Ward determined to make a difference

Dear Editor:

Thirty-six years ago, on Aug. 8, 1980, my cousin, Joyce McLain, was brutally murdered behind Schenck High School in East Millinocket. My aunt, Pam McLain, has fought tirelessly to bring her killer(s) to justice and to form a Cold Case Homicide Squad within the Maine State Police. And until this year, neither had happened. That is, until Karl Ward was elected to the Maine Legislature.

Karl, or “Karlie” as we know him, grew up with us here in Medway, went to UMaine and is now the head of a big construction company, Nickerson & O’Day, in Brewer.

About three years ago, we heard he was running for the Legislature. Even though he wouldn’t be our representative, our family asked him to try and pass a law to create the squad. Three earlier attempts had all failed. We had no doubt Karl would get elected, and if you know him, you know once he sets his mind to a goal, he never stops.

After the election, he co-authored the bill with a Democrat on the powerful Appropriations Committee. At his large press conference, several cold case families told their stories. Each wore a T-shirt with the blue cold case ribbon that Karl had made. He also made blue ribbon lapel pins for every legislator and dozens attended the conference with members of law enforcement backing the bill. He later came to see Pam and together they went out to where Joyce was found so long ago.

The committee hearing was gut-wrenching to hear the grieving families speak. Karl spoke of how it also changed our region when Joyce was murdered. After a unanimous vote, it went to Appropriations, where his co-sponsor helped gain funding. Karl gave an incredible floor speech and it passed overwhelmingly in the House. After a veto, he led the effort to override and it is now law. The squad was formed last winter.

This past spring, the state police called. They had arrested who they believe took our Joyce from us. My family was at the press conference for the announcement and there, listening intently, was of course, Karl Ward.

Karl tells me this is why he is running again. He knows now that he can do some good at this job. If you live in Orland, Stockton Springs, Dedham, Otis, Verona Island, Penobscot or Prospect and he’s your legislator, you should feel lucky. And you should give him your vote.

Greylen Hale

East Millinocket

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