SOLON & BEYOND: New trails being developed at Western Woods

Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percyby Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percy
Solon, Maine 04979

Good morning, my friends. Don’t worry, be happy!

With my computer problem recently, I was afraid the following news would be too late, but thankfully it won’t be! There will be a spaghetti dinner and silent auction to benefit the Solon Fire Department Saturday, October 5, 2019, at the Solon Elementary School from 4 -7 p.m. You will be served dinner by our firefighters. There will be a door prize.

Thanks so much, Aryke L. Coombs, Fire Dept. Auxiliary President, for sharing your news.

New Trails are being developed by Western Woods and Waters Advisory Committee. Now that SWT owns Western Woods, it’s time to develop trails. The trails along the Kennebec River, known as Western Waters, are being extended into Western Woods. Cross Country courses are being developed for the local teams.

Art for Western raffle winners are Chris Young’s Pond Chair, won by Robert Cross, Kathleen Perelka’s River View, won by Dog McQuinston, Kathleen Perelka’s The Weston Homestead, won by Maggie Fernald, Kathleen Perelka’s Western Schoolhouse:, won by Anne Worthley, John Alsop’s Maine View, won by Rebecca Seel, and John Alsop’s Maine Stream, won by Mary Callan.

The following news is a bit late, but I thought you parents might appreciate it. It starts with the head line; ATTENDANCE MATTERS! As the new year begins, we hope to see all of our students set a goal to have a good rate of attendance. Unless students are ill or there is a family emergency, they need to be in school. WE ask that parents try to schedule routine doctor or dentist appointments after school hours and family vacations weeks as often as possible.

If your child is ill or needs to miss school for an appointment or family emergency, please contact Mrs. McFadyen so that we can log the day as an excused absence. If we don’t hear from you, we have to log the day as an unexcused absence. After seven unexcused absences , the state considers your child as truant. So please help us to document your child’s absences correctly.

After 18 absences (10 percent of the school days in a year) whether excused or unexcused, your child is considered chronically absent. In addition to MEA test scores, the percentage of chronically absent students in our school is a factor in whether the state decides that our school is making academic progress. Of course, sometimes students are out for extended illnesses, chronic health conditions or family emergencies, and those can’t be helped. So we are working to reduce the absences of our students for other reasons.

Punctuality is also a key to a successful school year. Our busses arrive between 7:20 and 7:40 in the morning. If you bring your child to school, please be sure that he or she arrives by 7:45 a.m. in order to be ready when teachers start their classes at 7:50 a.m. A student who arrives late misses important learning time.

So let’s work together to make sure your child gets the maximum benefit from his/hers school experience this year. Attendance matters! Thank you for your cooperation.

Received an e-mail from Happyknits recently stating that they had just turned five years old! They had a yarn cruise again this year and the lucky winners are: the August prize basket went to Wendy, from Harpswell, the Grand Prize went to Trudy, from Embden, and their Super Grand Prize went to Marcia, from Madison.

Happyknits is joining forces with CrabApple Whitewater, in the Forks for their second annual Confluence Retreat, a fall fiber and foliage get-away. They are inviting you to join them there from October 11-14, 2019, for a laid back four days of knitting and crocheting, and let the good folks at Crab-Apple take care of your every need. We’ll be offering a few workshops, but the focus will be on having fun and being with friends.

And now for Percy’s memoir, it is called “I’m Getting Younger:” Another year has come and gone, And I am growing younger, Yearning for each coral dawn, with what amounts to hunger. Becoming more and more aware of what means most to me, and each new day becomes a prayer of sweet simplicity. With brand new eyes I now observe each tiny growing thing, the graceful flight, the flashing curve of every feathering wing. And listening to the sounds of wind that whispers through each tree, I feel a surge of joy as if the Master walks with me. I’m younger than I used to be, and though it may not show, one doesn’t have to touch or see a miracle to know life isn’t offered piece-meal, we have to take the lot, But to the ones whose faith is real, ….Why time is not! (words by (Grace E. Easley.)

