Friday, April 18, 2014
Dear Editor, Hello! I'm a fifth grader in Napa, Calif. I am writing to you because my class will be working on state reports, and I have chosen your magnificent state of Maine!
In my report I will be writing about your state's history, economy, geographical features, interesting places, famous people and state symbols.
I would appreciate it if you posted my letter in your column so that I can get all he information I need for my project, Thank you in advance for your help with this.
Sincerely, Mara Z., age 11.
Dear Mara, thanks for asking! Maine is a magnificent state, and I would be happy to help you with your report. I'm in a good position to do this because I live in Portland, which is not far from Maine.
Maine has a fascinating history. We were first settled by English colonists before the American Revolution. This was news to the Indians, who had been living here for centuries, and they welcomed the settlers by burning down Portland. This worked for a while, but more settlers kept coming. Others have tried burning down Portland, but it just keeps coming back, too.
When the United States became a country, Maine was part of Massachusetts. Around 1820 some of Maine's leading citizens got together in an outlet mall in Freeport and said, "Hey, I hate Massachusetts. They talk funny and they can't drive. Let's make our own state. We can still root for the Red Sox and the Bruins," and so they did.
Over time, two distinct cultures have emerged, leading some commentators to write about "the two Maines." They are Portland and not-Portland.
Portland is known for its many restaurants, quaint art galleries and walkable neighborhoods. Not-Portland is famous for its potholes and ease of parking.
People in Portland like to get around on bicycles. They like to bike to the farmers market and buy locally grown produce. On the way home, they will pedal to a coffee shop for a cup of wood-roasted, craft-brewed pour-over mocha java.
People in not-Portland drive Ford Ranger pickups, get their groceries at Walmart and drink convenience-store coffee from a Styrofoam cup.
Portland and the towns around it generate more than half of the economic activity in the state. It has a younger population, which tends to be more educated, earn higher incomes and work in emerging industries.
This is what people in not-Portland call "being a drag on the rest of the economy." Not-Portlanders spend a lot of time in state government thinking up ways to make Portland pay its fair share.
The most famous person from Maine is Stephen King, who writes horror stories. Many of them have been made into movies like "Carrie" and "The Shining," which, at your age, I hope you haven't seen because they are so scary.
The second-most-famous person in the state is our governor, Paul LePage. Some of us find him scary, too.
Gov. LePage is famous for how much he loves hospitals. He wants to make sure they can continue to pay million-dollar salaries to their top administrators, so he has come up with a plan.
A lot of people in Maine like to drink Allen's Coffee Brandy, and many residents of not-Portland like to drive their pickup trucks to New Hampshire where they can buy it at a discount.
Gov. LePage has a plan to offer coffee brandy at a lower price here in Maine so that we can sell more of it and give that money to the hospitals. That really makes sense, because if people drink a lot more coffee brandy and keep driving on the potholes of not-Portland, they will need to go to a hospital.
The governor was so concerned about his plan to sell more coffee brandy that he promised he would veto any bill that landed on his desk until he got what he wanted.
He was especially mad about one bill that would let bars open early on St. Patrick's Day. He called that bill "garbage."
But the Legislature passed it anyway, and the governor signed it.
To show how mad he was about having to deal with such an unserious piece of business, the governor wore a funny hat when he signed the bill and colored a frowny face next to his name.
Hopefully, the Legislature will get the message and stop fooling around!
Maine has two state symbols that are very important.
One is the lobster, which symbolizes all the good things that come from the sea. The other is the moose, which symbolizes what you might run into if you are not paying attention.
I hope this is helpful. Good luck with your report and come visit us sometime.
Greg Kesich is the editorial page editor. He can be contacted at 791-6481 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org