Friday, May 17, 2024

Insight: Moon beams and big dreams

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

I sat in Miss Weaver’s second-grade classroom that day totally in awe of what was happening and the possibilities that a special event held for all Americans.

NASA astronaut Alan Shepard aboard
Freedom 7 takes off from Cape
Canaveral in Florida on May 5, 1961
on his way to becoming the first
American in space.
The date was Friday May 5, 1961, and it started out like any other normal school day at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School in Brighton, New York. Along with my classmates, we were quietly reading at our desks about 10:15 a.m. when there was a knock at our classroom door, and a priest wheeled in a large portable television set.

Miss Weaver instructed us to put down our books and watch the television because a special event was about to happen that we would remember for the rest of our lives. It was live coverage of the first-ever attempt to launch an American astronaut into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The astronaut aboard the spacecraft called Freedom 7 was Alan Shepard, one of the original U.S. Mercury astronauts. It was the first time I heard NASA’s Mission Control Countdown tick away “10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, liftoff.”

We all cheered as the rocket took off and eventually reached a suborbital altitude of 115 miles. Shepard’s spacecraft traveled downrange for 302 nautical miles from Cape Canaveral. During the flight, Shepard was able to observe the Earth from space and tested his altitude control system. He also was able to turn the spacecraft around so its heat shield could protect him during atmospheric re-entry and tested Freedom 7’s retrorockets.

The flight itself lasted for 15 minutes and 28 seconds and reached a speed of 5,180 mph before Freedom 7 splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the Bahamas. Our class continued watching the recovery as U.S. Navy frogmen retrieved Shepard and Freedom 7 and flew them by helicopter to the aircraft carrier USS Lake Champlain.

With his successful flight, Alan Shepard became the first American in space and by 11:30 a.m., the large portable television was wheeled out of our classroom and our class got ready to go to the cafeteria for lunch.

It was a significant milestone for this nation and a few days later I was watching the evening news and saw where President John F. Kennedy welcomed Shepard to the White House. He presented him with the NASA Distinguished Service Medal in a ceremony and during his remarks, the president also saluted the work done by so many others for Shepard’s flight to be a success.

For days after that, all the members of our second-grade class pretended to be astronauts while out on the school playground. By the end of that month, President Kennedy addressed a joint session of Congress and challenged the nation to claim a leadership role in space exploration and to land a man on the moon before the end of the 1960s decade.

It was a source of pride and common purpose for Americans and each subsequent NASA manned space flight became must-see television, no matter what age you were. Americans were ecstatic when Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the moon in July 1969 and were worried and fearful when an accident crippled the Apollo 13 spacecraft on its mission to the moon but miraculously made it back to earth safely in April 1970.

Shepard had been grounded by NASA following his 1961 spaceflight after suffering from an ear ailment called Meniere’s disease but was restored to flight status following surgery to alleviate the issue. He led the Apollo 14 mission to the moon and at age 47 became the oldest astronaut to walk on the moon, and the only one of the original seven Mercury astronauts to make it there.

In 1994, my life came full circle when I met Alan Shepard while he was at a promotional event in Titusville, Florida. Shepard and two journalists, Jay Barbee and Howard Benedict, had written a book called “Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America’s Race to the Moon.” I got to spend a few moments speaking to Alan Shepard and I told him about how fascinated members of our second-grade class were that morning in 1961 to watch his Freedom 7 flight.

He told me that he felt all Americans were part of his mission that day and he thanked me for watching. Shepard died in 1998 from leukemia and I was saddened to hear that news.

When I landed a job working for a newspaper in Laconia, New Hampshire in 2014, on at least several occasions I interviewed and met several people who had grown up in Derry, New Hampshire with Alan Shepard and had attended middle school classes at Oak Street School in Derry with him.

I also interviewed a U.S. Army veteran who resided at the New Hampshire Veterans Home in Tilton who had been in the same Boy Scout troop as Alan Shepard. He told me the future astronaut loved building things and enlisted the assistance of his fellow scouts to construct a rowboat.

You never know where life will lead you and I certainly never dreamed sitting in my second-grade classroom in May 1961 that I would some day meet the first American in space. <

Andy Young: Surprises and expiration dates

By Andy Young

I love surprises.

Wait. Let me rephrase that. I love pleasant surprises. An unexpected letter, package, or phone call from someone I like is a pleasant surprise. So is coming home from work and seeing the dishes have been washed by someone else. And if that dish washer is actively preparing dinner when I arrive, that’s even better.

