As I approach my 30th anniversary of covering news in the Rockland area, it is clear that news goes in cycles. Eventually the cycle goes full circle.

I became philosophical on this matter while noticing that a lot of things being raised this week have been topics of interests three decades ago.

Back 30 years ago, the city of Rockland nearly declared bankruptcy when it was determined that money was being spent well above what was available. The furor led to the resignation of the city manager, the hiring of a finance director, and the formation of a group called the Rockland Citizens Union.

When I began covering city council meetings, the leaders of the Citizens Union would offer their criticism of city government and what they considered to be the excessive spending of the municipality. The meetings also attracted independent citizens worried about taxes.

One of the Rockland Citizens Union members was Robert Young. Young and Citizens Union founders Jean and John Lines were among the most frequent speakers at council meetings.

Young eventually moved to Owls Head. But he moved back to the city and during the past few weeks has returned to attending council meetings to offer his critiques of the operation of city government. One of his criticisms this week has been about the higher cost to dispose of trash and the number of people who work at the dump — a level he said was excessive. He also took aim at a chicken coop that had been maintained at the sewage treatment plant.

Watching Young in action brings me back to those days in the early ’80s.

Also this week the city council received a letter from a resident who voiced concern about fluoride in the public water supply. The resident argued that the use of fluoride is mass medicating the citizens without a prescription. She warned about the health effects of fluoride, which she said is an ingredient in rat poison.

But again, this is not a new issue. Residents in the region approved the addition of fluoride in the public water supply 40 or so years ago.

Back in 1982, there was a controversy when critics sought to have School Administrative District 5 stop a two-year pilot project in which students, with parental permission, would use a fluoride rinse once a week each week.

Fluoride has often been viewed by some people as an effort by big government to take over people’s lives. Decades later that mistrust remains.

And another deja vu experience was the Maine Department of Education releasing its annual report on graduation rates for state high schools. The latest report finds that Rockland District High School had one of the lowest rates for students who complete high school in four years.

Back in the early 1980s and again in each decade since, school officials note they do not know the reason why the completion rate is so high here compared to all other schools in Maine. There were years when the superintendents promised to conduct an analysis to find out why the students failed to finish their schooling.

The stark reality is that more than one out of four students who enter the high school end up graduating. School officials agree that is an unacceptably high number.

But 30 years later, the answers remain as elusive.

After 30 years it would seem that someone would have come up with the idea to hire someone, perhaps on a short-term contract basis, to follow up with the students who fall off the radar screen to find out why they dropped out of school. The students could be asked what would keep them in school and what, if anything, could be done differently.

The district will be spending $26 million in the next year on education. Citizens ask why with this amount of money being spent are 28 percent of high school students unable to graduate in four years.

Maybe it’s the fluoride.

Stephen Betts is associate editor. His commentary appears on Fridays.