I am compelled to write in response to the tragic death of Nathan Bihlmaier.

First and foremost, my sincere condolences to his family and friends. I truly do understand your pain. You see, five years ago, I lost my 22-year-old son. After a night of drinking in the Old Port, he died from a severe closed head injury from a fall.

I am not writing to place blame on any one person or establishment. This can and does happen in other cities. It is not solely an “Old Port” problem.

I’m writing in hopes that these kinds of deaths don’t happen again. It’s not enough to educate about the dangers of drinking too much. Young and old will continue to do this, no matter what we as friends or family say or do.

I’m not saying we should not teach about the dangers, because it does have an effect on many people. What I am saying is that we as a community and a society must use some common sense.

Does it make sense to send an inebriated person on his way to who knows where from any establishment? I am not saying the staff at Ri Ra did the wrong thing. Nobody knows that yet. I’m sure they are second-guessing everything that happened that night.

Nobody could have foreseen this, but we can and should do all we can to prevent it from happening again. I don’t have all the answers, but I’d like us to try to find some way to prevent these deaths.

Patti Campbell

Portland

Nathan Bihlmaier’s untimely death is a tragic loss to his family and society at large. Sadly, he is not the first Old Port celebrant to stumble into the Atlantic and lose his life.

Here’s a thought. Instead of asking inebriates to leave an establishment, what if, as policy, bars called a cab for the patron’s safe journey home?

Bars could keep a small fund designated for this purpose, a worthwhile gesture conveying concern for their customers, and customers could contribute to the fund. Are we not all our brothers’ keepers?

Mary Dionne

Augusta

I agree wholeheartedly with Bill Nemitz’s questioning of what responsibility we all hold for someone who is drunk on the street or in a bar (“Where does responsibility for drunken patron end?,” May 23).

Why not stop serving someone in a bar or restaurant before they have to be removed? Why not ask whoever is with the person, if that person is not inebriated, to take responsibility to escort them home?

Why not call a cab? Why not do as the liquor law states and try to contain the person until they are sobered up?

I know the easy answer is — that everyone is short-staffed these days, the Old Port attracts and has lots of inebriated patrons, etc., etc. Many of the negative issues that impact the Old Port could be addressed, however, if these steps were taken. If someone fell ill of other causes, we would help them — wouldn’t we?

We all have personal responsibility not to drink to the point of inebriation, but we are all human and we all make mistakes. What happens then? I think it’s something to start talking about.

I also think that people have to be more careful and stop thinking that they are invincible — but I see this as a particularly tragic wiring in the young human male — something that I constantly try to drill into my own two teenage boys with little success.

Kerry Hadley

Owls Head

Residents of SAD 6 urged to comment on budget cuts

On Thursday, at Bonny Eagle Middle School, the residents of School Administrative District 6 will have the chance to let the school board know their feelings about the 2012-2013 school budget. They will have the final say to amend and change the proposed budget before it goes to the ballot box for approval June 12.

The board voted May 7 to eliminate five teaching positions, not including two lost through retirements. It also agreed to reduce three teaching positions from full-time to half-time and one from full-time to 60 percent.

Among the five teaching positions cut, they are discontinuing fifth-grade band, SAT Prep and the alternative education BOOST program. The board also voted to eliminate 25 support positions and to reduce four positions to half-time.

These cuts to education staff who have direct contact with students are regrettable, considering that before Buxton Center Elementary School opened, the district had 12 buildings where students were in attendance.

Once the Buxton Center school opened, three of the buildings became vacant. Yet the district did not reduce then, nor is it contemplating reducing any administrators now, in spite of eliminating five teaching positions last year and the proposed cuts of 36 full-time equivalent employees.

To ensure full disclosure, I am a teacher at Bonny Eagle High School, president of the Saco Valley Teachers’ Association and a resident of Hollis. It is extremely important that the voters’ voices are heard Thursday at Bonny Eagle Middle School.

Neal Flynn

Hollis Center

Politically correct fretting targets paper’s comic pages

Picture a Friday morning (May 18). I am sitting on my porch. I am reading Voice of the People in the Press Herald and see “Dump Dennis the Menace for more relevant cartoon.”

I read on to find that someone is offended by a cartoon depicting a husband who apparently doesn’t cook very well and decides to take the family out to celebrate Mother’s Day. This image is said to be outdated and obviously (my words) politically incorrect.

After some thought and consideration, I found the author of the letter had a point. While I do not have suitable replacements in mind, allow me to add some others that might be replaced because they contain outdated ideas or concepts that could unduly influence a child who reads them.

I read “Beetle Bailey” daily, and it is surely inappropriate for Sgt. Snorkel to physically abuse Pvt. Bailey the way he so often does. This, too, is outdated, and today’s U.S. military does not tolerate such actions.

Then there is the case of a relatively new cartoon, “Pickles.” Recently the strip depicted the elderly Earl explain to, not only his wife, but also to his young, impressionable grandson that the couch had grabbed him and was forcibly holding him down and preventing him from doing yardwork.

Surely, indicating to a child that it is all right to be a couch potato is an outdated idea. Certainly there is no room for humor when obesity is such a problem. OMG!

Have we lost our sense of humor, and has political correctness run amok?

George I. Wescott Jr.

Freeport