FOR YOUR HEALTH: Untreated Vision Loss Can Speed Cognitive Decline

Getting a thorough eye exam can solve some surprising health matters for many people.

(NAPSI)—There’s a reason you shouldn’t skip your routine eye exam—and many people don’t even know about it. A growing body of research shows that vision loss can affect how well your brain works. The most recent study found that people who scored poorly on vision tests were more likely to suffer from deficits in memory, language and the ability to identify and locate objects in space. To protect your brain, get an eye exam to make sure correctable vision problems are detected and treated. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends all adults receive a comprehensive eye exam by age 40, and every year or two after age 65.

Why Check Your Eyes

Here are three more reasons to get your eyes examined:

  1. The leading causes of blindness— including glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration—can begin without any noticeable symptoms,. The best way to protect your vision is to see an ophthalmologist, a physician who specializes in medical and surgical eye care.
  2. Seeing an ophthalmologist can improve your overall health. Blood vessels and nerves in your eyes are reflective of the rest of your body. Ophthalmologists are sometimes the first to diagnose systemic diseases, such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis or vitamin deficiencies. For example, when David Hibler, Sr. went to get his eyes checked, his ophthalmologist detected signs of a blood clot just by looking into his eyes. Seeing an ophthalmologist helped save Hibler’s life, as it led him to get appropriate medical attention to avoid a potential stroke.
  3. Some adults shouldn’t wait until they are 40 to have a complete eye exam. See an ophthalmologist now if you have an eye disease or risk factors such as:
    • diabetes
    • high blood pressure
    • family history of eye disease.

EyeCare America Can Help

If the cost of an eye exam is a concern, the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeCare America program may be able to help. This national public service program provides eye care through volunteer ophthalmologists for eligible seniors 65 and older and those at increased risk for eye disease.

Learn More

For further information regarding EyeCare America and to see if you or someone you care for can qualify, visit

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Do you ever wonder?

by Debbie Walker

Do you ever wonder? Tonight, I am wondering. I am wondering, is there ever going to be an end to these ridiculous phone calls or junk mail? I know I am not alone. So why are we bombarded with such junk?

The phone calls are so we can be entertained with their recorded chatter, must not be important enough to them to put a real person on the line. SO, its not important enough to me to listen to them. I also want to mention a tip that Eric gave us in one of his columns this year. Be wary, some of those calls that would make you think they are people are also recorded. Their responses are timed to make you think they are listening. You can pick those out by saying, ” Excuse me, are you a real person?” Guess what, they will keep talking over your question. I hang up.

It doesn’t stop the calls to just hang up and I am not a big believer in the “Do not call list”. I block numbers whenever possible. Since a lot of these calls are computer generated, they call from multiple numbers and I just keep on blocking. It’s all a big pain in the neck (or lower)!

There are so many companies doing this. On the list are health insurance companies, political surveys, extended warrantee companies, etc. Very often if it doesn’t show a name or name of company on my screen, I am not likely to answer the call.

My own insurance company calls me way too many times and I have now blocked them! Leave me alone. No, I don’t want to do your survey and you wouldn’t want me to at this point. No, I don’t need one of your nurses to come to my home for a checkup, check to see if my medications are right for me. It was my doctor who prescribed this medication and I feel like “too many cooks ….”. If I have any questions, I will contact my doctor or my pharmacist with my questions.

The extended warrantee companies have become a joke. I have even seen cartoons that included it. But they keep on keeping on. Give us a break! They are companies trying to sell you insurance. A lot of people are still not understanding. Some people would actually buy this if they didn’t understand. My theory is ‘when in doubt, don’t’, but for some having some woman on the line telling you ‘this is the last attempt to contact you before it will no longer be available to you’. I can see a few people intimidated enough to do as told.

Okay, enough of that mess. I am wondering what some of your family traditions are for the holidays. I would love it if you would let me know what some of them are.

In the mean time I am just curious what you do with those ridiculous calls. Contact me at Have a wonderful week and thank you for reading. I’ll be waiting to hear from you!

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Nathaniel Hawthorne on Herman Melville

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) , whom I hope to discuss more about at a later date, wrote the following about his friend Herman Melville (1819-1891), another true original genius among American writers of the 19th century, when Melville visited him in Southport, England, during the older writer’s years as the American consul in Liverpool from 1853 to 1857, a position he was appointed to by his Bowdoin College classmate and loyal friend, President Franklin Pierce:

“He stayed with us from Tuesday to Thursday; and, on the intervening day, we took a pretty long walk together, and sat down in a hollow among the sand hills (sheltering ourselves from the high, cool wind) and smoked a cigar. Melville, as he always does, began to reason of Providence and futurity, and of everything that lies beyond human ken, and informed me that he had ‘pretty much made up his mind to be annihilated ‘; but still he does not seem to rest in that anticipation; and, I think, will never rest until he gets hold of a definite belief…..He can neither believe, nor be comfortable in his unbelief; and he is too honest and courageous not to try to do one or the other. If he were a religious man, he would be one of the most truly religious and reverential; he has a very high and noble nature, and better worth immortality than most of us….”

