Courier-Gazette Letters to the Editor, May 9

May 09, 2019

Grateful for 'outstanding' health care

Recently both my husband and I have experienced a range of medical issues. We would like to extend our thanks to the teams of doctors, nurses, clinicians, various lab technicians and many other staff support members who worked together to diagnose and alleviate many of the problems.

In particular at Rockport and at Maine Medical Center, we received caring, respectful and thoughtful medical help from Drs. Eric Schenk, Robert Stein, Henry Sesselberg, William Fabricius, Samuel Hall, John Hall, Louis Coyle and the TAVR team.

Additionally the Pen Bay Cancer Care Clinic NPs and RNs and pharmacist Andy Sedno went above and beyond the expected level of service to reach out and ensure that all of our needs were being met.

We have learned from personal experience that often successful medical care requires physicians from various specialties to cooperate and communicate what they are each finding in their own specific area of expertise. Unless these professionals share information, test results and possible diagnoses, the solution might never be achieved. Again, we consider ourselves so fortunate to have access to outstanding people and facilities.

Kudos to all.

Alice Dashiell

William Henry Dashiell

Thomaston

Endorses O'Farrell for Select Board

Sandra O'Farrell has announced her candidacy for Waldoboro selectperson in the upcoming June 11 election.

Sandra and her husband, Jim, have lived in Waldoboro for the past 25 years, where they raised their two sons. She has been active in our community affairs, serving on the RSU 40 board for the past nine years, as well as working to raise funds for our food pantry and the Broad Bay Congregational Church. She volunteers at the "clothes closet" and has been a volunteer at The Waldo Theater.

I would recommend Sandra O'Farrell to the voters of Waldoboro.

Bill Blodgett

Waldoboro

People of faith pledge to work together for peace

We are members of the Mid Coast Interfaith Alliance, a group of diverse religious communities in the Midcoast. The very meaning of the word “religion” is to bind together what has been drawn apart. We practice our faiths because they call us into a deeper belonging and a common concern for all of creation. We are Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Unitarian Universalists and together we grieve the increasing callousness and violence that is tearing our human family apart.

At a time when houses of worship and religious practice are increasingly becoming targets, we grieve with our siblings: Muslims shot in the mosques in New Zealand, Christians murdered in their churches in Sri Lanka and the U.S., Jews killed in their synagogues in the U.S. – all while peacefully worshiping.

Our religious diversity is a source of strength, a deep pool of wisdom and an invitation to grow ever deeper in humility and awe at the beauty and mystery that lie at the heart of our existence. All our traditions call us to love and service for the greater good.

We pledge our commitment to collaborate with each other and with all who wish to work for peace and the good of our communities.

Rev. Wendy J. Anderson, Nativity Lutheran Church, Rockport
Rev. Kenneth Dale, Hospice Chaplain, MaineHealth Care at Home, Rockland
Rev. Nancy Duncan, Broad Bay Congregational Church United Church of Christ, Waldoboro
Rev. Lisa Frey, St. Thomas’ Episcopal, Camden
Rosalee Glass, St. Thomas’ Episcopal, Camden
Rev. Mark Glovin, First Universalist Church, Rockland
Rev. Peter Jenks, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Thomaston
Rev. Seth. D. Jones, Rockland Congregational Church, Rockland
Rev. Dr. Ute S. Molitor, First Congregational United Church of Christ, Camden
Dave Oakes (board chair), First Church of Christ Scientist, Camden
Rev. Abby Pettee, Interfaith Chaplain, Pen Bay Medical Center, Rockport
Rev. Anne Roundy, Broad Cove Community Church, Cushing
Peggy Smith, True Heart Buddhist Sangha, Camden
Rev. Sheila Seekins, Trinity Episcopal Church, Lewiston
Rev. Lael Sorensen, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Rockland
Rob Wall, True Heart Buddhist Sangha, Camden
Susan Wind, Adas Yoshuron Synagogue, Rockland
Rev. Michelle M. Wiley, People’s United Methodist Church, South Thomaston; John Street United Methodist Church, Camden; Finnish Congregational Church, South Thomaston

Important bond issue

With a total of almost $6 billion in outstanding student loan debt, Maine has the eighth-highest student debt burden in the country. Student loan debt prevents too many borrowers in the state from buying a home, a car or paying for necessities, and has spurred as many as one in four to move out of state for better-paying jobs. In addition, respondents to a recent poll even replied that they decided to delay or forgo starting a family at rates higher than the national average because of their student debt. Female borrowers are disproportionately affected.

