LETTERS: Overjoyed to see the Wreaths Across America

To the editor:

As a veteran, I was overjoyed to see the Wreaths Across America honor the people of America at Arlington National Cemetery, but also the unsung heroes at Hannaford, in China, who graciously and with big hearts received the 50-plus caravan that stopped in China on Sunday morning, December 11, and greeted all of them with coffee, sandwiches and doughnuts, and even a portable toilet. God bless them all!

It is very sad to notice over my 90 years how so many of our ceremonies of our heroes from the past, present, are not mentioned in print, TV or radio. Did any of you readers notice anything about December 7 [Pearl Harbor Day]? I certainnly didn’t.

If this letter is late getting printed and by some miracle the media did in fact cover the Wreaths Across America, besides the one liners mentioned on TV and never mentioning China’s wonderful reception for them, I apologize.

Frank Slason

Somerville farm to hold Yule Goat fundraiser

Bacchus is one of the Yule Goats at Pumpkin Vine Family Farm, in Somerville. (photo courtesy of Pumpkin Vine Farm)

Pumpkin Vine Farm’s Yule Goat celebration, which aims to help spread the magic of Christmas from Scandinavia to India, is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday, December 11, at the 217 Hewett Road farm, in Somerville.

In Scandinavian tradition, the Yule Goat brings presents to children at Christmas, accompanied by the Tomten, a farm gnome that looks after the well-being of the animals, according to a news release from farm owner Kelly Payson-Roopchand.

This year, the Yule Goat is raising funds for underprivileged schoolchildren in Varanasi, India.

People can attend the holiday event for free, then pass on the gift through a purchase of a special fundraising goat calendar and/or direct donation. The festivities start with a traditional Scandinavian story followed by handcrafts and hot chocolate by the fireside.

Those who attend are encouraged to wear winter clothes and boots so they can take a hike with Yule Goats dressed in their bells and blankets to decorate a tree for the wild birds.

After a visit to the barn, people can browse local crafts and farm-fresh treats at the farmers’ market. The market will include snacks, holiday gifts, and all the fixings for a holiday table.

For more information, visit pumpkinvinefamilyfarm.com, email info@pumpkinvinefamilyfarm.com or call 207-549-3096.

LETTERS: Is Poland more forward thinking than us?

To the editor:

Concerning the new trend toward the electrification of America, just a reminder of what’s to come. This stampede to electric cars and heat pumps all need electric back ups and will put a big strain on our already crumbling grid.

Electric vehicles will have to beef up their electrical services and night workers will charge their cars during the day while day workers will have to charge their vehicles at night, thus putting a 24 hour a day strain on the grid.

My other view is all this stampeding for green energy is false, as solar panels are not biodegradable and also not permanent, so when they fall apart in possibly two decades, what do we do with their junk? I must add that solar panels are the ugliest sight ever and what do we do when these solar people finally con all the farmers into selling their land? Starve?

With the above in mind, it would seem logical to concentrate on nuclear power, our only hope for the future of this country. I must add an engineering company in America just signed a contract with Poland to build a brand new nuclear plant in Poland. Maybe Poland is more forward thinking than us, eh?

Frank Slason

Slasons observe 66th anniversary

Frank D. and Diane E. Slason, of Somerville, recently celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary. A small celebration was held at the Heritage Rehab & Nursing Center, in Winthrop, where Mrs. Slason is a resident.

Maine Farmland Trust awards grants to local farms

Ironwood Farm, in Albion, owners Nell Finnigan, left, and Justin Morace. (internet photo)

Maine Farmland Trust (MFT) announced the award of six matching grants totaling $300,000 to Ironwood Farm, in Albion, and five other farms across the state upon their completion of MFT’s Farming for Wholesale program, a two-year program that offers up to 100 hours of individualized business planning and technical assistance to farmers who are seeking to grow their operations. The six farms will implement business plans focused on scaling up for wholesale by investing in equipment and infrastructure to streamline their production, improve their ability to sell to wholesale markets, and make their businesses more profitable.

The 2022 grantees are Apple Creek Farm in Bowdoinham; Bahner Farm in Belmont; Bumbleroot Organic Farm in Windham; Farmer Kev’s Organics in West Gardiner; Ironwood Farm in Albion; and Pumpkin Vine Family Farm in Somerville.

Each farm was awarded $50,000, and will match the grants with $50,000 of their own investments, introducing a total of $100,000 of new funding to grow their businesses. All six farms participated in MFT’s Farming for Wholesale program and worked with business advisors to research and define robust business plans that focused on scaling up for wholesale markets. These grants are competitive and applications undergo an extensive review process by a committee of MFT staff and industry consultants.

