Courier-Gazette Letters to the Editor, Nov. 30

Nov 30, 2017

Community Center responds to letter

The Board of the Thompson Community Center would like to address some of the disparaging statements made in the Information Letter recently posted by the Union Board of Selectmen. Sadly, intimidation has become commonplace for people in positions of power to obtain their objectives.

Allegations that the building is dilapidated or unsafe are exaggerated and inaccurate.

We are not ignorant of the fact that parts of the building’s façade are unsightly and in need of repair. While we take our responsibility to maintain the building seriously and desire to resolve these issues; many of the repairs are very costly, so we must prioritize where money can most prudently be spent. Our finances are stabilizing, which will allow us to begin tackling some of these bigger projects.

To be clear, we are a nonprofit organization that does not receive taxpayer money and instead relies on donations, grants, and rental income.

The TCC has been overwhelmed by the generosity of our community. We are seeing increases in volunteerism and donations. This support has already resulted in progress inside and out of the building. Inside, the thrift store has been renovated, Room 30 has been refurbished, and phase one of a new sprinkler system has been completed. Outside, new signage has been installed, trees have been removed, and improvements have been made to the driveway and parking area.

Also, our annual Thanksgiving dinner with rides for anyone without transportation and meal deliveries for those unable to travel, will be provided free of charge. All of this has been made possible by community supporters and we will build upon this momentum in the coming years.

Remember, we have been recognized by leaders in our community, such as with $5,000 from Bangor Savings Bank with write-in votes for the second consecutive year, and third place in the 2017 Village Soup Best of the Best for Community Service. This support gives validation for our efforts.

Now we appeal to you, stand up and make your voices heard. Please attend the Special Town Meeting Tuesday, Dec. 12, at 7 p.m. Learn more about this proposal, ask questions, and get the facts you need to make an informed decision.

Until then, we encourage you to reach out to us with your questions, thoughts and suggestions.

While others continue with a negative campaign, we will remain on high ground and shall foster positive conversation and invite ideas. After all, isn’t that what being a community is about?

Board of Directors,

Thompson Community Center

Union

Penquis proposal preserves 'yellow school'

As a Union town selectman, I appreciate the recent article regarding the future of the “yellow school” ... the Thompson Community Center. This building is indeed an historic resource and holds sentimental value for many local citizens. It is a very large, aging building that requires expensive maintenance and significant upgrades in order to remain safe and accessible. In recent years these costs have often exceeded the revenues of the center so that insurance coverage has been threatened, fire safety improvements have been delayed, recommended structural upgrades and cosmetic maintenance are being postponed. Since the town of Union owns this building, these shortcomings can quickly become expensive liabilities for all taxpayers.

The directors of the center have worked hard and been very creative and engaged in finding ways to utilize the old school building so that it offers a range of services to the community. Some town selectmen, including Greg Grotton, have served on the board of directors to work toward helping the community center prosper. However, as the building continues to deteriorate, it’s a community responsibility to explore alternative ways to find the best use of this historic structure. In the foreseeable future, the building is likely to require major renovation for safety’s sake, or failing that, demolition. If this happens, it will be a great loss. It will also be a taxpayer expense and a very large one.

The proposed contract with Penquis will preserve this landmark while offering a solution for our limited senior housing options. The building will be restored and maintained in its original style, while providing a range of combined-use services and activities. The tenants are likely to become engaged volunteers and participants in the aspects of the community center that remain. They will certainly create new opportunities for services within the center and their involvement will enhance the vitality of Union.

I encourage Union voters to attend the special town meeting Dec. 12 to learn about this project and vote to restore, preserve and “repurpose" the old yellow school for future generations.

John Shepard

Union

Time to end opiod crisis is now

What is it going to take? The opioid crisis has been taking over the state of Maine for the last 10 years. The death rate has climbed 1,000 percent higher that what it was 10 years ago and is not slowing down. It does not discriminate. It creeps into our homes, it is in our schools, it is in our churches, it affects our elderly and our veterans. These are our children and our future that we are talking about.

So what is it going to take? Will you wait for your son or or daughter to become a victim, or will you take a stand now, before it is too late? What has to happen before the community gets together as one voice? Every day someone's son or daughter is dying from addiction, tomorrow it could be yours, the day after it could be mine. This is too real. We don't think about it until someone we love has been affected, but we don't have to wait, there is hope.

Rolling up our sleeves, staring addiction in the face and taking our mask off is the only way we can face addiction. We cannot hide from it. We cannot say that it will not happen to, "my family," because eventually it will, in one way or another. Why would we take that chance? The only way we can battle this beast is by working together as a community. Employers, legislatures, schools, churches, organizations and volunteers standing as one. You are our greatest asset. Volunteers and normal everyday folk who see addiction daily, everywhere we turn.

This is not going to be an easy battle and it cannot be done alone. Organizations need to pool resources. Legislatures need to be advocating for more programs. Schools need to be teaching kids about addiction. Volunteers need to be coming out of the woodwork. Churches, despite their difference of beliefs, need to be disciples of Christ and share his teachings of love, compassion and forgiveness. Employers need to take a chance on people who have suffered from addiction. We need to destigmatize addiction, to show our citizens that it is OK. That we understand their suffering. That they are safe.

If we cannot do these things, then people who suffer from addiction will just end up doing what they know, what is easy, what will ultimately kill them. Remember, today you might have heard about someone that you don't know who has died or suffers from addiction, but tomorrow it could be your child. So I will ask you again, what is it going to take?

Myles Ouellette

Rockland

Inside the coffin with the 99 percent

The nails are being pounded into the coffin of middle-income and low- income Americans. The Trumpians in the White House and their zealots in the House and Senate are wielding the hammer. The current tax-goodie bills, dubbed tax reform bills, are the hammer and nails of the firmly entrenched corporate lobbyists and top 1 percent of the population. The rest of us are inside the coffin trying to figure out what all the pounding is about.

These tax gift bills are all about shrinking the size of federal government and drowning it in the bathtub, as anti-tax Republican Grover Norquist once said. The ever-changing details of the bills contain gifts to big corporations that will remain permanent. The crumbs proposed for the 99 percent will “sunset” --- that means end --- in the near future.

In that near future, the proposed tax breaks for corporations and the already-rich will have created a huge deficit. Perfect. That deficit will be the opportunity for the next phase. Those who are masquerading as conservatives can finalize their anti-federal government campaign. With much wringing of hands, these fake conservatives will attack the deficit they are now busy creating.

They will weep with regret as they cut veterans benefits, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, public works, job training, public education, college grants, science research and any other program that they deem a “giveaway.” Their tears will flow as they increase fees for national parks, national museums, national highway use, energy use, ordinary income and anything else they can lay hands on to pick the pockets of the ordinary taxpayer.

It is time for the 99 percent in our wonderful country to rise up out of the coffin. It is now that income inequality is being hammered in nail by nail. It is time to get real --- corporations that can set up in the Isle of Jersey or the Cook Islands for zero or negligible taxes will not return profits to this country. It is time to understand that the rich are paying the lowest income taxes since the 1970s. It is time to realize that the estate tax is only paid on anything over $11 million that couples leave to their heirs. It is now that the only thing being made permanent for the 99 percent is bigtime tax and income inequality.

It is time for the 99 percent to get out of the coffin. Otherwise, we can look forward to the New Serfdom in which the majority of Americans will be grubbing in this country just to get by, while the corporations and the 1 percent play in the world of the global economy with their status and wealth secure.

Anita Siegenthaler

Port Clyde

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