Motorists entering Maine on Interstate 95 in Kittery may be feeling a little shortchanged.

The welcome sign still lets them know they’re in the state that represents “The Way Life Should Be.” But a newer sign that declared Maine is “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 on Wednesday morning.

A maintenance foreman went to the site to investigate and search the area. She wasn’t able to find the sign, which was reported stolen to Maine State Police, said Mark Latti, an MDOT 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 would not have been easy to swipe. The sign was large — 4 feet by 8 feet — and bolted to posts.

The theft could only have been accomplished by someone who had brought a ladder as well as tools to remove the bolts, said Latti.

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 — if anything.

“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.”

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at [email protected]