No fan of the name change

The Republican Journal, a name which harks back to the heady days of that new-fangled form of government called a republic, is to be reduced to a watered-down menu item? Say it ain’t so!

Since its inception in 1829, The Republican Journal has carried itself proudly as the voice of (lower-cased) republican fervor. The words of Washington Irving, among other notable critics of the newly formed republic, appeared on its pages. The Republican Journal covered factory girls’ wages in the mill towns of the 1840s, arguing workers should be paid more. It covered the debate over abstinence versus prohibition of alcohol. It covered discussions about creating public school education, explaining why it was necessary in a new republic.

The Republican Journal covered the world: Irish Catholic emancipation, Daniel O’Connell, and the Irish Land League agitation, the northern boundary with Canada, slavery, the Civil War, deaths of local boys sailing on ships far from home. The Republican Journal has covered life in Belfast, Waldo County, Maine, and the world for nearly 200 years.

I doubt that Washington Irving and his contemporaries would have wanted their stories to appear in a publication that sounds like a cookbook.

Kay Retzlaff


[Editor’s note: Retzlaff wrote, in a postscript to her letter, that she teaches English and women’s studies at the University of Maine at Augusta-Bangor, and that she is currently using the pages of The Republican Journal in her research for a book on the nineteenth-century Irish community of Belfast, Maine.]


Disagrees with Dittmeier

Oh, where do I begin a response to [Searsport] Fire Chief [Jim] Dittmeier’s ranting letter [“Support for LP tank in Searsport,” Dec. 1 Journal]? Perhaps at the end, with an unfortunate use of the word “die” in reference to the economic future of Searsport if a huge LPG tank isn’t permitted.

We could, in fact, die — the 1-mile evacuation zone he refers to is not replicated by the only other tank of this size on the east coast in Tampa, Fla., where the zone is two miles and encompasses no residences or businesses whatsoever. For a good reason, I’d guess.

I also came from another state, 36 years ago, and I reject and resent his accusation that we have no stake in the future of Searsport but only selfish motives at heart. Yes, I have a small business; if Mr. Dittmeier had one, he might be concerned, too. I own a home, too, and a commercial building and have concerns about property values.

I have two sons who were born here, stay here, work here in Searsport and one has his own business here. Where does he get off saying we have no stake here or who can speak about an LPG tank? We all have a stake as well as a right to voice our opinions. It’s offensive and divisive to say that people from other towns shouldn’t be entitled to address this issue.

From what I’ve read, DCP estimates it will hire 10-14 people, not 30, and [it will] “try” to hire locally. The small businesses of Searsport employ many more than that and what will happen to that economic base if we lose our most valuable resource, the coast?

In addition, our infrastructure won’t support the larger trucks this development would require; our historic buildings are already shaking from the current traffic load; some property values are already slipping even from the suggestion of the tank. This is not an isolated Searsport concern; the tank, tankers and trucks will affect the life of the town, the surrounding communities and Penobscot Bay itself.

If there is only good to be derived from DCP’s development, then let’s do an economic impact study and let the people decide for themselves based on objective information, not influenced by mean-spirited language that seeks to polarize the community — and that’s coming from a town employee who, perhaps because of his position, should stifle himself and not others.

Phyllis W. Sommer


[Editor’s note: In his letter to the editor, Dittmeier stated he was writing his letter as a private citizen and taxpayer, rather than in his official capacity as the town’s fire chief.]


‘Revolting display of outraged pique’

The new look of the newly renamed VillageSoup Journal gives great hope for the future of a new level of great community journalism from our only local newspaper. Kudos to editor Steve Fuller’s news team of Tanya Mitchell and Ethan Andrews for their thoughtful, well-researched and in-depth coverage last week of plans by a limited liability front corporation for ConocoPhillips and Spectra Energy to impose a nearly 23-million-gallon propane tank on upper Penobscot Bay the height of a 14-story building.

The same professionalism can hardly be said of our local fire chief. Hundreds of people in Searsport and literally thousands from area communities and beyond have formally voiced concern in this age of domestic and foreign terrorism about a monstrously large eyesore that packs the energy potential of a small thermonuclear weapon (30 times that of the bomb that obliterated Hiroshima).

In a letter in last week’s VillageSoup Journal, our fire chief scoffs that the people of upper Penobscot Bay might worry about catastrophic fire hazard, traffic congestion and safety, roadway damage, collapsing local property values and imperiled predominantly tourist-based local small businesses — which, incidently, provide the bulk of local employment, and in Searsport pick up over 57 percent more of the local tax bill than all three foreign multinationals at Mack Point combined.

Simultaneously, he indicates his desire to see all guarantees of free expression and assembly under the U.S. Constituton trashed. What a revolting display of outraged pique. It’s as if he’s a 5-year-old playing in the sandbox and someone waved a shiny red fire truck under his nose and then some mean people from away threatened to take it from him.

But wait a minute! Is that what has really already happened? After all, promises of free equipment to local emergency services in communities where DCP Midstream wants to build are an established and legal form of, er, bribery the ConcocoPhillips/Spectra Energy front people regularly employ. Before the fire chief tries to monster the rest of us about how he knows best and we have nothing to worry about, he should try to restore his credibility and come clean whether DCP Midstream tried to bribe him.

