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Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014: Stem cell research, Head Start, arming rangers

Invest in children

“It takes a village to raise a child.” Maine needs to consider the importance of this African proverb when we consider the overall well-being of our children. The 126th Legislature is considering LD 1682, An Act to Preserve Head Start and Child Care Services, sponsored by Rep. Aaron Frey, D-Bangor. My question is, “What is to consider?” As a society we are obligated to invest in our children to become healthy productive citizens.

Head Start promotes the school readiness of children ages birth to 5 from low-income families by enhancing their cognitive, social and emotional development. Comprehensive services are provided to pregnant women and children, including health and nutrition, and Head Start has an obligation to prioritize services to children with disabilities to address their needs at an early age.

Head Start emphasizes the role of the parents as their child’s first teacher and the importance of the overall health and well-being of each member of the enrolled child’s family. Social services are provided to the entire family to meet their specific needs and provide opportunities for growth and development in all areas of their lives.

Can we afford to neglect the needs of our most vulnerable population? Investment in our youngest children results in long-term benefits to our “village” such as community leadership, reduced crime rates, and educated, physically and mentally healthy human beings.

Support LD 1682 to keep Maine in the forefront of the evidenced-based importance of early education to our young citizens

Kim Larkins


Stem cells achievement

There wasn’t much our former President George Bush did that I thought commendable. Of particular irritation was his vehement stand against the use of embryonic stem cells in reinvigorating failing body organs to save lives. His impetus, I guess, was to prevent women from aborting their pregnancies in order to sell off their fetal material. I can’t imagine any expectant mother doing such a thing, but who knows?

Well, no matter! A just-completed research project at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston has discovered that adult stem cells, which have therapeutic effect only on the organ from which they are taken, can be transformed back to embryonic cells by subjecting them to the stress of an acid bath. Once embryonic-cell status is re-achieved, those cells can then be used to repair any organ in the body. The impact this research finding will have on life expectancy will be nothing short of phenomenal.

So, in passing, I say, kudos and thank you, Bush. But for your vehemence, this remarkable achievement probably never would have happened.

Phil Tobin Ellsworth

Life and breath

As a physician who has practiced medicine in Bangor for more than 25 years, I have witnessed firsthand the difficulty that patients face trying to manage a chronic disease like asthma when they do not have health insurance.

It is bad enough if you can’t afford your drugs to manage high blood pressure. But when you can’t afford the drugs you need to breathe, that can lead to an immediate health crisis.

But effectively managing asthma involves more than access to medication. It takes an ongoing relationship between a patient and physician where trust can be built and education about managing this disease can be effectively delivered.

It has been argued that people can always get care in an emergency room if they don’t have health care coverage. I can’t think of a worse way to manage this disease than waiting until it is out of control and hoping you can get help with your breathing in time.

In addition to practicing medicine, I am also a member of the American Lung Association’s volunteer Leadership Board in Maine. Speaking from both of these perspectives, I believe that expanding MaineCare to over 70,000 of our neighbors is not only the right thing to do. For some people it is a matter of life and breath.

Paul Shapero, MD



Before it’s too late

I am writing in response to the letter to the editor on Jan 28 titled ” Ranger Costs.” As a fire chief, I have had the opportunity to work closely with numerous rangers. Our rangers are a very dedicated group of men and women that works to protect our beautiful state.

I really wish letter writer John Thibodeau had expanded on why he called rangers and how they couldn’t help him. My guess is that it was because the issue was a civil matter. It has been my experience that if they couldn’t assist me, they would point me in the right direction.

As I said, I have worked closely with the rangers on numerous wildland fires, people burning prohibited materials, failure to follow criteria of a burn permit and illegal dumping, just to name a few. On numerous cases, the rangers have solved the cases, issued summonses, and the town was reimbursed for our expenses.

I ask to readers to stop and put yourself in the following situations: You are issuing a summons to a logger for timber theft, and he becomes irate. You are walking in the woods checking on a logging operation, and you stumble upon a large marijuana growing operation that is being run by gun-toting criminals. You are doing a late-night check on a woods operation and find someone high on the latest drug, stealing fuel, batteries or tools from the equipment.

Would you want to be in these situations with only a radio and pepper spray? Please give our rangers the protection they need before one of them is killed because they don’t have it.

Dusty Kelley



Super Bowl answers

The Jan. 26 BDN had an article titled, “Does God care who wins the Super Bowl?” After pondering this profoundly deep spiritual/philosophical conundrum, I believe that I have finally come up with the definitive answer. It is precisely the same one that will answer this equally profound question: Does Santa Claus play with his own toys?

Charles Rasmussen

Bass Harbor


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