Local Letters to the Editor

FoodShift needs your support

To the Editor:
    As you may be aware, our daughter Dana has founded a non-profit organization called FoodShift, headquartered in Oakland, Calif. (www.foodshift.net). Her aim is to create a food recovery system which will sustain itself and reduce or eliminate the huge wastage of our present food distribution system.

    There is more info on the website but I’m writing to ask for your support, with several clicks on your computer. FoodShift has the opportunity to win free advertising on the SanFrancisco-Oakland BART subway and bus system — if it gets enough votes. Currently it is very close to first place but must take the lead within the next two weeks.
    Dana is a socially-minded woman who is making her vision into reality. Would you be willing to take a moment to help by voting through Facebook at http://bit.ly/ZfntKG?

Dr. David Frasz

Time to take our country back

To the Editor:
    In my ignorance or maybe not paying attention, I didn’t realize that a governor got a pension. That is some deal, “serve” four years and live off the state, travel around the world, put your daughter in a well-paying job, act like a bully and spoiled brat and get a pension. Don’t seem right to me, but then not much of what 99 percent of politicians do seems right to me. They mostly, it seems to me, get into office any how that they can and do things to better their standard of living and forget why they are there in the first place. For example, Doug Thomas, he had been all for the East-West Highway but then wanted to put it on hold until after the election and now he is for it again — surprise, surprise.
    As to the East-West Highway, it seems to me that it is for the benefit of Canadians, Peter Vigue, Doug Thomas and others. The Canadians are now, if I understand it right, shipping a type of oil that if used is even more damaging to the environment, to be refined in the United States.
    Every day I see trucks from Canada, right on each other’s tailgates, hauling wood products to Canada to be processed and probably sold back to us. What is wrong with this picture? Why isn’t someone from here processing these logs?
    The Revolutionary War was about kicking England back across the puddle. Well, Canada is ruled by Queen Elizabeth so I say package up Vigue, Thomas and their cronies and send them to England and see that they have nothing more to say about our business. Could we possibly send Roxanne too?

Jack Leeman

The ‘corral of misfortune’

To the Editor:
    The Maine herd, maybe about 68,000 moose, seems anxious to breed each year, under orders of Mother Nature. Lady moose use their airborne scent to attract males to them. Moose opposite sexes I suppose are not full-time year-round companions, but do “cohabitate” during the springtime rut when the flowers are in bloom.
    Mr. Peter Vigue of the Cianbro Corporation wants to build a super high speed toll road, cutting Maine and its moose herd in half, so that day and night 4,000 giant double high speed diesel Canadian 100-foot trailer trucks can save time on a short cut through Maine getting from Canada to Canada.
    Mr, Vigue offers to build a few million dollar “Moose Crossings” over or under his highway along its 220- mile route, as for trucker safety, he will need to fence off the pavement for accident prevention when skittish long double trailers and 1,400-pound bull moose cannot wisely share the same space on the pavement at the same time.
    What possible posting of signs could there be to direct the illiterate moose to the nearest provided crossing, which could involve a 20-mile detour for him, when he knows that the Chanel No. 5 of Moosedom is calling him from just the other side of the fenced highway? If he picks the wrong direction he could be in for a 40-mile hike seeking his “love.”
    Moose in heat do not behave as rationally as Mr. Vigue, and if there is a single opening anywhere in the Moose Exclusion Fence design, one or more of those 68,000 of our herd will find it. Suppose a fallen tree has taken down a fence section. Or a spring flood has washed away a creek spanning fence? Will moose find it before the repair crew?
    Any animal of any species [except snakes?] intruding through a broken fence on one side of the highway will be entering a trap, since there is no guarantee of his finding a matching, naturally occurring, exit on the far side where his “date” awaits. Bull moose do not give up easily, if ever! Corralled, Mr. Moose will run back and forth on the roadway seeking access to his Lady, until one of the leviathan trucks (one every 27 seconds) swerves off the roadway in fiery crash avoidance, or runs the moose’s three quarter ton carcass over in a grisly accident.
    There could be as many as a dozen moose at a time trapped in the Vigue highway’s accidentally created corral of misfortune, jealously drawn to the same lure. I witnessed this once on a winter logging road on the eastern shore of Moosehead Lake, back in the 1980s when our truck was blocked by close to a dozen animals using the road ahead. We were going slow enough to stop.
    I suspect that the only practical way to build this roadway would be tunneling deep underground, or as a compromise with traditional Maine tourism, an entirely invisible camouflaged, straight as an arrow sound-proof elevated above antler height no-under-fence roadway. We could also get to our still accessible woodlots on the John Deere without any need for high speed equipment and lengthy detours.
    Mr. Vigue has the expertise to accomplish the latter as his Cianbro Corporation is an expert experienced bridge builder. Maximization of profits for one of our Maine businesses. And construction jobs, jobs, jobs enough to vindicate re-electing Senator Thomas for his unwavering support.

