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Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011: Drug court, hunger and Question 2

Drug court needed

The packed house attendance at the Sept. 14 meeting in Bangor on bath salts showed very clearly the strong community support for addressing public health and safety issues related to substance abuse.

During the meeting, the panel repeatedly emphasized that a coordinated community response to the alarming rise in the use of bath salts in the Bangor area is urgently needed. One panel member, Dr. Anthony Ng, medical director of Acadia Hospital’s Psychiatric Emergency Services, emphasized the important role of drug court in that battle. Unfortunately, his comments were followed a day later by news that the Penobscot County Adult Drug Court will be closing.

Reportedly, the Office of Substance Abuse selected this program for closure because of “poor outcomes.” However, graduates of drug court, their families, employers and neighbors could tell a different story about the contribution drug court has made to the community.

It’s sad and unwise to abandon a program that can contribute significantly to reducing drug-related crime in our community. In doing so, the state diminishes its support to Penobscot County at a time when we need increased support.

The statistics guiding the state’s decision to close our drug court certainly did not take into account the unique set of problems we are encountering here with opiate addictions and this new, frightening epidemic of bath salt use. I can only hope the state gathers a wider breadth of information, reconsiders its decision, and invests more support, not less, in our drug court and our community.

Larry Tyler


No justice at home

Our country’s officials have condoned and actively supported citizen uprisings in the Middle East and elsewhere against dictatorships. Some public resistance against perceived injustices and wrong-doings that we have supported even have led to violence and killings.

Here in Washington, D.C., passive, non-violent demonstrations towards the proposed plan to build a new pipeline for tar sand from Canada into this country, stemming from a concern for the environment, public health and safety, has led to 1,200 of these demonstrators (our citizens) being arrested! What’s with that?

Bob Croce


Ethanol-free for me

In the Sept. 19 issue, Mr. Paul Wehrle suggested in a letter to the editor that the BDN was using scare tactics in its editorial on ethanol.

The BDN wrote that the newest blend of ethanol, E-15, a mixture of gasoline and at least 15 percent ethanol, reduced gas mileage even more then the current blend E-10, which fouled small engines and was scorned by the marine and snowmobile industry.

The facts presented by the BDN are quite accurate and have been proved to be true throughout the country. Huge tax credits and millions of dollars in subsidies are all that keeps ethanol producers in business.

Mr. Wehrle also wrote that Minnesota has mandated the highest blends of ethanol and that somehow the operators of older cars, snowmobiles and small engines seem to be getting by. That mandate is not surprising coming from a corn producing state and from an industry that is highly subsidized by your tax dollar.

What Mr. Wehrle fails to mention is that in Minnesota, one can pull up to any gas pump and fill up with ethanol-free fuel!

While traveling in Minnesota this spring, I asked a station operator if ethanol-free was the fuel of choice for Minnesota; he said that “no one wants to put that stuff in their car, their chain saw or their snowmobile. If it wasn’t for the government forcing it down our throats no one would use it.”

It seems as if Minnesotans have spoken and perhaps Mainers ought to have a choice as well.

Ben Brown


Targeting younger drinkers

Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim’s essay, “Targeting campus drinking” (BDN, Sept. 20) has important news about a nationwide college initiative to curb binge drinking on college campuses. While his collaborative is focused on intervention of college-age students, another similar group is working on prevention of alcohol abuse by children from Grade 5 and up. Both groups are associated with a program at the University of Washington.

George Chappell


The business of horses

I’m writing in support of Question 2 on the state ballot in November.

I grew up near the Fredrickton Raceway, the oldest half-mile track in Canada. My grandfather was superintendent there, and I have fond childhood memories of watching the horses run. By the time I was 14, I was working as a farrier. We care for the horses’ hooves and place horseshoes on them.

I moved to Maine in 1996 and I have been a full-time farrier here ever since. I work with all kinds of horses, including drafts, minis and show quarter horses.

A yes vote on Question 2 is a vote for jobs and Maine’s equine industry as a whole.

Maine has about 35,000 horses. The total economic impact of the equine industry was about $364 million in 2006, supporting 5,700 jobs, according to a recent study.

Without the competitive edge provided by racinos, you can expect those numbers to go down in the next few years. The ripple effect of racinos is huge, spreading out from the racetracks right down to the families who breed horses, those who use them for therapy and the farmers who grow hay.

Please help us preserve Maine’s farms, open spaces and traditions.

Malcolm Orchard


Hunger solutions needed

In response to Renee Ordway’s Sept. 17 column on hunger in Maine: It has been my experience that many people are too intimidated, too proud or too whatever to seek food through such programs as food banks.

When my daughter was in grade school, I learned that there were many children whose hot lunch on Friday was the last meal they would eat until the school breakfast on Monday. There was a school policy that the staff were not allowed to supplement these children’s meager diets.

With staff aware of all these hungry children, it would seem that these intelligent and caring teachers and staff could be able to brainstorm and come up with a way to provide for these children through confidential donations to the most needy, with the permission of the school authorities.

Perhaps this is too complicated. I don’t know. I do know that it is heartbreaking for these teachers, whose hands are tied, to have to sit back and teach children who are simply too hungry to learn.

Jude Gagner


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