March 23, 1994

Aldermen voted 6-1 Monday to repeal the two-hour parking limit in downtown Westbrook after a 10-day ticketing blitz by Westbrook police provoked a storm of protests. Tom Pratt, an insurance executive, asked the council whether the tickets were the police response to a recent order from Acting Mayor Kenneth Lefebvre restoring a downtown foot patrol. Lefebvre said the foot patrol may have been an influence since it brought patrolmen face to face with cars breaking the two-hour rule. The council also asked its Public Safety Committee to review downtown parking rules soon. At the end of the meeting, Lefebvre directed Capt. Paul McCarthy to call an immediate halt to the ticketing.

A proposed $2.8 million housing development for low- and very low-income elderly and disabled, on School Street in Gorham, gained support from the municipal planning staff Monday, amid concerns voiced by abutting property owners who question the safety plans for the added traffic at the entrance to the site. The Village Square Development is sponsored by York-Cumberland Housing Development Corp., with funding from the Farmers Home Administration. The corporation also runs a similar development adjacent to the proposed site at Ridgewood, also on School Street. A public hearing on the new development will be held April 4.

The steam that S.D. Warren continues to give to the Westbrook Community Hospital amounted in 1993 to a contribution of $15,787.70 from the paper company to the hospital. Through a pipe from its boiler house, Warren has supplied steam since the hospital was built in 1962. It provides heat, air conditioning and steam for sterilizing equipment.

Miss Esther Wood, retired professor of English at the University of Southern Maine and Gorham State Teachers College, was inducted into the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame on March 5. Miss Wood was nominated by the Gorham Teachers College Class of 1948. About 200 people attended the ceremony. The twin towers at USM Gorham were named for Edna Dickey and Esther Wood.

March 24, 2004

This Sunday, thousands of Mainers will forgo their Sunday morning routines and travel to maple syrup producers all over Maine. It’s the fourth Sunday in March, and that means Maine Maple Sunday. The Merrifields of Gorham are actively collecting sap, boiling it down to syrup and bottling it, not just for Maine Maple Sunday, but for the year that follows. Jo-Ann and Lyle Merrifield work together with their daughters and assorted family members to collect sap from about 350 taps, transport it to the sugar house beside their North Gorham Road farm, and begin the long process of boiling raw sap down to its sweet, sticky essence. “We had our first boil on Feb. 29,” said Lyle this week, “and that’s the first time we’ve boiled on a Feb. 29.”

Westbrook has begun discussions about security concerns along the nearly completed boardwalk, which runs alongside the Presumpscot River. Westbrook Police Chief Paul McCarthy told the City Council’s Committee of the Whole that when the boardwalk opens, the police department would maintain a presence on it. He said initial plans do not call for video surveillance for the area, but “if we feel video surveillance is warranted, we’re prepared to go down that road.”

The fight against mad cow disease may soon have a new weapon developed in Westbrook. On March 18, Idexx Laboratories announced that it had received USDA approval to produce and sell a new antigen test kit, known as HerdCheck, designed to fight mad cow disease. Ed Garber, an Idexx official, said the test checks for the presence of abnormal proteins that are indicative of the presence of mad cow disease.

On the eve of a March 23 Planning Board public hearing, the Westbrook Chamber of Commerce has announced its support of a zone change to allow a Wal-Mart to be built on the Saunders Bros. property. “The zoning change makes sense for the economic development plans of our city and is another step in broadening our commercial tax base,” said Ray Richardson, chamber president.

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