Editor's Notebook: Thanks for writing

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As 2011 comes to a close, The Forecaster is saying goodbye to one of its most prolific writers, Randy Billings.

Randy has been at the newspaper for about five years. He started as our news assistant, compiling calendar entries, School Notebook news and People & Business items. When he became our reporter in South Portland he produced relentless, award-winning coverage of city government. He also covered the Portland School Department, and eventually took over the Portland City Hall beat, where we could count on his stories being days ahead of the competition.

Besides being an award-winning reporter, Randy is a cancer survivor, who chronicled his diagnosis, treatment and recovery in an insightful and touching blog. He is also a talented musician and singer, known around Maine for his love of Irish music (and Guinness stout).

It was inevitable that Randy’s personal and professional growth would not go unnoticed and would produce other career opportunities, and we wish him the best in 2012 and beyond. As the Irish say, “As you slide down the banisters of life, may the splinters never point the wrong way.”

•   •   •

It’s easier than ever these days to get worked up about government, elections, social issues, the news in general, the Red Sox – you name it – and immediately blow off a little steam or express your opinion.

You can tell your friends what you think on Facebook and Twitter, you can post comments directly on websites, you can blog, use your smartphone to post a video rant on YouTube – the possibilities increase every time the next great social media tool debuts.

Compared to these newer methods, sitting down and writing a letter to the editor can seem, well, tedious. And so old-fashioned – even if instead of pen and paper or an IBM Selectric and the U.S. Mail you use an iPad, wireless Internet and Gmail.

Putting together some well-chosen words, signing your name and putting your opinion out there for the scrutiny of others takes effort and courage.

That’s why this week I’m continuing a practice we started last December, thanking and listing everyone who took the time to write, sign and submit a letter to the editor in the last 12 months. Whether you wrote once or half a dozen times, I appreciate your effort, your thoughtfulness, your candor, and your participation in what we do at The Forecaster.

Michelle Ambrose, Freeport

Patrick Amoroso, Yarmouth

Bonnie Anderson, Falmouth

David Andrews, Falmouth

Jan Andrews, Falmouth

James Ascanio, Falmouth

Debbie Atwood, Brunswick

Willie Audet Jr., Falmouth

Doug Babkirk, Falmouth

Paul S. Bachorik, Falmouth

Jim Bailinson, Cumberland

Philip M. Baker, Falmouth

Ron Bancroft, Cumberland

Craig Barnes, Woolwich

Dr. Steve Barr, North Yarmouth

Josh & Wendy Barrett, Falmouth

Ralph Baxter Jr., South Portland

Michael Beaudoin, Portland

Matthew Beck, South Portland

Maxine Beecher, South Portland

Rusty Bennett, Falmouth

Jonathan Berry, Falmouth

Arveen Berryman, Cumberland

Bill Beyer, Falmouth

Bo Bigelow, Falmouth

Allison Bishop, Falmouth

Tom Blake, South Portland

Fred Blanchard, Brunswick

Julie R. Blodgett, Cumberland

Jack Boak, Bremen

Raquel Boehmer, Falmouth

Karen Boffa, Falmouth

Ed Bonney, Freeport

Janet Bowne, Falmouth

Shane Boyington, Portland

Glen Brand, Falmouth

John Brautigam, Falmouth

Cathy Breen, Falmouth

Robert & Sandra Brennan, South Freeport

Gil Broberg, Yarmouth

Marie C. Brown, Falmouth

India Broyles, Falmouth

Gail Bruzgo, Cape Elizabeth

Jill Bryant, Falmouth

Michael T. Bucci, Damariscotta

Sandy Buck, Cumberland Foreside

Audrey V. Buffington, South Thomaston

Steve Bunker, Gray

Cathy Bunton, North Yarmouth

Frank & Kimberly Burke, Freeport

George Burns, Falmouth

Maureen Burns, Scarborough

Mark Burnes, Falmouth

Erin Cadigan, Falmouth

Zoo Cain, South Portland

Wendyll Caisse, Freeport

Drew Campbell, Scarborough

Susan Campbell, Cumberland

John Capasso, Falmouth

Ken Capron, Portland

Lalla Carothers, Cumberland

Susan Chamberlain, Falmouth

David Champlin, North Yarmouth

Fred Chase, Falmouth

Lawrence Chern, Scarborough

Phil Chin, Yarmouth

Kendra Chubbuck, Bath

Marsha Clark, Falmouth

Dana A. Cleaves, Portland

Kristen Cobb, Portland

Stuart Cobb, Portland

Chad Coffin, Freeport

Anna T. Collins, Portland

Marti Collins, Woolwich

Susan Collins, South Freeport

Kerry Corthell, Scarborough

Diana Costa, Brunswick

Linda Cote, Falmouth

Phil Coupe, Portland

Jim Coull, Cliff Island

J.D. Cowie, Portland

Hugh & Colleen Coxe, Falmouth

Gary Crosby, South Portland

Bryon Crowder, Falmouth

Jonathan Culley, Falmouth

Richard Cunningham, Cape Elizabeth

Michael Danahy, Falmouth

Ilene DaPonte, Portland

Gia Davis, Falmouth

Jerry Davis, Falmouth

Paul Davis, Falmouth

Wayne E. Davis, Topsham

Marian Day, Cumberland

Constance Dayton, Falmouth

Rosemarie De Angelis, South Portland

Marnie Dean, Cumberland

Dena DeSena, Cape Elizabeth

William DeSena, Cape Elizabeth

Dr. Richard C. Dillihunt, Portland

Albert A. DiMillo Jr., South Portland

Rep. Mark Dion, Portland

Anthony DiPhillipo, South Portland

Rob Donovan, Falmouth

Kristen Dorsey, Freeport

Tim Doughty, Portland

William L. Downes, Cape Elizabeth

Michael Doyle, Falmouth

Steven Dugas, Yarmouth

George Ryder Eaton, South Portland

Jane Eberle, South Portland

Katharine Echavarri, Falmouth

Dr. Mary J. Edwards, Cumberland

Kristina Egan, Freeport

Karen Farber, Falmouth

Dick Farnsworth, Portland

Katie Fellows, Scarborough

Dave Fenderson, Cumberland Foreside

Pam Fenrich, Falmouth

Lloyd Ferriss, Richmond

Annie Finch, Falmouth

Jon Fitzgerald, Falmouth

Gene Fitzpatrick, Falmouth

Leah Flumerfelt, Falmouth

George A. Fogg, North Yarmouth

Brita Forssberg, Falmouth

John B. Fossum, Falmouth

Gary C. Foster, Gray

Marilyn Fraktman, Scarborough

Beth Franklin, Falmouth

Arthur Frederiksen, Falmouth

Richard Frost, Falmouth

Ben Frueh, Falmouth

Celine Frueh, Falmouth

Bill Gardiner, Falmouth

Rick Gause, Cumberland

Officer Joe Giacomantonio, Scarborough

Wolcott Gibbs Jr., Bath

Brad Gilbert, Falmouth

Richard Gill, Falmouth

Jeffrey Gilman, Salem, N.H.

