Letters, April 5, 2018

Apr 05, 2018

Editor's note: We apologize for our tardiness in publishing the following letter, which we received March 16:

Enough — No more needless killing

We, the members and friends of The First Church in Belfast, UCC, declare our full support for an end to gun violence in our country. As a faith-based congregation, we are called, in the name of love, to admonish those who hold profit above justice, and violence above peace. In light of all the massacres that have taken place over the last few years, and most recently in Parkland, Florida, where 17 children and adults were murdered, we can no longer remain silent. Stronger gun control measures must be enacted.

We believe that no civilian should have access to weapons of war, and that high-capacity magazines should be allowed only to our military and law enforcement. Such weapons have no purpose other than to discharge as many bullets as possible, indiscriminately killing at terrifying speed anything at which they are pointed and fired.

We live in these United States of America. “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.” We do not seek to deny any citizens their constitutional rights, but the majority of the public is now for stricter gun control. Where is our Justice and domestic Tranquility when our children no longer feel safe to attend school? How are we promoting the general Welfare? How are we securing the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity when our freedom ends where someone else’s begins? What lessons are we teaching our children? What message are we sending to our country and the world?

In the name of God which we call love, love for our children and our country, we stand united in our quest for stronger gun control measures and an end to gun violence.

Linda Bitely

Truman Bitely

Pamela F. Chase

Willow Divine

Denise Goodman

Todd W. Hall

Pat Kaplan

The Rev. Joel M. Krueger

Jean Lenderking

T.J. Mack

Joan G. Mills

Lila Nation

Kenn Ortmann

Martha Ortmann

Barbara Powers

Roger Powers

Nancy A. Rice

Manley Rogers

Patricia Shannon

Patricia Sheehan

Linda Smith

Richard Smith

Suzette Tilbert

Dana Williams

Judy Williams

The Rev. Dr. Kate Winters

Politicians, get hip

I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and our right to bear arms. That does not mean unbridled access any more than the right to vote means unbridled access. I vote and I support stronger gun controls as a matter of public safety and health.

Over 30,000 Americans are killed each year by guns including homicides, suicides and accidents. NRA Republicans like to say that guns don’t kill people, people do, and so they look to scapegoats. The major scapegoat used to be blacks, but now there is the awkward fact that almost all the mass murders and all the school shootings in this country are done by white American-born males.

Conservatives also like to scapegoat “Islamic terrorists,” but an average of only one American a year is killed on American soil by such terrorists. In fact, children under the age of three who pick up a gun in their home accidentally shoot and kill more people.

The latest scapegoat is the “mentally ill,” and the only restrictions that Congress will pass are on these people, although less than 1 percent of violent crimes are committed by those with serious mental illness.

I wonder how we count the paranoid Americans who feel they need an arsenal in their homes and a gun on their person when they go out to feel safe. After all, paranoia is a bona fide mental illness that can be treated.

NRA Republicans are concerned that if we have sensible gun control then only criminals will have guns. But it takes just one bullet for a law-abiding gun owner to become a criminal. No, folks, the problem is too many guns and a culture that promotes their use. Politicians need to get hip to that fact if they want to keep their jobs. After all, 68 percent of Americans want stricter gun laws. (That’s why the NRA Republican Congress won’t take up gun safety before the election.)

But the tide is turning: Millennials, the generation that has grown up with school active-shooter drills and are living with the fear of mass shootings every school day, will soon be the largest generation of potential voters.

Linda Buckmaster

Belfast

Youth doing what their elders have failed to do

It is with a great deal of love and admiration that I write this letter to the young people of our country and the world.

Being a woman, wife, mother, grandmother and soon-to-be great-grandmother, I watch with incredulity what is going on in our world today. Yes, there have been wars and pestilence for centuries, but now it has moved up to killing children in schools.

In my 30-plus years as a schoolteacher, I was once told by a student that I was his "mother away from home." When a child thinks of his mother, he often correlates it with love and safety. What kind of safety is it when we have to arm a schoolteacher with a gun to protect the young people they are trying to teach not only math and science, but how to get along with their fellow classmates and the world?

We have numerous adults for our young people to emulate, but the ones who are held up in front of our young people the most by way of TV, newspapers, text, etc. are the greedy, morally corrupt and unethical people whom we as a nation elected to lead our country.

