Thursday, June 27, 2002

More than Monologues: If we see this as just entertainment, we’re not seeing it

Published in the Portland Phoenix

My vagina singing all girl songs, all goat bells ringing songs, all wild autumn field songs, vagina songs, vagina home songs. — Not since the soldiers put a long, thick rifle inside me. So cold, the steel rod canceling my heart. Don’t know whether they’re going to fire it or shove it through my spinning brain.

These words describe a particularly violent rape that occurred in Kosovo, but scenes like it — perhaps without the rifle, but with similar spirit-deadening effects — will play out not only on the stage at Merrill Auditorium June 28 as part of The Vagina Monologues, but across the state, in our neighborhoods, even our homes, at an increasing rate, according to the state police.

Annual crime survey numbers indicate that Maine has seen an increase from 273 rapes and 3,986 incidents of domestic violence in 1999 to 325 rapes and 4,944 incidents of domestic violence in 2001. State numbers also indicate that 22 percent of all domestic violence in the state occurs in Cumberland County, more than in any other county.

In the Portland area, Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine received 453 calls in 2001, and spent over 200 hours on the phone, in hospitals, police stations, and courthouses assisting victims of rape and sexual assault. As of June 19, the Portland Police Department had responded to 29 calls for sexual assault this year.

The department has also responded to 545 calls for domestic violence. Assistant district attorney Anne Berlind, in the Cumberland County DA’s domestic violence unit, says about 40 percent of domestic violence incidents reported to her office go unprosecuted, largely because the victim is unwilling to testify. But of those in which a defendant is charged, 60 percent are convicted.

Berlind says first-time offenders convicted of domestic violence assault or terrorizing typically get two days in jail for a first offense, with two years probation (including batterer’s counseling courses and possibly substance-abuse treatment), and 118 days in jail hanging over their heads for violations ranging from continuing to abuse women all the way down to failing to call a probation officer on time. In 2001, Berlind said, about 300 people in Cumberland County went to jail for domestic violence.

Portland Mayor Karen Geraghty will issue an as-yet-undetermined proclamation in Portland on June 28, and will give playwright Eve Ensler the key to the city as well. Ensler will star in the production, a rare event anywhere and a first in Maine.

The Phoenix sat down with Geraghty to talk about the issues and how regular people, even those who don’t know their neighbors, can help combat domestic violence and sexual assault.

Phoenix: You don’t stop domestic violence by issuing proclamations or putting on a play.

Geraghty: What helps prevent domestic violence is awareness, and anything we can do to draw attention to the problem here in Portland — and here in Maine — will cause people to intervene earlier in situations that they may know about, or if they live next door to somebody who’s in that situation. This production gives us the opportunity to highlight that some people in our community are suffering. Though the proclamation is symbolic and the key to the city is involved, I think it’s important to elevate the issue in whatever way we can.

Q: What is the nature of the proclamation going to be?

A: Well, we haven’t written it yet. We’re in the process of drafting it right now. But basically it will talk about the problem of domestic violence. It will talk about the fact that people in Portland are killed as a result of domestic violence, and it will talk about the importance of intervention and also prevention strategies.

Q: Have sexual assault and women’s issues been one of your focuses as mayor?

A: Everybody on the [city] council works full-time. I work as a lobbyist at the Legislature, so I’ve had the great pleasure to work with both the Sexual Assault Coalition and the Domestic Violence Coalition in that capacity. It’s something that I’m very committed to, trying to end violence against women. You don’t grow up as a woman in this culture without being constantly aware that you could be the victim of a sexual assault. I have good friends in Portland, one friend in particular, who has been victimized in the last year. I don’t think there’s any woman in this country — and certainly nobody that I know — who doesn’t have a story: a sister, a sister-in-law, a niece, a mother, a grandmother . . . It’s so widespread that I think every woman, and I would assume every man, is aware of it

Q: One of the groups The Vagina Monologues will benefit is Mainely Men Against Violence Against Women.

A: That’s one of the really neat things that I’ve noticed in the last couple of years, that the Domestic Violence Coalition did the “Silent Witness” program. They have those — I don’t know if you’ve ever seen them — but they’re all painted red and they have a plaque on them which gives the woman’s name and a little bit of her story. Every time there is another homicide from domestic violence they take the Silent Witnesses out to — like if it happens in Portland, then they come to Portland — and there are lot of men, in particular police officers, who come out and stand and be part of that demonstration and call for an end to the violence. That has done a great deal to raise awareness and to get more people in the community focused on [the fact] that it shouldn’t just be women standing up decrying this violence. It should be every member of the community. I think that the Silent Witness project gives people something concrete they can do: They can actually take to the streets and say, “This is wrong.”

The Sexual Assault Coalition has something called “The Clothesline Project.” What they have is T-shirts, just regular, plain T-shirts, that people who have been victimized either by childhood sexual assault and incest or as adults have been sexually assaulted and raped, and they have painted these T-shirts. The T-shirts say a variety of things, and it’s wherever the person is in their recovery and healing. It’s just a powerful, powerful image when you go into an event where they have strung this clothesline and there are all these T-shirts and some of them are very small, so they’re [made by] children who have been assaulted and they write things on there — just really incredible. And then there are T-shirts from 75-year-old women and every age in between. Images are very powerful and they make us think. They just make you think. They make you think about what could you do to help change this situation for women.

Both coalitions have done a great job in Maine trying to be creative about how they educate the public about what’s happening to women in our state and in our community.

Q: What can we do, either as a man or a woman, to end or to attack domestic violence and sexual assault?

A: There are a whole variety of things. The first thing we can do is make sure that we’re clear in our own lives and in our own relationships about how we’re behaving . . . In terms of domestic violence, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard somebody say, “Well, you know, I heard something. I think the woman who lived below me, or I think the woman who lived in the apartment next to me — I used to hear fighting and I never was sure what was going on.” A lot of people have a story like that, or “I work with a woman who occasionally would come in and had ‘fallen.’ ” Just being aware of what’s happening to the people around you, the people at work, the people in your own family, the people who you may live near. Just being aware and trying to offer some intervention. That’s incredibly helpful. And not being judgmental, not saying “Oh you’re so crazy, why are you with that person?” but understanding all of the reasons why people are afraid to leave. There’s a lot that we can do.

Clearly, people who are raising children have a huge responsibility to raise boys and to teach them non-violent ways of expressing their anger and their frustration and teaching them that women are not the outlet for their aggression when things don’t go well or when they feel powerless. There’s a million things that we can do, and I think many good things are being done.

Q: Sometimes that’s hard, to hear a neighbor who maybe you don’t know because it’s a big apartment building, or you’re next door in a different house. To step in.

A: Call the police right away. If people call 911 and say, “There is a violent argument going on next door to where I live or in the apartment below me,” the police will respond immediately. You don’t have to know the person’s name that lives next door to you or below you. You don’t have to know anything other than, “There is a violent fight occurring and I feel someone may be in danger.” That’s all you have to do, and the police will go right away. Sometimes it’s the police who are in the best position to be the interveners and to try to provide a way out for the woman and her children. I wasn’t suggesting that people should run over and get involved directly.

