Press Herald Mon, 26 Jun 2017 10:04:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Portland’s tight housing market puts low-income renter in bind Mon, 26 Jun 2017 08:00:00 +0000 With the help of counselors, Margaret Peters scrambled to find an apartment – any apartment – in Portland’s red-hot housing market last year after being kicked out of her apartment on Grant Street so the property owner could do renovations.

Now she’s facing eviction again, this time because her landlord hasn’t addressed city concerns about police calls and complaints.

And despite a housing construction boom in Portland, the 55-year-old knows that finding a decent apartment she can afford and a landlord willing to accept someone with a housing voucher is going to continue to be difficult.

“They’re pretty nasty places you go in to look at,” Peters said. “It’s disgusting.”

Most of the hundreds of new apartments and condominiums being built in Portland have been geared toward the upper end of the housing market. Developers and city officials have both predicted that the new luxury units would eventually benefit low-income tenants, because existing Portland residents would be looking to upgrade their living conditions, thereby opening up units at the lower end.

But it may not be happening as people had hoped, in part because many of the new units are going to people moving in from away.

Jonathan Culley of Redfern Properties, which recently completed two apartment buildings, said he does not keep detailed records of where his tenants came from, but estimated that it was “an even mix” of people already in Portland and people from other places.

Tom Watson, a property manager at Port Property Management, which owns or manages about 1,300 units, mostly in Portland, reported similar results. From June to August of last year, about half of the 115 units rented went to people from out of state, while most of the remaining rentals went to Portland residents. In the last three months, out-of-state renters slipped to 43 percent, he said.

Watson noted that rents have not increased over the last year. “I would describe this as neither a tenant’s market nor a landlord’s market, but one in which we’ve hit equilibrium,” he said.

Meanwhile, Brit Vitalius, a Realtor and president of the Southern Maine Landlord Association, said he is renting fewer of his units to single people with higher incomes. “It’s feeling a little more blue collar,” he said.

While new inventory has made it easier to find high-end apartments, the market remains challenging for low-income people.

In weak rental markets, landlords often turn to people using housing vouchers, since they are a steady source of income. But when demand strengthens, they look to the free market because they can get higher rents.

Peters, whose only income is $735 in monthly disability payments through Social Security, said she has lived in Portland for more than 30 years and has struggled with homelessness over the years, including a two-year stay in a homeless shelter. She currently has a Shelter Care Plus housing voucher through the Shalom House, a local nonprofit that works with people who have mental illness.

Peters’ life was upended shortly before Christmas in 2015 after she was informed that her apartment building at 61-69 Grant St. had been sold and the new owner was kicking out all of the residents so the units could be renovated and rented for more money.

Tenants in three separate buildings, totaling 24 units, were given two months to find new homes, but as the March 1 deadline to leave approached, 14 tenants – all of whom were low-income or had mental health issues or both – still had nowhere else to go. Under pressure from Mayor Ethan Strimling, the new owner agreed to give the tenants more time.

With the help of housing counselors, Peters scoured the city for a decent apartment and a landlord willing to accept a housing voucher. She said the only place she could find was a room for rent on the third floor of 31 East Oxford St., a three-unit apartment building that is well-known to city inspectors as having poor living conditions and excess trash accumulating outside. She began living there last June.

Shalom House Housing Director Norman Maze did not return requests for comment.

Over the last year, police have regularly visited the building, prompting the city to designate it as a disorderly house. City officials say the landlord, Clark Stephens, has not taken the necessary measures to address problems at the building, so they condemned it last month.

Several residents, including Peters, being represented by Pine Tree Legal Assistance, are fighting the evictions so they can have enough time to find a new apartment.

“I think it’s really hard for low-income people in Portland right now,” said attorney Katie McGovern, who is representing Peters and two other residents. “The lack of quality housing for low-income people is a crisis and it’s not getting better.”

Mark Adelson, executive director of the Portland Housing Authority, said staff had been trying to help a tenant using a housing voucher from the agency to move out of East Oxford Street for several months. It was only within the last few weeks that they were able to secure a new apartment in Portland, so the tenant could leave, he said.

“It’s not easy to find places,” Adelson said. “It’s been difficult to find new housing for the last three years.”

Strimling formed a special council committee to address the city’s housing shortage shortly after being elected in 2015. However, the committee turned down measures that would protect low-income tenants from being kicked out of their apartments without having the time or resources to find a new place.

Instead, the committee extended the amount of time landlord must provide notice of rent increases from the state-mandated 45 days to 75 days. The city also requires landlords to provide tenants with pamphlets outlining their rights and responsibilities, as well as information explaining at-will tenancies.

A group called Fair Rent Portland is collecting signatures for a possible November referendum on a rent stabilization ordinance.

That proposal would limit rent increases to the rate of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for the Greater Portland region. The proposal would allow tenants to automatically renew their lease and would eliminate so-called no-cause evictions of tenants, such as the mass eviction that put Peters out of her apartment last year.

Owner-occupied duplexes and triplexes would be exempt from the rules.

Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

Twitter: randybillings

]]> 0 Peters, who has lived in Portland for more than 30 years, is being evicted from her apartment as a result of the city condemning the building as a disorderly house. This is her second eviction in two years.Sun, 25 Jun 2017 23:56:54 +0000
Portland condemns apartment building because of frequent police visits Mon, 26 Jun 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Portland officials have condemned an apartment building in East Bayside because of frequent police visits, forcing the landlord to evict all of his tenants until he fulfills his court-ordered obligations to tighten up management of the property.

It’s the first time the city has taken such an extreme measure to get a landlord to address issues under its disorderly houses ordinance – a designation that’s given to a building based on the number of police visits in a 30-day period.

While other apartment buildings have been deemed disorderly, the vast majority of landlords work with the city to address issues, said Richard Bianculli Jr., Portland’s Neighborhood Prosecutor. The landlord in this case is well known to city officials and has defied the order, officials said.

“It’s just been kind of a nightmare,” Bianculli said. “It’s really a safety issue. There’s too many calls for service and too many random things going on that are impacting people in that neighborhood.”

The city posted the three-family unit at 31 East Oxford St. against occupancy on May 31, after the building owner and landlord, Clark Stephens, who owns three apartment buildings totaling 11 units in Portland, allegedly failed to follow through on an April consent agreement to turn over management of the property to a professional firm. He was also ordered to evict the current tenants, perform background checks on any new tenants and maintain the property so it complies with the city codes, among other things.

Clark Stephens

After the posting, tenants had until June 14 to leave, but Pine Tree Legal Assistance, a nonprofit that provides free legal services to low-income people, received a temporary restraining order against the city to prevent the evictions of three tenants until a court hearing next month.

Attorney Katie McGovern said the restraining orders are intended to give her three clients more time to find another apartment, which is becoming increasingly difficult for low-income tenants in Portland. Although the living conditions in the building are poor, McGovern said her clients would rather remain there temporarily than become homeless.

“We agree the housing should be made safe and the landlord should be held accountable,” McGovern said. “But we disagree the eviction of these vulnerable low-income people is the answer.”

Additional court hearings are expected in early July.

The situation underscores the difficulty city officials and tenants face in trying to deal with an unresponsive landlord in a rental market where vacancy rates are low, rents are rising and low-income housing is growing more scarce.

Stephens also owns 32-34 East Oxford St. Both properties are well-known to police and city inspectors, who have responded to complaints about matters ranging from life safety and excess trash buildup to basic livability issues, including bedbugs, a lack of heat and water, and a leaky roof. Stephens also owns 198 Spring St. in the city’s West End.

Stephens, who has a criminal record dating back to 1993 for theft, unemployment fraud and cruelty to animals, did not respond to requests for comment.

A man later identified as Stephens using a police mug shot from a 2016 arrest in Scarborough approached a reporter and photographer last week on East Oxford Street and began asking questions about who alerted the newspaper about problems at the building, asking whether it was Pine Tree Legal or the city.

Stephens did not identify himself, other than to say he lives in the West End. He said he knew nothing about the 31 East Oxford St. building, nor the landlord, before entering 32-34 East Oxford St., which is listed as his official address in court records.

One of the tenants caught in the middle of the dispute over the disorderly house is Margaret Peters, 55, who has a housing voucher through Shalom House, a nonprofit that works with people with mental illness. Peters also was one of the tenants who was kicked out of an apartment complex at 65 Grant St. last year so a different landlord could renovate the property.

Peters has struggled with homelessness in the past and said she decided to rent a room on the third floor of 31 East Oxford St. because it was her only option. For the last year, she said she has had to deal with random people drinking, doing drugs and fighting in the hallways of the apartment building.

“It is nasty. Everything is falling apart. But we had no other place to go,” Peters said of herself and her boyfriend.

Stephens tried to evict Peters and other tenants as required by the court order, but McGovern said she defeated those eviction notices, known as Forcible Entry and Detainer, in court. However, Stephens allegedly continued to try to collect rent from tenants even after he turned over management of his property to Mainely Property Management, prompting the company to part ways with Stephens.

“Our company has experienced an unusual amount of difficulty with the transition to management,” the company said in a letter to residents. “From the start, management has struggled to obtain accurate records, communicate with tenants, and collect rents. With so many factual discrepancies and lack of accurate financial records, we have decided to terminate this contract (effective) immediately.”

People who live and visit friends in the neighborhood say they are glad that the city is taking action.

Bob Taylor has lived nearby on Anderson Street for 11 years. The 59-year-old said the apartment building is a magnet for troublemakers, especially drug dealers and people looking for drugs. He said he’s witnessed people whistling in the neighborhood to call out the dealers and dealers have hung tennis shoes on the telephone lines – a sign, he said, that drugs are available. One time, he witnessed someone running up Anderson Street with a firearm, he said.

“That’s where they hang out at night and sell it,” Taylor said. “It’s a crack station. It’s a one-day pit stop.”

Corinne Tompkins said she visits her friend in the neighborhood regularly. From his apartment window last year, the 29-year-old said she saw a “straight-up gang war” in the street, adding that it was “guns versus two-by-fours.” She said there always seems to be new people hanging around the building.

“This is a nutty intersection,” Tompkins said of East Oxford and Anderson streets. “I don’t like being around here alone.”

Portland first adopted its disorderly housing ordinance back in 1998, but it has been amended over the years, most recently in 2011. It classifies a building with five or fewer apartments as a disorderly house if police have responded to at least three substantiated calls for service for general disturbances or any incident that involves an arrest or suspicion of criminal activity within a 30-day period. That threshold increases to four service calls for buildings with six to 10 units and five calls for 11 units or more.

A May 11 letter from the city to Stephens outlines four calls for service in April, including people refusing to leave, drug possession and suspicious activity, at 31 East Oxford St. and seven calls for service at 32 East Oxford St.

City officials were not able to provide the Portland Press Herald with a complete list of service calls to all of his properties, but Bianculli said that one – if not both – of Stephens’ East Bayside properties have been designated as a disorderly house since last August. City officials say they typically avoid condemning buildings so that innocent tenants don’t get evicted.

“Not only does it not get this far, but we don’t normally give people so many chances before we pursue a court action,” he said. “It’s at a point where I just don’t know what else to do.”

McGovern, the attorney that represents low-income tenants, believes the city’s ordinance is fundamentally flawed and the city is too quick to pressure landlords to evict tenants. She noted that the ordinance gives the landlord the right to appeal a disorderly designation, but not tenants, which she contends is a constitutional violation.

“The way the city’s disorderly process is set up there is no opportunity for the tenant to be heard, which we think is a deprivation of rights,” she said. “We think the tenants have the right to be heard in that process.”

However, Bianculli pushed back against that notion, noting that the situation on East Oxford Street is unprecedented, and the evictions were needed to protect the tenants.

“We’ve never had someone sign (a) consent decree and court order and then turn around and violate the court order the next week,” he said. “We only (condemned the building) because if something happens to one of these tenants, that’s going to be the news story.”

Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

Twitter: randybillings

]]> 0 multi-family home at 31 East Oxford St. in Portland's East Bayside neighborhood has been deemed a "disorderly" house by the city and tenants have been evicted because of alleged inaction by the property's landlord, Clark Stephens.Sun, 25 Jun 2017 22:51:59 +0000
Anthem predicts thousands will drop ACA coverage in Maine Mon, 26 Jun 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Nearly 11 percent of those now insured on Maine’s ACA market will drop out, forcing insurers to raise rates, Anthem predicts.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is predicting that thousands fewer people will be covered in Maine’s Affordable Care Act insurance market next year, in part because of Trump administration policies.

The insurer is forecasting a nearly 11 percent decrease in the number of Mainers in the ACA marketplace, according to filings with the Maine Bureau of Insurance. The remaining ACA enrollees will be older and sicker, requiring insurance companies to raise premiums, according to Anthem.

About 80,000 Mainers have insurance through the ACA individual market, where people can buy subsidized insurance policies.

The insurance company says part of the reason for the expected contraction is Trump administration policies regarding the ACA, and Congress’ attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The Senate announced its ACA replacement bill on Thursday, but there’s much uncertainty on what, if anything, will be approved by Congress.

“While the ACA marketplace in Maine was becoming somewhat more predictable, recent activity at the federal level has returned the ACA to almost unprecedented levels of uncertainty,” said Anthem’s June 15 filing, noting the insurer could potentially exit the market because of the continued questions surrounding the ACA.

Insurers have filed proposed rate increases, and now must justify the rate hikes to state officials. The regulatory process will continue this summer and into early fall at the same time Congress is debating potential ACA replacement bills.

The three insurance companies in the Maine marketplace – Anthem, Community Health Options and Harvard Pilgrim – have all proposed double-digit increases for 2018. Community Health Options is seeking a 19.6 percent average rate increase for 2018, while Harvard Pilgrim is requesting a 39.7 percent increase, and Anthem’s proposal is 21.2 percent.

Those earning up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, about $50,000 for an individual, are mostly shielded from the premium increases, while those earning more than that would have to pay the full amount of premium increases. Policyholders who don’t qualify for subsidies pay hundreds more per month for the same insurance policy as those who meet the income guidelines. About 85 percent of all ACA enrollees qualify for subsidies.


Anthem pointed out that the Trump administration’s decision to weaken enforcement of the individual mandate – which requires that everyone have essential minimum coverage or face a tax penalty – will encourage healthy people to drop coverage. That, in turn, will result in the remaining pool of people with individual insurance being older, sicker and more expensive to cover.

In January, President Trump signed an executive order that gave federal health authorities discretion to roll back certain parts of the ACA. His staff suggested the order would allow the administration to get rid of the penalty almost immediately, but the Internal Revenue Service has continued to enforce it.

Elimination of the individual mandate has been a cornerstone in the Republicans’ efforts to repeal the ACA.

“We anticipate that ACA enrollment will continue to decline into 2018 given general concerns about the sustainability of the ACA marketplace into 2018 as well as a widening gap between premiums and the penalty for not complying with the mandate,” Anthem said. “When faced with this gap people with relatively low morbidity are more likely to forgo insurance, leaving only those with higher morbidity in the insured block. As premiums continue to rise to cover this increasing morbidity, more lower-cost people discontinue coverage, resulting in higher premiums for those who retain coverage.”

Colin Manning, an Anthem spokesman, said that depending on what happens with health care in the coming months, Anthem may have to make further changes, including exiting the Maine marketplace.

“Without certainty of funding before final decisions need to be made for 2018, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield will need to evaluate appropriate adjustments to our filings such as reducing service area participation, requesting additional rate increases, eliminating certain product offerings or no longer offering on-exchange products in Maine,” Manning said.

Officials with Community Health Options couldn’t be reached for comment Friday, but have previously told the Portland Press Herald that the Trump administration’s lax enforcement of the individual mandate was a major driving force behind the premium increases.

Mitchell Stein, a Cumberland-based independent health policy consultant, said insurance companies must account for many scenarios when setting rates, and the uncertainty leads to higher rates as insurers hedge their bets.

“Insurance companies can deal with any situation as long as they know what the ground rules are,” Stein said. “When the ground rules are in a state of flux, as they are right now, that can cause problems.”

Stein said the Trump administration’s “actions amount to sabotaging the existing law.”

He said undermining the ACA will not save the federal government money, and may instead be more expensive, because the federal government is still on the hook to pay the subsidies. When premiums increase, the government must make up the difference by paying out more in subsidies.

That’s why the Trump administration’s hedging on whether it will pay insurers the cost-sharing subsidies for those who earn up to 250 percent of the federal poverty level will not save money, Stein said. The cost-sharing subsidies further reduce out-of-pocket costs for low-income enrollees. Insurers will react to cutting of cost-sharing subsidies by hiking premiums more, which will increase the federal government’s costs to operate the ACA, Stein said.

Stein said that while the Trump administration can sabotage parts of the ACA, he believes the ACA will not collapse unless Congress repeals the law. That’s because the law mandates that the subsidies be paid, and anyone who qualifies for the subsidies will still be able to buy relatively affordable insurance, Stein said.

