News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, March 14, 2019
How will Castine celebrate Maine’s 200th anniversary?

by Anne Berleant

With plans under way for celebrations across the state for Maine’s 200th birthday in 2020, David Adams filled selectmen in, on March 4, on preliminary plans for Castine’s participation, including a stop in Castine by tall ships sailing up the coast, as a bigger flotilla will sail into Portland in mid-July.

“Our chances seem pretty good,” Adams said, in part because of French tall ship replica L’Hermione’s two-day stop in 2016.

Adams also noted that a commemorative Maine stamp may be issued by the U.S. Postal Service for the bicentennial, and with Castine’s post office the oldest in the state and second oldest in the nation, he is exploring whether it can be the site of the first-day cover and postmark.

Adams then warned selectmen that including the Penobscot Nation in any town bicentennial celebration means removing a historical sign offensive to Native Americans. The sign—one of over 40 such signs throughout the village—was removed prior to the tribe’s participation in the 2016 L’Hermione celebrations but mistakenly re-erected the next year.

“We’ll bring a proposal somewhere between leaving it on the post and leaving it at Castine Historical Society,” Town Manager Jimmy Goodson said. “[The signs] are part of Castine’s history, good, bad or indifferent.”

The discussion brought to mind a similar circumstance about 20 years ago, when the word “savage” was replaced with “native” where it appeared on the historical signs only to have an unknown person change the word back.

“It’s similar to Confederate statues,” Brooke Tenney said, with a nod to the removal in recent years of many such statues in Southern states.

In other business, selectmen unanimously approved a renewal of the Castine Gold Club’s Bottle Club license, and for Castine Fire Rescue to apply for a $500 Wildfire Community Preparedness Grant and the annual Globe Gear Giveaway Program.

Finally, the 100 plus-year-old weather vane atop Emerson Hall “took a hit,” Goodson said, breaking because the top part had deteriorated, and will be rebuilt. And EfficiencyMaine gave Castine a $575 grant towards replacing high pressure sodium lights at the transfer station with LED lighting. The town will spend $1,900 on the project.

On March 18, a 4 p.m. a public hearing will precede the selectmen’s meeting to address proposed revisions to the entrance and excavation ordinance. The change would require payment when a cut is made into a town road, as this hastens the road’s deterioration. The funds would go towards future repaving and maintenance.

“I think it’s a prudent thing to do and a lot of towns do this,” Goodson said.