Nov. 16, 1994

Even though major changes in the post office traffic patterns are in the works, Westbrook aldermen are ready to give their OK on Nov. 21 to a traffic light at the intersection of Main and Spring streets. Aldermen voted 5-0 on the first reading last week to give permission to the Maine Department of Transportation to go ahead. Westbrook mail carriers now pick up their mail at a new distribution building in Portland, freeing space at the post office formerly used for their trucks. The plans for making use of that space may include a new traffic pattern for customers’ cars that would affect traffic flow at the Main-Spring intersection.

Editorial: The defeat of the municipal power district in Westbrook should not be and will not be the end of its consideration. Those most opposed to the Nov. 8 proposal appeared to agree that the idea is worth exploring. Who will explore it? What seems most likely at this point is that some private entrepreneur, or several of them, will approach the city with a complete package, offering (for a share of the eventual proceeds) to develop financing, construction and management plans, get them approved by the voters and get them approved by the Public Utilities Commission. It will take time, perhaps a few years. Fifty-nine percent of Westbrook voters chose to reject the plans for a power district.

The Gerrity Building Center at 3 Railroad Ave., Gorham, will close down retail operations over the next two weeks. The Gerrity chain, out of Boston, was acquired on Oct. 6 by Wickes Lumber, headquartered in Chicago. The Gorham location had operated normally until last week when the new corporate owner decided to consolidate stores. The Gorham retail sales employees will be merged into the Wickes store in Portland.

The Gorham High School Chamber Singers group, directed by Chris Peterson, has been invited to perform at the National Invitational Choral Festival in Washington, D.C., at the John F. Kennedy Center and George Washington University. Forty choirs have been selected from hundreds. Friends aim to raise $12,000 for their expenses.

School Superintendent Edward Connolly told the Westbrook School Committee Wednesday that graduation exercises can’t be held in Portland City Hall in 1995 or 1996. The exercises have been held there in recent years, but Portland is planning to rebuild the auditorium. Connolly asked that the committee invite public discussion and then choose in January between two policies for future graduations: either hold them all in Westbrook High School’s gym or hold them in a place chosen by the graduates each year.

Nov. 17, 2004

The decision to temporarily close St. Hyacinth’s and St. Edmund’s churches has upset some parishioners, especially those at St. Hyacinth’s, who believe that as the largest church, it should have been selected as the central worship site for Westbrook Catholics. Starting Nov. 28, all Masses in Westbrook will be at St. Mary’s Church on Main Street. The other two will be temporarily closed through the winter while the parish’s transitional team determines what the best solution for the parish is. Members of St. Hyacinth’s community say the church is a vital part of the Brown Street neighborhood.

It’s down to the final eight, and Gorham’s Julie Berry is among them as they compete for a $1 million prize on the TV show, “Survivor 9: Vanuatu.” Her fans in town are rooting for her. Kevin Jenkins, her former Gorham High School math teacher, said he thinks Berry could stay on for more episodes. “Nothing would surprise me now,” he said. Jeremy Greene, owner of The Art Guru, thinks she’s in “a good position. She hasn’t truly done anything wrong.” Eighteen people began the show this season.

Westbrook’s school bus drivers are usually too busy making sure they get their passengers to and from school safely to take the time to read to the kids as well. However, some drivers recently got that chance at Prides Corner School as each first-grade class took part in a reading activity where a school bus driver and a parent visited the classes to read with the children. The classroom reading activity was part of an event sponsored by the federal Reading is Fundamental program, in which all first-graders in the city are given a new book for them to keep.

Westbrook-Warren Congregational Church is in its fourth year of sponsoring the Festival of Trees, which runs from Dec. 11-18. Opening day features Breakfast with Santa, bell ringers, a bean supper and sleigh rides. During the festival, events include a Teddy Bear Tea Party, Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and musical entertainment. A highlight is the Tips for Charity luncheon on Dec. 17, when some 20 local dignitaries, including the mayor, police chief, fire chief, city manager and businesspeople, wait on tables for tips. Last year, more than $1,700 was raised from this meal alone. The festival has earned over $11,000 in profits that have all been returned to the community in the form of charitable donations. Most of the money comes from the $100 donation required to sponsor a tree.

In a combined effort with the town and churches, Baxter Memorial Library in Gorham is collecting holiday gifts for local families in need. The focus will be on youth ages 12-18. Items needed include books, clothing, toiletries, games, movie tickets and gift certificates. New, unwrapped gifts can be taken by Dec. 17 to the library, at 71 South St.