There are lots of potholes in roads and streets up and down the River Valley this winter. Are they worse than usual?

Pam of Rumford’s Town Garage isn’t sure. “Maybe they’re starting a little earlier this year,” she said.

We’d been talking with a friend about potholes and wondering whether they are the same as sinkholes. It’s confusing. The first dictionary meaning for pothole is ” … a hole formed in the surface of a road that can be hazardous to motorists.” You can say that again! A sinkhole is ” … a natural depression in the land, especially in limestone where a stream flows underground.”

Ah, but a second meaning for pothole is ” … a depression in limestone caused by water erosion.” In other words, not all potholes are sinkholes, but some sinkholes are potholes.

I hit a large, deep, round depression in our road a few times and shook loose a pipe shielding what we speculated was a shield for the catalytic converter on the underside of the car. We did not send the repair bill to the town of Rumford because: a) the hole was filled not long after it appeared; b) the town has money troubles enough without our adding to them; and c) the part that fell off had nothing to do with the catalytic converter.

It was, Duke of Duke’s Auto explained, a heat shield to protect the car in the event you parked it in a big pile of dry leaves on the very hottest day of the year, and the leaves caught fire. Duke disposed of the heat shield. No charge.

Catchphrase is ” … a phrase used so frequently by a group that the group becomes identified with it. In Rumford’s town government of late the catchphrase might be “furlough days.” Lots of juggling is required to sustain library and other services. No fun. Furlough days may not only be the catchword today, but the town’s best strategy for balancing the budget.

Other towns in the River Valley may institute their own furlough days. Penny Duguay said that Mexico might consider furlough days, but budget hearings won’t take place until March.

A Dixfield town staff person said no furloughs now, but officials have thought about it.

A call to Canton’s listed telephone number, 579-2920, “could not be completed as dialed.” Friendly recording in Andover’s town office. End of research. Could the River Valley’s smallest towns, Byron, Carthage, Hanover, Peru, Roxbury, possibly trim their budgets with furlough days?

Another catchphrase is “economic development” in Rumford and the River Valley. This one belongs to town governments and the Growth Council and ad hoc groups like the newly formed group working to win a Maine Arts Commission grant that would “put the arts to work” for economic development. Stay tuned.

Meantime, watch out for fun. The Mardens Lady, Birdie Googins, is coming to town Saturday, Feb. 13. Her performance at Mountain Valley High School’s Muskie Auditorium is sponsored by the River Valley Chamber of Commerce. Call there for more information: 364-3211. Leave a message, you’ll get a call back.

Linda Farr Macgregor is a freelance writer; contact her: [email protected]

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