Vassalboro looks to repair or replace three culverts

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro has three large culverts that need repair or replacement, and limited funds for special road projects. Town Manager Mary Sabins and two public works department members therefore went to a program on grants at the end of August. One outcome was a request from a private company to discuss grant application procedures.

Consequently, town selectmen, Sabins, Road Commissioner Eugene Field and crew member James “J.J.” Wentworth met Sept. 26 with Esther Bizier from Main-Land Development Consultants of Livermore Falls. The participating audience included two Vassalboro residents, Nate Gray from the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and James Foster, who is with VHB, Inc (Vanasse Hangen Brustlin) of South Portland. The culverts are on Gray Road, Whitehouse Road and Cross Hill Road. For months, Field and selectmen have intermittently discussed options for the Cross Hill Road culvert, which has crumbling concrete and water running under it.

The Sept. 26 discussion focused on which of the three would be most likely to get the most money if town officials applied for a state Stream Crossing Grant. Participants talked about application requirements, an area in which Sabins said neither she nor Field has a lot of expertise; timetables (the deadline for this fall is Nov. 12, but there will be another window in the spring); and criteria for receiving a grant. Bizier said positive effects on fish habitat count for 50 percent, infrastructure improvement and public safety 25 percent and cost efficiency 25 percent.

The maximum grant is $92,000, Sabins said. A municipality can apply for two grants at a time.

After reviewing the potential costs and value of work on each of the three culverts, selectmen voted to retain Main-Land to prepare an application for the Gray Road culvert, for a $4,500 fee, and to hire Foster to work with Field on an application for the one on Cross Hill Road.

They made no further commitment at this point. Board Chairman Lauchlin Titus said before Nov. 12 they will decide whether to submit both applications or only one.

Northern Light concert set for October 25

Northern Light Inland Hospital is once again offering an amazing evening of musical entertainment at its annual Fall Pops Concert on Friday, October 25, at the Waterville Opera House.

Erin Freeman

The hospital welcomes the Portland Symphony Orchestra and guest conductor Erin Freeman, who was a recent finalist for Performer Today’s Classical Woman of the Year. Freeman serves in multiple capacities throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia and maintains a national presence through guest conducting engagements. She holds a joint position as director of the Richmond Symphony Chorus and director of choral activities at Virginia Commonwealth University. Additionally, she is the artistic director of Wintergreen Music and resident conductor of the Richmond Ballet.

Alyson Cambridge

She will be joined by guest soloist, soprano Alyson Cambridge, who is currently performing in Broadway’s Rocktopia, and has extensive experience as a singer, model, actor, and host. Cambridge has been hailed by critics as “radiant, vocally assured, dramatically subtle and compelling, and artistically imaginative,” by the Washington Post.

John Dalton, Inland Hospital president, says, “We are excited to share this special night of music and talent with the greater Waterville community. We know how much people look forward to this event, almost as much as we do! We want to thank our community for its support of the Pops concert and Inland Hospital.”

Proceeds from this year’s event will help Inland purchase upgrades to its cardiac monitoring system that have the latest patient safety technology for patients.

Tickets are available at or 207-873-7000. The cost to attend the concert and a special pre-event reception at Amici’s Cucina is $50; concert tickets without the reception are $25.

Obituaries for Thursday, October 3, 2019


WATERVILLE — Nancy J. LeBrecque, 69, passed away of natural causes, at home, in Waterville, on Wednesday, September 18, 2019. Nancy was born in Albion on January 20, 1950, to Viola Giles.

She was predeceased by her parents; and her brother, Larry Giles.

Nancy is survived by her sons, Justin Cerrato, of Oakland, James Cerrato II, of Waterville; grandchildren, Alesha Cerrato, of Benton, Dante Cerrato, Jameson Cerrato and Tyler Cerrato, of Rome; brother, Gary Giles, of Vassalboro; sister, Marion D’Auteuill, of Sidney; along with several nieces and nephews.

