Thursday, July 28, 2005

Residents object to ‘highway’ to historic farm

Published in the Current

SCARBOROUGH (July 28, 2005): One elm tree with tracks of construction vehicles on two sides of it remains along Cecile and John Carver's driveway. The tree is the last that remains of a long row planted along Marion Jordan Road by the Jordan family.

"It would be just terrible if that went," said Cecile Carver.

Carver is one of a group of residents who are objecting to changes that have come to their picturesque corner of Scarborough as the result of a new housing development on the historic Cole Farm off Marion Jordan Road. They believe the changes happening there are similar to ones happening all over town.

Mary Lello, whose home looks out over the Cole Farm land, said the problem is not the people doing the road-widening work, or the developer, who is just doing what was required by the town.

“It’s about this town,” said Lello, a lifelong Scarborough resident. “They’ve changed it so drastically.”

Marion Jordan Road used to be a 16-foot-wide road with grassy shoulders. At the end of the road was a sign marking the beginning of a 12-foot-wide private road whose sole purpose was to provide access to the Cole Farm, a 41-acre estate that was home to Rev. Franklin Cole, who died in 1997, and his wife, Eleanor, who died in 2004, and to the home of Cecile Carver and her husband, John.

Now both roads are being torn up and replaced with a 20-foot-wide strip of pavement, bordered by several feet of shoulder and drainage swale, for a total width of 50 feet, according to plans of the project.

In addition, a new road, 10 feet of asphalt plus 20 feet of gravel, and shoulder and drainage swale, is being built across what used to be a field, to provide a second access route for fire trucks to reach the homes being built on the farm.

Wide roads

“This is basically the town’s fault,” said Cecile Carver. The fire department had “no problem” getting to her home, at the far end of the private road, when her alarm system malfunctioned.

“Now the town for some reason decided there had to be this highway,” she said.

“It was an old road that predates some of the ordinances,” said Town Planner Joe Ziepniewski.

The standard width for all roads in town is 24 feet, Ziepniewski said. The Planning Board reduced the required road width to 20 feet, which is the “absolute minimum” in the town's fire lane ordinance, he said.

Fire Chief Michael Thurlow said that width, also codified in state law, is necessary for eight-foot-wide fire trucks to pass each other.

The extra four feet are required to prevent trucks from slapping mirrors, to have room for hoses to be laid in the roadway, to allow for snowbanks in the wintertime, and to allow pumper trucks to be parked next to fire hydrants without blocking the road for other rescue and fire vehicles, he said.

In addition, it is standard in town to have a five-foot shoulder shoring up the pavement, and providing room for underground utilities, before the drainage ditch begins, according to Town Engineer Jim Wendel.

The wider road has required cutting down several trees along Marion Jordan Road, which has distressed neighbors. Lello called the road construction zone “an absolutely bombed-out disaster area.”

Developer Paul Hollis said he would be replanting vegetation along the road. “I want the same privacy reinstated back there,” he said, noting that the road is “not any wider than any legal road in Scarborough that’s being built.”

Another town mandate protested by neighbors is the clearing and leveling of part of the field for the secondary access road, crossing property owned by Herb Ginn.

“They’ve destroyed that field,” said Carver. “I think it’s a disaster what they’re doing in this town. They’re destroying it.”

The secondary access is required in town law, to let fire and rescue trucks through if Marion Jordan Road is impassable.

Neighbor Marie Demicco said Marion Jordan Road couldn’t possibly be blocked by downed trees, because all of the large trees have been cut down.

Marion Jordan Road is clearly the preferable route: Lello has driven both routes to the Black Point Fire Station, and found that the fire station is four-tenths of a mile if she drives out Marion Jordan Road to Spurwink Road. If she follows the new road across the Ginns’ land, the fire station is a mile away.

Ginn said he has no problem with the road: “It’s never going to be used.”

Frustration with the town

Neighbors say town officials did not help them understand what was going on or why.

“It seems way beyond what’s necessary,” Lello said. “We just don’t understand why their mandates are so vast.”

“Maybe (the road) was a little narrow,” Lello said, but the widening has “blasted us out of here.”

Neighbor Howard Lehrer also questions the town’s motivation for requiring the road be so wide. “I’m hoping they don’t know something we don’t know,” he said, fearing the prospect of more development in the neighborhood.

Resident Jerry Sanders said he wanted more support from the town.

“I wonder why the town has not really counseled us and helped us a little more” about what to expect and what their role is as easement holders, he said. When he asked for that help, he was told town officials don’t do it.

“If they don’t help the citizens plan, it seems like there’s a piece of the pie missing,” Sanders said.

He said the neighbors dealt with this individually, not as a neighborhood, leaving homeowners “feeling powerless.”

