Free library isn't free

The Belfast Free Library is currently launching its annual appeal. The outcome of this important event will help shape the library’s financial integrity and relevance for the upcoming year.

Throughout the pandemic, the library has continued to play an essential role for the community by offering digital resources, virtual programs for all ages, online story times, and more recently in-person access to the library’s resources. The library’s staff members have been tenacious in their dedication to serving the community during this challenging period.

Your support is critical at a time when library funding from the city has been cut. Remember, strong, healthy libraries build strong, healthy communities. Please ensure that the Belfast Free Library does not just survive. Rather, take part in making it thrive.

Watch for your annual appeal letter in the mail or give online at or visit the library.

Kay Zegel

President, Board of Trustees

Belfast Free Library

Put yourself in their shoes

"We need to take away children,” said this administration’s former attorney general, under direction from our president. Not long after, a U.S. attorney working along the Mexican border in Texas exclaimed, “We have now heard of us taking breastfeeding defendant moms away from their infants … I did not believe this until I looked at the duty log.”

How could so many decent Americans stomach the idea of tearing screaming children from their parents’ arms?

How? Easy. Use the bully pulpit of the most powerful man in the world to manipulate his nation’s citizens into thinking that those parents, those children, those families, are somehow of less of value, less deserving of human compassion. When our newly elected president spoke in the vilest terms about our brown-skinned neighbors to the south, he knew exactly what he was doing. He wasn’t just being hateful, he was being coldly calculating. By making them look like uncaring parents, by calling them murderers, rapists and thieves, he worked to make us afraid of them. He used the world’s largest stage to destroy struggling families in the eyes of the world.

As is almost always the case, when one of us gets to meet someone who might seem a little different than we are, we realize we’re not really different in the ways that matter. Like those parents who crossed thousands of miles of treacherous landscape and paid their last few dollars to human smugglers, we would do almost anything to save our children from death squads, despicable dictators and lifelong poverty. I challenge us all to imagine their plight as if it were ours, to put ourselves in their shoes.

Do we think that ugliness toward others whom we’ve never met, but are being encouraged to fear, will bring any smidgen of peace or joy or well-being to our growing and learning children? Can we be proud of what they’re witnessing and hearing on the news?

Instead of being carriers of hate, why not let acts of decency toward others surround us like raindrops, cooling and soothing the burns of today’s mean-spiritedness.

A note on my source: The two quotes included are from the Oct. 7 online edition of The New York Times.

Chris Wright


Campaign 'a flagrant, greedy battle'

A family member sent me a newspaper article (from Pennsylvania, no less) analyzing Maine’s two senatorial candidates, including the reasons why Collins is trailing.

That’s not my focus here. It’s about the $76 million they’ve spent on attack ads. In a state of 1.3 million people, many of whom are in serious difficulties, this is an outrage, a flagrant, greedy battle for power and more money without regard for its impact on their constituents. I’m fully aware that much of this money has been allocated by the candidates’ national parties. But …

Neither of the candidates discusses the real issues or their policies for dealing with them. They only try to diminish their opponents with deeply personal accusations, and at this point I, for one, say, “A pox on both your houses!"

We all know the strengths of our state as well as its needs, and this barrage of ads is at best annoying, at worst a disturbing insight into the characters of these two candidates, neither one of whom I’m comfortable with as a representative of Maine in Washington anymore. They mirror the larger chaos our country is going through, as well as their obvious financial advantages, and offer nothing.

Hoping for a kinder future,

Phyllis W. Sommer


Praise for health care supply chain

Our state’s efforts to fend off the COVID-19 pandemic have been some of the strongest in the nation. As a state, we have done a great job helping to slow the spread and keep our residents healthy. And while I am certainly proud of the state’s efforts, we must also recognize the resilience of the nation’s health care supply chain during this unprecedented, unimaginable time.

There is no question that our doctors, nurses, and first responders continue to be heroic in our fight against COVID-19. Putting their lives on the line and working around the clock, they have been unwavering in their efforts to treat patients and save lives. And helping to ensure our providers, responders, pharmacies and hospitals have the proper tools and medications are our health care distributors.

These often unseen logistics experts are working tirelessly to mitigate any disruptions in the supply chain caused by the demands of COVID-19 and get the proper medications where they need to be — whether in the most populated areas or the most rural regions across our state. Using their expertise from previous emergencies and relationships with government officials and other parts of the supply chain, distributors adapted and kept our health care system functioning in this time of need.

This wasn’t, and still isn’t, an easy task. However, our distributors are strong and adaptable, and they are up to the challenge.

Sherm Hutchins


Editor's note: Republican Sherman Hutchins is running for reelection in House District 131.

Reelect Dodge

While the national insanity rises to a feverish pitch, we have a woman representing Belfast, Waldo and Northport in Augusta who has been serving us steadily with distinction: State Rep. Jan Dodge of Belfast.

