It was a glorious day for everything, but especially for the ribbon cutting ceremony at One Hancock Street, the new world headquarters of WEX – a payment processing technology firm. Last week about half of the 1,000 members of the workforce moved to its waterfront location from its South Portland office.
A slew of local dignitaries as well as Governor Janet Mills (D) and Senator Susan Collins (R) addressed the crowd of well-wishers in the sun washed lobby of WEX. Governor Mills applauded WEX for bringing “more people to Maine, encouraging folks to come here and settle and raise their families and find good-paying jobs as they can right here at WEX.” Jonathan Cohen, building developer, said that his father, Sam, started Portland Glass. Upon his death, it was sold. But Jonathan retained the commercial portion of the successful business. “Thank you for all the glass and metal used in this building,” he quipped to a laughing crowd. He added that his next project is a 599 car garage at the nearby 100 Fore Street property. Will the new garage be constructed of glass?
But for one person and his wife, it must have been particularly poignant. Parker Poole (see above left photo of Mr. Poole and wife Diane) was retiring from the Board after a very long affiliation with the company. Actually, from a prominent Portland family, Poole came up with the concept on how to control fuel prepayments for vehicles at a nearby gas station. The first office of four, including Mr. Poole, was at 315 Park Avenue.
Just prior to the ceremony, Jessica Ray, vice-president of communications rescued me from the clutches of a clinging police officer and gave this blogger a tour (accompanied by a security guard) of the building with its spectacular views of the waterfront from every floor. On the fourth floor is the Katahdin Room, the Boardroom. It houses a stunning table crafted by Tim Hill, of Gorham. On the second floor is a lunch room with plenty of space for “team work” from different departments to do some private problem solving. There is also a fish tank.
The gracious Ms. Ray sprung me from an unfortunate situation moments before the ceremony began. There had been a lengthy debate about my right to cover the ribbon cutting ceremony for my blog, despite a “media advisory” from the Governor’s office. The above security officer, L. Smith, disputed and challenged my right to attend and cover the opening for munjoyhillnews.com. Initially, Smith told me to leave the property. When I said I could be thee, he asked me to produce “papers” to prove I could cover the opening. I didn’t have my media advisory from the Governor’s office with me. Next, Smith accused me of being rude to him because I informed him this incident would be detailed on my blog. He continued trying to intimidate me into leaving the property. I told him there were some, like the building architect, at the event already who could identify me and that I belonged there. He said no – he would not consult with them. He made me stand in a tiny circle he drew with his finger in the air near the front door – presumably hoping to push me out the door. Smith was more than willing to post for a photograph for munjoyhillnews.com. Next, Smith warned me that the possibility of my being arrested because I was illegally standing on private property and put in JAIL was real. Really? Maybe Smith wants to be the city’s Police Officer of the Month for taking out the munjoyhillnews.com!
Enter Jessica who saved the occasion with grace and thoughtfulness. Exit Carol with another bad experience with the Portland Police.