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Here are a couple of short videos of Rick Pease of PCS Specialty Contracting “shooting” gunite into the Clary Lake dam yesterday:
Yesterday was a landmark day at the Clary Lake dam for several reasons, not just because the underground storage tank was removed but also because PCS “shot gunite” to seal the upstream face of the dam! What an exciting (and loud!!) experience that was! I wasn’t familiar with gunite and had never seen the process so I didn’t know what to expect. The cement comes in a cement truck like regular concrete, but there the similarity ends; rather than a concrete slurry, the stuff that comes down the chute is actually only slightly damp concrete and sand mix. It dumps into a device with a strainer to trap large particles that “fluffs” it up and then blows it down a long rubber hose. At the nozzle end high pressure water is injected into the stream. The whole system is powered by high pressure air from a compressor.
It was very gratifying watching the high pressure stream of water and cement fill holes, cracks, and voids. Some of the larger voids took as much as 30 seconds to fill. I half expected one in a while to see water and cement come shooting out the other side of the dam, but I never did. Here are some more pictures of them “shooting” gunite:
All told it didn’t take them long once they got started. The were plagued with equipment malfunctions all morning, but once the cement truck arrived around noon, they got right to it and were done in less than 2 hours. Then they draped insulating blankets over the dam to help hold in the heat generated by the curing of the concrete.
I’ve got a couple of short videos I’ll post separately.
Today was a landmark day at the the Clary Lake dam. First thing this morning, McGee Construction arrived on site and got to work. First they finished pumping out the contents of the underground storage tank, a process actually started the day before. All told they pumped about 650 gallons of reasonably clean water out of the tank. Then they got to work digging up and removing the tank. It didn’t take long. The good news: Beacon Environmental was on site to do soil and water tests, and ZERO contamination was found, so ZERO remediation needed. This did not come as a huge surprise to anyone, but we were all nonetheless pleased and relieved to hear that. They were pretty much done by lunch time. Here are a few more pictures:
The permitting process to get that tank out of the ground was substantial… requiring in all, 5 separate forms/applications including a tank registration form, an intent to remove tank form, an NRPA Permit By Rule notice, a Maine DOT Highway Opening application (the tank was partly in the road right of way) and last but not least, a “tank was successfully removed” notice (which I have to file tomorrow). Gak. You’d think we were trying to do a bad thing, not get rid of a potential environmental hazard. All I can say now is I’m glad that tank is finally out of the ground and off my radar.
About the time that McGee was finishing up the tank removal, PCS Specialty Contracting was getting ready to shoot gunite to seal the upstream face of the dam against leaking. I’ll post pictures and video of that exciting work shortly.
Day 5 of Clary Lake dam repairs: cleaning old mortar out of the seams on the upstream face of the dam in preparation to sealing them against leaking with gunite.
I’ve added another dozen or so pictures of day 4 of repairs to the Clary Lake dam. On Friday PCS finally finished demolition of the deteriorating concrete plug which was blocking the original log weir in the middle of the dam (picture at left). The crew proceeded to remove material cautiously, being careful to keep the demolition debris out of the stream. One big surprise was finding a layer of old wooden timbers laid on top of the bottom layer of rock and covered with concrete. These date back to around 1950. The wood was punky but still relatively solid, and came out in individual pieces roughly 6″ x 8″ x 36″ long. I have no idea why they were left in place. Continue reading
Today was day 2 of repairs on the Clary Lake dam and I’ve taken more pictures (see the Fall 2018 Gallery) to show the work in progress. They’ve started demolishing the old concrete plug in preparation for pouring new concrete and installing a weir in the top. The two piers and the concrete on top is newer and still pretty hard, it looked like a lot of work busting it up with those little pneumatic hammers. I remarked that my dentist has bigger drills than those they’re using, but they like them because they’re easier to use and don’t throw debris all over the place. They’re sure doing the job- especially lower down in the rotten concrete. The demolition of the concrete plug should be finished tomorrow or early Friday.
