Letters, Camden Herald
Biscone responds to Sussman House questions
In response to Pat Putnum's questions regarding Oncology changes at Pen Bay Medical Center.
1. The Sussman Hospice House will be providing full hospice services to all patients in need of those services.
2. A full-time palliative care physician is being recruited to cover the needs of those patients utilizing the Sussman Hospice House.
3. The money raised for the Sussman Hospice House is not related to the operating expenses of the Pen Bay Oncology Department.
4. The same response as No. 3.
5. The Medical Staff Executive Committee tabled the vote of the Medical Staff Cancer Committee.
6. Dr. Ramdin's credentials and experience are not superior to Dr. Connelly's. Dr. Connelly is a graduate of Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed her medical residency at Akron General Medical Center before working on a fellowship in medical oncology and hematology at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio. Dr. Connelly was chosen over Dr. Ramdin because Dr. Connelly felt she could cover the patient care needs of both hospital departments. In addition, Pen Bay Medical Center is the facility that was operating at a $2.7 million loss. Pen Bay Medical Center has reduced its expenses by approximately $2.5 million and is reducing its operating loss on a monthly basis and hopes to end its fiscal year at a break-even operating position. Pen Bay Medical Center has been operating at a loss for the last 5 of 7 years. Waldo County General Hospital for many years have incurred an operating gain.
7. If the number of patients increase at either Pen Bay or Waldo County General Hospital, that would justify the need to increase physician staff. In addition, other staff, such as nursing, will be increased to meet patient needs when necessary.
8. I personally cared for my mother who died of cancer in 1991. In 1992, a year subsequent to her death, Waldo County General Hospital opened its Hospice Unit. The care that needs to be given to cancer patients is truly close to my heart and I have received many letters from patients thanking me for the services of our Oncology Department as well as our Hospice Unit over these past 22 years. Dr. Connelly has worked at Waldo County General Hospital on a part-time basis since 2008 while she continued to work for the Maine Center for Cancer Medicine. This arrangement has been well-received by her patients as well as the hospital staff at Waldo County General Hospital. She went full-time in December 2013 and I am very confident she will be providing the appropriate care to all patients in need of that care at Pen Bay Medical Center as well as Waldo County General Hospital.
Presently, our hospitals are collaborating on many levels including the sharing of a urologist, nephrologist, infectious disease physician and vascular surgeon as well as imaging technicians, nurses, department managers and laundry services. All in an effort to maintain these services and jobs in our area at the lowest cost possible.
President and CEO
Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County General Hospital
Camden tannery options
I live on Washington Street in Camden, up the hill and around the corner in to town from the old Tannery site in Millville. The Tannery was cleaned up by the town and now is up for grabs by whoever can conform to the guidelines drawn up and voted on for the benefit of the neighborhood.
Camden used to be a mill town, with a string of mills up a competent little river, but industry left us in the last two generations, moved south, got sent overseas, all in search of low cost labor. I don’t think it’s coming back, but the town still dreams. What is happening is that lots of people want to live here, close in to downtown, and they are moving in and walking and bicycling up and down the hill, younger people, people with children, early retirees and the self-employed, and lots of dogs! And they all like it.
Now comes the proposal of a large, for-profit, ambulance service moving in to the tannery site, attracted by the low cost, and we worry about the impact ( in terms of safety, sound, lights, round the clock action…) that this would have on the neighborhood and surrounding streets, on the newly completed River Walk on the Megunticook, and the growing use of the old site as an impromptu park, waiting to be turned, at least in part, into a real park.
Here’s hoping this preferred use, of creating a park that will serve the neighborhood and the area, a preference voiced by many Camden residents during the planning workshops held several years ago, can become a creative reality.
Taken by surprise
A group of neighbors in the Millville area of Camden and additional town residents have joined to dispute the potential sale of the tannery property to Northeast Mobile Health ambulance service. The neighbors learned about the sale from Village Soup’s website, and were surprised by the sudden announcement. Given the proximity of houses and families to the site, as well as the busy nearby intersections and roads, the sale raises issues of safety. There are also worries about local property and house devaluation. For these reasons and the ones outlined below, the group believes that the company is an inappropriate match for the site.
