Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Kennebec Proprietors

 

Plymouth Company map.

by Mary Grow

This series has repeatedly mentioned the Kennebec Proprietors. It is now time to backtrack to the 18th century, to find out who they were and why they are mentioned in almost every history of the State of Maine and in most local histories of Kennebec Valley towns and cities.

The initial group, the Plymouth Colony, was chartered in 1606 by King James I of England. The king gave it and its companion London Company, whose first settlers came to Virginia, control of most of eastern North America.

In a series of grants and sales in following years, the land went successively to the new Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts; to the Council for New England (1620-1635, a London-based joint stock company headed by Ferdinando Gorges, with a royal charter to promote American settlement) and to the Boston-based New Plymouth Company.

The Council for New England set up other land companies, including the Pejepscot Company, which was given a claim on the lower Kennebec and extended it upriver to Swan Island and Richmond, overlapping with the Kennebec Proprietors’ claim on the southwest.

On the east, the Waldo Patent, named for Bostonian Samuel Waldo, also overlapped in what is now Palermo and the surrounding area. According to one on-line source, the land was a gift to Waldo from Massachusetts for his help in deterring a 1729 attempt by King George II to establish a crown colony that would have been exempt from Massachusetts’ jurisdiction. Another source says the Surveyor of the King’s Woods (the person responsible for marking and protecting trees large enough to make masts for British Royal Navy ships) made a nuisance of himself, Waldo persuaded his British superiors to fire him and the appreciative heirs of a 1630 Waldo Patent rewarded Waldo with acreage.

Kennebec Proprietors map in 1771.

The Plymouth grant extended up the Kennebec from Merrymeeting Bay to the falls at Norridgewock, already known as a Native and French settlement, and for 15 miles on each side of the river. Since the river’s windings were not well documented and the surrounding land not well known to Europeans, there was considerable uncertainty about the size (supposedly about 1.5 million acres) and shape of the grant.

The New Plymouth Company, with a gradually changing membership as newcomers bought or inherited shares, did little. In the fall of 1661, four Boston merchants bought the land rights for 400 pounds sterling. The beavers, basis for earlier fur trading, were by then in decline; the Bostonians’ plan was to use the timber resources, including as a basis for building ships, and in the future to encourage agriculture. They, too, failed to accomplish significant development.

Upriver settlement was discouraged by a series of wars with the Natives from the 1670s to 1763, including the four-war series beginning in 1688 that Americans call the French and Indian Wars. Maine Natives had support from the French, who had settled along the St. Lawrence River and disputed the British claims in northeastern North America.

The 1763 Treaty of Paris between the European rivals ceded Canada to the British and promoted settlement in Maine. (Many historians add that it contributed to Britain’s loss of the American colonies, because removal of the French threat made colonial leaders believe they no longer needed British military protection).

In the 1740s, a man named Samuel Goodwin, who had inherited half of a third of a quarter of a Plymouth Colony share, became interested in development along the Kennebec. After much searching, he found the original charter, which had been missing for decades, and in 1749 he and other heirs brought the New Plymouth Company back into business, beginning with a Sept. 21 organizational meeting in Boston.

In 1753, the Massachusetts General Court re-awarded the grant to “The Proprietors of Kennebeck Purchase from the late Colony of New Plymouth.” The name is shortened by historians to Kennebec Proprietors, Kennebec Company or Kennebec Purchase Company (sometimes Kennebeck) or Plymouth Colony or Plymouth Company, used interchangeably in discussing the period from 1753 to 1818, when the company disbanded.

Because settlement was slow to expand upriver to Norridgewock, the western boundary of the Kennebec Patent was not a big source of contention. The downriver line was intermittently challenged, especially by the Pejepscot Proprietors, leading to legal proceedings in America and in London.

In 1757, the boundary question was referred to a panel of lawyers. They confirmed the upriver boundary and defined the downriver end of the Kennebec patent on the east side of the river as the present northern boundary of Woolwich. The western boundary was defined as Lake Cobbaseconte (now Cobbosseecontee).

The Kennebec Proprietors brought settlement to much of the central Kennebec River area. Surveyors laid out lots along both sides of the river for miles, defining the 15-mile boundaries. The population had increased so much that Lincoln County was separated from York County in June 1760. By 1775, when the American Revolution began, Hallowell (including Augusta), Vassalboro (including Sidney) and Winslow (including Waterville) were incorporated as towns.

The Kennebec Proprietors reserved some lots in each new town for themselves. Some they gave away to encourage settlement, some they sold. A typical lot contained 100 acres; typical deed requirements included building a house of specified size and clearing a specified number of acres within a specified number of years. A settler or his heirs might be required to stay on the land for a specified term – two, three or seven years, sometimes longer. Often deeds included an obligation to help lay out roads, or provide for a church and minister, or both.