He has come to believe that “the town has these guidelines they have to follow or they get sued. … Where does it end? Does every community get a heliport or a helipad” to rush accident victims to the hospital, he asked.

“None of us have gone through this before,” and have been very disturbed by the project, approved in Town Hall, which is “a separate community from the community at large,” he said.

Trouble with the developer

Project developer Hollis is also taking heat for how he is handling the work.

Neighbor Marie Demicco said he originally proposed “a very grand plan for a very wide road with very wide shoulders” narrowed by four feet only after she and her husband objected.

Other neighbors are upset by the fact that Hollis, who had originally said he would live in the Coles' former farmhouse at the center of the development, no longer plans to do so.

His wife decided against it "at the 11th hour," Hollis said, after moving twice in seven years.

Hollis is now planning to split the farmhouse lot, which also contains a barn, into two parcels, selling the farmhouse and keeping the barn, which he wants to restore.

“There’s not any more houses going in,” beyond the 10 approved initially, he said.

He admits he probably went about things “backwards” by seeking permission for the lot split from the Planning Board before talking to the neighbors about it.

After hearing about the residents’ objections, he asked the Planning Board to delay its consideration, and plans to meet with landowners in the development itself next week.

He said he has told neighbors along Marion Jordan and Meadowood Drive to “put a meeting together and I’ll be there.”

Jerry Sanders is one of the neighbors Hollis asked to organize a meeting. He said he hasn’t yet because “no one really wants to.”

Sanders said he hopes to avoid an antagonistic relationship between neighbors and Hollis. But he said town officials and the developer described the changes as “‘minimal effect.’ Then when the machines come in, there’s a maximal effect that’s just shocking. … It’s not like anybody lied. They just didn’t create an accurate picture.”

Editorial: Parents: Get involved

Published in the Current

(July 28, 2005): When police officers have to work harder to get parents more involved in their children’s safety, there’s a problem.

But that’s where we are. As we see on Page 1, local police officers and law enforcement agencies around the state have banded together in a couple of efforts to help keep teens safe. One program will let parents know when kids are driving badly, and the other asks parents to grant advance permission for police to enter their homes if kids are left home alone and hold parties or cause other disturbances.

Our communities, Scarborough, Cape Elizabeth and South Portland, have already had similar practices in place for a while. In Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough, for example, many of the officers call parents when a teen driver is stopped for a violation.

But South Portland has never had a program for parents to register a home when a teen is left there alone for several days. And Cape’s program like that has never gotten widespread involvement, though some parents do take advantage of it.

Few South Portland parents have used the “How’s my driving?” bumper-sticker effort, perhaps because teens share the car and the adults don’t want to hear the feedback on their own actions.

Police are effectively challenging parents to participate more, by coming up with new ideas – and taking on more work for themselves, like calling parents – to help keep teens safe.

We can be sure it’s not because they want more work. Actually, they want to keep kids safe, and reduce their own workload in the future. By stopping problems when kids are young and the challenges are relatively small, police hope they can prevent more trouble in the future, including more serious crimes and bad car crashes.

Parents need to reciprocate the cops’ efforts, seeking out information from the police on how their children are behaving, and acting on what they learn.

There’s an axiom about parenting: The main job is to get the child to age 18, safe and healthy; anything more than that is a bonus. While there’s more to parenting than that, it’s certainly a place to start.

At the paper we hear stories from time to time about how one parent or another yelled at a police officer calling to talk about a teen’s wrongdoing. That sort of response is not appropriate. If there is a stern talking-to to be doled out, it’s not to the officer who caught the kid.

Parents need to understand how their actions affect their children, even beyond the teenage years.

Studies show that parents’ driving habits influence teen drivers’ habits more than any other source. If kids are learning from the people who run red lights – as happens at nearly every local intersection all day, every day – we’re all in a lot of danger out on the roads.

Parents also need to get real. Studies keep showing that parents are in denial about their children’s behavior, including how often they drink – or whether they drink at all.

Few teens resist the chance to drink or experiment with other risky behavior. That was the case when I was a kid, when my parents were kids, and when my grandparents were kids.

The same types of temptations exist now as have ever existed. Somewhere between their own teenage years and their children's, as part of growing up, people come to believe they are doing something different – that they, as parents, are changing the circumstances around their children to be something other than their own childhoods.

And many do, in many ways making their children's lives better. But the world outside the house has not changed so much, and believing – even knowing – your kids have it better than you should not extend to believing your kids act differently than kids ever have in the face of peer pressure, temptation and curiosity.

Parents who are planning to go out of town and leave their kids in charge of the house should let the local police know. Even if the kid doesn’t throw a party intentionally, friends who find out about an adult-free house have been known to show up and create a party where none might have existed before.

