Letters, Camden Herald
We have so many opportunities to show that we care in this wonderful community of ours, and on Saturday the 8th of March two local events will benefit families struggling with medical bills for children. "Sharing from the Heart" takes place from 1 to 3 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Camden, and offers a silent auction plus raffles to help out little Silas Brown, struggling with Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy since birth. For more information, visit silassaga.com.
That same night, a "Giant Contra Dance party" is planned at 6 p.m. at Rockport Opera House will benefit a local family dealing with childhood cancer. (Tickets available at birthdaybenefit.org.) How lucky we are to live in a place where we can show support for these families and be out in community, too.
Steve Reddy DBA Maine Sober House
This is an open letter to all the residents of Camden and Knox County. We are pleased to announce signing the closing papers on a High Street property that we are planning on turning into an eight patient alcohol treatment facility. It was wonderful to see the great reception that the other proposed treatment facility received recently. My investors and I thought that if they can open their facility without town approval, well, why shouldn't we cash in on this marvelous opportunity? As noted in a recent article in the Feb. 26th edition of Bangor Daily News page B4, we do not need town permission to open this facility as we are protected by the Federal Fair Housing Act.
Of course, our facility will only cater to those who can afford the 50-60k private payment plan, it will not probably serve many Mainers as after all the people who come here for treatment depend on privacy so as to not let anyone know that they have an illness. Plus it is important that we treat the wealthiest alcoholics so we can maximize our profit potential.
I think this will be a real plus for Camden, if all goes well I am certain we can open two or three more facilities just like the one we have planned and the proposed one on Fox Hill. Our town can be known near and far as THE place to go for a posh rehab experience.
We will be meeting with representatives from local substance abuse facilities in Bangor and Portland in order to develop a treatment program, of course we will be hiring some locals to help staff the facility.
We are excited at opening and look forward to input from concerned citizens and abutters to our property.
A Fond Tribute to the Knox Center
It is a decidedly spring morning and to my delight-for the first time in weeks - I am sitting next to my hospital room window. It is open and is broadcasting all the freshness that spring can offer. My vista includes a small children’s park filled with the laughter that it was designed to elicit. But best of all to an old fly fisherman like me, there appears to be a small trout stream wending its way through trees and gardens.
In all probability the stream does not hold trout. But at this moment, given my long illness, I prefer to believe that it does. I am also willing to believe, from the feelings of hope this place has been steadily giving me, that I will wade trout streams again.
I am at the Knox Center for Long Term Care at this moment, reflecting on the arduous illness I have had for the last eight weeks, the first three of which were the most difficult of my life. A year earlier, I had heart surgery that, by comparison, seemed like a cakewalk.
Yet my thoughts at the window are about the amazing care that gave me strength through this terrible experience.
When I came to this rehabilitation facility after a three-week stay at Pen Bay Medical Center, walking was far from being assured. This was, in fact, what I had been told that in the hospital when I was barely lucid. I had lost my ability to walk and was advised that I might never be able to walk again. I developed a massive staph infection, the result of a tiny self-inflicted wound from a paring knife, combined with a compromised immune system associated with Parkinson’s disease.
Through my darkest days, my sweet, wonderful and ever-present wife was with me and helped me climb out of the abyss when I began to improve. As a consequence, she has been able to tell me about the excellent and the extensive care I received. From the beginning she was impressed with the kindness and helpfulness of my physicians and the entire staff. On the physician side, she was highly impressed with the curriculum vitae she was able to review via the Internet.
Indeed, the overall impression left by the exceptional care at Pen-Bay began to suggest that this would be an excellent area for our permanent retirement residence. As it happened our vacation home in Tenants Harbor of some 10 years seemed to be a ready-made spot. We are now Mainers, although as we understand it, not the authentic kind.
Having heard my wife’s high praise for the hospital’s care, I had high expectations when I was transferred to the Knox Center. They were more than met. Based upon my hospital experiences elsewhere I was truly astonished.
It certainly wasn’t because the facility was new or posh. To the contrary, it was so old that in its former life as a hospital, many of Knox Center’s current personnel and their grandparents were born there. Instead, it is the attitude that pervades the place that is so special; it effectively greets you at the door. It is as though the entire place has had a course and earned a doctorate in pleasantness.