A complication was that some of the land the Kennebec Proprietors claimed, surveyed and gave away or sold was already occupied by Europeans. Some had bought their holdings from Natives. Some had deeds from other Europeans. Some had moved onto and improved a vacant tract and claimed squatters’ rights.

Native deeds had been a source of misunderstandings for years. When a Native chief “sold” part of his tribal land, he believed he was giving the European “buyer” the right to share the land equally with tribal members; and the right was valid only for the lifetime of each party. The European believed he acquired the exclusive right to live on and change the land forever, and to sell or will it to someone else.

The history of Windsor offers an example of transactions between European claimants with no involvement with the Kennebec Proprietors. As described in Linwood H. Lowden’s history of the town, in 1797 Ebenezer Grover and associates hired Josiah Jones to survey about 6,000 acres on the west side of the West Branch of the Sheepscot River in southern Windsor. They ended up with 33 Oak Hill lots, some individually owned and some held in common.

These lots were occupied or bought by families who became southern Windsor’s first settlers. Lowden points out that Grover had no legal right to survey or sell the land; indeed, he says, many of Grover’s deeds warned purchasers that Grover and his associates would not help them if the Kennebec Proprietors challenged their titles.

Jones did other, smaller surveys elsewhere in town, and Isaac Davis surveyed at least once, in northern Windsor.

In January 1802 the Kennebec Proprietors asked the Massachusetts General Court to appoint commissioners to deal with the people they saw as illegal squatters. The Proprietors also had their own survey done, laid out their version of lots (usually, Lowden says, smaller than the originals) and offered to sell them to the settlers.

A political and legal dispute followed, during which some of the settlers paid again for their land and the Proprietors evicted others for non-payment. The Proprietors were unpopular, to say the least; their local representatives and their surveyors, being available, were threatened and had their property destroyed.

The culminating event of the “Malta War,” as it is often called (Windsor was named Malta from March 1809 to March 1821), came on Sept. 8, 1808. Surveyor Isaac Davis, hired by a settler to determine lot lines so the settler could pay the Proprietors, was heading a crew on Windsor Neck that included a resident named Paul Chadwick. Other residents, armed and disguised as Natives, intercepted the party and shot Chadwick, who died three days later.

Nine local men were arrested and sent to the county jail in Augusta. Disturbance continued as rumors spread of a planned attack on the jail to rescue them. On Oct. 3 a mob gathered on the east bank of the Kennebec; in response, authorities called out the militia and placed cannons to defend the bridge if necessary.

The accused were all acquitted in November 1809, an outcome historian Lowden thinks was the best choice to ease tension. He also suggests the men were after Chadwick specifically, because he had opposed the surveys and then hired on to help Davis; and he speculates they did not intend murder.

In neighboring Palermo, the Proprietors’ demands led inhabitants to petition the Massachusetts General Court for help. Legislators set up a commission early in 1802 that assigned three local men to value properties, subject to approval by the Proprietors’ agent, and assigned three surveyors to fix settlers’ boundaries. Local historian Millard Howard lists more than 60 families who bought their homesteads, mostly 100 acres, for prices ranging from $25 to $155.

Although the larger Sheepscot Great Pond area, including present-day Palermo and Windsor, hosted groups most actively and violently opposed to the Kennebec Proprietors’ effort to claim land they thought was rightfully theirs, other parts of the valley were affected.

In Vassalboro, for example, historian Alma Pierce Robbins writes that the presence of squatters who built cabins and cleared farmland before Nathan Winslow’s 1761 survey for the Proprietors started a century of legal disputes over land ownership. Additionally, she says, in Vassalboro and elsewhere the British Crown’s claim to any tree large enough to become a ship’s mast bred resentment, since landowners (legal or otherwise) were not compensated for the timber.

(Dean Marriner recounts the later history of one lot in Dr. John McKechnie’s 1770 survey of the Waterville-Winslow area. A century later, he says, a lot owner claimed his boundary, as shown on the McKechnie survey, was wrong. He and his neighbor disputed it for more than two decades; he went to court six times, allegedly spending over $15,000 on legal fees, and lost every time.)

The Kennebec Valley settlers’ problems with the Proprietors on whose property they lived ended after 1813. A Massachusetts Commission recommended and the General Court approved an agreement giving the settlers their disputed holdings and giving the Proprietors Saboomook Township as compensation. (Saboomook Township has no web listings. It might be Seboomook, the unorganized township north of Moosehead Lake that hosted one of Maine’s four German prisoner of war camps from 1944 to 1946.)

