Dec. 28, 1814: A convention of Democrat-Republicans from several Oxford County towns is convened.

Outraged about the inability of the federal government to expel the British from eastern Maine during the ongoing War of 1812, about the Massachusetts authorities’ unwillingness to aid in that effort, they conclude that the only sensible course of action to for the District of Maine to separate from Massachusetts.

“(I)f we can get no assistance let us make an effort ourselves,” they write.

Dec. 28, 1972: The Maine Yankee Nuclear Power Plant is commissioned, having taken four years to complete at a cost of $231 million on an 820-acre site on the shore of the Back River on Wiscasset’s Bailey Peninsula.

The plant was built despite opposition from conservation groups and Gov. Kenneth M. Curtis, but that opposition’s petition to federal authorities persuaded the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to impose stricter environmental standards and monitoring.

During its 24 years of operation, the plant produces about 1.2 billion kilowatts of power, providing about a quarter of Maine’s electricity needs and some of other states’ as well.

Bedeviled by infrastructure and equipment problems that become too expensive to solve, the plant closes in 1996.

Dec. 28, 2018: Westbrook bluegrass and country music pioneer Al Hawkes dies at 88.

Skilled at the guitar and the mandolin, the singer-songwriter was a regular on the Maine music circuit and elsewhere. He was a member of both the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame and America’s Old-Time Country Music Hall of Fame. The International Bluegrass Museum in Kentucky honored him for his work.

Hawkes also devoted himself to producing and engineering high-quality recordings, even giving renowned guitarist Chet Atkins advice on that subject. He founded his own record label, Event Records, in 1956. Several regional country and bluegrass acts, including Maine country singer Dick Curless, recorded music there. The company went out of business after a fire in the 1960s.

Part of Hawkes’ legacy is a song he composed about his hometown: “The Song of Westbrook.” Its simple lyrics include these lines: “I love Westbrook, and I always will. I may roam, but my heart (Hawkes pronounces it ‘haht’) is there still.”

There’s a performance of it online, of course – but seriously, those who aren’t from Westbrook might want to watch the short, heavy-on-bluegrass, light-on-documentary-chatter “Sitting on Top of the World” video about Hawkes instead. It’s found here:

Joseph Owen is an author, retired newspaper editor and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. Owen’s book, “This Day in Maine,” can be ordered at islandportpress.com. To get a signed copy use promo code signedbyjoe at checkout. Joe can be contacted at: [email protected]


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