Friday, February 26, 2016

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Insight - Going away and coming back - By Michelle Libby

From the looks of things on social media last week, most of the northern half of the country went south. There were a few of you who went to the mountains to ski or snowboard, but everyone else went to where the warm winds blow and someone makes your bed for you every day. 
I was one of those people who went south…very south…out of the country south. 

I had to do a lot of work before leaving, as most working moms have to do, then we left and hoped that everything would be awesome. 

St. Thomas, USVI
I read an article this morning about how important vacations are for work environments. Employees who take mandatory vacations are healthier and happier with their jobs. Blood pressures drop and stress can melt away if the employee can disconnect from the job. 

The article went on to suggest that some businesses allow their employees to take vacations whenever they want and as many times as they want. I guess bosses would find out which employees like their jobs and which ones would rather be somewhere else with that option. 

The vacation I went on was awesome. There’s something to be said for mandatory unplugging, except for a little social media for $5 a day. While on the cruise people waited on me, smiled at me when I walked past, remembered my name and filled my water glass over and over again during dinner. We played games, swam in the ocean, toured foreign lands (sort of) USVI and Puerto Rico. We also dressed up for dinner and attended live productions and comedy shows. 

What’s not to like? Well for my brother-in-law the motion of the ocean was too much for him and he jumped ship on day four. (I can’t blame him. It was rough and he was really ill.

When I returned home I was surprised that not every was having a good time. Not everyone smiled back when I smiled at them. People didn’t go out of their way to make sure I was having a wonderful day…wait…this is real life? 

I think we as a society need to take some more time off to relax, play some golf or get out of town for a day. Even a little change of pace can have a positive effect on your well-being. I hope that everyone gets a chance to get away and rejuvenate. It’s a good thing.

Friday, February 19, 2016

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“Live Free or Die” – it’s for more than NHites now – it’s about all of us – Talk to us…

On Wednesday of this week, Apple CEO took an intended stand on privacy.  They built the iPhone (current versions I believe) with no back door.  Tim Cook’s product design foresight to protect privacy is going to change the way we think and how we interact with our government and how our government interacts with us – Rather than give you our opinion, what is your opinion?

Designing the iPhone with no back door prevents anyone from getting your data – Ever.  It self-erases if you guess the password too many times.

Good thing or bad thing?
Express Your Opinion on our Facebook page

On a second note - We all hear the talking going on in the Republican Party.  When I went through my media training (about 15 years ago) I was told to  “… Have a thick skin…” and “as long as they are talking about you, you are winning”.  Do you agree?  What do you think of what’s going on?  Remember, ”All Politics is Local”.  Even here in the Lakes Region of Maine.  I don’t make up these clichés.

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Bob Leonard

Get a job! - By Jeff “Chief” Urbaniak

DEAR CHIEF: I graduated from college a year ago and can’t seem to find a job. I want to stay in the state of Maine because my family is here and my grandparents are aging and I want to be able to spend quality time with them before it’s too late. I look around for jobs but there’s nothing. I live at home with my parents so I don’t have to worry about rent or other bills. My parents even pay my cell phone bill for me. Any advice for me to get a job? COMFORTABLE AT HOME

DEAR COMFORTABLE AT HOME: It’s pretty nice of your parents to let you mooch off of them like that. But I have to ask you: Do you have spending money? Do you drive? If so, who pays for your car and gas? What do you do in all of your spare time?

Anyway, you indicated you’ve looked around for jobs and that there aren’t any, but when I scan the environment, I find there to be plenty of jobs in Maine.

On, there are 10,516 full time jobs, 3,046 part-time jobs, 584 temporary jobs, 459 contract jobs, 256 commission jobs, and 92 internships listed for various locations throughout Maine. Although you may not be qualified for some of those jobs, I’ll bet you’re qualified for many of them, regardless what college degree you have.

I suggest you stop relying on the comforts of home and get out there and start applying for jobs. Have qualified people help you put together a good résumé and strategically distribute it. If this tactic isn’t producing results for you, here’s what you can do considering you have a secure and free living situation with your parents: Be willing to work for free. Mark Twain told people frustrated with unemployment to do this. In fact, many successful people got their first jobs by being an apprentice. They’d tell potential employers: “I’ll work for you for free for two months. If you like me, hire me. If you don’t, let me go.” You’d be surprised how many employers would actually accept your offer to work for free. And you’d be amazed at how many employers would decide to keep you after the free trial is up because they realize how valuable you’ve become to them (if you’re putting forth a great effort every day that is).