This was of great comfort, not only to me but to my family. All three of my adult children came to visit early during my stay at Knox Center. They were expecting something more institutional and less responsive. Their experience at-large city hospitals had not prepared them for the can-do attitude of the nurses, nurse’s aides, the building staff and administrative personnel. The patients came first, and were generally met with a broad smile and a “What can I do for you?”
At the heart of my efforts to walk again were the physical and occupational therapy staffs. I was usually assigned the same therapists who became used to my quirks and particular needs. While at times I thought I would never succeed in my goals, the encouragement of both of my therapists, their professionalism and the confidence they placed in me, bolstered my own determination and desire. I was also highly impressed with their knowledge of the Kineseo tape used with such success at the Olympics. Their willingness to use and experiment with it indicated an institution flexible enough to move in any direction required. I learned to develop total faith in the therapy these kind professionals so expertly administered, but could hardly believe how well it worked.
Slowed down by a case of gout at the end of five weeks, I was walking with the aid of a walker and was able to take care of most of my daily needs.
An important bonus was the daily instruction I received from the staff nutritionist. Clear and helpful instructions were given at the outset of my stay and every day we planned menus together. This exercise reinforced better eating habits which have proven useful to this day. And on top of everything else the food was home-cooked and wonderful.
During my stay at the Knox Center, I came to learn that the phenomenon that makes the Center such an inviting place for recuperation and its unique culture is described by the staff as “Knox Magic.” This is appropriately so. Having a name for this potion helps to ensure its continued existence.
Before learning of the staff’s nickname for its own culture, a metaphor came to my mind from my own relatively brief observations. One of my favorite comic characters invented by Charles Dickens is Jerry Cruncher, the grave robber from "A Tale of Two Cities." Jerry is accustomed to calling himself “an honest tradesman.” It is a description which he proudly embellishes from time to time by saying that he is in the “resurrection business.”
So too of great meaning, taken from "A Tale Of Two Cities," is the name of the first chapter and phrase. Dickens refers to Dr. Philip Manet upon his release following a lengthy imprisonment as having been “recalled to life.” For me, it was that Knox magic that recalled me to life.
This is written to express my enduring gratitude.
Kenneth A. Payment
I am glad McLean is able to begin their operation in Fox Hill, albeit smaller than expected. I know many young people that support this operation in Camden. This is a strong and active community and I believe there is a lot of good that McLean will bring to the town. We look forward to having McLean here in Camden.
It's about fairness
I anticipate that the opposition to McLean operating an 8 bed community living arrangement for people recovering from addiction at Fox Hill will try to muddy the waters about their right to do this. It is actually simple to understand. It is about fairness.
In 1988 the Federal Fair Housing Act was amended by Congress. Language was added that protected persons with disabilities from any local zoning or land use decisions that excluded or otherwise discriminated against people with disabilities. Specifically, the FHA made it unlawful to refuse to make reasonable accommodations in land use and zoning policies and procedures where such accommodations may be necessary to afford persons or groups of persons with disabilities, including alcoholism and drug addiction, an equal opportunity to use and enjoy housing.
In order to conform with the Federal Housing Act, the Maine legislature enacted MRSA 4357 – A, a Law Governing Municipal Zoning with Respect to Community Living Arrangements. A “community living arrangement” is defined as a housing facility for eight or fewer persons with disabilities that is approved, authorized, certified or licensed by the state.
In order to implement the policy of this state that persons with disabilities are not excluded by municipal zoning ordinances from the benefits of normal residential surroundings, a community living arrangement is deemed a single-family use of property for the purposes of zoning.
The 1997 statute allows Fox Hill Real Estate and McLean Hospital to operate an 8-bed community living facility at its property on Bay View Street without the need for a zoning amendment, thereby addressing concerns expressed by some residents regarding zoning issues and threatened lawsuits..
FHRE and McLean are to be commended for their flexibility and sincere desire to work cooperatively in the best interests of all involved. This action reinforces their reputation as valuable and productive additions to the communities in which they have previously established facilities.
I welcome McLean and thank them for their persistence in the face of what appears to many of us to be well-publicized and well-funded prejudicial thinking. Camden is so fortunate to have McLean here.
Trekkers Thanks Cappy’s
Trekkers was pleased to be selected as one of the recipients of this year’s Community Connections fundraising dinners. We want to thank the folks at Graffam Brothers for creating this fundraising event, and are so grateful to the management and staff at Cappy’s Chowder House and Harbor View Restaurant in Camden for continuing that tradition this year.
