Bethel June 17
Thursday, July 1 – Bethel closes its Police Department; Oxford County Sheriff takes over; sheriff opens satellite station at former White Mountain National Forest Ranger Station.
Saturday, July 3 – the Bethel Art Fair and Porch Plays.
Keeping up with Sunday River businesses in Bethel: Lisa Freda at Sun Valley Sports and Suzy Harrington at We Party Supplies have businesses that bloom this time of year.
Drift boat fly fishing down the Androscoggin River is a well known specialty of Sun Valley Sports. River and fishing conditions right now are in excellent form. The river has been restocked from Gilead to Bear River. Luke Gray, who would be any fishing party’s expert guide, says that the recent rain has helped cool the water plus given the fish plenty to eat. This year a new personality, Katie Casey, will also be on hand at Sun Valley to guide kayaking parties, introduce and teach kayaking to novices. Ms. Casey also brings years with L.L. Bean with her to Sun Valley Sports. She is also more than qualified to guide saltwater kayak boaters.
Luke says that a full day’s fishing trip normally starts by Lary Brook or Gilead and ends at West Bethel. Half-day trips cover the same section of the river but shorter distances. This form of sporting vacation appeals to the kind of person who began coming to Sunday River over 150 years ago. Along with fishing, many come to Sun Valley Sports to rent canoes and kayaks for day trips. Additional part-time employees this summer will be Susan Isham, Eric Melanson and Jeff Gerhardts.
If you have been to the South Ridge complex at Sunday River recently, you may have noticed an ATV rental center there; it is operated by Sun Valley Sports. From this facility ATV riders have access to all the ATV trails on Sunday River property.
If you are in a shopping mood, the retail store at Sun Valley stocks Orvis sportswear and equipment pointed at fishermen and boaters. Among the fishing stuff one sees over a hundred different fishing flies in every shape and color. A white board easel at the store entrance lists water temperature and what flies are “hot” at the moment. Saturday’s lineup called for Wooly Buggers, Stone flies, Olive Emergers, Tan/Brown Caddis, Grey Ghosts and a suggestion to try a Klinkhammer.
We Party Supplies: Over the river and through the woods, less than a half a mile away as the crow flies, Sheila (Suzy) Harrington runs a one-of-a-kind business in Bethel. She specializes in parties for youngsters, although from the looks of her store displays she can handle just about any kind of festive occasion. If you are looking for a complete birthday party package, We Party has just such a package for $24.88. Mrs. Harrington also can provide rental helium tanks and deliver surprise balloons. How did this all come about? Six years ago, so her story goes, she was looking forward to six parties that year for her six grandchildren. Thinking about buying the stuff for six parties gave her the idea of being a seller as well as a buyer. From the looks of her store, she is happy in her work. Next week comes a brief glimpse of the two old farmsteads on Emery Road.
Library Fund Raising Raffle: Saturday noon Caroline Gould was busy accepting money and handing out raffle tickets for the Bethel Library Association’s annual quilt raffle. Lucia Schwarz had been out on the front line just prior to Mrs. Gould taking over. The library raffle is for a good cause and for $5 you get six tickets. As a raffle bonus the volunteer ladies on duty outside the Bethel Shop N Save offer the latest Main Street news and gossip. Last year’s raffle took in $1,800. Library patronage rose 6 percent last year. The winning raffle ticket gets drawn at this fall’s Harvest Fest on the Common. Librarian Michelle Conroy has reported that the library has over 5,000 patrons.
Bethel Masons Celebrate Grand 150th by Stephen Seames: The Bethel Masonic Lodge celebrated the 150th Anniversary of their founding with a steak dinner and special program for members, Masonic Widows, Family and Friends. Nearly 80 partook of the sumptuous feast amply provided by the supper crew. Following the dinner that ended with a wonderful decorated cake made by Sally Deegan Smith, the group reassembled in the Great Hall for a short but fun-filled program. "Meant to Be" a quartet of women singers that included Bonnie Angevine Fox, Worshipful Master Brent Angevine’s mother, and three other ladies provided the musical part of the evening by renditions and arrangements of well-known songs in barbershop form.