Another way to get a job is to be less concerned about what it is. Jobs you find may not be what you want, but it’s a start. A lot of successful people started out as bus boys, cooks, taxi drivers, waitresses, office assistants, etc. In fact, many people came to this country with no money, no job, no ability to speak the language, and yet went on to create fortunes.

Opportunities exist. Find them. They don’t always come knocking on your door. Sometimes you have to go about opening up doors. There is work out there. Get out and be willing to do something and you’ll have your first job!

For an opportunity to have your question, issue or concern addressed in the Dear Chief column, go to and submit your comments or email them to

Dear Editor - By Amy E Madge, Wells

Dear Editor,

I just learned that Representative Drew Gattine (D-Westbrook) received AARPs 2015 Capital Caregiver Award.  There is no legislator more deserving of the award than Representative Gattine. It's difficult for me to thank him adequately for the work he has done for Maine’s 178,000 caregivers and their families in making the CARE Act and its three important provisions law. I was a caregiver to both of my late parents. I know first-hand the struggles, frustrations and all the other range of emotions that go with the job of caring for a loved one. The caregivers of today will benefit greatly from the increased communication and support required in the CARE Act. 

Representative Gattine’s leadership, sincerity and passion to help caregivers and their families in his own district and across Maine have produced fruitful results.

I thank him sincerely for his dedication to Maine’s caregivers.

Best, Amy E Madge, Wells 

Dear Editor, From The American, Fred Collins

Dear Editor,

We Americans need a lot of soul searching. Consider our circumstances. Why do we have long soup lines? Why are thousands of folks sleeping under bridges and in subways? We have no reason to support countries that disregard “civil rights” while these conditions prevail in America.  

We need America strong and morally straight. We need to demand that other countries do their share to protect their homelands! They must contribute to their own welfare not building warring equipment while their people starve! If we were to stop feeding the people, you would see them rise against those dictators. Then become a free nation!

Above all else we need a strong America, we must set above all else the ever growing danger from within! “Quote” the thief that strikes in the night. We must teach our youths the value of a dollar!

The credit card should be used only as a bookkeeping device. Not as a means of getting in debt, only to be used if the debt is paid in 30 days. (You will see prices drop 50 percent and you’re buying power rise 50 percent) Congress should be doing their job. Why the outrageous deficit nationally?

We need a small committee to control the spending, nationally as well as foreign. Let’s run this country like it is a real business. (Perhaps if we only thought of “pork” as something we put in the bean pot, instead as a means to swing a deal with the brother congressmen. We could eliminate much of the hunger that is prevalent in their country! We need to hold a tight rein on spending. This of course starts with us.  

We need a strong compassionate America. We need to sacrifice to make it so.  

The American,  
Fred Collins

Friday, February 12, 2016

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Insight - Valentine’s Day is for everyone coupled or not - By Michelle Libby

As a romance novelist, I think that we get celebrated on Valentine’s Day more than any other day. Everyone wants her or her own happily ever after and I believe there is someone out there for everyone. That’s not just my own wishful thinking, but if you are out there looking, eventually there will be someone for you.

If that special someone hasn’t come along yet, love yourself. Do something nice for yourself, whether it be to buy a shirt, buy yourself flowers or take a hike in the woods to listen to nature. Special things don’t have to come from someone else to make them special.

Are you having trouble coming up with ideas for Valentine’s Day? Looking for something new and different from the traditional? Mix it up.

Go for a nice dinner at one of our area restaurant that can cater to couples, this holiday always makes me think of Disney’s Lady and the Tramp and the spaghetti scene. Food and local wine are a great option, but what if you want to get your heart pumping this Valentine’s Day? Try snowshoeing with all of the fresh snow we have. Windham Parks and Rec rent them out for free during the week. Go snow tubing. We have a great place right here in town that can provide the adrenaline rush you crave.

Or if you’re an inside kind of guy or girl, take in a heart pumping movie or watch a play like “Love Letters” happening in Windham Saturday night.
If you haven’t found that special someone yet and you are more of a homebody, you could invite other singles over for a wine and game night. Or if you really want a date on Valentine’s Day, visit an elderly friend or relative. Spend time talking and reminiscing with them. If you have time make them a homemade card. Nothing makes you feel better than to give your time to someone else.

I wish you all a happily-ever-after.

