Dispense with silly signs and name-calling

I have to agree with Gene Graves’ letter [Herald Gazette, June 10] in which he condemned political signs that “cross the line” of fair play. Such messages attacking any politician or party only serve to denigrate the integrity of the person or group who designed, printed and posted the signs, and it weakens their own political standing. This sort of partisan bickering and name-calling defines our political climate, unfortunately, as many extreme talk shows fan the flames of dissent with rhetoric intended to divide and alienate us. Regardless, we all do have the constitutional right to free speech and political signs are certainly an expression of that freedom. The Tea Party, especially, must appreciate that fact, even if it may feel offended and victimized.

I do also have to agree with the message of the signs: The Tea Party has not voted sensibly here in Union. Last summer, Union voters were offered a unique opportunity to repair a significant portion of town roads through a bond package available from the federal stimulus package. Inexplicably, the local Tea Party members opposed this bond and made a special effort to telephone constituents and encourage voters to attend the meeting and presumably oppose the bond. I was never telephoned, and so I presume the calls were chosen according to political affiliation. Nobody would consider this “fair play and honest government” as Mr. Graves suggests the Tea Party “is all about.”

The bond was strongly defeated as a result of this effort, and so Union is even farther behind in its road maintenance. In a recent letter to the editor, the local Tea Party has made it clear that they will oppose another effort to improve the condition of Union’s roads.

Article 41 in the town warrant will ask voters to approve a $75,000 appropriation from the fund balance to increase the budget for this year’s road repair. The reality is, we need to increase our budget for road repair. This repair costs money. We cannot reduce taxes, refuse bond packages and keep our roads in good repair. We citizens of Union must all vote on June 14, and we citizens must all attend town meeting on June 20. Let’s not allow any special interest group to control our town. Let’s stop with the silly signs and name-calling and get down to the hard work of improving our towns, our lives and our future. We’re all in it together!

John Shepard

Eat steamers for clean water

As president of the Maine Clammers Association and a clam digger, I am hoping that folks in the Midcoast will rally and support the efforts of Waldoboro’s shellfish program by attending its Eat Steamers for Clean Water Event on Saturday, June 18 in downtown Waldoboro.

Under Abden Simmons’ leadership, Waldoboro’s municipal shellfish program has been working collaboratively and successfully with landowners and local organizations to improve water quality on the Medomak River. As a result, pollution sources have been found and are in the process of being remediated.

On Saturday, June 18 from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., we have the opportunity to help preserve the proud tradition of digging wild Maine clams. By supporting this event, we can eat some great locally harvested food, help fight coastal pollution and show our support for Waldoboro’s continuing efforts to educate Maine’s clammers and the public to become stewards of the ocean and its resources. Tickets are $12 and free for kids 6 and under. Bring your friends! Call The Fluff at 615-5640 for more details.

Chad Coffin
President, Maine Clammers Association

Annual Warren Field and Garden Club fundraiser a success

The Warren Field and Garden Club members wish to thank all those who helped make the 12th Memorial Day Weekend Plant Sale such a success. All proceeds from the fundraiser help support the club’s civic activities, which include the youth scholarship fund, Warren Community School programs and town beautification projects.

A warm thank you goes to the Midcoast gardeners who graciously provided generous-sized plants from their gardens, and to the Green Thumb, Barley Jo’s, Moose Crossing Garden Center, Home Depot and Joe March, “The Black Dirt Guy,” for their various contributions to the success of the sale. Their continued support allows us to maintain the tradition of quality plants at reasonable prices.

Lastly, it is always a welcome sight to see our faithful returning customers and to welcome new ones. Your support is received with gratitude. The club, with members from numerous Midcoast towns, meets the third Thursday of the month, April through December, at the Dr. Campbell House, home of the Warren Historical Society, 225 Main St. in Warren. We have many interesting speakers and garden tours planned for the year, and are signing up new members now. No gardening experience is necessary, just come and enjoy. To join the club or attend as a guest, please contact Irene Maxcy at 273-3701 or Dorothy Robinson at 273-2527.

