Equality for all

No suicide has a single cause, but verbal harassment by her peers was certainly a factor in a 13-year-olds tragic decision to end her life last week in Troy. Her family’s report that this young woman was questioning her sexuality underscores this tragedy, highlighting the reality that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning youth comprise an unacceptably large percentage of youth suicides in Maine.

Middle schools are the newest institutions coping with our changing culture. At increasingly younger ages, our country’s youth are receiving messages about and exploring their own sexuality. Research has taught us that differently gendered or oriented children know they are different before the age of 10. The need for training for our school teachers and administrators in the sexuality issues of this younger age group is considerable.

Maine’s new anti-bullying legislation is an important first step. Yet, helping all of our kids feel welcomed in our schools requires more than anti-bullying policies. All children who are bullied, regardless of the reason, need adults who are willing to take notice, step up, and speak out at the first sign of trouble.

For LGBTQ youth, we need to provide visible and audible reminders that LGBTQ people are well represented in our communities: teachers, other community leaders, authors, inventors, bankers, etc. They need safe spaces that provide a place for them to explore who they are and how they can stand tall in our communities. They need help and support in finding their voices and how they can best contribute to our community-at-large.

Out! As I Want to Be provides affirmation, support, guidance, advocacy, and education to LGBTQ young people and their allies aged 14-22 in Midcoast Maine and its offshore islands. We offer an evening drop-in for members in Rockland every Wednesday and Friday. We are often a lifeline for isolated rural youth through our 800 number: 530-6997.

We grieve that we don’t reach every LGBTQ youth in need. Last Friday, our youth members responded to news of the Mt. View student’s experience by initiating the drafting of letters to fellow young people urging them not to consider suicide. As a community, we need to provide alternatives to suicide.

Out! is working to establish Gay/Straight/Trans/Alliances and Safe Spaces in all of our schools. Join us in our grief and in our work to build communities where all of our kids can thrive. Together, we can build on our state’s support for equality for all to make our schools and communities safe, supportive environments for each and every youth.

Dora Lievow,

President, Board of Directors, Out! As I Want to Be

Rockland

 

On public safety

Four months have passed since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.  Those lost lives are gone forever as are the lives of more than 2,900 others killed by guns since Dec. 14.  The grief of their families and friends will never end.  Our country has been changed forever by these events.

Immediately after Newtown, national outrage demanded significant change in our gun laws.  Since then, however, calls for thoughtful gun laws have dropped off.  Proposed Congressional legislation is now being compromised.

Even though this is discouraging, many of us continue to work to bring about changes in gun laws to ensure public safety. Fundamental change does not occur quickly.  One way to influence change is to speak out. We encourage all of our Congressional representatives to rise above the moneyed influence of the powerful gun lobby to act on behalf of their constituents and for the safety of all. We continue to let our representatives know our strong feelings on this issue.

We urge you to join us. Contact your representatives. Let them know how you feel about this critical subject.

Concerned Citizens for Public Safety

Connie Beasley, Karen Clarke — Thomaston

Diane Barnes, Joyce Houston, Betsy Johnson, Bonnie Percival —  Tenants Harbor

 

Diminished property values

On March 28, after a brief site walk, the Union Planning Board held a meeting and accepted a completed application from the company which plans to erect a 190-foot cellphone tower, equipped with lights, near the corner of Wottons Mill Road and Mt. Pleasant Road.

I feel, personally, that this is not the right or proper location for a tower; it  is an inappropriate use of land in a fairly thickly-settled neighborhood and, although we are zoned “rural” under the town ordinances and therefore vulnerable, the tower will, partly because of its size and visibility, affect a very large number of people in the area.

Property values are affected by being able to see towers, especially one of this size.  For instance, I can see from my windows a huge white pine, about 90 feet tall.  The tower, sited on a rise, will be more than twice that tall. Realtors say that in many cases, buyers are not interested in living in a house with a tower nearby and visible, and that selling prices would be affected.  My home on Mt. Pleasant Road, about 400 yards or so from the proposed tower site, is my major equity and asset for retirement. Considering how bad the market is now, additional loss of property value would be an unfair additional burden on me or anyone trying to sell. For example, the visible effect of the proposed DCP tank in Searsport on citizens' property values was one of the most frequently and emotionally invoked issues.

There may or may not be a need for another tower, but I do not think it belongs smack in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Perhaps the town could find a site on town property, from which they would derive substantial income and, hopefully which would have less effect on its citizens.

