Letters to the Editor
Where in Maine?
The location shown in your October mystery photo is Dodge Point, on the Damariscotta River. I have worked on some of the hiking trails there as a volunteer, and hope the western part across River Road will be opened up so we can also hike there. Two springs ago I was working on the Ravine Trail with some others and came upon a new trail. Every new trail has to be approved before it is cut, so we were quite surprised by this discovery. Starting to follow the new trail, we found it ended abruptly. In this spot was a stump left by beavers, who were damming up the brook in the ravine and had created this path to aspen trees.
I recently subscribed to Down East and really enjoyed Monica Wood's October article about Rumford. The photos by Dean Abramson were great, too. I was born and raised in Rumford and have fond memories of growing up there in the fifties and sixties. I've often told my children how different it was growing up in a small town, where you always felt safe because you knew everyone and everyone knew you (they can't imagine what that would be like). My father, brother, uncles, and cousins all worked at the mill, and we took dancing lessons, watched movies, bowled at the Mechanic's Institute, and went to St. A's church every Sunday. I don't think we even owned a key to our front door!
I've kept up with the news in Rumford and am so happy to see that there are people like Steve Eldridge, Lem Cissel, Curtis Rice, and numerous Rumford natives interested in preserving the great beauty of that area. I love to come home to Rumford, as it will always be home no matter where I live.
—Pat Foley Casper
Salt Lake City, Utah
I read with interest your October "Inside Maine" item about cycling tours in the midcoast, as for more than thirty years I enjoyed riding my bike at least twelve miles a day in the spring, summer, and fall on the roads around my home in Penobscot. These days, however, the only time I dare venture out and ride is early on Sunday mornings, when traffic is at a minimum. All except the smallest amount of shoulder on almost every local road has been eliminated over the years, leaving a walker or biker with few or no choices when vehicle traffic demands the entire road.
I love to ride my bike, and I love Maine — and I can certainly identify with someone who would want to take a cycling tour of the coast. My advice, however, is that potential cyclists research carefully the roads upon which they will be riding. Find out what local traffic consists of during riding times, since a ride at 8 a.m. on Islesboro on a Monday morning will differ greatly from a ride from Orland down to Castine at the same time. That the roads are quieter in the fall than they are in the summer is not to say that they are quiet.
It is an unfortunate reality that the state cannot afford to make a small bike lane for walkers and bikers along every roadway.
A lot has changed since I wrote to you concerning Senator Susan Collins and the Base Realignment and Closure process ("Letters to the Editor," October 2005). Events, and a detailed look at all the BRAC results nationwide, have proven me wrong on a number of counts. The BRAC commission was independent all right: independent of the Department of Defense, but not politics. As a result, not discomfiting electoral constituencies — preserving civilian employment and not harming small economic areas — became the commission's key criteria. Similarly, community input and desires were given huge consideration. The commission had to find savings somewhere, and they did — generally by closing facilities where only the uniformed members (or small, politically unimportant groups of civilians) would be discomfited. Despite the stated criteria, military value was not a key factor, or even a factor at all, in many of the eventual closure recommendations. I should have anticipated these priorities. After all, the commissioners were all Washington, D.C., insiders, selected by and sensitive to the needs of elected officials.
The Maine delegation, the governor, and the volunteer task force working to preserve Naval Air Station Brunswick failed to penetrate the commission's concern with electoral constituencies. We had a powerful factual case, pushed it hard, and lost. It will probably never be known whether direct political pressures from one delegation or another affected this or that outcome of BRAC. Whether or not Senator Collins or the other members could have been more effective will also remain a mystery.
—Ralph J. Dean
Captain, U.S. Navy (retired)