A celebration of Nancy’s life will be held at a later date to be determined. Arrangement are under the direction and care of Gallant Funeral Home, 10 Elm St., Waterville.

An online guestbook may be signed, condolences and memories shared at


WINDSOR — O Troy Stevens, 45, of Windsor, passed away unexpectedly on Friday, September 20, 2019, at his home. O, as he was called by many friends, and Troy by family, was born in Augusta on July 28, 1974, the son of Owen R. Stevens and Viola Skidgel. O. graduated from Gardiner High, class of 1992. From high school he went to work for Charlie’s Subaru, in Augusta, for 16 years before coming disabled. He had a great love of music and his guitars. He had many band mates he enjoyed playing with, especially when he played with Endgame at the Pub 33 and The Cage. Like his father, he had a love of cars, also, Mopar being his brand of cars. Although O. didn’t have any children, his fur babies (cats) were his kids.

O. was predeceased by his dad in 2004, which was very hard on him, and both sets of grandparents.

O. is survived by his mother (MA) Viola Skidget and her partner, William Stratton Sr.; his brother, Bill Stevens and his wife, Jessica and children; his sister, Tammy Miller and her family; aunt Linda and her husband Randy Shorey; uncle, O. Jacob “Jake” and his wife Claudette Stevens; uncle Earl and his wife, Becky Stevens; aunts Mary Nunan, Amy Stevens, and Sue Nay and her husband Bob; and many cousins, nieces, nephews and the many friends he made in his life’s journey. Troy was his dad’s son, and his father was his everything, and now they will lie together.

There will be a gravesite service Saturday, October 5, 2019, at the Pine Grove Cemetery, on Grove Street, in Waterville, at 1 p.m., followed by a celebration of life at the American Legion Hall on Church Street, in Oakland.


OAKLAND – Patricia W. Miller, 91, passed away Tuesday, September 24, 2019, at MaineGeneral Medical Center, in Augusta. She was the third of five daughters of Paul and Josephine Webster, born in Put-in-Bay, Ohio, where she was raised, spent her youth, and graduated from high school in a class of three girls as the boys had all gone to fight in World War II.

She went on to college and then to Ohio State University, in Columbus, Ohio, where she worked as a secretary in the Department of Economics. While working there she met and later married Edgar Allen Miller Jr., on June 15, 1952. An Air Force lieutenant, he was stationed at the air base in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where their first child was born. Three more children followed as the family moved around Ohio and Maine pursuing advanced degrees and career opportunities.

Patricia enjoyed music, was an accomplished pianist and achieved a life goal of becoming a church organist at All Saints Episcopal Church, in Skowhegan, where she served for 12 years providing music for services, weddings and funerals. She also enjoyed many hobbies: sewing, knitting, gardening and cooking and was famous in the family for a variety of delicious recipes. She was devoted to her family and loved visits from children and grandchildren.

She was predeceased by her husband of 65 years.

She is survived by her son Edgar III and wife Robin, of Skowhegan; daughters Kathy Hopkins and husband Bob, of Norridgewock, and Wendy Allard and family, of Somerville; and son David and family, of Augusta; 17 grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.

Services will be held at All Saints Church, in Skowhegan, on Saturday, October 5, 2019, at 11 a. m.

Arrangements are under the direction of Smart and Edwards Funeral Home, Madison Ave. Skowhegan.

Donations in her memory may be made to All Saints Episcopal Church, 169 Malbons Mills Rd., Skowhegan, ME 04976, and designated for the music program.


WATERVILLE – Lorna Lea (Lidstone) Lane Monson, 78, died Sept. 24, 2019, at Woodlands Senior Residences, in Waterville, following a long battle with cancer. She was born on June 26, 1941, in Wilton, the only daughter of Theredon Lidstone and Janette May (Clark) Lidstone.

