New construction is a sign that the island community on Great Cranberry is growing and moving forward. Local contractor Michael Westphal’s team – Bruce Walton, Gabriel Westphal and Brendon Westphal – just completed a new porch on the Cranberry Island General Store which features a permanent roof to shelter islanders and workers as they sip an afternoon coffee or enjoy a lunch in less than ideal weather.
As new construction on the Longfellow school comes to a close, the school board, composed of two Islesford residents and one resident of Great Cranberry, decided to announce officially on Friday that the 2016-17 school year will be held on Great Cranberry Island. This decision made in the interest of the well-being of both students and teachers is met with enthusiasm and also concern from local residents. It’s going to be a tough transition for some Islesford students to make the daily commute, and no one wants to see the Ashley Bryan School empty, but currently it is not feasible to have both schools open simultaneously. Great Cranberry kids have been commuting to Islesford’s Ashley Bryan School for 15 years since Longfellow closed down due to a lack of school-aged residents. This year, Great Cranberry is sending eight kids to the island school, falling just short of Islesford’s student population. The use of Longfellow school is not a permanent change, and in the future, the Cranberry Isles community will continue to reassess the situation. Neither wants to see their buildings sit empty.
The coming of the holiday season also means improvements for the Ladies Aid, which raised over $1,000 at their annual Christmas fair Saturday. The money will go towards a new lighting system that will be installed in the community center building.
Barb Fernald and Cindy Thomas loved the unseasonably warm day so much they went for their dip of the month. Barb writes, “So nice we went in twice! December dip of the month. Air temperature around 47 degrees. Water temp in Bar Harbor 46 degrees. (Eastern Maine Shelf buoy was 49 degrees) A beautiful December afternoon. Thanks Cindy!
Islesford-Baltimore is doing well. Skip Stevens and Sally went down for a few days and saw Dedi on Sunday morning. Sunday night, they had dinner at Hugh and Karen Smallwood’s, along with Peyton Eggleston and Elaine. Several more contacts were anticipated.
The annual Wreaths Across America trip from Harrington to Arlington National Cemetery went across the Penobscot Narrows bridge, also referred to as the Bucksport bridge, on Sunday. It will arrive in Arlington on Saturday, Dec. 12, and wreathes will be laid at all the graves by volunteers who show up. Some of the trucks that leave Maine in the parade turn off along the way to present wreaths at other national cemeteries. It’s a very impressive and moving procession, and Arlington is very moving and powerful on its own. The wreaths each year are stunning.
With winter on its way, some residents are looking to construct new ways to enjoy the outdoors. Nick Barton, in partnership with the Futures Group, is hoping to raise enough money this winter to purchase an ice rink kit to be constructed behind the Ladies Aid Community Center. The rink would create a common space for both islanders and those from the mainland to come together for some much-needed fun on winter’s shortest days and longest nights. Nick is hoping to raise $9,321.74 for the ice rink kit, storage and maintenance. Money will be returned to donors if the goal is not met. Questions can be emailed to Nick at [email protected]gmail.com.
Donations can be sent to Great Cranberry Island Futures Group, P.O. Box 115, Cranberry Isles, ME 04625, Attn: Sam Donald, Treasurer.
On Sunday, Dec. 13, at 1 p.m., there will be a GCI Yankee swap. Bring a gift and get a gift. All are welcome. Please bring gifts wrapped.
We have some Islesford birthdays: Grace Houghton and Jeanne Smith chose Dec. 6. Eliza Greenman went for Dec. 7. Heather Spurling preferred double-digits and for her birthday picked Dec. 10. Mat Rice and Philip Horvath add another on Dec. 14.
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], and for Great Cranberry, email Sarah McCracken at [email protected] or call her at 978-879-5939.