Category Archives: April 13

After being ‘chief,’ turning to the role of ‘coach’ and ‘guide’

When Tim Polky put his name in for the job of St. George’s town manager last autumn, he admits it was with a certain amount of reluctance. “I had an idea of what the job is about—I’d been working with John [Falla, who retired as town manager at the end of January after nearly 30 years in the position] for about 25 years. I just didn’t want a desk job.”

But after Falla moved up his retirement date from June 30, 2017 to February 1, Polky says that putting himself forward as a candidate for the position seemed the right thing to do. As Richard Bates, the chair of the town’s select board, explains, with Falla retiring five months earlier than expected, the timeline for the search process the board had set up with the help of the Maine Municipal Association suddenly became “impractical” if the board didn’t want to rush into making a choice. Although hiring an interim town manager was an option, choosing to enter into a three-year contract with Polky, Bates says, “offered a pretty close to optimum solution.” As town manager, Polky would be able not only to provide administrative continuity as needed changes are made at the town office, but also to bring familiarity with the work of the town’s various boards and committees and the issues they are currently facing.

“I think that my primary goal is to make the transition—to go from what we had to what we’ll have down the road,” Polky says in terms of his administrative role at the town office. “Whether I’m here two or three years from now, we still need to have that plan in place and it will be different from what John did. A lot of things may be different. I look at myself as a coach for that transition.”

Already the position of assistant town manager that Polky held under Falla has been eliminated and the position of finance director—now held by Elizabeth Curtis—has been added. Creating Curtis’ position, which involves many of the responsibilities Falla had, has allowed Polky to retain most of the same roles he had as assistant town manager—that of town planner, road commissioner, transfer station supervisor, emergency management administrator—while assuming his new responsibilities as town manager. These include working closely with the select board and shepherding special projects such as the development of the Cold Storage Road property and addressing new concerns such as affordable housing issues.

“The biggest thing I left behind was the job of fire chief,” Polky notes. It’s a position he had held since 1980. “I had to leave that behind because the fire chief reports to the town manager.” Polky is quick to add that he is confident the department will continue to function well under the new chief, Mike Smith. “We have a capable, well-trained fire department. I’ve stayed on as a firefighter and I’ll be there if they need me. The planning part of it—how will we make improvements—has always been a group process. We’re also fortunate because we’ve got a lot of young people, so for the near future we’re in fairly decent shape—we can always use more, but right now it’s good.”

Polky says that, in addition to playing coach in matters of reorganization at the town office, as town manager he also sees himself as “a guide” in helping the town’s committees and boards reach the town’s goals. “I’ve been in the town a long time, I listen to people and have an idea of what they want. Of course all taxpayers have an idea of where they want the town to be. What we need to do as a town is to talk to each other and make what we want known and not make assumptions. So if you have a question, ask.”

Polky has lived in St. George all his life and his ties to the community go even deeper. “Some of my family was here in the early to mid 1700s. The land where my house is has been in the family since before the Revolutionary War. And my father’s family came here from Finland about 1900 to work in the quarries in Long Cove.”

Polky admits that it is those deep ties to the community, in part, that affects how he looks at his new job. “I don’t remember ever not doing something for the community. My family always did. I just grew up that way. I think that has a lot to do with why I’m doing this. If I wasn’t so tied to the community I probably wouldn’t have told the select board I was interested in this job. But I think this transition is going to work fine. We have an excellent staff here—they know what has to be done. It’s a team and the transition will be a collaborative process.”—JW

PHOTO: Julie Wortman

Roadside clean-up May 6

It’s that time again!  This year’s St. George Roadside Clean-up will be held on Saturday, May 6th.

The event will start at 8:00am at the Town Office. Volunteers can pick up heavy-duty bags for trash, plastic buckets for recycling, and sign up for a segment of road to be cleaned.  As a send-off to the volunteers, a pancake breakfast is offered, beginning at 7:30am, sponsored by the St.  George Days Committee as a fundraiser for the activities offered during the July celebration.

As an added incentive, volunteers can sign up, on a first come first served basis, to receive one of 25 free tickets generously donated by the Monhegan Boat Line  for a trip to Monhegan, to be held in June.

