May 18, 1994

The students in the Forest Street School in Westbrook are there for the arts, not the three R’s. Through most of its years, the two-story brick building, erected in 1894, was the neighborhood elementary school for the eastern part of Westbrook. More recently, it was home to the Westbrook schools’ Enrichment Center. Now, it is the home of the Maine State School for the Performing Arts, and it is host to about 500 students who come from various parts of Cumberland, York and Oxford counties. The school will be adding voice, drama and music to its dance curriculum in the fall. It has already put about $20,000 into building improvements and plans more. The city is collecting $650 a month rent for use of the building, and the tenants pay for heat and all utilities.

A brief line in Wednesday’s police log opens a new aspect of the missing money in Westbrook City Hall. It indicates that someone was warned of the leak in April 1993. It could mean that the leak went on longer than the city has admitted, that the money loss is greater than has been estimated or that the first criminal charge might be not for taking the money, but for failing to fix the leak. Acting Mayor Kenneth Lefebvre confirmed that the report relates to the City Hall leak. He said people in the Finance Department are under a lot of stress, emphasizing his faith in them. “One bad apple can cause a lot of grief,” he said.

The Gorham High School Chamber Singers, directed by Christopher Peterson, received a Gold Medal for first place in their Class A Division following their performance at the Heritage Festival in Quebec City last month. The Gorham group also was honored with the Adjudicators Award for all-around best musical performance, besting 26 other performing groups.

May 19, 2004

Holly Larouche, a woman known and liked by many in downtown Westbrook, died Saturday after being struck by a van while she was attempting to cross Main Street on a rainy night. Larouche, 49, was struck at about 9 p.m. by the Rite Aid, a route she traveled many times walking home from the bus stop. She had just begun to cross the street when the van stuck her, said her husband, Don, who was with her at the time of the accident. The driver will not be charged. Police say pedestrian error and poor visibility were contributing factors. Don said the couple was on their way home from a dinner out a Profenno’s.

The controversial pay-per-bag proposal in Westbrook Mayor Bruce Chuluda’s proposed budget may be headed for the trash heap. The City Council’s Finance Committee is scheduled to discuss the issue May 20, and it appears a majority of councilors are prepared to vote against it. City Council President Jim Violette said he plans to make a motion at the meeting to eliminate the program from the budget. He’s been vocal in his opposition, calling it a “trash tax.”

Gorham’s 2004-05 budget has been set at $34.9 million, with $9.4 million from the municipal side and $24.9 million on the school side. The estimated new tax rate is $20.12, an increase of 3.7 percent over this year’s rate of $19.40. The school budget is up $945,741 from the current budget. Of the 32 people who attended the Town Council hearing last week, 13 spoke in favor of more funding for the schools.

Jeremy Ray will replace the retiring Rob Welch as principal of the Canal School in Westbrook. Ray is currently principal of the Appleton Village School, part of the Camden school system. Ray said he is looking forward to the challenge of working in a larger school system. Welch said he made the decision to retire after 25 years in education, the last nine as Canal principal, because he plans to open a bed-and-breakfast in Rangeley. “It’s been a great career. I just want to move on,” Welch said.

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