Letters to the editor — The Courier-Gazette

Aug 28, 2014

Unfortunate situation

Recently, the Rockland Congregational Church received extensive news coverage and comment regarding a family of two adults and three children found living on property owned by the church. Because arrests resulted from the situation, it was reported in the press. The reporting was limited, as were statements on behalf of the church, in order to not sensationalize an unfortunate situation where a family that has been homeless needed help.

The mission and covenant of the Rockland Congregational Church calls us to share and to help those in need whenever we can, and however we can. Finding those people in the woods behind the church has given us an opportunity to try to help them move their lives forward. Our pastor, The Rev. Seth Jones, is involved in organized efforts to help people in need find food, shelter and support. He has been working in that area for several years with the hearty support of our whole congregation.

The assistance provided by the Rockland Congregational Church to people in crisis takes many forms, including counseling, networking and, sometimes, financial support. We are limited in what we can do, and because all of the work we do in this way is of necessity done privately to respect the dignity of those involved, we understand when others who criticize us cannot understand the situation. Our church helps people one at a time, and each situation is unique. Yet, our limited ability to help is multiplied by our faith in the unlimited support of the one in whose name we gather. We take these responsibilities seriously, but also with great joy at what we can do in this troubled world.

Philip Anderson, president/moderator

Rockland Congregational Church

Search for truth

Reading the letters to the editor in Thursday's Courier, I was amused to find a piece by one of the area's apologists for the "Party of Tolerance" bemoan the existence of Fox News, a topic commonly voiced by members of that party. Let's see, the left has ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, PBS, plus all the cable derivatives, such as MSNBC, etc. In addition, they have The New York Times, Washington Post and many others, including our own Portland Press Herald, all toeing the liberal line. Saul Alinski said to ridicule, debunk, and make irrelevant anyone who disagrees with your mindset all while pretending to be the tolerant one. So we find Fox News, one of the few dissenting voices, being ridiculed etc.

Telling the truth about Obama is not telling anyone to hate him, unless of course, he has done something, or is trying to do something worthy of hate. If people would do their own research, apart from websites devoted to a cause, they would know for themselves which news outlet was propagating hate and which was telling the truth. In the rush to be the first with the story, one still needs facts before breaking the news. With the Colorado shooting, one reporter was trying to link the Tea Party with the shooting, unfortunately an all too common approach for many of the news outlets mentioned earlier. We have seen as recently as this last week the rush to blame the white police officer for shooting the "poor, unarmed Black youth," who happened to be 6-feet four-inches or 6 feet and weighing around 300 pounds. The prime witness against the cop was the victim's buddy, an accomplice in a store robbery 10 minutes earlier, now a witness has been heard, unwittingly, saying the youth charged the officer while the officer was pointing a gun at him. As more facts come out we will know the truth, but for now we need to wait and look in more than one place for it. If all the news comes from one side we will be like Russia with Pravda, but then, that is what Alinski wanted.

Richard Harding

Waldoboro

Making decisions

A wise mentor once told me the only decisions I’d ever regret were the ones I didn’t make.

I don’t vote in Senate District 12 but I do hope Paula Sutton is the choice District 12 voters make. I also urge them to meet Paula and talk with her. Studies say likeability is the most important factor for most voters. Paula will not come in second to anyone on likeability among folks who know her.

I’d hope most voters also care about issues, values, and principles. That’s “wonkish” and boring but every voter owes it to themselves and their neighbors to understand the facts of issues and make decisions based on values and principles. We’ve seen several letters here from "single issue" voters such as one opposing petroleum exploration and another advocating taxpayer funded health care. Those are, I submit, people who vote their interests rather than their values and principles. Those who vote for a candidate based on some perception of what the candidate will do "for me" are misguided and destined to be disappointed.

Paula makes herself available to the voters, she’s personable, she listens, she cares and she’s honest and frank about her values and the principles that guide her in making decisions. Whether it’s at your doorstep or at one of her upcoming events, take a little time to meet Paula and tell her what matters to you. Even if you’re an interest voter, I think you’ll find your time well spent and if you’re a values and principles voter I’m sure you’ll leave a friend of Paula Sutton, even if you find she doesn’t share all of your convictions.

Ken Frederic

Bristol

Sutton and MaineCare

Last January at a hearing held in Augusta to expand MaineCare coverage under the new Affordable Care Act (ACA) to approximately 70,000 uninsured Maine people earning less than $15,000 a year, Paula Sutton (currently the Republican candidate for Maine State Senator from Knox County) testified offering the following statement. “I don’t think that expanding Medicaid to non-disabled Mainers is the proper role of government. I think that, over generations of increasing welfare generosity in this state, many people have forgotten or have never learned to care for themselves”. That testimony from Paula Sutton made it obvious that she does not know the difference between health care and welfare. After all, everyone rich or poor eventually gets sick.

