In 1948 Norway mineralogist George Howe told a local gem club, “I am especially interested in having located in Oxford County a museum of Oxford County minerals. It is very regrettable that a great many valuable specimens peculiar to Oxford County have been sold and allowed to leave the State of Maine, many going to foreign countries. It is something for this club and the people of Oxford County to work for. This museum should be centrally located, preferably at or near the county seat. If these specimens and the ones we are now finding could be preserved here in our own Oxford County, we would have something to be found nowhere else in the world.” On Friday evening, his vision was celebrated as the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum held a groundbreaking reception in Bethel. The MMGM will occupy the former Odd Fellows and Kennett Realty buildings on Main Street. A connecting structure will be built to join the adjacent buildings. The general contractor is Davis & Hanscom of Steep Falls. For the past several years Larry Stifler and his wife, Mary McFadden, have been working with local jeweler/miner Jim Mann to obtain noteworthy Maine gems from collections around the world. The museum will house the gems, as well as provide facilities for research and education. Some specimens were on display Friday. Here, using a tool of the mining trade, a pickax, Stifler breaks ground between the buildings. More than 200 people attended. For more, see Bethel town column.