SWH selectmen to consider marijuana store application

SOUTHWEST HARBOR, Feb. 20, 2021 – Tyler and Natasha Johnson would like to open the first marijuana retail store in Hancock County right here on the Quietside.

“This is the first application for cannabis retailing in Hancock County. Let’s see how many other municipalities jump on the bandwagon to grab some of the business of Maine’s booming industry,” said Antonio Blasi, who served eight years as a Hancock County commissioner.

The item appears on the agenda of the SWH selectmen’s meeting tonight:

“MARIJUANA RETAIL LICENSE – Meristem, LLC: Request of Tyler and Natasha
Johnson, d/b/a Meristem LLC, for completeness review of their application for an Adult
Use Retail Store to be located at 11 Seal Cove Road. https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82712332705?pwd=YWlLMXM1REZBWEFKd2JoeDlYTlRIdz09#success

Blasi believes Maine has a huge opportunity to create a cradle-to-grave holistic industry by farming marijuana, harvesting, processing and packaging. He favors allowing municipalities to get a piece of the tax revenue which now goes only to the state. He also believes creating a non-plastic wrapper on products would make the industry truly green.

Last November, four years after the state voted to legalize adult-use of recreational marijuana, Surry and Southwest Harbor citizens voted to allow retail marijuana businesses – the first in Hancock County to do so. 

The vote in SWH was overwhelming, with 654 in favor and 396 against 18-page Marijuana Ordinance, which “provides for permitting, licensing and regulation of adult use and medical marijuana businesses and provides performance standards for adult use and medical marijuana businesses.”

That vote allows adult-use, also known as recreational, marijuana retail stores, testing, manufacturing and cultivation facilities to operate, as well as medical marijuana facilities. 

WANTED: Senior law enforcement official willing to run as a Democrat in Hancock County

SOMESVILLE, Feb. 20. 2021 – In a county very well represented by Democrats in all aspects of government, the county government is an anomaly. Virtually every elected office is held by a Republican. In addition to Sheriff Scott Kane, the District Attorney, Matthew Foster, Treasurer, Michael Boucher, and Probate Judge, William B. Blaisdell, are all Republicans, as are two of three of the County commissioners, chairman William Carter of Franklin and Paul Paradis of Bar Harbor.

Kane ran unopposed in both 2015 and 2018. He did face a primary challenge in 2015 when he received 2,227 votes, 175 votes more than opponent Alan Brown’s 2,052.

But traditionally Democrats have not been able to field an opponent to challenge the Republican sheriffs. Clark, the council chair, held the job for 34 years before Kane.

Eighty percent of the municipal races lost by Maine Democrats in November were because of a lack of candidates, said officials from the Maine state Democratic party at Thursday night’s meeting of the county Democrats.

The recent imbroglios regarding Kane’s intemperate behavior – closing down a addict coaching service because of his personal political views and a failed attempt at acquiring riot gear – have awakened a sleeping giant to the heretofore low-profile county government. Democrats have opened a search, including seeking candidates outside the county to persuade them to move here to challenge Kane should he run for re-election in 2022.

Maine Democratic state party views Hancock County as a stronghold

Moreover, the county is becoming bluer, as indicated by these slide from the Maine state Democratic party.

County and municipal governments are just abstract notions for young voters. They do not own homes, and do not have families – the sine non qua of an active local citizen.

County government is like the plumbing part of a business – such as the accounting and tech support. They were essential elements of the corporation I worked at, but most of my colleagues gravitated to the sexy stuff – the creative side, marketing, content creation mergers and acquisitions.

Hancock County runs jails, a court, the airport in Trenton, probate, and registry of deeds. It has a treasurer who keeps track of everything, and a district attorney who prosecutes the bad guys. And then there is the sheriff’s office which provides police service for small towns, like Tremont, which doesn’t have the scale to have its own force.

In other words, not the stuff which will turn the head of a 25-year-old.

But Scott Kane may have inadvertently changed all that.

“We are facing in Hancock County a bit of a crisis with our sheriff,” Democrat Laurie Fogelman told the state party operatives Thursday night, seeking their advice on how to organize. “He came out and denied recovery coaches from Healthy Acadia at the jail because Healthy Acadia came out in support of Black Lives Matter and he said Black Lives Matter was a radical terrorist organization.

“There is a lot of us who are already talking about wanting to ensure we have a more progressive sheriff,” she said.

If you want to light a match under young activists to motivate them to join a cause to fight you, I can think of no better way than to call BLM a “terrorist organization.”

Another party member noted that more than 100 persons attended each of two county commission meetings since Kane’s bombastic behavior was made public. Many of the attendees appeared to be under Age 30. The last time the commission was the center of such attention was when Kane sought to acquire riot gear for his officers, last summer.

Hancock County has a huge split personality with Ellsworth being the dividing line between the progressive southern towns on the water and the rural towns up north. Thus, it’s another anomaly that the most liberal of the three county districts is represented by Republican Paul Paradis of Bar Harbor, owing to the fact that the Democrats ran a candidate in 2020 that many Democrats even found objectionable. The bottom line is that Republicans have had much more success in fielding qualified local candidates.

But come 2024, will Paradis be able to hang onto his seat? And will Democrats find able qualified challengers.

And is there a law enforcement officer in Maine who dares to publicly identify himself/herself as a Democrat?

Sizzling data for last 3 months, but dark clouds on horizon

NORTHEAST HARBOR, Feb. 20, 2021 – Mount Desert Assessor Kyle Avila’s semi-annual update of the town’s home sales data base came just in time to sate my craven, voyeuristic desire for information about my neighbors’ homes.

There were 43 transactions in the first 11 months of 2020 in the town of Mount Desert. Avila’s update did not include most of December, which was in the throes of the pandemic bubble. There were at least eight transactions in December, according to the Hancock County registry of deeds. That would bring 2020’s total to 51 transactions compared with 42 in 2019, which was considered a good year for sales.

Other MDI towns list property information, but mostly by property taxes and assessment. Avila’s data base not only lists sales prices but it allows you to search by date, owner’s name or address. http://gis.vgsi.com/mountdesertme/Sales.aspx

Some owners who wish not to be identified achieve opacity by creating dummy corporations or trusts. As previously reported, the highest price in 2020 was $3,375,000 for 11 Barnacles Way by Otium LLC, the legal shingle for Heather Evans, former wife on Alibaba President Michael Evans.

The lowest price was $265,000 for a ranch house at 23 Wall Street in Hall Quarry.

Below are two charts showing statistics for Maine and its 16 counties. The first chart lists statistics for the month of January 2021 and 2020 only, statewide. The second chart compares the number of existing, single-family homes sold (units) and volume during the rolling three months of November (2019/2020), December (2019/2020) and January (2020/2021).

For the three-month period ending Jan. 31, sales increases in January ranged from a 9.3 percent jump in Cumberland County to an increase of 82.1 percent in Piscataquis County, where home sales nearly doubled to 122 for the three-month period from 67 a year earlier. Hancock County showed a 52 percent increase.