In their business plan, Nell Finnigan and Justin Morace of Ironwood Farm, an organic diversified vegetable farm in Albion, planned to scale up their best crops to help them grow sales to a level where they can support full-time, year round employees who are paid equitably, as well support a living wage for the farm owners. Finnigan and Morace plan to do this by using grant funds to construct new vegetable-handling facilities and cold storage.

Pumpkin Vine Family Farm, in Somerville. Anil Roopchand, center, with children Kieran, left, and Sarita. (The Town Line file photo)

Another award recipient was Anil Roopchand and Kelly Payson-Roopchand’s Pumpkin Vine Family Farm, a goat dairy and farmstead creamery, in Somerville. Their business plan identified a need to increase the size of their goat herd, as well as the capacity of their on-farm infrastructure, so their farm can sell products to diverse markets, including expanding their ability to provide wholesale goat milk to other local creameries. As a result, Roopchand and Payson-Roopchand plan to use grant funds to buy new equipment, as well as investing in an expansion of their barn and a manure pit.

Learn more about MFT’s Farming for Wholesale program here: https://www.mainefarmlandtrust.org/farm-viability/workshops/.

LETTERS: LD-290 is insane

To the editor:

Wake up people of Maine! Regarding LD-290, a sleeper bill that slipped through without any discussion called, “A tax relief program”, is a misnomer. Freezing a poor person’s tax increase on their home is ridiculous. Taxes rise and fall! Let’s hope and pray Gov. Mills spots this and vetoes it immediately.

To the idiots who created this bogus bill designed to cause mayhem throughout cities and municipalities with needless paper work and money wasted.

Now, if someone with common sense at the state house could come up with a sensible bill used in other states called, “The real estate tax deferment plan,” [there are] lots of similarities except for the increase freezing nonsense. It requires at 75, Homestead act on home for 10 years at the federal poverty level, and have been living in the home for a minimum of 20 years. So, LD-290 is not going to bail out poor people and give them more money for food. I sure hope the governor wakes up quickly and vetoes this insane bill. Bear in mind, deferred means not paying any taxes until you sell or die!

Frank Slason

Editor’s note: A new property tax law passed in the most recent session of the Legislature is entitled LD-290 – An Act to Stabilize Property Taxes for Individuals 65 Years of Age or Older Who Own a Homestead for at Least 10 Years.” Very little information has been shared with municipalities on how the program will be administered. The state expects the application and more information to be available by August 8. This law applies to the tax year beginning April 1, 2023. Interested taxpayers will need to apply with the municipality where their homestead is located on or before December 1, 2022.

LETTERS: Mills, legislature need to read Chief Red Jacket’s speech to Congress

To the editor:

An open letter to Governor [Janet] Mills and the Maine legislators. Governor Mills threatened to veto and the legislature’s failure to act to restore sovereignty to the Maine Natives prompts this reply.

Gov. Mills and the legislature should go back to this country’s archives and look up the speech, centuries ago, by a native American chief by the name of Chief Red Jacket, he gave to the Congress. His first words were “my people welcomed you to our country with open arms. Friendship and trust.” He then went on to tell Congress how they have repaid this gesture. The speech is too long to write but I hope Mills and the legislature, who have a conscious, will look it up and read it.

I have not plagiarized any of Chief Red Jackets speech, but ironically, when responding to a cartoon in Time magazine 1990s, ended up expressing my thoughts which resembled Chief Red Jacket’s. I wrote to the editor of Time expressing my disgust at seeing a cartoon depicting two Pilgrims, and one said to the other, “What would the Indians have if not for us Pilgrims?”

The editor allowed me to answer that Pilgrims question as such: The Native Americans would still have their clear, clean skies. The Native Americans would still have their clean unpolluted rivers. The Native Americans would still have an abundance of buffalo for their food, clothes and shelters.

However, due to our forefathers “invasion,” the Native American is now treated as a second class citizen. Imprisoned on reservations located in a country they once owned.

Frank Slason

Swift announces candidacy for House District #62

Pam Swift

PALERMO, ME – Pam Swift, MD, a Democrat from Palermo, has announced her candidacy for Maine’s House of Representatives in District #62, which includes the communities of Palermo, China, Somerville, Windsor, and Hib­berts Gore.

“With decades of work experience in both healthcare and agriculture, I understand that the well-being of our families is fundamentally tied to affordable healthcare, access to nutritious food, and the health of our soil, air, and water,” Swift said. “My education and lived experience will make mine a valuable voice in the Maine Legislature.”

Swift earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science with the intention of becoming a veterinarian, but later decided to pursue a medical degree. After graduating from medical school and completing her residency in obstetrics and gynecology, Swift joined a large practice that specialized in high-risk obstetrical cases, where she worked her way up to full business partner. After 23 years practicing medicine, Swift returned to her animal science roots and purchased a farm in Palermo with her husband, Don, where they raise grass-fed sheep, free-range organic laying hens, and acorn-fattened pigs.

