The Gardiner Library Association continues its celebration of Maine’s bicentennial with a yearlong speaker series celebrating the history of the communities making up the Lower Kennebec Valley.

The next talk in the series is “Maine’s First Referendum: The Who, What, Why and When of the Vote for Statehood in the District of Maine and the Lower Kennebec Valley,” by Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, at Gardiner Public Library, 152 Water St. in Gardiner, according to a news release from library association.

Although there are now six communities in the Gardiner Library Association’s service area, in 1819 this geographical area included only three: Gardiner, which included what are now West Gardiner and Farmingdale; Pittston, which included Randolph; and Litchfield.

Dunlap will talk about the 1819 referendum question that was overwhelmingly approved by voters in the District of Maine. Dunlap was elected by the Legislature to serve as Maine’s 47th and 49th Secretary of State. He was sworn in on Jan. 8 to his fourth consecutive and seventh overall term of office.

“The communities that make up the Gardiner Library’s primary readership all have stories to tell from the past 200 years. With this speaker series, we’re going to tell some of them,” said Tom Farkas, president of the Gardiner Library Association, according to the release. The nonprofit group financially supports the services provided by the Gardiner Public Library and maintains the library building for all residents in its service area.

“The Gardiner Library Association’s Avis Ames Speaker Series celebrating Maine’s Bicentennial on the Lower Kennebec Valley will take a close look at local happenings before, during and after 1820 when Maine became our nation’s 23rd state,” said Farkas.

The association named this speaker series after the late Avis Ames, who was born Avis Ella Glidden in Whitefield in 1870, lived in Farmingdale and worked first as a teacher and later as Gardiner’s city auditor before her death in 1952.

“Avis Ames left an endowment to the library association to help further its mission with an eye toward history,” Farkas said. “With our bicentennial speaker series, we’re recognizing her passion for education, history and the library as we highlight the Lower Kennebec Valley’s history over the past 200 years.”

Former Gardiner Library Association president Dennis Doiron is chairman of the library association’s committee that developed the bicentennial speaker series.

“We’re really thrilled with this speaker series because it puts local names, places and faces from the Lower Kennebec Valley over the past 200 years in the context of Maine’s bicentennial,” Doiron said, according to the release. “Additional speakers in the winter and spring will be announced later; this speaker series will continue well into 2020.”

For more information, call the library at 582-3312.

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