I am a student in the master's of social work program at the University of Maine. After my graduation and licensure, I would like to be free to work where I feel I can serve best and not feel that the only way I can make ends meet would be to deal with the uncertainty associated with the federal Medically Underserved Area program or the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which have restrictive eligibility requirements that can severely limit earning power, therefore negating their financial benefit.

Meanwhile, the existing state program providing tax credits actually is regressive, in the sense that it doesn’t help Mainers who are in my situation and may have enough dependents and a low enough income that they don’t have much tax liability anyway. Additionally, unlike the tax credit, which has no limit, this bond issue has a cap of $250 million. The existing tax credit is also difficult to access, requiring complicated paperwork and calculations.

Our greatest natural resource isn’t lumber or lobsters – it’s people. Maine is the oldest state in the nation. We need to stop the “brain drain” by getting proactive and taking a stand against the many forces that conspire to keep educated young people from staying in the state.

Student debt relief legislation should be one of many approaches that will help to infuse our state with the vibrant and well-supported workforce that we need.

Lucy Funkhouser

Saint George

Ed note: The following three letters were written by students at Oceanside High School as part of a class assignment in Introduction to Jounralism, taught by Michael McGuire. The bill the students were writing about has since been defeated in the Legislature.

Cellphone ban would be ineffective

A bill has been proposed in the Maine Legislature to ban the entire use of cellphones by students in Maine schools. School resource officers would be the ones who choose what happens to these phones during the day.

The bil'sl sponsor says it will reduce drug trafficking, sexting and bullying among students. These are all good, valid reasons, but these aren’t reason enough, I think.

The bullying in schools such as Oceanside High School is very low, and I don’t see much of it. Marijuana and alcohol use are a very relevant issue in schools, but it doesn’t seem to be a big issue among the OHS students. Sexting is another topic that was brought up and, again, that is relevant with students, and it is common to see it happen with people in relationships.

But I do not believe these are things you can prevent. A student will smoke, drink and send explicit photos, no matter what rule is in place.

Another point that I think is important is the need for communication; plans change and things can happen in a school. A student should not have to use the main phone in order to let a parent know when plans change or when something happens in a class. School shootings are far too common these days, and I believe parents have the right to communicate with their child whenever it is needed. For schools to start restricting that is wrong.

If schools want less cellphone use, they should be asking students to put them in backpacks or their pockets, not in the office or anywhere else.

In 2019, it is getting impossible to go about life without your phone, and I think schools should realize such a ban will be impossible to put in place effectively.

Alexis Doyle

Oceanside High School

Phones distract students, encourage prohibited behavior

Students should not be allowed to have their phones during school!

People say students use their phones for educational reasons, but anything educational a student can do on their phone, they can do on their school iPad.

Also, from what I have seen, phones are more likely to be used for cheating than they are for learning. Some students take photos of their test and send them to their friends, or they are able to look up answers without the teacher's seeing. This defeats the purpose of the school work.

Phones are also used by students to set up bathroom visits with other students so they can “vape” or do other illegal substances. Vaping is illegal, but phones make it easier to do it. A lot of times you’ll walk into the bathroom and there will be four or five students in one stall. That’s unacceptable! Banning phones from school would make it harder to set up these “visits.”

Cellphones are a huge distraction to students. They end up playing games or texting friends instead of doing their work. Much more school work would get done if phones weren’t involved. Even during lunch, students shouldn’t be allowed to use their phones. Lunch is a time for social interaction, not looking down at a screen.

Anna Kingsbury

Oceanside high School

Phones should be allowed in school, banned in class

After watching a video news broadcast on the issue of cellphone use in schools, I conclude that phones should be allowed.

As it stands today, phones are among the most important things in a student’s life, allowing them to contact and connect with almost anyone in the world. Confiscating students’ phones at school would prevent them from contacting family and friends in times of emergency, and with the rise of violent and terrorist acts in U.S. schools over the past two decades, this ability to connect is a necessity.

Some might argue that students can just use the phone in the main office, and that smartphones are a distraction and detrimental. While this may be true to an extent, schools could simply ban smartphone use in class, and allow students to use them elsewhere in school, where staying attentive is not necessary.

Additionally, some say that school-provided iPads and laptops should entirely replace phones on school grounds, albeit without the social connectivity of phones. It is true that smartphones and school-approved devices do share many functions, but the point still stands: the iPad with which I’m typing this doesn’t allow phone calls or use of social media apps. And even with these restrictions in place, there’s still a possibility of someone bypassing them.

