Legislation invests in education, climate

Congress has an opportunity to pass historic legislation in the Build Back Better Act. Fortunately, the House passed the bill last month and the Senate is making good progress as well. The bill invests in children and families in many ways, from ensuring that people have access to affordable health care and child care to expanding access to affordable housing and public pre-K. The bill also makes historic investments in climate change to make sure that future generations have a clean earth to inhabit.

In my work in Augusta on the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, I hear from Mainers far too often whose families suffer because of a lack of accessible pre-K. In fact, only 13% of 3- and 4-year-olds in Maine have access to publicly funded preschool. On top of that, those who do not have access to public pre-K are paying roughly $8,600 a year for preschool.

The Build Back Better Act expands the basic promise of free schooling in America for the first time in 100 years with universal pre-school for all 3- and 4-year-olds. In addition to public schools, providers who will be eligible for this funding include Head Start programs and licensed child care providers.

But just as important as education is for our children, we must also be focused on the world they will inherit from us.  Here in Waldo County, the quickening changes to our climate are visible everywhere we look. The Build Back Better Act contains historic climate provisions that will create jobs in Maine while also reducing pollution. The bill also contains essential funding for climate resilience in agriculture and forestry, two of Maine’s most cherished industries.

On the whole, these investments will be transformative for Maine and the nation, and I hope that Congress can finish the job and pass the Build Back Better Act.

Rep. Janice S. Dodge, D-Dist. 97

Belfast

Thanks due to Dr. Shah, CDC

We are awash in news stories about vaccination and mask-wearing philosophies and policies. But only a very mean-spirited person would deny that Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah and his overworked staff do everything they can to monitor and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Spend $0.57 and the cost of a Christmas card to send those public servants a holiday thank-you. Don’t use email: I am sure their inboxes are overflowing. Here’s the address: Dr. Nirav D. Shah, Director, Maine CDC, 286 Water St., State House Station 11, Augusta, ME 04333-0011.

Andy Stevenson

Belfast

Cat food solution

My sympathy for David Dancy’s cat and any other hungry cats in our area. While I’m not sure exactly what any politician can do about cat food shortages, I know that each of us cat lovers can make our own cat food. There are lots of recipes online.

Some even use leftovers, like this one calling for a half-cup of cooked chicken, a tablespoon of cooked, mashed carrots and a small can of oil-packed tuna, all pulsed together in a food processor or put through your grandmother’s meat grinder.

Come to think of it, the more we do for ourselves, the less we are at the real or imagined mercy of anyone else.

Sandy Oliver

Islesboro

Christmas memories

Tonight as I watched Christmas celebrations throughout  northern Europe on the Rick Steeves travel show, I thought of  my own childhood during this special time of the year. I remember it as a very joyful time. Having been educated in a Catholic school by the Sisters of St. Joseph, I was introduced to the wonderful hymns and carols of the Christmas season. That feeling  has lasted through almost 76 years, as I still sing in our church choir and I am still emotionally affected by the lyrics and the beautiful music of the Christmas season.

I  wonder if the joy and pageantry of this holy season is still being taught and loved by the youth of our time as it is in Europe? I hope so! Whether you believe or not, the lessons of Christmas can only make the world a better place and fill your children with joyful memories like mine.

Merry Christmas.

Leo Mazerall Jr.

Stockton Springs

Thanks to RSU 3 personnel

I would like to express public gratitude for the teachers, staff and administration of Regional School Unit 3, the towns of western Waldo County. This has been a very trying fall for our school communities with many COVID cases, quarantine schedules and mask-averse parents and students (and teachers, staff and admin, too, most likely!), making an already challenging profession even tougher.

My warm thanks go to all people who serve others in educating and caring for our students and their families. Children and schools make our communities vibrant, exciting and future-leaning. I wish one and all who work in our RSU 3 community a warm and restful holiday season. I see your dedication and I thank you.

Polly Shyka

Freedom