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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Submitted by Kevin Saisi

MILLINOCKET (AP) -- Katahdin Paper Co. LLC says it's closing its Millinocket paper mill, putting about 208 people out of work. Fraser Paper, which operates Katahdin's mills, cited high energy prices Thursday for the indefinite closure of the Millinocket mill effective on July 29.

What is Rumford's plan if this were to happen here??

Kevin N. Saisi

Rumford Selectmen's Race

The Selectmen’s race in the Town of Rumford is probably about as hot as it’s been in the history of the Town. The RFP weighed in at the banner at the top of the page. It’s only fair to provide you with a place to weigh in with your opinion also. Go ahead. Tell us who you support.

More Med-Care

In case anyone isn’t sick of reading about Med-Care, we decided to throw one more opinion out there. After much reading, talking and thought, the thing that seems painfully obvious is that the inter-local agreement is flawed. I know what you’re thinking. It’s “No kidding!”

The Sun Journal made for some interesting reading today, both in the story and the comments. Some comments were well thought out and some were…well, anyway. Probably the best post was from Jeff R who said
“….I Support Our Town And agree That Med-Care is an excellant service but think
the "building" should be brought in front of the voters. I also believe strongly
that Amendments need to be made to inter local that caps spending. Med-Cares
board of Directors ignored a Member town who has stated over and over they
disapprove of the building. Thats a slap in the face Without the assualt charge.
I want to thank The Ambulance commitee for there time again and all of you who
are attending these meetings its great to see the involvment in your Town.”
I don’t know Jeff R but I think he summed things up pretty well. We have a problem when an entity that relies on town tax money can spend whatever they want and not allow the town more say. Granted towns do have some say through our town representatives on the board. This situation has made it painfully obvious that isn’t enough when it comes to big ticket items.

I want to give some credit to Steve Brown who spoke to the Sun Journal in an article on Tuesday. He took a little heat off Dean but he still missed the boat when he didn’t talk about why the need for the building was so critical. Instead he talked about the number of jobs potentially lost and deadlines. For those of you who want to throw Dean under the proverbial ambulance, give the guy a break. He’s just doing his job. EVERYONE at Med-Care seems to be missing the big picture here. If you want the towns to spend 2 million dollars, you better tell us why and keep telling us. In fairness to Med-Care, they did have some information about the building on their website but when I looked for it today it was gone.

I would encourage our selectmen to hasten to find the best way to correct the Inter-Local Agreement without jeopardizing the quality ambulance service Med-Care provides and scaring our citizens half to death along the way. That seems to be the most responsible way out of this mess.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Let’s make this a safe and happy time for our graduates.

There was an article in the Rumford Falls Times this week that said there was a forum on alcohol and drug use at Mountain Valley High School. Some students spoke to parents in an attempt to discuss what students may face at the school along with ways to help parents and students avoid drug and alcohol problems. Congratulations to the students who were brave enough to resist peer pressure to talk about this potentially serious problem.

Area schools will be holding their graduation ceremonies in the next few weeks. Many students think that drinking is a “right of passage” from high school to the adult world. Unfortunately, some students may never get to take the journey into adulthood due to underage drinking. Let’s help make this a safe and happy season for everyone.

Relay For Life is this Friday.

Despite all the negative press the town has received over the past couple of years, it’s especially important to remember that the people of this area are truly wonderful. A prime example of this will be down at Hosmer Field this Friday night at the American Cancer Society’s fundraiser, Relay For Life. It’s an amazing sense of community gathered together for a common cause.

The “Relay” as it is called by those who are part of it, is an all night event to raise money to fight cancer. It’s a chance for those whom have been affected in some way by this terrible disease to connect, draw strength from each other and share their burdens. There are many events held at the field for all age groups. For some people, the highlight of the night is the luminary ceremony where the track is lined with candles in memory or honor of a loved one. Every name is read in this emotional ceremony. All night long team members can be seen walking the track in support of those they lost or are hoping not to lose.

The Relay For Life is a beautiful event, mixing fun, socializing, shopping, playing and support, all to raise money for this important cause. If you’ve never been to a Relay For Life Event, we HIGHLY recommend it. Make it a family event.

Protecting our Digital Environment.

Just like we need police and the court system to protect us, the RFP needed to put a system in place to protect the integrity of this website. I’m thinking that it was likely that only one person caused this but just like everywhere else, it only takes one or two to mess things up for everyone.

From now on when you post to this website, it may take a little while to see your comments. That delay will allow us to screen out the nasty remarks we’ve been getting. The RFP is still dedicated to responsible free speech and open dialogue. We may just move slightly slower delivering it.

There are other plans in the works to try to make this site better. We need to get used to the technology and get it ready. Be patient.

