News – Press Herald Mon, 27 Mar 2017 08:00:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Lives lost: A mechanic, a beloved uncle, a house painter, a young mother Mon, 27 Mar 2017 08:00:02 +0000 0 for Day 1 of lostFri, 24 Mar 2017 14:57:04 +0000 Community meals Mon, 27 Mar 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. Open to all. Chestnut Street Baptist Church, 29 Chestnut St., Camden. 542-0360.

Baked chicken and gravy luncheon, with vegetables, soup, salad and dessert. 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. $6.50. Cohen on the Meadows at the Cohen Center, Town Farm Road, Hallowell. Entertainment by Tuckie Marvin. 626-7777.


Ham and baked beans luncheon, with soup, salad and dessert. 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. $6.50, $5 donation for those over 60. Spectrum Generations William S. Cohen Community Center, 22 Town Farm Road, Hallowell.


Beef chili luncheon, with soup, salad and dessert. 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. $6.50, $5 donation over 60. Spectrum Generations William S. Cohen Community Center, 22 Town Farm Road, Hallowell.

Meatloaf supper with baked potato, vegetables, rolls and dessert. 5 to 6:30 p.m. VFW Post No. 832, 50 Peary Terrace, South Portland. 767-2575. $7.

Community meal, free. 5 p.m., Westbrook Community Center, 426 Bridge St. Co-sponsored by Trinity Lutheran Church and Wayside Food Programs. Free parking, handicapped-accessible.


Breakfast buffet luncheon, featuring French toast, sausage, eggs and home fries. 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. $6.50, $5 donation over 60. Spectrum Generations William S. Cohen Community Center, 22 Town Farm Road, Hallowell. Entertainment by Swingtime.

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


Sweet and sour pork luncheon, with vegetables, soup, salad and dessert. 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. $6.50, $5 donation over 60. Cohen on the Meadows at the Cohen Center, Town Farm Road, Hallowell. Entertainment by Dave McInnis. 626-7777.

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

Baked haddock supper, 5 to 6:15 p.m. St. Maximilian Kolbe Church, Black Point Road, Scarborough. $9, $5 for children, $28 for families.

Haddock chowder supper, hosted by Knights of Columbus Immaculate Heart of Mary Council 11303. 4:30 p.m., St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church, 3 Appleton St., Waterville. $7.


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

Baked bean supper, featuring three types of beans, hot dogs, potato salad, coleslaw, brown bread and biscuits, spaghetti with meat sauce, homemade pickled beets, and pickles and pies. 4:30 to 6 p.m. North Pownal United Methodist Church. $8, $3 for ages 4 to 12, 3 and under eat free.

Baked bean supper, featuring threes kinds of beans, hot dogs, chicken pie, American chop suey, casseroles, salads, homemade pies, coffee and punch. 5 to 6 p.m. West Gorham Union Church, 190 Ossipee Trail, Route 25, Gorham. $8, $3 under 12.

Baked bean supper, featuring homemade beans, coleslaw, potato salad, pies and more. 4:30 to 6 p.m. White Rock Community Clubhouse, 34 Wilson Road, Gorham. $8, $4 for children.

Roast beef supper, 4 to 6 p.m., Scarborough Lions Den, 273 Gorham Road, Route 114. To Benefit Scarborough Fire Dept. Eng. No. 5. $10, $5 for children under 12. Takeout available.

Public supper, featuring casseroles, baked beans, meatloaf, salads, breads and pies. 4:30 to 6 p.m. Cape Elizabeth United Methodist Church, 280 Ocean House Road, Route 77, Cape Elizabeth. $8, $5 for children and $20 for families. Takeout available.

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

Roast beef supper, featuring mashed potatoes, carrots, green beans and strawberry shortcake. 5 p.m. Cornerstone United Methodist Church, 20 Jenkins Road, Saco. $10, $4 under 12.

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Births Mon, 27 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 CENTRAL MAINE MEDICAL CENTER

Blake Rashad Breen, born March 6 to Tara Saunders and Charles Breen of Lewiston. Grandparents are Elizabeth Howell and Charlie Breen Sr., both of Portland, and Dorothy Sampson of Springvale.


Grady John Dudley, born Feb. 2 to Connor and Meghan Dudley of Westbrook. Grandparents are Carmen Cyr Bailey of Portland, Ralph and Kathy Bailey of Westbrook, Brian Dudley and Sandra Glynn of Portland, and Joseph and Gale Tetrault of Portland. Great-grandparents are Elizabeth Dudley of Portland and the late Rachel Cyr, formerly of Auburn.

Chase Alan Hayward, born Feb. 5 to Jacob and Meaghan Hayward of Portland. Grandparents are Ernest and Robin Ihloff of Hampstead, N.H., and Donald and Jennifer Hayward of Union, N.H.


Harper Elaine Yenco, born March 18 to Amanda Tracey (LaVallee) and Kurt Michael Yenco of Bowdoinham. Grandparents are Kenneth and Kelley LaVallee of Woolwich, Robin and Shawn Frank of Bowdoinham and Joseph and Pamela Yenco of Bowdoin.

Cassandra Yzea Pisano Juntura, born March 18 to Christian Villanera Juntura and Ana Katrina Pisano Juntura of Topsham. Grandparents are Adora and Vicenta and Cecilio Juntura, all of Topsham.

Emmitt Scott Trask, born March 18 to Amber Valissa (Marshall) and Zachary Scott Trask of Gardiner. Grandparents are Kevin and Starla Marshall of Richmond, Darrel and Shelley Trask of Viema, and Brenda Sage and Paul Mazorkewiz of Augusta.

Jamison Garett Alexander, born March 18 to Justin and Asia Alexander of Brunswick. Grandparents are Andrea Murillo, George and Alice Alexander, and Louannet and Marion Hunter, all of Brunswick.

Wyatt Joel Penniman, born March 20 to Dylan Scott Penniman and Theresa Darlene Grant-Reed of Bath. Grandparents are Lottie Gendron of Bath, Albert Grant of Warren, and Lisa Howe and Richard Penniman, both of Old Orchard Beach. Great-grandparents are Darlene Melanson and Randall Grant.


Greyson Carter Livernois, born March 9 to Jason and Jessica Livernois of Lewiston. Grandparents are Dennis and Patricia Livernois of Poland and Kevin and Charlotte Irish of Gray. Great-grandparents are Janice Walker of Cumberland and Maryanne Small of Sebago.


Raelynn Hope Beaulieu, born March 4 to Anthony Beaulieu and McKenzie Smith of Biddeford. Grandparents are Shannon Balentine of Port Orange, Fla., and Angelene Beaulieu of Biddeford.

Deloris Ayeeda-Menyon Flowers, born March 4 to Xheniya Knight of Old Orchard Beach. Grandparents are Sherema Flowers and Shamar Flowers, both of Old Ochard Beach.

Kennedy Helena-Rose Le- Page, born March 8 to Brandon LePage and Angela Petetabella of East Waterboro. Grandparents are Lori Petetabella and Josh and Nancy Morrell, all of Wells, and Keith and Wanda LePage of Parsonfield.

Anastazia Loignon, born March 9 to Alan Loignon and Kristina Huff of Saco. Grandparents are Raymond and Sharon Huff of Saco and Jane Weston of Hollis.

Georgia Leeanne Libby, born March 10 to Christopher Libby and Catherine Denyse of Biddeford. Grandparents are Bob and Lee Denyse of Odesssa, Texas, and Frank and Judy Libby of Biddeford.

Lili Anne Havanki, born March 13 to David Havanki and Paige Heatley of Biddeford. Grandparents are Meg McNeely of North Yarmouth, Frank Heatley of Biddeford, and James and Eleonora Havanki of Great Mills, Md.

Isabelle Roberta Sandra Byrd, born March 13 to Benjamin Byrd and Monica Hill of Limerick. Grandparents are Thomas and Betsy Byrd of North Waterboro, Heidi Hutchins of Sanford and the late James Hill Sr.

Evelyn Piper Michaud, born March 14 to Adam and Bonnie (Coveney) Michaud of Biddeford. Grandparents are Jerel and Susan Coveney of Sanford and Lester and Martha Michaud of St. Agatha.

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Briefs Mon, 27 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 CAMDEN

Land trust seeks volunteers, participants for workshops

Coastal Mountains Land Trust is seeking new volunteers to help with a wide range of projects and is accepting registration for two workshops, on April 12 at the Belfast Free Library and April 13 at the land trust’s office. Both sessions will be held from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m.

The training will include instruction in field work, preserve monitoring, invasive plant control, community outreach, office mailings and event logistics, with special emphasis in the recruitment of docents, a volunteer position that welcomes visitors to Beech Nut, the 100-year-old hut at the top of Beech Hill in Rockport.

At each session, the land trust’s stewardship and outreach staff, along with active volunteers, will provide an overview of the trust’s conservation programs as well as a summary of the volunteer positions that the trust is seeking to fill.

To register, call 236-7091 or email


Three seventh-graders win statewide essay contest

Three seventh-grade students from Athens, Bath and Veazie emerged as winners in the Maine Municipal Association’s sixth annual statewide essay contest, themed “If I Led My Community …”

Emma Beauregard of Damariscotta Montessori School, Olivia Messer of Veazie Community School and Patricia Thody of Athens Community School each will receive a certificate and a $250 cash prize to be used for educational purposes.

Part of MMA’s Citizen Education program, the contest asked students to demonstrate how they would improve their hometowns and cities if they held positions of local leadership. The essays were judged on knowledge of municipal government; writing quality and clarity; and originality.

Winning entries will be published in the May issue of the Maine Townsman, MMA’s monthly publication, which is mailed to 4,400 municipal officials statewide and posted on


Library wants fairy houses, gnome homes for display

Kennebunk Free Library is gearing up for its annual Faerie Houses display in May at 112 Main St.

This year, fairy houses and gnome homes, created by children, will be accepted beginning April 19. To be eligible for a certificate, submit houses to the library by May 4.

Houses should be created from natural materials such as bark, pine cones, shells and feathers and have a base no larger than 14-inches-by-14-inches, with a height limit of 30 inches.

While glue is allowed, contest officials recommend using string, thread or raffia to connect pieces, or make homemade glue using flour and water. A limited amount of building material is available through April 3 in the library’s Children’s Room.

Fairy houses will be on display until May 20.

For more details, call 985-2173 or go to


Fundraiser to help with cost of cancer patient’s care

Tickets are now being sold for the Louie Ladakakos Benefit & Spaghetti Dinner, set for 6 to 11 p.m. April 22 at the Biddeford-Saco Elks Lodge No. 1597 at 60 Ocean Park Road.

The event is being held to help with the projected costs for Ladakakos’ medical care at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, where he is receiving treatment for Stage 4 mantle cell lymphoma. Ladakakos is a longtime community volunteer, former Old Orchard Beach Middle School teacher and founder of the MAPS Breakaway 5K Road Race.

The fundraiser will include live music, a silent auction, 50/50 lots and raffles. Tickets are $10 and must be purchased in advance.

To make a donation or for more details, call the lodge at 283-1597.


Two high school students receive citizenship awards

Wells High School athletes Bailey Marsh and David Ouellette were selected by Principal Eileen Sheehy to receive the Western Maine Conference’s Citizenship Award for 2017 for their contributions in academics, athletics and leadership.

Marsh was recognized as captain of an all-state field hockey team; manager of the Noble/WHS ice hockey team; a leader in the Unified Basketball Program; and a member of the girls’ lacrosse program. She also is a four-year member of the Student Council and Interact Club; a member of the National Honor Society; and vice president of her class. Last September, she was presented with the Julia Clukey Courage Award by the U.S. Olympian.

Ouellette has been a two-year starter on the offensive and defensive lines for the Warriors football team, which won the state Class C football championship last fall. He is a leader in the Unified Basketball Program and takes Advanced Placement and honors courses.

Boosters’ textile drive raises funds for charity, trip

The Wells/Ogunquit Music Boosters is thanking community members for their support during a recent Winter Weed-out Textile Drive.

This year, the boosters gathered more than 25,000 pounds of used clothing, shoes and bedding, benefiting the Epilepsy Foundation of New England and raising $5,000 for the Wells High School music department’s trip to Music in the Parks in Williamsburg, Virginia, this spring.

Wells High School junior wins awards for his photo

Wells High School junior Nicholas Maynard has received one Gold and two Silver Key Awards, plus an honorable mention, for his artwork submitted in the regional part of the 2017 National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards contest.

Also, in early February, he was notified by Rep. Chellie Pingree that his image of a cow on Spiller Farm in Wells had been recognized in Maine’s First District part of the 2017 Congressional Art Competition, sponsored by the U.S. House of Representatives.

His photo will be displayed, with 11 other winners, on the first floor of the Maine State House through May 3.

There will also be a reception for the 12 student artists at the Blaine House on May 4.


Bank foundation donates $7,500 to Easter Seals Maine

The People’s United Community Foundation of People’s United Bank has awarded $7,500 to Easter Seals Maine to support military and veterans services.

]]> 0 High School junior Nicholas Maynard holds his winning photograph "Moo You." He received three awards and an honorable mention for artwork he entered in the 2017 National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards contest.Sun, 26 Mar 2017 18:59:12 +0000
Textile museum close to reality at former Biddeford mill complex Mon, 27 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 BIDDEFORD — On Saturday mornings, the Pepperell Mill Center bustles with activity: Farmers’ fill tables with vegetables for a weekly market, children play at an indoor playground and people drop by to visit a brewery, distillery and creamery.

A century ago, this floor of the mill held 1,500 looms in a sweltering room where workers wove cotton into sheets that were shipped around the world. The room was kept at 115 degrees with 75 percent humidity so the thread wouldn’t break.

As time marches forward in the former Pepperell Manufacturing mill, a small group of volunteers has spent years preparing to open a museum to highlight the history of a city once defined by its textile manufacturing. The first Biddeford Mills Museum exhibit is set to open this year in Building 13 of the sprawling mill complex, which is being redeveloped for small businesses, light manufacturing and residential uses.

“Biddeford is here because of the mills,” said Pete Lamontagne, a museum board member and “mill vet” who worked at Pepperell for 38 years.

The Biddeford Mills Museum formed as a nonprofit five years ago and last year announced it was teaming up with the Maine Historical Society to develop an exhibit in Building 13. A donation of $30,000 from Bangor Savings Bank, presented to the museum Friday, coupled with an anonymous $35,000 donation have allowed the museum to push up its timeline and complete its first exhibit by September. The first phase of the exhibit will be installed in June.

The total cost of the first exhibit and educational programs to accompany it is around $90,000, said Jeff Cabral, president of the Biddeford Mills Museum board.

The exhibit will be in a space in the Pepperell Mill Center that functions daily as a lobby, on Saturdays as a farmers market and occasionally as a function space for special events. It will include movable panels and a timeline that highlight the history of the mills, technology, immigration and other topics to show how the mills played an integral role in the history of the city, state and Industrial Revolution.

The opening of the exhibit has been long anticipated by a small group of former mill workers – the “mill vets” – that has spent the past five years collecting and saving pieces of the mill’s history, including tools that belonged to people who worked there. The mill vets also lead public tours during summer months, regaling visitors with impressive statistics about the million-square-foot mill complex, its history in the city and anecdotes about the generations of people who worked in the once-thriving mill. In the spring and fall, they lead tours for local schoolchildren, many of whom have grandparents who once worked there.

