Short takes on the week’s news


Cheers to the Maine Criminal Justice Academy’s Board of Trustees for officially validating the actions of Sheriff Guy Desjardins and county commissioners to discipline former jail guards Sgt. Kevin Harmon and Cpl. Patrick Gorham.

Trustees revoked the corrections certificates after an investigation by the Academy’s Complaint Committee. The two guards were involved in duct-taping a co-worker to his office chair at the Androscoggin County Jail last year.

Desjardins fired Gorham, an action that was later upheld by two of the three Androscoggin County commissioners, and Harmon resigned.

A third jail guard, Robert Murphy, was briefly suspended for his part in the incident. Trustees negotiated a consent agreement with him so he could maintain a probationary certificate if he complies with a personalized training program developed jointly by the Complaint Committee and Desjardins.

The sheriff and commissioners have been criticized for their response to the horseplay, with some in the jail saying the punishment was too harsh, but the trustees’ action is solid proof that the discipline was not too firm and was not politically motivated. It was motivated to maintain professionalism at the jail, pure and simple.

Jeers to the Knox County Republicans assigned to caucus in a classroom at King Middle School on May 8 and 9. Someone among that group removed a U.S. labor movement poster from the wall, and searched the classroom for what they believed to be “anti-American” items.

They were guests of the public school and took personal property from the teacher. Assembled to thoughtfully discuss election of Maine’s next governor, they behaved like petty thieves and political thugs.

The Maine Republican Party has apologized to students and teachers at the school, but is that enough? Shouldn’t the thieves themselves do that?

Or, maybe, it makes sense for someone among their group to volunteer to be a guest speaker in that classroom to talk about labor and politics. Now, that would be educational.

Cheers to the Rumford Board of Selectmen for its gracious public expression of pride in the community for citizens’ tender support of 17-year-old Mountain Valley High School student Daniel J. Garneau, who died last month of leukemia.

Garneau was a scholar-athlete who was much loved in Rumford, and whose fight against cancer drew this community together to raise funds and support his family.

We have often remarked on the goodness that exudes from the people of Rumford. That selectmen paused during their regular business meeting to recognize that goodness is just another example of the thriving community pride and strength in the River Valley.

Cheers to the schools registered to participate in next week’s Maine Walk and Bike to School Week.

As of Wednesday, according to the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, 24 Maine schools had registered to host some kind of biking or walking event during the week.

Students at the Biddeford schools will join bike trains and walk-to-school groups. Students at the Vickery School in Pittsfield will walk or bike to school every Tuesday in May, and students  in Falmouth will walk on “Footloose Fridays.”

Not a single school in Franklin, Oxford or Androscoggin county has registered with the coalition to hold a formal bike or walk event. That deserves a major Jeer.

So does the fact that only 24 of Maine’s schools, which number well over 1,000, are planning to acknowledge the national push for young people to walk and bike.

Many of Maine’s schools are rural and not every child can walk or ride to school because it  isn’t safe along narrow roads, but every school has property on which a walk or ride could be organized around a track, or around the school building. It doesn’t have to take a lot of effort or a lot of time, but we have to do everything we can to make children aware that physical exercise should be a daily part of their lives. But, since we don’t always do that, our children are increasingly obese and increasingly less likely to get on a bike or lace up the sneaks.

How sad is that?

[email protected]