A look back at 2017

By Staff | Dec 31, 2017

While, on a national level, 2017 was a hard year of divisive partisan politics, the Midcoast experienced the usual mix of triumphs and tragedies.

Here are a few of the local highlights from the year that was 2017:

JANUARY

Two people died and another was injured Jan. 23 in an early morning blaze on Cattle Pound Road in Washington. Killed in the fire were Steven Rhodes and his son, Isaac. Multiple local fire departments responded to the fire, which destroyed the house. The State Fire Marshal's Office investigated, but could not determine the cause because of the amount of damage.

FEBRUARY

The headline was: "Blizzard hits Midcoast; Schools, businesses, municipal offices closed; Route 1 closed due to tractor-trailer crash; more than 1,000 without power." Just before noon Monday, Feb. 13, the Knox County Emergency Management Agency said: "We are experiencing whiteout conditions over much of the county. Winds are gusting into the 50’s. We’ve received word some plow crews are being pulled off the road until it is again safe..."

MARCH

Vinalhaven's Gilleyanne Davis-Oakes, with one of the two nets around her neck, kisses the gold ball the islanders won for being state Class D girls basketball champions. The islanders beat Shead of Eastport 55-44 on March 4 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. It was the first high school athletic state championship in the school's history.

APRIL

The Reed Mansion at 60 Glidden St. in Waldoboro was consumed by flames April 2, despite the efforts of 10 fire departments. The fire was reported shortly before 3:30 a.m. Two caretakers and family members escaped unharmed.

MAY

Thomaston's downtown business owners were sick of delays, loss of business and traffic problems caused by the endless construction on Route 1 in town. In addition, a new diagonal reverse parking scheme had been set up in front of the business block requiring drivers to back into spaces on Main Street. The scheme would be abandoned quietly by the end of the year and changed back to head-in parking. Many business owners complained that the construction, which had started a year before and was slated to continue until November, was hurting their businesses. Some even closed.

JUNE

Amelia Magjik was elected to a vacant Rockland City Council seat Tuesday, June 13. Magjik received 425 votes, defeating Stephen Carroll, who received 256 votes.

"I am grateful, excited and ready to serve the citizens of Rockland," Magjik said at the Flanagan Community Center after the results were announced.

JULY

Longtime city employee Tom Luttrell began his new job as Rockland's city manager. The City Council voted 5-0 Wednesday evening, July 19, to approve a contract with Luttrell.

City councilors and municipal staff stood behind Luttrell as he signed the document. He thanked the council and community for their support. "We have a great staff. We can do marvelous things together," Luttrell said.

Luttrell replaced James Chaousis, who had resigned in June 2016. Assistant City Manager/Community Development Director Audra Caler Bell served as acting city manager for a year until she began work July 1 as Camden's town manager.

AUGUST

Tim Hoppe was named Thomaston police chief Aug. 14 after 16 years with the department. Selectmen and the town manager made it official in front of a room packed with supportive friends, family and community members at Watts Hall.

Town Manager Valmore Blastow said, "He is a dedicated, hard-working, dependable, honest and fair employee that strives to ensure the community of Thomaston is a safe, secure and welcoming community."

Hoppe's wife, Ann, pinned his badge on his chest during the meeting. He succeeded former Chief Kevin Haj, who had retired.

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Haylie Witham was crowned Maine Sea Goddess Aug. 2 in ceremonies at the 70th Maine Lobster Festival at Harbor Park.

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Krisandra McNichol of Rockland was crowned the Maine Wild Blueberry Queen Monday night, Aug. 21, at Union Fair.

SEPTEMBER

The Millay Arts & Poetry Festival drew hundreds to Rockland for three days of poetry, politics and history inspired by Rockland-born poet Edna St. Vincent Millay.

There was a standing ovation at the Strand Theatre for the play "Vincent," starring Sarah MacDonnell and John Williams. Alva Hascall of Rockland wrote the play. The festival, organized by Millay House Rockland, which is preserving the house where Millay was born on Broadway, included several famous poets and Millay biographers. Pulitzer-Prize-winning U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith and 2013 presidential inaugural poet Richard Blanco were speakers.

OCTOBER

Longtime teacher, coach and politician Ed Mazurek died Oct. 4 at the age of 79.

Mazurek had come to Rockland in 1975 to teach social studies at Rockland District High School. Mazurek had been a professional football player prior to coming to Maine. He was elected and was the top vote-getter when he ran for the Rockland City Council in 2001. He was elected to the Maine House in 2004 and in 2012, he challenged incumbent Republican State Sen. Christopher Rector and captured the Knox County seat. The community misses Coach Maz.

NOVEMBER

Valli Geiger was elected mayor Nov. 20 by a 4-0 vote of the City Council. She had been elected Nov. 7 to a second three-year term on the council.

Lisa Westkaemper was sworn in for her first term on the council at the same meeting.

DECEMBER

We saw more than the usual number of political protests in 2017, prompted by the election of President Donald Trump in 2016. The year opened with local women traveling to Washington, D.C. to demand equal rights and it concluded with locals speaking out in opposition to the Republican tax bill, which critics argue will benefit the rich at the expense of the poor.

A number of local residents, dressed as the Grinch, or in the top hat and tails of the Monopoly millionaire, turned out at the park in front of Rockland Rite Aid Dec. 9. The event was organized by Midcoast Maine Indivisible.

“For every $100 in tax cuts, $62 go to the top 1 percent,” said organizer James Cook in a speech at the protest. “Only $2 go to the bottom 60 percent of earners in the U.S. This is what we call a tax scam.”

Washington fire. (Source: File photo)
The blizzard. (Source: File photo)
Vinalhaven's Gilleyanne Davis-Oakes, with one of the two nets around her neck, kisses the gold ball the islanders won for being state Class D girls basketball champions. The islanders beat Shead of Eastport 55-44 on March 4 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. It was the first high school athletic state championship in the school's history. (Source: File photo)
Reed Mansion fire. (Courtesy of: Jake Newcomb)
Thomaston construction. (Source: File photo)
Amelia Magjik (Source: File photo)
Tom Luttrell (Source: File photo)
Tim Hoppe (Source: File photo)
Haylie Witham is crowned Maine Sea Goddess Aug. 2 in ceremonies at the 70th Maine Lobster Festival at Harbor Park. (Source: File photo)
Krisandra McNichol of Rockland is crowned the Maine Wild Blueberry Queen Monday night, Aug. 21, at Union Fair. (Source: File photo)
Sarah MacDonnell portrays Rockland-born poet Edna St. Vincent Millay in the play "Vincent" Sept. 8 at the Strand Theatre in Rockland. (Source: File photo)
Ed Mazurek (Source: File photo)
Valli Geiger (Source: File photo)
Tax bill protest. (Source: File photo)
Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Jan 01, 2018 15:51

Taxes, snow and the Grinch! What else is new moving forward to the New Year?



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