The New Deal in Fairfield Maine

This small town in Somerset County (Population 5,132 1930 census) took full advantage of New Deal programs to deal with the unemployment situation during the Great Depression. A big thank you goes out to the helpful staff at the town library for their assistance and help in locating projects and photographs of buildings mentioned in the reports.

1933

Report of the Selectmen, Assessors and Overseers of the Poor

“The welfare department for the year ending Feb. 10, 1933, including the regular appropriation, dependent veterans, mothers aid, and dependent children, Red Cross relief and contributions by the welfare committee, cost over $35,000. Last spring we had around 350 individuals on the relief roll, receiving aid in one form or another. During this time we received aid for the R.F.C. (Reconstruction Finance Corporation) of $8,000 out of which was spent in direct relief, $3,500 and for relief, $4,500. Since December there has been paid out some $20,000 in funds from C.W.A. And C.W.S. This has been a great relief to our town and we feel that owing to our financial condition we may be able to get more in the future.

Owing to the weather conditions our C.W.A. work has been a hard problem. The labor has been handled largely by Mr. Flood and Mr. Maddocks who have worked hard and long hours. The office work done by Mr. Dixon and Miss Rowe has been all that could be desired.

The C.W.S. Work has been of great help to the needy and we feel that it has been efficiently managed by Ann Oakes. We wish that the citizens, especially the women, could visit the rooms and see the amount of work being done and how it is being handled.

With aid of the R.F.C. and the regular highway funds, Mr. Flood has built a fine gravel road in Shawmut, also has made a great improvement on High Street. He has also done a lot of work on the highways; the State Aid and Third Class roads are a credit to his management.

There are now around 200 individuals on our relief roll, outside of those working on the C.W.S. And C.W.A.

We are exceedingly well pleased with the consideration given us by the Federal and State officials when asking for aid.

WORK DONE ON WHITE PINE BLISTER RUST

Five men worked 143 days of six hours each cleaning 1,128 acres or 57,128 currant and gooseberry plants. Men were paid by R.F.C. Money for this work at $2.25 per day.

Civil Works Administration

The following is a list of the various projects which have been carried on during the past three months through the use of C.W.A. Funds.

No.1 Rebuilding of 2,500 feet of road from State Highway to Central Maine Sanatorium; work includes rock base with gravel top, also culverts and guard rail fence.

No. 2 Resurfacing with gravel, one and one-half miles of the Ridge Road.

No. 3 Resurfacing with gravel, three-quarters of a mile on the Knox Road.

No. 4 Resurfacing the village streets with gravel, including Winchester, West and Robinson Streets.

No. 5 Building of 250 feet of sewer on upper end of Maple Street.

No. 6 Building of 120 foot extension of Summit street sewer through mill pond to river.

No. 7 Rebuilding of sewer connecting Lawrence High School with main sewer on Lawrence Avenue.

No. 8 Filling in and grading of grounds around Shawmut School.

No. 9 Grading grounds and general repairing at Ten Lots and North Fairfield Schools.

No. 10 Grading and general repairing, including the laying of new roof at Fairfield Center School.

No. 11 Grading and general repairing at North Grammar School.

No.12 New arborite ceiling in gymnasium of Lawrence High School, also general repairing, including installation of several new lights.

No. 13 Excavating under the cellars of three buildings at Central Maine Sanatorium.

No. 14 Women’s projects, including cleaning of public buildings, cataloguing and indexing at High School and Library; sewing and knitting for the needy of the town, and public nursing.

No. 15 Administration; accounting and clerical work.

No. 16 Includes tools and equipment of all kinds, purchased for use on various labor projects.

No. 17 Compensation; includes amount paid to men injured on the projects.

WOMEN’S PROJECTS OF THE C.W.A.

Under the Women’s Project of the C.W.A. Much has been accomplished. On January 8th a committee was selected to assist in the investigation of needy families; a list having been obtained from the Selectmen. The following day there was sufficient data to start working with a crew of seven women, the second week the full quota of seamstresses were at work.

Starting January 9th and up to February 15, fifty families had been helped either in matter of clothing or bedding. Two hundred seventy-six articles of clothing have been made, 64 pieces repaired, bedding numbered 126.

The women employed have very kindly employed have very kindly loaned their sewing machines which is greatly appreciated.

One woman was given work cleaning the Public Library and town offices. Others were assigned to assist in repairing books at the Public Library, the High School library and clerical work.

The nurse employed in this work has made 81 calls and attended 34 dressings.

This work has been of great benefit to many needy people, to the town itself and indirectly to al townspeople.

Much credit for the success accomplished is due to the splendid cooperation of the town officials, the local office force, the committee who so graciously gave their time and the townspeople for their contributions.

