Friday, March 25, 2016

Letter to editor - Solar power with Jessica Fay

Dear Editor,

When stakeholders from both the private and public sector, large and small business, Republicans, Democrats, environmental groups, CMP, Emera, the Public Advocate and others work for a year and come up with a bill that they all agree on, we should support that bill. LD 1649, the Solar Bill, is such a bill.

It is a jobs bill. LD 1649 could bring 800 new jobs to Maine. It is an environmental bill, solar energy is good for the planet. It is an economic development bill and an energy bill, with the potential to lower electricity costs for many.

I grew up in a home in the 70s and 80s with one of the few solar installations in our town. Back then solar electricity wasn’t close to being an option in New England, but heat and hot water were. It took an engineering degree (dad worked on nuclear submarines so he was qualified) to be able to run a solar heat and hot water system. We were warm and had nice hot water, though winter mornings were a little cool for a high school kid. Solar technology has come a long way since then, it’s less expensive, easier to install and photovoltaic electricity works in Maine!

With the passage of this bill schools, businesses and government buildings could find it easier to install solar panels and save money on their energy bills. Homeowners could continue to produce their own energy and to export and be compensated for the excess energy they produce. 

If we are thinking about this bill merely as a fight about “solar energy” then we are thinking small. Solar energy is more than a renewable energy source. It is a tool for Maine people, Maine’s future and Maine’s economy. It is an easy way to choose to grow good paying, skilled jobs for Maine people. 

Please contact your representatives and let them know you support solar for Maine.

Jessica Fay

Letter to editor - DHHS discusses expanded Medicaid

Dear Editor,

Tuesday The Department of Health and Human Services released the fiscal note attached to Senator Tom Saviello’s bill to expand Medicaid. It will cost Maine taxpayers more than $500 million over the next five years. 
“Medicaid expansion is not free, and the current proposal by Senator Saviello would cripple the financial stability this Administration has worked tirelessly to establish and erode the progress made to prioritize the needs of our elderly and disabled. Expansion has already driven large budget shortfalls in many other states, and Maine knows full well the reality of Medicaid expansion having made these mistakes under previous Administrations that led to large annual budget shortfalls, hundreds of millions in unpaid bills to hospitals and rate cuts to providers. We do not need to repeat the mistakes of the past.” said DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew. 

DHHS has estimated that traditional Medicaid expansion—as outlined by the Affordable Care Act—would cost Maine taxpayers more than $315 million over the next five years. Senator Saviello’s bill, however, employs a version of expansion known as the “private option.” The latter uses the same taxpayer dollars that would fund traditional Medicaid expansion to purchase commercial plans on the federal exchange for Medicaid members with income levels of 100 percent to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. 

Due to the fact that commercial health insurance plans are more expensive than typical Medicaid coverage, the private option would come at a significantly higher cost to Maine taxpayers—$520 million over five years rather than $315 million for traditional expansion.  

Maine’s analysis is consistent with that of other states. Last year, when Nebraska considered a similar private option Medicaid expansion vehicle, that state commissioned a report by Milliman to project expansion costs. The report showed that purchasing Qualified Health Plans for Medicaid members would cost 93 percent more than traditional Medicaid. Similarly, a Milliman report demonstrated that private option expansion in Indiana would cause state general fund expenditures to increase by $500 million from Fiscal Year 2014 to Fiscal Year 2017.

“Senator Tom Saviello claims that passing his bill is ‘just the right thing to do.’  He couldn’t be more wrong. First, expanding MaineCare—and certainly doing so with a costlier version of the plan—would immediately blow a massive hole in the state budget, put an end to any other discussions regarding other state funding priorities and efforts to reduce the tax burden on Mainers, will most certainly lead to future crisis-riddled state budgets that can’t plan beyond the current fiscal year  and will halt all of the progress we have made when it comes to properly funding our nursing homes, paying hospitals on time and providing for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Commissioner Mayhew. 

The LePage Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services will once again stand for Maine’s taxpayers, the elderly and disabled by opposing yet another proposal for a massive expansion of welfare in Maine’s Medicaid program.

Samantha Edwards
Manager of Media Relations
Department of Health and Human Services

Insight - Emotional survival for life - By Michelle Libby

I spent the day on Tuesday with my husband and 170 others listening to Dr. Kevin Gilmartin discuss emotional survival for law enforcement and first responders, which are your fire fighters, dispatchers, correction officers and the spouses of these people. Dr. Gilmartin was funny, poignant and hit a lot of nails on the head. 
He was a police officer and retired from a department out west. He then went on to become an expert on psychological issues relating to police officers. From the 80 percent of police officers who develop Type 2 diabetes, to those who don’t sleep more than four hours a night, officers need an intervention.
It was interesting to see how the officers reacted because if you know anything about police officers, they don’t normally like psychologists or anyone who might psychoanalyze them.  But when Gilmartin reeled them in with jokes about new officers versus seasoned officers versus firefighters, laughter eased the tension. The more Gilmartin spoke the more I was able to see some of his teaching in the people around me on a daily basis. 

