Letters, Jan. 23

Jan 23, 2020

Thanks for support

Last Thursday (Jan. 9), the Belfast community came out in droves to a concert in support of the Laila Al-Matrouk memorial and scholarship to honor our beloved peacemaker, activist, singer, actor, athlete and friend. It was a heartwarming gathering on a cold January night.

The Oshima Brothers and The Fowlers volunteered their time and music with over 200 of us who took seats on the stage and floor once the regular seating was at capacity. Everyone gave generously and we raised enough funds to realize the memorial and also make a sizeable contribution to the Laila Al-Matrouk scholarship.

Many people contributed to the event and deserve thanks for their generosity: Linda Garson Smith helped with organizing, Liz Snyder and her family helped with food, Mary Weaver supplied cookies, Joe Potter created a photo slideshow and many others chipped in to make the evening a success.

Organizations also gave of their time and resources: Chase’s Daily restaurant, Laan Xang restaurant, Belfast Bay Shades, Hannaford supermarket, Floral Creations, and The Basil Burwell Community Theatre (The Bazz).

The memorial, which will be installed this coming spring, will be centered around a Japanese lilac tree and two granite sitting stones in Heritage Park with a handcrafted bronze plaque dedicated to Laila’s memory.

The Laila Al-Matrouk scholarship is an ongoing effort for an annual scholarship award for Belfast Area High School students. The scholarship award will be supported by an annual 5k run in Belfast. Contributions may be sent to Belfast Area High School with Laila's name in the memo line. Any monies that are given to the Laila Al-Matrouk memorial will now be forwarded to the scholarship fund.

To all who came, helped, played, contributed, enjoyed, and added love to the event, thank you so very much!

As always, our thoughts are with Laila's family.

Derek, Jen and Belle DeJoy


Credibility on the line

An open letter to the editors and the public re: Nordic's refusal to release alternatives analysis engineering plan in readable form:

Apparently the board (eighth procedural order) and the Commissioners' Office don't seem to care if evidence submitted by Nordic Aquafarms and its agents to a state agency in the pursuit of an application is compressed, scanned and presented as a snapshot format, resulting in an obscured, unreadable and non-detailed form in the record as an exhibit attached to sworn testimony.

Considering that Erik Heim has pledged an open and transparent process on behalf of his corporation (Nordic Aquafarms) and employees to the citizens of Waldo County and the affected nearby towns and villages, I have difficulty understanding why it is that you all won't release this document to me in a full-scale digital 24x36 format, so that I can review it in detail and in concert with the claims of the written and oral testimony of Ms. Ransom concerning her analysis.

Never mind the fact that there is no identification of the individuals that have produced this evidence, or the documentary evidence that it was composed from, and that just the company names of engineering agents instead of the individuals who created it, it really mystifies me that you all would persist in this refusal as we approach the public hearing next month.

The bottom line, Mr. Heim, is that this is your personal credibility that is on the line; perhaps having your agents "fix it" as per our conversation on Dec. 17, 2018, could start with you asking your agents to simply send me the requested full-scale complete digital readable version.

Paul Bernacki


The bottom line

A corrupt company in a corrupt country dealing with a corrupt vice president who was filmed making a quid pro quo with a corrupt leader of that country. President Trump wants all this corruption investigated before releasing millions of our tax dollars in foreign aid to Ukraine. Seems like the things a good president should do. Time for any Republican who supports this impeachment farce to go.

Impeach Congress.

Leo Mazerall

Stockton Springs

New and big for Belfast

I  thank the  Belfast Planning Board and the city staff who have shown us the meaning of professionalism, endurance and consideration.

I am neither a lawyer nor a scientist. I do, however, understand what codes the board will consider as it addresses this complicated aquafarm application. Much of the public commentary has had little to do with what the Planning Board will weigh, and since much has been said that had no relevance to the application, please allow me to join in.

I am a longtime political observer. The greatest landslide in American presidential history was in 1936 when Franklin Roosevelt won with a margin of 61% to 35%. Over the last two years we have had six Belfast elections either contested head-to-head or featuring salmon farm proponents running unopposed. Each election, individually, and as a group,  could not have been more decisive.

Those candidates wishing to have a fair hearing of Nordic’s application to be reviewed fairly by the proper boards, agencies and commissions have won every race with a combined total of 70% to 30%. Have no doubt about how the great majority of Belfast feels about Nordic Aquafarms. The voters of Belfast have been expressing themselves decisively at the ballot box.

The issues will be settled by the Planning Board, real scientists, real lawyers, real courts and real judges. It will take time, some have said too much time, but I have every confidence in good time the issues will be resolved.

At the end of all this, the people of Belfast will feel that all the points and positions were made and judged to have merit or not. No one will be able to claim they did not get a fair hearing. The great majority of Belfast will support the final verdicts.

Two years ago few of us knew that 90% of all seafood consumed in the USA is imported. Over 52% of all seafood consumed in the world is farmed. Aquaculture in all its forms is a huge and worldwide. Our abundant waters and wild lands with close proximity to 100 million people have moved Maine and Belfast to the center stage of aquaculture. This is only the beginning for Maine. It’s new and big for Belfast. This is all the more reason to carefully review the application and the code requirements.

Michael Hurley

City Councilor


Let’s build this fantastic investment

Nothing is more aggravating in places like Maine than a trifecta of NIMBY selfishness, parochial jealousy and cynical message manipulation that together can nearly derail the sort of innovation, investment and community enhancement represented by Nordic Aquafarms' proposed project.

