Letters, Aug. 6

Aug 06, 2020

Connor will work for Maine

Regarding Maine House District 98, I remember learning about Jess Connor while talking with her husband, who commented how proud he was of the job Jess was doing as a fundraiser. Jess was driven to support the cause of families with autistic children. Some of you might know how hard it is to try and get businesses to donate to causes. It is a difficult task to ask business owners to dedicate a portion of their hard-earned profits to people they might not know.

Jess, led by her respect for the cause and possessing excellent interpersonal communication skills, was a leading fundraiser. This and her appreciation for business and compassion for those who are often below poverty income give Jess a unique position to work for Maine and Maine's citizens. I recommend you vote for Maine by electing Jess Connor to Maine House of Representatives District 98.

R.H. Moody

Searsport

Land trust grateful to town

Coastal Mountains Land Trust is grateful to the residents of Lincolnville for their overwhelming support of a land exchange proposal that they successfully voted to approve. Nearly 90% of voters were in favor of trading a beautiful 4-acre park on Penobscot Bay, owned by the Land Trust, for a 69-acre parcel on the Ducktrap River owned by the town of Lincolnville. We look forward to moving ahead with this creative transaction.

The Land Trust has been working since 1995, as part of the Ducktrap Coalition, to conserve the corridor of this important river, home to a population of endangered Atlantic Salmon and other species. Our Ducktrap River Preserve is currently 1,941 acres, and with this addition, will grow to 2,010 acres. The parcel of land is nearly surrounded by other conserved land, and will be permanently conserved, including 3,000 feet of riverfront. Just like all our preserves, this land will be open to low-impact recreation and maintained in a natural condition forever. We will be inviting people to explore this preserve once the transaction is complete.

The Land Trust has held a conservation easement on the Penobscot Park private park for a number of years, and it was recently given to us to own and manage. We immediately realized it could be better cared for as a municipal public park than as one of our preserves which, while open to the public, would not provide a park experience like the town could offer.

This unique land exchange was only made possible with the support of the donor of the land who expressly agreed that trading it to the town of Lincolnville to achieve additional conservation along the Ducktrap River was a good purpose. The Land Trust never trades or sells land that it is gifted without the explicit permission of the donor. And our motivation for such an exchange would only be to achieve additional conservation. We look forward to the day when the park is fully open to the public.

While the transaction is not quite complete, we didn’t want to wait to say a sincere and heartfelt “Thank-you” to Lincolnville residents!

Please reach out to us if you have any questions or thoughts on this innovative land exchange.

Judy Wallingford, Board President

Ian Stewart, Executive Director

Won't substitute teach

I have been a substitute teacher for 15 years, but I don't plan to work this fall. I don't have faith in the plans for reopening schools. I can't teach if I'm dead. Maine has had relative success in containing COVID-19, but the country as a whole is recording record infections and record deaths. Maine cannot isolate itself from the rest of the country, and it's too early to see the full tourism effect.

Having worked in schools for 15 years, I believe it is reckless, negligent and disingenuous for school staff and administration to say students will practice social distancing with anything approaching uniformity. To pretend they will is a grave and potentially deadly disservice to the community.

Maine Public Radio recently aired a "Maine Calling" program in which a participant said that countries such as Denmark were succeeding in reopening schools. I attended school in Denmark for an entire school year, and comparing Danish schools to U.S. schools is comparing apples to lobster. Danish schools are much more advanced, academically and socially. High schools in Denmark are comparable to college here. Indeed, I got college credit for my year in Denmark. In Denmark we called our teachers by their first names. If I were to invite U.S. students to do that, they would take it as invitation to swing from the chandeliers. And the U.S. is much more divided than Denmark. Masks have become a political issue here, and many students will every day go home to parents vehemently opposed to masks.

To make matters worse, there is a common misperception that children and youth suffer only mild symptoms of COVID-19. Tell that to the parents of 9-year-old Kimora "Kimmie" Lynum, who died of COVID-19 in Putnam County, Florida, July 18.

School reopening is a recipe for disaster. The solution? Tax the rich, cut the bloated Pentagon budget, eliminate corporate welfare, buy every child a computer and internet service, and make it financially possible for one parent to stay home. It ain’t rocket science.

Lawrence Reichard

Belfast

Supports Dodge

There is no doubt in my mind that Janice Dodge should be the person representing me and my community. She is the current representative for House District 97 (Belfast, Northport and Waldo). As a new legislator, she helped pass:

LD 167 - Anti Food Shaming in Maine Schools

LD 176 - Act to Allow an Active Teacher to sit on the State Board of Education

LD 1878 - Resolve to study the use of Adjunct Professors in the College System

LD 414 An Act to Provide Intensive Case Manager for each county to use in a jail or reentry center was pending when the session ended in March.

Janice co-sponsored many other bills during the almost two years she has served the state representing us and our needs. Janice grew up in Belfast and returned to the place that she loves after her retirement as a music teacher in the public schools. Rather than take a few years off, relax, travel, visit family and friends, Janice listened to friends and family and her heart to “get involved” with changing and improving policies that matter to her, education, health care, employment opportunities, justice, and infrastructure.