Main sources

Hammond, Alice History of Sidney Maine 1792-1992 1992
Howard, Millard An Introduction to the Early History of Palermo, Maine Second edition, December 2015
Kershaw, Gordon E. The Kennebeck Proprietors 1749-1775 1975
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed. Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 1892
Lowden, Linwood H. good Land & fine Contrey but Poor roads a history of Windsor, Maine 1993
Marriner, Ernest Kennebec Yesterdays 1954
Williamson, William D. The History of the State of Maine from its First Discovery, A.D. 1602, to the Separation, A.D. 1620, Inclusive Vol. II 1832
Websites, miscellaneous.

A history of Hussey’s General Store

Hussey’s General Store, at 510 Ridge Road (Route 32) just south of the Route 105 intersection, has a website and its own Wikipedia entry, both quoting the store’s slogan, “If we ain’t got it, you don’t need it.” The business has operated for 97 years and is now owned and managed by the third and fourth generations of the Hussey family.

Harland B. Hussey opened the original store in 1923 in a former stable in the northwest angle of the Windsor Corners intersection, Linwood H. Lowden says in good Land & fine Contrey but Poor roads a history of Windsor, Maine (1993). Harland Hussey’s son, Elwin Hussey, recalls that the stable belonged to the Dutton family, who had for many years owned what Lowden calls the Haskell lot, where Hussey’s now stands. Lowden, who did his typical comprehensive research in deeds and other documents on the Haskell lot, writes that Harry Pinkham was running the Dutton store on the Haskell lot when it burned in 1923.

Harland Hussey, his son says, was a cousin of Pinkham’s wife and was running a car dealership half a mile south. He says Harland Hussey sold Stars and Durants (both manufactured in Lansing, Michigan by Durant Motors, Inc., from 1921 to 1931).

When Harland Hussey learned that Pinkham did not plan to rebuild, he bought the whole property, Elwin Hussey says, and opened his store. The stable-become-store building, which is now used as a warehouse, was expanded at least twice, Lowden writes, for the second time in 1947 when Elwin Hussey joined his father in the business.

Elwin and Shirley Hussey had two daughters and one son, whom they named Benjamin Jay. Jay Hussey’s daughter, Kristen (Hussey) Ballantyne, says her grandfather was born in 1923, the same year the store opened. He started working there in his ‘20s, as manager of the electronics and appliances department, and later took over the business.

In 1953 the family built the present store on the southwest corner of the intersection. Ballantyne says her great-grandmother, Harland Hussey’s wife Mildred, took advantage of the expanded space to start the store’s bridal business in 1953 and 1954, and in April 1954 organized a celebration of the new building and the new department.

Jay Hussey and Kristen Ballantyne now co-own the business. Ballantyne says she has worked in the store since childhood; after college, a short career in social work and marriage, she returned to Hussey’s in 2009 and describes herself as co-owner/general manager and overseer of the clothing and bridal departments. Her half-sister, Lindsay French Hannon, has worked in the bridal department for the past 10 years, she adds.

Lowden writes that the first Haskell store was started in 1837, where the north end of Hussey’s store is now, and by 1841 Ambrose Bryant had a second store on the next lot south, under the middle of present-day Hussey’s. Both disappeared in the early 1850s, and the lot was vacant until in September 1874 the Dutton building was moved from South Windsor.

Lowden quotes part of the description of the move from Roger Reeves’ diary (even though, he writes, it had previously been quoted in the Windsor sesquicentennial history). Reeves, who headed the movers, says the building was put onto skids and rollers, and 56 yokes (pairs) of oxen – “the best team that I ever saw together” – were able to move it; but there should have been another 60 oxen, in Reeves’ opinion.

The move took two full days. By the end of the first day, Reeves wrote, “Men worked hard and ate a barrel of crackers and most of a 46-pound cheese with codfish for dessert.” His comment at the end of the second day was, “There has been one heavy hauling without rum!”

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Windsor

by Mary Grow

Introduction: so far this series of historical essays has focused on towns along the central part of the Kennebec River between Augusta and FairfieldBenton, and on the river itself. Next we’ll move inland to four towns farther east: Windsor, east of Augusta; China, east of Vassalboro; Albion, east of Winslow and southeast of Benton; and Palermo, east of China and barely touching Windsor on the southwest and Albion on the northwest.

Windsor, China and Albion are in Kennebec County; Palermo is in Waldo County. Windsor, China and Albion are in the watershed of the Sheepscot River. The main river flows southwest from Sheepscot Pond in Palermo; the West Branch originates in northwestern Palermo, flows through Branch Pond and joins the main river between Coopers Mills and North Whitefield.

Albion is in the Sebasticook River watershed; the Sebasticook flows into the Kennebec at Winslow.

* * * *

Unlike the Kennebec River towns, towns like Windsor were not always surveyed and settled from the coast or river inland. In his comprehensively researched good Land & fine Contrey but Poor roads a history of Windsor, Maine (1993), Linwood H. Lowden writes that Windsor was settled initially from Bristol via Whitefield to the south, later from China and Vassalboro to the north and northwest. Moving directly inland from Hallowell (later Augusta) on the Kennebec was discouraged by an intervening area of swampy, boulder-strewn land that would not appeal to aspiring farmers, he suggests.

