Island residents and town officials have voiced concerns about the Maine Department of Transportation's plan to raise ferry rates by charging different rates based on residency.

The state's plan seems to have been to create a system that charges out-of-state residents more to ride the ferries than in-state. However, there are problems with this. One is that it could affect summer residents who pay property taxes in the island communities. This seems unfair. In addition, the islands, like the rest of the region, depend in warm weather on tourist dollars, and there are concerns that charging them more sends the wrong message.

One of the positive things to come out of this story is that a solution to the problem has actually been proposed by local island high school math students.

They argue the money should be raised by a simple, across-the-board 17 percent increase to make up the $738,000 in revenue the state needs.

It seems hard to argue that this proposal would not be fair and equitable to all, and it is being proposed by the people the changes would affect the most.

Town officials, business leaders and students have publicly disagreed with the state's proposal.

What remains to be seen is whether the state will listen to the people.

According to this week's edition of "The Wind," Vinalhaven's newspaper, DOT held a public hearing recently, following its protocol. A lawyer explained the process and a court reporter dutifully took notes as residents spoke out about the plan. These public hearings are required by law, and we have often wondered when covering them if anyone actually considers what members of the public say at these meetings, or if it is just one item they are checking off on their "to do" list before implementing a new plan.

We would urge the Maine Department of Transportation commissioner to listen to the people and adjust the plan to something island residents can live with.

You are not exempt from jury duty

We all have lives that include things we need to do — our jobs — and things we want to do, and our most valuable commodity is time.

For that reason, few greet a letter in the mail summoning them for jury duty with enthusiasm. However, the fact that it is an inconvenience is no excuse for failing to do your civic duty. We live in a country built on the principle of ensuring freedom and justice for all, and our legal system is a source of pride.

"The Sixth Amendment secures to persons charged with crime the right to be tried by an impartial jury reflecting a fair cross-section of the community," we are told by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Now we read that in Knox County so few have heeded the call to jury duty that some of the trials on the docket could not be held. More than 20 people simply failed to appear in court for jury service without any excuse.

There was a time when citizens took these duties more seriously, and we had a stronger sense of community.

To be clear, the law requires citizens to appear for jury duty when called, and failure to do so means risking contempt of court, fines and even jail time. So far the court has not charged anyone with contempt, but if this trend continues, some examples will have to be made.

We would urge residents to consider their duty and their community. Ask yourself, who would you want sitting in the jury if you were on trial for a crime? Would you want a true jury of your peers, a representative cross section of citizens who believe in doing their duty; or would you prefer a collection of people who simply had nothing better to do?

Our parents used to tell us, "We all have to do things we don't want to." Perhaps people need to hear that more often.

Journalist and humorist Dave Barry had this to say: "We operate under a jury system in this country, and as much as we complain about it, we have to admit that we know of no better system, except possibly flipping a coin."