April 12, 1989

Bill Holland, a Gorham man with a passion for mountain climbing, lost his life last week in a fall just after completing his first ascent to the Snow Dome peak in Jasper National Park in the Canadian province of Alberta. “The joy for him was the mental exercise of planning the ascent of a mountain,” his wife Anne said as she sat in the living room of their Harding Road home two days after a memorial service for her husband. “The joy was in the quest.” Holland, 39, had lived in Gorham for two years and worked as a senior geologist for a Freeport company.

Westbrook High School senior Gloria Blake was stunned Monday after she received the surprise announcement that she had won a $5,000 scholarship from the Horatio Alger Foundation. The award is one of just 30 given nationally, and is given to high school seniors who continue to set high goals for themselves despite hardships in their lives. Westbrook was the only school in New England chosen to present the award. U.S. Rep. Joseph Brennan also was on hand to speak on raising student aspirations. Blake, who wants to be a teacher, will attend the University of Maine in Farmington next year. She said developing a clear sense of a career goal has helped sustain her through some rough times.

The Westbrook City Council struck a deal with Blue Rock Industries in committee last week to unlock a deadlock over Blue Rock’s plans for an office building on outer Spring Street. Meeting with the Planning Board and company officials, the council’s Committee of the Whole voted to explore Westbrook’s first use of contract zoning to allow the building. This turns the council away from its position in favor of changing the zoning, now RFC, to residential. The office building would be allowed under residential zoning.

Elaine Spiller, wife of Westbrook Mayor Philip Spiller, played hostess to 20 dinner guests Wednesday, including guest of honor Stanislav Potemkin, chairman of the municipal executive committee – in effect, the mayor of Archangel, Russia. He is here as a guest of the Soviet Sister City Committee of Greater Portland. The other three Soviets here were guests in other Portland area homes. “The whole atmosphere was very warm and friendly,” she said. “He’s a delightful man.”

Gorham residents traveling include Bruce and Dianne Morton, Marissa and Leanne, Wescott Road, who spent Easter with his sister and family, Joann and Herb Tyler, in China; Leroy and Esther Morton, White Rock, who have returned from Kissimmee, Fla., where they spent the winter; and Melissa and Judy Johnson, who have returned from Spokane, Wash., where they visited Judy’s son and family, Lawrence and Sondra Farwell, Megan and new baby, Lawrence Jr.

April 14, 1999

Sappi Fine Papers North America will close its Westbrook paper mill’s pulp mill, No. 11 paper machine and several linked operations by late June and expects to lay off around 315 workers. The mill and the city are in the midst of a big tax dispute, with Sappi asking for millions of dollars back and declaring that the mill is worth far less than the city has been saying, but city officials were quick to say they saw no connection between the tax dispute and the timing of yesterday’s announcement. Sappi’s press release blamed closing the pulp mill on the $50 million expected cost of meeting EPA and state rules aimed at lower emission of dioxin and other pollutants. It said the paper machine was to be shut down because there is low demand for its product. The equipment to be idled will be mothballed for a time. Of those laid off, roughly 150 will be members of the United Pulp and Paperworkers International union and the rest will be spread among management and the other unions. After the planned layoffs, roughly 500 workers will remain at the mill.

Gorham may privatize school busing next fall and bus drivers have started a petition to stop it, fearing the loss of benefits and local control. Drivers hope to present their petition to the School Committee tonight. “A majority of us will not work for a contractor,” said Jane Plummer, a union shop steward. “We have heard stories about vendors.” She has driven for the Gorham School Department for 23 years.

Gorham School Superintendent Irene Bender told the School Committee Wednesday that she would be leaving the district this summer. She was hired last summer. “I am unhappily leaving,” Bender told the American Journal. “It is a good job and a good community and I’m sorry to be leaving.” Bender would not elaborate on her reasons, but explained that she needed to be closer to her family in Pennsylvania. She will stay until July.

After months of debate and controversy, the Gorham Town Council voted 6-1 last week to put a number of new zoning restrictions on businesses in the downtown area. In January, the council voted to adopt a 90-day moratorium on all new construction in the downtown area to stop C.N. Brown and McDonald’s from building a gas station and fast food restaurant on Main Street and to give the Planning Board time to review the proposed changes. Bob Danielson, an attorney with C.N. Brown, said that the changes would threaten the viability of the project. He spoke against a restriction baring McDonald’s from running their drive-through window traffic between the front of the building and the sidewalk. The company sent suggested changes to the council early Tuesday that would have allowed a wrap-around drive-through, but councilors did not consider them.


The Westbrook American reported on April 15, 1964, that John Holmes, son of Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Holmes of Gorham was on duty with the U.S. Navy in Annapolis, Md.

Louise Wilson of West Buxton was a guest the past week of her daughter, Mrs. Ralph Armentino Jr., of Gorham.

In this undated view looking down Mechanic Street to Main Street, the large building in the center is 901 Main St., with Lawrence B. Seavey’s garage and used car dealership occupying the first floor. The small building on the right is 908 Main S., located at the corner of Mechanic Street. This building was occupied by Lawrence B. Seavey’s Auto Parts and Tire Store. Cyr’s Beauty Shop later occupied the building. 901 Main St. is now the Armory Apartments. 908 Main St. was demolished during urban renewal and the site is now part of a municipal parking lot. To see more historical photos and artifacts, visit the Westbrook Historical Society at the Fred C. Wescott Building, 426 Bridge St. Inquiries can be emailed to [email protected] The website is www.westbrookhistoricalsociety.org. 

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