How much Windsor’s settlement lagged behind its northern and southern neighbors depends on the source of information. Lowden says the first documented Windsor resident was Ebenezer Grover, who came from Ballstown (now Whitefield) and took over meadowland in southern Windsor, northeast of the current junction of Routes 17 and 32. Grover came in 1781, but kept his Ballstown farm until December 1786. Lowden cites deeds showing him in a house on the west bank of the West Branch of the Sheepscot River by 1793.

Another early settler was John Linn, who brought his wife and 10 children from Bristol in 1801 and settled in the Windsor Corner area in the middle of town. Windsor Corner, also called Windsor Corners and Windsor Four Corners, is the intersection of Route 32 (also Ridge Road) and Route 105 in the middle of town. In 1807 Linn wrote a letter about his property deed in which he used the phrase that is the title of Lowden’s book.

Henry D. Kingsbury says, in his 1892 Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892, that Walter Dockindoff (or Dockendorff, according to Lowden) who came from Bristol around 1790, was the first settler. Dockindoff’s land, Kingsbury says, was “about a mile west of Windsor Corner.”

Kingsbury says Dockindoff planted the first apple orchard in Windsor. Lowden believes Linn also started growing apples very early. When Linn sold his property in 1811 to his son, he reserved the right to continue to tend his trees and to move them later (which Lowden says he apparently did).

Lowden adds that by the 1860s Windsor was known for its apples, and they remained important in the agricultural economy until a hard freeze in the winter of 1933-34 killed many trees.

[See also: A history of Hussey’s General Store]

Kingsbury comments that Windsor is unusual in having all or parts of seven separate ponds within town boundaries, none of them very big. Some modern maps, like the 1984 edition of DeLorme’s Maine Atlas and Gazetteer and Google Maps, show six of them and identify five.

The south end of Three Mile Pond juts into northwestern Windsor. Southward is Mud Pond, between Weeks Mills Road and Route 105, unnamed on Google.

Moody or Moody’s Pond, presumably named after an early settler, is north of Route 17, almost due west of the fairgrounds on Route 32. South of that, on the Whitefield line, Windsor includes the northern tip of Given’s or Givens Pond, formerly Longfellow Pond.

In northeastern Windsor, north of Route 105 and northeast of Greeley Road, are Fox Pond and slightly larger Savade Pond. Kingsbury says Fox was named because people saw foxes in the area and Savade is a corruption of “surveyed.”

Kingsbury’s seventh pond, to which he devotes half a paragraph, is extremely small, with steep sides; is in the center of town about three-fourths of a mile south of Windsor Corner; and was first named after Rev. Moses Donnell, renamed Grant Pond by 1892. Kingsbury says it has two significant features, no outlet and, as far as was known in 1892, no bottom.

Rev. Moses Donnell, born in Wiscasset Aug. 25, 1789, was a Methodist preacher who came to Windsor in the spring of 1818. He kept detailed records from which Lowden took information about his strenuous life and how much – or little – money he earned. Lowden lists various houses Donnell probably owned at different times and says he preached in Windsor in 1822 and from 1832 until his death October 2, 1861. After 1838 he was appointed to different “circuits,” preaching in several towns and traveling thousands of miles.

Lowden gives Donnell Pond another name, Dorr or Dorr’s Pond. It is nameless in the 1984 DeLorme atlas and on current Google maps, but the 1856 and 1879 maps reproduced in Lowden’s history show Donnell Pond on the east side of Route 32 a little south of the present Windsor School. Harland Road leaves Route 32 north of the pond and curves southeast around its northern and eastern shores.

(To this writer’s unscientific eye, Donnell Pond appears to be what geologists call a kettle pond. Kettleholes are created when a retreating glacier leaves behind a block of ice that gets covered with sediment and slowly melts, leaving a hole in the ground. Depending on depth, size and location, such holes can become dry land, bogs or ponds. Kettleholes are fairly common in Maine; Stuart and Hamilton ponds in Belgrade, west of the town office, are examples of kettle ponds.)

Another transplant who followed Dockindoff from Bristol was Thomas Le Ballister (Leballister, according to Lowden; Labalister, according to Geo. J. Varney’s 1886 Gazetteer of the State of Maine), who settled on 300 acres in the southeastern part of town and, Kingsbury said, found squatters already there, including Grover and the Trask brothers, Edward and Joseph.

Josiah Jones surveyed 6,000 acres in southeastern Windsor in 1797 on behalf of Grover and others. They called the area Pinhook, apparently because of a kink in the nearby West Branch of the Sheepscot River. By 1799, Lowden writes, it was generally known as Waterford, later sometimes New Waterford. He suggests the name might have been proposed by Richard Meagher, an early land speculator and agent for the Kennebec Proprietors, who came from Waterford County in Ireland. Lowden also cites a single 1805 reference to New Windsor.

