Self

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Most of this blog is dedicated to real estate and the way of life in Downeast Maine, but it crossed my mind that it may be helpful for some researching the area to know a little more about the author and why I choose to live Downeast.

Born and Raised is something you hear often around here – some stay, some leave and those who leave usually come back.  Something about this area and it’s connections really stick with people.  I often get calls from folks 2 or 3 generations removed from Downeast looking to get back to their family or childhood roots.  A quick drive though town will make you wonder what keeps us all here, but stay a while and you will see!

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After high school I was thirsty to see what the world had to offer, so I was quick to accept a scholarship to a Boston based school.  It was incredible, all of the store fronts filled with unique shops, the “T”, big concerts, professional sporting events and constant bustle.  I had a blast getting to know the area and all it had to offer…but Maine would draw me home every other weekend to spend time with friends and family, I felt like I was missing out on more here than in the big city of Boston.

My first trip home on the Greyhound from South Station I traveled by myself, I sat near the back and as the bus started to fill up I had a gentleman approach me and ask if he could sit next to me…who am I to deny, he bought a ticket.  About 20 minutes into our journey to Bangor, Maine, this fella looks at me and asks if it would be alright to ask me a personal question.  Hesitant, I told him sure.  His question was “Are you Billy Howard’s daughter?”.  Nearly 400 miles and 6 hours from home…this guy knew just by looking at me what gene pool I had drawn from.  To some, this may be bothersome…but to an 18 year old girl traveling on her own for the first time, it was more of a comfort to travel with someone from “home”.

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After 5 months in Boston, 4 years in Central Maine and a few hard learned lessons of the “Big World”, I came home for summer vacation and despite my intentions, never went back.  After 4 years of University, I barely felt qualified to submit a job application, so decided to take up a new major at our local community college. Adventure Recreation and Tourism, which focused on all of the incredible things our area has to offer us and how to give that experience to others that merely have time for a short visit.  From kayaking, sailing, hiking, biking, fishing, hunting, rock climbing, atving, snowmobiling and more – I hadn’t realized growing up, that not everyone had a chance to really experience the outdoors.

The learning experience, connections and qualifications received in just 2 years at community college far bettered me as a worker and member of the community than anything I had experienced away from “home”…furthering my decision to stay here because there really was more to offer than I had originally thought.

My two year internship was also completed right here in Washington County at Downeast Lakes Land Trust.  The two summers spent between the bow and stern of the boat went far beyond researching loon habitat and nesting patterns.  46 lakes once a month for 4 months – Not only did I know most of the camp owners and guides…most of them knew me or some member of my family dating back as far as my Great Great Grandfathers.  From genealogy and geography to fishing and first responder skills I could have never obtained this information anywhere else other than right here at “home”.

My intentions after graduation were to work in the wildlife biology and habitat field, but my intentions were crushed with the severe nationwide recession eliminating such jobs.

The Washington County depression of 2008 hit us with what we all feared most, the closure of our local pulp mill.  After being sold by Georgia Pacific, we had lost our paper and OSB plants…we were hanging on by a thread with the pulp production.  As the remaining hundreds were let go, many fled to other area mills in hopes of employment leaving the area with a brief period of emptiness.

Then, the unfathomable started happening in our area.  The last of the remaining mill workers choosing to stay in the area took advantage of grant money and went back to school at our Community College and Machias University to obtain degrees in areas they had always wanted to work in but had been bound financially by their positions at the mill.  We started to see more entrepreneurs come out of the woodwork…creating and building successful businesses, researching and discovering new ways to expand the area and becoming more active in the community.  With 3+ ports to Canada and a strong Canadian dollar, we were, despite what many thought…”getting by”.

Despite a bleak outlook for some, I hadn’t given much thought to leaving the area around this time, in fact it only made me want to stay and contribute more.

In 2009 I jumped at the opportunity to work at Due East out of the Eastport office assisting 6 agents.  This of course was only intended to be temporary until the recession ended and I could put my college degree to use.  I hadn’t realized then, just how much that degree would contribute to my real estate career.  It started slowly, using my knowledge of the local lakes and surrounding wilderness to help agents promote properties, providing clients with the best accommodations for the type of experience they were looking for…then it was all in with promoting our area on behalf of the company by volunteering in the community and getting brochures, ads and pamphlets to reach areas unaware of our existence.

