Dear Sun Spots: Lutheran Social Services of Auburn, a nonprofit human services agency, is in need of adult-size snowshoes for our clients to use for the upcoming Maine Special Olympics Winter Games. If anyone has any information or can offer any assistance, please feel free to call our administrative office at 783-3446. Thank you. – Lorraine Brocker, Auburn.

Dear Sun Spots: What are the taxes on home heating fuel in Maine? Are they a flat rate or percentage of cost? What is the money designated for? Thanks for your wonderful column. – No Name, No Town.

Answer: Sara Lewis, deputy director of sales, fuel and special taxes with Maine Revenue Services, notes that fuel used for home heating in Maine is exempt from state excise and sales taxes.

The exemption from excise tax is found in Title 36, Section 3204-A, subsection 2.

The exemption from sales tax is found in Title 36, Section 1760, subsection 9.

Dear Sun Spots: You’ve come through for me before so I’m back to seek your help.

Could somebody tell me what that funny formation of cement “spikes” or pylons is on the lawn when you are approaching the foot bridge on the Lewiston side of the Riverwalk? It looks like rows of members in a marching band.

Did those things support a structure and if so, why was it on those “stilts”? Or is the whole thing some weird work of art? – Gerry Beaudette, No Town.

Answer: Thanks to the tip from chief photographer Russ Dillingham who recalled it might have something to do with an old railway, Sun Spots checked in with her local king of historical trivia, Michael Lord of the Androscoggin Historical Society, who kindly took an extended lunch hour to research this for you. Sun Spots would really like to thank Michael for all the information he provides to the column and readers! You are an awesome resource for us all, Mike.

Lord says the spikes you are referring to are old, but not that old, from around the 1930s or 1940s. On those that are worn or broken, he noted gravel, small stones or bricks making up the interiors of the posts, but they were all an even height once. There are bits of metal and bolts on top of them also, leaving Lord to dismiss the art idea.

In looking at the society’s Sanborn (fire insurance) maps of the early 20th century, he noted the name “St. Hilaire & Son – Gasol. Tanks – Elevtd 9′ on – steel fr.” It was near a small iron-clad frame pump house, now gone. A bit farther (toward Lewiston) was a truck garage, which may or may not have been part of the same company. There were three other tank farms in that area, also. The society’s 1937 directory states that Joseph St. Hilaire was the proprietor of this gas and oil distributor at 5 Cedar St., just to the south. Whether there was a pipeline from the rail line to the tank farm or not, Lord doesn’t know, but it makes sense that there was one.

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