Finally, sites such as YouTube can still be accessed through school iPads, enabling them to be just as distracting as phones would be. Keeping this is mind, I believe that phones and smartphones should not be banned in school — but should still be banned during class time.

Simon Fox

Oceanside High School

Thomaston library announces changes

Thomaston Public Library has gone live with its transition to a new circulation system called MILS. This will give our patrons and those of other libraries the ability to search and request materials from our library and Interlibrary Loans from other libraries in a more independent and seamless process.

We have completed the reorganization of library rooms and offer a Quiet Room containing our fiction collection on the same level as our Main Reading Room now. The Children’s Room has been moved to the lower level with generous activity space. The new library Conference Room located on the upper floor has been used for meetings, tutoring and school vacation programming and is available to be reserved for functions of nonprofit organizations and for a small fee for other organizations.

We have completed hiring staff for the sixth year of our 40 Days of Summer Program and look with enthusiasm to great programming. We are working on a small facelift for our entrance.

We appreciate the support and patience of our patrons and visitors. For more information about our programs or services, check our website, sign up for our monthly newsletter, visit us on social media or call us at 354-2453.

Diane Giese

Head Librarian

Thomaston Public Library

Adas Yoshuron says thanks for Easter dinner support

As the coordinator for the annual Easter Day Dinner sponsored by Adas Yoshuron Synagogue and held at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Rockland, I’d like to thank the overwhelming generosity of area businesses for their donation of food, toys, greenery and cooking supplies.

In Belfast, thank you to Ducktrap River Fish Farm of Maine, Chase’s Daily, and Hannaford Supermarket. In Lincolnville, thank you to Dot’s and the Lincolnville General Store. Many thanks in Camden to Boynton McKay, Camden Deli, Uncle Willy’s Emporium, Planet Toys, Franny’s Bistro and Rosalie Joy’s Bakery. Thanks go out in Rockport to 47 West, the Market Basket, Green Thumb, Nina June, Laugh Loud Smile Big, Maine Street Meats, Plants Unlimited, Seasons Downeast, State of Maine Cheese, Sweet Sensations and Fresh Off the Farm. And in Rockland, thank you to the Offshore Restaurant, Archers on the Pier, The Good Tern Coop, Rustica, Waterworks, Wallace Tents, Shaw’s Supermarket, Main Street Markets, The Samoset Resort, Rock City Cafe, In Good Company, Home Kitchen, Fog Bar & Cafe, Hannaford Supermarket and Atlantic Baking Co.

As you go about your shopping, please support these community-minded businesses.

Linda Garson Smith

Belfast

Diplomats protect U.S. economic interests

As a retired American diplomat who joined the United States Foreign Service from Hampden, and who now splits his year between the Midcoast and northern Virginia, I had the privilege of representing the interests and values of Maine and America in 12 countries over my 40 years of service. I proudly displayed a wide range of artwork from Maine in my official residence while serving as the American ambassador to what is now known as the Republic of North Macedonia.

Recently, my colleagues who are still on active duty and serving in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Mali and China celebrated Foreign Service Day, designated by the United States Senate in 1996 as the first Friday in May each year.

On this occasion I would like to recognize the critical work done by America’s diplomats and development professionals at U.S. embassies and consulates in almost every country in the world. America’s network of embassies is operated and staffed by members of the U.S. Foreign Service who have learned the local language and customs and know how to navigate the terrain. They act on America’s behalf to enhance our national security and advance our economic prosperity at home.

American businesses, including those in Maine, depend on U.S. diplomats to work with countries to establish rules and remove obstacles to enable them to compete and operate overseas on a level playing field. I am sure that our diplomats were involved in thwarting Sweden's effort to get the European Union to ban Maine lobsters two years ago.

When American businesses expand their reach across the globe, they create new opportunities and open new markets. Did you know, for instance, that Maine exported $2.6 billion of goods and services in 2017, which supported more than 17,000 jobs? 53 percent of those in the manufacturing industries?

This economic diplomacy of members of the Foreign Service is increasingly critical as our country faces growing challenges to its global leadership, particularly from rising powers such as China. I, for one, support the full use of our diplomatic efforts to help to maintain American global leadership in all areas, because if we don’t lead, some other country will. And write the rules. That might end up banning Maine lobsters.

Lawrence Butler

Thomaston

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