One man’s view on wind

I am writing this as a private citizen of Jackson, not as a selectman. Long after I am done as a selectman, I will continue to be a private citizen.

My wife, Janice, and I were initially enthusiastic about a proposal when it was made to us by Citizens Energy in the fall of 2007. We did some research, visited a number of wind farms and talked to people in those communities. My son and I attended a three-day conference in April of 2008 sponsored by Windustry, a non-partisan, nonprofit organization focusing on community wind. There is no question that the possibility of approximately $12,000 each for two turbines was hard to turn down, and we decided to sign an option.

In the spring of 2009, Citizens decided that because another company had also signed land owners along the ridge, it was not going to continue its development plan. Because we have learned a lot more about large-scale wind since that time, we were, and are, relieved to not be under contract with anyone. To say we are in someone’s back pocket is not true.

We in Jackson have since learned that an ordinance is a legal document with police powers that has to be specific, objective and defensible. A town may pass an ordinance banning the discharge of firearms, for example. If it is challenged in court, it is up to the town to show why this is necessary to protect the public. The court makes a finding based on facts like population density, etc. It is the job of the town attorney, who may be asked to defend the ordinance, to comment on an ordinance before it is enacted.

At a recent Planning Board meeting, the town’s attorney met with the select board and members of the public and recommended a number of changes to the proposed Jackson wind ordinance. The basis of his approach is that the ordinance needs to set measurable and enforceable performance standards for any development in town.

To say that a setback of one mile will protect everyone from noise is simply not true. It is an arbitrary assumption that is not objective. In contrast, a performance standard states that noise at any occupied dwelling shall not exceed a certain level. This is definable, measurable and defensible.

So here’s my take on what’s really going on in town. There are a number of people in town who are determined to keep large-scale, commercial wind out of Jackson. They have been very active in putting out a newsletter and a well-produced video. It is absolutely their right to fight as hard as they can to stop big wind.

But what about people who want to see what is possible? We have had a developer suggest to the town that it would accommodate ownership and the income from a turbine on the town land. This could result in considerable sheltered income going directly to the town’s general fund. The town woodlot is right in the middle of the ridge and this puts Jackson in the driver’s seat.

I suggest we enact an ordinance that has a half-mile setback (6.5 times the turbine height) and a noise performance standard of 40 decibels at occupied buildings. This protects citizens, is enforceable, and defensible. It leaves it up to the developer, whoever that is, whenever it happens, to decide if it can live with those standards.

If the developer can’t meet these standards, no worries, the wind will still be blowing. We have a resource, let’s be smart about it. It doesn’t mean saying yes, it doesn’t mean saying no, it means saying here are our rules, do you want to make a proposal?

Dave Greeley

Jackson

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Heartfelt thanks from the Caswells

Thank you to Belfast Police Officer Eric Kelley, and all the helpers he coordinated, i.e., the Waldo County Sheriff’s Department, State Police K-9 unit, Belfast Fire Department boat, and also for issuing a missing persons bulletin in the search for John “Butch” Caswell on Jan. 17.

Thank you, also, to the many, many searchers and supporters from family, friends and neighbors to many church families in Belfast and beyond. The area was scoured looking for my husband. Everyone was so caring and creative in the search efforts. It was truly a great team effort!

My initial prayer was that he would be found; then, as time went by, I prayed he would be found in the same day. Those prayers were answered. We, at least, were spared the trial of not knowing the outcome.

John, known to many as “Butch,” loved the waterfront, spending much time in prayer there where he really enjoyed sunrises. Therefore, he was found in a very fitting place, and by a teen member of our church family, which was also very fitting. John had a special place in his heart for young people. He was a teacher, mentor and friend to many of them through the years.

I thank all who helped, all who have sent cards, given hugs, food and all kinds of support to me and our family.

Heartfelt thanks to all of you from all of us.

Karen Caswell and family
Belfast

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Civic center a worthy investment

Since I live only a few blocks from the now-empty Matthews Bros. building at Miller and Union streets, I have been watching with great interest the efforts of a group of civic-minded citizens who want to turn this building into a Belfast Civic Center (formerly referred to as the Belfast Event Center).

I think this is a terrific idea, and the ways in which the center could be used are abundant and varied.

But the first thing that has to happen is for the city to buy the building. Buying such a building would not be an expensive indulgence, since in just a few years, it could be more than paying its own way — and even making a profit. To buy the land and construct a building of comparable size would cost much more than the price the city is being asked for it.