The January numbers were a lagging indicator because of the backlog of sales which occurred in 2020 and could not close until January. The pandemic bubble was crushing for allied services, such as lawyers and lenders, as local banks were flooded with mortgage loan applications which backed up well into 2021. One Ellsworth lawyer said his firm is finally digging out of the log jam.

“Now the problem is lack of inventory,” said Avila, who noted that current listings are less than half of what is typical for this time of the year. “I’m hearing the same story from real estate brokers.”

For all the news about increasing sales and rising prices, there are worrisome signs for the Maine housing market, said Aaron Bolster, president of the Maine Association of Realtors, and a key period is just ahead.

“Coming off 2020, the best year ever for sales volume, we are struggling with historically low for-sale inventory statewide, “said Bolster, Broker/Owner of Allied Realty in Skowhegan. “Buyers are facing far fewer available home choices and sellers are reluctant to list their properties without their next move-in property in place. Buyer demand is strong, and a continuing positive trajectory for 2021 is dependent on homes for sale coming onto the market.”

“This high demand, low supply dynamic can be challenging for buyers and for sellers,” Bolster said.

Spring is usually prime season for real estate, Bolster told the Portland Press Herald, when many people decide to put their homes on the market. If more homes aren’t offered for sale, Bolster said, “it becomes unhealthy … and it could be a challenging year in real estate sales,” he told the newspaper.

The picture many may have is of a real estate market in which the agents are happily churning deals, Bolster said, but that might change as the year goes on.

“We definitely have some challenges here,” he said.

State rep wants to regionalize decisions affecting coastal issues

Photo of a mussel pipe system of the kind proposed by Acadia Aqua Farms for collecting mussel seed in a proposed new aquaculture lease site in Frenchman Bay. SMARTFARM PHOTO

BAR HARBOR, Feb. 20, 2021 – Should the Town of Gouldsboro have an out-sized voice in determining whether a salmon farm be allowed to construct permanent fish pens which would obstruct the scenic views of Fisherman Bay and harm traditional Maine fisheries?

Should the Town of Bar Harbor alone benefit and license the cruise ships which sail up Frenchman Bay to port at its anchorage?

State Rep. Lynne Williams, D-135, thinks not.

Rep. Williams
State Rep. Lynne Williams wants all coastal stakeholders to have a say on regional issues

In her boldest action yet as a newbie state legislator, Williams has petitioned for a study group – the first step toward eventual legislation – to create regional governance on issues which affect more than one town. The actual language is now being drafted in Augusta so it can be disclosed to the public.

In an interview this week, Williams said she has taken note of the opposition to a Nordic-owned aqua farm which is expected to apply for a lease from the state to operate two giant pens in Frenchman Bay. Williams, who lives in Bar Harbor, also said towns other than Bar Harbor have a stake in deciding the future of cruise ships in Frenchman Bay.

“There’s not a history of municipal cooperation in Maine on certain issues,” Williams said.

There is no existing mechanism, she said, for settling conflicting issues among municipalities which share a coastal resource like Frenchman Bay. And Maine gives too much license to single municipalities like Bar Harbor to determine whether cruise ships may steam up and anchor in Frenchman Bay.

Other states, she said, such as California and Rhode Island have enacted safe guards to protect all interests, and she wants the legislative study group to explore those solutions.

Specifically, she is calling for the creation of regional enforcement entities in each of Maine’s bays.

The composition of her proposed study group would include two state senators, three state reps, three fishermen, three allied marine businesses such as ship builders and tour operators, five conservation groups, five municipalities and local businesses, one Marine Coastal Program rep, one Acadia National Park rep and one rep from the outer islands.

This group would meet four times and then propose legislation by Nov. 1.

The initiative takes direct aim at American Aqua Farms and Acadia Aqua Farms.

American Aquafarms is planning to use a 100,000-square-foot fish processing facility in Gouldsboro as its base to farm salmon. It proposed to build 30 150-foot-wide pens in two areas in Frenchman Bay.

Acadia Aqua Farms wants to use its lease for mussel farming to grow mussel seeds on a 48-acre area north of Leland Point in Frenchman Bay.

Mother of dead Right Whale calf also severely injured

The calf struck and killed a week ago in St. Augustine inlet in Florida was 22-foot long and one-month old

SOMESVILLE, Feb. 20, 2021 – Somewhere in the Atlantic is a “dead whale swimming.”

That’s how Jane Davenport referred to the female named “Infinity.” Davenport is the lead lawyer for environmental groups suing the federal government for better protection of this endangered species.

Infinity’s calf was struck and killed by a sport fishing vessel Feb. 12. The captain of the 50-foot boat reported hitting a whale near the entrance to St. Augustine Inlet. The vessel began taking on water and was quickly grounded to prevent it from sinking.

Fresh cuts on the whale’s back and head suggest it was struck by a vessel’s propeller. The whale also had broken ribs and bruising, which are consistent with impact trauma. Final results of a necropsy are yet to come.

Because calves “stick to the mother like glue,” Davenport said, it is believed the female was also struck.

The calf is pictured with its mother, Infinity, in a photo taken in January. (Submitted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute)

On Tuesday, the mother was seen for the first time since the calf’s death, and also had injuries consistent with a vessel strike on her left side, including a series of fresh propeller cuts, the Florida wildlife research institute said. Davenport said the injuries will likely be fatal.

The ship strike comes in a good year for calving of Right Whales, as 15 newborns were spotted.

North Atlantic right whales migrate annually to waters such as the Bay of Fundy and the Gulf of St. Lawrence to feed and mate before migrating to areas off the shores of Florida and Georgia to give birth to their young in the winter months, said Amy Warren, a right whale researcher with the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium in Boston.

Infinity was observed in the Gulf of St. Lawrence every summer for the past four years, Warren said.

“She’s definitely a regular visitor to Canadian waters,” Warren said.

In the last three years, however, the endangered species has been plagued by deaths caused by vessel strikes and fishing net entanglements.

Since 2017, 33 whales — including the most recent one — have been found dead in U.S. and Canadian waters, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA).

A necropsy is underway to determine the cause of death. (Submitted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute)

Another 14 live whales have been found with serious injuries, NOAA said.

“The population is estimated to be right around 350 individuals right now, so any loss is devastating to us as part of the community making efforts to protect these right whales,” Warren said

She said leading up to the decline in North Atlantic right whales, 23 were birthed annually.

So far this breeding year, 15 mother-calf pairs have been recorded, including the latest to have died, she said.

Another right whale calf was found dead last November. However, it was found to have died from natural causes, according to NOAA.

Investigation underway

In its Facebook post, the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute said mother-calf pairs spend most of their time at, or just below, the water’s surface.

“Vessel operators are urged to slow down (10 knots or less), remain alert while traveling through nearshore waters in Florida and near inlets, and to give these animals space when sighted,” the institute said.

NOAA spokesperson Allison Garrett said in an email that she couldn’t comment on how fast the boat was going, or whether its operator was breaking any laws at the time, as such information is part of an open law enforcement investigation.

