Presque Isle geographers get their hands on drones

Originally appeared in the Bangor Daily News By Anthony Brino, BDN Staff on Nov. 27, 2016, at 12:06 p.m.

Andrew Dolley, a GIS student at the University of Maine Presque Isle, working with a drone at King Grove Cemetery in Mars Hill as a part of a community mapping project with the town.

Students and professors with the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s geographic information systems program have been getting acquainted with two new drones this fall.

In September, the GIS students at UMPI were using the DJI Phantom-4 drones in Mars Hill, taking aerial photos of the Kings Grove Cemetery that will be used to create a plot map for the town office. It’s one of a variety of practical applications offered by drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, said Chunzeng Wang, a geology professor and head of the GIS lab at the university.

“Drones are among the most important technological advances in remote sensing and GIS,” he said.

UMPI’s drones are the first UAVs being used by a college GIS program in Maine, according to the university, and they were purchased through funding under the science and technology bond program approved by Maine voters in 2013, according to a news release from the university.

Association, L.L. Bean reach pact for access to Freeport cemetery

Originally appeared in The Forecaster By Kate Gardner on September 14, 2016

FREEPORT — L.L. Bean and the Mann Cemetery Association have reached an agreement to restore access to the cemetery next to the company’s Outdoor Discovery Center.

Under the agreement, L.L. Bean will deed a 1,200-foot access path to the cemetery from Lower Flying Point Road. The Project Review Board on Tuesday unanimously approved the plan, which is an amendment to a site plan approved three years ago.

Plans for the Outdoor Discovery Center were approved by the Project Review Board in September 2013, with the condition that “the final plan will show the traditional access to the Mann Cemetery.” When the discovery center was built in 2014, L.L. Bean spread loam and seeded the access road to Mann Cemetery, against the Mann family’s wishes.

Both the discovery center and the cemetery, which is about 300 years old and has almost 170 plots, are on Marietta Lane off Lower Flying Point Road.

The cemetery is where many members of the Mann family and other early Freeport residents are buried; the last burial took place in 1922. Members of the Mann family still live in Freeport, and were promised continued access to the cemetery when the discovery center was built.

L.L. Bean went back to the Project Review Board on July 13 after Code Enforcement Officer Fred Reeder in May said clarification was needed about whether the company was allowed to plant grass over the road.

The company and the cemetery Association had been working together on a resolution ahead of Tuesday’s Project Review Board meeting, where the plan was presented to the board and approximately 50 members of the public.

The new path will be 20 feet wide and made of gravel. A small parking area will be built at the top of the path, which will be open only to foot traffic. The plan also states that the original access road will be completely removed.

Board members had little to say Tuesday, and only one member of the public spoke.

Linda Bean, who said she was speaking personally and not as an affiliate of L.L. Bean, said she is glad the dispute has been resolved. She also added that the Bean family is distantly related to the Mann family.

The Mann Cemetery Association has until Nov. 15 to record the deed transfer in the Cumberland County Registry of Deeds, and 120 days from Sept. 13 to submit a boundary survey of the Mann Cemetery property to the town.

Before the access road and parking lot are built, the cemetery association must apply for site plan approval with the Project Review Board.

The Mann Cemetery Association’s lawyer, James Katsiaficas, of Portland-based Perkins Thompson, said after the meeting that association members hope to have the road built by next spring. He said the cemetery association will be responsible for financing the project.

Freeport resident Ken Mann maintains Mann Cemetery off Marietta Road, where many of his relatives are buried.

North Yarmouth clerk makes sure veterans aren’t forgotten

Originally appeared in The Forcaster

NORTH YARMOUTH — When it comes to procuring cemetery memorials for the town’s forgotten military veterans, Town Clerk Debbie Grover leaves no stone unturned.

With Independence Day around the corner, she said, it’s a particularly good time to remember those who fought to secure and maintain this country’s freedom.

“I have always had a soft spot in my heart for veterans. They were willing to give up their lives for our country and our freedom, then and now,” Grover said this week. “All veterans should be recognized for that dedication regardless of how long ago that service was.”

