Letters, Dec. 5

Dec 05, 2019

Schools need improvement

Most residents of Belfast might not realize that nearly 60 cents of every property tax dollar they pay each year goes to support the RSU 71 School District. Speaking for myself, I'd like to think that those dollars are being wisely spent and turning out students who will be a benefit to Belfast, the state of Maine and society in general. Well, you might want to take a look at the statistics on the Belfast schools, as reported on publicschoolreview.com, and judge for yourself.

East Belfast Elementary: 120 students; student-teacher ratio: 10 to 1; math proficiency: 30%-39%; reading proficiency: 40%-49%; free or reduced lunch: 73% eligible.

Capt. Albert Stevens Elementary: 308 students; student-teacher ratio: 11 to 1; math proficiency: 25%-29%; reading proficiency: 50%-54%; free or reduced lunch: 58% eligible.

Troy Howard Middle School: 349 students; student-teacher ratio: 12 to 1; math proficiency: 33%; reading proficiency: 48%; free or reduced lunch: 54% eligible.

Belfast Area High School: 487 students; student-teacher ratio: 12 to 1; math proficiency: 30%-34%; reading proficiency: 55%-59%; graduation rate: 80-84%.

Looking at these statistics with student-teacher ratios in the low double digits, how can the math and reading proficiency be so low? And 16% to 20% of high school students don't graduate? What do they do with their lives? Work at the McCrum potato factory?

In order for Belfast to diversify its economic base by attracting new startup businesses and relocating businesses from outside the area to bring good-paying jobs into the area, three things need to be in alignment. 1) affordable rental and “for sale” housing; 2) diversified commercial shopping base; 3) very good schools. Presently, I don't think Belfast has met any of the preceding three legs of the economic stool. All three legs must be in place for the stool to be stable. Time's a-wasting!

Eric Schrader

Belfast

Editor's note: For context, according to publicschoolreview.com, the statewide average proficiency score for math is 39%; for reading it is 53%; the statewide average student:teacher ratio is 12:1.

Lawsuit primer

In Kendra Caruso's article in last week's Republican Journal, entitled "Piping change leads to questions over Nordic's lease application," the second paragraph incorrectly states that the opponents filed a motion to remand the 80 C petition before Waldo County Superior Court  to the Submerged Lands office of the Bureau of Parks and Lands. Instead, this should read that the motion to remand (or return to) was filed by the attorney general of the state of Maine, Aaron Frey, and drafted and signed by his assistant attorney general, Lauren Parker.

Few local citizens have a grasp of the state of the three different lawsuits filed by various intervenors and property owners in opposition to Nordic's attempts to obtain leases and permits from various state agencies and local boards. They are:

A federal lawsuit pending against a landowner who has attempted to sell property interests (a lease) to Nordic without any actual interest registered in the Waldo Registry of Deeds or supported by sealed surveys;

A declaratory lawsuit pending against these same property owners and Nordic Aquafarms Inc. asking the Waldo Superior Court for a ruling on the registered deeds, and previous Quiet Title Decree of the same court, of the parties involved;

An 80 C petition was filed by property owners and fishing interests affected by the submerged lands lease after the now-moot "Final Finding” by the Submerged Lands Office was created in September. This is the administrative finding that the "petition," or court action, is now asked by the Attorney General's Office to be returned to the Office of Parks and Lands from the court.

Presumably Nordic has received the message that the construction plans filed by them months ago were the actual detailed plans to be reviewed by the Submerged Lands Office, the public and the towns of Belfast and Northport, the Army Corps and the Coast Guard for safety, navigational hazards, effects on the fisheries, and the disturbance of the mercury and methane in the Holocene mud.

(The statement by) John Hessler, Nordic's "project manager," that Nordic "didn’t know " that the change in plans that includes the addition of vertical exposed steel rods and pilings attached to the pipeline with chains and turnbuckles, might affect the safety and operations of the crabbers and lobstermen, and general navigational safety, and the review by the above authorities, is simply not credible.

After the third or fourth "amendment" to the 14-month submerged lands lease application is resubmitted, that is, after the Superior Court rules on the issues raised by the attorney general, and the motions filed by various parties in the 80 C petition, then we all get to refute once again the benign nature of this proposed mile-long triple-pipe structure and its effects on our bay and our way of life

Looking forward to more due diligence!

Paul Bernacki

Belfast

Thanks to Chamber

Thank you for the great honor of being chosen as the Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce 2019 Citizen of the Year. I truly appreciate the award and being surprised at the annual celebration by everyone. It was heartwarming to be recognized for the years of fun I have enjoyed creating for my community.

Thank you especially to Ned Lightner for his video of our activities and to those who helped with the surprise and the presentation: Julia Olson, Meg Nickerson, George Frangoulis, Larraine Brown, and Mike Hurley. It brought such good memories into focus. I have been a very lucky person to be able to do what I loved in this beautiful little city.