Warren said the messaging to boaters is to always keep a sharp eye on the water. However, her centre wants to see stricter rules for vessels to better protect right whales.

She said only boats longer than 20 metres are required to limit their speed to 10 knots in certain parts of U.S. waters at specific times of the year to protect right whales.

“We believe that the vessel that struck this calf was under 65 feet (20 metres), so there was no speed restriction. And we do think that speed could play a role,” she said.

Warren said there should also be speed limits for boats measuring under 20 metres.

Last year, the Government of Canada implemented a mandatory 10 knot speed-limit restriction throughout much of the Gulf of St. Lawrence for vessels longer than 13 metres, in an effort to protect right whales.

The mother of the whale calf that died after being struck by a vessel has been spotted with injuries, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Research Institute. 

The institute posted an update on its Facebook page Wednesday about the calf’s death. 

The 22-foot-long calf collided with a boat around the St. Augustine Inlet Friday and washed up on Anastasia State Park Saturday morning with severe propeller injuries, according to First Coast News. 

Previous:Endangered baby right whale killed after colliding with boat near St. Augustine Inlet

The calf, a male, had fresh cuts on its back and head that indicate propeller strikes, according to the FWC. He also had broken ribs and bruises. The final results of the necropsy are pending.

The calf’s mother, named Infinity and designated as whale #3230, was seen on Tuesday for the first time since the incident, according to FWC.

“She has injuries consistent with a vessel strike on her left side, including a series of fresh propeller cuts. Researchers collected photographs and are working to assess the severity of these wounds.”

Fifteen right whale mother and calf pairs have been seen in Florida and Georgia calving grounds so far this winter, and three fatal vessel strikes involving a right whale calf have been reported since January 2020, according to the FWC. 

“Vessels 33 feet and longer have struck and killed right whales. Collisions with whales can result in damage to or total loss of vessels,” according to the FWC. “Vessel operators are urged to slow down (10 knots or less), remain alert while traveling through nearshore waters in Florida and near inlets, and to give these animals space when sighted.

“Mother-calf pairs spend the majority of their time at, or a few feet below, the water’s surface. They can be surprisingly difficult to see, especially in low light and poor weather.”Your stories live here.Fuel your hometown passion and plug into the stories that define it.

Years of low birthing numbers have been a great cause for concern for the species, which is considered critically endangered, as estimates suggest there could be as few as 360 right whales left.

Because female right whales consistently give birth around every 10 years, the species has been dying faster than it can reproduce. In 2018, out of the roughly 100 females who are able to give birth, not a single calf was identified. In 2020, there were 10 births.

People should report whale sightings to 1-877-WHALE-HELP (1-877-942-5345) or to the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF Ch. 16.Q

whale https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/north-atlantic-right-whale

https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/2021/02/13/right-whale-calf-fatally-struck-by-boat-washes-up-on-anastasia-island/?fbclid=IwAR1ghFqu9uHjm3NphSusM3ise-kz99b1LSP8PvBBUyoFfmA1rzCX-Ht6EyA

When a folksy, quaint saying becomes weaponized, is it a slur?

SOMESVILLE, Feb. 13, 2021 – If you weren’t born here, there’s a name for you — a “come from away,” or a CFA for short.

I had just interviewed the emergency room doctor at MDI Hospital who told me that people who run, hike or do anything in a gym are the most likely to transmit Covid-19. He said when he walks on one of Acadia trails, he gives way by 12 feet to passing hikers and runners.

The exact situation presented itself late last fall on the Ship Harbor Trail when four women headed toward me maskless. I looked around to find a 12-foot distance but it was difficult on that narrow trail.

As the women passed me, I said, “You really ought to mask up.”

The first retort:

“Do you even live here?”

I said yes.

The second retort:

“I’ll bet you weren’t born here because if you were born here you would know we are outdoors and there is no danger of catching the virus from another person outdoors.”

The women went on their way, with loud exchanges about the “idiots from away.”

Fast forward to last week when I commissioned mockups showing photo-shopped composites of cruise ships and fish farm pens overtaking the our beloved Frenchman Bay. I shared the post on an FB page where several Bar Harbor residents defended the cruise ships and challenged the vantage point in the mockups. (an overwhelming number of comments thanked me for creating the visuals).

One of my detractors, a former BH council member, pointed out that I worked 17 years in Boston and how could anyone from Boston have an educated opinion about Maine? She was a strong defender of the cruise ships.

Until I started writing this blog – and therefore inviting potential backlash for my comments – I thought the phrase “come from away” was a folksy, quaint aphorism which helped define Mainers as they quietly poked visitors who didn’t know the proper way to eat a lobster and who couldn’t find their way back to their hotel. Fair enough. Innocent fun. Ha, ha, ha.

That is until I learned that the phrase wasn’t even authentically Maine. It’s Canadian, as defined by multiple dictionaries. McMillan Dictionary defines it as: a term used in Canada’s Atlantic provinces for someone who has moved to the area from somewhere else.

The Broadway hit, “Come from Away,” has sparked serious introspection in Canada about the true meaning of this phrase and whether Canadians should continue to use it. No such introspection exists in Maine.

In 2008, the Nova Scotia Liberal Party debated the following resolution:

“The terms ‘CFA’ or ‘come-from-away’ can be hurtful and does not project the welcoming society needed to attract and retain newcomers to Nova Scotia. Be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Liberal party urges members and all Nova Scotians to refrain from using the term ‘CFA’ to label newcomers to Nova Scotia.”

The term is common throughout Atlantic Canada, but Nova Scotia’s senior federal cabinet minister Scott Brison made headlines for suggesting the term should be banned from local vocabulary.

“It’s in our collective interest, economically and socially, to not use terms that reflect a negative view of people who choose to make Atlantic Canada their home,” he said.

Some posit that the expression may have been a reaction to another slur aimed at residents of Newfoundland, “Newfie,” which came around during WWII as American G.I.s derided the locals. (I am quite familiar with American G.I.s deriding locals).

“I hate the word,” said Overton Colbourne, 72, a professional engineer from Newfoundland who grew up at a time when the word delivered the sharpest slap. “I think it’s ugly,” he said in an interview with the New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/02/world/canada/has-a-canadian-slur-lost-its-sting.html

There are very few terms and words used to distinguish people that do not have an ugly aspect in their etymology. Use these words at your peril.

Boaters must drain craft under law proposed to protect lakes

MDI’s Billy Helprin testifies in favor of LD 184

Large milfoil patch in Long Lake, Naples, Maine

SOMESVILLE, Feb. 14, 2021 – The finger lakes on MDI have one great attribute because they were carved by glaciers. Like Somes Sound, they are deep. More than 100 feet in Long Pond, Eagle Lake, Echo Lake and Jordan Pond.

But that’s no comfort, as invasive species can cause devastation quickly.

In 2017, Lakes Environmental Association and Maine Department of Environmental Protection identified variable leaf milfoil growing in Long Lake, Naples, in southern Maine. Long Lake had previously been thought to be safe from this invasive aquatic plant, but substantial growth was found in Mast Cove in Naples.