Hawthorne conveyed a gripping sense of blackness, of evil, in such classics as The Scarlet Letter, The Minister’s Black Veil and Young Goodman Brown joined by a cynicism as to any hope for humanity.

Herman Melville

Melville concerned himself with a greater range of thematic characterizations-the determination of Bartleby the Scrivener to “prefer not to do” any other tasks but copy documents all day and night in a Wall Street law office, even sleeping there; the admittedly heroic and destructive determination of Captain Ahab to catch the great white whale Moby Dick, who ate his leg; the horrible brooding tensions aboard a slave ship that has been taken over by the slaves in Beneto Cereno; and the hanging of an innocent sailor Billy Budd for defending himself against the lies of a vicious Master of Arms .

Melville concluded Billy Budd with a poem depicting Billy’s remains buried deep in the ocean with his wrists still bound by ‘darbies’, otherwise known as handcuffs, when he is executed by the British navy:

“But me they’ll lash in hammock, drop me deep.
Fathoms down, fathoms down, how I’ll dream fast asleep.
I feel it stealing now. Sentry, are you there?
Just ease these darbies at the wrist,
And roll me over fair!
I am sleepy, and the oozy weeds about me twist.”

SCORES & OUTDOORS – The great moose hunt: it wasn’t always that way

Photo courtesy of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

Roland D. Halleeby Roland D. Hallee

The Maine moose hunting season is underway. It has not always been that way.

The moose hunting season was reintroduced in 1980 on an experimental basis, when 700 permits were issued to residents. At that time, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife estimated the moose population to be in the vicinity of 20,000 – 25,000 animals. In 2007, a wildlife ecologist estimated the moose population for New England and New York to be in the range of 50,000 animals.

A campaign was began in 1983 by a group of moose lovers to place the moose hunting question on a referendum ballot. The initiative failed. The legislature subsequently gave the DIF&W the authority to establish the number of moose permits handed out each year, while maintaining control of the moose lottery.

In 2002, for the first time in 21 years, state wildlife biologists recommended reducing the number of permits, for fear that the moose population may have been on the decline. There had been a high level of calf mortality with the culprit possibly being the tiny blood-sucking ticks that have become so numerous in recent years. Ticks killed more than half the moose calves in northern New Hampshire during a peak year. It was feared the same was happening in Maine.

After expanding for most of the 20th century, the moose population of North America has been in steep decline since the 1990s. Populations expanded greatly with improved habitat and protection, but for unknown reasons, the moose population was declining.

Lee Kantar, state moose biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, stated, “the moose herd is dynamic. While young calves trying to make it through to their first birthday each May suffer from winter ticks that can be debilitating, in the core moose range generally from the Moosehead Region to the Canadian border, moose are abundant. But winter ticks depress reproduction in adult females and combined with moderate to severe overwinter mortality of calves in many years, annual population growth can become stagnant or decline with sporadic increases when annual winter tick levels ease.”

There were 4,030 permits issued this year including the 550 issued specifically for this year’s initial Adaptive (experimental) hunt to reduce moose densities in order to determine whether that can aid in breaking the debilitating impacts of the winter tick cycle.

The moose harvest in 2020 was 2,375.

Kantar continued, “September and October bull seasons have been variable. September had seasonable weather and moderate to high success rates. October bull season just ended Saturday and the week was unseasonably warm, keeping success rates lower.”

In northeastern North America, the moose’s history is very well documented: moose meat was often a staple in the diet of Native Americans going back centuries, with a tribe that occupied present day coastal Rhode Island giving the animal its name. The Native Americans often used moose hides for leather and its meat as an ingredient in a type of dried jerky used as a source of sustenance in winter or on long journeys. Eastern tribes also valued moose leather as a source for moccasins and other items.

The moose vanished in much of the eastern U.S. for as long as 150 years, due to colonial era overhunting and destruction of habitat.

European rock drawings and cave paintings reveal that moose have been hunted since the Stone Age.

Moose are not usually aggressive towards humans, but can be provoked or frightened to behave with aggression. In terms of raw numbers, they attack more people than bears and wolves combined, but usually with only minor consequences.

When harassed or startled by people or in the presence of a dog, moose may charge. Also, as with bears or any wild animal, moose that have become used to being fed by people, may act aggressively when food is denied.

A bull moose, disturbed by the photographer, lowers its head and raises its hackles. Like any wild animal, moose are unpredictable. They are most likely to attack if annoyed or harassed, or if approached too closely. A moose that has been harassed may vent its anger on anyone in the vicinity, and they often do not make distinctions between their tormentors and innocent passers-by.

