Letters, July 30

Jul 30, 2015

Pre-K is a trap

While the School Board is arguing about money, another article talks about Pre-K registration. The Pre-K program is partially funded by a grant. Who pays for the program when the grant runs out? This kind of trap the state and federal government has repeatedly used to shift the costs of programs to the local taxpayers – special education, minimum teacher salaries, Medicaid reimbursement, etc.

For example, the district may receive $45,000 in Medicaid reimbursement, but it is required to hire licensed social workers to provide case management for the eligible students. In other words, it will pay more than it receives. Furthermore, the Medicaid reimbursement and the tuition payments – noted in the revenue section of the proposed budget – will be considered income by the state and the state subsidy will be reduced because of the income.

RSU 13 needs to use cost-benefit analysis and social return on investment evaluations on many of the programs and make decisions based on data.

Ralph and Carolyn Newbert

Rockland

Favors ranked-choice voting

I am one of the people who collected the signatures to put ranked-choice voting on the November 2016 ballot in Maine.

Ranked-choice voting is a good idea that has been gaining significant momentum over the past year across the political spectrum. Most recently, the League of Women Voters of Maine reaffirmed its support for ranked-choice voting in a blog published July 15.

You can read the report at https://lwvme.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/why-lwvme-supports-ranked-choice-voting/.

Democrats, Republicans and Independents have all expressed support, because it’s a reform that returns power to the voters.

In the next three-way race for governor, visualize going to the election booth and indicating your first, second and third choices on your ballot. That’s how simple it is. While some folks have expressed concern that ranked-choice voting might be “too complicated,” I'm telling them that they don’t have to do the math! You just have to mark your ballot with your first, second and third choices when you vote, which is why I am confident that Mainers across the state will embrace this change and the benefits that come with it.

Ranked-choice voting resolves a fundamental problem in our system when three or more candidates run for office. It eliminates the “throw-away” vote or the “spoiler effect,” when two like-minded candidates divide a broad base of support to inadvertently help elect the least-preferred candidate.

It’s happened plenty of times before. In fact, nine of our last 11 governors were elected with less than a majority of support. If you, like me, want to be represented in Augusta by people who were elected by at least 51 percent of the voters in this state, please support ranked-choice voting.

For more information on ranked-choice voting and how you can get involved with this movement, check out: fairvotemaine.org.

Sally A Merchant

South Thomaston

Flag and song symbols of division

Regarding the Confederate flag and, for me, the song "Dixie:"

I lived in St. Petersburg, Fla., for 30 years, the last 20 in different locales.

My sons were in their high school bands. I've been to band concerts and civic programs, and there was always the Stars and Sripes displayed, and there were several Confederate flags. I asked why the discrepancy, and was told the extra flags were for decoration purposes -- this was the South.

My first band concert was a revelation. The band played "The Star-Spangled Banner," and no one stood up. They played several songs praising our country. As the last song started to play, everyone stood up, and so did I, thinking it would be "The Star-Spangled Banner" again. When I realized they were playing "Dixie," I sat right down.

Since then, for me, thiose two -- the flag and the song -- were always going to divide our country.

I really don't see that changing in my lifetime. The Southern rednecks will never allow that to happen. To each his own opinion. I have told you mine and why.

Florence Hammond

Owls Head

Concerned veteran

I am a veteran of the Korean War. I am a 50-year life member and past post commander of the VFW, Friendship.

I would like to express my opinion about the soldier who was recently rescued from his captors in Iraq. First, I am concerned about swapping five terrorists for this soldier, who may have put down his weapon and deserted his post. Some of his buddies were actually killed in an attempt to rescue him.

Secondly, I have heard that he is owed over $250,000 for back pay as a prisoner. I think it must be proved first that he was a prisoner, and not a deserter.

I am writing this letter to keep this soldier's situation before the public. I want everyone to be aware of his eventual trial.

I don't know if justice will prevail. I don't have much faith in the government. Our treatment of our veterans in the VA hospitals and giving up five terrorists for a possible deserter is just not right.

Alton Hayden

Waldoboro

Land trust says thanks for successful fundraiseer

On Sunday, July 12, the Georges River Land Trust held its 24th annual Gardens in the Watershed tour in Thomaston, Warren and Cushing. It was a wonderful warm summer day! The land trust, as well as the gardeners, is grateful to the over 500 patrons who came to the lower Georges River watershed to appreciate the amazing flower gardens, scenic ocean vistas and get a sneak peek at the progress at the future Langlais Sculpture Preserve.

There are so many people to thank, but most important are the gardeners who graciously opened their special places to us and without whom there would not have been a tour: Daria Peck’s “Secret Garden” in Thomaston, the gardens of George Griggs and Susan Egerton Griggs in Warren, Kathleen Starrs and Gregory Moore’s Heartfelt Farm and Hands and Knees Gardens, gardens of Phyllis and Wes Daggett and the Davis Point gardens of Peter Kukielski and Drew Hodges, all in Cushing. Their dedication, hard work and love of the land were evident in the rainbow of colors and amazing diversity of beauty we were all privileged to experience on the tour. We are indebted to them for their gracious hospitality and incalculable contribution to the land trust. Thanks also go to Peter Kukielski, whose talk on disease resistance in roses was a big hit, and to Rebecca Jacobs of Knox-Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation District, whose information on invasive species was informative and interactive – thank you both for enlightening and entertaining!

