Letters, March 8, 2018

Mar 08, 2018

Forever grateful

My husband Ricky and I would like to thank the Searsport Ambulance and Police Department for so quickly responding to our home on Feb. 1 in response to our 911 call for assistance. We would also like to thank Dr. Pagonis and the Waldo County General Hospital emergency department for all their care and attention. The cardiologist in Bangor stated the quick actions taken by the first responders and the hospital where he was treated are why he is here. We will be forever grateful to all involved. Thank you, we feel very blessed.

Ricky and Jackie Howard

Searsport

Opiate prohibition is not the answer

This is in response to the editorial March 1 "In opioid fight, stigma remains a huge barrier." It is now obvious that the way the government has treated this addiction problem is not going to work. The numbers keep going up! They need to look at the root cause of it. Rather than tell our youths to say "no," we need to give them a reason why they should say "no."

The reason that restricting pain meds hasn't worked is because there are no pharmaceutical drugs reaching the street now. Instead there are only street manufactured drugs. These drugs are not standardized, and the addict who knew exactly how much to take does not know what is in the stronger street drugs — and overdoses.

Also, the new guidelines caused many doctors to prescribe less or even cut some people off. This has caused even bigger problems. Now you even have some pain patients resorting to the street in desperation to relieve their pain.

ERs are no longer providing opiate pain relief. You are now given Tylenol or NSAIDs. Many people are suffering! Some are cancelling elective surgeries, fearing that they will suffer.

Obviously, this is not the way to go! Restricting opiate pain meds is only leading to more street deaths. What is definitely needed is more treatment centers for those who want it! Instead the focus is on going after the drug dealer. But when they cut the pharmaceutical supply, the black market will step up to the plate and provide pain relief. History has proven the war on drugs can't be won by going after the black market. That is because of supply and demand. And there is real money to be made here. A better way would be to get rid of the demand for street drugs by educating and mentoring our youths, so that they don't experiment in the first place.

What really appalls me is how this has affected the pain population. There are thousands of pain patients on opiates for life. These are folks who have had severe accidents, inoperable conditions, rare diseases, etc., that cannot be cured. True, their bodies will get used to the medications and they would suffer withdrawal if they stopped. But they should never have a reason to stop, if it is needed for life.

Check this out on the internet. There are thousands of pain patients whose lives have been ruined by having their pain meds cut back or stopped only because others are abusing them. These people did not choose to be in pain. They use the medications so that they can go to work, or take care of their families.

Some have had to go back on NSAIDs and have experienced stomach bleeding. Others are going out on disability, costing the system even more money. And more than half expressed taking their life, if the pain gets bad enough. Thousands have already committed suicide because of unbearable pain levels.

Already, in some states, there are governors who want to ban opiate pain meds completely or restrict them to cancer patients only. This is cruel,as there are many pain patients whose pain is just as bad as cancer, or even worse. To restrict pain patients is not the answer — you will only send more people to the street. Also statistics show that less than 1 percent of pain patients get addicted.

I also noticed on the internet that there was a great number of grieving mothers who want to ban all opiates completely. If that were done, the black market would step up to the plate.

I tried to convey this to one woman, that when she petitions the court for this, that it will increase street deaths. Her response: I must be an addict, and she personally does not care what happens to any of us. This woman lost a son to street drugs and does not want drugs to exist. To me that just sounded like she wants vengeance for her son. She wants pain patients (who take the meds legitimately) to go without because she lost a child to  the same type of meds.

Prohibition of opiates is not going to solve the opioid problem! To get a better perspective, Google the interview: "Opioid Crisis — Dr.Stephen Ziegler Interview with George Knapp."

Also, we need to quit blaming doctors and also the medicine itself for this "opiate crisis." I understand that some people truly need help to overcome addictions, but there also needs to be some personal accountability. We can't be blaming others for someone's addictions!

Christine Gavitt

Thorndike

Why not a 'stay-in' for real change?

It has been posted all over social media, it is a known fact by most, that on the 14th of this month, there are students talking about walking out of school for the victims of the Parkland High shooting and for stricter gun regulations. There are even websites promoting these school walkout events by specific place and time.

I would like to propose, instead of this, a “stay in.” An event where the Waldo County sheriff and the Belfast chief of police come in on the 14th and talk to our students about concerns that they have with safety, and things that we can do to further secure our schools.

In my mind, walking out of school is unsafe, uncomfortable, and regressive, as it will not accomplish the things we could get done if we sat down with local law enforcement and really talked about our safety.