Here’s a picture from 1950 showing what those two concrete piers were used for: they held a mechanism for opening and closing a sluice gate. This gate was built to replace an even larger original gate that was roughly 65″ tall and 84″ wide. About 1960 Chester Chase removed this sluice gate, filled it with concrete, and installed the current gate mechanism for the existing 34″ diameter pipe which you can just see to the bottom right. That pipe was originally installed by Henry Clary when the dam was built in 1903 and connected to a penstock that ran all the way down to the wheel house located below and behind the mill. You can see the outlines of the original 65″ by 84″ weir in the photographs and the vertical seam where they partially filled in the left side to create the weir shown in this picture. There’s a lot of history here.
A little over 3 weeks ago we closed on the Clary Lake dam property and finally, yesterday, Monday November 5th, after over 7 years of nearly constant non-stop effort, repair work on the dam was finally started! I can’t even begin to tell you how pleased this makes me. Before going any further I’d like to take just a moment to thank our Membership, our Board, and others in our local community whose help and support were so important to get us to where we are today. It’s been a monumental effort and we couldn’t have done it without all your help. Thank you. Continue reading
I have archived the October 2018 Water Level Chart (at left). As you can see the water level in October very gradually rose a total of only 6.12″ over the course of the month from a low of -55.32″ below the Normal High Water Line on the first day of the month to -49.20″ on the last. We received 3.96″ of rain during that period and the fact that the lake didn’t rise more is an indication of how depleted the water table has been. Average rainfall for this date is 34.30″ and we’re only at at 31.96″ or 2.34″ below normal. You’ll notice the chart shows the dam’s gate is still wide open. We’re going to leave it open until the repairs to the dam have been completed.
We’ve only owned the Clary Lake dam for 5 days, and the clean up site work is done, thanks mostly to CLA Vice President Dave Knight and Member Tim Chase. They literally did 99% of the work! A few other people helped including myself, Ellis Percy, Malcolm Burson, and Mary Gingrow-Shaw. Great work everyone! Also thanks to Steve Cowles for letting stage on his property and pile brush and trees on his burn pile.
There is a follow up article in the Lincoln County News in this week’s paper by staff writer Jessica Clifford. The only factual inaccuracy that jumps out at me is the article states “The association received the deed to the dam Friday, Oct. 12.” when in fact, the closing on the dam was the following Saturday morning:
Clary Lake Association Closes on Dam, Plans Repairs
Good article, though I had hoped they would publish our mailing address and website address and encourage people to donate money to help restore Clary Lake! It is after all a Great Pond, held in trust for the People of the State of Maine. It’s everyone’s lake. No worries, anyone interested in donating shouldn’t have any trouble finding us.
I’ll post a link to a locally archived copy in a while.
We Own The Dam!
I’ve been waiting to say that for more than 7 years. Many thanks to everyone who helped make this possible! In particular, I’d like to thank the Clary Lake Association Board who has worked tirelessly with me over the years to get us where we are today. I’d also like to thank our Membership, past and present, and everyone else on or around Clary Lake who has contributed their time and money to bringing this about. We couldn’t have done this with all your help! I’d also like to thank our lawyer, Randy Creswell who did such a good job representing us in Bankruptcy court. Finally, and last but by no means least, I must mention my wife Margaret Fergusson who steadfastly helped and supported me (and put up with me!) throughout this challenging time. Thank you all!
It’s sure been an interesting 24 hours. Yesterday, as most of you know, was the last day of the 14 day stay of the September 28th Bankruptcy Court Order approving the free and clear sale of the Clary Lake dam to us. The 2 week period was to provide Richard Smith and/or Aquafortis Associates LLC with an opportunity to appeal that Order, if they wished. Finally, about 4:30 PM yesterday afternoon and on the last day available, they did just that, through their attorney Dennis Carrillo. Mr. Carrillo did not file a motion for a stay of the Order however. As a result, today, with the appeal period over and thanks to the 363(M) protections afforded us by the Court as Good Faith buyers, their appeal is moot, and the Order stands as issued.
We finally closed on the dam this morning. The deed has already been recorded electronically at the Lincoln County Registry of Deeds, and checks mailed to Medius L3C and to the Trustee. What happens to appeal now is not our problem. I’m guessing the Trustee will file a motion to dismiss next week. In any case, it’s not our concern.