Moose also tend to venture out onto highways at night. In northern Maine, especially, moose-vehicle collisions are common. The problem with that is the center of mass of a moose is above the hood of most passenger cars. In a collision, the impact crushed the front roof beams and individuals in the front seats. Collisions of this type are frequently fatal; seat belts and airbags offer little protection. In collisions with higher vehicles, such as trucks, most of the deformation is to the front of the vehicle and the passenger compartment is largely spared.

Moose lack upper front teeth, but have eight sharp incisors on the lower jaw. They also have a tough tongue, lips and gums, which aid in eating woody vegetation. A moose’s upper lip is very sensitive, to help distinguish between fresh shoots and harder twigs. A moose’s diet often depends on its location, but they seem to prefer the new growths from deciduous trees with a high sugar content, such as white birch.

Moose also eat aquatic plants, including lilies and pondweed. (We could sure use a few of them on Webber Pond). Moose are excellent swimmers and are known to wade into water to eat aquatic plants. This trait serves a second purpose in cooling down the moose on summer days and ridding itself of black flies. Moose are thus attracted to marshes and river banks during warmer months as both provide suitable vegetation to eat and as a way to wet themselves down. Moose avoid areas with little or no snow as this increases the risk of predation by wolves and avoid areas with deep snow, as this impairs mobility.

So, moose are a vital commodity to Maine, and we must do what is necessary to preserve them, and continue to harvest them responsibly.

Can anyone answer this question? If you have a legal moose hunting permit, you are on your way to the hunt, and you collide with a moose and kill it – and you survive – does that count as your moose, or can you continue to the hunting zone and claim a second moose?

Roland’s trivia question of the week:

Who was the last Red Sox player to be named World Series MVP?

Answer can be found here.

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Books: don’t look for a clean copy

by Debbie Walker

Sometimes I never know where or when one curiosity just moves right into another one. A couple of weeks ago I was writing about people being encouraged to speak out about their interesting experiences in life. I commented that so many people were brought up to “not toot their own horn” or “brag”.

My hope is that those who read this one won’t feel embarrassed to “Toot their own horns.” Sharing is great.

Then I remembered this little quote that follows: Life is not a journey to the grave with the intentions of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used-up totally worn out and loudly proclaiming “Wow, what a ride!” Okay now granted it was meant to be about people (my kind of people) however, what good is a book that has been printed and 40 years later still looks like new? Ya, ya, I know first editions, $$$. Still a waste!

If I pick up a used book and its pages are dog-eared or there are high light marks here and there, I’m not going to put it back looking for a cleaner copy. See this is where that curiosity thing of mine shows up.

The highlighted sentences or paragraphs make me wonder what kind of questions of life that may have answered for someone or did what was written give them the question to ask and what was it.

Dog-eared pages make me wonder what was it about this page that the person thought they might want to go back to or possibly they wanted to share that page with a friend or maybe they just got called away from their reading and just marked their spot!

Now that I think about it I have books at home that I have collected about my gazillion interests that aren’t dog-eared or highlighted yet. I absolutely love being a person of many interests but sometimes I get behind.

Anyway, dog-ear those pages, highlight things of interest, and leave behind a sign of your enthusiasm for what you and the author shared. (Except for in library books, they get really touchy about that sort of thing).

Do you have children you adore who live away from you, and you want to have a close relationship with, start buying two of the same book. You mail one to the child (they love receiving mail) and you keep one. You have so many ways for you and the child to enjoy the book and each other.

Of course, you can just read to the child. Depending on their level the child can tell you a story from looking at the pictures. You both can draw a picture of your favorite part of the story and show each other on a video chat on the phone.

Okay, enough of that. I did read something the other day that I want to share with as many people as I can so, please feel free to share this also. Shyanne sent this out to her friends in Facebook. The gist of it was not to use towels, blankets, etc., with the idea of keeping your critters warm. Use straw for their outside bedding. It keeps them dryer.

As usual, I’m just curious if you can get lost in a book too? And here’s hoping all our kids learn to love to read!

Please contact me at I love to hear from you.

REVIEW POTPOURRI – Book: The Beast That Walks Like a Man

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

The Beast That Walks Like a Man

The Beast That Walks Like Man is a 1955 history of the grizzly bear by author, naturalist and explorer Harold McCracken (1894-1983).

Harold McCracken

He writes “I have never lost that deep fascination which Old Ephraim inspires, and in the matter of personal experiences with these marvelous creatures, out in their natural haunts, I have been considerably more fortunate than most men.”

The book is rich in anecdotes of his own experiences in the grizzly country extending from the western United States and Canada to Alaska. It recounts much anthropological information and legends of the creature’s relationship with native Americans and other groups.

McCracken also provides an appendix listing 86 known species of the grizzlies and big brown bears of North America, starting with the Big Plains Grizzly or Ursus Horribilis Horribilis – huge in size, long massive skull, long curved claws and a killer of buffalo.

