Tuesday, March 11, 2014
From staff and news services
Poor air quality for Maine forecast by EPA on Tuesday
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is forecasting poor air quality for Tuesday.
Poor air quality, which is caused by high amounts of ground level ozone, will affect coastal Maine from Acadia National Park south, according to the EPA.
"We predict that Tuesday will be an unhealthy air quality day in parts of New England," said Curt Spalding, administrator of the EPA's New England office. "On these hot, humid and smoggy days, EPA and the medical community suggest that people limit their strenuous outdoor activity."
Exposure to elevated ozone levels can cause breathing problems, aggravate asthma and other pre-existing lung diseases and make people susceptible to respiratory infection.
Leaking water pipe closes seven operating rooms
A leaking water pipe Saturday caused the temporary closure of seven of Maine Medical Center's 24 operating rooms at its Bramhall Street location.
The rooms are likely to be out of use for a few weeks while repairs are being completed, said hospital spokesman John Lamb. Surgeries will continue despite the repairs.
The pipe caused water damage and dripping from the ceiling, a hospital official said. Maine Med made logistical changes so patients would still have surgery in a timely manner, the hospital said.
"Our team has been burning up the phone lines, moving procedures to alternate locations, such as our surgery center in Scarborough," said Dr. Brad Cushing, Maine Med's chief of surgery.
The logistical challenge involved coordinating surgery times with surgeons and anesthesiologists, and moving equipment.
Food distribution center relocating to Biddeford
Good Shepherd Food-Bank will relocate its Portland distribution center to Biddeford to improve service to hunger relief agencies in southern Maine, the Auburn-based food bank said Monday.
The new distribution center on Arctic Circle in Biddeford, scheduled to open July 2, is close to Route 1 and the Maine Turnpike. Good Shepherd also has distribution centers in Auburn and Brewer.
Representatives of York County hunger relief programs have had to drive as far as 50 miles to reach the Good Shepherd Food-Bank distribution center in Portland.
York County has the second-highest number of households facing hunger in Maine. Nearly 26,000 people -- including 8,400 children -- in the county do not receive enough nutritious food, according to the food bank. Cumberland County has the highest number of households facing food insecurity.
Food programs in Cumberland County can pick up food from Good Shepherd in Biddeford or Auburn, or place orders online to be delivered to Wayside Food Programs in Portland.
Good Shepherd, Maine's only statewide food bank, distributes donated and purchased food to 600 partner agencies.
Court dismisses lawsuit filed over cost-of-living raises
A federal court dismissed a 2012 lawsuit filed by the Maine Association of Retirees over elimination of cost-of-living increases in their state pensions.
The lawsuit, filed against the Maine Public Employees Retirement System, claimed that a measure to save money by eliminating cost-of-living increases for retirees was illegal and in violation of the state and U.S. constitutions. The move saved an estimated $48 million in the two-year budget that ends June 30.
"Although one may conclude that it was unnecessary or even unwise for the Legislature to have (made the statutory changes at issue), it is not for this court to substitute its opinion on the merits or desirability of the legislation for that of the Legislature," wrote U.S. District Judge George Singal in the 24-page ruling.
The plaintiffs in the case also included the Maine State Employees Association, the Maine Education Association and the Maine State Troopers Association.
The Maine State Employees Association said it was studying the decision and was considering whether an appeal was appropriate.