Senior College Players will present a variety of 13 comic and serious plays in their performances on Saturday, Nov. 20, from 7-9 p.m. and on Sunday, Nov. 21, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. The plays will be divided between the two dates. Theater-goers are invited to attend both dates and enjoy a weekend of theater. Admission is free. However, donations will be accepted to offset Royalty fees. Friday, Nov. 26 – Local Crafts and Wares Fair at the Bethel Inn Conference Center.
Political Choices: Liberal or Conservative
The Oct. 24 Sunday New York Times Book Review printed two articles about recent books on liberal and conservative politics -- The Ideological Divide The “bottom line” on the two sides came out this way: For Washington liberals (some say elites) to see programs succeed they must sell the idea or the law just like a new car or a gadget like the iPod. On the other side, conservatives who want more self-government with less Washington interference must prove that citizens can govern. Both writers saw the 2008 election and the 2010 election as a massing of protest votes against what Washington had been doing.
Jonathan Alter wrote the column which appraised liberal analyses; Christopher Caldwell reviewed conservative list. Their spotlight theme was Ruling Class versus the rest of the people. Calm, cool and deliberate, of course.
Maine Farm Bureau annual meeting
This past weekend, Nov. 6-8, the Maine Farm Bureau held its annual meeting at the Sunday River Resort Conference Center that is part of the Summit Hotel. About 100 members attended. On Saturday, the attendees toured farms in the Bethel area which included the McCrum’s Sunday River Farm which specializes in “chipper” potatoes and this year a number of acres of corn, the Deepwood Farm of DiAnne Ward in Albany which specializes in teaching horsemanship, Arlan Jodrey’s tree farm woodlot which has been recognized as an outstanding Maine tree farm and the Hastings dairy farm in East Bethel where the visitors were hosted by Jay Hastings, who is a seventh-generation member of the family to operate the farm.
Sunday evening Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, was featured speaker of the three-day meeting. Mr. Stallman has been president of the Federation since 2000. He is a cattle and rice producer from Columbus, Texas (about midway between Houston and San Antonio). The Federation was formed in 1919 to create a national voice for agriculture.
Circa 1954 my father was president of the Oxford County Farm Bureau and a member of the Maine Farm Bureau’s Board of Directors. He would have been very pleased to know the annual meeting was held here. In 1947 our farm, Riverside Farm, hosted a combined Oxford Pomona Grange and Oxford County Farm Bureau field day. That day Maine editor and humorist John Gould was the featured speaker. The Maine Farm Bureau was organized four years later in 1951 to be the state lobbyist for agriculture and rural life. County farm bureaus join with the University of Maine Extension Service to provide agricultural advice and support to Maine farmers.
It seemed that the most urgent item on Monday’s agenda was the Dec. 1 date when towns of Bethel’s size and large must comply with the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code. The impact of this code requires that before a new owner can occupy a new or renovated house the town must be able to issue a certificate of occupancy that is based on an inspection and energy audit of the building by a licensed qualified inspector. At the moment this means that Bethel would have to depend on certification by a licensed private/third party inspector before the town manager could issue a certificate of occupancy. Bethel’s CEO, Robert Folsom, will attend the required 38-hour course for these inspections as soon as possible. Apparently Maine has no state level inspectors trained at this point.
Another item discussed at some length was inspections of timber harvesting by landowners where the harvest area lies in a shoreland zone. The Board agreed that the best inspector was Bethel’s Code Enforcement Officer. Copies of statements from landowners of intent to harvest routinely go to the town CEO and the proposed harvest area is inspected for shoreland zone implications.
Town Manager Jim Doar was appointed to the Executive Committee of the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments by the Selectmen. In discussion it was agreed that the AVCOG organization was helpful and Bethel should have a voice at the Executive Committee level.
Christen Mason, town clerk of Bethel, reported that 1,345 votes were cast in the Nov. 2 General Election; 227 votes were cast by absentee ballot.
A Brief History of Lots
This is the thirtieth anniversary of the first application of Bethel’s new (in 1980) Subdivision Regulations. Dana C. Douglass was chairman of the Bethel Planning Board; he wrote in the town’s 1980 annual report that the new regulations found prompt application to development plans submitted by: (1) Norris Brown and Norman Greig for the Dole Woods Subdivision on the Bailey Road; (2) Ruel Swain and Stuart Cross for a Subdivision off Chandler Hill Road; and (3) Dictar Associates for a low-income elderly house project involving reconstruction and extension of the former Thunderbird (Inn) property on Main Street (Bethel House).
Hey, look what they’re doing! Before the steps just noted occurred, three second home “villages” had sprung-up around Sunday River Ski Area: “Viking Village” near the Barker Mountain lodge, with Walter Cherry of Bethel building the first chalet in the 1960’s. By the end of the 1975-76 seasons another 45-lot development known as “Sunday River Village” was proposed. And “Coombs Village” which began as Investment Enterprises (Burton Newton, I believe) with second homes built after 1960 covered the former Littlehale/Sweeney pasture between the Sunday River Road and Barker Brook. The first phase of South Ridge Condominiums was completed by the end of 1978. Source: Newry Profiles by Paula Wight.