Lamontange said the mill vets feel strongly about preserving the legacy of the mills.

“We can finally see the light now that a museum is going to happen,” he said.

Scott Joslin, general manager of the Pepperell Mill Campus and a museum board member, said when developer Doug Sanford and his company took ownership of the mill after it closed in 2009, they inherited artifacts, including machines, tools and pieces of fabric. It seemed natural to work on a way to showcase these items while preserving the mill’s history, Joslin said. Someday, they hope to have a kiosk near the entrance to the Pepperell Mill Center where mill vets can greet visitors and share information about the mill’s history.

“They history here is so rich and very significant,” Joslin said.

The museum was recently given the 2017 Originality Award at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism.

“The Biddeford Mills Museum celebrates an important piece of our heritage and makes it accessible to visitors,” said Steve Lyons, acting director of the Maine Office of Tourism. “Working with past employees of the mills, they have created an immersive tour for visitors that builds pride and provides a unique Maine experience.”

The mill vets will resume their tours in June, with proceeds going to the museum.

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

Twitter: grahamgillian

]]> 0 rendering depicts the Biddeford Mills Museum to be installed at the Pepperell Mill Center. The museum will highlight the city's textile manufacturing history.Sun, 26 Mar 2017 19:53:12 +0000
Events Mon, 27 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 WELLS

Library will offer programs for toddlers, youths, adults

Wells Public Library will offer the following events this week at 1470 Post Road:

Youth programs will include Mother Goose Storytime at 10:30 a.m. Monday for ages 24 months and younger and their caregivers; Toddler Storytime for ages 2 to 5 and their caregivers at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday or at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday; and Lego and Rubik’s Cube Club at 3 p.m. Friday for youths of all ages.

Adult offerings will include AARP Tax Aide assistance for filling out income tax forms, from 1 to 6 p.m. Tuesday; a Conversational French Language Group at 6 p.m. Thursday; and a Fiber Arts Group, meeting at 10:30 a.m. Friday to work on needlework projects.

For more details, call the library at 646-8181.


Small group of explorers welcomes others, dogs

Each Friday, a small group meets at 9 a.m. to venture off for an hour to walk, snowshoe or ski.

Interested individuals gather year-round and usually carpool to trails within Otisfield.

No advance registration or fee is necessary; just show up at 9 a.m. at the Otisfield Community Hall on Route 121.

For more details, call Maureen Howard at 809-4009. Dogs are welcome.


Audubon birdseed orders must be received by Friday

Friday marks the deadline to place orders for the 2017 Spring Mid-Coast Audubon Birdseed Sale.

Available this year: black oil sunflower seed at $16.50 for 20 pounds or $29 for 50 pounds; sunflower “meaties” at $26.50 for 25 pounds or $45 for 50 pounds; Melody Mix is $13.50 for 20 pounds or $22 for 40 pounds; niger (thistle) is $10 for 5 pounds; and suet blocks are $2 each.

Checks should be made out to “Seedsale Sue”and mailed to 117 Texas Road, South Bristol, ME 04568. For more details, email or call 380-1370.

Orders must be picked up at Plants Unlimited on Route 1 from 10 a.m. to noon April 8.


Kittery Community Auction will start at 6:30 p.m. Friday

The ninth annual Kittery Community Auction, benefiting the Kittery Community Center and Traip Academy Athletic Boosters, will be held Friday at the Regatta Room.

Doors open at 6 p.m., silent auction begins at 6:30 p.m.

Admission is $20 and includes light fare.

Advance tickets can be purchased at the Kittery Community Center or at Keep up to date on auction items at

For more details, call 439-3800 or email Jeremy Paul


‘How to Raise Chickens’ to be held Friday evening

A workshop on “How to Raise Chickens” will be held at 6 p.m. Friday at Saco Grange Hall No. 53, at 168 North St.

Staffers from Andy’s Agway will be on hand. The talk is free but donations are accepted at the door.

For more details, call 831-5784, go to Facebook or email


Animal Welfare Society will host two programs

The Animal Welfare Society will host the following events this week at 46 Holland Road:

Furry Tales Story & Adventure Hour will be held from 10 to 11 a.m. Thursday, offering preschoolers a chance to discover the world of animals.

A Drop-In Puppy Social Hour will be held from 10 to 11 a.m. Sunday, offering people with dogs younger than 6 months and under 30 pounds to stop by the AWS Obedience Classroom for an hour of fun socialization. AWS’ trainers will be on hand. The cost is $12 per hour. No advance registration is needed.

For more details, call 985-3244.


Animal rescue’s pet expo to be held Sunday at school

Another Chance Animal Rescue will hold a pet expo from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at North Berwick Elementary School Gymnasium at 25 Varney Road.

For more details, call 490-2855 or go to


History Barn’s open house will show recent acquisitions

The New Gloucester History Barn will host an open house from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at 383 Intervale Road, Route 231, behind the Town Hall.

Recent acquisitions highlighting local history will be featured.

The event is free and open to all. For more details, call Leonard L. Brooks at 926-3188.


Historical society launching Victorian show with high tea

The Thomaston Historical Society will launch its new Victorian fashion and accessories exhibit with a high tea at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Historical Society building at 80 Knox St.

Guests will be served sandwiches, savories and sweets by hosts wearing period clothing.

Tickets are $15 for members and $18 for others. Space is limited and advance reservations are recommended by emailing or calling Susan J. Devlin at 354-4121.


Local waterfowl field trip sets out Saturday morning

Join Merrymeeting Audubon from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday for a “Waterfowl of Bowdoinham” field trip to search for early waterfowl migrants at Brown Point.

Meet at the Bowdoinham Town Landing at 8 a.m. or 7:15 a.m. at Hannaford in Brunswick to carpool. The trip is dependent on the ice being out. For updates, call John Berry at 632-7257.


Workshops will detail caring for older, historic properties

Monday is the deadline to register for six workshops being offered from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday by Greater Portland Landmarks and detailing caring for older and historic properties.

Free lunch and parking will be provided.

The sessions will be offered at Maine Charitable Mechanics’ Hall, 519 Congress St. Cost is $65.

To view the complete schedule or to register, go to


Older adults invited to join Maple Syrup Tour

Sanford Parks and Recreation is offering a senior citizen Maple Syrup Tour to Thurston and Peter’s Sugar Shack in West Newfield on Friday morning.

Cost is $5 for transportation. The bus will leave from the Mid-Town Mall parking lot at 10 a.m. and will return about noon.

Registration is required by calling 324-9130.

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Blood drives Mon, 27 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 RED CROSS DRIVE

Noon to 5 p.m. at St. Margaret’s Church, Saco and Old Orchard streets, Old Orchard Beach. To schedule an appointment, call 800-RED-CROSS or go to

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Families hit hard: For some caught in crisis, tragedies multiply Mon, 27 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Click to view slideshow.

On workdays, Gail McCarthy drives 70 miles to her job and then another 70 back home.

It’s a lot of time alone in the car with her thoughts, and they often go to the same place.

“I can’t even listen to the music,” she said of her drive between Stetson and Rockland. “I’m too worried a song will come on that will make me think of them and I’ll start shaking and lose control.”

There is no preparing for the pain of losing a child, and McCarthy knows that pain twice over.

In November 2013, she lost her daughter, Ashley, to an overdose of methadone, which she bought on the street to avoid withdrawal symptoms from heroin addiction. She was 21.

About 17 months later, her son, Matthew, died of an overdose of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid. He was 24.

As the drug crisis has ravaged Maine, claiming hundreds of victims, few families have lost more in such a short period than the McCarthys.

An overdose death is not like a car accident or a lost battle with cancer. Often, families watch loved ones in the grip of addiction turn into completely different people. They watch them struggle to break free from the drugs, only to slip back down again. The roller coaster of addiction carries not only the user, but also everyone close to them.

In some instances, family members even admit to feeling a sense of relief after a death.

“There is a sense of peace,” said Patty Dumont of Poland, whose son, Nicholas Douglass died in December 2015 from an overdose at age 25. “You don’t have to worry anymore. Just watching the news, wondering if my son’s name was going to be on the news every day. Waiting for the phone call that I received.”

Among the more than 100 families of overdose victims interviewed by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram since the summer of 2016, at least seven had lost more than one person. In some cases, those who died were siblings. In others, they were parent and child.

Many more families of overdose victims had children or parents still living who were addicts.

Leigh Haskell, a clinical psychologist in Portland who specializes in grief counseling, said the incomparable pain of losing a child or parent to drugs is often compounded by a sense of bewilderment and helplessness.

“Many families come to realize that they didn’t know the severity of the issue or how long it had been going on and that can be shocking,” she said. “And for families that did know and tried with all their might to get help, it’s anguishing that despite all those efforts, it didn’t work.”

Haskell has seen a noticeable increase in the last five years in clients who have lost loved ones to addiction. She said the one thing family members of overdose victims have in common is shame, and that often prevents people from speaking out.

“What I tell them is to seek out the people you feel understand,” she said. “Focus less on the people who you think are judging you.”

Addiction strikes some families repeatedly because it is driven largely by a combination of genetics and environmental factors. Children who grew up in families scarred by alcohol or drug abuse, divorce, poverty, or physical or sexual abuse are much more likely to develop addiction, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“Carrying a genetic burden does not necessarily mean that a person will get the disease,” said Vivek Kumar, who studies the genetics of addiction at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor. “Environment is key, but its influences are harder to quantify. There are cultural and social norms that are not under our control.”

A child or teenager might see substance use in the home or among friends, realize that it’s wise to stay away, and yet still gravitate toward that behavior because it’s what they know.

Gail McCarthy’s children, Matthew and Ashley, are memorialized on candles at her home in Stetson. Even after her daughter died, her son continued to use drugs, McCarthy said, and she remains angry that they couldn’t get him the help he needed before it was too late. “There is no help out there,” she said. Staff photo by Brianna Soukup

Even when a family member sees someone close to them struggle mightily with addiction or die from overdose, they can’t always stop.

That’s how it was for Matthew McCarthy.

Still stuck in the nightmare of her daughter’s death, Gail McCarthy remembered telling her son, through tears, “Promise me you’ll never do these drugs. I can’t lose two kids.”

“And he said, ‘I promise, Mummy. I promise,’ ” she said, sobbing.

Matthew couldn’t keep that vow.

When McCarthy is sad, she lies down on her daughter’s old bed, still neatly made inside her home, so she can be close to Ashley. Or she opens a plastic bag that holds the clothes Matthew was wearing when he died, so she can smell him.

Her family will never be whole again and every time she reads an obituary or hears about another overdose, she aches for the parents.

Some days, McCarthy isn’t filled with sadness but with anger. Anger that her children, who were raised in loving though far-from-perfect homes, turned to drugs. Anger that they couldn’t get help before it was too late. And most of all, anger that there were people out there so willing to sell her babies substances that could kill them in an instant.

She knows exactly who sold the drugs to both of her children. For a long time, she wanted them to pay.


COMING TUESDAY: Disease or bad behavior: Does addiction call out for compassion or punishment?

Ashley and Matthew McCarthy were raised in Hampden, a mostly affluent suburb of Bangor.

They lacked for nothing, and McCarthy said she never really worried about them because they were always honest with her. She knew they drank and smoked pot.

“I used to think all these parents had their head buried in the sand. How stupid,” she said. “Boy oh boy, until it’s your family.”

Ashley was prescribed opioids after being diagnosed with painful uterine cysts. Her mother thinks that’s how she got hooked.

She started stealing to support her habit. A week before her daughter died, McCarthy slapped her during an argument over her drug use. It was the first time she had ever done anything like that. She was so frustrated. She didn’t know how to reach her.

A few days later, they reconciled. Ashley needed help. She needed her mother.

The day before Ashley died – Gail’s birthday – they spent together shopping in Bangor. Ashley didn’t have any money but wanted a journal, so McCarthy bought it for her. It was a white book with pastel polka dots on the cover. She told her daughter to write in it every time she thought about using.

Ashley never got to open it.

McCarthy started writing in it herself on Nov. 21, 2013, the day after Ashley’s overdose.

Matthew started using opioids before Ashley, McCarthy said. She thinks it was his senior year of high school. He stopped playing hockey, which he loved, and started losing a lot of weight.

“I should have known,” McCarthy said. “He lived and breathed hockey.”

When Ashley died, Matthew took it hard, his mother said, but she didn’t know how hard.

Even though she pleaded with him, Matthew kept using.

“We called all these places, trying to get him help,” McCarthy said. “They told us we needed to wait or we had to call back and that was just to get him into Suboxone. Everything was just going to take so long and he needed it immediately.”

VITAL SIGNS: In early 2016, lawmakers approved funding for a 10-bed detox center in Bangor. It would be only the second detox center in Maine, alongside the 16-bed Milestone facility in Portland. But more than a year later, the Bangor center has yet to open.

The day Matthew died, McCarthy had gone to a counseling session after work. When she got the call on her cellphone to come home, no one told her why, but she knew. She had bought a cake to celebrate what she thought was one week of being clean for Matthew. Written on it was, “I’m proud of you.”

She got to the house. The ambulance was still there, which she knew was bad news. If they had saved him, the ambulance would have taken him to the hospital.

His body was still in the bathroom. His mouth was open. His tongue was white.

“I thought, ‘My big baby. He’s got to be so cold,’ ” McCarthy said through tears. “Why did I think these stupid things? So I went into the bedroom and got a blanket and put a pillow under his head. And then I laid down beside him.”


McCarthy and her husband got divorced in 2013, not long before Ashley’s death. She doesn’t know whether the divorce contributed to her children’s substance use but said they took the split hard.

The parents tried to get help for both kids at different times but never had insurance or the money to pay for what they probably needed. What little help they did get wasn’t enough. There wasn’t any follow-through.

“There is no help out there,” she said. She was tempted to call the cops on each of her kids. But then what? Have them sent to jail, where they wouldn’t be treated? Or risk a criminal charge that would affect their futures?

Other families had the same frustrations.

The Fecteau family in Biddeford has been struggling to navigate the mire of Maine’s opioid crisis. Cathy Fecteau, right, lost her son Matthew to an overdose last summer. He was 27. Two of his siblings, an older brother and his younger sister, Lizzy, left, are also fighting opioid addiction, but the quest for treatment can be frustrating and sometimes fruitless. Matthew’s brother graduated from a detox program with these instructions: “Go find a doctor.” Listen to Cathy’s story. Staff photo by Brianna Soukup

Matthew Fecteau of Biddeford, who died last summer of an overdose at age 27, has two siblings, an older brother and a younger sister, who have both struggled with addiction, their mother, Cathy Fecteau said.

The family has struggled to find treatment, too. In one instance, a relative helped them buy Suboxone on the street because they couldn’t find a provider. In another, Matthew’s brother graduated from a detox program with instructions to “go find a doctor.”

Matthew also got stuck in the criminal system. He was out of jail less than two months when he overdosed and died. Near the end, he was more focused on getting help for his sister than himself, his mother said.

Paula Cahill of York lost her husband in 1999 to a cocaine overdose. She raised three sons on her own after that.

