Thanks from Freedom Riders

On Nov. 21, Freedom Riders held its second successful Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser sponsored by Applebee’s Restaurant. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Applebee’s for the generous hospitality, and also to the community for its faithful support of our organization. This year Freedom Riders celebrated its 25th year of providing equine assisted therapies and activities to individuals with physical, mental and emotional challenges. On behalf of the board of directors, thank you all for helping us keep our mission a reality.

Lise Duda

Freedom Riders


Aldermere Achievers

The Aldermere Achievers 4-H Club of Rockport would like to thank the businesses and parents who helped us complete our recent Surf and Turf Raffle, which was our fall fundraiser.

Three winners each received a complete Surf and Turf Dinner, including four Maine lobsters, a large Aldermere steak (donated by Aldermere Farm), salad (donated by Lisa Leighton), home-baked bread (donated by Kim Sweeting), artichoke dip (donated by Martha Flint), potatoes (donated by Michelle Mank), sparkling cider (donated by Melissa Mank) and home-baked blueberry pie (donated by Amy Rollins). The winners were David Williams of Camden, Bill Flint of Owls Head and Karen Young of Rockport. Thanks to all of our parents for donating the items noted above. Also, thank you to French & Brawn for letting us sell our tickets outside the store on a Saturday in November.

We are hoping to purchase some new gear for showing jackets for our club members and two new clipping chutes for our cows. Thanks again to everyone who supported our efforts!

Alice Flint
Amelia Mank
Courtney Mank
Cailand Sweeting
Erin Rollins
Tyler Leighton
Addie Bragg
Heidi Howard, Club Leader
Aldermere Achievers


School budget challenges

In crafting the 2010-11 school budgets, those involved face significant challenges. Here are a few of them:

State subsidy cuts: The likelihood is that there will be further cuts in state education subsidies in 2010-11 beyond those already in place.

Nonconsolidation penalties: Penalties for failure to consolidate, delayed for a year, will come due unless they are eliminated or further delayed, or the districts consolidate.

Teacher salaries: Clearly, in light of the first two challenges, the outcome of current teacher salary negotiations is crucially important to the budget.

Beyond the above, there is the need to reduce the property tax burden on Rockport residents, and on taxpayers of other district towns. The schools now take 70 percent of Rockport’s town budget and similarly high percentages of other town budgets. That portion of the town of Rockport budget taken by the schools must be cut from the present 70 percent back to a more historically normal level of 60 percent. Such a cut in Rockport, for example, would free up $774,000 for other purposes. A 10 percent reduction in tax funds going to the schools would have a similar impact on other district towns.

All of the above spells a tough job, but one that it is essential to address.

Alexander Armentrout

Citizens for Value In Education


Thanks to friends, neighbors, community members

It certainly is hard to believe another holiday season has come and gone. Again, what would I have done without your thoughtfulness and caring toward others? This year I had really hoped to write individual thank-you letters to all the churches, businesses, organizations, Penobscot Bay Medical Center, and individuals who helped make the holidays brighter for some of our local families. I’m not going to make it! I hope you will all accept my apology if not receiving one, and accept this letter with my sincere thank
you for your contribution.

We’re a very lucky joined community (Camden, Rockport, Hope, Lincolnville and Appleton). Seventy-five families experienced a much brighter holiday because of your caring and unselfish giving — even though I know many of you could have used your donations and time caring for your own families. Again I thank you for all the families who were helped during the holidays. It would be very much appreciated by the “elves” to receive a thank you from those receiving the assistance. Give me a call for any needed information. I’m very proud to be an integral part of our community.

Wishing you all the best, happiest and healthiest of new years.

Judy Clossey, school nurse

Camden Hills Regional High School

Proposed school consolidation

The following letter was written to all Regional School Unit 13 school board members in reference to the school consolidation.

Dear RSU 13 board members:

I am writing to you all today to voice my concern and great trepidation about the new proposed school consolidation. I have read the VillageSoup article and have perused the High School Study Group meeting minutes (really not much real info there) and have looked at the Considered Options Synopsis. The synopsis takes all the hard data and points right to the direction the “powers-that-be” want to take us, but does not take into consideration the hearts and souls of the people, students, schools and communities. This committee, although hard workers all, is greatly overlooking the desires of a large portion of our school’s communities (none of which had representation on this committee). I am in great hopes that you will hear from the people at your next board meeting (Jan. 7).