Q: But even to say after the fact, “I heard something at your apartment last night.” In one sense maybe that’s too late, but in another sense there’s a privacy barrier.

A: You have to get to know the person. I think there are ways to make friends with people. If you suspect somebody and you don’t know them very well but they’re a neighbor, there are ways to make friends with people. And through the process of trying to reach out and make friends they may share things with you or they may give you clues which would then allow you to have that other conversation about, “Hey by the way . . .” But I don’t think you can go up to a complete stranger and say “I think . . .” because clearly that wouldn’t be safe for the person to reveal anything to you. But just trying to get to know people who you think might be in trouble and then waiting for the opportunity.

Q: Are there things that government can do, at the city or the county or the state level?

A: There’s a great deal that is already being done by the federal government, by the state government, and certainly through the city level. [There are] many, many different programs aimed particularly at the victims, but also now we’re starting to see more programs targeted at the abusers. So yes, I definitely think there is a role for government in any kind of violence against people.

Q: Are you going to be at the performance?

A: Yes. Yes definitely. I’ve never seen a production of it and this one is going to be really fabulous, because it’s using so many Portland-area performers. That’s going to make it really, really interesting and exciting to showcase local talent.

Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine hotline (sexual assault and rape): (800) 313-9900.

Family Crisis Services hotline (domestic violence): (800) 537-6066.

The Vagina Monologues shows at Merrill Auditorium, in Portland, June 28. Call (207) 842-0800.

Tourism season off to strong start

Published in the Current

Southern Maine tourism operators are expecting to do at least as well as last year, and numbers are already up.

Fred Kilfoil, owner of the Millbrook Motel, said his bookings from January through April were higher than last year, in keeping with his upward trend over the past four years.

His May numbers continued the trend, ending up, he said, “way ahead of previous Mays.”

“I’m expecting it to be as good as any other year and probably better than most,” Kilfoil said.

But the foundation is still a bit shaky. “A bomb in India or something may change that,” he said.

Maureen McQuade, innkeeper of Cape Elizabeth’s Inn By the Sea and vice-president of the Maine Innkeepers Association, said a new state tourism ad campaign is working. “The state of Maine has been doing some outstanding advertising,” she said.

The promotions, she said, began in September and have continued to target people who can drive to Maine.

But, McQuade added, in-state traffic is up, too. “We’ve had a lot more Maine people traveling,” she said.

Bob Westburg, owner of the Higgins Beach Inn, said most of his weekends are full through the season.

“The bookings are coming on solid,” he said. “It looks like it’s booking up pretty good.”

He said he needs mid-week bookings to fill in a bit more, but expects that to occur.

Many Scarborough businesses look to Old Orchard Beach for indications of how the season will go. Bud Hamm, executive director of the OOB Chamber of Commerce, said he expects a strong season.

The inquiries and advance bookings at Hamm’s office, he said, were high even by late April.

“This year, so far, it’s looking the same if not better,” Hamm said, adding that it could be “another banner year. ”

Visitors to the area, mostly from New England, mid-Atlantic states and Canada, are arriving somewhat later this year than they have in the past, but the numbers are up, Hamm said.

“They’re not booking as far ahead as they used to,” McQuade said.

“Our pre-bookings are a little ahead of last year,” said Dick Schwalbenberg, innkeeper at the Black Point Inn. But he is optimistic.

“It does really look to be a strong season all over,” he said.

Some Maine inns and tourism destinations have had trouble hiring help from overseas this year, as a result of new government scrutiny of short-term visa applicants. McQuade has avoided this by hiring locally.

“We have a lot of local people that we hire and college kids that come back year after year,” she said. Her inn has had good response to its help-wanted ads, as well, with larger numbers of well-qualified people applying.

Schwalbenberg has also avoided government delays, by filing paperwork as early as possible for the 18 foreign workers he has hired. “Our employees actually arrived when they said they would,” he said.

But even if workers leave, visitor numbers fall apart and the weather turns foul, all is not lost on the coast of Maine.

“Even the bad summers are good,” said motel owner Kilfoil.

State cuts more from local school budgets

Published in the Current

With a projected state deficit of more than $100 million, further cuts to schools will be needed and that means officials in Cape and Scarborough will have to revise next year’s school budgets in the coming months.

In what was already a tough budget year in each town, Scarborough stands to get about $90,000 less than it was expecting, and Cape expects to lose nearly $40,000.

In March, Maine Revenue Services had predicted a $90 million shortfall for this fiscal year, and a similar shortfall for next year.

But now that April and May revenue numbers are in, the state is expecting a further reduction in revenue of as much as $25 million.

In light of that, $10 million has been cut from General Purpose Aid to education. The Department of Education revised the money each school district will get in what is being called an “emergency curtailment” of the funds.

Gov. Angus King also has proposed taking $10 million from funds for the laptop initiative and other cutbacks, including mandatory furloughs for state employees.

The state Legislature’s approval is required for about half of the proposals, according to King spokesman Tony Sprague, but legislators and the governor are reluctant to hold a special session this summer to deal with the problem.

Local legislators are upset about the cutbacks, but say there is little they can do.

“It stinks,” said Sen. Lynn Bromley, a Democrat. But, she said, “GPA is such a big piece of the budget” that it’s hard to ignore when cuts need to be made.

Most legislative leaders, she said, were hoping to avoid a special session. Bromley is among them, she said, because reopening the budget discussion may make matters worse for her constituents.

“It’s not going to get any better,” she said.

Bromley will be holding a series of community meetings about the issue in South Portland, Scarborough and Cape Elizabeth, in coming weeks.

“We absolutely need tax reform,” Bromley said.

One of the subjects she wants to discuss is the way school construction is funded, which presently takes away money from the funds available to GPA, and provides state funds to build schools in communities that have trouble paying to keep them open, she said. “We need to think about how to do more things in a regional way.”

Bromley also expects the Legislature to reopen discussions of other ways for communities to raise money, including the local option sales tax, or broadening the sales tax.

Bromley’s colleague, Sen. Peggy Pendleton, also a Democrat, is unhappy with the cuts to GPA. “I think they’re really unfortunate,” she said. “That is a very wrong move. It shifts the burden back onto the property taxpayer.”

And if a special session is required, Pendleton said, she wants the governor to communicate his plans first. “We’ve had no briefing on this from the governor,” Pendleton said.

She also expects the state’s entire budget to be laid open again. “We have to look at the whole budget,” Pendleton said, especially those funds in the current budget that are for programs not slated to begin until 2004.

Either way, she said, “before I get called in, I want to have the information.”

Rep. Larry Bliss, a Democrat, said he wants to reopen the budget process. “Some of the things the governor wants to do, he can’t do without legislative approval,” Bliss said.

He said the GPA money should be preserved. “Do I think the money should come out of GPA? Definitely not. Cape Elizabeth and South Portland really got hit hard already,” he said.

Bliss also said he likes the laptop idea a lot, but given budget constraints, “this might not be the right time.”

