Courier-Gazette Letters to the Editor Nov. 19

Nov 20, 2020

A parent's insight on the school board

I attended the RSU 40 school board meeting Nov. 5, along with about 200 other people, via Google Meet. I laughed out loud when I saw the headline, "RSU 40 school board discusses confidence in administration."

Why did I laugh? Because to me, it summed up the chaos of the meeting quite well, as did the article.

What should have been a productive meeting discussing the impact of COVID-19 in the district, devolved into a lengthy discussion of what the board might look like based on member votes.

In the middle of a pandemic, is that really the most important thing? They are the ones who took it in the direction of whether or not they had confidence in the administrators, rather than actually voting on the issue themselves.

As a parent, I was very pleased with Superintendent Steve Nolan’s updated approach to reopening schools. I was happy to get answers to some of the questions I posed. Parents at the high school were concerned that many of us knew there was an outbreak before we were officially told by school, which is why I asked about transparency.

I thought it was an administrative decision, but it really was the CDC. To me it was a relief to know that, and I felt bad for school administrators such as Linda Pease who were clearly stressed by having the CDC make them wait to release information when it is such a serious health concern.

I wanted the school board to actually take up the vote to approve Nolan’s amended plan, but the board, as a whole, seems not to want to risk actually being on the record as supporting the changes, including the biggest one of keeping MVHS fully remote until Feb. 1, the beginning of the third academic quarter.

This has been a pattern — members don’t want to take a vote to amend the plan from August, when the landscape of the pandemic was vastly different around here. It seems like the board wants the weight of the big decisions to be placed on Nolan so they can keep their hands clean and get re-elected in the future.

Two things really stand out here. First, the board seems to think that with reporters, a public audience, etc., that it can simply erase votes and discussions because it doesn’t like the way it looks. Life does not work that way, even if you doctor your meeting minutes. Second, the board is so concerned about how it looks, the members conducted business outside of the public view to put forth its public letter to the editor.

Maybe it isn’t the administrators who should be questioned about transparency at this juncture, but rather these elected board members.

Rebecca Waddell

Waldoboro

Rockland’s revenue losses

At the Sept. 24 Rockland’s City Council Candidates forum, hosted by the Courier’s Stephen Betts, the candidates seemed to agree on the need for the City to increase its revenue stream; however, none of the participants mentioned increasing grant revenues.

A state agency, which provides municipalities with grant revenues, is the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) through its multiple programs. In the 1999 thru 2011, Rockland applied for and received 30 grants from the programs offered by DECD, including the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, the Municipal Investment Trust Fund and the Commission on Maine’s Future program for a total of $5.2 million dollars in grant revenues. Most of which, ranged in size from $100,000 to $400,000.

These revenues were used for needed city projects and programs, including stormwater/sewer separation in the South End; installation of a stormwater interceptor on Summer Street to alleviate basement flooding; street and sidewalk paving; new downtown sidewalk, curbing and crosswalks along with a plaza and plantings; downtown exterior building improvements; the substantial rehabilitation of 10 apartment buildings consisting of 57 units to be rented to low-income tenants; renovations to the Flanagan Recreation Building; Sandy Beach Park and pathway improvements; the Thorndike parking lot; micro- business loans and equipment for a seafood processor.

In contrast, between 2011 and 2020, Rockland only received four CDBG grants for a total of $530,000.

Rockland taxpayers suffered enough in the last eight years from the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in needed grant revenues from the DECD.

To turn this around, the council should request the city manger reengage in applying for sizeable CDBG and other DECD grants to assist with city projects, that the preparation of all grant applications be done in-house and that the Community Development Director be designated as the leading person responsible for increasing the city’s overall grant revenues. Councilor Davis has indicated his support for more CDBG revenues.

Rodney Lynch

Rockland

It's a great time to quit!

For more than 40 years, the American Cancer Society has hosted the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November. The Great American Smokeout is an opportunity for people who smoke to commit to healthy, smoke-free lives, not just for a day, but year-round.

The Great American Smokeout provides an opportunity for individuals, community groups, businesses, health care providers and others to encourage people to use the date to make a plan to quit, or plan in advance and initiate a smoking cessation plan on the day of the event. The Great American Smokeout event challenges people to stop smoking and helps people learn about the many tools they can use to help them quit and stay quit.

The 2020 Smokeout Nov. 19 provides an opportunity for Maine tobacco users to begin their smoke-free journey along with thousands of others from across the country. Quitting smoking is the single most important thing a smoker can do to live a longer and healthier life. In Maine, nearly one in five adults smokes and tobacco-use continues to be the leading cause of preventable disease and death.

The Maine QuitLink is an online resource to support Maine residents to be tobacco-free and to connect to tobacco treatment. The staff, through the Maine QuitLink, offer assistance in developing a plan for quitting and are committed to making a difference through support that can help Mainers stay tobacco-free for life. Maine Quitlink can be reached by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has provided the following guidance: Being a current or former cigarette smoker increases the risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Those who currently smoke: quit. Those who used to smoke: don’t start again. Those who have never smoked: don’t start.

So wear masks, keep a safe distance, wash hands and quit smoking. Every day and any day is a good time to quit.

Kenneth I. Lewis

Senior Director

MaineHealth Center for Tobacco Independence

Portland

If you appreciated reading this news story and want to support local journalism, consider subscribing today.
Call (207) 594-4401 or join online at knox.villagesoup.com/join.
Donate directly to keeping quality journalism alive at knox.villagesoup.com/donate.
Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.