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Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011: Traffic, potatoes and Reba


This is in response to the article in the Wednesday, Sept 14 paper, “19-mile traffic jam.”

The traffic heading south on the Maine Turnpike was probably people leaving the state looking for work. Instead of a sign when traveling north saying “Open for Business,” the state should put in an express lane south for people leaving the state looking for work (I’m unemployed after 34 years as a heavy equipment mechanic.)

C. Boyd Tibbetts


Potato, the healthy choice

As a registered dietitian and mother of school-aged children who eat school lunches, I certainly applaud improvements to the school lunch program and menus. Unfortunately, the USDA Draft School Lunch Reform Regulations call for strictly limiting all potatoes, potato products and starchy vegetables — allowing for just 1 cup per week on school menus. Sens. Snowe and Collins take issue with that regulation, as do I, and here’s why:

First, there is no question that potatoes are important in a well-balanced diet — they’re packed with potassium and dietary fiber, two nutrients that are chronically underconsumed by both children and adults, according to the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines.

Second, given the struggle schools face to provide well-balanced lunches on tight budgets, the proposed limitation seems unjustifiably severe and unrealistic. Potatoes are a versatile, affordable way to deliver important nutrients to our children.

As a consultant who has worked with the Alliance for Potato Research and Education to develop healthful children’s menus incorporating a variety of potato products, I know meals that include potatoes fit within the recognized parameters of a healthful lunch.

Finally, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, French fries comprise just 1.5 percent of the total daily calories in the diets of Americans ages 2 and older. Yet, some would pin the complex problem of childhood obesity on this one food — an incredible oversimplification of the issue.

Encouraging the consumption of a variety of wholesome foods, including potatoes, is a more reasonable approach — and one that both students and schools can live with.

Kitty Broihier

South Portland

In praise of wildness

In response to the Sept. 13 letter advocating more snowmobile and ATV trails in Maine’s wilderness areas because the handicapped population will otherwise be unable to access these areas:

Like Franklin Roosevelt, I had polio, although as a child rather than an adult. During my early adult years, I hiked, camped, canoed and enjoyed Maine’s wilderness. Climbing Mt. Katahdin was one of the high points of my life, an experience that would have been less rewarding had there been motorized vehicles on the remote trails of Baxter State Park.

I now have post-polio syndrome and use crutches and occasionally a wheelchair. It is, if anything, more important to me now than it was when I was younger to know that there are wild areas in Maine that are not accessible to motorized vehicles.

I will never hike Gulf Hagas or canoe the Allagash, but I value their wildness and will advocate to protect them.

In the words of Henry David Thoreau, who also drew inspiration from the Maine woods, “In wildness is the preservation of the world.” Let’s work to preserve Maine’s wild places, thereby enriching us all, whether we can see those places personally or not.

Anne Stocking


Adults wanted for Legislature

I, and a lot of people I know, are fed up with the constant partisan sniping of the inane supposed leaders known as our Legislature.

The elected men and women in Augusta don’t seem to recognize that voters put them in office to contribute to the benefit of Maine, the state and its people. And, in thinking that they are contributing to a cause, many of BDN’s letter writers exacerbate the legislators’ tantrums by jumping on the bandwagon.

Myself, I am an independent who votes for, or against, both party’s candidates as I see fit.

Mainers are known for their independence, voting for both left and right sides of the aisle. We vote for adults, not children.

Ed Barrood


MoveOn’s money

The Bangor Daily News Sept. 16 editorial reinforced a false right-wing smear by stating that is funded by a wealthy individual like George Soros (“ALEC’s influence should be call to citizen action”). The editorial further implied that MoveOn is not a nonprofit organization and that our motives are influenced unduly by the profit motives of our donors.

These are serious charges, and we feel compelled to respond. Political Action is a five-million-member nonprofit grassroots organization. We have 45,000 members in Maine and are funded entirely by small donations. The average donation to MoveOn is $45. By law, we’re not allowed to accept donations over $5,000, and all donations over $200 are reported to the Federal Elections Commission as a matter of public record.

The false claim that we are funded by George Soros is based on a single donation that he made eight years ago to a separate organization that no longer exists. Right-wing groups have for years repeated this talking point in an effort to discredit the five million progressives who are members of MoveOn, and we’re disappointed the BDN reinforced the charge, especially in this context.

Steven Biel Campaign Director


Reba defies frost

I was privileged to see Reba McEntire Sunday night in Bangor in temperatures close to freezing.

How cold was it? You could see Reba’s breath as she belted out my favorite numbers. She had to stop the show to ask for Kleenex to wipe her cold nose. She had to don a jacket over her blouse and lightweight pants. Did that deter Reba? No way.

Having had a brother in show business, I know a trooper when I see one, and Reba exceeded the mantra of “The show must go on.” Her robust, well-controlled, melodious voice never faltered, nor did her stage demeanor or audience interactions weaken.

Then, when the audience whistled and called for one more song, she appeared in her “fancy” red dress and sang one more number. The dress was a sleeveless, short and silky one which defied the frost of a Maine night and exemplified once and for all the professional power of Reba McEntire.

I had come to hear one of my favorite singers, and I was not disappointed. What I came away with though, was an unexpected respect not only for her talent but for her immeasurable ethics as an entertainer. Thank you, Bangor, for bringing us Reba. Thank you, Reba, for a great show and a greater lesson in what it means to be dedicated in one’s career.

Jane Harvey Meade


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