EAST WINTHROP — On a sunny day last year, Travis Mills had stopped his pontoon boat at the north end of Cobbosseecontee Lake to refill it with gas when he received an offer: How’d he like to buy the fuel pumps and everything that came with them, including docks, rental boats, a motel and overnight cabins?

Mills, a 30-year-old Army veteran who lost his arms and legs after surviving an explosion in Afghanistan, had to think about the offer from Andy Wess, who ran Lakeside Motel & Cabins with his wife, Sheree, for 30 years.

Mills now lives in Manchester and travels the country delivering motivational speeches. He also helps run a foundation that was started in his name and that last summer opened a retreat for wounded veterans in Rome.

After conferring with his family and his neighbor, Zach Stewart, Mills went for it. In January, he and Stewart became co-owners of the East Winthrop institution.

Travis Mills and Zach Stewart at Lakeside Motel & Cabins on Cobbossee Lake, off U.S. Route 202 in East Winthrop.

Now, they’ve set goals for its expansion. They’re acquiring new watercraft for the rental fleet, including pontoon boats, canoes and stand-up paddleboards. They hope to add a playground for children and resources for ice fishing, and eventually open a waterfront restaurant.

They’ve also renovated the front office and begun stocking it with concessions such as beer, wine and custom-roasted coffee, as well as a bigger array of fishing tackle.


Just off U.S. Route 202, Lakeside Motel & Cabins is the host of several charity fishing competitions each year, including the Breast Cancer Awareness Bass Fishing Tournament that happened on Sunday and a May fundraiser for Special Olympics Maine.

Wess stopped by his former business Thursday morning. He said he offered to sell the business to Mills after coming to believe that the veteran would keep running it as a family operation. Wess was also encouraged that Mills would continue holding charitable events there.

At the same time, Wess said that Mills and Stewart, who is 36, could bring some new tricks to the old establishment.

“They’re certainly going to be making changes,” said Wess, who is involved with other civic groups and running for Town Council this fall. “My wife and I are retirement age. We’re happy to see two families take over a great business.”

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