Friday, February 28, 2020

Rep. Fay’s “Cabinet on Aging” bill passed by House

A bill sponsored by Rep. Jessica Fay, D-Raymond, to ensure cooperation and coordination between government departments when developing policy and providing services to older Mainers was passed unanimously by the Maine House of Representatives.

“Our current structure allows for collaboration but it doesn’t codify it. The current administration is trying to work across these different policy areas, including the recent designation of Maine as an AARP Age-Friendly State. This is a fantastic start,” Fay said. “The Cabinet on Aging would elevate the profile of that work and, at its heart, make sure that that work continues in an accessible and public way, regardless of changes in administration.”

The bill, LD 1733, An Act To Ensure Comprehensive Interdepartmental Planning, Coordination and Collaboration on Aging Policy, would create a “Cabinet on Aging.” Based on the same concept as the “Children’s Cabinet,” it would be tasked with promoting interagency cooperation for dealing with the issues faced by older Mainers. It would consist of representatives of multiple departments and agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Labor, the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management and the Maine State Housing Authority.

The bill faces further votes in the House and Senate in the coming weeks.

Fay, who represents part of Casco, part of Poland and part of Raymond, is in her second term in the House. She serves on the Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee and the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee. She is also the House chair of the bipartisan Legislative Caucus on Aging.

Insight: My first step

By Lorraine Glowczak

“Try to remember these things - drive a different way to work, read a book you wouldn’t normally gravitate towards, or experiment with a new interest….but whatever you do….promise me you will never get stuck in a rut,” my seventh and eighth grade social science and English teacher reiterated to me and the rest of his students, over and over again.

I was reminded of his wisdom this past weekend as my husband and I, while spending time at a friends’ home on Little Sebago Lake. Not only was it the Sebago Lake and Cumberland County Ice Fishing Derby but there were many ice-fishing hobbyists on the lake who were enjoying the weekend fishing for togue, grilling sausages and hamburgers and spending time with friends and families as their dogs romped in the snow.

During my afternoon walks with my own four-legged mutt on the frozen freshwater, I watched the Maine tradition unfold before my Kansas born eyes. The relaxed faces sitting around a perfectly round hole in the ice would invite me to spark up a conversation or two.

“Have you caught any fish, yet,” I would inquire. “No,” was always the answer. But it seemed it didn’t matter to them whether they had succeeded in their endeavor or not. It was the experience, the relaxation, the change from the regular routine of life that seemed to be what they were after.

I have absolutely no experience with fishing, but I would love to give this Maine tradition a whirl. Perhaps it’s the result of my teacher’s not so subtle suggestion of long ago, but I have always been motivated to learn and grow – to try something new that isn’t a part of my everyday experience. 

Whenever the opportunity arises to explore beyond my usual routine, I grab it by the tail and off I go.
But I must admit, adulthood and the demands of everyday life sometimes has me going in circles and I often feel overwhelmed. I know that if I continue in this pattern, I will be disappointing my middle school English teacher.

Leadership Development Consultant, Kristi Hedges believes that chronic overwhelm is one of the most serious challenges we face in today’s workforce – impacting everything from productivity to health.

“When we’re on the hamster wheel of overwhelm, we get in a heads down, stressful rut of trying to get it all done each day before we drop. We do little to inspire ourselves or to tap into our own creative energy.”

If you, like me, also fee a little “ruttish”, Life Coach, Tom Casano makes the following suggestions:

Ask people close to you: When you feel stuck, oftentimes you just need a new perspective or a shift in your thinking. Ask your best friend or family member what they think. 

Brainstorm: Make a list of every idea that comes to mind without judging it, even if it’s the worst idea ever. After your “brain dump”, go back and revise your list. Let some fresh ideas come to you. AND….Try Something New

Casano reminds us that Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Try doing something new, even if it’s small. Getting unstuck is all about taking some baby steps to start moving forward again towards what you want. So, take the first step.

My first step? Purchase an auger.

Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Another opinion on “YES on 1” Reject Big Pharma

I doubt that anyone is surprised to find that signs for or against any issue contain meaningless phrases and faulty reasoning to bring about a desired reaction.

For instance, since we bring everybody from everywhere into the “herd”, often with no vaccinations or screening, putting us at greater risk, it’s a reason to have our kids and ourselves vaccinated. It’s not a reason for the very government and choices that has put us at risk, to now force us to have vaccinations. I personally believe that whatever we have to use, the Lord put here, so it’s fine for us to use it; how we use it is where discernment, and yes, judgement, should come into play.  But that’s just my archaic religious belief. I wouldn’t presume to force that belief on someone else.

