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March 17, 2013

2013 File Photo/Gabe Souza

Fifth-generation dairy farmer Libby Bleakney runs Highland Farms in Cornish with her family.

Letters to the editor: Dairy farmers face thankless task

I am in tears over the front page of March 10 ("Maine's dairy farms in twilight").

As a boarding school student at Northfield Mount Hermon in Massachusetts in the 1970s, I chose to do my work-study off campus at a local dairy farm, when other students chose to be candy stripers at the local hospital or work at a law firm.

Every morning, I rode my three-speed bike in the dark to my "job," to be greeted by a hot mug of coffee and homemade toast at my station in the milking parlor after herding the first group of cows in.

I chose to explore the local farm after studying about my school's agricultural heritage and learning that once upon a time there was a dairy operation on campus, which had eventually been phased out.

I loved the life so much that I enrolled in the agriculture technology program at the University of Maine upon returning to my home state. After graduating from the university, I went to work at a large dairy farm operated by a veterinarian just over the border in North Conway, N.H.

I have followed the demise of the dairy industry in Maine, and the lack of support for family farms is devastating. It is a rigorously scheduled life. The lack of return on time invested alone makes it the most thankless job, never mind the rising costs of feed and fuel.

I now operate a small farm stay bed-and-breakfast with eight pet-quality alpacas, and I am all too aware of the continuous rise of costs just to feed my tiny herd.

Whenever someone reaches conveniently into the supermarket cooler and complains about the price of dairy, I cringe. If only the source of that milk could receive the lion's share of that cost. Bless the farmers who persist because it's all they know.

Lisa DeAngelis Lane

Waldoboro

As LePage seeks re-election, school views merit attention

While many of us may be amused as well as occasionally embarrassed at the antics of our governor in his sparring with some of our national and state political leaders as well as the press (particularly with one of this paper's columnists), I believe Maine people ought to seriously question at least one of his issues.

At this point, it seems fairly clear that one of the goals of Gov. LePage is to functionally destroy the Maine public schools during his tenure in office. His ardor in this quest ought to raise serious questions as to his fitness to continue to serve as our governor following next year's election.

Even though there may be serious issues needing to be addressed in our public schools, I believe a strong public school system (through higher education) deserves the support of all Maine's people. Indeed, the future prosperity of our state seems dependent upon the healthy viability of our public schools.

The governor seems to regularly bad-mouth our public schools and their teachers, as well as denying them resources at every opportunity.

Maine historically has had very strong parochial and secular private schools, which deserve our respect and support within the constraints of our Constitution.

The careful and judicious establishment of charter schools certainly may strengthen the educational opportunities for our children. However, the best possible public schools must remain the rock-solid foundation of our state's educational system.

The governor's interest in and ability to provide the best possible support for the schools in our state ought to be an issue of paramount importance in the gubernatorial election of 2014.

William L. England

Oxford

Coverage of laptop official makes big issue of small one

I am appalled by the front-page article in the March 10 Sunday Telegram in regard to Jeff Mao, laptop program director ("State official: Laptop official's handling of emails violated policy").

It actually turned my stomach that backing up information on home hard drives, which is a common practice among many professionals -- compounded by the fact the state has admitted it was lax in providing a way for the information to be backed up on state computers until recently -- should be front-page news and take up half of Page A6 in a fashion to denigrate and cast aspersions on a hardworking professional.

At the most, this should have been handled at the state level and quietly corrected, and it never should have been in the news at all.

What the article says to me is that the owner of The MacSmith computer company has friends at the state level who are willing to help make a scapegoat out of Mr. Mao in pursuit of his own financial gains and chagrin at not being awarded the contracts.

Why the newspaper spent any time on this will remain a mystery. Mr. Mao had nothing to be gained by not releasing information or in delaying it.

With the amount of real corruption here in the state, the fact that this article ever appeared will forever be a mystery to me. I think that Stan Smith, The MacSmith's owner, needs to step up and be transparent himself in his true motives behind all of this.

Julie Hurley Poole

Harpswell

Raising I-295 speed limit would hurt, not help drivers

Legislation proposed in Augusta will increase the speed limit on Interstate 295 to 75 mph ("Bill would raise I-295 speed limit to 75 mph," March 15). This is truly an irresponsible proposal.

Maine drivers already exceed the speed limit and do so under all conditions. With gas prices critically high, lowering consumption should be more than mandates on car manufacturers. Driving 55 mph saves lives and gas. It also lowers insurance rates for all drivers.

We should be more focused on responsible legislation and reject bills like this that worsen conditions, not help the public.

If commuters cannot get up and out in enough time to be at work driving responsibly, then it should remain their problem -- and that includes legislators from southern Maine!

Ernest Canelli III

Fairfield

Talk of 'cosmetics' misses point of gun control effort

In Sen. Angus King's current constituent response on the gun control discussion and legislative proposals dealing with gun control, he says he has serious reservations about limiting "assault weapons," as there is "too much emphasis on the cosmetic appearance of particular firearms rather than their actual functionality."

For those pro-gun control folks who use the "assault weapon" description, a carefully presented National Rifle Association tutorial is being circulated on the "assault weapon" misnomer. Its real intent, though, is to say that if you can't distinguish an "assault weapon" by definition, then your case for limiting anything is questionable.

The gun control effort is not about cosmetics nor technical definitions of weaponry and does not seek to obliterate anyone's Second Amendment rights. This so-called "assault" on gun owners' rights is not a high-capacity, rapid-fire onslaught against all guns nor their owners.

It is, though, a limited-capacity onslaught where the outcome will be a lessening of deaths. It's just common sense: Less ammo power = Fewer deaths.

The Bushmaster's cosmetics are fine and handguns are handy, but take the high-capacity magazines off the shelf.

If a person truly thinks they need to have a firearm that can do so much damage in such a short period of time, their own mental clarity might be questioned during the gun owner screenings that some pro-gun lobbyists say they'd support.

My sense, though, is that when they see these particulars, their support will quickly wane. If you think limiting guns is difficult, wait until you try to qualify someone's mental health.

Of the approaches being aired toward lessening gun deaths, many have merit, but "cosmetics" is not the issue. Magazine capacities are the issue, and Sen. King needs to stop diverting the discussion with "cosmetics." It's wasting precious time.

Will Brown

Lincolnville





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