Referring to claims by the governor that the state’s contract with Apple may be as expensive to get out of as to fulfill, Bliss said he had originally heard that the contract included a low-cost way out for the state, but is now being told otherwise.

Rep. Harold Clough, a Republican, wants to go back into session to deal with the crisis, though he admitted he didn’t know what would happen. “I don’t know what to expect,” Clough said. But he advised meeting soon.

“The problem is getting worse by the day,” he said. “The sooner you deal with it, the better.”

Specifically, he said, the governor’s proposal to save money by furloughing state employees is flawed.

“We need to really get at the overspending that we do,” Clough said.

Sprague in the governor’s office and Laurie Lachance, an economist at the State Planning Office, both say Clough’s hurry is unwarranted.

“The proposals that (King) put forward do not rely on a specific date for the Legislature to have acted,” Sprague said.

He pointed out that last year, the total amount distributed via GPA was $700 million. Under the governor’s revised plan, the total would still increase to $720 million, but that is less than originally hoped for, he said.

But if the revenue projection has declined, he said, it would be expected to be lower next year, meaning the budget shortfall could change from $180 million over two years to as much as $230 million.

Lachance said her office has not had a chance to review and analyze the new projects from the Maine Revenue Service, and said new “official” revenue projections won’t be available until August, because final numbers for the 2002 fiscal year, which closes June 30, will not be available until mid-June.

“Year-end results are very important,” she said.

After Sept. 11, 2001, the revenue forecast declined, and King used some “rainy day fund” money to balance the budget, Lachance said.

“That has moved the balancing problem into fiscal year 2003,” she said.

If the projections fall further, 2003 could be a far tighter year than this one, she said.

And looking forward, the numbers don’t get any better, with state economists predicting between $350 million and $750 million in “structural
gap”–the difference between costs to fully fund all of the state’s legal obligations and the revenues available to pay for them – in 2004-2005.

Living a life of laughter and love

Published in the Current

Leland P. “Jimmy” Murray, volunteer, businessman and fireworks enthusiast, brought peals of laughter to his family, friends and community before his death June 19 after a long illness.

Sometimes called “the heart of the town,” Murray, 60, was eulogized by his lifelong friend Everett Jardine as having left legacies of “love, laughter and
joy.” Jardine told what he said were “only a few” of the stories about Jimmy’s fun-filled life, including his love for cars and speed.

Jimmy had a daredevil streak that led him to—among other stunts—drive his car between a guy wire and a telephone pole on Two Lights Road, Jardine said.

In the early 1970s, Jimmy joined the town rescue squad. He had a business in town, which made it easier for him to respond to calls. That business, L.P. Murray and Sons, a construction company, was founded by his father.

At the time of his death, Jimmy had retired as president of the company, ceding control to his son, Skip.

Within a few years of joining the rescue squad, Jimmy had become captain, a post he held for 15 years, said Fire Chief Phil McGouldrick. Jimmy also volunteered with the fire department and became deputy chief in the mid-1980s.

It was a typical Jimmy endeavor, in which he gave generously of his time and energy, but remained modest about his work and his impact. But others saw, and they knew.

“He was always giving, always trying to help everybody out. You could always depend on him,” McGouldrick said.

Eleven years ago, Jimmy began an effort to revive Cape’s Memorial Day celebrations. He served as Grand Marshal and master of ceremonies for this year’s event.

He was praised by Town Manager Mike McGovern and the assembled crowd for his work.

And though not himself a veteran, Jimmy made a special point to honor not only veterans in uniform who marched in the parade, but also those who simply attended the ceremony.

While many of those he helped honor were strangers to him, Jimmy also took good care of the people he knew.

Fire Lt. Jason Allen’s father died several years ago, and Allen remembered Jimmy was “the first guy that called. He was incredibly caring.”

Help wasn’t all Jimmy had to offer. “He was just a character, ” McGouldrick said.

“That’s what I’m going to miss is the loud voice and the comments,” Skip Murray said.

Jimmy and his wife, Carol, opened their home on Fowler Road to anyone passing by, and there was always coffee and doughnuts inside, ready to accompany conversation. Police officers, firefighters and other members of the community stopped every time they drove down Fowler Road, McGouldrick said.

Doughnuts and other sweets were a particular Jimmy weakness. “Dunkin’ Donuts was his second home for many years,” McGouldrick said. “He bought ‘em by the dozen and he ate ‘em by the dozen.”

And at busy fire scenes, firefighters knew they could always find a snack – a candy bar or piece of chocolate – under the seat of Jimmy’s truck. He also often had a box of his favorite doughnut – the Dunkin’, “the one with the handle”–there, too, Skip said.

When hunting at his camp in Baldwin—another of his passions—Jimmy was known for bringing along a pile of goodies. In stops at a market in Standish, Skip said, “he would fill a cart with junk food, and we were only going for the weekend.”

Generations of Cape kids learned to shoot at that camp, including Jimmy’s cousin Gerry, who was also a former fire captain, and Gerry’s kids.

But that was where the fun had limits. Jimmy made sure all the kids knew how to handle guns safely, and even when he handed out fireworks for kids to set off, Jimmy kept a close eye on them, making sure nobody got hurt.

“He played it by the rules,” Gerry said. And he knew them all, going so far as to keep a handbook of federal worker safety guidelines in his truck for reference during inspections at his company’s construction site.

When fighting fires out in rural Cape, McGouldrick and all the firefighters relied on Jimmy’s memory for locations of water and sewer lines throughout the town.

“He was a common-sense fire chief,” McGouldrick said. Jimmy was always eager to learn more, too, and McGouldrick remembered taking him to a big fire in Portland to teach Jimmy more about how fire behaves in big buildings.

Always wary of being too serious, Jimmy knew how to keep everyone amused. “There wasn’t anybody that could make you laugh the way that Jimmy could,” Lt. Allen said. He recalled Jimmy’s habitual late arrivals at fire company meetings. He would always walk in and slam the door to announce his arrival, Allen said.

“He had an unbelievable presence about him,” Allen said. Some of the bang in his personality might have been gunpowder, left over from his fireworks shows, known throughout the region as literally “good bang for the buck.”

Jimmy made little if any profit off his shows, which included shows at Portland Sea Dogs games and the Yarmouth Clambake, as well as Family Fun Days in Cape.

Skip said he’s not sure he’ll keep that business going, though he and Carol will finish out this summer’s obligations. They set up the show for Family Fun Days, using what Skip said were some fireworks from Jimmy’s “secret stash,” unique shells found only at fireworks conventions. The show was rained out, and Skip joked that the downpour could have been one of Jimmy’s last stunts.

But Jimmy wouldn’t have wanted to deprive the community of a really great show. Skip said he wanted Jimmy to see those shells, which he never used because they were “too good to shoot.”

Patrolman Vaughn Dyer met Jimmy 27 years ago, when Dyer first joined the Cape Police Department. “I wish it was longer,” Dyer said. “He was one of those people that you meet and instantly become friends with.”

“Jimmy is going to be very sadly missed,” said Dyer, who served in the honor guard for Jimmy’s casket. “This town doesn’t realize what it’s lost.”

