The Courier-Gazette reflects on the year that was 2022 and the strange events, challenging circumstances, victories and jubilations that went along with it.

A number of annual events and celebrations returned this year for the first time since COVID-19 hit, meaning a bit more of a return to normal. Some businesses opened their doors for the first time, and some closed for good.

Several ongoing items from 2021 continued into 2022, including the Habitat for Humanity project in Rockland, the Thomaston Green, Union’s Thompson Community Center and the expansion of the Owl’s Head airport.

The major November election meant political candidates began filing paperwork starting in January. Political signs, advertisements, endorsements and debates took over everywhere before long. Then Election Day saw Democrats and an independent sweep the House and Senate in Knox County, along with the reelection of Governor Janet Mills.

January

The Rockland Planning Board tours the Habitat for Humanity site on Talbot Avenue, Dec. 28, 2021. Photo by Stephen Betts

The year started with news on Midcoast Habitat for Humanity’s housing project on Talbot Avenue. The Rockland Planning Board toured the site and heard concerns from neighbors, and an independent review of the stormwater management plan, performed by Wright-Pierce engineers of Topsham, deemed it to be “in pretty good shape.”

February

The intersection of Park and Union street in Rockland during the Jan. 29 blizzard. Photo by Steve Betts

February began with residents recovering and digging out from the first blizzard to hit the Midcoast since 2018. Knox County received high winds and nearly a foot of snow, according to weather reports from WCSH 6.

Medomak High School and Middle School students took part in two days of protests against what they said were sexual assault and harassment issues in the schools. District administration said the protests were a safety issue, and participating students could face disciplinary action.

Meanwhile, proceedings continued that month in the lawsuit against that school district, where a former student claimed the former high school principal sexually harassed her.

March

Oceanside players gather with — and kiss — the gold ball after the Mariners rallied to beat Hermon 31-28 on March 4 to win the state Class B high school girls basketball championship at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. Photo by Zack Miller

The Oceanside High School girls basketball team won the state Class B high school girls basketball championship in March, recovering from a slow start to make one of the most memorable and exciting comebacks in recent tournament history.

April

From left: Representing The Strand Theatre, Liz McLeod as Milk Duds and Anna Frangiosa as a bucket of Strand popcorn at the 2022 Pen Bay Biz Expo at the Samoset, April 13. Photo by Christine Simmonds

The Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce annual “Biz Expo” returned to the Samoset Resort in April. This was the first business and community exposition at the Samoset since 2019, and hundreds of guests packed the rooms to hobnob with local businesses and non-profits.

May

Dorman’s Dairy Dream on Route One in Thomaston. Photo by Christine Simmonds

Midcoast residents rejoiced when business-owner Neal Shepard confirmed that he would be purchasing Dorman’s Dairy Dream and opening it that summer. Shepard, known for working in the auto business, said he wanted to keep the institution running.

Regional School Unit 40 returned to mandatory masking following another rise in COVID-19 cases. Students and staff who did not comply were sent home. Staff, students and parents packed an RSU 40 Board of Directors meeting and voiced their displeasure regarding the policy, prompting the Board to update it and make masks optional.

June 

Midcoast residents stand outside Knox County Courthouse in Rockland, June 24, to protest the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe V. Wade. Photo by Christine Simmonds

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Midcoast residents gathered to protest outside the Knox County Courthouse in Rockland. Some were present throughout the day before a more organized protest began at 5 p.m.

The Thomaston Planning Board gave preliminary approval to a plan for a Starbucks coffee shop.

July

Scene from the 2022 Thomaston Fourth of July parade. Photo by Mark Haskell

After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, Thomaston’s Fourth of July celebration and annual parade returned with a bang! Events ranged from a pancake breakfast and a 5k road race to live music and fireworks.

The 2022 Union Fair also took place in July, which was earlier than previous years. Kaitlynn Meagan-Lei Bean of Hudson was crowned the 2022 Maine Wild Blueberry Queen.

The 29th annual North Atlantic Blues Festival in Rockland drew crowds from across the country and featured artists playing at multiple locations around town.

Rockland named Knox County Sheriff Tim Carroll as the city’s new police chief, and Pat Polky, the deputy chief under Carroll, was appointed to the position of Knox County Sheriff.

August 

Sea Goddess Olivia Dougherty of Warren waves to the crowds Saturday in the big Maine Lobster Festival parade. Photo by Daniel Dunkle

August saw the return of the Maine Lobster Festival for the first time in two years as well. The festival offered free admission, and crowds came out in force for the big parade on Saturday. Olivia Dougherty of Warren was crowned the 2022 Maine Sea Goddess.

Rockland manufacturer Steel-Pro, founded in 1978, announced plans to move to Union and build a new state-of-the-art facility.

September

The dedication of the “El Faro Salute!” attracted a huge crowd to Rockland’s South End waterfront. Photo by Stephen Betts

Nearly 1,000 people attended the formal dedication of the “El Faro Salute!” memorial in Rockland. The memorial, created by Jay Sawyer, was built to commemorate the 33 people lost as sea in 2015, including two people from Rockland.

The final graduating class of Rockland High School, now the Lincoln Street Center, gathered on Sept. 21 for their 60th reunion, with 31 of the original class of 125 people in attendance.

“The Ghost Trap,” a film adaptation of the novel by the same name by Maine author Kay Stephens, began filming around the Midcoast.

October 

Antyna Gould of Washington speaks in favor of the book “Gender Queer” at the Oct. 20 RSU 40 Board of Directors meeting at Medomak Middle School. Photo by Christine Simmonds

After four hours of public comment, executive session and debate amongst themselves, RSU 40’s Board of Directors voted to keep the controversial LGBTQ book “Gender Queer” in Medomak Valley High School’s library. About 200 people attended this board meeting.

Maine’s lobster industry faced worries as additional federal regulations were proposed to protect the endangered North American right whale. National environmental and animal rights organizations faced off against Maine and its lobster harvesters.

November

Election and Ballot Clerk Cynthia Burns gives a sticker to granddaughter Olivia Burns at the polls in Union, Tuesday, Nov. 8. Photo by Christine Simmonds

The big story of the year was Election Day, with Democrats and an independent sweeping the House and Senate in Knox County.

In Rockland, Penelope York and Adam Lachman won election to the Rockland City Council, with York winning her race by one single vote. Louise MacLellan-Ruf was elected mayor by the Council.

December

Rockland Public Services participated in the parade. Photo by Stephen Betts

Santa arrived at Rockland by ship, and the annual Parade of Lights kicked off the holiday season.

Issues with the Thompson Community Center continued in Union. After the passage of a citizen’s petition in November stopped all repairs on the building, Union Select Board decided to end all leases and close the building until further notice.

Just before Christmas, Congress approved a six-year regulatory pause for the lobster industry regarding right whale issues.