“I don’t believe you will see a classic death spiral,” Stein said. “There will still be people buying insurance on the marketplace.”

Joe Lawlor can be contacted at 791-6376 or at:

Twitter: joelawlorph

]]> 0 Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Sunday that she will decide how to vote on the Senate health care bill after she sees the Congressional Budget Office analysis of it.Sun, 25 Jun 2017 23:58:08 +0000
Studies differ over impact of legalized pot on highway crash numbers Mon, 26 Jun 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Marijuana legalization appears to increase the rate of traffic accidents, but it doesn’t necessarily mean there will be more deadly crashes.

Those are the conclusions of two separate studies published last week about one of the biggest unresolved questions in states such as Maine that have legalized pot: Will more people get behind the wheel when they shouldn’t, and how much damage will impaired drivers do?

The two conflicting studies add to the debate and confusion over the issue of impaired driving in Maine, where lawmakers, police and advocates have grappled with the best ways to prevent stoned drivers from getting behind the wheel and punish the ones who do.

Legalization advocates and people who opposed the initiative in Maine agree the studies draw valuable attention to the issue and help highlight the importance of keeping impaired drivers off the road, but they disagree on the accuracy of the studies’ conclusions.

“The takeaway needs to be that we all agree people should not use marijuana and drive,” said David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which supported Maine’s legalization law.

The Highway Loss Data Institute, a leading insurance research group, said in a study released Thursday that collision claims in Colorado, Washington and Oregon increased 2.7 percent in the years since legal marijuana sales began, compared with surrounding states without recreational marijuana laws.

A study published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health concluded that after three years of recreational marijuana legalization, changes in motor vehicle crash fatality rates for Colorado and Washington were not statistically different from those in similar states without legal pot. Authors also reported no association between marijuana legalization and the total number of non-fatal crashes.

Those studies join a handful of others released over the past two years that look at the impact of marijuana on traffic accidents since Colorado started legal pot sales in 2014. With relatively limited data to work with, the studies can be confusing and provide vastly different views of the role marijuana plays in traffic accidents.

“People take from the studies what they want to hear,” said Chief Edward Googins of the South Portland Police Department, adding that he believes the most valuable studies look at the causes of collisions rather than the severity alone.

The Highway Loss Data Institute says its study examined claims from January 2012 to October 2016. Researchers accounted for factors such as the number of vehicles on the road, age and gender of drivers, weather and whether the driver making the claim was employed. Neighboring states with similar fluctuations in claims were used in comparison.

Marijuana legalization advocates question the results of the study and the comparison of rural states like Wyoming and Montana to states with dense population centers, such as Colorado and Washington.

“They didn’t look to see the actual causes of the collision and it doesn’t show that marijuana is to blame for the increases they found,” Boyer said. “It seemed to produce more questions than answers.”

But for Googins and York County Sheriff Bill King, the Highway Loss Data Institute study illustrates a problem they saw coming even before Maine became one of eight states with an adult-use marijuana market.

“From the get-go, one of the primary concerns for law enforcement in Maine was that (marijuana) is going to impact our traffic crashes and safety on the roads,” Googins said. “When you add another substance, how can you say it’s not going to cause an increase? The studies reinforce that logic.”

Googins said drivers getting behind the wheel while impaired by marijuana continues to be a concern for police in Maine because there is no simple roadside test like a Breathalyzer to test for impairment. His department has three drug recognition experts who are trained to spot signs of impairment by various drugs, but many departments don’t have someone with that training on staff or on duty at all times.

King said impaired driving is especially troubling for him because York County leads the state in fatal car crashes. As more adults use marijuana now that it is legal, he believes his deputies will have to deal with more crashes.

“We’re gearing up for it,” he said. “It’s a concern for me because in our county there are a lot of rural, windy roads where you need to have all of your faculties.”

Boyer, from the Marijuana Policy Project, said driving while impaired by any substance is already illegal and “if you can’t walk the straight line, you should have the book thrown at you.” But as the country goes in the direction of legalization, there needs to be more public education about not consuming marijuana before driving, he said, suggesting the cannabis industry needs to take an active role in that.

Scott Gagnon, chairman of Smart Approaches to Marijuana Maine, agrees that education is important and said prevention coalitions in Maine are already working to educate people on the local level. Gagnon said driving and marijuana is a frequent topic at meetings he holds with community groups.

Gagnon said it is important for lawmakers to keep an eye on whether Maine sees the same increase in accidents highlighted in the Highway Loss Data Institute study.

“It speaks to why we need to have strict regulations in place to minimize impaired driving,” Gagnon said. “We have one shot at this.”

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

Twitter: grahamgillian

]]> 0 South Portland City Council on Monday will consider renewing a six-month moratorium on marijuana businesses in the city.Sun, 25 Jun 2017 20:47:54 +0000
South Portland residents weigh reuse of public works site Mon, 26 Jun 2017 08:00:00 +0000 SOUTH PORTLAND — What will become of the current public works site on O’Neil Street after a new public services facility off outer Highland Avenue is completed later this year?

A 10-member committee has been mulling a wide variety of redevelopment options for the 6-acre property off Cottage Road – a monthslong process that included a site walk and brainstorming session with neighbors and other city residents last week. The committee will deliver its findings to the City Council on Monday and seek further guidance at the 6:30 p.m. workshop.

Will a developer build apartments, condominiums or single-family homes that might dent the city’s housing crisis? Will O’Neil Street connect directly to Pitt Street or curve through the site, deterring cut-through traffic? Will the city require green building standards with rooftop solar panels? And what about sidewalks, recreation trails and a community garden that might take advantage of the greenhouse already on the site?

The committee and its consultants have gathered broad reactions to myriad redevelopment options, but one thing is clear to Linden Thigpen, a committee member who lives a block from the site.

Neighbors don’t want redevelopment of the current public works site to change the Meetinghouse Hill neighborhood, Thigpen said, especially in the triangle of single-family homes bounded by Cottage Road and Sawyer and Walnut streets.

“We want it to stay a mixed group of people – a cultural mosaic, so to speak,” Thigpen said. “We like that about our neighborhood. We don’t want it to be gentrified.”

Thigpen and others see warning signs in a hot real estate market where home prices are skyrocketing. She said three two-bedroom homes in the neighborhood recently sold for more than $350,000 each – a price that would be out of reach for many people who live in the neighborhood now.

“It’s scary,” Thigpen said.

City officials and committee members say no decisions have been made about the site’s reuse, although they admit the property likely will be sold to a developer if the council decides it should be used for housing. Residents who participated in the committee process indicated strong preferences for and opposition to certain options.

The possibility of including commercial uses, such as office or retail space, was soundly rejected, Thigpen said. Participants also indicated strong opposition to an apartment complex that would inject a large number of renters into a single-family neighborhood.

Many expressed support for keeping the homes affordable, but some worried that the trend toward building smaller cottages or “tiny” houses might devalue existing homes. The South Portland Housing Authority, which has dropped plans for a controversial affordable apartment complex in Knightville, submitted a written statement expressing interest in the O’Neil Street site.

Participants liked redevelopment options that showed O’Neil Street curving through the site and connecting to Pitt Street, with house lots similar in size to the surrounding neighborhood and areas preserved as open space to be shared by the community.

Environmentally friendly building standards were a priority for many, including solar, geothermal, natural gas, underground utilities, open space, green buffer areas, down-facing street lights and electric car-charging stations.

Participants also stressed the need for sidewalks and recreation paths that would connect to the wider neighborhood yet ensure the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists. They mentioned traffic-calming measures such as installing cobblestones and making the street narrower to deter drivers from using it as a shortcut. And they expressed concern about the property’s change of use, noting that the site is largely quiet during nonbusiness hours, except during overnight snowstorms.

“Whatever is done with that site, people are particularly concerned about whether it will suddenly become noisy and how it will impact traffic in the neighborhood,” Thigpen said. “They’re worried that O’Neil Street might become a cut-through street.”

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at:

Twitter: KelleyBouchard

]]> 0 Portland's current public works site on O'Neil Street, showing dump trucks, garage facilities, sand piles and the salt shed.Sun, 25 Jun 2017 20:33:55 +0000
Westbrook could turn intersections into art Mon, 26 Jun 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Asphalt could soon become a canvas in Westbrook.

At the prompting of local residents, the city is considering a neighborhood project to paint designs in intersections. These street paintings already exist across the country in Oregon, Colorado and Minnesota. Proponents say they build a connection between neighbors and they calm traffic on busy roads.

“It’s a tactic for building stronger neighborhoods through a creative investment in their place,” Westbrook resident Michael Shaughnessy said.

Shaughnessy, an art professor at the University of Southern Maine, saw street paintings while traveling to other cities and brought the idea home. The Westbrook City Council discussed the idea at its June 19 meeting and referred it to city administration for further study.

Councilors expressed general support for the artwork but had concerns about how the painting would affect traffic in a busy intersection.

“I am in favor of this, but there’s too many questions for me,” Ward 2 Councilor Victor Chau said. “There’s a lot of concerns. There’s liability, there’s accidents, there’s friction. I’d like to know exactly how the other cities get through this. I want to see this done, but not at this moment and not until we get all these questions answered.”

In cities like Portland, Oregon, residents came together to design and create paintings on the pavement of local intersections. Unique to each neighborhood, the images range from nature scenes to a dragon to geometric patterns.

“The artwork is almost secondary to the nature of bringing people together,” Shaughnessy said.

Westbrook officials liked the concept, but they also had concerns.

In a memo to the council, police Capt. Steve Goldberg said paint on a roadway could be a violation of federal law. Eric Dudley, director of engineering and public services, said he had concerns about artwork interfering with the required road markings for crosswalks and stop signs. They also worried the painting would be a distraction or would affect the traction in the intersection, making the city liable in the event of an accident.

The councilors wanted to know more about how other cities handle those concerns and how the artwork could calm traffic. Shaughnessy had suggested painting the intersection of Brown and North streets, a busy junction in the Frenchtown neighborhood, but they wanted to consider quieter side streets as well.

They also wondered how winter road maintenance would affect the paint and who would maintain the artwork. Shaughnessy said the paint for these projects is relatively inexpensive and could be paid for by private fundraising, and he did not anticipate the city would pay for any of those costs. It would be up to the neighborhoods to maintain their street paintings, he suggested.

“Safety is my No. 1 concern,” Ward 3 Councilor Anna Turcotte said.

In Denver, one of the communities where street paintings have been allowed, the city website outlines design and location requirements. For example, a 2-foot buffer must separate artwork and crosswalk markings. Community organizations must apply to create their paintings and use particular materials on the road to prevent slipping.

City Administrator Jerre Bryant suggested guidelines or a new ordinance could create a protocol for these paintings in Westbrook as well. He tasked Assistant City Administrator John Wipfler with researching the idea and returning to the City Council with his findings. Two Westbrook residents also spoke in support of the idea, saying it would be a way to bring their communities together. Shaughnessy said he felt the meeting was a step toward seeing the paintings take shape.

“There’s a lot of good questions there,” Shaughnessy said. “They all seem to like the idea.”

Megan Doyle can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

Twitter: megan_e_doyle

]]> 0 paintings like this one in Portland, Ore., can unite communities and calm traffic, says Michael Shaughnessy of Westbrook.Sun, 25 Jun 2017 19:11:35 +0000
Reunions Mon, 26 Jun 2017 08:00:00 +0000 HIGH SCHOOL

Deering High School Class of 1967 50th reunion. 5 to 10 p.m. July 29. DiMillo’s Restaurant, Portland. A tailgate behind Deering High School, including a tour, goes from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 30. Contact Mark Aranson at 838-3169 or

Lewiston High School Class of 1977 40th reunion. Featuring a mixer Sept. 8, dinner and dancing Sept. 9 and a farewell brunch Sept. 10. A golf event is also being considered. The reunion committee invites Class of 1977 alumni to fill out a profile so they can be reached with details of the reunion. Fill out a profile at Contact Susan Fales Daniels at 703-587-4154 or

Portland High School Class of 1957 Reunion. 4 p.m. July 26. Boathouse at Springpoint Marina, South Portland. Featuring an Italian buffet. $15. Register by July 8 by emailing Joanne at

Portland High School Class of 1965 birthday celebration for classmates in their 70s. 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 29. DiMillo’s Restaurant, Portland. Featuring a luncheon buffet. $30. Contact Cathy (Banks) Harrington at 887-9791 or Register by July 20.

South Portland High School Class of 1977 40th reunion. 7 p.m. to midnight. July 29. Easy Day on Broadway. Donations appreciated. Contact or

South Portland High School all-class reunion. 5 p.m. Aug. 5. Maine Military Museum, 50 Peary Terrace, South Portland. $10 includes pizza and snacks. Call Lee Humiston at 650-8651.


Knox County Kallochs 150th annual. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 19 at the Rockland Elks Hall, 210 Rankin St., Rockland. Presentations will include “Kalloch Mariners” by Capt. James Kalloch, and the Skoglund brothers of St. George will speak. There will be a history table for tracing the family tree, games and activities for children, and a catered lunch. For information or a registration form, call Paul Wilson at 949-2972 or email

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Briefs Mon, 26 Jun 2017 08:00:00 +0000 OLD ORCHARD BEACH

Exhibit recalls the time when big jazz bands ruled

The Old Orchard Beach Historical Society is bringing back great artifacts of the Big Band Era this summer.

It will exhibit all types of memorabilia from the 1930s to the 1950s, including memorabilia of pop music entertainers from the 1950s throughout the 1970s, in its main exhibit room at the Harmon Museum, 4 Portland Ave.

The Harmon Museum also will observe a change in hours for the summer.

Effective immediately, the museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.

The museum will be closed July 4. The exhibit runs through Sept. 2.

Admission to the Harmon Museum is free. Donations are welcomed.

For more details, call 934-9319 or email


Hospital social worker earns caregivers award

Critical-care social worker Lois Latour has been honored with the 2017 Maine Hospital Association Caregiver of the Year award, recently presented at the association’s summer forum.

“Over the course of more than 20 years at Eastern Maine Medical Center, Lois has selflessly devoted her time and effort to working tirelessly to meet the needs of patients and their families while they are in the hospital’s care,” said hospital CEO Deborah Carey Johnson, who submitted Latour’s nomination.

“When she is with a family in crisis, their needs are her priority. By going out of her way to help families take care of life’s heartbreaking details, Lois demonstrates her commitment to our mission to care for patients, families, communities and one another.”


Patient’s daughter helps honor attending nurse

Christina Tapley, a nurse on Southern Maine Health Care’s third-floor medical surgical unit, has been honored with the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses. Tapley was nominated by the daughter of a patient for “her compassion” and “remarkable nursing care.”

The award is part of the DAISY Foundation’s program recognizing the efforts made by nurses every day.

The DAISY Foundation was established by family members in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, who died at 33 from complications of a little- known, but not uncommon, autoimmune disease.


More than 150 volunteers turn out for Day of Caring

More than 150 community and business volunteers converged at several Waban locations to donate their time and energy for the 22nd United Way Day of Caring.

Organized by the United Way, the event was an opportunity to spruce up the yards at campus residences, as well as to do landscaping, paint houses, install a memorial garden, and rebuild one of the camp buildings by removing a wall, renovating and adding a deck.

Learn more about Waban at and United Way of York County at


School district applauds staff members for service

The Wells-Ogunquit Community School District recently honored 12 retiring staff members and six others who are celebrating 20 years of service to the district. All were honored in a “Service to Education Celebration” held at Wells High School.

After a reception, Superintendent Jim Daly and the district’s three principals – Christopher Roche of Wells Elementary School, Robert Griffin of Wells Junior High School and Eileen Sheehy of Wells High School – recognized the following staff members with comments and gift bags:


Cathy Abbott (22 years of service), Jay Audet (34 years), Sue Cayford (five years), Beth Cilluffo (12 years), Sharon Crippen (12 years), Paula Edmonds (two years), Lil Lagasse (24 years), MaryEllen McEvoy (20 years), Alice Meader (40 years), Gerry Randall (18 years), Arlie VanNatta (13 years) and Bob Winn (34 years).

Twenty years of service:

Martha Brown, Judi Dion, Marcy Dzamba, Marcia Millian, Cheryl Oakes and Clarissa Sweeney.

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Community meals Mon, 26 Jun 2017 08:00:00 +0000 MONDAY

Free community breakfast, including eggs, bacon, pancakes, French toast and pastries, as well as coffee, tea, juice and milk. 6:30 to 9 a.m. Chestnut Street Baptist Church, 29 Chestnut St., Camden. 542-0360.


Summer supper, featuring baked ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls, drinks and homemade gingerbread. 5 p.m. Fairview Grange 342, 826 Village Road, Smithfield. $8, $5 for children under 10. 399-2099.


Free community meal, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 678 Washington Ave. Open to all, in collaboration with Wayside Food Programs.


Haddock chowder and lobster roll luncheon, featuring egg salad and chicken salad sandwiches, potato chips, pickles and fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. North Deering Congregational Church, 1364 Washington Ave. A la carte and combo prices range from $5 to $13. Fresh bread for $2. 797-2487.

