Letters, Camden Herald

Mar 13, 2014

Post Office conundrum

Accumulated mail that was held for us while on vacation recently contained 47 pieces of various correspondence. In the batch were one personal letter, two bills and an assortment of bulk mailed items including advertisements, nonprofit and political requests for donations and magazines. (While we appreciate and support the work of nonprofit organizations, we cannot afford to give to all that send requests.) Most of our bulk mail goes directly into the trash can unread.

When I send mail it costs a minimum of 49 cents. For most bulk mail the cost to send is not noted. Occasionally the cost is noted. One item I received this week cost the sender 10 cents to mail. When I forwarded a magazine to a friend recently it cost me $2.98. The publisher had paid 13 cents to mail it to me. It seems to me that we are subsidizing the political parties, advertisers and nonprofits to send us mail that, for the most part, we don’t read or want!

It is my understanding that bulk mail must be pre-sorted by zip code when delivered to a post office. Further sorting within a zip code must still be done by postal workers. Delivery of mail to my home costs the same whether an item is bulk mailed or not. So why does bulk mail cost so much less?

The United States Postal Service is under heavy financial pressure because our Congress requires it to fund pensions at a higher rate than other government agencies. USPS faces competition from Fed Ex and United Parcel, businesses which are not subject to the restrictions set by Congress and are not required to handle bulk mail.

USPS has been reducing costs, e.g. shorter hours, fewer workers. Postal employees are doing their best to continue to provide services to the public. I would hate to see any reduction in the quality of service that we expect. Shouldn’t we be charging bulk mailers a rate that reflects the actual cost to handle their mailings?

William Murphy



Different styles, same mission

Just about a year ago, Virginia House made its first appearance in the Courier-Gazette and Bangor Daily News in well-written and informative articles about its start-up.

I've watched with great interest the developments of the Fox Hill rehabilitation center in Camden, and reflected deeply on the value that attention and understanding of sober facilities would bring to the people there.

Fox Hill's image is very much different on its face from Virginia House. But, the women whose lives it would benefit and their goals are the same. They are your wife, your daughter, your mother, your sister, your grandmother, your granddaughter, all manner of women. Yes, Fox Hill would enable the affluent to be present in lovely Camden to begin their arduous road to recovery, to help them take the first steps toward rebuilding lives ravaged by the disease of alcohol addiction. But the notion that a small group of women who have reached the nadir of their lives could be a negative influence on a residential area is just not accurate.

Virginia House is not a treatment center, but a sober living home for women. We are located on a quiet street in Rockland, in a lovely 100-plus year old home. Yes, we fall into the category of a single-family residence, and we do provide a safe, feminine, happy, loving and warm environment for our very special group of women. Our neighbors have been wonderful, although no doubt a bit skeptical if or when they learned of our intentions upon buying our Victorian-era home. Our feeling is that in Midcoast Maine, besieged by drug and alcohol addiction, Virginia House is a welcome reminder that drug and alcohol abuse are not a necessary part of community. An excess of traffic? Multiple OUIs have made automobile use nearly non-existent at Virginia House. When we are fortunate enough to have a resident who is able to drive, she is usually the one who is ferrying our guests to appointments for mental health treatment, the grocery store to buy food for group preparation and consumption, Goodwill for clothing, the library for books, Wal-Mart for movie rental - basically everything that you and I, residents from Camden, Rockland, Owl's Head, Thomaston, need to do in the course of our daily lives. Women in recovery are no different from you and me. They have hobbies, read books, go to meetings daily, involve themselves in community - Virginia House requires our guests to do volunteer work where employment isn't necessary or possible.

So, here's what we have in Virginia House: A group of sober women, indeed, a family of women who gather together to share the stories of their lives, loves, families, and experiences, women who cooperate in the day-to-day housekeeping, meal preparation, accountable for their time away from home; women who keep in touch with family, rebuild broken relationships, knit and crochet, cry and laugh together, women from well-to-do environments, women who have been homeless and living in parking garages, women working on masters degrees or high school diplomas, women employed as managers; mothers, daughters, wives, supporting and loving one another in pursuing their common goal, sobriety. "They" are not "them." We are them.

