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Harmony bridges to memorialize Lake family, other victims of domestic violence

Alex Barber | BDN
Alex Barber | BDN
Two members of the Western Maine Young Marines clear grass off the side of a hill on Route 154 in front of what will be renamed the Remember Me Bridge in Harmony on Saturday, May 26, 2012. The area to the left will be made into a memorial area to remember those who affected by domestic violence. The bridge, along with another bridge on Route 150 in Harmony that will be renamed the Amy-Cote-Monica Bridge, in honor of Amy Lake and her two children who were killed by her husband, Steven Lake, will be dedicated on June 2.
By Alex Barber, BDN Staff

HARMONY, Maine — Sandra Mitchell has seen two of her friends die through domestic violence. She set out to find a way to honor them and all people affected by domestic violence.

Mitchell, of Harmony, asked the state Legislature to name two bridges in Harmony, and it obliged.

On Route 154, where the Ripley Road becomes the Mainstream Road, the span will be named the Remember Me Bridge. On Route 150 on the Athens Road, the bridge will be named the Amy-Coty-Monica Bridge, for Amy Lake and her two children, who were both murdered last year by her husband, Steven Lake, before he killed himself.

Both bridges will be dedicated on Saturday, June 2, at the Route 150 bridge.

“[Amy] was a friend of mine for 15 years,” said Mitchell, as several members of the Western Maine Young Marines helped clear a parcel of land that will be turned into a memorial park on Route 154 near the Remember Me Bridge. “I saw her at every Labor Day fair with her family. She was just so involved with the community. And not only that, she was just a super nice lady.”

Another friend Mitchell lost, Connie Porter Barrett, was also a motivation for naming the bridges.

Rick Marcel Barrett shot and killed Connie Barrett in 1987. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

“She went through the same things Amy did,” said Mitchell. “She followed all the right moves. She got restraining orders and all that. The problem there again was the bail issue. They’d get out all the time on low bail.”

In April, Gov. Paul LePage signed a bill that r equires a judge to set bail conditions for someone accused of a domestic violence crime instead of a bail commissioner in certain cases.

Domestic violence is also an issue she’s had to face herself.

“I had a .44 [caliber pistol] held to my head,” she said. “He was going to rape [me]. That didn’t go over well with me. I left bloody and bruised. I learned my lesson. I was one of the lucky ones that got out.”

On Saturday, Mitchell and the Young Marines were helping clean the area intended for the memorial park. A 20-by-20-foot flower bed will be constructed close to the edge of the hill near the river with a granite bench near it. There also will be colorful boulders along the tree line.

After the bridges are named, Mitchell said 6-foot-tall purple painted metal ribbon sculptures will be placed at either end of both bridges, as well.

Mitchell said she’s encouraging the public to plant flowers along the more than four-mile route between the two bridges, and even beyond.

The process has been a challenge, she said.

“Our government has so many regulations. It was quite upsetting to hear that, as a citizen, I can’t do this, I can’t do that, I have to be a nonprofit,” said Mitchell. “That’s not my goal. I’m not looking to be a nonprofit. I just want to raise money for this.”

In order to avoid starting a nonprofit for the project, Mitchell became a member of the Western Maine Young Marines, she said.

She said Sen. Doug Thomas, R-Ripley, along with LePage, was helpful in getting the project started.

Fundraising raffles will be held during each Saturday and Sunday in June at the C&R General Store in Harmony from noon to 4 p.m. Mitchell said several businesses from across the state have donated items to be raffled away.

Car wash fundraisers also will be held on each Saturday and Sunday in June from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Ralph O’s Carwash, also in Harmony.

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