I have been away for a few weeks and came home to no “By Hand” column. I am totally disappointed that the BDN feels that fiber art is not important to those of us who live in the Bangor area.

This is a big loss to the fiber community. Please consider bringing Ardeana Hamlin back. Many of us who live in Maine are from small towns, and fiber and knitting is in our blood. We need a voice, and Hamlin was it.

If we wanted a newspaper like The New York Times we would live in New York, but we don’t. Stay with the community and local people.

Joyce O’Rourke

Sandy Point

Speak out

I am writing to commend the use of Fox Hill in Camden for a self-contained residential rehabilitation center for those in need of appropriate recovery and care. I support the narrowly written zoning change that will allow McLean to operate there. Fox Hill is a lovely existing property that is well suited for the needs of McLean Hospital, which is a very reputable organization.

I have lived on Bay View Street for 44 years in two different houses. I feel strongly that the image of Camden as a place for the rejuvenation and restoration of body, mind and spirit will be enhanced by McLean Hospital’s presence and will be a calling card for our town.

I have been talking with numerous people about this, and I am convinced that the integrity of the Fox Hill property will be maintained by McLean’s use. I also feel strongly that we need good businesses to come into our community to support the tax base and to provide good employment for qualified people.

I think that the voters should have the opportunity to decide this matter.

I believe a ballot entry on this subject is valid. Let the citizens of Camden vote yes or no on this property matter. Issues of this kind should be voted on democratically.

What is the best use of this priceless land and estate? Can this organization offer hope, healing and recovery to its clients while maintaining a quiet, low-key setting on the lovely Fox Hill estate?

Let the people’s voice speak out. We are all part of a lovely community.

Jeffrey M. Conrad


Health care film

I had the opportunity to view the documentary ” The Healthcare Movie” a few days ago. The film consists largely of Canadians talking about their health care system, what it is and what it isn’t, exploding most of the myths prevalent in the U.S. about “why the Canadian system doesn’t work.”

It also told the story of the many failed attempts to create a U.S. national plan throughout the 20th century. A discussion followed, led by Dr. Phil Caper and Joe Lendvai, both of the nonprofit Maine AllCare, about the differences between the U.S. for-profit, insurance-based health care system, overly costly and inequitable (leaving millions of citizens without access to health care) and a possible universal single-payer system.

The film and discussion were very valuable, and I learned a lot. But what struck me in particular was the voice that Canadian citizens apparently have in the decisions made by their government on their behalf. What an appalling contrast to Washington, where the seats at the table are filled only by corporate lobbyists.

One aspect of the Affordable Care Act that may prove to be useful is the provision for states to create their own plans, as many are doing. These can be single-payer plans, as they will be if citizens have a seat at the table.

The film is worth watching. Public libraries may have copies (or could get one), and it is also available for an affordable price online.

Judy Robbins


Education kudos

Last summer some of my Mission: Readiness colleagues and I met with U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and asked them to support increased federal investments in high-quality early education. I am very pleased they recently did so and want to publicly state my appreciation.

The recently enacted federal budget includes meaningful increases in three key early learning programs: prekindergarten, child care subsidies for low-income working parents and Head Start/Early Head Start. All three programs will help our nation address a serious threat to our military preparedness: the fact that millions of our young Americans lack the education attainment to enter military service.

Even in this great age of technology, the most important long-term investments that we can make for an effective fighting force is in the education of the American people. Sixteen percent of Maine’s teenagers do not graduate on time, and among those who do graduate and try to join, 19 percent cannot score well enough on the military’s entrance exam for math, literacy and problem solving to be able to serve. We must reverse these trends.

While there are many factors impacting educational achievement, high-quality early learning is one factor proven to have a crucial positive impact on children from all backgrounds. Decades of research have shown that high-quality early education programs can boost graduation rates, while also providing a significant return on investment.

I applaud Collins and King for their understanding of these issues and their support.

Nelson Durgin

Bangor City Councilor


Cigarettes and meat

Last Friday, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Surgeon General’s first report on health hazards of cigarette smoking, his office released a report linking smoking to several new chronic diseases. In addition to the previously known lung and oral cancer, high blood pressure and heart disease, the new diseases include diabetes, erectile dysfunction, cancer of the colon and liver and stroke.

The parallels between cigarette smoking and meat consumption are uncanny:

— The chronic diseases linked to both activities and the associated costs of medical care and lost productivity are comparable;

— The first government reports warning consumers about health hazards of cigarette smoking and meat consumption were issued in 1964 (by Surgeon General) and in 1977 (by Senate Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs), respectively;

— The first warning labels on cigarette and meat packaging were required in 1966 and 1994, respectively;

— Both activities are discouraged by health advocates, and both are declining.

But there is one important difference: The meat industry impacts more state economies with a stronger congressional clout than the tobacco industry. Consequently, a Surgeon General’s report on the hazards of meat consumption is most unlikely.

Our health remains our personal responsibility.

Bob Donnellan