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Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013: College drinking, ‘aging in place’ and oil drilling


Intoxication education

For many students, college is a new level of independence in their lives and finally a place where they can do as they please. But some students take the independence too far.

When first entering college, consuming large amounts of alcohol is popular.

According to the website www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov, 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 years old are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.

At levels of high intoxication, a person can no longer control himself or herself, and this can be very dangerous. There are students who drink so much that they pass out, and their classmates or friends don’t know what to do with them, so they are left in a room to “sober up.”

There have been so many alcohol-related deaths in the recent years that something needs to be done about it.

Many high schools have drinking-related discussions in class, but I don’t think the information that is given is taken seriously enough.

In my first-year seminar class at the beginning of my freshman year at the University of Maine, a man came in to discuss drinking and how to deal with it.

After hearing him speak, I learned a lot I did not know about how to be safe, how to know if

somebody needs help and how to help them. If this man had spoken to me in high school, I would be much more prepared for the independence that comes with going away to college.

Freshmen need to be made more aware beforehand.

Jennifer Foley


Keep them at home

I read with interest the Feb. 11 letter to the editor from Hannah Mihill called “Home Sweet Home.” This letter raises good points about finding ways to help seniors stay in their own homes and communities as long as possible.

We watch every year as the state proposes cuts to the very programs that would help make this possible. Older Mainers are already struggling with soaring daily living expenses for food, utilities and health care.

More than one-third of those age 65 and older have only Social Security for income, and the monthly benefit, on average, is about $1,000.

When the state proposes cuts to inexpensive programs for prescription drugs or for Meals on Wheels, one can only wonder why.

These are the very programs and services that will help Maine’s seniors remain in their own homes instead of being forced into institutions. As Mihill rightly pointed out, the latter is a much more expensive alternative.

We should be calling for a better balance of funding for home- and community-based services that will help our seniors “age in place.”

AARP surveys indicate that nine out of every 10 Maine residents 50-years old and older want to stay in their own homes and local communities as long as possible. This should be a viable option since at-home care costs much less than institutional care.

I am hoping that our legislators will work together to develop proposals that can help our seniors and at-risk residents remain at home where we know they want to be.

Jeff Barnes

AARP Advocacy Volunteer


Nation’s energy future

The Department of the Interior is expected to make a decision soon about whether to allow seismic air gun testing along the east coast. Seismic air gun testing is a method deployed by oil companies to search for oil and gas beneath the seafloor.

If approved, it would be the first step towards expanding drilling to the east coast.

Having grown up along the east coast, I have developed a deep appreciation for our oceans and the prospect of drilling taking place there deeply upsets me.

Beyond the aesthetic and ecological disturbances that expanded drilling would introduce, it’s also not the answer to our nation’s troubled energy future.

It is in our nation’s interest to encourage clean energy production and avoid the practice of offshore drilling, which is dirty and dangerous. All environmental concerns aside, it is also in our economic best interests to invest in clean energy.

A study released by the Department of Economics and Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, shows that investments in renewable energy can create three times the number of jobs as the same investment in fossil fuels.

Seismic airgun testing is not only harmful to our nation’s energy future but also to wildlife. The blasts emitted by the airguns are so loud that they can seriously injure marine animals, disturbing vital behaviors such as feeding and breeding.

With the goal of expanding drilling, the ends simply don’t justify the means.

Patrick Siebenlist


OpEd debate

I am writing in response to Sen. Susan Collins OpEd refuting the piece I wrote criticizing her opposition to Chuck Hagel’s nomination as secretary of Defense. I did not see Collins’ full statement on Hagel but read Maine and national newspaper reports, which cited that her main opposition to his nomination as the next secretary of Defense was due to his “troubling” record on national security issues.

Collins’ own list of the most serious threats are the very same ones that I cited in the Feb. 19 column: terrorism, North Korea and Iran. I had no access to the senator’s discussion with Hagel, but I doubt that he does not consider those to be serious challenges. And the main point of my article remains unchanged: While Collins says she believes a president has a right to his own Cabinet members, her opposition to a very strong, independent and courageous candidate not only threatens to leave the Pentagon without a new leader in these difficult times, for longer than necessary, but also shows that she is not willing to buck the tide of increasingly partisan Republican positions.

Fred Hill


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