The Affordable Care Act became fully implemented at the beginning of this year and completely changed how MaineCare would work going forward. Previous to the ACA Hospitals were reimbursed for Emergency Room and other hospital cost for the uninsured through MaineCare with the State paying 36 percent and the Federal government paying 64 percent with Federal matching funds. With the ACA now providing Medicare Expansion across the country it eliminates the need for State and Federal reimbursement to hospitals from States accepting expansion and complicates reimbursement to hospitals for States refusing expansion because of necessary contingency variables inherent with the ACA. Maine is making it complicated. The Legislature has voted for the expansion but the governor refuses to accept it and there are not enough Republican votes in the Legislature willing to override his veto.

The governor and others in his camp such as Paula Sutton say the expansion would cost the state too much money but have not made any sensible argument for why. The 70,000 uninsured people in question would no longer be emergency room care or otherwise hospital dependent could they now have the offered health insurance. The Federal government will pay 100 percent for the first three years and gradually reduce it to 90 percent over the next 10 years. It has been projected by the Federal Budget Office that if Maine entirely embraced the ACA it could save between $800 million and $1 billion over the next 10 years.

Last year, before the ACA, total hospital cost to the 39 non-profit hospitals in the state of Maine for the uninsured had accumulated to $480 million. The state decided to pay off their 36 percent by using the money obtained by the new 10-year liqueur contract (approximately $180 million) so that the Federal government would match it with their 64 percent (approximately $300 million). This was done and everyone was happy.

Now, unfortunately for the state of Maine, Gov. Lepage and others have decided to confuse the issue for political purposes. Meanwhile those 70,000 uninsured people are still going directly to the hospital for their health care and the unpaid bills for those 39 non-profit hospitals across Maine are once again on the rise. It’s estimated that within a year or so the state could have another $400 million-plus hospital bill to pay. The question now is without the liqueur contract money and probably much less, if any, in Federal Medicare matching funds, how will the state once again pay this now totally unnecessary bill? Don’t bother asking Paul Lepage or Paula Sutton they’re evidently working for something else besides ordinary Maine people.

Raymond Ludwig

Thomaston

Evangelos has earned our support

Independent — isn’t that what Maine is all about — being independent, enjoying who we are and where we live. We like to make choices based upon what we feel is best for us and for our families. We like to have choices and a voice ... whether it is at town meeting or at the Legislature.

We have that independent voice right now in the Legislature in Rep. Jeff Evangelos. We have a choice also — and that’s to send Jeff back to Augusta to fight the good fight for us for another term. As some members of Augusta's leadership have learned, while Jeff may often support their ideas, he is not “in their pocket." Neither party owns Jeff or his vote. When Jeff thinks that a party-endorsed bill is wrong, he has voted against it. Courage and integrity. That’s Jeff!

As Gov. LePage has also learned, Rep. Evangelos is a strong and articulate voice of moderation and common sense when those values appear to be lacking in a bill. Jeff has shown a willingness to work with both Republicans and Democrats when the issues that he cares most about — public education and help for senior citizens — are supported with common sense policies and legislation. Mr. Evangelos is not afraid to stand up for seniors or for students when they lack a voice in the Legislature. And as he has demonstrated, he won't back down to a bully.

Sometimes, the voice of reason can’t be lassoed by either party. Courage and common sense are often the first casualties of party politics. That's why Representative Evangelos has refused to caucus with either major political party in Augusta.

His tough independent efforts have shown that the people of the Midcoast have an ally who understands their needs and speaks up for them.

Recently, I attended a great fundraiser to support a future Waldoboro Y. Many longed for “the golden years” in Waldoboro when David Gaul was the superintendent and Jeff Evangelos was the business manager. During those years, Jeff had that same reputation for hard work, frugality, common sense, and compassion that helped SAD 40 to have such a wonderful reputation for providing “the best education for the dollar” anywhere in Maine. Jeff always found a way to help run a quality district while respecting the ability of the taxpayer to pay. During this period, I was proud to be the principal of the Miller School in Waldoboro when we received the National School of Excellence award at a White House ceremony.

Jeff made a difference then as a business manager and makes a difference now. He is bright, honest, and a good, decent man. Jeff wears that “Independent” label as a badge of honor ... and well he should. That is who he is, how he thinks, and how he works. He deserves another term and another opportunity to be the voice of reason and common sense in Augusta.

