As a Harpswell resident, I noted with sympathy the concerns about conditions at the Harpswell Islands School raised by a group of parents at a recent meeting of the MSAD 75 board of directors.

I strongly support the decision to provide additional administrative resources to HIS in response. Fortunately, the citizens of Harpswell rejected the board’s recommendation to begin busing West Harpswell School students to HIS next fall.

Keeping both Harpswell elementary schools open for the 2010-2011 academic year will allow school administrators to address the parents’ concerns without the added pressures of integrating two separate student social networks.

Local population dynamics suggest that in the medium term, the Harpswell community will be best served by consolidating its primary schools.

However, a successful consolidation will require careful planning and preparation to ensure that a single Harpswell primary school provides modern facilities to all Harpswell children and is located as nearly equally accessible to all Harpswell families as our geography permits, to allow parents to participate actively in their children’s education.

As a citizen and taxpayer, I am deeply upset by the preliminary vote last week to close WHS, despite the lack of fall 2010 enrollment figures or new-home construction and household membership information.

The board has scheduled its vote on the WHS closure at today’s meeting. Without a resolution of the issues at HIS, this decision can hardly be justified as being in the best educational interests of the students at either school. Instead, it appears to be a heedless rush to force on the community a board decision that was rejected by Harpswell voters exactly three months ago.

I strongly urge the board to reconsider. Neither the Harpswell community nor MSAD 75 will benefit from further polarization and ill-feeling.

working together with the Harpswell selectmen, the parents and citizens of Harpswell, we can find a mutually satisfactory solution that will better serve our community.

Dorothy J. Rosenberg

Harpswell

South Portland picks up its parks, but not Portland

Recently we had a beautiful day to take our grandchildren for a visit to Deering Oaks. We walked through the park and fed the ducks in the pond.

But our visit would have been so much better without all the trash on the ground in all parts of the park.

We had a different experience in a South Portland playground earlier in the day. The enclosed playground and surrounding area were very clean.

A city truck came with two men who had grabbers to pick up trash. They emptied the trash can (yes, they have trash cans) and searched for litter. The man thanked me for pointing out a plastic spoon sticking up from the mulch. The man told us that they clean the parks three times a week.

I realize that spring cleanup may not have been completed at Deering Oaks, but this is not a new problem. It has bothered us for several years in all seasons of the year. I once counted four dirty diapers in the playground area. It’s really disgusting that people throw their trash on the ground, but it is the city’s duty to clean it up.

It’s too bad that this Portland treasure cannot be better maintained for residents and visitors.

And thank you to South Portland.

Karen and John Ellis

South Paris

Hydrogen is future’s fuel, and the present’s as well

 

In 2008, the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad Corp., in conjunction with the Department of the Army, developed a hydrogen-electric railroad engine. It was successfully demonstrated on their tracks in Topeka, Kan.

Just recently, Boeing, in conjunction with the Army, successfully developed a single-seat, propeller-driven hydrogen-electric airplane. In my opinion, the next generation of remotely controlled military reconnaissance drones will be driven by hydrogen.

Maybe the Army does not believe that our supplies of oil are sufficient in the event of war. In Germany and Japan, they are turning out hydrogen-electric cars, buses and small trucks. They can no longer depend on oil for transportation.

We need to develop hydrogen fuel for our future transportation needs. We need an independent source of energy. As reported in The Portland Press Herald, there is a current opportunity to begin the production of hydrogen fuel cells at Sparhawk Mill in Yarmouth. Using wastewater and electric generating capacity at the mill, hydrogen fuel cells could be produced economically at the site, thus providing employment for many people. Perhaps the newly selected candidates for governor will offer to support this effort financially.

Finally, we need an alternate source of energy for good old capitalist competition. Big Oil has become a monopoly and it needs to have a competitor in the marketplace.

Herbert W. Twiddy

Yarmouth

Dream may be utopian, but still is worthy goal

When my feet are firmly planted in mid-air, I dream of a utopian democratic political system in which a broad-based citizenry possesses the political freedom to elect and oust governments, and become architects of the laws under which they live.

I dream that citizens are committed to obeying the law because it was legitimately made, and not whether it perfectly mirrors their own ideas, values and beliefs.

I dream that those who oppose the law are included in the system and possess the freedom to organize, march, speak, write, or, if possessed with a burning sense of injustice, engage in peaceful civil disobedience to alter it.

I dream, too, that political equality and the sovereign voice of the people are not negated by the power of wealth, and that the jewel of free speech is not hobbled by fear and intimidation and confined in content to that which some find to be non-offensive in nature i.e., compatible with their own views

I dream that dissenting individuals and groups are not politically marginalized if they voice unpopular or unorthodox views, that their voices and writings are not silenced, their social status shattered, or their lives and property threatened.

Yes, there is even a place in this utopia for “true believers” from the “left” or “right” for whom all definitions are in and nothing remains to be discussed, and for whom tolerance is a negative value that simply permits the existence of evil.

This preface to my political Shangri-La reveals individuals engaged in rational discourse and constructive criticism, who project a demeanor of civility, and who are committed to a genuine effort to avoid demagoguery.

Back to Earth and the task of closing the political chasm between the dream and the reality, and of securing this most promising political model for governing and resolving political differences.

Charles A. Scontras

Cape Elizabeth