Good Samaritans in Boston

It was a day celebrating freedom as some 27,000 runners and countless spectators gathered in Beantown. There were cheers and joy as runners crossed the finish line. Then two bombs exploded and everything changed. Cheers turned to screams and joy to terror. The bombing at the 117th Boston Marathon brought to light, once again, the present evil in this world. However, to solely focus there is to allow fear to hold us captive and hope to flee away along with any sense of security.

We must focus on what happened after the explosions. People no longer racing to the finish raced to help the wounded. People worked together to care for and comfort the injured. In the days that followed, various law enforcement agencies worked together to track down and capture the culprits.

Two young men wrought carnage on the innocent but when the smoke cleared countless good Samaritans stood tall. Therein is the lesson. No matter how great an evil among us there is a greater good that will ultimately triumph over it. And when disaster strikes we are no longer strangers but neighbors — willing to help one another — loving “our neighbor” as ourselves.

Also, at times like these we tend to look to God who “is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1) for only in Him are we free from fear. “Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way…” (Psalm 46:1). Whatever comes, in the end, good and God will triumph.

Bonnie Merrill



Not good

I would like to comment on the recent firing of the Town Manager of Rockport.

I would like all to know that this letter is all about what I believe and that I have no facts to back it up, but with the small amount of information that is known and that we've been led to believe, we are free to surmise that something not very good happened, and because the town manager is gone it is obvious to me that he is — was — guilty of something very bad to have lost his job over, and without him protesting the firing.

I know that the reasons for the firing have not been made public and I also want it known that I know nothing that anyone else doesn't know and that no one has spoken to me about it. But, when a town manager has been released (I prefer to call it a firing) under circumstances that ours has, whatever they were, there has to be some good reason for it. Then, why do you agree to pay someone for 12 weeks with all their benefits just for fun with my (the taxpayers) money? Is it because of the power of the office of selectperson that you feel you are doing it for my best interest and that you know what's better for me than I do and that you do not have to tell me or anyone anything? Are you there to represent the towns people or the people who serve the town? The minute you vote for someone to represent you they then feel that they know what's best for you even better than you.

If and when a town attorney allows a board of selectpersons to release a town manager there have to be some good reasons or else the released manager could in return sue the town. Because everything now a days has to be secret (and this is the age of transparency they say) the people are not told what happened so therefore we are all left to believe what we want.

It is my belief that if there are grounds for firing then there should be no compensation given but that that person should just be let go. Let them sue, if that's their desire, and see what they would come up with. Now, in a case where the person that's been released is a good friend of some of the people doing the releasing then that's a whole different ball game. At least two of these people voted to renew his contract.

When this town manager was hired it was by a vote of 3-2 and without proper negotiations with the runner-up. In my opinion he was not qualified then and is not now. Two years ago when this same town manager's contract was up for renewal he was brought before the Select Board for being incompetent and not being capable of doing the job they hired had him for and they did not want to renew his contract. At the last minute and by one person changing their vote and by a vote of 3-2 he was renewed. Because of that vote one man wouldn't run again and another resigned as he felt the rest of the board had left him hanging out in the cold.

Here we are less than two years later and now this has happened. I wonder what the three people that voted to renew, two of them still on the board, think of themselves now. They not only voted to offer him a new contract, but they have now decided to compensate him for not fulfilling it. If I was one of them I would be so ashamed of myself and would resign now so that new qualified selectpersons would be selecting the new town manager. It is also my belief that one of the supporting selectpersons has received much help (monetary) from the town, at their home, which I believe disqualifies them from serving on that board. It is rumored that one of the selectpersons recently made the comment, "I can't believe he pulled the wool over our eyes for so long." If their eyes had been open during that time they would have seen what was happening.

Because of the fact that no one was informed of what happened and because of the fact that everything is so hush-hush we now make it possible for some innocent town to hire him (I think they already have) without knowing what they're getting. Does anyone think this is right?

I have lived, worked, served on committees, served on school and select boards, in this town for 79 years, seven months, and two days and feel I have a right to be bitter because I am and I believe that our board of selectpersons should receive the same rating, or maybe lower, as the US Congress. Why is it the people that pay the bills can't get people to represent them instead of the representatives representing themselves?

Maynard E. Tolman



Functional training, actually

I was in the military and forced to use my body as a tool; I can attest to the validity and value of functional fitness. That is why I feel the need to write a response to this article.