Parents should allow police into their homes to break up parties, no matter their cause. And they should make sure they find out what kind of driving habits their children are learning and practicing on the roads of our communities. Getting involved is the only way to make a difference.

Jeff Inglis, editor

Standoff ends in arrests

Published in the Current

SOUTH PORTLAND (July 28, 2005): A Portland man was being held without bail at Cumberland County Jail this week following his arrest Monday after a nine-hour standoff with police in South Portland.

Police have charged Dana Goodine, 46, of Portland with failure to submit to arrest and creating a police standoff, since he emerged at 8 a.m. Monday from from a house at 724 Broadway where he had been holed up since 11 p.m. Sunday.

Police said Goodine, who was wanted on several warrants, had threatened police. One of the warrants was issued by a judge before whom Goodine was supposed to appear a couple weeks ago, according to South Portland Police Chief Ed Googins.

The others were issued by Goodine’s probation officer, revoking his probation on two counts of motor vehicle burglary and two counts of theft by unauthorized taking.

Goodine had shown up recently at the Cumberland County Courthouse for an arraignment but had left before the proceedings began, according to sheriff’s deputies and court security officers.

“I do not know why he was there or what his status was,” Googins said, noting that his only knowledge of the incident was from Goodine’s probation officer.

An anonymous caller told police Goodine would be at the home Sunday evening. When officers arrived, Goodine refused to come out of the house, Googins said.

Police believed he was armed with a handgun and had received an “officer safety teletype” about Goodine saying “he, having multiple warrants, has made statements that he will not be arrested, that he will go down in a blaze of glory,” Googins said.

Police surrounded the house, using tactical teams from South Portland and Scarborough, as well as two Portland officers with their armored vehicle.

Police had an arrest warrant for Goodine, but not a search warrant allowing them to enter the home, so they had no legal authority to do so until a judge signed off on it Monday morning, Googins said.

At that point, police fired bean bags through several windows into the house, and were preparing to fire tear gas to try to force Goodine out. Police negotiators also were involved, ultimately talking Goodine into surrendering at about 8 a.m.

“He has a rap sheet about one inch thick,” Googins said.

A second man in the home, Roy Chase, 45, of South Portland was also arrested. Googins originally said he was not under arrest but had been handcuffed “for his safety and ours,” and was only being questioned.

Chase has been charged with creating a police standoff and hindering apprehension, according to Detective Sgt. Ed Sawyer.

A woman who police think told Goodine he could use the house was not on the premises during the standoff, Googins said.

The building had been vacant a while, said a worker at General Courier, next door to the house.

Police closed Broadway between Anthoine Street and Kelly Street, disrupting morning commuters. The road reopened just after 8 a.m.

South Portland police have searched the house and have found material they would only classify as “evidence,” Sawyer said. Googins said there may be additional charges filed against Goodine.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

On Active Duty: Tiana Schneider

Published in the Current

CAPE ELIZABETH (July 21, 2005): Spc. Tiana Schneider of Cape Elizabeth is a saxophonist in the 1st Armored Division Army Band, based in Wiesbaden, Germany.

A 2003 graduate of Cape Elizabeth High School, she recently returned home on leave with her boyfriend, Cpl. Chris Nicholas of Wisconsin, a trumpet player with the band.

“The weather has been so nice here,” Schneider said, especially because of the ocean breezes, which she does not have in central Germany.

Her band, one of four Army bands in Europe, has been very busy this spring and early summer, playing as many as two change-of-command ceremonies a day, and traveling extensively around Germany and throughout Western Europe to perform.

“Four out of six days we’re on a bus,” she said. The band is also playing at German beer festivals, which often include parades, in which they perform German traditional folk songs and marches, as well as American marches and jazz.

Recently, Schneider, 20, was among those sent to a change-of-command ceremony in Baumholder, another American military installation in Germany. The ceremony was held despite bucketing rain.

“I guess the only good thing about that day was there was no breeze,” she said. “There was so much water in my sax” she was dumping it out of the bell between songs and some keys stuck.

Schneider is reenlisting on Aug. 1. Her father, retired Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Charles Schneider, will give her her reenlistment oath, as he did when she enlisted.

She has volunteered to spend two years in Korea, starting in the middle of next year. Nicholas has also done so, and they hope to be stationed near Seoul with an Army band there.

“We definitely have the best job in the military,” Schneider said. Though some of her fellow soldiers think she has a 9-to-5 job, she tells them she has no weekends off, and an unpredictable schedule. But she does get to meet generals face-to-face after playing music for them, and has seen a lot of Europe while traveling to and from performances.

“I’m having a lot of fun with this,” she said.

“On Active Duty” is a continuing series profiling members of the community serving in the armed forces. If a member of your family is on active duty in any branch of the military, please contact Editor Jeff Inglis.