Charles MacArthur

Looking out for at-risk Mainers

To the Editor;
    With all the problems that older adults and challenged individuals in this state face, it is the job of our legislators to protect Maine’s most vulnerable populations. I am fully aware that this is a tough economy, but it is even tougher when one is frail, elderly, alone and in pain. Many seniors in Maine have been watching and are continuing to watch as their hard-earned Social Security benefits are debated over and over again in Washington. Any savings many at-risk Mainers may have had are long-gone in the face of soaring costs for utilities and food.
    In the last 10 years, hunger among older adults has increased by an unbelievable 80 percent. Social Security is the only source of income for one-third of Mainers age 65 and older. Many older Mainers rely upon every dime, every penny, to get them through each month. These are individuals who have no choices. They have nowhere else to turn. The state has alternatives, but these are Maine residents who do not.
    These are the residents who need for their voices to be heard and so I am writing this on their behalf: Please do not cut the Drugs for the Elderly or the Medicare Savings Program. These are the programs upon which many of our most at-risk Mainers rely to stay in their own homes and communities where we know they want to be.

Vanessa McGrath, volunteer
AARP Maine

A response to Maine’s education report card

To the Editor:
    Like all schools in Maine, we have just received our State Report Card. This grade is based solely on Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), a measurement defined by the United States federal No Child Left Behind Act that allows the U.S. Department of Education to determine how every public school and school district in the country is performing academically according to results on standardized tests, and we received a D. Before anyone overreacts to this grade, I ask that you grant me the opportunity to make three key points:
• We were penalized an entire grade because only 93 percent of our juniors took the test. In the past, we have not been subject to AYP’s report card (which includes a mandate that a school will be penalized a full grade if fewer than 95 percent of its juniors take the SAT in May) because we do not receive any federal money. We did not learn until last week — 10 months after 93 percent of our juniors took the test — that Maine’s town academies would suddenly be held to the 95 percent rule. We believe that 100 percent of our juniors should take the SAT each spring, but despite our best efforts this did not happen last year. We do, however, reject the notion that our school’s grade should fall from a C to a D because of a penalty we were not subject to at the time of testing, and we have filed a formal appeal with Maine Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen.
• Even though we actually amassed 280.3 points, which was 55.3 points higher than the minimum C score and just 19.7 points short of a B grade, we accept the fact that our test scores — which were slightly above state average in reading and slightly below in math — need to improve. As role models and life-long learners, we are thankful for the data we’ve received and will draw upon it as we continue to strive to improve our academic performance. Because we are a comprehensive school representing a wide variety of social, economic, and learning-style backgrounds, and we do not select students on the basis of academic achievement or aptitude, we must continue to work hard to improve our students’ test scores across the board. We will continue to promote student proficiency and progress by carrying out initiatives such as working closely with RSU 68 to better align our curriculum and instruction with theirs; working with The Great School’s Partnership as we investigate best practices in teaching reading, writing, and math; and integrating tools of the 21st Century Learner in all of our classrooms.
• As a wealth of research has proven, assessing a school solely on its standardized test performance completely misses the mark. In Tony Wagner’s “The Global Achievement Gap”, which Commissioner Bowen quoted extensively when he was the keynote speaker at our graduation ceremony in 2011, Mr. Wagner argues that schools need to be centered around collaborative project-based learning, and that students need to be creating things rather than memorizing information that, while once scarce, is now readily available at all times. Mr. Bowen actually listed what Wagner calls the “Seven Survival Skills” — critical thinking, collaborating across networks, agility and adaptability, initiative, effective oral and written communication, accessing and analyzing information, and curiosity and imagination — and built an argument that high schools need to focus on developing these skills because they can be applied to any field and their mastery is therefore far more important than the memorization of any particular content (i.e., teaching to a test).