The author quotes an account of the explorer Kit Carson (1810-1868) in one vivid encounter:

“While out procuring meat for camp, Kit shot an elk with his muzzle-loader; and he hardly had time to observe the effects when the echo of the blast ‘was broken in upon and completely lost in the terrific roar from the woods directly behind him …..and he instantly saw two huge and terribly angry grizzly bears. As his eyes first rested upon the unwelcome guests, they were bounding towards him, their eyes flashing fiery passion, their pearly teeth glittering with eagerness to mangle his flesh, and their monster fore-arms, hung with sharp, bony claws, ready and anxious to hug his body in a close and most loving embrace.”

I found my copy, still with its dust jacket, for a quarter at a yard sale but noticed a penciled in price of $40 for a previous owner at a used bookstore, so there is no telling what prices for it are being listed on Ebay. And its research findings have been probably surpassed by ones published since 66 years ago.

But its colorfully written style does score points for connoisseurs of these delightful beasts of prey.

State Fair

Jean Crain (left)

Dana Andrews

The 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein film musical State Fair stars Dana Andrews, Dick Haymes, Jeanne Crain, Fay Bainter, Vivian Blaine and Charles Winninger; features such classic songs as It’s A Grand Night For Singing, and It Might As Well Be Spring; and has very pleasing technicolor cinematography in its Iowa locale, making it one DVD worth re-watching numerous times.

* * * * * *

For a few months, I have been working my way through a megaset of 40 compact discs comprising the complete recordings of French pianist/conductor Alfred Cortot (1878-1962). They cover the years from 1919 during the acoustic era to 1959 when stereo lps had been developed.

His musical interests ranged from Bach and Beethoven to Brahms, Chausson and Falla but his interpretations of the keyboard works of Frederic Chopin, Robert Schumann and Claude Debussy had a special eloquence and insight based on close study and outstanding virtuosity that did include wrong notes but brilliant wrong notes.

He collaborated in several recordings of trios by Beethoven, Haydn, Mendelssohn etcs with cellist Pablo Casals (1876-1973) and violinist Jacques Thibaud (1880-1953).

Conclusion to Robert PT Coffin’s Kennebec Crystals

Finally, the concluding paragraphs from Robert PT Coffin’s essay Kennebec Crystals about the ice harvesting industry in Maine:

“Now the Kennebec icehouses are rotting and falling back into the earth. Their interiors are taken over by the wasps and the mice. The old piers are sinking into the water. No ships come up in tow of a tug through the first leaves of May. School keeps week after week, and there are no bells ringing out to greet the steamer that leads up the spring. The gougers and saws are rusted half away.

“For the Kennebec crystals, last harvest of Maine’s finest river, have joined the white pine and the spruce, the sturgeon and shad and salmon. The end is elegy. The day of natural ice is done. New men, outside New England, bring their sons in their strength to the work of refrigerating homes and factories. And the small farmhouses, back from the river, that once housed great numbers of young men and boys, are full of empty rooms where the swallows bring up their young, or they have only a few children who work at their tasks and never need turn their heads toward the river, where the strength of their fathers lay and their fathers’ lives.

“The other day my good Kennebec friend whose great house looks up the river and down, over a twelve-foot hedge of spruce, took me out and showed me the tools of the ice harvesters. They were dark with rust and covered with cobwebs. They had joined the flint arrows and bows that once bent to bring life to the men along the ancient Kennebec.

When we were coming back we passed a strange depression in the woods, grown up with lusty spruces. It was the refrigerator men of my friend’s house used 150 years ago. It was the ruins of the earth cellar where they had stored their vegetables in summer and winter, to keep them from heat and cold. It was the Kennebec refrigerator his ancestors and mine learned how to make from the Indians when they drove them away into the everlasting dark from the bright blue river. That refrigerator was a ruin, and the Kennebec was as young and lusty as ever as it hurried toward the sea. Someday our own sons’ far great-grandchildren may find among the timbers of my friend’s house the rusted shards of the electric refrigerator that serves the house today. And the Kennebec will be going down to the sea, as young and as fresh and blue as ever.”

GROWING YOUR BUSINESS: What’s in a name?

Growing your businessby Dan Beaulieu
Business consultant

Who you gonna call? The name of your company is one of the most important aspects of building your business. The scary thing is that you have to have a name to even start a business. So, you have to come up with the right name even before you leave the proverbial parking lot to start your business ownership journey.

This means that you have to come up with the right name from the very beginning. And I mean getting it right immediately because you are going to have to live with that name forever. Once you start your marketing and branding it is incredibly difficult to change the name of your company.

