Plans for state’s bicentennial celebration proceeding

ELLSWORTH — Maine’s Bicentennial Commission is moving forward with plans to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the state’s founding.

“We want this to be an exploration of Maine’s history from a variety of perspectives. To celebrate Maine’s people, places, and institutions,” said Bicentennial Commission Vice Chairman and State Archivist Dave Cheever.

The Maine Bicentennial Commission was formed last year with the purpose of providing a framework for the celebration of Maine’s bicentennial, which will occur in 2020. It is chaired by Sen. Bill Diamond (D-Cumberland County), with Cheever as the vice chairman.

“Right now we are getting started, organized, and getting our committees formed,” Diamond said. “We currently have about 30 people working on this in four committees, with the flexibility to deal with situations as they arise.”

The celebratory events for the bicentennial began earlier this year with the unveiling of a bicentennial license plate, which is currently available at motor vehicle bureaus for $25. They will continue next year on July 26, the bicentennial of Maine’s vote to separate from Massachusetts and become the 23rd state in the union.

In 2020, the Bicentennial Commission will work to provide a framework for celebrations across state, occurring throughout the summer.

“We’re here to facilitate communities around Maine in their own celebrations,” Diamond said.

Initial funding for the Bicentennial Commission came through a $75,000 allotment from the Legislature. While this was vetoed by Governor Paul LePage, citing a lack of prioritization from the Legislature, the veto was overridden.

Diamond and Cheever said further funding for bicentennial activities will come through private donations and fundraising.

Diamond and Cheever also said they did not anticipate any changes to the commission following the upcoming elections in the fall.

In meeting since the beginning of this year, Cheever said the commission has been working to make sure the bicentennial has a lasting impact.

“When it comes to education, we’re figuring out what we want people to know about Maine history. How do we tell Maine’s story?” Cheever said. “We want to tap into emerging technologies and reach out to all the different communities in Maine.”

Cheever also noted that the commission was working with Native American groups and immigrant communities in southwest Maine, to ensure that their viewpoints would not be left out.

Ultimately, Cheever said the goal of the bicentennial commission was to provide a lasting impact on the state and connect people back 200 years.

“Ultimately, the goal is the same. How do we make Maine a better place and ensure the natural resources and beauties of the state remain preserved?” Cheever said. “Those questions were being asked in 1820, and if we do this right it will have a lasting impact.”

Maxwell Hauptman

Maxwell Hauptman

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Maxwell Hauptman joined The Ellsworth American as a reporter in 2018. He can be reached at [email protected]
Maxwell Hauptman

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