“I did everything I could do not to have them turn out like their dad,” she said.

But all three battled addiction and she did, too, for a time.

In 2015, her middle son, Joseph Cahill, overdosed on fentanyl and died. He was 27.

“You can’t put a cake in front of a person who is addicted to food and say don’t touch it,” said James Cahill, the oldest brother, explaining how prevalent drugs were. “When you put a drug addict in front of people who are doing drugs, they are going to say ‘yes’ eventually.”

Haskell, the Portland psychologist, said support is lacking not only for people who are struggling with addiction, but also for those who are struggling to cope with the grief of losing family members to an overdose.

“The reality is that people never completely go back to the way it used to be,” she said. “They get better at managing their lives without the lost person, but there isn’t a fixed point. You just get more able at living with the loss.”


Even into 2016, Gail McCarthy still had a great deal of anger about what happened to her children. She kept thinking about confronting the two people who sold them their fatal doses.

McCarthy found out about her son’s dealer because of all the text messages in his phone.

Within the span of about 18 months, Gail McCarthy lost both Ashley, 21, and Matthew, 24, to opiate overdoses. Staff photo by Brianna Soukup

Eventually, the dealer was arrested for drug trafficking and she showed up in court on the day of his sentencing.

“The first thing I said to him was, ‘You should get the death penalty. An eye for an eye. You took my son,’ ” she said. “And he was crying and saying how sorry he was and that Matt was a good man, and then I realized, he’s just a kid. He’s just a kid. He wasn’t this monster. He was somebody else’s son.”

Before she left the courthouse that day, McCarthy gave him a hug.

She never got to meet the dealer who sold Ashley the methadone that took her life. In January, he died of an overdose. He was 27.

McCarthy found no solace in the news. Instead, she felt pain for his mother, whom she knew. Hampden is a small town.

She didn’t know how to reach the woman, so instead, she found the obituary online and posted a message.

She expressed sorrow for the woman’s loss.

“You know I lost Matt and Ashley the same way,” she wrote. “I would love to talk to you and we could share. I might be able to help you thru this. Please call me.”

McCarthy hasn’t received a response yet. Maybe someday she will.

Staff Writers Mary Pols and Kate McCormick contributed to this story.

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

Twitter: PPHEricRussell

]]> 0 GRIEF COMPOUNDED: Sitting on the bed of the daughter she lost to a methadone overdose in 2013, Gail McCarthy of Stetson inhales the lingering scent from the clothes her 24-year-old son, Matthew, was wearing when he died of a fentanyl overdose just a year and a half after 21-year-old Ashley's death. Among the more than 60 families of overdose victims interviewed by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram since the summer of 2016, at least seven had lost more than one person to the epidemic.Sun, 26 Mar 2017 23:55:37 +0000
Public will hear 4 options for midcoast bridge project Mon, 27 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Federal and state transportation authorities have spent several months evaluating alternatives for repairing or replacing the heavily traveled two-lane, steel-truss bridge that connects downtown Topsham with downtown Brunswick.

Next month, the Federal Highway Administration and Maine Department of Transportation will present to the public four options for fixing the 85-year-old Frank J. Wood Bridge, which is green but has patches of rust.

After spending several months reviewing the bridge project’s potential impact on historic properties – a federally mandated review – design engineers developed the four bridge replacement or improvement options, which range in cost from $13 million to $17 million.

But no matter which option is chosen, transportation officials recommend that the state soon invest an additional $800,000 on critical maintenance needs to extend the bridge’s life by five years.

A public meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on April 5 on the Brunswick campus of Southern Maine Community College. The campus is located at 29 Sewall St., on the former Brunswick Naval Air Station property.

A notice published by the Federal Highway Administration and MDOT says the agencies are seeking “additional general public and community input regarding all aspects of the project as they contemplate their selection of the preferred alternative.”

According to a summary of alternatives published on the MDOT’s website by T.Y. Lin International, a design and engineering firm in Falmouth, the bridge is a critical transportation link between Brunswick and Topsham, carrying about 19,000 vehicles each day.

There is also a sidewalk on one side of the bridge, which serves as a link for pedestrians to reach the Fort Andross mill complex on the Brunswick side and the Bowdoin Mill Complex on the Topsham side. Both mills house a number of shops, businesses and restaurants.

The Frank J. Wood Bridge, which is 805 feet long, opened in 1932. It was rehabilitated in 1985, 2006 and 2015.

T.Y Lin says in its report that the bridge is “fracture critical,” meaning it is vulnerable to collapse if certain components fail, such as the truss bars and floor beams. Detailed state inspections in 2012 and 2016 “found many deteriorated areas.”

T.Y. Lin also reported that load ratings done in 2013 and 2016 found “some floor system members are no longer adequate for Maine’s legal loads.”

The bridge is currently posted for a 25-ton limit.

While the state and federal design teams try to agree on a permanent solution, the MDOT plans to do temporary repairs to address the most severe problems so that the bridge can maintain its 25-ton load rating for another five years. The cost is estimated to be $805,000.

Two replacement options – which would keep the existing bridge alignment or create a new curved upstream alignment – would cost $16 million and $13 million, respectively. There are also two bridge repair options, which would cost $15 million or $17 million, with the more expensive alternative adding a second sidewalk on the eastern side of the bridge.

A group of residents called Friends of the Frank J. Wood Bridge opposes replacing the bridge, which is known locally as the Green Bridge. The bridge has been deemed eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

The Friends group formed last year after the state announced it favored replacing the bridge over rehabilitating the structure.

“This may be our last chance to speak up for the rehabilitation of our bridge over demolition!” the Friends group says on its Facebook page, referring to the upcoming meeting. “We need as many of you there as possible.”

The April 5 meeting is scheduled to run from 6 to 8 p.m. and will be held in the L.L. Bean Learning Commons and Health Science Center at SMCC.

Ted Talbot, spokesman for MDOT, said the bridge project is scheduled to begin in 2018. Additional information on the project is available at

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

]]> 0 Frank J. Woods Bridge between downtown Brunswick and downtown Topsham is currently posted for a 25-ton weight limit.Sun, 26 Mar 2017 21:44:15 +0000
In a first for Maine, Scarborough and South Portland to start collecting food waste Mon, 27 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 South Portland and Scarborough are getting ready to launch Maine’s first municipal food waste collection programs.

The two pilot programs will offer free, weekly curbside pickup of food scraps such as bread, coffee grounds, dairy products and meat in select neighborhoods. Based on the results, the programs could expand in both cities, potentially providing a model for other southern Maine communities.

The goal of both pilot projects is to reduce the amount of waste sent to an incinerator or landfill. Other American cities – including San Francisco, Portland, Oregon, and Boulder, Colorado – have implemented successful food waste programs. As of 2014, nearly 200 U.S. cities had some form of food waste collection.

“This is where national leaders in waste management are trending,” said Julie Rosenbach, South Portland’s sustainability coordinator.

Food waste makes up almost 28 percent of household trash in Maine, according to a 2011 University of Maine study. In 2015, Maine towns and cities generated 1.19 million tons of solid waste. Of that, 39,659 tons, including food waste and lawn trimmings, was composted, about 3 percent of the total, according to a report in January from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Efforts to remove food and other organic waste from the state’s waste stream have grown in recent years. Towns and cities have arranged places where residents can drop off kitchen scraps, or have partnered with private companies to offer residents fixed prices for compost pickup. Organic collection companies such as Garbage-to-Garden and We Compost It! offer fee-based collection to homes and have expanded business in southern Maine in recent years.

But the South Portland and Scarborough programs go a step further by integrating food waste into regular collection of trash and recycling.


In September of last year, ecomaine, the Portland waste processing company collectively owned by more than a dozen towns and cities, began accepting food and organic waste in exchange for reduced tipping fees. The food waste is shipped to Exeter Agri-Energy, an anaerobic digester that converts organic waste and cow manure into electricity, compost and animal bedding.

“We were basically waiting for ecomaine to take food. The minute they did that we started setting up the pilot,” Rosenbach said.

Sending food to a waste-to-energy incinerator is inefficient – Rosenbach likens it to trying to fuel a campfire with oatmeal – and some food waste does not break down in landfills. Delivering it to a digester like the one in Exeter, in Penobscot County, is the highest use for the material, she said.

South Portland is testing the one-year project on about 600 households in the Knightville and Meetinghouse Hill neighborhoods. Beginning in May, every household will get a white, 6-gallon lidded bucket for disposal of food waste. Those buckets will be collected every week on the same day as trash and recycling. Residents can first put food scraps into a clear plastic bag, then that is inserted into the bucket.

Garbage-to-Garden was the winner of the three companies that bid for the new service. The company will be paid $43,700, including the cost of the bins and outreach and education services. South Portland will also have large compost bins available at its transfer station for any resident to use.

Even though tipping fees at ecomaine are slightly less for food waste than for trash – $55 a ton versus $70.50 a ton – the pilot project isn’t expected to save money, said Rosenbach. However, diverting food from the waste stream could get South Portland closer to its goal of 40 percent recycling by 2020, after hovering around 28 percent for the past seven years, she said.

“This is the largest chunk of our waste stream we can target,” Rosenbach said.

Neighboring Scarborough is trying out a nine-month pilot project for about 100 homes in the Pleasant Hill neighborhood. Residents will be given green, 35-gallon bins that will be collected every week along with either trash or recycling, said sustainability coordinator Kerry Strout. Pine Tree Waste, the company that provides collection services for the city, uses dual-body trucks and can only pick up two types of material at a time, Strout said.

Food waste collection will not add to the town’s solid waste budget, she said. Scarborough will also provide composting bins at its transfer stations for residents who are not part of the pilot program.


Travis Wagner, an environmental policy professor at the University of Southern Maine, intends to work with South Portland, Scarborough and ecomaine to analyze the data produced by the two programs. He also intends to measure how the drop-off composting bins are used at the Falmouth, Yarmouth and Cape Elizabeth transfer stations. The goal is to come up with best practices for municipal programs based on participation and cost, Wagner said.

“By looking at these different approaches, maybe other towns can glean off this and learn what works and doesn’t work,” he said.

Even though collection and disposal of food waste is in its infancy, it is likely the direction in which municipalities and private companies are headed, said Scarborough Public Works Director Mark Shaw.

“This is similar to where recycling was 10 or 15 years ago,” Shaw said.

“You’ve got to look to the future here,” he said. “The model we have for getting rid of food waste will change.”

Peter McGuire can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

Twitter: PeteL_McGuire

]]> 0 Rosenbach, South Portland's sustainability coordinator, says food waste collection is the next major trend in waste management.Sun, 26 Mar 2017 21:38:27 +0000
Trump blames far-right Republicans for failed health care bill Mon, 27 Mar 2017 02:58:39 +0000 President Trump cast blame Sunday for the collapse of his effort to overhaul the health care system on conservative interest groups and far-right Republican lawmakers, shifting culpability to his own party after initially faulting Democratic intransigence.

His attack – starting with a tweet that singled out the House Freedom Caucus and the influential Club for Growth and Heritage Action for America – marked a new turn in the increasingly troubled relationship between the White House and a divided Republican Party still adjusting to its unorthodox standard-bearer.

And it served as a warning shot – with battles still to come on issues such as tax reform and infrastructure spending that threaten to further expose Republican fractures – that Trump will not hesitate to apply public pressure on those in his party he views as standing in the way.

In a sign Sunday of the ripple effects on the Republicans’ conservative flank, one high-profile member of the Freedom Caucus, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, resigned from the group and took a swipe at its opposition to the Trump-backed health care bill.

“Saying ‘no’ is easy, leading is hard,” Poe said.

The rising tensions followed a flurry of finger-pointing after Friday’s decision by Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to pull the health care measure, effectively ending for now the Republicans’ years-long quest to repeal former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement.

Not long ago, many Republican leaders, even as they were wary of Trump’s unusual background and style, had considered his presidency a chance to finally unify the party around passing its agenda of long-sought policies.

But now, in the health care bill’s raw aftermath, Republican leaders are learning that the Trump presidency is doing little, if anything, to heal their party.

“We’ve been here before,” said Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., co-chairman of the centrist Tuesday Group. “The only difference is now we have a Republican president, and some people thought the fever might break a little bit. But apparently not.”

Trump’s attack Sunday had the look of a coordinated effort.

His tweet appeared at 8:21 a.m. as official Washington prepared to tune into Sunday news shows: “Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!”

Less than an hour later, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus appeared on television to echo his boss’ sentiments, saying his missive hit “the bull’s eye.”

As if to rub salt in the Republicans’ wound, Priebus hinted that Trump may simply start looking past the Republican majority and try forging more consensus with moderate Democrats in future legislative battles. He pointed to the Freedom Caucus and the Tuesday Group for heavily resisting the health care bill.

“We can’t be chasing the perfect all the time,” Priebus said during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.” “I mean, sometimes you have to take the good and put it in your pocket and take the win.”

Although Trump targeted conservative opponents of the bill Sunday, he has also shown signs of frustration with its moderate critics. On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Dent acknowledged that Trump told him in a private meeting that Dent was “destroying the Republican Party” and that he “was going to take down tax reform,” as first reported by the New York Times magazine.


Trump’s tweet came a day after a strange episode that prompted speculation that he was seeking to undermine Ryan’s standing. Trump encouraged his Twitter followers Saturday to watch Jeanine Pirro, one of his favorite Fox News Channel hosts, that night.

On her program, Pirro said that Ryan should resign as speaker, adding that despite his “swagger and experience,” he presided over a failed effort that allowed “our president in his first 100 days to come out of the box like that.”

Priebus, in his Sunday appearance, dismissed the episode as a coincidence, and Trump has said in recent days that he has a good relationship with Ryan.

“He doesn’t blame Paul Ryan,” Priebus said on Fox News. “In fact, he thought Paul Ryan worked really hard. He enjoys his relationship with Paul Ryan, thinks that Paul Ryan is a great speaker of the House.”

Nonetheless, the episode served to highlight the challenges ahead for Ryan in attempting to regain control over House Republicans and maintain a working rapport with the White House.

Doug Heye, a Republican strategist and former congressional aide, said Republicans’ inability to forge consensus on health care shook the party to the core.

“It’s hard to see where we can be successful, and it leads to a lot of questions as to whether Republicans can govern, even with a Republican in the White House,” he said.

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, a Republican former congressman who helped found the Freedom Caucus, was at a loss Sunday to explain why so many of those members were not prepared to vote for the health care bill.

Speaking on “Meet the Press,” Mulvaney asserted that conservatives were not the only ones to blame, saying, “It was a bizarre combination of who was against this bill, some folks in the Freedom Caucus and then moderates on the other end of our spectrum.”

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who heads the Freedom Caucus, responded to the tweet without any animosity toward the president.

“I mean, if [Democrats are] applauding, they shouldn’t, because I can tell you that conversations over the last 48 hours are really about how we come together in the Republican Conference and try to get this over the finish line,” he said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”

A spokeswoman for the Freedom Caucus did not comment on Trump’s tweet or Poe’s departure. It was unclear whether Trump’s statement had a direct effect on Poe’s decision to leave the caucus.


The tweet directed at the Freedom Caucus was “a reminder that nothing goes without notice,” said one Trump associate with direct knowledge of White House strategy.