Dorothy Robinson and Irene Maxcy
Co-presidents, Warren Field and Garden Club

Spectacular Vose sale

The organizers of the Vose Library Plant and Bake Sale would like to thank the community for a very special day, June 4. The sale, which was held on a sunny Saturday on Union Common, was a resounding success in all ways. Vose Library benefited from the hard work of local gardeners, bakers and many cheerful volunteers with an increase of 45 percent in sales profits over last year’s record-breaking sale!

Thanks to all of the workers, volunteers and helpers (you know who you are), and thanks to all of you gardeners, planters and snackers who made this year’s sale so spectacular!

John Shepard

Art show enhances Rockland waterfront

The Maine Stone Workers Guild would like to thank everyone who has been involved in creating “Sitting Pretty: an exhibition at Sharp’s Point South.”

Our artists reception, held on the beautiful evening of June 10, included an antipasto from Sweets and Meats, Atlantic Baking Company bread with Fiore’s Tuscan Herb extra virgin olive oil for dipping, Mike Mayo’s personally prepared and perfectly fried veggie tempura, Dolcelinos — cut in bite-sized portions and presented by two charming caterers — and a juice and fizzy-water bar complete with garnishes and presided over by Joy Auciello.

Approximately 50 to 75 people came through to enjoy the wonderful variety of seats, benches and sculptures on display. Peter Proeller brought his banjo, and a rhubarb and berry pie. For a while he and Jim Sharp on guitar noodled around together, seated under a tree on two of the exhibited pieces; one a wooden bench made by Peter himself.

Rockland Marine launched a Coast Guard boat it had in for repairs, and that provided a point of interest for a while. One couple sat on the rocks of Jim’s wharf and watched the whole thing, and they were sitting pretty, too.

The rolling lawn, with its art works and the people enjoying it, took on the appearance of an elegant city park. There was even a baby crawling on the grass. People sat in the shade or wandered around looking at the scene, man-made and natural, at that beautiful place along the Rockland shore. It was a lovely day.

In addition to those mentioned above, exhibiting artists included Conrad Smith, Antje Roitzsch, blacksmith Andrew Leck, Wyatt Picard, Ray Carbone, Owen Casas, David Curry, and J.C. Stone.

The show officially ends next Sunday. Norman Casas, Paul Kozak and other members of the Maine Stone Workers Guild will be on site, throughout the week, making more beautiful creations. June 18 and 19 are Family Fun Days at Sharp’s Point South, and we hope people will come by and see the campus at 75 Mechanic St. with these beautiful works of art and function in place.

Thank you to all who participated, contributed and visited, and especially to J.C. Stone for donating material and Meg and Jim Sharp for hosting this event.

Joe Auciello

Camden Conservation Commission seeks members

Does Camden need a conservation commission? What is it anyway? If you are interested in the outdoors, Camden’s natural beauty, trees, wildlife, smart planning for the future, public rights of way to the harbor, more or better access to Camden’s lakes, rivers, and the ocean, then you might be interested in learning more about conservation commissions. Unless more volunteers step up, the Camden Conservation Commission may become a thing of the past.

Here are a few of the CCC’s past projects:

Created a map of highly ranked open spaces worthy of preservation;

Obtained town ownership of the Bog Natural Area and maintained it through work days;

Enhanced public access to the Beacon Street harbor view (Lighthouse Lookout);

Established Marine Avenue erosion control;

Worked for Riverwalk preservation and maintenance;

Annually inspected rights of way to the harbor;

Presented educational workshops on Beginning with Habitat, Riverwalk, Conservation Options for property owners;

Inventoried street trees and implemented street-tree plantings;

Created a town tree nursery and supplied trees to critical areas (now defunct);

Staffed booths at various green fairs;

Provided suggestions to town planning board and zoning board on conservation issues;

Participated in elm tree replanting program;

Attended workshops on non-point source pollution, Land for Maine’s Future, Maine Conservation Commissions, and others; and

Sponsor of Tree City USA.