The VillageSoup article states and quotes from Judy [Lucarelli] that this option would “ease the often difficult transition” of the eighth-graders in transferring to high school life. This seems like a breeze compared to asking young teenage students to change schools twice as opposed to once now, and in the case of the St. George students, to attend three different schools within a three to four year period. Not to mention how it may be difficult for the Rockland District Middle School students to change schools into a different town all together only to return back to their original town. This concern seems like a false one to me, when compared to what you are asking them to do beginning next fall and over the next several years. If and when the ultimate goal of Many Flags is reached, we again will revert back to 9th to 12th grades (and yet another “transition” for a new group of students, but there is always one group caught in the middle).

It seems common sense that this could possibly be a busing logistical nightmare, with different start times and bus routes. I do take pity on the one charged with figuring this out within a seven-month period (or less) should you vote to implement this plan.

I recall seeing on our local channel a few years back, when some of the youngsters got together with high school counterparts to discuss the possibility of merging under Many Flags, all had great concerns about how this would actually happen and the effect it would have on losing their school/community identity. I have been reading posts on a FaceBook group and the current students seem to have these same concerns and dislike of this idea today.

You speak of savings on athletics, due, in part, to the distance the Buccaneers travel, but what of the cost of new uniforms and the like? A football team alone would take up a considerable portion of this $50,000 savings I would imagine. Also mentioned was the idea that there would be fewer team participants under one school than there are now (this to me is a sad statement of community loss). Those who are not chosen to play on a sports team have other options as mentioned, but it seems to me that they have that option now, if they so choose, to participate in a sport either of our high schools offer. What of freshmen that may play in a junior varsity or varsity sport? How will they be transported to the 10-12 school for practices, or released early for away games, etc.?

This is not even to mention the disbelief, of at least this parent, that this will save any money at all. But it definitely will cause quite a bit of angst for the majority of our communities, its people, and families.

These are but a few of my concerns about what this committee has chosen to submit to the board, but as stated above, I am in hopes the people will at least take the initiative to write to you their own thoughts or better yet attend your next meeting.

Angela Vachon

St. George

United Mid-Coast Charities

United Mid-Coast Charities has just concluded a year with an exceptionally busy event schedule in December in Knox and Waldo counties.

The first event was Making Miracles in collaboration with coastal downtown business groups. The 125 merchants who participated agreed to donate up to 10 percent of their sales on Dec. 12 to UMCC. To remind people to shop downtown, Bangor Savings Bank employee teams assembled luminaries, distributed them in the downtowns and lit them. This event took place in Camden-Rockport, Rockland, Belfast, Searsport and Unity. An anonymous donor contributed $15,000 to match the success in each of these towns. We thank the Bangor Savings Bank employee teams and the over 125 merchants who participated in this important fundraising event.

The second was the 2009 Holiday Pops Concert, a first-time event for UMCC. The Maine Pro Musica orchestra, Camden Hills Regional High School Women’s Choir and Chamber Singers, Penobscot Bay Ringers, and Rockport Dance Conservatory performed at Strom Auditorium in a concert described as a “smashing success.” More than 100 musicians participated in this concert. The quality of the music tells us that along the coast of Maine there are exceptional musicians eager to celebrate the holiday season.

The third event was the Lighting of Luminaries on Christmas Eve in Knox and Waldo counties. A small army of volunteers from the Cub Scouts to high school students to seniors assembled 2,000 luminaries. They were sold by street captains throughout both counties, lighting up the spirit of community and expressing hope to those in need of help.

There were 125 merchants participating in Making Miracles in addition to the Bangor Savings Bank employee teams. About 500 people attended the Holiday Pops Concert. And about 2,000 luminaries were sold to benefit the 50 agencies in our federation.

A mere thank you to the hundreds of people who participated with us in December seems so inadequate, but it is offered with the warmest sincerity of our directors and officers.

Rusty Brace


United Mid-Coast Charities


Sadness and depression

Thank you for the inclusion of last week’s guest column on depression by Allan Horowitz and Jerome Wakefield and providing increased attention to the experience of depression.

Our unalienable right to the pursuit of happiness has created cultural difficulty in acknowledging that periods of mild depression (and sometimes even moderate depression) are a normal function of the human experience. Viewed as a personal weakness or a lapse in fortitude, normal sadness is categorized as disease, as noted by Horowitz and Wakefield. Broad based cultural acceptance of standard mourning periods, for instance, has been lost (everyone deserves a year to mourn). The experience of grief and developmental transitions such as empty nest syndrome or the aging process is met with cultural messages (frequently from well meaning loved ones and even some medical professionals) who direct to “get over it,” move on, or seek assistance via medication, exclusively. The “disease-ing” of such experiences elevates normal life reactions to disease status, while also serving to diminish the experience of clinical depression. For those contending with clinical depression or life’s transitions, increased collaboration among mental health professionals and primary care physicians can assist in providing psychotherapy services to those in need.

Michele Mannion