He talked about people who are hypervigilant or people who see themselves as victims in their every day life. Those are the people who find something wrong, it might not be anything important in the grand scheme of things, but it to them, it’s do or die. The color of the table cloth in the lunch room has always been red and someone changes it to be green and they freak out and they continue to freak out over and over again. 

These are people who are too close to what they do for their job. They need more perspective and more activities that get them into a different frame of mind. Then the table cloth color won’t matter, because really, it doesn’t. 

Not having control makes people feel like they are victims. At work, the boss controls your time, your job description and pretty much everything about your day. To make people feel less like victims, they need to get involved in things were there is more perceived control. Where what they do is completely their decision. 

Did you know that high demand plus low control equals stress? Think about what you do. If you have a high demand job with low control, don’t you feel stress, like the rug could be pulled out from under you at any moment? 

To have a better life, engage and invest in thing that you can control. Redecorate, join a sports team, learn a trade. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Be happy and healthy. For more on Dr. Gilmartin, visit

Friday, March 18, 2016

Flip to a Different Eagle Section

Dear Editor - Thank you from Loring family

We just want to say WOW! We are so overwhelmed by the amount of support our family has received from all of our family, friends, co-workers and everyone in the Windham community. We consider ourselves so fortunate to have all of you in our lives. We would like to thank everyone who had a part in putting together the amazing Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser that took place on Saturday, March 12th, everyone worked so hard for us. A special thanks to my sisters, Holly Rowe and Norma Jean Huntley, Mike’s sister Andrea Pollard, his mom Dianne Loring, and Kellie Sampson my huge hearted co-worker and friend, for organizing this entire event. Thanks to all of the cooks and kitchen helpers who served over 400 people that attended this event. You all are remarkable people. 

A huge thank you to all of the amazing donations for the silent auction, everyone has been unbelievably generous. 

Hunter has been put on so many prayer lists this year from people all over the US from Maine to California, and we have received so many emails from well-wishers, some even strangers reaching out with ideas about programs that might be helpful to Hunter. We just can’t thank you all enough. We really appreciate all of your ideas and genuine concern. 

We also would like to thank all of Hunter’s friends for coming to the hospital to spend time with him over the past two months. It made a big difference in his spirits. Thanks to those taking the time to get his car up and running, and a special thanks to Ross Elston and anyone else who took part in setting up a “Go Fund Me” account on Hunter’s behalf. That was so thoughtful of you and we deeply appreciate all your efforts. Thanks to all who have sent donations to this fund. 

We are hoping to use the funds raised to get Hunter to a specialized pain clinic where he can get the help he needs to free him from this horrible pain he is experiencing. Hunter came home Friday, March 11th, after an 8-week stay at Maine Medical Center, but could not physically come to the fundraiser. He has fifteen more days of radiation to get through, and after that he has assessments at the Boston’s Children Hospital Pain Program and The Cleveland Chronic Pain Clinic in Ohio. Getting him to these assessments will be a challenge with the amount of pain he continues to have when he tries, sitting, standing and walking, but we will figure it out and hopefully one of these programs will accept him into their program sooner rather than later. We never dreamed he would be in such pain once the tumors were removed. We are hoping that the road to fix the damage the tumors have caused will not be too rocky and will make us all that much stronger. It really is the worst thing to watch your child in so much pain. We will certainly be glad to put this chapter of our lives behind us.

Thank you again to everyone for your amazing support and generosity. We are going to have a lot of, “paying it forward” to do. 

Wendy and Mike Loring

Insight - Passion that comes from creativity - By Michelle Libby

For the past two weeks I have done a lot of interviewing and talking to people with creative minds.  I love talking to business owners because of their unique perspective, but when I speak to creative people who have written books, sew, paint or knit, I’m in awe of how they discuss their craft. 

Business owners are passionate about business. Artists are passionate about fictional worlds, fictional characters, their work in progress or the project they just completed. Artists also talk about their team.
Nothing happens in a vacuum. To get books published an author might have an agent, a publisher, editors, publicists and readers - a variety of people to help them. Artists have galleries and perhaps students they teach to. 

manager@cascomaine.orgTeamwork is so important. Even at The Windham Eagle, I like to think I can do it all on my own, but there is no way. I have awesome reporters, a publisher who is tolerant and eager to help, Melissa, who lays out the paper every Wednesday and sells ads to help local businesses and to fund the newspaper. 

