Johnson thanks supporters

Thank you to all of you who had the confidence in me to give me your vote. The overseas voters played a big part in my victory and I wish to thank them for their votes.

On another note, the win by two votes demonstrates the importance of voting and reinforces the axiom “every vote counts.”

I am committed to represent all of the citizens of Waldo County while keeping the public informed and involved. I am looking forward to working for you and with you.

Betty Johnson

County Commissioner-elect

Lincolnville

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Fire victim thanks fire departments

My house recently had a mid-morning chimney fire and survived. In the old days, I would have thanked only the Montville Fire Department. With the cooperative system between five town fire departments, my gratitude is widespread.

The Montville Fire Department worked on the house’s interior — stove, cleanouts and chimney. The Freedom volunteers handled traffic flow. The Liberty department climbed the roof and managed the chimney. An assessment of the fire returned the Morrill department to its station to back up Searsmont, which was told our fire was luckily confined to the chimney. The Liberty ambulance crew remained on site in case of injury to us or the firefighters.

We watched and remain grateful for the wonderful cooperation, efficiency and professionalism from all the departments. For example, the Liberty crew carefully lowered our heavy chimney cap to the ground. The Montville department was conscientious in moving many items indoors.

Where one town might not be able to provide enough firefighters at a scene, the cooperative program ensures enough volunteers. The training and equipment are evident and remind us how important it is to support our fire departments. A fire truck sits in a garage without people and every person who helps is a volunteer. What if somebody had a fire and nobody showed up?

Leslie F. Woods

Montville

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Gardening successes

Gardening was a success this year. I had the best compliment from my grandson, Ryan, when he saw one of my Brandywine tomatoes. He said, “That’s a beautiful pumpkin, Papa!” The tomatoes were grand and sweet, as is my lad.

I visited several gardens this year and watched them grow throughout the season. There was one particular garden I enjoyed on the road to Swan Lake. It is a large garden, a couple of acres anyway, and is worked by prisoners living at the “Scott Story Hotel.” Their hard work is definitely appreciated. The position of Ortolanus, or manager, is [filled by] County Commissioner Bill Shorey, a fine gentleman who apparently has farming in his blood.

This wonderful garden produced copious vegetables, which were eaten by “hotel guests” and the community at large through food banks and distributed to people in need.

This community garden is a positive, living example of elected officials’ cooperating together for the good of society. Their efforts should not go unrecognized. May others take their lead.

Patrick Quinn

Winterport

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Is energy efficiency important to you?

As Belfast residents and owners of the Maine Coast Welcome Center, the high cost of energy for heating and cooling my properties is always a concern for my wife and me. With that in mind, I was excited to take advantage of the cash rebates and tax credits now available to do a comprehensive energy upgrade to increase the comfort of my home and save me money on my bills.

And while I’m happy to report that my project is in process, I have to admit that navigating the process was a little difficult at times. The volume of information generated by the audit was scary. BTUs, air leaks, exfiltration — what language was this? Then, I learned about the Maine Green Energy Alliance.

MGEA has been working closely with the Belfast Energy and Climate Committee to bring its homeowner-friendly model to area homeowners wishing to take advantage of Efficiency Maine’s Home Energy Savings Program. They offer education and outreach staff and dedicated homeowner service in a one-stop shop for finding contractors, scheduling audits, and completing necessary paperwork.

I attended a monthly public information meeting and got an opportunity to talk to energy experts about my home and learn more about the process I was undertaking. The information provided answered all of my questions and made me wish that I had been working with MGEA from the beginning.

The idea behind MGEA’s statewide effort is to really educate homeowners about how their homes use/lose energy and the process of making energy-efficient upgrades. By making information and technical assistance readily available, they take all of the guesswork out of the process.

I chose the energy improvements with the quickest paybacks and am getting these done before Ol’ Man Winter visits the Maine Coast Welcome Center.

If making your home energy efficient is important to you, I highly recommend attending the next public meeting scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 9, at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers. You’ll be glad you did!

Jim & Patti LeClair

Maine Coast Welcome Center

Belfast

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A different take on tourism

In Al Diamon’s Nov. 17 rant [“Highly experimental,” Diamon’s “Politics and Other Mistakes” column for that week] he left out some very important information regarding the investment to market the state of Maine.

First and most importantly, the Tourism Marketing Promotion Fund is paid from a 2001 tax increase act requested by the tourism industry (an independent Gov. King accomplishment), which set the meals and lodging tax at 7 percent for all restaurants and lodging businesses (the standard Maine state sales tax is 5 percent, the meals and lodging tax is 2 percent more). This tax increase act specifically dedicates, by formula in the statute, 5 percent of the meals and lodging tax collected. The state keeps 95 percent of the tax.

