The WCGH experience

To all of my friends and patients in Waldo County,

I very much enjoyed the photograph of the "New Waldo County General Hospital" of the mid-1950s that you recently published.

That is exactly what it looked like on May 7, 1977, when I went to work here as a general surgeon. As we approach the anniversary of that date 40 years later, I have finally decided that the time has come for me to retire.

I will see patients until the middle of June and will work intermittently through the summer to tie up all the loose threads of four decades of practice and to manage the transition of my patients to other caregivers. It is my hope that the WCGH administration will succeed in attracting another physician with interest and experience in skin cancer.

Through all the years of working as a general surgeon and through recent years when I limited my practice to minor surgery, I have enjoyed and been fulfilled by the friendliness and collegiality of the physicians and the untiring and personal care provided by the floor nurses, emergency room, X-ray and the lab. I have also been richly rewarded by the friendliness, trust and warmth of my patients.

I look back with pride at what a small number of dedicated physicians and staff have accomplished to transform our little rural hospital. In 1977, half the people in town (including the editor of The Republican Journal) referred sneeringly to WCGH as the "Band-Aid Station" despite the presence of two good internists (Craig Childs and Hal Knuuti), one family practitioner-obstetrician (Peter Jollie), a superb new pediatrician (Dana Whitten), an eye surgeon (Andy Gay), two good surgeons (Euclid Hanbury and myself) and a half-time radiologist (Joe Smith). We had no anesthesiologist or orthopedist or cardiologist; we had no emergency room doctors. We were on call a lot.

We have come a long way since then.

With some foreboding, I sense that there are wheels in motion that may try to turn us back into a Band-Aid Station. Well-trained staff, patient-centered personal care, continuity, friendliness and caring are what have made the WCGH experience wonderful. The medical staff and citizens will need to stand up for the autonomy and excellence we have achieved.

I thank you all for my wonderful 40 years and hope to continue the pleasures of life here in Belfast for many years to come.

David Crofoot


Characterization wrong

As someone who voted for Sen. Collins, I must strongly disagree with your characterization of the "empty chair" town hall events that are being held around Maine. The reason they are being held is because our Republican representatives refuse to hold public forums to listen to their constituents.

Collins claims she has met with thousands of constituents, but unless she is including the elementary school kids she visits and the businesses she is asked to speak at or visit, I don't see how this can possibly be true. Have you tried to determine the truth of it?

You suggest constituents check their representatives' public events calendars to find a better opportunity to share their concerns. Have you tried to find one? I have, and they don't exist. Want to know why the group that held the "empty chair" town hall did not agree to a phone conference? It's because Collins limits those meetings to just eight people, and she requests that questions be submitted in advance. Does that sound like an accessible representative to you?

Those who try to share their concerns in writing receive form letters in return. Those who call to ask when her next public appearance (is) receive responses of "I don't have access to her calendar."

Yes, these events are attention-seeking. Because Collins and Poliquin are not paying attention to their constituents. Yes, these events target Republicans. Because Republicans are not listening or responding to the concerns of their constituents.

I strongly urge you to try your own method to have a group of more than eight people meet with Collins or Poliquin. I imagine you will find yourself just as frustrated with the results.

Karin Leuthy



I am disappointed by the Republican Journal’s lack of research and uncritical thinking in its “Empty Show” editorial (April 27 issue) regarding constituents’ efforts to engage Bruce Poliquin in what we all want and deserve: “serious dialogue” during the past April recess.

If you had spoken with constituents throughout the second district who have been tirelessly trying for months to have a two-way respectful communication with Poliquin, you would discover that phone calls are seldom answered, messages are not returned, and, in the case of an office visit to Lewiston the day the first health care bill was scheduled for a vote, the office was empty and the door locked, leaving constituents to push hundreds of letters under the door one at a time. This event was recorded by local television.

Please provide some evidence that this congressman has taken any initiative or interest in engaging in serious idea-tossing, brainstorming dialogue on the critical issues of our times with the wide variety of Mainers whom he purportedly represents.

Poliquin’s PR person reports to you that Poliquin has had contact with hundreds of people during his recess. In reality, these contacts have fallen into two categories: a hastily arranged telephone town hall during which Poliquin, in D.C., or his staff called a constituent during meal time while the "town hall" is in progress or left a recorded message expressing regret that the constituent was unable to participate in the call.

The only other contact with everyday Mainers we see on his website are elementary classroom visits, factory visits…nothing more than handshakes for photo opportunities. When a constituent voicing an opinion does receive a response from Poliquin, it is often an outdated computer-generated letter that is not even related to the issue raised.

You rightfully describe “common courtesy” as two parties who “compare calendars” to come up with a convenient date. In Poliquin’s case this is pure wishful thinking! Constituents requesting a meeting with Poliquin are forced to enter the specific date and time on a request link on his website. Often there is absolutely NO response to these requests.