Variable leaf milfoil has the potential to occupy large areas of Long Lake because the water body is relatively shallow with many coves; perfect for milfoil growth. This invasive plant grows and spreads incredibly quickly. Any fragment larger than an inch can re-root and become a new infestation.  Milfoil grows to the surface, and then spreads out in mats dense enough to prevent recreation and boating.

I pay my $20 fee every year for my milfoil sticker and proudly displays it on my canoe. But now, even more urgency needs to be felt by the public, said Billy Helprin, director of the Somes-Meynell Wildlife Sanctuary in Somesville. Billy is the keeper of the flame for all the visitors who make MDI special – alewive, loons, eagles, ospreys, etc. The lakes are crucial to the seasonal symmetry of these visiting species.

Billy recently testified to support adoption of proposed Maine registration to require all boaters to drain their craft of all water before they transport it elsewhere.

The situation is much more dire in lakes and ponds in southern Maine where state Rep. Walter Riseman, who represents Harrison, Bridgton and Denmark, introduced the bill at the urging of the Lake Environmental Association.

The idea is that if someone has a water craft in a lake with known invasive plants, such as Long Lake, the boater must drain the water which potentially carries the microscopic cells of the species. By the time the boater launches his craft into a pristine lake, say, Eagle Lake here, the cells will have long evaporated.

Billy Helprin (Director of the Somes-Meynell Wildlife Sanctuary) - Photo Credit - Katie Clark
Billy Helprin

“We have been lucky in Maine so far, largely due to being tucked way up in the northeastern corner of our country far from big population centers, to have so few of our more than 6,000 lakes and ponds infested with aquatic invasive species,” Billy Helprin said in his testimony before the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee. “‘Luck’ is the key word, and luck is not usually an integral part of an effective management plan to defend against a serious threat that has the ability to: render waterbodies toxic from cyanobacteria; unusable for any recreational purposes; cause serious harmi to fish, loons and other wildlife; and significantly reduce property values and property tax income for towns.”

The legislation won’t have any teeth unless the public knows about it and Helprin urged the committee to consider a strong campaign to educate the public.

“The announcement and education efforts surrounding this law could be the critical factor in the prevention of particular invasive aquatic species infestations,” he said. “Awareness of the infestation threat and cascading effects of failure to prevent is critical to success. DEP and IF&W are well aware of how much more expensive, time consuming, and labor intensive it is to mount an aquatic species removal/control effort compared with preventative measures.”

The vaccine stations at the Cross Insurance Center are pictured on Feb. 1.  Natalie Williams / BDN

Vaccine appointments open up; state cases moderate; MDI still safer

SOMESVILLE, Feb. 13, 2021 – The ability to get vaccinations is getting easier and the number of Covid cases in Maine has declined to the level of early November. Two days this week, the cases fell below 200.

QSJ has become a seasoned veteran of the online scrum to register for Covid vaccinations and will offer my services free to anyone who doesn’t find the computer particularly friendly for this endeavor. You’ll need your Medicare ID info.

I finally broke through the Marginot Line this week and scored appointments for me and my wife. I did it through the Northern Light Health portal even though it has a very challenging process and frustrated many for its once-a-week signup on Mondays at 2. Northern Light signs you up for the second dose at the same time for exactly three weeks after the first dose.

Earlier I had pre-registered on MDI Hospital, Maine Health and an assortment of smaller venues from Millinocket to Skowhegan. I have not heard from any of those.

Northern Light added a server Feb. 1 to handle the additional load, but that server crashed leaving many signups hanging. The loading was still slow this week as well, but the system did not crash.

It makes sense that the Maine CDC would favor large hospitals like Northern Light because they have the wherewithal to vaccinate many people at once. In addition, Northern Light has vaccination centers with an hour’s drive of MDI, in Ellsworth, Bangor and Blue Hill. https://www.newscentermaine.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/vaccine/cross-insurance-center-to-serve-as-covid-19-mass-vaccination-site-for-bangor-region/97-442b574f-b05b-4cf8-9eb0-2eff54515cd3

Don’t assume you won’t get an appointment because the platform is jammed Mondays at 2 p.m. That’s when the traffic spikes, no doubt about it. But many people just quit and walk away leaving many appointments unfilled. This week, there were unfilled appointments through Thursday morning. Northern Light also has added a second vaccination pod at the Bangor Cross Insurance Center where they have the capacity to vaccinate 3,000 persons a day.

Walmart and Sam’s Club joined the fray this week across the country, although the appointments remained spotty. The Sam’s Club in Bangor was not active as of Friday. Walmart showed off its robust platform which performed at high speed. Appointments for both of its Bangor locations worked well. Make sure you click on pharmacy. As of today, Walmart had many appointments available for Feb. 19 in Bangor.

Walmart lacked the ability to schedule the second shot at the same time. You’re asked to sign up for the second shot later.

In all the hysteria, MDI continued to be a relatively safe place.

As of Wednesday, Bar Harbor Hospital reported 63 positive tests for local residents since the beginning of the pandemic, and eight non-residents. Not all residents choose to test at the local hospital, however. The hospital this week also reported it has administered 1,357 first doses and 511 second doses of the vaccine.

According to the Maine CDC, MDI could have had as high as 134 cases or a low of 87 cases. Maine CDC gives the numbers as a range for each zip code on the theory that privacy is illusive in small villages.

For bigger towns like Bar Harbor, it gives the precise number, 52. Ellsworth reported 208. Southwest Harbor’s range is 20-49, Mount Desert 6-19, Northeast Harbor, 6-19, Bass Harbor, 1-5, Seal Cove, 1-5.

Hancock County meanwhile is reporting 152.3 cases per 10,000 residents, the fourth lowest in the state.

COA’s one-day haul speaks to its momentum as a rising star in the academic world

May be an image of one or more people, snow and text that says '24-Hour Challenge TODAY!'

SOMESVILLE, Feb. 12, 2021 – Fundraising is now high art and MDI non-profits can learn a thing or two from the College of the Atlantic.

An anonymous donor challenged COA to match his/her $24,000 gift in a 24-hour period to raise $50,000 from other donors.

When the date came, Feb. 9, the college met that goal in hours, and then another challenge came in for $25,000 more to be matched. Again, the funds raised met the second challenge.

Total one-day haul? $186,085.

May be an image of text that says 'NUMBER OF DONORS 715 AMOUNT RAISED $137,058 $137, ON TOP THIS, WE ALSO UNLOCKED TWO ADDITIONAL MATCHING GIFTS! Donors TRUSTEES (20) PARENTS (135) FRIENDS (145) STUDENTS (27) STAFF & FACULTY (42) .GRAND TOTAL $186,058 ALUMNX 12 3 Blackflies NEW BLACKFLY SIGN UPS 13 Alumnx NUMBER OF DONORS 389 AMOUNT RAISED $37,092 TOP PARTICIPATING CLASSES 2010 â 2009 2002 2005 2011 THANK YOU FOR JOINING THE SWARM OFSUSTAINABLE DONORS!'
Final Result for 24-hour challenge 2021

COA President Darron Collins said,
“I’m so moved by how the greater COA community — on campus, across MDI, and all over the world — came together on Tuesday to support the college. It reaffirms that what we do is of real value locally and globally. I didn’t sleep across the entire 24-Hour period and wouldn’t have changed a thing in that respect — the 24-hour fire afforded me the chance to really touch base with students during a time when such personal contact is difficult. I have hundreds of hours of thanking to do now and I look forward to every minute of it.

