By Donald G. Bennett
Saturday, June 5, at Angevine Park the Family Fishing Festival.
From 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, June 5, at Mayville Junction an open house family fun day is being held by the new Western Maine Water Service.
On Tuesday, June 8, at Crescent Park School all kinds of elections are scheduled including a town police referendum, primary elections for Governor, state issues we probably have never heard of, and the town school budget vote.
On Wednesday, June 9, at Crescent Park School the regular annual Bethel Town Meeting will convene at 7 p.m.
On Thursday, June 10, members of the Bethel Masonic Lodge will observe their 150th anniversary.
At Mayville Junction: In last week’s news I mistakenly reported that Choice Funding had left their office and that Western Maine Water Service had taken it over. What really happened is that Choice Funding had merged with Envoy Mortgage and while new signs were being made the Choice signs had come down.
Envoy Mortgage is a nationwide mortgage bank. With the merger of Choice Funding it has 60 branch offices across the country. In the company’s alphabetical listing of branches, Bethel is fourth after Austin, Texas; Bellingham, Washington; and Berlin, Conn. Jon Bowen is Bethel’s branch manager and Michael Renaud works with him. The Bowens came here from Rhode Island but have lived at Sunday River since 2004. The Bethel office covers all of New England. Mr. Bowen said that they are working on setting up another branch in Maine soon. Envoy’s website message is that they are able to ensure an accurate and faster closing process because each step occurs in-house.
Western Maine Water Service is located in the office space behind Envoy in the Mayville Junction building. Dave Bartlett from the Bear River side of Newry is the new owner and water technician of this business. Mr. Bartlett has been in the water business for over 20 years as the superintendent of Sunday River Resort’s Water and Wastewater Division. Besides water analysis his business carries water filtration systems, water softener systems and he does water analysis in his office. Mr. Bartlett is currently waiting for his certification and license to water health testing for the public including water testing for the Bethel Water District.
Saturday afternoon from 1 to 4 p.m., Western Maine Water Service is holding a family fun day in the parking area behind the Mayville Junction building. There will be barbecuing, music by the Midnite Haze musical combo, ducky pond for kids and water fun with sprinklers — raffle, gift certificates and free water testing.
Mason Street Sidewalk Cometh: Thursday men and machines from Pratt and Sons of Minot began grading the strip along the north side of Mason Street where the new, three-plus years in coming, sidewalk will run from Broad Street to Crescent Street. The funding grant which Bethel voters accepted came from the Safe Walks to School program within MDOT. From the large cement chambers delivered to the site, there will be storm water drainage work undertaken concurrent with the new sidewalk construction.
Bethel Riverside Cemetery: Over the two hours spent discussing various aspects of cemetery administration, the officers and directors came to a consensus that it was better to cut into its investment principal than to let the cemetery’s appearance look rundown. Four years after it was first voted on to have the property surveyed it still is not done. Now the board has renewed determination to get a specific proposal by Oct. 1 followed by a specific date when the surveyor will have the boundary survey finished.
Other major projects this year will be to have stumps removed from an acre cleared of trees in 2007 and to have three old and dying spruce trees removed. A third expensive item to be started is repair of the iron fence so that all gates can be opened and closed. One gate had been taken down leaving a gap in the fence that seemed to smack of neglect. The old fence is in need of refurbishing which means sandblasting and professional refinishing. The cemetery board hopes to find and open discussions with a party or parties who can donate to this project. The iron fence is an historic artifact — it was originally erected by members of the Second Congregational Church whose members, only a few years later, voted to dissolve their society in 1890. Another summer project will be to paint the cemetery vault and put up a new Bethel Riverside Cemetery sign over the vault’s entrance.
Faye Taylor Art Show: Saturday’s art show at the Moses Mason House, which is sponsored annually by the Bethel Historical Society, is a chance for local elementary school students to express their perspectives and art talents. This year’s student entries were unique in this annual event as many expressed humor, a touch of mockery or lampooned the subject they were portraying. One entry cartooned ice fishing by showing two figures with lines dropped through the hole in the ice but down in the deep a whale-sized alligator creature had the hook. In another scene skis, snowboards, etc., were lying in the snow suggesting that eating and drinking had lured the skiers away from the slopes. A third piece showed the entire ski area — trails, peaks, lift and buildings — everything populated with different animals instead of people. One artist drew possibly his idea of the character of skiers with a long haired, baggy pants skier skiing across the marked trails having just passed a “Go with the Flow” sign. One drew an ant skiing easily down the trail while off in a pile of snow two legs stuck out of the snow — a complete crash.