Stan Given, Falmouth

Gordon A. Glover, South Freeport

Peter Goffin, Falmouth

Valle Gooch, Falmouth

Corey Goodrich, Cumberland

Crystal Goodrich, South Portland

Coleman P. Gorham, South Portland

Betts J. Gorsky, Cumberland Foreside

Rep. Anne P. Graham, North Yarmouth

Audrey Grassman, Falmouth

Colby Green, Cumberland

Marji Greenhut, Brunswick

Bill Gribbin & Lisa Wilson, Yarmouth

Kevin Grover, Falmouth

Mark D. Grover, Gray

Maurissa Guibord, Scarborough

Jean & John Gulliver, Falmouth

Marie Gunning, Freeport

Michael Gurau, Freeport

Bob Hackett, Old Orchard Beach

George G. Hackett, South Portland

Steve Hadik, Woolwich

Bill Haley, Cape Elizabeth

RuthAnne Haley, Cape Elizabeth

Darcy Halvorsen, South Portland

Stephen Hamilton, Falmouth

Bethany Hanley, Cumberland

David Hanson, Portland

Scott Harriman, Brunswick

Clare Harrington, Falmouth

John Harrington, Falmouth

Ronald A. Hart, Falmouth

Pamela Harwood, Cumberland

Kathy Hayden, Falmouth

Gwenn Hayes, Portland

Karyl Hazard, Falmouth

Charles Hebson, Falmouth

Shirley Helms, Woolwich

David Hembre, Falmouth

Karen & Dieter Hessel, Cape Elizabeth

Susan Higgins, Scarborough

Averyl Hill, Scarborough

Sarah Hill, South Portland

John Hobson, Falmouth

Jennifer Hodsdon, Brunswick

Maureen Holland, Cumberland

Maria Holt, Bath

Diane Howe, Falmouth

Susan Howe, Falmouth

Kandi-Lee Hoy, South Portland

Melissa Hoy, Topsham

Gunnar Hubbard, Falmouth

Leslie Hyde, Yarmouth

Andrew C. Hyland, Falmouth

Chuck Igo, South Portland

Deborrah A. Jabar, South Portland

Allison Joel, Brunswick

J. Philip Jones, Yarmouth

Lucia Jones, Scarborough

Sean P. Joyce, Falmouth

Pieto Julek, Portland

Phil Kaplan, Falmouth

Lee Karker, Rockland

Dennis Keeler, Falmouth

Donald Kelley, Wiscasset

John M. Kendall, Falmouth

Maura Kenney, Cumberland

Carol Keroack, Falmouth

DeWitt Kimball, Brunswick

Claudia King, Falmouth

Andrew Kinley, Falmouth

Ned Kitchel, Falmouth

Sharman Kivatisky, Scarborough

Kurt & Elizabeth Klebe, Falmouth

Paul M. Koziell, Scarborough

Amy Kuhn, Falmouth

Anna Kupel, Scarborough

Don L’Heureux, Falmouth

Gretchen Lacombe, Falmouth

David La Graffe, South Portland

Michelle Lamb, Falmouth

Janine Lambert & Dave McConnell, Falmouth

John Lambert, Cumberland

Analiese Larson, Falmouth

Andy Lebel, Falmouth

Bruce LeClaire, Windham

Martha Leggat, North Yarmouth

Porter D. Leighton, Falmouth

Richard D. Levin, Jupiter, Fla.

Taylor Lewis, Bath

Dave Libby, Falmouth

Nancy Lightbody, Falmouth

Erica & Cameron Linen, Falmouth

Robert M. Lord, South Portland

Henry Loughlin, Freeport

Joan Lourie, Scarborough

Bill Lunt, Falmouth

Bob Lyman, Freeport

Kathleen M. Lynch, Cumberland

Julie MacDonald, Falmouth

Jim MacLeod, Yarmouth

Bruce Macmaster, Falmouth

Sean Mahoney, Falmouth

Dan Maloney, Falmouth

Robert S. Maloney, Cumberland

Theresa Maloney-Kelly, Cumberland

Ted Markow, Brunswick

Stephen Marks, South Portland

Bob Marley, Falmouth

Belinda Marston, Cumberland

Philip McCormick, Falmouth

Mary McCrann, Falmouth

Alison McDonald, New York, N.Y.

John McDonough & Helene Plourde, Scarborough

Peggy McGehee, Falmouth

Jill McGowan, Falmouth

Suzanne McGuffey, North Yarmouth

Robert McIntyre, Harpswell

Steve McKelvey, Scarborough

Dianne McClellan, Scarborough

Thomas R. McNaboe, Cumberland Foreside

Pam McTigue, Falmouth

Steve Melchiskey, Falmouth

Nancy & David Merrill, Falmouth

Jen Meserve, Falmouth

Elizabeth Miller, Portland

Marna Miller, Falmouth

Judy Miskell, Freeport

M.D. Mitchell, Freeport

Steve Mittl, Freeport

John R. Moon, Falmouth

Margi Moran, Judy Berghuis & Lisa Sanford, Yarmouth

Rake Morgan, Portland

Robert N. Morrison, Brunswick

Rep. Terry Morrison, South Portland

Rowan Morse, Falmouth

Sarah Mosley, Westbrook

Madeleine Msall, Brunswick

Bill Muller, Falmouth

Jack Mullin, Cumberland

Kelly Noonan Murphy, Scarborough

David R. Murray, Falmouth

Pat Murray, Bradford

Christopher B. Murry Jr., Falmouth

Judith Mushial, Scarborough

Sarah M. Nash, Bar Mills

Anna M. Nelson, Brunswick

Rep. Mary Nelson, Falmouth

Dr. Nicholas M. Nelson, Topsham

Art Niedzielski, Newtown, Conn.

Linda Lois Nutter, Falmouth

Ryan O’Connor, Brunswick

Joseph W. O’Donnell, Falmouth

Daniel Olds, Falmouth

Richard P. Olson, Falmouth

Chris Orestis, Falmouth

Ike Ostrove, Falmouth

Stephanie Paine & John Pier, Freeport

John Pankowicz, Boothbay Harbor

Judy Paolucci, Yarmouth

Nick Pappas, Cape Elizabeth

Wendy Paradis, Falmouth

Janice Parente, Scarborough

Kathleen Parr, Falmouth

Deborah Patten, Bath

Linden Thigpen Pavloff, South Portland

Edward Pearlman, South Portland

Michael Perfetti, Cumberland

Cody Perkins, Harpswell

Anne Perry, Harpswell

Joseph Perry, Bath

Brian Peterson, Westbrook

Dr. Jeff Peterson, Portland

Julie Peterson, Falmouth

Kent Pierce, Yarmouth

Alex Piper, Freeport

Jonathan Piper, Falmouth

Jane Small Plante, Spofford, N.H.