In response to his service and efforts, the community came together to honor his life, filling pews and extra chairs in St. Bartholomew’s Church, and parading down Ocean House Road from the church to Seaside Cemetery.

Murray was escorted to his grave by an honor guard of six public safety officers, including members of the Cape police and fire departments and the state fire marshal’s office. His memorial service and burial were attended by over 50 uniformed firefighters, rescue squad members and police officers, from as far away as Bangor.

At the request of the family, it was not a formal firefighter’s funeral, with a parade of fire trucks and other honors. “It was informal, just like Jimmy,” Dyer said.

Thursday, June 20, 2002

Cape’s original summer center

Published in the Current

When Barbara Steele and her husband Bob were buying a house in Cape Cottage 50 years ago, they first visited the site on Woodcrest Road by the direct route from Oakhurst Road. The second time, they came up through the Cape Cottage Woods area and got thoroughly lost.

“We couldn’t find the house we’d bought,” Steele remembered. Even now, once past the stone pillars next to St. Albans Church, it’s not easy to find a route through the twisty roads of Cape Cottage. Fortunately, she found it and hasn’t lived anywhere else since.

“The night we moved here, we stayed at the old Cape Cottage Hotel,” Steele said. A fixture of the neighborhood then was the foghorn at Fort Williams.

“The big thrill was the foghorn,” Steele said, remembering its “mournful sound.” But after a time, it became part of the normal life near Fort Williams. “We heard it when it stopped,” Steele said.

The fort’s horn was eventually discontinued, making the nearest horn the one at Two Lights, which can’t be heard at Steele’s home.

The area around the fort used to be the center of Cape when it was a town of mostly summer homes. The police and fire station were there. The Cape Cottage Hotel and the Casino were big draws to the area, as well as the trolley park, at the end of the trolley line leaving South Portland.

The Cape Cottage neighborhood was on one side of the fort area – now a much visited park and home to Portland Head Light — and Delano Park was on the other.

The casino is now a nursery school. Some of the older homes in Delano Park have been torn down.

But kids still skate on the pond in Fort Williams, and the Cape Cottage beach remains a beautiful crescent with big cottages and blue water, very much the “movie set” Steele recalls.

Still making memories
In Cape Cottage, the beach association hired neighborhood girls as lifeguards, who also taught kids to swim in the protected cove. Adults weren’t so brave, Steele remembered.

“If you walked in, you couldn’t feel your feet. It was freezing,” Steele said. “But the kids didn’t mind a bit.”

Steele also remembered the two stores on Shore Road, Chaput’s and Armstrong’s. The latter, now the Cape Cottage Branch post office, “carried everything,” Steele said.

Her kids went to Cottage Farm School, a building on Cottage Farms Road that is now apartments. “It was just like a private school,” Steele said.

But despite the nearness, they had to take a bus. Back then, Oakhurst Road didn’t go through to Mitchell Road.

“There used to be nothing beyond our driveway,” Steele said.

Kids were a big part of the neighborhoods, and still are.

“It’s a great neighborhood. There are a lot of kids, and good people,” said Martha MacKay. She is, with her husband, secretary of the Cape Cottage Beach Association.

“The kids sort of travel in a gang in the streets,” MacKay said.

“It is just as popular now with young people as it was 50 years ago,” Steele said. “It’s a neighborhood feel.”

On sunny days after school, the roads ring with the shouts of children. The neighborhood still gathers for beach clean-ups and an early summer party and ends the summer with a lobster bake in August.

The beach association is a big reason for the popularity of the neighborhood, and the beach itself is reason to stay. It sits, a sliver of soft sand, in a quiet cove with views of Portland Harbor and Fort Gorges.

“You find a lot of times that people move into the neighborhood and they don’t leave,” MacKay said.

“We thought we were moving to the ends of the Earth, absolutely the end,” Steele said of her first impressions of Cape Elizabeth. But, after two weeks, “we thought we’d never leave,” she said.

They didn’t. Her husband turned down three job transfers so the family could stay in the area. Steele herself also found work in the area, selling real estate for several years before taking a job at the high school, where she was secretary to three principals over 20 years.

Postmaster Ann Burke, known as “Annie B” to her customers, also hasn’t left. In September, she will have spent 58 years working at the Cape Cottage Branch post office on Shore Road.

The office itself is 100 years old, and contains mementos of post office-box holders and neighborhood characters, including a lampshade decorated with stamps by Joan Benoit Samuelson, who grew up on Wood Road.

Some of those whose pictures and artwork hang in the little post office are dead, and others have moved to Piper Shores, Burke said. “It’s sad for me, but it’s nice for them,” she added.

Burke, a spunky, sprightly woman, lives her job: Her home is only feet from her desk. Everything she points to has a story, and she is more than happy to share them. She remembers a neighborhood boy who came back after he turned 30, and Burke was able to tell him which family he was from, though she didn’t know the boy’s name. Now he lives out of state, but sends Burke photos of his children.

Some things, like the stamped lampshade, have been made specifically for display in the office. Others, especially the obituaries cut out of local papers, represent people who are no longer Burke’s regulars.

“Everything seems to have a meaning here,” Burke said.

She remembers how things have changed, too, from the trolley tracks in front of the building to the kids at the bus stop across the street. “It’s mostly now older people,” Burke said. “I miss those kids.”

“I couldn’t have a better job,” Burke said. She has 81 mailboxes to tend, three cats, a large number of plants, and does it all with a smile.

“My body grew old but my mind didn’t,” Burke said. “I think I’m very fortunate to be here this long.”

The things she misses the most? It’s the same answer Steele had. “I liked that old foghorn,” Burke said. “I never got over that old-fashioned sound.”

Fort’s legacy
Before the foghorn left, the fort was once a neighborhood, though people who lived there expected to leave when called elsewhere for military service. And its location at the “end of the Earth” made it a perfect place for artillery positioned to defend the port of Portland.

One of the most notable homes was Goddard Mansion, built in 1858 by Col. John Goddard, an officer of the First Maine Cavalry before the Civil War. He had owned the Cape Cottage Hotel since 1835.

Built in the Italianate style in native stone, the mansion, called Grove Hall by its first owner, was designed by architect Charles Alexander of Portland, and was one of the first truly noteworthy houses along the Cape Elizabeth shore.

Bought by the U.S. Army in 1898, it housed enlisted men, non-commissioned officers and their families at different times. It fell into disrepair after the fort was decommissioned.

The interior was burned in a training fire for the Cape Elizabeth Fire Department March 11, 1981, and the building is now preserved as a ruin.

The fort was purchased by the town in 1964, a year after it was decommissioned by the Army, but was not designated a park until 1979.

“That was the smartest thing the town ever did was buy that fort,” Steele said.

Now the park is an often-visited area of the coastline, and has been seen, from time to time, as a possible revenue source for the town. The problem is the government stipulated when it sold the park that Cape residents would have to pay the same fee as everybody else to get in, so the town has never charged.

Park outside the park
Just south of Fort Williams Park is Delano Park, a privately owned planned community created in 1885, and expanded to the south in 1895.

