Letters, Sept. 14, 2017

Sep 14, 2017

Game Loft thanks

The Game Loft, Belfast’s downtown youth program, would like to thank the Belfast Co-op and the Co-op’s customers for making the August Round-up program such a success.

For the past 20 years the Game Loft has served young people in Waldo County with food, programs, mentoring, and raising aspirations. Thanks to your generosity, the Game Loft was able to raise more than $5,000 to make sure that Waldo County youth can experience food, friends, and safety.

This year we will serve more than 250 young people in our Belfast center and at Mount View Middle School. Youth at the Game Loft play non-electronic games and participate in the community. Alex Knight, a Game Loft alum and doctoral student in astro-physics, said recently, “I know I would not be where I am today or have the hope of where I am going if it were not for the Game Loft.”

The Game Loft is grateful to this community and to the Belfast Co-op for all their support.

Patricia Estabrook

Founding Co-Director

Belfast

Ever-increasing taxes

My wife and I purchased what we thought would be our final home a few years ago in Morrill. We have found Morrill to be a great town with friendly and very helpful neighbors. The Town Office is always helpful with information as needed. It is with deep regret that we find ourselves in a position of having to sell our beautiful home due to the ever-increasing taxes primarily caused by an RSU 71 Board of Directors that simply has been unable to find the courage to implement any decreases in their budget and can't seem to find a tax increase they don't like.

When we moved into our current home our taxes were in the area of $3,000 and last year they went up to about $4,000 and this year they are over $5,100. One wonders how those on fixed incomes can afford such drastic increases year after year. We are currently looking for an area where the school board has a more realistic view of education and is not afraid to hold the line on spending.

I will also be working with our state legislators to change the way in which citizens over 65 are taxed so that they would be exempt from paying any property taxes related to the funding of schools. We certainly do not mind paying those taxes which keep our communities safe and roads in good repair, but to be putting 70 percent or so of our taxes toward a failing education system simply is outrageous.

Perhaps it is time to consider paying for our public government-run schools by increasing the sales tax in the state so that everyone, homeowners who have children and those who rent, would all bear the cost of educating their children. Each school district would receive an amount equal to the number of students in that district and then all property taxes could be reduced by about 70 percent.

Imagine what that might mean for homeowners who are already way overburdened with their property taxes. Local school districts would be forbidden to raise money locally from property taxes. If they needed more than the state provided, then they could do what the rest of us do and have fundraisers to make up the difference.

If you agree with any of these suggestions, contact your state representative and let them know. The union bosses (National Education Association) that currently hold our school boards hostage might put up a fight but if enough of us stand against them we can and must change the way business is currently being done.

Peter Sheff

Morrill

Yes on unification

To the Citizens of Waldo County,

Having read the Aug. 30 article on VillageSoup entitled "Community Skeptical of Hospital Unification," I feel the need to write this letter in order to note the main reasons why in 2008 the board of directors and incorporators overwhelmingly voted to join MaineHealth. Those reasons included the following and these trends continue to impact the delivery of health care today:

(1) Reimbursements to hospitals nationwide continued to be reduced by both our federal and state governments as well as insurance companies. Today, this trend has accelerated to unsustainable levels. It is widely known the fee-for-service payment system that hospitals have been reimbursed through for many decades is unaffordable for everyone. This is why the Affordable Care Act was implemented by the Obama Administration and Congress several years ago. Today, over 50 percent of the hospitals in Maine and in the nation annually operate in the red.

(2) Technology and biology are galloping ahead of the health care industry and most hospitals, especially those in rural areas, will not be able to keep up with these changes.

(3) Bad debt and charity care continue to increase on an annual basis. Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County General Hospital alone write off $12 million annually.

(4) Finally, working together with MaineHealth has saved millions of dollars in insurance costs, supplies and equipment purchases for our hospital these past nine years and will continue to do so well into the future.

We all need to continually look ahead and understand the changes that will take place in the health care industry. I took on the job of CEO of Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County General Hospital for almost three years knowing that if our local hospitals didn't work together, one of those facilities would have closed in the near future. Financially, this would have been devastating to our coastal area as well as negatively impacting health care delivery to those who live here.

For the past nine years I have found MaineHealth to be the best partner Waldo County General Hospital could have. I do not fear any loss of local control knowing the benefits of working together and combining our resources will have on continuing of the great health care we have experienced over the past 40 years.

I truly urge our Coastal Healthcare Alliance board of trustees to approve unification as soon as possible.

Mark Biscone

Former CEO

Coastal Healthcare Alliance

Since Hitler

Since when is nationalism a bad thing? Check out the Nuremburg rallies, Hitler and the German people. Nationalism can easily revert to blind passion manipulated by opportunistic leaders. I prefer the reasoning of a Jefferson, who instead of waving the flag of England, challenged the status quo with clear level thinking.

Michael Beaudry

Montville

Thanks

To all Stockton Springs residents,

​I want to first congratulate Tom Fraser in winning the open seat for selectman in Stockton Springs that was held Aug. 29. I know Tom will do a great job this coming year.

I also want to thank everyone that came out to vote, no matter who you voted for. It was a close race and it was great to meet so many of you that day.

Suesan M. Packer

Stockton Springs

What's at stake

Back in 2014 and 2015 I worked hard to collect to signatures from my fellow citizens in Belfast to place the issue of ranked choice voting on the ballot in November 2016. The benefits of ranked choice voting — majority rule, more choice, positive conduct between candidates during election season was not a partisan issue. I worked with and got signatures from both Democrats and Republicans. It's really a fix that brings people together.

The issue was put on the ballot and passed with the second largest "yes" vote on a referendum in Maine's history.

That's why it shocks me when I hear that lawmakers in Augusta want another shot at fully repealing the law altogether. I hope people who voted for this will contact their representative and tell them what ranked choice voting means to them.

We need as many voices as possible. Our chance to use ranked choice voting during the 2018 election cycle is what's at stake.

Martha Conway-Cole

Belfast

Common bond

Tailgates. Pep rallies. Friday night lights. The new school year is here! And that’s exciting news for student-athletes and high school sports fans alike.

Research shows that being a student-athlete is about a lot more than fun and games. It teaches important life lessons, too. In fact, high school athletes not only have higher grade point averages and fewer school absences than non-athletes; they also develop the kind of work habits and self-discipline skills that help them become more responsible and productive community members.

Attending high school sporting events teaches important life lessons, too.

Among them, it teaches that we can live in different communities, come from different backgrounds, faiths and cultures, cheer for different teams, and still have a common bond.

That’s why attending the activities hosted by your high school this fall is so important. It’s not only an opportunity to cheer for your hometown team; it is also an opportunity to celebrate our commonality. And that’s something our country needs right now.

The bond we share is mutually supporting the teenagers in our respective communities. We applaud their persistence, tenacity, preparation and hard work, regardless of the color of the uniform they wear. We acknowledge that education-based, high school sports are enhancing their lives, and ours, in ways that few other activities could. And we agree that, regardless of what side of the field we sit on, attending a high school sporting event is an uplifting, enriching, family-friendly experience for all of us.

Many of the high schools in our state lie at the heart of the communities they serve. They not only are educating our next generation of leaders, they also are a place where we congregate, where people from every corner of town and all walks of life come together as one. And at no time is this unity more evident than during a high school athletic event.

This is the beginning of a new school year. Opportunities abound in the classroom and outside it. Let’s make the most of them by attending as many athletic events at the high school in our community as possible.

Turn on the lights, and let the games begin!

Bob Gardner

Executive Director

National Federation of State High School Associations

Dick Durost

Executive Director

Maine Principals’ Association

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