

Kierstead, a historical society member, has dressed as Winston Churchill at Memorial Day and Veterans Day events.

When he is not in costume, Kierstead says he works at a local hardware store. “I don’t wear the pony tail,” he said referring to his gray wig.

For the Fourth: Uncorking the Reds and Whites

(Thursday, July 3)

With summer in full swing, I asked Bob Johnson, proprietor of Scratch Bakery in Willard Square, to share some of the seasonal trends he sees in wine purchases as well as his personal favorites.

With a background in the restaurant and beverage industry, Johnson was more than happy to offer advice on choosing wines that are not the garden-variety labels found on supermarket shelves.

Here are his personal observations on summer wine trends and his picks:

“There is no question that the whites tend to outsell the reds. One of my current favorites (as well as our customers) is the Cantelle Chardonnay. Once I get this into someone’s hands it’s a home-run.

Unfortunately people still think of Chardonnay as an unpleasant, cloying, sweet oaky wine. Which a lot of the mass produced Chardonnays can be. But the Cantelle, from Puglia, Italy is all stainless-steel fermented with a delicious fruit and crisp dry finish.

We also sell a lot of the Cantelle Negroamaro Rosato. This is a delicious rose also from Puglia. Bright fruit flavors up front with a dry earthy finish. Not sweet at all. Wonderful with roasted chicken on the grill. These are both worth trying if you want to get out of the ‘supermarket wine aisle.’

As for summer reds…I will often chill down a lighter style California Pinot Noir or a Dolcetto D’Alba, always great picnic wines. And last but not least, I love a good Syrah or Zinfandel with steaks and burgers on the grill. We have an absolutely fantastic Granache and Syrah blend from the Cotes Du Ventouix in France called “In Fine.” It’s one of the best $10.99 wines I have had in a long time. It just screams for grilled foods on a Maine summer evening.

And since I just got back from a week of traveling and tasting in Spain (Priorat, Ribera del Doro, and the Rioja)…we of course have a great selection of Spanish wine. Both white and red as well as some very limited production wines from those regions.

A few of my favorites are the Naia Verdejo, the Muga white, and the somewhat limited red called Les Terrasses from winemaker Alvaro Palacios. Even with the value of the dollar, Spain still has some of the best quality-to-price ratios for both red and white wine.

Police warn public about plesantdale burglaries

(Wednesday, July 2)

The South Portland Police issued an alert today to residents about a rash of burglaries in the Pleasantdale neighborhood. Police are also seeking the public’s help. Here is the press release:


This is the South Portland Police Department calling with information and a request for your assistance.

Since April 1, 2008, approximately 16 to 20 residential burglaries or attempted burglaries have been reported in the Pleasantdale neighborhoods in South Portland. These crimes have been reported on Anthoine, Carter, Osborne, Chapel and Cole Streets, as well as on Harborview and Arbuttus Avenues and Shelby Lane.

The police department is asking all residents to keep their doors and windows locked, day and night, and to report any suspicious people, vehicles or activity in or around your home or neighborhood.

Dial 911 in the event of an emergency. Dial 799-5511 to report all other suspicious activity to the on-duty dispatcher. Messages with any other information on who may be responsible for these burglaries may be left on the department’s confidential tip line at 347-4100.”

J.P. Thornton’s moving to Broadway site

(Wednesday, July 2)

J.P. Thornton’s, the popular grocer and deli on Evans Street, is moving to the former Newick’s site in August.

The shop will be the anchor tenant in a new shopping plaza that is on Broadway, across from the Thomas Room Banquet Facility.

J.P. Thornton’s recently took out an occupancy permit that will enable the store/deli to move into the shopping center. The shop offers fresh produce, wines, an ample meat counter and sandwiches made to order. J.P. Thornton’s also has a breakfast menu.

There are a few tables and chairs at its current location, and the shop is a regular stop for many older residents who enjoy buying a cup of joe and a breakfast sandwich.

The new location likely is to bring more business to J.P. Thornton’s, since it is close to the Casco Bay Bridge.

Other shops at the new plaza include a bakery, Super Cuts, nail salon, tuxedo rental shop and a Freaky Bean drive-thru, which may open as early as this Thursday.

Is There an alternative site for the high school?

(Wednesday, July 2)

Tex Haueser, City Planner, is the guest speaker at a meeting on July 17 of the Secondary Schools Facilities Committee, which is exploring less costly alternatives to the $56 million high school renovation plan that voters rejected last year.

Haueser will discuss whether there are alternative building sites for the city’s only high school, since there are significant drainage problems at the campus off Highland Avenue. A large portion of the rebuilding costs at the current site would involve mitigating water damage and flooding in buildings.

The facilities committee – composed of residents, student reps, city leaders and school officials – is charged with researching and recommending solutions for aging school buildings that are in disrepair, including the high school and two middle schools.

The committee will meet from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the school library. The meetings are open to the public.


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