Courier-Gazette Letters to the Editor

Sep 11, 2020

Rep. Pluecker’s support on certain bills

I have found Rep. Bill Pluecker to be affable and willing to take questions and answer or find answers to them. Consequently, I became interested in his stance on various bills presented in the last legislative sessions. I found his voting record on the following bills.

Voted against LD 1292: This bill would reduce the state income tax. Maine's taxes are high now, and we need to find jobs for hard-working Mainers so the tax base can increase.

Voted against LD 322: A bill to require voter ID to cast a ballot. If this not a logical request, then we shouldn’t require photo IDs for other reasons.

Voted for LD 1317: This bill would provide money for non-citizens. We have large numbers of citizens who need help, I would contend that my tax dollars should help citizens first, not non-citizens.

Voted for LD 829: A bill to give public tax money to provide abortions. This is offensive to many who have trouble paying their taxes.

In favor of LD 454 and LD 920: Apparently these bills limit competition for some growers of produce and enhance the competition for those who can pay lower wages to those employed to work their gardens.

After reviewing the above legislative bills, I find my position on each one would be opposite his. I was hoping to find commonality on at least one.

Mark Waltz

Warren

Why I support the Juneteenth Petition

I am writing in support of the Juneteenth Petition put forward June 19, 2020 at the Black Lives Matter rally in downtown Rockland.

The petition speaks of the need to dismantle racism by funding and investing in programs that support our community’s well being. The petition was presented to the Rockland City Council Aug. 3, 2020.

I believe a Civilian Oversight Board is needed to keep our city budget accountable. It is important to know that the city’s funds are being used for healthy and preventative programs like affordable housing, domestic violence prevention, drug and addiction recovery programs, anti-racism resources in schools and anti-racism training for law enforcement officers.

All of these programs are geared to prevention not crisis intervention.

Preventing a crisis is a much more effective and affordable way of dealing with a program.

Susan Manning

Rockland

Thomaston citizens! Vote YES on Article 3!

Over the last four years, we have been transparent as we have worked with the Citizens of Thomaston, Village Cemetery Trustees, Select Board and Planning Board to lease land in the Village Cemetery to build and operate Midcoast Crematory, Inc.

In June 2017, the town citizens voted in favor to change the zoning in the Village Cemetery to allow a crematory as a conditional use in the cemetery. In March 2019, the Select Board and Village Cemetery Trustees chose 32 Anna Belle Lane in the Village Cemetery for the crematory to be placed.

In June 2019, at the Annual Town Meeting, the town citizens voted overwhelmingly in favor to allow the Select Board to accept bids and to negotiate a lease for the proposed crematory. In January 2020, the Select Board accepted the Midcoast Crematory Inc. bid to lease the land at 32 Anna Belle Lane for the crematory building, and has asked the town citizens to accept this bid by voting YES on Article 3 Sept. 15, 2020.

The Hall Family has cared for the families of Midcoast Maine for more than 60 years with dignity and trust. We have continued to evolve our business to meet the needs and wants of the families we have been privileged to serve over the years. The most significant change we have seen has been the increase in families choosing cremation.

Twenty five years ago, 30% of the families we served chose cremation. Today, 70% of the families we serve choose cremation. As you can see cremation has become a larger, natural extension of the services we provide. We would like to provide this cremation service with the experience, care and skill of Hall Funeral Home’s team through our new service, Midcoast Crematory Inc.

We have been transparent through the whole process. Some people have questions about air quality. Here are the facts, not opinions. The equipment that will be used is (UL) Listed which means it meets specific, defined requirements based on UL’s published and nationally recognized Standards for Safety. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not regulate crematories.

Under the Clean Air Act, The U.S. EPA reviewed and updated national air quality standards including crematories. The review considered all possible pollutants, and as a result crematories are not considered for any regulation. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection requires an Air Quality Permit which Midcoast Crematory, Inc. has applied for and has been granted a permit to operate an environmentally safe crematory in the Village Cemetery.

The Hall Family has been working hard over the last four years in an effort to bring a local service to the citizens of Thomaston. The town of Thomaston will receive revenue from the crematory lease and real estate taxes from the building which will help support the Village Cemetery and help citizens by lowering taxes. The citizens of Thomaston will also benefit from a local service provided by a local family.

