September 8, 2013

Dispatches

AUGUSTA

LePage touts case reduction for cash assistance program

Maine's caseload for residents on a cash assistance program has dropped more than 40 percent since 2011, Gov. Paul LePage says.

In his weekly radio address, the Republican governor said Friday that the state's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program caseload has decreased from about 15,000 cases in January 2011 to about 9,000 cases this June.

LePage attributed the drop to the administration's promotion of job preparation and work and "a comprehensive strategic redesign of Maine's welfare system."

"Public assistance is no longer a lifetime benefit, but an opportunity to become independent after a financial crisis," LePage said.

The departments of Health and Human Services, Education and Labor are working with Maine residents using cash assistance to determine what barriers they face in finding a job and finding them the support they need, LePage said.

"I believe Mainers can reach economic independence because I've done it myself and I've seen others do the same," he said.

But Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick said in a statement that the governor's address is "long on rhetoric and short on reality."

"The LePage administration capped Temporary Assistance for Needy Families resulting in the reduction in program recipients," he said. "As a result, struggling families have been forced to rely on municipal general assistance."

BOOTHBAY HARBOR

Six-clawed lobster donated to Maine State Aquarium

An unusual six-clawed lobster has been donated to the Maine State Aquarium in West Boothbay Harbor.

Named Lola, the lobster was caught by a fishing crew off the coast of Hyannis, Mass.

Aquarium manager Aimee Hayden-Roderiques said that on one side where a singular claw would be Lola has five lobster claws arranged in a starfish pattern and on the other side a normal claw.

She told WMTW-TV that the claw deformity is a genetic mutation that lobsters can have throughout their life or from regrowth from a damaged or lost claw.

Lola is expected to go on display in the next several days.

ORONO

Inaugural seven-day ride aims to celebrate cycling

About 260 bicycle riders are pedaling through central and coastal Maine for an inaugural 400-mile bike ride organized by Maine's largest bicycle advocacy organization.

The seven-day ride, called BikeMaine, began Saturday in Orono and includes overnight stops in Dover-Foxcroft, Belfast, Castine, Bar Harbor and Ellsworth before ending in Orono.

The event is organized by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine with the aim of promoting and celebrating cycling while giving participants a chance to explore inland and coastal communities.

-- From staff and news services

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