DEAR SUN SPOTS: When I was growing up in Lewiston in the late 1960s and 1970s, the city of Lewiston tested its air raid warning sirens each month at noon on the first Saturday of the month.

There used to be a siren on the roof of City Hall, and another siren, a yellow mechanical one, sat atop a utility pole on my street, where it was heard for miles.

I don’t know what became of the siren atop City Hall, but the one on our street is still here, a silent sentinel of times past. As a tangible part of our Cold War history, why hasn’t the city protected and preserved the sirens which still survive? — Greg, [email protected]

ANSWER: Sun Spots previously received a similar question almost exactly a year ago, when she spoke with Joanne Potvin, director of the Androscoggin County Emergency Management Agency.

Joanne said there is no longer a siren operating in the Twin Cities. In general, across the U.S. sirens have been replaced by modern technology.

You may have heard the emergency alert system (it used to be called the emergency broadcast system) tests on public radio or television (a loud tone followed by “This is a test of the emergency alert system. If this had been a real emergency, you would have been told … “).

This system is used for any event that warrants notice of the general public. Joanne said that unlike the siren, this system is designed to not only alert the public to an emergency but also to offer information as to any action you and your family should take.

(Having a system that tells you what to do instead of just alerting you that there is an emergency is a big advantage.)

Joanne recommends families develop an emergency plan, and her agency has plenty of material to help you do so. They are underneath Lewiston’s Central Fire Station at the intersection of College, Blake, Oak and Bates streets, with the entrance at 45 Oak St. The agency is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The website is, phone 784-0147.

As for preserving them, Sun Spots doubts if taxpayers would be willing to foot the bill, but perhaps a nonprofit might undertake the task.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: Why does the obit page always crop off the top, bottom or both of each head in their photos? — John Bay, [email protected]

ANSWER: Since obit photos are rarely trimmed as you describe, Sun Spots guesses that you are referring to a specific photo.

Occasionally a family submits a photo that doesn’t fit well into the prescribed space, or they send a photo that includes other people or objects that need to be cut out. This may limit the proportions that can be used and lead to the cropping condition you describe.

You can be sure your obit photo will please you by planning ahead. Sun Spots recommends that everyone have a good photo and obit ready for the inevitable. Distressed families often have difficulty finding an appropriate photo that will reproduce well in the newspaper.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I am looking for a used cooler that is used outside. One with glass doors and shelves used to keep sodas, etc., cold. Does anyone have or know where I could find this at a reasonable price? I need it for a family reunion in July Thank you for Sun Spots. I look forward to reading it every day. Phone 998-4743. — M.F. via email

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to [email protected]

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