The Trump associate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak for the White House, said Trump was disappointed in Meadows and others in the caucus and wanted to remind them that he can use his powers to make their lives more difficult if they are not with him in the future.

The Club for Growth and Heritage Action for America, which is an affiliate of the Heritage Foundation, a longtime conservative think tank, are known for staking out positions that are often at odds with those of Republican leaders.

On Sunday, Heritage Action defended the House Freedom Caucus’ decision not to support the health care legislation while striking a conciliatory tone with the president.

The bill “had no natural constituency and was widely criticized by conservative health care experts because it left a premium-increasing provision of Obamacare in place,” said Dan Holler, a spokesman for Heritage Action. “We now have the opportunity to reset the debate, and conservatives are eager to work with the administration and congressional leadership as things move forward.”

The Club for Growth did not respond to requests for comment.

The House Republican bill would have repealed and replaced key parts of the Affordable Care Act. It came under consistent criticism from both ends of the political spectrum. Ryan and Trump pulled the bill Friday afternoon after deciding it could not pass, after weeks of negotiations with conservative and centrist Republican members of the sizable Republican House majority.

Although Ryan’s job doesn’t appear to be in jeopardy, his ability to shepherd the rest of the Republican agenda through his chamber is in doubt.

Some Freedom Caucus members are wary of efforts that would add to the federal deficit. But in a sign that Meadows may be willing to compromise on tax reform, he said tax cuts don’t necessarily have to be paired with spending cuts or revenue increases.

“Does it have to be fully offset? My personal response is no,” he said on ABC.


Since Friday, Trump aides have been talking increasingly about reaching out to moderate Democrats for help not only on another health care bill, but also on other priorities. But prospects for such cooperation remain poor.

There has been virtually no outreach to Democrats about a tax reform package. Although Democrats like the idea of infrastructure spending, the parties have different visions of how it should be paid for.

“If he aims a proposal . . . at the middle class and the poor people . . . we could work with them. But I don’t think they’re headed in that direction, and they’re going to repeat the same mistake” they made with the health care bill, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said of tax reform on “This Week.”

Aides and advisers to Trump say it’s clear that he will need support from some Democrats, particularly in the Senate, to move parts of his agenda forward beyond tax reform.

Michael Steele, who was a senior aide to then-Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Trump is at a crossroads as he takes up tax reform.

“The president is going to have a choice: to reach out to moderate Democrats and work in a bipartisan fashion,” Steele said, “or to reach out to recalcitrant Republicans in his own party that he wasn’t able to get this time.”

]]> 0 Trump talks to journalists Friday after the Republican health care bill was withdrawn before a House vote. With him are Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, left, and Vice President Mike Pence.Sun, 26 Mar 2017 23:08:56 +0000
Jared Kushner to lead new White House Office of American Innovation Mon, 27 Mar 2017 02:45:57 +0000 WASHINGTON — President Trump plans to unveil a new White House office on Monday with sweeping authority to overhaul the federal bureaucracy and fulfill key campaign promises – such as reforming care for veterans and fighting opioid addiction – by harvesting ideas from the business world and, potentially, privatizing some government functions.

The White House Office of American Innovation, to be led by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, will operate as its own nimble power center within the West Wing and will report directly to Trump. Viewed internally as a SWAT team of strategic consultants, the office will be staffed by former business executives and is designed to infuse fresh thinking into Washington, float above the daily political grind and create a lasting legacy for a president still searching for signature achievements.

“All Americans, regardless of their political views, can recognize that government stagnation has hindered our ability to properly function, often creating widespread congestion and leading to cost overruns and delays,” Trump said in a statement to The Washington Post. “I promised the American people I would produce results, and apply my ‘ahead of schedule, under budget’ mentality to the government.”

In a White House riven at times by disorder and competing factions, the innovation office represents an expansion of Kushner’s already far-reaching influence. The 36-year-old former real estate and media executive will continue to wear many hats, driving foreign and domestic policy as well as decisions on presidential personnel. He also is a shadow diplomat, serving as Trump’s lead adviser on relations with China, Mexico, Canada and the Middle East.

The work of White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon has drawn considerable attention, especially after his call for the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” But Bannon will have no formal role in the innovation office, which Trump advisers described as an incubator of sleek transformation as opposed to deconstruction.

The announcement of the new office comes at a humbling moment for the president, following Friday’s collapse of his first major legislative push – an overhaul of the health care system, which Trump had championed as a candidate.

Kushner is positioning the new office as “an offensive team” – an aggressive, nonideological ideas factory capable of attracting top talent from both inside and outside of government, and serving as a conduit with the business, philanthropic and academic communities.

“We should have excellence in government,” Kushner said Sunday in an interview in his West Wing office. “The government should be run like a great American company. Our hope is that we can achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers, who are the citizens.”

The innovation office has a particular focus on technology and data, and it is working with such titans as Apple chief executive Tim Cook, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff and Tesla founder and chief executive Elon Musk. The group has already hosted sessions with more than 100 such leaders and government officials.

“There is a need to figure out what policies are adding friction to the system without accompanying it with significant benefits,” said Stephen Schwarzman, chief executive of the investment firm Blackstone Group. “It’s easy for the private sector to at least see where the friction is, and to do that very quickly and succinctly.”

Some of the executives involved have criticized some of Trump’s policies, such as his travel ban, but said they are eager to help the administration address chronic problems.

“Obviously it has to be done with corresponding values and principles. We don’t agree on everything,” said Benioff, a Silicon Valley billionaire who raised money for Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

But, Benioff added, “I’m hopeful that Jared will be collaborative with our industry in moving this forward. When I talk to him, he does remind me of a lot of the young, scrappy entrepreneurs that I invest in in their 30s.”

Kushner’s ambitions for what the new office can achieve are grand. At least to start, the team plans to focus its attention on reimagining Veterans Affairs; modernizing the technology and data infrastructure of every federal department and agency; remodeling workforce-training programs; and developing “transformative projects” under the banner of Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan, such as providing broadband Internet service to every American.

In some cases, the office could direct that government functions be privatized, or that existing contracts be awarded to new bidders.

The office will also focus on combating opioid abuse, a regular emphasis for Trump on the campaign trail. The president later this week plans to announce an official drug commission devoted to the problem that will be chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, R. He has been working informally on the issue for several weeks with Kushner, despite reported tension between the two.

]]> 0, 26 Mar 2017 22:52:49 +0000
After 6-year tuition freeze, UMaine System students face increase this fall Mon, 27 Mar 2017 02:01:58 +0000 AUGUSTA — Students in the University of Maine System are likely to see an increase in tuition and fees this fall, the first hike in six years.

The additional tuition, fees, and room and board costs will result in an overall increase of 2.9 percent, officials said Sunday.

“We held tuition flat for six years to ensure we kept tuition affordable for average Maine families,” Chancellor James Page said after a budget briefing at the board of trustees meeting in Augusta. “We needed to show we are good financial stewards and we’ve done that. Now it is time to invest.”

For in-state students, tuition, fees, and room and board would increase to $19,074 a year, compared to the current $18,545. Out-of-state students – who pay about three times as much as Mainers for tuition alone – would see an increase of about the same amount, for a total of about $41,500.

The trustees will vote on the increase, first proposed last year, at their May meeting as part of the budget.

Several student representatives to the board of trustees said students on their campuses know about the pending increase and aren’t that upset about it.

“When you show students the data, they understand it,” said Samuel Borer, a junior at the University of Maine studying physics and math. “It came down to people understanding what was happening.”

There was some early confusion, according to Brad O’Brien, the student representative from the University of Maine at Augusta.

“There was a lot of fear,” said O’Brien, a senior in liberal studies. “There was a lot of conversation, talking about how the money was going to be used.” Campus and system leaders met with students to explain the changes, he said.

“We are looking at specific strategies” in planning for the future, Page said. “We’re not going to come back and start piling up costs.”

Adjusted for inflation, Maine has had the second largest decline in tuition nationwide over the last five years, according to the College Board, which tracks college costs. Tuition decreased in Washington state this year after a $200 million infusion from the legislature specifically to lower tuition up to 20 percent, and California saw a slight decline in tuition. All other states increased their tuition and fees over the same period.

University of Maine System officials say they intend to increase tuition annually, tied to the rate of inflation. Their budget projections anticipate that the state allocation for the system will also increase at the rate of inflation.

This fall is also the start of the system’s new three-tiered tuition plan, part of the move to a unified budget system.

Currently, each of the seven campuses charges its own tuition, ranging from a high of $8,370 a year at the flagship campus in Orono to a low of $6,600 a year at the campuses in Fort Kent and Presque Isle.

In the fall, tuition will be $8,580 a year at the University of Maine and the University of Maine at Farmington; $7,860 at the University of Southern Maine; and $6,840 a year at the campuses in Augusta, Fort Kent, Machias and Presque Isle.

In-state tuition for graduate programs will increase to $7,722 a year at the University of Maine, $7,074 a year at USM and $7,002 a year at Farmington. Tuition at the University of Maine School of Law is unchanged at $22,290 a year.

Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at:

Twitter: noelinmaine

]]> 0 Sun, 26 Mar 2017 23:12:34 +0000
Will New York City invite ‘Fearless Girl’ to stay on Wall Street? Mon, 27 Mar 2017 01:49:21 +0000 NEW YORK — Should the “Fearless Girl” stand up to Wall Street’s charging bull forever?

That’s the question New York City officials are facing after a statue of a ponytailed girl in a windblown dress went up in front of the bronze bull early this month and immediately became a tourist draw and internet sensation.

What was intended as a temporary display to encourage corporations to put more women on their boards is now getting a second look in light of its popularity, which has spawned an online petition seeking to keep it.

But does keeping the girl past her scheduled April 2 deadline forever alter the meaning of the bull? After all, the 11-foot-tall, 7,100-pound bull has been hugely popular in its own right; it was placed in a lower Manhattan traffic median in the wake of the 1987 stock market crash as a symbol of Americans’ financial resilience and can-do spirit.

Some fans of the bronze girl already see the bull much differently.

“The bull represents men and power,” says Cristina Pogorevici, 18, a student from Bucharest, Romania, who visited the statues this past week. “So she is a message of women’s power and things that are changing in the world right now.”

Holli Sargeant, 20, a visitor from Queensland, Australia, says the 4-foot-tall, 250-pound bronze girl “is standing up against something and we see her as a powerful image. She represents all the young women in the world that want to make a difference.”

]]> 0 "Charging Bull" and "Fearless Girl" statues stand on Lower Broadway in New York. The bull has stood as an image of the spirit of Wall Street.Sun, 26 Mar 2017 21:51:46 +0000
Maine business equips sheds with solar panels for better energy return Mon, 27 Mar 2017 01:43:28 +0000 UNITY — Matt Wagner decided one day to stop by an Amish-run business that builds mostly sheds and some tiny homes.

Wagner, who lives in Knox and is a project manager for Insource Renewables, went to Backyard Buildings in Unity to meet with a contractor, but he left with a realization.

“We had a lot of mutual interests in solar and deploying solar and doing it at a reasonable price,” Wagner said.

And so came the idea for solar sheds. They’re built just like any other shed, but feature a saltbox-style roof equipped with an array of solar panels.

So why get a solar shed instead of just adding solar panels to your roof?

“Obviously, there’s a huge benefit in the shed in that not all people’s roofs face south,” Wagner said. “To get a customer who has a perfect solar exposure and a perfectly-oriented roof isn’t extremely common.”

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the industry has seen an annual growth rate greater than 60 percent. That’s in part because of a federal solar investment tax credit that can enable people to claim a 30 percent credit on their income taxes when they buy a solar energy system.

In Maine, many people are drawn to solar energy because it also allows the customer to tie into the grid and send excess electricity back to the utility. Customers then get a credit on their utility bills.

Wagner said that the state is in a great place to deploy more solar power, but it’s still falling behind.

“Maine doesn’t just lag behind the Northeast, it lags behind the world,” Wagner said.

Steve Weems, executive director of the nonprofit Solar Energy Association of Maine, said getting on board with solar would help not just the environment, but also the state’s economy. Massachusetts has about 14,000 solar jobs, he said, while Maine has about 500.

“On a per capita basis, they’ve got eight times as many solar jobs as we do,” he said. If Maine caught up with Massachusetts, that would mean 4,000 new jobs.

Nationwide, one out of every 50 new jobs is in the solar industry, Weems said. “This is across the country a major growth industry,” he said. “And there aren’t many of those around these days.”

The response for solar sheds is already “pretty overwhelming,” Wagner said, even though the companies announced the new product only a little over a week ago.

Joas Hochstetler, a partner and manager of Backyard Buildings, said solar energy is common among the Amish.

“We use solar strictly in off-grid applications,” Hochstetler said, referencing off-grid solar power, which charges batteries but doesn’t feed back into the larger electrical grid. “The Amish aren’t against technology in itself. We try to reduce use to things that aren’t destructive to the Amish family and our faith.”

It’s a principle that Hochstetler said “everyone shares at some core level.”

The sheds built in Unity use materials that are almost all sourced from Maine, Hochstetler said, and the rest are manufactured in Canada. The six people who work at Backyard Buildings on Leelynn Drive construct the sheds inside a large workshop garage, which allows them to work year-round.

It takes about two days and two workers to construct a solar shed, and another day and three more people to install the solar panels, Hochstetler said. Customers can choose an off-grid or grid-tied solar energy system, which affects the price and size options. There are three sizes offered for each, along with the other options offered with every shed.

A 12-foot by 28-foot grid-tied solar shed that is on display at Backyard Buildings would start at $12,955 and generate 6,000 kilowatt hours per year.

After a solar shed is bought, Insource Renewables gives the buyer directions and offers advice on where to place the shed for sun exposure. After it’s placed, an electrician from Insource Renewables can connect the solar power to the house or a local electrician can use the directions to do the same.

Tiny solar houses, while possible, may prove more difficult to configure.

“Either the solar will have to be scaled down or the functionality of the home will be pretty low,” Hochstetler said, but the home probably wouldn’t need as much power, either.

If a roof doesn’t get enough sun exposure, that can affect the rate of return on the solar power. “The shed is pretty neat because we can, for the same cost of putting solar on your roof or pretty close to it, we can put a shed in the optimal location to optimize investment for people,” Hochstetler said.

Creating a product with a solar component was attractive to Hochstetler for two reasons, he said: the principle and the potential.

A lot of the sheds are sold to fill the “American consumerism problem,” providing more space people can fill with stuff. But attaching solar to the shed gives it another layer of meaning.

“I really love the principle of the solar shed, helping people use cleaner energy,” he said.

Madeline St. Amour can be contacted at 861-9239 or at:

Twitter: madelinestamour

]]> 0 left, Insource Renewables worker Ben Holt; Joas Hochstetler, manager of Backyard Buildings; and Matt Wagner, project manager for Insource, with his son, Ansel. Backyard Buildings makes solar-power sheds with Maine-based materials.Sun, 26 Mar 2017 21:47:00 +0000
Skowhegan animal abuse case may be linked to ‘pet flipping’ Mon, 27 Mar 2017 01:02:00 +0000 SKOWHEGAN — Before walking into Nicole Bizier’s garage on March 17, Detective Katelyn Nichols hadn’t worked on an animal cruelty case.