There were three public meetings offered in his district during the April recess: a comprehensive health care forum in Belfast and two town halls, one on a university campus, the other in a small town, independently organized and both within an hour of his hometown Oakland. The health care forum inviter never even received a response to the invitation. One town hall inviter received a computer reply describing his commitment to public health care forums, the other simply a “thank you for contacting me” computer letter; neither contained any response to the invitation. So, sure, let’s talk about common courtesy!

You rightly say constituents must consider politicians’ schedules. Would that we could! The Poliquin staff repeatedly informs constituents that for “security reasons” his schedule is not discussed or even available after events have taken place. Note that there is no longer an EVENTS page on his website. The D.C. office again gives “security concerns” as the basis for these decisions and has told me twice personally that the “security concerns” are based on “threat assessments provided by the D.C. Capitol Police.” When I was recently in D.C., I was sufficiently curious and alarmed by the idea of a threat in the second district that I dropped by the Capitol Police and spoke with three officers. They told me:

1. “We don’t make or/provide threat assessments outside of D.C.”

2. “We do, but only vis-a-vis the home districts of the congressional leadership.”

3. “Your congressman is a coward.”

Finally I take issue with your description of the Maine constituents trying to engage with Poliquin as “protesters.” Instead these are Maine residents who fall into two not mutually exclusive categories. The first include those literally begging him to help save their health care coverage, to respect and protect the environment of Maine, to work creatively to secure sustainable living wage jobs for regular Mainers. This agenda happens to be very “Maine stream.”

The second category of constituents include those have looked into Poliquin’s history and are deeply disturbed by his record of removing environmental, worker/middle class protections, and internet neutrality in favor of privatization and corporate profit. Isn’t it reasonable and responsible for us as voters to take every avenue to petition our legislators? Isn’t that what democracy demands of us?

And what is the responsibility of our representatives but sincerely and respectfully to seek us out and welcome a heartfelt exchange of concerns and opinions? And to achieve an understanding of each other’s vision and the basis on which such a vision rests? There is absolutely no evidence that such a dialogue would be less than respectful or would jeopardize “security.” Perhaps The Republican Journal with its access to Poliquin could organize such an opportunity between him and the Mainers he is obliged to listen to if not represent.

Ridgely Fuller


An invaluable asset

Senior Centers, in general, are neither new nor rare — there are thousands of them in communities all over the country, starting as far back as the 1940s. They exist so that older adults can congregate to socialize, participate in activities, and learn about relevant local services, and volunteering opportunities. Research has shown that adults who participate in senior centers benefit from improvements in physical, social, emotional, economic, spiritual, and mental well being, which is why I am thrilled to see Belfast developing its own center.

As a caregiver for my mother, I want to express my excitement and support for the recently founded, admission-free Belfast Senior Center.

Every Tuesday, Belfast residents aged 60+ have been dropping in to the Belfast Senior Center anytime between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the Boat House on Commercial Street. Since its inception in January of this year, dozens of seniors have been coming together to play games, do puzzles, play and listen to live music, or just enjoy conversation and laughs over the tea and coffee that is always provided. My mother and I have found the atmosphere to be very relaxed, welcoming and fun.

So far, the Belfast Senior Center has acted primarily as a social center, with a variety of activities available as a medium for meeting friends, both old and new. Currently, the center is fueled by volunteers and attendees, who have been working together to come up with ways to further develop the organization to better meet the needs of the community, as well as find a permanent location (the Boat House is only temporary). The center looks forward to partnering with other organizations within the community as it works toward achieving its mission.

The mission statement currently reads, “The mission of the Senior Center of Greater Belfast is to help all older adult residents of Belfast live vibrant independent lives. We offer social engagement, education, entertainment, outreach and volunteer work for adults 60 and over in our community. The purpose is to provide enriching experiences that preserve older adults’ dignity and independence while enhancing their feelings of self‐worth and to thrive by continued growth and engagement in their world.”

Assistance in the form of monetary donations, planning and orchestrating activities, or donation of “wish list” items (such as games, puzzles, snacks and paper products, etc.) would be graciously accepted. Encouraged by the weekly turnouts so far, the volunteers and attendees hope to make the Belfast Senior Center an invaluable asset to the community. Please feel free to join us in the fun!

Jessica Browne


Addiction is treatable

Sadly, I have read about two recent deaths by overdose in Knox and Waldo counties. Currently about one person a day in Maine dies from an overdose.

Addiction is treatable. Seaport Community Health Center in Belfast has been treating opioid addiction since 2004. We have a comprehensive treatment program to help stabilize and treat those afflicted with substance use disorder.

When we have space to accept a group of 12 people interested in recovery, we hold an orientation session to explain our program. On Thursday, May 11, at 5 p.m., we are holding our next orientation session, and we would like everyone in the community suffering from addiction to be aware of this option.

Are you or a family member you know struggling with addiction to opioids? We are here to help. Seaport Community Health Center provides treatment for opioid addiction. We provide medication-assisted treatment (Suboxone) and counseling services.

The one-hour orientation session May 11 will answer all your questions about our program, tell you what to expect, and discuss other options for treatment. Those struggling with opioid addiction and their family members are invited to attend.

You must register to attend, as space is limited. Please call to register, 338-6900, and please arrive on time.