Occupational therapist have deemed certain movements consistent with our daily lives — “activities of daily living” — these include bathing, dressing, eating, mobility around the home, etc. The basic needs for every human being are the same. We all need to sit down and stand back up (squat), pick things up and put things down (deadlift), and put things overhead (press). Almost all ADLs are multi-joint movements (i.e. functional movements). Functional movements are movements that mimic motor recruitment patterns that are found in everyday life.

The correlation between barbell or dumbbell movements and functional activities is not as abstract as one may think. Beginning with the “shoulder press,” this movement consists of pressing an object from the shoulder to a position directly overhead. For the skeptics, try pressing 25 percent of your body weight using a machine, next try the same weight using an external object (think barbell, dumbbell or that heavy box full of junk in your closet). Which was more challenging? The same amount of weight is being pressed from the shoulder to overhead, therefore our shoulders are experiencing the same amount of overload. However, you will find the external object requires one to maintain a stable midline (i.e. keeping your body upright, rather than crumpling under the load) and engage the posterior chain (i.e. back and gluteal musculature); this translates to the recruitment of more muscle fibers, and in turn, a more effective workout. Injuries often occur when individuals attempt these movements with poor form or with more weight than their core or extremities can handle.

Hypertorphy (or the increase of muscle fibers) can occur through the creation of a neuroendocrine response (the release of natural growth hormones) by moving the body with the appropriate amount of intensity. It is worth adding that Dr. William Kraemer of Penn State University claims that a neuroendocrine response is the most effective solution to increasing bone density and muscle mass. The maintenance of optimal bone density is critical for middle and late age populations. Resistance or weighted movements are most effective in the promotion of bone health, multi-joint movements being more efficient than isolated joint movements. How does this related to functional fitness? Machines undeniably can be a tool to increase muscle volume, however, they tend to isolate muscle groups. For example, the leg curl machine when set up for resisted knee flexion targets the hamstrings, when set up for resisted knee extension it targets the quads. Beside the fact that these are extremely impractical movements to real life, the efficiency of developing strength this way is poor. Why not just back squat a barbell for activation and development of all lower extremity muscles?

The establishment of goals facilitates the selection of a fitness program. If one’s goal is to use their body more efficiently and effectively as it applies in the real world (everyday chores, hiking with your dog, playing sports, etc.); functional fitness is the best option. For example, my grandmother, who is in her 80s, has pursued functional training for the last five years. She is long past the days of using a fitness program to achieve a beach body or meet a weight loss goal. Instead, her fitness goals entail being able to play outside with her grandchildren and lift her young grand baby from the floor, while also maintaining her independence at home. These activities, while they might seem mundane to you or I, still require core stability, strength and balance —  qualities that are commonly impaired in the elderly population.

I have had experience working with more than 100 police, firefighter, and military personnel using the same program as my grandmother — obviously I have varied the weight and rep scheme depending on my client’s skill and abilities. One hundred percent of these professionals have reported higher scores on their required physical fitness examinations. A functional fitness program is undeniably the most appropriate approach for the law enforcement and first responder population. If a firefighter needs to drag a hose up 10 flights of stairs, why would they not train him to do that more efficiently and safely? What will translate to a successful apprehension of a criminal who decides to run — isolated leg curls on a Cybex or a dynamic combination of lunges, back squats and sprints? It is undeniable that a leg press machine allows a similar movement to a back squat; however, anyone who has experience with both knows they feel completely different because the machine offers significantly more postural assistance through the supported seat and placement of the upper extremities. Machines obviously have their place in the fitness and rehabilitation arena; however, after careful examination of one’s goals they may find ways to spend their gym time more wisely.

Intensity is the critical element in a functional fitness program and it is unique to the individual. As previously mentioned, my grandmother and members of law enforcement have participated in the same functional fitness regiment. While they may have performed the same movements, the level of intensity at which they performed them was significantly different. Intensity is relative term, it depends on one’s age, abilities, and goals. Intensity for an 18-year-old hockey player will be undeniably different than the intensity of a 65-year-old. There are many modes through which to dictate the intensity level of a workout — weight, number of reps, incorporation of a timed element, etc. It is important to find the appropriate intensity level necessary to meet one’s fitness goals.

The goal of functional fitness professionals is to put their clients in the safest and most efficient position to perform daily tasks. If these movements were not safe to perform that would be like saying activities of daily living were also unsafe. In other words, it would not be safe to pick up a laundry basket, sit down in a chair, nor put a box on a shelf in the closet. In summary, why do yourself the disservice of employing machines that leave you ill prepared for life activities? Life requires strength and proper technique, whether one is performing a front squat or picking up their grandchild. Functional fitness will prepare you for that life.