Our work is just beginning. Now that we own the dam, it’s time to get busy on repairing it and restoring Clary Lake. I’m so ready for this 🙂
One week ago today the Board mailed out yet another fundraising letter to our Membership, other Clary Lake shore owners, and friends of Clary Lake in the surrounding community. I had hoped to post a fundraising update before sending that letter, explaining where we stand financially, what we’ve spent money on so far, and why we need to raise more money, but the past couple of weeks since receiving the favorable bankruptcy court ruling have been unbelievably busy and I just haven’t found the time to sit down and address the matter. Until now. A few people have reached out to me recently with questions about the need for additional fundraising, so here I go, better late than never. A lot has been on hold this summer, pending receipt of the Clary Lake dam and we’re now trying to make up for lost time. First and foremost is getting the dam repaired as soon as possible. I’ll update everyone about that effort in a separate post. Continue reading
A nice article in the Lincoln County News by staff reporter Jessica Clifford. It was going to be in last week’s paper but it got bumped:
Countdown On for Sale of Clary Lake Dam
The article states: “The covenants were established to prevent damage to the mill building from water flowing downstream.” We all know the real reason the covenants were placed on the dam property.
Here’s an archived copy:
Now that we own the dam (or will, in a few days) we’ve got a lot to do! One of the first on the list of things to do is starting up the process of transferring the Clary Lake Water Level Order from the current licensee (Pleasant Pond Mill LLC or PPM) to the Clary Lake Association (CLA). The application has to be filed with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection within 2 weeks of the transfer of the property, and the first step is to send out a public notice of our intent to file the transfer application, and the approximate date. We originally sent this notice in early July when we anticipated owning the dam later that month, but court delays prevented that from happening. So here we go again. If you’re a littoral or riparian land owners around Clary Lake or someone who owns land directly across a road from the lake, you should have received your public notice earlier this week. There was also a notice in this week’s Lincoln County News. We’ve also started a second and final fundraising initiative to raise money needed to complete repairs to the dam; I’ll talk more about this in a separate post. Additional steps to be taken real soon include filing the underground tank registration form and the Permit By Rule notice required to work on the dam.
We’re one step closer to owning the dam! In accordance with the recent Order approving the sale of the Clary Lake dam to the Clary Lake Association, the Bankruptcy Trustee has filed evidence of compliance with paragraph 2 of the order, that being the transfer of the Clary Lake dam from PPM to Paul Kelley’s bankruptcy estate, from whence it will be eventually conveyed to us. The deed, dated September 28, 2018 was recorded by the Trustee at the Lincoln County Registry of Deeds on October 3, 2018 in Book 5311, Page 46. In other words, PPM no longer owns the Clary Lake dam. This has been a long time coming, and brings a smile to my face 🙂
Finally, more than a few people have expressed some concern about the 14 day appeal period, wondering what it means and worried that Paul Kelley will try and appeal the recent ruling. This is an understandable concern given past history with these parties, but it is not a valid one: as the debtor, Paul Kelley himself does not have standing to file an appeal; the only parties who do have standing to appeal are Richard Smith and Aquafortis Associates LLC. However, filing an appeal would be a waste of time and money because the judge granted us Good Faith protections under Section 363(M) of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code meaning that any appeal becomes moot when we close on the property. If an appeal has been filed by the time we close, a simple motion to dismiss is all it will take to make it go away.
I have archived the September 2018 Water Level Chart (at left). The water level in September for the most part reversed the downward trend of previous months, remaining pretty much flat for the whole month but for the last week when heavy rains resulted in a modest lake level rise of 1.68″ by the end of the month. Given that we received 5.38″ of rain in September, it’s amazing that it didn’t rise a lot more than that, a clear indication of how depleted the ground water supply has been. The last rain event on September 25 and 26 dumped 2.5″ of rain on Clary Lake which in a normal year should have brought the lake up 10″ resulted in a minuscule 1.56″ lake level rise.
Despite having received way more rain than the normal 3.74″ for September, at only 28.00″ so far we’re still shy almost 2″ of the yearly average of 29.93″ for this date. It’s been dry: I recorded measurable rainfall on only 4 days during September.
Now that we’ve received a favorable ruling from the bankruptcy court, we’re hoping to get started on dam repairs later this fall. I think it’s safe to say you’re never going to see Clary Lake this low again 🙂
Well that didn’t take long: yet another fine article in the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel by Staff Writer Jessica Lowell.
