Issue of May 2, 2008
Clients of South Portland salon Studio 77 are bringing their beauty routines back to the basics, according to nail technician Jenni Hoover.
“People will still get their hair cut, and if they have gray hair, they’ll still get it colored,” she said, but treatments like highlights and perms are becoming luxuries of the past.
As the salon’s clientele dwindles, Hoover’s been forced to watch her wallet, too, cutting back on takeout lunches and coffee to go.
The increase in the cost of gas has driven up prices of everything from pizza to paper goods, forcing business owners to charge their customers more, and those customers, in turn, are spending less.
It’s a ripple effect that has permeated all levels of the economy. In Hoover’s case, when she sees fewer clients, she makes less frequent trips to The Daily Grind drive-through coffee shop near her home in Westbrook. And as the coffee shop owner Mike Wowk sees fewer customers coming through, he’s forced to trade a sandwich at Portland Pie Co. for a bowl for cereal at lunchtime.
A report by Maine Revenue Services shows that retail sales in the state were flat between February 2007 and February 2008. According to a month-to-month U.S. Census Bureau report, retail and food sales in the country were up only 0.1 percent in March.
In response to the lack of consumer spending, the federal government is attempting to stimulate the economy by sending out so-called economic stimulation checks, starting this week. State Economist Catherine Reilly said those checks are estimated to put $440 million in the pockets of Maine residents. However, she said, she wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of that money goes to paying off heating bills from the winter.
“Some things become luxuries when times are tight,” said Reilly.
The South Portland City Council gave the School Board a lecture and some homework Monday night.
The City Council told school leaders to determine a price voters would support for updating the high school before proposing another bond issue. Voters defeated a $56 million plan in 2007.
“If you go with $40 million, $50 million or $60 million, it will not pass,” said Councilor Tom Blake. “Determine what the city can handle first.”
Mayor Jim Soule strongly encouraged school leaders to conduct a comprehensive survey on the amount of money voters are willing to spend before spending months on developing a new plan to put on the ballot in 2009.
“A survey goes a long way to getting the community to buy in to what you are doing,” Soule said. “South Portland always has supported education. You just need to come up with the right number.”
After years of getting inquiries from tourists about affordable lodging in Cape Elizabeth, Carl Dittrich came up with the idea of renting out rooms in his Ocean House Road home to tourists.
Upon discovering bed and breakfasts are not zoned in that area of town, Dittrich went to the Cape Elizabeth Town Council to ask that the zoning ordinances be amended. Currently, the center of town is the only area zoned for bed and breakfasts, though there are none.
That was in winter of 2007. The Town Council requested the Planning Board draft amendments, which have been in the works over the last four months.
“It’s so minor that people wouldn’t even know. There would just be another car in the driveway,” said Dittrich, who also operates an antique business from his home.
Barbara Schenkel, chairwoman of the Planning Board, said the board has received e-mails from neighbors voicing opinions on the proposed amendments, which are listed on the town Web site, www.capeelizabeth.com.
“Some people have written and said ‘We really like this idea,’ and others have written that they really hate it,” said Schenkel.
As farmers in Cape Elizabeth prepare for growing season, they’re finishing up a winter full of work on a plan to keep their industry viable in the town.
Since November, a committee of farmers has been putting together an agricultural profile of Cape Elizabeth farms and a plan for how the town can help farmers continue to make a living in an increasingly difficult business. Earlier this month, the finished report was presented to the Town Council, and, now, the committee and the council are working together to turn the ideas into reality.
The town’s comprehensive plan, which was adopted in October, indicates that maintaining Cape Elizabeth’s rural character is a top priority for residents. In order to figure out exactly how to keep farms running, the town asked those who know best what challenges farms are facing – the farmers themselves.
With the sun shining and trash bags in hand, volunteers set out across town Saturday morning for the annual spring cleaning of Scarborough Marsh and town beaches.
Participants met up at 10 locations – Pine Point Beach, Ferry Beach, the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center, Higgins Beach and Anjon’s Italian Restaurant, to name a few – to organize and gather supplies to collect trash and debris accumulated near the water.
It was the fifth year of a coordinated effort among the town and local organizations, said Stephanie Cox, a volunteer for Friends of Scarborough Marsh and the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center, who helped organize the cleanup. She said the annual cleanup, held around Earth Day, has been going on for much longer. And the full extent of the effort goes beyond the marsh and beaches.
“There are a few neighborhoods where people will get together, have some coffee and homemade scones, and clean their own neighborhoods,” Cox said. “We don’t even know about all the sites.”
Once the Cape Elizabeth bats got going on Friday, the Freeport Falcons didn’t stand a chance.
The Capers scored nine runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a 10-run lead and trigger the mercy rule for an 11-1 win in Western Maine Conference baseball action at Cape Elizabeth High School.
Cape broke a 2-1 game wide open in the home half of the fifth, sending 13 batters to the plate. The first five hitters reached with base hits and the onslaught was aided by several Freeport errors and four wild pitches from Falcons starter Bejay Perkins, who had allowed seven hits but only two runs through four innings.
“We faced (Perkins) last year and did pretty well, so we had a pretty good idea of what we were going to see,” said Cape starting pitcher Ryan Boyington, who allowed only three hits and a run in a five-inning complete game. “It just took a little while to get things going. The first time through (the order), you just get used to him. Second time through, it’s a lot easier to see (the pitches).”
Boyington consistently got ahead of the Freeport hitters. He struck out two and kept most of the plays in the infield for his fielders.
“The fielders did a nice job,” Boyington said.