Editor’s Notebook: New year, new column, and thanks for writing

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I’m pleased this week to welcome a new contributor (who for some readers needs no introduction), and to continue what has become an annual, end-of-the-year tradition.

John Balentine for more than a decade was a columnist, reporter, and managing editor at several former Current Publishing weeklies – in particular the Lakes Region Weekly (and its predecessor, the Suburban News).

After leaving us last April when he came to grips with how much he disliked sitting at a newsroom desk all day, John has now joined our roster of Opinion columnists. His “Here’s Something” column will run weekly in all six of our papers: four editions of The Forecaster, the American Journal, and the Lakes Region Weekly.

John is an admitted news junkie, but not the thumb-sucking variety. He has hiked the length of the Appalachian Trail, and the 48 peaks of 4,000 feet or more in New Hampshire. His hobbies include fixing what he calls his “shack of a house” in Windham, running, cycling, hiking, golf, reading the classics, jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, Netflix and stamp collecting. He’s been a driver for United Parcel Service, and now drives a truck all over Maine and New Hampshire for a cleaning products distributor. When he’s on the road, John’s radio is tuned to either National Public Radio or his favorite right-wing talkmeister, Rush Limbaugh.

During this season of giving, John is our gift to readers who have been hoping for a fresh, conservative voice and perspective on our Opinion pages.

Some of those readers are on the list that follows: our annual compendium of writers who took the time to put their thoughts into letters to the editor during the past year. We appreciate your interest, your civility, your willingness to be identified and take ownership of your opinions, and your continued support of The Forecaster, American Journal and Lakes Region Weekly.

Your questions, insight, comments and criticism are gifts we truly appreciate.

Sue Accardi, Raymond

Pamelia B. Adams, Yarmouth

Lynda Adams, Westbrook

Beth Ahearn, Freeport

Al Ahlers, North Yarmouth

Dr. Ron Allanach, Vancouver, B.C.