Bob Shuman lives in the first house ever built in the park, the home his great-grandfather, George Morse, put up in 1886.

“This is a place that has been in my family since it was built,” Shuman said. Morse painted nature scenes around Delano Park and Cape Elizabeth, many of which still hang in Shuman’s home.

In the 15 years Shuman has lived in the house, he can think of two people who took jobs in other areas of the country and moved away. The rest have stayed until they have to leave, he said.

“What’s unique about the park is its location,” Shuman said. It is eight minutes from downtown Portland, but very rural. Cape Cottage has a similar feel, though the roads are wider.

It is a quiet spot with reasonably large lots and a slow turnover.

“The personality of the place changes with time,” Shuman said.

The cycle takes a while to complete, typically starting with a young family buying from an older owner who inherited the property from parents or grandparents, retired to Delano Park, and is now too old to live independently.

Shuman’s two sons and their families are interested in his house, which he said is like “living in a museum.”

“It’s always been in the family, which means it’s never been cleaned out,” he said. In his house, Shuman has found the notice for his great-grandfather to report to the Army for the Civil War and a letter excusing him from service, noting the request of his mother.

The park is rich in history, most visibly in the distance garages are from houses. Most started as stables and were best kept apart from the home. And owning a home designed by John Calvin Stevens is something of a neighborhood status symbol.

Also of importance are ocean views, which are great for some residents, but can cause traffic problems, even on the roads, which are not public ways.

“Whenever we have a storm and the surf is up, people want to see the waves,” Shuman said. Residents, however, are welcome to drive and walk the paths and roads, which they pay to have plowed, resurfaced and maintained. Two areas in the park are preserved as greenspace, and though they technically could be sold, they are more than likely protected wetlands, Shuman said.

Both parks have streams running through them, and while that may sound nice, in the height of summer, some residents might wish them away.

“The mosquitoes are just wild,” Shuman said.

All the same, he thinks it’s a good place for people of all ages to live.

Mark Feenstra agrees. Feenstra, president of the Delano Park Neighborhood Association, has lived in the park for three years.

“It’s hard to go on vacation,” Feenstra said. He feels like he lives on vacation, he said. One of his favorite things to do is something the early park residents also enjoyed: early morning fishing for striper off the rocks.

“I’m usually the only one down there fishing,” he said.

But he is seeing some transitions now.

“It’s becoming more of a family neighborhood,” Feenstra said. Three families are just moving in with three children each. And one house was recently purchased for over $800,000, only to be torn down for another house to be built in its place.

“We’re getting a lot of tear-downs in there,” Feenstra said.

House values are on the rise, and two private beaches don’t keep them any lower.

“The prices have just gone right through the roof,” Feenstra said.

Shuman echoes his concerns. “I’m right on the water and scared to death of revaluation,” Shuman said. His property tax bill has quadrupled in 15 years.

“If they do double the valuation, the handwriting is on the wall,” Shuman said.

Still, “it’s a great place to live,” Shuman said, and most residents wouldn’t live anyplace else.

Boat stolen from Prouts Yacht Club

Published in the Current

For the first time in more than 20 years, a boat has been stolen from the Prouts Neck Yacht Club.

On June 6, a custom-built wood-and-fiberglass sailboat, 15 feet long, was parked on its trailer at the yacht club. Between then and June 11, the boat, a Doughdish with a white hull, named “Heartthrob,” was stolen.

It is worth about $17,000, police said.

The owner is from Pennsylvania, according to Scarborough police, and summers in Prouts Neck.

Bill Harding manufactures the boats in southern Massachusetts. In 1972 he started building them out of fiberglass after a 1914 design by Nathaniel Herreshoff.

Herreshoff built the boats out of wood between 1914 and 1943.

The first customers were people summering on Cape Cod who bought them for their children to sail in the breezy, choppy Buzzard’s Bay. But, Harding said, “the boat turned out to be beloved by all ages in the family.”

And though he has made 475 of the ballasted-keel boats, one has never been stolen before, he said. “This is the first I’ve ever heard of that,” Harding said.

Dead whale turns up again

Published in the Current

A dead humpback whale continues to visit local beaches and is posing a challenge for marine biologists trying to find a place for it to decompose naturally.

The whale, first found on Richmond Island June 7 and nine days later on Old Orchard Beach, was to be towed out to sea a second time after it washed ashore again on Scarborough Beach June 18.

When first located on Richmond Island, the whale had been dead for about five days. It was tied down to rocks in Mussel Cove for further study on June 8.

An examination of the 32-foot juvenile whale could not determine the cause of death, according to Greg Jakush, president of the Marine Animal Lifeline.

The Cape Elizabeth Water Extrication Team took Jakush and another Lifeline biologist out to the whale and managed to tie the corpse to a large rock on the island, to prevent it from floating away.

The location of the whale, on sharp, slippery rocks in Mussel Cove, made the prospect of cutting open the corpse a hazardous one, Jakush said, so the scientists decided not to. After about 24 hours, tissue samples from a dead whale are almost useless, he said.

The whale was left there, Jakush said, to decompose. He and others expected the whale to stay put, but with storms and high winds over the weekend, the whale moved to Old Orchard Beach. It was towed out to Three Tree Ledge, beyond Stratton Island, June 16, and slit open in the hope that it would sink in about 100 feet of water.

But instead, the wind and current washed it back to the mainland, where it arrived in some rocks at the extreme northern end of Scarborough Beach.

“It’s just caught in the currents around Southern Maine,” Jakush said.

Towing it would be futile without a large trawler, he said, which could take the carcass “very far” offshore. Rather than do that, Jakush said the whale will be towed out to an uninhabited island or ledge and tied down to reduce the likelihood that it will wash ashore again.

Despite the large number of incidents involving this whale, Jakush said it was the first large whale the Lifeline has responded to this year. He said there may be others out there unreported. “There are a lot of hidden coves and islands,” he said.

Jakush said there was no cause for alarm or concern about the rate of whale deaths this year. He said the Center for Coastal Studies had untangled a similar whale from fishing gear off Camp Ellis on June 3, and Center staff believe the dead whale is the same animal.

Jakush said a cause of death is still undetermined, and stressed that the impact of the entanglement is unknown. “It could have been the cause (of death). It may not have been,” he said.

Thursday, June 13, 2002

Police keep Cape safe on graduation weekend

Published in the Current

It’s the Friday before high school graduation in Cape Elizabeth, and Sgt. Kevin Kennedy is sitting in a cruiser at Kettle Cove with his lights off. He turns on his radar and waits.

As if on cue, about 20 cars form a line snaking down the road, past Kennedy’s car, through the parking lot and back out again. Each car has a teen-ager at the wheel, and some have a number of passengers.

The Current decided to ride along with Cape police last Friday to see how they handled graduation weekend.

With graduation looming, some teens were celebrating. Police were out patrolling to make sure the festivities remained safe.

The three officers on duty were Kennedy (from 3 p.m. to 7 a.m.), Officer Allen Westberry (from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.), and Officer James Starnes (from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.). The Current spent most of the night with Kennedy.

