Year End Review

Ousted Sea Goddess dominates headlines in 2018

By Staff | Jan 02, 2019
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham Taylor Hamlin, who was crowned the 2018 Maine Sea Goddess Aug. 1 at the Maine Lobster Festival, was forced to step down less than 24 hours later for photos she had posted on social media.

The biggest story of 2018 in the Midcoast area ended up making headlines across the country and in the international press.

Taylor Hamlin, who was crowned the 2018 Maine Sea Goddess Aug. 1 at the Maine Lobster Festival, was forced to step down less than 24 hours later for photos she had posted on social media.

At issue was a photo from more than a year before of her holding a joint. Another photo from a few days prior to the pageant showed Hamlin holding a JUUL e-cigarette.

Coronation Director Sharon Lombardo informed Hamlin that she must meet with officials and later she was told she must step down.

The decision ignited a furor in the community that eclipsed the rest of the festival events and continued into meetings held after the event was over.

The festival board announced in October that President Cynthia Powell and Vice President Michelle Hannan chose not to seek reelection, but would continue to volunteer as members on the board of directors. The officers for the 2019 year will be Celia Knight as president, Peter Beal as vice president, Barbara Toler as secretary, and Laurie Smith as treasurer.

Lombardo, who had announced her retirement earlier, would also step down from her role with the Coronation Committee, but would continue to volunteer on the board of directors.

“We have listened to our community and new leadership, just one of many changes that will come to the 2019 festival," Knight said.

The board also issued an apology to Hamlin.

Here are a few other events from the year that was 2018:

Remembered friends

January 2018 saw the passing of two men who devoted their time and energy to the area.

Former longtime Rockland Police Chief Alfred Ockenfels died Jan. 13, at the age of 72, after suffering a stroke.

"He gave his heart and soul to Rockland and the police department. He was a good friend, and will be missed," said former Mayor Tom Molloy.

Ockenfels had also had a career as a pilot flying for Downeast Air and had served in the military.

When he joined the Rockland Police Department, Rockland had one of the highest crime rates in Maine. That dropped significantly over the years, a change that he pointed out with pride in a 2005 interview shortly before his retirement.

After his retirement from Rockland, Ockenfels went to Iraq to train people for that country's police force.

The community also mourned the death of Steve Roberts in January. Roberts, who chaired the RSU 13 School Board, died at Sussman House in Rockport after a battle with kidney cancer.

"We will miss Steve. I personally had a very close professional relationship with him and he always challenged me to be my best and champion our schools," said Superintendent John McDonald. "Schools of Our Future is just a part of his legacy, and I am a better man for having known Steve. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and family."

Roberts had been semi-retired with an art studio in Rockland. He had previously had a career in engineering in the automobile industry.


In February, the Vinalhaven girls basketball team won the team's second regional crown in 12 months, defeating No. 2 Rangeley in front of nearly every inhabitant of the Penobscot Bay island at the Augusta Civic Center.

Fishermen's Forum

Lobstermen from all over the state packed the Rockport Room at the Samoset Resort to overflowing March 2 to hear about the potential for ropeless fishing and use of break-away lines to help save the endangered right whale.

The panel discussion at the annual Maine Fishermen's Forum brought fishermen together with several experts. Right whales are endangered and on the brink of extinction.

Fishermen were skeptical that right whales were coming close to shore in Maine and noted that most Maine fishermen have never even seen a right whale. They also questioned whether there was any hope for the animals.

Bag Ban

The City Council voted unanimously March 12 to approve banning single-use plastic bags and polystyrene foam food containers, but agreed to have the law take effect Jan. 1 to give businesses and the public time to prepare for the change.

Lobster Festival Outlaws Politics

The festival board voted April 24 to exclude all political organizations and candidates from the annual parade held the first Saturday in August.

"The Maine Lobster Festival Parade is a non-partisan, secular and neutral private event which celebrates our community, our people and our lobsters. Because of this, we will no longer be accepting political applications," the new policy stated.