She graduated from Wilton Academy, in Wilton, in 1959, and Central Maine Vocational Technical Institute, in Auburn, in 1971, with a degree in nursing.

Lorna enjoyed many careers throughout her life, always ready for the next challenge. She enjoyed decorating cakes and making gingerbread houses with and for family and friends. Her most recent gingerbread creation was with her grand-niece, Hope Hill. Lorna always had a quick retort and a hearty laugh, and anyone who knew her would agree.

She lived in New Hampshire for many years, later moving to back to Maine. On May 21, 2016, she married William Monson, in Unity. They lived in Palermo and wintered in Lakeland, Florida.

Lorna is survived by two daughters, Faith Lane Pursell and her husband Craig, of Gouldsboro, and Michele (Lane) Bogardus and her husband Christopher, of Auburn, New Hampshire; their father and her first husband Hayden Lane, of Chester, New Hampshire; four grandchildren, Kathryn LaRosee, Rachael (Pursell) Galvin, Phillip Pursell and Alexandra (Bogardus) Schrader and her husband Joseph; two great-grandchildren, Sam Galvin and Owen Lee Nolting; four brothers, David Lidstone, of Concord, New Hampshire, Vincent Lidstone and his wife Janet, of Trenton, Geroregia, Ralph Lidstone and his wife Jeannie, of New Sharon, and Mel Lidstone and his wife Shirley, of Unity; nieces and nephews, Leal, Shiloh, Salem, Danica, Christopher, Lauri, David J. and Holly; and many great-nieces and great-nephews.

She was predeceased by her husband William Monson, who passed away on December 27, 2017; her parents Theredon Lidstone and Janette May (Clark) Lidstone; and an infant daughter Rhonda Jean Lane.

You are invited to visit her memorial wall at to share a condolence and kind word.

In lieu of flowers, remembrance gifts may be given to VNA Home Health Hospice, 325C Kennedy Memorial Dr., Waterville, ME 04901.


WINSLOW — Jean Ida May Morrissette, 93, passed away Thursday September 26, 2019, at MaineGeneral Rehab and Nursing Center, at Glenridge, Augusta, following an extended illness. Jean was born in Waterville on March 28, 1926, the daughter of Ambrose and Flora (Giguere) Dennis.

She was educated in local schools and was a graduate of Winslow High School and a communicant of St. John the Baptist Church, in Winslow. Jean was a homemaker raising her six children.

She was predeceased by her parents, her husband and her brother, Roger.

Jean is survived by her three sons, Craig, Roland and Randy Morrissette and her three daughters, Sheila Luisi, Rhonda Dunbar and Ramona Morrissette; seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Jean had requested no public visitation or funeral service. Burial will be in her family lot in St. Francis Catholic Cemetery, in Waterville.

Arrangements are under direction and care of Gallant Funeral Home, 10 Elm St., Waterville.

An online guestbook may be signed, condolences and memories shared at


SMITHFIELD – Carol S. Rasmussen, 81, died Friday, September 27, 2019, at the Redington –Fairview hospital, in Skowhegan. Carol was born in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey, September 26, 1938, the daughter of Charles W. and Alice (Stevens) Shoemaker.

Carol was educated, graduating Ramsey High School, in New Jersey, got a bachelor or science degree in education, at Colby College, in Waterville, and then later got her masters degree in education. She then taught school from 1969 to 1993 in the elementary schools in Montville, Connecticut. Carol also served on the school board for RSU #54 district, in Skowhegan.

Carol married Norman P. Rasmussen in 1961. Norman passed away in 2002.

Carol is survived by three sons, Paul Rasmussen and wife Lucinda, of Durham, Hans Rasmussen and wife Anne, of New Bern, North Carolina, and Erik Rasmussen and partner Amy, of Smithfield; a twin sister, Nancy Dargle, of Winthrop; a granddaughter, Gwen Rasmussen, and grandson, John Rasmussen; several nieces, nephews and cousins.