Other pleasant surprises I’ve received over the years include getting an unanticipated refund from an insurance company, unannounced visits from old friends, and finding 15 $20 bills hidden inside an old water bottle I had consigned to a trunk in the attic at least a decade before its discovery.

Some surprises I can do without. Lengthy power outages, mice scurrying out from under the refrigerator, and doctors, dentists, or auto mechanics uttering the words, “We found something else,” are three examples of unexpected occurrences that prompt consternation rather than joy.

It’s unsurprising my morning bowl of generic Cheerios is both tasty and nutritious, since the “Best if used by” dates (“Nov0724” on the cereal box and “June 24” on the milk carton) indicate the ingredients are reasonably fresh.

Figures printed on grocery items used to be called “expiration dates” until some marketing guru suggested “Best if used by” dates sounded less dire. Prior to expiration dates there were only two methods of determining food safety. One was seeing; if bugs were crawling and/or flying around the fruit or vegetables in question, you probably didn’t buy them. The other was sniffing; if the meat, fish, or dairy products smelled like rotting flesh, last week’s garbage, or the inside of someone’s stomach, you definitely didn’t buy them.

Sometimes those dates don’t matter. While reorganizing the pantry last week I found an unopened package of Wheat Thins with “13July21” printed atop the box. It turned out they tasted exactly like Wheat Thins. That was another pleasant surprise.

Imagine how much easier it would be to purchase a car, for example, if it had an expiration date stamped on the lower left corner of the windshield.

The same should go for other big-ticket items. Judicious consumers would love to have mandatory expiration dates printed on refrigerators, stoves, computers, washing machines, microwave ovens, furnaces, and similar necessities. If the product in question expired before its printed date, the consumer would receive a new one, free of charge. I can’t imagine anyone being opposed to this sort of radical reform with the possible exception of makers of refrigerators, stoves, computers, washing machines, furnaces, and similar necessities.

Commuters and vacationers could travel with far more confidence if airplanes, train cars, and ocean liners were equipped with expiration dates.

Maybe requiring expiration dates on the nation’s roadways, bridges, tunnels, railroads, and airports would be the most efficient way to keep America’s infrastructure safe.

But the ultimate spot for expiration dates is people. Imagine if everyone were born with an expiration date printed on their forehead? Scientists will probably figure out how to do that before long. But perhaps a “Best if used by” designation would be more appropriate for human beings. It would certainly make roster selection for professional baseball teams both simpler and more cost-effective. The same would go for employers filling key positions and also for those searching for long (or short) term personal relationships.

If every person had a visible “best if used by” date, this fall’s presidential election ballot would probably look very different. But if human expiration dates were a reality and each party’s presumptive nominee was still the same as it is now, that would be a surprise.

And not a pleasant one. <

nt one. <a pleasant one. <

Friday, May 10, 2024

Insight: 9 volts of pure magic

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

On my 10th birthday in December 1963, my parents gave me a gift that became an invaluable part of my life for the next few years. It was a Panasonic AM transistor radio, and it gave me an opportunity to experience music as I never had before.

By inserting the earplug, I could tune in late at night in bed without disturbing my younger brother and it just happened to be the era of the “British Invasion” of bands from England and of Motown, featuring soulful singers and performers whose songs endear to this very day.

My radio station of choice was WBBF in Rochester, New York because it played popular music of the day and rock n’ roll oldies, although many of the records that WBBF disc jockeys aired in those days were from 1956 and later. Some of the oldies’ records that were played on the radio were ones my older sister owned on vinyl before she had graduated from high school including “Venus” by Frankie Avalon, “Poor Little Fool” by Ricky Nelson and “Stagger Lee” by Lloyd Price.

But many of the new songs I first listened to on my new transistor radio were ones that came around after my sister had moved into her own apartment. Some of those tunes included “Sherry” by the Four Seasons, “Duke of Earl” by Gene Chandler, “If I Had A Hammer” by Trini Lopez, “Sukiyaki” by Kyu Sakamoto, “Heat Wave” by Martha and the Vandellas, and “Puff the Magic Dragon” by Peter, Paul and Mary.

The little 9-volt battery used to power my radio was only 29 cents in 1964 and would last for four or five months of daily use. Besides listening to music, I could tune in for the latest news and weather reports, or Rochester Red Wings baseball games. My transistor radio became part of my day-to-day world, along with the sports section and the comics page of the daily newspaper, baseball cards, 12-cent comic books and my Huffy Roadmaster bike.

