COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: Where are all the employees? – “No one wants to work”

Gary Kennedyby Gary Kennedy

If you drive around the state of Maine you will notice everywhere, “Now Hiring.” Even on the back door of most tractor trailers you see the words, “Drivers Wanted.” Yet there are those who state there is no work to be found. Well, it is true most of these offers are for non professional, low paying jobs. However, that has changed somewhat because of the laws of supply and demand. Many of the jobs that didn’t pay much yesterday are very attractive today. Companies need employees so direly they are opting to offer a very nice wage compared to yesterday’s standards. Teachers should be researching this area for the future of their students.

This article and research was prompted by my recent visit to Sears at Cook’s Corner, in Brunswick. I brought my vehicle there for a tire check and rotation. I noticed there was only one person working in the garage. I spoke with the manager, Jeff Perkins, and asked him what was going on with his labor force. He replied, “No one wants to work and those who do want more than we can pay. They know that they can work out of their garage and make more money and at the same time, be their own boss.” There is some freedom in that persuasion; you can work your own hours and at your own speed, and at the same time you get to keep all the money and pay no taxes. There are a couple of things wrong here; one, you aren’t paying your share of taxes and, two, you are interfering with the balance of things.

Maine has a depleted work force as it is. My two sons are Master Masons, living in Florida, as they can live in a nice weather situation and they can make far more money there than they can here. My daughter was head chef at a restaurant in the resort area of the mountains of Idaho. Now she owns a gourmet restaurant with her husband. My boys and daughter have employees and pay taxes somewhere else. I miss them, but I understand why they left Maine. In my opinion, in Maine we should have learned some good lessons by now with the advent of a forest rich state with paper and lumber mills closing. Also, look at textiles, we had so many factories producing leather products, cloth and clothing as well as shoes, etc.; where have they gone?

They are only memories now with Maine becoming a medical service state with computer overtones. Everyone seems to want to be a geek and not a mechanic, carpenter, electrician, plumber or machinist. What’s happening and how do we change it? I interviewed Rick Larrabee, a part owner in Mid Coast Calibration Company, which is a machine shop. He stated he travels all over the country and everyone is in dire need of machinists, and they pay a professional wage, with benefits.

One of the lowest paying jobs is companies such as Dunkin’ Donuts at $10 per hour to start. There are some construction flaggers being paid $12 to $15 per hour. The benefits aren’t there but the wage is and growing because of the lack and quality of applicants. We must teach that benefits and the future are very important to those of the future work force.

Retail stores are starting at $10 to $11 per hour. These wages are much higher than a couple of years ago. Good for a second job but no benefits. We also need to think about our time with family.

I had the pleasure of meeting a very innovative administrator at Capital Technical School, Jim Holland. He graciously agreed to speak with me. Although they are having great success with their students it remains to have limited enrollment in proportion to state needs. There are 26 tech schools in this area. But in my opinion the numbers are far too small for our needs. Classes are only 10 to 15 students at a time. Enrollment is down slightly from the norm to 388 students. Everything is based on populations; which is another area for review. Maine has tittered around a population of a million and a half people for decades now. We are losing our children/grandchildren to another state that pays more; we need to learn to be more competitive.

We also need to vote and know who we are voting for, and what they really stand for. That can only be done by searching their history. We have so many kids running for office when we need to be looking for maturity and experience as well as their previous track record.

Well, I’ll leave that part of it up to my readers and the parents who influence the children’s direction. Just remember there is a very large market out there in the trades and we need that badly. Those kinds of jobs now pay more than many jobs we consider professional and offer benefits. It takes a pretty smart person to plumb a house or wire one. Think about it!

Now is really the time to think about your vote. When I think of Harvard, for example, I think of billionaire Bill Gates who dropped out to become the founder of Microsoft; also Steve Jobs, loved by millions, known for Xerox applications and the IPods, phone industry, a billionaire, who also dropped out of Reed College his first year.

You can be who and what you want without the Ivy League touch. That charisma is dying. I never regretted my educational path and I wasn’t rich, so no Harvard, just the university system and military schools. This election year, please vote and choose wisely. You can find the answers in your computers or at your local library. Be part of it all; your children’s futures and our state of Maine are at stake. God bless.

Community Commentary is a forum The Town Line makes available for citizens to express their opinions on subjects of interest to our readers. The Town Line welcomes, and encourages, supportive comments, differing opinions, counterpoints or opposing views. Keep the rebuttals positive, and informative. Submissions containing personal attacks will be rejected.

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: Kennedy’s observations spot-on correct

by Glenn McDonald
Combat disabled Vietnam vet

I wish to commend The Town Line newspaper for performing a public service in publishing the excellent Community Commentary by my “brother veteran” Gary Kennedy in the October 11, 2018 edition.

He is a highly-respected veterans’ advocate and I can confirm that everything Gary said about Ryan Lilly and the new (hopefully temporary) director at VA Togus is spot-on correct and the absolute truth.

There are more than a few of us – I am a 100 percent combat disabled Vietnam vet – who have legitimate long-standing complaints about the very well-paid V.A. Togus “leadership.” But because of the way the “system” works there, some of us have felt helpless and hopeless that we can successfully expose what has been going on. No longer. United we stand, divided we fall.

Like Mr. Kennedy, I wish to hear from any veterans out there that have had less than satisfactory treatment from Lilly and his fellow bureaucrats at the top of the V.A. health care system. After the election, and come the first of next year, I will be in a much stronger position to make a positive contribution to preserving veterans’ rights.

I served in the military over a span of 33 years (1966 – 1969 in Vietnam) at first, as a very young NCO, Army combat correspondent, and later, company-grade and field-grade officer in the Regular Army, Army National Guard and finally, Army Reserve. I’m a life member of the DAV, American Legion and VFW. Please e-mail me at: mcc.majormac@gmail.com. Thank you.

Community Commentary is a forum The Town Line makes available for citizens to express their opinions on subjects of interest to our readers. The Town Line welcomes, and encourages, supportive comments, differing opinions, counterpoints or opposing views. Keep the rebuttals positive, and informative. Submissions containing personal attacks will be rejected.

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: If you have VA questions, I will find the answers

Veterans Day parade in Waterville 2016

by Gary Kennedy
Veterans’ Advocate

I have been a contributor of The Town Line news for a number of years now. I am a 100 percent service connect American veteran and have been aiding veterans in the development of difficult cases by all service organizations standards. I have seen VA refusals many times because of cases that couldn’t/ wouldn’t be developed, too time consuming or very difficult to prove. Most things can be proven if not frivolous. Your records were lost in a fire was the popular excuse. Some were in fact destroyed by fire but many were preserved and protected. Anyway, I am writing this to give my opinion based mostly on hearsay. However, when there is a lot of hum there is usually a hive. Lately the Veterans Administration has undergone a lot of trauma. I would like to share a little of that in hopes for feedback.

Veterans’ need media to vent their feeling and concerns. I can assure you this veteran will search for the answers for you. Whether you agree or not you will receive an answer. For those of you who aren’t aware, the Togus Pharmacy will be partially down from October 22, 2018, for approximately nine days because of a flood. Also another of my pet peeves is the fact that orthopedics is hurting for doctors and they have nowhere enough service rooms for the vets in need. The executive director Ryan Lilly could have prioritized the expansion of the medical side but elected to do almost nothing. Now there is a new director who has started off on the wrong foot; so I don’t see longevity there.

However, the VA, in its infinite wisdom, elected to promote Mr. Lilly to the head of the region and demote Kurt Johnson, the assistant director, to a paper pusher. He use to be the head of pharmacy but his friendship with Mr. Lilly somehow got him promoted to assistant director. It is fairly well known they are/were close friends.

There is a federal case involving prejudice involving Mr. Lilly and Mr. Johnson. The power-that-be overlooked the situation or have no knowledge of it; which means they didn’t do their homework. It was sad for me to see Senator Susan Collins and Rep. Chellie Pingree joining forces at the new homeless housing complex developed on federal land. I am a veteran and support veterans with unfortunate circumstances but I don’t believe housing should be built on the 500 acres at Togus. It should be done but, in my opinion, is in the wrong place. That is a medical facility which could develop into the greatest in our country. I have said that many times. Lilly made the statement and believes that he had more land there but wasn’t sure what he would do with it. Some of that land is wetland and the habitat for various many wildlife and fish.

Last but not least, the director that replaces the promoted Lilly has just closed down the Veterans Record Retrieval window placing a state of mayhem there with a considerable workload shift on those employees. New people to the records who do other things will try to pick up the slack. The more they squeeze to make themselves look good to Washington, the more they eat on veteran services. They spend their money on bad who knows what; but it isn’t something you can see. They are building a small new building directly across from emergency to further congest and demean the beauty of the Togus facility. With 500 acres you can do better than that.

Many of us are getting “farmed out” now because they don’t have time for us or they don’t have the proper room, tools, ability and doctors. Thanking a vet is not enough. You need to learn respect, responsibility and remember why you don’t speak Korean, Japanese, German or Russian. We are the land of the free, home of the brave and no matter how bad we hurt we were there for you. The oversight of VA and how it evolves for the vet is the first priority. There is much more but this is enough for now. You can call me at 458-2832 and I will try to assist in anyway I can. We can keep our affairs alive through media.

Community Commentary is a forum The Town Line makes available for citizens to express their opinions on subjects of interest to our readers. The Town Line welcomes, and encourages, differing opinions, counterpoints or opposing views. Keep the rebuttals positive and informative. Submissions containing personal attacks will be rejected.

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: Sheepscot Lake annual water quality update

teens sailing on Sheepscot Lake

David Tyndall, of Kittery, photographed these teens sailing on Sheepscot Lake, in Palermo.

by Carolyn Viens
Sheepscot Lake Association

Water quality testing on Sheepscot Lake has been done since 1977, initially by the Maine State DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) and for the past eight years by the Sheepscot Lake Association (SLA). Again this year, as with previous years, the testing has demonstrated the outstanding health of the lake we all enjoy throughout the year.

Approximately every two weeks from June through September the SLA tests for water clarity, dissolved oxygen from the surface down to the deepest part of the lake, and for phosphorous. The testing is done by a Lake Steward of Maine Certified Lake Monitor from the SLA Board of Directors. The water clarity is tested using a Secchi disk and scope. The Secchi disk is a plain black and white circular disk 30 cm (12 inches) in diameter used to measure water transpar­ency or turbidity in bodies of water. The disc is mounted on a tape measure, and lowered slowly down in the water. The depth at which the disk is no longer visible is taken as a measure of the transparency of the water. This measure is known as the Secchi depth, and is considered the standard methodology for measuring water clarity.

The SLA Monitor also tests for dissolved oxygen using a YSI Pro 20 dissolved oxygen meter, and collects standardized samples for phosphorus which are analyzed in state labs to determine the amount present. The measure of total phosphorus in Sheepscot averages 7 ppb (parts per billion). The state average for tested lakes is 12 ppb. This is good news as phosphorus is a nutrient that feeds algae and other aquatic plants, all of which can become a nuisance; even to the point of requiring physical cutting and removal to allow recreational and sport activities. Fortunately, this has not been a problem in Sheepscot Lake. When this natural element lands in the water algae thrives on it. Phosphorus comes from soil that is washed into the lake from rain and snow melt as well as from fertilizer and leaking septic systems. Human development along lake shores results in five to 10 times more phosphorous than from undeveloped land. There is also a threat of additional phosphorous from fish die-offs, such as when alewives, should they be in a lake, spawn and, during low water years, cannot leave the lake at the end of their cycle.

Meanwhile, the LakeSmart program is available to any lakefront homeowner who is interested in learning how their property impacts the lake. The program provides education on how to minimize runoff from lakefront properties as well as recommendations and certification for lakefront properties. If you are interested in having your property evaluated at no cost or obligation, please email the lake association at sheepscotlakeassoc@gmail.com. Some general guidelines for minimizing impact to the lake is to leave trees in place as they slow down rain water, create a shorefront buffer of natural leaves, pine needles, ground cover and native shrubs. Mow grass to a three-inch height minimum and leave the clippings on the ground. Or, better yet, eliminate grass and encourage native vegetation to hold the soil back from entering the lake. Make paths meander so water won’t rush straight down into the lake. Maintain camp roads to slow down erosion.

In addition to the lake quality testing regularly performed and the LakeSmart program, SLA also manages an invasive plant patrol. This courtesy boat inspection (CBI) program is funded mostly by grants from the town of Palermo, Maine DEP and SLA member dues. The CBI program regularly inspects boats entering and exiting Sheepscot via the boat launch. The goals are to identify any invasive species plant parts hitchhiking into the lake by accident prior to a boat being launched and to emphasize boat self-inspection. Fortunately, Sheepscot Lake does not have any known invasive plants at this time. Lakes with this problem often spend thousands of dollars each year to control their infestation. The Sheepscot Lake Association can help you understand the threats and the solutions. You do not need to be an association member to receive these benefits.

Sheepscot Lake continues to be a wonderful resource for all Palermo residents and visitors to enjoy. With the continued attention on the health of the lake by us all, we will help it thrive for many, many years to come. To learn more about how you can help protect Sheepscot, please contact the lake association at sheepscotlakeassoc@gmail.com.

Enjoy the remainder of the summer!

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: No evidence that anadromous fish restoration would have negative impact on Sheepscot Lake

by John Glowa, South China resident

In a recent submittal by the Sheepscot Lake Association (SLA), regarding restoring anadromous fish passage into and from the lake in the July 19, The Town Line, Carolyn Viens of the SLA stated, “…the residents of Palermo won a major battle in the opposition to LD 922, the legislative bill mandating the opening of the Sheepscot Dam to alewives and other migrating fishes which would have had a negative impact on the health of the lake.”

Ms. Viens provided no evidence of her claim that anadromous fish restoration “would have had a negative impact on the health of the lake.” Ms. Viens also failed to note that L.D. 922 would have also (1) required the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to cooperate with the Department of Marine Resources (the two agencies have had and continue to have a decades long turf war over anadromous fish restoration vs. maintaining artificial freshwater sport fish populations), and (2) require the Department of Marine Resources to develop a management plan for Sheepscot Pond for anadromous fish species and habitat. Opposition, including from shorefront property owners around Sheepscot Pond resulted in the bill being withdrawn.

I have fished Sheepscot River below the outlet dam and have never seen the fishway functioning. In my opinion, it serves no purpose and needs to be replaced. The bill in question would have required that the existing fishway be kept open and operational from April 15-June 30. Unfortunately, It did not address the functionality/suitability of the fishway or downstream fish passage for adult and juvenile alewives from Sheepscot Pond.

I believe that local opposition to anadromous fish restoration in Sheepscot Pond has more to with perceived negative impacts on property values than it has to do with “the health of the lake”. Concerns about water quality impacts are, in my opinion, a red herring. One lakefront property owner I spoke with who lives in Oakland, was mainly concerned about potential negative impacts to the value of her property and lampreys wrapping themselves around her daughter’s ankles. When I asked her to provide any credible scientific evidence of negative impacts to Sheepscot Pond, she did not.

Ms. Viens noted that a representative of the Highland Lake Association will be coming to talk to the SLA “…regarding their experience with alewives and the impact on their deteriorating water quality….” This statement makes the assumption that alewives have, in fact, caused water quality in Highland Lake to deteriorate. There is NO scientific evidence to support this assumption. Highland Lake has suffered from human caused excessive nutrient loading and deteriorating water quality for decades. While I strongly encourage efforts to assess and improve water quality in Maine’s lakes, those efforts should not be based on hearsay and unproven assumptions. They should be based on science.

If the SLA wants to hear from those familiar with waterbodies that have healthy anadromous fish populations, perhaps they should hear from someone representing Damariscotta Lake, where the alewife run into the lake exceeds one million fish annually.

Sheepscot Pond has been home to anadromous fish populations for milennia. If anyone or anything has caused harm, it is humans who dammed the lake and upset the natural ecosystem. Maine is finally working to right these wrongs by restoring anadromous fish runs up and down the coast. Despite red herrings, roadblocks, and other delaying tactics, it is only a matter of time before the natural ecosystem of Sheepscot Pond will be allowed to return, as well.

OPINION: Proponents of LD922 uninformed, not concerned

Alewives by John Burrows (source: mainerivers.org)

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY

by Ursula Burke
Certified Water Monitor, Sheepscot Pond

It is alarming that those who favor passing bill LD922 are either uninformed or not concerned with the consequences of opening the fishway at the Sheepscot Pond dam to allow alewife herrings, American eels and sea lamprey eels access to the lake during spring spawning season.

Even the conservationists and environmentalists who tout restoring the historic spawning ground of native fish ignore history which will be repeated if this bill passes. During the 1970’s-80’s the fishway was opened and during seasons of low water levels sea lamprey eels became landlocked. They “wintered over” causing them to feed on the sport fish populations resulting in diminished catches and emaciated togue, landlocked salmon and bass.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife recognized the problem and closed the fishway during the spring spawning season. Now 30 some years later the lamprey population has diminished so that game fish are caught without lamprey wounds. They are healthier and of normal weight. The lake now hosts several fishing derbies every year.

If the supporters of LD922 were not distracted by the profit motive of alewife harvesting to supply bait for the lobster industry, they would take notice of the turnaround Sheepscot Pond has made and recognize the value of such a healthy and prolific lake to the community and all who now enjoy its recreational attributes not to mention supporting the tax base for Palermo.

LD922 offers us, the true stakeholders of Palermo and Sheepscot Pond, nothing but risk. It tramples on the rights of the “little guy” and feels downright un-American and wrong.

Have an opinion about something? You could be featured in our Community Commentary section! Send us an email at townline@fairpoint.net or visit our contact page.

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: Slippery facts on Sheepscot Pond re-introduction of species

Alewives by John Burrows (source: mainerivers.org)

by Buck O’Herin
Montville resident

Feelings are running high in some communities about the potential re-introduction of sea-run fish species into Sheepscot Pond and the potential for these species to impact the fresh water fishery through disease and predation. The front page article in The Town Line newspaper on January 25 quoted several reasons why a couple of community groups oppose the re-introduction of these species. Many of the points listed were misleading and did not give appropriate context, and some were outright false.

It is crucial to remember that both alewives and sea lampreys are native to Maine and our rivers, lakes, and ponds. They both spend time at sea and migrate back to lakes and rivers to spawn. Sheepscot Pond represents 40 percent of the historic alewife habitat above Head Tide in the Sheepscot River. Many Maine lakes have healthy runs of alewives and other sea-run species and also maintain healthy populations of freshwater game fish. Alamoosook Lake, in Orland, has had an alewife migration for years, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a hatchery there. The lake has a healthy fresh water fishery that includes salmon, brook trout, brown trout, bass, and eel.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service tested alewives from the St. Croix River from 2014 to 2016 for seven different diseases. None were found to be carrying any diseases. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has been offered assistance to ensure there is proper filtration and disinfection of water at the Palermo facility. Even though most other IF&W hatcheries have this equipment, the Department has so far chosen not to accept the help.

Adult sea lamprey cannot survive in freshwater and die after spawning. As young adults, they are primarily trying to get to sea, not feed when they do attach to fresh water fish. It is very common to install small notches in a dam to make sure young adult lampreys can get to sea with a trickle of water, even if water is not flowing over the dam. Sea lamprey are probably already in Sheepscot Pond. They can get through the open fish ladder at the Coopers Mills Dam, into Long Pond, and over the Sheepscot Pond dam as long as water is flowing.

The proposal in front of the legislature would open the Sheepscot Pond fish ladder year-round, that IF&W currently blocks for two months of the year. Water already flows over the dam, especially in the spring. U.S. Geological Survey records show the Sheepscot River flows at an average of 734 cubic feet per second in April. The fish ladder at Sheepscot Pond is designed to use about 6 cubic feet per second. Allowing the fish ladder to be open increases flow to the river by only 0.82 percent. The lake level would not be significantly affected.

We should be thoughtful about how we make this decision and depend on the science. There is abundant evidence that restoring fish passage to the entire Sheepscot River is beneficial for all native fish species and the Sheepscot Pond ecosystem.

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: Endangered – Clean Water Act

Image Credit: chinalakeassociation.org

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY

by Lynne O’Connor
China resident

As a local China Lake Smart volunteer, I have seen the improvements citizens, volunteers, and organizations are bringing to our lakes, streams, and waterways.

However, on the federal level, two impending federal actions threaten Maine lakes and all streams, rivers, estuaries and marine environments to which they drain. The issues are radical cuts to Clean Water Act funding and repeal of the Clean Water Rule protecting wetlands and the headwater streams which provide the last remaining habitat for Eastern brook trout and feed all downstream waters. I urge you to ensure these vital protections for the integrity, health and benefits of Maine waters remain secure in 2018 and beyond.

The natural waters of Maine are our (as citizens of Maine) high value assets which generate over $3.5B in economic activity, are a joy to fishermen and all who enjoy the beauty and activities they provide, fuel 52,000 jobs, power local and property tax bases, and provide drinking water to 1/3 of our citizens each year. Currently, 53 of our 2,314 great ponds are impaired and bloom annually, more than 490 are ‘at risk from development,’ and 172 are High Priority Lake Watersheds (MEDEP). The only public funds available in Maine to prevent decline of Maine waters (lakes, streams, wells, all natural waters), and which restore impaired lakes, come from EPA’s Clean Water Act “Nonpoint Source (319)” Funds. Since 2008, seven lakes and one stream have been brought back from impairment by the 319 Program. Last year alone, fifteen 319 projects kept 500 tons of sediment, 550 pounds of phosphorus and 1,000 pounds of nitrogen out of Maine lakes and streams. Federal grants require in-state match, doubling their impact: $1,830,000 in 2015. Please see more info on this and the Clean Water Rule at http://mainelakessociety.org/advocacy/

What can you and I do? Call, Maine Senate: 1-800-423-6900, write, email, post, your concerns, and request our senators, Susan Collins and Angus King, vote against these changes in the Clean Water Act funding, and the repeal of the Clean Water Rule.

Complex renovation would improve ADA access

Community Commentary

During the Friday night football game at Messalonskee, you can find Carlton (Sonny) Mitchell, age 80, and a resident of a seniors’ home in Sidney, sitting in his favorite spot just inside the bleachers to the left, as he cheers on the home team repeating “GO EAGLES!”

Jon Dubois, also of Sidney, drives his brother-in-law Sonny to the games with his family and indicates that Sonny is one of the Eagles’ biggest fans.

Sonny uses a walker and Dubois’s wife also walks with a cane, so they are very eager to see plans move forward to renovate the Messalonskee High School facilities that will give those with limited mobility better access. Dubois states “We need bleachers with a handicap accessible ramp and platform where you can walk right out, and there is a separated space up high just for those who need it with good views of the field.”

RSU#18 has proposed a $13.9 million bond investment to address a number of safety and access related issues which will be on a ballot during the November 7th town voting in Oakland, Sidney, Rome, Belgrade, and China. The Athletic Complex portion of the bond is $3.9 million.

Dubois, who decades ago was part of parent group that put the first lights on the field, states “This investment will eliminate the mud bowls we have had and make the upkeep of the field much easier. There’s a lot of history there of people in the community that would like to see everything updated around this field. I think if it was there, more kids would want to utilize it.”

Along the hill there are always a row of community members placed strategically closest to the parking spaces which sit high above the field to watch the game. Included among them are students and their families that use wheelchairs. Paula Nadeau’s husband has limited mobility and his son graduated from Messalonskee in 2017 playing three sports – football, lacrosse and track. She states “A Dad with mobility issues cannot get to the sidelines to congratulate his son after a victory or console him after a loss. Instead he has to stand on top of the hill watching the other parents while he waits for his son to come to him.”

Donna and Stacy McCurdy have a son who is now a sophomore and uses a wheelchair due to muscular dystrophy. They have another child who will be in high school next year. McCurdy states, “Getting there is always a challenge for our family.

According to the Messalonskee Middle and High School All Sports Boosters, the athletic complex renovations will address existing safety and ADA access issues as well as install a competition legal track, 4 sport synthetic turf field and update the existing lights, scoreboard and sound system. The project will quadruple the number of practice/playing hours of this facility opening it up to wider community recreational use. For more information visit www.allsportsboosters.com

Sheepscot Pond will benefit from alewives

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY

by Frank Richards
President Webber Pond Assn.

I read, with interest, the Community Commentary column about LD 922 in last week’s issue of The Town Line (October 5). This is legislation to open the fish way on Sheepscot Lake and allow sea-run alewives to return.

That column makes a reference to Webber Pond . . . “but, overabundance of alewives (as has been experienced recently in Webber Pond) can degrade water quality and cause other complications.”

I am the president of the Webber Pond Association. That commentary goes way beyond both the discussion at our annual meeting this August and the article in The Town Line about that meeting by Roland Hallee, published in September.

There has never been a recorded case of overabundance in a spawning run causing problems. Alewives have overpopulated in the Great Lakes. However, that is comparable to living in the ocean, not a spawning run from the ocean to an inland lake.

Webber has had alewives since 1997. The run has slowly grown over an approximately 20-year period. In 2014 the run plateaued at 350,000 spawning adults and seems to have stabilized at that number, way more than we ever expected.

The Webber Pond Asso­cia­tion is trying to learn about an academic model, which estimates inputs of nutrients from spawning adults and outputs of nutrients from out migrating juveniles. Evidently, it may be possible to estimate an optimum sized run for Webber, where the most nutrients would be exported.

It’s fair to say that the Webber Pond Association has questions about the size of the run. At least one person has undocumented suspicions that it has become so big that it may be degrading water quality. However, rumors about overabundance of alewives actually causing problems on Webber Pond are erroneous.

It is important for people interested in LD 922 to understand that Webber’s experiences with alewives have been positive and alewives are popular among its residents. The lake has cleared substantially following their return.

When alewife restoration began in the mid-1990s, we too heard about the studies, mostly from the Midwest, which warned of negative effects. However, nearly 30 years later none of those problems ever materialized.

The good experiences on Webber have been replicated locally on Three Mile Pond and Togus Pond. Further north, Sebasticook Lake, Pushaw Lake, Chemo Pond, and Davis Pond have also had the same good experiences.

Last year, I was invited by a representative from the Natural Resources Council to testify in favor of LD 922 at the initial hearing. The committee seemed to already know about the positive effects of alewives on several inland lakes. As one might expect, it also seemed well aware of the economic development benefits of alewives to the lobster industry as bait and to the ocean fishery as forage.

The committee has probably been advised that the fish ladder passed alewives for many years without creating problems for the rearing station. They seemed openly skeptical about both lampreys and rearing station issues.

Several people with scientific credentials testified in favor of LD 922. No one with credentials testified in opposition. If it had been a fight, they would have stopped it.

A legislative committee will listen respectfully to any citizen. However, on something like this, at some point there needs to be confirmation by a scientist, before the committee will give those views much weight.

The Sheepscot Lake Association has been engaging in a political campaign to defeat LD 922. They are acting in good faith, out of concern for the lake’s welfare.

I wish they had reached out more to get a broad range of ideas and professional advice. I will assert that they have arrived on the wrong side of history and are actually opposing something that has worked well on other lakes and that credentialed scientists believe would benefit Sheepscot.

Alewives are the means by which nutrients are exchanged between the ocean and inland lakes. There is more involved than simple clearing of lakes, such as Webber, with phosphorus imbalances.

I predict that LD 922 will be reported out of committee as “Ought to Pass,” possibly by unanimous vote. I predict that a few years down the road, after gaining experience with alewives, Sheepscot’s residents will be as happy as the residents of any other lake that has them.