“I lit the ‘Eternal 24-Hour Flame (sic)’ at 12 am on 2/9 and kept with it until 11:59:59 pm. That fire was a magnet for socially-distanced engagement … including pancakes, bacon and eggs, homemade tortillas, hot chocolate, steak, and loads of conversation.”

It was 25 years ago when my son and his cousin were enrolled in a summer program at the College of the Atlantic, a small, fledgling institution which took over a monastery on the outskirts of Bar Harbor in 1969. It didn’t figure much in my life as a summer vacationer.

Then someone told us about COA’s Beech Hill Farm and suddenly our vacation was scheduled around the farm’s hours of operation – closed Sunday and Monday so you’d better get there on Saturday. And Tuesday always promised the best stuff.

There is also COA’s Peggy Rockefeller Farms – part of the largest remaining contiguous area of historic farmland on MDI. PRF manages 45 acres of organic farmland, raises certified organic fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, broilers, turkeys, pasture and hay, as well as pasture-based beef and lamb.

The late David Rockefeller donated the farms to COA in January 2010, to be used in perpetuity for agriculture and conservation. The gift of the farms was accompanied by an endowment to help cover costs of management, maintenance and repairs.

Timing has always been a good to COA. In 1968, Father James Gower, a Catholic priest and peace activist, and his former football teammate from Bar Harbor High School, businessman Les Brewer, conceived the idea for the College of the Atlantic. The anti-war fervor of the Sixties fueled their passion.

COA’s ecological mission, established long before “climate change” entered the vernacular, is riding a global wave of companies, governments, NGOs and citizens seeking solutions.

How many small colleges are so positioned to benefit from such inexorable forces? At the footsteps of Acadia National Park with frontage on Frenchman Bay, no less, with a singular mission to train young minds to preserve earth? It syncs nicely with all the summer and year-round residents who share its sensibilities as they watch their own milieu protected and supported by an energetic cohort of young people from all over the world.

All first-year students are required to take an introductory course in human ecology. Other requirements include two courses in each focus area (Environmental Studies, Arts and Design, Human Studies), one quantitative reasoning course, one history course, and one course that involves extensive writing.

With its focus on interdisciplinary learning, College of the Atlantic does not have distinct departments, and all faculty members consider themselves human ecologists in addition to their formal specialization.

The intersection of the beauty of Acadia, a single mission of purpose to sustain that beauty and a bountiful audience of like-minded supporters eager to write checks make for a perfect trifecta. In 20 years COA has quintupled its endowment.

The first incoming class at COA, 1972.
First entering class – 1972
May be an image of snow
New Center for Human Ecology – Jen Holt Photography

The best part of COA is the students and teaching population, representing 50 foreign countries, including France, Mexico, Nigeria, Namibia, India and Texas. What a special treat – in such an ethnically homogeneous region, to be exposed to such a range of humanity. I can’t imagine how the cafeteria keeps up.

QSJ raises $1,178 in fundraiser for Common Good Soup Kitchen

SOMESVILLE, Feb. 13, 2021 – QSJ is happy to report that its first fundraising campaign achieved its goal of selling 50 branded t-shirts. The final tally was 52 sold, and $1,178 raised for the Common Good Soup Kitchen after expenses. https://www.customink.com/fundraising/dashboard/campaigns/3766457?status=

Thanks to all who gave!

Maine DEP law protects public, scenic vistas, shores, habitats

SOMESVILLE, Feb. 13, 2021 – I’m no lawyer, but I’m pretty good with language. It’ll be interesting to see how the fancy pants lawyers for American Aquafarms distill the following to its benefit.

“In the Natural Resources Protection Act (NRPA), 38 M.R.S.A. §§ 480-A through Z, the Legislature has found and declared that Maine’s rivers and streams, great ponds, fragile mountain areas, freshwater wetlands, significant wildlife habitat, coastal wetlands, and sand dune systems are resources of state significance. Section 480-A states that these resources have great scenic beauty and unique characteristics, unsurpassed recreational, cultural, historical, and environmental value of present and future benefit to the citizens of the State and that uses are causing the rapid degradation and, in some cases, the destruction of these critical resources. The Legislature’s recognition of the scenic beauty of these protected natural resources through statute distinguishes the visual quality of those resources and its value to the general population.

“Applicants for permits under the NRPA are required to demonstrate that a proposed activity meets the standards of the NRPA that have been established by the Legislature. Standard 1 in Section 480-D of the NRPA requires an applicant to demonstrate that a proposed activity will not unreasonably interfere with existing scenic and aesthetic uses.”

The Act also specifically calls out Acadia National Park:

“Scenic resources. The following public natural resources and public lands are usually visited by the general public, in part with the purpose of enjoying their visual quality. Under this rule, the Department considers a scenic resource as the typical point from which an activity in, on, over, or adjacent to a protected natural resource is viewed … A scenic resource visited by large numbers who come from across the country or state is generally considered to have national or statewide significance. A scenic resource visited primarily by people of local origin is generally of local significance.

            E.         National or State Parks (e.g., Acadia National Park, Sebago Lakes State Park);

            F.         Public natural resources or public lands visited by the general public, in part for the use, observation, enjoyment and appreciation of natural or cultural visual qualities.(e.g., great ponds, the Atlantic Ocean).

America Aquafarms is the Nordic company led by a convicted felon who wants to build two huge salmon farms in Frenchman Bay. The company is expected to file an application any day for leasing permits from the state of Maine. QSJ will monitor the process and alert readers when the public comment period begins. Here is the relevant chapter in the law:
Chapter 3XX ASSESSING AND MITIGATING IMPACTS TO …www.maine.gov › sos › cec › rules › 096c315

MDI towns ponder a future without Fiberight recycling plant

SOUTHWEST HARBOR, Jan. 13, 2021 – This town, and Bar Harbor, are beginning to consider the possibility that the Fiberight plant in Hampden may not be able deliver on its recycling promises, and what alternatives exist.

The two biggest towns on MDI are part of a consortium which is seeking to engage Delta Thermo Energy to operate the giant Fiberight plant which shut down last May because of financial reasons.

“I think there’s an ideal of like what this new company is going to do, and then there’s a reality of what they actually are going to be able to do,” said Bar Harbor Council member Val Peacock at its Feb. 2 meeting. “… and then there’s a set of track record of these companies not really being very soluble.”

Vice chair Matt Hochmann asked, “Can they deliver on their promises?”

Bar Harbor is the only town on MDI which has achieved any semblance of recycling since May. That’s because it is the only town which sorts its garbage – between trash and recyclables -before the waste is hauled away. After the plant closed, BH found another source to take its recycling but the percentage has fallen to only 12 percent of its total waste, reported Public Works Director Bethany Leavitt.