Early in 1964, the radio airwaves were dominated by The Beatles, and the first one of their songs I can recall listening to was “I Want to Hold Your Hand” followed in succession by “She Loves You” and “Do You Want to Know A Secret,” then “Love Me Do,” and “I Saw Her Standing There” and “P.S. I Love You.”

Soon British bands and singers were everywhere on WBBF with The Dave Clark Five (“Glad All Over” and “Bits and Pieces”), The Animals (“House of the Rising Sun”)” The Zombies (“She’s Not There”), Gerry and the Pacemakers (“Ferry Cross the Mersey” and "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying"), Dusty Springfield (“Wishin’ and Hopin’”) and The Hollies (“Just One Look”) frequently played.

One evening in 1964, a song from a girls’ singing group called The Supremes was played and it was unlike anything I had ever heard before. It was called “Where Did Our Love Go” and I quickly became a big fan of theirs. Their first radio hit was followed by “Baby Love,” then “Come See About Me,” and my personal favorite, “Stop in the Name of Love” which at the time I thought was simply the greatest song ever recorded.

As I started seventh grade in the fall of 1965, I was still listening to my transistor radio, although its leather cover had been chewed on by one of our family’s dogs. By then the Rolling Stones had released “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and I was also listening to The McCoys (“Hang on Sloopy”), Herman’s Hermits (“Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” and “I’m Henry VIII, I am”), and The Temptations (“My Girl”).

My father and I had watched a program on television in February 1965 that included a performance of the top song in America that week called “This Diamond Ring” by the son of comedian Jerry Lewis. The band was called Gary Lewis and the Playboys, and I would turn the volume up each time one of their other songs was on the radio. Those included “Count Me In,” and “Save Your Heart For Me,” “Everybody Loves a Clown,” and “She’s Just My Style.”

As I was finishing up junior high school in June 1967, I first heard on my transistor radio what has since become one of my all-time favorite songs “Love Is All Around” by The Troggs. It’s probably the last song I can recall hearing on that radio.

The very last thing I do remember listening to on that radio was Game One of the 1969 World Series. I was on the sidelines of our high school’s football game in October and my friend Mike Wilson, who was playing in the game, had asked me during a timeout what the final score in the game was. It was Baltimore 4, New York Mets 1. He bet me that the Orioles wouldn’t win another game in the series, and I took the bet. The Mets swept the next four games and I lost $5 to him.

I don’t know what happened to the transistor radio after that but my memories from it remain strong more than six decades later.

Andy Young: Taking $tock and finding per$pective

By Andy Young

I’ve had good days and I’ve had bad days. Given the choice, I prefer good ones.

However, the last Monday of April didn’t qualify as good.

On my way home from work the display on my car’s electronic dashboard suddenly began flashing. Several warning lights came on simultaneously, and the odd response I got when I tapped the brakes indicated this was not a test of the car's emergency warning system, but an actual mechanical malfunction.

Fortunately, the large dealership where I purchased the car was just two turnpike exits past the one that I customarily take, so I drove there and cautiously pulled in.

The attendant asked if I had an appointment, which of course I didn’t. I explained the problem. He listened sympathetically, went back to see his supervisor, and returned a moment later to mournfully report they were booked solid that afternoon.

No mechanic was available, but they’d try to diagnose the problem early the next day. He was clearly a keen student of body language, because he rapidly deduced that I wasn’t interested in renting a minivan for $100 a day. He did, however, offer to have the dealership’s shuttle service take me wherever I needed to go, as long as it was no more than 12 miles distant.

That’s when I got the first sign that my luck was about to change. My residence, it turns out, is precisely 11.78 miles from the dealership. The upbeat shuttle operator was just what the situation called for: an engaging conversationalist, a good listener, and best of all, a safe driver.

Once I got home. I arranged to borrow my son’s car so I could make the 75-mile round trip to work the next day.

The service people messaged me early the following morning. My car needed a wheel hub and bearing assembly replaced and also a new right rear ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) wire. The estimate had four numbers to the left of the decimal point, but I needed reliable transportation, so I gave the okay.

The cost, when combined with the mortgage payment that was due the same day, assured me of spending more during the month of May than I’ll bring home. From a fiscal perspective, that qualifies as a very bad day.

