Welcome to the Bingham Forest Authority
Monday evening Bethel’s selectmen and town manager held a work shop meeting to hear all the 40 details about Bethel’s side of Barker Mountain that lies in Newry. Jerry Bley from Readfield, Maine told the Board his grand idea for a whole new slice of Bethel life. Summing it all up, our side of Barker will change from a mountain of natural beauty to a mountain of government red tape and challenge for Bethel taxpayers. Water District and Newry people did not attend the workshop. A whole new authority is proposed to handle details and convince our budget committee it is for the public good.
The Bley Plan covers the side of Barker not occupied by Sunday River Skiway. Augusta’s lawyers had first crack at telling us what could and couldn’t be done with the Newry land originally bought in 1925 for the Bethel Water Company. If the purchased tract of land ceased to be used as watershed the Water Company’s deed from Mr. Bingham stated, “If said tract of land be abandoned for use as a watershed, owner-ship of this tract shall pass to the State of Maine. Tract shall be managed as a public park, game and bird preserve and or state forest”.
Bethel has now become the State’s executive agent so to speak without State paying for any of the above. First priority is to protect water quality (Chapman Brook); then there is a forest management plan, an enhance wildlife values plan, Chapman Brook protected zone, a riparian management zone, (add in Newry designated zones), recreation and trail plans including snow mobiles but no commercial campgrounds and a host of experts to be hired as monitors and consultants for timber management, trail and water shed policing and biologists to insure plant life is properly conserved. Newry continues to take Bethel tax revenue and if we are lucky timber sales will pay for all the rest.
Mr. Bley closed by recommending a new Bingham Forest Authority of town appointees should be created to take care of all of the above.
Sign Committee Updates
Thursday, November 1st, Bethel’s sign ordinance reform committee met in the Alger Conference Room at Gould Academy’s Alumni and Development house. Meeting was conducted via a teleconference arrangement so that some could attend in person or attend virtually by dialing a phone number and access code. This allowed three members who were out of town to participate. The audio setup at Gould was excellent. Conversations were clear and distinct so that the meeting moved along smoothly.
Those attending in person had copies of proposed sign ordinance language defining roadside and pedestrian directional signs and kiosks. Generally what was presented expands on what the present ordinance lays out in Section 136 paragraph 9 (if you are in the mind to look it up). Three important comments were made about how to proceed: one was the importance of on-site visits to assess locations for gateway signs and kiosks as well as proposed pedestrian signage/kiosks, point two was the importance of a town map with proposed sign/kiosk locations positioned on the map (ideally in 3D) and point three was when an ordinance is written language must be “black and white” no gray area language that could allow uncertainty or misinterpretation to creep in to any committee process reviewing a sign application.
This week someone suggested that I write a short account of Kimball Park’s history for my Citizen column. The suggestion came at the right time because with the “Big” election finally here, Kimball Park’s founder, Ira Kimball, was not only a politician he helped in organizing Bethel’s and Oxford County’s Republican Party. Historian Lapham wrote that Ira Kimball was somewhat conservative in his views and acts, always proceeded with deliberation, but his sound judgment was rarely at fault and in the councils of his party his views had great weight.
In 1856 Ira Kimball received 320 votes for Representative to the Maine Legislature from Bethel and his opponent from Grafton, James M. Brown, a well known “timber baron”, received 194 votes. He was the first Republican elected to the legislature from Bethel.
In 1853 a Universalist Church was built in Bethel with support from Ira Kimball who was also one of the first group of forty three residents to become members. Mr. Kimball’s efforts in support of the Universalists seems to have led him to establishing Kimball Park, although this may have been more of church associated undertaking than one of individual developer. Kimball may have already owned the land which became known as Kimball Park.
Ira Kimball was born on his family’s Middle Intervale farm in 1816 but moved to Bethel Hill as a young man. He became a well known merchant, trader, storekeeper. His store and others in a building located near today’s driveway entrance to Mill Hill Inn burned near the end of the Civil War along with Kimball’s house. A rebuilt Kimball Block opened in 1866 and Mr. Kimball in the meantime purchased the house known today as the Chapman Inn. Kimball remodeled the house to look somewhat as it does today.
Ira Kimball was twice married having eight children. His first wife was Joanna Rowe of Bethel (Ceylon Rowe’s aunt) and their second child, Emily, married Samuel D. Philbrook (the Philbrook Place guy). Joanna died in 1847 and Ira remarried - his second wife was Salome B. Chapman, a granddaughter of Rev. Eliphaz Chapman.
Randy Bennett’s Illustrated History of Bethel states that in 1857, Mr. Kimball built the house behind the Universalist Church. Ceylon Rowe and Ira Kimball both operated stores in the Kimball Block. When Ceylon Rowe married Mary Grover in 1864, they bought a house in Kimball Park built in 1861 that members of the Rowe family then occupied for the next 114 years. It has recently been remodeled into condos.
While all this was going on Mr. Kimball fell ill from an unspecified disease, sold his house to William E. Skillings who was president of the Skilling Mill Company (in what is now called Skillingston*) went south hoping to regain his health but died in 1866.
*Dr. Gehring supposedly suggested the name.
From Ned Robertson via Facebook. November 2 My office is sold, my car is packed, and I leave for Maine tomorrow morning. I will start full time as the new dentist at the Penobscot Indian Nation in Old Town this coming Monday, November 5th. No more two weeks here, two weeks there. 44 years away from Maine. That's way too long!!
Bethel News November 2 2012 on YouTube (70 seconds) This week - Bethel people at work included Bennetts Lumbering on the Intervale Road and Norm Milliard’s open house at Artistic Endeavors. Also in the news is a look at the Kelly’s project near the entrance to Skillings Road, home improvement work in progress on Spring and Chapman Streets. (Up to 53 views already)