The St. George Solid Waste & Recycling Committee encourages all volunteers to clean-up a section of road, whether it is by their own home or another road in town. Each street will be broken up into manageable segments, covering both sides of the road. Volunteers are also encouraged to separate all material that appears to be recyclable and place it in the buckets.  The trash and recyclables can be taken directly to the Transfer Station or left by the side of the road.  Members of the committee will be available to help with the drop off at the Transfer Station and also will pick up any waste and recycling left on the side of the road.

If you can’t participate on the 6th, please clean up in front of your own home or business on another day. We welcome all efforts to keep our roads litter-free. Together, let’s keep St. George beautiful!­—Wendy Carr

Why art matters

By Katharine A. Cartwright

It’s no secret that the St. George Peninsula is populated by a large number of artists. And, it’s no secret that these artists are as diverse in their forms of expression as they are in number. As one of those artists, I feel the energy in this community to keep the arts alive. This is important because art matters; it is essential to who we are. Beginning with the earliest cave dwellers, humans continually have engaged in aesthetic expression in many forms. Why we need to do this is a question for neuroscientists and psychiatrists. But the results of our self-expression have far reaching effects.

Cultures are built upon the imaginations of artists and the evolutions of historical cultures are revealed through the arts. Art not only provides a window into the past and present, but may provide a path to our future. I find it remarkable that museums around the world are still packed with visitors of all ages who stand, sometimes tearfully and sometimes confused, before paintings, sculptures, photographs and videos to experience an emotional and intellectual moment. And they keep coming back time after time. Our cities and towns budget for public art to be created and displayed. We acquire art for our homes and businesses. Art is not “art for art’s sake.” It has purpose and meaning. This is why art matters, and why I value the St. George community who actively creates and supports it.

This is the first of a regular column in The Dragon that will shine a spotlight on the visual artists in our community and also provide a little insight and intellectual nourishment about the arts. If you are a St. George artist or gallery engaged in the fine arts and would like to be the centerpiece for my column, please contact me at  Special consideration is given to those who have exhibits or events scheduled near our publication deadlines so that we may encourage others to attend. All forms of visual art will be considered.

Ed. note: St. George resident Katharine Cartwright is a visual artist and signature member of the National Watercolor Society. The Dragon asked her to prepare a regular “arts” column as a means of giving a higher profile to St. George’s lively art scene. We couldn’t think of a better candidate for the job. For Kathy, fine art has been a passion dating from childhood, through high-school studies, study at three universities and pursuit of a professional career. In her 30s she developed an additional interest in the Geosciences that eventually led her to undergraduate and graduate degrees and a faculty position at Skidmore College. But her devotion to her art never wavered. Now retired from Skidmore, Kathy continues to be devoted to her work as a watercolorist, but has also found new passion for promoting the work of other artists. This has led her to team up with the National Watercolor Society in California to sponsor the national Vanguard Award for innovative work in the field, but also to focus very specifically on cultivating the arts locally here in St. George and the midcoast area. In 2012 she proposed that the Jackson Memorial Library begin mounting regular art exhibitions featuring the work of local artists. She curated the first 16 shows, an experience that led her to become better acquainted with St. George’s art community. “The art scene in St. George is very lively,” she says. “We have a diverse group of artists who are independent thinkers, which is one thing I like—a lot of different styles, techniques and ideas. I feel very strongly that every voice that can be heard should be heard.” In her debut column, Kathy writes that “art matters.” Through her column we look forward to discovering its purpose and meaning here in St. George.

PHOTO: Julie Wortman


Dear Editor:
Over the weekend of March 17, teams from St. George, Rockland, Thomaston, Camden and Cushing participated in the 22nd annual Mussel Ridge Hoops Tournament. This year’s event was a huge success as usual and would not have been possible without the collective efforts of many, many individuals and businesses. I would like to thank the following for their selfless contributions that allowed over 80   3rd and 4th graders to experience first-rate competition and hospitality, while raising over $4,000 for the St. George Recreation Boosters, who support recreational offerings for the young people of St. George.