She was predeceased by her husband, Norman, and a granddaughter Juliet Rasmussen.

A celebration of life will be held at Carol’s beloved family camp, in Smithfield, at 11a.m., on October 14, 2019.

Friends wishing may make donations in her memory to the Smithfield Food Pantry c/o the Smithfield Town Office, 926 Village Rd, Smithfield ME 04978.

Arrangements under the care and direction of Dan & Scott’s Cremation & Funeral Service, 445 Waterville Road, Skowhegan.


WHITEFIELD — Edward M. Freeman Jr., 86, passed away suddenly on Sunday, September 29, 2019, at his home, in Whitefield. He was born in Portland to Edward M. Freeman Sr. and Lena M. (Bradley) Freeman in the spring of 1933.

He married the girl of his dreams, sharing 62 wonderful years together. He was a veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars, serving in the Air Force, and was awarded numerous medals, including the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Bronze Star, and the United Nations Korean Service Medal.

His passion was his garden and was known for his generous gifts of fresh vegetables, and his giant, prize winning pumpkins.

Edward was preceded in death by his parents, Edward and Lena; his sister Grace and his brother Robert.

He is survived by his wife, Joyce M. (Truman) Freeman; his children, Jay and Cathy; his brothers and sisters, Ken, Helen, Billy, Betty, Ed, Susan, Tom, John, Connie, and Arthur; his grandsons, Jason and David; and his great-grandchildren, Landon, Lukas, Kylah, Camila; and a large extended family.

He was the consumet gentleman and constantly proclaimed, by friends, family and strangers, as “the nicest man I ever met.”

In accordance with his wishes, there will be no visitation or services. He will be cremated and his ashes spread per his instructions.

Arrangements are by Staples Funeral and Cremation Care, 53 Brunswick Ave., Gardiner, where condolences, memories and photos may be shared with the family on the obituary page of the website

Committee to revise comprehensive plan

by Mary Grow

China’s Sept. 25 Compre­hensive Plan Committee meeting began with Kennebec Valley Council of Governments planner Joel Greenwood and one committee member; eventually, three more members arrived for a rambling discussion of the comprehensive plan sections on economic development and transportation.

The committee’s purpose is to develop a revised comprehensive plan to replace China’s 2008 version. Greenwood said at an earlier meeting he expects a draft by the end of the year, local and state review early in 2020 and perhaps acceptance or rejection by voters at the 2020 town business meeting in March or early April.

At the Sept. 25 meeting, those present reaffirmed a July decision to encourage focusing economic development along the Route 3 corridor (see The Town Line, Aug. 8) and agreed that attempts to provide public transportation have not been successful.

Informal suggestions for promoting economic development included installing water and sewer systems (Irene Belanger’s idea that she and everyone else agreed would be too expensive to be practical); reducing taxes, especially the personal property tax (Tom Rumpf’s idea); or installing a charging station for electric cars (Belanger’s idea).

Rumpf would especially like to bring in manufacturing, which would add employed people to the local population, and more retail businesses. Retirement homes and medical facilities would also be useful and would work together, he pointed out. Town water and sewers would be an incentive for that kind of development, Belanger said.

Rumpf, president of the China Four Seasons Club, told the group recreational trails are an important asset. China has 57 miles of trails, he said, and people on snowmobiles and four-wheelers bring significant amounts of money into town.

The next Comprehensive Plan Committee meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23. Interested residents are welcome.

Board finally approves medical marijuana business

Location of proposed medical marijuana operation on Route 3 in China. (photo from Google maps streetview)

by Mary Grow

At their Sept. 24 meeting, China Planning Board members unanimously approved Clifford Glinko’s much-discussed application to open a two-part marijuana business in South China (See The Town Line, Sept. 12 and Sept. 19).

Glinko, a licensed medical marijuana caregiver, plans to divide the building that formerly housed Mainely Trains and other businesses into two separate suites. One will be a medical marijuana growing space, the other a retail store for recreational marijuana accessories.