But then I paused, took a deep breath, and assessed the overall situation.

An unexpected four-digit expense is a bummer. But as a result of that misfortune, my son cheerfully let me borrow his car, just as his aunt gave him the temporary loan of hers. I was, after all, getting my reliable transportation back. I’m not food insecure, I’ve got electricity, and access to tap water that’s safe to drink.

My son’s tennis team is enjoying a good season. All three of my children are looking forward to continuing their education this fall.

Two special people I hadn’t heard from in a while, neither of whom knew anything about my car situation, reached out to say hello. I saw the long-since-graduated student who made me the special pencil holder that sits atop my desk at school for the first time in over a year.

An encouragingly large number of my current students are throwing their hearts and souls into their final project. And the place where I am currently house-sitting is 36 minutes closer to school than my usual residence is.

Given the choice of a good day or a bad one, I’d still opt for the good one. But I’m not 100 percent sure of that. Maybe it’d help if I could remember what a truly bad day actually feels like. <

Given the choice of a good day or a bad one, I’d still opt for the good one. But I’m not 100 percent sure of that. Maybe it’d help if I could remember what a truly bad day actually feels like. <

Friday, May 3, 2024

Rookie Mama: Kids in the kitchen, a culinary crusade

By Michelle Cote

What’s cookin’?

As parents, we take deep breaths and attempt to teach those life skills as thoroughly and as best as we can in the fleeting childhood years that blur on by faster than my youngest kiddos can zip around my kitchen island on their Big Wheels wearing grooves in wooden floors that have, for the past decade plus, really become a race track – one occasionally covered in flour.

Of my four little guys, the two littlest have been most fascinated by the idea of cooking, baking, getting hands messy like I get to do while creating something to soon fill bellies.

When they see me pull out pizza doughs, and flour my countertop, they recognize the cue.

The boys pull up big, wooden dining chairs to the counter, sidling up to participate, side by side with me and ready for action.

When this amusing trend first emerged, I was hesitant. Taking time to teach anyone anything any time while trying to complete a task – markedly anyone fewer than 6 years old – is in itself an intense exercise in patience.

And, after a full day’s work as I transition to dinner prep mode, that virtue bandwidth is much depleted.

But I quickly remember that children – young children notably – are darn curious types. When my husband and I mill about outside gardening or immersed yard work, our littlest ones are natural and intentional botanists, wishing to assist as they ask all the questions.

It’s become the same indoors. If I don’t foster their desire to participate while curiosity’s piqued, it will take all the more time to sell them on the idea of sharpening culinary skills later in life.

So, I keep calm and cook on, taking these opportunities to spark culinary excitement as we stretch and flip dough, spooning sauce and doling mozzarella.

Did I mention pizza’s the thing?

This meal’s my favorite to make with my little mini-me assistants.

Pizza’s relatively inexpensive – For the cost of a couple of dough balls, shredded cheese, sauce and toppings of choice, you’ve got yourself the easy makings of a delicious dish.

Accordingly, it’s a weekly meal staple.

Pizza’s also versatile – Really, most anything goes. There are countless options for meat lovers, vegetarians, gluten-free diners, and appreciators of most any dietary need. My crew really doesn’t tire with it, because there are so many ways to cook it up – Homemade pesto to sub for red sauce is also a favorite, and budget-friendly.

Pizzas are easy to make – 450 degrees for 12-ish minutes in your preheated oven, then slice and enjoy the divine goodness. And because the only slicing comes from the pizza cutter, it’s also relatively safe to make with little guys. And they know the oven is off limits to them – for now.

But most of all, pizza’s palatable to universally most kiddos, even the pickiest of the mac-and-cheese-and-chicken-nuggets-only crowd.

Pizza’s a fantastic dish to get your kids to eat their veggies, which balances beautifully with the pepperoni.

Perhaps the pepperoni is what truly incentivizes.

Not to mention that with pizza often comes homemade fries, and sometimes tater tots for my tots.

With or without my mini-assistants, I’m already making a mess in the kitchen, anyway.

So the potential for kids contributing to cuisine disorder is really moot –there will be pizza pans to scrub and flour to wipe down with or without my helpers.

And I accept that they’re sneaking pepperoni bites as they layer toppings with their cherubim grins as though I’m not fully aware of their antics.

They still don’t believe that mamas have eyes behind their head.

But more top of mind than toppings is that all this is borne of a desire to teach a life skill.