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Once I obtained some comfort in my job, I took on a little more.  My father had worked for Due East for over 5 years at this time and carried nearly half of our company’s listings.  His office was out of his truck, traveling up to 500 miles a day for listings, research, showings and closings, not to mention his community volunteer efforts that ranged from Machias to Princeton.  It started with a complete re-haul of files, spread sheets with contact numbers, listing numbers, addresses and owners – then it was the weekly ads, taking updated or seasonal photos, experimenting with different advertising outlets, promotional products, being somewhere when he couldn’t be in two places at once and so on.

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In 2012 I obtained my real estate license so that I could be of more assistance to my father.  Once I had license in hand I thought a brief relocation to obtain an appraisal license would be beneficial to the area and company, but it was merely a thought when I was contacted with my first listing the day I announced my licensing.

Since my first sale, I have bought my own house, started my own family and planted my heels deeply into the Downeast dirt because there is no way that I alone could teach my children just how powerful a few good people can be by telling them stories…they need to be here to see it.  A great deal of persistence and determination has been brought forth to our area within the last 8+ years and while a lot of brave souls made it on their own here without the mill, we now not only have our pulp mill up and running since 2010, but we are about to embark on the newest expansion – St.Croix Tissue!  Our St.Stephen neighbors, like us, have just completed a long awaited BIG contribution to the area – The Garcelon Civic Center, which is now prompting larger companies to expand to the area.

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As I enter my 4th year, I am still amazed by how incredible and supportive our community really is, not only from my business stand point but seeing others succeed with the help of our local bankers, business owners, civic groups, family and friends.  It is pretty tight knit here and we all want to see each other succeed.  Rather you were “born and raised” or from “away” it’s where you choose to make your “home” that brings us all together to make great things happen in here Downeast.

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Downtown Calais – Thrift Store

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New to Calais in 2015, The Calais Community Thrift Store offers an array of clothing, household items and other occasional finds.  After a few other thrift store attempts in town, the volunteers of the Irene Chadbourne Ecumenical Food Pantry saw a need for such an offering downtown.  After many renovations, they brought to life an old empty storefront and didn’t stop there.  Previous to the thrift store, the vacant lot between this store front and the movie theater was always blocked off by a large fence deeming it unusable.  Thanks to a gift to the Irene Chadbourne Ecumenical Food Pantry for the people of Calais from the Charles G. Wright Endowment for the Humanities, the fence was removed and a beautiful mural depicting a past local scene was painted the length of the building.

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This effort is part of an on going beautification project organized by the Calais Downtown Revitalization Coalition.  This open lot will now be available for outside dining from near by restaurants or a place for kids to run around between visiting downtown shops.

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The Calais Community Thrift Store is a great asset to Downtown and not only benefits those who shop there, but supplements the local food pantry.  The volunteers do a wonderful job keeping things tidy and organized for ease of shopping, and the storefront is always festive with great new seasonal finds.  If you have not been, it’s worth a look!

Follow them on Facebook for business hours! Calais Community Thrift Store

Downtown Calais – State Cinema

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Small town Friday night… well any night of the week actually, you will be hard pressed to find a parking spot near the theater!  From 5:30-6:30 near by restaurants will have a dinner rush followed by patrons promptly lining up at the front door of the Cinema in hopes of getting a good seat.

Being the only Cinema around, you will see faces you haven’t seen in a while travel from up to an hour away to catch a show while they are in town for some shopping.  Sunday Matinee is offered just after lunch and ideal for kids that can’t often make the nightly viewings.

Although it does not offer the reclining seats, multiple show times or food fair of the larger Cinemas you WILL find a friendly face at the door to issue your tickets and guide you to the right theater.  There will also be a couple of high school girls hustling to get everyone’s popcorn and snack trays ready before the 7:00 show time.  A great addition to our downtown area!

Check out show times, ticket rates and current movies on their site or follow them on facebook at the links below!

