Wednesday, April 24, 2013: Wind, civil rights and young citizens

Posted April 23, 2013, at 12:25 p.m.

It takes a community

Almost 20 years ago, I trained to become a volunteer at Rape Response Services. Growing up in rural Vermont, I had bought into the myths of victim blaming. My training not only educated me about the reality of sexual assault for victims and survivors but also propelled me into paid positions at RRS, from where I retired a few years ago.

Many of the people writing guest editorials in the BDN this month are my friends and former colleagues. Marty McIntyre, for example, established the first Children’s Advocacy Center in the state, a prototype for what Donna Strickler described in Waterville.

RRS attempted to do something similar before I retired. I continue to be inspired by Marty, Donna, Sue Hall Dreher and others who are innovative and enthusiastic about the work.

Thank you to the BDN for the focus on sexual assault during April. The need for sexual assault awareness, prevention and victim advocacy, will not end on May 1.

Sexual assault centers face a decrease in federal funds and fewer donations and deserve our support year round. Victim blaming has no place in our society. We can all speak out on behalf of those who have experienced sexual assault. It takes a whole community to end sexual violence.

Kathy W. Walker

Hampden

 

Wind values

As rural hills and mountain tops in Maine are rapidly developed by the wind industry, we must give thought to the impacts these projects have on Maine’s tourism industry and local property values.

Below is an excerpt from a letter submitted to the Department of Environmental Protection which is available on the DEP website and was written by Rainer and Gaby Engle of Switzerland, who bought their “American dream get-away” in Lincoln a few years ago.

The DEP is considering granting a permit to First Wind build an industrial wind facility on mountain ridges overlooking the Downeast Lakes region. The Engles know first-hand what kind of impact the Rollins wind project has had on the value of lakefront property in the nearby Lincoln Lakes region.

I know the Engles personally and know their well-kept, attractive cabin is just 3 feet from the water’s edge at Upper Pond, and the property has 550 feet of shore-frontage. Once the Rollins project was built, the owners faced 21 turbines – the sounds and sights of which dominated their lakeside experience. They lost their enjoyment in the property and listed their property for sale.

The Engles state in their letter, “We try to sell our camp since almost two years now: but no one is inquiring, since no one wants to see industry. One comes to Maine for nature and recreation. Getting away…”

What happens when a high-impact industrial facility creates, in essence, a “taking” of our property values — for some, our only investment? “Quality of place” is a big selling point in Maine. What happens when the quality of place disappears?

Karen Bessey Pease

Lexington Township

Civil rights of deaf

John Shattuck’s reflections in his April 14 OpEd, “Lessons learned after sexual exploitation of Deaf students in Maine,” made many of us remember the story that unfolded through the 1980s concerning abuse at the Governor Baxter School for the Deaf and the systemic failure to respond that led to creation of the Baxter Compensation Authority.

Maine law now requires the Maine Department of Labor’s Division for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Late-Deafened to provide advocacy services for Maine’s Deaf. It meets that legal obligation by contracting with Maine Center on Deafness.

Maine’s Deaf, including the growing population of hard-of-hearing and late-deafened citizens, remain vulnerable. In six weeks beginning in February, our agency served more than 50 clients who had been denied access to education, medical care, employment, public safety services, government offices and retail outlets due to communication barriers.

Maine Center on Deafness’ contract has been successful and cost-effective and delivers advocacy services at approximately $47 an hour, because unlike other service providers, advocacy staff are ASL fluent and do not need to hire certified interpreters.

Maine is once again poised to “pay the price of complacency” Shattuck describes. The governor’s proposed budget cuts funds for the advocacy contract $170,000 for each of the next two years. The explanatory note accompanying the cut: “No justification provided.”

The budget is now in the hands of the Appropriations Committee, which must show the “strength of will” Shattuck deems essential to making sure that those responsible for violating the civil rights of Maine’s Deaf are held accountable. “The lessons from then must be the lessons now.”

Elissa Moran

Executive Director, Maine Center on Deafness

Portland

 

Young citizens deserve attention

Across Maine and our nation, April has been declared National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The blue pinwheels now publicly displayed in communities throughout the country are reminders that heighten our awareness of these tragedies.

According to the Maine numbers reported to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 2011 there were 3,118 Maine children who were victims of abuse or neglect. Child abuse and neglect takes a toll on families and communities, and more should be done to prevent it.

As a member of the law enforcement community, I have always found cases of a child’s injury or death due to abuse or neglect to be especially difficult. Fortunately, the Maine Families Home Visiting Program operates in every county and has shown it can cut abuse and neglect.

These are voluntary programs for all new parents but especially young, at-risk parents. Trained Maine Families professionals serve as parent coaches — visiting homes on a regular basis, teaching new parents about their child’s needs and what is expected at different developmental milestones. They also work on connecting them to other community services when needed.

Home visiting programs are relatively inexpensive investments that pay great future dividends — in lives as well as dollars. It is my hope that the governor and state legislators will support and build upon the programs currently in place. Maine’s youngest citizens deserve this attention, not only during the month of April, but all year long.

Troy Morton

Chief Deputy, Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department

Bangor

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