Jack O. Mara

Jefferson

Pedal to the Port

On behalf of Trekkers, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to everyone who participated in our most recent fundraising event, “Pedal to the Port 2014,” on Sunday, Aug. 17. In true Trekkers’ style, a community of volunteers, sponsors, riders and dedicated supporters came together to contribute to the success of this year’s ride. Through this annual bicycling event, we raised funds that will directly support the students who participate in Trekkers’ educational programs.

Dozens of community members contributed to the event’s success. The American Legion Hall in Thomaston provided a wonderful venue for registration, parking and the post-ride cookout. Volunteers welcomed and registered participants before the ride. Representatives from Sidecountry Sports in Rockland offered complimentary bicycle tune-ups. Volunteers from Rockland, South Thomaston, St. George and Thomaston EMS monitored all the major turns and intersections along the routes. And, many helpers provided desserts and salads, while others prepared the food and helped serve the cookout luncheon to cyclists and volunteers.

I want to thank the St. George Fire Department for the use of their tables and chairs; Rockland Department of Public Works for using their street sweeper on So. Main & Park Streets in Rockland; St. George Rescue & Fire Dept./Town Office; Knox County Sheriff’s Office; Thomaston Police Department; South Thomaston Rescue; Thomaston Rescue; the St. George Parks & Recreation for providing the water containers; Knox EMA for the safety vests; Marshall Point Lighthouse, Wee Day Care and Gil Francavilla for hosting water stations; our lead sponsor, The First, for overall support and volunteers; Hannaford for supplying cups at the water stations; and all of the volunteers who helped with set up, registration, route monitoring, timing, the lunch and clean-up duty.

My sincere thanks go to the sixteen local businesses that sponsored this year’s event: The First, Bay Chiropractic Center, The Black Harpoon, Coastal Documentation, Domino’s Pizza, Eastern Tire & Auto Service, Inc., FMC Corporation, Glen Cove Dental Associates, Harbor Builders Associates, Harbor Road Veterinary Hospital, Maine Coast Petroleum, Ocean Pursuits, Pen Bay Healthcare, Sidecountry Sports and Superior Bait & Salt.

A special thank you is also extended to the Trekkers staff and to the event committee who worked with me throughout the year to help plan and organize this fundraising event: Chris Ferguson, Bethany Yovino, Ben Vail, Joyce Burnham, Misty Start, Tom Armitage, Alaina Ennamorati, Jean Faustini and Shari Closter.

Everyone at Trekkers is so grateful to the all the parents, volunteers and to the local business community for their support. The success of this year’s fundraiser, as well as the success of our youth mentoring programs, is dependent on the generosity and support of this community. At events like this, it is clearly visible that our community cares about the young people who are growing up here. We truly appreciate the way everyone comes together to support Trekkers and local youth.

As Trekkers celebrates its 20th year of mentoring youth from the Midcoast area, we continue to be humbled and amazed by the outpouring of support we receive from the community. It is through the community’s support that we are able to achieve the Trekkers’ mission of connecting young people with caring adults through expeditionary learning, community service and adventure-based education. We can’t thank you enough for your continued support and for helping to make our sixth annual Pedal to the Port so successful.

Don Carpenter, executive director

Thomaston

Medomak Summer Sizzle a success

Medomak Valley Land Trust's first annual Medomak Summer Sizzle was a grand success! Hosted by Dan and Suzanne Goldenson of Bremen, the event brought together more than 125 people to celebrate and raise funds for the Medomak Valley Land Trust. Attendees enjoyed music by The Ghost of Paul Revere, an authentic southern barbecue dinner by Moe's of Bangor, and a lively auction led by board member and famous Friendship auctioneer, Bill Michaud.

The event was deemed especially successful because of strong community support. From auction item donors to corporate sponsors to volunteers and all those who came out to enjoy the evening — MVLT thanks everyone who played a part.

Special thanks go to the hosts and underwriters, Dan and Susanne Goldenson, who welcomed us to their beautiful barn on the shores of the Medomak River. Also special thanks to our corporate sponsor, First Advisors.

Many thanks go to the generous donors of an amazing variety of items: Susan Kellam, Kat Logan, Caren Clark & Edward Fisher, John Guarnaccia, Carolyn Bryant & Don Sarles, Brooke Pacy, Penobscot Island Air, Bill Zuber, Charlie Witherell, Jack O'Mara, Baobab Organics, Janice and Jack Emmott, Sweetgrass Farm Winery & Distillery, Bowden's Egg Farm, Rite Way Cleaning, Mid-maine Forestry, Wooden Screen Door Company, Ocean Organics, RZR, Susan Morris, Maine Water Buffalo Company, Kirsty Karkow, John Morris Architects, Bob and Judy Zeitlin, Shelley's Flowers, Holly Berry, Cecily Kahn and David Kapp, Charles Chiarchiaro, Krisanne Baker, Cape Air, Warren True Value and The Green Thumb. You made such a fun and lively auction possible.

