Skills USA seek donations

As a student at Mid-Coast School of Technology in Rockland, I had the privilege of being able to compete in the Skills USA state competition in Bangor, where I was one of 11 students from my school to qualify for the National Competition in Kansas City, Mo.

Skills USA is a organization that collaborates with students, teachers, and industry partners to ensure that America maintains a skilled workforce. Their mission statement is "to empower its members to become world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens," and at the national level they give students the opportunity to earn thousands of dollars in scholarships, as well as prizes for medalists, and gain recognition from colleges and technical organizations across the country. However, the total cost of this trip is about $15,000 for 11 students and two adult advisers, and though we have raised over half of this from fundraising events throughout the year, we still have a lot to raise by the June 22 date of our trip to Missouri.

While $15,000 may seem like a lot to send 11 students to a technical competition, this includes airfare, lodging, food, and transportation for the entire week-long trip. Furthermore, students who have attained medals at the national level in previous years have earned up to $20,000 in scholarships a piece, and thousands of dollars in equipment for their field of study. Skills USA isn’t just about earning recognition for oneself though. This year, our community service team hosted a blood drive, and collected enough units of blood to help over 80 people, either in life or death situations, or in normal day-to-day needs. As part of a school-wide effort, they also collected money to help the families of two cancer patients in the Rockland area, and as they advance to the national competition they will be doing even more.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter; I hope you will consider helping us make this trip happen! For more information on Skills USA go to: Skillsusa.org. To make a donation please contact Danica Wooster or Rich Barratt at Mid-Coast School of Technology, 1 Main St., Rockland, ME 04841, 594-2161. Thank you!

Nathan Overlock

Lincolnville

 

Two campaigns, one goal

Judging by the unanimous positive testimony at the Appropriations Committee hearing and numerous letters to editors and editorials, support seems strong and bipartisan for strengthening and funding Maine’s Clean Election system. Maine’s first-in-the-nation Clean Elections Act was passed at the polls in 1996 following a citizens’ initiative ballot petition. In the years since, a large majority of legislative candidates of all persuasions have paid their campaign expenses with Clean Election funds, i.e. with public money, while agreeing to spend no more than the system provides. Clean Election funding has made running for the legislature a possibility for more people. Candidates like it. Voters like it. It works.

Clean Elections is in the news now for two reasons. First, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional the part of the act that gave additional funds to a Clean Election candidate being outspent by a privately-funded opponent or a third party. Supporters in the Legislature are proposing changes to the law which will help level the playing field and be acceptable to the courts. Second, Gov. LePage has proposed defunding Clean Elections completely in favor of other budget needs.

So, a generation in, many of us are rethinking and recommitting to the Clean Elections path of separating money from electoral politics.

At the same time, we need to not take our eyes off the sister campaign to reverse the Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court decision with a U. S. Constitutional Amendment. This January 2010 decision struck down limits on corporate money that can be spent during elections in support of or in opposition to candidates and ballot questions. We all saw the result of vastly more spending of this sort in 2010 and in 2012.

Citizens across the political spectrum have been coalescing around “Move to Amend” campaigns ever since the decision was handed down. Huge often untraceable amounts of corporate money in our elections are in no way compatible with citizen self-government.

Eleven state Legislatures so far have endorsed resolutions calling on Congress to pass a Constitutional Amendment and send it to the states for ratification. Language has just been crafted for a joint resolution that would see Maine become the twelfth state to do this. The sponsor is Sen. Richard Woodbury, U-Yarmouth. Among the early co-sponsors is Rep. Jeff Evangelos, U-Friendship. A public hearing date and L.D. number will be set shortly.

It is now time to ask your legislator to co-sponsor this resolution and bills that strengthen the Clean Election Act and enhance transparency in election spending. Details for LD 770, LD 1271 and LD 1309 are at maine.gov/legis/. Supporters of all will rally at the State House Monday, April 29, at 10 a.m.

Meanwhile, hundreds of large and small municipalities have passed similar resolutions, including 31 in Maine. This has been done either by vote of their governing bodies or by voters at town meetings. Locally in recent months, Camden, Thomaston and Friendship have done this.

Volunteers for the nonpartisan Maine Citizens for Clean Elections (mainecleanelections.org) have gathered signatures in support of an amendment to reverse Citizens United from voters in Owls Head, Rockland, St. George and Rockport. They would welcome hearing from a few voters who would move the resolution process forward in those towns particularly.

We are seeing two campaigns: one to free candidates from being dependent on large private donors and the other to regulate large and not necessarily local or traceable spending by third party interests. Together their goal is to craft ground rules that will give us elections which are more than fundraising contests.

Robert Besaw

Owls Head

 

Ongoing war

This war is not using rockets, missiles, tanks, planes, etc. This war involves only one thing and that is words. Period. This war is about one issue only and that is the Second Amendment and what people either have already or want based on what is for sale.

It seems those who already have assault weapons and clips that can handle more than 30 rounds want to keep them and they argue that background checks of any kind will do no good. As they claim it will not stop the criminals from getting the guns they want to do what they want to do.

I will say this. If you commit a crime using a gun of any kind and are found guilty beyond any doubt, that you be put to death using what is present, be a lethal injection, or better yet, go back to a good old-fashioned method of a firing squad that is televised for all to see using the following method: seven expert shooters and one person who hands them one rifle with one round in each rifle. Note: The person who fires the rifles would not know what rifle has the live round and the identity of those present would not be disclosed, no matter what. You could have two live rounds and the rest blanks.

But I will say this, I know there are those who will disagree with this. Period. And I will say say this, no matter what you think you own, in the end you will not take anything with you when you die and when you face the final judgement.

Robert J. Robinson

U.S. Army Retired

Thomaston

 

Curious of law officer

Other people besides myself, wonder why they have law officer at a Social Security office in the waiting room? The officer is very pleasant, he chats with customers while he or she is waiting to be called at the main desk by the young lady who is on duty.

The question is what do they expect to happen in the waiting room? Perhaps this is at all Social Security offices throughout the state of Maine.

Gordon Wotton

Thomaston

 

Meals on Wheels support

MCH Meals on Wheels in Knox County provides 150 meals a day to some of our most vulnerable neighbors, the seniors in our community. Not only does the Meals on Wheels program improve the health and well-being of those receiving the meals, but the volunteers and the meals they deliver provide a measure of security that allows these residents to stay in their own home. While Meals on Wheels is a federally-funded program, 58 percent of the program costs are currently provided through participant contributions and local donations. This year, with the “sequester” impacting many across the country, MCH has been notified that up to 8 percent will be cut from federal funding for the meals we provide in Knox County. It is for all these reasons that I write this letter to thank those involved in our annual Jazz for Meals benefit concert at Owls Head Transportation Museum.

Thanks go out to the high schools of Medomak Valley, Belfast and Camden Hills for supporting their jazz band members and directors who performed on the evening of March 27. All those attending this year’s event were once again entertained by talented student-musicians and their faculty band leaders who did not disappoint as they “swing to serve." We would also like to thank our business partners for supporting this event: Snappy’s and Domino’s Pizza, Rockland Food Service, Dream Kitchen Studio, Shaws and Hannaford all of Rockland, Thomaston Grocery and Lowe's of Thomaston, Lincoln’s Country Store of Warren, and Long Funeral Home in Camden. Special thanks go to the Owls Head Transportation Museum, its staff and volunteers. The evening would not be complete without an audience; thanks to all those who attended the event in support of the students as well as Meals on Wheels. MCH Meals on Wheels is appreciative of our community that continues to contribute as we strive to provide meals five days a week to all who need this important service.

Ann Parent

MCH board member