THOMASTON, Maine — Selectman Peter Lammert is a jack of all trades for the town.
This week, he added detective to his resume as he helped track down five cannonballs that had been stolen the previous week from a more than 100-year-old Civil War monument.
A pyramid of 19 cannonballs are located on both sides of the monument located at the Thomaston Village Cemetery on Erin Street. Last Thursday, Feb. 2, Lammert — who also is a sexton for the cemetery — was driving by the grounds and noticed that there were missing cannonballs from one of the two piles.
The cannonballs are made of cast steel and each weigh 63 pounds.
He contacted the Thomaston Police Department and was advised to check out local salvage yards. Lammert stopped at Route 17 Auto Sales in Washington while on a trip to Augusta and asked if they had received any cannonballs.
“As soon as I said it, they knew what I was talking about,” Lammert said.
The cannonballs had been dropped off Jan. 31, according to Donna Jackson of Route 17 Auto Sales.
Lammert said he paid $35.34 to retrieve the cannonballs so the business would not lose money in the transaction.
Thomaston Police Sgt. Tim Hoppe said there are two suspects in the case.
The Knox County Sheriff’s Office is assisting in trying to track them down.
Hoppe said the theft of metals that are then sold for their scrap value has become a much more frequent crime. This week, the Knox County sheriff’s office issued a warning to boat yards about those businesses being targeted for metal thefts.
Jackson said the person who dropped off the metal had been bringing materials to the business for the past year or two. She said she photocopied the driver’s license and wrote down the license plate and type of vehicle the person was driving the first time the person dropped off metals. Those records are kept on file.
Hoppe said there was a receipt for the metal dropped off by the suspects last week.
Jackson said the cannonballs were not noticed immediately because they were at the bottom of a pile of light iron brought in by the person.
With the cannonballs back in his possession, Lammert decided that something needed to be done to prevent their removal. On Thursday Feb. 9, two members of the town’s public works department were at the cemetery to weld the cannonballs together. Previously, they had simply been stacked on top of each other.
Mike Davis heated up the balls and Cliff Eugley welded them.
Lammert said he is accounting for the costs involved in retrieving the balls and will determine the time spent by the town crew so that when the offending parties are located they can make restitution.
The Grand Army of the Republic monument, to honor Civil War veterans, was erected in the early 1900s, Lammert noted.
Lammert is active in town affairs, has served multiple terms on the Board of Selectmen, is a member of the fire and ambulance departments, is on the board of solid waste cooperative, serves as tree warden, shovels sidewalks when needed in front of the Knox Hotel, and oversees the annual Fourth of July fireworks display. He recently retired from the Maine Forestry Service. He was also named Community Person of the Year in 2010 by the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce.