I believe the only real solution to “wrong-way” accidents is the use of so-called Jersey barriers. We might all agree they are ugly, but if we truly want to stop these deadly mishaps, they’re the way to go.

One bad Interstate 95 (Maine Turnpike) exit is at the Auburn location where a lady died a number of years ago. Her death could have been prevented if the shared southbound exiting and the southbound entering roadway had been divided with barriers. In that location, a 1-foot-wide yellow line covered with a little snow doesn’t help much.

Concrete barriers are always used at construction sites on the interstates where opposing traffic is temporarily put where danger exists. Why haven’t highway experts recommended using them at combined exits and entrances where danger obviously exists? Yes, the barriers are ugly, but not as much as accident scenes.

There is one expensive alternative: Rebuild highways so there are no shared entrances and exits. But we know that will not happen.

John S. Ranger


Hospitals contributing to Maine’s illness, tax burden

I was very interested to read about the 8,000 patients Mercy Hospital tries to rehabilitate each year (Maine Voices, “MaineCare cuts would devastate critical resource for addicts,” Jan. 30). It is hard to imagine that such a lucrative endeavor may fall on hard times if the governor’s plan to rehabilitate the Department of Health and Human Services passes.

A few things that struck me about the column: The author points out that Maine has the highest prescription drug abuse rate in the nation but fails to mention that the vast majority of these pills hit the streets after being legally prescribed. Nor is there a punitive tax, similar to the cigarette tax, being levied on these clearly dangerous products.

There is also no mention that despite our addiction rates, new and stronger pills are coming to Maine. The part I find most disturbing, that the author forgot to mention, is that the doctors and hospitals have no obligation to help pay for the problems they are creating.

I’m not too worried, though, because they can create as many junkies as neccessary to keep the rehabilitation units full. How does that oath go — “First, do no harm …”?

Mark Ferguson

Poland Spring

Boo hoo, here come the crybabies because the governor wants to cut the budget for the DHHS.

Yes, Governor, there are probably more people on welfare than taxpayers in this state, but let’s put the blame where it belongs, like Catholic Charities, hospitals, nonprofit organizations and the list goes on.

I received an annual report from Maine Medical Center one year that stated its profits were only around $52 million. Not bad for a hospital that owns numerous properties and pays no taxes on them. And what do they charge now for bandages and aspirin — 3 to 4 dollars each?

And isn’t Mercy Hospital still run by the Catholic nuns? Isn’t there a sign inside the emergency room stating that they will treat all no matter if you have insurance or not? And all the doctors’ offices and pharmacies are double- or even triple-billing Medicare.

We have to thank Catholic Charities for still sponsoring all the people they bring to the state from lands abroad and then dump them on the state and local communities. The working taxpayer has to bear the burden of this.

Then there’s City Hall. Our newly elected mayor states that the burden will most likely fall on taxpayers again. Hey, Portland! How about cutting your budgets instead? Everyone knows there’s a lot of overspending in this city. Way too much.

So I applaud our governor with his budget cuts. And by the way, maybe these people who run those nonprofit organizations shouldn’t draw such a large salary, like United Way administrators. One day soon there’s going to be a tax revolt, and I can hardly wait.

Frank Teras


Low-income workers can get free tax advice today

Maine businesses have an opportunity to support their communities by promoting earned income tax credit community initiatives, such as CA$H Maine.

The earned income tax credit is a refundable tax credit for people who work but earn low incomes. Last year, Maine families received $188 million from federal earned income tax credit refunds, according to statistics from the IRS. This year, the earned income tax credit could return up to $5,751 apiece into the pockets of eligible taxpayers.

CA$H Maine (Creating Assets $avings & Hope) is a collaboration of nine statewide coalitions, comprised of more than 50 nonprofit and for-profit partners, working together to help low- and moderate-income Mainers make the most of their money. Each local CA$H coalition offers free tax preparation to qualified filers during the tax season and encourages eligible taxpayers to claim the earned income tax credit.

The coalitions also promote financial stability by connecting taxpayers to other resources, including financial education and homebuying workshops, Family Development Accounts and credit counseling.

Businesses can support local CA$H coalitions by promoting their activities, encouraging employees to volunteer and committing financial support and in-kind contributions.

For the past seven years, KeyBank has supported CA$H coalitions in Maine by sponsoring Super Refund Saturday. This year, Super Refund Saturday will be held today in eight locations throughout the state.

This event will help Mainers earning $50,000 or less by providing them with free tax preparation at those sites. Mainers can call 2-1-1 to learn about the closest Super Refund Saturday site and make an appointment.

I call on all Maine businesses to support our economy by promoting the earned income tax credit and Super Refund Saturday, and by supporting CA$H Maine.

Sterling Kozlowski,

president, KeyBank’s Maine District


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