Nick Brown



Stop federal meat subsidies

Would you go into a fast food restaurant to order a hamburger if you knew it would cost you over $50? Would you order steak in a fancy restaurant if you knew it was going to cost you over $200? In truth that's already what you are paying. When is the price you pay not the price you pay? When government helps to foot the bill.

The American government subsidizes the beef industry. The government subsidies are for corn to feed the animals, water, and land for them to graze on. If the beef industry had to pay fair market value for these resources, a Happy Meal would turn into an Unhappy Meal very quickly. Those subsidies are funded by taxes collected from the American taxpayer, that’s you and me. And it doesn't matter whether you are vegetarian, vegan, pescetarian (eat no meat only fish), or belong to any sect, creed, religion, or faith that prevents eating certain kinds of meat, you are not exempt: if you live in U.S and pay taxes here, you're paying for that big, juicy, $50 Big Mac along with the rest of us.

Sixty three percent of the U.S Government food subsidies go directly or indirectly to subsidize meat and dairy industries. Less than 1 percent goes to fruits and vegetables production. Less than 2 percent goes to nuts and legumes cultivation. Stopping meat subsidies would raise meat prices dramatically. If I cannot afford meat I will not buy meat. However I could buy fruits and vegetables if the decreased governmental subsidy for meat is used to subsidize fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. Shift in subsidies will help provide healthy and affordable diet choices for all Americans.

America needs to reallocate its food subsides. Now that America is struggling to provide health care for its disadvantaged population, it is time to focus on the cause of health problems. Poor diet causes problems such as hypertension, heart disease, and, most alarmingly, the high rate of obesity and type 2 diabetes that increasingly affecting our youth. The better our diet, the healthier we are and the less we will desperately need that health care. Shifting our food subsidies will help ourselves and the environment, and help to safeguard the health and future of the next generation of Americans.

In this tough economy people buy the food they can afford instead of making healthy and environmentally sound choices. In a country like America healthy food should not be a luxury. Our tax money should not be used to harm us. If the subsidies to the beef industry were ever cut so that we would get a more accurate sense of what things should cost, we would see Ronald McDonald would go out of business or quickly be replaced by Ronald McHealthy.

Be involved; don’t let your taxes work against your well-being. Let your senator know that you sent them to D.C to look after you, and that they should support only farm subsidies that increase the well-being of America.

Fatouma Issifi



Ongoing shame

Well, the politicians in Washington have shown how they think and in the end they went running for cover regarding the ongoing issue of the Second Amendment and the background checks at all levels.

I will say this, if this is the way our elected officials think than it just goes to say one thing, they themselves should just pack their bags and go home and stay.

For the record, I am not against the Second Amendment and the right to own a firearm, but I stress I do not see why anyone needs a weapon that can fire more than 30 rounds for any reason.

Again, if a person owns or wants to own a weapon for whatever reason than get proper training in using the weapon. I will also say that just because they sell all types of weapons to be bought, do you really need to buy one and also the cost of the weapons being sold are outrageous in the prices.

For the record again, there is nothing wrong with owning a weapon, but know how to use it and also make sure the weapon you purchase or own has been checked as to its history. What I mean is this, the weapon that is sold has no record behind it.

But back to the above issue, our elected officials in Washington either need to start doing the job they were elected to do for those they serve or go home period.

Again Democrats and Republicans both either need to do the job they are getting paid to do or go home and stay there.

I will say this: it is high time that we put in motion, an action that we do not want to think about and that is putting a person to death once he or she is found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of murder of anyone instead of letting them sit in prison.

Robert J. Robinson



Only in Union

On April 2, selectmen in the town of Union, acting in secrecy in executive session, overturned the latest three revisions of the town’s land use ordinance, all of which had been approved overwhelmingly by the voters at town meetings in 2008, 2009, and 2011. The selectmen decided to revert to an older version of the ordinance, passed in 2004. The pretext for this action was an opinion from the town’s attorney that, according to a recent court case involving another town, there were defects in the notice posted for two of the 13 public hearings that preceded the town meeting vote on the 2008 revision.

There was no mention of the board’s action in the regular business meeting that followed the April 2 executive session, and it wasn’t on the agenda for the selectmen’s meeting that took place two weeks later on April 16. And even today, there has been no notification to the public that their town meeting votes have been overturned. People planning to submit land use applications in the near future will still be basing their plans on the 2011 ordinance.