The select board has been given the power to sell the property with specific guidelines they must adhere to, which state that “Unacceptable Business/Industries” for this site include:
· “Any business that has a significant loud outside noise component”
· “Any business that imposes a hazardous or dangerous environment on the neighborhood”
Ambulances make loud noises, with both their sirens and their back-up beepers, and they must speed to their destinations, violating both of the stated criteria for the site.
Additionally, the company’s preliminary map shows two entryways for ambulances and other transportation vehicles that are approximately 100-feet from the front door of a house on Rawson Avenue and Washington Street. It will be in close proximity to other residences as well. There is also a middle school in the area, a senior living home, the Community School, a busy market, and many homes on all side streets.
We recognize the importance of the ambulance service, the jobs it provides and the hard work of Northeast’s employees, but we ask that the town reconsider locating the company at the former tannery site.
The other day, while on my morning stroll with my dog along the River Walk behind the old Tannery lot off Washington Street, I saw the shape of a dark bird above my head in the thick growth of a tree. Maybe a crow, I thought, of which there are many in these parts. Then I focused, and made out a kind of prehistoric form I had previously only seen wading silently, in extremely slow motion, through the still waters along the far shore of the now heavily silted Hosmer Pond. Just then, my little black Pomeranian looked, too, and let out a throaty grunt, as if trying to decide whether to bark or not. To myself, I speculated whether we might not be looking at the same creature, now displaced.
At that moment, the bird decided to launch itself, slowly, and fly haltingly away, as only a Great Blue Heron flapping those huge bony wings can. I thought about chiding the dog, but he was only following his instincts, after all.
Is nature finally reclaiming this little piece of Camden, I wondered — the town to which I had chosen to retire after many years of summering here? Only weeks earlier, I had seen an eagle flying low, not far above my head, along the length of the river's corridor. And more than once I have witnessed the decisive splash of an Osprey fishing for its lunch. There must be other signs of rebirth that I have missed. By the sounds I hear through our open windows at dawn, the songbird population in our little corner of Millville seems to have doubled in the past year alone. Certainly, the old decrepit Tannery, its buildings gone, its toxins buried and sealed up for several years now, is greener than it has been for a very long time. Even wildflowers are taking root. And people seem to be enjoying themselves walking, many hand in hand, along the new crushed-stone path, or taking in the verdant views of the river rapids from the safety of the wooden outcroppings so thoughtfully provided. And kids! I see them everywhere now, seemingly thrilled with what this informal park-like space has to offer their imaginations.
Now I learn that all this may be fated to change again. Think "regression." Birdsong may be disrupted by sirens and emergency radio transmissions, day and night. The stars I can see at night from the open space may be dimmed, or even obliterated, by banks of security lights aimed at newly paved asphalt parking areas. Walkers' quiet reverie will be rudely interrupted by the throbbing roar — and pungent odor — of diesel engines powering ambulances and emergency vehicles, their own bright lights flashing. The park-like environment, a green sanctuary that might have been, will instead be occupied by structures of who-knows-what style of architecture, meant to garage and probably maintain large vehicles (with fuel pumps and oil stored on premises, perhaps), and house the men and women who do important work in these same vehicles (yes, to save our lives, as I know all too well at my age). Surely, there will also need to be office space provided for the staff required to administer the complex and necessary operation of an ambulance and emergency service contracted to a four-town area.
I shudder to think what might happen when drivers on a mission encounter small kids on bikes on narrow country lanes lacking sidewalks or, worse, what could transpire when a long yellow school bus and a wide white ambulance must simultaneously negotiate the same dangerous uphill corner in mid-winter at Rawson and Washington, which happens to be where my wife and I and our little dog reside.
Yes, I know all about NIMBY, and I can't say some of that isn't at work here, as should be clear from the above. But the overriding issue for me is the significant lost potential for our town of Camden. Interested and imaginative people were already talking about how to turn the Tannery property into some sort of creative park that would benefit all, in an affordable way. Ideas were out there, being actively discussed. The irony is, Camden already has a far reaching town improvement plan in the works, one of whose features is a long-term vision of an "Emerald Necklace" along the Megunticook River, tying inland areas and the harbor together. And the key to the Necklace is the recently finished and clearly successful Riverwalk, representing a great deal of work on the part of volunteers and the Town.
