Alna selectman informs residents about statement containing ‘mindless hate’

Sheriff’s Office investigating comment
Posted:  Friday, February 16, 2018 - 12:15pm

Area officials have confirmed authorities are investigating a comment the Alna for Choice in Education website received Wednesday. The website formed around Alna’s school choice issue voters face at the polls March 23. And near midday Friday, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office released a media alert.

“(The) Sheriff's Office was notified of a concerning e-mail which had been received (Wednesday) evening by the community organization ‘Alna for Choice in Education,’” the alert reads. “... (The) e-mail was received via the organization's website (and) did not contain any direct threats against any person or group. However, the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office is taking this matter very seriously and have investigators assigned to attempt to trace the e-mail's origin.  Court orders have been obtained and any leads will be followed up on without delay.

“If any person has information concerning this investigation, please contact Lt. Michael Murphy or Detective Jared Mitkus at 882-7332.”

Alna Third Selectman Doug Baston released a statement Thursday afternoon to subscribers of the town’s email. Baston writes he wanted to share what he knows, “because there are rumors abroad.” He further notes, the other selectmen are away, so he is writing on behalf of all of them, as he knows they would agree.

The statement reads in part: “Last night the Alna Choice website received an anonymous comment ... Somehow this comment migrated from the closed choice website into a broader discussion on social media and was observed there by an administrator at a local school, who reported it to the Wiscasset Police Department. In light of yesterday’s shooting in Florida, local schools have activated whatever precautions they have planned for potential threat situations.

“Whether or not this is an overt threat, or ... just (the) vicious venom of an anonymous troll is in the eye of the beholder, but heightened caution is certainly appropriate,” Baston continues. “I have spoken to Lt. Murphy of (the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office) who says they do not view this as a ‘specific threat,’ but it is ‘concerning.’ They have a court order to trace the actual identity of the sending party. He promised to keep me apprised of any developments.”
Attempts to reach Murphy Thursday afternoon and Friday prior to the media alert were not immediately successful.
Baston’s email continues, “Whatever differences we have of citizens of this community, I am sure we are of like mind in condemning this mindless hate. I believe that the best response we can have to this as individuals is for each of us (to) reach out to someone with whom we might disagree on the issue pending before us and learn a bit more about them as a person and listen to what motivates their beliefs. Remember, each of us is motivated by an honest belief that we are doing what is best for our town.”
In a phone interview Friday, Baston said a resident informed him of the comment Thursday and Town Clerk Liz Brown also heard about it. Each version he was hearing of the message was a different version, like in the game telephone, and each version sounded more ominous, he said. Since sending his email Thursday, he has received six or so emails of thanks, he said.