Thank you to everyone for such a great start to the Rumford Free Press. Together we can make a difference.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Welcome to the new Millennium

It’s a time of global warming, shrinking oil reserves and online communities.

Online communities?

By now we all know what a powerful tool the internet is. We can communicate with anyone in the world with an internet connection. Online communities have sprung up everywhere. It probably started to get big about 10 to 15 years ago when AOL started their chat rooms. I know people that used to meet every day in their chat room to share a laugh, tell stories and feel connected, all without ever meeting the people they were chatting with. Businesses use online communities to link their employees from across the country or across the world. You can take online classes and never meet a single person in your class. Some people have gone so far as to create an online identity for their role playing game and lead a double life; serving burgers and fries by day, virtual nightclub owner with virtual fancy cars and virtual houses by night. It’s a bizarre world sometimes.

Like every new technology, there is good and bad that it brings. We’ve seen that in our own community.

The Open Doar blog was a virtual community. In it was good and bad. Many great ideas and information sharing happened there. The underlying reasoning for having a town blog was for that very purpose and I believe Mr. Doar did the best he could to keep it on track. Unfortunately, under the guise of free speech, many people simply attacked others there, bringing the whole thing down.

So what kind of behavior should we expect from people in an online community? I believe the same behavior that we expect from people in any community, that we treat others with courtesy and respect. That doesn’t mean everything has to be all rosy all the time. We should still try to hold our town officials to a higher standard of behavior or call them on it when they don’t live up to that standard. We should still call others on behavior that is hurtful to our communities. We are bound to have different ideas and opinions and we are bound to not get along sometimes. We should still expect people to disagree without being disagreeable.

Len Greaney wrote a letter to the editor that was also posted on TRR that said the problem is because people post anonymously. I disagree. The problem is when people don’t display acceptable public behavior, regardless of if they reveal their identity. I know being anonymous makes people more likely to misbehave but if you read the Open Doar, you saw that there were more anonymous poster there that behaved like responsible citizens and called for acceptable behavior than their were those that acted unacceptably. BTW, although I may disagree at times with Mr. Greaney’s opinions, I have always respected the way he has conducted himself publicly. That hasn’t always been the case for other people at public meetings

There has been a lot of noise made about people needing to know who is posting or on certain sides of an issue. Why do they need to know so badly? After all the reputation ruining, name calling and public bashing that has gone on, why wouldn’t people want to remain anonymous? Trust is very low in town right now and it’s going to take some time before it’s built back up. Some in town appear way too anxious to find out who has different opinions than them so can attack and harass them. I don’t need that behavior in my life. If in some small way this site helps heal the town and contributes positively, I don’t need that credit either. It would be enough just to see it happen.

Oh and BTW, we do have an identity, even if it’s an online one. That identity is the Rumford Free Press which values responsible free speech and open communication. Everyone that shares those values is invited to join us here at this online community. Stay tuned, we’re working to make it even better.

The Rumford Free Press welcomes a new team member.

The RFP is proud to welcome C as a team member, moderator and contributor. C has an awesome reputation as a clear thinking, intelligent writer that shares the values of the Rumford Free Press. Welcome C!

Monday, May 26, 2008

What kind of comments are OK?

The Rumford Free Press recently received this comment. Overall it’s a great post with some good points but I still felt the need to delete it. Read on.

The Open Doar blog allowed slanderous comments such as accusations that XX was
doing things illegal in his business, and XX was being abusive to family
members. Why do people have to make up such stories? I am surprised that
didn't say XX was intimate with woodland creatures. This is a small
town, and
the rumor mill runs hard and fast. There are some who believe
these rumors.
Another related issue is the fact that somebody was calling
people's employers
and those who regulate business to try and get people
fired and/or investigated
for false reasons. When town opinions cause worse
politics that the national
elections, it is time to reassess the rationale.
There are some serious
apologies due to certain people. As for TRR, I think
you are right, it has gone
way over the edge since [edited] gave it up. [edited]
are Bush Republicans and
they will attack anyone who doesn't follow their
views. Look at how [edited]
trashed [edited] on the Doar blog. They used to be on the same
side, but
[edited] didn't like what [edited] was saying, so he trashed him. I feel that
[edited] is a big wind, but he has very few
supporters. He has driven away most
of the CCFR members, and even some of
the selectmen are talking with him less
often. I believe his time has ended.

I know I said I wasn’t going to edit posts but this one is a great example of what can go wrong. This was a great post but it went just a bit over the edge at the end. How does calling someone a “big wind” not take us down the same path of contention that the Open Doar and TRR went down.

When you post to a website, you aren’t having a private conversation with your friends. It’s a public statement, not much different than if you stood up at a town meeting and said it. Would you really attack someone personally at a town meeting? I hope not. That isn’t the behavior I hope to see in town. Not at a public meeting, the Open Doar, the TRR or on this web site.