Working in a school system in Hancock County brought Janice into contact with folks from different backgrounds and means. She would expect the state and local communities to provide an up-to-date education to all living in the state of Maine. After all, she taught for 30 years in the Flanders Bay Community School District (Sullivan, Franklin, Sorrento, Winter Harbor, Gouldsboro and Steuben) to provide exciting, challenging, stimulating, and caring music education to her students.

Janice is a member of the Municipal, Coastal/Climate, Aging, and Young People’s caucuses; a lifelong member of the First Baptist Church, former choir and worship team member; Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce, volunteer cruise ship greeter; From Above, homeless advocacy through the UUChurch of Belfast; Waldo County Education Association Retired, former president; and a member of Maine Education Association and Aging Well in Waldo County.

As you can see, Janice Dodge has stayed connected to her community by actively working with local and state organizations. Please vote for Janice Dodge, House representative, District 97, this November.

Dean Anderson

Belfast

What's best for community?

On July 25 I attended a meeting regarding the development of 115 Congress St. with the Belfast City Council, City Manager Erin Herbig and the owner of the selected developer. Unfortunately, this meeting left me with more questions than answers.

I will start by saying I am not opposed to affordable housing in our neighborhood but I am opposed to the projected size; 46 or 35 units is too many. According to the developer, these would consist of 30% three-bedroom, 30% two-bedroom and the rest one-bedroom. At one person per bedroom, that is between 70 and 90 people added to the neighborhood, plus their vehicles. Currently there are approximately 33 houses in the area bordered by Congress, Salmond, Cedar and Grove streets and most of these houses have two residents, thus 66 people. Doubling the population in a two-square-block area is unreasonable.

My second area of concern is what process was used to select a developer? Did they talk to others about the project? Did they look at local resources and minority-owned companies? His recommendation for units is based on what he needs to make money, not what is best for the community.

The council's response to many questions was, "This has been in the works for 10 years." A lot has changed in Belfast in 10 years and maybe this land could produce more income by being sold for individual homes and increasing the tax base. Another option could be home construction that would be directed toward first-time home buyers with tax incentives for the purchaser. This would bring families to Belfast who would be invested in the community.

There has already been approval of 49 units about 1/4-mile down Congress Street, which will add at least 50 people and cars to the neighborhood. I suggest you do the reasonable thing and reduce this project to under 20 units of you insist this is the best use of the land and an unbiased traffic study supports it.

Paula Smith

Belfast

A new TR?

We need another Teddy Roosevelt. Recently a statue of him was scheduled to be removed from the American Museum of Natural History. It dawned on me that another president like him might be what this country needs!

He was an imperialist and a war monger. Roosevelt was vilified by Mark Twain for his role in the Philippine insurrection (one of the biggest blights in our history). Unknowingly Roosevelt also set the stage for Pearl Harbor by giving Japan a free hand in the Far East. This followed the Russo Japanese War and congratulating them for sinking the Russian fleet in a surprise attack.

These actions, however, should not overshadow Teddy's accomplishments like going after big business by trust busting. After a perhaps questionable land deal, the Panama Canal was built and yellow fever wiped out thousands. In addition the National Parks were tripled and vast tracts of federal lands preserved.

Most importantly, Roosevelt started a progressive third party. In a country where history has not been adequately taught in the schools for many years, this is very important. The word progressive somehow is a dirty word for many people. These sadly are the people who think the Federal Reserve is a federal agency, don't realize that Southern Democrats became Republicans beginning in the 1960s and don't realize socialism at the top makes socialism at the bottom look like chump change.

Anyone who thinks that either of the major political parties in this country offers any hope for the future are sorely mistaken!

Peter Clifford

Northport

Support the arts

Imagine Maine without Maine State Music Theatre? It’s not hard because, like all our sister institutions, we are dark this summer. MSMT was set to sell 75,000 tickets in 12 weeks, and those tickets would have generated some $14 million in revenue for local businesses. The productions that did not happen would have inspired people to ponder social questions, to laugh, cry, and to have fun.

At MSMT, we make 80% of our income during these 12 weeks. After the cancellation of the 2020 season, many patrons donated their tickets, and some of them made additional gifts. But, by definition, a 501(c)(3) company pumps its profits back into the company. And so, even after donations, with zero income this year, we face a large deficit. This problem is amplified by the fact that we live and work in a state that does not have reserves large enough to make a dent. So we are at the mercy of our patrons and the federal government.

Many of our charitable gifts come from summer folks. And guess what? These patrons are not coming to Maine this year. And a Zoom call or letter is not as effective as personal contact. That leaves one option: the federal government! Write your senators and congresspeople! Tell them to help us because without assistance, we will be limping badly toward next season. Our large-scale Broadway-style productions take months to plan and create and the budgets needed to make these happen must be implemented soon. Pressure your senators and congress people to come to our aid.

The arts and especially our brand of musical theater will be essential to the healing of our souls next summer. The health of any community is commensurate with the health of the arts in that community. The arts will be able to bridge the gap between COVID-19 and the “new normal.” But they must be kept alive to do so.

Support the arts in the State of Maine! Maine State Music Theatre needs you!

Curt Dale Clark

Artistic Director

Maine State Music Theatre

Brunswick

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