With that in mind, here are some tips and ideas to consider when choosing your company’s name:

  • Avoid hard to spell name (Tell me about it! Check out my name, you can’t spell it you can’t say it! And you sure as heck would not want to be stuck with it as a company name which is why I used my initials, DB Management Group
  • Use names that might put you at the top of any directory listing. (Some people live by this rule, frankly I’m not sold on this idea)
  • Use a name that means something, a name that indicates what you do is a good idea.
  • Don’t pick a name that indicates too narrow business capabilities, something that could limit your company’s growth in the future.
  • Use a name that is catchy. A name that people will remember.
  • Conduct a domain name search. Sooner or later, you are going to have a website. You will need a domain name, make sure you consider this when choosing your company name. In fact, you should conduct a domain name search and choose your domain name as part of the naming process.
  • Check out the legal viability of the name you choose. Check out trademarks. Check it out with your Secretary of State. Make sure you are not inadvertently stealing someone else’s company name.
  • Ask your friends and family what they think of the name you are thinking of using. This is a case where more opinions and insights are better than going it solo.
  • How does the name sound when you say it aloud? Some names look great on paper, but they sound like something else when said out loud.
  • And finally, make sure you like the name. You are going to have to live with that company name forever, so make sure it is a name you not only like, but actually love!

Naming your company is just about the first important decision you will make when starting a company. Make sure you treat that decision with the importance it commands. Choosing the right name can go a long way for growing your business.

FINANCIAL FOCUS: What does retirement security mean to you?

by Sasha Fitzpatrick

October is National Retirement Security Month. But what does retirement security mean to you? And how can you work toward achieving it?

Here are some suggestions:

Build your resources. While you’re working, save in tax-advantaged accounts such as your IRA and 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan. In your 401(k), contribute at least enough to earn your employer’s match, if one is offered, and increase your contributions whenever your salary goes up. Remember, especially early in your career, time is often your biggest asset. Be sure to save early, since the longer you wait, the more you’ll need to save to help reach your goals.

Look for ways to boost retirement income. When transitioning to retirement, you can take steps to align your income with your needs. For example, consider Social Security. You can start collecting it as early as 62, but your monthly payments will be much larger if you can wait until your “full” retirement age, typically between 66 and 67. (Payments will “max out” at age 70.) So, if you have sufficient income from a pension or your 401(k) and other retirement accounts, and you and your spouse are in good health with a family history of longevity, you may consider delaying taking Social Security. You also might want to explore other income-producing vehicles, such as certain annuities that are designed to provide a lifetime income stream.

Prepare for unexpected costs. During your retirement, you can anticipate some costs, such as housing and transportation, but other expenses are more irregular and can’t always be predicted, such as those connected with health care. Even with Medicare, you could easily spend a few thousand dollars a year on medical expenses, so you may want to budget for these costs as part of your emergency savings, and possibly purchase supplemental insurance. You may also want to consider the possibility of needing some type of long-term care, which is not typically covered by Medicare and can be quite expensive. The average annual cost of a private room in a nursing home is more than $100,000, and it’s about $55,000 per year for a home health aide, according to Genworth, an insurance company. To address these costs, you may want to consider some form of protection, such as long-term care insurance or life insurance with a long-term care component.

Do your estate planning. It’s hard to feel totally secure in retirement if you’re unsure of what might happen if you have an unexpected health event, become incapacitated or die earlier than expected. That’s why you’ll want to create a comprehensive estate plan – one that might include documents such as a durable power of attorney, a will and a living trust. A review of your insurance coverages and beneficiaries can also help protect your assets and ensure they are distributed the way you want. In creating your plan, you will need to work with your financial advisor and a legal professional, and possibly your tax advisor as well.

Thinking holistically about your retirement security and developing and executing a strategy aligned with your goals may help free you to enjoy one of the most rewarding times of your life.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Edward Jones, Member SIPC

Sasha Fitzpatrick can be contacted at EdwardJones Financial Advisor, 22 Common St., Waterville, ME 04901, or at

ERIC’S TECH TALK: CBC wants to revolutionize internet access in China, but will it work?

by Eric W. Austin

The views of the author in the following column are not necessarily those of The Town Line newspaper, its staff and board of directors.

On the ballot this November is a question that has the potential to revolutionize internet access for residents of China. The question is also long, at over 200 words, a bit confusing and filled with legalese. As a resident of China, a technophile, and a reporter for The Town Line newspaper, I wanted to understand this initiative, figure out exactly what it’s attempting to accomplish, and try to find out what residents of China think about the future of local internet access.

In order to understand the issue, I attended two of the recent information sessions held by the China Broadband Committee and also sat down with Tod Detre, a member of the committee, who I peppered with questions to clear up any confusions I had.

I also created a post in the Friends of China Facebook group, which has a membership of more than 4,000 people from the town of China and neighboring communities, asking for comments and concerns from residents about the effort. Along with soliciting comments, I included in my post a survey question asking whether residents support the creation of a fiber optic infrastructure for internet access in China. (I should be clear here and point out that the question on the November ballot does not ask whether we should build a fiber optic network in China, only whether the selectboard should move forward with applying for financing to fund the initiative if they find there is sufficient interest to make the project viable. But for my purposes, I wanted to understand people’s thoughts on the goals of the effort and how they felt about their current internet access.)

My Facebook post garnered 86 comments and 141 votes on the survey question. One hundred and twenty people voted in favor of building a fiber optic network in China and 21 people opposed it. (This, of course, was not a scientifically rigorous survey, and the results are obviously skewed toward those who already have some kind of internet access and regularly utilize online platforms like Facebook.)