Here are just some of the ways the civic center could be used: as a meeting place for groups up to 400; as a convention center for modest-sized groups of the same number; for trade shows and expositions; for large weddings and receptions; as a theater venue, perhaps for the Belfast Maskers, who now have to play in the round, and perhaps as a location for the annual high school musical, since they now have to perform in a gymnasium with poor acoustics.

Other uses could be: Antique fairs, arts and crafts fairs, Christmas fairs, home and garden shows, and perhaps even small boat shows in the basement area. The basement also could be used for a winter farmers market. Also, how about an Oktoberfest for Maine’s many microbreweries?

By bringing people to Belfast for these events, the center also would be of great benefit to local businesses, especially accommodation facilities and restaurants.

Buying the building will involve some expenditure, but within 10 years or so, it probably will have returned more than that cost.

Stephen Allen

Belfast

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What is wrong with America?

What is wrong with America? Where have our freedoms gone? Are freedom of speech, freedom of press and freedom of religion free to all but those of us that have godly Christian convictions?

Ethnic groups have rights, the Muslims have rights, and the gays have rights. What has happened to the rights of the rest of us? What has happened to the rights of the Christians who believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, but aren’t supposed to mention that name?

What happened to the rights of our veterans, who fought so valiantly and honorably to give us these freedoms, that the crosses they erected to honor their heroic efforts of our men and women of the military have to be covered in disgrace because it might offend someone?

Offend who? A few people who have taken it upon themselves to fight against anything that stands for good. Something is wrong with our American politics when just a few groups have rights. Don’t discriminate, don’t be racist — well, what about reverse discrimination? Things aren’t looking fair to us of a different opinion.

Wake up, America — Communism and socialism isn’t far away; in fact, it’s here.

Gloria Boynton

Prospect

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The culture of contentment

In 1992, Professor John Kenneth Galbraith, a renowned professor of economics at Harvard University with an exemplary public career, academic career and author of many widely read books on economics, wrote the book “The Culture of Contentment.” This book depicts the need for a commitment to the human needs and remedies of the economically and socially disenfranchised in the United States. Health care is one of those crucial needs for some 47 million Americans.

Universal health care coverage is essential for all citizens of our country. Universal health care is implemented in all industrialized countries, with the exception of the United States of America. Universal health care is also provided in Canada and most South American countries.

“Universal” implies applicability to every member, every citizen in a country. Germany has the oldest universal health insurance bill, dating back to 1883. Britain’s National Insurance Act of 1911 was the first step there toward universal health care. Following the Second World War, as a process of deliberate health care reform, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 was signed by every country involved, except the United States.

That was over 60 years ago and here we, the United States of America, still have people fighting in opposition to a universal health care program. Imagine, we are the only industrialized nation in the world that does not have universal care. Universal health care is provided in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Uruguay, Trinidad, Venezuela and in many other countries throughout the world.

It is incredible that today, in 2010, we are still trying to promote universal health care for our citizens. We have about 47 million American citizens without health care. The United States Senate is still a stumbling block against health care for American citizens. Every senator has government health care, along with other perks, and 40 percent of the senators are millionaires.

In fact, about half of the billionaires in the world are citizens of the United States of America. We claim to be the wealthiest nation in the world — and are still fighting to defeat a proposal for universial health care for 45 million of our own people. It seems that some of those rich and privileged senators have no shame. Hopefully, the citizens and elected officials of Maine will wake up to the fact that health care in the USA and Maine is a disaster. A disaster not only for the less fortunate without health care, but for the countless small businesses that are failing and cannot compete with businesses of other countries that have universal health care.

I remember the struggle Congress and President Roosevelt had in 1935 trying to pass Social Security with zero help from Republicans. The wealth divide in the United States between the rich and the rest was no different then that it is today. John Kenneth Galbraith wrote a book entitled “The Culture of Contentment,” in which he explains the rise of the greatly self-satisfied affluent elite that is now dominant in the United States. They and those making a financial killing from insurance pharmaceutical etc., companies dominate our Congress just as they did in 1935.

It seems that we have forgotten the premise upon which this great mation was established. That is for “equal justice, certain inalienable rights to promote the general welfare for all citizens” and so forth seem to be missing by the leaders in this great society. Are we no longer committed to the human needs, and are we a society that does not include the “economically and socially disenfranchised?” Are we no longer a democracy that believes in equality, equal rights and so forth? Or are we a society, a culture of contentment, as Professor Galbraith writes about in his book?

Are we becoming a society that does not believe in a commitment to the least of our brothers and sisters? Let me repeat, The United States is the only industrialized nation in the world that does not have universal health care.

Nat Crowley Sr.

Stockton Springs