Mama Mia’s Pasta & Pizza dinner, featuring meat, vegetable and clam sauces on pasta, with pizza, salad, Italian bread, pies and beverages. 5 to 7 p.m. York County Shelter Programs’ Dining Commons, Shaker Hill Road, Alfred. $10, $5 for ages 3 to 11, free for younger children. 324-8811.


Roast beef supper, including dessert and a drawing for two free meals. 5 p.m. Hiram Community Center, 14 Historical Ridge (Old VFW, off Main Street, Route 117), Hiram. $10, $4 for children. Handicapped-accessible. 625-8074.

Baked bean and casserole supper, with homemade beans, casseroles, coleslaw, homemade pies and beverages. 5 to 6 p.m., American Legion, 15 Lewiston Road, Gray. $8, $4 for children under 12.

Baked bean supper, with two kinds of beans, hot dogs, American chop suey, coleslaw, homemade brown bread and biscuits and pies. 4 to 6 p.m. Scarborough Free Baptist Church, 55 Mussey Road, Scarborough. $8, $4 for children.

Roast pork supper, including mashed potatoes, vegetables, baked beans, gravy, dinner rolls, applesauce, punch, coffee, tea and pies. 4:30 p.m. Freedom Congregational Church, 45 Pleasant St., Freedom. $8, $3 for children 5 to 12, free for younger children. 437-9263.

Baked bean and casserole supper, with salads and pies. 5:30 p.m. Smithfield Baptist Church, 25 Lakeview Drive, Smithfield. $6, $3 for children.

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Births Mon, 26 Jun 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Mid Coast Hospital

Julian Rubert Archibald Myall, born June 7 to Margaret Katherine (Purnell) Myall and James Myall of Topsham. Grandparents are Phyllis Hill of Bath; Peter Myall of New Canaan, Connecticut; and Julia Liberty of Galway, Ireland. Great-grandparents are James and Brenda Liberty of Benfleet, England.

Garrett Andrew Bonang, born June 9 to Melissa Rae (Soule) Streevey and Stephen Allan Bonang of Wiscasset. Grandparents are Phyllis and Robert Soule and MaryBeth and Allan Bonang, all of Wiscasset. Great-grandparents are Alden and Emelda Bonang of Topsham, Stephen and Carolyn Pitcher of Bremen, and Dorothy Wroble of Indiana.

Southern Maine Health Care

Xander Henri Gonneville, born June 7 to Joey and Sarah (St. Onge) Gonneville of Biddeford. Grandparents are Michael and Ann-Marie St. Onge and Andre and Judy Gonneville, all of Biddeford.

Zavier Thomas-Alan Kimball, born June 8 to Aaron Kimball and Brooke Riddle of Biddeford. Grandparents are Tammy Riddle of Sanford and Paul Gregoire, Debra Griffiths and Roger Kimball, all of Biddeford.

Sierra Renee Belanger, born June 12 to Joseph and Tasha (Pierce) Belanger of Waterboro. Grandparents are Gail Pierce and Rey and April Belanger, all of Waterboro.

Jayde Cary Cormier, born June 12 to Tylor and Kristin (Fecteau) Cormier of North Waterboro. Grandparents are Gary and Patty Fecteau of North Waterboro, Ed and Tammy Dube of Alfred, and Dennis and Delores Cormier of Waterboro.

Gabriella Jennie Gilbert, born June 12 to Jose Gilbert and Casse Keaton of Biddeford. Grandparents are Suzette Lee Belyea and Clarence Wayne Keaton, both of Houlton, and Reggie Gilbert and Aurora Cantara of Biddeford.

Julius Jeffrey-James Davis, born June 13 to Jeffrey Davis and Kerry Burgess of Old Orchard Beach. Grandparents are Norma Adorno of Biddeford; Rolando Adorno of South Carolina; Charlene Davidson of St. Cloud, Florida; and Jeffrey Davis Sr. of Waterboro.

Zuko Glazier Murphy, born June 14 to Joseph and Kristen (Webber) Murphy of Sanford. Grandparents are Robert and Heidi Glazier of Hiarm, Thomas Tripp III of Bernard and Tanya Shaw of Sanford.

Dominic Anthony Massaro, born June 14 to Daniel Massaro and Elizabeth Winter of Kennebunk. Grandparents are Mark and Kathleen Winter of Canton, Connecticut, and Richard and Tracy Massaro of Hamden, Connecticut.

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Events Mon, 26 Jun 2017 08:00:00 +0000 KENNEBUNK

Museum offers garden event, tour of collections

The Brick Store Museum is hosting events this week, all at the museum at 117 Main St. unless otherwise noted.

On Saturday, the community is invited to Vintage Day at the Museum, with a “Make Your Own Victory Garden,” both from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Enjoy a “Night at Our Museum” from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday that celebrates the facility’s birthday, with behind-the-scenes tours of its collections, and music, snacks and activities under the stars. $6, free for children under 16.

For more details, visit or call 985-4802.

The museum’s annual members meeting will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm, 342 Laudholm Farm Road, Wells. Members are invited to enjoy the Wells Reserve at Laudholm with a cocktail hour and updates from the museum.


Butterfly expert to lead insect-themed nature walk

As part of the Coastal Mountains Nature Program series, an early-summer nature walk will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon.

Led by Roger Rittmaster, author of “Butterflies Up Close: A Guide to Butterfly Photography,” the walk will be an exploration of early-summer insects inhabiting the wetlands and fields of the Camden Snow Bowl ski area. Early July is the peak of butterfly diversity in midcoast Maine.

Meet in the Camden Snow Bowl parking lot, with water and sensible shoes.

For more details, contact Polly Jones at 236-7091 or at


Historical society hosts 42nd strawberry festival

The 42nd annual New Gloucester Historical Society strawberry festival will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Congregational Church Vestry, 19 Gloucester Hill Road, just off Route 231.

The event will include fresh strawberries, homemade biscuits, Hodgman’s Frozen Custard, live music from the Berry Berry Good Band, and sales of baked goods.

For more details, call Leonard L. Brooks at 926-3188.

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Letter to the editor: Ranked-choice voting is a double-edged sword Mon, 26 Jun 2017 08:00:00 +0000 While technically a majority, 51 percent, were in favor of the staggered voting referendum, it is not a resounding excitement, as you make it appear.

Your June 8 editorial (“Our View: Ranked-choice voters should not be forgotten“) uses mostly demagoguery in hyping the referendum as a rout. But what is glaringly absent from the editorial is the reason why the concept is virtually equally not accepted is that we don’t want second choice: We want who we want, or no one. Most sports fans won’t watch the playoffs if their team doesn’t get in; at least less inspired to do so if they do watch an alternate match.

The Portland Press Herald does a disservice to readers by leaving out or masking that ranked-choice voting installs the same either-gruel-or-porridge party and gerrymandering’s answer to Paul LePage and Donald Trump. Meanwhile, the Press Herald’s endorsement of the “fix” gladly accepts corporate advertisement money. But ranked-choice voting is a double-edged sword.

William Capistran


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Letter to the editor: Prom photos didn’t reflect diversity of student body Mon, 26 Jun 2017 08:00:00 +0000 As a 12-year-old King Middle School student who lives in Portland, I was very disappointed that an overwhelming majority of the students featured in the Prom 2017 pictures in the Maine Sunday Telegram’s June 4 print edition (Pages E7-E8) were white, and only two black students were pictured.

In so many ways, the Portland Press Herald represents the diverse community of Portland and southern Maine. Yet when it fails to showcase our community as it is, a diverse place, it reflects poorly upon all of us.

It is especially important at this time in history to present diversity as something positive. Therefore, while I like the idea of devoting a page and a half to prom pictures, if I had to choose whether these pictures in your newspaper presented diversity as positive or negative, I would have to choose negative.

This disappoints me beyond words, and I hope that this mistake will not be repeated by the Portland Press Herald.

Mali O.B. Jones


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Letter to the editor: Senate bill will slash MaineCare funding Mon, 26 Jun 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Mainers need Sen. Susan Collins to save us from the Republican health care legislation that may be voted on in the Senate as soon as this week.

Like the House health care bill, the Senate version will slash funds to Medicaid (known as MaineCare here), resulting in permanent cuts to health care services for seniors, people with disabilities, and mothers and children.

Sen. Collins has always been a friend to senior citizens, so I ask her to consider the bill’s potentially devastating effect on Maine seniors. Like the Republican bill passed by the House in May, the Republican Senate bill would drastically cut Medicaid/MaineCare, which pays for two-thirds of long-term care in Maine, as well as in-home and nursing home care provided to thousands of low-income older Mainers.

Among the hundreds of groups opposing the House-passed version of the Republican plan are the AARP, the Maine Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the Maine Hospital Association, Consumers for Affordable Health Care, Planned Parenthood, the Maine Medical Association, the Maine Women’s Lobby, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association and the National Disability Rights Network.

According to a June 14 analysis by The New York Times, 49 percent of Maine people oppose the Republican plan and only 30 percent support it. Those opposed probably realize that the bill will take away health coverage from thousands in order to pay for a tax cut ($765 billion over 10 years, by some estimates) for the highest-income Americans.

Sen. Collins, please oppose this bill.

Betsy Mahoney

Cumberland Foreside

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Letter to the editor: Planned Parenthood provides vital services Mon, 26 Jun 2017 08:00:00 +0000 I’m writing to express my support for Planned Parenthood, and to ask others in this community to stand up for this important health care provider.

My mom had me when she was 16, and when I became sexually active, I knew I didn’t want that to happen to me. I went to a family planning center – I was also 16 – and the providers were kind, thorough and affordable.

When I moved to Portland at 20, I started going to Planned Parenthood, and I’ve been a patient ever since. Now I’m 27; they have helped me with checkups, birth control, cancer screenings and more. I recently had an issue with my breast. I was worried that it might be cancer, but thankfully, it turned out to be nothing, and Planned Parenthood helped me through that. They listen. They’re compassionate.

Portland needs the services this organization provides. I hope Mainers will urge Sen. Susan Collins to continue to protect Planned Parenthood from those who want to block its funding.

Tiffany Crockett


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Letter to the editor: Our health may depend on Collins’ vote Mon, 26 Jun 2017 08:00:00 +0000 The American Health Care Act passed by the House of Representatives would take health care away from 23 million Americans, including 116,800 Mainers. Sen. Susan Collins must vote “no” on the Senate bill.

As a freelancer, I’ve only been able to afford health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act. Making it completely unaffordable for so many people simply to further line the pockets of the ultra-wealthy would be a despicable act. I’d like to think we as a country are better than that.

We’ve seen that the Senate bill is like the House’s: It will increase out-of-pocket costs, cause premiums to skyrocket, charge older Americans way more, take away coverage for basic benefits such as hospital stays and maternity care, return us to the days of lifetime caps and far more, all while gutting Medicaid.

It’s no secret that the Affordable Care Act has flaws, but Sen. Collins should help fix them instead of taking us backward. Voting “yes” on the Senate health care bill would be a vote directly against me, my family and all Mainers.

Meredith Finn


]]> 0 Sun, 25 Jun 2017 18:06:17 +0000
Another View: Portland’s students, schools set example for sustainability Mon, 26 Jun 2017 08:00:00 +0000 A June 10 Maine Voices column by a Portland Public Schools student on minimizing trash in schools to protect the environment was commendable. Our planet’s future is in the hands of the younger generation, so it is truly heartening to know our students are passionate about sustainability and reducing waste.

The column offers sound advice that school districts would be wise to consider. In the case of the Portland Public Schools, however, I would like to clarify that our district is doing more to reduce trash and recycle than students may realize.

For example, all our elementary and middle schools use washable lunch trays that are reused again and again. With open campuses at our high schools, such lunch trays aren’t practical, but they use recyclable trays.

Also, all our mainland schools, except Presumpscot Elementary School, have cafeteria food-waste separation stations that separate out liquids, recyclables (including pre-packaged food containers), redeemables (if applicable) and compostable materials, which have reduced our trash volume 60 to 70 percent. Presumpscot has been doing a soft waste-separation launch this spring.

Casco Bay High School isn’t the only school with hand dryers – we have some at Deering and Portland high schools, Lincoln Middle School and Riverton. We don’t have many districtwide, but factors associated with their cost (the dryers are about $1,200 each, not including installation), their upkeep and the electrical connection in some of our older buildings make their value over paper towels questionable.

The Portland Public Schools reduces, reuses and recycles to be responsible stewards of the environment, save taxpayers money and set a good example for our students.

We also welcome suggestions on ways we can be more green. If it’s a solution that is feasible for our district and sustainable for the environment, I’d like to hear about it at

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Maine Voices: Priceless benefits would come from single-payer health care system Mon, 26 Jun 2017 08:00:00 +0000 YORK — As a piece of legislation intended to provide affordable, quality health care to the greatest number of Americans, the Affordable Care Act has failed miserably. Twenty million Americans remain uninsured and tens of millions more with insurance have trouble affording their co-pays or deductibles. Half a million Americans with health insurance coverage declare bankruptcy every year as a result of medical expenses.

The ACA has been a disaster for providing affordable coverage, but soon our health care system will be in worse shape. Far worse. The “death spiral” of health care coverage, stimulated by a Republican Party hell-bent on undermining any legislation promoted by Barack Obama, has accelerated.

Both the House and Senate versions of the American Health Care Act attempt to stall that death spiral, but the trade-off they offer is less coverage and a certain increase in pain, suffering and premature death to older Americans as well as those who struggle the most to pay their bills. The beneficiaries of the AHCA through tax cuts and subsidies are the super wealthy, the health insurance industry and Big Pharma.

Only weeks after championing the House version and then celebrating its passage in the Rose Garden, President Trump recognized that what House Speaker Paul Ryan, et al., had crafted was “mean” – a remarkable admission for a man who has a profound aversion for the truth.

The Senate version, crafted in secret by 13 hand-picked older white men, was finally offered up four days ago, giving the other 87 members less than a week to critique, discuss and amend before being asked to pass it. Any reasonable person would agree that this is not only unprecedented but also a dangerous way to legislate.

Though their version in many ways is even more “mean” than the House version, those 13 senators may have managed to make it more palatable by extending time lines and shuffling numbers. So it may well pass.

Regardless of how this plays out, whether we continue with the ACA or get some version of the AHCA, America in general and the poor, the elderly and the middle class in particular, will not do well in regard to having their health care needs met over the next several years.

It’s important to recognize that the United States pays nearly two times more in health care costs than any other industrialized country while having far worse outcomes on most measures of care, and still we leave over 10 percent of our citizens without access to care because of lack of insurance.

Being uninsured means being unable to treat chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, schizophrenia, addictions, Crohn’s disease – and the list goes on and on. Failure to treat these chronic conditions results in pain, suffering, expensive trips to the emergency room and premature death. The financial costs are huge to the taxpayers, but they pale in comparison to the emotional costs paid by individuals and families of those with pre-existing conditions.

Call it what you will, but “single-payer” or “Medicare for all” or “socialized medicine” would guarantee quality health care for every American, and it would provide it for a fraction of the cost we pay for health care today. Why? Because a single-payer system would not be burdened by financially supporting insurance or pharmaceutical industries that take advantage of our campaign finance and lobbying laws and in doing so manage to generate enormous profits through limiting patients’ access to care or life-saving treatment.

Our elected officials, on both sides of the aisle, have become intoxicated by the money poured into their campaigns and have become dependent on that money to get re-elected. Their primary focus is to stay employed, i.e., to get re-elected, and access to quality health care by their constituents can be damned.

We guarantee our children access to a quality education through high school for good reason: It makes for a better society and a more robust economy.

And you would not deprive your neighbors a quick response from the local fire department if their house were on fire. If you did, lives could be destroyed or lost and businesses and communities decimated.

Is it any less cruel or ill-advised to deprive those same neighbors access to health care?

Our country needs an affordable, effective health care system. Plans that are not single-payer, quite simply, are motivated by greed and fueled by ignorance. And they are cruel.

There is no question that the ACA needs to be repealed and replaced. It needs to be replaced with comprehensive, universal coverage that is affordable and compassionate. Single-payer.


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Our View: Best call would be no phoning while driving Mon, 26 Jun 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Barring motorists from using hand-held cellphones is a step forward toward the goal of reducing distracted driving, but Maine’s roads won’t become much safer until policymakers and drivers alike are willing to acknowledge that any phone use behind the wheel is a clear and present danger.

Approved last Tuesday by the Legislature, the handheld-device ban, which would widen the prohibition on texting while driving that Gov. LePage signed into law in 2011, soon will be headed to the governor’s desk. First-time offenders would be fined $75; a $150 fine would be imposed for the second offense within three years. L.D. 1089, sponsored by state Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, also has provisions that could lead to license suspension for repeat offenders.