We hired expensive consultants, attended town-wide meetings, had lively discussions in workgroups and made recommendations, all toward finding a real, workable vision that would take Camden into the future.
Yet here we are, feeling blindsided by an ill-considered deal to sell the Tannery for a song, all done in secret, with no proper public notice so that concerned townspeople who didn't know a deal was even close to a possibility might offer a productive alternative, one that might imaginatively address what is, and has been for some time, the town's primary source of reliable income: Tourism. We need to add to, not detract from, our reputation as Midcoast Maine's First Destination.
The days of mills and tanneries employing hundreds are gone. An ambulance barn smack against our wonderful Riverwalk would, as I see it, and as many others seem to see it, represent the antithesis of progress and planning. How short-sighted is that? The words used at a recent Conservation Committee meeting I attended was, "A smack in the face."
While discussing these very issues with a neighbor while standing on Rawson Avenue, just opposite where the proposed plan absurdly calls for putting a two-lane access drive only feet from the entrance to the Riverwalk pathway, we observed two young women emerging from the leafy glen. "What a wonderful idea," one of them said to us. "Does it go any farther?"
"Maybe one day," I said. "For now, this is it."
"We're visiting your town for the first time," the second woman offered, "and someone said this walk was worth the trip. They were right. Too bad it ends so quickly."
And too bad, I thought, that we don't have more to offer right here. Like an earthen and stone labyrinth for adults and children alike, possibly designed and crafted as a local school project. (Call it "Ariadne's Thread," to represent the difficult and risky choices we all have to make in life.) Or an expansive sculpture garden (we could have a statewide juried competition; I still remember my elation when I first encountered Blackie Langlais' amazing wooden art pieces in a field in Cushing). Or a brace of cement chess and checkers tables. Or a summer picnic area catered by Megunticook Market or another local business, possibly with a mobile food service vehicle. Or some "pickle ball" tennis and badminton courts, maybe even a league. Plus a whiffle ball field. Or maybe bocci? Or a small structure centered around organized activities for young people, in a supervised town rec program. Or any of a dozen more ideas that have yet to spring forth...
To misquote slightly a famous line from Field of Dreams: "If you build it, they will come."
Selectmen should use foresight
We are writing this to record our opposition to the sale of the Tannery Property to North East Mobile Health for $75,000 or for any amount. There are many reasons for our opposition but we will only focus on a few for the sake of brevity.
It would bode well for the Select Board to keep possession of most properties the town possesses for appropriate public use. Future generations will be in your debt for your having the foresight to have done so. As time marches on, and the population of Camden grows, public land will be at a premium and it will become more and more costly to acquire. Camden has this very special property now in a most convenient location which is also right along the public Riverwalk and it should not be given up.
We believe, as do many people with whom we have contact, that the best use of the property would be to establish a Camden recreation area/park/perhaps a community facility. Camden residents and in particular those in the immediate year-round neighborhood will benefit by such use. A recreation area will improve property values and be attractive to future home buyers. Speeding ambulances with horns blaring do not create an attractive neighborhood but a dangerous, undesirable one with depressed property values.
While ambulance service in emergency situations is a desirable community asset the Tannery location is certainly not the best location for this function due to narrow neighborhood streets and complex traffic patterns and population density.
We urge the Select Board to think more deeply and do the right thing for this Community.
With all due respect,
Brent and Amy Mayes
Don't ignore restrictions
I am concerned that the town has signed a Letter of Intent for the sale of the Tannery site to North East Mobile Health Services (NEMHS). Ambulance garages are important critical components of a good health care system, however they are usually situated in industrial parks or along major highways such as Route 1, Route 90, or Route 17, where they have the quickest safest routes to take and will not routinely disturb and endanger quiet residential neighborhoods.
NEMHS would be servicing four towns from the Camden Tannery site, which means ambulances would be heading off in any direction at unpredictable times, 24/7 through residential year-round neighborhoods. Ambulance sirens are set at 120 decibels, which result in hearing loss in just nine seconds. They are often driven above normal speed limits. The Tannery site is surrounded by neighborhoods with a density of hundreds of houses. Many of these streets lack sidewalks and often have cars parked on the road. In the summer, pedestrians walk these streets with dogs and children. In the winter, the streets are further narrowed by snow banks. Neither working adults nor young children benefit from being woken in the middle of the night, many times a week, by ambulance sirens and strobe lights, especially those headed out to other towns. This situation is also detrimental to the abutting Riverwalk, undermining public access, safety, and enjoyment of this corridor and disturbing the wildlife.