Tsunami-hit region a long way from recovery

Published in the Current

SCARBOROUGH (July 21, 2005): Residents of the areas where the tsunami hit last December are still in need of help to get back on their feet, a Catholic bishop from southern India told the Scarborough Rotary Club Tuesday.

Bishop Yoohanon “John” Mar Chrysostom Kalloor, bishop of Marthandam, in the southernmost district at the very southern tip of India, said he was two miles from the shore on Dec. 26, 2004, when the Indian Ocean tsunami struck his area.

He was in the middle of ordaining two young men into the priesthood, and went to the coast. “It was a tragic situation,” Kalloor said. He said he didn't see "even a single human life” in the first village he went to, struck by a 200-foot-high wall of water generated by an earthquake below the ocean floor off the Indonesian island of Sumatra, about 2,000 miles away.

In his local area, about 3,000 people were killed, most of them Christian, he said. “It was a massive burial.”

Local and international aid agencies started 42 camps for people displaced by the tsunami, which ruined homes and other buildings, destroyed boats and fishing equipment, and caused people to fear the sea from which many of them earn their living.

“Under my care, there were 5,000 people in four camps,” Kalloor said.

He told of a conversation he had with one boy whose entire family had died, and whose house had collapsed.

“He came and told me, ‘Bishop, I don’t want your food. I don’t want your clothes. I don’t want your money,’” Kalloor said. When Kalloor asked him why, “He said, ‘I want to die.’”

“I talked with him for hours,” brought the boy back to his own residence and helped take care of him for the next month and a half while the boy got his life back together.

In his village, the tsunami orphaned 150 children and widowed 50 women. “That is one small village,” Kalloor said, out of the vast area affected by the disaster.

But the need in his community did not begin with the tsunami.

As many as 700 children need money to help pay for school uniforms, shoes, textbooks and bookbags.

Every morning when he finishes Mass or prayers, “there are so many people waiting for me to ask some favors,” Kalloor said.

“Leprosy is a big problem.” He was once a director of a sanitorium that housed 4,000 lepers, who are often disowned by their families and left homeless.

“I got them under the bridges of the roads. They didn’t have homes,” he said.

In his diocese, which he has led since 1998, Kalloor has started a university and a home for lepers, as well as a new orphanage – in addition to the existing four – to house orphans from the tsunami.

That is part of the relief effort, which began with giving every family a small room in large tents, and providing them with food, water and sanitation.

The next step toward recovery is just beginning, he said, with plans to purchase fishing boats and nets.

“Ninety-some percent of the people who died in this area are poor fishermen,” Kalloor said. “Some of them are afraid to go to the sea,” but it is their best hope for providing for their families.

The final stage of relief is to build homes for the families, on land the government has purchased a ways back from the shore.

“Each day, I pray never to see such a scene again” as he saw after the tsunami struck, Kalloor said.

Editorial: Home for hospice

Published in the Current

SCARBOROUGH (July 21, 2005): The people working to bring a hospice to Scarborough probably hadn’t expected to encounter much objection to their idea. After all, each of us will die someday, and many of us – myself included – have a relative or friend who used hospice services before dying.

Hospice of Southern Maine has run into a little bit of resistance, mostly residents concerned about traffic on the small roads off Maple Avenue, including Hunnewell Road, where Agnes Desfosses has donated nearly five acres to the agency.

Traffic is a valid concern, and a common one, about new developments, whether residential, commercial or a bit of both, like this one. Hospice organizers plan to provide housing for up to 16 patients, as well as space for family members to stay, and so it sounds a bit residential, perhaps along the lines of an apartment building. But it will also be a non-profit health care building, with doctors, nurses and other professionals helping to care for the bodies and minds of the patients there.

The Town Council is working on a provision that would allow a hospice building in any residential area of town – while leaving hospices barred from commercial and industrial zones.

It would seem better for everyone, not least the patients and their families, to place a hospice in a neighborhood than a business park, even if neighborhood roads were not originally designed to handle the hospice’s additional traffic.

And it’s not unreasonable for residents to be concerned about the potential effects of such a project on their surroundings. It’s likely this type of objection would be raised in any neighborhood the hospice group selected.

This particular neighborhood has long been vocally concerned about traffic in their neighborhood. In late 2002, they successfully lobbied the Town Council to slow down traffic in their area, getting approval for the installation of new stop signs that they hoped would discourage people from cutting through the area to avoid the Oak Hill intersection.

Having recently reclaimed their roads from speeding short-cutters, they are rightly wary of having more traffic come through. The hospice will bring visitors, staff and deliveries. A traffic study would be able to tell more accurately than anyone’s speculation – either the residents’ or hospice organizers’ – how much more traffic it would all mean, and such a study should be conducted before the planning process gets much farther along.