Road Commissioner’s Report

“I graveled one mile of road in Shawmut using 2,142 yards of gravel. The trucks and gravel cost $878.22. The shoveling was paid for by the R.F.C. I graveled on mile and one tenth on High Street using 2,262 yards of gravel. The trucks and gravel cost $908.70. The shoveling was paid for by the R.F.C. The rest of the money went in the back part of the town. In the spring the town got some of the R.F.C. Money and thought it would continue till late in the fall and they let the men work instead of the town helping them, but the money stopped coming and the labor was charged to the highway account and that is how they got the overdraft of $1,294.37. I had a balance of $85.70 in my highway account, $1,380.70 should have come from the R.F.C.”

1934

Report of Relief Work

During the past year, through the use of C.W.A. And E.R.A. Funds, the following projects have been carried on:

1. Resurfacing village streets with gravel, including Summit, West, Hatch, Osborne, Elm, Water, Gibson, Pleasant, Burrill, North, King, Drummond; also sidewalks on Western Ave, Water, King, Winchester, and Elm Streets.

  1. Excavating and rebuilding Newhall Street.
  2. Draining and resurfacing the school athletic field, and rebuilding the road in to the field from West St.
  3. Building 450 feet of sewer on Water Street.
  4. Building 1000 feet of sewer on lower Main Street from a vantage point half way between the car barn and Cottage Street, to connect with the old sewer at Keyes Fibre Company, also 400 feet of sewer on Bunker Island.
  5. Cutting bushes along the country roads.
  6. Building concrete bridge across Fish Brook at Fairfield Center.
  7. Constructing a dam back of the Grange Hall at Fairfield Center, to make an auxiliary water supply for the fire department.
  8. Excavating under three buildings at the Central Maine Sanatorium.
  9. Painting Shawmut and North Grammar schools, Opera House, and Fire Station, also re-roofing Fire Station.
  10. Erecting a store house on the Island, to store the town road equipment, including trucks, tractor and road machine.
  11. Repairing the heating system at Lawrence High School, also painting the walls in all the class rooms.
  12. Trimming and cutting trees along the right of way, which might be dangerous to persons and property in case of high wind or storm.
  13. Women’s projects: sewing, knitting, and repairing clothes for the needy.
  14. Public Welfare: public health nurse and case worker.
  15. Tools and equipment of all kinds purchased for use on the various work projects.
  16. Administration: accounting and clerical work, including records relative to the distribution of surplus foods and clothing.

In the past twelve months, the town has benefited to the extent of about $650.00 each week in payrolls, or a total of $33,280.16 as shown by the tables on the page following.

In addition to these payrolls, surplus commodities have been distributed, including 10,906 pounds of fish, 25 cases of cheese, 79 cases of butter, 600 pounds sugar, 211 cases of canned meat, 12 cases smoked meat, 11 cases of rice, 5 cases eggs, 222 pieces fresh meat, 8 sacks cereal, 89 bags of flour, 7 cases lard, 60 bags potatoes, 10 bags oranges, as well as a large amount of clothing.

1935

Report of Relief Work

During the past year, through the use of E.R.A. And W.P.A. Funds, the following projects have been carried on:

  1. Constructing 2,000 feet of gravel road from the Oakland Town line, north, on the Ten Lots road.
  2. Constructing 2100 feet of gravel road, north, on the Six Rod Road.
  3. Resurfacing Elm Street with gravel.
  4. Resurfacing upper and lower Ridge Road and Fish Road with gravel.
  5. Building 1000 feet of sewer on lower Main Street.
  6. Building 225 feet of sewer on Goodman Court and rebuilding about 50 feet of sewer on High Street near Catholic Church.
  7. Building 350 feet of sewer on upper Silver Street.
  8. Regrading land at Maplewood Cemetery for additional lots.
  9. Cutting bushes along Norridgewock road.
  10. Trimming and cutting trees along the right of way.
  11. Repairing books in schools and public library.
  12. Women’s project; sewing, and repairing clothes for the needy.
  13. Painting interior of North and South Grammar Schools.
  14. Repairing and painting interior of Fire Station.
  15. Repairing foundation of American Legion Building.
  16. Painting interior of Opera House, and repairing front entrance, and lockup.
  17. Cutting wood for needy of town.
  18. Administration: accounting and clerical work, including records relative to the distribution of surplus commodities.
  19. Public welfare; nurse and case worker.
  20. Tools and equipment of all kinds.

Road commissioner’s Report

“Also, with the cooperation of the W.P.A. And the Special Resolve appropriation, a large amount of road has been built on both the Six Rod and the Ten Lots roads, the latter being under construction at the present time.”

Fire Department

Repairs to the Fire Station

Two hundred fifty dollars was appropriated to repair the fire station; new cement piers were put in to strengthen the floors; new side walls were replaced, which had rotted away. A new cement floor was put in the coal bin. The tower had to be strengthened, a new underpinning was made of cement. Old plaster that was loose was removed from the walls in the hall and replaced with new. The wall and ceiling in hallway and the main hall upstairs was painted. A great deal of credit should be given to Mr. St. Peter and his E.R.A. Workers for the amount of work they accomplished under this project.

