Either way, vote!

The RSU 26 budget validation referendum is June 11 in Orono. This is not your routine school budget referendum, so easily ignored because the cost of everything seems to be going up. This one involves big bucks.

One item being considered is authorization for the school board to issue bonds in the amount of $16.8 million. This bond issue would fund building repairs and improvements at $10.8 million, a 400-seat auditorium in the high school at $4.3 million, and athletic field and track rebuilding at $1.4 million. With lots of public participation, the school board, RSU 26 staff, and a consulting firm have prepared a clear and comprehensive proposal for this investment. Details are available via the RSU 26 website.

Principal and interest for this bond issue are to be repaid over the life of the bond with property taxes. Bonds between 20 and 30 years are being considered. By my calculations based on the information on the website and existing valuation, for each of the first seven years, a yes vote would increase the RSU 26 mill rate by somewhere between $1.80 and $2.10. For each of the subsequent 23 years, the mill rate for paying off this bond issue increases to somewhere between $2.38 and $2.73.

Vote in person at the Orono Town Council Chambers on June 11, or vote absentee at the Orono Town Office between now and June 6. Vote yes, or vote no, however the cost-benefit analysis works for you. But either way, vote!

Paul Smith


Managing chronic pain

At least 8 percent of people prescribed opioids eventually become addicted, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. But what about the other 92 percent? I am part of the 92 percent and my primary care provider is forcefully tapering my pain medication. I’ve had chronic pain since a spinal cord injury in 2009.

Maine has gone from one of the most opioid prescribed states to one of strictest in just one year. Where do those patients go? They may turn to alcohol, buy off the street, steal from friends and family or commit suicide.

The pendulum has swung wildly and this knee-jerk reaction has left some of us who live with chronic pain devastated. There is a serious epidemic and opioids are being abused. But patients with chronic pain, who have tried the alternatives to no avail, should be able to continue taking them.

On July 15, there will be an Opioid Crisis Summit in Augusta. I implore Gov. Janet Mills to consider this scenario as she works to lesson the number of opioid victims in our state.

Trease Hodge


Fighting to stay active

As someone who has been impacted by Spondyloarthritis, I know first-hand that our country needs to accelerate progress and improve lives by directing increased funding for NIH or NIH NIAMS spondyloarthritis research.

An estimated 2.7 million people in the US have a Spondyloarthritis disease. They were likely born with a genetic susceptibility. Spondyloarthritis is a chronic, painful type of arthritis that starts as a child or young adult, is too often life-long, and for many of us leads to permanent damage to the spine and disfigurement. The overall economic burden associated with arthritis is $300 billion annually To put this into perspective, the annual economic cost of arthritis surpasses that of cancer.

I ask that people join me to make Spondyloarthritis research funding one of our legislative priorities. We know early treatment helps, yet Spondyloarthritis can often be misdiagnosed for seven to 10 years, closing the window for optimal outcomes. We have a couple of effective treatments — often very expensive — that are making a difference for some of us. Innovative discoveries are being made in the lab, and additional funding and focused efforts are urgently needed to quickly advance these discoveries.

I hope that I can count on the support of others to ensure that those fighting to stay active and productive have more options and hope for a brighter future.

Michelle Andrews

South China