She said Fiberight was never able to achieved the 80 percent recycling and hit 50 percent during tests. She said the town could save $5,000 a month by halting the sorting until the plant restarts, but the council favored continuing the sorting as a commitment to recycling.

Further complicating the matter was the recent disclosure of Delta’s technology which consists of mashing the solid waste with sewage sludge to produce fuel to burn to generate electricity. In other words, the stuff would be incinerated, as in a traditional waste energy plant.

Henry Lang, manager of Penobscot Energy Recovery Company, which is the incinerator in Orrington currently burning most of the waste from the 115-town consortium, said he reviewed the Delta documents online and added, “Sure looks like a waste energy plant to me.”

The two towns on MDI which are not burdened by any concerns about Delta are Mount Desert and Tremont. They comprise most of a partnership called Acadia Disposal District, which includes Trenton.

Tony Smith, public works director at Mount Desert and a member of the board of the consortium, said, “My focus, and that of the MRC board, is working with the bondholders to re-open the Hampden facility in full compliance with current permits and have it operational so that our members can resume efficient and environmentally sound disposal of their MSW.”

That is opposite of the views of Jim Vallette, vice chair of SWH’s Warrant Committee who has been a vocal critic of the consortium (Municipal Review Committee). “The bottom line: this company, with a mysterious overseas owner and no fixed address, and a troubling track record, has been rejected by town after town in the mid-Atlantic. Now it plans to deliver NYC sewage sludge by barge to Hampden for incineration, and the MRC thinks this is good business for the towns.”

Vallette has been compiling a living document of his research. https://docs.google.com/document/d/10ghk9IGV1eCNYaUvpVKuWfc7DxhxuWUqO7vWfoajP58/edit

QSJ requested an interview with Michael Carroll, director the MRC, who replied in an email that he didn’t have time.

SWH struggles to find balance after firing town manager

SOUTHWEST HARBOR, Feb. 13, 2021 – This town is still seeking solid footing after firing Justin VanDongen, the former town manager who was a polarizing figure. The select board held its first meeting since the firing this week in a harmonious session and a show of unanimity on all issues.

Still, there are vacancies for town manager, police chief, and a host of big capital intensive projects to resurrect. The town almost lost Town Clerk Marilyn Lowell, who submitted her resignation during the waning days of the VanDongen era, but was persuaded to rescind it after he was fired.

She’s now out of the country on a planned vacation which comes at a price. The town is unable to accept any vehicles registration because Lowell was the only person certified to do so. This notice appeared on the town’s website this week:

NOTICE TO RESIDENTS, February 9-19th The Town Office will be doing Re-registrations ONLY this applies to vehicles, and atv/snowmobiles. New Registrations will resume Monday February 22 You can also Re-register vehicles and trailers online at https://www1.maine.gov/online/bmv/rapid-renewal/

The town also had to cut back on services the last week of 2020 because of poor scheduling. Selectman George Jellison told QSJ at the time there would be a reckoning after Jan. 12. It was unclear what he meant by that date.

VanDongen left the town with a host of unfinished business. SWH must properly train its office staff to handle numerous functions.

The selectmen added Don Lodge, chair of the Warrant Committee and an experienced public works veteran, to its infrastructure committee to help find a solution to the decrepit town garage which must be replaced. The board voiced a unanimous wish that the project be completed for under $1.6 million. Voters decided last year by nine votes to reject a $1.9 million proposal.

Roof buckling
Garage door unable to close completely
Door rusted from bottom
Chimney on verge of collapsing

Postscript: NEH zoning fight kicked back to appeals board

NORTHEAST HARBOR, Feb. 13, 2021 – As expected the Planning Board unanimously re-affirmed its decision to approve the “replacement” of the house at 11 Barnacles Way and sent it back to the Zoning Board of Appeals which had asked the Planning Board for clarification. The Planning Board also attached the written explanation of compliance with zoning ordinance written by the lawyer for Otium LLC, the owner of 11 Barnacles Way. Neighbors William and Majorie Grace appealed the Planning Board decision last fall.

COMMENTARY

Mockups of Frenchman Bay in 2025; How Maine is slowly destroying its pristine coastline and the environment

LAMOINE, Feb. 5, 2021 – QSJ commissioned the following mockups to show realistically what Frenchman Bay could look like in a few short years. These “mockups” are composites of actual photos taken of cruise ships, fish farm pens in the waters surrounding Acadia National Park.

A VIEW SOUTHWARD TOWARD ACADIA NATIONAL PARK FROM FRENCHMAN BAY
COOKE SALMON PENS NEAR FRENCHBORO, CRUISE SHIPS SUPER-IMPOSED ON PHOTO OF FRENCHMAN BAY

The town of Bar Harbor already uses Frenchman Bay for cruise ship anchorage (Anchorage B), so the mockups contain reasonable assumptions for views from the north – Sorrento, Lamoine, Hancock.

There are at least two applications under way to develop fish farming in Frenchman Bay, and there is no telling how many more will surface if they are approved. Here is QSJ’s take on fish farms published late last year.

QSJ also wrote last fall about the most noxious element of cruise ships – that they are among the worst polluters on earth. No one monitors their emissions as their stacks bellow dark smoke which, during the prevailing southwesterly wind of summer here, heads directly toward the aforementioned towns. This video is a good summary of cruise ship pollution. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2N9JHYtAzVk

What an irony that Portland and Bar Harbor, two of the most progressive communities in the United States, are parties to such willful destruction of the planet. Whatever effort to reduce our carbon footprint on MDI is canceled – in a huge mismatch – by supporting the cruise ships industry.

At least one Bar Harbor Council member has stated falsely that Acadia National Park monitors air quality and has given Bar Harbor a passing grade. It does not, and it has not. Its air screeners cannot reach Frenchman Bay to detect pollution from the ships.

Moreover, the number of ships have gone from a handful in the late Eighties to nearly 200 in 2019 increasing the chance of the ships striking Right Whales as they churn into Frenchman Bay.

Mark F. Riewestahl, Principal
Mark Riewestahl

QSJ commissioned these photo composites from an incredibly talented designer Mark Riewestahl, owner of Black Spruce Design https://blacksprucedesign.com. Mark is graduating this spring from College of the Atlantic but is already in his second year of growing a successful LLC. He has enjoyed working with local MDI organizations, such as the Mount Desert Island Historical Society.

Bar Harbor cruise ship straw poll will only unleash more animus

BAR HARBOR, Feb. 5, 2021 – This town has a habit of throwing good money after bad so why not commission a survey on the question of cruise ships which will only generate more questions. Let’s keep kicking the can down the road ..

The Town Council has already received “buckets of emails,” as one council member put it, so there is plenty of data to support either position – ban or restrict cruise ships. In fact the council member Val Peacock told the research firm hired to manage the survey to consider the emails which she forwarded from a file she compiled.

The idea of a survey came from council member Gary Friedmann late last year. But at a project review meeting with the research firm Pan Atlantic this week, it became painfully clear the construction of a comprehensive questionnaire will be difficult.

