Boater safety course needed

The collision on Long Lake this summer was tragic for all involved. Two people died in a way no one should. And two others – the driver and passenger of the cigarette boat – are scarred for life.

In reaction to this event, Rep. Richard Sykes, R-Harrison, has proposed legislation that would limit horsepower for boats on Long Lake to 500 horsepower. The cigarette boat in July’s collision was operating with two 435 horsepower motors.

Sykes’ legislation oversteps government’s bounds. If someone wants to buy a boat with 800-plus horsepower, they should be free to waste their money and buy it. For some, revving the engine and powering over the open water from Naples to Harrison on a hot summer afternoon is as good as life gets.

And while it’s easy to target horsepower, motor size isn’t responsible for death on the water, and decreasing horsepower won’t prevent collisions. Irresponsible operation, not the boat itself, is the cause of boating deaths. Therefore, the state should set their sights on reckless boaters, not the boats. Sykes is co-sponsor of such a bill, and it would be wise for lawmakers to focus on this strategy instead.

A mandatory boater safety course should be required before anyone can get behind the helm. Boaters should be required to spend a day at a driver’s education-type class designed specifically for recreational boaters. Maine has a similar course for hunters and ATV drivers, both of whom must spend eight hours learning about safe operation before earning their license. In the wake of the Long Lake tragedy, it would make sense to require boaters to do the same.

Loss of community? Not here.

One of the best holiday events in the Lakes Region must be the annual Thanksgiving Dinner hosted earlier this week by the Monday Meal Fellowship in Windham. This year, a dozen or so volunteers came together to feed about 150 people at the North Windham Union Church.

In a culture that is often described as having lost its community focus, the Lakes Region proves each year that community is alive and well, and indeed flourishing. The people who made this dinner possible are a solid example that kind-hearted folks still exist and are making their community strong.

Look anywhere in the Lakes Region this season and you’ll find innumerable Christmas fairs and holiday suppers hosted by many different types of civic organizations from Masons to Methodists to Mormons. It is proof that community life is diverse and strong. Besides, how boring would it be if it were any other way?

Dynasty Scots

The Bonny Eagle Scots, winners of the Class A football state championship, proved this week they are a force to be reckoned with. On Saturday, the Scots won the state title for the third time in four years, a truly impressive feat.

Both the coaching staff, led by head coach Kevin Cooper, and the athletes should be commended for their long hours of preparation, near-perfect execution during games and dedication to teamwork. Their excellence beams brightly not only on them and their families but the Bonny Eagle school district as well.

-John Balentine, editor

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