A real life David and Goliath story

One of my favorite stories as a child in a popular book of folk tales was the story of David and Goliath. So imagine my shock this week when I saw that a mighty movie rental chain had been brought to its knees by a small, independent video store right here in downtown Belfast.

This week, make sure you stop by Opera House Video and give Jim, Tiffany and Dennis a high five. While I am sorry to see so many good workers lose their jobs at Movie Gallery, it is a small inspiration to see that persistence, pluck and dedication has helped a local business thrive. Way to go, guys! (and dolls!)

Dave Hurley

Swanville

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Corporate behavior at its worst

It saddens me to report that an institution that I once loved, respected, exhibited in, and on occasion did work for has become seriously ill. On the morning of Thursday, May 27, one day before the Memorial Day weekend, four hardworking, outstanding members of the Farnsworth Art Museum staff and our community were unceremoniously fired in a manner representing corporate behavior at its worst. They were ambushed, when, without warning, they were called into a room, one by one, by the chief financial officer and a hired hit man whom no one had ever even seen before and told that this was their last day at the museum and that they were to immediately turn in their keys and their badges. To add insult to injury, they, among the lowest paid workers at the Farnsworth, were offered a totally inadequate severance package of two weeks pay only if they signed a waver and agreed not to make legal waves. In essence they were asked to sell their souls for a pittance, and to go away quietly. Janice Kasper, the Farnsworth’s now former curator of historic sites and a well-known artist in Maine, who had given the museum 18 years of passionate, devoted service, refused to sign the waver.

It is not about the firing, which the museum had every legal right to do, but the ungracious, ungrateful manner with which it was executed. It was, in my opinion, cruel, heartless, thoughtless behavior and on a smaller scale in league with this country’s financial crisis and the horror of the oil spill; just one more example of corporate arrogance. This type of unconscionable behavior is uncalled for and is an insult not only to the people who were fired but to all of the working people in a small closely knit community such as Rockland and everywhere else for that matter. There are surely better ways to tell people that they have just lost their livelihoods and that their lives have been radically altered, rather than the gut-shot approach taken by the Farnsworth. After all, this was ostensibly for no other reason than a budget move and not because, by the museum’s own admission, these four people were not doing a great job.

To date, 12 days later, neither Janice’s supervisor nor the new executive director of the Farnsworth have offered her one word of appreciation and as a close, personal, friend I have witnessed the shock and deep pain that this very ugly incident has caused her.

On Friday evening while attending Rockland’s “Art Night” I saw a scene that I couldn’t help but think was the perfect metaphor for what the museum has become. An orchestra, all its members dressed in black, playing beautifully in the Farnsworth garden on Elm Street to a virtually empty audience, while on the cupola of the museum’s carriage house, a few doors down the street, a piece of dirty plastic covering a broken, rotted window, waved freely in the wind exposing the interior of the building to birds and inclement weather.

In a weak attempt at damage control the museum is trying to put a spin on this that makes them look better but by cutting the heart and soul out of the Farnsworth, the damage just may be irreparable.

Bob Brooks
Montville

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Mighty generous Mustangs

I would like to address this letter to the senior class at Mount View High School… I just read the article about your donation of a statue to the school (“Mount View class of 2010 unveils gift to school,” by Irene Yadao). What a wonderful act of giving back! I saw the article this morning and the quote from Senior Class Treasurer Ethan Stubbs: “We figured if you stick kids in a hallway for a night, they can make their own fun. It doesn’t matter where they go.” Well, what came to mind is this is incredible. When you come back to visit your school as a guest, a parent or maybe even an employee of the school you can stand proud and look at your example of giving back. Way to go, class of 2010 — three cheers!

Annie Pickford

Freedom

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Hospital Aid recaps activities

The Waldo County General Hospital Aid’s recent yard sale netted $1,008 for our hospital. Aid members would like to thank the entire community for making it a success! Many shoppers made a donation above and beyond their purchases.