We are so lucky to have Jan in our corner. Her energy and her conviction in causes that affect the biggest needs and smallest pocketbooks in the county reflect her belief in a government that discards no one and looks away from no problem, no matter how difficult.

I have experienced firsthand her commitment to universal health care through our work with Maine AllCare. She brought the perspective of a sitting legislator to the group. Who, working in Augusta so many hours, would take the time to haul herself over to the Belfast Library every month for a meeting? Jan Dodge.

Her work with From Above is hands-on, as she helped organize the large group of dedicated people addressing homelessness in Waldo County.

Jan was one of the original organizers of Aging Well in Waldo County, which is where we met. Her energetic voice and steady hand had much to do with the group’s success.

Join me in rewarding good behavior in our civic leadership. Re-elect Jan Dodge as our representative in Augusta.

Jennifer Hill


Conserve instead of exploit

I'm wondering if our city officials have noticed the drought this year? Between COVID-19 and the election, it might not make the headlines as frequently, but it would be wise to pay attention.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the Northeast currently has 13.6 million residents living in drought conditions. The entire state of Maine is in some level of drought. Private wells are going dry and new wells need to be drilled deeper than ever before. Pastures are becoming stressed, which has the U.S. Department of Agriculture concerned. Maine farmers are struggling with crops in many counties.

The Maine Forest Service reports a record-breaking number of fires this year. As a result of climate change, the Northeast is warming faster than expected and July was the hottest month in human history. State and federal agencies are being asked to closely monitor drought conditions while putting an emphasis on water conservation.

All of this needs to be taken into account when considering permits for Nordic Aquafarms. Is it judicious to build enormous tanks to grow fish using millions of gallons of water per year? Nordic still hasn't clearly identified the exact amount of water needed for its operations, the sources of water it will use, or the purpose of each water source. Nordic has identified that it requires the maximum amount available from its groundwater wells from the Belfast Water Department, and from the Little River surface water, in order to meet its demand of 1,205 gallons per minute.

We are being told to exercise caution with water use now; what will be left for the next generation? Is this really where we want scarce and precious water to be used? Conservation of resources, not blatant exploitation, would be a wiser path.

Robyn Duffy


Seniors say thank you

A very special thank-you from the Belfast Seniors for all the farm-fresh food provided by Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center, Commissioner Shorey and his staff and for the coordination of Olga J. Rumney, CEM-ME, deputy director. We greatly appreciate all the hard work and effort that goes into this program.

Sheri Judkins

Belfast Seniors

Kinney 'strong voice' for rural Maine

Rep. MaryAnne Kinney has been a strong voice for our rural House district where “cows outnumber people.” As a longtime family friend, I have seen the hard work MaryAnne and her husband put into their family farm and maple products business. I have admired them both as they have raised two successful young adults who share those work ethics and love of family. And I have seen just how much pride MaryAnne has in her community locally, at the Legislature in Augusta, and even on the national level when she fought against crazy regulations that would have hurt small, family farmers everywhere.

As if that’s not enough, MaryAnne juggles two legislative committees, has kept the family business afloat during the pandemic, and has been there whenever a constituent needs a little bit of help. MaryAnne is approachable, knowledgeable, and willing to find ways to work with people she doesn’t always agree with. She is sincere, honest, hardworking, and a credit to our small town way of life here. Those are just some of the reasons I’m voting for MaryAnne, and would encourage you to as well.

Kirk Thomas


No one is an island

As a resident of Belfast, I was disappointed to see a lawn sign on City Point Road in Belfast that reads: “No Joe No Ho.” We face a number of big challenges in this country: COVID-19, the economy, jobs, health care, income inequality, racism and the climate crisis. And like it or not, none of us is an island. We're all in this together — there's no way around that. I believe we can overcome those challenges, and more. We have overcome great challenges before. But we won't rise to the occasion if we are divided.

Voting has already started in Maine and elsewhere in the country, and as we continue to vote, I hope all of us will look into our hearts and vote for unity, love, understanding and compassion. Without those things, we, as a society — all of us — will have a very hard row to hoe.

Lawrence Reichard


Curry for Senate

I’m supporting Chip Curry for the Waldo County Senate seat. Chip has all the qualities that make for a great public servant, and if he goes to Augusta to represent us, we’ll be in good hands.

Over the past two years we’ve seen huge changes in Maine, and the response of our state government to keep us safe as well as support our small businesses has been a standout in the nation. Prior to the onset of the pandemic, we were on course to continue growing our economy, make state government more responsive to the people of Maine, and begin building for a more prosperous future.

Chip Curry gets all of this in his gut. He’s the kind of Mainer we need in Augusta, and I hope every resident of Waldo County joins me in supporting him!

Scott Cuddy


Editor's Note: Democrat Scott Cuddy is running for reelection in House District 98.

