I’m writing about several issues today, so please bear with me.

Let’s start with county government. Back in the day, I served one three-year term as a county commissioner, during which I advocated for merging our jail with jails in two adjacent counties. But of course, that didn’t happen.

It makes no sense to me to have a jail in every county, or a probate court and registry of deeds. The state should take over these things, and consolidate them, saving us lots of money. Of the $13,609,717 in the new county budget, $11,981,685 comes from our property taxes. And lots of people need property tax relief.

I have to say, shame on the state police for reducing their presence in our rural towns. Our sheriff seeks three new officers to fill that gap. And the Legislature also let us down by failing to provide their share of our jail budget.

And shame on Republicans for another attack on ranked-choice voting. Voters rejected their previous effort to derail ranked-choice voting, but they’ve submitted a new attack to stop us from using it in the presidential election in November. I guess they know that Donald Trump won’t get any second-choice votes.

I like ranked-choice voting because it assures that the winners are liked by a majority of the voters. That’s a very good thing.

Well, let’s move on to some good news. Congress is working on a bill to provide nearly $2 billion a year to improve and maintain our national parks. Of course, they’ve done nothing about Trump’s repeal of protections for our wonderful public lands and parks. He’s even opened them up to coal mining and oil and gas drilling.

My wife Linda and I visited many of our spectacular national parks, and I can’t imagine the damage Trump’s decision will cause in these beautiful places.

Well, let’s finish up with something really good. One of my all-time favorite adventures was a trip down the Allagash. The feds designated the Allagash as a National Wild and Scenic River, with lots of protection.

I was very pleased recently to receive a copy of the booklet, “Allagash Explorer,” created to help you enjoy an Allagash adventure. A lot of people contributed to this guide, including interpretive writer Julia Gray of Orland, editor Bruce Jacobson of Bar Harbor, copy editor Jane Crosen of Penobscot, graphic designer Karen Zimmerman of Bar Harbor, illustrator Alison Carver of Newcastle, and mapmaker Jon Luoma of Alna.

If you plan on visiting the Allagash, you should get this booklet, billed as “A Take-Along Companion For Maine’s Wilderness Waterway.” As former Sen. George Mitchell wrote, “Today, the best way to appreciate its wonders is with Allagash Explorer in your pocket.”

I agree, but you will enjoy this booklet even if you’re not going to visit the Allagash. It’s very entertaining, with information, wonderful photos, and lots of questions about your outdoor adventures, with encouragement to write them down.

Of course, after you read this booklet, you’ll be headed to the Allagash!

The booklet covers everything from history to trout to canoeing with kids, moose to the magical night sky to a monstrous frog.

Given that they encourage you to write your own stories, here’s my favorite from my trip down the Allagash.

We didn’t do the entire 92 miles; we started about halfway down the river. The first night we stayed in an old sporting camp. It was closed, but the owner let us use one of the cabins.

The next morning, my guide anchored us in some fast water and I immediately started catching brook trout. After a while, my guide told me to look up river, and here came a couple in a canoe with about 4 feet of stuff piled in the middle and a dog laying on top.

Sure enough, as soon as they hit the rapids they capsized and all their stuff, including the dog, started drifting down river. My guide started pulling up our anchor, and I asked him what he was doing. I didn’t want to leave. I was catching fish!

Well, he convinced me we needed to help them, so we headed down river, collecting some of their stuff. The dog swam to shore, and the river was shallow enough right there that the couple was able to right their canoe and get it to shore.

They were very grateful to us for helping, and they eventually headed down river, looking for the rest of their stuff. And yes, we got back to fishing!

Copies of this guidebook are available at Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Stores, the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, New England Outdoor Center, Gulf of Maine Books, LL Bean Bike, Boat & Ski, Epic Sports, Bogan Books, and all North Maine Woods gates to the Allagash.

George Smith can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or [email protected] Read more of Smith’s writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.

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