The event would also serve as a memorial service, with student volunteers saying some words about those lost in the Parkland shooting.

When I say that the walkout on the 14th will be dangerous, I am not alone in saying this. Waldo County Sheriff Jeff Trafton, as well as Belfast Area High School's principal, agree with me. Mary Alice McLean, the Belfast Area High School principal, even went as far as to suggest that we have a police presence at the walkout.

If an event is so dangerous that even the principal is suggesting we have a police presence, shouldn't we at the very least have an alternative available for kids who do not feel comfortable putting their safety on the line for an event that will make little to no progress in the first place?

I urge you, if you are a parent of a child who attends (school in) RSU 71, to have a serious conversation with your child about attending the walkout, and urge them instead to go to a safer, and more progressive event, inside the school itself.

And so the question is this: Will we distract ourselves from our schooling to go outside, and be unsafe, out in the open, and cold for half of a class while achieving nothing, or will we get together and talk about making real change, with the people who have the power to do it?

The choice lies with the parents, the teachers, but most of all, the students.

Dylan Mitchell

Belfast Area High School senior

Chairman of Young Republicans Club

If it sounds too good to be true ...

Mayor, City Councilors, Mike, Mary, Eric, Neil, Jon, City Staff, Joe, Wayne, Tom:

You know me, Karin Spitfire, past poet laureate, and curator of the Sardine Extravaganza, celebrating our relationship to Herring and calling for their protection, and I have lived in Belfast since 1987.

Thank you for providing the infomercial with Nordic land-based salmon farms and for tight control of the mic, which prevented any real dialogue.

First I want to outline while I am really against this land-based salmon farming, reasons I really don’t think you have or will consider, then I will ask you to answer, or get answers to questions that are left hanging and then give you some suggestions. If I run out of my allotted time I will come back and finish next meeting.

First, I am against this Land based salmon farm for 3 basic reasons

1) Salmon should be free/wild.

2) The paradigm that allows us to consider a land-based salmon farm not only plausible but good, an economic boon, is the same one that created the fact that we do not have a sustainable fishery of wild Atlantic salmon, cod, etc .,now, and that is a paradigm of greed, shortsightedness, and need for expedient energy. Dams were built and even though the original law and treaties with the first nations required fish ladders in every dam, this was neither done nor enforced. The shortsightedness was a complete lack of consideration and responsibility for future generations coupled with greed that stated “this abundant resource that is so over-flowingly available, we can’t even imagine it not being so.”

3) This land-based farm utilizes the most important natural resource for the continuation of life on the planet besides clean air, and that is water. Water is now the most sought-after resources in the world, just ask Nestle and Flint, and Cape Town. The Water District states that is there is plenty of water, and I believe that is true at this moment. However, Nestle is currently upstream draining the aquifer around Lincoln. I don’t think your shin muscles would do very well if I drained off blood from your aorta. The earth is a closed system, the Maine aquifer, is a closed system. We have no idea how long the impact of Nestle will take to impact our water here. To allow a profit-making industry access to this resource at levels Nordic Farms requires for its sustainability is to be shortsighted, and again expedient ... it is not to consider the needs of the future generations of people, critters and much more sustainable food sources.

So some questions based on “if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is”:

1. Has the Water District considered what is going on in the overall aquifer in its calculations?

2. Did anyone in the city vet the science that Nordic Farms is touting. Did you vet the science from independent sources, outside of the industry? They have a pilot project, that is not up and running, and has not proved their claims. The science is new and complicated; have you investigated any of it, or just taken their word? There is data that finds land-based salmon not any better than off shore pens.

3. Did the city vet this company’s finances, outside of their own prospectus? Etc. Remember the city made a deal to build the drawbridge to the tune of something like a million extra dollars, and that condo company who insisted on it as part of the deal disappeared.

4. What are the actual amounts of the tonnage the 10 percent of un-removed nutrients that will be dumped into the bay? (No, Mike Hurley, your statement that the overflow from the sewage plant goes beyond this every time that happens…does not make me feel better, what are you doing about that?) What is that other 5 percent of sludge in tonnage? Have you investigated other similar facilities' capacity to maintain this ratio?

5. What is the actual amount of traffic, when it is fully up and running? As for noise when it is zoned commercial, they can make noise, despite claims that it will be enclosed.

6. What is included in the contract with them that holds them to their word, once it is built?

7. Will you amend the contract to include the decommissioning of the “farm” if they fail, go bankrupt, or they run out of water, or some new tech is better somewhere else? This is a “green” principle, to clean up after you.