Maine makes history with RCV

The 2020 U.S. general election will probably make history with the largest proportion ever of registered voters casting ballots. Maine voters will be a special part of this history, choosing a U.S. president and senator — the first time ever for any state in the nation — by ranked choice voting.

If you have questions about RCV, the ballot itself gives excellent instruction. Or you can go to the Secretary of State’s webpage ( or call your municipal clerk for answers. Most of Maine’s electorate rehearsed RCV while supporting it through two state referenda, then actually used it in the 2018 primary and congressional elections and again in the primary election earlier this year.

According to polls and firsthand accounts, Mainers find ranking candidates a commonsense way to select among them; it’s easy; and it gives voters of any party the freedom to distribute their electoral support right up front. In this last way, RCV favors candidates who are independent from the two main parties, whether on the right or the left, honoring the independence that has always been a hallmark of Maine’s politics.

Yes, RCV has been opposed by Republicans in the last five years, but what hasn’t been polarized? Will RCV be relevant to the presidential and senatorial elections this year, given the predominance of the main-party candidates? Well, it might become relevant to the senatorial election; besides, in either case, no voter is mandated to use it: with RCV, anyone is free to vote as in the past, without ranking candidates.

Isn’t it arguable whether RCV is the best weighted voting system among the numerous ones that have been tried in the world or theorized by political scientists? Sure. But who’s demanding perfection? At least RCV is one reasonable attempt to step outside the box of the two main parties’ increasingly negative election rhetoric and tactics. To me, it’s a sign of exploration and progress in political affairs. Heading toward a historic November during Maine’s Bicentennial, I’m proud of our state for this voting first.

Barbara Currier Bell


Sara Gideon, Susan Collins and the judiciary

Our senatorial race is garnering national attention. Huge amounts of money are flowing into both major campaigns. Why?

In this, perhaps the most important election of our lifetime, the outcome of our Senatorial race can have major effects on how our nation will be governed going forward, and on the issues the government chooses to prioritize. One issue being attended to above all else these days is the confirmation of federal judges.

The judiciary is supposed to be independent, charged with protecting and upholding the law. Partisan politics are supposed to take a back seat. Let’s consider the candidates positions re: the judiciary.

In the most recent debate (Oct.15), Sara Gideon emphasized that judges MUST be qualified, must have a temperament suited to their position, and respect precedent.

She described the need to be qualified as “a low bar.”

Susan Collins voted to confirm judicial nominees 95% of the time. In the past, she voted to confirm Barack Obama’s appointees.

But times have changed. Unqualified candidates are being put forward and confirmed, weakening the judicial branch. Susan Collins has continued her pattern of voting “yes” even if the candidate is rated “unqualified” by the American Bar Association. She hasn’t changed and evolved with changing times. She voted to confirm Amy Coney Barrett, an anti-abortion candidate, in 2017. She voted for Brett Kavanaugh, who exhibited a questionable temperament (to say the least) at his hearing.

From her voting record, Susan Collins shows me that she is no longer supporting and protecting the judicial branch, whose members MUST be qualified, have temperaments that are even, compassionate and kind, and who respect precedent.

For this reason, I will be voting for Sara Gideon for Senate. Please join me!

Deborah Capwell


Not a game

Undercurrent News recently interviewed Nordic Aquafarms President Eric Heim asking him about unexpected challenges and public concerns regarding the Belfast proposal. Heim replied, “That’s just a part of the game that you end up dealing with in some locations.”

I doubt if anyone who lives here, whether they’re for or against this project, thinks this is a game. People on both sides of the discussion have spent endless hours reviewing Nordic’s permit applications, attending meetings and asking questions. Back in August 2019, the Planning Board asked Eric Heim: “What are the financial implications of adding your California project?” Heim’s answer was: “It’s important to put together a good equity story for investors to get interested.”

Everyone in our community is an investor, because our water and bay are part of the deal. We need more than a story. It is Nordic’s job to have actual data and answers. Nordic has provided lots of engineering models but, in the time since Nordic first proposed its Partial RAS in Belfast, it has already become outdated. Unlike the Nordic proposal, closed RAS systems recycle 100% of fresh and brine water, minimize power usage, and don’t pollute the ocean.

This past November, Forbes held an investor’s conference in New York, sending the message that Closed Land Based RAS is where the industry is headed. Nordic still hasn’t answered the Planning Board’s question from last August. They have yet to prove they have the financial capacity required, and the investor money in this industry is already going in another direction.

If Nordic wanted to build a zero discharge RAS on a brown field, they would indeed be bringing an exciting opportunity for the future to Belfast, with less destruction to the land and less risk to the water; BUT if they want to dig up the Belfast Bay Watershed to build a food processing plant that would discharge millions of gallons of wastewater into the bay, then we’re going backward toward past industries.

Requesting clarifying data after the permitting process is too late. Requesting proof of financial capabilities after Nordic breaks ground is too late. “A good equity story” isn’t enough to ensure the protection of our waterways, and nothing about this is a game.

Sally Brophy