The Hall Family have been good neighbors in Thomaston and will continue that relationship moving forward. We will be hosting an open house Sept. 8 from 4 to 6 p.m. at Hall Funeral Home, 78 Main St., Thomaston to answer any questions to help you make an informed decision when you vote. Please feel free to call 354-6475 with any questions.

We ask that you support us by voting YES on Article 3 Sept. 15, 2020.

The Thomaston Select Board, and Village Cemetery Board of Trustees recommends passage of Article 3 in the Thomaston Town Warrant. The Thomaston Planning Board at it’s June 16, 2020 meeting approved the conditional use and site plan review for the Midcoast Crematory.

Michael J. Hall, Owner

Hall Funeral Home/Midcoast Crematory Inc.

My trust in Bill Pluecker

In his two years as State Representative for House District 95, Bill Pluecker has proven to be a thoughtful, well-informed leader who takes the time and makes the effort to listen to his constituents. As a member of the RSU #40 School Board, I have witnessed Bill take our concerns into consideration and make informed decisions based on what he learned from the School Board.

While I have not agreed with every vote Bill has made in the last two years, I do trust that he will always put the needs of his constituents first and will take every opportunity to connect with and listen to members of our community. As an Independent, Bill doesn’t have a party to answer to. Instead, he answers to his constituents, which is how it ought to be.

We are fortunate to have Bill Pluecker representing House District 95 in the Maine legislature. I heartily support his run for reelection Nov. 3 and I hope you will, too.

Morgan Hynd

Warren

They paved paradise

In Thomaston, there is an upcoming (Sept. 15) vote to authorize the sale of two lots on former state prison property.

One is a new home for developmentally challenged adults and a second, larger project proposed by a major developer, Avesta, occupying over two acres, is a low income facility for seniors. Both are worthy, deserving of serious consideration if not unquestioning support.

The location of these buildings needs to be re-considered in the context of other town-owned properties offering closer proximity to town services, including a nearby park and shops, all merely steps away, without building a large, two-plus acre facility on the town’s only significant green space (referred to locally as “The Green”).

For two centuries, the Maine State Prison was a blight on the town’s civic landscape — hardly “paradise” as one neighbor rightly pointed out to me. Meanwhile, Thomaston’s rampant development between the Dragon Cement plant and Rockland’s city line has become a strip mall in search of a city, an un-neighborly affront to Rockland and Thomaston itself, disfiguring what might have been, with forward-thinking planning, a vibrant, graceful gateway to the entire Penobscot Bay region with greater tax benefits to the town and region.

Now, proposals to build on The Green have been put forward which will permanently compromise a unique space while raising serious questions about how and why this vote is proceeding during a deadly pandemic, a crisis that has effectively precluded public discussion and debate. Apparently, the vote to approve the two warrant items on the official ballot is justified by the Select Board as previously approved some years earlier as part of a long range plan for the former prison site.

Because ballots have been printed, there is no provision to table or even amend these propositions. But as other residents have argued, many taxpayers have moved to Thomaston, since the original plan for The Green was approved in 2008. In other words, up to half of all eligible voters may not have had any say as to how this plan still meets current community needs.

Without the ability to table or amend the proposed sale, or even engage the developers and town officials in public debate, the vote is an all or nothing exercise. There has also been a quiet revolution in town planning throughout this country that emphasizes the beneficial uses — both passive and active — for open green spaces. Nearly all large towns and cities have long since forfeited opportunities to develop or preserve green space, especially within walking and biking reach.

People are moving to Maine and raising property values and local tax bases because of our towns and village greens. Of course, the Avesta project and group home might be attractive, community enhancing projects. But there might be better locations, where senior and disabled residents have access to services and activities closer to the town center? Should we at least talk about it before we pave over Thomaston’s only historic and hard-won patch of paradise?

Chris Crosman

Thomaston

Disappointed in media

About a month ago, I was on my lobster boat in Spruce Head when a friendly, older gentleman struck up a conversation with me. He appeared to be genuinely interested in lobster fishery and some of the challenges we face. His name was John Walcott with Time Magazine.