The First, N.A. and The First Advisors are our major sponsors for this event and we are grateful for their financial support and interest in our work. We are also very appreciative of the time and effort the First employees put into baking and selling 300 delicious cookies on tour day. The cookie proceeds added to the success of this year’s tour! This year, we are also pleased to welcome Maine Home + Design magazine as our media sponsor for the event. We thank them and the nearly 50 other business and individual sponsors who generously helped to fund this event and support the mission of the land trust. We encourage everyone to patronize these wonderful businesses listed on the land trust website. James Hatch and his staff at the Home Kitchen Café deserve our grateful thanks for preparing a record number – more than 230 – of delicious lunches for our hungry patrons. The sandwiches and cookies were delicious! Our nine local ticket outlets also helped spread the word and provide convenient locations for purchasing pre-event tickets – thank you for your help!

As always, volunteers on tour day kept things running smoothly, from helping park cars and directing traffic to taking tickets, handing out lunches, selling raffle tickets, showing off the unique features of the Langlais estate, and assisting the gardeners in various ways. We are grateful to the many volunteers who gave up a good part of their weekend to help us.

The Gardens in the Watershed tour is the largest annual fundraising event of the Georges River Land Trust, and its success is crucial to our work of conserving ecosystems of the watershed and providing recreation and education opportunities for the public. It also introduces participants to the diversity and traditional character of the Georges River watershed as they travel from garden to garden.

And with deep gratitude, we recognize the members of the Garden Tour committee, who have worked tirelessly all year to make this event successful: Leslie Fuller, chair, Pat Ashton, Tracy Beck, Kathy Beck, Mary Ann Carey, Cheryl Feldpausch, Sydney Hall, Ginny Hibbard, Heidi Lyman, Hilary Matlack, Jane Rasmussen, Debbie Rogers and Judy Waterman. Please mark your calendars to join us for the 25th Annual Gardens in the Watershed tour Sunday, July 10, 2016!

Gail Presley

Executive Director

Georges River Land Trust

Rockland

Trekkers says thanks for support of 'stewardship' benefit

My sincere gratitude goes to everyone who made Trekkers’ “Living the Art of Stewardship” presentation on July 15 with Mr. Greg Mort such a successful event. The evening began with a reception at the Island Institute Gallery for Greg Mort, who was our featured speaker. More than 100 people joined us for his presentation at the Strand Theatre.

I want to begin with a very special thank you to Mr. Greg Mort for sharing his personal reflections on the impact that the natural world has had on him and his artwork, and emphasizing the importance of environmental awareness through the arts. His life’s work truly resonates with the Trekkers’ model, which encourages students to find their passions and teaches environmental awareness through the use of nature as a classroom and the earth as educator.

I would also like to thank 11th grade Trekkers student Juliette St. Clair, whose art internship video was shared with our audience. Her video was created during a Trekkers’ S.E.E.D. (Success through Employment and Educational Development) internship at the Steel House earlier this year. My thanks also go to Annie Bailey, a Trekkers alumna from the Class of 2003, who spoke about how Trekkers shaped her life and career as an artist.

My sincere thanks go to the Art of Stewardship board of directors, who selected Trekkers as the recipient of The Art of Stewardship 2015 Recognition Award. Our organization received a framed certificate and a monetary gift, presented to Trekkers by Greg Mort during the event. It was a true honor to be recognized for the work we are doing with local youth in helping them become better stewards of the Earth and its gifts.

I also want to congratulate Ellen Taylor, who won the beautiful door prize for the evening– a framed lithograph of Greg’s watercolor, titled “Stewardship.” Signed Limited Edition Lithographs were also won by Alice Lipson, Kristine Chalk and Eliza Bailey.

Finally, I want to recognize our sponsors and supporters, with sincere thanks to the Island Institute for hosting the reception, the Strand Theatre for hosting the presentation, and to the following organizations for their support: Atlantic Insurance & Benefits, Café Miranda, Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Coldwell Banker Commercial SoundVest Properties, George C. Hall & Sons, Inc., hello hello books, Horch Roofing, Island Institute, Karen Adams – Studio Curator to Greg Mort, The Owl & Turtle Bookshop, Owls Head Transportation Museum, Rockland Marketplace, Rustica, Samoset Resort, Somerville Manning Gallery, Squid Ink Coffee, State of Maine Cheese Company and The Sugar Tree Cakes & Catering.

Proceeds from the event will support Trekkers’ youth-mentoring programs, helping us provide 200 students with experiential learning programs. As we complete our 21st year of mentoring youth from the Midcoast area, I am so grateful for the outpouring of support we receive from the community. My sincere thanks to everyone who helped make this fundraising event successful.

Don Carpenter

Executive Director

Trekkers

Thomaston

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