Based on the somewhat inconsistent planning board details reported in Bethel annual reports from 1980 to 2009 (and agenda for 2010), I can account for 76 subdivision applications moved through the planning board in the last 30 years. The two booms before the busts standout in that the largest number of applications were reported in 1988, (9), and then in 2005, (9) and 2006 (11) were reported.
Along with subdivision applications, condo projects were coming in for approval. These projects followed the Sunrise and later condos built in the 1980’s after Les Otten had acquired Sunday River. In the 1988 annual report, planning board chairman Reggie Brown reported applications for 201 condominium units (Bethel Inn, Eden Ridge, etc.) and 173 subdivision lots.
In the early 1900s farms with fields and buildings were sold to out-of-state buyers for second homes much as is happening today. The change in the last of the 20th Century was that now the buyer acquired the farm or woodlot and subdivided it. Many of these newly created lots in Bethel stand unsold or the owner has not yet decided to build on the lot. Some of the Bethel subdivision lots are owned almost entirely by out of town’ers. Yet in our case our large woodlot of 1990, now Birch Wood, is a mixture of residential and second homes. The conclusion, which still cannot be formed at this time, is how will these new owners effect changes in our local economy? Will Mallard Marts pop up in some of the large subdivisions? One clear result has been the growth in property maintenance jobs since 1990.
Beginning in 2008, the planning board annual reports have been accompanied by a spreadsheet/accountants columnar display of transactions with map and lot plus number of lots information. Adding details to the town annual reports will be a big help in the future for collecting historical information about how and when Bethel changed from farm and forest to clusters of subdivisions and home lots for residents (including retirees) and/or second home owners.
Dog sledding and more
With Sunday River pondering how to keep the woofs from disturbing the Coombs Village people, one should keep in mind dog sledding at Telemark Inn is not that far way – but enjoys a wildness environment. Inn keeper Steve Crone has been in the dog-sledding business for 14 years now. Mr. Crone writes that we run longer trips into the White Mountain National Forest and up into the Umbagog Refuge area -- big country, large teams -- lots of miles covered. We teach people how to run an authentic Iditarod-style squadron of highly trained, very athletic and friendly dogs. Sometimes we run across a moose or two or three -- nothing quite like seeing wildlife from a dogsled.
Now for the culture part - the lodge was originally a wilderness retreat for the Blanchard family, I believe from New Jersey, who created the original lodge building pretty much as you see it today. After the Blanchard family (late 1800s and early 1900s) faded away they left many personal mementos and photos in the lodge and some outstanding pieces of rustic furniture that is artistically crafted made from thin, supple branches from nearby. One of the Blanchard family show pieces is a seven-foot-long cherry dining room table. Mr. Crone said that after he purchased the place in 1988 he kept all of the furniture that came with it. On the modern side, he has added photovoltaic panels and a battery system to supply electricity for the lodge.
If you love dogs see their website at www.NewEnglandDogsledding.com and www.Telmarkinn.com. Take a ride out the King’s Highway it is worth the trip. Take the Flat Road at West Bethel center and follow it to the Meadow Brook Bridge Road, turn right and follow the bridge road to King’s Highway, turn right and drive to the Lodge.
Isaacsons are feature speakers at Senior College event
Charleen Chase reported on last week’s Western Mountains Senior College well-attended "Down Home Maine" event on Nov. 4 at the Congregational Church in Bethel. The program was a conversation with Judith Magyar Isaacson, author of “Seed of Sarah: Memoirs of a Survivor,” and Irving "Ike" Isaacson, author of “Memoirs of an Amateur Spy.” There were 70 participants; Peter Gartner of Bryant Pond was the host for the Senior College making the arrangements with Judith and Ike Isaacson. Peter picked up the Isaacsons at their home in Auburn, delivered and introduced them at the event and hosted them for dinner with the Gartners before returning the Isaacsons to Auburn.
The participants came from 19 towns and cities in Maine, four different states, and two different countries. All of Judith's books provided at the event were sold at her most favorable price. One or more additional books are on the way to her in Auburn with the request that she sign them. Several people indicated they have located Irving's book and are purchasing it from Web resources. Judith Magyar Isaacson and Irving "Ike" Isaacson were the guests of the Western Mountain Senior College.
Judith shared her experiences from her book "Seed of Sarah: Memoirs of a Survivor," while Ike recalled his "Memoirs of an Amateur Spy."
During WWII Irving smuggled agents and propaganda behind enemy lines in Nazi-occupied Europe and (claims to have) become the first spy to gather Soviet intelligence in the emerging Cold War. Later he married Judith, a native of Hungary and a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps. Judith is an educator and former Bates College dean, author, champion of equal opportunity for women, and human rights advocate whose passion was forged by her experiences in the Holocaust.
The participants, including many who came for the first time, showed their appreciation of Judith and Ike’s stories and their upbeat attitude toward life, considering the horrific times endured in their past.
The Global Warming Report
From May 1 to Oct. 31, 2010 the average daily mean temperature was 62.6 degrees. This compares to 59.3 in 2009; 60.5 in 2008 and 62.0 in 2007. But – back in 2003 the average mean was 63.0.