Survivors of sexual assault deserve respect

I am a nurse with specialized training to care for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse.

This week, Senator Collins’ Republican party backed an attack ad against Sara Gideon that weaponized sexual assault allegations to reap political points.

This attempt to distort the truth about Gideon’s track record of supporting survivors of sexual assault is shocking. These actions do a disservice to survivors of sexual assault. The ad is false, Sara Gideon called for Dillon Bates to step down immediately after the allegations against him were published.

Senator Collins has said nothing about this ad; sexual assault should not be trivialized.

Vanessa Shields-Haas


Dear Graduates, Advice from A Professor,

If you are the class of 2020, whether at the high school, college or graduate level, not having the traditional ceremony probably feels like a bummer. I’m so sorry. But, I have sat through more graduation ceremonies than I can count. Let me tell you what you missed.

My high school graduation – it was a large class. The people I sat next to, I’d never met before. The unpopular superintendent was the speaker – and he was so very boring. I don’t have any recollection of what he talked about. Only, that we couldn’t wait for him to finally get done. There are no family pictures. I was the younger child. No one remembered to bring a camera.

My college graduation at a modestly sized state school – it was a fiasco. The modestly sized school, which normally held commencements outdoors, have not updated their rain plan in thirty years, since they’d been a very small school. It rained. A lot. Administration had to scramble, to figure out what to do with lots of seniors and families arriving. They split us up into every small auditorium on campus by major. There was no speaker. They called our names and handed us an empty brown folder with a promise that the contents would arrive in the mail soon. Overall, it was an embarrassment.

Master’s degree graduation was at University of Maine in Orono. The classes I needed to graduate were offered only in summer session. The only graduation ceremony was in May, prior to those classes. I was “allowed” to walk, which felt somehow like cheating because I wasn’t done, and again, I was given an empty folder for the degree.

I completed my Ph.D. in a month of June. Started a new job in August 3,000 miles away. The next available ceremony was in December. As a new grad, with student loan debt, I could not afford to pay the plane ticket to go to a commencement which was four months after I was already working, using the new degree.

The point I am making – the ceremony is not the real thing. The real thing is what you did, what you accomplished, what you learned, who you have become, and the doors that open to you having made those accomplishments.

The one thing I do like about graduations, or commencements as they are often called, is that the word “commencement” means beginning, not ending. Beginnings are exciting, full of possibilities, full of choices. I hope you see the excitement that lies ahead. I hope you revel in what you’ve completed. The ceremony is trivial compared to the reality.

Best wishes for a wonderful and meaningful life.

Wendy C. Kasten

Kent State University

Susan Collins is in a league of her own

It’s not even summer yet, and I’m already tired of all of the campaign ads on TV. I’m particularly disturbed with Sara Gideon’s ad that claims “Susan Collins is not for us anymore.” Nonsense. Collins has never turned her back on Maine. While some politicians fail to meet their promises, Susan Collins has exceeded hers.

When the coronavirus pandemic was sweeping the country, Susan Collins authored the Paycheck Protection Program – which has helped keep people employed as our economy weakened. My husband's family business is a direct example of this. This program carried the company's payroll through 10 weeks. In a time of heightened partisan politics and petty games, Susan Collins reached across the aisle more than any other legislator and was recently, for the seventh time in a row, ranked America’s most bipartisan senator.

The ads that claim Collins lines her own pockets with money from special interest groups are sickening, and Gideon should be ashamed. Collins works day in and day out for what’s best for Mainers. Whether you agree with her or not, there is no doubt she has always had Maine’s best interest at heart. Collins stands out among her colleagues, and is in a league of her own, which is why she will always have my full support.

Tammra Ferraiolo

Owls Head

Coastal COVID-19 pandemic casualty in Rockport

Many of us recently received a letter from Connie Russell, general manager of the Samoset Resort. Due to the pandemic, the Samoset Health Club will no longer be available for memberships.

I want to try and express what that means to many of us who have been enjoying the Samoset for over 30 years. I realize the Samoset Resort is a part of a much larger successful corporate hospitality group and this decision was not Connie’s alone. I can not begin to imagine how stressful this economic disaster, that threatens the survival of our friends in the hospitality business, must be.

I grew up in Rockland and have been extremely privileged and fortunate to travel the world quite extensively. For me there is no place like my home of coastal Maine. For many of us, the Samoset has been an integral part of our local shared community and sense of home. Our community is a very special place with very special people.

Like others, I attended the Health Club every day. At the Health Club I have had the privilege of meeting many people that have become great friends. All of these people connections have made the Samoset a vital part of our midcoast community. I feel the Health Club members have given the resort a special sense of energy and welcoming vitality for new and returning Samoset guests.

I recently met with a group of the Health Club members regarding our loss. Not to be overly dramatic but it was like attending a funeral. I have friends who were in tears to see this letter of closure. Some people have chosen to live here partly because the Health Club was available to them for their physical and social benefit.

Sadly I will miss all the staff that provided great service and I hope many jobs are not lost. Many of these people have become good friends. The instructors and trainers like Sheryl, Chuck, Lorie, Erika, Karen, Dori and others will be missed. It was a privilege to meet and get to know all of these people.

When I was young growing up in Rockland, the Samoset was way out by the ocean and breakwater in Rockport. It represented a different world of wealthy summer people “from away.” Over the years the new Samoset has done so much for our local people and community. The Samoset had evolved, becoming an inclusive member of our shared community.

I am asking Connie Russell and the powers to be to try and open the Health Club when this pandemic is over. We need an advocate for our shared community. I personally feel the economic disaster we are going to experience will be far worse than we can imagine. I hope that the Ocean Properties Group can survive and thrive again with the rest of our community.

Bruce Kilgour


Main Street, old normal and new normal.

If lots of people shop from home and work from home more than ever, why does Rockland’s Main Street matter anymore?

Oh, I remember now, we humans are a social species and interaction benefits our health and wellbeing and most people want to get together, share ideas, food and information with each other. Socializing is a way of caring for one another.

So how do we re-imagine Main Street? As empty as Main Street has seemed during this pandemic, memories of festivals, parades, art walks, bustling cafes, food and shopping discoveries, meeting friends and tourist traffic still resonate in the identity of our city. But will our future Main Street become little more than a playground for disposable income?

Can Rockland Main Street and a thickening of its side streets also anchor diverse activity? What would that look like? David Gogel, the new Main Street Director is charged with developing the economic vitality of our downtown.

“Why only Main Street?” you may ask? Main Street is our flag, our core, a place to celebrate economic health within a set of fine buildings. If we pay attention to the vibrancy of our center, it can magnetize and ripple throughout our city. David Gogel is new to us and we are new to him in these new times.  He chose to live here. He sees what is happening with online shopping, free delivery, and staying home. He also envisions inventive ways to use all our city’s existing features in new ways.

Yes, new can be scary, full of unknowns and not like our old normal. I encourage all of us to welcome David to our city and join him to create our new and improved normal.

Connie Hayes