“It was disturbing, walking into the garage and seeing dogs basically stacked in cages,” said Nichols, who works for the Skowhegan Police Department.

Authorities began investigating Bizier, 32, earlier in March, when the state Animal Welfare Program received an animal cruelty complaint for a stray dog found in Pittsfield. The state agents determined that Bizier last owned the dog, which had severe tissue damage around its mouth from wearing a muzzle for an extended period.

Agents found that Bizier was still allegedly selling dogs online, something authorities ordered her to stop doing in February, when she was charged with tampering with public records and falsifying private records.

In mid-March, state agents and Skowhegan police executed a search warrant at Bizier’s home, where they allegedly found 11 dogs in poor conditions, and arrested her on multiple charges.

At this point, it sounds like Bizier was “pet flipping,” Nichols said. Pet flipping is when someone gets an animal for free and then turns around and sells it. While Nichols said she’s never seen this type of behavior before, she suspects that it may happen more often than people realize.

Typically, those who “flip” pets are stealing them, said Brandi Hunter, vice president of public relations and communications at the American Kennel Club.

Someone will let a dog play in the yard or leave it tied up outside a store while running errands, and the dog will be stolen. The group has even heard of people stealing dogs from cars, Hunter said, though she added that not every theft is about pet flipping.

According to the club’s National Pet Theft Database, the number of stolen dogs has increased dramatically since 2008, when 71 were reported stolen. In 2015, 831 dogs were stolen.

While there are no data on dogs stolen in Maine, Natalie Messier, president of the nonprofit Maine Lost Dog Recovery, said her group received 804 reports of lost dogs in 2015 and 12 percent were unaccounted for. In 2016, the number of reports increased to 924, and 11 percent are still unaccounted for.

Messier said if people find a stray or lost dog, they must report it to the local authorities. If they keep it without doing so, that’s against the law, she said.

With this case, however, it seems that Bizier was getting the dogs for free from people who were looking to give them new homes.

Nichols said a number of possible victims have come forward, as well as a number of people who say they gave her their animals, thinking they were going to a good home.

On average, Bizier was selling the dogs for $250 to $500, Nichols said.

Bizier was charged with theft by deception, cruelty to animals and illegal operation of a pet shop. She was taken to the Somerset County Jail in East Madison, where she got out on bail for $500. Attempts to reach Bizier for comment were not successful.


Nichols was one of the Skowhegan police officers who took part in the search of Bizier’s home.

The one-car garage, which held tools, yard equipment and toys in addition to the four adult dogs, was very cold, Nichols said, and had no form of heating. The dogs were in cages that gave them just enough room to turn around, she said, and they didn’t have water or food bowls. The cages had hay and some had dog beds, but those were “so dirty they almost looked brown,” Nichols said. The dogs were relieving themselves in their cages.

While Nichols was in the garage, another Skowhegan officer called her saying there were puppies locked in a closet.

Nichols, who has a dog herself, was shocked.

“It’s hard to believe a human being could keep animals locked up in a closet,” she said.

Inside the house where Bizier lives, which is a small single-wide trailer in Skowhegan, it smelled “like old food and animal urine,” Nichols said. There was clutter everywhere.

In the home’s only bathroom, police found four puppies in the bathtub. They had a blanket, but it was soaked in urine. There was a bowl of wet cat food and no water bowl.

“It looked like they were expected to drink from the dripping faucet,” Nichols said.

It seemed the 4-week-old puppies were not allowed to leave the tub. They acted lethargic, she said.

“Normally, puppies at 4 weeks old, they’re excited and jumping around. But these seemed exhausted,” Nichols said.

In a house closet three more puppies were found. The total space for the dogs was about 2-by-2-feet when the door was closed with a small cardboard box filled with cat litter, which they didn’t use.

The puppies slept through the transfer from Bizier’s residence to the Humane Society of Somerset County, Nichols said.

The mother pit bull “started wagging her tail and was very happy” when the police started to take her out, she said.

The dog was malnourished and was supposed to be nursing. It needed a great deal of medical attention once at the Humane Society.

The other adult dogs were very scared, Nichols said, and the police had to ask Bizier and her boyfriend to help take them out of the residence.

“It broke my heart,” Nichols said. “Animals and children, you know, they’re defenseless and unless someone speaks up for them, they’re on their own.”

Nichols said they’re working with the Somerset County District Attorney’s Office regarding further charges, but after that it’s up to the court system.

“I honestly don’t know what her motive was,” Nichols said, whether it was money or something else.


The animals found in the Bizier case are now in state custody, said Liam Hughes, director of the Animal Welfare Program since 2011.

Nichols said they are no longer at the Humane Society, but she could not disclose their current location.

“We’re going to do everything we can to make sure that those animals are healthy or they stay healthy,” Hughes said.

The state will ask for custody at a possession hearing, Hughes said, and then work toward getting them out of the shelter system and into “forever homes.”

However, if the dogs have behavior problems, which often happens with animal cruelty cases, they may have to remain in the system longer for training, Hughes said.

“They may always carry emotional scars afterwards based on the treatment they received,” he said.

Hughes said he once had a dog that was afraid of feet, for example. If a foot touched it in a certain way, it would react because the previous owner had kicked it a lot.

Bizier was first arrested in February after the Animal Welfare Program, which is part of the state Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, received four complaints from people who bought dogs to later find out that they were not properly vaccinated.

Madeline St. Amour can be contacted at 861-9239 or at:

Twitter: madelinestamour

]]> 0 say this dog found running loose in Pittsfield was muzzled for an extended period of time, causing severe tissue damage.Sun, 26 Mar 2017 21:09:51 +0000
Messy morning commute in store for drivers in southern Maine Mon, 27 Mar 2017 00:59:34 +0000 A messy and slick morning commute could be in store for those driving to Portland and elsewhere in southern Maine on Monday.

James Brown, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, said the precipitation, which could produce a wintry mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain, should start around 5 a.m. and turn to rain by 11 a.m.

“It could be a bit dicey during the morning commute,” Brown warned, adding that Monday morning’s temperatures will hover right around 32 degrees.

The good news, Brown said, is the wintry mix in the forecast will not accumulate. He said it will last into the afternoon over inland areas, mostly north and west of Lewiston.

]]> 0 Sun, 26 Mar 2017 20:59:34 +0000
Gov. Jerry Brown compares Trump wall with Berlin Wall Mon, 27 Mar 2017 00:55:43 +0000 WASHINGTON — California Gov. Jerry Brown likened President Trump to a strongman whose goal of walling off the U.S.-Mexico border conjures other infamous barriers from the past.

“The wall, to me, is ominous. It reminds me too much of the Berlin Wall,” Brown said during an interview broadcast Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The pointed reference suggested that the president was, like the leaders of communist East Germany several decades ago, trying to restrict the movements of people on both sides, despite all they have in common.

“There’s a lot of odor here of kind of a strongman,” Brown told host Chuck Todd. “I think Americans ought to be very careful when we make radical changes like a 30-foot wall keeping some in and some out.”

Trump made extending the walls that line parts of the nearly 2,000-mile border a central campaign pledge. Companies seeking to build the wall must soon submit concept papers for sloped barriers that are aesthetically pleasing on the U.S. side. It’s still not clear how the administration would pay for the wall.

Brown said that although California would fight “very hard” against the wall, people should not expect a series of knee-jerk lawsuits.

“We’ll be strategic. And we’ll do the right human, and I would even say Christian, thing from my point of view,” Brown said. “You don’t treat human beings like that.”

The governor disputed Trump’s suggestion that immigration was a threat, casting it instead as an asset.

“Look around at many of our industries,” he said, citing the state’s multibillion-dollar agricultural sector and the technological hotbed of Silicon Valley. “Twenty-five percent of the people in California were foreign-born. This is our dynamism.”

Brown, who visited the nation’s capital last week to meet with federal officials, said he’s willing to work with Trump and other Republicans on issues including immigration, health care and, especially, infrastructure.

]]> 0 JERRY BROWNSun, 26 Mar 2017 20:58:56 +0000
Work begins toward building new Hallowell fire station Mon, 27 Mar 2017 00:22:16 +0000 HALLOWELL — Less than a week after an anonymous donor pledged up to $1 million for construction of a new fire station, Hallowell officials were still wrapping their heads around the steps to be taken in the coming months to make the station a reality.

“We, as a city, have a lot to do because there are several parameters attached to the gift, and there’s a very aggressive timeline,” Mayor Mark Walker said Friday. “But it’s all very exciting.”

The first step happened during a public hearing Thursday, when the City Council unanimously voted to rescind their late January decision to move the Hallowell Fire Department to a shared, yet-to-be-built station in Farmingdale. The hearing was the result of a petition circulated by Stephen Langsdorf that forced the council to revisit its choice to forgo contracting fire services with Augusta and instead lease space in Farmingdale.

The city must decide by April 20 whether to accept the money, build the station at Stevens Commons and enter into a binding obligation to build the station by June 20.

City Manager Nate Rudy and Walker are hoping to meet with Stevens Commons owner and developer Matt Morrill in the coming days to discuss building the fire station somewhere on his 54-acre property at the top of Winthrop Street. Morrill acquired the property from the state last April.

In October, former Hallowell Fire Chief Mike Grant proposed building a new public safety facility, including a fire station, on the campus, and Morrill said reconstructing the campus’ Erskine Building as part of a multi-phase project was an option.

Rudy said the generous gift puts all options back on the table.

“This is an amazing gift to the city, and we are very surprised to be involved,” Morrill said Friday in a statement.

Morrill has asked the city for $600,000 to improve the infrastructure on the campus, and the request is part of a $2.36 million bond package voters will decide in an April 28 special election.

Walker’s goal is to have the new fire station completed before next year’s Water Street reconstruction project begins in April.

That would give the city about 12 months to go through the design, permitting and approvals, bidding and construction process.

Another concern city officials will have to address is the number of historic buildings on the Stevens Commons campus. Walker said some are listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, and with that comes parameters when it comes to reconstruction or new construction near those buildings.

Hallowell’s council holds its next regular meeting April 10, and Rudy said he would expect the council will vote on whether to accept the anonymous pledge at that meeting.

Jason Pafundi can be contacted at 621-5663 or at:

Twitter: jasonpafundiKJ

]]> 0 Fire Chief Jim Owens, shown in February, is one of the city officials who will have a lot of work ahead if the City Council moves forward with an aggressive timeline to build a new fire station.Sun, 26 Mar 2017 20:27:32 +0000
London bridge attacker sent encrypted message Mon, 27 Mar 2017 00:08:24 +0000 LONDON — Westminster Bridge attacker Khalid Masood sent a WhatsApp message that cannot be accessed because it was encrypted by the popular messaging service, a top British security official said Sunday.

British press reports suggest Masood used the messaging service owned by Facebook just minutes before the Wednesday rampage that left three pedestrians and one police officer dead and dozens more wounded.

As controversy swirled over the encrypted messages, police made another arrest in Birmingham, England, where Masood had lived. The 30-year-old is one of two men now in custody over possible links to the attack. Neither has been charged or publicly named.

Masood drove an SUV into pedestrians on the bridge before smashing it into Parliament’s gates and rushing onto the grounds, where he fatally stabbed a policeman and was shot by other officers.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd used appearances on BBC and Sky News to urge WhatsApp and other encrypted services to make their platforms accessible to intelligence services and police trying to carry out lawful eavesdropping.

“We need to make sure that organizations like WhatsApp – and there are plenty of others like that – don’t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other,” she said.

Rudd did not provide any details about Masood’s use of WhatsApp, saying only “this terrorist sent a WhatsApp message and it can’t be accessed.”

But her call for a “back door” system to allow authorities to retrieve information is likely to meet resistance from the tech industry, which has faced previous demands for access to data after major attacks.

In the United States, Apple fought the FBI’s request for the passcodes needed to unlock an iPhone that had been used by one of the perpetrators in the 2015 extremist attack in San Bernardino, California.

The FBI initially claimed it could obtain the data only with Apple’s help, but ultimately found another way to hack into the locked phone.

]]> 0 in the Women's March gather on the Westminster Bridge to hold hands in silence Sunday to remember victims of the attack in London last week.Sun, 26 Mar 2017 20:08:24 +0000
Maine senator proposes law requiring landowners to OK foraging on their property Sun, 26 Mar 2017 23:51:08 +0000 Get off my lawn, and out of my blueberry bush.

That’s the message in a proposal before a Maine legislative committee that would restrict foraging for wild, edible vegetables, fruits and fungi on private property.

Sen. Thomas Saviello, R-Wilton, made the proposal, which would prohibit the harvest of such food without written permission or a bill of sale from the owner of the property.

Foraging is a tradition in Maine, where wild-picked berries, mushrooms and fiddleheads, which are the twisty fronds of a young fern, are all popular. Saviello’s proposal received a chilly reception from foraging enthusiasts, outdoors lovers and even some landowners at a public hearing, and it likely will be altered before a key vote.

“As an outdoorsman and recreational forager, the current wording of the bill would impose a severe hardship on me and, I’m sure, many others,” testified Tom Seymour, who said he enjoys “many wild edibles, and most of these are plants that no one knows of.”

Saviello is working on walking back his bill. He said it could be saved by making it clear that it differentiates between foraging for personal use and collecting for a commercial operation.

Maine landowners have a long history of sharing access to their land to hunters, snowmobilers and foragers, and the intention of the bill is not to jeopardize that, Saviello said. Rather, he was motivated by constituents who have had their fiddlehead patches raided by foragers who seem to be gathering grist for some kind of commercial operation, he said.

A new iteration of the proposal could set limits on how much could be foraged without permission, Saviello said.

“I would hope you would go to that landowner and say, ‘I might pick some ramps, some mushrooms, I might pick some raspberries,’ ” Saviello said, referencing a kind of wild onion that is popular in restaurants. “Hoping people are courteous. And Mainers are.”

The proposal did find support from the Maine Woodland Owners, which said landowners deserve to benefit from a growing interest in wild mushrooms.

“lf money is being made from foraging, we think the landowner should at least have the opportunity to benefit, too,” said Bill Williams, deputy executive director of the group, in testimony.

The bill is currently before the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, which is expected to cast a vote on it soon after Saviello makes changes. It will be up for discussion Tuesday.

The committee’s chairman, Sen. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville, said he feared that the proposal could have unintended consequences as written.

“I wouldn’t want to see somebody that was out brook fishing catch a trout, pick a few fiddleheads to go along with the trout, have a gun with him and get arrested for a felony,” he said. “It needs more clarity.”

]]> 0 forage for mushrooms at Negutaquet Conservation Area in North Berwick. Sen. Thomas Saviello, R-Wilton, has put forth a bill that would prohibit foraging for wild, edible foods on private property without the owner's consent.Sun, 26 Mar 2017 19:57:09 +0000
Congressman resigns from Freedom Caucus Sun, 26 Mar 2017 23:49:59 +0000 If President Trump is going to put the blame for Republicans’ inability to pass health care legislation on the House Freedom Caucus, at least one member of the conservative coalition thinks it deserves it.

Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, resigned Sunday from the coalition of 35 to 40 conservative House lawmakers in protest over the group’s opposition to the Republican health care bill that tanked in Congress on Friday.

