I recently visited Fort Knox just outside of Bucksport. This was the first time in 15 years. At the original visit, the fort was decaying, leaking and a barely safe structure that was slowly falling apart due to neglect. On this recent visit, there was a gate guard, a nice parking area, a visitor center, tour guides, repaired brickwork, cut grass, and information signs everywhere.

Why can’t Fort Gorges, the Civil War-era fort in Portland Harbor, be the same way? Fort Gorges is the premier granite fort on the East Coast. Its importance to the nation through the years far surpasses that of Fort Knox, yet it sits in the harbor slowly decaying.

Does anybody remember Union Station? Reading the Fort Knox brochure and newsletter, it appears a grant was obtained from the state of Maine and when combined with the work of civilian volunteers brought the fort back from ruin.

Today the fort sees more than 8,000 visitors a year, creating an income of more than $225,000. With the increased visibility of Fort Gorges as well as added accessibility, we could easily surpass that.

Rehabilitating the fort would take time and a lot of effort, but it would also create jobs for brick masons, electricians, carpenters, and contractors as well as tour guides and boat operators. Imagine the destination Portland could become for history buffs and tourists from around the country who would come to see the fort and the surrounding area.

They will come, stay and spend money. Repair it and they will come.

Tom Stonehouse

Alfred

Brazil’s energy independence comes from its oil reserves

To add to Randall Parr’s Maine Voices column of Aug. 24, Brazil is oil-independent because of its own oil and not because of ethanol. On April 21, 2006, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, his hands covered with crude and posing for the photographers, declared Brazil oil-independent while standing on an oil rig 250 kilometers off the coast of Brazil in the Altantic.

Brazil’s oil production as of late 2009 exceeded consumption. Brazil’s proven reserves are the second largest in South America after Venezuela.

Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil’s state-owned oil company, reported in 2009 it had found a deep water offshore oil field that holds between 1.5 billion to 2 billion barrels of oil. Production is to start in 2012 with 50,000 barrels per day.

Petrobras will spend $174.4 billion over the next five years to more than double Brazil’s oil production. Brazil will become an exporter of oil. Some oil analysts believe there may be as much as 110 billion barrels of oil off the coast of Brazil.

A better alternative than ethanol for the United States is natural gas. It’s cheaper and cleaner, and we have a lot of it.

Dean Dakin

Portland

Donations made difference to help Buxton firefighters

Buxton Fire and Rescue would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who donated to our boot drive at the intersection of routes 112 and 202 on July 26 during Buxton Community Days.

The money collected has helped to purchase a ISG Elite XR Thermal Imager. This Imager will be used during a fire to look for people who may not be able to get out on their own.

The department’s goal is to purchase two more imagers. This will put an imager at each fire station in Buxton. We appreciate all the help.

Bruce Mullen

Chief, Buxton Fire and Rescue

Buxton

It was good to hear defense of mosque from Ron Paul

I am an unabashed “liberal” in the sense that I am an unreconstructed Democrat raised at the altar of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

I read with interest a recent blog posted by libertarian-conservative Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, titled: “Sunshine patriots, stop your demagoguery about the NYC Mosque.”

Paul’s statement is certainly a call to reason. More importantly, this blog by someone with whom I disagree on so many issues is a reminder, at least to me, of the danger of assuming that all people associated with a particular movement are in lock-step with each other on all issues. In this instance I am happy to say that I agree fully with Ron Paul.

In a graduate-school political science course, we learned of the stability in the body politic fostered by so-called “cross-cutting cleavages” — the notion that some people would agree with some people on some issues, and with others on other issues.

This free development and fluctuation of alliances would prevent polarization of the body politic into perpetually warring sides, a status in which little in the way of constructive results could be accomplished and where the unity of the “elites” on fundamental issues, so necessary to a stable democratic society, would fail to materialize.

The reversal of the trend toward polarization in the United States would require a restoration of the quaint notion that “half a loaf is better than none.” I don’t know where we went off track on that one.

But, for those of us in the moderate and liberal camp, reading with respect and understanding the positions of someone like Ron Paul might be one small step toward recovering our national footing.

Daniel E. Harris

Boothbay

Critics of Iraq, Afghan wars deserve to be heard by Obama

I would like to express my appreciation to World War II veteran Donald Murchie of Brunswick and to Norman Abelson of Moody for their wonderful letters to this newspaper Aug. 17. Both express so succinctly the opinion of millions of us who protested from the outset our incursion into Iraq, via the “shock and awe” war, when ignorance and stupidity knew no bounds.

Though we were not in the majority, we deserved to be listened to but were paid no heed. And we slid into Afghanistan to “defend America.” Who among us would tolerate Afghanistani forces in our country to “straighten us out” with a similar level of slaughter and destruction resulting from our military presence there?

Why are we so thick-headed and unteachable? So many lives, limbs, sight and minds gone; families in trauma; and our money, so sorely needed at home, bleeding away abroad. I want us out of Afghanistan and let us not dare to call it “victory.”

I am sending both these men’s letters to President Obama on the far-out chance they will be read and have their influence on decision-making. One never knows.

Loretta MacKinnon

Yarmouth