Staff members from Sen. Susan Collins’, Sen. Angus King’s and Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s offices participated in a conference call this past week regarding the current situation involving L.J. Hopkins and the mail contract for Swans Island and Frenchboro. Chris Rector, regional representative for King’s office, called Donna Wiegle with an update after this conference call. We thank Donna for keeping us informed.
“Chris said that staffers from the three legislator offices spoke with Leigh Ann Payeur, consumer representative of the USPS Northeast Region. The legislative staffers shared the historic nature of mail delivery on the two islands and asked for some latitude in allowing the mail and other freight to be transported together, as L.J. has been doing for many years. This was not an option [for the USPS]. Meanwhile, the Postal Service has signed a six-month short-term contract with the subcontractor who has been bringing the mail from Ellsworth to Southwest Harbor. This subcontractor will extend his delivery route to include Swans Island. He started delivering mail to Swans Island on Monday, April 11, and his contract will run through Oct. 15.
“Despite the fact that other islands, including Cranberry Isles, Isle au Haut and even Frenchboro, are allowed to have mail transported together with freight and passengers on their ferries, Swans Island is not allowed that privilege. Chris explained that the USPS views Swans Island very differently. Since we have vehicle ferry service every day, Swans Island falls into a category with other rural route mail carriers like the mainland. The ‘over-the-water’ classification, which allows mail, freight and passengers to be carried at the same time, does not apply to Swans Island. Only the USPS mail can be carried inside a vehicle on the ferry to Swans Island, and no other freight can be in the vehicle containing the mail. The ferry service route is considered by the USPS to be like a road for Swans Island since we have service every day.
“As of March 31, 2016, the USPS has separated the mail contract for Swans Island and Frenchboro. They are now two separate contracts being put out to bid individually. As of April 12, according to Chris Rector, no one has bid on the Frenchboro mail contract.
“This is a setback for L.J. and the communities of Swans Island and Frenchboro.”
Bev McAloon implores us not to miss an exciting event at the Swans Island Lobster and Marine Museum where the Galen and Ted Turner Collection is housed. “Calling all Island lobstering families, their sternpersons and student fishermen – share your heritage with your children and grandchildren. Is your family lobster boat ‘half-model’ on the museum wall? Share stories and identify old photos at the open house on Sunday, April 24, from 2-4 p.m. Refreshments too!” For more information, contact Kathy Turner at 526-4424, Nancy Carter at 526-4198 or Ann Marie Maguire at 526-4002.
Happy birthday to Betsy Matheson, Astrid Curtis, Kevin Brenden Walker and Boston Kenneth LeMoine. Anniversary blessings to Theodore L. and Bonnie L. Turner.
If you have news to share, email, call or write me by Sunday noon if you need it to be included in the following edition. Email me at [email protected]; drop a note to Kimberly Haller, P.O. Box 94, Swans Island, ME 04685; or call me at 526-4488.