Pan Atlantic is a Portland-based firm which suffered a black eye last fall when it conducted a poll in early October predicting a Sara Gideon victory over Susan Collins. Pan Atlantic was not the only polling firm which got it wrong, but it predicted a whopping 7.1 percent win for Gideon when most pollsters had it in the margin or error less than 3 to 4 percent. https://bangordailynews.com/2020/10/15/politics/sara-gideon-leads-susan-collins-by-7-points-in-new-maine-poll/

Annie Clark, Communications Director for the Collins campaign, said at the time, “A two-week-old online poll—especially in this environment—might as well be two years old,” Clark said. “That said—we think this is a very tight race.”

Was the poll a marketing ploy? Certainly Pan Atlantic got a lot of press. Town Manager Cornell Knight wrote in an email that his staff chose Pan Atlantic because “they had the best proposal and would do a good job.” Its president, Patrick Murphy, did not return a message left by QSJ.

QSJ would have asked him to explain his methodology as stated by the company, “Data were weighted using US Census Bureau data to match the composition of Maine’s historical voting population based on Congressional District, age, education, and gender.” What does not mean?

Indeed, research firms often rely on templates and other data points to manage the cost of surveys and collating results. One eagle-eyed Bar Harbor council member spotted just such a misplaced template in Pan Atlantic presentation. “You’re not going to send our report to Raymond, are you?” Council member Jill Goldthwait asked sarcastically, when she discovered that the presentation to Bar Harbor was meant for the town of Raymond. “You’re a victim of cut and paste.”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-4.png
FLOWCHART PRESENTED BY PAN ATLANTIC SHOWING ERROR

The error was minor and the Pan Atlantic team was chagrined.

What is not minor, however, is the extreme deadline put on the project to have final deliverables by late March. The firm must design a 4-page questionnaire, have it vetted by the council and at a public hearing, mail out the survey and give the council a final report. Will the voters trust the results, given Pan Atlantic history and the deadline?

The issue simply does not lend itself to a straw poll, like the one conducted by MDI towns last year with a yes/no answer: Do you support the town continuing to explore an islandwide middle school?

Council members spent most of the review session with questions which only illuminated the complexity of the issues.

Among those discussed:

Do cruise ships defile the Bar Harbor Brand?

Are traditional Maine institutions such as the lobster industry marginalized by cruise ships?

Who benefits or are harmed directly and indirectly by cruise ships?

Do cruise ships “crowd out” residents wishing to use restaurants and other village services?

Is one mailed survey per household adequate?

And there is the question of security. How do you prevent people from gaming the system?

In this case, there are only two essential questions: Should the Town of Bar Harbor ban cruise ships? Or should the town restrict them? On the second question, ideas abound – from capping the number of ships or passengers, to restricting visits only in autumn, to imposing no-ship days so residents may plan around a calendar. Many of those ideas are already contained in the emails.

What would a $12,600 survey do to settle the question? Not much. It may only contribute to the tortured debate. Moreover, with such a small project the research firm will need to manage costs to squeeze out a profit, and it’s already managing expectations.

Pan American founder Murphy fielded questions about whether a single paper survey per household is adequate and how to combat fake entries online. Jill Goldthwait correctly identified the cruise ship question as “a hot issue” which goes beyond Bar Harbor. But her motivation was not altruism, but in keeping the survey out of the hands of neighboring towns residents.

Which begs another question: What about all the other towns impacted? The stakeholders on the issue of cruise ships include every town on MDI and Frenchman Bay. As a Lamoine resident said, “Cruise ships benefit only one town” and harm 10, with their lights, noise, air pollution and out-of-context presence “on our pristine coastline.”

Patrick Murphy said he expected to receive 400-500 responses. Is such a straw poll meaningful or will it only agitate an already aggrieved citizenry mistrustful of the motivations of this council?

Bar Harbor lost its innocence long ago when it allowed hoteliers to demolish West Street and turn it into a cheap Vegas-like strip. The town won’t let me play guitar for tips in public but it’s happy to allow the cruise industry to unload hordes of camera-crazed tourists behaving badly but armed with a passport which speaks volumes to a town which has lost its soul – a 3 38–  by 2 18-inch plastic card. Why not open a casino and be done with it? At least it will be less polluting.

Mount Desert’s Public Safety hazards with no solutions in sight

RUSTING CULVERT AT NORTHERN NECK CAUSEWAY

SOMESVILLE, Feb. 4, 2021 – Is there a common good remaining in our conjugated society whereas something so obvious as a benefit is orphaned and subject to the murmurs of officialdom – even here in our lovely hamlet?

Simply, can we still solve problems as a community?

Here is one problem: The causeway connecting Northern Neck peninsula on Long Pond to the rest of the island is in danger of collapsing because the two underlying culverts are rusting and metal shards are creating injuries to unwary visitors. During high season, about 60 households traverse that causeway.

Why do we care as a community?

Long Pond is the largest lake on MDI and used by thousands of canoeists and kayakers, many of whom port their water crafts over the causeway to return to the Pond’s End canoe and kayak rental center.

Cathy Waters injury

Cathy Waters wasn’t expecting the rusting hulk of a 40-year-old culvert to collapse when her leg pierced through the metal. It sliced her leg cleanly through multiple shears of excisions from her knee to her ankle. The injury required two surgeries. That was last summer.

Flash back 30 years, my son and I are walking onto the same culvert at the causeway. We throw pebbles into the pond. I try to teach my boy how to skip the rocks. It is still one of my fondest memories. We get down on our bellies in a prone position, put our heads down and look through the culvert to the other side.

Today that culvert is a clear and present danger to tourists, boaters, summer residents and anyone who needs to get onto Northern Neck. Cathy Waters was among the first to learn the hard way of the danger lurking under water, as most of the rusted metal lies below the surface. Unless something is done, she won’t be the last.

SUBMERGED METAL SHARDS ARE HARD TO SEE FROM THE SURFACE

Northern Neck is the peninsula jutting southward on Long Pond which bisects the lake. It was once an island until 1950 when a developer, Tom Flynn, built a causeway for access to his lots so they could be sold more easily.

Three current residents of Northern Neck petitioned the town of Mount Desert this week for relief to repair the current causeway and culvert and were told the town did not own the causeway and did not have the authority to repair the culverts which did not seem like an unreasonable response, except that the problem was not solved.

All sides shared similar concerns about this public hazard. Public Works Director Tony Smith offered the town’s assistance, but first, he said, the residents must form a road association and claim some standing, and perhaps commit to paying for some of the repair.

The three petitioners – Bob Foster of  3 Pine Cove Lane, Rob Shea of 36 Northern Neck Road, and Bill Waters  118 Northern Neck Road, said in a prepared statement, “We are volunteers who see to the year-round maintenance of the road surface. We collect funds from the owners to pay the costs. We are not a road association. We have no authority to compel our neighbors to pay into our operating funds. We have no authority to place a lien on the properties of owners who do not pay.”