Dear Editor – From Rep. Mike McClellan

I read with interest the letter written by Former State Representative Jane Pringle advocating Medicaid expansion. While in the Maine House with her, I took the opposite view and still do. In researching the issue to write this letter, I found it interesting that most of the articles in a Google search on the subject were from the federal government telling me why to support Medicaid expansion. In Augusta I was part of a special committee that worked for two years looking at what the ACA would look like if we expanded and fully implemented it. The experience is relevant to considering now expanding Medicaid.

Maine politicians struggle to not spend. The recent 2-year budget cycle saw an increase in Maine's budget of $330 million. What did that money buy? Why are we still discussing healthcare? (Or senior needs, education or supporting people with special needs) The ACA (Obamacare) was proposed as the answer to our healthcare needs. It would be a response to the United States problem of 50 million Americans not having health insurance (also realize in the discussion health insurance and healthcare are different). Even better, our President said this was going to be so good that families would be getting $2,500 back in savings. (My check has not come yet).

Washington encourages us to expand these programs and will pay for that expansion...for a few years. Then Maine will pick up the tab (what will we have to cut to afford this move?). The Supreme Court says Washington cannot force us to expand but once we do, we can never go back regardless of results. Many federal initiatives are like that. The ADA Committee in Augusta was made up primarily of non-profit directors who clearly would benefit by having more funding. All the discussion was in favor even as the elephant in the room was an ADA Website that eventually grew to cost One billion dollars. We also heard about the IRS enforcement positions being hired, no mention of more doctors though. This is how bureaucracy works, how government grows and sadly forgets why it started the effort (50 million people). Would this be how you would start to plan to give people better health care?

You would be much better to take care of your own family, support your local health options and even your church. Government should exist to help those of us where the health issue is so big we cannot reasonably deal with it. Government expansion has sought to take that responsibility from you and make you dependent on government supports. The individual is lost in that system. I realize we are so far gone that many of us cannot afford to have the health insurance the government forces us to have (thus the need for more IRS agents). I guess better options instead of the expansion of government healthcare are a separate letter to the editor.

Rep. Mike McClellan
Maine House 66
Parts Raymond, Casco and Poland

Dear Editor – From Fred Collins

Patriots, February and March is a milestone in the history of the free world. Let us pause in remembrance for those that braved the unknown and for those that carry the weight of broken bodies.

We that once braved the hot metal of years ago bow in grateful thanks to those what sacrifice their lives and broken bodies, so we the citizens can still see the red, white and blue and be proud that she represents truth, justice and freedom!

Not only do we see her as a symbol of justice, but of compassion, lifting the downtrodden, rendering hope and light in a world that needs to find a rainbow! Those that fell in battle looking reverently and proudly at “Old Glory”, their last breath was that of their dear mother and the God that sustained them. That dedicated little island atoll in the Pacific called “Iwo Jima” became a symbol of freedom for the freedom loving world.

“Let us always be vigilant that no one threaten our hard fought for rights!”

Fred Collins

Friday, February 5, 2016

Insight - Gaining knowledge - By Michelle Libby

I like knowing things. I take pride in being the person people call to get information from hours a business is open to do I know what happened with an accident down the street. 
If I don’t know the answer to their question I will find out. 

When I was a Girl Scout leader I took a tremendous number of training's over my 15 years. I was like a sponge with the information. 

Since joining Boy Scouts with my son, I have been taking some training's, but this fall I jumped in with both feet taking Wood Badge, some of you may remember, it’s a six day training for all things Boy Scouts with outdoor training, cooking and teamwork.

Tuesday night I attended another training for Boy Scouts. This one will last until May. I’m taking the class with my husband and many of my Wood Badge class mates. We talked about trip planning and safety this week. There was a lot of information about preparing, products, but the part that struck me the most was the “Try new things” quote the instructor said and then repeated. 

“Try new things.” 

By taking this class purely for the experience is a commitment. This commitment will make the completion that much more meaningful. Over the next few months we will earn about everything from astronomy to snowshoeing, camping to biking. 

I’m excited to learn the outdoor activities that are geared more toward the spring and summer activities. And, since the groundhog said six more weeks until spring, I should be ready for my kayak trip soon. 

Trying new things is a good way to learn about the world and the new technology. Imagine if we said, “my flip phone is fine.” We would be missing out on the amazingness that is a smartphone. Try new things can apply to work, health, eating or an activity that you’ve been thinking about. Get out there and “just do it!”
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