When speaking with knitters recently, we talked about giving handmade gifts and how they weren’t always well received. She mentioned spending upwards of $50 for yarn, countless hours to create the sweater or scarf or mittens, only to give it to someone who doesn’t understand what went into the project and tosses it aside for the next shiny object to come along. I’ve seen this happen first hand and know how devastating it can be to the giver of the gift. 

With books it’s a little different. Books are written for the masses and we know we can’t make everyone happy. But also think about the book that should sell for $7, but is discounted to $.99 or free. What is that saying to the author or to the reader? Is the book not worth the $7 or is the author giving it away because it’s no good? Most likely it’s a marketing and business decision that for good or bad, the author is making. Sometimes it’s best to leave business to business people. Next time you’re at a craft fair or someone gives you a gift, think about the time and effort that went into the creation of it. Imagine the person sitting at their computer or easel and realize that they did the work for you. It puts a whole new spin on the gift.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Flip to a Different Eagle Section

Dear Editor - Maine Statewide Independent Living Council - By Rep. Mike McClellan

Dear Editor,

As the State Representative for Maine House 66 (parts Raymond, Casco and Poland) I have written to you before. You might remember I often expressed my faith as a guiding force and also the core values of conservatism. I have used both in raising a family and so to me it makes sense to approach governing the "big family of Maine" in a similar way, using the same values. From those core values I tend to believe government should be as small as possible. The issues government has taken and made worse are the subject of many other articles, but today I will focus on how we support people with special needs (feel free to insert senior citizens and veterans here as well). 

I am the Executive Director of the Maine Statewide Independent Living Council (Maine SILC). Maine SILC is a federal creation, a body that advocates for the most independent living for all Maine citizens. (note each state has a SILC). In my work and in my time in the Maine Legislature I have seen where people who are disable, with special needs are not prioritized. They are underfunded and at times expected to be on "wait lists" to gain necessary services and supports. 

People with special needs don't have high paid lobbies speaking to the politicians and often can not even advocate in Augusta or locally for themselves given their situation. Let me tell you about two people I know. 

I recently attended a conference with Rep. Dale Crafts. He was injured 30 or more years ago and so is in a wheelchair. He was told he would not have more than his one child (he now has six) and I am sure he was told he would simply be taken care of. Dale was not raised that way. Today he owns multiple businesses, has served into a fourth legislative term and is both an outspoken advocate for people with disabilities while challenging these same people to be all they can be. Having spent four days with Dale recently, I can tell you he wakes up (4 a.m. ugh...) with a smile and ready to go. He also goes to sleep satisfied that he used the whole day. I have to mention Dale's faith in God is clearly a motivator for him. Dale could be cruising in life at this point, but we actually ended up struggling to keep up with him at the recent conference. 

Cindy is someone I do not know as well. She was a nurse and self-sufficient. 

However she began to suffer from ALS-(amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) like symptoms (Cindy's disease is not killing her like ALS does but has affected her body) and was placed in an institution. Cindy is self-sufficient, but just needed some help in figuring out this new way of life. She took another blow when her closest friend, who also supported her suddenly passed away. Cindy seemed trapped in her body and trapped in an institution. Meeting Cindy you fall in love with her spark, her humor and boy does she love the Yankees! Cindy did not accept her fate and against strong doctor's advice she was able to get into the community. Cindy is trapped in her body, but her wheelchair does allow her to be somewhat mobile, she lives in a nice apartment. However, Cindy is not funded enough to get the support needed for her to move about the community. Cindy wants to use her experience to show others how to be self-sufficient, Maine does not support her enough to get her to leave her apartment. 

If you work with, or even just spend time with people who are disabled and have special needs you see that many want to work, want to help their communities and (we joke) want to pay taxes. As we see our state grow older and wonder who is going to work all the jobs, people with disabilities are a hidden option not taken advantage of. My organization, Maine SILC is currently working on a required 3-year Maine State Plan for Independent Living (Maine SPIL). We are trying to contact as many people in Maine who have special needs (estimated at 10 percent or more of our population). We will hold public forums statewide to get their feedback as to what is working and what is not. All this information will help us create a state plan. You the reader can help right now. We have a survey going now online and until April 22, 2016. Please share this link with your family, your friends, your church, and anywhere people with disabilities might be (which is everywhere). The link is and you click on the Maine SILC Disability Survey. It has 29 questions, most multiple choice. You also can contact me to ask questions or invite Maine SILC to speak to your group. Thank you for your help in this.


Mike McClellan
Executive Director
Maine SILC

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