Before we get into the reasons why people are for or against the idea, let’s first take a look at what exactly the question on the ballot is and some background on what has led up to this moment.

The question before voters in November does not authorize the creation of a fiber optic network in China. It only authorizes the selectboard to begin the process of pursuing the financing that would be required to accomplish that goal – but only if certain conditions are met. So, what are those conditions? The most important condition is one of participation. Since the Broadband Committee’s goal is to pay for the fiber optic network solely through subscriber fees – without raising local taxes – the number of people who sign up for the new service will be the primary determining factor on whether the project moves forward.

If the question is approved by voters, the town will proceed with applying for financing for the initiative, which is projected to have a total estimated cost of about $6.5 million, paid for by a bond in the amount of $5.6 million, with the remainder covered through a combination of “grants, donations and other sources.” As the financing piece of the project proceeds, Axiom, the company the town plans to partner with to provide the internet service, will begin taking pre-registrations for the program. Although the length of this pre-registration period has not been completely nailed down, it would likely last anywhere from six months to a year while the town applies for financing. During this period, residents would have an opportunity to reserve a spot and indicate their interest in the new service with a refundable deposit of $100, which would then be applied toward their first few months’ of service once the program goes live. Because the plan for the initiative is for it to be paid for by subscriber fees rather than any new taxes, it is essential that the project demonstrates sufficient interest from residents before any work is done or financing acquired.

With approximately 2,300 structures, or households, that could potentially be connected to the service in China, the Broadband Committee estimates that at least 834 participants – or about 36 percent – would need to enroll in the program for it to pay for itself. Any number above this would create surplus revenue for the town, which could be used to pay off the bond sooner, lower taxes, reduce subscriber fees or for other purposes designated by the selectboard. If this number is not reached during the pre-registration period, the project would not proceed.

One of the problems this initiative is meant to alleviate is the cost of installing internet for residents who may not have sufficient internet access currently because bringing high speed cable to their house is cost prohibitive. The Broadband Committee, based on surveys they have conducted over the last several years, estimates that about 70 percent of residents currently have cable internet. The remaining 30 percent have lower speed DSL service or no service at all.

For this reason, for those who place a deposit during the initial signup period, there would be no installation cost to the resident, no matter where they live, including those who have found such installation too expensive in the past. (The lone exception to this guarantee would be residents who do not have local utility poles providing service to their homes. In those rare instances, the fiber optic cable would need to be buried underground and may incur an additional expense.) After the initial pre-registration period ends, this promise of free installation would no longer be guaranteed, although Axiom and the Broadband Committee have talked about holding rolling enrollment periods in the future which could help reduce the installation costs for new enrollees after the initial pre-registration period is over.

What are the benefits of the proposed fiber optic infrastructure over the cable broadband or DSL service that most residents have currently? Speed and reliability are the most obvious benefits. Unlike the copper cable used currently for cable internet, which transmits data via electrical pulses, fiber optic cable transmits data using pulses of light through fine glass fibers and does not run into the same limitations as its copper counterpart. The speed at which data can be transmitted via fiber optic cable is primarily limited by the hardware at either end of the connection rather than the cable itself. Currently, internet service travels out from the servers of your internet provider as a digital signal via fiber optic cable, but then is converted to an analogue signal as it is passed on to legacy parts of the network that do not have fiber optics installed. This process of conversion slows down the signal by the time it arrives at your house. As service providers expand their fiber optic networks and replace more of the legacy copper wire with fiber optics, the speed we experience as consumers will increase, but it is still limited by the slowest point along the network.

The proposed fiber optic network would eliminate this bottleneck by installing fiber optic cable from each house in China back to an originating server with no conversion necessary in between.

Both copper and fiber optic cable suffer from something called “attenuation,” which is a degradation of the strength of the signal as it travels further from its source. The copper cables we currently use have a maximum length of 100 meters before they must be fed through a power source to amplify their signal. In contrast, fiber optic cables can run for up to 24 miles before any significant weakening of the signal starts to become a problem. Moving from copper cable to fiber optics would virtually eliminate problems from signal degradation.

Another downside to the present infrastructure is that each of those signal conversion or amplification boxes require power to do their job. This means that when the power goes out, it shuts off the internet because these boxes along the route will no longer function to push the signal along. The infrastructure proposed by the China Broadband Committee would solve this problem by installing fiber optics along the entire signal route leading back to a central hub station, which would be located in the town of China and powered by a propane generator that will automatically kick on when the power goes out. With the proposed system, as long as you have a generator at your house, your internet should continue to work – even during a localized power outage.

