One of the greatest challenges for keeping a business in Maine is the cost of health care for employees. The restaurant industry has a particularly high percentage of seasonal part-time employees who have had difficulty accessing health care due to the cost for both the employer and employee.

At Ricetta’s, there are times when 70 percent of our staff is part-time. The issue of health insurance is an ongoing challenge.

The state of Maine has taken a lead role in helping uninsured Mainers and families access health insurance through Dirigo Health.

One of the new programs now accepting enrollees is a voucher program that provides financial assistance to help uninsured part-time or seasonal workers and their families participate in their employer’s health insurance plan. It is administered by Dirigo through a federal grant awarded to the Governor’s Office of Health Policy and Finance.

Our company is proud to have been one of the first Maine companies to offer the new plan to our part-time employees. Employee retention is also a challenge in the restaurant industry, but we know from experience that happy and healthy employees are more likely to stay.

I hope other Maine businesses will look at Dirigo’s voucher program and consider adding it as a benefit for uninsured part-time employees who need it for themselves and their families. It’s an affordable program, and it’s the right thing to do.


Ron Stephan

President, Ricetta’s Restaurants

South Portland and Falmouth


School bus drivers deserve our respect



I have a newfound respect for school bus drivers. In fact, most of them should be thanked each and every day for their work. These people deal with, on a daily basis, not only weather challenges, but also with issues that, quite frankly, they should not have to.

These men and women who get up early every day to drive your children to and from school play the part of driver, disciplinarian, behaviorist and enforcer all rolled up in one job responsibility.

Lately, it seems that an increasing number of motorists do not share my opinion. It is not the bus drivers’ fault that you are late for work and ignore their red stop lights. Nor is it their fault that you are too lazy to walk a few yards to drop your child off at the school entrance, blatantly ignoring the marked school bus-only zones.

These drivers are trying to get your children to their destination with safety being their No. 1 priority, and it is becoming more and more dangerous to do so when you disregard the rules and regulations which are put in place to keep your children safe.

Michele Paige




Proposed county charter contains big loophole


I wish that I could support the proposed Cumberland County charter, but I am concerned about its provision for emergency meetings via e-mail and telephone, outside of the public eye, as expressed in section Doesn’t this violate Maine’s Freedom of Access Act?

The public should be able to witness all meetings, which we can’t do for electronic gatherings. I could understand the need for emergency meetings where only the media are notified – at least they could still view and record such proceedings.

It is unfortunate that such a provision may spoil what should otherwise be an important step forward for Cumberland County.


Mark D. Grover



Wind-powered turbines a blight worth a picture


I enjoy your photographs of the Maine outdoors. How come there are no pictures of wind-powered industrial turbines? The answer is because they are a blight.


I have been visiting the majestic western Maine mountains for nearly 40 years. Now those wonderful mountaintops are littered with huge industrial windmills. It is very sad.

Millions of acres have been clear-cut and millions of trees had to die for those windmills and utility lines. These windmill projects are being erected all over Maine, with plans for more. The No. 1 cause that kills wildlife is loss of habitat.

Why aren’t more people being shown how these massive wind projects have destroyed our mountaintop views? What have we all gained from these windmills?

My taxes have not gone down, energy prices have not gone down, gas prices at the pump have not gone down, foreign countries still hate us, unemployement has actually gone up. Where are the benefits?

Is it not the duty of the newspaper to show all sides and to give the public complete transparency?

I believe the more the public is made aware of what is going on in their own state, the more outraged they are. Everyone wants to save energy, but at what cost? Is it really working?


Maine is a special place. Our land is second to none. Is Maine for sale to the highest bidder?

Gov. John Baldacci has pushed to install these windmills. His vision was obviously flawed. His plan was not thought out and was sloppy. He never took into consideration what the people of Maine wanted. He gave in to the special interests and lobbyists.

Michael Burnham



Even the very wealthy use heavy-handed tactics



Are you kidding me? U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree’s billionaire fiance mugs WCSH-TV into dropping a political advertisement with the threat of a major lawsuit. Even billionaires can be thugs. They just use high-priced legal talent to get the job done.

This is a really sad day for Maine politics. In times of high stress, people reveal themselves.

Larry Davis

Hallowell and Peaks Island



Urban grocery store deserves accessible trail


As a city resident who moved here from Vermont specifically to live a better and greener lifestyle, largely free of the automobile, I was dismayed recently to see a newly installed chain link fence between the new Trader Joe’s and the new Bayside Trail multi-use path.

In-town grocery stores are critical elements in a high quality urban lifestyle. If you can’t bike or walk easily to and from the businesses that you use every day, what’s the point of living in a city?

Lack of access to the store from the trail is a terrible business decision and reflects poorly on Trader Joe’s as a partner in making the city of Portland an even better and greener place to live for all.

Jonathan Owens



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