1937

Liabilities

WPA Road Project Note $5,000

WPA Road Project Note $2,500

Debits

WPA Main Street Sewer $2,052.75

WPA High Street Sewer $245.04

WPA Sewing Project $1,891.71

WPA Road Project (Norridgewock Road)

White Pine Blister Rust

Appropriation $200.00

Federal Government expenditures $779.20

Number of men employed 7

1938

Overseers of the Poor

“The WPA projects have been necessary. The number of men employed on WPA projects has been reduced from approximately 100 to 53 and there is every indication that this number will be less during the next year. This will mean that the cost of the WPA will be considerably less. Projects for the coming year have been set up and under the present plan sidewalks, athletic field, sewers, and streets will receive the largest grants. The present Larone Road will be completed under the present project by June, so are assured by the WPA foreman, and the Gagnon Road will be completed under the present setup.”

Liabilities

Temp Loans

WPA $6,000

WPA $3,000

Debits

WPA sewing project $1,652.92

WPA Road Project $3,109.88

WPA Accounts

Payrolls of Federal Government

Sewing Project WPA $7,538.12

Sewing Project NYA $415.52

Road Projects WPA $44,109.42

White Pine Blister $1,699.20

There are 92 Old Age Assistance grants being paid in Fairfield and there are 53 requests for grants that have been approved and are being held for payment.

1939

Debits

W.P.A. Sewing Project $1,915.05

Road Commissioner’s Report

WPA Projects

Appropriation $8,000

Debits

Norridgewock Road $3,583.97

Gagnon Road $1,190.98

Main St. sidewalk $797.42

Ten Lots Road $152.28

Burns St. Sewer $1,072.78

Bartlett St. Sewer $48.75

Osborne St. Sewer $31.20

Relief Department

“The ruling that all WPA employees who had been connected with the projects for a continuous period of eighteen months must be separated from the projects has worked a direct hardship on this department during the year. In nearly every case it has been necessary to contribute toward the support of the family and in many cases it has been necessary to completely support it until private employment could be found or the worker returned to the project. In several cases the department has carried families as many as nine weeks before, employment could be found. The ruling that any person receiving unemployment checks or due the same could not be assigned to WPA has been costly. A family receiving checks amounting to three or four dollars a week, of course has to be partly aided.”

Works Projects Administration

The State Aid Road (Norridgewock Road) has been completed this year. This is approximately four and one quarter miles in length. The Gagnon Road has been built and work as stared on the Ten Lots Road. This had to be discontinued as the road projects were placed with sewer projects due to the winter weather.

There are three sewers which are under construction now. The Burns Street Sewer is 75 per-cent completed and work has been begun on the eastern end of the Bartlett Street Sewer. The survey for the Osborne Street Sewer has been completed and the work will be begun there as soon as it is practical to do so.

The Burns Street Sewer is 1500 feet long and 1200 feet of ditch has been opened and 700 feet of pipe laid. The excavation has been as deep as thirteen feet but this has been completed and the remainder of the ditch is only of normal depth.

A concrete sidewalk along main Street from Laurence avenue to Western avenue was completed. The approved project called for three and one-half miles of sidewalk to be built but the crews were taken from the sidewalk project and assigned to the road project because of the eighteen month law which so depleted the road crew that the road work could not be carried on successfully. This project is still available and should receive the consideration of the voters.

There is another project approved which will make possible the resurfacing of the Keyes Memorial Field. This should be completed next summer.

The average number of men employed has been 55.

The monthly payroll of the Federal Government has been $2,900.00

The cooperation between the Federal, State, and town departments has been excellent and we wish to acknowledge our appreciation for the efficient and courteous manner in which Mr. Willian Paquette, the local WPA foreman, has worked with the town officials.

WPA Sewing Project

The project is ably supervised by Miss Leonie Gousse. At the present time there are eleven women and two girls employed. The requirements are estimated in advance of the season by Miss Burke who also makes the necessary requisitions and places the purchase orders for the materials. All of the clothing is disbursed by Miss Burke on Saturday mornings, only. This department has been most efficiently maintained and too much credit can not be given for the fine manner in which it has been conducted.

National Youth Administration

Several boys have been employed from Fairfield this last year on the project. Most of their work on the M. L. Keyes Memorial Athletic Field.

One girl was employed in the Town Clerk’s office for a number of months. The Vital Statistics Records were carded and copies sent to the Bureau at Augusta.

Two girls are now employed at the Town Office. They are engaged in bringing the old Poor Department records up to date and properly carding them.

Civilian Conservation Corps

There have been many assignments in this department during the year. The allotments have aided many needy families and the town has benefited in no small degree from this project.

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