Following the music, Brother Stephen T. Seames, acknowledged the Senior Past Master of the Lodge present— Worshipful Earlon Bud Paine who was master in 1961; Brother Blake MacKay of Mason Street is the Senior Past Master of Bethel Lodge serving in 1959, but sadly he was unable to attend. Worshipful Jack Trinward, Brothers Harry Kuzyk, Robert Keniston, Avery Angevine, and Charles Heino, were among the senior members of the Lodge. Guests attended from Delta Lodge, Kittery Lodge, Jefferson Lodge, and Blazing Star Lodge, Paris Lodge. Worshipful Curtis Cole and Worshipful Larry Farmer of Norway were among the guests as well as several Masonic Widows including Mrs. Henry (Annie) Hasting of Main Street, and Mrs. Howard (Ginny) Cole of Clark Street.
Seames outlined the early history of the Lodge and spoke specifically about the Charter Members of the Lodge. He traced the lives of two charter members: Edmund Merrill Sr., 1803-1862, and Newton Swift who died in 1865. Both Men lived in Bethel Village and are resting in facing lots at Woodland Cemetery— then known as Evergreen Burial Ground. Brother Merrill, who died in 1862, lived on Broad Street in a large house he built. It was recently occupied by Joe and Johanna Drummond, now of Portland. Edmund’s son Edmund, Jr., lived across the street in a large well-appointed house he and his father erected. That house is now occupied by Dick and Gretchen Rasor. Both houses look nearly the same although the Merrill Jr. house is missing the barn and the great turret that was imposing on the upper story front of that house. (The Rasor house has a mansard roof, which the older Merrill house does not.)
Bethel Lodge has always occupied space on Bethel Hill: first in Pattee’s Hall on Spring Street.1865-1878, and at the head of Main and Church Streets over the Moses Cross Property 1878-1906. Following a devastating fire in December 1906 in which the building’s businesses and all Lodge Property was destroyed, the Brothers of Mt. Abram Lodge IOOF at the corner of Main and Chapman Streets afforded the Masons the use of their hall until the new Masonic hall was available. The new hall was ready at its former location on the corner of Church and Main in 1909. The Lodge remained in those quarters until 1952 when they purchased the present building on Chapman Street, the former Christian Science Church.
The Lodge extends very sincere thanks to all who made the celebration a success, Brother Seames has also expressed deep appreciation and credit for the evening’s success to RW Wyn Haskell who greatly assisted him in his research for the evening, plus the Bethel Historical Society— Randy Bennett and Stan Howe— for their help in making images for the exhibit and to Danni Fazio and the Maine Historical Society for their help with original photos of the Merrill House and of Mr. and Mrs. Edmund Merrill Sr. The images that were printed from original glass plate negatives of Bethel taken in 1850 to 1860 will remain at the Lodge in the exhibit through the fall. They will then be placed at the Bethel Historical Society for safekeeping.
Momentum Theatre: There was a surprise drama being presented on the common while the Town Meeting was going on. A group from the Boston/Cambridge area had pulled into town in their “theatre truck,” a traveling stage truck, set up their mobile stage and gave a performance of Shakespeare’s Tempest. When I stopped to watch the show after the Town Meeting there were less than a dozen people in the audience. Later, Stan Howe talked with some of the cast. He indicated that they are interested in returning to Bethel— possibly in July, although their schedule shows them going west. On the trip last week the itinerary started with performances in Colebrook, NH, then Lancaster, N.H., and ending at Bethel. This group’s website is www.theatretruck.com. The group’s program indicates performances of “The Tempest,” “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll and “The Leader” by Eugene Ionesco. While I watched, the star of the show was Veronica Barron, who played the part of Miranda in the Tempest. The troupe’s general manager, Scott Sweatt, is from Errol, N.H. Others have Maine and New Hampshire in their resumes.
Bethel’s 2010 Town Meeting: A meeting snapshot— 58 voters met for 51 minutes to dispose of this year’s business. As of the time of the meeting, the town budget calls for a proposed tax rate for this year of $10.81 for every thousand dollars of value. A number of appropriation articles were reduced due to the vote on disbanding the town police department. There was some discussion with explanations about the total amount of money to be raised by taxes for municipal expenses. The state has placed a cap on how much tax a town can levy on taxpayers for spending by the town. Bethel has received $1,330,287 from non-tax revenue sources such as state revenue sharing, building permits, etc. Repairing the fire station roof cost $82,000. One of the proposed sign ordinance changes was withdrawn for re-wording. The ordinance said basically— You cannot put up a sign advertising lots for sale in a subdivision before the town has approved the subdivision and the sign.