I want them to impress future dates with a homemade meal and know I played a hand in those learned lessons, just as I taught them to brush their teeth and wash their hands.

I want them to love preparing food as much as eating it.

But I also want to prepare them for the reality that they’ll one day need this skill for when they’re living solo – or with someone who perhaps doesn’t know tablespoons from turmeric.

I hope for them to carry on the handing down of beloved generational recipes stained, cinnamon-seasoned, and cursive-written.

I hope they’ll devour our own family recipes we’ve collected in a binder through the years, and one day perhaps understand why Mama made so many slow cooker meals during sports seasons. Soccer season is time to crock ‘n roll, after all.

So as you continue to nurture your little ones with food, feed them too with a desire to prepare it – a desire that will last a lifetime, seasoned with warm memories.

You can’t go wrong with pepperoni.

And if you’re lucky, tater tots on the side. <

­­– Michelle Cote lives in southern Maine with her husband and four sons, and enjoys camping, distance running, biking, gardening, road trips to new regions, arts and crafts, soccer, and singing to musical showtunes – often several or more at the same time!

Insight: The Name Game

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

I happened to be watching a baseball game on television the other evening and the pitcher for the Oakland Athletics in the game was named J.P. Sears. It made me wonder what the “J.P.” initials stood for and why he doesn’t use them in his professional career.

Actor George William Bailey has appeared on television
in 'The Closer' and "M*A*S*H and in films such as
'Mannequin' and 'Police Academy.' He is known
professionally, however, by his initials, G.W. Bailey. 
After looking him up online, I found that John Patrick Sears is from Sumter, South Carolina and was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 2017. He made his major league debut with the New York Yankees in 2022 and was traded that same season to Oakland. I still have no idea why he only uses initials instead of his actual given name.

Looking that information up led me to think about other celebrities, fictional characters or other entities who only go by their initials. I wondered if I could compile a list of such individuals with initials in their names using the entire alphabet.

A.A. Milne of England authored a series of books about Winnie-the-Pooh. His real name was Alan Alexander Milne.

B.O. Plenty was a scruffy and somewhat smelly villain in the old Dick Tracy newspaper comic serials.

C.S. Lewis was a British writer, literary scholar, and theologian who wrote “The Chronicles of Narnia.” His real name was Clive Staples Lewis.

D.B. Cooper is the alias used by a man who hijacked a Boeing 727 in November 1971 and is thought to have parachuted from the aircraft with a satchel of ransom cash. He was never seen again after that, and his identity remains a mystery to this day.

E.E. Cummings was a prolific American poet, painter, essayist, and playwright from Massachusetts. His real name was Edward Estlin Cummings.

F.P. Santangelo played baseball for the Montreal Expos, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Oakland Athletics and a broadcaster for the Washington Nationals. His real name is Frank-Paul Santangelo.

G.W. Bailey is an actor who appeared on the M*A*S*H television show and was a dim-witted captain in the Police Academy film series. His real name is George William Bailey.

H.P. Lovecraft was an American author of horror and fantasy fiction, His real name was Howard Phillips Lovecraft.

I.Z. was the stage name of the late Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwo╩╗ole, best known for his rendition of “Over the Rainbow” while strumming a ukelele.

J.C. Penney created a major chain of department stores in 1902. His real name was James Cash Penney, Jr.

K.D. Lang is a Canadian singer famous for her 1992 hit “Constant Craving.” Her real name is Kathryn Dawn Lang.

L.C. Greenwood was a defensive end on the Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl championship football teams of the 1970s. His real name was L.C. Henderson Greenwood with the L.C. initials being his actual first name.

M.C. Hammer is an American rapper known for his 1990 hit “U Can’t Touch This,” and launching the parachute pants craze in men’s fashion. His real name is Stanley Kirk Burrell, and he’s thought to have taken the Hammer stage name after baseball superstar Reggie Jackson told him that he resembled ‘Hammering’ Hank Aaron.

N.C. Wyeth was an American painter and illustrator. His real name was Newell Convers Wyeth.

O.J. Simpson was a star football player and actor. He was acquitted by a jury after being charged with the murder of his ex-wife and her friend. His real name was Orenthal James Simpson.

P.T. Barnum was an American showman and promoter who established a popular traveling circus. His real name was Phineas Taylor Barnum.

