AUGUSTA, Maine — The Legislature’s Transportation Committee heard emotional testimony Tuesday from family and friends of Amy Lake who are attempting to have the state name two Harmony bridges in her honor.
Sen. Douglas Thomas, R-Ripley, presented a bill at a hearing to have bridges on Route 150 and Route 154 named as a reminder of the problem of domestic violence.
Amy Lake and her two children, Coty and Monica, were murdered by her estranged husband, Steven Lake, on June 13, 2011. Steven previously had been charged with criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and domestic violence criminal threatening against his wife.
Thomas attempted to paint a picture of Amy’s life leading up to the murders.
“Amy and the kids moved four times that year trying to stay away from her husband,” said Thomas. “Think about what that must have been like to live with. Think about it for a second.
“By naming these bridges, we will raise awareness and remind people of what can happen and also remind all of us that we can’t drop the ball. We need to make sure we can protect families like this,” said Thomas.
Amy’s parents, Ralph and Linda Bagley, urged the committee to name the bridges in her honor. Both cried during their testimony, as did other family members in the audience.
Ralph Bagley showed several awards with his daughter’s name on them. He started to cry when he held up Amy’s valedictorian certificate.
“She didn’t want her name put on her gravestone. Steven Lake put it there. So let’s work hard and show we care and put her name on the bridge,” he said.
Amy’s mother spoke of her memories of her daughter and grandchildren. She started to cry during her speech when she brought up the topic of Christmas cards.
“This year I didn’t think I could do a Christmas card. And it got close to Christmas and I said, ‘Amy would not want this,’” said Linda Bagley. “I had always sent Christmas cards. I got to looking for pictures. And I knew I couldn’t put ‘Merry Christmas’ on them. … It wouldn’t be a very merry one for us.”
Maine Department of Transportation spokeswoman Nina Fisher said the two bridges, numbered 5846 and 5126, have no names.
Under the legislation, the bridge on State Route 150 in Harmony, known locally as the Higgins Stream Bridge, would be renamed the Amy, Coty and Monica Bagley Bridge. Amy’s maiden name was Bagley.
“We wanted to remove the word ‘Lake’ altogether,” said Thomas.
The bridge on State Route 154 that crosses the Sebasticook River in Harmony would be renamed the Remember Me Bridge, as a reminder of domestic violence.
Ronald Collins, R-Wells, the committee’s Senate chairman, said the bill, LD 1615, will be discussed in a work session.
“I’m sure it will pass unanimously,” said Collins.
Jonathan Nass, senior policy adviser on transportation to Gov. Paul LePage, also spoke at the hearing. He said LePage supports the bill.
“Gov. LePage was a victim of domestic violence growing up,” said Nass. “He, as an 11-year-old boy, showed up in the hospital having been beaten severely by his father. He spent the rest of his childhood not returning to his home. Domestic violence is serious. Governor LePage has adopted a zero-tolerance policy on domestic violence.
“I think this legislation helps with that effort, one by honoring the victims, but also raising awareness throughout the state, and particularly in this community,” added Nass. “Gov. LePage welcomes this bill coming to his desk and he looks forward to signing it.”
Fisher said the Department of Transportation typically doesn’t have a position on the renaming of structures.
“However, we, as well as Gov. LePage’s entire administration, stand strongly in opposition against domestic violence and support measures to try to raise awareness,” she said.
Rep. Kimberley Rosen, R-Bucksport, a member of the committee, said she brought a bill before the Legislature last year that would have required domestic violence abusers to wear ankle bracelets so the victim had time to get away if the perpetrator got within a certain distance.
“It was such a new bill and it didn’t pass because it would cost a lot of money,” she said. “After my bill did not pass, this tragedy happened and it was very upsetting.”
She then announced that she would introduce the bill again. The audience at the hearing applauded.