Letters to the Editor

15 years ago
Smart gifts

To the editor
The holiday season is around the corner and while gift giving for children is easy with the wonderful toys and books out there these days, buying for the young adults in your life can be challenging.     As the economy is turning increasingly sour and young adults are living with more debt than ever before, I’d like you to consider a gift that will keep on giving-the gift of a more financially secure future.
Here are seven ideas to get you started thinking about more responsible gifts. They may not be as much fun as some fancy new toys but they will certainly last longer.
• Money — Consider giving your children a CD that will collect interest if they leave it alone. This will teach them the principals of savings and investment. Or think more long term and open a Roth IRA for them, or offer to match a portion of whatever money they invest for their own future. If your gift is for a college senior or recent graduate, help them stay afloat by paying off some student loan payments, which has an added benefit-they’ll be able to write off the interest paid come tax season.
• Education — A good, solid financial education is proving to be more important than ever these days. So schedule an appointment for a session with a financial advisor. It is a great way for young people to set goals for their financial future, as well a reminder that what they do with their money today will affect their life tomorrow. In fact, in a recent interview with the Kansas City Star, a young woman credits her parents’ gift of time with a financial planner for keeping her debt free, financially secure and happy. If a personal session feels over the top, consider signing your loved-one up for a money management seminar.
• Health — Studies have shown that people who earn more money are generally healthier and fitter than those who are not. While there’s not any evidence that more money equates to a healthier lifestyle, or if looking fit leads to more opportunity, one thing is certain-when you’re healthy, you always come out ahead. So help your child look better and reduce stress by giving them the gift of a gym membership. The bonus: lower health-care costs as they get older.
• Clothes — Think beyond the latest designer jeans and instead to your child’s future college or job opportunities. Dressing for success – whether during an interview or at a job, is important, and a nice suit is the way to do it in style. Stick with a dark or neutral color. For guys, go with a crisp shirt, quality tie and traditionally styled shoes. Girls should get a suit that includes a pair of pants and a skirt.
• Travel — When it comes to being practical, a nice backpack trumps backpacking. So consider luggage as a gift option. Both students and young professionals travel, and quality travel gear is often out of their budget. Of course, if the wanderlust is too hard to hold back, and if it’s within your means, give the gift of a trip. It can prove to be the experience of a lifetime, and it’s better than your loved-one putting the can’t-miss trip on plastic.
• Entertainment — Not all responsible gifts have to lack fun. Tickets to concerts, sporting events and/or dining out at restaurants are things young people often spend money on but shouldn’t. So helping them out with gift certificates and passes to events can help them enjoy a little more of life without setting them back.
• Books and Magazines — They may not be as fun as People Magazine or the hottest best-seller, but they’re probably more interesting and useful than some chemistry textbooks. Financial magazines like Money Magazine (and Young Money Magazine for kids in high school) and books like “Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties” by Beth Kobliner will help young adults make smart decisions with their money now and well into their futures. The simple truth is that most kids are unprepared to make good financial decisions, and they pay the price as a result-students graduating from college these days have more than $20,000 of combined student loan and credit card debt on average. A $20 book or subscription will more than pay for itself in giving your child the knowledge he or she needs to make decisions that are in his or her best short- and long-term interests.
This holiday season consider giving the gift of knowledge and power. These seven ideas will provide the young adult in your life with the understanding and discipline to build a strong financial foundation. Banking basics, such as savings, budgeting, charitable giving and planning are things you should begin working with your children on at an early age, and it should continue throughout their young lives, at least through college. Because if you can teach your children how to manage money wisely, it is truly the gift that keeps giving, and they will thank you for it for the rest of their lives.
Cheri Doak of Caribou is senior vice president for retail banking at KeyBank. She works out of the Presque Isle office and can be reached at (207) 764-9425 or cheri_doak@keybank.com.

Animals at risk

To the editor:
I attended the Nov. 24 Caribou City Council meeting to discuss with the council members why the current board of directors for the Caribou Pet Rescue has decided to close the facility down on Dec. 31, 2008.
The council is concerned with the need of a shelter facility with enough space to ensure animals will be given a chance to be placed for adoption. There is to be a council workshop on Monday, Dec 15 to discuss options available if the CPR board can be convinced to not close the shelter. I do not foresee the CPR board being receptive to canceling their planned closure.
There is nothing else I can do to convince the board to turn the full rights of the corporate papers and the 501 c3 back over to me. As a founder, I believe I deserve that courtesy.
I want to at least keep working for the animals from my own home as a “shelter without walls,” even if they chose to close the shelter itself but allow me to have the paperwork back. I could continue working for the benefit of the strays and low-income animals of this area by writing grants for spay/neuter clinics for both strays and low-income families, grants to offer health and shot clinics and to do several other projects that directly benefit the stray population. I cannot do even do this without the proper 501 c3 paperwork.
This is nothing more than a power play that leaves hundreds, thousands of animals facing death by disease, illness, or freezing to death, starving to death or being eaten by a predator.
Please write to the shelter board before December 8. Please try to convince them to let us keep the shelter open, or to at least turn those papers back to me so I can continue to help animals from my home. The shelter address is: CPR, PO Box 574, Caribou, ME 04736. The name of the current president is Paula DeMerchant and her telephone number is 496-3707 if you prefer to call her.
Even though the CPR board plans to close the shelter building on Dec 31, the rights to the paperwork will not be cancelled out until they file their U.S. Form 990 that has a deadline of mid-March. They have two options to consider. Please make your voice heard.

