Letters, May 18, 2017

May 18, 2017

Hurley correct

(Editor's note: The following letter refers to a page 1 story published May 11, 2017, in The Republican Journal.)

I read the article (about) Mike Hurley…my sentiments also.

I have sent emails to the Maine DOT expressing my congrats to them on keeping the Maine Turnpike cleaned of trash, and most major highways. I see Maine, New Hampshire roadways are clean when I travel the highways but come to Massachusetts and Route 495, I could build a car with the trash along that stretch of highway …. Massachusetts should be ashamed of this public mess along their roadways …. (Note: They have the correctional people do trash pick-up but ... I have seen them leave 40 percent of it behind.)

I do not want to see this happen here in Maine.

My own Route 220 gives me pause as I police the stretch of roadway near my house and the 2,000-foot stretch along both sides and found 66 bottles and cans and a 30-gallon trash barrel that I filled with trash. It really is heartbreaking to see Mainers treat their state likes this. Nobody likes trashy places when they go out to a public place and it makes me wonder what these folks do with their trash at home. Do they throw it on their floors at home? I think not…Why then toss it out on our beautiful state of Maine highways and byways?

Take pride in your state and cities and towns. Yes, the state could have workers pick all this up, but at what costs?

Keep Maine beautiful!

John Boulay


Criticism long overdue

Heartfelt gratitude to A. Bywater for a long overdue criticism of Donald Violette's religious screeds. Allow me to take the issue in a tangential direction.

The Republican Journal has published over the years quite of few of Mr. Violette's letters pretty much on the same topic, his less than inclusive opinions regarding religion and the role it ought to be playing in our society, in short, a fundamentalist Christian theocracy. Were a militant atheist to carry on with Mr. Violette's intensity for as long a stretch of time would the Journal have been publishing these letters, or would the editor find them too provocative?

Mike Silverton


For Pete's sake

In regard to Mr. Hurley's comments on trash:

I was glad to see your letter in The Republican Journal on May 11. I too feel the same and agree 100 percent. I love the state of Maine. Why do so many people want to throw their trash out the window and make such a mess? For Pete's sake, carry a bag in your car, take it home and put it in your garbage. And cans are worth 5 cents. Doesn't that matter? Is it such a hard job?

For years, I'd walk every day and pick up along the roadside. I'm older now and don't get out so much. It really bothers me. Come on, people, what's wrong? Have some pride and keep this beautiful state of Maine of ours clean and pretty. Trash certainly does not belong on our roadsides!

Carolyn Wingate


Filters a problem too

Last week, The Republican Journal had a front page article about the collection of trash along High Street by City Council member Mike Hurley ("Council talks trash about trashmakers"). The article reinforced my observation that the Belfast City Council is passionate about Belfast and does not just talk about issues, but acts in whatever way it can.

The article also reminded me of another litter challenge that I recently became aware of. Cigarette filters that are so numerous in the sidewalks and roadways are more than mere litter. The toxic materials in filters accumulate and poison the food chain (often being ingested by fish, wildlife, pets and even small children). Cigarette waste which easily meets standardized tests for cities and state agencies to label them as toxic waste causes damage to commercial fisheries and water supplies.

An additional eye-opener is research shows that filters offer no health protection to the smoker — they simply give the appearance that a filtered cigarette is safer!

What can be done? Cities throughout the U.S. have addressed the problem and there are several recommendations.

A good summary of the research can be found in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, May 2009 issue.

Kay Zegel


RSU 71 budget dates

It is again school budget season and two important dates are coming up to support the schools of our district:

The RSU 71 budget validation meeting will be held Monday, May 22, at 6:30 p.m., at the Troy Howard Middle School Gymnasium.

The RSU 71 budget referendum vote will be held Tuesday, June 13, at your local polling places.

The RSU 71 proposed budget for 2017-18 is $27,209,790.48. This represents an average assessment increase of 2.517 percent. For more budget information, see rsu71.org/home/board-of-directors/budget-information.

Careful management and strong fiscal discipline has led to RSU 71 having an approximate $2 million balance to be carried forward to the next budget year. The School Board has voted to use $1.5 million of those carry-forward funds to help reduce the tax impact of the 2017-18 budget. The remaining $500,000 will be placed in a designated fund to be used only for capital construction and maintenance projects, easing the burden on taxpayers in the future.

This 2017-2018 proposed budget allows continued progress on key priorities for the RSU 71 school district. Work continues on the Belfast Area High School renovation projects with pool and kitchen renovations and energy conservation improvements scheduled for this summer. The rest of the BAHS renovations will be implemented over the next two years. The budget includes the second phase of a unique lease program to continue badly needed technology advances especially at the high school to ensure all students have adequate access to technology.

In addition to the facility improvements, we have been hard at work on a system-wide academic programming review. This review has led to a more student-focused curriculum that focuses on how best to prepare students for life, careers and/or post-secondary educational experiences. The BAHS Academic Audit has been completed (for results, see rsu71.org/home/announcements/bahsacademicauditreport). And, the pilot of a new teacher and principal evaluation and professional growth system is underway; with adjustments, it is on schedule to be fully implemented during the next school year.

RSU 71 staff, teachers, administrators and Board of Directors continue to work hard for the students and citizens of our district. Together we have accomplished much in the two years since withdrawal, and with your help we will continue to improve our schools for all of our students.

On June 13 I urge you to vote "yes" on this fiscally responsible and educationally minded budget.

David Crabiel

RSU 71 Board Chairman


Support Alzheimer's research

This past week I had the pleasure of meeting Corenna L. O’Brien, the district director of Congressman Bruce Poliquin’s office, to discuss the cost and impact of Alzheimer’s and related dementia.

The human and financial toll of Alzheimer's is great, and affects not only the lives of the individuals, but the people around them. For me, I had to stop teaching two years ago at 56 (before retirement age) to care for my wife full-time who was officially diagnosed with younger onset Alzheimer’s five years ago, after being brushed off and told she “was too young to have Alzheimer’s” by her primary care provider the previous year.

Alzheimer's is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, and the only cause of death without a way to prevent, cure or even slow its progression. Alzheimer's-related costs soared to $259 billion in 2017, $175 billion of which come in direct costs to Medicare and Medicaid. Our health insurance company, in response to the soaring cost this year, adjusted the price of one of my wife’s medications for a 90-day supply of generic Donepezil HCL 10mg from $30 to $303.93

Alzheimer’s research is now pointing in the direction that treatment needs to start long before symptoms begin, possibly 10 or 20 years. (Think about pre-existing conditions not being covered by insurance if you have a gap in coverage.) It was only through research and funding that has allowed new and more effective treatments for diseases like heart disease, cancer and  HIV/AIDS. The average long-term cost of treating someone with Alzheimer’s is much greater!

The cost alone of treating and caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is on track to bankrupting Medicare/Medicaid, not to mention private third-party insurance companies. More information can be found at http://alz.org/facts/#state.

That is why I am urging Sens. King and Collins, and Reps. Poliquin and Pingree to support a $414 million increase for federal Alzheimer's research funding for FY2018. It may be too late for people like my wife. However, it is an opportunity for Maine’s congressional delegation to demonstrate a bipartisan effort to support the next generation and possibly help save our healthcare system in whatever form it evolves into.

Thomas J. Frisk Sr.


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