SKOWHEGAN — Kelly Guay was best friends with Amy Bagley Lake for 17 years. They were pregnant at the same time — their boys were born one day apart — and they taught at the same school in Dexter.

In June, 2011, Bagley Lake, 38, and her two children, Coty, 13, and Monica, 12, were murdered in Dexter by her estranged husband, Steven Lake, who later died when he shot himself.

Lake, 37, had a court-imposed protection-from-abuse order against him and bail conditions forbid him from contact with his wife and children.

Guay, of Newport, one of the keynote speakers Wednesday at a law enforcement news conference called to raise awareness about domestic violence, said everything changed that day in 2011. Since then, she’s been determined to do everything she could to help prevent domestic violence.

Guay organized the Amy, Coty and Monica Memorial 5K Walk to raise money for electronic monitoring devices to track the movement of people out on bail while charged with domestic violence crimes. Somerset County became the first to use the devices.

On Wednesday, Guay presented Somerset County Administrator Dawn DiBlasi with a check for $15,000 for the monitoring program.

Kennebec County may soon follow. The Maine Coalition for Domestic Violence announced a $13,000 grant for a similar program in that county at Wednesday’s gathering of state advocates, county and municipal officials and police officers from Skowhegan, Madison, Pittsfield, Fairfield, state police and the county sheriff’s office.

“A lot of times when you hear about domestic violence or any kind of crime in the news, you think about how sad that is; but then you just kind of move on with your day — until that actually happens to somebody that you love or care about,” Guay told the gathering.

Guay said it wasn’t until the last two years of Bagley Lake’s life that she realized how bad the situation with Steven Lake was. Amy Lake would move to safe houses with her children to keep out of his way and would take alternate routes to work to avoid passing Lake’s place of business.

“Until you have watched somebody suffer the way she suffered and have the end result being what it was, you can’t really truly understand the depth of the problem,” Guay said. “So it was watching her and knowing what she went through that made us decide we have to do something, to make something positive come from this terrible event.

“Even if one person can be saved because of Amy’s tragedy, then it’s success for our event.”

Also at the news conference in Skowhegan’s new municipal parking lot were representatives from the Family Violence Project and the Somerset Domestic Violence Task Force.

Also present were Ralph and Linda Bagley, of Harmony, Bagley Lake’s parents, in whose name Guay presented the check.

“All I want to say is, four years ago, if Steven Lake had been wearing this monitoring system, Linda and I wouldn’t be wearing these bracelets we’ve got on today; and I truly believe that,” Ralph Bagley said, referring to the purple domestic violence awareness bracelets they were wearing.

In his opening remarks Wednesday, Skowhegan Police Chief Ted Blais said the gathering was called “to send a clear message to the community and to the state that Somerset County takes domestic violence very seriously.”

The theme of the day was that it takes a community to end domestic violence. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

This summer, the Somerset County Domestic Violence Task Force convened the countywide Domestic Violence High Risk Response Team, which works to increase victim safety by identifying high-risk cases, Blais said.

The task force offers a link among community members, service providers, law enforcement and District Attorney Maeghan Maloney, who oversees both Somerset and Kennebec counties.

Somerset County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Dale Lancaster told the gathering that in 2013 the county received 268 complaints about domestic violence. So far this year, he said, the county already has received 359 domestic violence calls.

“There still is a lot of work that needs to be accomplished to eradicate domestic violence from our community,” Lancaster said. “Law enforcement can not solve the problem alone. That is why we are here today. We need to work collaboratively with family violence groups, the courts and the community to change the culture and enhance public awareness.

“Domestic violence is fundamentally wrong.”

Wednesday’s events were to continue at 5:30 p.m. at the Skowhegan Town Office with a panel discussion on the effect of domestic violence and the recent response of the NFL to incidences of spousal abuse and family violence by players.

The Speak Out panel of men were Lancaster; Jon Heath, Family Violence Project director of education programs and Menswork; and Sean Landry, community and school based educator on sexual assault and crisis response services.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

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Twitter: @Doug_Harlow