Too much of a good thing

As director of parks and recreation for the town of Camden, I would like to thank everyone who has come to the Snow Bowl this winter to enjoy the tubing, skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing. It’s been a great winter so far, though as we often see here on the coast, it’s been a mix of big snow and, recently, big rain. All of the staff here work hard to keep the terrain at its best but as we all know, mother nature has a mind of her own.

I know that many of our season pass holders and day guests were disappointed recently when, on a weekday, we had a tremendous snowfall and were not able to open all the lifts on the mountain. It was a storm that dumped with little warning; even local schools were canceled at the last minute. So we had far more skiers than we expected on a weekday, and not enough staff to operate at full capacity.

As a small ski area on a tight budget we have a limited number of staff who we can hire and train to operate our lifts. Due to the nature of that machinery, we are very careful to be sure that only qualified people operate lifts in order to minimize safety issues. It takes four people to operate the big T-bar, three on the lift and one to rotate for breaks. Midweek our staffing is lighter than on weekends due to fewer skiers, and it simply wasn’t possible to call in four more employees on such short notice. Most of our staff are part time. Many have unique schedules because they have other jobs and family commitments that make last minute schedule changes nearly impossible to manage.

Believe me, no one regrets this more than we do, but as a small area we have our limitations. Unlike large ski areas, Snow Bowl lift tickets are $12 to $22 on weekdays, versus the $50 to $80 per day that you’d pay at many other areas. Our low costs help to make the Snow Bowl accessible to far more people, and because we are part of the town of Camden we aren’t out to make huge profits, just to cover our operating expenses. It’s always a balancing act.

Today, even after so much rain and a dusting of new snow, the conditions are excellent and the lift lines are very short. Future plans for the Snow Bowl include a new chairlift to replace the big T-bar and a second chairlift to access a new beginner area that will be developed, as well as a novice slope and lift. We plan to run these each day we are open. Even with those changes, however, I’m certain that there will be a few days every year when the facility will be very crowded. It’s just the nature of the business. As they say, “You don’t build the church for Easter Sunday.”

Thanks for your understanding and continued commitment to our community ski area.

Jeff Kuller

Camden

 

Suggested school budget parameters

Citizens for Value In Education has sent a letter to Maine School Administrative District 28 and the Five Town Community School District, and to the school boards and constituent district towns suggesting the following 2011 school budget parameters. These parameters have been suggested within the context of avoiding in any way compromising the quality of the education being made available to district children. VIE has suggested the following.

For SAD 28:

– That SAD 28 absorb the state subsidy loss anticipated by the district to be $290,927.

– That SAD 28 reduce the property tax support required from Camden and Rockport by 5 percent amounting to $551,786.

– That the resulting SAD 28 fiscal year 2011 budget be no greater than $11,680,406, a

reduction of just 6.7 percent as compared with 2010.

For the Five Town CSD:

– The CSD projects a state subsidy cut of as much as $1.5 million. Should the towns be

required to make up this reduction, the additional tax revenue required from each would be:

Appleton: $54,000

Hope: $102,000

Rockport: $463,500

Camden: $652,500

Lincolnville: $228.000

Those figures are based on the 2010 allocation of CSD tax support among constituent towns.

– VIE has suggested that the CSD absorb this projected cut in state subsidy.

– And it has concluded that in the face of the CSD absorbing this subsidy loss, recommending additional cuts in tax revenue from the constituent towns is unrealistic.

– That the 2011 CSD budget be no greater than $10,066,717, representing a cut of 13 percent, resulting completely from the loss of state subsidy.

The overall reduction in the SAD 28 and the CSD budgets combined would be 9.7 percent.

It is important to remember in this discussion that all of the towns involved face revenue losses beyond those discussed here. Avoiding property tax increases in 2011 will be extremely difficult. To that end, while we look to the schools to continue to enhance educational excellence, their constituent towns also need as much financial help to minimize the tax load as can be provided. Letters to follow will suggest areas for scrutiny in the above budgets during this budget making process.

Citizen involvement in this matter will be crucial.

Alexander Armentrout

Citizens for Value In Education

Rockport

Peace through disarmament

For over a decade now we have stood in front of the Bath Iron Works Administration building during Advent and Lent declaring that it is time to prepare for peace through disarmament. We have held banners that call for the abolition of war naming the Aegis cruise missile destroyer as a crime against humanity. We have circulated leaflets asking questions about the spiritual and moral consequences of allowing the building of weapons of mass destruction to continue at Bath Iron Works. We have mourned the launching of too many warships every year.

Recently, representatives of Bath Iron Works have announced that they are considering expanding to build wind turbines. This is great news as we have all hoped that conversion of the shipyard would someday become a reality. However, we have to wonder if we know the full story of the proposed expansion. General Dynamics continues to build Aegis destroyers and has begun construction of the Zumwalt destroyers at BIW with more sophisticated warships on the design tables for future construction.

We live in an age of nonstop propaganda that screams at us from all sides. All the talk we hear about our need for sustained economic development and the lie of the necessity for a just war is really Orwellian double speak for greed. The United States continues to do incredible damage to our Mother Earth through our selfish drive for more and more while so many have nothing. We have no business exploiting and thereby condemning so many innocents. What is the true cost of these warships? Along with physically destroying the earth, we have spiritually and psychologically crippled ourselves and our children. It is time for us to repent and ask forgiveness for too many crimes against humanity.

As people of hope, we cry out with the earth and all of her humble creatures for justice and peace through disarmament. We believe that by disarming ourselves and by stopping the production of the machines that wage war, we may be able to find a path to healing all of the damage we have created. The Lenten Vigil for Disarmament will be held this year on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 17 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in front of the Bath Iron Works Administration Building on Washington Street in Bath. This will be the 13th anniversary of the Prince of Peace Plowshares. We will continue the vigil in the same location from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on all the Saturdays in Lent (Feb. 20 and 27, March 6, 13, 20 and 27, and April 3). This witness is one of hope; yet our hope needs to face the reality that the disarmament of BIW comes when they stop buildings warships.

Disarm and live!

George and Maureen Ostensen

Smilin’ Trees Disarmament Farm

Hope

Bright lights

Why the bright lights? We all have done it as motorists. Traveling toward the oncoming cars, we can’t remember to put our lights on low beam. Especially on a rainy, dark night it would be a great help to us all. I know we are all human and we forget. I don’t know why we need our bright lights when we travel around the city streets. Let all motorists pledge to dim our lights in the new year, 2010.

Gordon Wotton

Thomaston