I just read Kelley Bouchard’s story on the new Alzheimer’s plan (“Maine plan takes action to address Alzheimer’s,” March 15).

This issue really hits home for my family, as we just lost our 86-year-old father on March 3 to Alzheimer’s/dementia. Of course, with this disease you actually lose your loved one twice — first as their personality slowly fades away over time and then they physically leave this earth.

It was a six-year journey for our family as the disease progressed, moving my parents from their longtime home in Bangor to a semi-assisted living in Portland and then moving my father to a locked Alzheimer’s assisted-living facility and finally a rehab/nursing home facility.

There were unbelievable challenges and obstacles along the way, and there is so much that people need to know when their loved ones are diagnosed. Unfortunately, there is no road map to follow. The learning curve is enormous. Each journey is distinct.

Hopefully, this plan will create an environment that helps families prepare for and manage this disease and further educate the medical community in order to help families and caregivers effectively deal with the challenges of this disease.

Like cancer and heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease is an increasingly urgent issue that is in need of attention, especially here in Maine, where we have one of the oldest populations in the country.

Thank you for bringing attention to this topic.

Peggy Leonard Markson

Orono

Sprayed along old rail line, pesticides affect trail, water

At a time when cancer rates in Maine are very high and wildlife shows damage and population losses due in part to chemical exposure, it seems wise to decrease the use of pesticides and herbicides.

Therefore, I support L.D. 920, “An Act to Prohibit Herbicide Spraying on Abandoned Railroad Lines.”

Not only does the out-of-use Mountain Division rail line cross the southern end of Sebago Lake (Greater Portland’s water supply), it also crosses the Presumpscot River as it heads toward Casco Bay.

The popular Mountain Division Trail runs alongside the rails for 10 of the 52 miles of the Maine route. Dogs, children and adults of all descriptions use this trail on bikes, strollers, wheelchairs, skis, snowshoes and afoot.

The spraying done by the Maine Department of Transportation is to keep the vegetation from injuring the rail-bed. The tracks have not seen train use for 30 years. It is to be expected that restoring train service would require major upgrades to the rail bed. The presence of weeds growing in the rail bed would not slow restoration.

Why should the state spend our money spraying the rail line for whatever future use, adding to the destructive, unhealthy use of herbicides close to recreational areas and important bodies of water?

Judy Curtis

Gorham

We are daily deluged with news describing the insidious effects of toxic chemicals on our environment, our economy and our health. Today, the state of Maine is using poisonous pesticides in an area where families have been encouraged to bring their children for recreation: the Mountain Division Trail in Windham, Gorham, Standish and Fryeburg.

The Maine Department of Transportation sprays the abandoned rail line that borders the trail. This defies common sense since this action puts our children’s health at risk. Pesticides have been shown to be associated with cancer, reproductive problems and learning disabilities.

At the same time, the state is using thousands of scarce state dollars to kill weeds on a rail line that has no definite plan for ever being used again! If it were to be used in the future, extensive reparation would be required, such that a few weeds should provide no great impediment.

I urge the public to join me in taking a stand to stop the state’s unsafe and wasteful use of pesticides by supporting L.D. 920, “An Act to Prohibit Herbicide Spraying on Abandoned Railroad Lines.”

To voice your support, call state Sen. Ed Mazurek, Senate chairman of the Transportation Committee, at 594-5647, or state Rep. Ken Theriault, House chairman of the Transportation Committee, at 728-4526.

Linda Webb

Gorham

Penny-pinching approach bad pick by lottery officials

As the architect of one of the greatest double-entendre brand names in history, I was appalled reading Bill Nemitz’s column about the Kwikie lottery game (” ‘Kwikie’ becomes late scratch,” March 20).

The head of the bureau that oversees branding for the state’s lottery was quoted as saying they knew they were going to do something provocative. In other words, excite the senses of “Kwikie” patrons.

At the same time, lottery officials were going to gamble that their double-entendres related to promoting “Kwikies” would not be offensive. Yes, this is, in fact, high-stakes marketing.

Here is where the state leaders failed miserably. When you incorporate a double-entendre strategy into your branding plan, you must always work up from the lowest common denominator — in other words, the least sophisticated level of taste. Lottery heads worked from the excitement of the ‘Kwikie” name down.

The bureau leading the charge said it did not want to spend $100,000 to $200,000 on professional marketers to do what they felt they could do in-house.

Because of that decision, the lottery now has no overarching brand, has a world full of bad publicity and has lost the past six months of branding efforts — to say nothing about questionable resource allocation.

There is a reason why successful branding experts carry the rates we do. I hope that going forward, lottery officials will consider professional branding consultants.

Double-entendre branding is much more of a science than an art. Lesson here: When you roll the dice on a provocative brand, make it a calculated risk.

While the “Kwikie” brand seemed like a kwik fix, the truth is that it was not well reasoned. Successful branding can lead to long-lasting brands. The “Kwikie” brand should go away as kwik as it came.

Kaile Warren

founder, Rent-A-Husband

Windham