QB VII was a 1970 novel by Leon Uris and later developed into a television court case mini-series starring Ben Gazzara and Anthony Hopkins in 1974. The name "QB VII" is an abbreviation for Queen's Bench Courtroom Number Seven, the site of the court trial.

R.J. Mitte is an actor with cerebral palsy who played the son of a chemistry teacher turned mastermind criminal in the television show “Breaking Bad.” His real name is Roy Frank Mitte III.

S.E. Hinton is an author who wrote the novel “The Outsiders” while still attending high school in Oklahoma. Her real name is Susan Eloise Hinton.

T.S. Eliot was an English poet, essayist, publisher, playwright, literary critic, and editor. His real name was Thomas Stearns Eliot.

U.L. Washington played Major League Baseball for 10 years as an infielder for the Kansas City Royals, Montreal Expos and Pittsburgh Pirates. His real name is U.L. Washington and the initials do not stand for anything,

V.C. Andrews is an author known for writing horror-themed novels. Her real name is Cleo Virginia Andrews.

W.C. Fields was an actor, comedian, and juggler, who appeared in vaudeville shows and in Hollywood films. His real name was William Claude Dukenfield.

XR is a robotic space ranger character in Disney’s Buzz Lightyear film. His initials stand for “Experimental Ranger.”

Y.A. Tittle was a National Football League quarterback who played for the San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants, and Baltimore Colts for 17 seasons. His real name was Yelberton Abraham Tittle, Jr.

Z.Z. Top was a rock band originating in Houston, Texas and known for such popular hits as “La Grange” and “Tush.” The band’s name is thought to have come from member Dusty Hill’s nickname, ZZ.

Jane Pringle: Supplemental budget delivers on our commitment to Mainers

By State Rep. Jane Pringle

After many long days and nights working at the State House, the Legislature finally reached statutory adjournment for the two-year term. It culminated with my colleagues and I working throughout the night on April 17, considering and voting on measures that will improve the lives of residents across the state.

State Rep. Jane Pringle
One of our most significant achievements of the session was the passage of a fiscally responsible supplemental budget. This budget, built upon the historic investments we made in 2023, will allow the state to further address the challenges affecting communities like ours.

The supplemental budget provides a significant boost to our public K-12 education system. I am pleased that the state’s commitment to fund 55 percent of public education costs will continue.

Furthermore, the budget includes language to support future wage increases for educational technicians and other school support staff, ensuring more equitable pay for the professionals who are invaluable to our students’ success. This will fortify the academic foundation of Maine's youth and elevate the quality of education for all age groups.

With over 35 years of experience practicing medicine in Maine, I am well aware of the structural gaps within our behavioral and public health infrastructure.

Historically, the state has funded initiatives to address and close these disparities. The enactment of this supplemental budget is a testament to our continued drive to do better, securing further funding to enhance the health and well-being of all Mainers.

In the wake of the mass casualty event in Lewiston, the legislature made it a priority to finance mental health crisis intervention services, which will include 24-hour support for those in need. Additionally, grants will be distributed to ensure expanded access to behavioral healthcare, even in the most rural parts of our state.

As a lawmaker, my commitment to public health is unwavering, and I will work within the Legislature to continue striving for better healthcare for all.

Both sides of the aisle in the House of Representatives agree that tackling Maine’s housing crisis is of the utmost importance for our state's future health and well-being. In line with Maslow's hierarchy of needs, addressing basic physical needs, such as safe shelter, is crucial and must be prioritized before other secondary needs can be met.

With this in mind, the budget has appropriated funds to support emergency housing initiatives like low-barrier shelters and housing subsidies for homeless students under 18 years old.

Furthermore, the budget includes grants to support affordable housing initiatives, including the Rural Affordable Rental Housing Program, which will assist individuals in areas with low housing density to find and secure a comfortable place to live.

To encourage the development of more affordable housing, funds from the supplemental budget will be infused into the Low Income Housing Tax Program, providing subsidies to developers and incentivizing them to reserve a portion of rental units for Mainers with low incomes.

These initiatives highlight only a portion of all that the supplemental budget will accomplish. I am proud that we were able fund programs and services that will improve the lives of many folks right here in Windham.

I feel honored to serve our community in the State House and remain hopeful about the improvements that these investments will bring. I hope that we will be able to build on these programs in the future.

State Rep. Jane Pringle is serving her second non-consecutive term in the Maine House of Representatives, having previously represented Windham from 2012-2014. She is a member of the Legislature’s Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee. <