Doing the homework on the Montgomery Dam

It’s been suggested that those in favor of repairing and maintaining the Montgomery Dam should do their homework before taking a stand. I’ve done just that and here is what I’ve found:

A College of the Atlantic study with the support of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Department suggests: “the shallowness and narrowness of the streams should be studied before simply removing dams.” I’ve not seen where that has been done. We know removing the dam can alter river flow, change water velocities and scouring patterns and have unknown risks to the structures adjacent to the river. This also has not been addressed.

The same study also says: “the removal of a dam is a major disturbance and causes drastic changes to the river both above and below the dam. When a dam is removed the sediment that has accumulated for years at the bottom of the reservoir erodes and flows down river where it eventually is deposited. This can cause high mortality in downstream aquatic communities as well as loss of reservoir habitat. The removal of a dam is a major disturbance and causes drastic change to the river both above and below the dam. “

Homework done, and now to the economic impact of removing the Montgomery Dam, which could affect Camden’s number one industry, tourism. Consider all that the income supports: schools, fire and police departments, public buildings, the library, public beaches and parks, the list goes on. Without the unique cachè of Camden that brings people here every year we will see revenue loss and the price of that loss is too high a price to pay. Let’s keep what we have and take care of all these landmarks for the benefit of the people who live and work here.

Karen Grove

Camden

 

A Letter from Knox County Commissioner Dorothy Meriwether

In the kerfuffle of last week’s Knox County Commissioners meeting, I fear my reasons for voting against Rockport’s Midcoast Internet Development request of $750,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act disbursement to Knox County have become lost. Please allow me to try to explain the choices the Commission was tasked with and the reasons I voted as I did.

During the Commission’s discussions with County departments and municipalities, as well as local agencies, and interested and engaged individuals, the severe and immediate needs that were identified far exceed the $7.7 million available. We have heard from representatives of our most vulnerable community members — the homeless and housing insecure, those struggling to obtain affordable childcare in order to work, people forced to choose between groceries and medication, those struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, and yes, those households that either could not get or could not afford internet service when schools and businesses were conducted remotely. These voices, including that of our own Sheriff Tim Carroll, have shared heartbreaking stories of desperation. No one could have failed to have been moved by Sheriff Carroll’s account of the unfolding hidden crisis in our County as winter moves in, when most residents are tucked into warm homes, while others suffering from mental illness and hiding homeless in the woods.

Every one of these individuals is part of our community, and I want to believe that we in Knox County are the kind of people who care and are willing to sacrifice a little to help. Unfortunately, pre-existing inequities have been significantly worsened during the pandemic, and we are now in a position, thanks to the ARPA funds, to make life-altering, positive changes for the neediest among us.

To take just one example, the funds allocated to the County provide an opportunity right now to assist the Knox County Health Clinic, a volunteer-based nonprofit advocating for and providing free or low-cost medical, dental, and prescription support, as well as mental health and wellness services to the uninsured and underinsured.

Statewide, all our jails have growing populations, and our Knox County Jail is in serious need of expensive repairs – repairs that have been postponed for too long. We have a social obligation – and now an opportunity – to help those incarcerated who can be released safely become productive members of society. Doing so requires resources and support to ensure that they don’t succumb to the lifestyle that led them into jail in the first place. With ARPA funds, we can help them obtain jobs, places to live, transportation and emotional support.

Thanks to our wonderful corrections officers and their excellent managers, our Jail has managed to avoid a dreaded Covid-19 outbreak but keeping everyone safe hasn’t happened without placing a huge strain on the employees. The Knox County Sheriff’s Office is proposing to hire additional staff to perform the jobs that society and state representatives are demanding, extra trained staff to keep the jail population down, to assist in properly discharging inmates and to have a deputy available when patrol officers require trained and experienced help with people suffering from substance abuse disorders or mental health issues. Staff in the Communications Department must keep their equipment working at the highest standard to ensure that when you call 911, you can be confident of reaching one of the exceptional dispatchers within moments. The employees and equipment needed to offer you that assurance is expensive, but it is critical and non-discretionary.

The Commissioners have spent many hours discussing agency, municipal and County department requests for ARPA funds, but even after having to cut out very worthy requests, we are still faced with a list totaling $12 million. So, we still have more difficult choices to make.

I want to be very, very clear. I am not against high-speed broadband. Far from it. It is as critical as any infrastructure in our County and Country. But it is my job as a commissioner to help prioritize our decisions about the most immediate use for the limited funds we have. In choosing what projects to carry forward, we have relied on the clear guidance provided to us from the U.S. Treasury, and we are submitting our list to a specialized attorney with expertise in interpretation of the Federal guidelines.

U.S. Treasury guidelines state, “Eligible investments in broadband are those designed to provide services meeting adequate speeds and are provided to unserved and underserved households. Underserved or unserved households are defined as those that do not have any access to internet or have service at speeds of less than 25 Mbps (Megabits per second).

From my research, 98.9 percent of Knox County residents have access to at least 25 Mbps, and 94 percent have access to speeds of at least 100Mbps. The immediate priority is to find and assist the unserved and underserved 1.1 percent, and where possible, use what resources are available to assist those households.

I applaud the Midcoast Internet Coalition for what they are doing. They are working tirelessly to improve internet service for everyone in Knox County, and we encourage them to continue, but I, as one commissioner, believe that our community has more pressing and even life-threatening needs that must be addressed with the American Rescue Plan dollars that we have been entrusted to distribute.

I’m grateful for this opportunity to clarify my position on these decisions, and I’m confident that we can come together as a caring community to work in the best interest of everyone in Knox County.

Sincerely,

Commissioner Dorothy Meriwether

Spruce Head

 

Dam – CMP

I have been honored to have been asked by several people my opinion on two questions coming up on the November ballots in Rockport and Camden. Here are my opinions – short and simple.

I will vote “yes” to ban (delicious confusion) on the CMP corridor question. My reasoning is that there isn’t enough benefit to Maine. I agree that New England needs an improved power grid. However, there is ample time for government and private industry to come up with other proposals that serve the greater good and at the same time provide a more substantial benefit to the Pine Tree State.

I am an interloper on the Dam question not being a Camden resident. However, as a very frequent next-door-neighbor visitor, and an ardent supporter of all things benefitting the Midcoast, I would recommend keeping the dam and the status quo. I am not a “climate change denier” but I think the removal of an iconic part of Camden’s history and waterfront beauty is not justified by the “sky is falling” rationale of the Camden Selectmen.

If nothing else, I hope my opinions stir community debate.

Doc Wallace

Rockport

 

Dog waste on Camden sidewalks

Ten years ago, I had my husband put this sign at the edge of our property.  Homeowners shouldn’t have to be cleaning up after negligent dog owners.  I’ve been noticing dog owners walking their dogs with those retractable leashes.  The owner looks away while walking and their dog is roaming at will.

Camden has a problem and it’s dog waste on sidewalks and curbside.  Why not put signs around town and on Mechanic and Pearl streets!  I have noticed the signs for bikes on Mechanic Street, so, I think the town should invest in signs informing owners to pick up their dog’s waste and let them know it’s the law.

I am a responsible dog owner.  I don’t leave home without at least three bags to pick up my dog’s waste.  Dog waste bags should be made available all over town.

In my opinion retractable leashes should be banned.  They’re dangerous!

Susan Kanellakis
Camden