Norma Milton
Stockholm

 

Join us after parade

To the editor:
The University of Maine at Presque Isle has again joined forces with the Presque Isle Area Chamber of Commerce for the Annual Holiday Light Parade on Saturday, December 6. Prior to the parade start, the President’s House, 171 Main Street, will be open at 6:30 p.m. At 6:45 p.m. we will flip the switch and light up the magnificent evergreen in the front yard that will greet the parade floats when they start their 7 p.m. procession up Main Street to campus.
Action will then move outdoors to parade watching. When the parade floats reach campus, the festivities will move over to Gentile Hall for hot coffee, hot chocolate and cookies. All parade participants and spectators are invited and encouraged to come inside to warm up, enjoy hot beverages and snacks, and join us in celebrating the start of the Holiday Season in Presque Isle. We’ll highlight some of the events of this Fall at campus and preview some of what comes next semester. We’ll also give tours of Gentile Hall for those who haven’t been inside before.
Please plan to join us at the University. Dress for all events is warm and casual. We’ll see you on December 6.

Don Zillman,
president

 

Wind power

To the editor:
I believe wind power is environmentally responsible. However, if one is in favor of more commercial wind farms in Aroostook County, ask yourself what is the benefit to the County and its people? There is likely to be no benefit, and certain to be many costs.
Certain costs include the change of scenery for us, our neighbors and tourists. Maine Public Service and Central Maine Power have joined forces to create a new venture called Maine Power Connection (MPC) which would allow all the wind energy from wind farms to be exported to southern New England. The MPC is 200-plus miles of 75-foot and higher H-style tower structures, 345,000 volt power lines that we will all finance in the “electricity delivery” portion of our electric bills. This is expected to cost us $625 million. The transmission line is at the behest of wind developers such as Aroostook Wind, Horizon and First Wind who are all interested in developing more wind farms in this part of the state.
The wind developers are big ventures with no benefit to Aroostook County. They want to put windmills here because we have some resources and infrastructure. They will use our roads and cement factories and gravel pits. They will also ask us to spend $625 million so they have a way to turn our wind resource into money for them – not for us. I propose we tax the wind resource when not for community or personal use at 1 cent per kw hour and that wind developers pay for their own MPC. We don’t need MPC, but they do. We don’t make billions off a half billion dollar investment in turbines, but they do. Let them extend their 4- to 6-year payback to 8 to 10 years. Let the wind developers buy the MPC.
Think about resources — we usually expect to be paid for our forest, farm and ocean products leaving. Let all future commercial wind farms be subject to a 1 cent kw hour tax to benefit Aroostook County and the state of Maine. This would give us a benefit from the change in scenery with the over 200 miles of high power lines, along with hundreds more wind turbines.
Do not be fooled by the marketing terms like a half billion dollars invested in Aroostook — 99 percent of this money goes overseas to the factories that make turbines and towers. Only gravel, cement, motels and food benefit Aroostook – which is indeed a benefit but the deception is a hundred-fold more.
Landowners think they will profit from wind tower lease sites, but often tower reclamation becomes the landowner’s problem, tax increases offset lease payments and final tower sites are determined after a landowner signs on. There are so many things we don’t know that we are supposed to ask before we sign a lease but the court sees our ignorance as tough luck for us.
I am a proponent of wind power as I believe it is environmentally responsible but let us be compensated for living in a changed Aroostook through a resource tax and let us not finance the MPC for transmission lines the wind developers need.

Ryan Hines
Hammond

 

Outstanding people

To the editor:
In honor of National Hospice Month I would like to recognize an outstanding group of people. They are caring, compassionate hospice volunteers who are willing to run errands, hold a hand, sit quietly, be a listening ear and most importantly … be a support to a terminally ill patient and their loved ones.
The outstanding success of Hospice of Aroostook is but a reflection of the ever increasing dedication and enthusiasm our volunteers display. They give so generously of their time and hearts to be a support to patients and families at a time of need.
Recently 13 people made a commitment to complete a thirty hour training to become hospice volunteers. I would like to welcome: Julie Albert, Caribou; Laurel Beaulieu, Fort Fairfield; Lisa Daigle, Madawaska; Mary Donovan, Caribou; Mildred Forbes, Stockholm; Sylvia Garey, Perham; Elizabeth Long, Caribou; Georges and Rose Marie Sullivan, Madawaska; Cynthia Thibodeau, Presque Isle; and Daniel and Joan Turner, Easton.
This training would not have been successful with out the thoughtful community presenters who generously gave of their time to be a guest speaker. Thank you to Judge O’Mara, Jim Mockler, Rev. George McLaughlin, Ruth Collins and Gail Phair-Kirk.
I am grateful for this opportunity to share a very sincere and heartfelt “Thank You!” to all of the Hospice of Aroostook Volunteers!