First it was a headstone for Winthrop Baston, a captain in the American Revolution whose marker was in pieces, sunken under the earth, and all but forgotten. Grover spent three years trying to obtain a new stone for Baston, an ancestor of longtime North Yarmouth fire chief Dick Baston and his son Clark – also a former North Yarmouth fire chief, and still its public works director.

Grover achieved success last fall, with a new stone for the elder Baston at his Walnut Hill Cemetery plot, just in time for a Veterans Day dedication.

But that was only the beginning.

“I have three others that I want to get monuments for, who don’t have them at all,” Grover said last November. While she unfortunately did not know of any living family members of those veterans – an important piece of the memorial-procuring puzzle – “I’m not giving up,” she said.

Grover has now obtained monuments for two of those Civil War veterans, Sgt. Leander Frost and Pvt. Edward Gooding, which D.C. Stilkey & Son set at no charge early this month.

Gooding (1841-1923) served in Company G of the 25th Maine Infantry, and was an ancestor of Moria Gooding Vincent, who grew up and still resides in town, according to Grover. The clerk supplied the Office of Veterans Affairs with a letter of request from Vincent, along with Gooding’s birth and death records and a copy of a military roster from the war.

Frost (1847-1921) served in Company E of the 30th Infantry during the Civil War and was wounded in 1864. Grover found copies of his pay receipts and military medical file, as well as his birth and death records.

The third veteran without a stone is Luther S. Baker, a World War I veteran who never married, according to Grover. She has found records of his Army enlistment and discharge before the war, and a record of his re-enlistment during the war, but not that discharge, which she must find since her application to the VA office in April was denied, she said.

The state Archive Office is helping with the search, the clerk added.

While getting a memorial for Baker would wrap up her work for now, Grover said “you never know what you may find going forward in the world of cemeteries.”

North Yarmouth Town Clerk Debbie Grover has obtained three tombstones for military veterans to replace those that had been destroyed or vanished, and she’s working on a fourth.

Landscaping company volunteers to repair cemetery damage

(originally appeared on WCSH Channel 6)

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — An Augusta cemetery is looking cleaner Tuesday after vandals set fire to a shed, flipped benches and knocked over about 80 headstones in Riverside Cemetery last week, according to police.

“I was at a loss. I couldn’t fathom it,” said cemetery caretaker David McGuire.

Repairing the damage would take a lot of work and money, a responsibility that technically falls on the loved ones of those buried here. Fortunately, the owner of a local landscape company decided to help.

“I grew up here and the community has given a lot to me so its important to give a little bit back anyway,” said Tim Brown.

Brown said he believes a cemetery should be a place for peace and he wanted to help repair it. He brought along two employees, Angela Crisafulli and Adam O’Neal, who also joined Augusta Public Works to clean up.

Thanks to those Brownies Landscaping volunteers, crews were able to fix 30 stones Monday. They worked all day Tuesday and hope to finish the job Wednesday.

Crews will need to come back in the spring to apply an adhesive that will more permanently re-attach the stones.

Monmouth cemetery road rage damage to be repaired

(originally appeared on

The mother and daughter accused of ramming into each other’s vehicles in the cemetery 13 months ago both pleaded guilty Wednesday to criminal mischief.

338322_140929-20141029-Monmouth-2AUGUSTA — The cases involving the destruction at Monmouth Ridge Cemetery have been laid to rest.

The mother and daughter accused of ramming into each other’s vehicles in the cemetery 13 months ago both pleaded guilty Tuesday to criminal mischief. The same day, the Monmouth Cemetery Association sought a dismissal of a lawsuit they filed against the pair seeking restitution for the $33,837 in damages.

Additional Images

An overturned grave marker on Wednesday at the Monmouth Ridge Cemetery. Staff photo by Andy Molloy
And Wednesday, the association picked up a check for about $25,000, the settlement amount negotiated with the automobile insurance company.

“The nine members of the cemetery board are greatly relieved and grateful to the Maine court system that encouraged the settlement of the case,” said Hugh LeMaster, association president, on Wednesday. “We feel a large measure of responsibility to the families. Now that we actually have seen funds received, then we’re going to be able to move forward and talk to the monument company for replacement and repair.”

He added, “The whole town, I think, is breathing a sigh of relief.”

The damage was done on Sept. 27, 2013, by Melissa K. Grant, now 43, of Farmingdale, and her daughter, Savannah N. Lowe, now 21, of West Gardiner.

