Some thoughts on Belfast withdrawal

Belfast is a city that likes to think of itself as having a social conscience. Folks from Belfast mobilize for all sorts of causes, from LPG tanks to GMOs. But many fail to see how their “City of Conscience” has failed in their sensitivity towards their neighbors across the river. (Insert gasp here.)

What, pray tell, am I speaking of? The school debacle, of course. Belfast, as I understand it, no longer wishes to simply “annex” the communities of Searsport and Stockton Springs through a withdrawal effort. Having discovered that it will cost millions to withdraw because of the need to pay their debt to the RSU up front, the tactic has shifted. Instead, why not force the closure of most, if not all, of the schools in the former MSAD 56? That way, you will have effectively achieved the same result and you will have complete control over the children and the educational tax dollars of Searsport and Stockton Springs. Why, with that added influx, you might finally be able to build that new high school you’ve wanted, right? The wizard behind the curtain is smiling, I am sure.

But what of your conscience, Belfast? Where has that gone? You say, with one breath, that you are committed to the “betterment” of our world. You profess a social conscience, a sensitivity; yet that conscience, that sensitivity, doesn’t apply to your neighbors? Because it is not in the best interest of the children of Searsport and Stockton Springs, nor is it in the best interest of those communities for the children to be transferred outside their community or for Searsport schools to be shuttered.

The former MSAD 56 has had enough loss and chaos — two thirds of their elementary schools are no longer operative as elementary schools. Children have already been shuffled and endure longer bus rides. And yet you would ask that we bleed, again, so that you won’t have to be inconvenienced? Really? Why? Neither of us asked for the shotgun wedding between MSAD 34 and MSAD 56, but who has been doing the majority of the sacrificing since that union?

Our mascot might not be the lion, but we have just as much pride. And we defend our “cubs” with just as much fervor. And therein is the problem, I suppose: never the twain shall meet. So, since you, Belfast, now find it unadvantageous to withdraw, I challenge you to show some social conscience: leave the former MSAD 56 schools alone until we can.

Paul Bock

Stockton Springs

Opinion on school consolidation

I would like to express my opinions on the consolidation of schools proposals.

1. My belief is that the most economic and educational solution for our RSU is to stay together, consolidate, and that withdrawal is only a second solution that will not be as effective. The issue is that our district has lost more than 500 students in the last four years and is still declining. We need fewer buildings.

2. Belfast is the almost a center for our RSU, which goes from Searsmont to Stockton Springs. Our towns are a mixture of the same people. hard working, money accountable, and our children throughout the district are the same students desiring the best no matter which town they come from.

3. The most easiest way of saving money is to combine the two high schools at Belfast and change the name of the school to Penobscot Bay Pirates or any name different. We also would apply immediately for a new Searsport-Belfast High School to be built whenever we have funding.

4. We would also combine the middle schools at Troy Howard

5. We only have a four year old program at Stockton Springs, so that school can be closed.

6. Nickerson School should be combined along geographic lines so children close to Searsport would go there and the rest go to Eastside, or Capt. Stevens.

We let Swanville have the option of keeping their school open if the town is willing to finance the extra expenses.

7. The Tri-towns around Morrill have an application with the state for a new school, so until that happens we locate Morrill children to Ames at Searsmont.

8. The vocational school needs to have one opening time and one time to close. The vocational school also needs to be able to offer credits for math, english, history, which would reduce the numbers of teachers and students at the high school.

8. Essentially we keep the elementary schools near their sending towns as K-5 as they are.

9. We need to appoint a permanent think tank similar to the one that recently met twice.

10. Our emphasis the coming year is to increase class sizes and combine classes wherever possible.

11. At our public meeting on Jan. 21, let’s all listen well to the public.

This is one proposal and very similar to Steve Hopkins presentation. I believe we save the most money by combining the high schools and Middle Schools and if Searsport desires not to consolidate; they will explore other options. Let's debate openly, allow plenty of public participation and go to towns with an open mind to listen to every citizen and find ways to compromise for the common good.

Alan Wood


Senator Collins, war hawk

Senator Susan Collins is cosponsoring legislation (S 1881) that effectively scuttles the November 2013 international agreement among the U.S., Britain, Russia, France, China, Germany and Iran concerning Iran’s nuclear policy.

In context of the world community, the only nation opposing the international agreement is Israel.

In response to her cosponsored legislation a White House spokesperson states, “Members of Congress pressing for this bill are effectively choosing to close the door on diplomacy, making it far more likely that we’ll be left only with a military option."

Mainers emphatically do not want another war as indicated by outpouring of opposing comment directed to Senators Collins, King and Representatives Michaud and Pingree when military action in Syria was contemplated. Our state has suffered more than its share with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. To find employment or save for a college dream our youth are often left with choice of leaving our state or enlisting in the military. Thus, proportionately to its population, Maine recruited the most of any state for the war in Iraq and has suffered the most deaths of any state in the war in Afghanistan. Families and our communities are left shattered.