The other arguments don’t seem to hold much water. Kids whose immune systems are greatly compromised by cancer treatments or whatever, are most likely being homeschooled anyway, in part because they need the flexibility of homeschooling over the more rigid schedule of public school; and, yes, in part because of their lower immunity.  We don’t vaccinate against colds, every flu we know about and the ones we don’t;  if the school staff and public are at risk, it’s only because they, too, haven’t had the disease or have not been been vaccinated either – still putting the immunocompromised child in danger. You’re right, it is very sad for these children and their parents, and I wish it were as simple as making a law against it but it’s not.

I really don’t like using this four letter word but, here goes, “herd” immunity is more effective and longer lasting when it is a natural immunity (brought about by a large percentage of the population having had the disease) rather than vaccine induced which is less effective and more temporary. This seems to correlate with your example of Pertussis. Yes, if you haven’t had the disease you should probably get vaccinated to protect yourself the best you can for the time being, but that’s it.  You’re not saving the world.

The fact that vaccinations probably don’t cause autism (I don’t really know) may be a reason not to be afraid to have them, but is not a reason to have them. A lot of things don’t cause autism, but we still don’t do them for other reasons.

“Voting NO will keep us safe from vaccine-preventable diseases and their complications:…”
I was coerced into having a shingles vaccine a year or two ago, to the tune of eighty some dollars out of my own pocket and a sore arm; but it was worth it not to have to worry anymore about Shingles; BUT not so. Now it seems I really need the new one (actually two) because it’s so much better. The old one was a live virus and the new one is not which is better.

“Right, but I already had the old one and was exposed to the dangers of a live virus and I lived; so, I’m all set.”

“Well, not exactly. This one gives better protection too.”  Apparently having the vaccine didn’t mean I was protected after all; I just thought I was. OK, so if I have this one will I be really protected this time? Who knows?

“Voting NO will keep us safe from … and their complications: death, paralysis, blindness, deafness… .”  Really? I thought the only protection against death was not being born; and I have to admit that I’m somewhat skeptical that we can avoid the others with just a vote.

It is true that the choices we make affect those around us which is why we should think long and hard before we make the choice to force our wants and beliefs on others.

Lynda McMackin-McDonald

Dear Editor,

Next week, we have an important vote here in Maine on whether to repeal mandated vaccine laws that will take effect this year and have removed philosophical and religious exemptions for families. There is a lot of info out there but one thing that stands out is that BOTH SIDES are concerned about the health and safety of their children. Most people involved in this debate are not arguing the importance of vaccinations. I have heard from those supporting No on 1 that they are concerned with family members or friends who are immune compromised and can pick up diseases very quickly thus they support mandated vaccines. 

I have heard from those supporting Yes on 1 who are concerned with vaccine safety and injury, too many vaccines given at one time, and/or their child may already suffer with a physical disease, disorder, or sensitivity and a vaccine could cause real harm. One thing we can agree on is that both sides of this issue are concerned with the health and safety of Maine children and their families. 

So, whose children on what side wins out on this issue? It's complicated. From what I have read and researched; Maine has a fairly high vaccine rate in comparison to other states. We can all agree that vaccines are important and, in most instances, prevent disease. We will not do away with vaccines and they are here to stay. Maybe in the near future, vaccines will even be improved upon. So, what is the fundamental issue on Question 1? 

The fundamental issue is whether Mainers are willing to abandon their freedom of choice for their families and future generations. Abandoning their freedom in this instance looks like giving the government the right to say which vaccines your family will be required to receive within the timeframe they deem appropriate and giving them the authority to edit that list of mandated vaccines over time. This is a costly relinquishment for Maine families. In this instance, those families who support Yes on 1 (repealing the new mandated vaccine law) would lose their ability to say no to a vaccine that their child may not be capable of handling. If they say no, their child will face discrimination educationally and on other levels. 

No one knows a child better than a parent or family member. Parents make very tough decisions on behalf of their children every day. We are the best advocates for our children--not a government bureaucracy. Issues involving freedom should never be taken lightly or relinquished easily. I am not anti-vaccine. But I am pro-freedom of choice for parents and families. If this is truly about wanting to get vaccine rates even higher in Maine, then let's accomplish this with more research, safer vaccines, better education, transparency, collaboration from both sides, but not at the sacrifice of personal freedom of choice and the carrying out of discrimination. #YESON1

Jennifer White For Maine Senate District 25:

Friday, February 21, 2020

Insight: Stumbling through life

By Lorraine Glowczak

I’ve mentioned it before in these weekly editorials and I am going to say it again. I enjoy getting to know the many amazing people who live in our community. I meet so many individuals who work hard, give more than they have and strive to make a positive change in the world. This week, I was fortunate to meet two Saint Joseph’s College students - Adrienne Dolley and April Benak (see article on the Front Page for their story).