Monmouth police Chief Kevin Mulherin said at the time that Lowe tried to keep Grant from leaving the cemetery by hitting the mother’s vehicle with her vehicle because Lowe believed Grant was intoxicated, although Mulherin said police couldn’t prove that and didn’t charge her for it. The daughter hit her mother’s car with her car, then the mother hit the daughter’s car with hers, Mulherin said.

“They ended up hitting each other’s cars and taking out some gravestones,” he said.

Several days later, Grant denied the police account in an interview, saying Lowe’s foot got stuck on her vehicle’s accelerator and smashed into her car, damaging the stones in the process. She said her father was buried there. Grant said at that time she was working with her insurance company to pay for the damage to the headstones. The incident at the cemetery resulted in toppled and destroyed monuments and headstones.

On Tuesday, in Kennebec County Superior Court, Grant pleaded guilty to criminal mischief and operating beyond license restriction. She was sentenced to 180 days in jail, all suspended, and one year of probation. Conditions of that probation ban her from being at the cemetery unless she calls the association first and receives permission, according to Justice Robert Mullen’s order. Grant also was fined $100. She was represented by attorney Donald Hornblower.

“The objective of the victim from the beginning was to be able to repair the damage,” Hornblower said. “It enabled the association to get the amount of money needed to repair the damage.”

The same day, her daughter, Lowe, pleaded guilty to criminal mischief. She was sentenced to 180 days in jail, all suspended, and one year of administrative release. During the first 10 months of that time, she was ordered to perform 50 hours of community service work. She is also banned from returning to the cemetery.

“She accepts responsibility for her role in the events that day,” Lowe’s attorney, Matthew Morgan, said on Wednesday. “We’re certainly pleased the cemetery association has been reimbursed and feel it’s a fair outcome.”

The other charges against the women were dismissed in exchange for the pleas.

“One of the difficulties we faced was how to prove who caused what damage,” District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said on Wednesday. She said she spoke to association members about their desire to get the money to have the damage repaired. “We wanted the case to be completed as soon as we could so they could receive the money to repair the damage.”

The cemetery contains roughly 1,000 graves, some dating to the 1700s, and is still actively used for burials.

“We have to replace the shattered stones,” said Karen Cyr, association secretary. “These are white marble tablets from the 1800s. They did horrible damage.”

Some of the toppled monuments require a crane to be lifted back into position.

Last month the association filed the civil complaint in Kennebec County Superior Court against the two women after it appeared that the vehicle insurance would not pay for the damage. However, there was no evidence in the court file indicating that either woman was formally notified of the lawsuit. On Tuesday, the association’s attorney, Theodore Small, sought the dismissal of the complaint in a letter received by the court.

“There’s a lot of souls buried in that cemetery, and the association’s board is the one that can speak for them,” LeMaster said. “Whether it was a risk or not, we felt we had to do something on behalf of those people who couldn’t speak for themselves anymore.”

He said the all-volunteer association agreed to settle for about $25,000.

“It was a lot more than zero that we were offered for many months,” he said.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

New Gloucester Veterans’ Monument Dedication

What a Beautiful Day in New Gloucester!
November 9th, 2014
Thank you!

Hundreds of people gathered on the site of the New Gloucester Veterans’ Monument for the dedication and to honor all New Gloucester Veterans.

The New Gloucester Veterans’ Monument Committee thanks everyone that attended and all those who helped to make this a very special dedication for our Veterans.




The Tombstone of Winthrop Baston

(originally in the Forecaster)

North Yarmouth Town Clerk Debbie Grover, left, with Dick Baston and Clark Baston, descendants of Revolutionary War soldier Winthrop Baston, whose new tombstone was dedicated on Veterans Day, Tuesday, Nov. 11, in Walnut Hill Cemetery.

North Yarmouth Town Clerk Debbie Grover, left, with Dick Baston and Clark Baston, descendants of Revolutionary War soldier Winthrop Baston, whose new tombstone was dedicated on Veterans Day, Tuesday, Nov. 11, in Walnut Hill Cemetery.

NORTH YARMOUTH — Nearly 200 years after it was erected, the tombstone of Winthrop Baston – a captain in the American Revolution – was in pieces, sunken under the ground, and seemingly forgotten.

