RANGELEY — A crowd of about 200 residents, well-wishers and outdoor enthusiasts joined local, state, and federal officials on Sunday morning to dedicate the newly-engineered and landscaped scenic overlook at Height of Land.
The day was warm, sunny and humid, and the public frequently visited the refreshment tents while admiring the view and listening to the speakers.
As the crowd gathered, they were entertained with jigs, reels and other Celtic tunes from fiddler Kerry McMillan and guitarist Mike Blythe.
“I’ve been coming here for 40 years,” said an elderly partier, “and it’s never looked better. I mean the facility, not the view, which is always spectacular.”
The program was introduced by Nancy Perlson, executive director of the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust, and Rebecca Kurtz, RLHT program director and Scenic Byway coordinator, both of whom were greeted with enthusiastic applause.
David Bernhardt of the Maine Department of Transportation, explained how the grade differential preserves the view both from the road and the parking area, in or out of your car. “And it’s very low maintenance,” he said. “There are no lawns to mow, and the stones take care of themselves.”
Two new bronze plaques, mounted on granite boulders, were unveiled during the speeches. A third, broader plaque names the site.
One plaque describes the collaborative efforts of the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust, the Maine Department of Transportation, and Land for Maine’s Future, along with the National Scenic Byways Program, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Federal Highway Administration, which all worked to complete the project.
“If we could have this kind of cooperation in Washington, our nation would be in great shape,” U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud said.
The second plaque dedicates the new scenic overlook to Edward J. Kfoury and his late wife, Patricia, for their commitment to conservation and stewardship.
State Sen. Tom Saviello, R-Wilton, introduced Kfoury, founder and president of the board of RLHT, who reminisced about days when his father and grandfather would go fishing in three-piece suits.
“But mostly I want to thank the board and staff for all their hard work,” Kfoury said. “I’m just thankful — very thankful — to all of you, for getting this done.”
Karen Staples, representing U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, read a letter of congratulation to those assembled.
Carlene Tremblay, representative of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, read the senator’s entry in the Congressional Record concerning the Height of Land project.
Some half dozen members of a motorcycle club from Lewiston joined the festivities serendipitously, late in the proceedings, while seven full- and part-time Rangeley Plantation residents had hiked up to the ceremony from Bemis Stream on the Appalachian Trail in spite of the heat, and were planning the trip back on foot as well.