March 30, 2020
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State confiscates homemade national monument sign, warns against other postings

A Benedicta couple who oppose the governor’s ban of road signs showing the way to Maine’s national monument hung their own signage on a highway overpass.

But it didn’t last long.

Herman and Lisa Ammerman said they put up a spraypainted painter’s cloth sign advertising the Katahdin Woods and Water National Monument’s accessibility via exit 262 at about 7 p.m. on Tuesday. By the next afternoon, it was gone.

It was unclear exactly who took down the sign. Maine Department of Transportation spokesman Ted Talbot said state workers removed a sign left at the same location, Benedicta’s Casey Road bridge on the northbound side of Interstate 95, on Wednesday. But he didn’t know if workers removed Herman and Lisa Ammerman’s sign, or someone else’s. Talbot said the sign was illegally placed, and hazardous.

With Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument starting its first full season with the opening of its main Loop Road entrance on Thursday, Lisa Ammerman had hoped that motorists — and Gov. Paul LePage — would get the message.

“I have supported the monument idea for a very long time. It is a wonderful opportunity for this region and I am sure many people agree with me,” Mrs. Ammerman said Wednesday. “We would all like to see more official signs, the ones the governor was supposed to allow to have placed, on the highway.”

Herman Ammerman said he was sad to hear that his sign was removed.

“The sign didn’t hurt anyone. Not having signs [on the highway] is just a shame,” he said.

LePage banned signs from the highway and Routes 11, 157 and 159 — all Katahdin region main roads — until federal officials determine whether the executive order creating the monument is valid. That review is due on Aug. 24.

The stakes for the monument might be huge. A strong inaugural effort could help a Katahdin region economy devastated by two paper mill closures. A poor showing could underline LePage’s contention that it is a nondescript “mosquito area” designated due to federal government overreach.

The monument is accessible via I-95’s Island Falls, Medway and Sherman exits. Superintendent Tim Hudson, who opened the monument’s north entrance on May 13, said the facility will be ready for visitors.

“I’m really anxious to see how many people we get. We have had a lot of interest and a lot of calls from people,” Hudson said. “We will learn a lot of lessons about traffic and where people need to go. For the planning, it will be very informative.”

The governor’s ban has created other signs of protest. Anita Mueller, a monument supporter and businesswoman from Millinocket, said she has created avatars that a few dozen people are using as their profile pictures on Facebook.

“A lack of signage is not going to stop people from visiting the monument,” Mueller said.


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