There’s an additional benefit to the proposed fiber optic network that residents would notice immediately. The current cable internet that most of us use is a shared service. When more people are using the service, everyone’s speed decreases. Most of us know that the internet is slower at 5 o’clock in the afternoon than it is at 3 in the morning. The proposed fiber optic network is different however. Inside the fiber optic cable are hundreds of individual glass strands that lead back to the network source. A separate internet signal can ride on each of these strands without interfering with the others. Hawkeye Connections, the proposed contractor for the physical infrastructure part of the project, would install cable with enough individual strands so that every house along its path could be connected via a different strand within the cable. This means that no one would be sharing a signal with anyone else and internet slowdown and speed fluctuations during peak usage should become a thing of the past.

Another change proposed by the CBC initiative would be to equalize upload and download speeds. Presently, download speeds are generally higher than upload speeds, which is a convention in the industry. This is a legacy of the cable TV networks from which they evolved. Cable TV is primarily a one-way street datawise. The video information is sent from the cable provider to your home and displayed on your TV. Very little data is sent the other way, from your home back to the cable provider. This was true of most data streams in the early days of the internet as well. We downloaded pictures, videos and webpages. Nearly all the data was traveling in one direction. But this is changing. We now have Zoom meetings, smart houses and interactive TVs. We upload more information than we used to, which means upload speed is more important than ever. This trend is likely to continue in the years ahead as more of our lives become connected to the internet. The internet service proposed by the Broadband Committee and Axiom, the company contracted to provide the service, would equalize upload and download speeds. For example, the first tier of the service would offer speeds of 50 megabits up and 50 megabits down. This, combined with the other benefits outlined above, should make Zoom meetings much more bearable.

What about costs for the consumer? The first level service tier would offer speeds of 50 megabits download and 50 megabits upload for $54.99 a month. Higher level tiers would include 100/100 for $64.99/month, 500/500 for $149.99/month, and a gigabit line for businesses at a cost of $199.99/month.

Now that we’ve looked at some of the advantages and benefits of the fiber optic infrastructure proposed by the China Broadband Committee, what about the objections? A number of residents voiced their opposition to the project on my Facebook post, so let’s take a look at some of those objections.

One of the most common reasons people are against the project is because they think there are other technologies that will make the proposed fiber optic network obsolete or redundant in the near future. The technologies most often referenced are 5G wireless and Starlink, a global internet initiative being built by tech billionaire and Tesla/SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

While new 5G cellular networks are currently being rolled out nationwide, it’s not clear when the technology will be widely available here in China. And even when such capability does become available to most residents, it will likely suffer from similar problems that our existing cell coverage suffers from now – uncertain coverage on the outskirts of town and in certain areas. (I still can’t get decent cell reception at my home just off Lakeview Drive, in China Village.) Further, while 5G is able to provide impressive download speeds and low latency, it requires line of sight with the broadcasting tower and can easily be blocked by anything in between like trees or buildings. Residents of China who currently suffer from poor internet service or cell phone reception today would likely suffer from the same problems with 5G coverage as well. Fiber optic cable installation to those residents would solve that problem, at least in terms of internet access, once and for all.

Starlink is a technology that aims to deliver internet access to the world through thousands of satellites in low-earth orbit, but it is still years away from reaching fruition and there is no guarantee it will deliver on its potential. When I spoke with the Broadband Committee’s Tod Detre, he said he applied to be part of the Starlink beta program more than six months ago, and has only recently been accepted (although he’s still awaiting the hardware required to connect). There is also some resistance to the Starlink project, primarily from astronomers and other star gazers, who worry how launching so many satellites into orbit will affect our view of the night sky. As of June, Starlink has launched approximately 1,700 satellites into orbit and currently services about 10,000 customers. The initiative is estimated to cost at least $10 billion before completion. At the moment, the company claims to offer speeds between 50 and 150 megabits and hopes to increase that speed to 300 megabits by the end of 2021, according to a recent article on To compare, copper-based networks can support data transfer speeds up to 40 gigabits, and fiber optic wires have virtually no limit as they can send signals at the speed of light. Of course, these upper speeds are always limited by the capabilities of the hardware at either ends of the connection.

While both 5G and technologies like Elon Musk’s Starlink hold a lot of potential for consumers, 5G service is likely to suffer from the same problems residents are already experiencing with current technology, and Starlink is still a big unknown and fairly expensive at $99/month plus an initial cost of $500 for the satellite dish needed to receive the signal. It’s also fairly slow even at the future promised speed increase of 300 megabits. As the Broadband Committee’s chairman, Bob O’Connor, pointed out at a recent public hearing on the proposed network, bandwidth needs have been doubling every ten years and likely to continue increasing in a similar fashion for the near future.

Another objection frequently voiced by residents is that the town government should not be in the business of providing internet service to residents. O’Connor also addressed this concern in a recent public hearing before the China selectboard. He said that residents should think about the proposed fiber optic infrastructure in the same way they view roads and streets. (This is a particularly apt comparison since the internet is often referred to as the “information superhighway.”) O’Connor says that although the town owns the roads, it may outsource the maintenance of those roads to a subcontractor, in the same way that the town would own this fiber optic infrastructure, but will be subcontracting the service and maintenance of that network to Axiom.

