And a happy zeroeth birthday to the new town of Chebeague Island, Maine, whose independence from the mainland town of Cumberland takes effect today - starting, of course, with a real New England Town Meeting:
Today is the day that legislation takes effect. At its first town meeting, Chebeague Island officially will become its own town, severing 186 years of connection with Cumberland and creating a government that is all up to the islanders.And if everybody's still talking to each other after spending a beautiful summer's day in Town Meeting, that'll bode well for the future of the town ...
To create its new town, this year-round community of about 350 has had to do everything from scratch. Islanders had to build Chebeague's first Town Hall -- actually a garage at the fire station converted into small offices for the town clerk and administrator, thriftily furnished with donated furniture.
They'll vote at their town meeting today on a warrant with a whopping 110 articles, several times longer than is typical for most town meetings. That's because islanders will be asked to approve not only the usual things, such as municipal and school budgets, but also the basics, such as what form of government they want. Article 3 proposes a town meeting format.