Southport Column: Memorial Day, water and more

Tue, 05/23/2023 - 8:00am

    Recognition and celebration of our fallen veterans’ service to our country will begin at the normal times and places on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29. We will gather at the Southport Memorial Library in Newagen at 8:30 a.m. and then at the Monument by the Southport General Store at 9 a.m. Hope to see you there.

    The hearing to learn why the Boothbay Region Water District needs to raise their debt ceiling from $12 million to $19 million began with a report by representatives from the Clean Drinking Water Initiative presenting their report to the Southport Selectmen. This report was scheduled for the the Selectmen’s meeting, but so few people attended the hearing that the two gatherings melded together. Jean Hawley is the Southport representative to the Clean Water Initiative, which includes the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, Boothbay Region Land Trust, Boothbay Region Water District, Boothbay Region YMCA, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Knickerbocker Lake Association, as well as the towns of Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor and Southport. Their mission is “To forever safeguard the Boothbay Region public drinking water supply through land conservation, education, stewardship and community collaboration.” They do so by providing education about threats to the public water supply and ways to address those threats, and by working with watershed landowners to protect more undeveloped watershed land. Jean and her companion then explained what they had accomplished so far.

    Other news from the Selectmen’s meeting is that the town needs a code enforcement officer. We thank Henry Berne for his many years of service to the town in that position and also Jim Gagnon who stepped in when needed, but he also is eager to resign, so if you know anyone suitable and willing to take the job, please let the selectmen know.

    Gerry Gamage was absent from the meeting and the hearing as he had hurt his neck and had a doctor’s appointment. I understand he is recuperating at home. Gerry is practically unstoppable with all the work he does around the island, especially at this time of year, so I hope he rests and repairs well.

    The water district’s hearing officially began with an explanation of the finances by Jon Ziegra, general manager. He began by explaining the water plant was inspected last October and passed with flying colors due to a great board and staff. Then he explained the finances by saying they manage their debt well, not borrowing for operating expenses, but for infrastructure. He noted that Southport is the most underserved town in the district, and that they have plans to extend the service from the Southport General Store, up the west side, and around Newagen to Grandview Road. Increasing the debt limit would not only allow those plans to continue, but also would help pave the way for grant opportunities, upgrade their technology, buy land to put into conservation, and explore ways to get rid of PFAS. He also stated that interest on their borrowing was 1% or less. Several Southporters asked questions about the west side project, especially how water reaches home that are down side roads. Ziegra answered by saying sometimes homeowners work together to meet the costs. The vote on the debt ceiling raise will be May 30 with polls open from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Southport Town Hall.

    The Midcoast Fiber Artist group currently has a show at the Southport Library through June. This work of this group of 23 people is primarily rug hooking, needlepoint art, and weaving, with framed works, wall hangings, floor coverings, small furniture pieces and gift items, all very colorful and for sale. For more information call the library at 633-2741.

    Newagen Inn is open for the season, hosting its first wedding last weekend. The Pub is now open Sundays through Fridays for lunch and dinner, but closed on Saturday for private events. Tuesday lobster bakes open to the public will begin in July.

    Last week I wrote that spring hours at the store would be expanded after this weekend, buttoday (Monday) when I checked in, there seemed to be no set time for longer hours. The store does keep the hours posted at the door and also online.

    Look for an obituary for David Winslow, a lifetime Southport resident, elsewhere in this paper.

    The funeral service for Phillips Smith last Saturday afternoon at St. Columba’s Episcopal Church was well attended. From the current head master of Trinity Pauling School we learned much about Phil’s success, during his tenure as school head, in building up the school when it was declining in the early ’70s as well from others the many ways he has contributed in his retirement to this community. One of Phil’s passions was to build up an endowment in non-profit organization he served, so the organization could continue when times got tough, such as during Covid. He also was a good judge of character, helping students build their own endowment not necessarily with money, but with commitment and hard work. Phil’s wife Holly was also mentioned often as a stalwart helper in all that Phil accomplished.

    A reminder to mark your calendars for Saturday June 17, from 5 to 7 p.m. to come to the Southport Town Hall for Bolster Day, one of the fundraisers that the Southport Island Association (SIA) organizes to help underwrite its many activities held throughout the year. There will be a cash bar, and attendees are asked to bring an appetizer to share. The SIA has not held Bolster Day, a fun event that kicks off the summer season, for the past several years due to the pandemic. We all look forward to seeing old members and new faces as well. There is no need to RSVP.

    Remember to register your moorings online. If you have a Southport mooring you should have received a letter and an email explaining how to do so. If you need help, you can call Ashlea at the town office, 633-3318.