North Yarmouth Town Clerk Debbie Grover, left, with Dick Baston and Clark Baston, descendants of Revolutionary War soldier Winthrop Baston, whose new tombstone was dedicated on Veterans Day, Tuesday, Nov. 11, in Walnut Hill Cemetery.
But because there were those who never forgot, Baston now has a new stone at his Walnut Hill Cemetery plot, just in time for a Veterans Day dedication.

It was an effort about three years in the making, Town Clerk Debbie Grover said last week.

Baston’s stone was found to have collapsed during an annual inspection of the town’s three cemeteries, which is required by the Cemetery Commission. His descendant, Dick Baston, an octogenarian who still lives in North Yarmouth and was its longtime fire chief, inquired about getting the stone fixed. Grover, who is also the commission clerk, said she was happy to look into it.

“I used to be terrified of cemeteries,” she said with a smile, recalling the time she, as a child, fell into her great-grandfather’s newly-dug grave. “Now running them … I enjoy it. And I really feel that all our veterans should be recognized, regardless of what era they served in, and whether or not they did it in wartime; they were willing to.”

Grover’s mission to obtain a replacement marker for Winthrop Baston was hindered by challenges, including needing his non-existent discharge papers and finding the right person to approach – despite the contacts she has as past president of the Maine Cemeteries Association and serving on the board of directors of the New England Cemeteries Association.

The ultimate key was having a living descendant of Baston. Grover wanted the new stone to be a surprise for Dick Baston, so she involved his son, Clark – also a former North Yarmouth fire chief, and still its public works director – who signed a letter granting permission to work on his family’s behalf to get the marker.

Grover submitted that to the Veterans Affairs office along with her application and a copy of Winthrop Baston’s pay receipt. Early last month his new tombstone arrived at the public works facility.

“I just decided, ‘we’ve got to do something'” to honor the new marker and the 18th century veteran’s service, Grover said. And with Veterans Day around the corner, the timing was fortuitous.

The dedication ceremony was held at the Walnut Hill Road (Route 115) cemetery on Nov. 11. The North Yarmouth Cemetery Commission led the service, and among those in attendance were the Anderson-Mayberry Post 91 color guard, Boy Scout Troop 58 of Cumberland and North Yarmouth, and members of the recently formed North Yarmouth Veterans Park Corp.

Baston was born in Wells in 1739, and married Hannah Weare in North Yarmouth in 1762, according to information provided by the North Yarmouth Historical Society. During the Revolutionary War in 1775 he was a sergeant in the company of Capt. George Rogers. He rose to the rank of captain, serving in Massachusetts in 1776 with the regiment of Col. Jacob French with the objective of pushing the British out of Boston, according to information provided by Grover.

Baston, who died in North Yarmouth in 1817, and his first wife had seven children, according to the historical society. Four children came from his second marriage, and it is from the first of that group, Dura Baston, from whom Dick and Clark descend, Grover said.

“Debbie Grover should have most or all the credit for getting this done,” Clark Baston said last week, adding that “it’s pretty neat” that the government would send out a new marker honoring a veteran who died nearly 200 years ago.

Getting a new marker for Winthrop Baston is part of a long-term project, Grover said.

“I have three others that I want to get monuments for, who don’t have them at all,” she explained. She unfortunately does not know of any living family members of those veterans, “but I’m not giving up.”

Those veterans are:

  • Leander Frost (1847-1921), who served in Company E of the 30th Infantry during the Civil War and was wounded in 1864.
  • Edward Gooding, who died in 1923 at the age of 82 and served in Company G of the 25th Maine Infantry, also during the Civil War.
  • And Luther Baker, who served in the military from 1908-1912 and died in 1936.

Anyone who can aid in Grover’s project can reach her at Town Hall at 829-3705.

Patriotic Squirrels Stealing Flags from Veteran’s Graves

PATRIOTIC SQUIRRELS Stealing Flags from Veteran’s Graves- Port Huron, Michigan.

Patriotic Squirel

A brazen squirrel has been grabbing small American flags placed in a cemetery and carrying them up to its nest, which now looks as if it’s bedecked in bunting.

