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Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

First, I want to take a moment to thank the emergency personnel – local, county, state and federal – who have coordinated the response to Hurricane Earl.

Mainers know from our harsh winter storms that we must always be vigilant in preparing for emergencies.

Our emergency officials have been working for more than a week with other public and private entities to ensure that Maine people stay safe.

And it makes all the difference.

You know, these are the signs of the changing season are all around us.

Labor Day weekend is the traditional end of summer:

School buses and classrooms are full with eager young students.

Apple picking season has begun and other fall crops are becoming more visible at farmers’ markets.

Summer merchandise is replaced by Halloween and autumn decorations on store shelves.

And businesses that count on the strength of the tourism season are tallying up how they fared this summer season.

Tourism remains our State’s number one industry.

Though numbers are still being compiled, anecdotal evidence shows that this was a good summer season for Maine’s tourism industry.

By accounts from the Maine Innkeepers Association and the Maine Campground Owners Association, the warm and dry summer encouraged large numbers of overnight visitors to our State.

It’s no wonder why Maine businesses were able to take advantage of the weather and price-conscious consumers.

People are in search of good value for their dollars during these tough economic times.

And Maine offers something for all travelers – from a wide range of recreation, cultural and shopping opportunities to high quality arts and community events.

Our agricultural fairs, music and arts festivals, and scenic towns and wilderness will always be a draw.

Maine’s tourism economy is built on our strongest selling point, though: the Maine workforce.

Among our greatest treasures are the people behind the counters, in the dining rooms and the outdoors – those are the people who help make Maine the welcoming place it is.

It is our people that solidify Maine’s reputation as a destination state and keep people coming back year after year.

Our brand of delivering the highest level of service is not limited to our tourism industry, of course.

So as we look to the new school year, teachers are preparing lessons plans and readying classrooms.

We all remember those teachers who played a pivotal role in our lives.

They were the ones who made lessons jump off textbook pages, who inspired us, and who challenged us to do better and live up to our promise.

Our State has great teachers and great schools.

As classes begin, we should take the time to recognize teachers for the important work they do, and for the role they have in shaping our State’s future.

Make no mistake: the job of a teaching is challenging. Much is required of them.

I know this because my wife, the First Lady, is an educator.

Like many other teachers, she has spent long hours in the classroom before and after students leave.

And just as many other teachers do every evening, she has dedicated more long hours at home preparing plans for the next day and grading papers.

Most teachers do what they love do because they love the work they do, because they know the importance of their jobs and they care for the students and the communities they serve.

Whether we have children in elementary, high school or post-secondary schools, all Mainers are reminded this beginning of the school year that we must give our students the tools to help them succeed later in life.

Our state’s future depends on a well-educated and highly-skilled workforce.

That’s why we’ve placed an emphasis in Maine on pre-K through post-secondary education and on restructuring school administration so that more resources remain in the classroom.

We are also working to implement national Common Core standards.

And the First Lady – as Chair of the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet - has led a number of innovations in education that will help kids be better prepared for their lives after graduation.

The Educare Center in Waterville is a good example.

A public-private partnership spearheaded by the First Lady and made possible through seed funds from Doris Buffett and the Alfond Foundation.

Educare will improve early childhood education in every part of the state.

The Waterville Educare center that opens this month is the first site to open in Maine and is the first in New England.

The Educare Center will serve as a model site for childcare and education, will offer professional development and training and serve as a resource center for child care professionals across the state.

Educare teachers will be focusing on engaging infants and toddlers.

Student teachers and providers will be learning best-practices and bringing those skills back to communities throughout our State.

All Maine children, regardless of income levels, will benefit by entering school - ready to learn, thrive and succeed.

As Governor, I wish all children, their families, educators, school administrators and staff a safe and successful school year.

Thank you and have a good Labor Day weekend.

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