We held our annual luncheon at the Penobscot Shores retirement community in May to celebrate 7,247 hours of volunteer service in the past year. Our top volunteer, Wilma Moses, reached a career total of 7,000 hours while Barbara Ross exceeded 4,000 hours. The Hospital Aid and Gift Shop made a combined $8,000 contribution to the hospital. Our spring raffle prize of gardening items was won by Aid member and gardener, Martha Laitin of Thorndike. The raffle made a profit of $576.

The Aid has two more events coming up which will interest the community. On Friday, July 9, and Saturday, July 10, our 20th annual garden walk will be held, rain or shine, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day showing 7 gardens in Belfast. On Wednesday, August 18, the Aid will host a Summer Party at the Kocot residence in Belfast which will be open for a house tour.

Have a pleasant summer, and we hope to see you at one of our events.

Sally Millhorn, President

Waldo County General Hospital Aid

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An update on Stockton’s ‘mystery flag’

[Editor’s note: This letter is in regard to a large flag that was found in the Stockton Springs Town Office earlier this year. The Journal ran an article about the baffling banner in the Feb. 17 edition, in an article titled, “Oh, say — where did this star-spangled banner once wave?”]

We now have some more information on the mysterious yacht flag. Thanks to all the interested folks who sent e-mails, letters, etc., we now know that this flag was designated a “yacht flag” back in the mid-1850’s. It was decommissioned later, although it was still used for a number of years — one source said until the 1920’s. However, none of the information we found referenced such a large flag as has been at the Stockton Springs Town Office.

With further delving, Donna Sanborn discovered that on the end of the flag where it would have been hung, there was faint lettering. Donna kept checking and discovered the following: There was a name, O.C. & K.R. Wilson Co. (founded around 1880). The company changed hands several times and wound up in New York City as a chandlery and engineer’s supply company. The firm sold goods to tugs, barges and ships, as well as to various yachts.

One of the other parts of lettering on the Stockton flag showed the address “78 Day St. NYC”. This building, it turns out, was demolished in March of 1966 to accommodate the World Trade Center. The business name and inventory was sold in 1985 to W.H. Swann & Sons (this information was found in Mystic Seaport records).

In “The History of Stockton Springs,” by Alice Ellis, it was noted on p. 216 that, “In 1907, Judge Lambert of New York organized a Yacht Club at Fort Point. Judge Lambert was the brother of Mrs. Charles Sanford.” So, do we have a larger-than-normal yacht ensign that was destined for the Fort Point Yacht Club?

At this point, we need to do some more research. Donna is working on trying to find out more information and hopes to have more knowledge of how this flag appeared in the Stockton Town Office (who knows how many years ago), instead of at a yacht club as mentioned in “The History of Stockton Springs.”

The town is in hopes of having even more information by the end of 2010, and we will keep you apprised of any progress we make. Thanks for all the interest.

Sara Bradford,

Selectwoman

Stockton Springs

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Abuse hurts at any age

If you think elder abuse doesn’t happen in Maine — then think again. Far too many Mainers are suffering in silence. Their dilemma is one we rarely even think about — elder abuse.

June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a time to recognize a situation which makes life miserable for an estimated 14,000 older Mainers. Older persons in our communities all over Maine are being abused physically, mentally, and even sexually. The abuser is most often a family member or caregiver, perhaps the last person one would expect.

Sadly, 85 percent of cases in Maine go unreported. We all have the opportunity to be watchful, concerned, and help change this statistic. The best thing we can do to prevent abuse is to encourage older persons to avoid becoming isolated, to stay in touch with friends and neighbors, and not to let pride or embarrassment prevent them from telling someone about abuse before it worsens.

I ask anyone who even suspects that someone is being subjected to abuse to call Adult Protective Services at 1-800-624-8404, Spectrum Generations at 1-800-639-1553, or call your local law enforcement agency. There is no excuse for elder abuse.

Muriel Scott, president & CEO

Spectrum Generations

(Central Maine Area Agency on Aging)