Federal judge OKs Whitefield dam sale
I find this comment amusing:
Paul Kelley said Friday after the ruling was announced that he doesn’t know “how things are playing out. I do know that parties are generally unhappy.”
I can count the parties that are “generally unhappy” with today’s ruling on the fingers of one hand and have a couple of fingers left over. Everyone else is VERY happy 🙂
A minor correction: the dam cost $80,000 not $32,500
Here’s a link to an archived copy of the article:
At a short hearing held today at 10 AM in Bangor at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Judge Michael Fagone granted the Trustee’s motion to sale the Clary Lake dam to the Clary Lake Association free and clear of the restrictive covenants under sections 363(F)(5) of the U.S. Bankruptcy code. Gone too is the Medius mortgage under 363(F)(2). Further, the Judge granted the Clary Lake Association Good Faith Protections provided by section 363(M) of the U.S. Bankruptcy code. The Judge declined to allow the immediate sale of the property so we will have to wait to take title to the Clary Lake dam in 14 days at the expiration of the appeal period. Should AQF or Richard Smith (or anyone else) decide to appeal today’s ruling, 14 days from today our attorney will simply file a motion to dismiss and <POOF> the appeal will disappear, thanks to the 363(M) Good Faith Protections. Continue reading
So who’s planning on attending the hearing in Bangor this Friday? Who’s thinking of it? I think it would be great for a contingent of Clary Lake people put in an appearance. This is the hearing when the Judge will rule on the Sale Motion and if past hearings are any indication, this one promises to be very interesting! If you’re planning on attending, drop me an email and let me know.
The hearing is at the U.S. Federal Bankruptcy Court at 202 Harlow Street, Bangor Me. See the previous post “Bankruptcy Judge to Issue Ruling in Open Court” for more information.
We’ve all been anxiously awaiting a decision from the Bankruptcy Court on the Clary Lake Association’s efforts to purchase the Clary Lake dam from Paul Kelley’s bankruptcy estate. This morning Judge Fagone announced his intention of issuing an Oral Ruling on the Trustee’s Sale Motion in open court at a hearing at 10 AM on Friday September 28th at the United States Bankruptcy Court at 202 Harlow Street, Bangor, Maine. The hearing will be open to the public. A date for a ruling is not the same as a ruling, but I’ll take it. At least now we have an end date for the Sale Motion!
Given how much time has passed since oral arguments back on July 27th, we were all expecting the Judge to issue a written decision but our attorney assures us that Judges issue oral decisions in open court with some frequency. We have every reason to believe the Judge will approve the sale of the Clary Lake dam at that hearing, with the only question being whether he sells us the dam free and clear of the restrictive covenants or approves the sale with the covenants in place. Either way we’ll own the dam. The closing will most likely take place the following week. We have a contingency plan in place to deal with the covenants if the Judge decides not to sell the dam free and clear.
We had not counted on this sale process taking so long, and it remains to be seen whether there is enough time this fall to get the dam permanently repaired or whether we’ll need to wait until next summer for that. Needless to say we’ll do everything we can to get the dam repaired and the lake level restored as quickly as possible.
If anyone is interested in attending the hearing and is looking for a ride, get in touch with me about carpooling!
I have archived the August 2018 Water Level Chart (at left). The water level in August continued the slow but steady decline seen in June and July, falling only 3.00″ over the course of the month or about a tenth of an inch per day. Most of the drop now is due to evaporation as there’s virtually no water flowing down the channel and out the dam.
It’s still dry: we received only 2.95″ of rain during August, 0.36″ less than normal. So far this year we’ve received 22.62″ or 3.57″ less than average for this date. According to the National Integrated Drought Information System we’re currently experiencing “Abnormally Dry” which I suppose it about right.
Since posting about finding some Purple Loosestrife growing around Clary Lake last month (see: “Have You Seen This Plant?”) I have continued to find and remove more plants. Many thanks to those of you who have reported loosestrife around the lake. The other day I spotted another group of plants over by the inlet to the lake in Jefferson and plan to go dig them up/pull them out this weekend.
No, I don’t know when the Bankruptcy Judge is going to rule. Patience people. It’ll happen.