Thanks to Clossey

It was nice to read school nurse Judy Clossey’s gracious letter thanking the community for helping make the holidays a bit more pleasant for families in need of a little help. In fact the many organizations and individuals she thanked know that for many years she has been the true “holiday angel” that has really made the difference between a dismal holiday and a special one for many families.

For many years the First Congregational Church of Camden has relied upon Judy to connect us with families in need so that we are able to fulfill our holiday mission. We know this year was a particularly stressful one for Judy as she was extremely busy dealing with flu vaccinations at the very time she needed to be matching up families with organizations that wished to help. We are so very grateful to her for her selfless, tireless efforts to bring joy to the families of Camden, Rockport, Hope, Appleton and Lincolnville.

Thank you and God bless you, Judy.

Roberta Walker, chairwoman

Dove Tree Project

First Congregational Church of Camden

 

Concerned citizen

I’ve written before as to what I’d do as president. Now it’s what I’d like to see as a concerned citizen (important stuff first):

Every meeting between a member of Congress (both houses, remember) and any lobbyist would have to be a matter of public record (no matter who pays for lunch).

No members of Congress (our servants, remember?) could give themselves a bigger percentage Social Security increase than is given to the public.

Elections:

1. The Treasury would pay each delegate the same fixed “funding” for election spending.

2. There would be no delegates — each voter would cast his/her own vote.

3. There could be no plurality winners. If democracy means the will of the majority, then the winner would have to get at least one vote more than half the votes cast. If there were no majority winner, they could have a runoff election later. Europe does it often.

Other stuff:

Bikers and walkers should move facing oncoming traffic. Bikers (pedal or motor) without helmets on in an accident would automatically be uninsured.

Vehicle drivers wishing to turn at a corner would not be able to do so if their turn signals were not in use.

A moving vehicle would stop when a driver put a cell phone in the on mode (except for fixed installations that do not require hand-held devices).

Election results: each party would be required to analyze write-in results to see how many votes were not cast for it (them).

And the most important of all: all unsolicited mail must have return postage guaranteed.

Hilliard L. Lubin

Camden

 

School debt reprise — disappointment

As outlined in previous letters, particularly that of Jan. 21, debt incurred by the Five Town Community School District and Maine School Administrative District 28 for school construction has put a heavy debt service burden on taxpayers of the towns involved. It seemed that if a way could be found to reduce that burden, it would provide significant opportunities for those funds to be used locally in the schools and/or for other municipal purposes.

With regard to the SAD 28 debt for the new elementary school: That bonding was put in place in 2008 with the first principal payment made in November 2009. Fortunately, because of the timing of the floating of that bond issue, the rates of interest are quite low, averaging 4.37 percent, so reducing that rate of interest is not likely. And the bonds are much too new to consider extending their term. As a result, while there may be other SAD debt that could be re-structured to advantage (the middle school renovation loan, and that for purchase of the Montessori School), there is no benefit to be gained from attempting to modify the debt on the new elementary school — the largest loan. The schools are examining the options on the other aforementioned debt.

It seemed as if there must be opportunities for re-structuring the Five Town CSD bonds for construction of the high school that were issued in 1999. Here it is important to note that these bonds were refunded in September 2009 and that the interest rates are now, depending upon the year in question, at about 3 +/- percent — historically low rates. The question was, can the term of this debt, which now has 11 years to maturity, be extended, in the current low interest rate environment, to reduce annual principal payments? The short answer to that question is no. There are many reasons for what turns out to be that fact. At the behest of the CSD the subject has been examined by its attorney. Other experts have commented on the subject, and I have spoken directly to the executive director of the Maine Bond Bank, Robert Lenna, about it. Unfortunately, there seems, on the basis of various state and federal laws, no financially feasible way to re-structure this debt to the advantage of the CSD and taxpayers.

Should anyone have any better answers, I for one, would certainly like to hear them.

The result: Unfortunately, an important pain relieving method of reducing cash outgo from SAD 28 and the CSD has been eliminated. The re-structuring of other debt needs to continue to be explored to a conclusion, but now there will be greater pressure on other items of cost including:

– Compensation: any salary increases will have to be kept to an absolute minimum.