I know that there are a lot of shades of gray about how to move forward here. Honestly, I’m trying to figure it out myself. Thank you to all who have posted here thus far and for everyone’s efforts to try to keep this website out of the town sewers. Together we can change things.

Celebrate Memorial Day

It’s a time to honor our veterans. There will be parades, speeches and marching bands. The aging members of our finest generation, our WW II veterans, are dwindling. I believe that makes it more important than ever to honor them. They are responsible for our current way of life and freedoms, our feelings of safety for us and our families. That includes the freedom to have a website like this to say what you want, even criticize your own government. They did this for us at great personal sacrifice and much suffering. Of course we often hear them say that the true heroes are the ones that didn’t come back. Many here in the states suffered too, with dealing with the emotional pain of losing their loved ones. No should have to bury a child. They truly are our finest generation.

Some of our other public servants also work to help keep us and our families safe. They also do this at the risk of great sacrifice to themselves and their families. That is our Police and Firefighters. They train often and work hard, often putting their own safety on the line. They deserve to be recognized too… and honored. This post isn’t an argument for what the level of service the town should provide, although their safety should be factored into that discussion. It is a chance to honor them for their hard work and commitment. It’s a chance to say thank you.

Let’s take the time to go out today and honor our veterans. They more than deserve this day. Let’s go say thank you. While you’re at it, you may also want to say thanks to the Police and Firemen that work to keep us safe too.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Two Wolves

An elderly Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life...He said to them, "A fight is going on inside me, it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.

One wolf is evil -- he is fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, competition, superiority, and ego.

The other is good---he is joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too.

"They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied: "The one you feed".

Submitted by C - Thank you

The root of some of our problems.

The RFP recently received this comment and would like to respond.

"The SJ article is partly right. The atitudes of a few are having a negative
affect on our town. But the problem is not the selectmen. The problem is those
who spend their precious time making mountains out of mole hills. Yes, the
selectmen have made mistakes, but to advocate public lynching for minor issues
is just wrong. Those who post attacks from the shadows of anonymity merely stir
the pot. They have no accountability for what they say, and they either
playfully or viciously tear people apart without due regard for the person's
feelings or reputation. This is shameful and those who do so need to come clean
and apologize to those they have wronged. Both "sides" have made mistakes, and
both have resorted to attacks. Perhaps now that this blog prohibits attacks, we
will see a more peaceful community. I wish that the Doar (blog) had never been
Opened. It has torn our community apart."

I agree almost completely. There are probably only a handful of people in town that have caused most of the problems. People have been viciously attacked and their reputations ruined. It’s painful to watch what people have gone through, especially those who try to serve the town. I think a lot of the reason for what went on at the Open Doar was in response to that. Of course you are right when you say both “sides” were involved in hurtful behavior.

I’m surprised that I haven’t been challenged for not revealing my identity. I won’t because I don’t want to be torn apart or have my family put through hell because I disagree with someone. That has happened often in this town and that is shameful. It feels to me to be just another version of town bullying. I don’t believe that because I choose to remain anonymous, I can’t run a good website that is constructive and helpful to the town though.

What I disagree with you about is what I perceive as the root of much of the problem in this town. I believe much of the problem started at TRR web site. That site attacks anyone that they disagree with and they write often with anonymity. I won’t get into everything here because we’ve all seen it. I believe that site is what this editorial in the Sun Journal was referring to. When you publicly state some of the things they have stated, it’s a normal human response for people to become angry.

I know that to bring this up here invites a continuation of some of the discord in our town. The alternative is to continue to live with such negative behavior. I believe it’s our civic duty to try to make our town better and challenge those things that are hurtful to our town.

If you are thinking of writing something that personally attacks those that run that web site, don’t bother. It won’t stay on here long. If you want to talk about what has gone wrong in our town and what you believe will make it better, we’d love to hear from you.

One last thing.

The Rumford Free Press is publicly challenging TRR to debate their ideas, thoughts and beliefs with clear thinking instead of name calling and personal attacks. That includes electronically and publicly.

That could only improve our town.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Should the Fire Department respond to medical calls?

There has been a lot of righteous indignation about the cost of the Fire Department responding to medical calls in town. For some medical calls, like motor vehicle accidents, it’s crucial for the Fire Department to respond. They may need to employ the jaws of life to free you from your vehicle or they may need to deal with leaking hazardous material. On calls for medical emergencies, they may arrive prior to the ambulance personnel, putting them in position to provide basic life saving first aid and assess and assist with the situation to speed critical care.

So, how much does this town service cost? Well, it’s not likely the $708,000 that is suggested to be cut from the Fire Department budget by the Finance Committee. According to Acting Fire Chief Richard Coulombe, it’s more like $8,000. Fire Department personnel are already on the clock so there is little extra cost there. The actual costs are most likely fuel and wear and tear on the response vehicle.