Thank you:   St. George Town Office staff, particularly Patty St. Clair and Beth Smith; St. George School staff, particularly Jan Letourneau, Randy Elwell, Cheryl Worthing, Darci Morris-Chickering and Janet Harjula; St. George Recreation Committee and Boosters—Raymie Upham, Meghan Benner, Craig Gauthier, Joanna Montgomery, Gary Minery, Missy Gill, Ann Hoppe, Summer Ward and Cassie Kilbride;  community members  Cindy Hall, Davin Putansu, Dan Miller, Tracy Leavitt, Peter Henderson, Tim Hoppe, Michael Cushman;  and innumerable people who donated food or their time to help.  Thanks to business sponsors:  The Black Harpoon, Beckett’s Auto Service, Wa2Much Trucking, LKC Lobster, Greg Holmes Snowplowing, Superior Bait and Salt, Maine Coast Petroleum, Brooks Trap Mill, The Miller Family,  St. George Realty, Port Clyde Co-Op, Maritime Farms Deli, J.K. Kalloch, G.C. Minery Plumbing and Heating, F/V White Lightning, Mainely Boats, Jeff’s Auto Body and Restoration,  Hammer Down Construction, Falla and Sons Surveying, Justin Long Inc, First National Bank, Hoppe’s Tree Service, Puffins’ Nest, Ponderosa Motor Services, St. George Community Sailing, St. George Property Maintenance, J.D. Miller Construction, Monhegan Boat Lines, Port Clyde Kayak, Harbor Builders, TJ’s Lite Excavation, DJ Dan Miller, Ponderosa Playland Child Care, Lorraine Construction, Ocean Pursuits, The Sugar Tree, Linda Bean Lobster,  Perle Photography, and Maine Printing.   Finally, a thank you to the players, coaches and fans for their efforts. What a great team effort by all involved.

Ben Vail
St. George Parks and Recreation Director

Town of St. George shred event

This year, the Solid Waste and Recycling Committee is sponsoring a shredding event for all town residents.  It is being held on Saturday, April 29, 2017, 10:00am to 2:00pm, St. George School, lower parking lot.  This event is being held in conjunction with the St. George Business Alliance’s Welcome Aboard Business Expo and Job Fair which will be occurring in the school at the same time. Please attend and support both events.

A truck from Shred on Site, Records Management Center, will be on site in the parking lot.  A representative from the company will take your material and shred it while you watch.  In addition, you  will receive a certificate of destruction.  Fast and confidential, this process ensures peace of mind.

Gather your old bills, bank statements and other documents that you wish to dispose of in a secure manner and bring them to the school on Saturday, April 29th from 10:00am-2:00pm. A carful of material is just $5.00 and a full pick-up is $10.00 for this service. ­—Wendy Carr

Where in St. George…?

Do you know where this is? Email your answer to The first correct answer wins a free business card-sized ad in The Dragon.

Nancy Briggs identified the fence at Marshall Point Lighthouse in the March 16 issue.

PHOTO: Julie Wortman

Stella and Betsy

by Justyce Long

Recently Betsy Fairfield, a bus driver at the St. George School, got a new Great Pyrenees puppy. Betsy is my grandmother, and I asked her a few questions. The first question was why she wanted Stella to be a therapy dog. She told me that at first she didn’t know she wanted her to be one; then she saw how she behaved and how much she liked people (and vice versa), and she realized she would be just right for one. Then I asked her what she wanted to come from Stella being a therapy dog. She replied, “I want her to make people feel happy and safe. I want people to feel like they are protected around her.”

Betsy had a previous dog named Jebbie who recently died, so I asked her when and how did she decide she wanted a new puppy? “Well,” Betsy sighed, “It was over a year since he died and in my eyes, he was the best.  In my mind I was fine without a dog until my partner Preston sent me a picture of these Great Pyrenees puppies. My other dog had Great Pyrenees in him, and I figured it would be perfect. I went to see them.” And the rest is history. Stella can be seen on the bus each day with her mom, the bus driver, and she makes the rounds at school in the morning before classes start to say hi to all the kids.

The first graders have all written and illustrated fictional stories about Stella and plan to have Betsy come in to their classroom to hear the kids read their stories. They have started a fund-raiser called The Stella Drive. Here is some information about that:

Stella Drive!
Stella is a 4-month-old Great Pyrenees who is training to become a therapy dog. She currently rides a St. George MSU bus and loves getting to spend time with our students. Stella is “sponsoring” a supply drive to benefit the Pope Memorial Humane Society, in Thomaston. Please consider donating canned dog/cat food, hard rubber dog toys or kongs, cat toys, peanut butter, large trash bags and paper towels. A collection box is in the hallway near the main school entrance. Thank you for your support!

We all love Stella already and wish Betsy the best of luck and success in the training.
(Long is a 7th grade student at the St. George School.)

PHOTO: Betsy Fairfield