The Town is neglecting to consider the restrictions placed on this property in Article 10 as passed at the June 2008 Town meeting. Item 1 in Article 10 specifies that a buyer will be disallowed if they meet any of the “unacceptable uses” specified in the Apollo Tannery Redevelopment Workgroup Report and Recommendations dated February 19, 2008. Ambulances create “significant loud outside noise components” and impose a “hazardous or dangerous environment on the neighborhood” thus falling under two of the “unacceptable uses” for the Tannery property.
The Tannery site has not received an “acceptable use” offer in six years. Times have changed, instead of new industry coming to town, many residents now work out of home offices. The Tannery site is perfectly located along the Riverwalk for a town or community park and meeting place or perhaps for a cooperative work space building, which would have many benefits for residents as well as increasing property values in these neighborhoods. It is far more fiscally sensible to keep the property and upgrade it to improve the neighborhood, rather than bring in a business that does not meet Article 10 requirements.
Job Well Done
I am writing to express thanks to the Camden Fire Department and their colleagues for their service and remarkable professionalism.
While I am grateful and comforted to know they are always there and “have our backs” should a fire befall us, it is not often that I have had a chance to observe the process nor results of their work.
On Saturday afternoon, Aug. 9, I saw, from water and from land, the post-fire scene at the lakeside property at 265 Beaucaire that was destroyed by fire on Thursday, Aug. 7. I feel I must write to express my utter amazement at the demonstration that scene provides of the firemens' skills!
Frankly, I was utterly incredulous that it could even be possible to control a raging fire as expertly as the evidence demonstrated. I saw how tiny the lot is, and how very close the neighboring houses – yet I noticed no evidence of their even being singed. People were happily enjoying their summer cottages on either side, right next to the huge pile of charred debris that was their neighbor’s house. The condition of the debris was testament to the severity and utter devastation of the fire. Yet, even closer than the houses themselves, there was still standing a privacy fence along the boundary on which I did not observe even discoloration. On the opposite property line, there stood a large propane tank! Yikes! And on the lot itself, many huge mature pine trees still standing but with brown singed needles. I saw too how narrow is the access on that corner of Beaucaire, and understand that there is no fire hydrant from which they could draw water.
All of this demonstrates to a remarkable degree the skills in fire control the firemen brought to this disaster – one that could have been so much worse. This control was brought to bear in the middle of the night, after neighbors called in the fire in the unoccupied cottage, evidencing what must have been a very rapid response and presence on the scene.
Thank you, and congratulations, for a job WELL DONE!
A generous gift
I wish to recognize the generosity and wonderful service we received from a few local businesses. Early last spring we lost a board member, a parent, and a dear friend to our Hope Elementary School community. After careful consideration, the staff of HES decided to have a granite bench in memory of Mike Bracher.
We got in touch with Rockport Granite, Inc. We had exceptional service from their Front Desk Sales Department. She was so helpful and patient and worked within our guidelines. The beautiful bench was brought to Brooks Monuments and then delivered to our school and placed under a tree, just as envisioned.
I would like to thank Rockport Granite, Inc. for a very generous donation and your incredible service and to Brooks Monuments, as well. It could not have been for a better person. It is the purpose we regret.
Danielle S. Fagonde
Hope Elementary School principal
In the upcoming November election Knox County voters will have the task of filling the very large shoes of Senator Ed Mazurek and continuing his legacy. In my thinking the only candidate qualified to accomplish this is Dave Miramant because of a number of reasons including but not limited to experience, intelligence, principles and character.
Dave Miramant has served on the Camden Select board, has been a Maine State Representative and has served our communities in many ways. These experiences will enable him to be fully functioning from day one in the State Senate. There will not be the learning curve experienced by so many newcomers to that position.