    We believe in Commissioner Bowen’s message, and we also applaud Wagner’s ultimate thesis, which is that all high schools should educate with three goals in mind: preparing students for college, preparing them for the 21st century job market, and preparing them to become informed global citizens. We stand by our record in this regard. 2012 was our most successful college admissions year in recent history, with students receiving acceptance letters to 50 schools ranked in the top 120 of the U.S. News and World Report’s rankings; our partnership with Dexter’s Tri-County Technical Center continues to provide our students with occupational preparation courses such as Commercial Truck Driving, Computer Systems Repair, Criminal Justice, and Health Occupations; and our extensive boarding program and ever-popular International Relations course, which includes a mandatory three-day trip to Maine’s annual Model United Nations conference, are but a few examples of our ongoing push to produce active, informed global citizens. We have also become the first high school in Maine to implement a 1-to-1 iPad initiative, have reinforced our standard-based learning practices by using PowerSchool, and have enhanced our curriculum by giving our talented and creative faculty the freedom to develop more than 30 new elective courses over the past few years, many of which have been designed to create learning environments with real-world application.
    While we see this report card as a way to provide us with additional sources of data as we reflect on our practices, we also believe that what is not represented in the data is the wealth of educational opportunities offered at Foxcroft Academy. We believe more strongly than ever that Foxcroft Academy has been an outstanding high school for the past 190 years, and we will continue to strive to be so.
    If you have any questions or would like to further discuss the school’s grade, please feel free to contact me at 564-8351.

Arnold Shorey,
head of school
Foxcroft Academy

Bozo politics

To the Editor:
    The Justin Alfond led three ring circus continues to produce logic defying acts in full view of the people of Maine. Just when the audience felt they could be confounded no more, the Democrats raise the ante. And a new wave of consternation sweeps across the State of Maine.
    Maine constituents waited for six hours for an opportunity to testify in a hearing on keeping beds available in nursing homes for the elderly. When voters finally had the chance to speak, Democrat Senators Colleen Lachowicz and Margaret Craven donned clown noses in the face of those who were trying to testify. The audience was not amused by the slapstick antics of the Democrats and, justifiably, outrage has erupted from the captive onlookers.
    Both sides of the aisle have called for an investigation into the dance of the buffoons foisted upon the taxpayers of Maine. But into the melee strides the ringmaster, Alfond, who has denied the request for an investigation. Evidently he likes having clowns masquerading as Senators or vice versa. He wants a captive audience to give a front row seat to his little side shows and novelty acts.
    Mr. Alfond would be wise to heed the growing angst Maine people are expressing against his campaign of false advertising. You see people believed the sign entitled “Legislative Hearing” Alfond had taped over “Alfond’s Vaudeville and Hijinks Bazaar” and were expecting adults that would listen to the concerns other adults on issues concerning our most vulnerable; instead, they were treated to a revue of comediennes battling it out for juvenile attention.
    Justin Alfond has presided over what may be the worst and most poorly managed legislative session in the history of the State of Maine. He has refused to allow debate, fixated on attacking the Governor, embarrassed the people of Maine, and passed laws on the petty and nonsensical. Democrats should expect to see a precipitous drop in ticket sales to these novelty acts they parade as legislation come next election. The only question left for Maine people is when will the ringmaster Justin Alfond lead out the bearded lady and the three-headed snake?

Andy Torbett

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