December 6 – Road signs telling people when they are entering or leaving Orrington were losing their luster this summer. The lettering was fading and the paint was peeling.
Thus, the Board of Directors of Selectmen has approved a unique new design that shows the history and geography of the city of 3,800 inhabitants. The signs, which look more like a work of art than “Welcome” signs, were installed and unveiled on Wednesday in a video posted to Facebook.
Located near the city limits with Brewer and Bucksport, the signs show a silhouette of geographic landmarks in Orrington, including King’s Mountain, local ponds, Highway 15, and the Penobscot River. Farms, the railway and tall ships, which historically contributed to the city’s economy, are also pictured.
Dick Campbell, a longtime Orrington resident and former lawmaker who represented the city in Maine House, and Sue Pate, who has a background in graphic design, created the silhouette. The front of the signs do not say “Welcome,” but tell drivers that Orrington, incorporated in 1788, is the first town in Penobscot County.
Bangor, the county seat, was founded three years later in 1791. Brewer was not founded for 24 years, when she separated from Orrington in 1812.
âI thought of all the places I went in town as a kid,â Campbell said. âWith the Boy Scouts, we would go up King’s Mountain and camp in a nature reserve that was up there. We have a lot of ponds in Orrington where we swam and canoe.
âFarms like the Wiswell Farm were and still are an important part of the community,â he said. “This railroad was one of the richest in the country and went to the Bucksport factory. And, of course, the Penobscot River had the tall ships passing by Orrington to fetch lumber from Bangor.”
The signs were also designed to be geographically precise, so as people drive south, King’s Mountain is to the left of the sign and the Penobscot River to the right. People driving north will see the mountain to their right and the river to their left, as the signs show.
The 8-by-4-foot panels cost the city $ 4,087 and were installed by the public works department, according to general manager Chris Backman. Because Route 15 is a national highway, the Maine Department of Transportation had to approve the location of the signs, which took some time, he said.
The new signs mark the start of Orrington’s efforts next year to launch an economic development campaign for its two business parks – a 130-acre parcel off Brewer Lake Road and a 163-acre parcel on the former HoltraChem site which includes a riparian area reserved for hiking and cycling trails and a picnic area.
In addition to its low tax rate for the region, the town boasts access to the railroad from the former HoltraChem property, access to water on the Penobscot River and the potential for power generation and steam locally from the adjacent Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. incinerator which generates electricity from household waste.
Backman said on Friday that a solar panel had been approved for part of the Brewer Lake Road plot.