Kennedy starts with a look around his cruiser, making sure everything’s in place and working, from the road flares and reflective vest in the trunk to the radar detector and video-recording system on his dashboard.

Driving out of the station, Kennedy’s first stop is Kettle Cove, which he will visit several times during the night.

The Cape Elizabeth Water Extrication Team is leaving from the cove to shuttle two biologists out to Richmond Island to tie down a dead whale, so it will be there in the morning.

The scientists want to learn how it died and take tissue samples to keep tabs on the whale population in the Gulf of Maine.

He gets called back to the station to take an accident report for something that happened the day before, and then returns to the cove. On this occasion, he saw the procession of cars come by.

Kennedy expressed surprise at the number of students, but lets them go by. He keeps an eye on the radar, though, hoping someone will come flying down the road. After the cars all leave, he waits some more, and a few return to check whether the police car is still there. It is.

Then he meets up with a state park ranger about to go off duty. The ranger is surprised, too, at the number of cars that just went by. Kennedy decides to come back later in the evening.

Leaving Kettle Cove, Kennedy heads down Route 77 onto Bowery Beach Road and turns into Charles E. Jordan Road, leading to the Sprague estate, Ram Island Farm.

“Let’s go down here, and make sure everything is quiet,” Kennedy said. The road, he said is a frequent spot for joggers and cyclists, but is lightly traveled. A person who gets hurt might have to wait some time for help.

As he goes by, Kennedy eyes the parking lot at Jordan Hall, on the corner of Bowery Beach Road. Sometimes cars are broken into there, because thieves know people are walking or running on nearby roads and are unlikely to return in time to witness a crime.

Finding nothing but an elderly couple out for a drive, Kennedy heads back toward the center of town on Fowler Road. He’s trying to cover ground but in a way that doesn’t fit any pattern from night to night.

“I try to make sure I go through every neighborhood on each shift,” Kennedy said.

But by varying his schedule and patrol route, he makes sure criminals can’t be certain they’ll be safe.

At the corner of Fenway Road, Kennedy turns off Fowler Road and heads to the end of the cul-de-sac to see if anyone is parked there. It is a common parking area for kids heading out to party on the shore of Great Pond.

At the corner of Fenway, he notices that the street sign is missing. Not just the sign with the name of the street, but the entire pole has been removed. He calls it in and heads to nearby Susan Road to make sure the sign is on that corner. It is.

Still making his way down Fowler Road toward the center of town, Kennedy notices a truck going the other way. It is pulling a trailer that has no lights. He turns around and tries to catch up, but reaches the corner of Bowery Beach Road before deciding to give up the chase. He figures the truck has turned off or pulled into a driveway.

Kennedy makes a third effort to head to the center of town, but it is not to be. Dispatcher John Swinehart calls on the radio, reporting that someone has just called the police station to complain about unknown vehicles and people heading down to the beach near Richmond Terrace, a private road near Crescent Beach.

Swinehart also alerts Westberry, patrolling the north side of town that night. Westberry heads down to help out if anything happens, and to provide another set of eyes.

Pulling into Richmond, Kennedy notices a sedan with three girls in it, but they are leaving the area, so he isn’t concerned. Moving down the road a bit, he stops and gets out to check a car parked beside the road.

There’s nothing suspicious inside, so he moves on and leaves the area, having found nothing.

Kennedy heads over to Kettle Cove again and parks with his lights off farther into the lot. He gets out to check on a couple from Rhode Island who are parked there. They’re fine and have just finished a walk on the beach with their dog.

Some more cars come down into the cove and loop through the parking lot when they see Kennedy’s car there. After the traffic subsides, he drives back over to Richmond Terrace, where Westberry has made a traffic stop.

Coming down Richmond Terrace, Kennedy finds himself following a car with a broken taillight. The car pulls into a driveway just in front of where Westberry has stopped a car, in the middle of the one-lane road.

Getting out, Kennedy looks over at the car he has been behind and eyes the license plate’s registration sticker.

“He expired back in March. This is a good one,” Kennedy said.

The driver is a 17-year-old male, and Kennedy asks him to get out of the car. Kennedy searches the car, coming up with several cigarettes and a six-pack of beer.

While Kennedy and Westberry are talking to the driver, a few teens walk by, heading toward the beach. The officers ask what they’re up to, and they say they’re just leaving a friend’s house. When pressed, though, they are unable to name the friend or say what they were doing.

“We were coming to see what was going on over here,” one kid admitted.

“Nothing’s going on. Goodbye,” Kennedy replied.

The driver Westberry stopped was originally just stopped for trespassing, as Richmond Terrace is a private road. It turns out, though, that she has had her license for only 86 days, four days shy of the day she is allowed to have passengers. But there are two other teens in her car.

A search of that car turns up a partially-full bottle of rum and two water bottles also containing rum.

The driver steps out of the car, and one of her passengers, who has had his license long enough to drive passengers, takes the wheel.

The officers and teens are tied up at the scene for about 45 minutes with car searches, license checks and paperwork. The blue strobes on Westberry’s car, and spotlights from both patrol cars illuminate the neighborhood.

But even after three-quarters of an hour, the stop is not done.

Police Chief Neil Williams wants his officers to contact parents when kids are caught with alcohol.

Kennedy follows the car he stopped, with the broken taillight, to the teen’s home.

The boy goes in to wake up his parents, but nobody is home. Kennedy knocks a couple of times, radios dispatch for the phone number, and calls on a cellphone he carries in his car.

There is no answer, so Kennedy gives the kid his business card and asks him to tell his parents to call the police station the next day.

The officers meet back at the police station to do the rest of the paperwork for each complaint, and to photograph the items they have confiscated.

Starnes comes on duty and reports what he has seen on his way to the station.

“They’re massing at Cumby,” he said. Teens are gathering in their cars. Kennedy and Starnes take just a few seconds to decide what spots they’ll pay special attention to for the rest of the night.

The two will continue to follow the teens around town, fitting in the required checks on all businesses in town through the rest of the night.

Firefighters to get pay increase

Published in the Current

The Scarborough Town Council intends to review the pay scale for the town’s firefighters over the summer, and may make further increases in firefighters’ pay in August.

Currently volunteer firefighters are paid $9.27 per hour to respond to fire calls. There are also firefighters and emergency medical technicians who work day shifts in the town’s fire stations, who get paid the same hourly rate.

While planning for the 2002-2003 budget this past spring, Thurlow requested a change in pay rates, with a top hourly wage at $11.50 per hour for all firefighters. After conversations with Town Manager Ron Owens and members of the Town Council, the pay increase was scaled back to $10 per hour, Thurlow said, but with the understanding that there would be a review of pay scales before the next budget cycle.

As part of his budget planning this y e a r, Fire Chief Michael Thurlow discovered that the town’s on-call and per-diem firefighters were being paid somewhat less than those in other towns. Further, private-sector jobs in construction and other skilled work, common side jobs for firefighters, pay substantially more than firefighting, Thurlow said.

