November 15, 2013

OUR OPINION: Thumbs up, thumbs down

Quick hits on the issues making news this week in central Maine.

THUMBS UP to the staff at the new Alfond Center for Health in Augusta, which completed the move of 120 patients into the new facility last Saturday ahead of time, with a few minor glitches but no major incidents.

The move, from the old MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta and Thayer Center for Health in Waterville, started at 6 a.m., using 16 ambulances. All Augusta patients were moved by mid-morning and all Waterville patients arrived by 2 p.m., three-and-a-half hours early. Administrators and patients said the transport went smoothly and safely.

As if scripted, the first newborns at the new facility were twins, Hannah and Samuel Veilleux, born to Tim and Nikka Veilleux of Waterville. The twins were born five weeks early, requiring the use of the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. The old hospitals did not have such a unit, and Nikka Veilleux likely would have had to give birth in Portland had the pregnancy occurred before Saturday’s move.

“I really didn’t want to go to Portland,” the new mother told the newspaper. “We’re closer to home here. It’s easier for everybody.”

THUMBS DOWN to the poor displays of gun safety recently in Maine.

Last week in Waterville, a 31-year-old man telling hunting stories put the barrel of his .270-caliber rifle under his chin and pulled the trigger, thinking the firearm was not loaded. It was, and the man now faces a long recovery in a Boston hospital after shooting off part of his face. Police say alcohol was involved.

Earlier this month, a Stonington man accidentally shot both himself and his 4-year-old daughter while cleaning his .45-caliber handgun. A few days before, a 3-year-old in Bangor suffered life-threatening injuries when she was hit in the neck in what appears to be an accidental shooting.

It should go without saying that people handling firearms must make sure that the firearms are not loaded, and that firearms should be stored, unloaded, behind lock and key, and separate from ammunition. But given these recent incidents, and the fact that Maine is in the middle of deer-hunting season, it has to be said.

THUMBS UP to the religious leaders who showed up at an Augusta Planning Board Tuesday in support of a plan by a local group to build a mosque off South Belfast Avenue.

There’s no evidence that opposition to the mosque, which received unanimous approval by the board, was anything more than a few suspicious residents. But the presence of local Catholic, Jewish and Unitarian leaders at the hearing was a welcoming, and welcomed, gesture.

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