RSU 20 concern

I am concerned about the renewed effort to dissolve RSU 20, which currently includes Belfast and seven neighboring towns. A vote last June 11 failed to achieve sufficient turnout, and now proponents of withdrawal are seeking a rematch at the polls.

All of the municipalities in RSU 20 face grave uncertainties. Some towns fear losing their own elementary schools. Parents of middle schoolers are concerned about extended bus routes. All schools are in need of more effective leadership. Taxpayers in every town are anxious about rising property taxes. These concerns are all well-founded, but withdrawing from RSU 20 will not answer any of them. Withdrawing offers no guarantees. Withdrawing is simply tearing down the house to start all over.

There are good reasons to maintain the RSU. When district consolidations were initiated statewide under the previous governor, the prime objective was achieving economies of scale. In the near term, one school administration is cheaper than two — even if augmented to serve a larger school population. In the longer term, needs of a consolidated unit are more likely to be answered in any state budgeting process. Smaller units risk being overlooked or ignored. For the students themselves, larger middle- and high-school enrollments allow greater variety and depth of offerings by every department and program.

The benefits of consolidation cannot be achieved immediately, and it is folly to expect as much. Without question, withdrawal would put Searsport and Stockton Springs in a difficult position now that Frankfort has joined another RSU.

William Nelson


Driving, hello?

Well, here we go again. As reported in the Aug. 12 BDN, a driver in The County rear-ends a truck. Doing what? Calling on her cellphone, naturally. Ms. Jordan, the driver, is very fortunate. She will live to keep on “cellphoning.”

What if this wasn’t a truck? What about a child on a bicycle? A pedestrian? Another vehicle?

This and similar incidents beg the question. When is the Legislature going to get up the

courage to act and require drivers to pull off the highway when its safe to do so, to make

a call or answer one? How many injuries and fatalities?

They took action on texting, a law that is hard to enforce. But it isn’t difficult to see a person using a handheld cellphone in voice mode. What on earth is so important that it can’t wait when the phone can be used safely?

Bill Shook


Earth island

Regarding Eva Murray’s BDN OpEd piece “Loving Maine island living,” I say to that, “We are all on an island.” Who has not looked into a clear night sky and wondered and said to themselves, “Is there anybody else out there?”

Astronomers have discovered a few “just right” planets out there in deep space. They are millions of light years away, farther than we Earth creatures can ever possibly take on. The “just right” planets could have conditions just like ours.

Remember Goldilocks and the three bears? Briefly, there was a big bear, a medium bear and a little bear. Goldilocks tried the chair that was just right, the porridge that was just right and the bed she slept in that was not too big and not too small but just right.

But in what stage are the “just right” planets in? They may be in the dinosaur stage or as our earth, billions of our years either forward or backward in their development. So for now the only thing we can say is, “Is there anybody else out there?” Yes, we are on an island, too.

Mario J. Sirabel


Out of tune

In the Aug. 13 BDN, Tom Myers of Orono penned a letter stating the Maine Stein Song was a “lame tune.” I felt it was necessary to rebut this claim on behalf of Fill the Steins Nation.

Written by Westbrook native Rudy Vallee, the Stein Song has been heralded as one of the best school songs in America. While Myers is a self-proclaimed “band nerd,” he has overlooked the simple fact that our small land-grant school’s song competes with the likes of Notre Dame, Michigan and UCLA. While we can never compete in enrollment, we can triumph with enthusiasm and bravado unrivaled at any institution in this fine country.

I am not a band member, but I can tell you that the verses and sweet melodies of the Stein Song ring with a power greater than most could imagine. I’ve heard stories of students who left the university to go fight in Europe and Asia during World War II. When they met other GIs from Maine they would commonly sing the Stein Song, which they also shared with their comrades from other states and countries.

The Stein Song is not a catchy pop tune, it’s not built on deep guitar riffs or extended drum solos. The Stein Song isn’t just an anthem that represents our university but the people from one of the

proudest states in the union. For this reason I “drink to Maine our alma mater, the college of our

hearts always.”

Adam Henckler


Ruby Ann, Matt Nichols

Matt Nichols generously shared his very painful personal tragedy with BDN readers to raise awareness of a flesh-eating infection. Matt and his beautiful infant daughter were portrayed on the front page Aug. 15. Heather only got to hold her brand new baby for a very brief time, and then she was taken before she got to nurture and raise her sweet daughter. Matt’s heart is broken, and so is his family. I can’t even imagine his pain.

My father died of hospital-acquired methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA. I believe his infection was preventable, and maybe Heather’s was, too.

Heather’s horrible experience with the infection raises a lot of questions — about prevention, precautions, preparation for surgery, sterility and cleanliness of surroundings and instruments, possible screening and so many other issues regarding infection control.

I am the only independent health care consumer representative on the newly formed Maine Healthcare Associated Infections council at the Maine Quality Forum. If I am to speak for consumers, I need input from them.

Please send me personal stories, concerns, observations and ideas as health care consumers. I will take the words to my meetings. These meetings are also open to the public. If anyone would like to know about the meetings and attend and speak, I will send the dates and place of the meetings.

We, as consumers, must become engaged and empowered to attain safer, higher-quality health care outcomes.

Kathy Day, RN, patient safety advocate