The neighborhood is a quiet residential space, with children playing outside, and where adults jog, walk and cycle. The residents there have a right to that environment, just as the hospice group has a right to propose to the town their project and potential remedies for any negative impacts the project might have.

One possible solution could be to have the hospice group install sidewalks in nearby areas where pedestrian traffic is common. Sidewalks are missing from the neighborhoods along and adjoining Maple Avenue, and could provide increased safety for the runners, walkers and others using the roads there. They would also narrow the roads even more, which could tend to slow traffic.

There may be a place that would be better in an ideal world, but in this, the real world, five acres at no cost provide the perfect spot as far as the hospice is concerned. Buying a similarly sized lot in Scarborough or elsewhere in Southern Maine would be very expensive, perhaps prohibitively so, given the hospice’s desire to be close to major roads like the Maine Turnpike and Route 1.

Hospice is an important aspect of health care, and a crucial support for dying people and their loved ones. The neighbors’ concerns are not insurmountable, and the need for hospice is great. We hope that the hospice group can work with the town and residents to find a way to bring hospice services to Southern Maine.

Jeff Inglis, editor

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Keeping the ships from the shore

Published in the Current

SOUTH PORTLAND (July 14, 2005): Four men and one woman are in charge of keeping the largest ships in Portland Harbor safe and sound as they come in and out of one of the busiest ports on the eastern seaboard.

Two of the Portland Pilots – one an active pilot with 43 years’ experience and another who retired four years ago after 43 years of his own – talked about their work recently at the Portland Harbor Museum.

The pilot company, a private firm not affiliated with any government organization, was founded in the early part of the 20th century, and “you might call it, in some respects, a closed company,” said Capt. Granville “Pete” Smith, a retired pilot who lives in Cumberland Foreside.

The pilots, all graduates of Maine Maritime Academy, hold master’s – also called captain’s – licenses from the U.S. Coast Guard and have undergone three years of training – at a ship-handling school in Europe, and five schools in the U.S. for “what-if scenarios” – and then 250 trips in and out of the harbor with other pilots.

After that comes a Coast Guard pilot exam, only part of which is to draw a chart of the entire harbor from memory, ensuring that instant recall of any point in the area is possible when the pilot is conning a ship on its way into or out of the harbor.

“There’s no chance for error,” said Capt. S.J.S. “Sandy” Dunbar.

Even after passing the test, the Board of Harbor Commissioners can ask for more training before granting a license.

“Once you get the license you get into our organization and for the first time in three years, you start earning money,” Dunbar said.

Time and tides

The formalized training is just one way their profession has changed with time.

But some things never change. The pilots work on 10-day shifts, when they are on call at any hour.

“It’s almost like being a fireman. You don’t know when that bell is going to ring,” Dunbar said. In the old days, they had to stay near the phone all the time. “Now, with pagers and cell phones, life is almost human.”

If one job comes too soon after another, the pilots may not go home. Instead, they may take a “kink” in the office on Union Wharf, or on the pilot boat. “Kinks are a little bit longer than a nap,” Dunbar said.

Pilots still meet their ships at the same place, outside West Cod and Corwin’s ledges, southeast of Two Lights, though there’s no longer a lightship there, and not even the 40-foot buoy that once marked it. Now the sea buoy – designated with the letter P, and in the phonetic alphabet of marine communications called the “Papa buoy” – is the meeting point.

It was chosen originally because it has “deep water, plenty of maneuvering room,” Smith said. “From the Papa buoy, it’s almost a straight shot right into Portland Head.”

But the way they get there is now very different.

“When we came in, we actually both started when there was a schooner as a pilot vessel,” Dunbar said.

The 70-foot schooner would motor out of the dock, sail out of the harbor to the lightship – where the sea buoy is now – and pause about 50 yards from the ship in need of a pilot. The pilot would jump into a dory and be rowed – or later, motored – to the side of the ship.

“That was a whole new experience, especially in bad weather,” Dunbar said. “The training was getting aboard – just getting to work.”

The schooner stayed so long – until the late 1960s – because “we were ingrained, being Mainers, with schooners,” Smith said. Also, “we were cheap,” and sailing was cheaper than paying for fuel.

On the schooner in the winter, ice was a big worry – as on any sailing ship – and pilots and crew alike had to constantly chip away the frozen sea spray from the deck, rails, spars and rigging.

“We lived in oilskins and rubber boots and very good gloves – and very strong hands,” Dunbar said.

A new pilot back then would get “on the job training” shadowing pilots. “A few of the pilots would let you do the work right away,” though they would be right behind the trainee, ready to make any needed corrections, Dunbar said.

Nowadays, the pilots use a 65-foot steel-hulled boat with heated decks and rails, but it’s still an adventure. “We call it getting to work and sometimes it’s a son of a gun,” Dunbar said. The pilot boat even pulls directly alongside the ship.