More is still to be done, but without willing volunteers, who will be there to help? It’s time to step up to the plate if you want Camden to have a healthy conservation commission.

Maine conservation commissions are supported by an active online presence: the Maine Association of Conservation Commissions. MEACC offers feedback, workshops, and communication with other conservation commissions.

It is with sadness that I see a lack of support and interest in the town’s conservation commission. The CCC is chartered to have seven members. We have not had success finding new recruits. We need committed volunteers with energy. If you have skill in such areas as forestry, botany, leadership, publicity, local history, Maine’s environment, watersheds, law, invasive species, public lands, photography, conservation of natural resources, the CCC needs you. Towns across Maine have either lost their conservation commissions or revived or created them: a number of towns like Readfield, Falmouth, Bremen, Raymond, Phippsburg, and Kennebunkport have become active agencies for their town’s environmental conscience. The electronic age can be very effective in keeping conservation groups in touch with each other.

The CCC, whose members are appointed by the Select Board, serves as a research, advisory, and advocacy group on environmental and conservation issues relating to the town. If you are interested in becoming a member, please pick up an application at the town office. Better yet, come to the next meeting, Wednesday, June 22, and find out more. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the Washington Street Conference Room.

Karin K. Rector
Chairman, Camden Conservation Commission

An open letter to the Five Town CSD School Board

We are members of Out! As I Want to Be, Midcoast Maine’s program for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. Our meeting place is in Rockland where we run two after-school programs, on Wednesdays and Fridays, and typically see more than 20 young people from Swanville to Cushing each week. We have several active Out! youth members from Camden who attend Camden Hills Regional High School. Several of us live in Camden.

Some of us attended the Five Town CSD District Board meeting on June 1 when you considered a student-initiated proposal to establish a GSA at the high school. As you know, under Maine and federal law, students have a right to form gay-straight alliances on the same terms and with the same privileges and resources as all other extracurricular groups.

At the meeting, school board members appeared to be genuinely seeking to understand the need for GSAs in our schools. We thought you might appreciate more information. You can join us at the Camden Public Library Thursday, June 16 at 6:30 p.m. or at the Belfast Public Library Saturday, June 18 at 6 p.m. for a discussion with Joe Wilson about rural LGBTQ youth following a screening of his award winning film, “Out in the Silence,” on this topic.

As you know, adolescence is the developmental stage for finding your people. Who understands you? Where do you fit? What and whom do you love? For those who suspect or know that his or her sexual or gender identities estrange them from their families and their childhood friends, fear and a smothering introversion can dangerously isolate them. LGBTQ kids must tolerate not only bullying, which occurs in all our schools, but the wounding daily banter in school hallways — “That’s so queer. You’re so gay. He’s a faggot.” When teachers and administrators fail to actively confront banter and bullying, LGBTQ kids feel this is condoned by the adults around them.

We estimate that 300 to 500 LGBTQ young people reside in Midcoast Maine. These young people are inherently at risk. Routinely harassed and bullied in school, often unrecognized or rejected at home, comprising 30 percent of youth suicides and 42 percent of youth homelessness, our youth are at greater risk of pregnancy, substance abuse and school failure. Their isolation is exacerbated by the lack of access to transportation in rural Maine and therefore contact with similar youth or adult support.

Unless other young people or teachers are conspicuously “out,” LGBTQ kids make the same assumptions you do; they think that everyone is straight and that they are the only different person around.

Diversity is an admirable goal, but the word is often used in schools to avoid speaking clearly about sexual and gender identity. GSAs are exactly what the name suggests: Alliances of LGBTQ kids and their straight allies. Other students are excluded purely out of their own disinterest or hostility.