Every Memorial Day, volunteers place the flags next to the graves of nearly 1,000 veterans buried at Mount Hope Cemetery about 55 miles northeast of Detroit. The flags were undisturbed during a Mass held Monday. Workers at the cemetery on Tuesday noticed several flags had been torn off their wooden staffs, which were still in the ground.

The mystery was solved in front of superintendent Ron Ceglarek’s eyes. He watched a squirrel detach a flag stapled to a staff and carry it up a tree to the nest. (from news service reports)

Winslow council OKs plants for hill

By Scott Monroe Scott Monroe — 861-9239 Staff Writer

Fort Hill Cemetery in Winslow, ME

WINSLOW — The Winslow Town Council on Monday said yes to pursuing more details on planting vegetation at the Fort Hill Cemetery slope and possibly moving endangered grave sites near its edge.

The council’s unanimous approval of a resolution allows Town Manager Michael Heavener to work with engineers on solutions for the unstable slope. Heavener said he’d seek cost estimates and return to the council later.

Councilor Ray Caron said the proposed solutions are “the way to go,” but he cautioned that the measures won’t necessarily be a permanent fix.

“Moving those graves doesn’t mean we won’t face another catastrophe in the future,” Caron said. “But it does address our responsibility to those graves that are in jeopardy.”

Councilors also held out hope that the cost of the slope stabilization efforts could be shared by the state government or others.

“Obviously, I’m not happy taxpayers are having to correct this problem,” said councilor Ken Fletcher.

The slope had a landslide sometime in late March 2010; a pile of trees and debris fell into the Sebasticook River and created a small island in the river. The graves atop the slope were undisturbed, but town officials and citizens have been concerned about future slides.

The Fort Hill Cemetery was created behind the former Fort Halifax and has more than 200 gravestones, some dating back to the mid-1700s.

Florida Power & Light Energy, owners of the former Fort Halifax dam, commissioned a study that concluded the slope crumbled because of unusually heavy rain, unstable soil conditions, and a small earthquake 41 miles away. The study said company’s removal of the nearby dam in 2008 didn’t play a significant role.

Town and state officials have disagreed with those conclusions and asked FPLE to contribute to the stabilization efforts, but the company has declined.

Recently, Heavener met with state officials to discuss ways of stabilizing the slope, such as installing riprap, or a stone wall, at the toe; constructing a barrier to protect the new island that’s formed at the slope’s base; and digging a shallow channel on the opposite riverbank to divert water.

Officials said two other options stood out because they would cost less: planting vegetation at the toe of the slope; and moving a dozen or so grave sites near the edge and cutting the upper portion of the slope back to a more natural angle. More vegetation would be planted on top as well to strengthen the sandy soil.

Councilor Catherine Nadeau questioned whether the vegetation at the toe of the slope would remain intact when the river’s water level rises.

“That vegetation isn’t going to stay there, is it?” she asked.

Heavener said an engineer with the Department of Environmental Protection made the recommendation.

“There’s existing technology suitable for applying vegetation to the toe,” Heavener said. “But I’m not an expert; I couldn’t begin to tell you what that type of vegetation would look like.”

Though Heavener has identified a dozen or so grave sites in danger near the edge, he said it won’t be known which ones would need to be moved until an expert can tell the town how far back the upper portion of the slope needs to be cut back.

Heavener said he’s waiting for officials with the Maine Geological Survey to tell him “how urgent” the need is to move the grave sites. If the need is urgent, Heavener said, the town may not go through the time-consuming — and possibly fruitless — process of trying to identify living relatives.

Chairman Gerald Saint Amand said councilors would probably hold a public hearing later on when proposals for the slope become more detailed. “We’re still in the early stages,” he said.

This old gravestone and others at the Fort Hill Cemetery in Winslow are within 12 feet of a slope that falls toward the Sebasticook River, in background. Town officials are considering moving some of the centuries-old graves.

Staff photo by David Leaming

New website offers searchable info on one of oldest cemeteries in northern Maine

By Kathy McCarty, Presque Isle Star-Herald

Posted March 09, 2012, at 1:44 p.m.PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — After a three year effort, a group of collaborators has unveiled an interactive and searchable Web-based map of one of the oldest and largest graveyards in northern Maine.