We also want to thank our wonderful business partners: Renys, Moose Crossing Garden Center, Shelley's Flowers, Sweetgrass Winery and the Narrows Tavern,  for their help in sourcing and providing goods and decorations for the evening's festivities.

Last, but not least our planning committee: Sally Butler, Millie Curtis, Dan and Suzanne Goldenson, Susan Kellam, Susan Lawrence, Susan Morris, Beth Mooney, and Elise Wright and Sarah Bodine. You made it all happen.

With such a great first year, the land trust is already making plans for the second annual Sizzle.

For more information about MVLT contact the office at 832-5570 or mvlt@midcoast.com.

Liz Petruska, executive director

Medomak Valley Land Trust

Waldoboro

My 100 Things

I recently attended an all-day workshop sponsored by local health care providers, which focused on doing the detailed planning for one's "end of life." There were about 40 of us attending, that sunny Monday morning at the Salvation Army in Rockland. It felt like a Monday morning too, as we began real nuts-and-bolts planning. We learned, for example, how important it is to appoint a "health care agent" who is empowered to make decisions when one is no longer clear-headed. It's important to have an up-to-date will with lots of exact details. And it's important to fill out an advance directive form, specifying how you want to be cared for. None of these things had even crossed my mind at age 73!

The workshop began with watching a documentary called "Consider the Conversation" which is so provocative, I think every adult should see it. At one point a doctor, suffering from ALS — a progressively debilitating disease — talked about writing out his "100 things", that is, those things which make life worthwhile, and watching them, one by one, become impossible. This allowed him to measure more accurately, the point when his life was no longer worth the increasing effort and determination necessary to sustain it.

When I got home, I felt envious of his forthright clarity, since I've always been sure that I didn't want to outlive the enjoyment of life. So I took out blank paper and began filling in those activities which give me joy. I put them in three categories. In "presently doing" I put the things I love and still can do: swimming, hiking, kissing my wife, morning tea, being outside, etc. There were 57 of them! In the category, "in transition," I put the things I'm slowly letting go of, like world airline travel, fixing my own car, sailing oceans, etc. I still do these sometimes, but there's not the old zing. Finally, in the category "no longer doing," I put things like downhill skiing, running, intense yoga postures, etc which are no longer wise or perhaps no longer enjoyable.

Now I could look at a map of my own personal aging. As years pass, items will move from the upper category to the middle and then lower category. At some point in time, it might become clear that it's time to trade in this battered vehicle. In my upper category of enjoyable things, I also scanned for activities so very vital, that I couldn't imagine living without them. Could I live without walking, without being outdoors, or without recognizing friends and family? I decided that these last two were absolutely essential, and that I would instruct my health care agent (a.k.a. my lovely wife) to discontinue food and drink when either of these two became impossible.

I recently read a book called "Knocking on Heaven's Door" which left me with two clear take-home lessons. One is "delay disability but not death". This means, yes! put up those strong handles in the shower. Compensate for our gradual disability. But let death come naturally when it beckons us. The second lesson is "dementia is worse than death." We often delay death in order to live demented lives, which is a worse situation.

You might notice that I'm assuming that to some degree we can choose death. I notice that often people do choose to die, often by simply giving up the will to live. As this will fades, they sometimes give up eating and drinking. This natural, old-fashioned way of dying results in only a brief hunger and thirst, and then results in a peaceful few weeks until kidney failure. My fear has always been that I won't have the clarity to make such a decision; but now, with a health care agent — who hopefully will not sabotage my wishes! — I can live this next period with more peace of mind.

I think it's helpful not to call this process suicide or assisted suicide, if the patient's agent enforced the patient's earlier decision. These words carry along such baggage. Also, is this decision the ego's last control-trip? Yet, we often live additional years, or even decades, because of recent high-tech interventions. We've managed faulty hearts, driven cancers into remission. Living in this recently-available encore with good quality of life is wonderful. But at that mysterious tipping point, when perhaps we're wearing out the quality of life of a caregiver, or using more than our fair share of health or natural resources; it's an act of compassion to return to a more natural lifespan.

So, dear reader, I know this isn't a happy subject. But try doing this thinking and planning. Make your will, share your passwords, appoint your agent, make your directives. Like me, you may actually find yourself, not cast down by it all, but rather more energetic. Something which was nagging, denied, postponed, half-done has been faced, thought through, and taken care of. You're more aware now that your joys and your days are numbered. You may find that the morning toast and tea, or the hug from an 8-year-old, is better than ever!

Jory Squibb

Camden

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