Perhaps our fire chief should stick to fighting fires where he presumably has some competence. Unfortunately, referring in his letter to “frozen” propane erodes any sense he knows what he’s talking about and what we might be up against were Big Tank to be built and something were to go wrong.

Our confidence is further eroded recalling the panicky situation at Mack Point last June when good old human error saw a fuel tank gasket set afire. Very welcome firefighters from seven area departments — “from away” — pitched in, helping shuttle 80,000 gallons of water to a tank farm without hydrants in a battle that lasted five hours. (However dimly our fire chief views outsiders, a heartfelt thank-you, neighbors.)

And, remember, there wasn’t a drop of fuel in that particular tank!

Peter Taber



LePage singing the wrong tune

Governor LePage has hinted that Maine’s unemployed are too comfortable to be properly motivated to find work. He has also dismissed Rep. Andrew O’Brien’s efforts to open a dialog on the subject of unemployment as, well, fertilizer, having stood in the way of those efforts. Our governor needs to apologize and reverse direction.

Harold Mosher



What does democracy mean to you?

Throughout the world during the past year, there have been people nonviolently protesting for greater democracy and economic and human rights. The demonstrations in North Africa and the Middle East and the Occupy movements in this country are two obvious examples.

Democracy means that every person can speak up to support government policies that they believe are beneficial and speak just as loudly when they think those policies help only a select few and hurt most others. Civic responsibility means not just being able to speak but doing so.

U.S. political leaders have been quick to support the struggle for democracy in other countries, but they have been silent here when it comes to the Occupy actions. Or have they? There seems to be a coordinated effort to shut down the occupations, maybe by some of the one percent and the Department of Homeland Security.

Instead of congratulating and supporting those who are willing to sleep outside in cold weather and interrupt their lives to speak for the freedom and democracy for us all, cities like Portland, Bangor and Augusta are trying to discourage or shut down this awakening, this uprising of expectations, this exercise of free speech that will benefit all 100 percent in our communities.

If we want the movement for greater democracy to continue to be nonviolent, we can tell city officials to embrace and help these occupations, not try to shut them down. We can ask police and “security” people to treat occupiers nonviolently and with respect, not as law breakers.

And we can offer our support for these occupations — giving food, holding a sign, and/or joining with others to keep them going as a symbol of our desire for greater democracy.

Larry Dansinger



One board member’s view

The following comments are mine personally and do not reflect the opinions of any other RSU 20 school board director.

My first focus on the board will be to influence the budget to greater accountability with the fact we are in a declining population of school children. Quality education is a primary goal which sometimes is reflected in many measures other than financial.

We must begin to consolidate some of the smaller schools. We must combine some of the smaller classes into multiage rooms. In the past few years we have eliminated middle school funding for athletics, which saves the taxpayers little in taxes but is very negative toward building the morale of our schools and community. We must reverse this trend.

The teachers’ contract must be settled soon as for our personnel to work for two years without a contract is demoralizing. The main disagreement seems to be the fact that the new proposal will reduce many of the teachers’ present salaries.

It is easy to understand any teacher would not want to sign a contract giving them less money than before, especially with the increased responsibilities this consolidation of schools has presented. At present this contract will never be ratified and I suggest an open forum of the public and teachers and not leave the room without a solution.

There is no reason why our district can not work with Mount View school system to achieve higher nutritional objectives for the welfare of our children. The facts are indisputable that two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. Our district presently has 36 percent of our children being obese, while we purchase only 2 percent of our food supplies from local farmers when Mount View is purchasing more than 20 percent from local farmers and increasing that rate every year.

We need to reduce the fat, sugar content, and calorie consumption of the food we serve our students gradually while purchasing more food locally and relying less on the surplus commodities provided by the government in large cans produced wherever and with unknown additives.

At present we have a strong parental group trying to improve our wellness and productivity of the children for their lifelong health. In my opinion there is no more important goal to our students. The school board must implement a wellness policy this year that has students, non-parents and parents involved instead of putting off what Mount View is doing today. This new policy will save money for our district.

We need two more school board members from Belfast. Would any concerned person step forward and ask for an interview from the Belfast City Council?

In summary we can maintain quality education while implementing a more cost-efficient educational system if we work on objectives set by the communities. This involves listening to our communities and making reasonable compromises.

We should act within the next two months and make objectives a reality instead of this procrastination which may go on for years. The school board is elected to make decisions; let’s get it done. Community members please attend the school board meetings and make suggestions. We will listen.

Alan Wood



Not a fan of CLYNK

What is CLYNK? CLYNK’s instructions say, “CLYNK is a quick and easy service for redeeming bottles and cans.”

Not so!

Quick and easy? Quick and easy is the way we had been redeeming bottles and cans for years in the same market where CLYNK is now in place. Previously, we took the redeemable items to the window, gave them to the clerk who immediately recorded them, then gave us a slip with a total amount credited on it, and we were reimbursed at checkout.

