But that's another story
I was asked if I would be interested in putting a few words to paper and immediately asked why me? Well the answer kind of floored me. “Your opinionated, you always have a strong opinion about goings on in your town.” I guess that’s true, but the only reason I have opinions about the goings on in town is that I usually know not only the history of a situation, I know most, if not all, of the players and the reasons why they are on one side of the fence or the other.
I’m not sure where to begin what may turn out to be a series, so I thought I would begin with the things I have been involved with since landing here in June of 1973. We moved back from new Hampshire so that I could help Anne’s father do land surveying. He ran Island Marine Co in Rockport and did land surveying all over Knox County. Talk about a sensitive business, which entailed walking all over the neighborhood looking for existing boundary markers, that would make interesting reading, especially about the gold mine of information that we found in Lorenzo Linscott’s kitchen in Appleton. But that’s another story.
In 1974, the day after Roger Morse’s boat shop and Barney Robinson’s empty lumber yard building were torched, I joined the fire department and have been there in one capacity or another ever since.
We used to car pool with Dick Simoneau to Augusta. During these trips to and from Augusta we thought up a way to not only replant the street shade trees that had been removed, but to start a town tree nursery. A $10,000 grant from the USFS helped those plans, but so did the help from students at GVHS. That is yet another story. However that work got me the title of tree warden and I still wear that job as high, if not higher, as any of the others I do for the town. Tree stories continue year to year.
At a car accident, where the fire department responded, I got a quick course in first aid to crash victims and with the help of a vigorous advanced first aid course put on by Laf French, I went on to get what became a Basic level EMT license. Since having an artificial knee installed, I have had to back off the heavy lifting with each of those two departments, but I still help where I can. There are many wonderful stories that were centered around 20-plus years in the back of an ambulance, but they may have to wait. Have to protect everyone's privacy you know. But there was that one call that came in as we were all dressed up for a Halloween party and that’s how we responded to the call. I’m sure the neighbors are still talking about that run !
In 1986, Karl Brooks thought I might make a good candidate to fill an empty position on the planning board and after being approved by the select board, I jumped into what has been a never ending relationship with the town and doing odd jobs here and there. Every month I and another new recruit on Gleason Street would take the agenda and go look at the sites of proposed work so we knew what the requests were all about at the meeting. I guess it is illegal to do that now, but that is another story.
I have always had an association with our public works department as they are the key to my miniscule street shade tree program. They are there to help with cleaning up the wood and branches and later the stump grindings from tree removals and then planting new trees to replace those removed. The skill of the two public works directors that I have had the privilege of working with is by far worthy of many many stories that should be told. What with the state doing less and less roadwork on the roads that they used to maintain, these jobs are falling to our public works department. Those stories are happening now and should be told.
Somewhere along the line, I became upset with what a select person was saying on the different sides of Knox Street so I ran for his position. I was voted in and the amount of work that one can do in that position is only limited by how much time you have to give. There are certain things a select person must do such as there have to be three select persons signing every request for spending the town's money, which is called “signing the warrant.” Ask anyone in the town office just how seriously I take that job. However, because I read every bill, I know what is going on for purchases in every town department. I know what is being built, what broke and how much that parts or the entire repair cost to fix it. I know who went where for what training and how much it costs to light the street lights (we have more than 100) and rent the fire hydrants (we have 76 of those) and to plow the 26.52 miles of road that are plowed and sanded (last winter’s cost was only $2,609.48 per mile but remember that was a relatively easy winter).The stories that can be written about snow and ice removal are endless as some of the citizens are clueless about winter driving and think it is their given right to be able to hit the streets day or night for a quick trip to somewhere regardless if there is a blizzard blowing outside. If you want to see stupidity in action, take a ride as a wingman in one of our snowplows. Again, that’s another story.
For those who know of my presence at the Owls Head, South Thomaston and Thomaston Co-operative transfer station on Buttermilk Drive, that’s a job delegated by the select board annually. Each member town has a select board member and a citizen appointed by the select board to sit on the board that runs the cooperative. I spent so much time recycling stuff out of the former metal pile, the Co-op board appointed me the site manager. If the goings on there in the last five years are not worthy of their own weekly column, I’ll buy you a stack of hot cakes at our newest restaurant. By the way, our “dump sticker” costs only $5 and is good for two years and we even have single-stream recycling.
Two other “positions” that every Thomaston select person automatically gets when they are elected are being on the Board of over seers of the Village Cemetery and the Pollution Control Department (read ‘the sewer’). I have been in the Village Cemetery since moving to town as it is only 400 feet away from my home, and I was pruning trees on Avenue 10 way back when I was first appointed tree warden. Little did I know that I would inherit the sexton’s job. Talk about stories. We inter at least 24 people every year and each funeral is different. The sexton’s main job is overseeing the mowing and care of the 22 acres of grass and the trimming around approximately 18,000 grave markers, trees, signs and rubbish cans and 750 veterans flags on metal holders. Speaking about rubbish cans, it took me almost three years to figure out who was dumping their house hold trash in the cemetery barrels. He was pretty sneaky scraping his name and address off the pill bottles and shredding his bills with scissors but one day I found a license plate number on a shredded garage bill and as they say, the rest is another story.
The pollution control position is mostly listening to our superintendent and approving the work that is ongoing. But of course I have loved to play in the dirt since I was a kid so that every sewer reconstruction job finds me perched on the side of the trench box watching lengths of sewer pipe being laid laser straight. Water lines can be laid up hill and down as long as they are deep enough in the ground but sewer lines have to be laid to a very specific grade. Watch for the upcoming sewer rebuild over the Wadsworth Street bridge in the Sunrise, Sunset street area of town this summer. Then there was the Sunday afternoon that Cod Adams called me and said his cellar was full of pieces of carrot floating around but that’s another story.
By knowing what is going on in town, I have a relatively good handle when it comes to answering questions from the general public about who is in charge of this or that or what do I do about this or that problem. Based on that knowledge, and a good dose of common sense to mellow same, I have strong opinions as to how things should be done. For example, if you are going to feed multiple bags of bread to the dump turkeys, you should do that where their output would not matter.
Now which story should I start to tell you about?