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Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013 9:53 am

April 27, 1988

Joe Fluett was a man almost everybody knew in Westbrook, or knew of, but there was universal surprise at his will. He left $1.4 million to Westbrook’s Walker Memorial Library – surprise at how much money he left and surprise at his interest in the library. Looking back, the wealth was easy to believe. Fluett was careful with every dollar, and almost his sole interest in life was work. It wasn’t like him to spend big, and it was like him to accumulate money. Hence, the $1.4 million. His reasons for choosing Walker Library are less obvious. Perhaps when he drew his will a dozen years ago, he considered the library the most obvious need of the city where he lived his whole life. But he was only an occasional visitor to the library, and he never hinted to its staff that he would be leaving virtually his whole estate. Fluett died of cancer March 26 at age 67. He is survived only by cousins in Waterville and Canada, and by friends.

The Gorham School Committee has accepted the resignation of high school principal Philip Blood after an executive session Monday. Blood will leave July 1 to take a state education post. The board also voted to grant him a contract extension to 1989 and a simultaneous one-year leave of absence. Blood, who has served as principal for nine years. Will accept a consultant position with the state Department of Education and Cultural Services in the Instructional Support Group. 

City costs will add 50 cents to Westbrook’s $32.12 tax rate for the year starting July 1, but school costs will drive it up $3.08 and county costs will add another 5 cents, Mayor Philip Spiller estimates. If the City Council accepts these figures, the tax rate will be $35.75.  At $32.12, Westbrook’s real estate tax rate is the second highest in the county, next to Portland’s, according to the Maine Municipal Association. 

A 24-year-old Westbrook woman took off her leather coat and laid it on the sidewalk of the Cumberland Street bridge over the Presumpscot River. She put her handbag there, too. Then she climbed onto the rail on the upstream side of the bridge and jumped into the cold deep water, April 15 at7:30 p.m. A citizen who saw her ran to the nearby Westbrook Police Station, and Sgt. Allen Tundel hurried to the scene. He and an S.D. Warren mill guard found the woman clinging to the shore of the small island under the bridge and pulled her out. Rescue took her to the hospital. Family members told police the woman doesn’t know how to swim.

The leading consultant on AIDS research in the southern Maine area, Dr. Michael Bach, will present a program on AIDS to the faculties, parents and students in grades 6-12 in Westbrook. On April 27, he will meet the high school and junior high school faculties to prepare teachers as resource people for student discussion groups. He’ll meet with parents May 2, and students May 3.

More than 250 Gorham residents packed the Shaw Junior High School auditorium last week to hear about plans for four roads diverging west of Gorham Village, from which the town must choose. Maps on display showed swaths cut into land to depict four proposed routes for westerly expansion of the Maine Turnpike, which would connect Gorham with I-295 in Portland. Two of the routes – 6A and 7 – take a similar northerly route around Gorham with interchanges of Fort Hill Road and Phinney Street, and out Route 25 and New Portland Road. The other two, 9 and 10, both take souther routes, going by the old race track property on Narragansett Street and intersecting Route 114 near Day Road before continuing across Saco Street and into Westbrook. Several residents stepped to the microphone to raise questions about the impact of any highway on rural areas of Gorham. While no official position was taken, a majority of town councilors and the town manager favor 6A, which would pass north of Gorham Village, as the best of the four proposed routes.

Dana Lampron succeeded this week in his second attempt to secure Gorham Planning Board approval for a two-bay car wash to be built at his service station on Ossipee Trail near the Standish line.

April 29, 1998

With a new billboard at Cumberland Mills, new signs at the mill and research lab, double-truck ads in the American Journal and Press Herald and full pages in USA Today and the Wall Street Journal, the owners of the S.D. Warren mill in Westbrook have made it official: Call us Sappi Fine Papers, North America. Sappi, parent company of S.D. Warren since 1994, is the former South African Pulp and Paper Industries. It is renaming not only the Warren operation, but also its African fine paper division and operations it has bought in recent years in Britain, Germany and Belgium.

Westbrook’s School Committee gave first approval this week to the selection of Stephen Blatt, Portland, as architect for expansion and renovation of the Canal School, a project in the $1 million-$2 million range. The committee also took steps to seek voter approvel of the expense in the November state election. This would avoid the expense of a special election in June 1999 and involve more voters, said Superintendent Robert Hall. 

Growth is straining Gorham’s ability to maintain infrastructure and provide services to the community, says Town Manager David Cole in is 1998-99 town budget. A public hearing on the combined town and school budgets is scheduled for May 7. Overall, Cole proposes the town spend $6,333,908 for the fiscal year, $3,343,035 of which is projected to come from non-property tax sources. The $2,990,873 that Cole is asking the Town Council to raise with property taxes amounts to a 2.5 percent increase from this year. The new tax rate would be $19.94 per $1,000, versus $19.40 this year. The proposed school budget is $15,593,124, an increase of $904,619 over this year’s budget, or 6.16 percent. Included in the spending plan are 14 new full-time (or equivalent) positions and new computers and computer-related services.63,

Uncertainty over the valuation of the Sappi paper mill shrouded Westbrook Mayor Donald Esty’s budget proposal Monday. Esty proposes spending $13,254,828 for city services, up $450,952, or 2.29 percent from this year. The school cost, proposed at $19,457,003, would be additional. The city says the mill is worth $270 million. Sappi says it’s worth $85 million. While a consulting appraiser has been hired by the city to oversee Sappi’s appraisal, Esty said a final number is not likely to emerge until Oct. 15, and therefore is not likely to affect this year’s budget. Although Sappi’s abatement request could cost the city $3.6 million in taxes and $4.6 million in back taxes, the losses would probably not begin to take effect until next year.

The Westbrook Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals approved construction of a three-bedroom apartment on top of Tom and Jerry’s Car Wash, 307 Main St. The apartment would be fore Marilyn Flaherty, who has owned the car wash for 30 years. “I don’t have a house any more, and I just figured this would be a good place for me right here,” said Flaherty. “It’ll be my condo, but without the fees.”

A new $5.5 million field house on the University of Southern Maine Gorham campus will open for the university community May 5. The field house is the final piece of the Costello Sports Complex, made up of the Hill Gymnasium and a new $3.9 million ice arena that opened Dec. 13. The entire complex will be dedicated June 20 during USM’s alumni weekend.

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