Barbara Powers, Falmouth

Mike & Tina Pratico, Falmouth

Lisa Preney, Falmouth

C.H. Preston, Chebeague Island

Cathy Prichard, Falmouth

Gary Profenno, Freeport

Christine Provencher, Scarborough

Jerry Provencher, Bath

Eydie Pryzant, Falmouth

Rodger Pryzant, Falmouth

Jeff Putnam, Cape Elizabeth

Gaetano Quattrucci, South Freeport

John W. Quinn, Falmouth

Julie Rabinowitz, Falmouth

Dr. John Radebaugh, Falmouth

Patrick Rael, Brunswick

Amanda Rand, Falmouth

Maryella Rawnsley, Cumberland

Emily Read, Scarborough

Fran Reardon, Falmouth

Abbey Record, Portland

Kathy Hillman Reed, Falmouth

Rachel M. Reed, Falmouth

Pat Davidson Reef, Falmouth

Michael C. Reis, South Freeport

Jeff Reynolds, Brunswick

Mark Richard, Falmouth

Bill Richards, Cumberland

Sybil Riemensnider, South Portland

Richard J. Rizzo, Brunswick

Mark Robinson, Biddeford

Bonny Rodden, Falmouth

Bob Roffler, North Yarmouth

Jill Rose, Harpswell

Sue Rowe & Serena Mercer, Yarmouth

Betsy Ruff, Freeport

Tom Rumpf, Brunswick

John W. Russell, Portland

Stephen C. Ryder, Falmouth

Tom Sauberlich, Falmouth

Pem Schaeffer, Brunswick

Robert Schaible, Buxton

Jeffrey Schneider, Brunswick

Beth Schultz, Woolwich

MaryAnn Schwanda, Freeport

Donna Schwartz, Portland

Jacquetta Searle, South Freeport

Barbara Seelen, Falmouth

Judy Shirk, Scarborough

Sarah Shmitt, Portland

Kimberly Simmons, Cumberland

Angela Smith, Falmouth

Gregory Smith, Cumberland

Hugh Smith, Falmouth

Stacy Smith, Falmouth

David Snow, Falmouth

Donna Snyder, Scarborough

Caroline Southall, Freeport

Rose Splint, Falmouth

Anne Staples, Falmouth

Jeffrey Stevensen & Dana Trattner, Cape Elizabeth

Richard Stites, Bath

David Strauch, Brunswick

Thomas C. Sturtevant, Winthrop

Lynda L. Sudlow, Falmouth

Dan Sullivan, Brunswick

Jack Sullivan, Portland

Eva J. Szillery, Orono

Georgia Temple, Topsham

Carl M. ter Weele, Falmouth

Marcy Tierney, Yarmouth

Suzie Tierney, Falmouth

Kathryn Tolford, Falmouth

Michael Tolley, Falmouth

John W. Trafton, Brunswick

David Treadwell, Brunswick

Nancy Triggiani-Musco, Freeport

Kathy Tucker, Falmouth

Mariana S. Tupper, Yarmouth

Faith Varney, Falmouth

Mark Verrill, North Yarmouth

Jill Victor, Brunswick

Rep. Amy Volk, Scarborough

Jamie Wagner, Cape Elizabeth

Chantal Walker, Falmouth

Michael J. Waxman, Yarmouth

Rep. David Webster, Freeport

Genie Wheelwright, Brunswick

Everett White, Cumberland

Harry White, Scarborough

Lin White, Pownal

Lucinda White, Freeport

Sharon Whittier, Randolph

Ethel Houlle Wilkerson, Freeport

Diane Wilkins, Falmouth

Martha Elbaum Williamson, Falmouth

Betty & George Willhoite, Falmouth

John M. Willis, Falmouth

Carol Wilson, Falmouth

Nell Wing, Cape Elizabeth

John P. Winslow, Falmouth

Amy Winton, Falmouth

Judith Wohl, Cumberland

Mark Woodbury, Falmouth

Merrie Woodworth, Yarmouth

Lauren Wynne, Saco

Jay York, Portland

Susan Lebel Young, Falmouth

Ed Zink, Yarmouth

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Mo Mehlsak is editor of The Forecaster. 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.