Legislators have debated and rejected versions of this bill before. What made the difference this time? We can’t say for sure, but it couldn’t have hurt that law enforcement officials came out in favor of the proposal – and for good reason. Distracted driving causes 14,400 accidents in Maine each year, accounting for about 40 percent of all crashes in the state, according to Maj. Chris Grotton of the Maine State Police. Across the country, over 3,000 people a year lose their lives to distracted drivers.

That L.D. 1089 got the approval of both the Maine House and Maine Senate represents progress. But the law doesn’t go far enough.

The truth is that hands-free devices are just as distracting as hand-held ones, according to a 2008 AAA Foundation review of dozens of traffic-safety studies. Drilling down further, researchers at England’s University of Sussex reported last year that any phone conversation, whether it’s on a hand-held device or a hands-free one, causes the driver to mentally picture what they’re discussing, which draws on the part of the brain that’s normally used to watch the road.

Many states, including Maine, ban all cellphone use by novice drivers, but no state bans all cellphone use by all drivers. That would trigger enormous pushback: Technology has turned our vehicles into our offices, and when we’re on the road, employers expect us to use our devices to keep working during what used to be downtime.

A blanket ban on phone use while driving is the way to go, but no such regulation stands a chance without a shift in everyone’s expectation of how many things they are capable of doing at one time. Until then, drivers will continue to face an unworkable choice between keeping up with their to-do list and keeping themselves – and everyone else on the road – free from harm.

]]> 0 motorist drives down Temple Street in Portland with one hand on the wheel and one hand on the phone. Researchers have found that hands-free devices are just as great a distraction for drivers as hand-held ones.Sun, 25 Jun 2017 18:39:07 +0000
Local baseball roundup: Sullivan lifts Cape Elizabeth to victory Mon, 26 Jun 2017 03:29:36 +0000 CAPE ELIZABETH — Carson Sullivan struck out eight and allowed three hits to lift Cape Elizabeth to a 5-1 win over Biddeford in a Junior Legion baseball game Sunday.

Alex Bozek drove home Zack Fitts with the go-ahead run as Cape Elizabeth (3-1) broke a 1-1 tie with four runs in the bottom of the fifth.

Biddeford is now 0-3.

CHEBEAGUE ISLAND BOATYARD SWEEPS BANGOR: Luke Waeldner lined a two-run single as Cheabeague Island (7-0) overcame a 4-2 deficit with eight runs in the fourth inning to win the second game of a doubleheader with Bangor (0-6) 10-5 in Yarmouth.

Chebeague Island had three-run sixth inning to win the first game, 8-5.

Toby Burgmaier and Ben Norton powered the inning with consecutive RBI singles.


AERO HEATING & VENTILATION 8, ON TARGET 1: Nate Cyr singled home a run in a four-run fifth inning, then added a two-run homer run in the ninth to lift Aero (5-4) past On Target (3-5) in Cumberland.


OLD ORCHARD BEACH 10, PUERTO RICO 3: Branden Henriquez allowed one run through six innings as the Surge (2-1) beat Puerto Rico (1-2) in Old Orchard Beach.

Parker Franklin had a two-run single for OOB, while Mike Davis, Doug Matas, Jake Simpson and Tony Bakeris added doubles.

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Major League notebook: Yankees outfielder Hicks headed to DL Mon, 26 Jun 2017 03:20:49 +0000 NEW YORK — New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks will go on the disabled list after injuring his ribcage on the right side during a check swing in the first inning of New York’s 7-6 loss to Texas on Sunday.

Hicks was removed from the game before the fifth inning.

“They said the process is about three to four weeks,” Hicks said. “I’ll do my best to get it done before that.”

Manager Joe Girardi said the Yankees might activate outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury from the DL on Monday.

Ellsbury has been out since May 24 with a concussion but played his second minor league rehab game with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday.

New York was also without second baseman Starlin Castro, who got a shot in his wrist Saturday. Girardi said the wrist has bothered Castro for six weeks, but added that it’s “not a serious injury.”

“We said, let’s get (the shot) because you’ll get more than 24 hours (rest) in a sense, going from a day game to a night game,” Girardi said.

MARLINS: Manager Don Mattingly made out Miami’s lineup unaware he was making Ichiro Suzuki the oldest player to start a game in center field since at least 1900.

“He doesn’t play like that,” said Mattingly.

When the 43-year-old Suzuki started in Sunday’s 4-2 win over the Chicago Cubs, he surpassed the record held by Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson, who was a month younger when he started in center in 2002 for the Boston Red Sox.

Tim Tebow has been promoted to the New York Mets’ high Class A affiliate in St. Lucie, Florida. Tebow entered his final Fireflies game batting .222 with three home runs and 23 RBI.

Orioles: Zach Britton (left forearm strain) pitched a scoreless inning Saturday for Class-A Delmarva and will make his fourth rehab appearance Monday at Double-A Bowie. The closer could return July 5.

MILWAUKEE: The Brewers claimed catcher Stephen Vogt off waivers from Oakland. The 32-year-old Vogt, an All-Star in 2015 and 2016, was hitting .217 when he was designated for assignment by the A’s on Thursday.

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Major League roundup: Dodgers stretch streak to 10 Mon, 26 Jun 2017 03:04:47 +0000 LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Dodgers found a new way to extend their winning streak to 10 games, scoring five runs on four wild pitches to go along with two more homers from rookie sensation Cody Bellinger in rallying past the Colorado Rockies 12-6 Sunday.

The Dodgers’ string is their longest since they won 10 straight in August 2013. Colorado lost its season-worst fifth in a row.

Rockies reliever Adam Ottavino (1-2) threw four wild pitches in the late innings, all of them scoring at least one run.

Kenley Jansen got five outs for his 17th save, and hit an RBI double for the Dodgers’ final run. Jansen also walked his first batter of the season after striking out 51.

REDS 6, NATIONALS 2: Scooter Gennett homered and had four hits, and Cincinnati scored five times in the first inning on its way to a win over Washington.

The Reds won for just the second time in 15 games. Gennett’s four hits were his most since he got five while becoming the 17th major league player homer four times in a game on June 6.

BREWERS 7, BRAVES 0: Travis Shaw became the first player to reach SunTrust Park’s right-field roof, belting a two-run homer that helped Milwaukee beat Julio Teheran in Atlanta.

MARLINS 4, CUBS 2: Chicago wasted a fine pitching performance by Mike Montgomery, stranding 11 runners and allowing three unearned runs while losing in Miami.

DIAMONDBACKS 2, PHILLIES 1: Daniel Descalso lined a run-scoring single in the 11th inning and Arizona extended the best start in franchise history with a win over Philadelphia in Phoenix.

METS 8, GIANTS 2: Rene Rivera homered twice, Rafael Montero pitched into the sixth inning in a spot start and visiting New York swept sliding San Francisco.


BLUE JAYS 8, ROYALS 2: Closer Roberto Osuna struck out three in a scoreless ninth inning a day after saying he was dealing with anxiety issues, and Toronto avoided a sweep by winning in Kansas City, Missouri.

Jose Bautista homered and drove in a season-high four runs and Francisco Liriano earned his 100th career victory.

On Saturday, Osuna said he was out of sorts mentally and feeling anxious.

RANGERS 7, YANKEES 6: Adrian Beltre, Shin-Soo Choo and Drew Robinson each homered off Michael Pineda to build a seven-run lead, and Texas held on in New York.

TWINS 4, INDIANS 0: Ervin Santana struck out seven in six innings, Jason Castro drove in three runs and Minnesota finished a sweep on the road, beating Cleveland to move back into first place in the AL Central.

ORIOLES 8, RAYS 5: Joey Rickard hit a tiebreaking double in the ninth inning and Baltimore, boosted by three home runs, won in St. Petersburg, Florida.

ATHLETICS 5, WHITE SOX 3: Sonny Gray allowed four hits in seven innings, Adam Rosales and Matt Joyce hit back-to-back homers in the ninth, and Oakland rallied to win in Chicago.

ASTROS 8, MARINERS 2: George Springer, Yuli Gurriel and Evan Gattis hit long home runs and Houston Astros wrapped up a 6-1 roadtrip with a win in Seattle.


TIGERS 6, PADRES 5: Mikie Mahtook drove in three runs including a tiebreaking two-run single in the ninth inning to help Detroit snap an eight-game losing streak with a win in San Diego.

]]> 0 Bellinger watches his two-run home run in the third inning Sunday against Colorado. Bellinger homered twice and the Dodgers won 12-6.Sun, 25 Jun 2017 23:18:48 +0000
SEC rivals to meet in CWS finals Mon, 26 Jun 2017 03:04:23 +0000 OMAHA, Neb. — The matchup for the College World Series finals certainly bolsters the case for those who say the best college baseball is played in the Southeastern Conference.

To get to the best-of-three finals starting Monday night, LSU (52-18) beat an Oregon State team that had the highest winning percentage of any program in four decades – twice in two days. Florida (50-19) became the fourth team in CWS history to shut out an opponent twice with a pair of 3-0 wins over TCU wrapped around a 9-2 loss to the Horned Frogs.

So here they are, the teams that shared the SEC regular-season championship playing for the national title.

“I think this is how it had to be,” LSU shortstop Kramer Robertson said. “If you want to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. I think both teams are happy with who is in the finals.”

With eight players taken in the first 10 rounds of last year’s Major League Baseball draft, the 2016 Gators were the season-long favorites to break through with a championship. They went 0-2 in Omaha.

This year’s team lacks depth and dynamic offense but has been able to count on dominant pitching and defense. The Gators have played 25 one-run games and have won 18 of them.

“I had a feeling early on, if we stayed healthy, that we had the ingredients to be successful out here,” Gators Coach Kevin O’Sullivan said.

“I thought our starting pitching was going to be as good as anybody’s in the country. We needed to figure out our bullpen, and Michael Byrne has turned out to be outstanding at the end.”

LSU leads the all-time series 61-47-1, but the Gators won two of three at home in March in the only meetings this season.

“If the truth be told, I was rooting for Kevin and the Gators last night,” said LSU Coach Paul Mainieri.

“I just think it’s an awesome thing that these two SEC schools get to play for a national championship. Probably the only person that’s happier than (O’Sullivan and me) is Greg Sankey, the commissioner of the SEC. He’s anxious to get up here and get behind home plate so as not to show any favoritism.”

]]> 0 Sun, 25 Jun 2017 23:20:22 +0000
Sports Digest: Luce storms to victory at Oxford Plains Speedway Mon, 26 Jun 2017 03:03:38 +0000 AUTO RACING

Luce storms to victory at Oxford Plains Speedway

Glen Luce of Turner cruised to victory in the 50-lap Super Late Model feature at Oxford Plains Speedway on Saturday night.

Luce went from last to first in his 12-lap heat race, then dominated the field in the feature.

Alan Tardiff of Lyman finished second, while Wayne Helliwell Jr. of Dover, New Hampshire took third.

Other winners Saturday were: Billy Childs Jr. of Leeds in the Street Stock feature; Cam Childs of Leeds in the Bandits race; Erik Hodgkins of Minot in the Figure 8 race; and Andy Hill of Waterford, Vermont in the North East Classic Lites 20 lap features.

FORMULA ONE: Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo profited from the chaos to win the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku, Azerbaijan, while Sebastian Vettel extended his championship lead over Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton and Vettel were involved in an incident that threatens to sour their good relations.

Hamilton appeared to stop his car right in front of Vettel, causing Vettel to crash into him.

An irate Vettel then accelerated alongside Hamilton and appeared to deliberately swerve back into him.

Vettel was given a 10-second stop-go penalty, but Hamilton lost valuable time changing a loose headrest at the same time that Vettel served his time penalty.


MLS: The San Jose Earthquakes fired coach Dominic Kinnear and assistant John Spencer, naming former player Chris Leitch the replacement head coach.

CONFEDERATIONS CUP: World champion Germany reached the Confederations Cup semifinals with a 3-1 victory over Cameroon, which had a player sent off after confusion with experimental video replays.

Germany was leading through Kerem Demirbay’s 48th-minute strike when Cameroon had Sebastien Siani wrongly sent off, even after a challenge on Emre Can was reviewed by the video assistant referee.

Martin Rodriguez salvaged a draw for Chile against a tenacious Australian side to ensure his team qualified for the Confederations Cup semifinals.


WNBA: Karima Christmas-Kelly scored 24 points and the Dallas Wings beat the Connecticut Sun 96-82 in Arlington, Texas for their fourth win in a row.

Theresa Plaisance added 16 points while Skylar Diggins-Smith had 15 points and nine assists for Dallas (8-8).

 Tayler Hill scored 10 of her 17 points in the decisive second quarter and the Washington Mystics cruised to a 97-63 win over the Chicago Sky in Bridgeview, Illinois.


GERRY WEBBER OPEN: Roger Federer defeated Germany’s Alexander Zverev 6-1, 6-3 to win the tournament in Halle, Germany for a record ninth time.

Playing in his 140th career final, Federer saved the only break point he faced and converted four of his eight opportunities to clinch his 92nd career title in 53 minutes.

AEGON CLASSIC: Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova beat Ashleigh Barty 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in Birmingham, England to win her first title since her playing hand was injured in a knife attack at her home.

Kvitova was playing only her second tournament and seventh match since she was attacked in December.

QUEEN’S: Feliciano Lopez saved a match point as he came from behind to beat Marin Cilic of Croatia and claim the biggest title of his career, in London.

The 35-year-old Spaniard failed to break the serve of fourth-seeded Cilic throughout the grass-court final but fought back to win 4-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (8) in a match lasting around 21/2 hours.

– Staff and news service report

]]> 0 Sun, 25 Jun 2017 23:23:45 +0000
On Baseball: Ortiz’s former platoon partner still plugging away Mon, 26 Jun 2017 03:03:37 +0000 They both labored in the Minnesota Twins minor league system, eventually platooning in the big leagues.

This past weekend, one player was celebrated as one of Boston’s greatest athletes.

The other stood in the third base coach’s box at Hadlock Field, managing the minor league Harrisburg Senators.

David Ortiz, 41, had his number retired at Fenway Park on Friday night. Matt LeCroy, 41, caught highlights of the ceremony after he was done with Harrisburg’s 9-2 loss to the Sea Dogs.

“I saw a little bit of it when I got back to the hotel,” LeCroy said. He delighted in watching his former teammate get recognized.

“Solid guy. Great teammate. Just a good person. Turned out to be a really, really great player. I’m happy for him.”

Both LeCroy and Ortiz served as the Twins designated hitter in 2002, with occasional time at first base. Ortiz, a left-handed hitter, batted .272 with 20 home runs in 125 games; LeCroy, a righty, hit .260 with seven home runs in 63 games.

“He had the talent,” LeCroy said. “You could see it when he played with us. A great hitter. Just didn’t get the opportunity to do it every day. Went to Boston and took advantage of the opportunity. The rest is history.”

When deciding future rosters, the small-market Twins had to hold strictly to its budget. Ortiz was an arbitration-eligible player in 2002 and made $950,000; LeCroy made $200,000.

Ortiz was due to make more in 2003, but the Twins did not tender him a contract. The Red Sox scooped him up for $1.25 million.

“You hate to see a guy like that go,” LeCroy said. “A lot of times in Minnesota, that’s what happened. Guys would make too much money and (the Twins) weren’t willing to pay it.

“Look at the guys who went away, like Torii (Hunter), Johan (Santana), David. It’s just part of it.”

LeCroy said good bye to a teammate and friend. LeCroy was a first-round draft pick out of Clemson in 1997. He soon met Ortiz.

“We became good friends. Our wives became good friends. We watched their daughter during spring training,” he said.

They played together briefly in Triple-A and the majors, especially in 2002. In 2003, it looked like the Twins were choosing LeCroy over Ortiz.

“It wasn’t like they were just giving me the job. Because they didn’t,” LeCroy said.

LeCroy played 107 games in 2003 and hit .287 with 17 home runs. He hit 17 homers again in 2005, then became a free agent and signed with the Nationals. After one season, he returned to the Twins. The following season, he signed with the A’s, but when they offered him a player/coach position in the minors, he opted to play independent ball.

In 2009, the Nationals hired him to manage a Class A team, at the age of 33. He’s been managing since – except for a two-year stint as the Nationals bullpen coach in 2014-15.

The Nationals played at Fenway in 2015.

“We were able to catch up. Same old Ortiz,” LeCroy said. “Just a good dude.”

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

Twitter: ClearTheBases

]]> 0 Senators Manager Matt LeCroy speaks to players during Saturday's game against the Portland Sea Dogs at Hadlock Field. LeCroy is in his second stint as Harrisburg manager after serving as bullpen coach for the Washington Nationals for two seasons.Sun, 25 Jun 2017 23:22:39 +0000
Commentary: Celtics have the pieces to get George Mon, 26 Jun 2017 03:03:35 +0000 BOSTON — The Celtics are still in the hunt for Paul George, and they may be in the best position to get the Indiana star.

Begin with the fact that dealing for a guy with one year left on his contract and who has said through his agent that he will leave the Pacers as a free agent after the 2017-18 season – with all signs pointing to him joining his semi-hometown Lakers – is, at best, a gamble.

