In the recent Engineer Week 2011 supplement there was an article by Oak Point Associates praising the Falmouth school’s biomass boiler. Imagine heating for an equivalent price of $1.05 per gallon of oil. Sounds fantastic, but at what price?
The system is said to consume 60 tons of fuel every four days. Just what is this “biomass” and where does it come from?
Biomass, the cargo in those big trailer trucks you see on our roads, comes right out of our working forests. It consists of the chipped up branches removed from felled trees. Is this a proper forest-sustaining practice?
A few years ago, I visited the Amazon rain forest of Peru. There I learned that the practice of “slash and burn” farming had been found to be counterproductive. Once a plot had been cleared and its foliage burned, it was only able to produce about two crop cycles. The reason is that nutrients were locked up in the plant mass, and burning them did not return them to the soil. I saw sections that had not regrown after 10 years! Is this not what we are doing to our forest? Will our rush to produce cheap energy lead to the collapse of our only resource? Just when is a “renewable resource” no longer sustainable?
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Vernal pool zones
I respectfully disagree with a letter to the editor (“The value of vernal,” Feb. 3) stating that the LePage administration wants to end vernal pool regulation. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The only bill that I am aware of aims to make a common sense change from a 250-foot no-build zone to a 75-foot zone which is very adequate. With the existing 250-foot limit more than 5 acres of usable land is rendered unusable whereas with 75 feet only about a half acre is involved, which is a reasonable amount.
For comparisons, Massachusetts requires a 100-foot setback, the states of Vermont and New Jersey require only 50 feet, and Maryland requires only 25 feet. New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia and Delaware do not require any setback.
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Wingard for RSU 26
The RSU 26 (Glenburn, Orono, Veazie) board of directors provides a strong contrast to a larger city school system’s school committee profiled recently in this paper. Dissent is not crushed, and we listen to the people we represent.
This robust exercise in participatory democracy does not make chairing the board easy. And gavel presence is the tip of the iceberg of the job description. Attending subcommittee meetings, researching tough questions and meeting with stakeholders take a lot of time. Also, being in only our second year as a governing body, we’re still working on tough tasks such as merging policies and contracts for three towns’ schools.
We have been very fortunate to have Geoffrey Wingard as the RSU 26 board chairman this school year. Our accomplishments, our growth as a cohesive (but not unanimous) unit, and our public outreach are a tribute to his dedication, organizational and communication skills, patience and tact.
He’s a real credit to the town of Orono and a valuable asset to our three-town school system.
Orono voters will get the chance to vote to re-elect Geoff on March 8. For the sake of the RSU community and our schools, please do. And please talk to your friends and neighbors.
This letter expresses the views of the writer and does not constitute board endorsement.
Julia Emily Hathaway
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No to Gateway 1
I am concerned about the Gateway 1 Coalition being pushed onto the coastal corridor from Brunswick to Stockton Springs.
Do we want to give up local control of zoning issues to be part of another expensive bureaucracy? If the people of Waldoboro want a Walmart or other big-box store, should a coalition be able to tell us no? Or conversely, if we don’t want a Walmart or other big-box store, should a coalition be able to tell us that we will have one?
Each town is unique and has different values, goals and desires and, as such, we should not give away our right to determine our own future.
If we give up local control, then we have lost any ability for grass-roots involvement, because we will be controlled by another layer of bureaucracy that answers only to itself.
And, by the way, federal or state grants or matching funds are not free money. They are taxpayer money, and we are taxpayers. It’s time to put a stop to being bribed with our own money.
The bureaucracy believes we are not capable of governing ourselves and not bright enough to recognize their power grab. We can stop the out of control administrative state by voting no on all issues that empower Gateway 1.
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Today I got the Snowe Report, produced I am sure by someone who is making well above the average annual wage made by Sen. Olympia Snowe’s constituency. It focuses on making cuts in the 12 percent of the budget that is discretionary. This is what I sent back:
Don’t give us, the voters, the discretionary spending pablum. Cutting say LIHEAP or NEA is less than congressional travel and office expenses, I suspect. Let’s show some leadership across the board and across the aisle.
What about joining some of your more moderate colleagues and discussing how to get work done with the White House?
What about some meaningful reductions in 88 percent of the budget? When will our congresspeople have enough guts to tackle DOD, Medicare and Social Security?
Why not start with raising the Social Security taxable wage? And what about means testing for Medicare and veterans benefits? Chop the obscene health care administration costs in which we lead the world and bring the congressional health plans in line with that of average constituents.
Why not a further hard look at the military hardware budget? At least Congress did good on the jet engine.
Every time someone says “obscene spending,” make a pledge to support an operational reduction in the 88 percent that you are not touching, along with a means-tested tax increase.
When will our public servants stop thinking about doing what may keep them their jobs, not what is right? Stop talking and start doing.
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Boarded and mute
I certainly appreciate the efforts of Mr. Tony Cameron of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce to “try to… shake the perception that the town shuts down in winter” (“Groups announce new draws to bring tourists into Maine,” BDN, Feb. 18) I drove down there with my family to see if they are really walking-the-walk in this regard.
Unfortunately, plywood speaks louder than words.