The building is in a Resource Protection Zone because it is close to wetlands. Agricultural operations are allowed in this zone. A new business would not be, but planning board members found retail use of the building is grandfathered, because it has been used for retail purposes up to September or October 2018.

Board members voted unanimously that the proposed businesses met all criteria in China’s Land Use Ordinance. They added five conditions to the permit, all of which Glinko readily accepted:

  • The retail suite must meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements for designation of handicapped parking and accessibility.
  • The septic system must be inspected twice a year by the codes officer and, if it fails, replaced with a holding tank; Glinko said Jack Lord, who runs a soil testing business in South China, has designed a replacement. Board members believe the current system is a pre-1958 cesspool which is grandfathered and can be used until it fails.
  • If the state fire marshal requires a sprinkler system, Glinko must provide evidence that the well provides enough water. Glinko has no information on the well; he said he does not expect he will be required to have a sprinkler system.
  • Glinko is not to do any manufacturing in connection with his growing operation. State law defines manufacturing in two different places, board members found. They agreed manufacturing does not include basic operations like drying the plants.
  • The two businesses must be clearly and completely separated, with a firewall between them and separate entrances. People working in the growing area will be allowed to use the toilet facility in the retail area.

Action on the application has been repeatedly postponed because board members and town attorney Amanda Meader found state law and regulations keep changing.

Board members also got inconsistent information. For example, a Department of Education spokesperson told Ralph Howe that Glinko’s business had to meet the 1,000-foot setback requirement from a school (Grace Academy is a private school on the south side of Route 3). Meader, working cooperatively with Maine Municipal Association legal staff, found the setback was not required for cultivation facilities.

“This has been a learning experience for all of us,” board Chairman Tom Miragliuolo commented as the Sept. 24 meeting ended with mutual thanks and praise for Meader.

The next planning board meeting is scheduled for Oct. 22.

Two successive codes officers correct in allowing structure

by Mary Grow

The China Board of Appeals ruled unanimously Sept. 26 that two successive town codes officers were correct when they allowed Nicholas Namer to add a structure – exactly what it is was one of the points in contention – on his waterfront lot where his mother could live in the summer.

Neighbors Kimberly and Anthony LaMarre appealed the codes officers’ decisions, contending Paul Mitnik and his successor, current codes officer William Butler, misinterpreted China’s Land Use ordinance.

The structure in question looks like a small gray house set on concrete blocks, with a peaked roof, steps leading to the door and wheels under it. Different people testifying at the Board of Appeals hearing called it a Park Model recreational vehicle and said it has sewer and electrical connections and is registered as a motor vehicle.

Namer put the structure on the lot in early July 2018 without a permit. Previous owners had had a camper, grandfathered under town ordinance. The lot is not large enough to accommodate another permanent building under China’s shoreland regulations. According to the LaMarres’ written appeal, there are already five non-conforming permanent structures.

In July 2018, the LaMarres appealed to Mitnik, who first issued a notice of violation. After review, he issued a permit in August 2018, calling the structure a recreational vehicle and not a building.

The LaMarres did not appeal the permit within the required 30 days because, they said, they did not know it had been issued; repeated inquiries at the town office brought no reply.

In the spring of 2019 the LaMarres, finding the structure still there, contacted Butler. Butler orally reaffirmed the permit. The LaMarres appealed his action within 30 days, leading to the Sept. 26 Board of Appeals meeting.

Board of Appeals members had two questions to answer. The three lawyers present, Edmond Bearor and Stephen Wagner, of Rudman Winchell (Bangor), representing the LaMarres, and William Lee III, of O’Donnell Lee, P.A. (Waterville), representing the Namers, presented testimony on each issue, supplemented by their clients and by neighbor Jeffrey LaVerdiere.

