I was pleased to read the Maine Sunday Telegram’s editorial endorsing Maine’s application for federal early education funding (“Federal early childhood grant is a ‘race’ worth winning,” Aug. 21), and even more pleased to read that Gov. LePage and Education Commissioner Steve Bowen are on board with this effort.

A growing number of community leaders understand the value and return on investment of high-quality early education programs.

Unfortunately, too many youngsters miss out on these opportunities.

There are only a handful of public preschool programs in the Portland area. In the bigger picture, county jails here in Maine are filled with offenders who have minimal education or never finished high school. They struggle to hold down steady jobs and stay within law-abiding norms.

Research backs up what Maine law enforcement recognizes to be true: Giving young children the right start in life is a crime prevention strategy.

High-quality early education programs like pre-kindergarten can help kick-start a virtuous circle of academic success by improving early learning and social development skills. This helps steer individuals away from crime and high-risk behavior and toward productive lives.

For these reasons, I believe that expanding early childhood education will help improve public safety in Maine and reduce expensive criminal justice costs. I wish policymakers the best of luck as they pursue funding to help more children get this early boost to their education.

Kevin Joyce

Cumberland County sheriff


New Chargers, old Crown Vics could solve state police needs

It is reported that the Maine State Police, with some hesitation, has committed to the purchase of a new fleet of Ford police interceptors.

The problem with the old Ford Crown Victoria is that it is no longer being manufactured by Ford, and the problem with the new Ford interceptor is that it is an unproven platform, likely to cause problems.

I’d like to suggest to the state police that they consider Dodge Charger police cruisers, which are already in service in many departments, and which have been well reviewed by the Michigan State Police, which conducts exhaustive tests of all police models.

In addition, it might be cost-effective, in these tough economic times, to keep the old Crown Victoria units in service. They are reportedly well liked and have a proven track record.

Old does not necessarily mean obsolete or unserviceable. If there is a mandatory retirement age for police cruisers, perhaps that age needs to be bumped back a bit.

The Crown Victoria, like many of us, finds itself still in service, and perhaps that’s not such a bad thing.

Henry Smith


Blueberry industry boosted from writer’s stint as raker

How wonderful to see the Maine wild blueberry industry get front-page coverage with Ray Routhier’s stint as a raker on the Union barrens (“Raking Maine’s wild low-bush blueberries by hand proves no easy feat,” Aug. 22).

I began raking the blueberry barrens in 1967 in Waldo County at age 10, earning 50 cents a half-bushel basket. As a schoolteacher in southern Maine, I now educate children on this multimillion-dollar trade.

Students learn the difference between wild and cultivated blueberries, handle a blueberry rake, and engage in map activities to gain knowledge on where wild blueberries are commercially harvested.

Along with the income (a perk not given for equally demanding work on the farms many of us came from), raking time was social time and was eagerly anticipated. Boys to flirt with, girls to traverse the teen years with, lunchtime water fights, gossip and sharing of stories — the barrens of rural Maine served as the arcades, rollerskating rinks and beaches of the more affluent and populated teen hangouts of the southern counties.

My fellow rakers, now in their 50s and 60s, smile as our children and grandchildren quizzically hear stories of riding the rough roads of a barren in an open cattle truck with 20 or more workers.

To add to your educational piece by Routhier, your readers might like to know that the strung sections of a barren are known as a “ric.” To receive a “good ric” was to be appointed a lush section of field, thus increasing your chances of a higher income. The field boss would walk the barren to see that you did a good job of “cleaning up your ric.”

Mr. Routhier should proudly show off his blistered hands after his day of raking. If his blisters are big, they would be a telltale status symbol of just what caliber of raker he was.

Lucy Hardy


Want local post office? ‘Pony up’ its full cost

The Postal Service is considering doing something “businesslike” and wants to close 34 post offices across Maine because the annual income from these locations is less than what it costs to operate them.

Next comes the long line of affected patrons and municipalities with tales of woe about how much the loss of a post office will hurt them. They will soon be followed by another line of state and federal politicians, pleading the case of their particular constituency. These politicians, of course, are the same ones who call for governmental agencies to act like a “business,” and, when they attempt to do that, the same politicians cry “foul.”

Here is my solution as to how these locations can keep their post office open — pay the Postal Service the difference between what a particular post office brings in for revenue and what it costs to keep it open.

I call this the “pony up” system for post office retention. Let’s give it a try.

Brian Callahan


Waterville’s taxes rose due to lack of investment

I write in response to “For Republicans in Waterville, LePage leaves big hole” (Aug. 21), in which a Waterville Republican notes that taxes went up as soon as LePage left his post as city mayor. Indeed, they had to.

Under LePage’s leadership, the city of Waterville allowed its police station to become unsafe and obsolete, its public works fleet to grow shopworn, its airport to all but fade away, and too many streets left buckled and unsafe for too long.

Defer, defer, defer. If there’s a big hole, here is how we fell into it and why Waterville’s new mayor and new mix of city councilors finally had to deal with it. Governing on the cheap is a nice card to play on the road to the State House, but it left Waterville, which after all this time still has no development plan, a decade behind.

Now, we’re catching up. I’m grateful that new voices are being heard in town — Republicans, Democrats, the unenrolled and many who were previously too intimidated to speak — and that many of us are pushing for improvements that require paying as you go.

George Myers Jr.

City councilor, Ward 2


Resources available to aid with end-of-life issues

Your stories about the late Norman Morse’s end-of-life quandary raise a question many of us think about: As I approach the end of my life, how can I achieve a death that is peaceful, painless and in the surroundings I choose?

We cannot control all the circumstances of our death, but if we make plans, have honest conversations with our loved ones and get the proper support, we make it more likely our wishes will be known and respected.

Legal options for peaceful dying are available in every state. We should all talk to our loved ones and our doctors about our wishes.To learn more about the options and what is specifically available here in Maine, contact the End-of-Life Consultation program at the Compassion and Choices site, www.compassionandchoices.org.

As Americans, each of us is free to define what constitutes a good death, and no one must suffer needlessly.

Donald Melville