As a result, I often make new friends who land into my lot of kindred spirits. “You are my soul sister, lady!”, one interviewee told me with zest two years ago after we met for the first time.

That person was Stephanie Lay, the owner of Maine Tex Grilled Salsa. (Read her story at
And soul sisters it turned out we were. We would sit on the dock by the lake, gather from time to time for laughter over a couple of beers when our busy schedules would allow. It was our busy schedules, however, that got in our way too often.

“It’s never going to slow down for us – so let’s get together again soon,” was the last thing she said to me on a phone call three weeks ago. As many know, she passed away unexpectedly this past weekend.

This isn’t the only sadness we have experienced in the Sebago Lakes communities. We have also heard about the tragic story of Sarah McCarthy. Although I never knew her, I know of people who did. It’s been a tough week of grieving for many of us.

Much like I stumble onto new friendship, I sometimes stagger in my approach to sorrow - both for myself and in the being there for others. Where does one begin to help people who face devastating loss? It’s never easy to know how to be there or what to say. Even if we’ve experienced tragedy ourselves, grieving is a bit like snowflakes - each person’s process is different. Although it is my tendency to stumble through life, floundering through the territory of grief can have detrimental effects on those we care about.

If you, like me, hope to support those who need it most, I have found a list of helpful ways that may assist us both during times like this. The following is a list of suggestions printed in Harvard Health Publishing from Harvard Medical School:

Name names. Don't be afraid to mention the deceased. It won't make your friend any sadder, although it may prompt tears. It's terrible to feel that someone you love must forever be expunged from memory and conversation.

Don't ask, "How are you?" Instead try, "How are you feeling today?"

Offer hope. Be careful about being too glib, though. Instead of saying something like: “Everything happens for a reason,” perhaps say something like: "You will grieve for as long as you need to, but you are a strong person, and will find your way through this."

Listen well instead of advising. Often, people work through grief and trauma by telling their story over and over. Unless you are asked for your advice, don't be quick to offer it. Frequently, those who are grieving really wish others would just listen.

Avoid judgments. You may wish he or she would move on, but you can't speed the process or even ensure that it happens. Let your friend heal at the pace that feels right and in his or her own manner.
It may seem ironic coming from someone who attends church almost every Sunday, but I’m not much of the praying type. But if I was asked to utter one prayer as we all slide through days of sadness, it would have be “The Clown’s Prayer”

“As I stumble through this life, help me to create more laughter than tears, dispense more cheer than gloom, spread more cheer than despair. Never let me become so indifferent, that I will fail to see the wonders in the eyes of a child, or the twinkle in the eyes of the aged. Never let me forget that my total effort is to cheer people, make them happy, and forget momentarily, all the unpleasantness in their lives…..”

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Letters to the the Editor

Dear Editor,

An important vote is coming up on March 3rd for all Mainers, one that could jeopardize the health and lives of many innocent children, especially the immunocompromised.
You may have noticed the blue signs up and down our roadways proclaiming, “Yes on 1- Reject Big Pharma”.

You may be surprised to learn that these signs have nothing to do with Big Pharma. They are an attempt on the part of some to retain archaic religious and philosophical exemptions to childhood immunizations, which put all Mainers in danger of contracting vaccine-preventable disease. This is particularly deadly for children being treated for cancer or who otherwise have compromised immune systems, as well as adults.

Voting NO on Question 1 March 3rd will keep the vaccine law as it currently stands, allowing medical exemptions only, and actually making them easier to obtain by expanding the numbers of medical professionals allowed to write medical exemptions. Vaccines represent only 3% of Big Pharma’s profit margin, meaning it would reap a much greater profit from a mass epidemic than ensuring the population stays healthy through vaccination.

Voting NO does not mean children will be banned from school. The only change will be parents who choose to opt out will be choosing to homeschool their children. The time has come for immunocompromised children to no longer have to jeopardize their lives to go to school because some parents choose not to vaccinate their healthy children for philosophical or religious reasons. No major religion opposes vaccination. Not vaccinating also endangers school staff as well as the general public. Vaccines do not cause autism, and the incidences of vaccine injury are miniscule.

Voting NO will ensure a healthier Maine for all of us. Herd immunity in some parts of Maine has dropped as low as 50% in some places. We have an ongoing pertussis outbreak in Maine with one of the lowest immunization rates for pertussis in the country. There is a direct correlation.