I happened to stumble across this situation when I went to a meeting of the planning board on April 11, and discovered that the planning board was deciding land use applications using the 2004 ordinance. This was not announced during the meeting, and it came to light only through a single comment by a planning board member just before the meeting was adjourned.

In Union, the code officer, Barry Norris, runs the planning board meetings. I asked Mr. Norris the next day why the planning board was using an old version of the ordinance instead of the latest (2011) version approved by the voters. He said it was because the selectmen, in the secret session on April 2, had decided to revert to the 2004 version. He now denies saying this, but Town Manager Jay Feyler confirmed five minutes later that they had done exactly that. Mr. Feyler, to his credit, seemed decidedly uncomfortable with the fact that the selectmen took this action in secret session, without making it public in the open meeting that followed.

The three revisions to the Union ordinance that were so arrogantly overturned by the selectmen were prepared by the Union Land Use Ordinance Revision Committee, which had been chartered by the selectmen to address certain recommendations made in the town’s recently-updated and voter-approved Comprehensive Plan. The committee worked for four years and held a total of 16 public hearings in the course of developing the three revisions. I have heard from several of the committee members, and they find it abhorrent that the selectmen would overturn the results of all their work after being approved by the voters. The selectmen might have difficulty finding volunteers in the future to staff similar committees after their arrogant action toward the work of their own committee becomes widely known.

The changes to the regulations that resulted from the committee’s efforts were important, and included a major redistricting of the town, expanding and reallocating the table of land uses to adapt to the redistricting, alleviating the off-street parking regulations around the Common that have caused so much difficulty over the years for businesses seeking to locate in that area, reducing the minimum lot size in the village district, creating an exception to the lot coverage limit at the public works garage property to correct a violation condition that had existed for 13 years, and addressing other localized problems. All three of the revisions passed overwhelmingly in three successive town meetings, in 2008, 2009, and 2011. And now they have all been withdrawn by our selectmen. And nobody knows about it.

It seems obvious that the right course of action at this point is to resubmit the latest ordinance (2011, which includes all of the earlier revisions from 2008 and 2009) to the voters at the June 2013 town meeting, a couple of months from now, and give the voters an opportunity to vote on it again, this time after court-compliant notices. Just correct the technical deficiency with the notices, and let the voters consider it again. After all, the voters have already approved this version once. And if for any reason the voters in June decided not to reapprove it, then the town could revert to the 2004 ordinance, but this time because the voters themselves had so decided, and not because the selectmen on their own had overturned three successive town meeting votes.

After accidentally discovering the selectmen’s under-the-table action of April 2, I went to the regular selectmen’s meeting on April 16, two weeks after the secret session. Since the matter was still not on the agenda, I brought it up during the public comment period, and I argued to the selectmen that if they insisted on sticking to their arrogant secretive action, then they should place the latest voter-approved version of the ordinance on the warrant for a revote at the town meeting this coming June. They refused, and said that the planning board was reviewing it and planned to make more changes, and some modified version would be the subject of a special town meeting at some time in the future. (I wonder what the turnout will look like at a one-article special town meeting, compared with the turnout at the annual town meeting in June with typically 50 warrant articles!) The town will remain in limbo until then.

In the last five minutes of the meeting, under pressure from the town manager to comply with the State’s Open Meeting Law, the selectmen finally went on record with a vote in public to do what they had already decided in secret two weeks earlier. The half-dozen people who were there now know about their action. The minutes will be available to the public on May 9. Maybe a few more people will discover it then.

Only in Union…

John Gibbons



Road anarchy must end

On April 19, I sent a letter to the Maine Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety, (presumably, at last, the correct committee), asking members to take action to provide Maine drivers with a safer and more pleasurable driving experience.

Speeding is ubiquitous. Running red lights, tailgating, unnecessary passing in breakdown lanes, (often near pedestrian crossings), failure to utilize headlights and adjust speed for varying conditions, ignoring, and refusing to obey posted speed limits, are all rampant infractions.

Drivers could take the responsibility to obey the rules of the road, and avoid greater government/law enforcement intervention. It’s not too late, but it’s got to be one or the other. Barring those alternatives, throw the book away and let anarchy reign. At least we’d know the score.

There are places where it is almost agony to drive the speed limit, but if you’re driving, you obey the law. Vehicles weigh several tons. They are not bicycles or motorcycles. If drivers are unhappy with posted speed limits, then take action to get the speed limits changed.

I have proposed methods to enforce the laws that would be cost-effective, including using public service announcements. Meanwhile, I want a bumper sticker stating: “I’m doing the speed limit. If you don’t like the limit, contact the Legislature.”

Margaret Trout