“I have resigned from the House Freedom Caucus,” Poe said in a statement. “In order to deliver on the conservative agenda we have promised the American people for eight years, we must come together to find solutions to move this country forward. Saying no is easy, leading is hard, but that is what we were elected to do. Leaving this caucus will allow me to be a more effective Member of Congress and advocate for the people of Texas. It is time to lead.”

Poe’s resignation comes hours after Trump tweeted that the Freedom Caucus, along with cash-flush conservative groups that share its hard-line ideological views, “have saved Planned Parenthood” and Obamacare by opposing the bill.

It’s not clear whether Trump’s statement had a direct effect on Poe’s decision to leave the caucus. He was leaning toward voting for the bill, and he was openly critical of his conservative colleagues as the bill was being pulled from a vote.

As the fallout from Republicans’ inability to make good on a major campaign promise continues, the White House and GOP leaders are increasingly vocal about their frustrations with the House Freedom Caucus.

“We can’t be chasing the perfect all the time,” Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, said Sunday on Fox News, raising the possibility that the White House will put less emphasis on negotiating with the caucus going forward and try to work with Democrats instead.

Despite half a dozen concessions the White House and GOP House leaders offered to the caucus on health care, its leaders held out support – enough that, when combined with opposition from moderate Republicans, it killed the bill before it could even come to a vote.

The establishment GOP’s frustration was channeled in a single tweet over the weekend, not from Trump but from Rep. Austin Scott, Ga., whose biting accusation raised eyebrows in GOP circles because Scott is not known to be a flamethrower:

Scott tweeted, “Mark Meadows betrayed Trump and America and supported Pelosi and Dems to protect Obamacare.”

Poe is not the first lawmaker to resign from the Freedom Caucus.

In September 2015, Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., became the first to step away from the group as it threatened to shut down the government over federal funding for Planned Parenthood. In a comment that channels what Trump said Sunday, McClintock protested the group’s tactics as playing right into the hands of the Democrats.

“It has thwarted vital conservative policy objectives,” he wrote, “and wittingly become Nancy Pelosi’s tactical ally.”

In October 2015, Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wis., resigned after the Freedom Caucus played a role in forcing then-Rep. John Boehner, R-Wis., to resign as House speaker.

“I was a member of the Freedom Caucus in the very beginning because we were focused on making process reforms to get every Member’s voice heard and advance conservative policy,” Ribble said in a statement. “When the Speaker resigned and they pivoted to focusing on the leadership race, I withdrew.”

]]> 0 Sun, 26 Mar 2017 19:54:25 +0000
Russian opposition voices heard in rallies across nation Sun, 26 Mar 2017 23:40:53 +0000 MOSCOW — Russia’s opposition, often written off by critics as a small and irrelevant coterie of privileged urbanites, put on an impressive nationwide show of strength Sunday with scores of protest rallies spanning the vast country.

Hundreds of protesters were arrested, including Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption campaigner who is President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic.

It was the biggest show of defiance since the 2011-2012 wave of demonstrations that rattled the Kremlin and led to harsh new laws aimed at suppressing dissent. Almost all of Sunday’s rallies were unsanctioned, but thousands braved the prospect of arrests to gather in cities from the Far East port of Vladivostok to the “window on the West” of St. Petersburg.

An organization that monitors Russian political repression, OVD-Info, said it counted more than 800 people arrested in the Moscow demonstrations alone. That number could not be confirmed and state news agency Tass cited Moscow police as saying there were about 500 arrests.

Navalny, who was arrested while walking from a nearby subway station to the demonstration at Moscow’s iconic Pushkin Square, was the driving force of the demonstrations. He called for them after his Foundation for Fighting Corruption released a report contending that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has amassed a collection of mansions, yachts and vineyards.

Navalny is a persistent thorn in the Kremlin’s side. He has served several short jail terms after arrests in previous protests and has twice been convicted in a fraud case, but given a suspended sentence. He intends to run for president in 2018 – an election in which Putin is widely expected to run for another term – even though the conviction technically disqualifies him. Putin has dominated Russian political life, as president or prime minister, since 2000.

No overall figures on arrests or protest attendance were available. Some Russian state news media gave relatively cursory reports on the demonstrations; the state news TV channel Rossiya-24 ignored them altogether in evening broadcasts.

Police estimated the Moscow crowd at about 7,000, but it could have been larger. The 2.5-acre Pushkin Square was densely crowded, as were sidewalks on the adjacent Tverskaya Street.

In St. Petersburg, about 5,000 protesters assembled in the Mars Field park, shouting slogans including “Putin resign!” and “Down with the thieves in the Kremlin!”

Russia’s beleaguered opposition is often seen as primarily a phenomenon of a Westernized urban elite, but Sunday’s protests included gatherings in places far from cosmopolitan centers, such as Siberia’s Chita and Barnaul.

There were no comments reported from Putin, Medvedev or other top Russian politicians.

]]> 0 detain a protester in downtown Moscow on Sunday. Russia's leading opposition figure, Alexei Navalny, and his supporters held anti-corruption demonstrations throughout the country.Sun, 26 Mar 2017 20:01:06 +0000
‘Beauty and the Beast’ outdoes 2 other reboots at weekend box office Sun, 26 Mar 2017 23:04:23 +0000 LOS ANGELES — Not all reboots are created equal.

This weekend at the box office, nostalgia-driven fare was everywhere, from “Beauty and the Beast” to “Power Rangers” and “CHIPS,” producing both successful and underwhelming results.

On the high end, Disney’s live-action “Beauty and the Beast” continued enchanting audiences in its second weekend in theaters, easily topping the charts with $88.3 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. On the low end, Warner Bros.’ raunchy, R-rated “CHIPS” debuted in seventh place with $7.6 million.

In the middle was Lionsgate’s “Power Rangers,” which earned a solid $40.5 million to grab the No. 2 spot. The PG-13 take on the campy 1990s television show tells the origin story of the Power Rangers with a diverse teenage cast of relative newcomers.

Its audiences were 60 percent male, while “Beauty and the Beast” crowds remained largely female. The divide allowed both to succeed in the crowded marketplace.

“Power Rangers” didn’t get the best reviews, but audiences gave it a promising A CinemaScore, suggesting that it might have staying power in the coming weeks.

“CHIPS,” on the other hand, underwhelmed audiences, critics and the studio. Dax Shepard wrote, directed and starred in the action comedy based on the 1970s and 1980s TV show about the California Highway Patrol.

Costing $25 million to produce, “CHIPS” wasn’t the biggest risk, but its $7.6 million debut disappointed. The film also got a deadly B- CinemaScore from audiences.

“Brand recognition will get you far – it gives you a leg up before you even start – but at the end of the day, it comes down to the movie itself,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore. “No matter how much brand equity they have with a particular title, the real test is: How do critics and audiences respond to that film?

“You still have to deliver a solid movie that will entice people to spend their hard-earned money to go see something that they already know, or already know about,” he said.

That’s where Disney has succeeded, with its latest remake earning $317 million in just 10 days in North American theaters and $690.3 million worldwide.

– Associated Press

]]> 0's "Power Rangers" earned $40.5 million to grab the No. 2 spot.Sun, 26 Mar 2017 19:23:16 +0000
Maine Maple Sunday a sweet success for syrup producers Sun, 26 Mar 2017 20:43:11 +0000 WINDHAM — Angie and James Horler of New Gloucester and their sons, Isaac, 9, and Joshua, 6, spend every Maine Maple Sunday at the Nash Valley Farm.

Sunday was no exception. The two boys munched on puffy mounds of maple cotton candy while their parents beamed outside the sugarhouse.

“My first Maple Sunday was when I was pregnant with Isaac, and we have come here every year since,” Angie Horler said.

The Horlers said they like to visit the Nash Valley Farm, not only because it is a tradition, but they also like the low-key atmosphere. There are hardly any lines and the operation features a sumptuous array of maple sugar products.

“And the people here are real nice,” James Horler said.

Maine Maple Sunday is a major hit with thousands of people who descend on the state’s maple syrup-making operations on the fourth Sunday of March. Some operations stretch it out over the weekend. This year, 85 sugarhouses opened their doors to the public to serve pancake breakfasts, maple syrup on snow, maple-infused baked beans and other treats.

Boilers said they expect a better-than-average season in quality and yield this year despite a topsy-turvy season, which started for some operators in January, a month early because of warm weather, then slowed to a trickle during the chilly early spring.

“It’s definitely been different. A lot of the syrup was made back in January,” said Richard Morrill, who produces about 60 gallons a year at his Nash Valley Farm.

Maine is the third-largest producer of syrup of all the states. In 2016, Maine turned out 675,000 gallons. New York was second with 707,000 gallons and Vermont first at 1,990,000 gallons. But Quebec is the maple syrup capital of the world, producing 11.1 million gallons of Canada’s 12.1 million gallon output in 2016.

Maple syrup prices range from about $55 to $63 a gallon this year.

The sap runs when temperatures drop into the 20s at night and rise into the 40s during the day. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to produce a gallon of syrup.

Maine Maple Sunday means total indulgence for some syrup lovers. Samantha Roberts of Windham stood in line for the cash register at Nash Valley Farm with seven bags of maple cotton candy.

“I will send one bag to my mother in Oregon, but the rest are mostly mine,” said Roberts, who also planned to buy some maple whoopie pies and maple pecans.

Betsy Hart of Windham said she always looks forward to Maple Sunday.

“We come here pretty much every year. It is nearby, it is easy and prices are reasonable.” Hart said of the Nash Valley Farm.

Scott Dunn talked maple syrup production nonstop Sunday at the Dunn Family Farm in Buxton, where hundreds of people stopped by for a pancake breakfast and maple syrup demonstrations.

Dunn maintains1,500 taps and has produced 71 gallons so far this season, with no end in sight as long as the current weather pattern holds.

Dunn said he sells his product by word of mouth.

“And by the honor system on the porch,” where people can pick out what they want and leave money, Dunn said.

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

Twitter: QuimbyBeth

]]> 0 large crowd lines up to visit Cooper's Maple Products in Windham on Maine Maple Sunday. In top photo, maple syrup is for sale at Dunn Family Farm in Buxton on Maine Maple Sunday.Sun, 26 Mar 2017 19:20:42 +0000
Driver backs into Ted’s Fried Clams, another vehicle in Shapleigh Sun, 26 Mar 2017 20:19:08 +0000 No one was injured but a car was destroyed Sunday afternoon when it backed into the Ted’s Fried Clams building on Emery Mills Road in Shapleigh and then struck another vehicle.

York County Sheriff William King said Althea Cram, 93, of Acton was backing up about 12:30 p.m. in her 2006 Dodge Stratus when she pushed too hard on the accelerator and crashed into the corner of the building and then into a 2007 Toyota Prius occupied by Hoa Nguyen, 62, of Springvale.

Neither woman required medical attention after being examined by rescue personnel, the sheriff said.

The Dodge was a total loss. The building and the Toyota received minor damage.

]]> 0 Sun, 26 Mar 2017 16:34:00 +0000
Trump to rescind Obama-era rule to slash carbon dioxide, coal emissions Sun, 26 Mar 2017 18:08:53 +0000 The Trump administration will issue an executive order Tuesday that begins dismantling a rule under former President Barack Obama that slashed carbon dioxide emissions and discouraged coal-fired electricity, U.S. environmental chief Scott Pruitt said Sunday.

“The executive order is going to address the past administration’s effort to kill jobs across this country through the Clean Power Plan,” Pruitt said on ABC’s “This Week” program.

Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said Tuesday’s order will be followed swiftly by actions to “make sure that whatever steps we take in the future will be pro-growth, pro-environment but within the framework of the Clean Air Act.” He said the order will be legal and is “an effort to undo the unlawful approach the previous administration engaged in and do it right going forward.”

Under Obama, the EPA set a goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2030, and its Clean Power Plan dictated specific targets for states to reach. The initiative has been in legal limbo since the Supreme Court stayed it in February 2016. Still, utilities have already shed coal-fired electricity and added natural gas and renewable power, partly in a bid to satisfy the looming requirements.

Opponents of the rule argue that the EPA overstepped its regulatory authority under the Clean Air Act by giving states broad carbon-cutting mandates instead of imposing specific requirements on specific facilities.

President Trump’s long-awaited executive order also is expected to compel Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to lift a moratorium on the sale of new coal leases on federal land. The actions set in motion by the order could take years to play out bureaucratically, but the directive will deliver immediate symbolic value.

Rescinding Obama’s Clean Power Plan could help Trump fulfill his pledge to “cancel job-killing restrictions” on domestic energy. It also would undercut the carbon-cutting pledge that the U.S. and nearly 200 other countries made in Paris in 2015 – an accord that Trump may disavow.

Support from coal miners helped propel Trump to victory by aiding wins in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and other states that have seen job losses tied to the fossil fuel decline. Trump has repeatedly promised to put miners back to work.

The change is not expected to return coal to its earlier dominance in electricity production, but the fossil fuel may see moderate growth as a result, according to projections from the Energy Information Administration. Use of natural gas by power plants also could decrease.

Even before he became EPA administrator, Pruitt was fighting the Clean Power Plan. As the state’s attorney general, he had Oklahoma join more than two dozen other states, plus electric utilities, labor unions, business groups and coal miners, in challenging the rule. An array of environmental groups, public health advocates, renewable-energy developers, large corporations and 18 other states defended the initiative.

The U.S. Court of Appeals heard arguments on the challenge last September but hasn’t ruled. The Trump administration can file a motion to hold the matter in abeyance as a way to begin rulemaking aimed at rescinding the measure administratively.

]]> 0 PRUITTSun, 26 Mar 2017 20:41:26 +0000
Wrestling: Marshwood’s Beaulieu edged in national final Sun, 26 Mar 2017 17:54:04 +0000 Marshwood High senior Bradley Beaulieu placed second in the National High School Coaches Association National wrestling championships, held in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Beaulieu won his first five matches before losing to Franco Valdes of Southwest Miami (Florida), 3-2, in Sunday’s final in the Senior 132-pound division.

Beaulieu is now a four-time All-American (top eight) at the NHSCA Nationals, a three-day tournament that separates wrestlers by their grade in school.

Also reaching a final was Jeffrey Worster of Oxford Hills. Worster, who was third at the Class A championships, lost in the Freshman 220-pound final, 10-3, against Cody Williams of Pennsylvania. No other Maine wrestler placed in the top eight, though Winslow’s Ryan Fredette came close, going 5-2 in the Junior 182-pound class.

Beaulieu is a four-time state champion and this year’s New England champion at138 pounds. He finishes his high school career with a record of 248-15.

]]> 0 Sun, 26 Mar 2017 16:22:50 +0000
Fox News host calls on Ryan to step down, hours after Trump plugs her show Sun, 26 Mar 2017 15:38:18 +0000 A Fox News personality – whom President Trump had urged his supporters to watch Saturday night – called on House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., to step down, saying he had done a disservice to Trump by failing to pass a high-profile health-care bill last week.

At the top of her show, Jeanine Pirro, host of “Justice With Judge Jeanine,” delivered a scathing commentary on Ryan’s performance in the days leading up to the decision to pull the House Republican bill to overhaul the Affordable Care Act.