Swift is serving her second term on the select board, in Palermo. Although the board’s three members span the political spectrum, they work together with the common goal of doing what’s best for the community as a whole. Most recently, the select board worked cooperatively with the Palermo Volunteer Fire Department and Liberty Ambulance to create a new service for Palermo residents that will provide a more rapid response as well as a higher level of emergency medical care.

As a representative, Swift would focus on ensuring her neighbors have access to affordable healthcare, reducing the cost of prescription medications, and preventing and treating opioid addiction. She is also interested in issues related to food sovereignty, supporting Maine’s small family farms, and dealing with the threat imposed by PFAS (or forever chemicals). Regarding the environment, Swift notes observable changes that concern her. Due to drought, there have been years where she’s had to start feeding her sheep hay in August instead of December because the grass didn’t grow back after the first round of grazing. This dramatically increases the cost of production. Also, milder winters mean more ticks in the spring and fall resulting in a higher risk of contracting tick-borne diseases, not just for people, but for horses, cattle, and dogs as well. And Brown-tailed moths, the new scourge, are negatively impacting both quality of life and businesses—especially those involving tourism.

“In my previous work as a physician, and now as a member of the select board, I have a proven record of working effectively with people from all walks of life,” Swift said. “As a candidate, my goal is to help create and pass legislation that will lead to healthy, fulfilling lives for my fellow Mainers.”

Swift, who has qualified for the ballot, is running as a Clean Elections candidate.

LETTERS: Happy to support Smith

To the editor:

I am happy to write to support Katrina Smith for State Representative for District #62 China, Hibberts Gore, Palermo, Somerville and Windsor. Katrina brings a true passion for conservative values to this race with a deep understanding of the issues facing Maine. As the chairman of the Waldo County Republicans she tirelessly worked to engage with constituents and educated them on legislation within the state house. Over the past three years Katrina has spoken often and boldly against the policies that threatened the well-being of the people of Maine.

I’ve worked with Katrina for a few years and when Katrina says she will get things done you can absolutely count on her.

Anne Kurek

Somerville dream of owning high speed fiber-optic broadband internet network coming true

Submitted by Samantha Peaslee
Town Clerk/Registrar

SOMERVILLE, ME — The Town of Somerville will receive grant funding from the US National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA), an arm of the federal Department of Commerce, along with additional funding and support from the state’s ConnectMaine authority, to construct a municipally-owned broadband internet system able to connect to every home and business in town. The fiber-to-the-home internet system will be built and operated by Axiom Technologies, a Maine-based internet provider, under construction and franchise agreements to be signed with the town. No property tax revenue nor municipal debt will be needed to finance construction of the network. Once in operation, revenues from subscribers to the town’s system will be used to maintain and enhance the network in the future.

“I am thrilled that roughly a year from now Somerville will offer fast, reliable internet to anyone in town who wants it. For-profit internet providers have consistently indicated they had no interest in investing to provide modern competitive Internet service in small rural towns like Somerville, because denser communities are more profitable for them,” said Chris Johnson, Chairman of Somerville’s Select Board. “Here, with funding from NTIA and ConnectMaine, and expertise from Axiom Technologies, Somerville is building its own fiber network and will invest our share of ratepayer revenue back into future improvements.” The NTIA grant, to be administered by ConnectMaine, also awarded funds to roll out broadband to underserved areas in the neighboring towns of Washington and Jefferson.

Jim Grenier, the Chairman of the Somerville Broadband Committee, added, “This wonderful news is the result of the efforts by many town volunteers and supporters who have spent years seeking an affordable solution to the town’s lack of fast internet service. As well, the Island Institute has supported Somerville in getting this project off the ground and Axiom has been a capable and committed partner.”

Pricing for the service, which will offer a choice of different tiers of speeds, such as 25/25 and 100/100 Mbps, and can go up to 10 Gigabit per second for customers who need it, will be cost competitive with other broadband offers in Northern New England. Low-income residents will be eligible for additional monthly financial assistance through the federal Affordable Connectivity Program, which lowers the cost of high-speed internet to those households.

Construction in Somerville is expected to begin later this year starting with the Central Office. Fiber network construction will begin once the Maine Public Utilities Commission required process to arrange for attaching new fiber cables to existing utility poles in town has been approved and the utilities have made poles ready for our attachment. Final installation and service should roll out to Somerville residents beginning in the spring of 2023. Customers who sign up in advance for internet service by putting down a small deposit will receive free installation to their premise.

The town will soon provide more information to residents on pricing as well as how to sign up for service and free installation.