LGBTQ kids (one in every 10 kids) need to know that their core identities are recognized and normal. The CHRHS students have been urged by CHRHS school administrators not to be exclusive. This is analogous to telling battered women in safe houses that men should be admitted, too. Legally, it is well established that a school cannot require a GSA to adopt another name, such as the “Diversity Club” or the “Tolerance Club,” nor can it force a GSA to broaden its scope beyond the reach of LGBT issues. Refusal to allow students to form a GSA on the ground that the group must have a different name, or that it must have a different purpose, violates the Equal Access Act.

Students submitted a request for a GSA in September 2010. The school-year long stonewalling by the CHRHS administration sent a clear message of, at best, disinterest, and, at worst, resistance. June is traditionally Pride month in the LGBT community. Portland and Bangor Pride will be celebrated this coming weekend. It’s an opportune time for the CHRHS Board to demonstrate their pride in Five Town’s LGBTQ students.

Dora Lievow, Lis Clark, Jeff Alexander, Liz Davenport, Ralph F. Field, Ph.D., Erica Sanchez, Starcia Willey

Thomaston: Fourth of July and Georges Valley High School, together at last

As a Thomaston girl, two of my favorite memories are the Fourth of July festivities and going to high school at Georges Valley.

The theme of this year’s parade is “Georges Valley High School Yearbooks.” Lucky me. This year, my two favorite things are combined into one! Think of the float ideas: Winning sports teams, winning math teams, most likely to succeed, best legs, class clown, Class of 1983…. I wonder which class will get the most members to participate? We’re offering a new prize this year for the Best Alumni Float, so find your former classmates, teammates, teachers and have fun with your high school memories! And you don’t have to be from Georges Valley to have fun with that theme; yearbooks are universal, aren’t they? When you’re ready for a parade application, send me an email and I’ll get it right out to you. We’re excited to hear from you!

Did you know that GVHS opened up in the fall of 1963, taking over for the beloved Thomaston High School, and that the first graduating class of 1964 still gets together every five years or so? To celebrate the almost five decades of Georges Valley, our evening band, Freeze Frame, will be playing all the hits you can handle, from the 1960s on up. What songs were playing when you were in high school? Now is your chance to relive your high school dances. Heck, wear your prom dress if you want! Maybe we’ll even offer a prize for the “best” dressed.

And if you attended GVHS, check out the town of Thomaston website where there is a place to sign up as a Georges Valley student, or former student. Apparently, there is no comprehensive list of us, so let’s make one.

By the way, if you have an event that you’d like to sponsor on the Fourth, let us know that, too. Would you like to organize an alumni softball tournament? Three-legged race? Water balloon fight? Food pantry can-collection contest? That’s great. Talk to us!

We’re looking forward to hearing from you — julie@brookstrapmill.com.

Julie Russo, Thomaston 4th of July Committee

Amon Vaughan family thanks community

The family of Amon Vaughan would like to extend its heartfelt thanks once again to everyone who attended his scholarship fundraising dinner this year. Last year, we gave out the first scholarship to a student furthering his education in fire sciences. We look forward to giving out many more scholarships in the future. All of the proceeds go directly into the fund from the dinner, and this year, as well, from the sale of the cookbook we did in memory of Amon for a fundraiser.

We also want to thank everyone who donated their time to help with the dinner and all of the people who made the many delicious pies and salads. A special thanks to Weavers Bakery for its use of the equipment to cook the chicken outside over pits. We got many compliments on the quality of the food, especially the chicken. It is with the help of friends, family, and community that makes these events successful and we truly appreciate the support.

Thank you,

Family of Amon Vaughan

Honor Dad on Father’s Day

June 19 is another great day coming up. It is Father’s Day, for the man who held you in his lap when you were a small child, and took you to a ballgame or the movies, attended a school play of which you took part, the man who you thought was strict when you were growing up and whose rules you were asked to abide by.

But you know inside that Dad had love for you, and when you finished high school you were ready for a good job in any city or town. Remember how Dad looked up at you and said, “Job well done”? He is very proud of you.

Gordon Wotton