Now, it’s usually only a dozen feet or so until a climbing pilot reaches a gangway, required on any ship with more than 30 feet of freeboard, the distance between the sea surface and the ship’s rail.

“Prior to that … you went all the way up on a rope ladder,” Smith said.

On the way up

After the climb, there is still a modern twist. Post-Sept. 11, security on ships, especially international ones coming into a petroleum harbor like Portland, is tight.

Before Dunbar even gets off the gangway, there’s a security officer asking him for ID – even though he just scaled the side of a boat in, effectively, the open ocean, and the boat he just climbed off of says “Pilot” in huge letters, as does his jacket.

The next part is the same as ever. The pilot, still out of breath from the ladder climb, creeps across the pitching deck to the superstructure and up as many as six flights of stairs “behind some 22-year-old third mate skipping every other step,” Dunbar laughed.

There, on the bridge, the pilot greets the captain, learns about the ship and tells the captain about the port.

The pilot never takes the wheel of the ship, but is given the authority to direct its course and speed. “The skipper is the skipper,” Smith said.

The pilots don’t use GPS, though they do refer to radar to “look around,” but “our training is so instinctual that we don’t even use charts. It’s all up here,” Dunbar said, pointing at his head.”

Fast freighters take under an hour to come in, while a crude-oil carrier can take two hours, including the tugs.

“You don’t have a ship a day, you have like five,” Smith said. The port handles 60 to 70 ships a month, with some trips taking three or more hours, especially if it involved waiting for the tide to turn or for a berth to open up.

“I did three jobs in three and a half hours just a little while ago,” said Dunbar.

Editorial: Close the loophole

Published in the Current

SCARBOROUGH (July 14, 2005): Scarborough mother Denise Kring is rightly concerned that a provision in Maine’s juvenile-justice laws allows some juveniles to plead not guilty to a crime by reason of insanity without facing any compulsory medical treatment afterward.

The loophole is a major hole in Maine’s systems of justice and mental health treatment, and should be addressed immediately by state legislators. We are heartened to know that Sen. Phil Bartlett, D-Scarborough, is already at work on the matter.

Kring’s daughter Barbara, 20, was badly injured in March, in what police and prosecutors say was an assault with a knife by Barbara’s 15-year-old friend Lyndsay McLaughlin.

The nature and circumstances of the attack remain murky, even to investigators. District Attorney Stephanie Anderson has said in the past, and told the Current again this week, that some evidence appears to point to a suicide pact between the two, while other evidence contradicts that theory.

Barbara Kring and her mother have said in every one of their statements to the Current that Barbara was an innocent and unsuspecting victim, who had gone into the woods with McLaughlin intending only to become “blood sisters."

In a piece Barbara Kring wrote published in the Current in May, she wrote that she and McLaughlin were going to make small cuts on each other's hands and press them together, mixing the blood, as they had seen in the movie "The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood."

McLaughlin is accused of stabbing Barbara in the back and slashing her throat, after which she is believed to have stabbed herself in the stomach.

Were McLaughlin charged as an adult, she could be committed to a mental hospital or compelled to seek other treatment, until medical and legal authorities agreed she was healthy enough to be released.

We hope, and have no reason to doubt, that regardless of legal compulsion McLaughlin’s family will continue to provide any treatment necessary for her to deal with this incident and any related issues.

But it is not hard to imagine a situation, with another child in another family, in which the parents would not be so responsible and would only bring their child to a psychiatrist when ordered by a court to do so.

The juvenile-justice laws are intentionally different from those governing adult criminal behavior and consequences, based on the idea that young people may need additional guidance and support to correct errant ways.

This hole in Maine’s juvenile system is a difference that has the opposite effect. It removes a way that additional guidance and support can be offered, by preventing judges from imposing any conditions on young people who claim they are mentally ill and are therefore not responsible for their actions.

While we would all like to think that parents will do what is best for their children, the cold reality is that they don’t always, just as adults don’t always do what is best for themselves or each other from time to time.

That is why the law needs to allow judges, at the least, the option of compelling treatment for juveniles who plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

Jeff Inglis, editor

Sea Cadets visit for firefighting class

Published in the Current

SOUTH PORTLAND (July 14, 2005): Just over a dozen U.S. Navy Sea Cadets, including three from California and one from New Mexico, visited South Portland this week for training in Maine’s first firefighting and damage-control class for Sea Cadets.

The cadets, young men and women between the ages of 14 and 18, stayed at the Stewart Morrill American Legion Post on Broadway, and marched along the South Portland Greenbelt walkway to and from classes at the Coast Guard station on High Street.

Only one of the cadets was from Maine, while the others came from across the country. The class was organized by Roger Sabourin of South Portland, a retired Navy lieutenant who is commander of the Legion post and commander of the South Portland-based CG Group Portland Division of the U.S. Navy Sea Cadets.