To make such a fuss about this particular service provided by the fire department doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense. It certainly doesn’t justify recommending cutting $708,000 from the Fire Department budget.

While we’re on the subject of the Fire Department, think about this. Heating oils is now over $4.00 a gallon and will probably go higher. Residents will likely try to find other methods of heating their homes, some perhaps not as safe as they should be. There may be reason to fear an increase in serious fire calls this year. The Fire Department’s call force was reduced to an almost non-existent level after Selectmen voted to retroactively cut their call pay last year. Perhaps prior to making cuts in the Fire Department personnel, efforts should be made to rebuild the call force to an acceptable level.

It was bound to happen

Some of the people that posted negative responses on other web sites have arrived here. Who knows why the attacks occur. Perhaps they are just threatened by town residents having an opportunity to openly debate.

What ever the reason people may have for their personal attacks, they won’t be allowed here. It’s OK if you disagree with someone or have a legitimate point to make. Name calling, obvious lies and vicious attacks of a personal nature will be deleted.

What kind of town do you want to live in?

We all know that the population of town has been shrinking since about 1980. What people in town may not be as aware of is that once residents move here the length of stay for residents is above state average (City-Data, 2008). I attribute that mostly to the wonderful sense of community that exists among most residents here. Once you become part of this community, it’s hard to give it up. Walking down the street or going to the store can be a pleasant experience as residents stop to chat. A drive through town elicits a friendly wave from almost every other car. When residents face difficult times in their lives, town people often rally around them, throwing benefit suppers and helping to make sure that their needs are met. One visitor to the area remarked that he seldom sees behavior like this where he lives. We are all truly fortunate to live in such a community.

The question on the mind for many residents is why would anyone move to Rumford? Better yet, why would a business move to Rumford? If YOU were looking to move into a town, what qualities would you be looking for?

The town of Rumford is located in a beautiful part of the state, MSAD#43 has a reputation for providing quality education, and the town has supported Black Mountain Ski Area and town recreation through the Parks Commission and the Greater Rumford Community Center. We have an effective and responsive police force that works hard to try to keep crime down. We have a professional and highly trained fire department. Taxes are lower than state average and although much of the housing is aging, it is affordable. These strengths help make our town a positive place to live and raise children. The taxes in Rumford have been going down for the past few years but let’s face it, that trend was not going to last forever.

So how much can be cut from department budgets without significantly affecting town services? I honestly don’t know the answer to that question. I would guess the most qualified person to answer that question is the Town Manager and Department Heads. Some individuals in town may have strong opinions about that but they are just that, opinions. Our Town Officials answer to many people and have many eyes looking at their budget. It’s all public information. They also have to answer many of the questions asked by residents. It just seems difficult for them to pad their budgets too much or pull one over on us.

The thinking that needs to go into what the level of service our town should provide is multifaceted. It seems to be a balancing act between what is necessary, what we can afford, what is desirable and what will continue to make this town a place you would want to move into, perhaps with your business, if you were looking for a place to settle down.

Med-Care's new building: To be or not to be...

Long ago the debate over the plans for Med-Care’s new building turned away from why this new building was necessary and why town people should support it. The argument for the building has seemed to center around how towns will financially suffer if they don’t support the building, leaving community members feeling that the cost of the building is being pushed down their throat and without seeing much merit for the building. This has left community members feeling bullied instead of persuaded; a feeling townspeople are bound to react poorly too.

Med-Care’s Board Members have been steadfast in their decision to go forward with plans for a new building despite the rising opposition to the plan. We have yet to hear from any of these board members why they feel so strongly. Instead, Dean Milligan has been the point man, bringing stinging criticism and personal attacks his way.

Dean Milligan is a great paramedic, a wonderful father and a fine citizen. He is now in an unenviable situation and from here it seems that Med-Care’s Board of Directors are content with letting him sit out there in the public spotlight, taking the heat. It seems way past time for Med-Care Board Members to step up to explain why this building is important for our towns. In the absence of that, there is a very good chance Rumford will risk voting down the inter-local agreement also, with ramifications we all can’t be entirely sure of.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Want Freedom of Speech? Here's your chance.

There has been a lot of debate already this year about the town budget. Some hot spots have been the level of service for police and fire department, funding of social service agencies, recreation funding at the GRCC and Black Mountain and how to improve the political climate in our town. I’m hoping for respectful free flowing debate.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Thank you Sun Journal

The Rumford Free Press would like to express our appreciation for the articles that recently appeared in the Sun Journal. These articles clearly defined some of the problems that have plagued the town in recent years and provided a framework for understanding how negativity has hurt the town. The Rumford Free Press agrees completely with the Sun Journal when it says the residents of the town have an opportunity to improve our situation with the election in June. We encourage all residents to get out to the polls and VOTE.