“It failed within the first 70 days of President Donald Trump’s administration, a president who made the replacement of Obamacare the hallmark of his campaign and then used valuable political capital to accomplish it,” said Pirro, placing the blame squarely on Ryan.

“Speaker Ryan, you come in with all your swagger and experience and you sell ’em a bill of goods, which ends up a complete and total failure, and you allow our president in his first 100 days to come out of the box like that, based on what?” she said. “Your legislative expertise, your knowledge of the arcane ins and outs of the bill-writing process? Your relationships? What? Your drinks at the Hay-Adams with your pals?”

Earlier Saturday, Trump took to Twitter to urge his followers to tune into Pirro’s show, saying: “Watch JudgeJeanine on FoxNews tonight at 9:00 P.M.”

In public statements since the bill’s collapse, both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have continued to support Ryan as speaker.

The White House did not respond Saturday night to questions about whether Trump knew what Pirro was going to say.

On Sunday, during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” White House chief of staff Reince Priebus called Trump’s tweet and Pirro’s call for Ryan to step down “coincidental.”

“There is no preplanning here,” Priebus said, adding that Trump promoted Pirro’s show on Twitter “because he loves Judge Jeanine” and wanted to do her a favor.

Trump “doesn’t blame Paul Ryan” for the defeat of the Affordable Care Act overhaul, Priebus said. “He thinks Paul Ryan is a great speaker of the House.”

Pirro said there had been no coordination with Trump in her messaging.

“When he tweeted, ‘Watch Judge Jeanine tonight,’ he and I had absolutely no conversation, no discussion, no email, nothing,” she said.

]]> 0, 26 Mar 2017 16:41:35 +0000
Cincinnati nightclub shooting leaves 1 dead, 15 wounded Sun, 26 Mar 2017 15:35:11 +0000 CINCINNATI — A gunfight broke out inside a crowded Cincinnati nightclub early Sunday, leaving one man dead and 15 others wounded after a dispute among several patrons escalated into a shootout, authorities said.

No suspects were in custody by late afternoon in the shooting at the Cameo club, which has a history of gun violence, and police said there was no indication of any terrorism link.

Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac said one of the wounded was in “extremely critical condition,” while a hospital spokeswoman said two victims were listed in critical condition.

Police began receiving calls at 1:30 a.m. about gunshots at the club near the Ohio River east of downtown Cincinnati. Isaac said some 200 people were inside the club, one of the few hip-hop venues in the city, for music and dancing.

Isaac identified the dead man as 27-year-old O’Bryan Spikes, but provided no other details. He said 15 others were wounded, with some already treated and released from hospitals.

“What we know at this point in the investigation is that several local men got into some type of dispute inside the bar, and it escalated into shots being fired from several individuals,” Isaac said. It wasn’t clear how many people fired shots.

Club patron Mauricio Thompson described a chaotic scene in which as many as 20 shots were fired as people scrambled to get away. He said there was a fight and people were yelling for security to intervene before the gunfire began.

“Once I got outside, people coming out bloody, gunshot wounds on them, some of their friends carrying them to the car, rushing them to the hospital,” Thompson told WCPO-TV. “It was just crazy.”

Police Sgt. Daniel Hils said the large crowd at the club was a factor in the number of people who suffered gunshot wounds.

“When you’re talking about something tightly packed like that, I think intended targets aren’t going to be the only thing that’s hit,” Hils said. “When you starting throwing lead around, and there’s a lot of other people standing around, then the other people are going to get hit.”

]]> 0 body is removed as police work at the Cameo club after a fatal shooting, Sunday, March 26, 2017, in Cincinnati. Sun, 26 Mar 2017 19:50:52 +0000
Lives lost: A contractor, an artist, a telecom professional Sun, 26 Mar 2017 08:00:54 +0000 0, 22 Mar 2017 13:14:58 +0000 Resources for users who want to stop, and how others can help Sun, 26 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Q: I want to learn more about addiction. Where can I go?

A: The National Institute of Drug Abuse has extensive resources about the science of addiction.

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is a good tool for learning about different treatment options and what they entail.

The Alliance for Addiction and Mental Health Services has information and resources that are more specific to Maine.

Q: If I’m in a crisis related to drug addiction, what can I do?

A: The state of Maine operates a crisis hotline called 211 that is available 24 hours a day to help people find resources. The website for that service is: Call 911 if you see someone overdose, but be aware that Maine is not one of the more than 30 states with “Good Samaritan” laws that ensure no one will be charged with a drug-related crime when police respond to an overdose.

Q: Where can I get help?

A: Depending on where you live and your level of resources, you can seek out a detox facility or an in-patient residential treatment facility, or enroll in a medication-assisted treatment program. The 211 service has a comprehensive list of options.

Q: What is medication-assisted treatment?

A: It uses medication, often in combination with counseling or other behavioral therapies, to reduce cravings and prevent relapses. Medication-assisted treatment is increasingly viewed as the most effective method of treating opioid addiction.

Some patients might be suited for methadone, a synthetic opioid that is distributed in clinics. Maine has 10 methadone clinics, but they are scattered so many people in rural areas have difficulty accessing them.

For others, buprenorphine, better known as Suboxone, is more appropriate. It can be prescribed to patients and taken at home. SAMHSA keeps a list of Suboxone providers by state.

Another medication, Vivitrol, is available, but not widely. Vivitrol is a monthly injection that prevents the body from feeling the effects of opioids.

Q: What is detox?

A: For someone who wants to stop their heavy opioid use, detox is often the first step. At the moment, Maine has just one true detox facility – Milestone in Portland – although another is in the works for Bangor.

During detox, the body metabolizes the drugs that are in the system over a period of several days, often with the help of Suboxone. After detoxification, a person can then either enter an in-patient treatment facility or find counseling.

Q: What are the options for residential treatment?

A: People who have struggled to get sober or who may not have strong personal support systems can benefit from a stay in a residential treatment facility. In Maine, there are about 200 beds eligible for MaineCare, and there are dozens more beds at private facilities, all of which are costly. SAMHSA keeps a list of all treatment facilities by state. Maine starts on Page 461 and goes to Page 476.

Many addicts in recovery avoid medication and stay clean in sober houses, which are usually staffed with counselors, and with the help of the 12-step program popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous. There are hundreds of regular meetings held all over the state.

Q: What are my options if I have no insurance?

A: This is the biggest barrier to effective treatment for many with opioid addiction, particularly since Maine tightened eligibility requirements for MaineCare. Treatment facilities may have scholarships or grants that they don’t advertise. Also, community collaboratives such as the Greater Portland Addiction Collaborative try to connect people with resources.

Q: What are some signs that someone might be abusing or addicted to drugs?

A: In early addiction, many people can function normally and hide any evidence. As things worsen, though, problems often appear. Money will often be a constant source of attention. An addicted person may start selling things, steal or commit other crimes to get money to buy drugs. They may start lying more frequently. They often lose weight.

Injection drug users often show signs, such as track marks on their arms. If they always wear long sleeves, that could be a sign.

Q: What should I do if I suspect that a friend is using heroin?

A: Not everyone is ready to acknowledge they need help. You can talk to them about it, but they may push you away. You also can talk to loved ones and organize an intervention. If someone is not ready to stop using, you can try to ensure they are using safely.

Q: Are there ways to ensure that I or my loved one is using safely?

A: Maine has needle exchange programs in the following cities: Portland, Lewiston, Bangor, Ellsworth, Augusta and Machias. Users can drop off used needles and exchange them for new ones at no cost.

Mainers also have access to Narcan, also called naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. A law that passed last year made the drug available to anyone without a prescription, but rules have not been finalized by the Maine Board of Pharmacy. Until that happens, Narcan is available only through prescription from a primary care physician or through some treatment organizations and hospitals.

One other safety precaution: Users should never do opioids alone.

Q: I’m about to have surgery and I’m concerned about prescription painkillers. What questions should I ask my doctor?

A: Opioid-based painkillers are still widely prescribed, but there are many more safeguards in place now to ensure people do not become addicted. Also, many medical practitioners are moving away from opioids and encouraging patients to manage pain in other ways. Sometimes it’s a holistic option such as acupuncture. Another option is prescribing medical marijuana, which is non-habit-forming and carries no overdose risk.

Q: I’ve been on prescription painkillers for chronic pain. How can I ensure that I won’t get addicted?

A: Extended use of opioid-based painkillers can lead to a dependence. Talk to your doctor about tapering down your dosage, rather than stopping abruptly.

]]> 0 Sun, 26 Mar 2017 12:04:22 +0000
Opioids rewire – and take control of – the brain Sun, 26 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Could you forget how to ride a bicycle?

That feeling of forward motion, untethered to a parent steadying the seat, stays with most people into adulthood. Hence the expression: You never forget how.

But imagine for a minute that you did have to forget. Could you unlearn something like that?

That’s what addiction is like, except instead of trying to unlearn something that is fun and mostly free of consequence, you’re trying to unlearn something that has the power to take over your life.

Or to kill you.

Dr. Ruben Baler, a neuroscientist with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said there are many metaphors to explain addiction, but he’s partial to the bike-riding analogy.

“One of my hopes has been that if you can just get people to understand the science, the stigma would just melt away,” Baler said in a telephone interview from NIDA’s headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland. “That hasn’t really happened though.”

The science of addiction is complicated. It’s easier for people to see it as black-and-white. A person makes bad choices and has to live with them. Or, a person started using these drugs, so they can stop; it just takes willpower. This line of thinking is persistent, and even understandable, but researchers say it impedes progress in slowing down the drug crisis.

“Every drug of abuse from the moment of the first use, changes the wiring and connectivity of the brain,” explained Vivek Kumar, a researcher at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor who studies the genetics of addiction. Opioids are particularly problematic, though, because of the speed at which they can take over the brain.


But how does that happen?

Inside the brain are numerous receptors, tiny sites where chemicals, natural or otherwise, bind during neurotransmission.

When the brain feels pleasure, it’s because the body releases chemicals such as dopamine, which attach to receptors. Opioids stimulate a large release of dopamine for the purpose of alleviating pain.

Ask someone to describe the first time they used heroin and the responses are almost romantic. It’s an overwhelming sensation of warmth and safety. It’s like being wrapped in a gentle euphoric hug.

But opioids also bind to other receptors not related to the reward system. Over time – and it doesn’t take long – the brain adapts to these changes in neurotransmitters so that they function normally only when opioids are present.

Even activities that increase dopamine production naturally – things like exercising, eating certain foods, even listening to music – are shunted aside.

“One thing about opiate addiction that stands out is how much a driving force avoidance of withdrawal is,” said Emily Feinstein, director of health law and policy at The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. “Withdrawal then becomes a deterrent to stop.”

Users call it “dope sick,” and their description of it is grim: the worst flu imaginable, amplified by a power of 10. Those suffering from opioid addiction never get back the same feeling of that first high but they are always chasing it.

Here’s another metaphor: If you’re starving, because you haven’t eaten in three days, and your mind is starting to hallucinate, what would you do to find food? Might you do something risky or potentially harmful to satiate that hunger?

Many people suffering from addiction say that they became a different person while using. Loved ones say the same thing. I didn’t recognize my son or daughter anymore, they say.


This is why.

Heidi-Sue Stuart lost her son to heroin in November 2015, but the young man she knew was lost to her long before that. Things changed drastically after a car accident in 2009 left Corey Coburn with severe facial injuries. He had six different plastic surgeries. A metal plate was inserted around his eye. His jaw was wired shut for eight weeks.

Stuart said she slept in the same room with her son for a while because the pain scared him so much.

His doctors prescribed several painkillers: morphine, Percocet, then OxyContin. Six months in, doctors tried to wean him down from high doses with Suboxone.

But Suboxone wasn’t enough. Coburn’s brain had been rewired.

“After the accident you could tell the change. He was angry all the time. He was irritable. He seemed overwhelmed. He seemed stressed,” his mother explained. “Then you would see him relieved. I think he was taking whatever he could to just get by.”

“I know it’s true, myself included, when you think of a heroin addict you think of someone in the alleyway and you don’t think of it being someone close to you and someone you love.”

VITAL SIGNS: Fatal drug overdoses in Maine climbed by 80 percent in the last three years — from 208 to 378.

Baler, the NIDA neuroscientist, said the effects of opioids on the brain are relatively easy to explain, but what complicates addiction is what drives a person to misuse in the first place or why some people are more prone to addiction than others.

No single factor can predict whether a person will become addicted, but genetics and the environment play a role. Poverty, abuse in the home, unstable parents – those are all risk factors.

“The multidimensional aspects of addiction put it in the same family as other psychiatric disorders,” Baler said. “That’s why it makes so much sense to have a multipronged approach to treatment.”


Vivek Kumar, a researcher at The Jackson Laboratory, said it’s hard for him to watch so many people lose their lives to addiction, knowing that science explains how to treat it. Photo courtesy of The Jackson Laboratory

He said medication-assisted treatment like Suboxone or methadone helps to stabilize the brain to make it possible for long-term behavioral recovery.

The key is long-term. It’s so much easier for the brain to learn than to unlearn. Think back to riding a bicycle. Where would you even start to unlearn that skill?

That’s why it’s so important to think about addiction as a brain disease when thinking about treatment and recovery, Feinstein said.

“Abstinence-only is often not successful because the brain hasn’t recovered,” she said. “We still sort of have this approach of you go to a provider and they have one kind of treatment, sort of like how we treated cancer a while ago.

“But everyone is different. If you don’t give the person the treatment that matches their disorder, the success rate is not going to be high.”

Relapse, which happens for as many as 60 percent of opioid addicts – sometimes more than once – often is a clear sign that more or different treatment is needed. But many treatment programs still view relapse as failure.

Even within the treatment community, there is a lot of bias and stigma – the same attitudes carried by those who suffer from addiction.

Abstinence-only advocates may take the position (even unintentionally) that a patient can’t be fully “clean” while on a methadone or Suboxone maintenance program, thereby closing off a scientifically proven form of addiction treatment.

Supporters of medication-assisted treatment, on the other hand, may rely too much on the medicine and not the behavioral therapy that is paired with it, leaving patients with a long-term reliance on the medication because they haven’t gotten to the root of why they used in the first place or because they haven’t learned the skills to suppress urgings or cravings.

Kumar, the Jackson Lab researcher, said if the goal is to help people suffering from addiction, “We need to go where the evidence is.”

The evidence, according to scientists, is medication-assisted treatment coupled with behavioral therapy.

But it’s not a magic bullet. It is work and it can be costly.

Kumar said it’s hard for him to watch so many people lose their lives to addiction, especially knowing that just as science explains addiction, it also explains how to treat it.

“I’m safe in my lab writing grants and doing work. I’m dealing with mice,” he said. “But I do think that, after all these years of waging a war on drugs, we have a real opportunity to get this under control.

“But will we? I don’t know.”

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

Twitter: PPHEricRussell

]]> 0, 26 Mar 2017 12:17:59 +0000
Bill Nemitz: Do my words bother you? That’s OK – you didn’t hear them from me Sun, 26 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 First, let’s get one thing straight. I did not write this column.

I know, that’s my name up there and that’s my picture right next to it and any reasonable person would therefore conclude that these are my words and I can thus be held accountable for everything that follows.

