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Cumberland County preps for 250th anniversary

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Cumberland County preps for 250th anniversary

PORTLAND — Planning is underway for Cumberland County's 250th anniversary.

To kick off the county's 250th year, county government is sponsoring a logo contest for students living in Cumberland County.

Assistant County Manager Bill Whitten said county officials hope the celebrations will kindle a sense of county pride among residents, many of whom are not aware of the role county government plays in their lives.

"People think of their town, but not the county," Whitten said. "Outside of New England, county government is vital. We're trying to make people proud to be part of Cumberland County as a whole."

The county has formed a subcommittee to plan events for the celebration. Over the coming weeks, the group will decide the scope and nature of the events. Those events could range from partnering with popular, already-established community events to holding independent celebrations.

Whitten said he expects many events will be held around November, to coincide with the anniversary of the county's creation.

Cumberland County was formed on Nov. 4, 1760, when an 853-square-mile area roughly spanning Scarborough to Bridgton to Harpswell was chiseled from York County, Whitten said. Lincoln County was also founded at that time. 

At the time, the county's role was primarily to operate courts, Whitten said.

"Back then, the courts were the big reason for county government," he said. "From what I surmise, it was just getting too big for one county and they separated."

While the county continues to operate the courts and employs the district attorney, its role has grown throughout the years to include jurisdiction for probate and deeds. County government also runs the Sheriff's Department and the jail.

Recently, the county has played a role in reducing operating costs for towns by eliminating duplicated services, most notably through a regional approach to emergency dispatch services.

But beyond its scope of services, Whitten said residents should be proud of Cumberland County, because it is a microcosm of everything the state has to offer.

"Cumberland County is the essence of what Maine is all about," he said. "... You've got Sebago Lake, ski areas, the ocean, beaches, rocky cliffs, historic buildings, Freeport, the Maine Mall and everything in between."

Whitten said the logo contest is open to kindergarten students through 12th-graders, including private and home school students. Submissions will be divided and reviewed into four grade categories: kindergarten through third grade, fourth through sixth grades, seventh through ninth grades and 10th through 12th grades.

Finalists in each category will receive a $100 cash prize and the grand prize winner will receive a $250 award plus a special media recognition.

Entries will be judged by the county commissioners, Maine College of Art illustration professor Rob Sullivan, University of Southern Maine art professor Michael Shaughnessy, University of New Hampshire Museum of Art Director Wes LaFountain and Deborah Whitney, the owner of Whitney Artworks Gallery.

Deadline for entries is Jan. 22 at midnight and the winners will be announced on Jan. 29.

In addition to the logo contest, Whitten said the county will also solicit photographs of Cumberland County from residents and create a multimedia presentation called "A Day in the Life of Cumberland County."

More information may be found on the Cumberland County Web site.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net