Letters to the Editor
Katahdin Trail Tips
Thank you for the aerial centerfold of Mount Katahdin in your April issue. What a magnificent mountain worthy of the deepest awe and respect. On my first trip in 1996 the park ranger advised me to stick to the path and its blue blazes, adding that people who stray from it might get injured and those looking for a shortcut to the summit can die. I remembered her words as I was crawling across sections of the Knife Edge — I was never so frightened as that first time ascending the Chimney. Stick to the blue blazes. Another lesson I learned on Katahdin that I try to apply to all aspects of my life.
-Andrew E. Behrendt
Old Orchard Booster
Your April issue caused quite a stir around these parts for the two special reports about Old Orchard Beach. Colin Woodard did admirable work reporting on the different forces in Old Orchard Beach working to either shape a new future or maintain traditional use and access, but I am very disappointed with Down East and Elizabeth Peavey for the article about exploring the festivities at the beach. Ms. Peavey includes some very pertinent facts, but they're almost missed by being buried among the insults.
Neither I nor any of the other directors of the Old Orchard Beach Bar and Restaurant Association could find anyone who ever heard of a bar called "The Bucket of Blood" in Old Orchard Beach, and we will no longer remain tacit when someone tries to propagate an image of what this town was twenty or more years ago. Likewise your writer's assertion that the Brunswick, of which I am a past investor, is "an OOB institution on West Grand known for its live music and bar fights" is untrue; the Brunswick is not known for bar fights, nor is any other establishment in town. Based on published police reports, it seems one would have a better chance of seeing a fight at the 7-Eleven on the way into town. As far as drinking goes, that is what happens at bars — and in many parts of the world. Beaches and bars co-exist, we did not invent the recipe here.
I would like to share my concerns about Governor Baldacci's plan to consolidate Maine's 290 school districts into just 26, the subject of an editorial in your March issue. I used to live in Maine. My children attended Maine schools. I now live in Oregon, a state that went through a school district consolidation about twelve years ago. The results? The loss of funding control, volunteer resources, funding equity, curriculum control, and the ability to respond to local need.
I could continue — the loss of a flexible substitute teacher program is but another thing that will disappear — but the bottom line is loss of accountability to and control by the local citizenry. That control is taken by the big bureaucracy of the large district and state officials who seldom understand local needs. The end result is obvious: lower student achievement and learning. Whereas Oregon once had an excellent reputation for education, it is now among the nation's worst. I hope my beloved Maine will not follow suit.
I enjoyed your April article about the Kennebec Highlands, the land protected by the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance. However, I was disappointed that you didn't mention John Schooley, the man who started the whole movement. His original plan was for the residents along the shores of Watson Pond to buy several parcels of vacant land at the end of the lake and put them into a conservation trust, thereby preserving it forever as open land. Unfortunately there were not enough residents to afford the
cost of the land. At that time John was presi-dent of the Watson Pond Landowners Association, which also owned the property called French's Mountain. John persuaded the association to put this land
into the ownership of the Watson Pond Conservation Trust, but after a few years he encouraged the association to transfer the land in the Trust to the newly formed Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance. John's vision is now a reality through the tireless efforts of Denny Phillips and others who worked to obtain donations to match state grants that made the purchase of the land possible, and then to develop and maintain trails for public access.
Where in Maine?
I didn't even have to read the words that accompanied your April mystery photograph to know exactly where it was taken. We spend a week every year at this beautiful spot in Eustis, Cathedral Pines Campground on Flagstaff Lake. The photograph looks like it was taken from the site we had last year, by far the best one in the campground, although all of the sites are great. We got to listen to the loons wake us up early in the morning as they swam by and watch the full moon rise over the mountains and lake as we sat by the campfire at night. Our aunt lives on the lake on the Stratton side, and it is truly worth the ride.
After reading your March "North by East" item about border crossings, I have checked my DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer and cannot see any Canadian border crossing within walking distance of Portland. How does the Department of Homeland Security count 24,000 foot crossings at Portland?
Southport, North Carolina
The crossings refers to the number of people who traveled between Portland and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, on the now-defunct Scotia Prince ferry.