Voting NO will keep us safe from vaccine-preventable diseases and their complications: death, paralysis, blindness, deafness, meningitis, encephalitis and sterility, to name a few. This is not about personal choice. This is about living in a community where the choices we make affect those around us. Please join me in voting NO on Question 1 March 3, NO to measles, NO to polio, NO to vaccine-preventable disease.

Janis B. Price
Windham, ME

Dear Editor

We the citizens of Windham are very fortunate to have a highly dedicated crew that comprises Windham’s Public Works Department. This is especially true regarding the extraordinary individuals in the Highway Division who keep our roads secure and passable through all types of weather conditions.  Led by supervisor, Mike Constantine, this tireless team of professionals often times work around the clock during the winter months fighting snow, ice and cold temperatures to keep our roads safe for passage.

Since my days as a former member of the Windham Rescue Unit I have kept a scanner in my home allowing me to listen to the radio conversations of the fire, police and public works personnel. 

Listening to the exchanges among the public works crew as I work in my office at night is not only revealing, but heartwarming. Their on-the-job professionalism while dealing with all types of challenging weather, equipment that often times needs emergency repairs and mostly their concern for each other is impressive and compelling. 

As they perform their plowing, sanding and salting duties throughout their individually assigned routes it’s not uncommon to hear offers of assistance to each other as an unexpected emergency occurs. The unrelenting obligation to their responsibilities and to each other never waivers regardless of the trying conditions they face including working long hours without time to sleep. 

Supervisor Mike Constantine’s outstanding leadership is clearly what makes this team function at such a high level.  It’s a team built on pride and loyalty to their profession and to protecting the people who drive on our roads.

On behalf of the Town of Windham I say “Thank You” for keeping our roads safe and for the incredible stamina and determination you continually display day and night.  And when you’re on one of your straight 36-hour shifts plowing and sanding those dangerous roads know that we appreciate all you do even though we don’t say it enough. We’re proud of you.

Senator Bill Diamond
10 Crown Point, Windham, Me. 

Friday, February 14, 2020

Insight: A respite from adulthood

By Lorraine Glowczak

Next week, the students at Windham/Raymond schools will blissfully enjoy their week-long winter vacation. If their parents are lucky, perhaps they will get to take some time away from their daily workloads and have a fun filled midwinter break, too. 

I have heard it said that we all want to play and have fun, but somewhere along the way as we get older and the demands of life loom over us, we rarely remember to keep those zany and impulsive activities on our “to do” lists. In fact, most of us struggle with work-life balance (be sure to check out the answers to this week’s On the Spot Question on the right side of this page.)

I never thought I would be one who forgot how to play, but, alas – it has happened. The past couple of years I have become pretty serious about my career and life time goals. So serious in fact, that I was shocked to recently discover it’s been quite some time since I have delighted myself with amusing and meaningless distractions that tickle my funny bone.

With the exception of a recent (and spontaneous) snowshoe adventure, I realized recently that it has been at least three since years since I have done those winter time things I love much like cross-country skiing in the backwoods of Maine or snow tubing down a steep icy hill in the moonlight. The thought of it brings back memories of exhilaration and I miss the foolish diversion from everyday life.

Of course, I could let go of my perfectionism and unplug from electronics on the weekends to help with that work-life balance I so dream about, but until I master that, I just need to break free from time to time and let that big inner child out for some adventure and excitement.

For those of you who have children and you have found that your everyday adult life has slipped onto the same monotonous path as mine, I challenge you to take a moment to do something fun with your sons and daughters next week.

Consider doing something that you wouldn’t normally do as an adult. Be silly. Be amused. Make outlandish faces with your kids and then laugh until your gut hurts. Take a break away from being an adult for a while. If you have forgotten how, I’m sure your children can inspire and help you remember.

No matter what it is you choose to do, silliness and play are delightful ways to take a breather from all those important and sometimes tedious adult chores. Not only does it make us feel more alive and adds joy to our daily existence, but in doing so, it creates fond memories to recall on more difficult days - not to mention the wonderful memories you will create in your child.

Now, back to me. It would only seem right that if I challenge you to dive into childhood enthusiasm then I should challenge myself to do the same. Hmmm? What kind of crazy mischief can I get myself into next week? I don’t know what that may be yet, but the excitement is bubbling up just thinking about it.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Insight: The web of a third-sider

By Lorraine Glowczak

“There’s an old saying that some conflicts are so difficult, they can only be healed with a story.”