– Special education: this cost is already under careful scrutiny at the schools.

– Vocational education: this is another area that is under discussion.

– Operations and maintenance: there are hopes for cost reductions in this area

particularly at the new elementary school.

These topics will be the subject of upcoming letters from Citizens for Value In Education.

We very much regret the need to bring this disappointing news after placing such hopes on this possible cost reduction.

Alexander Armentrout

Citizens for Value In Education

Rockport

 

Delightful stories

On behalf of the 14 listeners of all ages who came to the Thomaston Public Library on Saturday, I would like to express our appreciation to Nancy Carter, Thomaston selectman, for the delightful stories she read to us. After hearing her read about snow and animal tracks, everyone was sent home with pictures of tracks made in the snow and with the suggestion to go out and make some snow angels. Thank you, Nancy!

Alice Dashiell
Friends of Thomaston Public Library

 

Owls Head students sponsor fundraiser for Haiti

Mrs. Callaway’s third-grade class is sponsoring a fundraiser to raise money to send to the earthquake-shattered country of Haiti. This project came about because of a social studies lesson about what it means to be a good citizen. The children have planned this fundraiser on their own, and are now asking for your help.

The first piece of the fundraiser was to give each classroom a can to put donations in. There is also a can in the office for anyone wishing to contribute there. The cans will be out until Thursday, Jan. 28. Any amount you or your child would like to give will be greatly appreciated.

We are also having a bottle drive. Bottles can be dropped off in Mrs. Callaway’s classroom any morning until Thursday, Jan. 28 before 8 a.m. or after 3 p.m. Mr. Sommo and Mrs. Callaway will take the bottles each day to a redemption center to turn them in.

The final event will be a Hat Day sponsored by the class on Friday, Jan. 29. When students arrive for the morning, they will need to put a minimum of $1 in a can to be allowed to wear a hat in school all day. A few third-graders will be waiting in the cafeteria in the morning to collect that money.

Our goal is to have all money counted before the end of the day on Friday, Jan. 29 so a total can be announced at the end of the day and our whole community will know the amount we have raised. Mrs. Callaway will then be sure the money is sent to Haiti through one of the many organizations collecting money.

The children are very excited about this piece of community service, and we hope you all will help make this fundraiser a huge success.

Thank you.

Jackie, Brendan, Dayton, Mattie, Hayley N., Lexie, Haylee, Robbie, Avery, Annie, Cole,  Dylan, Josh, Timothy and Mrs. Callaway
Owls Head Central School

 

Health care reform

I’ve taught college courses on ethics for over 35 years. Listening to the current political debates, I cannot help but conclude that one of the biggest moral issues facing America is health care reform. How can caring for the less fortunate — not to be confused with freeloaders — be just a Democratic concern? To listen to Republicans it sounds that way. No “public option”? Are you kidding? How many insurance companies have our Republican representatives to Washington in their pockets? 

Maybe I add to the problem with this sort of rhetoric but I’m angry. Maybe the current health care proposal is not the best. In fact, it isn’t, especially if it excludes the public option. Nevertheless, it is an attempt to fix a corrupt system. It’s a beginning. 

I believe if you want health care reform, take away insurance coverage of our elected officials, state and federal, from the president on down. Same thing here: you want honest politics? Eliminate lobbyists and unbridled corporate giving. (Imagine that, even our Supreme Court doesn’t get it. Why not? Ignorance? Moral bankruptcy?) You want to end the wars, bring the troops home? Institute the draft.

I do not fear for my future but the future of my granddaughter, Tula Rose, born only last spring. My father’s generation did its best to make the world a better place for me and Tula Rose, serving in both World War II and Korea. But I’m afraid my generation took that legacy and gave the next generations ineptitude — read FEMA and New Orleans — arrogance –read Bush, Cheney, et al and Iraq — and spineless leadership — read Obama and the Democrats.

What I want to know is, where is the new generation that will provide ballast to stabilize the ship of state? Do it for Tula Rose and all her brothers and sisters throughout the world.

Thank you.

Robert E. Baker
Cushing