A MAINE MYSTERY

June 3, 2011

State police tracking stolen 'Open for Business' sign leads

By Ann S. Kim akim@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

BY ANN S. KIM

The Portland Press Herald

State police are following leads in the disappearance of the "Open for Business" sign from the side of Interstate 95 in Kittery.

And someone is using the disappearance as an opportunity for political commentary -- and perhaps a chance to gloat.

The sign, a gift to Gov. Paul LePage from his supporters, was installed below the sign that tells drivers entering the state that Maine is "The Way Life Should Be."

The Department of Transportation reported the Open for Business sign stolen after someone called Wednesday morning to say that it was missing.

State police have gotten a few calls from the public and are following up on the leads, said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety.

"No matter what time of day the theft occurred, even in the dead of night, there would have been dozens of cars that would have passed by that site," he said.

The 4-foot-by-8-foot sign was bolted to the metal signposts, high enough that whoever took it may have needed a ladder.

On Wednesday evening, an online ad for a "Lightly used political sign" appeared on Craigslist.

For $1,000, the purported Kittery-based seller offered a "right-wing political sign for sale, recently acquired, in excellent condition."

The pitch suggests that the sign would look great "on the side of a barn, a Republican Party headquarters, or on the side of a row of portable toilets."

The "seller" was willing to entertain a trade for a multipanel mural of the labor movement.

With the sign missing, members of the Maine Aggregate Association hope to be able to put up a replacement soon. A number of them are chipping in to buy one. The association is a state-wide gravel and rock industry group.

"I like the governor and I like his attitude," said Peter Busque, a member of the association.

Busque, a Windham town councilor, said he sent an email to fellow members Thursday morning and received pledges totaling $1,500 by early afternoon. He said he expects to learn the delivery date from White Sign in Old Town today.

For the contributors, the sign has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with economic reality, said Ted Johnson, legislative counsel for the association.

"We want to make it happen. We think it's important for all Maine people and for everyone to know we need jobs. We need to be open for business," he said.

The original sign was bought with money collected by a couple from Knox County, Cynthia Rosen and John Stewart. They raised $1,376 for the sign, including shipping from the company in Alabama.

Rosen has said she needed the sign in time for LePage's inauguration Jan. 5 and wasn't able to find a company in Maine.

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