On March 3, 1809, Kingsbury writes, the town was incorporated as Malta. That name was an error, according to Lowden, who quotes a petition to the Massachusetts General Court, signed by 43 residents, asking that New Waterford plantation become an incorporated town named Alpha. Legislative documents approved incorporating Alpha; but the final act incorporating the new town in February 1809 showed the name as Malta. Lowden blames “the slip of a clerk’s pen.”

Residents did not like the name Malta, and in the fall of 1820, town meeting voters approved a petition to the Maine legislature to change Malta to Lexington (Lowden does not say why the name was chosen). Again they did not get their way. On March 10, 1821, the legislature passed a bill renaming the town Gerry, honoring Eldridge Gerry (July 17, 1744 – Nov. 23, 1814), Massachusetts governor and later James Madison’s vice-president and the politician after whom “gerrymander” was named.

Residents promptly appointed a six-man committee to choose another name. On Jan. 9, 1822, the town became Windsor. Lowden cannot say why, or even whether, the committee recommended that name. Ava Harriet Chadbourne, in her Maine Place Names and the Peopling of its Towns (1955) says that Windsor is the name of the British royal family but does not explicitly say that Windsor, Maine, honors them.

The main settled areas in early days were in the southern end of town, where Routes 17 and 32 now intersect, and in the middle where Routes 105 and 32 meet. Lowden says the road connecting them, the current Route 32 (Ridge Road), was “an established way” by 1798. There were smaller areas of settlement in West Windsor and North Windsor.

As more people moved to town, the West Branch of the Sheepscot and several smaller streams provided water power for numerous mills, mostly sawmiils and gristmills, and Kingsbury and Lowden list 19th-century stores, blacksmith shops and other businesses scattered throughout.

Although Windsor is not on the Kennebec (it is about 10 miles from the river), Lowden gives three examples of Windsor people involved in Kennebec River activities.

Before 1810, a large seine net at the mouth of Seven Mile Brook, in Vassalboro, trapped alewives that people from Vassalboro, Malta, Sidney and Belgrade shared. The fish were food for the settlers, especially important to poor families, Lowden writes.

In 1810 the Massachusetts General Court passed a law that, as Lowden presents it, explicitly forbade that seine. Lowden does not give a reason. Vassalboro then established its own net farther up the brook and trapped alewives there. Residents of other towns were allowed to buy them, after a delay and at an inflated price.

Lowden quotes the letter Malta selectmen sent to Massachusetts legislators in 1816 asking them, unsuccessfully, to repeal the law. The three selectmen who signed the letter were William Hilton, Walter Dockindorff and John Linn Jr.

In 1834, when the Kennebec Dam Company proposed the first dam across the Kennebec River, Windsor was one of many towns and cities submitting opinions to the legislature. Windsor’s petition, with 57 signatures, supported the dam, saying it “would be of great benefit and utility,” according to Lowden. (See The Town Line, May 7, for more on this and other dams.)

In the 1870s and 1880s, men from Windsor were among the crews cutting ice on the Kennebec. (See The Town Line, May 14, for more on the ice business.) Lowden quotes from Roger Reeves’ diary about both winter and summer work in 1876. In February, Reeves wrote, two men were hired at $1 per day.

Main sources:

Kingsbury, Henry D., ed. Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 1892
Lowden, Linwood H. good Land & fine Contrey but Poor roads a history of Windsor, Maine 1993
Hussey, Elwin, and Ballantyne, Kristen (Hussey), emails

Web sites, miscellaneous

Donations sought for Windsor’s Bob Brann following surgery

Bob Brann at work in his workshop. (contributed photo)

Receives heart pump implant following years of battling heart disease

Submitted by Kristen Ballantyne, Organizer

When you think of people who have made a difference in our community, Bob Brann is someone who always comes to mind. He has been an active member of the Windsor Historical Society for many years and the driving force behind the structural and historical preservation of many beautiful buildings and landmarks that we all marvel at the Windsor Fair Grounds year after year, these include but are not limited to: The old Somerville School building, the Cole house, the blacksmith shop, the ice house, the museum building and most recently, the rebuild of a 100-foot post and beam building to house a 100-year-old saw mill from Albion. Not to mention, this saw mill was then intricately reassembled into working condition for all to experience firsthand!

Bob’s personal investment in our community has left a lasting impression on us all. He has helped both young and old recognize the value in understanding and commemorating our community’s history by bringing it back to life piece by piece. It is through his dedication and fine craftsmanship, that we can fully experience the story of where we have been, where we are going and how we can all get there together.

