Two recent events have inspired me to acknowledge the wonderful support that Portland’s city officials have given Portland Trails since we were founded 20 years ago.

On July 16, former Public Works Director George Flaherty died. My predecessor, Alix Hopkins, remembers him fondly, saying, “From the start, George Flaherty affirmed Portland Trails’ vision and credibility in numerous ways.”

On the following Monday, the City Council voted to name a section of the Eastern Promenade Trail after Joe Gray, our recently retired city manager. Joe led the city’s trail planning — and we’ve built a lot of trails in our 20 years — but much of our success is based upon a strong and enthusiastic partnership with the city.

Sometimes people don’t notice the city’s work on parks and trails amongst the many other things they do managing our municipality.

But without the support of George and Joe and others like them, I know that some of Portland’s most beloved trails would not exist.

Nan Cumming

Executive Director, Portland Trails


Death-wish cyclist creates major hazard on I-295

To the bicyclist with an apparent death wish on I-295 southbound in the vicinity of Exit 3 on July 15 at 7:20 am: What were you thinking?

Would any motorist expect to find a bicycle in the middle of a travel lane at any part of I-295? I’d like to alert other drivers that their lives could be forever changed due to a menace loose with no regard for the consequences of his presence on a 50-mph stretch of road.

Not only was I in disbelief at this vision, which made me somehow successfully reduce my speed to that of a bicycle, but it also resulted in the driver following me to have to brake without ever having seen this bicyclist.

Thankfully, several guardian angels were collectively supervising I-295 beyond their regular duties, and I’m very grateful for the outcome.

Gabrielle Boucher


Tax on indoor tanning would have been good policy

As a dermatologist and Mohs micrographic surgeon from Freeport and American Academy of Dermatology member, I must express my disappointment in Sen. Olympia Snowe for introducing legislation to repeal the 10 percent tax on indoor tanning services.

I see the tax as a barrier between my patients — particularly young women — and indoor tanning beds, since this is the group who most often value a tan over their long-term health. This tax sends a clear message that tanning is unsafe and a tan is not a sign of good health.

Sen. Snowe’s proposed repeal legislation neglects to mention the larger public health issue — indoor tanning can cause skin cancer, especially melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. It is ironic that Sen. Snowe, a longtime proponent of women’s health issues, is ignoring a public health issue that disproportionately affects women.

Melanoma is increasing faster in young women (15-29 years old) than in young men in the same age group — and a major difference in behavior is that women are more likely to use indoor tanning beds.

In fact, a recent survey shows that approximately 40 percent of 18- to 22-year-olds have used indoor tanning beds in the past year and studies have shown that young women are three times more likely to tan indoors than young men. Repealing this tax would remove the only federal law recognizing indoor tanning as a cancer-causing activity, as designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization.

The tax acts as a deterrent to this harmful behavior and ultimately will help reduce the incidence of skin cancer and save lives.

I hope Sen. Snowe will reconsider her legislation because it could endanger the lives of not only women in Maine, but all American women.

Brian P. O’Donnell, M.D., FAAD


Diabetes can be controlled with diet and exercise

Your July 18 artiticle, “Obesity expands hold on Mainers,” is a sad testament as to how we live without any guilt for our dietary actions!

Maine is one of 16 states that grew fatter last year according to this article, and that is a shame as it represents an awfully expensive liability on our health care system.

What can we do? What is the answer? Another jelly doughnut? No!

I am a 70-year-old Italian chef who runs a family-owned restaurant in Portland, and in the last 11 months I have lost 37 pounds! Amazing? No! Just a new way of life!

I feel so much better and am working out five to six days a week, along with eating a more sensible diet from weight loss coach Lisa Prince at Basics Gym on Western Avenue in South Portland. Trainers like Matt and Pete at Basics worked closely with me and helped me immensely.

I have been an insulin-dependent type 2 diabetic for many years; however, on July 7 I was taken off insulin by endocrinologist Dr. Steven Babirak of Metabolic Leader in Scarborough.

Dr. Babirak said he has never seen my numbers look so good! So, my fellow couch potatoes, I challenge you to take the first step toward a new life and many healthy years. Do it! Make the first move!

I tell people that instead of aging, I am youthening! So next year, I will be 69 years old.

Anthony Barrasso

Anthony’s Italian Kitchen

South Portland

Borders was a place for book-loving community

I was sad to learn that Borders was going out of business, and doing so very quickly in a matter of days. For avid readers in the Greater Portland area, it means watching the Borders store at the Maine Mall close down.

Borders in South Portland has been open for 15 years and during that time it has created a cultural niche in the community, and not just for bibliophiles. It’s become a location for many to relax, meet up with friends, attend a family event, meet authors, shop for eclectic items, and — yes — find great books, as well.

There’s no doubting that these are tough economic times for many businesses. Financial observers have been watching Borders since it filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, some citing the company’s troubles as the result of not being able to adapt to the rapid changes in the marketplace and consumer trends (the need for super bookstores not quite fitting in with our current culture of unlimited everything).

Whatever the case may be, the loss of Borders in South Portland means more than just the closing of a bookstore. It’s the loss of a cultural staple that for many will be hard to replace.

Matt Smith