Officials with the University of Maine at Presque Isle hosted the unveiling in February at the Campus Center, celebrating the project that was conducted by staff at UMPI’s GIS laboratory and a team of UMPI researchers working in partnership with the Fairmount Cemetery Association and the Presque Isle Historical Society. The new website,, serves as an important resource for historians, researchers and those conducting family genealogy and also preserves the historical data found at the cemetery, which was established in the 19th century.

“When we started, we had little to use as a model, but several of us had a clear idea of what we’d like the site to look like and to do,” said UMPI Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Michael Sonntag. “I am very proud to say the research team has produced a product that exceeds what I had in mind.”

Sonntag said everyone, especially members of the Fairmount Cemetery Association, is very happy with the final product, noting the project not only was a collaborative effort between various organizations but would also serve to promote tourism in the region.

“And to know we did this as a partnership with several local organizations, involved students extensively throughout the project, and that it will benefit tourism and local history, tells me we really got it right with this project,” he said. “As a regional institution, UMPI’s mission is to serve central and northern Maine, and projects like this exemplify such service to mission.”

This project serves as the very first mapping of a cemetery in northern Maine and the first large-scale, comprehensive cemetery mapping project using GIS and GPS technology in the state. Geographic information systems, or GIS, capture, store, analyze and display geographic information. Global positioning systems, or GPS, are satellite-based navigation systems that can be used to calculate a precise location anywhere in the world.

Joining Sonntag for the unveiling were Dr. Chunzeng Wang, project coordinator and UMPI associate professor of earth and environmental science, and Ed Hews, representing the cemetery association board of directors.

Wang provided a tour of the new website, explaining how it worked. Visitors can view the map, zoom in to select individual cemetery plots located on the map or use a drop-down menu to select a plot by name. Clicking on a plot reveals detailed information about each burial place as well as a photograph of the gravestone at the cemetery, which is located on Houlton Road.

“This large-scale GIS and web-GIS project has had a number of faculty and students involved,” Wang said. “It is a wonderful learning process for both faculty and students. It provides valuable opportunity for our students to work on a real-world application project. The project also helps the university to be more tied to the communities from academic and community-service perspectives.”

Work on the project began back in 2008, when Sonntag, Wang, Lynn Eldershaw and Kim Sebold garnered a Maine Economic Improvement Fund Small Campus Initiative Fund grant. Ultimately, the group received about $23,000 to complete the project, titled “Developing a Cemetery GIS Database for Historic, Cultural and Social Research in Aroostook County.”

During the first year of the project, students Megan Pryor, Sherry Cole, Ashlee Pryor, Robert Baldwin and John Donley worked as research assistants, helping to map and collect cemetery data — including lot and plot numbers, names of the interred, birth dates, death dates, gender, grave headstone or marker material and mentions of military and civilian service — for more than 2,200 lots and 10,000 plots. Each of these lots and plots was mapped using GPS/GIS technology.

The second and third years of work on the project involved entering all of the collected data into a comprehensive and searchable GIS database management system. Under the supervision of Dr. JoAnne Wallingford, then associate professor of management information systems, and Wang, student Brittany Hickey developed an access database management system for data entry; students Letian Zheng, Nolan Gagnon and Zicong Zhou entered burial data into the system and student Lenka Rambouskova designed the website from scratch.

The information made available by cemetery mapping can now serve as a resource for conservation, interment planning, maintenance of grave markers and monuments, and management of facilities, grounds and records. The completed GIS database also provides important and easily searchable data for researchers in the fields of history, sociology, anthropology and genealogy. For example, researchers will be able to view burial patterns, such as age and lifespan, gender and religion. Some data patterns may provide clues to historic and social events.

Wang also pointed out that the Fairmount Cemetery Association will no longer have to worry about losing paper records to fire, as has happened in the past, since data is now electronically stored and backed up.

With the site complete, project officials are hopeful the community will find many more ways to utilize this information. According to Wang, data from a Fort Fairfield cemetery may soon be available, using the same technology. Wang said members of that community’s historical society will be working with Sebold and her students on a similar project.

“We’ve kept records by hand for years. It’s a pleasure to now be able to say the records are secure,” said Hews.

“We hope this grows,” said Sonntag, noting the historic significance of the project could be applied anywhere in the world.



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