And thank you to Therese Bagnardi, Sasha Kutsy and Phil Prince for assuring I would be there to receive this wonderful award.

I am humbled and I am proud,

Mary Weaver

Belfast

Kill the corridor

Well CMP has certainly shown their lack of integrity with the current adds they are running in support of their western Maine destruction project, termed “Clean Energy Corridor.”

They start off telling us that the power is going from Canada to Maine. Not so. Maine already produces more power than we need. The power is going through Maine to Massachusetts.

Next comes the exaggerated promise of thousands of jobs. Maybe a bunch in the construction aspect, but after that — where?

Next they show a lobster boat and tell us they will strengthen Maine’s industry. I guess if they run a long extension cord to the coast to charge the batteries on the new electric-powered lobster boats. Really?

Next they reduce the use of fossil fuels. Another Pinocchio. No operating electrical generating plant is going to shut down because of CMP's project. And in fact they will eliminate a large swath of carbon sequesting trees with their corridor. Not to mention the damage Canada has already done when they flooded thousands of acres and drowned thousands of caribou building their hydro project.

There is nothing clean or honest about CMP's Corridor. Save Western Maine’s wilderness. Kill the corridor.

Leo H. Mazerall

Stockton Springs

Bay still needs CPR

I appreciate The Republican Journal's continued coverage of the controversy generated by the Nordic Aquafarms proposal for a commercial fish-raising factory in Belfast. David Hurley's letter in your Nov. 28 edition and Kendra Caruso's front-page story the same day highlight two facets of Nordic's plan that concern me the most.

Mr. Hurley asks us to support Nordic's land-based facility for its potential as a "greener model" for harvesting fish. Unfortunately, the closer I looked at the specific design and operation parameters of the 900,000-square-foot installation, the more apparent it became that it would not be a net "plus" for the environment or our economy.

At full operating scale, it will not be carbon neutral, it will be fossil fuel dependent, and it will have long-term negative impacts on the Penobscot Bay marine environment. The alleged economic benefits have been overstated and the profits will go to distant investors.

One aquaculture model that better meets Mr. Hurley's criteria is the "GreenWave" model for raising kelp, mussels, oysters and clams in an aquafarm that anyone with $20,000, a boat, and a lease from Maine's Department of Marine Resources can start.

Ms. Caruso reports in depth on the legal fracas over ownership of the intertidal zone that Nordic pipelines would have to cross. The twists and turns in Nordic's plan for its pipelines are driven by a hard economic reality: If it can't get saltwater from Penobscot Bay and discharge its wastewater to the bay, it can't afford to build the factory. No access to the bay, no facility; case closed.

It is this reality that is driving Nordic’s attempt to trample a neighbor's property rights. Nordic needs the bay to make a profit. But we, the people, need the bay to live.

Penobscot Bay is a water body “in recovery.” It and the Penobscot River still need CPR — Conservation, Protection and Restoration. Protecting the bay now can lead to dividends later that will outstrip the meager returns Nordic can offer.

Andrew Stevenson

Belfast

Barney Hose Company

As Searsport's town historian, I am always looking for fun facts concerning our area. Here is such an item concerning how our local volunteer fire department got its name. The item comes from a letter written by a woman living in Searsport in the 1940s.

"Otis Street" (now called Pike Avenue) was named for Mr. Otis Barney, a friendly man who frequently walked about the town offering cheerful greetings. Mr. Barney ran the local iron foundry that was located in Mechanics Hollow (site of the original Hamilton Marine).

The Barney Hose Company got its name when Mrs. Adams, Barney's daughter, left the local fire department the sum of $2,000 in her will with the provision that they would name the fire company after her father. And they did!

Charlene Knox Farris

Searsport

If you appreciated reading this news story and want to support local journalism, consider subscribing today.
Call (207) 594-4401 or join online at waldo.villagesoup.com/join.
Donate directly to keeping quality journalism alive at waldo.villagesoup.com/donate.
Comments (2)
Posted by: Ralph Stanley | Dec 06, 2019 12:46

Thank you Paul Bernacki for your diligent efforts in the eventual defeat of Nordic. Same to Andrew Stevenson. We've done enough to the Bay over the years. Let's move towards a different future that no longer uses the Bay as a sewer. Leo H. Mazerall in Stockton Springs and his opposition to the CMP corridor. Merry Christmas.



Posted by: Susan Guthrie | Dec 06, 2019 12:00

Andrew Stevenson is correct when he says that protecting the bay now can lead to dividends later that will outstrip the meager returns Nordic (Aquafarms) can offer.

But don't take his word for it.

"The largest potential gains for food production lie in the sustainable expansion of marine aquaculture," – says a new scientific paper for a group of 14 heads of government, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Read the full article below in an industry publication and see why researchers say growing fish on land will never make economic or environmental sense because of the required use of vast amounts of energy and fresh water, to the detriment of other food production.
By the way, wild fish and shellfish require neither food nor water. Just a clean and managed environment.
Susan Guthrie



If you wish to comment, please login.