A “Jesus Saves” sign is seen Saturday near the corner of Cheney Road and River Road, also known as state Route 9, in Chelsea. Before unknown persons replaced it, there used to be a “Welcome To Chelsea” sign that called the town a “Gateway to the Capital.” Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

CHELSEA — A “Jesus Saves” sign that  replaced the “Welcome to Chelsea” sign in a high-visibility spot on River Road is scheduled to be removed Friday following an investigation of who owns the sign and the land it sits on.

Diana McKenzie noticed the sign one day when she and her daughter had traveled to Gardiner, and it caught her eye.

It’s not clear how long the sign, which is the same size as the green carved welcome sign, has been up but in May, McKenzie was one of  more than a dozen people who called the Chelsea Town Office asking about the sign.

She was surprised to see the sign up three weeks after she first called the town office.

“I said ‘By the way, this happened, I don’t know why you haven’t taken the sign down. By leaving it up, it’s endorsing the message by the town and the act of vandalization  is not being taken seriously by the town,” McKenzie said to Town Manager Christine Landes in an email.

About a week ago, McKenzie drove by the sign again and saw that someone placed a Pride Flag on it that was removed not long after that.


At issue is the ownership of the small parcel of land at the southern intersection of River and Cheney roads, where the welcome sign has stood for more than a decade. The property has changed hands several times in the last few years, and the sign was apparently replaced by the most recent owner.

But a survey, conducted by the state Department of Transportation, showed the town’s original welcome sign was allowed to be where it was placed.

“We had the state dig in and figure the road’s right of way, which I now have, and the state statutes about gateway signs,” Landes said. “With that in hand and working with law enforcement, they said we can take it down because it’s state-proven property since it’s 75 feet away from the road.”

The sign, town officials say, was left in place while officials investigated.

Property records show that the sliver of land next to the sign is owned by James R. Grimes, who did not immediately return a phone call Tuesday.

Landes said the sign will be replaced with a new “Welcome to Chelsea” sign on Friday, but she does not yet know how much it will cost.

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