Park stewards to receive North Yarmouth citizens award

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NORTH YARMOUTH — Brothers Eric and Kevin Robinson are being lauded for their work improving one of North Yarmouth’s most special landmarks.

They will receive the town’s 2017 Distinguished Citizen Award at this year’s Fun Day celebration, Sept. 16, an annual community event held on the Village Green.

Humbled as they are by the distinction, the quiet-spoken men  said they would rather the attention be focused on the North Yarmouth Veterans Memorial Park that they and other citizens have improved the past few years.

Now 61 and 58, respectively, Kevin and Eric moved to town in 1966. Kevin works on heavy equipment like hydraulics and electronics. He and wife Sheila Nyquist have five children and four grandchildren, and live in town.

Eric, a submarine nuclear technician for the U.S. Navy from 1979-1985, now works on similar equipment at Portland Pipe Line. He has three children and two grandchildren with wife Patti, and while they live in Yarmouth, Eric still considers the town of his youth his true home.

The brothers’ roots stretch deeply into North Yarmouth, from the Cassidy Pit their grandfather owned – and around which they drove bulldozers and dump trucks when too young to get driver’s licenses – to farming alongside their father, who owned Walnut Hill Sand & Gravel.

Later another piece of the town – a 5-acre park at the corner of Memorial Highway, created in 1949 on land provided by Henry Sweetser – became important in their lives. Concern over the park’s future led a group of community members in 2014 to form a new board of directors, new officers, and a new set of bylaws, which the North Yarmouth Memorial Park Corp. uses to govern the park.

Eric was tapped as president and Kevin became a member of the board.

“I didn’t at the time think we were really going to be doing anything other than to make sure (the park) got its due,” Kevin said Aug. 31 at the park. “So I thought it was more of a vote thing than a long-term commitment.”

“But it really mushroomed up, and the more I got involved in it, the more it meant to me,” he added.

Eric agreed, saying, “in the beginning I didn’t really know what direction we would go. … Once we got involved, we saw that we actually had the ability to make something happen with what’s here, and try to make some changes so that it’s better, and it’s more in tune to what the mission statement is from the original corporation.”

Those improvements include clearing trees to improve visibility, creating a parking lot, erecting new signs for the existing trail, and building of a new trail, named in Sweetser’s memory, according to a Fun Day brochure written by Darla Hamlin, the corporation’s treasurer.

A line of flagpoles is also new to the park: an American flag surrounded by flags symbolizing each service branch.

“For the tougher stuff that we’ve done at the park, we have the background in that industry, so it made it really easy to transcend into getting some of these projects accomplished,” Kevin noted.

Further trail improvements are on the horizon, as well as permanent poles for all the service flags, underground power so that an electrical line can be taken own,  removal of underbrush to further improve viewpoints around the park, and picnic tables at the parking lot.

The changes are made possible through a volunteer workforce, and the corporation is always seeking new members. Anyone who wants to get involved can contact Eric at president@northyarmouthveteransmemorialpark.org or 449-7923, or log onto northyarmouthveteransmemorialpark.org.

Members do not have to be veterans, although an association with North Yarmouth – like current or past residency – is required. Family members of veterans associated with North Yarmouth are also eligible.

Neither brother anticipated being named distinguished citizens, they said last week.

“You don’t feel like you’re in that category, because we all jumped in together and did whatever our strong point was,” Kevin said. “I really wasn’t looking for recognition, and I know Eric wasn’t, either.”

“The recognition is how well you feel after you do some of these projects,” he added. “You see the accomplishment. I drive by all the time, and it makes me feel good. I feel better driving by than I would getting any kind of award.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Brothers Kevin, left, and Eric Robinson will receive North Yarmouth’s 2017 Distinguished Citizen Award at this year’s Fun Day celebration, to be held Sept. 16 at the Village Green. They are being honored for their work at the North Yarmouth Veterans Memorial Park.

Fun Day events

Fun Day in North Yarmouth will be held at the Route 115 Village Green on Sept. 16. This year’s theme, “Living Well in North Yarmouth,” is intended to boost awareness of the newly-formed Living Well Committee.

Route 115 (Walnut Hill Road) will be closed between its intersections with Route 9 and Parsonage Road. Free parking is available on Route 9, and restrooms and handicapped parking are offered behind the fire station, 463 Walnut Hill Road.

A parade will not be held this year, Fun Day organizer Jason Raven said Aug. 29.

“We made this tough decision after years of struggling to find a good route that had ample space for setup and also worked well for both walkers and vehicles,” Raven said. “No matter what we did, it was a major inconvenience for motorists, too. We also got to the point where there (were) more people in the parade than watching the parade.”

The celebration begins at 8 a.m. with the fourth annual 5K Trail Walk/Run at Skyline Farm, 95 The Lane. The day’s events continue at Village Green, where American Legion Post 91 Color Guard and Greely High School Chorus will lead the opening ceremony at 10 a.m.

A diaper derby takes place at 10:30 a.m., followed by a “Party Palooga” balloon show and cribbage tournament, both at 11 a.m., a performance by the Nikki Hunt Band at noon, a Living Well obstacle course at 1 p.m., juggling by Jack Streeter at 2:30 p.m., and a bean and spaghetti supper at 5 p.m.

A full listing of activities can be found at northyarmouthevents.org/events/funday2017.

Alex Lear

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.