As many of you know, Bob has been experiencing congestive heart failure over the last few years which has had a tremendous impact on him and everyone who loves him. Regardless, he has continued to press forward with projects with the help of his faithful crew. His relentless commitment to the community has often got the better of him and resulted in many emergency trips to Portland. Finally, after a long battle, Bob recently underwent surgery for a heart pump implant so his heart can properly pump blood throughout this body. While he is back home and starting to feel better, Bob has a long road ahead especially in consideration of this pandemic. There is a high risk of infection and clotting, so he must be very careful to take care of himself and this new life-saving device. Getting back to his old lifestyle is not something he will be able to do, as even a simple cut from shaving could be deadly. Even just carrying the device has been a task, as it weighs 15 pounds, altogether. There are medical shirts that have compartments built in to them for the ease of transportation, but are very expensive ($80). Meanwhile, the trips to Portland for follow up appointments continue, taking a financial toll on him and his family.

Let’s all come together and give back to someone who has invested so much of his own time, labor and money into our community over the years. While Bob would never ask for help, we feel that it is long overdue! Please consider donating to help Bob with the financial burden of years of hospital bills, travel to Portland for check-ups and other special needs such as medical shirts. Thank you in advance for your kindness and support!

The GoFundMe page for Bob can be found here.

2019-’20 Real Estate Tax Due Dates

CHELSEA

(Second half)
April 8, 2020

CHINA

(pay all up front or semi-annually)
Friday, September 27
Friday, March 27, 2020

VASSALBORO

(pay all up front or quarterly)
Monday, September 23
Monday, November 25
Monday, February 24, 2020
Monday, April 27, 2020

WATERVILLE

(pay all up front or quarterly)
October 11
December 13
March 13, 2020
June 12, 2020

WINDSOR

(pay all up front or)
September 30 or
Half on Sept. 30
and half March 31, 2020

Erskine Renaissance Awards presented for December 2019

Seniors of the Trimester, front row, from left to right, Julia Basham and Summer Hotham. Back row, Lucy Allen, Jacob Sutter, Ben Reed and Dominic Smith. (contributed photo)

On Friday, December 13, Erskine Academy students and staff attended a Renaissance Assembly to honor their peers with Renaissance Awards.

Left, Faculty of the Trimester, Jennifer Tibbetts, left, and Eileen McNeff. (contributed photo)

Recognition Awards were presented to the following students: Jack Allen, Lily Bray, Nathan Million, Sydni Plummer, Hanna Spitzer, Benjamin Lavoie, Alyssha Gil, and Eleena Lee.

In addition to Recognition Awards, Senior of the Trimester Awards were also presented to six members of the senior class: Lucy Allen, daughter of Patrick and Shirley Allen, of Windsor; Julia Basham, daughter of Tim and Catherine Basham, of China; Dominic Smith, son of Katrina and Dan Jackson, of Whitefield; Ben Reed, son of Kevin and Jennifer Reed, of Vassalboro; Summer Hotham, daughter of Charles and Heide Hotham, of Palmero; and Jacob Sutter, son of Richard and Jenny Sutter, of Palermo. Seniors of the Trimester are recognized as individuals who have gone above and beyond in all aspects of their high school careers.

In appreciation of their dedication and service to Erskine Academy, Faculty of the Trimester awards were also presented to Jennifer Tibbetts, mathematics instructor; and Eileen McNeff, business office bookkeeper.

Windsor selectmen decide on a temporary fix to the town’s public works refueling needs

by Sandra Isaac

During the November 26 meeting, Windsor selectmen decided the town will purchase a trailer and 100 gallon fuel tank with a pump, which will enable the public’s work department the ability to refuel the trucks after hours and during plowing season. This option allows the selectmen time to come up with a more permanent solution and factor in the costs to the next fiscal budget.

The need for an alternative fueling option comes after John Moody’s retirement announcement effective this December. Although the town has found another fuel source with Hussey’s Store, in Windsor, the public works department needed a refueling solution for after hours and during snow plowing. The trailer and tank will provide a good alternative until a more permanent solution can be found.

The trailer and fuel tank will be purchased for under $1,800. A pump assembly, lettering, decals, and a hazmat spill kit will all need to be purchased, but the selectmen agreed to keep the cost under $2,500.

The town was previously looking into a truck with a 100 gallon tank mounted on the back, but after further discussion, it was decided the trailer and tank would be a better option. Registration, inspections and maintenance of a truck played major factors in the decision making. A trailer with a tank can be parked or transported as necessary, and could still be used throughout the year.

Windsor Town Manager, Theresa Haskell, also asked for debit cards; one for each of the public works truck and one for the back hoe. The debit cards will allow the town to get discounts when using Hussey’s for fueling and will allow the public works department the ability to track each truck’s fuel consumption.