Robin Holmes, manager
Senior Hospice Volunteers

 

Having dementia

On Nov. 7, 2008 I attended a lecture by Robert B. Portney, MD, a renowned geriatric neuropsychiatrist on the faculty of Harvard Medical School. He explored the issues and broad scope of dementia in today’s society, the various treatments of dementia and how those treatments are viewed by health professionals. I walked away with a lay person’s perspective and observations. I write this article for all those who care and know someone with dementia.
This subject is very personal for me. You see my husband, Larry, was diagnosed on Friday, Jan. 31, 2003 at 3:03 p.m. in his physician’s office with Alzheimer’s. He was only 61, a university business professor and had two advanced degrees to his name. Neither one of us knew what having Alzheimer’s meant. It proved to be the beginning of a long period of reading, attending workshops, and adjustments. As for my husband, he was joyful because at last he knew that what he was experiencing was not just “in his head” but that the condition even had a name. We were then able to do research and learn to support his illness with compassion, dignity and love.
We soon discovered that the world was not quite ready for the onslaught of Alzheimer’s because it was difficult to get answers and guidance. Fortunately for him his psychiatrist recommended Aricept(tm) and Nemanda(tm) as the medical cocktail from the beginning. The drugs allowed him to function within an assisted living setting in ease and comfort. He was even able to assist other residents with small tasks such as pulling their shades or calling the bingo games on Saturdays. Now that he has moved into the late stages of Alzheimer’s, he is confined to a community living center where he is able to get physical therapy, have regular balanced meals prepared for him, and attend activities where he is a passive participant but surrounded with numerous opportunities for interactions. Environment enrichment is key in maintaining an optimal level of functioning. Still, it is important for him to have his quiet time in his private room that is decorated with lots of framed pictures, a small bookcase with his favorite Harry Potter books and movies. His ability to recall the lyrics when Barbara Streisand sings or the Brothers Four allows me to enjoy a glimpse of times past. Every moment of cognition becomes even more precious than the one before when someone is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Portney’s recent lecture started with the customary disclosures of conflicts of interest with the drug companies. Then he listed the limitations of a person with dementia. The memory of new information and of previously learned information becomes impossible to recall. Language deteriorates both in the way the individual speaks and the way he or she understands speech. Communication becomes difficult and frustrating for a person with dementia, sometimes to the point of exasperation. There is a decreased ability to do basic functions such as brushing the teeth, brushing the hair, and dressing. Agnosia, defined as a loss of the ability to recognize sounds, shapes, smells, items and familiar people, steadily increases. When agitated, the drugs given to patients with dementia may increase their symptoms and complicate their perception of the world around them. Executive functions such as planning simple tasks, organizing their living space, and following sequences become impossible.
In a review of 96 studies it was demonstrated that the drugs for Alzheimer’s do work by considerably delaying the need for long-term placement (Raina et al, 2008). There is a 50 percent decrease of symptoms when the combination of Aricept(tm) and Nemanda(tm) are used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s (Arri et al, 2008). Drugs for Alzheimer’s do work in controlling behavior by improving interaction. In particular, there is less incontinence and functioning in general does improve. When the time comes that Aricept(tm) and/or Nemanda(tm) stop being effective and a noticeable lack of quality of life is evident, Dr. Portney recommends considering the cessation of all other life-extending drugs.
Diet, lifestyle and heredity seem to be factors that are used to determine whether an individual may have increased chances of developing Alzheimer’s. However, just being unfit and obese will not mean one will develop Alzheimer’s. Dr. Portney further stated that in a study of males aged 65-85, those who walked four miles a day had a 60 percent reduction in getting particular form of dementia while those who walked two miles a day had a 35 percent reduction. The statistics were the same for women.
Information and interactions gained by attending such high level lectures on dementia is indispensable for the lay person who has to care for a person with Alzheimer’s. Exposure to current information offers hope and knowledge that is indispensable. Dealing with Alzheimer’s is monumental (Hill, 2008) for any lay person and any support is welcomed.
Ethelle G. Lord, M.Ed., DM (candidate) is married to a person with Alzheimer’s. She has cared for him for the past 10 years. He is now in the advanced stages of the disease and is in long-term care. Lord is the senior associate at Teamwork Development Associates, an adjunct professor of business at the University of Maine in Presque Isle, and is completing her doctorate of management in organizational leadership at the University of Phoenix. She is a mother and grandmother. She resides in Mapleton.

Ethelle G. Lord