But the Celtics have more chips than anyone else and thus are better equipped to play a little poker. Their hope would be that if they could get the All-Star forward here for a season, the quality and togetherness of the team around him and the way the club is supported – something that deeply impressed the Clippers Blake Griffin when he saw the outpouring for Paul Pierce’s last visit as a player to the Garden – would make him want to stay.

But when it comes to dealing first-round draft picks in a package for George, the concept of gambling also comes into play.

Consider this: if you make all the picks, what’s the likelihood they all pan out? The Celtics have had their share of botched first-rounders, though, granted, most of them were of the non-lottery variety.

Surely the Celtics have a chart somewhere that approximates the value of each pick in a given draft and the possibility for a player taken at that position to become a star.

But in the case of George, they would be getting a proven All-Star with leadership qualities who might enjoy playing for a coach like Brad Stevens and with a group of teammates who play with a high level of maturity.

But it will all come down to cost and what Indiana expects in return for a player whose proclamations now and at last February’s trade deadline, when he said he would either play for Indiana or leave for the Lakers, severely cut his value in the marketplace.

Teams backed away a few months ago, but now that George has said he’s leaving Indy, the asking price cannot be as high. Teams know the Pacers have to get something for him before he walks.

While other clubs will be looking for a bargain, the question is not whether the Celtics will overpay for a guy who can leave in a year. The question is by how much, and only Danny Ainge and staff and their value chart know the answer to that.

The funny thing is a deal for George would be easy were it not for collective bargaining rules. While teams can put contingencies on draft picks that are traded, they cannot do the same based on a player’s actions or decisions.

The Celtics would love to be able to put a couple of large conditions on a deal – something along the lines of we’ll give you X if he leaves us at the end of the 2017-18 season, and we’ll give you X plus Y and Z if he stays with the club beyond the year.

For now, however, we’re left to wait and see which team will make the best bet on George. And it looks as though we could be waiting a while.

Pacers head of basketball ops Kevin Pritchard says he’s going to be patient as he looks for the right deal, and the Celtics, even if they can reach an agreement in principle with Indiana, will want to see what they can do in their free agent quest for Gordon Hayward before executing a move for George or anyone else. As the Celtics try to maneuver their salary cap situation, they pretty much have to do things in that order.

Speaking of gambles, it wasn’t the fact that Josh Jackson wouldn’t work out for the Celtics that likely scared them off.

“The kid blew us off in a workout, but I don’t believe Josh Jackson did that,” Ainge said. “I believe there’s people around him that made those decisions. But I really enjoy watching him play, and I really enjoy what he’s about.”

Ainge may have confidence in Jackson’s ability to develop into a shooter, but as a coach from another team put it, there’s a significant risk involved.

“In today’s game, if you can’t shoot, you ruin your team’s offense,” he said. “If the opponent doesn’t really have to worry about you, it changes the spacing on the floor.

“That’s what happened with Kris Dunn and that’s why Minnesota was so willing to trade a guy they’d coveted a year ago.”

Dunn shot 37.7 percent from the floor (28.8 percent on 3-pointers).

When it was pointed out that Marcus Smart was 35.9 and 28.3 percent, respectively, last season, the coach replied, “Yeah, but that guy can be streaky. And if you don’t stay up on him, he’ll get going downhill and wind up at the line or laying the ball down for an easy 2 for someone else.”

By the way, George averaged 23.7 points on 46.1 percent shooting last season. He averaged 28 points in four single-digit losses to Cleveland in the playoffs.

]]> 0 GeorgeSun, 25 Jun 2017 23:23:21 +0000
Erin Andrews marries ex-NHL player Jarret Stoll Mon, 26 Jun 2017 02:53:57 +0000 NEW YORK — Sportscaster Erin Andrews and former NHL player Jarret Stoll have tied the knot.

Publicists for Andrews confirm that the 39-year-old Fox Sports sideline reporter and “Dancing with the Stars” co-host married Stoll on Saturday, his 35th birthday.

People magazine first reported the nuptials. According to the magazine, the wedding was held at sunset in Montana in front of a small group of family and friends.

Andrews wore a gown designed by Carolina Herrera.

The couple, who started dating in 2012, got engaged in December at Disneyland.

The wedding follows a rocky year for Andrews.

In September 2016, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer, months after winning a stalking lawsuit.

She settled with two hotel companies that were found partially to blame for the stalker, who got a hotel room next to hers and posted nude video of her on the internet.

Stoll played in the NHL for 13 years, for Edmonton, Los Angeles, Minnesota and the New York Rangers.

]]> 0 Andrews, a sports broadcaster and "Dancing with the Stars" co-host, married Jarret Stoll over the weekend.Sun, 25 Jun 2017 22:53:57 +0000
Loan of $285 million to Kushner company before election could be scrutinized Mon, 26 Jun 2017 02:52:01 +0000 One month before Election Day, Jared Kushner’s real estate company finalized a $285 million loan as part of a refinancing package for its property near Times Square in Manhattan.

The loan came at a critical moment. Kushner was playing a key role in the presidential campaign of his father-in-law, Donald Trump.

The lender, Deutsche Bank, was negotiating to settle a federal mortgage fraud case and charges from New York state regulators that it aided a possible Russian money-laundering scheme. The cases were settled in December and January.

Now, Kushner’s association with Deutsche Bank is among a number of financial matters that could come under focus as his business activities are reviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is examining Kushner as part of a broader investigation into possible Russian influence in the election.

The October deal illustrates the extent to which Kushner was balancing roles as a top adviser to Trump and a real estate company executive. After the election, Kushner juggled duties for the Trump transition team and his corporation as he prepared to move to the White House.

The Washington Post has reported that investigators are probing Kushner’s separate December meetings with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, and with Russian banker Sergey Gorkov, the head of Vnesheconombank, a state development bank.

The Deutsche Bank loan capped what Kushner Cos. viewed as a triumph: It had purchased four mostly empty retail floors of the former New York Times building in 2015, recruited tenants to fill the space and got the Deutsche Bank loan in a refinancing deal that gave Kushner’s company $74 million more than it paid for the property.

The White House, in response to questions from The Post, said in a statement that Kushner “will recuse from any particular matter involving specific parties in which Deutsche Bank is a party.” Kushner and Deutsche Bank declined to comment.

Deutsche Bank loans to Trump and his family members have come under scrutiny. As Trump’s biggest lender, the bank supplied funds to him when other banks balked at the risk.

Democrats from the House Financial Services Committee wrote on March 10 that they were concerned about the “integrity” of a reported Justice Department investigation into the Russian money-laundering matter “given the president’s ongoing conflicts of interest with Deutsche Bank,” citing “the suspicious ties between President Trump’s inner circle and the Russian government.”

The Justice Department did not respond to a question about whether it is following up on the money-laundering settlement that Deutsche Bank reached with New York regulators in December.

On May 23, the Democratic members asked Deutsche Bank to disclose what it had learned in its internal review about whether Trump may have benefited from the improper Russian money transfers. The bank refused, citing U.S. privacy laws.

The Democratic letter also raised the possibility that the bank had conducted a similar review of Kushner – without mentioning his name – by referring to a review of accounts “held by family members, several of whom serve as official advisers to the president.”

The Deutsche Bank deal was one of the last Kushner orchestrated before joining the White House. It is among the dozens of complex transactions that he was involved with during his decade in the real estate business.

Although Kushner divested some properties in an effort to address potential conflicts, he retains an interest in nearly 90 percent of his real estate properties, including the retail portion of the former New York Times headquarters, and holds personal debts and loan guarantees.

]]> 0 Sun, 25 Jun 2017 22:59:58 +0000
Portland raising parking meter fees this Saturday Mon, 26 Jun 2017 02:12:16 +0000 The city of Portland will increase its hourly fee for parking meters effective this coming weekend.

In a special notice dated June 22, the city tweeted: “Heads up for July 1. New parking rates effective July 1, 2017. As of July 1st parking meters increase from $1 an hour to $1.25 an hour.”

There is no explanation on Twitter or on the city’s website as to why the city decided to boost fees or how the additional revenues will be used.

Under the current metering system 25 cents buys a parker 15 minutes, but that will change under the new parking meter system.

In a response to people with questions about the fee increase, the city replied on Twitter that 15 minutes will now cost 30 cents. New rates are three minutes for the first nickel, two minutes for the second nickel, five minutes for each dime, and 12 minutes for each quarter.

The city gives parkers the option, at most meters, of paying with change or a credit card, though some of the older meters only accept change.

“Be very careful that the extra 25 cents you pay goes to infrastructure and not into wealthy people’s pockets,” Chris Gamarsh tweeted.

“Ugh lame,” Jackie Gonzalez tweeted.

The city’s spokeswoman could not be reached for comment Sunday night.


]]> 0, 26 Jun 2017 06:04:54 +0000
Air bag maker Takata expected to file bankruptcy in Japan, U.S. Mon, 26 Jun 2017 01:18:29 +0000 DETROIT — Drowning in a sea of lawsuits and recall costs, Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. is expected to seek bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the United States early Monday.

Takata was done in by defective air bag inflators that can explode with too much force, spewing out shrapnel. They’re responsible for at least 16 deaths and 180 injuries and have touched off the largest automotive recall in U.S. history. So far 100 million inflators have been recalled worldwide including 69 million in the U.S., affecting 42 million vehicles.

Rival Key Safety Systems, based in suburban Detroit, will buy most of Takata’s assets for $1.6 billion and take over its manufacturing operations to make seat belts, air bags and other automotive safety devices, according to two people briefed on the matter.

Some remnants of Takata will be folded into an entity with a different name to keep manufacturing inflators used as replacement parts in recalls, said the people, who didn’t want to be identified because the bankruptcy terms have not been made public.

The recalls, which are being handled by 19 affected automakers, will continue.

At the end of April, only 22 percent of the 69 million recalled inflators in the U.S. had been replaced under the recalls, leaving almost 54 million on the roads, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website. This means more inflators will likely explode and more people will be hurt in the future, lawyers say.

At least $1 billion from the sale will be used to satisfy Takata’s settlement of criminal charges in the U.S. for concealing problems with the inflators. It was unclear what the rest of money paid by Key will be used for. Key is owned by Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corp. of China.

One of the people briefed on the filings said that Key would get Takata’s assets “free and clear” of past or future liabilities. That makes it unclear whether anyone injured by inflators in the future would have any legal recourse against either company.

Takata’s troubles stem from use of the explosive chemical ammonium nitrate in the inflators to deploy air bags in a crash. The chemical can deteriorate when exposed to hot and humid air and burn too fast, blowing apart a metal canister.

In February, Takata pleaded guilty to fraud and agreed to the $1 billion settlement. Lawyers acknowledged in court that the company would have to be sold to fund the settlement. Automakers would get $850 million in restitution for recall costs and a $25 million fine would be paid to the government. Takata already has paid $125 million into a fund for victims.

Attorneys for those injured by the inflators worry that $125 million won’t be enough to fairly compensate victims, many of whom have serious facial injuries from metal shrapnel. One 26-year-old plaintiff will never be able to smile due to nerve damage, his attorney says.

Takata wouldn’t comment on a bankruptcy filing. As recently as last week it maintained the possibility of keeping the company in operation. A committee set up to explore restructuring has made a recommendation with Key as a suitor, but Takata’s board had not decided on that last week, Takata said in a statement.

Key, which makes inflators, seat belts and crash sensors for the auto industry, would not comment on reports that it would purchase the Takata assets.

The Takata corporate name may not live on after the bankruptcy. The company, founded in 1933, says on its website that its products have kept people safe, and it apologizes for problems caused by the faulty inflators. “We hope the day will come when the word ‘Takata’ becomes synonymous with ‘safety,”‘ the website says.

]]> 0 Sun, 25 Jun 2017 21:18:29 +0000
LGBT pride parades take on new urgency in the Trump era Mon, 26 Jun 2017 00:59:16 +0000 SAN FRANCISCO — Tens of thousands of people waving rainbow flags lined streets for gay pride parades Sunday in coast-to-coast events that took both celebratory and political tones, the latter a reaction to what some see as new threats to gay rights in the Trump era.

In San Francisco, revelers wearing rainbow tutus and boas held signs that read “No Ban, No Wall, Welcome Sisters and Brothers” while they danced to electronic music at a rally outside City Hall.

Frank Reyes said he and his husband decided to march for the first time in many years because they felt a need to stand up for their rights. The couple joined the “resistance contingent,” which led the parade and included representatives from several activist organizations.

Activists have been galled by the Trump administration’s rollback of federal guidance advising school districts to let transgender students use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice. The Republican president also broke from Democratic predecessor Barack Obama’s practice of issuing a proclamation in honor of Pride Month.

At the jam-packed New York City parade, a few attendees wore “Make America Gay Again” hats, while one group walking silently in the parade wore “Black Lives Matter” shirts as they held up signs with a fist and with a rainbow background, a symbol for gay pride.

Others protested potential cuts to health care benefits, declaring that “Health care is an LGBT issue.”

“I think this year is even more politically charged, even though it was always a venue where people used it to express their political perspectives,” said Joannah Jones, 59, of New York with her wife, Carol Phillips.

She said the parade being televised for the first time gives people a wider audience. “Not only to educate people in general on the diversity of the LGBTQ community but also to see how strongly we feel about what’s going on in office.”

In Chicago, 23-year-old Sarah Hecker was attending her first pride parade, another event that attracted wall-to-wall crowds. “I felt like this would be a way to not necessarily rebel, but just my way to show solidarity for marginalized people in trying times,” said Hecker, a marketing consultant who lives in suburban Chicago.

Elected officials also made a stand, among them New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said his state would continue to lead on equality.

Cuomo, a Democrat, on Sunday formally appointed Paul G. Feinman to the New York Court of Appeals.

Feinman is the first openly gay judge to hold the position. But the pride celebrations also faced some resistance from within the LGBT community itself. Some activists feel the events center on gay white men and are unconcerned with issues including economic inequality and policing.

In Minneapolis, organizers of Sunday’s Twin Cities Pride Parade initially asked the police department to limit its participation, with the chairwoman saying the sight of uniformed officers could foster “angst and tension and the feeling of unrest” after a suburban officer’s acquittal this month in the deadly shooting of Philando Castile, a black man, during a traffic stop.

The city’s openly gay police chief called the decision divisive and hurtful to LGBT officers. On Friday, organizers apologized and said the officers were welcome to march.

There were scattered counter-protests and a few disruptions, including a small group in New York urging parade-goers to “repent for their sins.”

]]> 0 York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, center, in the city LGBT pride parade. Also Sunday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo appointed the first openly gay judge to the state Court of Appeals.Sun, 25 Jun 2017 20:59:16 +0000
Israel reneges on pledge to create mixed-gender prayer space at Western Wall Mon, 26 Jun 2017 00:33:44 +0000 JERUSALEM — Israel’s government on Sunday nixed an ambitious plan approved last year to allow mixed-gender religious services at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest prayer site, angering many American Jews, who said they felt insulted and abandoned by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition.

Israel’s holy Jewish sites are managed by ultra-Orthodox Jews, and in keeping with their traditions, the Western Wall plaza is divided according to gender. Women are not permitted to read aloud from the Torah, wear prayer shawls or sing there.

Non-Orthodox streams of Judaism, including the Reform and Conservative denominations that are prevalent in the United States, allow men and women to pray side by side, and female rabbis regularly lead services.

Reform and Conservative Jewish leaders in the United States and Israel have long pressed for an area of the Western Wall where fathers can stand beside daughters and mothers beside sons for prayer and religious services.

A 2016 plan approved by the government to provide such an area was described as a “fair and creative solution” by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“It’s a place that is supposed to unite the Jewish people,” he said at the time.

According to a study by the Pew Research Center published in March 2016, more than half of American Jews identify as either Reform or Conservative, while only about 10 percent observe Orthodox practices.

In Israel, only a small minority are affiliated with those movements.

Sunday’s decision to cancel the new Western Wall arrangement has drawn denunciations from liberal Jews in Israel and the United States. It also appeared to threaten Netanyahu’s fragile coalition, with Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman – head of a faction that represents secular Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union – vowing to fight back.

“It actually causes terrible harm to Jewish unity and to the alliance between the State of Israel and Diaspora Jewry,” Israeli media quoted him as saying.

The prime minister said in a statement that he would seek an alternative solution, appointing senior minister Tzachi Hanegbi to look into the matter.

“The prime minister’s decision came from the realization that over the last year and a half nothing has progressed with this plan, so another solution needs to be found,” Hanegbi said.

Anat Hoffman, chair of Women of the Wall, a feminist group that has been pushing for a solution at the site, described Netanyahu’s decision as “shameful.”

“It’s a terrible day for women in Israel when the prime minister sacrifices their rights while kowtowing to a handful of religious extremists, who want to enforce their religious customs while intentionally violating the rights of the majority of the Jewish world,” she said.

