In the spirit of the season of lighting Christmas trees, decorating houses, windows and lighting candles, the Pepperell Mill Campus is lighting up a 300-foot-high candle. The exhaust stack attached to the boiler house of the mill has presided over the two cities and the Saco River for more than 100 years. It towers over all, standing perfectly vertical to the earth. The stack gradually tapers inward as it rises to its peak. The structure is a brick mason’s nirvana and an architectural marvel.

Now the stack has been “lit up.” Through the generosity and help from Angelrox and the Biddeford Mills Museum, the exhaust chimney is now illuminated with a new and powerful LED lighting system.

During daylight hours, the stack has always been visible from the open ocean as one approaches the mouth of the Saco River. The stack can also be seen from the I 95 bridge over the Saco River. From some four miles to the northeast, the stack is in clear view as one drives South on U.S. Route 1 through downtown Saco, continuing by Saco Island and across the river into Biddeford. Now it will be visible at night.

Like the exhaust pipe of a combustion driven vehicle, the stack was the tailpipe of the engine that drove the mills. The boiler house produced energy for a 100-plus years, providing steam for textile process, heat for all the mill buildings, as well as electricity. In the days of peak production, the boiler house powered 2 million interior square feet of textile mill process.

There is now a larger boiler, and it is firing the resurgence of the area as a whole. That boiler is you, the stakeholders and citizens of Biddeford and Saco. Citizens, city government, new city managers, HOB, DDC, the donut club, the MacArthur Library, Biddeford Mills Museum, the Lincoln Hotel, Saco Island, the development potential of the former MERC site, Pepperell Mill Campus, Engine, the Community Bike Center, intown businesses, police and fire departments, the planning departments and codes departments – all organizations are working towards the unified goal of economic and cultural betterment.

It should be evident to all in this community that there is no longer room or any reason for divisiveness and negativity. Civility and positive engagement are the new way. With civic growth comes growing pains. Let’s work through those growing pains in a constructive manner, to create positive outcomes for the community.

I know that we all have the common goal of growing our region in a quality way. We continue to surprise ourselves with the pace of this economic growth. Don’t look now, Biddeford-Saco, but your pride is showing.

Let’s all work even harder and work together in 2016 to continue this exciting trend.

Doug Sanford
Pepperell Mill Campus