Although cellphone users may choose to expose themselves to radio-frequency emissions, those who live near cellphone towers have been forced into involuntary exposure; we’ve already been forced to accept the smart-meter network.  Over the years, concern has grown about serious health effects of RFs — cancers, fetal tissue damage, cataracts, memory loss, suppression of the endocrine and immune systems, among others. Despite several reputable studies, municipalities are basically prohibited by the 1996 Telecommunications Act, Section 704 (written with help from the industry),  from factoring these concerns into permitting of a tower, but they can change where to site it, and loss of property value is probably the only basis on which to do so.

Union citizens with concerns, please attend the planning board meeting April 11, encourage your neighbors to attend and send letters, and make sure to come to the public hearing, when announced. Whether you want to approve or deny, this is your right and privilege in a democracy.  Once it's a done deal, we live with the effects.

Sharon Osborne

Union

 

Scourge by drone

A drone is a diabolical invention. But so are cluster bombs, napalm, atomic bombs and the use of depleted uranium. And there may be many other fiendishly cruel devices for killing people that I'm aware of.

President Obama and the CIA lists for targeted assassination are widening their so-called war on terror with the use of drones in Pakistan, Waziristan, Yemen, as well as Afghanistan, Somalia and perhaps other countries kept as secret as they possibly can through a campaign of obfuscation and denial.

The manufacture of drones, as well as all the other war machines, is hugely profitable to Being, Lockhead Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics. The military-industrial complex is rotten to the core. We are creating more "enemies" than we are killing. Do you feel safer? Are we in the hands of modern barbarians? Has killing ever solved anything? Is our democracy broken?

Several of us who feel very strongly that the use of drones is too barbaric to be tolderated are gathering at the corner of Park and Main streets in Rockland every Friday at 4 p.m. in a protest vigil. I invite all who feel as we do to join us.

Alan Hynd

Cushing


Reduced footprint

I am the captain of a Military Sealift Command combined stores ship. We carry fuel, food and ammunition for the U.S. Armed Forces in the Pacific and Middle Eastern Theater of operations.

I just returned to Maine three weeks ago. Sequestration is having a major impact on the U.S. Armed Forces deployed around the world. I am pleased something is being done.

In the past two weeks, in my own area of operations, two MSC ships have gone to reduced operations status tow, the USNS Drew and USNS Guadalupe. I am sure more are on the block as I write. Both ships are tied up at the pier and phasing to 30 people. My last underway replenishment with a Navy ship was four weeks ago with the U.S.S. Shoup. Its deployment to the western Pacific was canceled overnight and it was headed home.

Two Carrier battle groups will not deploy and I am sure more are up for either major reduction or cancellations all together. When Carrier battle groups tie up, my ship has about an 80 percent reduction in mission.

I am currently awaiting implementation of a 20 percent reduction in days worked and associated 20 percent pay reduction.

We can have a controlled reduction in our expenditures or an uncontrolled as we had in my father's time. There are numerous ideas among those in my field on how to save money and maintain our logistics for the Armed Forces. An example would be to use logistics ships to haul military cargo around the Pacific, thus saving the shipping costs. Uncle Sam owns us, but currently hires commercial ships to haul cargo. Rest assured the companies and unions associated with the ships that haul cargo for the Department of Defense would scream if the idea got legs. However, that would be money save, big money. This is just an example of what choices await us as we as a nation scale back to live within our means.

I am not losing sleep on this. We still have a very significant quick response presence to protect the country, but that presence will have a much reduced footprint.

Mike Flanagan, Master United States Merchant Marine

Thomaston

 

Thank a doctor

On behalf of National Doctor’s Day on March 30, Pen Bay Healthcare wishes to thank our dedicated physicians who care for the needs of our citizens and community. For the second year in a row, Pen Bay doctors have opted to forego celebrating Doctor's Day and donate any budgeted funds for nursing education. This year, two nurses, April Totman and Amy Lea, were selected to attend the recent annual American Nurses Association Quality Conference in Atlanta, Ga. in February. Totman and Lea will be sharing highlights of the conference in a presentation during National Nurses Week in May.

We appreciate and thank our Pen Bay doctors!

Paula Delahanty

VP Nursing Services

Pen Bay Healthcare

 

Finnish-American project help

Dear Readers,

I am working on a project for the the Finnish Heritage House (finnheritage.org) honoring Finnish-American Veterans of World War II. If anyone has any photos or information of any kind regarding Finnish-Americans who served in the Armed Forces and Merchant Marines during World War II please contact me at 989-1971 or by email at gifford7tree@gmail.com. The exhibit will be displayed at Finnish Heritage House in South Thomaston beginning the third week in June until the middle of October 2013. Thank you for your consideration and assistance.

Steven Gifford

Brewer