Letters to the Editor, Week of October 26, 2017

Food drive to assist residents in Puerto Rico

To the editor:

Erskine Academy Spanish teacher Sonia Stevenson has informed me that the school is holding a food drive to assist residents of the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico which, as I’m sure all readers know, was almost completely devastated by a recent hurricane. In an attempt to support three specific towns, Erskine students and staff are seeking foods that are stable and that will better survive what will possibly be a long journey to the island. This includes dry vegetables like beans, rice, canned foods like tuna and chicken and also, over the counter medications. There are drop boxes at the Erskine Academy campus and any and all donations will be greatly appreciated!

Bob Bennett

Local production nominated for Grammy

To the editor:

A few weeks ago I made reference to the music presentation that was done last year for the board in connection with the Holocaust. I told you that it was catching on nation wide. I was holding off until it became official, but I can now share with you the rest of the story:

On Monday, October 16, 2017, the Grammy Awards ballot was published by the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. In the Choral category is listed the Messalonskee Public Schools album “Songs of Darkness and Hope.”

Yes, the production that was produced by our students has been nominated for a Grammy. I heard from Kevin Rhein today, the CD is being sent to every Holocaust Museum in the country.

Congratulations to everyone involved. As you can imagine they are incredibly proud and excited. I know you are as well.

Carl Gartley
Superintendent of Schools
RSU #18

Urges large voter turnout on school question

To the editor:

On Election Day, Winslow voters will decide if they will borrow $10.325 million to consolidate the Winslow School system. Of that total amount, $5.14 million will be spent to expand and renovate the high school for the addition of the seventh and eighth grades, $755,000 to expand the auxiliary gym at the high school, $230,000 to expand the cafeteria at the high school and $2.95 million for a 600 seat Performing Arts Center. Another $600,000 will be dedicated to the renovation of the Elementary School to accommodate the sixth grade. In addition, $650,000 will be provided for demolition of the Junior High if other uses can not be found. Over the next 20 years, Winslow property taxpayers will repay at least $13.73 million including interest.

For the median household, property taxes will increase by at least $158 more per year to pay the annual debt cost of at least $687,000 per year for the next 20 years. Combined with the existing school debt payment of $415,000 per year, the median household in Winslow will need to pay over $250 per year to support the education debt. The Winslow School Board concluded that the Junior High structure was no longer viable due to the decrease in school’s sixth to eighth grade enrollment from 413 students in 2000 to a projected 227 students in 2020, and the significant capital investment needed to restore the structure to an acceptable standard. Overall, Winslow’s school enrollment is decreasing. In 2020, there will be 472 fewer students than were enrolled in 2000.

The proposed $2.95 million expenditure for a 600-seat Performing Arts Center is based on the stated need for more space to support the programs and activities. In 2008, there were 527 students in the high school utilizing the existing 210-seat auditorium. In 2020, there will be a projected combined 7-12 grade enrollment of 533.

When the school board voted to close the Junior High in August 2016, it was reported that the proposal to consolidate to the existing Elementary and High School would cost less than $5 million. Voters are now being asked to support a $10 million project.

I would urge Winslow residents to vote early or on November 7 since the outcome will have a significant impact on property taxes as well determine the voter’s approval to borrow $10.325 million to support the school consolidation proposal. A large voter turnout will ensure that the will of the people of Winslow is represented.

Ken Fletcher
Winslow Town Councilor

Letters to the editor, Week of October 12, 2017

Monarch article factful

To the editor:

My special thanks to Roland Hallee for his explanation of the Monarch butterflies’ migration journey. At last, after a lifelong interest, I “get” how it takes four generations. The whole article (The Town Line on October 5, 2017) is fact-filled and very easy to read. I enjoy The Town Line as a subscriber and always find something of special interest. The butterfly article is especially special.

Charlotte Henderson

Letters to the editor, Week of September 28, 2017

Small act of environmental kindness

To the editor:

My letter regarding roadside waste, published a couple of weeks ago, was not terribly uplifting. However, I’m writing this short note to add a positive postscript. This morning, Monday, September 25, I was on my bike for a bit of a ride and had just turned onto the Dirigo Road from Rte. 3. As I went up the slight rise, I noticed a lot of round white covers from sheet rock “mud” containers; I would guess they blew out of the back of a pick-up. I stopped and started to pick them up with the intent of piling them next to the road and retrieving them on my next trip to the transfer station. As I was working my way along, another pick-up went by and then backed up and stopped. The driver got out, picked up the covers I hadn’t reached and put those and my handful on the passenger side of his vehicle. We talked for couple of seconds, shook hands and off he went. He said he hadn’t realized what I was doing as he passed the first time, but returned when he did.

Long story short, this small act of environmental kindness is the perfect example of what we all should be willing to do to help save the world around us. I didn’t get the driver’s name but to the guy with the reddish hair and the blue pick-up, you’re a great representation of what we need. Keep it going!

Bob Bennett

Big oil will always control us

To the editor:

Something for you readers to digest and maybe recall President [Dwight D.] Eisenhower, when elected, uttered these famous words: “Beware the industrial/military complex.” Think he meant arms manufacturers as well as other nice people?

As per the authoritative Oil and Gas Journal (Oct. 13, 2011, Pg. 104), “Big oil will control some 82.8 percent of future Iraqi crude oil production: Exxon-Mobil 22.7 percent, British Petroleum (BP) 20.6 percent, LukeOil 20 percent and Shell 19.5 percent.