State Cinema Site

State Cinema Facebook

Downtown Calais – Label Shopper

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Located just next to Joe’s Pizzeria, the Label Shopper is a somewhat recent addition to our downtown arriving in late 2012.  With our constant Canadian traffic traveling for the sole purpose of shopping, discount, salvage and outlet stores do quite well in Calais!

Let’s check out what you might find here…

A good selection of unique home goods, kitchen gadgets and trinkets can be found at the back of the store.

Shoes, boots, sandals and slippers…

You will find ladies brands from American Eagle and Levi’s to Victoria Secret, Jones New York and Dockers and so many in between.

Men are not excluded from this treasure chest of exciting finds, casual to outerwear you can find brands like Woolrich, Old Navy and American Eagle.

Just one more great addition to our downtown community!

Label Shopper Website

Cold

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With many of our inquiries coming from customers that have never been to Maine or the Washington County area, one of our most frequently asked questions would be “How much snow do you get?”

There really is no typical year for those living on the coast, it is not uncommon to receive 2 feet of snow followed by heavy winds, rain and 40 degree weather to wash it all away.  It is said of Maine “If you don’t like the weather…wait a minute” and this couldn’t be any more true of the coast.  Most storms that come in accumulate more inland from Calais-North as indicated in the first snowfall report for 2015/2016, the salt water temps of Eastport-Cutler tend to create more rain, wind and fog.  The February 2015 snowfall report shows an entirely different story for our coastal towns.  A fluke year for the state of Maine, burying Washington County with averages of Northern Maine while Northern Maine that typically gets an additional 2 months worth of snow had record lows.

In 2015 the snow came in so fast and furious that our typical winter recreation resulted in indoor activities.  All of that snow insulated lakes and ponds, preventing the ice from getting thick enough to ice fish, skate or cross to connect to trails.  Trail groomers were unable to keep up with the amount of snow coming down, often getting stuck during storms.  Our snowfall run into April, leaving us with rain into July and offering up a late summer with higher temps peaking into the 100’s.  BDN Article

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Snow or no snow, we find it in our downeast wit to have fun with the cards we are dealt and make the most out of any situation.  See links below for some Maine Weather Humor.

Bangor Police Department Snow Post

Bob Marley Comedian Forecast

Storm Center Promo

Cole Transportation Old Snow Video

And if you are still interested in moving here year round… you better get yourself some Bean Boots stat!

 

Downtown Calais – Mardens

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With one in nearly every county of Maine, this store is such a draw to Calais that we even had TWO at one point!  Marden’s is a weekly stop for locals, spending anywhere from 15 minutes to hours browsing shelves for good finds.  Regular customers travel from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in hopes of getting lots of deals too!

The clothing and shoe section takes up a great portion of the store offering plenty of variety for men, women and children.

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The fabric department can not be beat, local quilters and crafters find much of their product here at a really great value.  Sections are also dedicated to yarn, scrap booking and a multitude of other hobbies.

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Newer products frequent the shelves along with unique items as well.  Isles are lined with HBA, diapers, cookware, small home appliances, stationary, books, toys, pet supplies, party supplies, food and seasonal items.  The hardware section is so extensive for a surplus and salvage store that most who enter leave with items they didn’t even know they needed – from paint supplies, tools and general screws, nuts and bolts to a toilet, furnace or screen door!

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A large selection of furniture includes living room, bedroom and kitchen sets along with name brand mattresses, accent furniture, area/wall to wall carpet and flooring.  The adjacent home goods department offers items like curtains, towels, sheets, wall decor, lamps and picture frames.

New freight comes in weekly so you will never get bored, but the good stuff goes quickly hence their slogan “I should have bought it when I saw it…at Marden’s!”

Stop in for a browse and see what you can find!

Follow their Facebook page for updates on new freight and sale prices: Marden’s

 

Downtown Calais – Jo’s Diner

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Jo’s diner is the head of downtown Calais, it’s the first of many brick and mortar buildings that lead you up though town.  A local “go to” place when you can’t agree on what’s for dinner or need to feed a large crowd.  The menu can accommodate most anyone, yet they are always up for trying something new.  Although Pizzeria is in their title, they have much more to offer, like their meaty homemade lasagna, fresh chowder, salads, grilled cheese and tomato soup, burgers, even breakfast!

