Democracy in good hands

With the recent caucuses one weekend and the town meeting the next, democracy is in good shape on the Cranberry Isles!

Although the Republican caucus was held off island, registered Democrats convened at the home of Jeri and Ted Spurling to discuss the two candidates for the Democratic Party. The 14 voters amicably chose to send a delegate in support of Bernie Sanders to Portland this May. Voters traveling from Great Cranberry and the mainland were grateful to be able to attend the caucus – a town boat had not been secured that Friday, and Ted Spurling generously donated his time and the use of his boat to give both islands a chance to participate. Thanks Ted!

Saturday morning, we fired up the old 1982 Ford pickup, drove down to the Great Cranberry Island Dock and joined the crowd as other members of the town made their way onto the mail boat. Already aboard were those coming back from the mainland or others who do not call the Cranberry Isles their “permanent residence” but do consider this place home. Town meeting is a testimony to the investment that islanders have to this place and the strong ties that hold these communities together. One would be hard-pressed to find such democracy elsewhere – it’s the smallest of small town politics. All voting and even non-voting members are encouraged to attend, and because these decisions are made only once a year, residents easily can prioritize their schedules to get here.

The meeting was held on Islesford this year in the Neighborhood House and was headed by Barb Fernald, Denise McCormick, Nan Hadlock and Beverley Sanborn, with Barb serving as a beautifully composed moderator. The first difficult decision came quick, with the question of what to pay our town selectmen. The job is time consuming, and selectmen are held accountable for their decisions. Last town meeting, no one wanted to step up to the plate, and the pay was raised substantially to encourage participation. This year, there were still few willing to take over the position from Richard Beal, whose three-year term was up, and although last year’s pay increase was criticized by many, voters decided after much debate to keep the increase for another year. Richard was re-elected as selectman for another three-year term.

The next controversial subject was to no one’s surprise our two island schools. We are as one community still trying to iron out details regarding what’s best for the children and staff and emotions run high when disagreements occur. The Longfellow School is still scheduled to be the primary location for the 2017-18 school years, and Great Cranberry looks forward to welcoming Islesford kids to our home.

What followed the lengthy school discussion was talk of future ferry service plans, locations for a new town office and various means of funding the office’s construction, waste removal contracts, and among many other things, the decision to purchase a new fire truck for Great Cranberry Island. The ferry is in the works; we won’t be putting $50,000 into a reserve for a town office because maybe we’ll have the office in the vacant school building instead, rotating with the school’s schedule; and our fire chief Richard Howland will get his new fire truck. Hurrah!

What really made town meeting though was of course the food! A huge thank you to Jasmine Samuels for the incredible lunch she put so much hard work into. We wouldn’t have made it out alive without you!

Feb. 29 was a day to be marked by a dip. Joy Sprague, Stefanie Alley, Cindy Thomas and Barb Fernald had their once-every-four-year leap dip. They’re pretty good recognizing the water’s temperature, though this time, there were a couple of optimists: the guesses were 37, 38, 40 and 42 degrees! Optimism is appropriate: the official temperatures were 36.9 degrees in Bar Harbor and 40 degrees at the Eastern Maine Shelf buoy, a tad different from the last day of February a year ago.

Kaitlyn Duggan brought dyes and necessary tools and introduced Ukrainian Easter egg dying. Those who came brought their own eggs; Barb Fernald brought the better part of a dozen more for those who might want to do more than one, or perhaps to lay a cracked (or worse) one to rest and start again. Barb Fernald, Lauren Simmons, Ann Fernald, Serena Spurling, Sally Rowan, Mary E. Schuch, Lindsay Eysnogle, Kathleen Lake, Jeri Spurling, Christina Spurling and Andrew Trepanier admired each other’s work, swapped stories and had a good time together. Some beautiful shells are the result of the day; pictures are posted on the Cranberry Isles Information Page on Facebook.

The Ladies Aid also will hold a meeting on Saturday, March 19, at 1 p.m. to discuss the summer schedule, summer fair plans, barn sales, recent building updates, repairs and more. New member are always welcome, so drop by and find out what this 116-year-old island organization works to provide for the Cranberry Island Community.

Sunlight progress! At New Year’s, the sun didn’t rise until 7:07 a.m. The first full day of spring isn’t until March 21, but the actual equinox here came Tuesday, March 15, when sunrise was at 6:41 a.m. and sunset was at 6:42 p.m. Daylight Savings started Sunday, if you were wondering how the days could get longer and sunrise be later.

Question: what does “organic” mean? Organic milk, pasteurized at a high temperature to give it a longer life, enriched with calcium and vitamins A and D. Reminds me of the old margarine ads “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!”

This will be my (Sarah McCracken’s) last column piece for the Cranberry Isles and what a perfect topic to close with. Taking over will be Eileen Richards, and then Kayla Gagnon for the summer while I attend medicinal plant school in California. Anyone is welcome to come with health/plant questions when I return in August. Thanks Eileen and Kayla for taking over the column, thanks to Kayla, Jessi and Page for keeping the Island Ecology Project going strong, and thanks to this incredible community for, well, existing.

Happy belated birthday to myself (Sarah McCracken) on March 7, Edgar Blank on March 10, Tom Powell on March 11, Freddie Kehoe, Mark Fernald and Cody Tozier on March 12, Linda Lunt on March 14, Elliott Damon Hadlock and Jan Moss on March 15, and to Martha Miller and Madison Elizabeth Kind on March 16. Happy birthday to James Bunker and Wini Smart on March 17.

Happy anniversary (60 years!) to Richard and Helen Dudman on March 14.

Send items by 5 p.m. on Sunday. Email Sally Rowan at [email protected]



Sally Rowan and Sarah McCracken

Sally Rowan and Sarah McCracken

We look forward to reporting all the news. Send items to us by 5 p.m. on Sunday. For Islesford, email Sally Rowan at [email protected] com, and for Great Cranberry, email Sarah McCracken at [email protected] or call her at 978-879-5939.
Sally Rowan and Sarah McCracken

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