“We’re all kind of vying for the same pool” of prospective employees, Thurlow said. Some firefighters have left the department, seeking more money in other departments or other lines of work,” he said.

“The council didn’t feel we had all the information to give the full request,” said Councilor Patrick O’Reilly. In his role as chair of the finance committee, O’Reilly would conduct any meetings reviewing firefighter pay.

“In preparation for that, I’m looking at more than just the base rate,” Thurlow said. As part of his initial budget proposal, he called neighboring fire departments to find out about their rates of pay.

He is now also looking at whether—and how much—those departments, with whom Scarborough competes for per-diem staff, pay for length of time served with the department, level of certification or rank in the department.

Thurlow said he has a draft proposal in the works, and is trying now to figure out what budgetary effect there would be to implement it. That means, Thurlow said, he has to look at each member of the fire, rescue and fire police squads to see where they would fall on a sliding scale of pay.

Thurlow plans to present his proposal to the Town Council’s finance committee in August. Potential outcomes could include a raise in the next budget process, or modification of pay rates in the current fiscal year, Owens said.

Cape sends off 107 graduates

Published in the Current

Cape Elizabeth celebrated the graduation of 107 high school students at Fort Williams Park Sunday with a message of hope from a former principal and a call to face the challenges of the coming century from the senior class president.

The principal for three of the graduates four years, Pete Dawson, gave the keynote address. Senior Class President Dan Shevenell spoke to graduates after they received their diplomas.

Principal Jeff Shedd presented awards to members of the senior class who exhibited excellence in various aspects of schoolwork, athletics and community service, saying the awardees were examples to their peers and to the town.

The ceremony also included an a capella performance by six graduates of contemporary pop songs. The processional and national anthem were among the last pieces of music conducted by long-time CEHS music director Norm Richardson, who is retiring.

Of the 107 graduates, 78 had grade point averages of 85 or above, 27 were members of the National Honor Society, and 13 were members of the Maroon Medal Society, which recognizes students involved in a wide range of activities.

Dawson, who spent the last year as principal of an American International School near Tel Aviv, spoke of his experience there. He spoke of the role hope plays in the lives of people all over the world, and noted that just when hope seems furthest from reach is when making the effort to hope is most important.

Known at CEHS for his attendance at school events and remembering the names of all of the students, Dawson changed his trademark saying, “Today is a great day to achieve.” Instead, he proposed, “Today is a great day to make a difference.”

Graduates David Greenwood and Mariah Nelson gave the senior address, extolling the virtues of an open campus for seniors on free periods, saying “there is, in fact, nothing to do in Cape Elizabeth, let alone in 50 minutes.”

The two spoke also about the broad usage of instant messaging. Greenwood said he expected most seniors had enabled “away” messages indicating they were not at their computers. Those messages, he said, would read, “I’m graduating right now. Be back at three.”

Class valedictorian Amanda Gann spoke of the achievements of members of the class, individually and as a group, citing sports, theater, mock trial and academic accomplishments, and noting, “We have the best barbecue team that the state of Maine has ever known.”

Gann closed with a note of hope, saying “We are the artists of the future. … I can’t wait to see what we’ll do,” before quoting a passage of Dr. Seuss’s book “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.”

Shevenell quoted extensively from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech entitled “Citizenship in a Republic.” He exhorted his classmates to set goals and take hold of challenges, rather than criticize from afar those brave enough to face them. “Let us bravely shoulder the challenges that this century will surely put before us,” he said.

At the beginning of the ceremony, the graduates were preceded in their entry by 35 members of the high school faculty wearing academic regalia. The garb was paid for, in some cases, by the high school parents’ association, and represented, Shedd said, “the legitimizing of the diplomas that our graduates are about to receive.”

Teachers prepare for laptops in the classroom

Published in the Current

One day early next week, Cape Elizabeth Middle School teachers who instruct seventh-grade students will receive their laptops.

Though the students will have to wait until the fall, teachers will get a jump on learning about these new educational tools.

Teachers already have been getting familiar with the laptops, taking trips to Lyman Moore Middle School in Portland to visit with students and teachers
using the laptops this school year.

Lyman Moore is a demonstration site for a state program which will put laptops into the hands of each seventh-grader in the state in the fall of 2002. In the fall of 2003, all eighth-graders will get one. To date, $25 million has
been set aside for the program, although the laptop fund has been tapped down by legislators to make up for shortfalls in other programs.

Eric Begonia, a science teacher at Lyman Moore, has been the Cape teachers’guide, along with several of his students, who have been enlisted to demonstrate their computers’ capabilities and their own school projects when visitors come to the school.

Begonia said the program is successful, and has opened up learning, so that students are teaching teachers about technology. He also said students are so enthusiastic that they show their parents what they’re learning when they take the laptops home.

Parents are required to sign a form each day students take laptops home. That policy is among those Cape teachers expect to adopt from Lyman Moore and adapt for use at CEMS.

Delaying retirement for program
Beverly Bisbee, the lead teacher for the laptop initiative among the CEMS seventh-grade teachers, is enthusiastic about the computers. So much so, in fact, that she put off her retirement to stay and incorporate laptops into her classroom and the classrooms of her colleagues.

Bisbee has been at this for some time. In 1986, when she was a teacher at Wilton Academy in Wilton, she got a grant to use computers in her writing classes. She was able to demonstrate that technology could narrow the gender gap in MEA scores.

The seventh-grade teachers already are using the middle school’s mobile computer lab, but want more time with the machines.

“The labs are overbooked. The labs are not sufficient for what we want to do,” Bisbee said. With computers, she said, “the teachable moments are just incredible.”

And with computers all the time? “This could revolutionize the way we teach and the way we learn,” Bisbee said.

All of the teachers involved in the program will have training sessions of at least two and in some cases five days during the summer, to help them become more familiar with the computers.

Policies and procedures are less of a worry after the visit to Lyman Moore, teachers said.

“I think Lyman Moore has a lot of the kinks worked out,” said teacher Matt Whaley. He is looking forward to having them in his classroom. “It’s going to be an incredible learning tool,” he said.

Teacher Joanne Paquette said laptops would help prevent students from losing notes or forgetting to bring notebooks to class, and can help her ensure all the students get vocabulary, for example. She expects she will send the list by email to the students, who will keep the message for reference and even use it, she said, during open-note tests.

Even so, the laptops may not be useful across the entire curriculum.

“In math I’m not quite sure,” Paquette said.

Brian Freccero teaches math and said many universities have web material on algebra and pre-algebra.

“We can use those to supplement the book,” he said.

He would create a list of links for students to visit, but said he wouldn’t expect to use them every day.

Paquette said she sees advantages aside from strict curricular applications.

“They’re always hounding us about what their grades are,” she said. She plans to have students enter their assignment grades into a spreadsheet and keep track themselves.

She added that slide shows on computer screens can help replace costly consumables, like poster board, saving teachers and schools money without sacrificing academics.

No replacement for basics
Students will still need to know how to do things without computers, the teachers said, and they expect to continue teaching those skills as well. “It’s the same learning taking place,” Paquette said.