The first question was whether the board had jurisdiction in the case. Bearor argued that although the LaMarres’ appeal of the 2018 permit was late, it was the town’s fault, not theirs; they did nothing wrong, and the delay did no harm to Namer, so the board should accept the belated appeal.

Lee replied that the LaMarres were at fault for not following up when their questions about the permit were not answered and thus lost their first chance to appeal. Butler’s oral confirmation of the permit in July 2019 did not start a new 30-day window. Therefore the appeal was invalid and the board should not hear it.

Two board members, Robert Fischer and Lisa Kane, voted they lacked jurisdiction, and two others, Michael Gee and Anthony Pileggi, voted they could act, forcing Chairman Spencer Aitel to break the tie, He sided with Gee and Pileggi and moved on to the second question, whether the permit was correctly issued.

Although complicated by issues like the trees Namer cut (with Mitnik’s approval, he said), setback from lot lines and alleged drainage changes, the main question was whether, under China’s ordinance, the structure was a recreational vehicle replacing a previous grandfathered camper, or whether it was a mobile home or some form of manufactured housing.

Subsidiary questions included whether its being in a different part of the lot from the previous camper was important; whether it could be moved; and whether, if it were a recreational vehicle, Namer could leave it on the lot year-round.

After a wide-ranging discussion, board members focused on whether Namer had a recreational vehicle that was legal because it replaced the grandfathered camper. They decided he did and voted 4-0, with Aitel abstaining, that the permit is valid and its issuance meets China ordinance definitions and requirements.

They therefore denied the LaMarres’ appeal Aitel promised a written decision within a week and reminded the LaMarres that they have 30 days to take the board to court if they so choose.

Vassalboro board denies Dodges’ administrative appeal

An annotated photo of the Dodge property and proposed structure, which was presented at the Board of Appeals hearing on Tuesday. (Annotated by Joshua Dodge)

by Eric W. Austin

Rena and Joshua Dodge were great friends with their neighbor, Richard Breton, until he decided to build a lighthouse on the hilltop behind their residence on Priest Hill Road in Vassalboro. On Tuesday, September 24, nearly 30 people crowded into the central meeting room at the Vassalboro town office for a hearing on the dispute before the Board of Appeals.

Thirteen years ago, the Dodges purchased five acres in a secluded area on Priest Hill Road. Breton owns a wide swath of land bordering the Dodges’ property on three sides. The Dodges were attracted to the location because of the property’s isolation and privacy, and with that in mind, built their new home well back from the road.

“It was secluded; it has privacy,” Joshua Dodge said, describing their motivations for purchasing the property.

Three years ago, the Dodges added a swimming pool behind the home for their family and two children, age 6 and 9, to enjoy, far away from prying eyes.

Both parties enjoyed a cordial relationship for more than a decade. At the hearing, Joshua Dodge referenced “many a dinner of pizza with [Breton] and the kids” at a picnic table in the back yard. “Good times there,” said Dodge.

But goodwill between the parties began to collapse a few months ago when Breton brought the Dodge family plans for a three-story structure he was thinking of building on the hill overlooking the backyard of their house.

“The whole reason we filed the administrative appeal,” Dodge said at the hearing, “is because we feel the location is a huge invasion of privacy.”

The planned building was described at the hearing as a three-story structure, approximately 35 feet high, with the third story entirely encased in glass windows and a balcony surrounding the upper floor (hence the term “lighthouse”), which would perch at the top of a small knoll on land owned by Breton but directly behind the Dodges’ residence.

The building would be rented out “three to four months” of the year, according to Breton, as it would be inaccessible during the snowy winter months.

At the hearing, Breton repeatedly insisted the purpose of the building was not to invade the privacy of the Dodge family. “I’m not building this thing to spy on them,” Breton said at one point. “I would die for their kids. They’re great people, great kids, but I’m building this thing to look over my big field.”

The initial building permit was issued by former Codes Enforcement Officer (CEO) Dick Dolby on August 8, but Dolby was not present at the hearing as he has recently taken a position with the Augusta Fire Marshal’s office. However, current acting CEO Paul Mitnik was on hand to answer regulatory questions.