At least that is how William Ury perceives it. Ury is a conflict negotiator and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Harvard Negotiation Project. In a time when communities are experiencing a period of intense polarization and political conflict and where there are two distinct sides to every story, Ury encourages us all to consider a third point of view. And sometimes that is accomplished by stories of connections and personal breakthroughs.

At one time or another, we’ve all felt like a square peg in a round hole – we are the outsider in a
particular economic, social, political and cultural circumstance. This feeling of exclusion can either create within us a source of isolation, which it often does – or it can move us beyond and unite us during times of discord.

I’ve always held the belief that for every truth that exists - the exact opposite also contains truth. But, as I have learned from Ury, there is the possibility of a third truth out there on a low hanging olive branch for us to also consider, potentially resolving conflict. In some instances, Ury suggests that the telling of a story can lead us to more understanding of one another.

My story goes something like this:

During the economic collapse that lasted from December 2007 to June 2009, my husband and I were one of the many who faced severe challenges. We were officially homeless for four months. We weren’t living on the streets – but we were of the “couch-surfing” variety.

What has stayed with me permanently from that time, was that of being in the unwanted position of ‘receiver’. You see, I had always been a giver up to that point…and boy, did it feel good to offer ‘good deeds’ by giving to others in need. However, to be the one in need – the one that could ‘use a little help”, was the most horrible feeling in the world. I lost my dignity and self-confidence. The ‘please let me help yous’ only added to my sense of failure. It was an inner conflict that took me awhile to come to terms with.

I knew that when I got back on my feet, I would continue to help others – but do so in a more honorary and respectful way. I promised myself I would never, ever, put others in the added position of worthlessness.

It is for that reason why I found the mission of the Fuller Center for Housing so enticing. (see front page article for more information at: The newly organized Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing has as its mission to repair homes in partnership and collaboration with families who need a hand up, not a handout. It is about paying it forward with the intent of helping others in need, while at the same time, helping them keep their dignity.

Although I would never, ever want to go back to that time in my life again, the recession experience has made me a third-sider in some sort of way – in this case – the solving of an inner conflict.

But in terms of a larger scheme of life, does this third-sider point of view really work in resolving the intense polarization we experience today? Maybe we can experiment together. What would we lose if we stepped back from a difficult conflict and heard the real story of how someone came to their conclusions? What would we discover? Is it possible that a third truth exists? Is it possible that real work can be done if we knew the whole story?

I wish I had the answers but Ury might shed some light on this subject. He states, “Third-siders could listen with empathy, and then bring people to the balcony so they can act appropriately to contain, resolve and prevent destructive arguments. The secret to peace is us, and each of us can take a single step to bring the world a step closer to peace. There’s an old African proverb that goes: ‘When spider webs unite, they can halt even a lion.’ It’s time for us to bring our webs together.”


Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

It Never Ends!

Again, I watched the Planning Board the other evening and they approved another waiver. This one allowed the builder to reduce the shoulder on the side of the road in a minor subdivision, with no sidewalks. The allowance of these continued waivers only solidifies the need for a review of our ordinances or tighter control on what is approved.

We have been living with issues for years that have been created by inadequate or weak ordinances. I think a lot more consideration needs to be given to the impact on Windham, not on the individual applicant when waivers and such are approved at the Planning Board.

This is not a new problem because it's been going on for years and I've been hearing the same response, "we need to update our ordinances". So, can someone please stop talking about it and do it and hold people responsible. Is it our ordinances or the way they're applied?

Frustrated resident,
Marge Govoni

Dear Editor

Saving for retirement is one of the most important things you can do for your future.
As a college student about to enter the workforce, it is hard for me to even think of what all retirement involves. There is one thing I know for certain; retirement is expensive. More expensive than one can imagine.  I’ve always been told by my grandparents, “Start saving for retirement early, you’ll be happy you did.”  When talking with my grandparents about retirement, they said the easiest way to save is by having a plan. It becomes second nature you don’t even think about as time goes on.

When researching different plan options, I found proposed legislation LD594, A Retirement Savings Program for Maine. LD594 provides an easy pathway to start saving for retirement out of my regular paycheck, regardless if my employer offers a program or not. This program would give employees the option to put a percentage of their paycheck into a retirement savings account. This program would be portable, meaning I can take it from job to job with me.

It makes sense that people are more likely to save when they can do so through their employer. Imagine what putting away just $20 a paycheck will amount to in 10 years, let alone 40+ years.
I’m hoping Maine will pass LD 594. I don’t think a lot of people my age realize how expensive retirement is.  This bill will help Mainers of all ages get on the right track.

Harrison Quidort