Courier-Gazette Letters to the Editor Nov. 26

Nov 26, 2020

Thanks to a vibrant community from Good Tern Co-op’s Harborside Clean-up

On behalf of the Community Outreach Committee of the Good Tern Co-op, I wish to thank the 40-plus people who gathered Oct. 24 for a Rockland Harborside Cleanup.

The event took place from 10 a.m. to noon and visited beaches at the north and south end of the city, as well as the strip from Steel Pro to the Ferry Terminal, and the Rockland Harbor Trail at Lermond Cove, and gathered 700 lbs. of trash.

Keeping our oceans clean and our city beautiful requires community effort, and this project demonstrates how much can be accomplished with good spirits and cooperation.

I want to acknowledge our collaborators The Steel House, The Apprenticeshop, Scrimshaw Cannabis, Rock City Coffee (which donated fresh hot coffee), the Co-op Deli (for “goodies”) and Rockland City Manager Tom Luttrell, who guided the effort as well as supplied city trash bags.

A special shout out also to Keep Rockport Beautiful for lending yellow vests and trash pickers!

I know I felt very good about the results of our hard work. Plus, I think we all had fun.

Event Organizer Elissa Bower

Good Tern Co-op Community Outreach Committee

Rockland

A message from the County Commissioner

I'm Dorothy Meriwether, the Knox County Commissioner representing District 1, which includes Owls Head, Rockland, South Thomaston and Thomaston. I am also the County’s representative to the Knox County Regional Airport’s Public Advisory Committee.

There have been many recent airport and Owls Head meetings generating significant conversations and press coverage. I would like to address some of the issues. In 2001, an interlocal agreement was entered into between Owls Head and Knox County regarding the airport. That 20-year agreement ends in June 2021.

The County has spent significant time and resources on creating a new agreement between the Town and County. There are two significant areas which the agreement addresses.

The first is to create a joint board for the purpose of “...allowing the County and the Town to cooperate in the regulation of the growth and development of the Airport within the boundaries of the Town.” All representatives appointed to the board “shall serve and represent the whole of the municipality or County the member represents, and not just a particular interest.”

I think I can speak on behalf of the County when I say we recognize a past history of distrust, and it's our desire to restore a feeling of cooperation between Owls Head and the County. Owls Head citizens voted for me to represent them, and I accept that responsibility willingly and solemnly. I understand member concerns of our community of the possible negative quality of life impacts from the airport.

I support this proposed Interlocal Agreement, which is to be voted on at an Owls Head Special Town Meeting Nov. 30, as its intent is to ensure ongoing cooperation and communication between the Town and County. We want to enhance, not diminish, all we treasure here. We want to use this opportunity to work together to solve complex problems which may arise to best serve all.

A number of Owls Head residents are concerned about language in the proposed agreement, which is interpreted as allowing for Airport expansion and depriving Owls Head of control. I would say emphatically that I don’t believe my fellow Commissioners support Airport expansion beyond the current airport boundaries.

The second concern addressed in this agreement relates to FAA control over our airport’s operations. I think there may be some misinterpretation of the wording in the proposed Agreement. The Federal Aviation Administration’s mission is, “to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world.” Period. The FAA makes recommendations to Knox County Regional Airport primarily on issues of safe aviation standards.

There could be corrections/improvements, which are required for receipt of Airport Improvement Program grants, grants which are issued to ensure the safety of its users. We receive over a million dollars annually from the Federal and State governments to ensure the highest level of safety and efficiency.

In return, we agree to adhere to their standards. It's only in such a situation the County might be in a position where we would have to expand beyond our current, existing boundaries. It is not the desire of the County or the Airport to expand.

In my opinion, expansion of the airport would only happen for aviation safety. Knox County Regional Airport is a jewel on the Coast of Maine. We love it the way it is. I have not spoken to anyone involved in the Airport that feels differently than I that it is anything but perfect the way it is with no need, beyond the unlikely event of a future safety concern, to expand.

Please, let me say again, there are no current discussions of extending runways, boundaries, enabling larger aircraft, or increasing the number of runways. There could be small business opportunities available within the airport property, and I would support and encourage such ventures as long ample consideration is made for environmental and social impact. There are already existing controls on such enterprises which assure me that protections are well in place.