“[Mr. Breton] obtained a septic permit today, and a plumbing permit last week,” Mitnik confirmed.

A number of possible regulatory issues were raised: Was the structure too close to an area designated as a wetland? Not according to the Town Shoreland Zoning map supplied by GIS which the town uses to identify wetlands. Does the structure need a fire access road? No, not for a rental property. Was the structure, as a rental property, considered a new business? No, rental properties are not considered a business as defined by town regulations.

The Vassalboro Board of Appeals, from left to right, Gary Coull, chairman Kathy Lees, John Reuthe and Leon Duff. (Photo by Eric W. Austin)

Appeals Board member John Reuthe stated, “Mr. Breton has followed everything he’s supposed to do. Whether it’s the right thing to do, that’s up to him. That’s the hard part. You can be right, but do you actually win the war?” To which Breton replied, “No, nobody wins the war in this.”

Appeals Board member Leon Duff, who had visited the location of the planned structure, added, “I looked at it, I walked it, I saw the [picnic] table on the crest…I have kinda come to the conclusion in my mind that, with all the acreage available, why would you build such a structure so close to another structure? I don’t understand that. It makes no logic to me. And I read the [submitted correspondence]…I’m kind of puzzled about why Mr. Breton has decided to go ahead and do it. There are so many options available, because of the land that is owned, and so I’m troubled with that.”

In the end, with no regulatory issues identified, the committee could not find a reason to deny Mr. Breton a permit for construction.

Appeals board chairman, Kathy Lees, summed up the meeting: “The appeals committee has been unable to negate the process [of construction] because we don’t have any standings to suggest that there was something inadvertent for malicious intent or [anyone was] misinformed.

“The opinion of many sounds like this is unattractive, this is going to deter from the natural space, and that you find it unattractive, unpleasant and it has become an emotional hardship due to failed efforts to communicate and come to common ground…But our committee cannot rule that this has become an issue of pure safety or something we can stand to offer a stop, a solid stop, on the project. But I’m afraid that the efforts for communication have fallen on deaf ears, and opinions will continue to fly.”

Contact the author at

CORRECTION: The building permit for Breton’s proposed structure was issued on August 8, not August 18. The article has been updated.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that the Dodges initially purchased their property from Mr. Breton. That was incorrect and has been removed from the article.

EDIT: The previous photo, created by the author of the article, has been replaced with the annotated photo presented at the hearing on Tuesday. The original photo used with the article can be seen below.

The original annotated photo of the site. Google maps photo.










Alna resident, China native, promoted to lieutenant colonel

China native, Lieutenant Colonel Shanon Cotta

Shanon Cotta duty with Joint Force Headquarters, Maine Army National Guard

Shanon W. Cotta, of Alna, was recently promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel at Joint Force Headquarters (JFHQ), Maine Army National Guard. Cotta is assigned as the garrison commander at Camp Keyes, in Augusta, overseeing base operations. He also administers the use and maintenance of various training sites across the state, as well as the development of new training sites.

Raised in South China, by David and Helga Cotta, he attended China Elementary School and Erskine Academy, in South China. He graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington with a bachelor of science (BS) and bachelor of arts, (BA), the University of Maine Graduate School with a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) and he also holds degrees from Nashotah House Theological Seminary.

His awards and decorations include the Humanitarian Service Medal, Louisiana Emergency Service Medal, Vermont Emergency Service Medal, Army Commendation Medals, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Korean Service Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Combat Action Badge, Mountain Warfare School, Expert Field Medical Badge and Air Assault Badge.

Lieutenant Colonel Cotta is married to Jill Cotta, a teacher at the Center for Teaching & Learning (CTL), in Edgecomb, and they have three young children, Owen, Ellie and Keagan. They are avid local sports fans and love supporting Wiscasset and Boothbay youth sports.