Northern Neck is one of the most interesting summer enclaves on MDI, along with Seal Harbor, Seal Cove and Bar Harbor’s Shore Road district. Its history is a rich tapestry of Americana (see related story below).

But the conundrum presented in this case on an island dominated by seasonal residents is not unique, or even rare. There will always be some who choose the lowest denominator so not participate in the greater good in a “what’s it in for me” stance or the assumption that some rich neighbor will simply write a check.

The petitioners said there are 60 privately owned Lots on Northern Neck that are taxed by the Town of Mt. Desert. “There are 55 individual owners of these Lots. Fifty-two (95%) of the 55 owners are seasonal residents.”

The problem not solved? A dangerous and menacing threat at the causeway.

Asking the homeowners to rally behind this cause – all 55 of them – at this time of the year is not practical. I live on a road with seven households. Only four agreed to help fix the common road. When the kayakers come on Memorial Day, it will be the true test.

A lesser safety problem brought before the town’s selectmen’s board was the crosswalk to Somesville Landing eliminated after Rt. 102 was paved last year.

Problem: There is no crosswalk to enable pedestrians to walk from Bob and Pat Foster’s agency in Somesville across Rt. 102 to the entrance to Somesville Landing. This was a concern raised by select member Geoff Wood, who lives in the area.

Response: Patrick Adams, regional transportation planner at the Maine DOT, said he conducted a site audit of the road and it was simply not safe to erect a crosswalk suggesting it was safe. He said it “was less less than five seconds” from the crest of the hill” and less than three seconds after that before a driver would confront someone on a crosswalk.

The Somesville Landing Association is a private organization providing access to Somes Sound for Mount Desert residents on the western side of the town. Members may launch boats and store dinghies. The town manages permits for the mooring field.

Adams said he couldn’t recall any serious pedestrian accidents at the site but said, “There have been many, many close calls.”

The following are excerpts of the minutes of the selectmen’s discussion:

“Mr. Wood inquired about the sidewalks in Somesville. In his earlier inquiry about the sidewalks in Somesville, it was explained that the DOT had determined there was not enough visibility to ensure safe crossing at some of the crosswalks in the Somesville area and they were removed. This resulted in no crosswalks between the lights and the library, making it difficult to get to the landing in Somesville. While the landing is not public, it is a place visitors and locals use.

“Mr. Wood understood the circumstance. He wondered how the elimination of the crosswalks has been mitigated. He inquired about whether sidewalks could be built on the other side of the road from the library crosswalk, or perhaps installing an additional crosswalk with warning lights. Otherwise, it seemed the ability to reach the landing was being abandoned.

Director Smith did not feel the ability to reach the landing was being abandoned. The other side ofthe street is too narrow in some places for sidewalk.

Director Smith noted the flashing lights and speed detectors at either end of the stretch of Route 102 running through Somesville has been an attempt at slowing drivers down. Additionally, the Town has looked at possibilities such as seasonal speed bumps and islands as well to control vehicle speed. None have been shown to be practicable.

Mr. Wood hoped the issue would not be forgotten. Part of the marketing of the area is access to the Somesville Landing. The landing property has within its deed that Somesville residents have access to the landing. Currently it cannot be accessed safely.

The inside story of Long Pond’s Jewish history

SOMESVILLE, Feb. 5, 2021 – Long Pond was sometimes referred to as “Great” Long Pond to distinguish it from the much smaller Long Pond in Seal Harbor. Its finger-like shape is symmetrical to Echo Lake, Somes Sound and Eagle Lake as if all were carved out by a giant hand.

It is the summer retreat for the famous, Susan Sarandon; the wealthy, former Fidelity CEO Ned Johnson; and oodles of lawyers and doctors from Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York and Boston.

Of the locals, Ken Paigen, the late director of Jackson Labs, would vanquish the field in the annual Long Pond regatta on the first Sunday of August in his 26-foot sloop Soleil. He always waved when he passed me as he steered Soleil on its ruthless, cold, calculating tack.

There is an inside story about Long Pond which I stumbled upon in 1985 when driving down Northern Neck. “Hey, there are a lot of Jewish sounding names,” I said to my wife as we passed several wooden name plates hammered into trees and posts which were unmistakably Eastern European of the Ashkenazi persuasion. They were out of context from my own expectation for what a small Maine community should look like on Britannica.com. “Jews in Maine?” I said to myself.

First, it gave me a level of comfort as an immigrant with a Jewish name who seeks peace with the diaspora which is code for “why we are still hiding.” I didn’t give it much thought until I discovered Judith S. Goldstein’s “Crossing Lines,” her masterpiece on the history of Jews in Maine and in three communities – Bangor, Mount Desert and Calais. Used copies are available on Amazon, which is where I purchased my copy.

Here is an excerpt:

“While Bar Harbor sought the tourists, and Northeast Harbor and Seal Harbor ignored them, hardly anyone noticed a small group of European Jewish immigrants who slipped into the western part of the island especially around Long Pond. These people have fled Hitler in the 1930s in the Nazi conquests in the 1940s. They came from the cosmopolitan bourgeoisie from cities throughout Europe such as Frankfurt, Berlin, Vienna and Budapest.”

Much of Great Long Pond’s shores are on Acadia National Park land and the diversity of mountains, lakes and streams reminded them of their homeland.

“As European Jews they shared common interests and tastes, as well as a history of displacement and regeneration in America. They were not observant. None sought to develop any religious institutions on the island. Several in fact were married to non-Jews. The European Jewish immigrants who gathered around the untouched beauty of Long Pond did not look to the island’s clubs for social affirmation. They simply enjoyed the freedom of Acadia National Park with its magnificent coast, ponds, trails and carriage roads. In Somesville and other communities on the western part of the island as well as on Cranberry Isle, they found the simplicity of New England country life.”

Some of the Jewish families are still extant on Northern Neck.

MAX RUDOLF

The conductor Max Rudolf was one of the first to come to the island. “Fearful of the outbreak of anti-Semitic hostilities in his native Germany Rudolf had taken his family to Prague in 1929 then to Sweden and finally to the United States in 1940. A casual question from a friend led Rudolf, the charming and highly intellectual artistic administrator of the Metropolitan Opera and his family to the island in 1950.” (Rudolf’s grandson is still a summer resident of Northern Neck)

Mary Peltz, editor of the Opera News and longtime summer resident of Bar Harbor, was the one who recommended Rudolf consider the Arthur Prey cottages on Long Pond.

According to “Crossing Lines”:
“For generations , Prey’s family had owned property on Northern Neck on Long Pond and unbeknownst to Mary Peltz, Prey just sold his large holdings to Tom Flynn, speculator from Ohio. Rudolf followed her advice and spent a month on Mount Desert. By that time Flynn was desperate to sell lots in his newly formed subdivision. He was not alone. Mike Garber, a Jew from Connecticut who came to know and love the island when he was stationed at the Trenton airbase during the war. Within a few years Garber acquired a great deal of land in Bar Harbor and around Long Pond. It did not matter to him or Flynn who bought the land of where the buyers came from and it was from Flynn that Rudolf bought three parcels.”