On February 26th, Cappy’s hosted a wonderful fundraising dinner for our organization. From the excellent service, to the great food and all the positive energy in the restaurant that evening, it was an enjoyable event for all the guests. We truly appreciate all that Cappy’s Chowder House and Harbor View Restaurant have done to support local nonprofits.
We would also like to thank all the folks who came out to enjoy a meal last Wednesday night, even in the midst of several snow squalls. It was wonderful to see the support for our students and to have the chance to share more information about our outdoor-based youth mentoring programs.
Many thanks to Cappy’s and to the community for your support,
Something special is happening
Something special is happening in Camden and it takes place at the Camden Snow Bowl. Kids in the ski-racing program are learning so much more than just how to ski fast. Led by Jen Conover and supported by a team of accomplished and dedicated coaches including Weber Roberts and Mike Bridges, the racing program has created a group of kids who compete against each other but also support each other in a way that no parent could. When a kid misses a gate or falls in a race, it is their teammates who lift them up.
What was very clear at the States where the Camden Hills Middle School boys won first place in the Class B competition, was that our kids not only know how to win, but most of all, how to have fun.
While other coaches were reprimanding their kids for not skiing fast enough, our coaches were asking, “How did it feel?”
The racing program is unique in another way: kids of all ages – from U10 to U16 --hang out together. There aren’t many sports like that. The Zoomers see the kids in Devo or Breakaway and know that someday they will be skiing like that. The older kids know that they are a role model for the younger kids: how they win and lose races, how they handle pressure and disappointment, how they support each other and have fun together – they are setting an example for the younger racers.
Ragged Mountain will be undergoing facilities improvement in the not too distant future. I would like to propose that the current lodge be tuned into the Race Training Center. The Snow Bowl could then host other schools during the race season, something that would be difficult to do now when the Snow Bowl is open to all skiers. We could improve upon an already excellent program by having the space to show training videos, have guest coaches/lecturers and a place for the kids to hang out and keep warm on very cold days. The downstairs could have facilities for kids to tune their own skis.
We already have a winning team, and from what I can see, there are Zoomers and Carvers who will be a force to be reckoned with once they are in middle school.
People should not mistake a low-key approach to the racing program for one that is not serious and rigorous.
Also worth mentioning is that the coaches have a tremendous support system in the Ragged Mountain Ski Club and the parents who volunteer their time for the races held every week at the Snow Bowl as well as the Family Fun Race, the Seacoast Classic and Sally Deaver races and the Box Car Derby (March 8th).
Parents who dedicate their time and energy to preparing for and working these events deserve the support of the community as much as the kids who race.
There is a spirit on the mountain that is special and should be supported by the community at large. After all, kids spending winters outside, doing sports, learning life lessons and having fun – that’s what it’s all about.
Combating the war against depression
Last Thursday evening, I attended a presentation; open to the general public and professional community alike, entitled “Adolescent Depression & Self-Injurious Behavior” at the Camden Opera House. This caught my attention on two levels, as an Addiction Counselor and as a Mid-Coast Resident currently residing in Martinsville.
I have had the opportunity to observe the on-going discussions between Camden residents and the team attempting to bring McLean Hospital into a Rehabilitation facility on the Fox Hill Estate. This may have been part of the inspiration that motivated me to leave the warmth of my home on a brisk evening in February and make the 45 minute drive into Camden.
Approaching the Conference with a guarded domineer, I was quickly impressed by the number of people who had also left the warmth of their homes. Once inside and upstairs in the Opera House, I was warmly greeted at the door, introduced to several other local Professionals and community members and directed to my seat.
The three Professionals gave informative and captivating presentations on Adolescent Behavior, each pinpointing different aspects including understanding, detection and solutions. They discussed who is likely to be afflicted, what to watch for, what to do and what not to do. Their approach towards human behavior and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy was impressive and innovative. Two of the Professionals were from this community, the third represented McLean Hospital. They were such a natural blend of understanding, positive energy and optimism that I left feeling hopeful about our struggling adolescent community.
I truly believe there is a need for McLean Hospital and its colleagues in this community. As our numbers here on the Mid-Coast continue to climb in depression and addiction we could certainly use the strength, ambition and education of the McLean professionals. I personally look forward to seeing more of them as we all continue to battle this expanding, critical and unbiased war on depression and addiction in the Mid-Coast area.