Russell Anderson, Falmouth

Cindy & Charlie Andreson, Scarborough

Jerry Angier, Cape Elizabeth

Mike Ashby, Freeport

Debbie Atwood, Bath

John Auble, Yarmouth

Jo Anne Babcock, Yarmouth

MaryBeth Bachman, Falmouth

Bob Bahm, Falmouth

Ann Bainbridge, Westbrook

Oretta Baker, Cumberland

Joel Bamford, Cape Elizabeth

Ronald M. Bancroft, Cumberland

Carolyn Barschow, Westbrook

Phil Bartlett, Gorham

Jack & Judy Bauman, Brunswick

Robert B. Beagan, Cumberland

Bethany Beausang, South Portland

Matthew Beck, Cape Elizabeth

Jackson Beck, New Haven, Connecticut

Councilor Maxine Beecher, South Portland

Jennifer Beedy, Scarborough

Bill Benson, Gorham

Dr. Christine Bennett, Portland

R.J. Berard Sr., Windham

Nancy Berges, Long Island

John Berrett, Cumberland

Peter & Connie Bingham, Cumberland

Allison Bishop, Falmouth

Ed Blaise, Scarborough

Heather D. Blease, Brunswick

Kathy Bouchard, Scarborough

Glen Brand, Falmouth

John Brautigam, Falmouth

Sen. Cathy Breen, Falmouth

Laurie J. Broberg, Yarmouth

L. David Brown, Harpswell

Deborah Boyajian, Portland

Ken Brown, Cape Elizabeth

Steve & Judy Brown, Freeport

Selectman Joe Bruno, Raymond

Steve Bunker, Gray

Rachel Burger, South Portland

Meredith Strang Burgess, Cumberland

Michael Burgmaier, Yarmouth

Cheryl Cameron, Standish

Benjamin P. Campo Jr., North Yarmouth

Barbara Carignan, Durham

Donnell Carroll, Gray

Lalla Carothers, Cumberland

Alex Carr, North Yarmouth

Gerald Caruso, Falmouth

John Cashman, Cumberland

Roger & Glennis Chabot, Scarborough

Ted Chadbourne, Cumberland

Susan Chase, South Portland

Caron Chess, Peaks Island

Richard W. Clark, Windham

Arlene Clifford, Falmouth

Harold A. Clough, Scarborough

Donna Cobb, Windham

Jean Marston Cobb, St. Agatha

Heather Cook, North Yarmouth

Amanda Cooper, Buxton

Rep. Janice Cooper, Yarmouth

Paula Corbeau-O’Brien, Scarborough

Jim Coull, Cliff Island

Jean Cousinow, Freeport

Kim L. Cox, North Yarmouth

Councilor David Craig, Yarmouth

Bob Crowder, Durham

Jani Cummings, Raymond

Judith Currier, Falmouth

Pete Cutler, Freeport

Adam Dale, Gray

Donna Miller Damon, Chebeague Island

Karen A. D’Andrea, Scarborough

Charmaine Daniels, Portland

Tammy & Bill Davenport, Freeport

Gerald M. Davis, Falmouth

Ralph Dean, Freeport

Kate S. Debevoise, Yarmouth

Deborah Delp, Yarmouth

Dominic DeLuca, Gorham

Maryallyn Dennison, Freeport

Dale Denno, Cumberland Center

Dr. Mary DeRose, South Portland

Marjorie DeSanctis, Scarborough

Sen. Bill Diamond, Windham

Art DiMauro, Scarborough

Tom DiPasqua, Scarborough

Michael Dona, Standish

Councilor Bill Donovan, Scarborough

Kristen Dorsey, Freeport

Jean & Alan Doughty, Brunswick

David Dowling, North Yarmouth

Priscilla Dreyman, South Portland

Sydney Duck, Brunswick

Mark Duval, South Portland

Loretta Dyer, Yarmouth

Jane Eberle, South Portland

James Ecker, Brunswick

Mike Edes, Cumberland

Eli Edgecomb, Scarborough

Talya Edlund, Cape Elizabeth

Dwight Ely, Scarborough

Linda & Brian Emery, Cumberland

Walter J. Eno, Scarborough

Karen Farber, Falmouth

Tom Farmer, Falmouth

Kristen Farnham, Falmouth

Marc Farrin, Durham

Rita M. Farry, Cumberland

Margaret Fast, Cumberland Foreside

Jessica Fay, Raymond

Sylvia Federico, Falmouth

Patricia Fields, Gray

Susan Feiner, Yarmouth

Emeline Ferguson, Portland

Miranda Fernald, Scarborough

Andrea Ferrante, Falmouth

Joshua Filler, Falmouth

Mayer & Sheri Fistal, Falmouth

Heidi Fitz, Cumberland

Jennifer Fitzpatrick, Durham

Kathy Folan, South Portland

Suzanne A. Foley-Ferguson, Scarborough

Clifton E. Foster, Gray

Gregory E. Foster, Raymond

Russell Frank, Gorham

Chris Fraser, Cumberland

Gregory Fryer, Cumberland

George & Merlyn Fogg, North Yarmouth

Joe Foran, Naples

Rick Foss-Lacey, South Portland

Councilor Brad Fox

Rebecca Gallery, Harpswell

Bill Gardiner, Yarmouth

Jennifer Gardiner, Yarmouth

Gary Garrison, Scarborough

Heather Giandrea, North Yarmouth

Deborah Gideon, Raymond

Rep. Sara Gideon, Freeport

Lynn Gierie, Scarborough

Nancy L. Gilbert, Durham

Patrick Gilligan, North Yarmouth

Teresa Gillis, Brunswick

Susan & Clifford Gilpin, Falmouth