Students also will need their basic skills, without computer assistance, in the near academic future, when they leave the middle school.

“When they go to high school they’re not going to have these,” said teacher Deb Casey.

Spanish teacher Susan Dana is concerned about technology overtaking learning. But even she uses computers for access to authentic Spanish-language materials and expects to continue to do so.

When that happens now, the class has to head down the hall and get set up on computers in the computer room, costing valuable class time.

Librarian Hayden Atwood expects to help the students do research using the computers, which come ready for Internet access, provided by a wireless link in the school building. They also have a multimedia encyclopedia installed, including audio and video files in addition to the text and photographs commonly found in book encyclopedias.

“For research it’s going to be wonderful,” Atwood said. He said teaching students about plagiarism and ethics, as well as how to evaluate Internet resources for truth and accuracy, will be primary tasks for him.

District technology coordinator Gary Lanoie also has visited Lyman Moore. “I was impressed by what I saw,” he said.

Initially, Lanoie had thought the school would not need carts in which to store the laptops and recharge their batteries, but after visiting Lyman Moore, he said he has changed his mind. He is investigating ways to buy or build enough carts to hold the school’s machines.

Lanoie also plans to set up an “iTeam,” about a dozen kids who will be resources for teachers and students who need help with their computers.

Schools statewide have reported that classrooms with laptops have better attendance rates, better discipline and more focused students.

Begonia said that Lyman Moore students take excellent care of the computers, and treat them with respect.

$25-million fund
The program is expected to cost the state $37.2 million over the next four years, and will outfit each seventh- and eighth-grade student and teacher with iBook laptops, made by Apple Computer. The contract between the state and Apple includes a hardware warranty and software support for each computer.

The state has provided initial funding of $25 million for the project, with interest on that money expected to make up the bulk of the remainder.

Gov. Angus King, who met with Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs to promote the program on Monday, said Apple has effectively contributed as much as $15 million in discounts for the project.

Some of the laptop money already has been used to purchase network equipment, laptops for demonstration sites including Lyman Moore and to buy laptops for teachers. The bulk of the money will be spent over the course of the contract, paid in monthly installments to Apple, based on the number of students and teachers receiving services, according to Department of Education spokesman Yellow Light Breen.

“I think it’s a wonderful program, if it will continue,” said Cape Superintendent Tom Forcella. If the funds will not be available to continue the program he said, a one-time expenditure would be better used to buy
mobile computer labs usable throughout the school district.

The governor originally earmarked $53 million for the program and legislators have cut it back to $25 million. The fund is often mentioned as a way to help bail out a projected $180 million state budget shortfall discovered by the state in April.

Thursday, June 6, 2002

Cape Education Foundation to give $15,000

Published in the Current

Seeking some early success stories to boost fund-raising, the Cape Elizabeth Education Foundation is soliciting applications from school staff.

In October, the foundation expects to give teachers a total of $15,000 in project money.

Teachers have responded well to past approaches from the foundation, in which school staff were asked to describe “projects that would significantly enhance your curriculum, or allow you to go beyond the status quo if you had funding for the time or materials.”

“Forty-plus teachers responded very enthusiastically,” said Gail Rice, chair of the foundation’s grants committee. “They were (proposing) exactly what we were looking for.”

Some of those proposals included field trips to subject-related museums and public buildings in Portland and Boston, guest lecturers and workshops on specific subjects already addressed in the curriculum, books for classroom and library use, technological tools for specific curriculum-related uses, and artists-in-residence for painting, music, poetry and dance.

The grant applications were distributed to teachers late last week, and are due August 2. The application process entails writing a two-page project summary and determining a proposed budget.

“It is critical that we do make it easy” for teachers to apply, said Susan Spagnola, CEEF’s publicity coordinator.

Rice and Spagnola are not sure what applications will come in, and the application forms make clear that CEEF may choose not to fund, or to fund only partially, some grant requests, depending on the applicant pool.

To fund the projects and further work by the foundation, donors have pledged $21,000, including three donations of $5,000 each, Spagnola said. Some of the donors are on the foundation’s board, but others are members of the community who have no affiliation with the organization, she said.

“The momentum it’s gained in the last several months has been incredible,” Spagnola said.

In the fall, the foundation expects to launch a campaign to raise between $1 million and $2 million, which will make available between $50,000 and $100,000 in interest each year for future rounds of grants.

Scouts find, mark veterans’ graves

Published in the Current

A group of Cape Elizabeth Boy Scouts found 30 new veterans’ graves in Portland’s Western Cemetery just before Memorial Day.

Led by Eagle candidate Carl Hagmann, the group of about 40 scouts and parents mapped and marked graves and paths in the cemetery, which has not been used for some time and is overgrown in parts.

“We basically mapped out the entire cemetery,” Hagmann said. The goal was to locate and mark graves of veterans, so they could be decorated on Memorial Day.

He had a list of 142 veterans’ graves, compiled as part of the cemetery’s planning project. But there were more.

“There were some other graves from (the War of) 1812 that weren’t on the list,” Hagmann said.

He and his fellow scouts ended up identifying 172 graves of veterans, 30 more than were marked on the cemetery’s master map, according to Peter Monro, the project coordinator for the Stewards of the Western Cemetery.

The 30 veterans were all in the War of 1812, Hagmann said, and were scattered throughout the cemetery.

Their remains had always been in the cemetery, but their graves had been unmarked for some time.

More recently, headstones were erected, but the locations of the graves were not recorded on the cemetery’s map, Hagmann said.

As part of the project, Hagmann stamped plot numbers on stainless steel medallions, allowing the gravesites to be permanently marked, Monro said.

The medallions, provided by the City of Portland, had a 10-inch stake on the back, so they can be embedded in the ground while still easily moved over, he said.

The scouts also placed stakes at the ends of paths through the cemetery. Some of the paths were overgrown and not clearly identifiable, Monro said. “(Hagmann’s) leadership was instrumental in getting this done,” he said.

Vandals cut trees at high school

Published in the Current

Three maple trees between the Cape Elizabeth High School and the senior parking lot were cut down on the night of May 27 in an action school Principal Jeff Shedd called “ugly.”

“Somebody vandalized the school in a very ugly and meanspirited way,” he said.

The maples were planted in the late 1960s and 1970s, and were cut off a couple of feet above the ground by a handsaw, leaving stumps about 10 inches across.

The trees were left there. “I came in Tuesday morning and there were three trees on the ground,” Shedd said.

Town workers have since cut the stumps off level with the ground and removed the trees.

Shedd said school staffers were alarmed by the vandalism, and students were too.

“As a whole, the student body is as horrified about it as the adult population,” Shedd said.

Students are raising money, he said, to replace the trees, and the senior class may make the replacement their class gift.

Detective Paul Fenton said there are no suspects in the case, but said he continues to investigate it. He encouraged anyone with information on the incident to call police.

Several people told the Current one or more of the trees were in memory of people, but school officials said that was not true.

Plaques can be found at the base of two trees on the high school campus, said Superintendent Tom Forcella. No plaques are near the sites of the trees that were cut down.