When is this going to be resolved?

Well, it looks as if the young people coming up are willing to step up to the plate, thank God.

So, march, love, pray and lift your voices high and hopefully the adults who want a peaceful coexistence on this earth will join you to rid ourselves of the plague which has infected our globe.

Elizabeth Heald

Lincolnville

Disenfranchised since the '60s?

Nearly 70 years ago, consolidation of schools in Waldo County was a major educational topic with the enactment of the Sinclair Law by the Maine Legislature in 1958. There were 10 high schools in rural Waldo County in September 1953 (TRJ). None exceeded 100 high school students. Three hundred were required for district organization in the Sinclair Law.

Thirteen towns in the county expressed interest. Dean Mark Shibles, a native of Knox, of the University of Maine College of Education was an ardent supporter of consolidation and hoped they would be the first MSAD. Because of the difficulty encountered in getting agreement to commit in so many towns, 11 towns out of 26 became MSAD 3.

According to The Republican Journal, Nov. 12, 1959, six Liberty residents filed a suit against the directors questioning the constitutionality of the Sinclair Law, and the directors asked for Gov. Clauson's aid in validating MSAD 3. This also delayed construction and educational improvements for several years.

After six years and about $750,000, Mount View High School opened in September 1964 with one director from each town. This avoided weighted votes based on population, valuations, location, economics, or any other variables and did not require the district to make changes based on what might occur in the status of one town or another.

Sixty years later, I know that the original directors, bygone educators, and citizens whose descendants have or have had the opportunity to utilize the magnificent $40 million facilities at the Mount View complex, be it for education, music, or sports, not to mention other area youth who can access this complex, would glow with pride at the success of the accomplishments by the "one town, one vote" district.

I do not recall any director, citizen, or educator of MSAD 3 complaining about any townspeople getting upset because they were not getting preferential treatment because they had a large population until recently when the longtime educator from Unity has suddenly become concerned about his town. Has his town been disenfranchised since the '60s? Perhaps he can enlighten his good friend and your readers.

Vaughn Ellis

Brooks

A servant leader

I have never written a letter supporting (or for that matter, attacking) any political candidate. I find that now, however, I must do so.

In my personal experience, I have encountered very few candidates like Jan Dodge. True, many in search of political office are motivated and driven, as Jan truly is. However, lately, it seems that many are driven to rule and are motivated by the lure of power. Jan Dodge is exactly the opposite kind of politician.

In every single encounter I have have with Jan, she has been in service of or in support of someone. When I first met Jan, she was involved with the music program at First Baptist Church, Belfast. Though qualified to direct, and certainly experienced enough to direct, Jan chose mostly choir or positions of music support.

In the many committees wherein she was involved, Jan was tirelessly preparing, setting up or cleaning up. Could she have been in charge? Of course. No one was more capable or better organized. She merely chose to use her ability and strengths to aid the whole group.

She has been in leadership roles and thrived in them. For more than a few years she has presided over the Waldo County Retired Teachers Association. She was in the vanguard of the successful Stand up for Students referendum.

Personally, I am fed up with those office-seekers who appear to be campaigning for the office of emperor or dictator. I much prefer those who seek to be worker bees as opposed to Queen Bees. If you are of the same opinion, I humbly suggest that you consider Jan Dodge as your Waldo County representative.

If you, too, tire of the power-grabbing self-promoting kind of politicians that have become so prominent recently, contact Janice S. Dodge at 338-1626 or email her at jan.dodge@yahoo.com. I am certain you will find her to be a ready listener with a servant spirit. She has an open mind and an open heart. How rare is that?

I hope you will consider supporting Jan Dodge in her quest for our House District 97 representative.

J. Michael Lawson

Belfast

A proven fighter

I met Caitlin Hills four years ago when she and I, along with seven others, began the Regional School Unit 71 journey together on the Board of Directors. Through the first three years Caitlin served as board vice chairman and, since July 1, chairman.