8. I know many other people have questions such as these, but if I am right, the answers to them are not on the table, since you all already made the contract. So, If I am correct, the way to stop this is to oppose the zoning change, which I do. (And for the record I have been against contract-based zoning since Wayne came to town, due the fact that any zoning can be changed if the right amount of $ comes to town….)

Karin Spitfire

Belfast

A passionate activist

March is Women’s History Month and March 8 is International Women’s Day. As a woman, feminist, educator, activist and mother, I feel it is important in our community of Belfast to honor and celebrate the social, economic and political achievements of women — throughout history and globally. And to look to our future — a future that emphasizes increased political participation and leadership of women.

I am writing to express my support for one such woman leader, who is running for Maine House District 97 in 2018: Caitlin Hills.

Caitlin has been my friend for many years. I have great respect and admiration for her as a fellow single parent, working professional, dedicated public servant and passionate activist.

As mother to Cole, her 11-year old son, Caitlin has placed a precedent on raising him to respect women and girls, have compassion for others, care for animals and the environment. Conscious and compassionate parenting is one important way Caitlin is paving the way for a more caring and aware society. She, like many other single parents, models behavior for her child and teaches by example the energy and dedication needed to be change-maker.

Caitlin gives so much back to the community she has come to call home. She has served on the local school board for over six years and she is now school board chair. She volunteers for countless organizations and causes, including the Special Olympics, Our Town Belfast, Waldo County Democrats and the Drinkwater School in Northport. She is an activist that consistently shows up at rallies, demonstrations and protests, concerning numerous issues, including addressing gun violence, as well as standing up for gender, racial and sexual equality.

In her professional career, she has worked to protect public lands from extractive industries, to prosecute abusers of animals, and to advocate for women’s rights. She is a strong supporter of a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her body.

While working for U.S. Sen. Bob Graham in Washington, D.C., she advised him on energy and natural resource issues, Native American issues, and created a Women’s Rights issue portfolio to his list of legislative issue priorities. Caitlin is also a strong supporter and advocate for LGBTQ rights and issues impacting communities of color.

Finally, Caitlin is a wonderful friend who has always been there to support me in my own journey as a single parent and working professional. I know she brings that level of care and support to all that she does — and believe she will be just the kind of committed and compassionate representative we need in our government to help lead us through these difficult times. This is why when Caitlin asked me to join her campaign team, my resounding answer was “Yes.” I believe in Caitlin.

I encourage you to visit Caitlin’s campaign page: https://www.facebook.com/hillsforhouse/ and to vote “Hills for House” on June 12.

Nicolle Littrell

Belfast

Sea-run species benefit economy for all

Residents of the Sheepscot River watershed are no strangers to the idea of passage for sea-run species through the Sheepscot River to their historic habitats. Most are aware of the time and effort many town residents have put into finding economically and environmentally sensible solutions to issues at the Head Tide, Coopers Mills and Branch Pond dams.

Passage of sea-run species is once again in the news with the effort to open the existing fish ladder at the outlet of Sheepscot Pond in Palermo. Comprising nearly 40 percent of the historic alewife habitat in the Sheepscot River above Head Tide, Sheepscot Pond represents incredible potential for the people of the entire watershed.

Restoring access to habitat for sea-run species is not simply a benefit to the proper ecological functions of a connected watershed; it is an economic benefit for the entire region. Young alewives hatching and growing in a lake or pond provide excellent food for freshwater game fish. Rather than harm a freshwater fishery, passage of sea-run species often improves it.

Readers may have seen a Feb. 21 article in the Bangor Daily News where a man caught a 25.5-pound lake trout (togue) from Tunk Lake near Cherryfield. Tunk Lake has been open to sea-run species for years and supports a healthy alewife population. Nearby, Lake Alamoosook in Orland is the location of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife hatchery and is also open to sea-run species.

Locally, we only have to look over to Webber Pond in Vassalboro or Damariscotta Lake to see the wide array of benefits that sea-run species bring to a watershed. Damariscotta Mills obviously attracts significant attention during the spring alewife run and has become a destination for people from around the state and the region.

This eco-based tourism benefits the entire region, and productive populations of alewives, no matter where, literally bring real dollars into Maine’s economy by attracting visitors and property investors. Improving the production of these species in the Sheepscot River can only serve to help our environments and economies in the town, the region, and the state of Maine.

Garrison Beck

Director of Water Conservation

Midcoast Conservancy

Edgecomb


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