Even though the new prayer space had been approved by the government, the plan stalled because of ultra-Orthodox opposition. In September, Israel’s Reform and Conservative movements, together with Women of the Wall, filed a legal petition to force the government to divide the plaza.

]]> 0 Sun, 25 Jun 2017 20:37:06 +0000
As warming sea devastates coral, Florida Keys economy will suffer Mon, 26 Jun 2017 00:15:29 +0000 PICKLES REEF, Fla. — Twenty feet under water, Nature Conservancy biologist Jennifer Stein swims over to several large corals and pulls several laminated cards from her dive belt.

“Disease,” reads one, as she gestures to a coral that exhibits white splotches. “Recent mortality,” reads another card. Along the miles of coral reef off the Florida Keys, Stein and her fellow divers have found countless examples of this essential form of ocean life facing sickness and death.

The pattern of decay is shaping up as one of the sharpest impacts of climate change in the continental United States – and a direct threat to economic activity in the Keys, a haven for diving, fishing and coastal tourism.

The debate over climate change is often framed as one that pits jobs against the need to protect the planet for future generations. In deciding to exit the Paris climate agreement and roll back domestic environmental regulations, the Trump administration said it was working to protect jobs.

But what is happening here – as the warming of the sea devastates the coral reef – is a stark example of how rising temperatures can threaten existing economies.

The 113-mile-long Overseas Highway between the mainland and Key West – linking islands that themselves emerged from an ancient coral archipelago – is lined with marinas, bait and tackle shops and an abundance of seafood restaurants.

From the visitors who fill dive charters out of Key Largo to the local fishing industry’s catches of spiny lobsters, grouper, snapper and other species, nearly everything in the Florida Keys is tied in some way to the reefs.

Beyond the diving, snorkeling, fishing and sightseeing, virtually every tourist activity will be harmed if the reefs continue to suffer damage.

Cece Roycraft and a partner own the Dive Key West shop, which sells scuba gear and runs boat charters. Their operation depends on a healthy reef system, because divers naturally are not as interested in exploring dead or damaged reefs, which do not attract as many fish and can be covered in algae. It is an economic reality accepted by residents of the Keys but not yet widely recognized by other Americans, she said.

“It’s equal to the Yellowstone Park, OK?” said Roycraft, who worked to help create a federal program that certifies vessels that train their crews in proper coral protection practices, including following proper mooring rules and ensuring that divers do not poke and prod the reefs.

Tourism “is the economic engine of the Florida Keys. There is no other way for people to make money,” Roycraft said.

Three and a half million people visit the Keys each year – nearly 47 for each of the area’s 75,000 full-time residents. Tourism supplies 54 percent of all island jobs and fuels a $2.7 billion economy, according to Monroe County, which includes the Keys and a significant portion of Everglades National Park.

The importance attached to the reef system defies the usual political divides. Here in the Keys, people voted 51 percent to 44 percent in favor of Donald Trump in the presidential election – but they seem to differ from the president in their support for government-funded programs to protect the environment.

In March, amid fears that the administration might try to defund Environmental Protection Agency programs that protect the reef system, Monroe County’s board of commissioners called for sustaining the EPA’s role and declared in a board resolution that “a healthy marine environment is essential and the most important contributor to the economy of the Florida Keys.”

The EPA’s South Florida program, which received $ 1.7 million in federal funds in fiscal 2017, conducts coral surveys, studies of the health of sea grasses and carries out more-general water- quality assessments. Trump’s proposed 2018 federal budget seeks to eliminate the allocation.

In recent years, the islands have spent millions of dollars, including some federal money, to convert to central sewer systems, ending the damaging practice of allowing human waste to seep into the ocean from septic tanks.

But what is coming into focus is that the threats to the reef system cannot be countered locally.

Ecologists describe the 360-mile-long Florida Reef Tract as a global treasure. It is the world’s third-largest barrier reef, although much less famous than Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

But less than 10 percent of the reef system is now covered with living coral. Scientists anticipate that as early as 2020, it could be in line for almost yearly bleaching events, in which heat stresses upend the metabolism of corals, in some cases killing them. The reefs experienced back-to-back major bleaching events in 2014 and 2015.

An influential 2016 study in the journal Scientific Reports found that coral declines were just as likely to occur in remote, pristine reefs, such as the northern sector of the Great Barrier Reef, as they were to occur in non-remote reefs, such as the Florida Reef Tract. That is despite the fact that reefs closer to human communities probably experience a lot more pollution, overfishing and poor water quality.

The researchers suggested that the main reason for a decline of coral was a uniform global cause – warming.

“It’s not only me feeling compassion for the actual coral, but for the entire ecosystem and how that’s going to affect it in the years to come, unforeseen things that we just don’t know are going to happen,” Stein said after the dive. “It’s frustrating and sad at the same time.”

In the Keys, longtime residents say there’s just no parallel between the reef of today – which still impresses inexperienced tourist divers – and what locals saw decades ago.

Mimi Stafford is a Key West-based master of all trades – commercial fishing, massage therapy, marine biology – who has lived here for decades. Over that time, the ocean has swallowed 25 feet of beach in front of her home, where iguanas thrash through the mangroves and military jets blast by regularly from nearby Naval Air Station Key West.

“When I was a child in the ’60s, the water was so clear I used to think of it as being Coke bottle blue,” said Stafford, citing the colored glass some Coke bottlers used. “And the reef was so healthy, all the coral was very alive. I don’t recall even thinking about bleaching or coral death or coral diseases back then.”

For most, those worries didn’t arrive until the late 1990s.

The threat of climate change to coral reefs first garnered major attention during the strong El Niño event of 1997-98, which triggered widespread bleaching and coral death around the world. The topic has become even more urgent amid an even-worse global bleaching event that began in 2014 and may be winding down only now.

The unrelenting ocean heat in 2014 and 2015 caused many of Florida’s corals to turn white and lose key metabolic functions from heat stress.

The heat episodes in 1997-98 and in more recent years “have been the worst events on record for bleaching events and have had devastating effects and losses of coral cover,” said Rob Ruzicka, who heads the coral research program at Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.

Florida enjoyed a respite last year, but the reef system still suffered from a protracted outbreak of deadly diseases that often follow bleaching.

“This is different in that the extent and number of species of corals that have been affected have been dramatic,” said Esther Peters, a coral reef ecologist at George Mason University in Virginia. Twenty-one coral species in the Florida Reef Tract are suffering from multiple diseases, according to reef surveys by the Nature Conservancy. Seven of those species are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, among them staghorn and elkhorn corals.

A 2017 study led by the Nature Conservancy’s senior marine scientist, Mark Spalding, estimated that coral reefs are worth $36 billion annually to tourism industries in key tropical coastal regions such as Florida and Hawaii, the Queensland coast in Australia and the coast of Kenya on the Indian Ocean.

Research from the World Resources Institute has found that 94 countries rely on reefs for tourism and that in 23 of them, tourism related to reefs provides more than 15 percent of gross domestic product.

Back in the Keys, scientists are trying radical new approaches to restoring the reefs.

Twenty feet under water at Pickles Reef, the Coral Restoration Foundation, based in Key Largo, has implanted endangered staghorn corals across the reef.

The implants, raised in undersea nurseries, are small but are growing steadily.

“A little piece the size of your pinkie can grow to be a piece the size of the diameter of a grapefruit in just six months on one of those trees,” said Kayla Ripple, the foundation’s science program manager, referring to the submerged PVC frames from which coral fragments are suspended to grow. “And after six months, we can take them to the reef.”

The question now is whether these reefs will stand up to climate change – and whether experimental solutions such as the restoration approach or global strategies such as the Paris climate agreement can make enough of a dent in time.

“My children saw it right before it really started to decline,” said Mimi Stafford. “But you know, I don’t think their children will unless we can do something.”

]]> 0 waters and disease are killing coral.Sun, 25 Jun 2017 20:29:45 +0000
Two catch teen falling from amusement park ride in New York Mon, 26 Jun 2017 00:02:06 +0000 NEW YORK — Matthew Howard Sr. was just leaving a New York amusement park Saturday evening with his family when he heard someone screaming for help.

He looked up to see a young girl dangling about 25 feet off the ground from a slow-moving gondola ride.

Her little brother sat next to her in the green two-person pod, crying hysterically, saying he couldn’t hold on.

Howard, 47, and his 21-year-old daughter, Leeann Winchell, positioned themselves under the girl as the ride stopped and security came running.

A crowd of onlookers gathered, many filming, others calling for help.

“I said: ‘It’s ‘OK! It’s OK to let go, I’ll catch you, honey,’ ” said Howard.

The girl lost her grip and fell down where Howard and Winchell, arms outstretched, waited with a few other good Samaritans.

The two took the brunt of the girl’s fall, tumbling to the ground themselves after the catch. They and others carried to her to where emergency workers later arrived to help her.

Howard, a contractor from Schenectady, was treated and released for a minor back injury after the rescue.

“I couldn’t let that little girl die,” Howard said Sunday. “No one wants to put himself underneath a body like that, but I couldn’t stand by and watch.”

The 14-year-old girl from Greenwood, Delaware, was taken to Albany Medical Center in stable condition with no serious injuries, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office said.

Winchell, who is applying to be a nurse, said they visited the girl Sunday at the hospital and she was in good spirits.

Her little brother was shaken up but uninjured otherwise, she said.

They didn’t know how she’d fallen out of the ride.

“I’m just glad we could be there to help,” Winchell said. “We were in the right place at the right time.”

The accident happened on the Sky Ride at Six Flags Great Escape Amusement Park, about 55 miles north of Albany, New York.

The ride was stopped by an operator who got word of a rider in distress – it had been higher up at one point.

The scene was caught on video by Loren Lent, from Glenville. He said Sunday that his 10-year-old daughter and wife had also been on the ride and watched from high above as the girl fell.

“My daughter was just traumatized,” he said. “She was crying for about a half-hour after.”

Lent said he thought it took too long for park employees to stop the ride and render aid. He said the ride has no seatbelt, and just a bar across to hold patrons inside.

“I’ll never let my family on that ride again,” he said.

Officials inspected the ride and said it was in proper working order. The park said in a statement that the safety of guests is a top priority.

“There does not appear to be any malfunction of the ride, but we have closed the attraction until a thorough review can be completed,” a park official said.

On Sunday, park officials said the ride had been cleared for operation, but would remain closed.

“We are reviewing our internal procedures to ensure the safety and security of our guests and team members,” park officials said.

]]> 0 14-year-old girl drops toward people reaching out to catch her at Six Flags Great Escape Amusement Park in Queensbury, N.Y., on Saturday. She suffered no serious injuries.Sun, 25 Jun 2017 20:39:07 +0000
Red Sox notebook: Rodriguez to pitch Thursday for Sea Dogs Sun, 25 Jun 2017 23:33:41 +0000 BOSTON — Eduardo Rodriguez threw 68 pitches in a simulated game Saturday at Fenway Park, an outing that puts him in line to throw 75-80 pitches in a rehab start Thursday for the Portland Sea Dogs. If that rehab assignment goes as expected, he could return to the Boston rotation five days after that.

“He felt like today he could continue on,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said. “He didn’t feel taxed from a physical standpoint. He was able to maintain some arm strength.”

Rodriguez last pitched on June 1, the day he slipped and fell in the bullpen and suffered another subluxation of his right knee. It was the same injury that cost Rodriguez the first two months of the 2016 season after a fall during a spring-training fielding drill. The lefty then pitched to an 8.59 ERA in his first six starts and had to be demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket, struggles he attributed to uncertainty about the stability of his knee.

To alleviate similar uncertainty this time around, the Red Sox have fitted Rodriguez with a knee brace and have put him through agility drills to assure him his knee has healed.

“The fact that he’s had this now multiple times, I think he’s had more experience at it, as crazy as that sounds,” Farrell said. “The fact that it’s happened multiple times, he can tell when he’s gaining that stability and is maybe not as reluctant to be the normal force with his delivery.”

DAVID PRICE was a bit cryptic late about his departure from his start Saturday night. He threw 103 pitches through six innings, a natural point of departure for a pitcher coming back from an injury. But TV cameras caught Price summoning pitching coach Carl Willis into the tunnel behind the dugout after the sixth inning, and Price himself did little to diminish the intrigue.

“There’s a lot of stuff going on right now,” he said. “You don’t want it to linger into the next start or two to three weeks from now.”

Price denied that his departure had anything to do with his elbow or with the blister that has hampered him in recent weeks but declined to go into further detail.

On Sunday, Farrell offered some clarification: Price developed a cracked fingernail on the middle finger of his left hand and left the game so as not to exacerbate it.

He’s still expected to make his next start on Thursday.

]]> 0 Sun, 25 Jun 2017 19:43:44 +0000
Golf roundup: Spieth wins in playoff Sun, 25 Jun 2017 22:58:26 +0000 CROMWELL, Conn. — Jordan Spieth needed an extra hole, a little bit of luck and an amazing final shot to finish off a wire-to-wire victory in the Travelers Championship.

The two-time major champion holed out from 60 feet for birdie from a greenside bunker on the first hole of a playoff with Daniel Berger on Sunday at TPC River Highlands.

Spieth, 23, joined Tiger Woods as the only PGA Tour players since World War II with 10 victories before age 24. Woods won 15 times before he turned 24.

“That was one for the ages,” said Spieth, also the winner at Pebble Beach in February.

Spieth held a one-stroke edge after each of the first three rounds. He closed with an even-par 70 to match Berger at 12-under 268.

Berger, the Memphis winner two weeks ago before missing the cut last week at the U.S. Open, birdied three of the final six holes for a 67 but just missed a 50-foot putt from off the 18th green that would have forced a second playoff hole.

“Jordan does Jordan things,” Berger said. “So there’s not really much you can say. I’m obviously disappointed, but happy to be in the position I was in today.”

Berger hit his drive on the first playoff hole left and into the crowd behind a fairway bunker. Spieth seemed to clip a tree on the left side of the fairway, and the ball landed in the fairway about 150 yards short of his normal drive and 230 yards from the hole.

Spieth’s approach fell into bunker. Berger’s ran off the green to the left.

Spieth had to back up after hitting his bunker shot to see the hole. When the ball rolled straight into the cup, he threw his club and did a flying chest bump into caddie Michael Greller.

“If I was in Berger’s shoes, I’d be cursing Jordan Spieth right now for the break off the tee and then holing a 30-yard bunker shot – that’s a lot of luck,” Spieth said.

Spieth became the third player to go wire-to-wire in the lead at the Connecticut event, joining Gene Littler in 1959 and Tim Morris in 1982. Spieth’s only other wire-to-wire win was the 2015 Masters.

Charley Hoffman (66) and Danny Lee (67) tied for third, three strokes back.

LPGA: So Yeon Ryu became the first two-time winner this season, taking the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in Rogers, Arkansas, with a tournament-record 18-under 195 total.

Five strokes ahead after a course-record 10-under 61 on Saturday, the third-ranked Ryu closed with a 69 for a two-shot victory over fellow South Korean Amy Yang and Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn.

Yang finished with a 64, and Jutanugarn had a 66.

Local favorite Stacy Lewis (69) and Michelle Wie (64) tied for fourth at 13 under.

EUROPEAN TOUR: Andres Romero had seven birdies in his last 11 holes to win the BMW International Open by one stroke in Munich.

The 837th-ranked Romero carded a bogey-free round of 65, the day’s best, to finish at 17-under 271, a shot better than Thomas Detry (66) and overnight leaders Sergio Garcia (69) and Richard Bland (69).

It was Romero’s second European Tour title, 10 years after the Argentine won the Players Championship of Europe.

CHAMPIONS TOUR: Fred Couples rallied to win the American Family Insurance Open in Madison, Wisconsin, for his second title of the year and 13th overall.

Couples, 57, shot a 6-under 66 in cool and windy conditions for a two-shot victory over Scott Verplank. He birdied six of the first 11 holes and finished at 15-under 201.

Verplank shot a 69.

Tournament host Steve Stricker (69) and Joe Durant (67) tied for third at 12 under. Stricker made his first start in his hometown event after turning 50 in February. Paul Broadhurst, two strokes ahead after each of the first two rounds, had a 73 to finish fifth at 11 under.

]]> 0 Sun, 25 Jun 2017 22:00:30 +0000
Forum on lead poisoning set for Tuesday in Augusta Sun, 25 Jun 2017 22:48:52 +0000 A state health official will speak Tuesday in Augusta about the risks of lead poisoning in southern Kennebec County.

The forum discussion is being organized by Healthy Communities of the Capital Area, a health group that is starting a five-year project to raise awareness about the risks of lead poisoning in the Augusta and Gardiner areas.

Lead dust from old paint is the most common way children get lead poisoning, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Augusta recently was deemed a high-risk location for childhood lead poisoning, based on new blood-level standards set by Maine lawmakers in 2015.

Lawmakers approved lowering the standard of lead poisoning from 15 to 5 micrograms per deciliter, the level recommended by federal health authorities.