I have known Dave for many years and am currently serving with him on the Town of Camden’s Personnel Committee which is currently rewriting the Town’s Personnel Policy. Dave has approached this task with an open mind, keen intellect and principles in helping to craft a policy which will serve the Town well into the future. He will bring those same qualities to the State Senate which is so necessary to helping Maine move forward in the coming decades.
For these reasons and so many others I urge you to vote for Dave Maramant for Knox County State Senator
Answers and more opinions
Barbara Dyer's letter "Opinions To Express" in the Camden Herald recently ended by asking for answers. I have a combination of answers and more opinions.
I don't know why Camden created a high-paying position for someone to apply for grants - probably originally paid for by a grant. Also a lot of people do think grants are free money. They don't have a clue that grants are from tax dollars, either Federal or State.
I did some checking. I went down to the entrance to Chestnut Street to check out the "cute white link fence and park benches in the crosswalk" and read the explanation. "No Camden tax dollars were involved because it was paid for by a grant from M.D.O.T. The last I knew, Maine Department of Transportation was funded by tax dollars (a lot of which comes from, yes, Camden).
Also, the explanation said it was a safety issue. By shortening the length of the crosswalk, pedestrians were less likely to get hit by a car because it wouldn't take so long to cross the street. Wow! That's just a pretty lame justification for putting in the area, and doesn't justify continuing such a town position. I do remember the piece of pipe with flowers painted on it, and it was a menace to traffic and finally was removed - as these benches should be.
I did take time to sit on the benches. It was a rather warm day. The benches were uneven, and not comfortable. The heat from the street was going up my pant leg; the heat from the metal benches was frying my rear end; and the heat from the sun was cooking me. Not only that, but the exhaust fumes from the cars stopping on Elm Street was overwhelming and nauseating. Why anybody would want to sit on hot metal benches on hot pavement in the hot sun when you have a nice shady Village Green right beside you is beyond me.
Yes, people who ride bicycles do have to abide by the rules of the road the same as driving a car, but they don't. They run stop signs. Recently I met a bicycle and rider coming straight for me on my side of the road. could have been serious if I hadn't been paying attention.
Also, why do people jaywalk? Camden is famous for people crossing the street when and where ever they want and not on crosswalks. I believe Camden just had an accident because a person decided to cross not on the crosswalk and got hit by a car. That is called jaywalking.
In closing, let me say that if Camden collected fines for stop sign violations on Elm Street (including for bicycles), jaywalking fines, and parking ticket violations, they could support the police department in fine style.
Lawrence F. Nash
Union and Camden
There is a man running for the State Senate from Waldo County that deserves to be considered. His name is Jonathan Fulford and he is a carpenter and a farmer from Monroe.
I met Mr Fulford at a gathering in Searsport the other night and it is fair to say I was impressed.
Now I know that Republicans are almost always crooks and Democrats are usually cowards but Mr Fulford is different. He isn't a coward and he isn't a crook. That makes him stand out from the pack.
He talks about things I am interested in. He talks about leaving the planet a better place for our grandchildren and I think that is pretty important. He talks about Medicare expansion to cover thousands of Mainers, many of them veterans, and I favor that as well. He talks about the overall fairness of the tax code and how we can make it better for the little guy. Jonathan is one of us and he will represent our needs in the Senate.
If you are tired of the way Maine has been drifting off into "teabaggerville", this is your chance to do something about it. Vote for Fulford for State Senate. We all will be better off if you do.
Correct the injustice
If your neighbor’s home is burning, should the fire department refuse to extinguish the blaze if your neighbor works in a low-income job? Surely, we expect equal treatment for all when it comes to fighting fires or for that matter plowing roads or educating our children.
Yet when it comes to healthcare, Governor LePage holds a different view. He has prevented nearly 70,000 uninsured working Mainers, many of whom are women, from obtaining health care insurance. The Affordable Care Act was designed to cover these low-income workers though Medicaid expansion, drawing down Federal funds to cover 100 percent of the cost for three years with a gradual reduction of the Federal share to 90 percent thereafter.
When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Medicaid expansion optional for the states, Governor LePage used his veto pen three times to deny healthcare insurance to these workers. Thus, these Mainers continue to go without coverage, not only placing a burden on them, but also on Maine hospitals.