The cadets’ week of classes, which included a trip to South Portland’s Central Fire Station for classes about fighting structure fires, earned them certification as firefighters on land and aboard ships.

The culminating drill involved a training unit owned by the Coast Guard, which places trainees in a shipboard situation where as many as eight different things can go wrong at once, Sabourin said. That teaches them to prioritize what pipes to repair first, for example.

On their first day, the cadets jumped right in, practicing using fire hydrants and carrying fire hoses in relay races. Each of them had to pass a physical fitness test before entering the class, which is just one of many the Sea Cadets program offers – including a version of the Navy SEAL special-operations classes.

Thursday, July 7, 2005

Her granddaughter is a grandmother

Published in the Current

SOUTH PORTLAND (July 7, 2005): Yesterday was the 95th birthday for Marion Minerva Upton Burnham, a lifelong resident of South Portland, whose descendants now number 70, with another on the way.

Burnham, born July 6, 1910, is the eldest of five living generations of girls. Her eldest daughter Ruth has an eldest daughter Cathy, whose eldest daughter Melissa has a daughter Marissa.

“I went to two parties yesterday,” Marion said during a June 28 interview. One was for the 70th birthday of her son, Allen, who lives in Gray. The other was the first birthday for a great-great-granddaughter who lives in Westbrook.

She has twice been uprooted by development in the city. “Oil tanks took my folks’ house,” for the construction of the Portland Pipeline along Front Street, precipitating a move to Preble Street in Ferry Village.

But then World War II came, and the shipyards took that house.

“When they put the railroad track in for the shipyard, it went right through our house,” said Marion’s son Allen Burnham. Marion’s mother used to sell ice cream out of a cart to workers coming off shift at the shipyard. She gave the proceeds to her church.

The family moved to Thornton Heights, where they stayed for years, until Marion’s husband Ernest had several heart attacks in 1956. Then the family moved to a single-story home in Stanwood Park.

“I’ve lived in all parts of South Portland,” Marion said.

And all those years – even today – she has had company. Marion took care of her own mother, Ernest’s mother and his aunt, and her sister and brother-in-law, at times when they needed help. “My husband and I only had about two years together” with no one else in the house, she said.

Years of togetherness

“We’ve always been kind of close,” said Ruth Small of Portland, Marion’s eldest daughter, beginning an oft-repeated chain of different voices continuing each other’s thoughts and sentences.

“We see each other often enough,” said her brother, Allen.

“That’s what’s great about this family,” said Ruth’s daughter Cathy Lemar of Gardiner.

“I remember growing up, every Sunday the family got together,” Ruth said, ending the thought.

And they’re closely tied to South Portland. After Marion married Ernest – who was from Boothbay – the couple moved to a Portland apartment for a brief time.

After about two months, “I was ready to come back,” Marion said. They moved in with her parents for a time, and their daughters Ruth and Beatrice were born in the house on Front Street. Allen, the youngest, was born at the Maine Eye and Ear Infirmary in Portland.

Ernest worked at the Chaplin Motor Company on Forest Avenue. Marion, who had picked sardines during school, worked first in a rug shop and then in food service at Mercy Hospital.

Of her six siblings, Marion is the oldest and the only one still alive. Her children stay close by – Bea lives the longest distance away, in Texas with the husband she met in the Army.

“They’re awful good to me,” Marion said. Bea visits several times a year, to see her active mother.

"You rattle the keys and she's ready to go," Bea said in a phone interview.

Marion’s memory remains sharp – "she's got a better memory than I do," said Bea – and she has an endless supply of stories about her life and her family. A family favorite is about her driving lesson out in Scarborough, with Ernest giving her directions.

She came to an intersection, and Ernest told her to turn one way. She did, but he realized his mistake and told her to turn the other way. “We took down mailboxes,” Marion said, drawing peals of laughter.

Marion also remembers embarrassments with good humor. A longtime member of local churches – People United Methodist until the early 1940s and Thornton Heights United Methodist for the 62 years since her move to that neighborhood – she recalls hosting a church group at home, where she and Ernest raised hounds.

During the gathering, a hound gave birth. “Was I ever put out,” Marion said.

Sharing stories

In addition to Marion’s stories, other family members have collected many more.

Bea remembers the house on Front Street was just over the fence from school. "We used to just push the boards to the side and crawl through."

She also recalls "Old Joe's skating rink," a frozen pond near the Coast Guard station where everyone went skating. "That was back in the times when everybody went out and you didn't have to worry about your kids."

Family historian Carol Campbell of South Portland – whose grandmother was a first cousin to Marion’s father – has collected many of the family records and has researched the stories.