Thinking back to the not-so-glorious days of Belfast’s chicken industry that petered out in the early '70s, thanks to energy costs and lawsuits brought to force long-needed constraints to wanton industrial pollution, we ought to celebrate and encourage the rigor and technological advancements in place at Nordic Aquafarms that demonstrate a commitment to clean processing and sustainable production.

Enough of the selfishness. Enough of the baseless fear-mongering. Let’s build this fantastic investment in community vitality that will benefit those that build, those that grow and most importantly, those that eat!

Brenda Garrand


'Not in my backyard' mentality

An open letter to the Belfast Planning Board:

As a Maine native and a Belfast resident, I write first to thank you for your hard work and diligence in helping to guide Belfast in deciding about the future direction of our little city.

When we were considering returning “home,” after living out of state to make a good living and provide for our children, we sat at Darby's discussing the possibility. I was strongly influenced by the care displayed by the staff toward those of lesser abilities. In many other places some of these people would have been ridiculed but in Belfast they were respected and welcomed into a local restaurant. Right then I decided Belfast would be the place in Maine, my native state, I wanted to live.

I write in strong support of the Nordic project after much reading and research about the project. It would be a safe, low-polluting way to raise a good quality protein unpolluted by the many poisons currently in our ocean. It would also provide several good-paying jobs and help relieve our tax burden.

Many of the current jobs do not pay enough to allow employees to rent even a room in Belfast. My adult daughter lives in our basement for that reason. Many of her coworkers drive rather long distances because of the low salaries and high housing costs.

Unfortunately, many of those opposed to the project seem to feel all corporations are bad and to suffer from a “not in my backyard” mentality that extends to apartment buildings and many other projects. In many cases they seem to have decided first and then looked for old and often-disproven data to argue their point.

I would like to add that most people I know personally support the project but are far less vocal than the opponents.

Karen Emeryy-Estey


Concerns not allayed

Many times at the hearings of Belfast Planning Board, the promotion of facts has been so distorted as to render them no longer factual.

The following is one example:

The volume of water in the whole of Penobscot Bay as presented by Nordic and its supporters may truly be many trillions of gallons and the discharge of effluent from the fish farm may truly be estimated to be "only" 7 million gallons daily. As stated, the volume of effluent would seem trivial in comparison to the volume of the bay. The implication is that the effluent would be quickly diluted, disbursed and harmless.

In reality, however, the effluent will not be discharged into the middle of the whole of Penobscot Bay. The discharge will be into a small shallow nook of the bay, and because the dispersion of this nitrogen-rich warm water will take at least 14 days, in reality a constant plume of over 100 million gallons will persistently lie near the surface and close to the shore of Northport.

The residents in this area fear for algae blooms, an adverse effect on native marine fauna and flora, and normal shifts of current and wind, as well as northeast storms that will at times bring this effluent to shore. They, and others who depend upon the bay, fear this wastewater will threaten economically important marine harvesting, properties and tourism. These concerns have not been allayed by other public statements and presentations of such "facts" to the Planning Board.

Sidney R. Block


Pull the plug!

Recently, U.S.-Iranian tensions that followed the assassination of Qassam Soleimani, a top general in the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps, seem to have lessened. One would think, therefore, that there is no need for the upcoming Jan. 25 National Day of Action, No War On Iran. But the effects of war are felt even without an active battlefield — through proxies such as Saudi Arabia in Yemen, life-threatening sanctions in Iran, and drone strikes like the one that killed Soleimani.

This complacency, therefore, is ill-advised. In addition, the fact that U.S. military activities around the planet consume more petroleum per day than the aggregate total of 175 other countries and generate 70% of all U.S. total greenhouse gas emissions shows that war is a major contributor to the climate crisis we are all facing.

Especially in this election year, when the temptation to start a war to stir “patriotic” support for the administration is strong, we must all stand up and say no to wars waged by the elite but fought by the working classes of this country. No to further climate chaos caused by needless carbon emissions of a bloated military. No to the unnecessary casualties and “collateral” damage of war.

The threat of a significant loss of human life both here and abroad and increased pressure on our fragile planet do not allow us the luxury of adopting a wait-and-see attitude about the possibility of war in Iran. We must raise our voices now as a preemptive act to forestall any rush to war.

Join the Peace and Justice Group of Waldo County and Veterans for Peace at the corner of High and Main streets from noon to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, to demand No Wars! No Warming! No Sanctions! Pull the Plug!

Judy Williams


No war, no warming

Now that the U.S. has once again taken a step closer to yet another war, it is an important time to acknowledge the connection between war and our planet’s climate crisis. On the surface our leaders admit militarism is a key means of acquiring and securing fossil fuel, mainly oil.

Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the open hostilities between the U.S. and Iran began back in 1953 when the U.S. overthrew Iran’s new democratically elected government for wanting to nationalize its oil.

Looking beyond surface it is widely estimated that the Pentagon has the largest carbon footprint on the planet, generating more than 70% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions as it uses more oil than that consumed by 175 countries combined. In addition, as we draw connections between militarism and our planet’s future, we need to include in the cost all of the emissions, energy use and resources spent through weapons production as well as clear planet destruction and pollution, e.g., uranium caused by the weapons of war.

This Saturday on a global day of action against more war, we will gather from noon to 12:30 p.m. to call for No War, No Warming. Please join us at the corner of High and Main streets in Belfast.

Ridgely Fuller




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