A meddling bureaucracy

To the Editor:

We are writing to Sen. Susan Collins to request assistance in re-establishing our regular mail, package and goods delivery to Frenchboro.

Frenchboro is a tiny town located 8 miles offshore from Mount Desert Island. It is one of only a handful of unbridged islands with a year-round community. It relies heavily on others for the delivery of items from the mainland.

For roughly 30 years, that service had been provided without fail by the team of L.J. Hopkins and Paul Joy. These two men made sure that we could count on receiving our mail, UPS and Fed Ex packages, groceries, prescriptions and other sundries in all but the most foul of weather. It was a system that worked, and that has been used by the other unbridged islands as well.

This fully functional, carefully calibrated system was jeopardized last year when the supervising postal employee in the Southwest Harbor Post Office informed Hopkins and Joy that they could no longer carry anything other than U.S. Mail on their route. They made repeated attempts to explain the need for the other services they provide in conjunction with mail delivery to both Swans Island and Frenchboro, but to no avail.

Joy eventually gave up his share of the delivery contract in frustration. The local store owner on Swans Island, Brian Krafjack, purchased a boat in hopes of being able to carry out the mail contract as well as deliver goods to Frenchboro. For a bit, things were running again, until Hopkins was given a March 31 deadline by the supervisor in Southwest Harbor to sign a new contract for Frenchboro mail delivery. It contains the stipulation that neither he nor Krafjack be allowed to transport anything other than U.S. Mail. Both refused to sign this contract, with the full support of the people of Frenchboro.

We do not believe it is right and proper for anyone else to determine what islanders need and to make changes to systems that have worked seamlessly for decades.

The whole situation brings to mind the adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” One of the key lessons of island living is the need for flexibility and creative problem solving, something that Hopkins and his partners have been adept at. Many a time has an islander or a visitor “hopped the mail boat” in one direction or another. Many a time has an islander needed a prescription picked up from Carroll’s Drugstore in Southwest Harbor for a sick kid. Many a time has an islander called Napa Auto Parts for a boat part to be picked up. Hopkins, Joy and Krafjack have made all these things happen for 30 years. We love them for it. Please help us return them to the job they do so well and allow them to continue to provide this critical service to our island.

David W. Lunt

Rachel Bishop


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