Marion’s earliest identified American ancestor was an indentured servant from Scotland, captured by Cromwell at the battle of Dunbar in 1650 and imprisoned in England. Very few survived the harsh conditions of imprisonment, but among them was an Upton, who was sold to Saugus Ironworks in what is now Massachusetts. He worked off his servitude, and one of his descendants, David Upton, served as a Minuteman during the American Revolution and later settled on Chebeague Island, where he is buried.

One story Carol told at a recent family gathering was a story Marion’s daughter Ruth Small had never heard, about her great-grandfather, who was lost at sea.

That man, Marion’s grandfather, Horace Upton, died at sea in an August storm in 1893. When he left for that trip, his youngest daughter, then 3, cried and didn’t want him to go. He came back to the house, sang her the old hymn “Throw Out the Lifeline” to comfort her, and then left again on a trip from which he never returned.

“I just got goosebumps!” Ruth exclaimed as Carol told the story. She remembered the hymn – “I haven’t heard it for a long time” – with its lyrics about a man at sea, “drifting away … sinking in anguish” and in need rescue.

Horace’s two brothers, Capt. George Upton and Capt. Joseph “Joad” Upton, were ferry captains on the Lottie and Mae, running from Ferry Village over to Portland.

Joad also worked as a lighthouse keeper. His last posting was at Two Lights in Cape Elizabeth, where in 1934 he was found dead at the foot of one of the light towers, having fallen from the top after suffering a heart attack or stroke at age 65.

Another lighthouse also figures strongly in Marion’s life: She and Ernest were friends with the Holbrooks, who were the keepers of Bug Light back when there was a keeper’s house next to the beacon. The Holbrooks stayed a bit inland with the Burnhams during the winter, and the Burnhams would visit at the Holbrooks at the seaside during the summer.

Marion’s granddaughter Cathy, in particular, has gotten interested in some of these older stories, fueled in part by the interest of her own grandson, Christopher Armstrong, 10, who loves to hear the tales.

“It never seemed that important to me but it does now,” Cathy said.

Editorial: Looking for dough

Published in the Current

CAPE ELIZABETH (July 7, 2005): The Cape Elizabeth schools should not make Cape’s taxpayers pay extra for one construction project just because another came in cheaper than expected.

The schools are asking the Town Council for permission to take $133,000 the town’s voters earmarked for the Pond Cove expansion and use it to pay for things on the high school renovation’s wish list.

It’s true that the Pond Cove project doesn’t need the money – the actual cost of building the kindergarten wing was 10 percent lower than projected. So this idea does not hurt the Pond Cove project, and it could help the high school.

But voters approved $1.5 million for Pond Cove and $7.9 million for the high school. They did not approve $9.4 million for both together, and they were never asked – or told – what should happen to any money “left over” at the end of either project.

In the absence of the question, and without an advance declaration of intent, voters would fairly assume that any money not needed to accomplish the stated goals of a project would simply not be spent.

If the schools needed to do $100,000 worth of additional work at the high school, they should have included that amount in the request they sent to the voters.

They didn’t include it in the request, though, and for two very good reasons: First, the estimates showed the workers would be able to do what they needed to do with $7.9 million. And second, school and town officials were worried the high school project might not pass if the cost estimate was too high.

So now, nearly two years after getting the projected cost low enough to pass muster with the voters, they want to raise actual spending without voter approval, to cross items off a wish list of “add-alternates,” those items that could be done if more money becomes available.

The original idea of add-alternates was that construction costs were uncertain. If the cost of the high school work had turned out to be lower than expected, as happened with Pond Cove, any “extra” money – anything remaining from the $7.9 million – would be used for other work, such as new upholstery for the auditorium seats.

Voters were told – in the form of the question on the ballot – that local borrowing on each project would be for bonds in an amount “not to exceed” the total carefully chosen by officials balancing school-building needs with voter-approval likelihood.

Voters were not told that if one project ended up with extra money, it might actually be spent on the other – that the amount spent could be a figure that actually did exceed the dollar amount on the ballot.

The argument that both referenda passed with strong majorities doesn’t mean the outcome would have been the same if the amounts were any higher. And the argument that a vote for one project was a vote for the other also doesn’t hold water: The vote tallies were different for the two questions.

Cape Elizabeth taxpayers do support their schools, with millions upon millions of dollars every year. But that support is not a given, and handling money responsibly is the best way to ensure it.

In fact, neither school officials nor the Town Council were certain the support was there back in 2003 when the two projects went out to voters – which was one reason the council didn’t approve the spending outright, without a referendum.

What the schools should be asking to do – and what the residents should demand of the Town Council – is to return that money to the taxpayers, by not borrowing it when it’s not needed.

If the schools and the council want to spend more on additional work at the high school, the question should go back to the voters. It’s their money.

Jeff Inglis, editor