In other discussions, the topic of the RSU #12 solar farm proposal was reviewed, with Selectman Richard Gray Jr. and Selectman Andrew Ballantyne helping to clarify much of the information. According to an anonymous school board member, “the only action that the school board has made was to look into the project. When it comes to the information currently available, the school board members are as confused as the selectmen.”

“The RSU solar farm proposal had the price increasing yet the state load has decreased due to more efficient lighting, etc. Energy cost and demand cost are items that need to be considered. If there is not as much of a demand, you won’t get much money for the energy produced,” said Gray.

Selectmen are requesting to be present when an official report is presented to the RSU#12 school board. The selectmen have agreed to table this indefinitely or until more information can be provided.

In other news, the Veterans Memorial held another fundraiser, selling homemade pies in front of Hussey’s Store prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. Twenty-seven people donated items to be sold at the pie sale, with $840 raised as a result of the sale, along with private donations, brought the total to $1,000.

DEP denies Windsor’s initial request to install a diesel fuel tank

by Sandy Isaac

At the November 12 selectmen’s meeting, Town Manager Theresa Haskell reported that the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has denied Windsor’s request to have a diesel tank installed on town property, specifically at the public works department. The need for a new diesel fuel tank stems from John Moody’s retirement announcement, effective this December. The town used Moody’s Fuel on Route 17, which included refueling after hours or during snowstorms. The DEP said the town will now have to apply for a variance, fill out a 25-plus page application, and go through the fire marshal’s office again for approval.

Haskell and Selectmen Ronald Brann had a formal meeting with representatives from the DEP, which, according to Brann, became quite heated at times. During the meeting, Brann inquired about alternatives to the diesel tank plans, including a 500-gallon fuel “cube.” A fuel cube can be placed on site and used as necessary, but still have the ability to be drained and moved. The DEP said this type of system was meant to be used at construction sites or on a temporary basis and would not be appropriate for the town’s needs.

Brann then suggested a trailer or a tank on the back of a pick-up truck. The DEP responded that although it was legal, it would not be secure. Therefore, the DEP recommended a full 1,000-gallon tank install with an electric leak warning system included in the installation plans.

The denial from the DEP is the result of one primary issue: all of the town owned properties that can house a 1,000-gallon fuel tank are located on an aquifer. An aquifer is a body of permeable rock which can contain or transmit groundwater. Following the meeting with the DEP, Brann contacted the fire marshal’s office for clarification.

After much discussion, the selectmen decided to look into acquiring a truck with a 100-gallon tank to get through plowing season. This choice would also allow the public works department to utilize the portable tank for off-site work throughout the rest of the year.

Haskell called in Chief Arthur Stout from the Windsor Fire Department into the meeting and asked about the departments plans for refueling. The fire department is currently using fuel cards for filling up. The selectmen indicated that they would like to enter into a conversation with the fire department about ideas and possibly collaborating to resolve the fueling situation. Arthur said he will bring up the topic at the next fire department meeting. Haskell is hoping to get some ideas in motion prior to planning the next town budget.

The next item that presented much discussion was Charter (formerly Spectrum, and before that, Time Warner) Cable Company franchise agreement. The town of Windsor and Charter have a 10-year agreement which allows the cable company to do business within the town limits. In exchange, Charter pays the town a yearly fee. Although the contract is not up for another year and a half, Charter is pressing for Windsor to sign the newly-revised agreement. However, the revisions contain 15 additional pages and, in Selectmen William Apple Jr’s words, “it is not a mutual agreement and leaves us [Windsor] completely culpable.”

For example, revised agreement wording suggests Windsor would be liable for paying for work of laying cable underground or under roadways, to reimbursing Charter an equal amount of money if a utility company is reimbursed for work. Additional wording suggests, if another company were to solicit Windsor, the town must notify Charter and grant them the right to charge the same fees, thus illuminating the competition.

Haskell was asked to find out what would happen if the agreement was not signed. Haskell indicated that most Charter’s responses were repetitive and scripted, but she would reach out to them for an answer.

Haskell stated she would contact Vassalboro and China’s town managers to see if they have similar agreements with Charter. The contract with Charter will be tabled until a later date.

On a positive note, Haskell reported budgeting a six percent increase for Windsor’s employee health benefits for 2019-2020. However, the benefits only increased by three percent.

Finally, the selectmen unanimously approved changing their meeting from December 24 to December 23 at 6 p.m., and allowing the town office to close at 12:30 p.m., on the December 24, and at 5 p.m., on December 31.

The next regularly scheduled selectmen’s meeting is set for November 26.

Renovations completed to Windsor Christian Fellowship

The church as it looks upon completion of the project. (contributed photos)

by Brandon Dyer
Pastor-Teacher, Windsor Christian Fellowship

Severe damage to the roof had to be repaired by reconstructing the deck and shingles.