Always friendly and speedy, they appreciate their regular customers.  For instance, Robin is always quick to greet my daughter with a cup of pickles while we order, Cynthia can usually tell who the delivery is going to by what you order and Jeremy can usually get it there without an address, just a name will do.  Tim always recognizes his regulars and new patrons with gratitude, actively participates and contributes to downtown events and local causes, as well as volunteering to improve the community.  Jo’s sponsors and supplies the annual Pizza Eating Contest during the International Homecoming Festival, heads the annual Black Magic Halloween Parade, partakes in regular fundraisers such as the CDRC Chair Affair and decorating of the downtown store fronts, lamp posts and side walks during each festive season.

Jo’s is a real community oriented small business that helps to bring life to our downtown area with it’s friendly personalities and terrific customer service!

Jo’s Pizzeria

Victorian Farmhouse

53 Washington Street

Right in the heart of town, parks, post office and downtown just a short jaunt away.  This beautiful home has been lovingly maintained for many years until recent circumstances resulted in a bank ownership.  Creating this once in a life time opportunity for you!

From the original mantels to the copper kick plates on the winding stair case, this home is not your average cookie cutter victorian.  The dining room features the original tin ceiling, two large built in china cabinets and artfully painted hardwood floor.  The double parlor has a beautiful bay window area overlooking the back yard, built in book shelves, closed fireplace and open arch way. The front formal parlor looks out onto the 3 season porch, features a marble fireplace, french doors and painted center floor.  Upstairs offers 4-5 bedrooms, bathroom with claw foot tub and back stair case to the kitchen which leads out to the garage/barn space.

The home is truly a gem but the corner lot really showcases it’s beauty while maintaining privacy in the fenced back yard with privacy treeline.  Endless space for the creative mind, hobbyist or large family…at a price that will leave your pockets happy!  See the link below for additional information.

53 Washington Street, Calais, ME

Greetings from Brookton, ME

Located in the northern most part of Washington County where the pace of life gets slower by the mile, if you choose to settle down in Brookton, Maine you better be ready for anything!  While the basics are available at the Brookton General Store it is approximately 45 minutes to Houlton, Lincoln or Calais for major shopping.  Don’t be surprised if you get stuck behind a logging truck or canoe…Logging and Guiding are two of the most popular professions in the area with VAST wilderness surround and some of the most BEAUTIFUL lakes and scenery available in Maine!

Located in Brookton is Drake Lake, Jackson Brook Lake and Baskehegan Lake, Washington County’s 3rd largest lake with a 6,815 acre spread!

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Think Baskehegan is big?  How about East Grand Lake, just a few minutes north of Brookton East Grand spans 15,917 acres with a deepest depth of 128 FEET!  Check out this panorama of East Grand at what is accurately named “Million Dollar View”:

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Not to be outdone, Spednic Lake is just 10 miles away at the end of the Forest City Road with a slightly larger span of 17,219 acres.

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Spednic and East Grand, formally known as The Shoodic Lakes and often referred to as The Chiputneticook Chain are the dividing waters of the US and Canadian border with the boundary line running the length of both lakes leading into the St.Croix River!

Did I mention these lakes are protected?  Woodie Wheaton Land Trust has acquired vast amounts of shoreline and wilderness to preserve for our future generations to enjoy.  This land trust also ensures the livelihood of future residents…as I said before, logging and guiding are common ways to earn a dollar in these parts and when you live 45 miles from a grocery store you tend to be a little more self-sustaining!

Brookton and surrounding areas are not just mountains and lakes with bear and moose…these adorable little villages will make you long to live here, the main roads speckled with long time standing architectural gems, neatly kept ranches, old farm houses and churches maintaining their strength through winter winds while being vacant for years.  The general stores, post office, boat landings and grange halls are often bustling with chatter, events and activities to keep any local busy year round!

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More to come on a Brookton property soon!