Addiction is a treatable condition. Please speak with us and share your concerns.

Mary Beth Leone, LCSW

Seaport Community Health Center


Unhealthy ozone

Maine experienced two recent unhealthy air pollution days April 10 and 11, days when children, older adults and people with heart or lung problems should not have been exercising outdoors. The two major air pollutants here in Maine are ozone and particulates.

Ozone pollution is created primarily by power plants and vehicle emissions and in Maine mostly comes from states west of us. The American Lung Association recognizes ozone as unhealthy to breathe at lower levels than previously thought. Strong evidence exists of the deadly impact of ozone in large studies conducted in cities across the U.S., in Europe and in Asia.

Researchers repeatedly found that the risk of premature death increased with higher levels of ozone. Studies show that inhaling ozone may affect the heart as well as the lungs. The Environmental Protection Agency says ozone pollution causes respiratory harm, and is likely to cause early death as well as heart attacks, strokes, and heart disease.

President Trump is allowing several hundred polluting power plants slated for closing to stay in business. Write your U.S. representative and senators asking them to protect our health by closing these outdated, unhealthy power plants.

When air-pollution days occur, all children, people 65 and older, and people with lung or heart problems should stay indoors. To know when these days occur, go online to Any ozone or particulate reading of 50 ppm or greater is cause for concern.

Joan Seward Willey


Wrong to redefine marriage

Reasons to oppose same-sex “marriage”:

1. Same sex “marriage” is not true marriage.

Real marriage is “the legal union of a man and woman for life.” It is wrong to redefine marriage.

2. Same sex “marriage” is not legal in America.

Five Supreme Court justices made same-sex “marriage” lawful, but courts and judges have no legal right to make laws or to redefine any God-ordained institution.

In the U.S., all law-giving authority resides in Congress. The proper function of the judicial branch of government is to interpret and apply existing law. Judges have no right to make, give, or change laws! They are in violation of the Constitution if they do. Officials who accept same-sex unions as legitimate are guilty of law-breaking and tyranny.

3. Same-sex “marriage” ignores the best interests of children.

A child living with a same-sex couple will always be deprived of either his father or mother.

4. It endorses immorality, which harms homosexuals and the public.

Legal recognition of same-sex unions devalues marriage, demoralizes youth, spreads confusion, and destroys civilization.

5. Same-sex “marriage” violates natural, common, and divine law; it is not settled law.

Natural law is that law which is discoverable by reason. Common law is unwritten law based on custom and long use. Divine law is God’s law, as revealed in the Bible. The laws to which we are obligated declare that good is to be done and evil is to be avoided.

6. The character of those who promote sexual deviancy compels us to question its propriety.

The promoters of homosexuality are in high places, have lots of money, and are skillful deceivers. Do you really think that the higher-ups in media, entertainment, academia, banking, religion, big business, and government — who are all influenced by the Council on Foreign Relations, the Jesuits, and the devil — have your best interests in mind when they encourage moral filth and sex outside of marriage? Do you really think they care about the well-being of the people, including the “gays”?

7. It turns a moral outrage into a civil right.

All citizens have the right to liberty and to pursue happiness, but not in a way that is contrary to God’s law. No citizen or government has the right to mistreat their neighbor, spread diseases, prevent children from having both parents, impose their immorality on others, or obstruct the right to speak truth.

Unlike race or an inherited handicap, sexual behavior is both non-genetic and changeable. Sexual conduct is a choice just like getting drunk, committing adultery, or committing rape. Therefore, civil laws must forbid and punish sinful sexual conduct.

8. Same-sex “marriage” is a sterile union.

This arrangement does not produce children or families. It goes against God’s law in Genesis 1: “…Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish (fill) the earth….”

9. In same-sex “marriage,” there is no God-ordained hierarchy.

In marriage God has established a chain of command. The husband must lead and the wife must submit. Because same-sex “marriage” is illegitimate, there is no God-given authority structure. Therefore, much conflict is bound to result.

10. Same-sex unions do not provide a stable, safe, and morally sound environment for children and families.

The function of government is to encourage good works, discourage evil works, and improve society (Romans 13:3,4). True marriage tends to improve society. Therefore, it is the government’s duty to help preserve and foster healthy marriages.

11. It is a relationship that God condemns and cannot bless.

All sinful relationships offend God, but especially homosexual ones. “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination (a detestable act): they shall surely be put to death (through due process of law)…” (Lev. 20:13). Unconverted homophiles and all sinners are heading for hell (1Cor. 6:9, 10).

12. It advances the New World Order.

The Communist Manifesto calls for the destruction of the family: “The Communists openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.”

Redefining marriage is one of their many ways of ruling the world in revolt against God and biblical morality.

13. The driving force behind all sexual sin is personal gratification, which is grounds for opposing it.

The chief end of man is to honor and please God and to promote the well-being of all people, including our own selves. It is not wrong to engage in pleasurable activities, so long as it is not our supreme end and it does not violate any law of God or conscience.

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Eccles. 12).

Donald Violette