Many hands

Belfast recently kicked off the holiday season with the annual Early Bird Sale, Christmas tree lighting and Menorah lighting.

None of these events would be possible without many hands working together. This year was no exception! Thank you to everyone who makes these events happen, with special thanks to the following:

Anne Sagesse of Sweet Henry’s, who each year provides wonderful catered traditional snacks and hot beverages for the Menorah lighting ceremony; Bangor Savings Bank, whose support allows us to host free community events like the tree lighting; Belfast Co-op, which provided hot chocolate for the hundreds of community members who came out for the tree lighting; Belfast High School Choir, for providing the soundtrack of Christmas carols; Belfast Fire Department, which installed the classic lights and full-sized pole ornaments on High Street; Chief Jim Richards, who provided Santa Claus a ride into town.

Belfast Parks and Recreation and particularly Norm Poirier for the partnership around all the pieces that go into the Menorah and tree lightings; Belfast Police Department for assistance with traffic control during the set-up of the tree and for ensuring the safety of the crowd during the lightings; Belfast Public Works, for setting up the tree base; Belfast Transfer Station for the storage of the steel rings each wreath is built on.

Belmont Boatworks' Dan and Henry Miller ― this year’s Christmas tree was removed and transported by their able crane and rigging team; City Councilor Mike Hurley for his tireless dedication to finding the perfect tree and ensuring the proper mix of lights are placed; City Councilor Neal Harkness, for his ongoing support of and words at the annual Menorah lighting.

Central Maine Power Co., which provided two crews to install lights on this year’s tree; the perfectionist crew at Coastal Sun Services that installs and lights each of the almost-4-foot wreaths throughout downtown; as well, special thanks to more than 40 individuals and organizations who sponsored a wreath!

Ellen Sander for her vision to create the first public Menorah lighting in Midcoast Maine and her spirit and energy to keep it going.

Evergreen Farms in Searsmont, which handled construction of 60-plus beautiful wreaths all over downtown Belfast, and Jimmy Sutherland, now living in Florida. Each year in late fall the search for the perfect tree is underway, and this year, Jimmy pointed us to a tree he had transplanted to his land along Poors Mill Road from Green’s Island 27 years ago.

Key Bank, for providing space for hundreds of children (and adults) to see and speak with Santa.

Lila Nation and Jeff Weinberger, who provided wonderful live music in the pouring rain to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah; Mayor Samantha Paradis, who helped Santa light the tree, delighting a crowd of hundreds of children of all ages, and returned Sunday night to light the Menorah.

The crew at Moonbat Bakery, who prepared over 200 cookies; and Our Town Belfast volunteers, who assisted with hand-tying bows that adorn wreaths all over downtown, setting up  and cleaning up for each of these events, and even baking cookies!

There are so many more holiday events happening in Belfast between now and New Year’s; please check them out and make a visit to Belfast this holiday season! Learn more at https://ourtownbelfast.org/holidaysinbelfast2018.

Zach Schmesser

Executive Director

Our Town Belfast

Joyous people dancing and singing

On behalf of Adas Yoshuron Synagogue in Rockland, I’d like to thank our generous business sponsors who helped make our third annual Community Chanukah party such a terrific success!

Thank you to CedarWorks in Rockport, The Grasshopper Shop and Fiore Artisan Oils and Vinegars in Rockland, Once a Tree and Russell’s of Camden.

We had 140 joyous people dancing and singing to the live music, munching latkes and other delights, and children crafting Jewish items. I hope those who attended and others in the community will patronize these supportive businesses.

Linda Garson Smith

Programming Director

Adas Yoshuron Synagogue

Moving forward

I want to thank Mayor Paradis and the Belfast City Council for stepping up and beginning to resolve the tense situation that had developed. Successful leadership is not avoiding or denying conflicts, but rather dealing with conflicts so that you can move forward in a constructive way.

Our growing diversity in Belfast and our progressive growth can challenge any leadership group. It's good to see our current leaders moving forward for the good of the city.

Steve Ryan

Belfast

Death with dignity

The Maine “Death with Dignity” act is legislation designed to provide end-of-life options for terminally ill patients ― options they don’t currently have.