Board President Cynthia Powell said in these highly charged political times, there were other entrants to the parade who did not want to be marching alongside and be associated with various political groups. Powell said the policy is fair, because it excludes all political groups.

Famed Artist Dies

Robert Indiana, an internationally known painter and sculptor known for his iconic "LOVE" image as well as other works, died May 19, at the age of 89.

Memorial Day

In Waldoboro, the parade, led by Town Manager Julie Keizer, wound across Friendship Street from the municipal building and down Main Street to the monument for a memorial ceremony. "Taps" was played at the monument, and an invocation was offered by Tim Connelly of the Word of Life Church in Waldoboro.


Oceanside High School's Class of 2018 received diplomas June 5.

With 114 total graduates, 70 students planned to pursue post-grad programs such as trade school, community college and four-year universities. Five of the graduates planned on doing a post-grad year at the Mid-Coast School of Technology, five went into the military, and the rest joined the workforce, with at least six becoming fishermen.

In Waldoboro, the class of 2018 made its final walk through the halls at Medomak Valley High School on its way to the school's 50th commencement ceremony June 6.

Addresses were given by Senior Class President Brent Stewart, Salutatorian Adrianna Wadsworth and Valedictorian Danica Juntura. Stewart told his classmates they should feel a sense of pride at completing the first of many steps in their lives.

The Year of the Otter

In one of the most unusual stories of the year, a woman from South Carolina was bitten by a rabid otter on Sandy Beach in Rockland while she was visiting the area and looking for sea glass. Police later had to shoot the animal. Laurie Nevins said she did nothing to provoke the river otter that charged across beach June 27 and bit her in the ankle and foot. The otter had been seen previously by children in the area and some business owners, but it was the first report of a rabid otter attack local police have had to deal with. Residents were urged to avoid contact with any wildlife because of the possibility of rabies.

Blues Festival

The 25th North Atlantic Blues Festival was held in Rockland's Harbor Park July 14 and 15.

The event included numerous world-famous artists and began with a performance from the Midcoast Music Academy students.

Union Fair and the Blueberry Queen

Whitney Helene Dow of Waldoboro was named the Maine Wild Blueberry Queen Aug. 20 at the Union Fair. Dow is a 2017 graduate of Medomak Valley High School and attends University of New England at Biddeford.

Sierra Nicole Beal of Tenants Harbor was named Crown Princess and Jordan Lee Brackett of Owls Head was named Miss Congeniality.

Back to School

For area children, Tuesday, Sept. 4, ushered in the new school year. Our photographer captured images of children returning to South School in Rockland running off the bus while greeted by drumming from teachers and staff.

Rockland's New Police Chief

Christopher Young was named the city's new police chief.and said he had always wanted to follow in his father's footsteps and become a police officer.

The walls of the council chambers at City Hall were lined with police officers Oct. 1, as well as Rockland firefighters, there to show their support for Young.

Young had served as deputy chief since 2015. He was hired by Rockland as a patrol officer in 1996.

Young replaced Police Chief Bruce Boucher, who retired in 2018.

Democrats, Independents Dominate Election Day

Aside from Republican Dana Dow in Waldoboro, who kept his Senate seat, Election Day 2018 belonged to Democrats and Independents in local races.

Independent Jeff Evangelos of Friendship defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Abden Simmons of Waldoboro for House 91.

Democrat Ann Matlack of St. George defeated Republican Justin Thompson in House 92.

Incumbent Rep. Pinny Beebe-Center, D-Rockland, easily won reelection in House 93.

Independent William Pluecker of Warren defeated Incumbent Republican Paula Sutton in House District 95.

Democratic State Sen. David Miramant of Camden defeated Republican challenger Wendy Pelletier of Hope in the Nov. 6 election by a margin of 12,325 to 7,180.