Jack & Ellen Glatter, Cumberland Center

Betsy Gleysteen, Scarborough

David Goldberg, Falmouth

David Gooch, Falmouth

Martha Goodale, Westbrook

Stephen Gorden, Yarmouth

Anne Graham, North Yarmouth

Dudley Greeley, Cumberland

Bruce Green, Brunswick

Layne Gregory, Falmouth

Mark D. Grover, Gray

Bryce Hach, Falmouth

Amy & Spike Haible, Harpswell

Susan Hamill, Scarborough

Valerie Hamilton, Yarmouth

Bethany Hanley, Cumberland

Steve Hanly, Scarborough

Greg Hanscom, Scarborough

Turner Hansel, North Yarmouth

Gregory J. Happe, Durham

M.F. Harmon, Scarborough

RJ Harper, Portland

Margo Harrington, Cumberland

Larry Hartwell, Scarborough

Councilor Alison Harris, Brunswick

Ira & Susan Hartman, Cumberland

Bill Harwood, Yarmouth

Tom Heels, Scarborough

Keith Heldenbrand, Freeport

Sue Helms, Scarborough

Caleb Hemphill, Falmouth

Susan Henderson, South Portland

Steve Hendrickson, Scarborough

Caroline Hendry, South Portland

Karen Herold, Falmouth

Mayor Colleen Hilton, Westbrook

Alison Hinson, Yarmouth

Dave Holman, North Yarmouth

Bob Howe, Brunswick

Kandi-Lee Hoy, South Portland

Lucy Hull, Arrowsic

Bob Humphrey, Pownal

M. Roberts Hunt, Falmouth

Trevor J. Hustus, Hollis Center

Sandra & Ole Jaeger, Georgetown

John W. James IV, Bath

Neil Jamieson, Scarborough

Diane Johanson, Hallowell

Lisa Johnson, Gray

Griff Jones, Bath

Philip Jones, Yarmouth

Jacob Jordan, Cape Elizabeth

Julia G. Kahrl, Arrowsic

Theodora J. Kalikow, Scarborough

Brian J. Kanode, Scarborough

Carol Iverson Kauffman, Falmouth

Kate Kearns, Scarborough

Barbara Keefe, Falmouth

Chris Kessler, South Portland

Ginny Ketch, Scarborough

Councilor Claudia King, Falmouth

Robert D. King, Falmouth

John Kipp, Falmouth

Zoe Kitchel, Falmouth

Sharman Kivatisky, Scarborough

Judith Kline, South Portland

Amy D. Kuhn, Falmouth

The Rev. Carolyn Lambert, Portland

Joyce & Mark Lapping, Cumberland Center

Nelson Larkins, Freeport

Mary Ann Larson, Portland

Cheryl LaRou, Scarborough

Danielle Layton, Portland

Katie Leary-Allen, Naples

Dana J. Leonard, Freeport

Michel J. LePage, Cumberland

Louise Lester, Raymond

Bonnie Titcomb Lewis, Raymond

Kate Lewis, South Portland

Juliana L’Heureux, Topsham

Robert Libby, Chebeague Island

Caroline Lienhardt, Gorham

Dan Loan, Casco

Jerry Lord, Yarmouth

Richard A. Lord, Brunswick

Barbara Lovell, Raymond

Peter Lund, Portland

Chet Lunner, Cape Elizabeth

Daniel Lycan Jr., Falmouth

Kathy Lyon & Tim Glidden, Topsham

Gail K. MacLean, Gray

Sarah MacColl, Cape Elizabeth

Ted MacDonald, Gray

Jason Macmaster, Falmouth

Erin Macey, Portland

Dr. James H. Maier, Falmouth

Sarah Malley, South Portland

Alyssa Marchant, South Portland

Ted Markow, Brunswick

Lisa Markushewski, Falmouth

Mark J. Maroon, Scarborough

Deann Marsh, Gorham

Rep. Mike McClellan, Raymond

Dave McConnell, Falmouth

Peter McCracken, Yarmouth

Rep. Jay McCreight, Harpswell

Joseph T. McDonnell, Falmouth

Deb McDonough, Scarborough

Deirdre Fulton McDonough, Gray

Thomas V. McGovern, Portland

Caleb & Katie McGrath-Holmquist, Gray

Dr. Brian J. McGrory, Falmouth

Malcolm Mclntosh, Freeport

Joel McMullin, Portland

Steve Melchiskey, Falmouth

Lincoln J. Merrill Jr., North Yarmouth

Yvette Meunier, Topsham

Andy Meyer, Falmouth

Kate Meyers, Scarborough

Jere G. Michelson, Scarborough

Bette Milley, Yarmouth

Greg Milligan, Buxton

Charlie Mitchell, Gray

Faith K. Moll, Brunswick

Robin Monahan, Freeport

Fran Monroe, Gray

Benjamin Morang, Freeport

Steve Moriarty, Cumberland

Ann Morrill, South Portland

Diane Morrison, North Yarmouth

Ogden Morse, Falmouth

Sue Morton, Yarmouth

Katie Murphy, North Yarmouth

Chris Neagle, Cumberland

Fred W. Nehring, Boothbay

Harry & Liz Nelson, North Yarmouth

Mary Pennell Nelson, Falmouth

Gloria Nicholson, North Yarmouth

Suzan & Bill Nixon, Scarborough

Margaret H. Northup, Brunswick

Brian O’Connor, Brunswick

Duncan O’Rourke, Yarmouth

Philip R. Ohman, Gorham

Sylvia Ouellette, Scarborough

Steven Palmer, North Yarmouth

Petros Panagakos, Portland

Rita Kamra Paquin, Cumberland

Patty Parker, Cumberland

Dr. Erica Parthum, Brunswick