This to me is just another transfer of wealth from the Americans who shed their blood and paid treasure to open Iraq for exploitation by the West to the international super rich who, as we all know, run the world while the rest of us poor folks just go on plugging with our heads in the sand.

PS: Too bad Mr. Burns, in his documentary Vietnam, didn’t expose how many bombs were dropped there and what it cost, along with 58,000 poor GIs.

Frank Slason

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, Week of September 21, 2017

Why was poster removed

To the editor:

I am writing with great disappointment that any individual would remove posters placed for a cause that could benefit many. Two weeks ago I placed posters for the 2017 Walk to End Alzheimer’s at public bulletin boards at the Palermo Town Office and Palermo Post Office. When I went to the Town Office Saturday, Sept. 16, they were both removed. I had not placed them over anything else nor had I taken down anything else, even if it was expired. The boards are public, especially on the post office property, and many non-Palermo events are frequently posted. The walk is a fund-raising activity held in support of Alzheimer’s disease research and these posters were appropriate for the sites. The local Walk is to be held on October 14, 2017, at Head of Falls, in Waterville, and my hope was to encourage participation. Although you may not have suffered the affects of Alzheimer’s personally, odds are that someone in your lifetime –family, friend, co-worker — will and it will touch you, too.

Pat Clark

Letters to the editor, Week of September 7, 2017

Roadside trash overwhelming

To the editor:

My wife and I and another couple took a road trip to the St. Lawrence River, in Quebec, [recently] to watch whales. We saw quite a few of these large, gentle creatures, ate well and enjoyed the beautiful scenery and great people. However when we crossed the international border from Edmundston, New Brunswick, to Madawaska, we noticed a great change and it wasn’t Belugas swimming in the potato fields of Aroostook County. No, it was the incredible amount of roadside trash.

All four of us are avid cyclists and as such, we are subjected to the disgusting amount of detritus along the roads here in central Maine. From “nip” bottles, to beer cans and bottles, to McDonald’s wrappers and cups, to plastic bags and paper trash, the amount of stuff thrown out of car windows in this part of our world is overwhelming. It almost seems like no one has waste containers in their vehicles or at home any more. This is even more distressing when one reads of the environmental impact that this waste has, not only here but on the world as a whole. By some accounts, by 2050, there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish.

In Canada, we saw hardly any roadside waste. The areas in which we traveled are just as rural, just as economically challenged and just as beautiful as our own state. And yet, the residents are seemingly much more thoughtful for and caring of their surroundings; why can’t we have the same respect for our environment?

I know that there is no simple answer to this issue, but I hope that those of you who read this letter at least think a bit before you toss your Dunkin Donuts wrapper or Bud Light can out the window as you cruise down Lakeview Drive or Rte. 3. It will be better for all of us in the long run.

Bob Bennett
South China

Historical facts can’t be erased

To the editor:

Just a few historical facts concerning this lame-brained antifa and BLM, destroying all statues and memorabilia concerning the Civil  War history.

It would take too much writing to straighten some of the myths concerning some, not all, of the people of that era so I will just give one example: General Robert Edward Lee, one of the best soldiers on either side of the Civil War. Through his leadership the army of northern Virginia repeatedly defeated Union army contingents two and three times the size of his army. He graduated second in his class at West Point Military Academy, never receiving a demerit. He believed slavery to be immoral and inherited some from his family, but released them from bondage. To all who today besmirch and slander the name of Lee by taking down his statues and hiding them, as symbols of public disapprobation, I say shame on you. A black friend of mine years ago down south, and in the military, once told me he thought Lee was the greatest general the south ever had. Wish he was still alive to discuss this with me. [I will] close with the old sage words of someone much wiser than me, who said, “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.”

Frank Slason

Letters to the editor, Week of August 24, 2017

Thief among us

To the editor:

To the blonde driving a minivan that had a yellow dog with her.

On August 8, between 4:15 and 4:30 p.m., she took it upon herself to go onto private property, 13 Hime Hill, off the China Neck Road, and helped herself to what she wanted! If she had bothered to find out who owned the property we would probably have given it to her. We are pretty sure she would not allow or want some stranger going on her property and taking what they see that they would like to have. That is called “stealing.” All we can say is now you have to live the rest of your life knowing you are a thief.

Carrol and Susan White
Neck Road, China

Good Samaritan forced from town

To the editor:

I read in the paper the other day, in bold headlines, “Good Samaritan Forced to Leave Town,” because of his act of kindness.

This happened in Florida at a park. The gentleman noticed a little girl who seemed to be lost. He asked her if she was lost, and she replied, “I can’t find my father.” He took her by the hand and went up to people asking them if they knew her or her father? Nobody knew, however, the father noticed the gentleman with his daughter and yelled, “kidnapper,” to which another man tackled this man holding the girl, and threw him to the ground while the father arrived and started punching the man again and again in the face. Once the police arrived they gathered evidence from witnesses who stated that he did, indeed, ask people if they knew the girl or her father. It didn’t matter to the father who didn’t believe anyone and left saying, “I’m glad she is safe.”

Some father, if I would have been the cop I would have arrested the father for assault but the nice man wouldn’t file charges against him. This incident went viral on Facebook and Twitter and the poor man received death threats so severe that he had to leave town for his and his family’s safety.

A note to all you social media people, please reserve your judgment before going along with the Facebook crowd. Perhaps (President Donald) Trump is right calling the media fake news or, at least, in this case, I am sure he is right. In my opinion, the real criminal here was the girl’s father who wasn’t taking proper care of his daughter. Maybe, someone on Facebook should have found out the truth and sent that out viral.

Frank Slason

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

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

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

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