Our wicked winter wonderland has arrived. Warnings and wonderments are heard throughout the island: “Ice is moving boats in the harbor.” “When a chunk of ice acres-big comes down through, it takes everything with it. Don’t forget the massive ice field that those tides and winds were pushing. Great job by all getting that mess sorted out!” “Astronomical tides and huge winds didn’t get along very well. Thank goodness they are all OK and were able to work quickly.” “David LeMoine, I heard you helped break ice the other day so some of the fishermen could get out. Thank you for that! Winter is here for sure!” We thank all those who have helped with some very dangerous situations on the island this past week and encourage continued safety precautions for what looks to be a challenging winter.
Another “hot” topic heard around the island concerns the proposed rate adjustment for the ferry. There are several possible plans on the table, and the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) has scheduled three public hearings to receive comments about the proposed change. If approved by the MDOT, the increase will become effective March 28. A big concern of many people on the island is that the MDOT arrives at a fair solution that does not put most of the burden of generating the additional revenue needed, $700,000, on the backs of out-of-state seasonal/summer residents and, of course, that the option chosen is not prohibitive for all islanders. Another islander concern is that what MDOT folks tell Swans Islanders matches up with what the other islands — North Haven, Vinalhaven, Islesboro, Matinicus — actually said at their meeting.
Following is part of the announcement that the MDOT sent to the islands about these hearings; people are encouraged to attend as many as possible and to voice their opinions: “Three public hearings to take evidence on the proposed ferry rate increases will be held as follows:
Vinalhaven, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 6 p.m. at the Vinalhaven School, 22 Arcola Lane, for comments pertaining to Vinalhaven, North Haven and Matinicus fares.
Islesboro, Monday, Jan. 29, 6 p.m., at the Islesboro Central School, 159 Alumni Drive, for comments pertaining to Islesboro fares.
Swans Island, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 6:30 p.m., at the Swans Island School, 116 Rose Hill Road, for comments pertaining to Swans Island and Frenchboro fares. There will be a vessel between Frenchboro and Swans Island before and after the hearing for Frenchboro residents.
Interested parties and the public are invited to attend these hearings to present oral and written comments. There will be a vessel returning to the mainland after each hearing. Any person who seeks formal intervener status in the proceeding shall notify James Billings at the Legal Division, Maine Department of Transportation, 16 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0016, telephone 624-3020, TTY users dial Maine Relay 711, in writing by Jan. 16. Any person who is unable to attend a public hearing can submit written comment to the same address by Jan. 30. In accordance with section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Maine Department of Transportation will make all reasonable efforts to accommodate disabled persons wishing to attend the hearing. Arrangements for such accommodations may be made to Mark Higgins, Ferry Service manager, by calling 596-5428 or by writing to him at Maine State Ferry Service, P.O. Box 645, 517A Main Street, Rockland, ME 04841-0645.
Happy birthday to Tammie Staples, Evelyn Haller Collins, Melanie Carlson, Joshua Joyce, Lesley M. Harris and Spencer Joyce.
My contact information has changed for this winter, so if you have news to share, email or call me by Sunday noon if you need it to be included in the following edition. Email me at [email protected] or call me at 244-5087.