“Didn’t that church burn down?” This question was posed to me several years ago by a student at Windsor School on a day I was substitute teaching. The short answer to this well-meaning child’s question was, “no.” However, the sanctuary of Windsor Christian Fellowship did look as though it had burned down to some extent. Gaping holes in the front of the building, incomplete siding, and general disrepair—the work to be done on the sanctuary was great.

Over the past 200 years, the church has been known by several names: Windsor Methodist Episcopal Church, Windsor Memorial Baptist Church, and now, Windsor Christian Fellowship. Many pastors have served the church, and many Central Mainers have belonged to the church. One constant, however, throughout the almost 200 year history of the church has been the hand-hewn, post-and-beam sanctuary that sits atop a small hill on the Reed Road, in Windsor. Constant, that is, until 2006 when a much needed renovation began.

The steeple is being taken down to complete renovations to it and to make the necessary repairs to the roof.

Since that time, a radiant heat foundation was poured and many other updates were made, such as all new electrical, doors, windows, siding, drywall, trim, and paint. During the years it took to accomplish all of this work, the church had been worshiping in the Fellowship Hall. For most of that time, the smaller Fellowship Hall sufficed; however, the church recently began to outgrow the smaller space and began to look at the possibility of moving into the sanctuary. Although unfinished, the church met for worship in the sanctuary on October 20 for the first time in more than a decade. Despite the lack of carpet, platform, and using a borrowed sound system, it was a wonderful morning of worship.

The sanctuary no longer looks like it burned down. They anticipate using it for worship for many years to come, as well as weddings, funerals, and many other events in the coming years as they seek to serve the community in Windsor and many others throughout central Maine.

The interior of the church getting a complete facelight. Contributed photos

Eagle Scout candidate organizes work day

The brick pad, the picnic table and sign placard near the outlet stream. Front, from left to right, Kameron Rossignol, Kasen Kelley, Remy Pettengill, Ayden Newell, Caleb Knock. Back, Ben Lagasse, Aiden Pettengill, Hunter Praul, Kaiden Kelley, Michael Boostedt, Leaders Derek Rossignol, Darryl Praul and Ron Emery. Missing from photo Leaders Lee Pettengill and parents Keith Lagasse, Jonathan Knock and Grange member Bernie Welch (contributed photo)

by Bernie Welch
Member of the Vassalboro Grange
Photo by Ron Emery, Troop #479

There is something wonderful about being amongst volunteers. What better way than to be part of an Eagle Scout project that promotes community, conversation and education. The Vassalboro Historical Society and the Vassalboro Grange partnered with the Maine Rivers to create an opportunity for the talented troop #479, of China, and specifically Eagle Scout candidate, Ben LeGasse, with the thought of sharing a bit of Vassalboro Lore from the Historical Society and the Grange, plus providing a place to share the plan for an alewife introduction to China Lake. Ben and his father organized a work day on Saturday, October 19. They pre-planned and created a bench and sign placard for the north side of the Grange and also planned and placed a picnic table and sign placard at the Outlet Stream to provide respite for the fishermen, bird watchers and soon to be alewife tourists that promise to be more plentiful once the Maine rivers project is complete.

Ben and his father organized a work day on Saturday, October 19. They pre-planned and created a bench and sign placard for the north side of the Grange. (Contributed photo)

An eagle Scouts project is one that fills a need. The Eagle Scout Service Project, or simply Eagle Project, is the opportunity for a Boy Scout in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to demonstrate leadership of others while performing a project for the benefit of his community. This is the culmination of the Scout’s leadership training, and it requires a significant effort on his part.The project must benefit an organization other than the BSA, and it cannot be performed for an individual or a business or be commercial in nature. Completing an Eagle Project is a requirement in order for Boy Scouts to attain the Eagle Scout rank. Ben chose to organize his project to support the greater Vassalboro community. On the work day he involved his fellow scouts and their fathers. All Scouts actively participated in clearing the area and placing sign posts , the bench, the brick picnic table pad and the picnic table.

Ben also solicited and received tremendous support from Hannafords in South China, Fieldstone Quick stop, Lowes Home supply and, of course, parents and friends. The fathers of the scouts were also out in force providing guidance, institutional memory and wisdom when using hand tools. A ground wasp nest did not deter but did enliven the effort on the day of the event. Grange members provided food and information about the grange. Ben will share his project with the Vassalboro Historical Society and the Maine Rivers during future meetings. His discussion and question answer session at the last Friday Grange meeting was informational and a bit of fun.

Scouting in our area is a hidden community gem. Young people inspire community members to think about the power of doing something for the benefit of others. Yes, there is something wonderful about being volunteers. And you know what , they can be us!

Ben, 17, is a senior at Erskine Academy, in South China, and the son of Keith and Kristie LaGasse, of Windsor.