Sunday, December 8, 2013
I am writing in reference to Noel Gallagher's Aug. 16 story"Portland charter school denied occupancy approval."
Baxter Academy, a charter school located on York Street in Portland, is scheduled to open Sept. 4.
Staff file photo
Inspections of older buildings undergoing renovation are challenging, and Baxter Academy has proceeded on a conservative path to ensure that the required permitting gets done. We will soon welcome more than 130 students from 35 cities and towns. Their safety and well-being are of utmost concern to us.
Ms. Gallagher's article is factually accurate but lacks context. I believe it is alarmist. Portland's three commercial television stations and MPBN contacted me within an hour of the Portland Press Herald's online release of the story. It is standard in school construction to do sequential checks to ensure that the school will be safe.
I have been at Baxter daily since May and have observed the skilled craftsmen who are working to transform this 150-year-old building into a 21st-century schoolhouse. Project supervisor Dan LaBrie, a senior vice president at Rufus Deering, has closely monitored the renovation every step of the way. How fortunate we have been to have such skilled and committed people supporting us in this effort. Safety and adherence to code have been at the forefront of every discussion. After months of being the focus of much public discussion, Baxter will soon be ready to deliver a compelling, standards-based STEM curriculum. We have assembled a remarkable cohort of highly experienced and skillful teachers. Creating a school -- with a strong parent community, a committed and wise board, a dynamic faculty and students who have chosen to attend -- is the dream of many educators. Going forward, the good work of our students and teachers will speak for us.
Baxter Academy will open on Sept. 4.
executive director, Baxter Academy
Portland and Moody Neck
Portland Pipe Line must share its contingency plan
In his Aug. 12 Maine Voices article ("Pipeline company's stellar record speaks louder than tar sands oil foes"), Jeff Leary offers praise of Portland Pipe Line's record of safety and generosity and its long history of service. I would like to second this. There is no doubt it has provided meaningful jobs over its 70-plus years. I would add that I have experienced that generosity as a board member of the Portland Harbor Museum at SMCC.
But I would add another point. The company has had an exemplary safety record. But as anyone who has ever tossed a coin knows, 10 or 30 heads are no guarantee that the next toss will be another head. In public safety, thorough contingency plans are always necessary.
Accidents do occur to the best of companies. There is no "fear mongering" in this. If you add together the age of the pipeline, its present route through a critical environment like Sebago Lake and potential damage from tar sands oil, you have a case for real public concern -- even fear.
But citizens of the region have the right to expect great transparency in planning for the risks.
• Where will contingency plans be publicly posted?
• Who will be the forces immediately available to respond?
• How will they be trained and by whom?
• Will there be periodic drills to practice the necessary procedures?
• What kinds of special equipment will be needed?
• What efforts are being taken to enlist federal and state aid?
Plans of this sort will be expensive. But they would be cheap relative to the loss of our region's water supply.
Portland Pipe Line is a fine company. But I think we must require nothing less than comprehensive planning. Unsupported trust is not enough. We need to see the plans created with real public input.
Medical charges, physician pay should be made uniform
Why are doctor and hospital charges so different in the same community, in the same state, in the same city, in the same region, urban or rural?
The reason is the U.S. government does not have the power to set them at a fair rate.
But the near universality of electronic medical records may now make it possible. The U.S. government is giving physicians money to buy these systems.
Every M.D., D.O. and dentist has a Medicare number and can be identified. They can be identified by their specialty and by their "college" such as surgery, medicine, etc.
The Internal Revenue Service knows how much each doctor charges annually, and each hospital for each operation. Each hospital knows its own charges, and they are known by the federal government.
All physicians, doctors and dentists should be salaried.
If all hospitals and doctors were paid their fair share, most of them should be happy. If not, they might not think they deserve it. Let their colleagues decide.
Reader unhappy with ban on beach metal detectors
Lost your wedding ring or car keys at Willard Beach lately?
Too bad. Now they belong to the city of South Portland, under whose directive visitors cannot use metal detectors on the beach.
Our fine staff of lifeguards has better things to do than ruin any person's visit to the beach in this way. And mine, as it is painful to see these nice people enjoying their hobby, only to be chased off the beach.