Winthrop legislator who was burned opens House session

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AUGUSTA — A state lawmaker who was injured seriously earlier this summer ended the 128th Maine Legislature on a high note.

Not only is Rep. Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop, healed from the burns he suffered in a farming accident in July, but he also hit some high notes Thursday morning while singing the national anthem to open the final day of the legislative session.

He was invited by the House of Representative’s clerk’s office.

“Whenever they ask, I say ‘yes,’” Hickman said.

Besides singing the anthem, Hickman, who started an a capella group while he was in college, also led the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, read a prayer that touched on Hurricane Florence and read Psalm 23.

Afterward, lawmakers applauded their colleague, a Democrat who runs an organic farm and bed-and-breakfast with his husband, Jop Blom, in Winthrop.

Hickman, 50, hasn’t missed a day in the Legislature since July 10, when he was working at Annabessacook Farm and tried to start a brush fire using gasoline. The gas vapors exploded, burning Hickman’s arm, torso and thighs, and the lawmaker was rushed to Portland for emergency treatment.

Since then, he’s made a seemingly swift recovery. The day he left the hospital, he helped emcee an event on Malaga Island. Soon he was out directing volunteers at his farm.

“I feel great,” Hickman said Thursday. “I am healed and recovered, as far as I can tell.”

Rather than hold any large celebrations to mark the end of the 128th Legislature, Hickman said he planned to spend his evening back on the farm. Right now, it’s bursting with eggplant, kale and pumpkins, and it soon will produce butternut squash, beets and spinach.

“The fall crop is turning out really well,” he said. “It’s a beautiful thing.”

Since Hickman’s accident, more than 40 people have helped out on his farm, while a fundraiser has allowed him and Blom to hire someone to manage the farm while Hickman was recovering.

But if Hickman is less involved in this year’s fall harvest, it will be less related to his injuries than to the turning of the political seasons.

He’s now finishing his third consecutive term as representative of the district that includes Winthrop, Readfield and part of Monmouth, and running for re-election to his fourth.

“We are in campaign season, so I have to help people get elected and make sure people get elected,” he said. “I’ll be on the campaign trail all around the state.”

Hickman added, “That’s going to be a big deal.”

Rep. Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop, sings the national anthem to open the House session Thursday at the State House in Augusta. Hickman included the 23rd Psalm as part of his opening prayer. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal)

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