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Friday, May 17, 2013: Raw milk, haircut tax and education consolidation


Playing the sympathy card

I have been following the sale of raw milk saga for quite some time. I have sympathy for the farmer with just a couple of milking cows and is trying to provide for his family by selling a little raw milk to his neighbors. But when they play the sympathy card, trying to get state statutes changed so they can sell to the general public — an act that endangers the health of not only their neighbors’ health, but that of everyone at large, I think we should draw the line.

Raw milk is a potentially hazardous food and among other things requires temperature control to prevent the rapid and progressive growth of infectious microorganisms. It should have oversight of a knowledgeable regulatory authority.

This can be done by the use of a “no-fee” license, inspection of facilities and practices, and training of owners/operators in proper Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles.

You do that, and I’ll be on your side.

Earle M. Rafuse


Mack is back

It is quite heartening to see Sharon Kiley Mack’s byline back in the BDN. Mack is a wonderful journalist who covers all the pertinent issues in our far-flung Washington County.

The latest writer for our area just did not cover all the news. I read the paper every day and never once saw any mention of the huge groundswell of support that arose Down East for the Freedom to Marry movement. A large group of all kinds of citizens led by the Carver and Gardner families, and others, marched in every parade from May to October and ended up by winning the “most exciting” float at the Eastport Pirate Festival.

I am glad to know that we have Mack back.

Gillyin Gatto



Tax ‘cuts’

In regards to the front page Maine Review article in the BDN on May 11, “Is 2013 the year for tax reform in Maine?” I had to read down the list of what services our state thought should be taxed, and with a heavy heart, again realized my livelihood was on the attack again.

As a barber and beautician, taxes on haircuts in an already stressed-out economy is a hardship on those of us who are struggling to keep our costs down, so our customers keep coming in. Unlike some services on that list, you can go to your local store and buy hair product, color product, perms, scissors and clippers. More families are doing their hair at home in order to save money; taxing the barber/beautician will only create more at-home haircuts, not revenue for the state.

So please, Democrats and Republicans, take us off of your list for a service tax. Otherwise, we may have to stay at home, too.

Laurie Cole



Withdrawal from RSU 20

I urge residents of the former SAD 34 six towns (Belfast, Belmont, Morrill, Northport, Searsmont, Swanville) to vote for withdrawal from RSU 20 on June 11.

Withdrawal saves educational dollars: The six towns would have saved nearly $700,000 in 2012-13 if we had been withdrawn from RSU 20. In 2014-15, calculations show savings well over $1 million. Currently, the six towns pay 75 percent of RSU educational costs, face rising taxes, and shoulder 10 times the budget cuts of Searsport-area towns.

Withdrawal avoids full consolidation of the school systems: In April, the chair of the RSU board finance chair called it “inevitable.” Cutting the budgets of six town schools to keep under-capacity Searsport schools operational is unsustainable. Consolidation means all high-schoolers from both systems go to Belfast Area High School; all middle schoolers go to Searsport District High School, with one centralized elementary school at Troy Howard Middle School. My daughter would ride about one-and-a-half hours each way to and from school. Searsmont’s great local elementary school would be closed despite studies showing smaller schools are most effective at teaching students.

Withdrawal brings educational benefits: Since joining RSU 20, budget battles have whittled away our 50-year reputation of quality education, electives and sports. Last I checked, Troy Howard Middle School is losing at least one academic teacher, a drug prevention program, art, band, drama and foreign languages. Belfast Area High School is losing four teaching positions, some music and a resource officer. More than $1 million in savings by withdrawing will restore school programs and leave educational tax savings.

Brad LaRoche


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