Aug. 14, 1991

The City Council’s Finance Committee voted 5-1 Monday to bill Westbrook property owners for a fourth of their new taxes in November instead of half. Bills for three other 25 percent payments would go out in February, April and June. “The change will make it somewhat easier, although it doesn’t help the dollars,” Mayor Fred Wescott said in reference to the higher taxes most people will pay in the wake of the city’s revaluation. Aldermen gave Wescott the go-ahead Monday to spend what it takes to be sure everyone has a chance to appeal their new property tax values. Wescott said the pace of calls shows that the number who will appeal may go above the 15 percent lid set in the city’s contract with Cole-Layer-Trumble Co.

City officials were still searching Tuesday for the source of an industrial cleaning solvent that caused an explosion at the County Road pumping station Aug. 6 after it was dumped illegally into the city’s sewer system. Fumes ignited in a flash of combustion that blew off the manhole cover at the underground station and blew off the metal doors to the electrical panel. Physical damages were minimal.

The Gorham Police Department is going to get the chance to put together a film library that will make roads safer for all of us, thanks to the Maine chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. If the fundraising effort proposed by MADD is successful, Gorham will become one of a handful of police departments in Maine to routinely carry fixed-amount 8 mm cameras to film and aid in prosecuting drunk drivers. Around $3,200 needs to be raised. Gorham Police Chief Edward Tolan contact MADD in Portland after he heard about the possibility of assistance with raising funds for the purchase of the cameras.

Lots of diligent searching through the dusty town records and yellowed newspaper clippings helped to bring alive the times and terms of Westbrook’s mayors in a 76-page booklet produced by the Westbrook Historical Society in commemoration of the city’s 100th anniversary. In all, there have been 36 mayors, beginning with Leander Valentine in1891 to current Mayor Fred Wescott. Two pages have been set aside in the booklet for each mayor.

A statue of Our Lady of Fatima, Portugal, that has been on tour in this and other countries since 1947, will visit Gorham and Westbrook next week. A special Marian devotion in St. Anne’s Church, Gorham, is at 7 p.m. Aug. 19. A motorcade will leave St. Anne’s at 10 a.m. Aug. 20 for St. Hyacinth Church, Westbrook, where there will be special services. The statue will leave Wednesday for Wells, ending a three-week tour of Maine.

Aug. 15, 2001

“I wish I’d made it larger,” Barbara Palmer said of the hand-lettered sign she recently stuck on the front lawn of the house she and her husband, William, keep spic and span at 176 Lamb St., Westbrook. “The Smell is Back – Tax Increase Stinks,” it declares. The city raised the tax value of their home from $75,100 to $93,300, an increase of $18,200, of which $11,000 was in value of the building lot. Taxes went from $1,388.20 last year to $1,735.76 this year. “I think there should be much more revolt in Westbrook. I know City Hall’s been bombarded by taxpayers, but I think they ought to storm the place,” she said.

Aug. 18 will be a day to eat and have fun as Gorham hosts a party, Gorham Family Fair 2001. The plans include a church breakfast, a road race, parade, entertainment, fireman’s muster, fair booths, chicken barbecue, dancing and fireworks.

Westbrook has no program of patrolmen on bikes this summer because police are short-handed. Police Chief Steven Roberts said that, regrettably, he has not had the staff for a team of bike cops this season. Roberts said there have been some bike patrols, but not the regular bike shifts he stated four years ago.

Tom and Gerry Day, 20 Running Springs Road, Gorham, and a group of relatives and friends recently boarded the Legend of the Seas, a cruise ship, and enjoyed a mid-week voyage to Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia and Denmark.

The R.J. Grondin and Sons team has won the Westbrook Little League softball championship. Members included Olivia Hebert, Megan Mascar, Megan Cutter, Diane Quinlan, Kathryn Bois, Kayla Jordan, Julia Cuddy, Lauren Sawyer, Jennifer Fecteau, Kate Cottrell and Jill Jordan. Coach Tom Johnson was assisted by Tim Fecteau and John Cottrell.

From the Gorham Police Notes: A caller complained that County Road roosters began crowing at 2:30 a.m.; a brown rabbit was running on the beach at Wassamki Springs campground, said a called named Peggy; a Barstow Road man chased a fox from his yard twice in one day; an Osborne Road motorist aid that he was almost hit twice, once intentionally, by a driver with a shaved head and no shirt.

Planning to move in some time in October, the Westbrook Historical Society is calling on its member to pack up its collection next week in its present headquarters in the old Westbrook High School. The plan is to move the collection later to the second floor of the Dunn Street American Legion building.

The Haskell Silk Co. was established in 1874 by Frank Haskell. The business was started in a wooden mill building located on Bridge Street next to the bridge. The building was enlarged several times to meet the demands of the fast-growing company. The company purchased the 65-acre King farm, located on the north side of the river just above the Dana Warp Mill, and constructed a brick mill, dye house and large office. This photo shows the expanded silk mill just prior to the company relocating to the new building. The business closed in 1933. The old mill was eventually demolished and a three-story brick building with stores on the first floor and apartments on the upper floors stood on the site for many years. It’s now a parking lot behind the Portland Pie Co. To see more historical photos and artifacts, visit the Westbrook Historical Society at the Fred C. Wescott Building, 426 Bridge St. It is open Tuesdays and Saturdays, 9 a.m.-noon, and the first Wednesday of each month at 1:30 p.m., September-June. Inquiries can be emailed to [email protected] The website is Photo and research courtesy of Mike Sanphy

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