The recent OpEd by Jeff Dutton, CEO of Twin Rivers Paper Co., concerning the state’s purchase of a section of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, requires clarification.
Twin Rivers is an important business providing good jobs and serving as an economic engine for the region. Like other stakeholders, Twin Rivers was invited to participate in the governor’s Aroostook Rail Advisory Task Force.
The task force provided input to the state to ensure state interests were protected in a coordinated and effective manner; to help the state acquire the rail assets; and to ensure transparency in the acquisition process and in the bid to secure a third party operator.
Since the state and the MMA reached agreement on the general terms of a sale in mid-October, the two parties have worked to complete a deal.
Meanwhile, a dispute arose between Twin Rivers and the MMA — a dispute unrelated to the state purchase of MMA track. In an effort to help resolve that dispute, Gov. Baldacci brought together Twin Rivers, the MMA, and the Canadian National Railway. While the disagreement between Twin Rivers and the MMA has yet to be settled, the state’s efforts to complete its purchase of MMA track are, we believe, nearly complete.
Jeff Dutton was a member of the task force and was kept thoroughly informed during the negotiations, though he voluntarily left the process in June. An RFP for a short-line operator has been posted on the MaineDOT website.
The terms of sales agreement came from the state’s Offer of Financial Assistance through the federal Surface Transportation Board process; this has been shared with the task force and widely reported by the news media.
The entire process has been open and transparent, with affected shippers, legislators and other Aroostook County interests kept continuously informed.
David Cole, Commissioner
Maine Department of Transportation
Give Millinocket choice
Millinocket residents are invited to give their viewpoint and ask questions at a public meeting at Stearns High School on Wednesday, Jan. 12 about the in-progress plan to enroll as many as 200 Chinese students (Dec. 28, BDN).
One-hundred-and-ten years ago when a diversity of nationalities were hired to build the Millinocket paper mill, 200 Chinese might have fit in very easily in the beginning cosmopolitan population of Millinocket. It is my viewpoint that Millinocket, presently, is not prepared psychologically, culturally or financially to enroll and accommodate as many as 200 Chinese high school students.
Millinocket residents should be allowed to vote yes or no (or maybe?) on the Chinese enrollment program instead of arbitrarily pushing a presently inadequate plan for enrollment. Maybe it will be proved to be a workable and successful plan academically, culturally and socially but the ambitious plan should not be hurried.
Stearns could use an increase in local student enrollment; but a large foreign enrollment, in my opinion, is not the direction to take.
Richard Mackin Jr.
Regarding the recent Maine attorney general’s opinion that the killing at Togus of Marine Lt. James Popkowski was justified, I have come to the conclusion that all one need do is join the law enforcement community to get away with murder in this state.