Winners in the three grade divisions were in grades 1 and 2: Max Kruse, first, WES; Isaac Voisine, second, CPS; and Sierra Morin, third, WES. Grades 3 and 4: Beth Gibson, first, CPS; Brooke Richardson, second, CPS; and Caroline Finley, third, CPS. Grade 5: Mathew Paul Chaisson, CPS, first; Regan Kauf, CPS, second; and Caitlin Casey, CPS, third. Caitlin produced the picture of ice fishing for the monster alligator. First place honors in each grade division received a $50 cash prize. All of the above received cash prizes.
New for the first time - this year the artwork will be on display for the rest of the week. All are welcome to come in and see the art. Please call the historical society for times when the museum will be open (824-2908).
Gould concert: Friday night’s concert in Bingham Auditorium followed the month of May pattern of remarkably good musical entertainment. The evening production was directed by Jim McLaughlin and Jenny Cooper. Ms. Cooper was new to Gould this year. Their program started off with a bang — the Gould jazz band combo which played in typical jam session fashion. What brought the audience to its feet with a standing ovation was an unbelievably superb piano performance by Annabelle Hicks, a graduating senior, playing a Mendelssohn fugue. The choral group presented an innovative piece titled “Rain” which was another audience favorite. But what was for Kathy and me the highlight of the evening was the band’s performance. It was powerful. To start the band program going, we heard a medley of movie themes, which included the theme music from Mission Impossible — that really got the audience’s attention and appreciation. Overall it was a wonderful evening.
Gould commencement: Saturday morning I stopped by the big top where the commencement program was held to hear the valedictorian’s speech. This year’s valedictorian was a young man from Kabul, Afghanistan, Sikandar Ahmadi.
His speech was a totally refreshing one. He started by telling the assembled crowd that it was their (I’ll paraphrase) duty to listen and it was his duty to speak. When he arrived at Gould he likened the feeling to a mouse that has fallen into a pail of cream. He could do nothing and drown or he could scramble around, churn the cream into butter and escape. In one of his first classes he learned that he would write about two figures in history he had never heard of and discuss what was revealed about human nature. He said he had no idea what was meant by human nature so in the end he made up his own story. Now finally he said I have completed my studying at Gould Academy and face another step — falling into a bucket of cheese (cream) all over again and have to churn the butter in order to escape.
Old time Sunday River news: Randy Bennett passed along this story he received recently. It was printed in a 1924 edition of the Oxford County Advertiser. A party of three men left Portland on a fishing trip to Sunday River. They were to board with Stillman Littlehale who was the best-known resident of Ketchum. Mr. Littlehale told them a story about how in the Fall of 1873 while he was digging potatoes in a field near his house he suddenly heard a voice call “Grab the rope.” Completely surprised he realized the call came from above him. He turned and saw a very excited man leaning out of the basket of a hot air balloon. They got the balloon down OK. Littlehale’s 80-year-old mother got a short ride in it as the balloon was towed by Littlehale’s wagon to their house.
The balloonist had been giving a demonstration beyond the range of White Mountains and an unexpected wind blew him over the mountains. After spending the night, the balloonist with Mr. Littlehale’s help deflated the balloon. Then the balloon and basket were hauled in a wagon to Bethel and put on the train.
The visitor who told the story said later he talked to a friend who had lived in Ketchum and the friend had seen the balloon drop down from high in the air.
Stillman Littlehale died in 1916. He lived near today’s road to Frenchman’s Hole. Once you have crossed Twin Bridges and turned right, his house was less than a mile from our region’s most famous, state of Maine, swimming hole.
Birthday Party: Sunday Carolyn and Hans Krahn of Freeport held an open house in celebration of her mother Meg Cousins’ 80th birthday. Several area people attended including Norma Salway and Terry Martin, Carolyn Gould, Janie Vogt, Polly Davis, Alberta Merrill and Rod Harrington. It was a nice reunion of her Bethel area and Higgins Beach friends.