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The Coastal Packet

The longtime national journal, Progressive Review, has moved its headquarters from Washington DC to Freeport, Maine, where its editor, Sam Smith, has long ties. This is a local edition dealing with Maine news and progressive politics.

7/24/09

Friday July 24

MAINE CAMPS AND THE FLU

NY Times
- Parents who arrived for visiting day on Sunday at Camp Matoaka in Smithfield, Me., got a tiny bottle of Purell, and at lunch, the serving staff wore masks and gloves. At Camp Modin, about 90 people came down with flu. The camp offered prophylactic Tamiflu, and the virus stopped spreading. . .

The shimmering lakes are as idyllic as ever, the bunks as cozy, and the dining halls as deafening, but here in Maine, summer camp is not quite the same in the era of H1N1. Temperature checks start the moment the campers get off the bus or plane. Many intercamp sports and socials have been canceled or postponed. And hand sanitizer is everywhere. . .

Of course, swine flu has wrought havoc with summer camps in other states, too. . . But Maine, with more than 100 sleep-away camps, seems to have been hit especially hard. Some camps send children home as soon as they develop a fever - often disrupting the plans that parents had made for those weeks, whether it was a second honeymoon or a chance to paint the kitchen.

But most camps are not sending campers home, instead keeping them in the infirmary, the gym, the arts and crafts building, wherever emergency cots will fit, for the seven-day isolation period.

Camp Modin, with about 380 campers and 130 staff members, had about 90 cases of flu, enough so that both the Beavers cabin and the Teen Center were cleared out and used for quarantine housing.

"We've taken 6,000 temperatures this summer," said Howard Salzberg, the camp director. "We've bought all the Clorox wipes in every Wal-Mart we could drive to. We've spent about $45,000 on this, $30,000 on Tamiflu alone, and probably another $15,000 on the masks, the gloves, the games for the kids in isolation.". . .

Modin, the oldest Jewish camp in New England, even made an outdoor quarantine area, staked like a crime scene with orange fluorescent tape, where sick campers could visit with their healthy friends and bunkmates, across a six-foot open-air divide. . .

MAINE STREAM

Maine Public Broadcasting - Realtors say home sales in Maine are on the rise. The Maine Associaton of Realtors says Maine realtors sold 1,133 homes last month -- a 14% percent increase compared with sales at this time last year. The not-so-good news for sellers is that home prices slid 10 percent to a median sales prices of $170,000, compared with a year ago. But that's higher than the median price of $160,000 recorded in the month of May.

WABI TV - Hannaford Supermarkets says its new store in Augusta, Maine - the first to earn a top award for environmentally friendly construction - will be a laboratory of sorts. It's the nation's first to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council's highest platinum standard. Part of the roof is covered with drought-resistant plants to impede water runoff and provide insulation. It draws power from a solar photovoltaic system, called Maine's largest.

Troy R. Bennett, Brunswick Times Record - Combining classroom activities with biking in Regional School Unit 1's summer reading program for third-, fourth- and fifth-graders puts two of the district's trumpeted focus areas front and center: Literacy and healthy living. The five-week program runs four mornings each week. Each day begins with two hours of in-school games and activities based on books the students are reading. The early stretch usually features a guest reading by a community leader or local celebrity. Bath Police Chief Michael Field and City Manager William Giroux did the honors recently. Then, after an 11 a.m. lunch break, the kids leave Fisher-Mitchell School on their bicycles and ride around Bath, setting their daily sights on the district's nearby community garden, a park or any number of other destinations. At the end of the program, each student gets to keep the sparkling new bike on which he or she has spent the summer touring Bath. William Shuttleworth, superintendent of RSU 1, said he found a private donor to fund the fleet of two-wheelers for the course, and dubbed the program "Pedaling for Success."

The National Marine Fisheries Service reports that Maine is the nation's third largest fishing state, coming in behind Alaska and Massachusetts. The value of the haul, however, is down 17% from 2007 mainly due to weak lobster prices.

Morning Sentinel - The decision to reopen the [Matinicus] fishing grounds was reached in Knox County Superior Court in response to requests for preliminary injunctions against the state filed by two Matinicus lobstermen affected by the closing. The cases were settled before coming to trial. . .
More than 30 Matinicus residents were in the courtroom to watch how Justice Jeffrey Hjelm would rule on the requests to overturn the DMR's shutdown order, which took effect a half-hour before sunrise that morning.
. . . The seeds of the settlement apparently were planted when attorneys for all the parties met in chambers with Justice Hjelm before the proceeding. That discussion lasted about a half-hour and was followed by additional discussions near the jury box . . . By the time Justice Hjelm opened the hearing at about 9:45 a.m. it was evident from the smiles of joy on the faces of the islanders and their animated discussions that a settlement in their favor had been reached.

Lancaster Farming - Maine dairy producers are in an envious position compared to their brethren in the other Northern New England states: they have a state program funded with a new $13 million legislative appropriation that aims to guarantee them a pay price of between $17 and $20 a hundredweight for the coming year, compared to the $12 or so regional blend price elsewhere presently. . . Maine has long had a milk commission that has effectively set farm milk prices well above the Boston federal order. . . Plus the state legislature in recent years has kicked in general fund money to shore up farm milk prices. . . Recognizing that in bad budget times the state may not be able to continue its generous support of dairy, a task force is being formed to try to come up with alternatives that will keep the dairy industry in Maine viable.

Climate Neutral Network
- The UN Environment Program has announced that six universities from the US, UK, Spain and China have become the first academic institutions to join the Climate Neutral Network, an initiative to promote global action to de-carbonize our economies and societies.
According to UNEP, these institutions are pioneers among hundreds of universities, colleges and other academic institutions worldwide, and are taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote "greening" of their campuses, and invest in low-carbon research and development. The six universities are: College of the Atlantic, Maine, US; Evergreen State College, US; Malaga University, Spain; Middlebury College, Vermont, US; Tongji University, Shanghai, China; and the University of the West of England, Bristol, UK.

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