To use CLYNK, a customer needs: an application, an account with CLYNK, a sleeve of CLYNK bags, tags available at the kiosk, a card to redeem bottles and cans, and a pin number.

The application requires the customer’s name, address, email, phone number, the store where the food shopping is done, and two security questions: 1.) What is the name of the first pet you ever had? and 2.) What is the name of the high school you attended?

The application includes a four-digit pin number. An accepted application provides the account and a Drop-And-Go card. The first sleeve of 10 bags is free. After that, a sleeve of large bags (30 inches by 34 inches) is $1.50. A sleeve of small bags, which hold about 60 cans or bottles, is $1.25.

Credit for articles to be redeemed is applied within two business days to the customer’s account. The amount may be verified by scanning the CLYNK card at the kiosk and entering the pin number. The customer, at that time, may print out a payment slip redeemable at customer service. The balance may also be viewed at CLYNK is not a law, and no interest is given on the account.

Tags are stickers put on the bags to identify the owner. The card allows the recipient to operate the Drop Door to leave the full bags.

Should the customer forget the pin number or lose the card, instructions are to call 866-883-4113 during regular business hours, or send an email to

The above CLYNK procedure is advertised as “quick and easy.” To become a CLYNK participant is not quick and easy. It is also not free, as it was once before CLYNK was enforced.

For a potential customer to develop trust in a company, the advertisement must be accurate. While this program is advertised as easy and convenient, I find it to be neither.

Marilyn Koziupa



Reevaluating farmed animals as food

The alarming news about the new swine flu strain that has sickened three children in Iowa — and seven other people in Pennsylvania, Maine and Indiana — should make us think twice about raising pigs and other animals for food.

Swine flu is called “swine flu” for a reason — because it afflicts pigs. The virus thrives on pig farms, where tens of thousands of pigs are packed in filthy, damp sheds that stink of urine and feces.

It’s not unusual for the viruses that cause swine flu, bird flu and other illnesses to mutate into a pathogenic form and sicken humans. Seven of the 10 people who’ve developed swine flu so far have been in close contact with pigs — or with individuals who were around pigs. Experts believe that the virus may involve limited person-to-person contact.

If we don’t want pigs or other farmed animals to be our downfall — either through animal-borne diseases or through heart disease, diabetes or cancer — it’s time we reevaluate the way we treat them, and perhaps even the way we eat.

For more information and free vegan recipes and product suggestions, visit:

Heather Moore

PETA Foundation

Norfolk, Va.


Delightful decorations in Searsport

Searsport has two wonderful and very appropriate new Christmas lights this year. Wonderful because they are so eye-catching and appropriate because they are so in keeping with our town’s rich seafaring heritage.

If you haven’t already, be sure and notice the anchor and the sailboat that are part of the town’s Main Street decorations. Congratulations to whomever it was that found these “admirable” ornaments.

Charlene Knox Farris



Harvest Home says thanks for the help

Harvest Home Grange in Brooks would like to thank the following businesses for their generous donations to our Christmas Craft Fair, which helped us to raise money to continue our Christmas for Kids program:

Dairy Queen, Mr. Paperback, Out On a Whimsey, The Weathervane, Alexia’s, Thompson’s Oil, Perry’s Qwik Stop, Half Moon Gardens, Unity Flower Shop, Spanky’s Pizza, Unity House of Pizza, China Jade in Unity, Belfast Variety, Holmes Greenhouse, Dunkin Donuts, Ralph’s Café, Ridgetop Restaurant, Thompson’s Garage and Troy General Store.

We’d like to thank those persons who gave other prizes as well: Betty Vanidestine gave two food baskets, and dinner for two at her home; Bill Guptill gave one of his beautiful woodburnings of chickadees; and Paul Corbin donated a Christmas Ferris wheel, and a certificate for a 10-inch birthday cake.

Harvest Home Grange



Rotarians eye an end to polio

On Oct. 22 the five Rotary clubs of the Midcoast Area — Belfast, Camden, Rockland, West Bay (Camden breakfast club) and Midcoast Interact (teenagers) — joined together to walk a 26-mile marathon between Belfast and Rockland to raise funds and to create awareness of the Rotary Foundation’s ongoing effort to completely eradicate polio around the world.

Belfast and Rockland Clubs started in their respective towns and walked 6.5 miles, where the mantles were picked up by West Bay Rotary walking from Northport and Camden Rotary walking from Camden to meet in Lincolnville Beach. The Midcoast Interact students walked with Camden and West Bay. It was a colorful event with walkers carrying red balloons and carrying “End Polio Now” signs.

When the polio eradication effort was started in 1988, there were about 350,000 new cases of polio around the world each year. Rotary enlisted World Health Organization, UNICEF and the Center for Disease Control to be its partners. In the meantime Rotarians have raised around $1 billion dollars, provided thousands of volunteers, and worked millions of volunteer hours to wipe out the last traces of this horrible disease and are very close to doing so. The incidence of polio has been reduced to fewer than 1,000 new cases a year.

The Midcoast Clubs are proud to be donating $10,817 to the effort this year. A big thank you to everyone who supported us in this very important cause.

Roberta Walker

Midcoast Rotary Clubs