South Portland’s oldest resident ‘wouldn’t want to live anywhere else’

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SOUTH PORTLAND — The city’s oldest known resident is 107, still sharp and living independently in a three-bedroom apartment.

Mayor Patti Smith read a proclamation during the Oct. 16 City Council meeting honoring Eva Ouellette Ledger, in a council chamber packed with residents, many of whom had never even met Ledger.

During the meeting, the city also accepted a grant of nearly $55,000 that will help pay for a study that could allow fish to more easily navigate Trout Brook.  

Ledger, whose looks belie more than 100 years of living, was born Aug. 14, 1910, in Lyndonville, Vermont. She moved to Portland at the age of 8, and in 1950 to South Portland, a city she loves and praised Monday.

“I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else,” Ledger said. “Some of my children have moved out of state …  one lives in Arkansas, of all places.”

The outspoken mother of three, grandmother of eight and great-grandmother of 15 displayed a sense of humor, but also took time to praise the city’s library system.

She spent about 15 minutes regaling the audience with stories of South Portland, often eliciting laughter, especially for her take on technology.

Although Ledger is not a stranger to technology – she had a computer for 14 years, but gave it up – she poked fun at devices like smartphones. She said she doesn’t understand why two people sitting next each other would text instead of talk.

Ledger, who gets around quite well with the aid of a walker, talked about walking across the shorter former bridge from South Portland to Portland, and how later she was able to ride a ferry for 5 cents each way.

“I drove until I was 100,” Ledger said. “I decided on my 100th birthday I would quit.”

Trout Brook

The grant of about $54,800 from the Maine Coastal Program will be used by the Water Resource Protection Department.

City Manager Scott Morelli said the city in total has received more than $150,000 in grant funds from various sources to develop a “Watershed Management Plan that identifies restoration strategies, and has implemented dozens of projects to improve the water quality and aquatic habitat of Trout Brook.”

In a memo, Morelli said the grant will cover 75 percent of the cost to complete a hydrologic and hydraulic study of the brook. The remaining cost – nearly $18,300 – will be covered by the city’s water resource protection storm sewer rehabilitation fund.

Fred Dillon, stormwater program coordinator for Water Resource Protection, told the council that a key recommendation of WMP is to “improve fish passage at several culverts along Trout Brook.”

In the grant proposal, Dillon indicated the study of the brook “would allow for strategic culvert improvements with the assurance that no unintended consequences will occur as a result (i.e., flooding or stream channel impacts).”

  Melanie Sochan can be reached at 781-3661 ext.106 or msochan@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @melaniesochan.

South Portland’s oldest known resident, Eva Ledger, 107, left, receives a round of applause during a City Council meeting on Oct. 16. Beside her is her brother, Raymond Ouellette, 89.

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