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Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014: Substance abuse treatment, retirement insecurity, national park support

National treasure

I moved to Maine two years ago from Pennsylvania, following my husband, who is pursuing his medical career here. I had no preconceived ideas about Maine before the move except a vague idea that it was where lobster comes from. To my surprise, I promptly fell in love with this beautiful state that is full of lush and ecologically diverse forests, mountains, pristine lakes and scenic coastline.

We have enjoyed hiking, backpacking, canoeing, skiing and birding here, and we have been welcomed into a passionate and strong statewide community of people who both enjoy and strive to preserve the wonderful natural assets of the state of Maine.

A couple of weeks ago, we had the privilege of joining a group of mountain bikers exploring the Katahdin Woods and Waters Recreation Area, property owned by Elliotsville Plantation Inc. EPI has proposed to donate this property to the National Park Service. This was a part of the North Woods of Maine that I had not yet seen or experienced.

We biked on old logging roads to a beautiful spot called Orin Falls, where, abandoning our bikes to play in the stream, we clambered over giant boulders to enjoy views of the surrounding forest and mountains before settling down for a picnic lunch. I encourage others to visit this beautiful location and urge our congressional representatives to help make it a part of our national park system. This land is one of Maine’s and the nation’s real treasures.

Carly Andersen


‘Clunky’ access

Jackie Farwell’s July 26 BDN article about the drug abuse epidemic is a factual account of a, so far, less-than-perfect system for monitoring abuse of prescription medications. The imperfections — exclusion of the large VA system source of medications and the significant contribution by methadone clinics — have been problems.

The “clunky” access to the system for prescribers has been another problem and a deterrent to use. This has improved. Yet pharmacy data entry delays haven’t improved; they are required only weekly, although soon will change to daily. When availability of information is so delayed, a wide window is created for doctor or emergency room “shopping” for prescriptions by abusers with little likelihood of identification.

Rep. Anne Perry, D-Calais, carefully evaluated the substance abuse problem, submitted and guided to passage legislation with effective measures for control of an escalating abuse problem. Unfortunately, as several articles report, the reporting system effectiveness was compromised by entities that could not or preferred not to be engaged completely.

The successful effort of Perry stands in stunning contrast to the myopic, regressive legislation submitted to and championed in the past Legislature by Sen. David Burns, R-Whiting, whom Perry seeks to unseat. His proposal sought to shut down effective treatment programs for prescription drug abusers and addicts and leave them with no sanctioned means of treatment. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed to create an effective, not strictly punitive, environment for the treatment of abuse.

Charles T. McHugh



Retirement dignity

I read with interest and sadness the July 25 BDN article about the widow who has been denied her husband’s Social Security benefits. I find myself in the same position. Even though I contributed to Social Security in a variety of jobs, I will not benefit from those contributions, nor from the contributions my deceased husband made. I decided rather late in life to become a special education teacher.

At age 62, when I had planned to retire, I find myself looking with the prospect of working until I’m nearly 70. I have worked under the Maine state retirement system just long enough to lose my and my husband’s Social Security. While his benefits would have been just enough to live on, supplemented with food stamps and Medicaid, my retirement won’t even allow me that indignity. I will have to apply for welfare to just barely survive.

Is this a just way for society to treat elderly widows? Does it in any way harm the state government? My employers all made their matching contributions to my Social Security. Will any of us receive refunds for those contributions?

When will our state legislators finally pick up the ball and help those of us denied the retirement we thought we were going to get? When I realized at a teacher’s retirement workshop what I was facing, I wrote to my legislators, and not one of them had the courtesy to respond to my pleas.

So because I decided to do something I love — teach special needs children — I am going to be subjected to living in poverty in my declining years. Thank you, Maine, for looking out for widows.

Jo Duhaime


Safety net cuts

In my small town of Stockton Springs, there is much concern about the quality of education we can give our children and rising property taxes. These issues are tightly linked, thanks to the largest reduction in income tax collection in the history of the state of Maine. It is more accurately referred to as a tax shift, which has resulted in an estimated $79 million drop in state revenues in 2013, according to the Maine Center for Economic Policy. State funding to schools plummeted, sending towns scrambling for ways to keep them open, including raising property taxes. In my town, the elementary school didn’t make the cut; it closed.

For nearly 30 years, my husband and I were able to save enough to pay our property taxes, using the state’s Circuit Breaker and Homestead Exemption tax relief programs. Then suddenly, when the LePage budget was passed, the safety net was cut, threatening the security of staying in our home.

Before the budget was passed, I called Sen. Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport, to say we needed the Circuit Breaker in order to stay in our home. He said he’d consider my comments. And I guess he did. He considered my comments to be irrelevant. He voted to reduce this tax relief program by an estimated $73.4 million and made it harder to qualify for it.

I am a low-income elderly homeowner, and I want Democrat Jonathan Fulford of Monroe to be my next state senator, because I know he’ll help to keep us in our homes.

Let’s create a change.

Nancy Galland

Stockton Springs


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