Boston Cane’s history highlighted at selectboard meeting

Police department gets new sergeant, body cams
Thu, 05/25/2023 - 8:45am

Boothbay Region High School senior Grace Campbell gave Boothbay Harbor selectmen a history lesson May 22, presenting her research on the Boston Post Cane and its over century-long history in the town.  

Campbell started the project in September 2022 after being approached by school resource officer and history buff Larry Brown. She combed through over 100 years of Boothbay Register records to compile a list of recipients and stories about them. 

"It was a really enlightening experience and, being a native of Boothbay Harbor, I'm passionate about the history here," said Campbell. "I really enjoy helping people find out more about the town that they live in and find out about their ancestors. I think it creates a lot of respect for where we live right now." 

Campbell presented a plaque of Boothbay Harbor’s Boston Post Cane recipients to selectmen, who showed their gratitude by giving her a replica cane. The town’s official cane is in the town hall. 

The tradition of the Boston Post Cane started in 1909 when the editor of the Boston Post decided to send 700 canes to towns in New England to be given to the oldest man in town. According to Campbell’s research, Joseph Warren Welch was Boothbay Harbor's first recipient, in 1909. The most recent recipient is Paul B. Adams. 

Campbell was particularly interested in the cane’s history with women. She said even though the cane was available to women in 1930, the first female recipient was Evelyn Foye in 1974.  

Campbell created a website about the town’s cane recipients and hopes other people will be interested in the recipients’ stories. “I want people to find interest in those that have come before,” she said. “Being able to educate yourself about those who have been here is really important, especially in such a town with a really rich history.”

In other news, Police Chief Doug Snyder reported the department has hired a sergeant. Jacob Powers, who has been a reserve officer for several months, will take the job. Snyder said Powers has six years’ experience. “I think he is going to be a really good asset for us, and I’m excited to work with him,” Snyder said.  

Snyder said the department has acquired body cameras for police officers. He said the cameras will be an asset and he looks forward to using them for training and for collecting evidence. The six cameras will be available to patrol officers when they are on duty; the cameras will be mandated.

Snyder said the police department has also acquired updated cameras for patrol cruisers, including Wi-Fi cloud storage capabilities. Also, he said a new police cruiser is being outfitted and will be ready for operation soon.  

In addition to law enforcement, the town has made progress on several other vacancies. Town Manager Julia Latter said Kevin Voight will serve as deputy harbor master this season. She said he has a significant amount of boating experience with large container ships and she is excited to see him bring his expertise to Boothbay Harbor. In addition, Latter said Jason Maddocks will be the operator for the new pump out boat the town got this spring.  

Latter said the footbridge renovations will be delayed until mid-June. She said complications with utilities, easements and contractor logistics stalled the project and she aims to have it completed before Windjammer Days June 16. “It’s a significant project that involved years of planning ... and the final execution is going extremely well,” Selectboard Chair Michael Tomko responded. “There were always anticipated to be delays, but there is going to be a high level of quality with the fit and finish of the work.”

During the selectmen’s reports, Tomko gave an update on a rewrite of the consolidated school district’s (CSD) charter. Tomko, State Rep. Holly Stover and representatives from local government and the school district gave testimony to the Maine State Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs, about why the charter, first written in 1953, needs to be rewritten and updated. Tomko said the process to update the charter has taken over nine months. He said it has been approved by Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor and needs final approval from the state. 

In public forum, Boothbay Region EMS Chief Dan Gardner presented the selectboard with new patches for his department. Gardner said he put out a competition among his staff for the design, which had to represent the region with the ocean, woods and blue star of life. The EMS board picked the winning design. Nicholas Markham designed it, Gardner said May 24.