In the time we have worked together I have come to learn much about her. She is passionate about her beliefs and she will fight for what best creates opportunities for our area children. We have seen this through her support of a new curriculum coordinator's position in our district that has helped strengthen academic programming. I have seen this through her work in the community to reduce our carbon footprint and to be a little kinder to the planet and all those who live on it. I have seen this through her work to help bring updated facilities and technology to a school district that has desperately needed it for years. Also through her continued work with the Special Olympics event at our local YMCA. She could also most recently be seen organizing and facilitating a community forum to discuss the school safety issue that is of such concern to us all. Caitlin continues to show herself as a leader.

Prior to moving to Maine, Caitlin worked for U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., for many years, advising him on environmental, immigration and energy issues. She was then a lobbyist for nonprofit organizations that sought to protect those who needed it most. This is experience that would serve her constituency well in Augusta.

As a Maine native, I know of our reluctance to vote for someone “from away.” I get it. But in Caitlin we would be voting for someone who has built her life here, and her son's, because she admires all that is good in Maine and Maine people. She is not looking to make our special part of Maine something other than what it is, but to strengthen it and to fight for opportunities. She, like Mainers, is not afraid of hard work, and is willing to work for the residents of District 97.

I like fighters, and Caitlin Hills is a proven fighter. I encourage you to support her on June 12 at the polls.

Allison Goscinski

Belfast

Use surplus to fund Medicaid

Gov. LePage’s administration refuses to implement the Medicaid expansion law passed by 203,080 Maine voters in November. People should be able to get care on July 2, 2018, and preparation needs to be happening right now.

As a newly retired medical social worker, I know that Medicaid expansion is desperately needed by 70,000 Mainers. I worked with people who go without medical care and only go to the emergency room when in crisis. Hospitals are required to give them treatment regardless of ability to pay and must absorb those costs.

These patients are often forced to choose between medical treatment, medications, food and/or paying their rent. Many need this coverage for preventive and routine health care, and for some this coverage is really a matter of life or death.

At the State House this week, patients told what it is like to be sick and without health care coverage. One had a long career cut short by workplace injuries, and now can’t afford follow-up care. Another delays visits to the doctor, despite worrisome symptoms, putting them at-risk for further illness, perhaps even death. This is unacceptable.

The surplus in the Maine budget this year could be used to fund Medicaid expansion in 2018 and 2019. In addition, Medicaid expansion will generate $700 million in new economic activity yearly, create 6,000-pus jobs, and support rural hospitals and clinics. I urge our governor and legislators to do the right thing and do it now!

Kathryn A. Kreamer, LSW, BSW, MA

Belfast

Dangerous hypocrisy

Despite his vow to trash all regulations that control the amount of air pollution we keep making when we drive, when we heat our homes and run our industries, Mr. Trump has run into some unlikely opponents — ironically the very ones he has bent over backwards to please for the sake of “jobs.”

The president directed EPA director Scott Pruitt to inform the auto industry that it would be dumping its fuel economy standards for passenger cars and trucks. And who objected to the plan? Our top three automakers — Ford, Chevy and Chrysler. It seems they want these standards to stay in place.

Otherwise it would be difficult, maybe impossible, to sell cars to the vast majority of countries that take environmental degradation seriously. And California’s environmental regulations would not permit their sales in the state. California, it seems, is in keeping with the rest of the world in making a commitment to replace dirty energy with clean energy.

Trump’s move along with Pruitt’s predictable response, are clearly proof that the administration’s goal is not to protect the economy but to destroy all our environmental protections. One must wonder — just what is his motive, anyway?

Doesn’t he care about our grandchildren, or even his own? Democrats (and even a few Republicans) in Congress are voicing their objections. Has Maine’s congressional delegation weighed in?

Beverly Roxby

Belfast

Once built, no going back

I believe the proposed Nordic Aquafarm is not appropriate for Belfast. Clear cutting nearly 40 acres of trees is a heartbreaking thought. The loss of habitat for animals and birds will be substantial, and destruction of trees means higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The Little River hiking trail will never be the same again — the peace and tranquility of the trail will be spoiled by the sights and sounds of a massive industrial operation. Once the land is cleared and covered in industrial buildings and paved roads, it is ruined forever.

Perhaps more important would be the never-ending extraction and use of millions of gallons of fresh water. Maine may have plentiful water supplies at the moment, but with climate change happening, no one knows what our situation will be in years to come.

