Articles by Alex Lear


Proposed budget for Topsham-area school district would hike taxes by 10 percent

By Alex Lear on March 28, 2014, at 3:39 p.m.
TOPSHAM, Maine — Next year’s draft budget for School Administrative District 75 suggests a more than 10 percent increase in local taxes. But despite that, public feedback at a sparsely attended forum Tuesday tended to be positive, and in agreement with district proposals. The second of three budget forums, held …

Cumberland officials back bid to buy and conserve $1 million, 215-acre tract in 2 towns

By Alex Lear on March 25, 2014, at 1:27 p.m.
CUMBERLAND, Maine — The Cumberland Town Council on Monday unanimously supported efforts to obtain a grant that would help acquire and preserve a nearly $1 million, 215-acre parcel of undeveloped land in Cumberland and North Yarmouth. Penny Asherman, president of the Chebeague & Cumberland Land Trust, and Gregg Caporossi, project …

Topsham-area school district’s draft budget reflects increase of almost 5 percent

By Alex Lear on March 19, 2014, at 12:55 p.m.
TOPSHAM, Maine — Next year’s School Administrative District 75 budget could reach $36.3 million, an increase of 4.7 percent, according to first-draft figures. Of that amount, $21.5 million, a hike of 9.7 percent, would come from taxpayers. The $1.9 million increase would be spread across SAD 75′s four towns: about …
Rich Roedner

Topsham chooses longtime planner Rich Roedner to be town manager

By Alex Lear on March 12, 2014, at 8:05 a.m.
TOPSHAM, Maine — The Topsham Board of Selectmen didn’t go far to find the next town manager, voting unanimously after an executive session Monday to hire Planning Director Rich Roedner. Roedner, who has been planner since October 2002, has been Topsham’s interim manager since the departure earlier this month of …
Jeff Porter of Scarborough, assistant superintendent in the Biddeford School Department, will become school chief in School Administrative District 51 on July 1.

Biddeford administrator chosen as next superintendent for North Yarmouth-Cumberland school district

By Alex Lear on March 04, 2014, at 12:43 p.m.
CUMBERLAND, Maine — In a seven-minute meeting Monday, the School Administrative District 51 board of directors unanimously approved hiring Jeff Porter of Scarborough as superintendent of schools. Porter, assistant superintendent in the Biddeford School Department for the past seven years, will start a three-year contract in SAD 51 on July …
A fundraiser for breast cancer patient Cheryl Frye, holding a co-worker's child, will be held Saturday, March 8. The Bowdoinham woman is a supervisor at Rogers Ace Hardware in Bath, which is organizing the event at the Bath Senior Center.

Bath hardware store organizes benefit for ‘beloved’ employee diagnosed with cancer

By Alex Lear on Feb. 27, 2014, at 4:09 p.m.
BATH, Maine — Cheryl Frye says her battle with breast cancer has been a special journey, bolstered by the love and support of those around her. It’s those sentiments that have gone into a benefit being held for the Bowdoinham woman at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, March 8. Organized by Rogers …

Bath fines elderly couple $31,200 for building on city land 26 years ago

By Alex Lear on Feb. 13, 2014, at 11:07 a.m.
BATH, Maine — After lengthy discussion, part of which was held in executive session, the Bath City Council voted 7-1 Wednesday to fine an elderly couple $31,200 for code violations going back 26 years. Mardouni and Esther Sharrigan, who own property at 107 Mallard Road, have proposed buying less than …
Geoff Bruno is Falmouth's next superintendent of schools.

Falmouth picks Mass. man as new superintendent of schools

By Alex Lear on Feb. 12, 2014, at 11:33 a.m.
FALMOUTH, Maine — The Falmouth School Board on Monday unanimously selected Geoff Bruno as the next superintendent of schools. Bruno, who is executive director of curriculum at Saugus Public Schools in Saugus, Mass., will start July 1 at an annual salary of $125,000, School Board Chairman Andrew Kinley said. “I’m …
Medical marijuana grows, May 15, 2013, at the River Rock Medical Marijuana Center's natural light cultivation site in Denver.

Cumberland weighs zoning change for medical marijuana dispensaries

By Alex Lear on Jan. 29, 2014, at 9:14 a.m.
CUMBERLAND, Maine — The Cumberland Town Council on Monday scheduled a public hearing for Monday, Feb. 10, on whether to allow registered medical marijuana dispensaries in part of the town. The discussion, of amending the town code to allow dispensaries as a permitted use in the Office Commercial North district, …

West Bath voters approve first step in exiting school district

By Alex Lear on Jan. 22, 2014, at 6:06 a.m.
WEST BATH, Maine — Residents voted 185-64 Tuesday to initiate the process of withdrawing from Regional School Unit 1. A long process now lies ahead, culminating with a second and final vote required to allow the town to withdraw from the school district it helped form in 2008. “It’s a …
Bath City Manager Bill Giroux is seen in his office in this file photo from The Forecaster.

