• Cheers to PO2 Lisa Martel, serving in the U.S. Navy and stationed in Kuwait, who asked the Sun Journal to deliver this message to her family and employer: 

Happy Fourth of July to the following people: my husband, Rob
Martel of Lisbon, daughter, Samantha Pease, stepchildren, Brittany, Courtney
and Derrick Martel, and all other family members throughout Maine and Connecticut, my
employer at Laskoff and Associates, which includes all attorneys and
staff, and my neighbors, especially Kelsey and Bear Purinton. Thank you all for
your continued support as I go through this amazing journey in my life. This
mission would be harder to achieve if you were not there for me. Enjoy and
cherish every moment with family and friends as you celebrate the Fourth of
It’s a heartfelt thank-you to the people she loves, and we hope they feel the embrace. But it is we who should be thanking Martel and others serving in the Armed Forces, especially on this day that celebrates our independence.
The Fourth of July marks the birth of this country and the establishment of freedom on these shores. We rely on Martel and her fellow sailors, soldiers and airmen to protect that freedom, and they deserve our thanks every day, not just today.
• Cheers to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for its final signoff to approve construction of a new veterans’ clinic in the Lewiston-Auburn area.
The clinic, expected to open in 2011, will serve about 5,500 local veterans, providing primary care, mental health services, optometry and lab services. This welcome news is the result of a 2005 petition signed by 1,000 locals asking the VA to consider siting an outpatient clinic in the Twin Cities, and the considerable support of Rep. Michael Michaud to move the process along.
This new facility will spare veterans the time and expense of traveling to Togus and beyond to receive basic medical care, and we sincerely hope it reduces the wait time some veterans face when seeking care. 
The clinic is the right step toward providing easier access to medical care for Maine’s deserving veterans.
• Cheers to Casella Waste Systems Operations Manager Dave McNally, who holds hope that this nation of consumers has learned we can survive by consuming less, resulting in less waste to dispose of.
McNally explained a 5 percent decrease in recycling and 8 percent decrease in household trash processed in the past year as a simple matter of people not being able to afford to have their trash hauled as often. As a result, there is less waste for his employees to process, forcing a reduction in staff. One employee at Pine Tree Waste has been laid off and another resigned, which is not good news, but the reduction in waste certainly is.
Casella is not the only company stretching to squeeze through the weak economy, but McNally is philosophical about the shift. 
Maybe, he speculates, the tough times have “given the consumers an opportunity to look at their lifestyles,” and make decisions about consuming less and producing less waste.
Seems odd to hear a waste management guy who profits on waste disposal talk about the need for less waste, but he’s absolutely right. We spend to consume and spend to dispose. This economy has forced less consumption and less disposal, but it’s a habit we should maintain once the economy turns around, treading just a little more lightly on this planet in the boom times. Not just the bust times.

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