All around the world, previously fertile areas are suffering extreme drought. Here in the Midcoast, we frequently experience drought conditions in summer, but the salmon farm would continue to draw vast amounts of water every day. So far, we have been lucky enough to recover from those droughts, but that could change. Clean fresh water is a finite resource and should be conserved.

This salmon farm in Belfast would be one of the largest in the world and, in my opinion, does not belong in a beautiful forested area of our watershed. The salmon farm coming to Bucksport will be built on an existing industrial site, which is where such a facility belongs.

At the public hearing, someone asked if the salmon would be for sale locally. The CEO hesitated before saying the finished product would be high-end and mostly destined for restaurants and hotels; he mentioned Boston and New York. So, affordable local salmon will not be available.

I urge members of the Belfast City Council to think long and hard about what this massive industrial project will do to the local water supply, the environment, and the feel of small-town Belfast. The lure of tax money is tempting, but it will never make up for the inevitable changes that will come with such a project, and once it is built there is no going back.

Janet Williams

Searsport

Slow down, get informed

Belfast seems poised to become home to the world’s largest land-based aquaculture operation. This seems like it could be an exciting development — large-scale, local production of a healthy food produced without additives, and without the drawbacks that accompany ocean-based fish farming.

This possibility, which has been discussed with the city for the past six months, has just now been publicly announced. There appear to be financial incentives to the Water District, and perhaps some tax revenue advantages to the city, although the tax code is difficult to quantify. Historically, promises of tax reductions with the arrival of industry have not held true. There is the promise of 60 jobs initially, but several local industries are unable to fill existing positions.

In order to move the project forward, the Belfast City Council has been tasked with considering a zoning change from residential to industrial. The land in question is a 40-acre parcel constituting all of the woodland on the north side of the Little River.

There are many questions as yet unanswered.

The Belfast Water District has been guaranteed the purchase of city water by Nordic Aquafarms. NAF is also drilling test wells to ascertain the availability of millions more gallons.

How many more gallons of water are needed?

How will this impact the aquifer and neighboring wells?

Nordic Aquafarms states that all wastewater from the plant will be filtered and treated before being discharged from pipes 1½ miles out in Penobscot Bay. NAF further claims that 90 percent of solids will be captured and used to produce other products, such as fertilizer and animal food.

How many gallons of wastewater will be discharged daily into the bay? Who monitors that discharge?

What is the environmental impact of such wastewater discharge?

What is the daily volume of solid waste?

How is a salty by-product made suitable for fertilizer or feed?

A zoning change to the property could allow for buildings and pavement to cover up to 75 percent of the acreage, meaning clearcutting, building, and paving up to 30 acres of mature forest, habitat for wildlife and birds, including eagles, owls, bobolinks, fox, deer, moose, coyotes, and more.

Maine is the only state in New England that does not require an Environmental Impact Study to take place prior to the permitting of a project of this size and scope. Nordic Aquafarms is a relatively new company, with no history to draw from, and only concept models to inform them.

What will the environmental impacts be?

What will happen if NAF closes its operation?

What are the impacts on the Little River and trail?

This is a big project with big ramifications!

Can the Belfast City Council make an informed decision without more information?

Should Belfast require an Environmental Impact Study to be done before moving forward?

Should neighbors and citizens be given more than three months to join in the deliberations?

I would urge us to slow down, get fully informed, and move ahead only when we are assured we have done our due diligence.

Ellie Daniels

Belfast

Save Little River Dam and pump house

Belfast has only two areas with beautiful scenery along historic Route 1 — the bridge with its breathtaking views of the Passy River and your wonderful city at the Northern Gateway, and the Little River Dam and pump house, which, for me (and, I'm sure, for many others) marks your Southern Gateway.

Although I've never walked back to the dam, that beautiful view is something I never miss when traveling either north or south. It is unique, it's yours alone, and its seeming serenity combined with the wildness of the cascading water, soothes and delights me in all seasons. Personally, I love it and am pained the think that Belfast citizens wouldn't care enough to save it for yourselves and the rest of us. I have no doubt that others — residents, Route 1 commuters, and tourists alike — have had a similar experience.