In addition, research overwhelmingly indicates that money spent on military and war generates much fewer local jobs than money spent on local needs including education, health and repairing infrastructure. As for the ratio of spending to job growth, spending one dollar on the military has been determined to create 6 jobs where as investment of one dollar in civilian economy creates up to 18.

Yet Susan Collins is a major proponent of the military option. She consistently supports military budgets, voted throughout the years against any redeployment from Iraq and even against a bill limiting individual deployment to 12 months. Likewise she opposed legislation looking for accountability of military contracts in both wars.

That Senator Collins supports policies so contrary to Maine’s interests becomes understandable when looking at her $3.3 million campaign chest, reported as of 2014. She represents the fifth most lavishly gifted senator in Congress from those aligned with the government of Israel. Her major corporate campaign contributors include General Dynamics, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, all major military contractors. Some might suggest that these contributions are the price of bringing jobs to Maine yet the price is unreasonable: communities housing General Dynamics (whose annual profits range between $2-3 billion) in Bath and Saco are required to give tax incentives to keep these companies despite losing tax revenue for local needs. These corporate subsidies are used for modernizing facilities that consequently reduce the number of Maine jobs.

One might easily argue that war pays for Susan Collins but it brings nothing to our State in terms of developing healthy, well-educated prosperous communities able to raise families that can stay together. Our state doesn’t need war.

So, please, Senator Collins gives peace and Maine a chance.

Ridgely Fuller


'Bad Samaritan' behavior on Christmas Eve

Over the course of more than 60 years of living, I have become increasingly skeptical about the existence of the Good Samaritan any longer.

But I am perplexed to denote what the opposite is called? Is there any term that applies? Perhaps it could be the name of one of the residents on Shore Road in Northport, Maine?

In the early dawn of Christmas Eve, a devastating apparent chimney fire consumed a cottage at 245 Shore Road. One of the victims sought to warn the inhabitants of a nearby residence.

This victim was concerned about their well being. However, his shouts of warning were met with profanity and threats of trespass!

One might credit this neighbor with shock, at being awoken in the early dawn.

However, as this victim lay passed out in the street, from exhaustion and smoke inhalation, this neighbor "stepped over him" in order to move one of his vehicles from danger.

This might still make sense, under the circumstances. But no immediate or subsequent aid was provided to either of the two victims of this fire, by the warned and saved neighbor.

This fire cost these victims all their property, all their belongings, their Christmas tree and all their Christmas gifts.

Fortunately, this victim was subsequently taken by ambulance to the hospital and treated for smoke inhalation.

It would seem that all this neighbor could provide were disparaging comments to a Pen Bay reporter, the following day.

What does one call the opposite of a Good Samaritan? I am open to suggestions. But do not look too closely in the vicinity of 245 Shore Road., Northport.

Marilyn D'Agostino


Searsport select board candidate

I have returned my nomination papers to the Searsport Town Office for a position on our select board.

I am a candidate not because of any dissatisfaction, but because of my willingness to once again serve. In the three previous terms that I served I did the very best that I could to represent our town as a whole. If elected I will attempt to do the very same again.

Your support in March will be very much appreciated.

John S. (Jack) Merrithew


Thank you, Belfast Co-op

The board of directors, staff, volunteers and guests thank the Belfast Co-op for their successful "round it off" campaign, which benefited the Belfast Soup Kitchen to the tune of $847.38. It goes without saying that this would not have been possible without the shoppers at the Belfast Co-op. This money will buy a great quantity of food serving between 50 to 60 people five days a week.

The Belfast Co-op has been an ardent supporter of ours for several years with their contributions of money and food.

The Co-op has been exceptionally helpful to us in promoting good nutrition and the value in eating organic foods. This is truly a commercial establishment that demonstrates community support.

Alex Allmayer-Beck


Consciousness and action are antidotes to hate

A new year is here and it's unthinkable that the most powerful and wealthy nation on earth founded on brotherly love, equal rights and opportunity has come to the unspeakable truth of sowing seeds of hate, lies, greed and trapped the human species in a never-ending circle of violence, destruction and death.

That is ironic that not all members of the human species are included, but only a few. The richest and most powerful.

Words of truth. After the Civil War and as a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption will follow in high places until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.

Radical forces change things using the thought of fear because they know the power of fear produces action.

We have a choice. The thing to remember is consciousness is everything and creates our experience. Group consciousness produces outcomes of unspeakable beauty or ugliness.

How about more action and less words of lies and blaming?

We have met the enemy and they are us.

We all are one. Truth can and will prevail.

Justina DiTaranto

Verona Island