Local government young at heart

Nov 02, 2017

For years we have been hearing dire warnings about the "brain drain" caused by young people leaving Maine for better job opportunities, so it was encouraging to read in the October edition of the Maine Townsman about some of our local young leaders.

The Townsman is put out by the Maine Municipal Association, dealing with matters of interest to those in municipal government all over the state.

This article highlighted the fact that Camden has a young town manager, Audra Caler-Bell, 34, and a young new selectwoman, Alison McKellar, 33.

The headline was "Young leaders say making a difference is what calls them," and they seemed to get the inspiration from Caler-Bell, who says:

"I think it's a great profession to go into if you're a person who wants to go in for the greater good."

She also pointed out how working in local government provides a lot of variety and that every day is not the same.

Caler-Bell studied art history at Bowdoin and spent several years in Australia, where she earned a master's in community development. She returned to Maine, where she worked at the Midcoast Economic Development District and The city of Rockland before coming to Camden.

McKellar became interested in local government when she started attending meetings concerning the town's solid waste disposal plan. "We learn how the U.S. Senate works, but we don't learn how local government works," she said, remembering the time it took her to learn how to navigate local meetings and government.

Having covered local government here at the newspaper, we are encouraged to see more interest from a community leader in making government easier to navigate and more welcoming to the citizens. More residents should take an interest in local government, which spends their tax dollars to provide important community services.

McKellar shared her goal of making the annual town meeting a community event by providing childcare and perhaps a community supper, and moving it from a weekday evening to a weekend. We have seen rural communities in our area use the town meeting as a chance to bring the community together for a meal and to discuss shared values and goals. This is the kind of enthusiasm a young person can bring to local government.

The article also mentioned Josh Gerritsen, 33, who has been elected to the Lincolnville Board of Selectmen.

Thank you to the local young people taking an interest in community government and public service, and to the Townsman for bringing us this story. One take-away may be that if we want to stop losing good young people, we should let them know how much they are needed and that they can make a difference in their communities.

Safety during and after storms

The area is still recovering from the severe wind and rain storm that hit Monday morning, Oct. 30. Trees were down all over Knox County, buildings were damaged, and vehicles destroyed.

CMP reported this storm surpassed the outage numbers from the ice storm of 1998, which were about 340,000.

The storm highlights the need to be prepared and put safety first. Here are a few tips from the Red Cross:

- Discuss storm safety and lightning safety with all members of your household

- Pick a safe place in your home to gather during a storm, away from windows, skylights and glass doors that could be broken by strong winds or hail.

- Make a list of items to bring inside

- Make trees and shrubbery more wind-resistant by keeping them trimmed and removing damaged branches

- Protect your animals by ensuring that any outside buildings are protected

- Keep a flashlight with extra batteries; portable, battery-powered radio; first aid kit; nonperishable, ready-to-eat food items; bottled water; and games in a designated place where they will be easy to find and use during a lengthy storm outage.

In the aftermath of a storm, remember:

- Never drive through a flooded roadway. You cannot predict how deep the water may be.

- Stay away from storm-damaged areas to keep from putting yourself at risk from the effects of severe thunderstorms.

- Continue to listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or to local radio and television stations for updated information or instructions, as access to roads or some parts of the community may be blocked.

- Help people who may require special assistance, such as infants, children and the elderly or disabled.

- Stay away from downed power lines and report them immediately.

- Watch your animals closely. Keep them under your direct control.

Source: American Red Cross

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