When I later read the story, I was stunned and very disappointed to discover he made up stuff about our conversation and outright fabricated quotes to suit a seemingly anti-Trump political agenda.

Since then, several other stories have been written based on his “partially fabricated” interview and the false narrative grows.

I have contacted Mr. Walcott and his editor asking for a retraction and correction with no reply. An acquaintance of mine has also contacted others inaccurately using my name, including Dave Sullivan, head of the Maine Lobster Union 207 with no results. He wrote an Op-Ed in the BDN just last week partially based on Walcott’s “story.”

Does this seem right to you?

I haul lobsters for a living as my family has for generations. I am not experienced with the media, but I know enough not to talk politics with strangers.

It seems some want to blame our president for longstanding tariff problems. Few know the truth, but Canada had a long-standing cushy deal with the EU called the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement, which was ratified long before Trump was elected. This gave Canada a huge advantage over Maine fisheries since they had no tariffs, and we did.

It is disheartening when our media fails to bring all relevant facts to the public. People need all sides of a story if they are to make informed decisions.

To set the record straight. I never mentioned or blamed our president for any of the challenges we are facing as an industry. I blamed coronavirus. I support President Trump and his reelection.

Jeff Woodman

Owls Head

More than two options for U.S. Senate

I believe that newspapers can do better than the narrow take on the U.S. Senate race in The Courier-Gazette’s “Nov. 3 ballot at a glance.” The framing of the independents in the Presidential and U.S. Senate race as non-challengers isn’t representative of how our democracy should function. Many of the founding fathers of this nation believed that a two-party system would be detrimental to the government they designed. After all, in what other realm of life are we expected to make a decision of such importance between only two options?

The problem is exacerbated by the context — the U.S. Senate race will surely be decided using ranked-choice voting, and Maine voters may use ranked-choice voting in the presidential race as well, pending court ruling.

Maine has a rich history of electing Independents to be our governor and even U.S. senator. It isn’t justifiable to present a four-way race as a race between two major-party candidates with Independents siphoning off their vote. The wonderful thing about ranked-choice voting is that voters can support Independents without fear of a spoiler effect. There are two of them on the ballot.

I encourage people to watch the Sept. 11 debate hosted by the Portland Press Herald, Bangor Daily News and News Center Maine. In this debate, we’ll get to see all four candidates for U.S. Senate speak about the issues, including progressive Independent, Lisa Savage.

Emma Raven

North Yarmouth

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Comments (4)
Posted by: Lucinda Lang | Sep 14, 2020 08:46

PROPERTY TAXES will NOT BE REDUCED if GREEN is build out:   "John Howard • Thomaston

On the note of taxes, please refer to the article that was published in the Village Soup. The Chair of the Select Board (Peter Lamert) said that any tax revenues from any development on The Green would go to RSU13. Charles Grover (head of the Economic Development Committee) said that no development would result in your property taxes being lowered, in fact they will go up (the way they always do). These are the facts,"



Posted by: Marian E. Sargent | Sep 13, 2020 12:21

Chris Crosman, thank you for your thoughtful opinion piece about what's at stake for Thomaston residents, concerning the development of The Thomaston Green.  Since the town voted to purchase the Green in 2004 the open space has become part of the town's appeal for new residents, visitors to our town and, I daresay, perhaps even some residents who originally voted for development.  Times change.  Appreciation of open space for community enjoyment and improved quality of life has gained more value since 2004.  What might have made sense about developing housing for folks age 55 and up 16 years ago no longer applies to a town trying to attract young people and families to live here.  Maintaining and making good use of open space for the enjoyment of all of our residents is of key importance in 2020 and the future.

At the town's presentation on The Green last Tuesday night a number of residents who didn't know each other prior realized that we were not alone in wanting to keep the town from selling off approximately 4 acres of The Green for housing and 48 parking spots.  Brainstorming that night and thinking more about options for profitable use of The Green since then have resulted in a range of possible uses which will generate income for the town.  Renting the space for private events, fairs or farmers' markets, holding weekly band concerts in the summer where vendors can sell food and other merchandise, adding a Fall, Winter, or Spring festival are but a few options.  A perfect example of positive Town Green use is a request from someone wanting to hold an antiques show on The Green this Fall, coming before the Planning Board Monday night.  Such activities will generate rental income for use of the space and bring folks from outside Thomaston to shop at our stores and eat at our restaurants before or after attending events.  Promoting activities that appeal to all ages, like our 4th of July celebration, will create a way to connect with other town residents and increase a feeling of community spirit.