Under the new standard, an estimated 6.8 percent of children in Augusta had lead poisoning between 2010 and 2014, according to Maine CDC data.

That rate was lower than Lewistion-Auburn’s 8.3 percent, but higher than rates in Portland, Biddeford and Bangor.

Karyn Butts of Maine CDC’s lead poisoning prevention program will speak at 3 p.m. at the Buker Community Center.

]]> 0 comes out of a new faucet at Benton Elementary School. The school had high lead levels when their water was tested and have since replaced many of the faucets and water fountains.Sun, 25 Jun 2017 18:50:17 +0000
Prince Harry admits doubts about his royal service Sun, 25 Jun 2017 22:41:31 +0000 LONDON — Prince Harry says he once “wanted out” of the British royal family.

In an interview published in the Mail on Sunday, the prince said the time he spent in the army was “the best escape I’ve ever had” and that he once considered giving up his title.

He said: “I felt I wanted out, but then decided to stay in and work out a role for myself.”

Harry is fifth in line to the throne.

The comments followed an interview published in Newsweek in which he said he doubted anyone in the royal family wanted to be king or queen. He said his family “will carry out our duties at the right time” and that they’re “not doing this for ourselves, but for the greater good of the people.”

– From news service reports

]]> 0 HARRYSun, 25 Jun 2017 18:53:24 +0000
Harvick ends drought at Sonoma Sun, 25 Jun 2017 22:36:15 +0000 SONOMA, Calif. — Kevin Harvick returned to Victory Lane for the first time this season with a dominating run Sunday on the road course at Sonoma Raceway.

The former NASCAR champion came to Sonoma winless in 20 races since Kansas last fall and has been overshadowed in this season of NASCAR’s young new superstars. But at a track where experience and ability can separate the field, it was Harvick and a bunch of veterans who led the way.

It was the first win on the winding wine country road course in 17 tries for the driver from Bakersfield, California. Sonoma was one of just four active tracks where Harvick had never scored a Cup victory.

“To finally check this one off the list …. being so close to home and having raced here so much, this was one that was on the top of the list,” Harvick said.

Harvick was on cruise control and conserving fuel in this win, which ended under caution after Kasey Kahne had a hard accident on the final lap. Harvick had a cozy 9-second lead over Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Clint Bowyer before the caution.

Bowyer, now the driver for the entry Tony Stewart used for his final NASCAR victory last year at the track, was second and Brad Keselowski third as Ford cars went 1-2-3.

It was the first victory for Stewart-Haas Racing since the team switched to Ford this season. Harvick had spent 16 years in a Chevrolet.

It was Ford’s seventh victory of the season. Ford won eight Cup races last season, and seven came from Team Penske drivers. This year, the manufacturer has wins from Penske, Roush-Fenway Racing, The Wood Brothers and SHR.

“Getting our first win with Ford, this has been a great journey for us as an organization and team,” Harvick said.

Martin Truex Jr. led 25 laps but suffered an engine failure and finished 37th. Truex won the first stage of the race, his series-leading 11th stage victory. Jimmie Johnson won the second stage, his first stage victory of the season, but finished 13th overall.

Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray started on the pole for Chip Ganassi Racing and hoped to give the owner a Sunday sweep after Scott Dixon won the IndyCar race at Road America in Wisconsin. But Larson, the points leader, was never a factor and finished 26th. McMurray was 10th.

Most of the top 10 was comprised of veterans. Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch were fourth and fifth in Toyotas, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the highest-finishing Chevrolet in sixth. Daytona 500 winner Kurt Busch was seventh.

Then came Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney, who along with Larson are part of the newest faces of NASCAR.

Bowyer couldn’t catch his teammate for the win, but his second-place finish was a season best. He was content with that and knows how hard his new SHR team is working.

He also understood that Harvick was eventually going to get a win.

“Let’s face it, you’re not going to keep that team that’s won a championship, won all these races in the last five years, you’re not going to keep them out of winning,” Bowyer said.

Alon Day became the first Israeli driver to start a Cup Series race. He finished 32nd.

]]> 0 Harvick embraces his wife, DeLana, after his road course victory Sunday in Sonoma, Calif.Sun, 25 Jun 2017 19:44:10 +0000
Forest fire in Spain threatens national park Sun, 25 Jun 2017 22:34:04 +0000 BARCELONA, Spain — A forest fire in southern Spain forced the evacuation of at least 1,000 people and threatened a national park famous for its biodiversity and endangered species, authorities said Sunday.

The fire started Saturday night on Spain’s southern coast, then advanced east to reach the Donana Nature Reserve, one of the country’s most important wildlife sanctuaries and a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1994.

“The fire has entered in the limits of the reserve, and that is where we are focusing our efforts,” Jose Gregorio Fiscal Lopez from the regional Andalusian authority in charge of the environment told Spanish national television.

The reserve protects over 264,403 acres considered of extreme ecological value for their mix of ecosystems, including wetlands, dunes and woods. It is a key stop for migratory birds and home to a variety of animals, including about a fifth of the 400 remaining Iberian lynxes.

Ecologists who work in the park are concerned that the fire could wipe out some of the area’s prized species and terrain.

“We are worried because the impact could be huge,” Carlos Molina, an ornithologist who works inside the reserve, said from his home nearby.

“Donana is probably one of the most important areas for birds in all of Europe, and we just happen to be in a nesting season for several species,” Molina said.

While Molina said the reserve’s endangered Iberian imperial eagle should not be threatened, the area in immediate danger from the fire is territory for the extremely endangered lynx.

Juan Sanchez, director of the Andalucia’s forest fire prevention unit, said the fight was “in its critical phase” because of strong winds whipping up the flames.

Susana Diaz, the regional president of Andalusia, said no people have died in the blaze and “there’s no risk to the population” after about 1,000 were evacuated from campsites and houses near the town of Moguer, where the fire started Saturday night.

Diaz said fighting the fire was proving difficult because of hot, dry weather, with temperatures reaching 102 degrees Fahrenheit, and shifting winds. Over 550 firefighters, soldiers and police officers supported by 21 air units were combating the blaze Sunday.

“It’s still very early, but we are not ruling out the human factor” as a possible cause of the fire, Diaz said.

The fire comes a week after wildfires killed 64 people in neighboring Portugal, which like Spain is suffering from a lack of rain and high temperatures.

]]> 0 military police officer watches a forest fire near Mazagon in southern Spain on Sunday. The fire started Saturday night and advanced to one of the nation's key wildlife sanctuaries.Sun, 25 Jun 2017 18:34:04 +0000
Paralyzed Maine girl, 9, settles with clinic for $1.9 million Sun, 25 Jun 2017 22:27:15 +0000 BANGOR — Attorneys for a 9-year-old Maine girl say a federal judge has approved a $1.9 million settlement for their client after she became paralyzed following a visit to a local clinic.

The girl, listed in court documents as “W.P.,” was 6 when her parents took her to Penobscot Community Health Care, in Brewer, with complaints of a distended abdomen. Lawyers say caregivers diagnosed her with constipation.

The girl got sicker and was eventually rushed to a hospital. It turned out she had leukemia, which caused paralysis. She’s now cancer-free and uses a wheelchair.

Attempts to reach Penobscot Community Health Care for comment were unsuccessful. Lawyers for the girl say they’re also hopeful for a settlement with the girl’s former pediatrician, who saw her before she was admitted to the hospital.

]]> 0 Sun, 25 Jun 2017 18:27:15 +0000
Beaches cleared after shark sighted off Wells Sun, 25 Jun 2017 22:22:29 +0000 WELLS — A reported shark sighting has created some excitement.

Wells police Sgt. Adam Shaw said local police cleared swimmers from the water Sunday afternoon as a precaution after the report of a shark near the Wells-Ogunquit town line.

He says swimmers were allowed back in the water at 3:15 p.m. at Wells Beach and Drake’s Island.

Shaw says the initial report came from a paddleboarder who said the shark was as long or longer than his 12-foot board. A second report came from an individual who thought it was a harmless basking shark.

]]> 0 Sun, 25 Jun 2017 18:22:29 +0000
Over 150 dead as overturned fuel truck explodes in Pakistan Sun, 25 Jun 2017 22:18:21 +0000 BAHAWALPUR, Pakistan — Alerted by an announcement over a mosque’s loudspeaker that an overturned tanker truck had sprung a leak, scores of villagers raced to the scene with fuel containers Sunday to gather the oil. Then the wreck exploded, engulfing people in flames as they screamed in terror.

At least 153 men, women and children were killed, with dozens more in critical condition, hospital and rescue officials said.

“I have never seen anything like it in my life. Victims trapped in the fireball. They were screaming for help,” said Abdul Malik, a police officer who was among the first to arrive on the scene of horror in Pakistan’s Punjab province.

When the flames subsided, he said, “we saw bodies everywhere. So many were just skeletons. The people who were alive were in really bad shape.”

About 30 motorcycles that villagers had used to rush to the site of the highway accident lay charred nearby along with cars, witnesses said. Local news channels showed black smoke billowing skyward and army helicopters taking away the injured.

As victims cried out for help, residents wandered through the area, looking for loved ones.

Zulkha Bibi searched for her two sons.

“Someone should tell me about my beloved sons. Where are they? Are they alive or are they no longer in this world? Please tell me,” she pleaded.

Many of the dead were burned beyond recognition, said Dr. Mohammad Baqar, a senior rescue official in the area. They will have to be identified through DNA.

The disaster came on the eve of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. While Saudi Arabia and most other Muslim countries celebrated the holiday Sunday, Pakistanis will mark it Monday.

The fuel truck was traveling from the port city of Karachi to Lahore, the Punjab provincial capital, when the driver lost control and crashed on a highway outside Bahawalpur.

]]> 0 rescue workers examine the site of an oil tanker explosion on a highway near Bahawalpur on Sunday. More than 150 people died when the tanker truck exploded.Sun, 25 Jun 2017 18:31:23 +0000
Concert Review: Student performances transfix, sizzle at Portland Bach Festival Sun, 25 Jun 2017 22:01:46 +0000 The Portland Bach Festival took a break from its namesake on Saturday night, when it presented “Before and After Bach” at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke’s. The program was more or less as its name suggested, although of the six composers whose music was performed, the lifespans of four overlapped with Bach’s, and three were nearly exact contemporaries. The sixth, György Ligeti, who died in 2006, was the only composer who lived significantly later than Bach.

Stylistically, though, a very few years can make a difference. One of the post-Bach composers was one of Bach’s sons, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, who was born in 1714, when Bach was 29. You might expect him to have composed in a style similar to that of his father (and teacher), but there was a clear generation gap, musically. Even in his time, the elder Bach’s style was regarded as fussy and antique, and by the time he died, in 1750, that approach was being supplanted by a sleeker, more direct style that would find its peak in the Classicism of Haydn and Mozart.

C.P.E. Bach was one of the pioneers of this new style, but his Trio Sonata in F major (H.588), composed five years after J.S. Bach’s death, has a foot in both worlds. The elegant flowing lines of the older style remain central here, but in place of the involved counterpoint that would have driven a Baroque trio sonata, C.P.E. gives us trim, stately dialogues.

The top lines of this trio are usually played by contrasting instruments – a bass recorder and a viola, usually – but the festival opted for a variant in which violists play both lines. Nicholas Cords and Danielle Farina more than made up for the lack of timbral variety, not only in passages where the spotlight shifts between the two lines, but in their carefully balanced tandem playing as well.

There was only one pre-Bach offering, the violinist-composer Johann Paul von Westhoff’s Partita No. 5 in D minor for unaccompanied violin. With the solo cello suites played at earlier festival concerts fresh in listeners’ ears, the Westhoff, composed in 1696 (when Bach was 11) demonstrated the tradition on which Bach built his solo string works.

For both composers, the challenge was wresting counterpoint from instruments more typically heard playing single lines, and if Westhoff’s solutions don’t quite approach the level of virtuosity that Bach attained, the Partita is an attractive piece, and violinist Keir GoGwilt did a superb job of projecting its rhythmic variety and thematic inventiveness.

The program included a work from the post-Bach solo string canon as well – Ligeti’s Viola Sonata, a dark, chromatic work, alternately introspective and forceful, and rich in influences of all sorts, including Hungarian folk themes, Baroque dance forms and jazz rhythms. The technically impeccable, interpretively transfixing performance by Jesús Rodolfo, a student in the festival’s new Bach Virtuosi program, was one of the evening’s highlights.

Other Bach Virtuosi players made strong contributions to the program as well. Daniel Yue gave a sizzling account of the solo violin line in Vivaldi’s “Winter” Concerto (Op. 8, No. 4) from “The Four Seasons,” and flutist Laura del Sol Jiménez and violist Sergio Muñoz gave a lively, urbane performance of Joseph Bodin de Boismortier‘s Suite in G minor (Op. 35, No. 3), one of two reminders, in this program, that at the very same time as J.S. Bach was putting the crowning touches on the German Baroque style, and his sons were veering off toward Classicism, French composers were writing light but ear-catching entertainments.

They also wrote weightier pieces, of course, and one of those – the “Troisième Leçon,” from François Couperin‘s “Leçons de ténèbres” – closed the program. The “Leçons,” a setting of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, were composed in 1703 for the week leading to Easter, and in this third section, Jeremiah’s pained verses are given to two sopranos, who sing both separately and in passages in which their lines wind inextricably around each other. Jolle Greenleaf‘s clear, bright timbre and Sherezade Panthaki‘s slightly deeper tone offset each other perfectly, and captured the soul-wrenching power of Jeremiah’s lament over the destruction of Jerusalem with vivid clarity.

Allan Kozinn is a former music critic and culture writer for The New York Times who lives in Portland. He can be contacted at:

Twitter: kozinn

]]> 0 Sun, 25 Jun 2017 18:09:21 +0000
Harris finishes second in 800 at U.S. championships Sun, 25 Jun 2017 21:28:06 +0000 SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Isaiah Harris of Lewiston finished second in the 800 meters at the U.S. track and field championship on Sunday to earn a trip to the world championships.

Harris ran a personal-best time of 1 minute, 44.53 seconds. Donavan Brazier won the race in 1:44.14 and Drew Windle finished third in 1:44.95.

Clayton Murphy, last year’s Olympic bronze medalist, did not start the race because of a sore hamstring from the 1,500 final on Saturday.

Harris, who recently finished his sophomore year at Penn State, qualified for the final by running 1:45.77 in the semifinals on Friday. His previous personal best was 1:45.12.

The world championships take place in London in August.

Matthew Forgues of Boothbay finished fourth in the 20K racewalk with a time of 1:32.30.27.

ARIES MERRITT will be making a return to the world championships, this time, with a working kidney.

The world-record holder finished second behind Aleec Harris in the 110-meter hurdles.

Merritt won bronze at the 2015 world championships in Beijing with his kidneys barely functioning because of a genetic disorder. He received a transplant from his sister less than a week later. Now healthy, he’s ready to see what he can do with worlds being held at the venue where he won an Olympic gold medal during the 2012 London Games.

“I always felt once I was healthy, all it would take is for me to put in the work,” Merritt explained. “That’s something I’ve been lacking. I haven’t been able to put in the work in two years.”

Harris proved uncatchable as he finished in 13.24 seconds. Merritt was 0.07 seconds behind, and former University of Oregon football player Devon Allen took third.

JUST LIKE in the 100, Christian Coleman took the early lead in the 200. And just like in the 100, he was caught at the last moment. Coleman was outleaned at the finish by Ameer Webb, who finished in 20.09 seconds to win by 0.01. Elijah Hall-Thompson was third.

“Racing at this high level, you can never think you have it,” Coleman said. “He got me today.”

Oregon standout Deajah Stevens won the 200 from the outside lane, edging Kimberlyn Duncan and Tori Bowie.

]]> 0 Harris, left, of Lewiston celebrates as he crosses the finish line to take second place in the 800 meters at the U.S. track and field championships on Sunday in Sacramento, California. Donvan Brazier, second from left, won the race in 1:44.14. The top three finishers earn a spot on the U.S. team for the world championships in London in August.Sun, 25 Jun 2017 20:37:48 +0000
Travis Mills hosts grand opening of lakeside retreat for wounded veterans in Rome Sun, 25 Jun 2017 21:23:19 +0000 ROME — Chris Roseberry is a hard man to stop.

Roseberry, an Army veteran, was riding a motorcycle in 2005 when a car came straight at him and he swerved to avoid it. He crashed the bike, breaking his arm and neck and eventually losing the lower part of his right leg.

Stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, at the time, Roseberry, then 28, spent two years in the hospital before resuming service and deploying to Afghanistan from 2009 to 2010, using a prosthetic leg.

Before his accident, Roseberry also served in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq. But in Afghanistan, his injury grew worse when the end of his right leg tore open and wouldn’t heal. He had another 4 inches of the leg removed in 2015, and finally retired as a master sergeant last December.

After all that, Roseberry, 40, will soon get his vacation. He’ll be one of the first wounded veterans to stay at a lakeside retreat in Rome that has been designed with amputees like him in mind, with specially built showers, elevators and other features.