The Broadband Committee also points out that there are some benefits that come with the town’s ownership of the fiber optic cable and hardware: if residents don’t like the service they are receiving from one provider they can negotiate to receive service from another instead. The committee has said that although Axiom would initially be contracted for 12 years, there would be a service review every three years to see if we are happy with their service. If not, we could negotiate with another provider to service the town instead. This gives the town significant leverage to find the best service available, leverage that we would not have if the infrastructure was owned by a service provider like Spectrum or Consolidated Communications (both of whom have shown little interest in the near term for upgrading the China area with fiber optic cable).

There are certainly risks and outstanding questions associated with the committee’s proposal. Will there be enough subscribers for the project to pay for itself? Could another technology come along that would make the proposed infrastructure obsolete or less attractive in the future? Will proposed contractors like Axiom and Hawkeye Connections (who will be doing the installation of the physical infrastructure) provide quality and reliable service to residents long-term? Can we expect the same level of maintenance coverage to fix storm damage and outages that we experience now?

On the other hand, the potential benefits of the project are compelling. The internet, love it or hate it, has become an essential part of everyday life and looks only to become more essential in the years ahead. Having a reliable and high speed infrastructure for residential internet access is likely to play an important role in helping to grow China’s economy and to attract young families who are looking for a place to live and work.

Ultimately, voters will decide if the potential benefits outweigh the possible risks and pitfalls come this November.

Contact the author at

More information is also available on the CBC website,

Read all of The Town Line’s coverage of the China Broadband Committee here.

FOR YOUR HEALTH: New Hope for Treating Neurodegenerative Diseases

Dr. Silver, renowned spinal cord injury and regenerative medicine researcher, studies new treatments for MS and Alzheimer’s.

(NAPSI)—Scientists have searched for decades without success for ways to repair the devastating damage caused by neurodegenerative diseases, but there are now new compounds in clinical development that offer hope.

The Problem

When there is a mass die-off of neurons in the body, the central nervous system misfires like a faulty circuit board—one that cannot be fixed without replacing the blown fuses. This major physiological malfunction tends to trigger the onset of some of the hardest-to-treat neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis (MS).

These are terrible afflictions that affect millions of North Americans. They also cost the healthcare system billions of dollars a year, mostly spent on managing physical and mentally debilitating symptoms that inexorably get worse.

What’s more, current treatments can only “modify” (slow down or mitigate) the destructive effects on the human body caused by the mass death of neurons in the brain or spine.

The Search For A Solution

With that all said, many people may be relieved to learn of a small Canadian-headquartered biotech start-up that offers new hope to tens of millions of sufferers of neurodegenerative diseases. With Phase 1 clinical trials already underway, NervGen Pharma believes it’s on-track to become a big breakthrough thanks to its blockbuster drug candidate—NVG-291.

NVG-291 is a peptide (a small protein) that works by targeting the protein tyrosine phosphatase sigma (PTP?) receptor that blocks nerve repair following injury, whether from trauma or conditions such as MS or Alzheimer’s disease. NervGen targets nerve cell repair, while promoting plasticity to create new neural pathways.

NVG-291 is the brainchild of Dr. Jerry Silver, a renowned spinal cord injury and regenerative medicine researcher whose pioneering work addresses a diversity of conditions defined by a damaged central nervous system. These include degenerative diseases, spinal cord damage, stroke and traumatic brain injury.

Researchers are currently conducting trials in healthy volunteers. This will transition to studies for several of these medical aliments. In particular, the company has stepped up its interest in NVG-291’s ability to tackle Alzheimer’s disease.

The company works with Dr. Ksenia Kastanenka of Massachusetts General Hospital—which has a long history of supporting cutting-edge research and innovation in medical research—to study NVG-291 in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease.

It’s also preparing to enter a Phase 1b clinical trial for Alzheimer’s patients in 2022 following ongoing Phase 1 safety trials for the drug candidate.

An Expert’s Opinion

According to NervGen’s CEO, Paul Brennan, “The multiple preclinical studies that we are conducting, as well as our planned Phase 1b study, are important milestones for our Alzheimer’s program, which, if successful, will provide a meaningful benefit to patients and significant potential for NervGen.

“What differentiates NVG-291 from other drugs in development is that it leverages multiple mechanisms for repairing nerve damage, while most others focus on a single approach. Alzheimer’s disease is a complex condition and likely caused by multiple factors. We believe that a systems approach to treating the disease is an important distinction.”

Brennan adds, “All told, NVG-291’s ability to remyelinate and enhance plasticity is a one-two knockout punch for repairing a damaged central nervous system, which is the end result on a diversity of neurodegenerative diseases, as well as traumatic brain and spinal injuries. NVG-291 could herald a revolutionary new paradigm in treating all of these chronically debilitating conditions.”

The company’s continued strides toward launching this new class of drugs offers renewed hope to millions.

Learn More

For further facts on the research and clinical trials, go to