The people of Camden will do what they will to stop Fox Hill from beginning an attempt to help women change their lives, or they will embrace the opportunity, and welcome hope to their hills.

In the meantime, every day, in Rockland, Maine, there is a group of women making the choice to embark on the journey of changing their lives.

Carolyn Ahlstrand

Owner, Virginia House


Changes in downtown Camden

I would like to offer congratulations to Bill and Liana Dickey on the sale of the embroidery business. I can remember very clearly the day Bill called me to say he would be coming back to Main Street to start an embroidery shop, in the old End Shop. I could not be more surprised. After the closing of Haskell and Corthell, I figured Bill would stay home on the farm.

And embroidery?

What did I know? Bill and Liana built a very prosperous year-round business that became a model of how to run a Maine downtown store, clothes for the summer trade and embroidery for commercial accounts in the winter. Raincoats and ponchos hung on the open door in the summer when it rained.

Bill has plenty to say about the future of Downtown Camden, as well he should. He is a stake holder who knows where he speaks of. We would be wise to listen to what he has to say .

I have no doubt the new store will be a big success.

Glenn Billington



Fox Hill's shameful claim

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation. The Fair Housing Act (FHA) is intended to prevent discrimination in housing and was originally an addition to the Civil Rights Act. Real estate investors in Camden who have partnered with McLean Hospital (owned by Partners Healthcare) are trying to use these laws to force us to accept a high end substance abuse facility in our residential neighborhood.

The March 9 edition of the New York Times featured a story titled "The 'Boys' in the Bunkhouse" about mentally disabled men who were victimized due to their disability. We don't believe that we can put wealthy individuals with substance abuse problems in this same category of victims, and also don’t see how they can claim to be discriminated against. No one is being removed from their home or prevented from becoming a Camden resident. This facility will only provide short term "residential" treatment and is more like a hotel than a residence. There are many places in town zoned as appropriate for such a facility.

These investors should be ashamed of themselves for trying to benefit from the problems of these patients by claiming to be covered under the ADA/FHA. McLean Hospital should also be embarrassed and should not continue to jeopardize its good name by supporting this endeavor. Local businesses that support this project should rethink their position, in light of the Board of Selectmen being 4-1 against this project. And we hope that residents consider this when deciding which local businesses to support.

We support treatment for people recovering from addiction, rich or poor, and resent the implication that we lack compassion and are not sympathetic to their needs. What are we not sympathetic to is FHRE and McLean Hospital distorting the intention of these federal and state laws in order to put their facility wherever they want to. Forcing this into our residential neighborhoods does not advance treatment, it only enriches a small group investors at the expense of the character of our town.


David and Faith Hague


Editor's note: Camden Selectmen officially voted 3-2 but four selectmen stated they did not support a special exception zoning change.


Share the Love auction a success

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Rockland is so happy to announce the results of the 3rd annual “Share the Love” Community Auction held in early February. Through the warmth and generosity of our community and supporters, just over $15,000 was raised.

We have been blessed with a community of businesses and supporters that donated items and purchased advertisements. A total of $20,000 worth of goods and services were auctioned off including Cape Air tickets to Boston, New Hampshire Motor Speedway tickets, Celtics Tickets, Museum Passes, a Lyn Snow Original Watercolor along with other local and out of state artists who donated their paintings and many, many more items.

All the money raised from this auction goes right back into the community to support people who are in immediate need of food, heat and health assistance. This time of year is very tough on many families, and also on the organizations that are working to support these families with food vouchers, oil deliveries, and rent or health assistance. That is why three of our main recipients this year are the Area Interfaith Outreach Food Pantry (AIO), the Salvation Army and the Rockland District Nurses Association.

We are also very grateful to have had Bruce and Becky Gammage donate their exceptional skills as auctioneers.

We are so thankful to the entire Knox County area businesses for your support as well as all the auction enthusiasts who bid on our items that evening. If you missed the event, stayed tuned for next year, we have even bigger things planned and we hope you can join us “Share the Love” with our community.


Kirstin Cronkite for the Auction Committee

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