The November 4 election gives us an opportunity to correct this injustice. Dave Miramant, a supporter of Medicaid expansion, is running for Knox County’s State Senate seat and is heartily endorsed by retiring Senator Ed Mazurek. Dave stands with Gubernatorial Candidate Mike Michaud, who will make Medicaid expansion a Day One priority, and with the 57% of Mainers supporting the expansion. Join me and vote for Dave Miramant. This year, exercising our right to vote is more than just the right thing to do — we can make an immediate difference in the lives of 70,000 working Maine neighbors.
Support Clean Election Act
I’m writing to urge all voters in our communities to begin to participate in the coming election by joining the effort to preserve and strengthen the precious democratic system that we have in the Maine Clean Election Act.
We are now enjoying a great Maine summer of outdoor leisure activities. We can do what is healthy for our physical, emotional, and social health right now. But, soon the political campaigns will begin to pollute the airwaves, spending the millions of dollars being raised this summer to unleash an avalanche of political ads on TV screens. Most of these ads will not help us--we the voters--make the best decisions.
Instead of honest and probing analysis of candidates’ policy views and leadership potential, a great part of the money funneled through unfamiliar sponsors will only aim to tear down the candidates they wish to see defeated.
I haven’t talked to anyone this summer who does not understand the assault on Democratic government, national or state, by the decisions of the Supreme Court and the corrupting role that “Big Money” plays in election campaigns.
However, not everyone will say that We the Voters can correct this situation.
But, we can. We can support the candidates who say they will legislate for reforms. It is essential, however, that they be freed of the “Big Money” system.
We have been privileged in Maine because in 1996, the voters passed the Clean Elections Initiative that led to the Maine Clean Elections Act in 2000. The MCEA worked so well that up to the last election a great majority of our legislators won office from the support of their constituents only. In 2012 “Big and Dark” money appeared to pollute the campaigns. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision had given us a false interpretation of our cherished First Amendment, stating that “money equals speech.”
Another five-to-four decision this year only augmented this corruption of democratic government. We are about to experience this experiment that five Justices have launched.
Here in Maine, the civic organization that led the 1996 Initiative has stayed in place to advocate for, increase public support and defend and improve the Maine Clean Election Act.
MCCE (mainelecanelections.org) is still the place to provide complete information of the role of money in politics, and they are leading the Initiative process this year.
This Saturday 8/23, MCCE has called for a DAY OF ACTION all across Maine. The Initiative to “strengthen the Maine Clean Election Act” will be available for all enrolled voters to sign. 70,000 signatures are needed. A good start was made on Primary Day.
A Day of Action will take place in Rockland on Saturday 8/23. The Initiative will be available for all municipalities in Knox County. Those who are ready to sign on will do so and may further volunteer to participate in the work. Initiative leaders will have information available for study and are very eager for conversations about the urgent need of democratic reform.
Come and see us in downtown Rockland this Saturday or call to help: 354-9556 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thanks to the Samoset Resort
Thanks to the Samoset Resort for hosting the first annual Samoset Fine Craft Show, which by every account was a huge success.
The logistics of having 40 craftsmen create a virtual 6,500 square foot venue of individual galleries can be overwhelming for hosting facilities, however, the Samoset Resort support was absolutely on top of their game, from the maintenance staff that immediately attended to all requests, to the two stars of the Samoset Resort -- Connie Russell general manager and Will Clayton, the events coordinator.
First class job and see you next year.
The Samoset Fine Craft Show
Seabirds Gain Friends
The Friends of Maine’s Seabird Islands wishes to thank our many friends and supporters for the success of our August 3rd fund-raising seabird cruise from Bar Harbor to Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge’s Petit Manan Island. We are enormously grateful to the Bar Harbor Whale Watching Company, especially Zack Klyver; Eastern Tires’ Alvin Chase, Jr.; Courier Publications’ Reade Brower; Maine Cheese Company’s Cathe Morrill; Mondavi Wine’s Janice Mondavi; Downeast Audubon’s Leslie Clapp; the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge’s staff; and, of course, the many supporters throughout coastal Maine who bought tickets, memberships and items from the Nature Shop. We couldn’t have done it, without you!
You have helped seabirds and their habitat to remain protected, at least for now, thanks to all of your effort.
With sincere appreciation,
Friends of Maine’s Seabird Islands
Board of Directors