The retreat, which had its grand opening Sunday, is the work of Travis Mills, an Army staff sergeant who lost all four of his limbs after surviving an explosion in Afghanistan. Since then, Mills, a 30-year-old Michigan native, has started a foundation to raise money for wounded veterans and moved to the Augusta area, where his wife, Kelsey, is from.

In its first summer, 56 wounded veterans and their families will stay at the Travis Mills Foundation’s retreat, which includes a handicapped-accessible lodge, lake access, kayaks, bicycles, paddle boards, a movie theater, a children’s play space and other amenities.

The veterans staying there have all lost limbs and served in the Iraq or Afghanistan wars. The mission of the retreat is to provide them with a relaxing place to stay for a week, free of charge and in the company of veterans going through similar recoveries.

After Roseberry spends his week in the lodge, he will continue to volunteer there and reside in a nearby bungalow with his fiancee, Kelly McGaughey, a trained physical therapist who will manage the retreat.

“The best part of healing has been being able to talk to about it,” said Roseberry, who was accompanied by his service dog, Gabby, a black retriever with hints of pit bull. “We can tell people outside the military and they understand it, but when it’s a group of injured people talking to one another, we can really grasp the full reality, and I think that’s a great way to calm one another.”

Soldiers who have lost limbs have a unique connection to each other, Roseberry continued, one that can lead to a particular kind of humor.

“People like me with one below-the-knee amputation, we tend to call ourselves ‘paper cuts,’ ” he said, comparing the extent of his injuries to those Mills suffered.

On Sunday, the sky was bright blue. Long Pond glittered in the distance, as a couple of hundred visitors gathered at the retreat for tours, socializing, appetizers, mimosas and a set of speeches by Mills, Gov. Paul LePage – who said that all veterans and their families are welcome in Maine – and others.

The idea for starting a foundation came to Mills following his own injuries in 2012. The quadruple amputee benefited greatly from the support of his wife, his daughter, Chloe, and other family members, and he also discovered the restorative power of activities like mountain biking, he said in his remarks to visitors on Sunday.

“I know what it was like to have family there to be able to do those things with you,” he said, in between a generous helping of jokes.

Chloe, who is 5, stood on stage with him, and at one point helped demonstrate what her dad called “my trick”: yanking off his hand.

“Now I want to make sure that I can give you a hand,” he told the audience, as his daughter ran off with the prosthetic, grinning mischievously.

Mills founded his organization in 2013, and has made a career in motivational speaking. In 2014, he and Maine’s first lady, Ann LePage, sky-dived together as part of a fundraiser.

To open the retreat, his foundation raised $2.5 million – both cash and in-kind gifts – between 2015 and 2016, said Brandy Cain, who handles the organization’s donor relations.

The property used to belong to Elizabeth Arden, who founded a cosmetics company in her own name, and the organization made significant renovations on the home that was there, with Mills himself suggesting many features geared toward handicapped veterans.

The organization will continue to raise funds, in order to pay back its $1.1 million mortgage, fund the retreat, expand its offerings and build an endowment, Cain said.

The group hopes to eventually create a similar program for Vietnam era veterans, who have been among the warmest supporters of veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Mills said.

About 3.6 percent of soldiers required amputations after their injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a 2011 analysis by the Congressional Budget Office – a rate that’s slightly higher than the estimated 2.6 percent who required amputations in Vietnam.

Some experts believe soldiers in modern wars are more likely to lose their limbs and experience traumatic brain injury because of advances in military technology, like body armor that protects from explosions and gunshots, but leaves the head and limbs exposed, and battlefield medicine that allows recovery from serious wounds.


]]> 0 veteran Travis Mills, a quadruple amputee, stands in the dining room of the new Travis Mills Foundation veterans retreat. The retreat, in Rome, is designed for veterans and their families to connect as part of their healing.Sun, 25 Jun 2017 20:28:45 +0000
Senators rout Sea Dogs Sun, 25 Jun 2017 20:52:14 +0000 The Harrisburg Senators enjoyed a beautiful 78-degree afternoon in Portland on Sunday. Their 15-hit outburst made it all the more pleasurable.

Harrisburg routed the Portland Sea Dogs 11-4 at Hadlock Field.

The highlights for the Sea Dogs included a Michael Chavis home run, Rafael Devers reaching base four times (single and three walks), and Henry Urrutia going 3 for 4 with a double.

Chavis went 2 for 3, including a double. He was the designated hitter, while Devers took his turn at third base.

The Sea Dogs (32-38) recorded 11 hits. They just could not do a lot with them.

“That’s been our season,” Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles said. “I’ve seen us before get 14 hits and score only two runs.

“We just can’t execute when we need to. From my (perspective), we’re trying to do too much in those situations.

“We’re working on it and hopefully things will start clicking soon. We do have a pretty good offense, but our approach hasn’t been the best.”

Harrisburg (32-41) got home runs from Drew Ward and Mario Lisson.

Sea Dogs starter Elih Villanueva (1-3) took the loss, allowing five runs on seven hits and three walks over 31/3 innings. Four Portland pitches issued a total of seven walks.

The Sea Dogs trailed 2-0 after the first inning and could not catch up. Danny Mars led off with a double in the bottom of the first but was stranded at third.

In the second inning, Chavis hit a shallow fly ball to center that dropped in for a hustle double. Urrutia doubled him in.

In the fourth, Chavis led off and hit the first pitch from Taylor Hill (3-1) – a hanging curveball – over the left-field wall. It was his second home run in three games with the Sea Dogs. He is 5 for 11 in Double-A so far.

“This is the first time I’ve had a chance to watch him play,” Febles said. “I’m real impressed how fast his hands go through the zone.”

Chavis was lifted in the eighth inning to give Danny Bethea some at-bats. Bethea came through with an RBI single in the ninth.

NOTES: The announced paid attendance was a sellout of 7,368. … First baseman Nick Longhi has missed three games because of a stiff back. He should return soon … Urrutia is batting .343 (12 for 35) since signing as a free agent after he was released by the Orioles. … Actor Steve Burton (General Hospital, Young and the Restless) will appear at Monday’s game … Tuesday’s guest is New England Patriots quarterback Jacoby Brissett.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

Twitter: ClearTheBases

]]> 0 Dogs pitcher Elih Villaneuva throws to first after fielding a ground ball by Harrisburg's Yadiel Hernandez in the second inning of Portland's 11-4 loss Sunday at Hadlock Field.Sun, 25 Jun 2017 21:20:09 +0000
Angels score 3 after overturned call, beat Red Sox Sun, 25 Jun 2017 20:48:48 +0000 BOSTON — The Los Angeles Angels benefited from a replay challenge to beat the Boston Red Sox.

Parker Bridwell was solid for 6 2/3 innings and Los Angeles scored three runs after its challenge overturned an inning-ending double play in the second inning, propelling the Angels to a 4-2 win over the Red Sox on Sunday.

Bridwell (2-0) gave up two runs and seven hits while striking out four without issuing a walk.

Yusmeiro Petit pitched two innings for his first save.

“I don’t care if it’s old-fashioned or it’s cutting edge, we need them,” Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said of Petit’s save. “We need guys to hold leads. Most closers are primarily the one-inning guys that are in that bubble.”

Ben Revere had three singles and Kaleb Cowart drove in two runs for Los Angeles, which won two of three against the Red Sox for its fifth series win in the last six.

Doug Fister (0-1) lost his Red Sox debut, giving up three runs and seven hits in six-plus innings. He was signed by Boston on Friday after being released by the Angels.

Mitch Moreland and Jackie Bradley Jr. each hit a solo homer for the Red Sox, who lost their second straight at Fenway Park after winning 10 of the previous 12.

Boston remained one percentage point behind the Yankees for first place in the AL East.

Bridwell was Fister’s teammate at Triple-A Salt Lake before Fister was released.

“That’s weird,” Bridwell said. “I was in the same clubhouse with him a week and half ago or whatever and we were talking pitching. I was asking him certain things he did along the game, and the next thing you know we’re starting against each other on the big-league level.”

The Angels got their first run when Danny Espinosa was ruled safe at first base on the replay challenge, then quickly added two more runs. Cowart followed with an RBI double and Juan Gratetrol had a run-scoring single.

“That’s modern-day baseball,” Scioscia said.

“He’s a bang-bang play from a scoreless outing,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said.

Except for the loss, Fister was pleased by his first start with Boston, and 200th of his career.

“Overall, it wasn’t a bad day,” he said. “They just put together some timely hits and took advantage of well-placed baseballs. That’s what good clubs do and that’s what they did today.”

Moreland homered over the Angels’ bullpen in the bottom of the second. Bradley homered into the center-field bleachers in the fifth.

]]> 0 Benintendi is tagged out by Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons as he tries to stretch a single into a double in the fourth inning Sunday.Sun, 25 Jun 2017 23:40:02 +0000
State Fire Marshal’s Office still can’t get at Sanford fire scene Sun, 25 Jun 2017 18:39:31 +0000 An investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Office into the cause of the blaze that destroyed part of the Stenton Trust Mill complex in Sanford on Friday night was delayed for a second day Sunday.

State Fire Marshal Joseph Thomas said that his office is trying to obtain equipment to take down unsafe parts of the building at the complex before sending investigators inside. He said so far efforts to find the equipment have not succeeded.

“We have been working through the weekend to find heavy equipment to be able to dismantle the building because of the precarious conditions. We don’t want to put anyone in there until” it is safe, Thomas said Sunday.

Thomas said it would be Monday at the earliest before investigators could enter the building. Investigators have also been hampered by hot spots that have continued to flare up since the fire ripped through the back building at the complex at 13 River St.

The complex includes two five-story brick and concrete buildings and a connecting structure. The front building, which faces River Street, sustained minor damage from the fire.

Firefighters continued to hose down the smoking remains Sunday.

“We spent most of the day Sunday chasing hot spots,” said Capt. Dwight Emmons of the Sanford Fire Department.

Emmons said he expects that demolition equipment will be brought in at some point to knock down sections of the mill building that are considered unsafe.

“Right now, it’s just not safe. There is a fear of collapse,” Emmons said Sunday evening.

Emmons said Sanford police have been assigned to keep an around-the-clock eye on the building to make sure that no one tries to get inside.

City Manager Steven Buck said Saturday that the mill property is being treated as a possible crime scene. Though the cause has not been officially made public, investigators have not ruled out arson. There was no official word Sunday evening on whether anyone had been arrested.

Emmons said Friday night’s fire was the largest mill fire Sanford firefighters have ever battled. It rivaled in magnitude a 1984 New Year’s Eve fire in Sanford that destroyed several business and apartment buildings on Washington Street.

Matthew O’Shaughnessy, a spokesman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Boston, confirmed Sunday that special agents from the ATF’s Portland office have been assisting the State Fire Marshal’s Office with its investigation.

O’Shaughnessy said he could not comment on the status of the investigation because the fire marshal’s office is in charge of the investigation. Also investigating the cause of the blaze are Sanford police and the Sanford Fire Department.

Steve McCausland, spokesman for the State Fire Marshal’s Office, said more information about the cause of the fire should become available Monday.

“I don’t have anything more definitive to add tonight,” McCausland said Sunday night.

Sanford police asked on their Facebook page that anyone with information about the fire contact them at 324-3644 ext. 170. Police also asked people not to spread rumors about the incident.

One hundred firefighters from 20 departments battled the blaze Friday night. No one was injured, officials said.

The building’s last owner of record was Jonathan Morse of Gateways Properties LLC, who left the area about a decade ago and now lives in Reno, Nevada, according to Sanford tax records. The buildings had been condemned by the city’s inspection department.

In a telephone interview Sunday evening, Morse confirmed that he lives in Reno but denied that he owns the Stenton Trust Mill property. Morse said he does not know who owns the property now, adding that the matter is “complicated.”

Paula Simpson, Sanford’s tax collector and treasurer, said in an email Sunday that the mill ownership is “pretty complicated” and that “the city will need to release a statement.”

Morse said the city of Sanford shares some of the blame in the mill complex’s decline.

“It disappoints me because at one point it had such great potential to beautify that area and give great significance to the history of the city,” he said. “But the people who controlled its future are in city government.”

Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy said the mill complex was considered an important piece of Sanford’s development plans for its vacant mill buildings, but she said interested developers would drop out when it became clear that the back building was in terrible shape.

A redevelopment company, Boston Commons Investments LLC, paid $210,000 for the property in a foreclosure auction in 2009 before backing out of the deal, according to Herlihy.

Herlihy said the complex, which has a history of attracting vandals and vagrants, has been the scene of several minor fires in the past.

Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

Twitter: bquimby

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

]]> 0 Fire Chief Steve Benotti and firefighter Todd Levesque keep an eye on hot spots Sunday at the Stenton Trust Mill Complex.Sun, 25 Jun 2017 22:37:54 +0000
Trump says Senate health care bill not ‘that far off’ from passing Sun, 25 Jun 2017 17:48:05 +0000 WASHINGTON — Making a final push, President Trump said he doesn’t think congressional Republicans are “that far off” on a health overhaul to replace “the dead carcass of Obamacare” and signaled that last-minute changes were coming to win enough support for passage. Republican critics expressed doubt over a successful vote this week.

“We have a very good plan,” Trump said in an interview broadcast Sunday. Referring to Republican senators opposed to the bill, he said: “They want to get some points, I think they’ll get some points.”

Trump’s optimism comes amid the public opposition of five Republican senators so far to the Senate Republican plan that would scuttle much of former President Barack Obama’s health law. Unless those holdouts can be swayed, their numbers are more than enough to torpedo the measure developed in private by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and deliver a bitter defeat for the president.

Trump did not indicate what types of changes may be in store, but affirmed that he had described a House-passed bill as “mean.”

“I want to see a bill with heart,” he said, confirming a switch from his laudatory statements about the House bill at a Rose Garden ceremony with House Republican leaders last month. “Healthcare’s a very complicated subject from the standpoint that you move it this way, and this group doesn’t like it.”

“And honestly, nobody can be totally happy,” Trump said.

McConnell has said he’s willing to make changes to win support, and in the week ahead, plenty of backroom bargaining is expected. He is seeking to push a final package through the Senate before the July 4 recess.

At least two Republican senators said Sunday that goal may prove too ambitious.

“I would like to delay,” said Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., one of the five senators opposing the bill. “These bills aren’t going to fix the problem. They’re not addressing the root cause,” he said, referring to rising health care costs. “They’re doing the same old Washington thing, throwing more money at the problem.”

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said seven to eight other senators including herself were troubled by provisions that she believes could cut Medicaid even more than the House version.

Collins, who also opposes proposed cuts to Planned Parenthood, said she would await an analysis Monday from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office before taking a final position on the bill. But she said it will be “extremely difficult” for the White House to be able to find a narrow path to attract both conservatives and moderates.

“It’s hard for me to see the bill passing this week,” Collins said.

The Senate bill resembles legislation the House approved last month. A Congressional Budget Office analysis of the House measure predicts an additional 23 million people over the next decade would have no health care coverage, and recent polling shows only around 1 in 4 Americans views the House bill favorably.

The legislation would phase out extra federal money that more than 30 states receive for expanding Medicaid to additional low income earners. It would also slap annual spending caps on the overall Medicaid program, which since its inception in 1965 has provided states with unlimited money to cover eligible costs.

Conservative Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said he is opposing the Senate bill because it “is not anywhere close to repeal” of the Affordable Care Act. He says the bill offers too many tax credits that help poorer people to buy insurance.

“If we get to impasse, if we go to a bill that is more repeal and less big government programs, yes, I’ll consider partial repeal,” he said. “I’m not voting for something that looks just like Obamacare.”

Trump said he thinks Republicans in the Senate are doing enough to push through the bill and criticized Democrats for their opposition.

“I don’t think they’re that far off. Famous last words, right? But I think they’re going to get there,” Trump said of Republican Senate leaders. “We don’t have too much of a choice, because the alternative is the dead carcass of Obamacare.”

With unanimous opposition from Democrats, McConnell can afford to lose just two of the 52 Republican senators and still prevail on the bill.

“It would be so great if the Democrats and Republicans could get together, wrap their arms around it and come up with something that everybody’s happy with,” the president said. “It’s so easy. But we won’t get one Democrat vote, not one. And if it were the greatest bill ever proposed in mankind, we wouldn’t get a vote and that’s a terrible thing. Their theme is resist.”

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said Democrats will be working hard to defeat the bill, having already made clear they would cooperate with Republicans if they agree to drop a repeal of the Affordable Care Act and instead work to improve it. Still, Schumer acknowledged it was too close to call as to whether Republicans could muster enough support on their own to pass the bill.

He said they had “at best, a 50-50 chance.”

Trump was interviewed by “Fox & Friends,” while Collins, Schumer and Paul appeared on ABC’s “This Week.” Johnson spoke on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

]]> 0, 25 Jun 2017 17:05:55 +0000