John R. Pasch, Falmouth

Mac Passano, Chebeague Island

Arn Pearson, Peaks Island

Shalyee Penney, Portland

Michael Perfetti, Cumberland

Dale Perry, Westbrook

Elizabeth D. Perry, Standish

Gay Peterson, North Yarmouth

Margie Petrone, Gorham

Sam Pfeifle, Gray

Curtis Picard, Topsham

Rep. Teresa Pierce, Falmouth

Richard Plourde, Yarmouth

Gary E. Plummer, Standish

Kim Pomerleau, Standish

Sammy Potter, Yarmouth

Matt Powell, Scarborough

Jane Pringle, Windham

Bethany Profaizer, Portland

Eydie Pryzant, Falmouth

Janet Puistonen, Cumberland

Peter Quesada, South Freeport

Tim Rafford, North Yarmouth

Jeanne Ramsay, Brunswick

Deb Rand, Durham

Emily Read, Scarborough

Gary Reed, Falmouth

Rachel Reed, Falmouth

Councilor Brendan Rielly, Westbrook

Jeanne Rielly, Westbrook

Sukie Rice, Freeport

Gwyneth Roberts, Cape Elizabeth

Bonny Rodden, Falmouth

Jen Rohde, Cumberland

Harry Rombach, Yarmouth

Jason Ronco, Falmouth

Town Councilor Will Rowan, Scarborough

Peter Rubins, Cumberland

Samuel K. Rudman, Falmouth

Scott Ruppert, Harpswell

Rose Marie Russell, Westbrook

Norman Rutt, Scarborough

Cliff Ryan, Cape Elizabeth

Jo D. Saffeir, Pownal

Sue Salisbury, Westbrook

Rep. Linda Sanborn, Gorham

Richard Sawyer, Scarborough

Julie Schirmer, Falmouth

Anne Schlitt, Bath

Tessy Seward, Cape Elizabeth

Rob Sellin, South Portland

Andrew J. Shaefer, Yarmouth

Tim & Camilla Shannon, Yarmouth

Michael Shaughnessy, Westbrook

Craig Sickels, Freeport

Claudette Simms, Gray

Jodi Shea, Scarborough

Rick Shinay, Scarborough

Gwen Simons, Scarborough

Rep. Heather Sirocki, Scarborough

William H. Slavick, Portland

Mary Small, Bath

Taylor Smith, Westbrook

Halsey W. Snow, Casco

Andrew Snyder, South Portland

H. Eric Sonnichsen & Barbara Fleming, South Portland

Bruce Soule, Yarmouth

Caroline Southall, Freeport

Charles Spanger, Scarborough

Philip D. Spiller Jr., Westbrook

Jon Spinner, Scarborough

Elinor Springer, Scarborough

Sue Stableford, Brunswick

Dan Stadden, Brunswick

Lois Stailing, South Portland

Ernie Stanhope, South Portland

Martha Stein, Cumberland

Barry Stephens, Scarborough

Jim Stephenson, Raymond

Lauren Sterling, Falmouth

Austin Stevens, Falmouth

Beth & Kevin Stilphen, Cape Elizabeth

Joseph St. John, South Portland

Paul Stratis, Scarborough

Dan Strauss, Brunswick

Matthew E. Sturgis, Gray

John Sullivan, Portland

Richard J. Sullivan Jr., Scarborough

Ned Swain, Westbrook

Drew Swenson, South Portland

Vicki & Bob Swerdlow, Falmouth

Larry Szendrei, Gray

Dave Tanguay, Windham

Anthony Taylor, Buxton

Creighton Taylor, Falmouth

Nancy & Mark Terison, Falmouth

Linden Thigpen, South Portland

Danielle Tracy, Falmouth

Luzzei Tsuji, Portland

Ben Tupper, Yarmouth

Michael B. Turek, Scarborough

Kathryn Turner, Raymond

Rep. Karen R. Vachon, Scarborough

Ted Vail, Falmouth

Katrina Van Dusen, Freeport

Karin VanNostrand, Freeport

Jill & Miguel Velazquez, Yarmouth

Maddy Vertenten, Freeport

James Violette, Westbrook

Sen. Amy Volk, Scarborough

Jamie Wagner, Cape Elizabeth

Peter & Elena Wagner, Freeport

Amanda Walden, Bath

Brittanie Walsh, South Portland

Tammy Walter, Cape Elizabeth

Emily Ward, Scarborough

Thom Watson, Bath

Ted Westerfield, Yarmouth

Mary Wheeler, South Portland

Karla Whitney, Cape Elizabeth

Jack Wibby, Gray

Michael G. Williams, Cumberland

Maryellen Wilson, Cumberland Foreside

John P. Winslow, Falmouth

Gail Witherill, Cumberland

Richard Wolfe, Cumberland

Rob Wood, North Yarmouth

Sandy Woodcock, Woolwich

Andy Wright, Cumberland Foreside

Cameron Wright, Westbrook

Jay York, Portland

Patricia Youland, Westbrook

Cheryl Day Zahares, Freeport

Sam Zuckerman, Durham

Mo Mehlsak is executive editor of The Forecaster, American Journal and Lakes Region Weekly. He can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 107 or mmehlsak@theforecaster.net. You can also follow Mo on Twitter: @mmehlsak.

Editor of The Forecaster; prior reporting/editing gigs at Automotive Age magazine, Daily News of Los Angeles, Biddeford Journal Tribune; Syracuse U. Orange-bleeder; lifelong NY Yankees fan, longtime resident of Red Sox Nation.