I am writing in support of “Maine Voices: Article downplays impact of tech skills gap” (July 7), Michael Dubyak’s and James Page’s response to the article “High-tech hopes … Low-skill reality” (June 23).

As a member of the Board of Directors of Educate Maine, I have been excited and energized by “the hope and promise” of Project>Login.

Based on data about job gaps in the Maine economy, this project to build the state’s IT work force is gaining traction and champions.

Project>Login supports a major goal of the Maine Community Foundation’s new Plan for the Future: achieving greater levels of post-secondary education and skills attainment.

All are important to our vision for a brighter future for Maine people in tying educational achievement to economic gains, namely, job creation.

Dubyak and Page note that the shortfall in the IT work force is a national issue. In this regard, we are joining forces with initiatives across the country to address this problem.

I point to what Jamie P. Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation, wrote in his introduction to the report “A Stronger Nation through Higher Education”: “We can’t expect our citizens to meet the demands of the 21st century economy and society without a 21st century education. Americans need an education that imparts rigorous, relevant learning — an education that provides the tools that are necessary to thrive in the face of rapid, inevitable change. In short, our citizens need high-quality, credentialed, college-level learning — and they need it in greater numbers than ever before.”

There is an urgency in Merisotis’ statement that resonates with the educators and businesspeople who are supporting Project>Login.

We hope the Portland Press Herald will recognized our call to action and be able to cover the project’s progress.

Meredith Jones

president and CEO, Maine Community Foundation

Portland

In response to “High-tech hopes … Low-skill reality” (June 23), I’d offer a less bleak perspective.

Maine is home to great companies and great people who work every day to make a difference in the lives of others, usually the customers their employers serve, the families who rely on them, or the communities who benefit from thriving small and large businesses.

Idexx Laboratories, with our promise to keep animals healthy and milk and water safe, is proud of the impact that we have on Maine’s economy, and we recognize the value of a diverse work force. Indeed, Idexx is reflective of Maine, offering career paths in dozens of areas, each of which is critical to the overall success of the company by supporting the achievements of one another.

We also support initiatives that recognize particular promise in improving the economy in key growth areas. Project>Login, which aims to expand Maine’s science, technology, engineering and math educational opportunities, is one such program.

One need look no further than Idexx for proof that demand for people with the advanced skills that a STEM education develops is anything but anecdotal.

We want to hire people from Maine for the jobs that are available in Maine because we believe that these are the candidates who will be most fully invested in our community, future and growth. And, with more than 100 high-tech jobs currently unfilled at Idexx — and more to come — we represent the real and growing need to provide Maine students with greater access to a STEM education.

This is reinforced by the fact that we are reminded time and again that we are competing with other Maine businesses for the same high-tech talent.

That, to me, represents great opportunity in Maine. I applaud my colleagues at other Maine businesses, the University of Maine System and Educate Maine for their visionary and collaborative efforts to close the STEM skill gap in Maine. Together, we will make Maine an even better place to live and work.

Jonathan Ayers

chairman and CEO, Idexx Laboratories

Portland

As a major employer, health care system and user of advanced information systems technology, Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems was pleased to be one of the founding members of Maine’s Project > Login.

Recent articles in the Telegram seemed to question the success of public-private initiatives focused on drawing students into computer sciences education and careers in Maine. I can speak from personal experience that Project>Login is delivering to EMHS exactly what we needed.

To date, EMHS has had eight interns, two of whom were not eligible for employment since they were in Maine on foreign visas specific to education. Of the six remaining, two have been employed by EMHS, two are staying in touch as they complete their education and two have left the area.

Of the two we employed, both are performing tasks critical to our clinical and business information systems. An intern we have this year is seeking medical school in the future, and we hope to attract this individual someday to return as a physician champion for the pioneering functions we are building in clinical computer systems.

In addition, Project>Login has given EMHS the opportunity to go into middle schools and college-level job fairs to educate students regarding not only computer sciences, but also the myriad of other health-related careers they can pursue with a good education. These are good-paying jobs and contribute directly as well as indirectly to improving Maine’s economy.

EMHS is pleased to have played a formative role in Project>Login, and we intend to continue our involvement in the future — for our own interests and the interests of all Maine businesses.

M. Michelle Hood, FACHE

president and CEO, Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems

Brewer

Don’t criticize Sen. Katz for what needed to be said

David Alexander is displeased with Sen. Roger Katz’s recent critique of Gov. LePage’s behavior (“Letters to the editor: State senator not the saint depicted in Nemitz column,” July 7). I’ve scoured Scripture and was hapless to find the sinfulness in passing out campaign buttons at a public event. Apparently, God doesn’t fret buttons.

Recently, at a pricey Bush-backed cocktail convergence in Kennebunkport (Sen. Susan Collins and former Sen. Olympia Snowe sent regrets), LePage announced his bid for re-election. I’ve seen enough, and hasn’t Maine had enough?

Maine Republicans need to take a deep breath and ask themselves; “Why? For what possible purpose?” To continue this bizarre sideshow? This fodder for late-night comedians? This hurt inflicted by soulless draconian policy?

Most Mainers are rightfully embarrassed by the disparaging discourse emanating from the Blaine House, while across the street, rational legislators from both parties pull together to right our ship. Maine’s compass is off course. Fetch the plank! Captain Queeg’s gotta go, mateys.

Not surprisingly, Roger Katz is my friend. I’ve never had a truer one. I’ve worked proudly on each of his efforts to seek public office.

We occasionally have breakfast or a brewski to compare notes. I’ve sensed his frustration. He hasn’t verbalized it — and need not.

I was hardly surprised when he courageously stepped up to publicly proclaim what most everyone is merely thinking. I’ve worn those shoes. When folks surreptitiously whisper “Good job!” or “Nice editorial!” in supermarket aisles — why whisper? Speak up!

As a Gardiner resident, I’ve not yet been able to cast a single vote for Roger Katz as Augusta’s mayor or District 24’s state senator.

I do not know a finer man or a fairer person (except my wife). Nor do I believe Maine’s ever had — including all those former leaders respectfully cited in his op-ed column — a more fiercely dedicated and multilaterally considerate public servant.

Buddy Doyle

Gardiner

Carrying AR-15 rifle fine, but don’t puff on that cigar

In regard to “Public space smokers pay a price” (July 9), let me see if I have this correctly.

If I sit down on a bench in Tommy’s Park smoking a cigar with an AR-15 rifle on my lap I will get a ticket, not for the gun, but for the cigar.

My Partaga is a danger to the public.

If I were more of an activist I would love to give that a try, if for nothing more than to actually see the ridiculousness of this in action.

Peyton Higgison

Brunswick