You have the opportunity to purchase it, protect it, interpret it, and preserve it as your city's Southern Gateway focal point. Win! Win! Win! Win! The historic brick structure in so many ways echoes the incredible brick buildings in your historic downtown. Right out there along the highway, its preservation and interpretation would communicate, in effect, "We in Belfast are embracing the future, but we also treasure our historical past — the culture and history that brought us to where we are today — and we believe in celebrating and protecting the health and beauty of our rivers, small and large."

I was so thankful when former Mayor Hurley and others stepped up to save former Route 1 — now the walking bridge. Truly heroic. Such foresight and courage! Where else can one walk across a mighty river on a quiet summer's night and feel (right near a city) alone for a moment in the universe — gazing up at the moon and stars, imagining oneself far out to sea, and then turning and walking back toward the lights of a small historic city. For me, it is like being momentarily suspended in time.

Belfast — look to your future, but honor your past and protect your watersheds. Please do this one small thing.

Nancy Caudle-Johnson

Camden

Whoa!

When I first learned from the media about the Nordic Aqua Farms (NAF) facility proposed for Belfast, I thought it could be a feather in our cap. I thought this new technology might be a good way to produce healthy food for our stressed planet.

Then I learned more:

- that market salmon produced in this way have a huge carbon footprint, due to both production and transportation needs;

- that land-based farming of adult salmon (i.e., beyond the freshwater smolt stage) is still highly experimental and perhaps unfeasible — in contrast to land-based farming of adult freshwater fish, which is a proven technology;

- that to make the NAF facility profitable, the fish must be priced for a high-end ("sushi grade") market.

Now the prospect does not look at all rosy!

I don't see the benefit to Belfast. The tempting selling point of lower taxes is anything but a sure thing. And is it worth it to gamble with our town's natural environment and precious aquifer for the promise of lower taxes?

The Nordic Aqua Farms website makes this installation look like a done deal. The website has photos of its three worldwide sites — one of the three photos is of our scenic Little River Reservoir and pump house.

Whoa! Slow down!

Cynthia Ciani Anderson

Belfast

Make the right decisions for the right reasons

Nordic Aquafarms is offering to build a land-based fish farm that is capable of providing 8 percent of the entire U.S. salmon needs on a pristine reservoir near the Belfast-Northport line. This is five times the size of the land based farm that this company has built in their own native Norway and perhaps one of the biggest such farms in the country.

This seems BIG to me. BIG in the sense of land mass being cleared and made impervious for this project; BIG in the sense of the amount of energy needed; BIG in the sense of the amount of feed and waste to be used, transported and disposed/recycled; BIG in the sense of the amount of water (either dechlorinated Belfast Water District water or from drilled wells in the in Belfast and Northport area); BIG in the sense of traffic considerations on Route 1; BIG in the sense of potential for a single accident to create a long-term environmental problem; BIG in terms of the 50-foot-high buildings; and BIG in the sense of unknowns for a project this size.

BIG for Belfast and the Midcoast, in my opinion. Safer might be a smaller scale. Nordic Aquafarms would like the Belfast City Council to rezone this reservoir to industrial. The feasibility of this proposal begins with the Belfast City Council asking the right questions and their determination if this project, as proposed, is indeed too BIG right now for Belfast.

While the increase in the number of jobs is relatively minor, probably the biggest benefit to Belfast and indirectly for this region and the state is the increase in tax base. For example, if Nordic Aquafarms is assessed at $100 million and the (~$16.45 million) budget stays the same, the mil rate would drop for Belfast to 0.019 from 0.0219, assuming also that Nordic Aquafarms pays ~$1.9 million/year in taxes.

As we have seen in the past, mil rates do not stay reduced, as budgets must now increase as the state now wants to reduce subsidies that are property evaluation-based.

Industries also apply for state tax breaks. The largest state subsidies that typically will decrease are education and municipal revenue sharing  Also education and county assessments increase proportionally to property assessments. Without getting too technical, in Belfast between the years 2001 and 2017, the city property valuation tax base increased from $435,862,300 to $750,596,300, and yet the mil rate actually increased from 0.0213 to 0.0219.

Such a BIG decision is happening on a very fast track. Five years from now I hope we can all say that the Belfast City Council asked the right questions and made the right decision.

We should make the time for participation by our Waldo County neighbors and involve professionals familiar with this new technology to assure that the right decisions are being made for the right reasons.

John and Wendy Krueger

Northport

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.