Bath manager apologizes for his role in controversial property sale

By Alex Lear on Jan. 09, 2014, at 11:59 a.m.
BATH, Maine — The city manager on Wednesday apologized for not giving the City Council better guidance concerning the quick sale last year of a city-owned property. Retired Maine Superior Court Judge Robert Crowley concluded in a Dec. 27, 2013, report that while the city should have been more transparent …

West Bath exit from Regional School Unit 1 goes to polls Jan. 21

By Alex Lear on Jan. 08, 2014, at 8:10 a.m.
WEST BATH, Maine — Residents will vote Tuesday, Jan. 21, whether to withdraw from the school district their town helped to form in 2008. As part of a 22-step, state-mandated withdrawal process, the town on Monday held a public hearing on West Bath’s possible departure from Regional School Unit 1. …
North Yarmouth Memorial School, shown here in a file photo from The Forecaster, could be closed if voters in the towns of School Administrative District 51 agree with a school board proposal.

North Yarmouth mulls what to do with building after town’s only school closes in June

By Alex Lear on Jan. 02, 2014, at 3:55 p.m.
NORTH YARMOUTH, Maine — With the town’s only school closing in June, the question remains about what to do with the 38-year-old building after it is turned over to the town. The School Administrative District 51 Board of Directors voted in December 2012 to close the North Yarmouth Memorial School …
Phippsburg developer Robert Smith, who purchased the former Bath Memorial Hospital building from the city in May for $799,000,  listed the property for sale for $1.65 million in October.

Retired judge finds ‘human mistakes’ but no corruption in Bath officials’ property sale

By Alex Lear on Dec. 30, 2013, at 10:51 a.m.
BATH, Maine — A former Maine Superior Court judge has concluded that while Bath officials should have been more transparent about a property sale, there was no corruption involved. The city bought the Mid Coast Center for Higher Education, a former hospital, more than a decade ago for $1 and …
A map provided by the town of Cumberland shows the existing Rural Residential 1 (in blue) and 2 (in yellow) zones. The green areas show regions of open space, tree growth or town-owned properties. A proposed update to the town's Comprehensive Plan recommends the two RR zones be merged, so that both allow minimum lots of two acres, as permitted in RR2. RR1 allows minimum lots of four acres.

How rural is rural? Cumberland plan to reduce minimum lot sizes attracts criticism

By Alex Lear on Dec. 24, 2013, at 10:57 a.m.
CUMBERLAND, Maine — A proposed Comprehensive Plan update, criticized by some residents who are concerned about the effect on the town’s “rural lifestyle,” could go to a Town Council vote Jan. 27. The panel and public weighed in on the matter for about two hours Monday, six days after the …
Alyssa Tibbetts

Cumberland assistant town manager leaves for law firm job

By Alex Lear on Dec. 23, 2013, at 11:21 a.m.
CUMBERLAND, Maine — Alyssa Tibbetts, who started in the town office as an intern a decade ago and ultimately became assistant town manager, will step down from that position Jan. 3 to join a Portland law firm. Tibbetts — whose mother, Nadeen Daniels, was Cumberland’s town clerk and human resources …

Only Quaker school in northern New England aims to open new, larger building in Cumberland in 2015

By Alex Lear on Dec. 18, 2013, at 8:22 a.m.
CUMBERLAND, Maine — The Cumberland Planning Board granted major site plan approval Tuesday to the Friends School of Portland, which plans to open in a new, 15,000-square-foot building in Cumberland in 2015. The project has received approval from the Maine Department of Transportation and still needs support from the Maine …
Louanne and Mark Schoninger, owners of Bath Natural Foods, continue a 35-year legacy of health food stores at 36 Centre St. in Bath.

Store owners celebrate 35 years of natural food sales in Bath

By Alex Lear on Dec. 11, 2013, at 12:20 p.m.
BATH, Maine — The City of Ships has also been a city of health food for 35 years. Louanne and Mark Schoninger, the owners of Bath Natural Market, operate the third in a line of health food stores at 36 Centre St. Mark Schoninger has held the reins for nine …
The Westcustogo Grange Hall, where North Yarmouth residents held town meeting, weddings, Boy Scout meetings and aerobics, burned to the ground in August.

North Yarmouth rethinks town center development in wake of fire

By Alex Lear on Dec. 09, 2013, at 6:49 p.m.
NORTH YARMOUTH, Maine — The Board of Selectmen next week will take up a town-center development proposal that has been largely reshaped in the wake of the Aug. 29 Wescustogo Hall fire. The proposal includes construction of a structure that could host the same kinds of functions previously held at …
Cornell Knight, Topsham's town manager for nearly three years, is resigning to join his wife, who works in Washington, D.C.

Award-winning Topsham town manager announces resignation, heading to Washington

By Alex Lear on Dec. 09, 2013, at 3:32 p.m.
TOPSHAM, Maine — Cornell Knight, who has been Topsham’s town manager since February 2011 and was named Maine’s manager of the year last year, has resigned, effective next March. Knight on Monday said he plans to move to Washington, D.C., where his wife, Kay Rand, is chief of staff to …
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