Recent petitions circulated by a community member to eliminate Norridgewock’s long-standing blue laws failed to gain enough signatures to be considered for the March election, but another petition, to remove speed tables on Upper Main Street, will be presented to the board of selectmen either for its approval or to be placed on the March ballot for voters.

Traffic passes by Wentworth’s Country Diner in Norridgewock on Wednesday. A petition to change the town’s adherence to blue laws failed to garner enough signatures, stunting any plans to expand Wentworth’s hours of service or offerings. Morning Sentinel photo by Rich Abrahamson Buy this Photo

The town abides by state blue laws prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol at the same spot and on certain days of the week. The town voted decades ago in a statewide referendum to keep the Prohibition-era laws. The retail sale of wine, beer and liquor is allowed, but customers cannot consume the alcohol at the same site where it is purchased.

Town resident Kerri Everett, 38, circulated two petitions, according to Town Manager Richard LaBelle: one to allow for consumption on Sundays, and one for consumption on every day except for Sunday. The petitions needed 218 signatures from registered Norridgewock voters by Jan. 2 to be considered for the election in March.

The petition for Sundays received only 94 signatures, for the other days of the week 95.

“Previous efforts to get these laws removed have either failed or been tied, which means that they fail,” LaBelle said.

Attempts to reach Everett before deadline were not successful, but in a previous interview she said, “I have been part of a community revitalization group in town, and we’ve discussed things like how it would be nice to go out and have a nice dinner. And this was a tipping point. Even if I’m not a drinker, a lot of people want wine and beer with a nice meal, and right now, because of the laws, restaurants can’t sell alcohol.”

The same petitions were circulated last year at Wentworth’s Country Diner at 347 Waterville Road in Norridgewock, Everett said.

Dylan Wentworth said Thursday that if the town was to get rid of blue laws, he and his wife, Emily, would be able to extend their restaurant’s hours into dinner time and hire more staff. The Wentworths own one of two restaurants in town. The diner is open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

“There’s no restaurant in town to sit down and eat dinner and have a beer,” Dylan Wentworth said, and until the blue laws are removed, the restaurant will not extend its hours.

“The big thing is that a lot of people don’t want bars in town,” he said. “We just want to be able to serve beer and wine.”

With the restaurant within a mile of Fairfield and Skowhegan, Wentworth said between 30 and 60 people show up for breakfast, but only a few are registered Norridgewock voters, which works to their disadvantage when gathering signatures.

LaBelle said that while Everett’s petition was not successful, the town received a petition from Bruce Obert, who is looking to get the speed tables on Upper Main Street removed.

The petition, if approved by selectmen or if it is put on the March ballot, would also prohibit the installation of future speed tables on Upper Main Street.

The speed tables were installed in 2016 at the request of Upper Main Street residents who got together and asked the town to install speed bumps to slow down passing cars on the residential street, where the speed limit is 25 miles per hour. The installation was part of a larger project on Upper Main Street.

Obert, who operates Bruce Obert Contractors, said Thursday that the speed tables were illegally installed and are a nuisance to people like him who drive dump trucks over the bump. Since the speed tables were installed, he said he has had to replace two airbags at $300 a piece.

Norridgewock residents Butch and Cheri White, with their grandson Parker, said on June 13, 2016, that they support the speed table on Upper Main Street, saying it slows down drivers going through the neighborhood. A petition to get rid of the speed table will be presented to selectmen. Morning Sentinel file photo

“If you drive across it in a normal car, it’s not much of an issue,” Obert said. “I drive a dump truck filled with gravel over those bumps at least 24 times a day.”

This is not the first time Obert has petitioned to have the speed tables removed, previously citing that only a few people speed through the residential street, leaving the rest of the community responsible for the costs.

Upper Main Street is about a quarter-mile stretch of road that connects Main Street and Winding Hill Road. Since its installation, residents of Wade Street, an alternate route to Winding Hill Road, have cited an increase in traffic on the road to avoid the speed tables.

LaBelle said that he will present the petition to the Board of Selectmen and it will be up to them to determine if it goes to an open town meeting or a referendum on the ballot.

“I would like to see this go to the voters,” Obert said. “Let the taxpayers vote on it.”

The next Board of Selectmen meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Jan. 15 at the town office.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: