Letters to the editor, Week of August 10, 2017

Sad to see mill gone

To the editor:

A few weeks ago, driving through Branch Mills village, I was stunned and saddened to see that the old Dinsmore mill had been completely destroyed and trucked away. It was once just about the last surviving water-powered grist and sawmill of its size and integrity in this part of Maine. Before cheap fossil fuels, mills like this literally built Maine. Starting from the earliest settlements they sawed most of the lumber, shingles and other wood products and ground most of the flour and feed for the region using nothing more than the power of falling water.

About 20 years ago Steve Coombs bought and began renovating the mill with the intention of restoring it to an operating gristmill, processing locally-grown grain. A fully functioning water powered mill would have put Branch Mills on the map as tourist destination, and would have been a great way to add value to local agricultural products. No one who has been in a working water mill, with its turning shafts and wheels and machinery driven by the low rumble of falling water, can forget the magic of the experience. I got to know Steve through selling him firewood. He seemed to have a good vision and the experience and skills to make it happen.

You might think that local and state government officials would do all they could to encourage and facilitate the rejuvenation of this historic mill. But after a year or two Steve told me that he was running into walls of bureaucratic opposition, from building codes enforcement in the town of China to the state DEP and Department of Agriculture. He said the food inspection people wouldn’t let him operate unless he tore out all the old wooden grain storage bins and conveyors and replaced them with metal and plastic. The people who had built camps on the pond (created by the mill dam) complained when Steve lowered the water level to work on the dam. The fish people were demanding that he put in a ladder so that migratory fish could pass upstream.

After several years Steve apparently ran out of resources and endurance and left the project on hold. I understand there were more lawsuits and regulatory actions since then. No one I’ve spoken with seems to know the full story. I can only speculate that if just some of the money and effort expended on lawyers and bureaucracy had been invested in actually fixing the mill, it would be a going concern and a wonderful local attraction today.

Of course, if what happened is any indication, most people couldn’t have cared less about the old mill. Now it’s gone and we will almost certainly never see the like of it again. Shame on all of us for not doing more to preserve it.

Eugene Bryant
Palermo

Tobey’s: a true community-minded business

To the editor:

Our last China Community Days chicken BBQ was a great success. This was made possible by the meat counter at Tobey’s. We had ordered 100 half chickens but discovered Friday morning that we had 50 whole chickens. I made a call to Tobey’s and was told to bring them over. Within 10 minutes I had 100 half’s without a bill!

Tobey’s is truly a community friendly supermarket. Thank you again!

Neil Farrington
Commander, American Legion Post #179

Letters to the editor, June 8, 2017

Urges no vote on marijuana ban

To the editor:

Vote NO ​China Marijuana Ban​, not for why you think.​

On June 13, town of China voters will get to vote on Question 1 “Shall an Ordinance entitled, ‘Ordinance Prohibiting Retail Marijuana Establishments and Retail Marijuana Social Clubs in the Town of China’ be Enacted.” ​But beware, there is far more to this ordinance than retail sales and/or social clubs.​

If you read the details of the ordinance itself, you will find in Section 3 that it is an overly broad prohibition that includes not only a ban on retail marijuana establishments and social clubs, but also on retail and wholesale cultivation, manufacturing and testing facilities in town.

For example, this ordinance would ban the retail establishment of a medical marijuana dispensary in China.

It’s no longer about getting high as in the ‘60s & ‘70s by “smoking a joint.” Medical marijuana has been found to contain components including CBD which have proven medical value. Also, there are many ways to consume it that do not include smoking it.

I’m not a pot smoker, yet I have met many people who have received great benefit from medical marijuana including chronic back pain, hip replacements and cancer survivors. The more I meet people who have benefited from medical marijuana, the more I am convinced of its importance for many people’s health care. Ideally, one would work with a local licensed medical marijuana caregiver to understand what is best for them.

Also, this ban would not allow local farmers to cultivate marijuana, even if they grew only the medicinal CBD strains.

The select board did not recommend a Yes or No vote on Question 1.

I recommend that China voters vote NO on this poorly written ban.

The issue of social clubs and other issues can be addressed in a more accurate future ordinance.

Bob OConnor
South China

Marijuana question too vague

To the editor:

This letter is written in hopes that you will vote “No” on the China Ballot Question on Marijuana this June 13. I believe that the selectboard, in an excess of caution, has put this prohibition of “all commercial marijuana” activity on the ballot prematurely, and as a poorly worded question which will give rise to legal difficulties for the town.

The state legislature is continuing to work on the myriad details that need to be clarified to make the new legalization of recreational marijuana function adequately in Maine. They are being cautious. Realizing that social clubs have not been implemented in other states, the state is reportedly considering a separate moratorium on social clubs that will run into 2019 or later. Given the political climate this seems wise. The town does not need to act independently to safe guard itself from this new aspect of recreational marijuana.

The new recreational legalization legislation includes provision for a limited number of licenses to be issued by the state for small commercial growers, and a separate limited number of licenses for large commercial growers. Our vote for a moratorium on June 13 will mean that not one of the farms in our town will have the right to apply to be a “small grower.” This seems unfair to me.

The regulations that are being drafted by the state for the retail outlets for the legal recreational marijuana will be complex. But again a total ban on all retail in the town of China seems premature. I would gladly support a moratorium to run well into 2018 so that we have the ability to fully understand how any of the aspects of this new law will affect us. But I do not support, at this premature time, a ban on all things commercial. The proposed ban is too broad and too unclear as to what is covered and what is not covered. It does a disservice to many citizens in our town who might be good small business people. We could better address the uncertainties of this new law in November after we have more answers as to how it will be implemented by the state.

Joann Clark Austin
China citizen and selectman

Letters to the editor, Week of June 1, 2017

Don’t get hood winked again

To the editor:

On June the 13 the voters of China will be presented a three issue town ballot and vote to support or reject each issue. Two of the issues involve the expenditure of town funds for a questionable causes. I urge the voters to reject both proposals.

First, the request to expend $25,000 on a former temporary classroom referred to as the Emergency Preparedness Shelter, a classification I am not familiar with and I thought one of the expansions of the town office and purchase of the generator was for emergencies. This including the building of the communications tower located behind the town office. The selectboard with the town manager have squandered money on this substandard building since we received it from the school district. Any further investment in this building would be foolhardy and a waste of taxpayer money.

Second, the town of China should not be in the land acquisition business. When the town purchased the lot at the corner of Alder Park Road and Lakeview Drive, members of the selectboard advocated for the purchase of the parcel, “before a business purchases the lot. ” That same logic that asks that China buy the adjoining lot for $12,000 would be equally non nonsensical.

These two requests are to be funded by the “Surplus/Unrestricted/Unassigned Fund Balance” which infers that these funds are excess and implies that they have diminished value when in fact this fund is the collection of excess taxation.

China maintains a very high balance in the“Surplus/Unrestricted/Unassigned Fund Balance” well beyond recommendations (by a factor of 4) which is often used as free money but represents the practice of the allocation of monies on one hand and the collection of excess taxation to replenish the fund on the other.

I ask the voters to reject these requests and not to get “hood winked” again.

H. David Cotta
China

Letters to the editor, Week of May 25, 2017

Vote yes on school budget

To the editor:

Raising other people’s kids for the past 35 years, I want to send a token of my appreciation to our teachers. As parenting seems to become more of a choice than a responsibility, our teachers are taking on more than just educating our children.

They are extended parents, counselors, mentors and sometimes the only stable person in a child’s life.

Please join me in voting yes on June 13 for this year’s school budget.

Neil Farrington
China

Remembering the fallen on Memorial Day

To the editor:

As we celebrate this Memorial Day, let’s all not forget the significance of this holiday. To people of my generation, of course, World War II, Korea and Vietnam are all replayed in our minds and hearts, not everyday, but on this day, as I once again visit the graves of my old comrades, it awakens in me all those gone before me and, of course, all those who came after us, spilling their blood for wars that they don’t understand any more than we did serving our country. But serve we did and with the exception of how our Vietnam veterans were treated upon coming home — that will always remain, in my opinion, one of America’s lowest points, morality wise. Yes, it did have a benefit, and that was to change America’s opinion of our men and women now serving. [I will] close by saying it is my fervent hope and prayer that some day America will not have to spill its young treasure on fruitless colonizations.

Frank Slason
Somerville

Letters to the editor, Week of May 18, 2017

Thanks from food pantry

To the editor:

The Palermo Food Pantry thanks the generous people of Palermo who donated food for the pantry in the annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive sponsored by our post office. It was a great success again this year and is much appreciated by many families. Anyone who would like to support the Palermo Food Pantry may bring non-perishable food items on Tuesdays after 10 a.m., or call for a pick up. The pantry is open every Tuesday from 11 a.m. – noon and is located at the Community Center across from the ball field on Turner Ridge Road.

Palermo food pantry volunteers

Letters to the editor, Week of May 4, 2017

Elected official puts special interests first

To the editor:

The fifth and final bill submitted this session by Rep. Tim Theriault, L.D. 868 – “An Act Regarding Game That Is Confiscated in Connection with an Alleged Violation of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Laws” – was heard by the Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife on April 20. Rep. Theriault is a member of that committee. The bill would allow those who kill a deer or moose and are found not guilty in court, regardless of their actual guilt or innocence, to shoot another deer or moose if the meat from that animal has been confiscated and not returned.

The bill was opposed by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife which argued that they already have in place a process to provide a license to shoot another deer or moose in cases where they wrongfully confiscated the animal and failed to return the meat. In other words, there is no need to create a new statute and no need for this bill. Had Rep. Theriault adequately researched the matter, he would have known that. During the work session, all of the committee members except for Rep. Theriault and one other voted the bill Ought Not To Pass. This is the fourth of Rep. Theriault’s five bills that was voted Ought Not To Pass by either a large majority or by a unanimous vote.

Not a single bill sponsored by Rep. Theriault this session does anything to promote jobs, taxes, seniors, veterans and the Second Amendment, all of which are the priorities he cited during his re-election campaign. While on the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife committee he voted in favor of all six pro-Sunday hunting bills regardless of the consequences to our wildlife resources or the fact that landowners have threatened to close their land to hunting if any Sunday hunting is allowed. After those final votes, he said aloud “We did our job” about himself and the one other committee member who also voted for all six bills. He was also the only committee member to vote against a bill to increase penalties for baiting deer, one of the most common and unsporting poaching violations.

Far too often elected officials put special interests before the public interest. They either forget why they were voted in or they run for office for the wrong reasons. As citizens, taxpayers and voters it is our responsibility to hold our elected officials accountable. That’s the only way our democracy will work.

John M. Glowa, Sr.
China

Letters to the editor, Week of 13, 2017

Left turn on red ill-conceived idea

To the editor:

L.D. 977, “An Act To Allow a Motorist to Make a Left Hand Turn at a Red Light Under Certain Conditions” was recently voted “Ought Not To Pass” by the Maine Legislature’s Transportation Committee. It was sponsored by Representative Tim Theriault who submitted the bill at the request of a resident of Albion. The individual who requested the bill cited “stress levels that can’t be measured as one waits to turn” as well as “efficiency, fuel economy…time and money” as reasons to support the bill. Neither he nor Rep. Theriault made any mention in their written testimony of the increased accidents, injuries and deaths that would likely result if the bill was passed.

In his written testimony, Rep. Theriault stated, “There have been many times that I have personally been stuck at a red light without a soul around. I see no reason for people to be sitting there idling, wasting gas and polluting the environment when we used to be able to make that turn, before there was a light.” One individual who opposed the bill stated that “it has to be the most irresponsible piece of legislation I have ever seen.” The Maine Department of Public Safety (Maine State Police) opposed the bill. Their testimony stated in part, “Last year in Maine there were about 30,482 reportable crashes. 4,684 of those involved unsafe intersection movement. 1,550 of those crashes resulted in someone being injured and, tragically, 16 people were killed in addition to those injured…. We fear that should LD 977 become law that these numbers would only increase. We feel that no other outcome is possible if we were to allow people to proceed through red lights. Think about the driving behaviors you have seen in your travels. Consider the number of drivers who roll through stop signs even though the law says that you must come to a complete stop and then proceed if it is safe to do so. How long do you think it will take before vehicle operators are rolling through red lights?”

Thank you for this opportunity to present this information regarding the issues and outcome of this ill-conceived and dangerous bill. Thankfully, the legislature gave it the time and attention that it deserved.

John M. Glowa Sr.
South China

They were here first

To the editor:

[I] read this morning in a local paper about the KKK flyers appearing in towns in Maine, especially Skowhegan, and how Native American leader Barry Dana calls the school district and people hypocrites due to the fact that they still will not erase the name “Indian” [as the school mascot] and consider this just as much bigotry as the KKK.

This brings back memories to me when serving in the military and sharing a BOQ (bachelor officer quarters) years ago who told me about being a chief of his tribe yet somehow ended up being drafted during World War II. There are numerous stories back then and now about bigotry against the Native American. Imagine after serving on Iwo Jima during World War II and then get back home and still not be able to buy or enter a beer saloon in your own state. Wish everyone had seen the Code Talkers, a movie about how valiantly Native Americans were as the Japs couldn’t understand their language, so they communicated for the Marines in that era. Must mention their superiors were told never to let one of our code talkers to get captured as the Japs would break their code. Of course, this meant, if necessary, to kill the code talkers if there was a chance of them being captured.

Years ago, I saw a cartoon in U.S. News and World Report showing Pilgrims talking and the caption read, “What would the Indians have if not for us white men?” Well, I thought about my friend of years ago in the BOQ and the stories he told me. With that in mind, I wrote the following letter to U.S. News and World Report:

“Your cartoon was not only tasteless and not funny, but did a great disservice to the Native Americans and with that in mind, please send the cartoonist my answer to the Pilgrim’s question in that awful cartoon – I hate to even call it that. The Native Americans would still have their clear blue skies, pure and clean rivers, abundant with fish, millions of buffalo for his meat and fertile soil to plant his vegetables, etc. But most important, he and she would not be living as second class citizens imprisoned on reservations located in a country he and she both owned.”

Frank Slason
Somerville

Letters to the editor, Week of March 30, 2017

Some hurting is good

To the editor:

Recently I have received some criticism for a letter to the editor I wrote some time ago in reaction to another letter-writer calling America a “Christian Nation” and founded on “Christian values.” In my response, I pointed out that not only is this claim historically incorrect, it is also unnecessarily exclusive and antithetical to the original vision of the very founding fathers people use to bolster this fallacious claim.

The primary objection to my pointing out the inaccuracy of this assertion is that I “hurt people” by doing so. If it is “hurtful” to correctly point out the inaccurate and injurious views of others, then it is the best kind of pain and we should all feel it more often.

For those still feeling injured, ask yourselves how you would feel should I make the claim, “America is a Muslim Nation founded on Muslim values!”

“Foul,” you cry! “Inaccurate,” you scream. “This is my America!” you insist.

Yes, and that is exactly how non-Christian Americans feel when they hear you making this claim.

But it is the historical inaccuracy that bothers me the most. And I think it warrants a brief lesson in basic Western History:

Hopefully you already know that America declared independence in 1776, but perhaps you are not aware of the broader context of this historical period. The ideas and vision of the men and women responsible for the birth of America were a product of their times and those ideas did not suddenly spring into being in that summer of revolution.

So what was this context? You may remember from sophomore history class something called “The Age of Enlightenment,” or “The Age of Reason.” According to Wikipedia, The Age of Enlightment was “an intellectual movement which dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 18th century,” and included “a range of ideas centered on reason as the primary source of authority and legitimacy, and came to advance ideals like liberty, progress, tolerance, fraternity, constitutional government, and separation of church and state.” Does that sound like the Christian religion at the end of the 16th Century? No.

Our founding fathers were children of this intellectual movement.

The entire drive of this cultural revolution was in reaction to the previous one thousand years of Christian autocracy in Western Europe. It began with the Reformation of the 16th Century and culminated in the French Revolution in 1790. Our Founding Fathers were born at the peak of this anti-religious fervor.

If you had asked a person in the 18th Century what the values of a Christian society were, they would not mention freedom of speech, equality or individual freedoms. These were new ideas put forth by our Founding Fathers and others like them, in contrast to existing Christian ideas about government, such as the Divine Right of Kings (which was a Christian idea adopted from the Romans).

Twenty-first century Christianity has changed to conform to the ideas put forth during the Enlightenment — not the other way around. Those that put forth the idea I’m objecting to are projecting their current values back in time rather than looking at the actual historical record.

If our Founding Fathers had truly created a “Christian Nation” or based it on the “Christian Values” of their time, we would not have a free democracy but an autocratic theocracy, just as we had for over a thousand years during the time when the universal Christian church was the dominant force in the Western world.

It is a very good thing that Christians now include “freedom of speech” and “individual liberties” as a part of their value system, but that is a recent adoption as the result of our enlightened Founding Fathers creating a nation in spite of established religion, not because of it. Thank God our founders had the foresight to create a nation absent the controlling effects of organized religion! And so thankful that the institution of Christianity has, for the most part, finally seen the light!

Eric Austin
China

Eric is an atheist living in a predominantly Christian society and he thinks this is his America, too!

Clever move to wait on price hike

To the editor:

Dear readers, try to vision this scenario: You drive into a place with a large building with flags out and the building has large windows fronting where you are driving in. Inside sits a little man at a desk with a comfortable pillow for his behind. This man feels his duty is to scan, stare and whatever, to see if people/citizens who, in his opinion, need to be watched are up to something, Suddenly, he sees his quarry and quickly sends out his troops to check on a person or persons who have invaded his domain. Albeit not stealthy, his troops slowly approach and not saying “papers please,” although implied by their demeanor but not saying anything, just looking as does the man in the tower.

Got the picture? No, it’s not 1930s Germany and the little man is not you know who. And his troops are not SS men. All these people work for the infamous Tri-County Solid Waste Transfer Station, located in Union.

Now, understandably, realize they have to be aware of “innocent violators” who make mistakes and don’t realize some things do not belong in some containers, but more and much larger signs need to be posted to eliminate this terrible misunderstanding between Tri-county and its customers. Concerning keeping bags and money inside the building I have a good suggestion. Let the little man who has way too much time on his hands, to have people come into his office and let him collect the money for bags. One problem solved and should let Tri-county know that you have to make money, but, as taxpayers and consumers of your bags, we be treated with a little more respect. I will close with, according to what I have heard, you were very clever in waiting for my town to sign a contract with you before raising the bag price by 50-cents.

Frank Slason
Somerville

Letters to the editor, Week of March 23, 2017

Thanks to sponsors

To the editor:

Knox-Lincoln Soil & Water Conservation District’s (KLSW) 70th Anniversary Environmental Education Fundraiser held on March 7, at Flatbread Company, in Rockport, was a great success. In addition to raising funds, the event celebrated the winners of this year’s K-6 Conservation Poster Contest on the theme “Healthy Soils Are Full of Life.” Lots of poster contest winners from schools in Knox and Lincoln counties attended to celebrate and view the gorgeous gallery of winning posters, which were hung all around the restaurant. A good time was had and they raised $600 to support the K-12 programs which are free to all Knox and Lincoln K-12 students.

We extend our most heartfelt thanks to Flatbread Company for selecting the Conservation District as a community recipient of their donation program, everyone who showed up to enjoy pizza (and buy raffle tickets), and our generous raffle prize donors: Mystic Woodworks in Warren for one of their beautiful wooden cutting boards; Final-Lee Acres & Wandering Goat, in Union, for a native bee nesting box and Gardeners Goat Milk Soap; and Maine Summer Dog, in Union, for two hand-painted wooden gardening signs. In addition, the Conservation District donated a $70 gift certificate for our spring plant sale coming up on May 6 and 7, at Union Fairgrounds; a Bokashi Composting Kit; and a Sure-Close Kitchen Compost Pail. Winners of the evening’s raffle are: Ann Mynttinen, Rockland; Cindy Kava, Rockport; Riley Neugebauer, Lincolnville; and Becky Ford, Camden.

Thanks again to everyone who contributed to making this event a winner – and you may want to visit our website to treat yourself to a slide show of the winning posters (www.knox-lincoln.org/k-6-postercontest).

Hildy Ellis, District Coordinator for the Board and Staff of Knox-Lincoln Soil & Water Conservation District

Letters to the editor, Week of March 16, 2017

Need to keep government accountable

To the editor:

On March 7, I attended a public hearing on L.D. 430 – “An Act To Amend the Exemption for Highway Contractors and Subcontractors under the Arborist Licensing Laws”. The bill is sponsored by District #79 Representative Tim Theriault and was submitted at the request of a licensed arborist who owns a tree pruning and removal business in China.

The purpose of the bill is to force the state of Maine to have or hire an arborist for any highway related tree removal that requires the use of an aerial lift. This bill would put money into the pockets of licensed arborists at an added expense to taxpayers.

At the public hearing on the bill, Representative Theriault had nothing to say about it, good, bad or indifferent. The constituent who requested the bill had no information about it, appeared not to know what it says, and did not even have a copy of it while giving his oral testimony. Neither proponent gave any written or verbal explanation of the bill or stated why it was needed. The bill was opposed by the Maine Dept. of Transportation and the Associated General Contractors of Maine.

L.D. 55, Representative Theriault’s bill for taxing the customers of the Kennebec Water District $650,000 over a period of 15 years, was killed unanimously by the legislative committee. It was named “An Act To Provide Funding for the Restoration of China Lake,” but this ill-conceived and poorly written bill contained no explanation for how the money would be spent, who would spend it, who would be held accountable, how success would be measured, or why the customers of KWD should have to pay for a problem that they did not create. Our government should not be in the business of taking money and then giving it away without any provision for accountability.

OUR government is only as good as the people in it. If we fail to hold OUR government accountable, we unfortunately get what we deserve.

John M. Glowa, Sr.
South China