This is a grassroots Maine project that relies largely on volunteers to collect the signatures needed to put an assisted dying measure on the ballot. The law would allow adult Maine residents who have had two physicians determine a terminally ill diagnosis to receive a prescription for oral medicine to end their lives in a peaceful and dignified manner at a time and place of their choosing. The measure includes a lengthy list of safeguards to ensure the person is acting voluntarily, without coercion; does not suffer impaired judgment, and is able to take the medecine without assistance.

The legislation is based on an Oregon Law that has been used sparingly since 1997. In the last 20 years it has been used only 1,275 times (less than 0.3 percent) and a third of those receiving the prescription never choose to use it.

Some safeguards included in the bill are that two physicians must diagnose the terminal illness and give a prognosis of less than 6 months to live. The person must make two oral requests separated by a 15-day waiting period, and a written request witnessed by two people, one of whom must not be an heir or family member.

Physicians must share information with the patient about all forms of treatment and care options, including disease treatment options, hospice, and palliative care. Importantly, health care providers may refuse to participate.

This is a difficult topic and one many of us would rather not think about. However, those of us who have witnessed the pain and suffering of a terminally ill loved one are usually the most ardent supporters of this measure.

Please help move this measure to the ballot by signing the petition if asked. You can learn more or volunteer at MaineDeathwithDignity.org or email info@mainedeathwithdignity.org.

Michael Schaab

Monroe

Here to serve you

I would like to thank the voters who supported my bid to become your next county treasurer. A note of gratitude also for the hard work that the Budget Committee does in coming to terms with the annual budget.

My hope is that, together with the county commissioners and the Budget Committee, we can find ways to cut the budget and reduce the excessive property taxes that seem to have become a yearly plague, especially for single-income households and those on fixed incomes. While most of the property tax burden can be attributed to public school funding, the Waldo County portion of that tax can also begin to mount up.

I was disappointed the Budget Committee raised the budget by a little over 5 percent, but was glad to see it was able to cut at least one area this year. However, that 75-percent cut was to the treasurer’s compensation, with the reason given that, as newly elected, I am not entitled to the compensation the former treasurer enjoyed for the past several years.

I am wondering if this could start a new trend for anyone seeking political office; i.e., the new governor would receive only 25 percent of what the former office paid, and, of course, representatives and senators would follow. Could save us a bundle of taxpayer money, for sure.

Until I won the election, the budget included full funding for the treasurer. I am wondering if, out of a desire to lower property taxes, the county commissioners will consider cutting their compensation in a like manner next year. The commissioners heartily endorsed my opponent ― would he have received a 75-percent pay cut as well?

Perhaps the commissioners’ goal was to have me resign so they could replace me with their preferred choice and then restore full funding for the position.

The compensation was not a consideration in my running for office; reducing your taxes was. The words of Jesus ring true in my heart toward each of the commissioners ― we are to love and pray for those who have a problem with us.

I am hopeful that, beginning next year, we can cut the county budget by a minimum of 1 percent annually over the next five years, and I will be advocating for that.

I also intend to work hard to find ways to reduce the portion of our property taxes that funds public schools. I have begun meeting with a bipartisan group of legislators to come up with creative solutions and stop holding homeowners hostage to this unfair and ever-rising burden.

Gandhi years ago said, “…to remain silent when one should protest makes cowards of men.” May we not be counted as cowards any longer. Being forced to sell your home because you can no longer afford the taxes needs to stop now!

Please contact me with any ideas you might have for reducing our burdensome property taxes. Working together, we can make a difference. I am here to serve you.

Peter Sheff

Waldo County Treasurer-elect

Recognize and respect

I have noticed with pride the near uniform celebration of our late President George H. W. Bush’s passing, as evidenced by the respectful lowering of the U.S. flag on most local buildings.

Unfortunately, despite my requests, this has not been done at Springbrook Hill, where I am a resident and owner.

The reason we enjoy our current freedoms is due to countless patriots who served our country well. We as a society should all recognize and respect their gifts to us.

William Elliott

Belfast