As far as I know, the only vote about whether to put housing on The Thomaston Green land took place in 2004, when the land was purchased. The vote was to buy The Green for development or to not buy The Green.  I may be wrong but I don't believe voters were asked the question "Do you want to buy The Green to develop with housing or keep it as open space for community events?"   I understand that foIks representing the town may feel they have an obligation to the original voters to follow through on their decision.  But what about the obligation to current residents, including those who weren't old enough to vote 16 years ago?  I know there have been various meetings over recent years to gather citizen input, some attended by as many as 70-100 residents. People working two or more jobs, single parent families, older folks who don't like to drive at night are often not able to attend such meetings. Surveys are reported to have been taken in recent years about The Green, was a copy sent to all voters in a household or just one to a household?  What was the % return of these surveys?  All due respect to the town representatives and the processes that have occurred, we are talking about developing The Green in 2020, a town-wide vote is the only way to allow all current Thomaston voters to weigh in on whether The Green should be developed with permanent housing before going forward with development.

Even if you are in favor of the nature of the proposed Avesta and Coastal Opportunities developments please vote no on Tuesday, September 15.  It's taken the town 16 years to get to this point.  The developers won't go anywhere, they'll still be interested in putting housing on The Green in the future if a new town-wide vote approves doing so.  A "No" vote on Tuesday, 9/15, 8-8 at the Thomaston Town Office, will stop permanent development for now and open the discussion for what's the best way to use current The Green open space for the benefit of all.  Thank you!



Posted by: Lucinda Lang | Sep 13, 2020 08:10

VOTE NO #7    VOTE  NO #8    VOTE NO #4    PLEASE public uninformed...PLEASE provide community discussion.... Please selling historic open space is not  Comprehensive plan priority  ....Please there are options/choices for needed housing..NO option/choice for historic riverview/riverfront open space.... buildout plan is over a decade old...560 real estate transfers past decade ..Thomaston has changed greatly...Watts Block + The Academy + many acres of land could be sold for possibly $1million+ !! preserve w/facade easement...Please...The Green, former prison land  IRREPLACEABLE ... PLEASE it's a PANDEMIC...people are overwhelmed....PLEASE Thomaston Leadership: parks BRING value raise property value + build relationships and community...parks bring tourist$ parks bring young families for goodness sake...research/data across the world proves that parks/open space/community "make" towns....Thomaston is known as a "highway town" missing every opportunity...why not work to make Thomaston a destination? park income producing activities: Music festivals+ Art fairs +Book fairs + Science Fairs + Weddings +Birthday + Ropes course + skate board + exercise course+ ice skating + summer sprinklers to run through + wading pond + history events + ecological events + community gardens + pollinator pathway + intro to Georges Highland Path + bike rentals + food trucks + popsicles + hot chocolate + so much more. ....THE GREEN is ONE OF A KIND from Portland to Ellsworth...there is nothing else like this....PLEASE VOTE NO #7       please    VOTE NO #8       please   VOTE NO #4....   we need and deserve in person discussions ...there are options and choices........please.   Thank you.



Posted by: Lucinda Lang | Sep 13, 2020 07:35

VOTE NO #3          CREMATORIUM in RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD:  QUESTIONS: toxic emissions, traffic, income from area funeral business', $500 a month lease, and property taxes?  April 2020 EPA rollbacks emissions+traffic disturbances/emissions+ cremation income compared to rent? + possibly 600 cremations a year @$1000.00 each? +what amount will individual property tax be reduced yearly? + Mr. Hall family live in Camden. Where proposed crematorium is Thomaston actual neighbors, families live & garden & walk, tend graves, and dog park. Mr. Hall is quoted as ready to re-locate crematorium to another area. Hall Funeral Home has choices...unlike actual neighbors/residents...it is hard & sometimes not possible for people to sell house and move their lives to another area or another town. Thank you.

 



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