The annual tourism industry sales/meals/lodging tax paid to the state is $400,000,000 per year (based on state statistics). There are 140,000 Mainers directly employed in tourism industry jobs; the largest private industry employers in the state. All of these Mainers purchase goods and services, which create jobs for other Mainers and for which the state gets paid 5 percent sales tax on these purchases also. Last I heard, Mainers need jobs and the state needs tax revenue to support social service expenses, DEP, Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Department of Agriculture, Marine Resources, etc.

By the way, the tourism industry quietly gives back to the community. On Veterans Day the Blackberry Inn gave away lodging accommodations to veterans and their families and the Muddy Rudder Restaurants gave away meals to veterans and active-duty military personnel. The Maine Innkeeper’s Association collected and donated more than $23,000 in 2010 to Maine Habitat for Humanity. The Samoset Resort and Hampton Inn Hotel donated personal care items that were sent to our troops overseas by a local Rockland group. There are countless donations by tourism businesses that benefit food banks, animal humane societies, schools, and other worthy causes across the state.

In short, the Tourism Marketing Promotion Fund helps create $400,000,000 in tax revenue from the tourism industry, for an investment of $6 million to $9 million; that is a fabulous return on investment. It helps sustain 140,000 tourism jobs across the state. In addition, the Tourism Marketing Promotion Fund pays marketing expenses for other Maine departments that do not have any marketing dollars, like Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Department of Marine Resources and Department of Agriculture, all in an effort to establish the Maine brand.

So really the question Al Diamon should be asking is, “Why are we spending so little?” Maine spends the least amount of money of any New England state on tourism promotion; just think of the results if we increased this investment! The restaurant and lodging businesses across the state would be OK with keeping the extra 2 percent tax if, as Diamon suggests, the state stops paying to market the state of Maine; it would be a better deal for them.

Jamey Kitchen

Rockport resident and hotel manager

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Conspiracy continues

I will no longer say nothing about the obscenity of a social, economic system which rewards corporate executives a bonus of millions, while millions are hungry, unemployed, homeless, cold and with no health insurance.

The opportunity to amass wealth, unlimited wealth, is the cornerstone of the capitalistic system. A system of free enterprise and open competition that has produced the greatest society the world has ever known.

Those who do believe it are terribly deluded and see nothing of the current reality on our planet.

In the United States, the top one and a half percent hold more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. The net wealth of the richest people is nearly a trillion dollars greater than the poorest 84 million people combined.

We Americans tend to see class status as a function of individual effort. That view is simplistic and naive. We assume that everyone has equal opportunity, when in fact in the United States — as in Mexico, China and other countries — the rich and powerful strive and continue to hold onto their money and power and work to increase it.

The wrong is that this eliminates competition and collectively controls the flow and the growth of wealth.

This is accomplished through all manner of services, from unfair labor practices, controlling public policy and government programs around the world to further ensure that the masses of people remain regulated, controlled and subservient.

One example: health care in America. Millions of American poor have no access to preventive medical care. The richest nation on earth, and millions cannot get to see a doctor unless they’re in dire straits in an emergency room.

No individual doctor is to blame for that. Yet all doctors benefit. The entire medical profession and every allied industry enjoys unprecedented profits from a delivery system which has institutionalized discrimination against the working poor and unemployed.

The point is that the rich and powerful support such social structures and staunchly resist any political or economic approaches which seek to provide true opportunity and genuine dignity to all people.

The reason such a system of obscenity exists is a world motivated by greed, where profit margin, not human dignity, is the first consideration.

This is how the exploitation works: Our rich industrialists go into a country or an area where there is abject poverty. The rich set up a factory offering these poor people a job at substandard and subhuman wages. Not enough to allow these workers to escape their rat-infested village, but just enough to let them live that way, as opposed to having no food or shelter.

Rather than raising the people to true dignity, these “haves” give the world’s “have-nots” just enough to never make them truly powerful. For people of true economic power have the ability to then impact, and not merely be subject to, the system. This is the last thing the creators of the system want.

The conspiracy continues for most of the rich and powerful, it’s not a conspiracy of action, but a conspiracy of silence — and “silence lies.”

Yet it is written — “’If thou will be perfect, go and sell what thou hast, give to the poor, and thou shall have treasures in heaven.’ But when the young man heard this, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” — Matthew 19:21-22.

We are all one. Truth will prevail.

Justina Di Taranto

Verona Island