Work Begun on the Mineral and Gem Museum
Everyone traveling Main Street witnessed the workmanlike activity around the Odd Fellows Hall, but for those who live away work on what will be the new Maine Mineral and Gem Museum began this week. COLEX (excavating contractors) from Gray and Don’s Electric from Monmouth were the most visible workers. The first big job was finding the water connection via an excavator and Don Katlin with spade and magnetic finding equipment.
Friday and Saturday the Bethel Outing Club held their annual fall ski and winter clothing/equipment sale in the Gould field house. Friday evening draws the largest crowd but Saturday morning there was a steady flow of buyers leaving with goods. Jeff Parsons crossed off stamped sales tags while we talked politics. Peter Kailey was on the scene with his equipment spread. Peter said that his ski shop business now operates five stores in New Hampshire. The Kaileys live in Franconia. As far as ski outfitters go he must represent the longest running outlet in or at Bethel. Dick Bryant used to handle the rentals and Peter the sales at Sunri Ski Shop opposite the Barker Mountain Lodge at Sunday River in the late 1970s.
See This Week’s News in a 90 seconds video
For a quick look at what happened this week watch Bethel News October 27 2012 – YouTube. The video covers the Expo, ski sale and work at the new museum. Direct link is http://youtu.be/_Kh5ulU6t5A
Saturday’s Business Expo
The Chamber-organized Oxford County Community and Business Expo at Telstar attracted everyone else who did not go to the ski sale. Thirty organizations and businesses operated booths inside the gym. Taste of Bethel attracted a large crowd at lunch time. It looked like well over a hundred tasters seated at one time – likely enjoying their main meal of the day. And as someone commented the Black Diamond Steak House was in full swing (even without signs) with Rick Savage carving and a charcoal grill was smoking away outside.
Bethel’s Expo 2012 turns out to be an exceptionally fine educational tour for Bethel residents. It was pointed out to me that having Community Sports and NABOS exhibits on the floor gave many people a chance to see these businesses, whereas the same people might not ever go into Philbrook Place and look them over. Another exhibitor commented that of the possibly hundred people who had stopped to briefly chat during the morning, there were about four with specific questions who were likely to follow up during the coming week with visits to his office.
Besides Gould Academy and Hebron Academy there were three manned exhibits of adult educational interest: Central Maine Workforce Investment Board of Lewiston, Central Maine Community College, Business and Community Services and Western Maine Economic Development Council, a division of Community Concepts. If you missed them at the Expo, the Websites are: (1) httpwww.mainefocus.org/ (2) http://www.cmcc.edu/training/ and (3) http://wmedc.org/our-services/business-development/
Saturday’s Expo program included job workshops which I missed. Having spent three years in career development counseling in the Army, I can see where Bethel’s small size has the disadvantage of not having an employment office or a place where job seekers and people who have the need of part-time workers can go and expect regular at least semi-professional help. So in regard to this year’s Expo participation, the Saturday affair was at least a chance to see what is available within reasonable distances.
Bangor Daily News covered the Expo with an article about the Bethel Dog Park, which, although nice to have written up in a state- wide newspaper, gave no coverage of the broader, educational value of the other 29 exhibits. The Sun Journal covered the Taste of Bethel as well but skipped the Oxford County representation present in this year’s expo.
The Fountain on the Common
Nearly six months ago, May 2 to be exact, a member of the “I Grew Up in Bethel, Maine” Facebook group posted a recent color of today’s fountain on the Common. As of this morning, there have been 74 comments posted by this group. Most of the comments have been related to the fountain’s builder, the infamous Al Saunders.
At the turn of the century, 19th to 20th that is, the Common presented a rather barren appearance. Bethel House and The Elms Hotel anchored the south end of Bethel’s park. In the April 9, 1902 , Bethel News it was reported that Bethel’s Columbian Club, a society of public spirited ladies, had the idea of improving the appearance of Bethel by beautifying the Common, their plan included adding a fountain within the grounds.
The Common improvement plan may have been sparked by an announcement at the same time that “Bethel to Have a First Class Summer Hotel – Hotel Property Bought by Charles F. Lord of Boston - $10,000 to be Spent on Improvements” Mr. F.H. Lovejoy, the ambitious and energetic proprietor of the Bethel House, paved the way for development of these properites when he began his extensive improvements last season. A large two-story stable will be built and stocked with 40 fine horses. (Now the Oaks guest house of the Bethel Inn.)
The Columbian Club ladies worked quickly. In the News of April 19, 1902, notice of the fountain’s completion read: “The fountain is set on the Common and is sending forth its spray from Chapman Brook to the admiration of all. It is very pretty indeed and adds much to the beauty of the village.”
Besides the fountain the Columbian Club began raising money through subscriptions for a Common Improvement Fund. At the end of the month $645 had been raised. In addition to the fountain the club embarked on an extensive landscaping project with architecturally planned shrubbery placed along the entrances and corners of the grounds. A photo of the Bethel Common taken from the “Hastings Block” around 1910 shows how the previously bare lawn became a beautiful park.