• Private or public ambulance service

    After 45 years serving the greater Ellsworth region with emergency medical technician (EMT) service, County Ambulance has announced it is closing. In the short term, the Aug. 31 departure of County Ambulance will be a challenge. But it’s also an opportunity. Nationally, almost half of all EMT and ambulance service is provided by fire departments

  • Who’s in charge here?

    The oldest form of government in Maine is county government. It dates all the way back to the Declaration of Independence. After York became Maine’s first official county in 1820, when Maine separated from Massachusetts, each Maine county has elected commissioners, a sheriff, a district attorney and … a treasurer. This fall, Hancock County has

  • A new fire station

    On paper at least, being a Mariaville/Otis firefighter sounds like a tough job. Let us outline the specs. Pay: zero. Hours: erratic. Workspace: cramped to the point of claustrophobic. Training: required regularly and on your dime. Responsibility: enormous. Oh yes, and if you need to use the facilities, just mosey on out to the outhouse.

  • When government subsidizes business with your money

    Ask Maine wild blueberry farmers about this year’s crop and their forlorn response tells the story of an industry under heavy stress. Field prices have been abysmal over the past two years, only 27 cents a pound last year, causing many small blueberry farmers to stop harvesting and let their fields go fallow. What else

  • Education du jour

    Compulsory education became the law of the land in 1918 — just 100-years ago. Elementary education and “common schools” existed before that time, but the number of children receiving formal education was modest. Today in Maine, 620 public schools and 117 private institutions assure that every child has access to a fair and “free” (taxpayer-funded)

  • When is a parking lot a civics lesson?

    At first glance, it looked like the ultimate expression of small-town culture. City officials, residents and businesspeople stopped what they were doing last Thursday afternoon to take part in the solemn occasion of a parking lot ribbon-cutting. But, on reflection, it was no small matter. Not if you live, work or pay taxes in Ellsworth.

  • MaineCare expansion is still unresolved

    The expansion of MaineCare remains unresolved, unyielding and unfunded. Widening the opening to admit another 70,000 to 80,000 recipients of Maine’s version of Medicaid is one of the most contentious battles in Augusta. Proponents of expanding eligibility and inviting more applicants to our MaineCare program are butting heads with Governor LePage, who insists that any

  • Envy thy neighbor

    From Kittery Point to Rhubarb Pond on the Canadian border, Maine and New Hampshire share a 157-mile border. It’s Maine’s sole physical connection to the rest of New England. Yet, it’s as if an invisible fence emerging from the Piscataqua River north to the Androscoggin separates these two mostly rural states. Our governing processes, our

  • Business handouts: the gift that keeps on giving

    The 128th Legislature is still convened in Augusta, more than two months after its scheduled adjournment. Too much regular session work was deferred, left incomplete or otherwise delayed by politics, brinksmanship and poor planning. Significant budgeting matters, as well as urgent legislation and issues with voter-enacted referendums, have been mired in contention between the Governor’s

  • Social insecurity

    On Aug. 14, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed The Social Security Act. This was legislation designed to provide unemployment insurance during the Great Depression, old age insurance for American citizens and immediate, means-tested welfare assistance for desperate families. By January 1937, taxes were being collected and the first lump sum payments went to qualified