I hope this letter to our community reassures citizens that my interest is in protecting theirs. I understand your concerns, and to a great extent, I feel the enactment of our Interlocal Agreement strives to work cooperatively to improve trust and communication.

I hope Owls Head voters will vote for this Agreement, and work with us, together, to protect this beautiful place we share.

Commissioner Dorothy Meriwether

District 1, Knox County Commission

A chaplain gives thanks

In life and in death, MaineHealth hospitals Pen Bay Medical Center (PBMC) and Maine Medical Center (MMC) offered faithful support on behalf of me and my late husband Bill.

At this time of Thanksgiving, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude, as a wife and as a chaplain. The care teams at PBMC and MMC supported, encouraged and embraced us in very uncertain times, and that meant everything.

I am reminded of a quote shared by a friend shortly after my husband’s death earlier this year. “Grief and gratitude are kindred souls… each pointing to the beauty of what is transient and given to us by grace.” I have since learned that these are the words of writer and editor Patricia Campbell Carlson, and they help explain why, in this year of personal loss, my heart embraces gratitude.

Since moving to Camden from the Boston area 11 years ago, my husband had three open heart surgeries. Two of the surgeries took place at MMC with Reed Quinn, head of cardiothoracic surgery.

The 2016 surgery was especially challenging because Bill developed endocarditis, an infection that caused significant damage to his heart valves. He endured over 13 hours of surgery and made it through, but there were complications over the next few years. In early 2020 Bill developed aspiration pneumonia. He died on March 9, three days before the first COVID patient was diagnosed in Maine.

When Bill came back from the 2016 surgery he was weak but determined. Every nurse and every physician pulled me aside and said, “Your husband has a depth of courage and quiet determination that is striking to me. What can I do to support you, as his wife, because you’re an important part of his healing and his recovery?” One of the things that stands out for me is that the care teams at MMC and PBMC supported us as a family.

My grief for the loss of my husband of almost 27 years remains deep, and tender. And yet healing grace “meets” me, day by day. Bill was a pastel painter and his spirituality is reflected in his creative depiction of Maine scenes — in particular the islands of Penobscot Bay. Signs and symbols of Creator God’s handiwork are in every painting, an offering of peace and hope.

And so despite this loss, I am filled with an equally deep gratitude for the beauty of Bill’s life, the richness of our marriage and for the compassionate care provided by so many at PBMC and MMC.

Bill died at age 68, with a full moon emerging. As I sat vigil alongside his bed at MMC, the Lenten moon spoke to us of the completion of a cycle. Our faith was strengthened to trust God’s never-failing love and care … then, and for all eternity.

Thank you all, and may God bless you during the sacred season that is upon us.

Rev. Abby Pettee

Chaplain

Pen Bay Medical Center

Rockport

Owls Head proposal will upset the balance

Owls Head residents will be called upon to vote on the Interlocal Agreement at a Special Town Meeting Nov. 30.

The clear purpose of this Agreement is to provide a binding, enforceable pact between Knox County and Owls Head to restrict growth and expansion plans of the Knox County Regional Airport. It expires June 1, 2021.

A heavily amended version of this Agreement is being pushed in its place — the revisions of which will completely fail to protect the Owls Head community. These revisions would allow plans, already underway by the airport and the County, by stripping away the power the Town currently has. I encourage area residents to read both the original and the proposed revisions for themselves. They are diametrically opposed, in language and in their purpose.

These revisions will allow for plans to make the airport more accessible to larger aircraft, to generate an increase in air traffic and to create a more favorable airport environment for regional aircraft and operators wishing to utilize it as a service hub.

The idea of regional services in and out of here more often than they operate currently should be more than a little unnerving to us. This will impact quality of life and have a deleterious effect on property values and environmental wellbeing with increased air, water and noise pollution.

My husband and I both fly — we love airplanes and our hometown airport. I volunteered with the Museum as a kid and my first flight lessons were at this airport.

As the airport functions currently, it serves our communities wonderfully. We believe our community airport is a good thing. But there is a balance.

The proposed revisions of the Agreement will upend that balance exponentially. It will be irreversible.

Lauren Swartzbaugh

Owls Head

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