Natasha Irving of Waldoboro was the first Democrat elected district attorney in the Midcoast, defeating incumbent Republican Jonathan Liberman.

Republican State Sen. Dana Dow of Waldoboro won another term in the Legislature, defeating Democrat Laura Fortman of Nobleboro.

Rockland Elects New Councilor, Mayor

In Rockland, Benjamin Dorr was elected to City Council, beating contenders Brandy Perkins and Dale Hayward.

Lisa Westkaemper was unanimously elected mayor Nov. 19, by the other councilors.

"I will try to serve with integrity, efficiency and brevity," Westkaemper said in a brief statement after her election.

She has served on the City Council since 2017 and has a long career in the arts. She is executive director of the DaPonte String Quartet and serves on the board of Millay House Rockland.

Knox County's New Sheriff

Tim Carroll was elected sheriff, and he named Patrick Polky chief deputy.

Historic City Church Dissolves at End of 2018

Members of First Baptist Church, which has a history in Rockland dating back to 1833, voted to dissolve the church at the end of 2018. The sign in front of the church now says, "The Pursuit Church." It was announced also that Pastor William Galloway, who started The Pursuit Church while serving as First Baptist's pastor, is stepping down. He is being replaced as The Pursuit Church's pastor by Nate Gross.

Vinalhaven's Gilleyanne Davis-Oakes. (Source: File photo)
Alfred Ockenfels
Steve Roberts (Source: File photo)
Fishermen pack the Rockport Room at the Samoset Resort for a talk about the possibility of ropeless fishing to save right whales March 2. (Source: File photo)
Robert Indiana (Source: File photo)
The great-grandchildren of Grand Marshal Alva Moody wave their flags during the Memorial Day Parade in Waldoboro May 28. From left are Gage, Lyllia, Aramae, Paige and Adayla. Moody is a World War II veteran who served in the Navy. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Graduates of the class of 2018 at Medomak Valley High School take a few last photos before commencement June 6 in Waldoboro. From left are Somerset Ganz, Rosamond Hickey, Hailie Brown, Danica Juntura, and Abigail Williams with photographer Hallie Kunesh. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Oceanside's 2018 graduation. (Source: File photo)
An otter attacks a woman on Sandy Beach. (Courtesy of: Laurie Nevins)
Kat Riggins has as much fun on stage as the crowd does watching and listening to her at the Blues Festival July 14. (Photo by: Sarah E. Reynolds)
Dave, right, and Kelly Matthews of Casper, Wyo., enjoy their lobster during their first visit to the Maine Lobster Festival Aug. 1. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Whitney Helene Dow, left, is named Maine Wild Blueberry Queen. (Source: File photo)
Hamish Bodine of Union gets his sheep ready for show Aug. 21. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
One enthusiastic youngster makes her way through the drumming staff at South School Sept. 4. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Rockland Police Chief Christopher Young is unanimously confirmed Oct. 1 as the city's new police chief. (Source: File photo)
Ben Dorr (Source: File photo)
Mayor Lisa Westkaemper was elected to the post Monday night, Nov. 19, by the Rockland City Council. (Source: File photo)
Knox County Sheriff-elect Tim Carroll, right, named Lt. Patrick Polky his chief deputy. (Source: File photo)
This Limerock Street church was home to First Baptist Church, which dissolved at the end of 2018 and has become The Pursuit Church. (Source: File photo)
Comments (2)
Posted by: Ed Glaser | Jan 03, 2019 09:09

A story that you missed in this marvelous recap is one that gives me great hope for our community. The vigil in late October in support of our synagogue, Adas Yoshron,after the dreadful shootings in Pittsburgh was extraordinary. Hundreds of people showed up, the shul was packed and there were still more people in the street, May the warmth and concern that the community displayed, carry us into the new year with hope, and a renewed desire to make the world all the good things it can be


Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Jan 02, 2019 11:17

Great pictures! Happy New Year everyone!


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