Wrong. Never wrote it. Never said it.

How can I make such a ridiculous claim?

Easy. I just did.

It’s the latest thing in public discourse these days, brought to us by our chief executives both here in Maine and in what’s left of Washington, D.C.

Up in our neck of the woods, Gov. Paul LePage did it with remarkable aplomb during a town hall forum in Gorham on Wednesday.

A woman in the audience asked why he vetoed a politically charged solar-power bill last year, yet signed another bill granting a $13 million bailout for Maine’s biomass-to-electricity industry.

Timely question: Just the day before LePage’s town hall, Portland Press Herald staffer Ed Murphy reported that struggling loggers have stopped delivering biomass to Stored Solar of West Enfield, one of two companies receiving the state subsidy.

Their problem? According to the loggers, Stored Solar stopped paying them for their deliveries weeks ago – adding fuel to many a critic’s prediction that the bailout would end up benefiting only the corporations.

So there stood LePage with this hot potato of a question on his hands and what did he say?

“I did not sign that bill,” he replied flatly. “It went into law without my signature.”

The crowd lapped it right up. But sitting off to one side, Maine Public State House reporter Steve Mistler’s ears went up.

The ever-observant Mistler followed the biomass bill closely last spring and distinctly remembered LePage reluctantly signing it. He even remembered double-checking and seeing the actual signature on the actual document.

And so Maine Public immediately ran with Mistler’s story, headlined “LePage Says He Didn’t Sign $13 Million Biomass Bailout (He Did).”

It was hardly LePage’s first head-on collision with the truth. But unlike many of his past whoppers, this one wasn’t about some distant memory or some story that could never be fully vetted.

No, this was a flat-out denial of a recent signature that’s still there, plain as day, for all to see. This was the preschooler solemnly swearing he didn’t eat the cookies, oblivious to the Oreo chunks still lodged between his teeth.

So how did Team LePage contain the damage from this one?

They didn’t. No pushback, no clarification, no claim that the governor, once again, was taken out of context. Not a peep.

Lie? What lie?

Damage? What damage?

I’m telling you, folks, you just can’t go wrong with this look-people-in-the-eye-and-lie strategy. I mean, you literally can’t go wrong. Ever!

Cut to Washington, D.C., where President Trump has spent the last few weeks drowning in his made-up claim that the Obama administration had “wires tapped” in Trump Tower during last year’s presidential campaign.

Umm … nope. Never happened.

Yet still Trump clings to this fabrication. It’s only a matter of time before he tweets that he heard about the wiretap from none other than the Man from U.N.C.L.E. … or was it Agent Maxwell Smart?

Then, late on Friday, Trump one-upped even himself.

While the repeal and replacement of Obamacare went down in flames all around him, a strangely serene president told a gaggle of reporters in the Oval Office: “You’ve all heard my speeches. I never said repeal it and replace it within 64 days.”

Correct, Mr. President. As the Washington Post points out in a delightful, rat-a-tat video montage, you repeatedly said “one of my first acts as president” would be to deep-six the Affordable Care Act “immediately … starting on Day One.”

Foiled again? Fuggedaboutit. It’s time, Trump now tells us, to move on.

So this is what we’ve come to, folks.

While fake news swirls through the gutter in the stiffening political winds, our highest elected officials no longer obfuscate, equivocate or prevaricate.

They just flat-out lie.

There is no ink on that piece of paper.

There is no video on that screen.

There is no unassailable truth. Reality itself is now up for grabs.

And while those smart enough to have not voted for them in the first place watch these “day-is-night, night-is-day” twisters in utter amazement, Trumpists and LePage loyalists nod along in blissful agreement with whatever spews from their heroes’ mouths.

In LePage Land, there simply is no signature to what’s starting to look like yet another shameless corporate giveaway of millions in taxpayer dollars.

In Trumpworld, repeal and replace was … meh … somewhere down there on the to-do list. (A fantastic to-do list, by the way. Totally fantastic. Terrific list. …)

So now I get it.

Facts are facts, until they’re not. What happened happened, until it didn’t.

Memory is in the eye of the rememberer – perhaps best illustrated by the time on “Get Smart” that Agent Max took a fire extinguisher to the head of the Chief.

“I said I was sorry,” Max later told Chief. “You just didn’t hear me because you were in a mini-coma.”

There’s a lot of that going around these days. Indeed, considering how high LePage and Trump have risen, maybe this complete lack of accountability for what comes out of one’s mouth is the new normal.

I don’t know about you, but I find that strangely liberating. Kind of like not having your cookies and eating them too.

Tempted to give it try? Allow me.

Paul LePage is a fraud. He’s disgraced his state, squandered millions on boneheaded ideological crusades and, one year after trying to organize a Republican coup against then-candidate Trump, now fantasizes about the call from the White House that will come … someday?

Donald Trump is beyond a disgrace to the office of the presidency. He’s supremely unqualified, has no leadership acumen whatsoever and poses a serious danger to the entire planet.

Say what?

You didn’t like that?

Not my problem.

I didn’t write it.

Bill Nemitz can be contacted at:

]]> 0, ME - MAY 15: Images of Portland Press Herald news reporters and columnists, Wednesday, May 15, 2014. (Photo by Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer)Sun, 26 Mar 2017 04:29:52 +0000
Note from the editor: How the 10-part ‘Lost’ series came to be Sun, 26 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000

GETTING HELP: Resources for those who want to stop, and how others can help

As a devastating public health crisis tore through families and communities across the state, the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram set out to document the heroin epidemic’s impact. A team of reporters sought to understand the causes and consequences of the rapidly rising death toll by listening to firsthand accounts of survivors – the loved ones left behind after an opioid-related death.

The newspaper met with Attorney General Janet Mills, whose office oversees the state medical examiner, and requested help in finding families who suffered losses and were willing to share their stories. Mills mailed a personal letter to family members of the hundreds of victims who have died recently and asked them to contact the newspaper if they agreed to be interviewed. In addition, reporters found families through obituaries, funeral home directors and drug counselors.

After interviewing more than 100 families who agreed to share their stories about their lost loved ones, reporters produced 60 individual portraits of overdose victims. In addition, these interviews and those of drug addiction experts and people in recovery revealed aspects of the crisis that were going unreported.

How women in particular are succumbing to the drug epidemic because of insufficient treatment facilities. How the state made treatment harder to get. How some families are devastated by multiple overdose deaths. How hundreds more children are being removed from drug-infested homes and stressing the child welfare system.

This 10-part series is the result of a yearlong project involving more than 50 reporters, editors and photographers.

Cliff Schechtman

Executive Editor

]]> 0 ON: Behind the wheel of her daughter's car this month, Ann Howgate of Lebanon clutches the blanket that EMTs used to cover Kristina Emard after the 28-year-old woman was discovered dead in the vehicle on Sept. 25, 2016. Kristina, who'd served in the Army and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, died from an overdose of cocaine and fentanyl. Learn her story, listen to audio memories and read much more at, 26 Mar 2017 23:08:26 +0000
Dine Out Maine: The Proper Pig ranges from Mexico to China to Hawaii and more Sun, 26 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 If patrons of the erstwhile SoPo Bar & Grill are still wondering where the restaurant’s signature Victorian-style mahogany wood bar went when the business shuttered in October, I have the answer. It’s in Waterville, and it’s the reason why The Proper Pig exists.

The heavy wood colossus – fortified by stocky square columns and a molded crown – seduced The Proper Pig’s chef and co-owner Fred Ouellette the instant he saw it for sale in South Portland. “It was so beautiful, I just fell in love with it. I bought that bar before (co-owner Bill Mitchell) and I even agreed what kind of restaurant to put it in. We had to cut it down by six or seven feet because it was just so huge, but I had to have it. That’s how we decided we were going to open a bar,” he said.

With a forgivable loan from the city of Waterville granted as part of the municipality’s downtown revitalization efforts, the pair gutted a building that Mitchell had recently purchased. Down came thin walls that chopped the space into tiny offices, and up went that bar, along with cushioned booth seating, exposed-bulb lighting, 7-foot cartoon prints of sandwiches and charcuterie and several black-and-white line drawings of a slightly menacing, monacle-sporting hog. “A friend came up with that character. The pig had a top hat, so we decided then that he had to be proper,” Ouellette said.

If the restaurant’s origin story seems like a fable whose moral is “always embrace the haphazard,” The Proper Pig’s menu reads like a tale from the same book. In the appetizer section alone, the menu features Mexican, Chinese, French-Canadian, Southern and even classic New England dishes side-by-side. Add in a few culinary references to New York, Hawaii and France across the rest of the menu, and you’ve got a pub-food game of “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?”

It’s all a bit confusing, but for Ouellette, who learned his craft by working at Waterville’s ultra-eclectic The Last Unicorn – a restaurant he and his wife eventually purchased and now run together – randomness is part of his style. “I study cookbooks like they’re bibles. I dive into any kind of food magazine I can get my hands on, just grabbing ideas and piecing them together. I get to be a mad scientist,” he said.

When it works, his dishes are playful and competently prepared, like the Piggly Wiggly ($10.95), a sandwich that revels in its own overspill. Hickory-smoked pulled pork butt, a crisp onion ring and dollop of aptly named “sloppy slaw” all barely stay within the confines of the plate, let alone the egg-washed brioche bun. And that’s OK. The pork is tangy, a Northerner’s take on vinegary North Carolina barbecue, and good enough to make you grab a fork when the bun’s structural integrity gives out.

Then there’s The Proper Popper ($11.95), a hamburger engineered to appeal to thrillseekers. Onto an unusually lean (10-percent fat) but remarkably juicy patty, Ouellete melts cheese made with nuclear-grade Bhut jolokia peppers (also known as ghost peppers) that clock in at more than a million Scoville units. They are orders of magnitude hotter than Tabasco sauce or Sriracha. He tempers the heat with a slice of grilled pineapple, a little bacon and a generous squirt of cilantro-lime aioli, and winds up with a sandwich that is complex and only just mouth-ticklingly spicy – a real pleasure to eat.

If you’re particularly sensitive to spice, you might want to have a drink at hand, like one of The Proper Pig’s dozen tap selections of Maine craft beers. I especially enjoyed the dry-bitter, citrusy G-String Pale Ale ($6.50) from the Funky Bow Brewery & Beer Company in Lyman, a straightforward brew that never drew too much of my attention and made an excellent pairing for most of the dishes I ate – the sort of beer you drink when you want to focus on something else.

I needed the mental space to focus on balance, or more to the point, its absence, as I began to see a persistent wobbly disharmony in the other dishes I sampled. In some, small faults threw things off-kilter just a bit, as in the Strawberry Garcia ($5.95), a chocolate “Swedish crème,” which was a thick, stodgy, too-cold chocolate mousse – almost the texture of a pudding – made with sour cream, whipped cream and sugar. “It’s like the chocolate silk pie filling, but without the pie,” Ouellette said. Served in a bowl, topped with whipped cream and a single strawberry fanned out across the top, the dessert was too tart, almost cheesy, and so rich that two of us could not finish a single small serving.

MaryMay Goodrich prepares a meal in the kitchen. Staff photo by John Ewing

Elsewhere, salt was a problem. The cheese dip ($9.95), made with sharp cheddar, “beer cheese,” strong Dijon mustard and more beer for good measure, was agreeable enough on its own. But when eaten with the accompanying soft, kosher-salt-sprinkled pretzel, the combination was far too salty. “I’m imagining my future cardiologist telling me, ‘This is where it all went wrong,'” my 19-year-old dinner guest said, dunking a piece of doughy pretzel into the slightly split dip.

The Proper Pig’s version of Taiwanese gua bao, steamed white dough buns with a slice of crispy pork belly folded inside ($10.95) also fell short of its potential. Ouellette got both the crisp edges and yielding interior of the sliced cubes of pork belly, as well as all the garnishes (shredded carrots, cucumbers, scallions and cilantro), exactly right. But steam can be a cruel master: The pale buns – purchased from a supplier – were cooked so long that they became leathery and tough on the outside, crumbly on the inside. The sticky hoisin-ginger sauce on the pork was also excessively sweet, squelching the dish’s other, more nuanced flavors.

Things played out the same way with the smoked baby back ribs ($14.95), painted with a thick layer of brown-sugar BBQ sauce and served with a slab of honey-drizzled cornbread so sweet it tasted like a slice of semolina cake. The amplitude of the flavors might be an execution error, but the idea behind them is no accident: “I just love sweet with meat,” Ouellette explained.

Agree with him or not, chances are good that he’ll figure out how to rectify the menu’s problems in short order. Ouellette already operates in a “fail fast, fail often” environment thanks to his work at The Last Unicorn, where he changes his menu every day (and desserts three times a week). In a month, he cycles through more dishes than most chefs do in years.

The Proper Pig gives him a chance to take this vast experience and explore what it means to commit to a dish, improving it over time. That excites him. “At The Pig, we’ve done a lot of changing just within the first six months, and we’ll continue to. I can’t stop. I’ll just keep messing with it until I get it right,” he said. After tasting how his tinkering turned a ghost pepper hamburger into something I’d happily order for my 73-year-old mother, I’m willing to wager that Ouellette’s old mahogany bar sticks around in Waterville for quite some time to come.

Andrew Ross has written about food in the United Kingdom and in New York, where he co-founded NYCnosh, a food website. He and his work have been featured on Martha Stewart Living Radio and in The New York Times. He is an Internet researcher and higher education consultant. Contact him at:

Twitter: @AndrewRossME

]]> 0 belly mini buns.Sun, 26 Mar 2017 04:52:23 +0000
Speed limit will drop to 65 mph on stretch of I-295 on Monday Sun, 26 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 The Maine Department of Transportation will drop the speed limit on a 22-mile stretch of Interstate 295 between Falmouth and Topsham to 65 mph from the current 70 mph early Monday.

The decision to lower the speed limit was made in February after the MDOT concluded that speed played a role in a 29 percent increase in crashes on that stretch of road during a two-year span between the year before the state raised the speed limit to 70 mph in 2014 and the year after it had been in effect for a full year. Driver distraction and traffic volume, which increased 6.4 percent in that same time period, also played a role, according to an MDOT analysis.

Variable-message boards have been warning motorists about the planned reduction in the speed limit for the last two weeks. All permanent speed signs along the Falmouth-Topsham stretch of I-295, which state officials say is the most heavily traveled in Maine, will be replaced on the highway by the end of the month. The drop in the speed limit, to take effect at 12:01 a.m. Monday, is dependent on the weather – a storm could delay its implementation.

The lower speed limit is the first of several planned initiatives to reduce crashes on the Falmouth-Topsham portion of I-295, which runs 53 miles from West Gardiner to Scarborough. The MDOT began monitoring I-295 after it noticed an uptick in crashes in 2015. Since then, the Falmouth-Topsham section appears to have been the only area with a corresponding increase in crashes.

An analysis of radar readings found the average high speed was 78-81 mph, 10 mph faster than before the speed limit was raised.

The agency is planning a long-term technical study of the I-295 corridor that will focus on highway interchanges in the Falmouth area, but it will also make immediate safety improvements that it will roll out through 2019, including traffic signals, new lighting and evaluation of new ramps in Yarmouth, Falmouth, and South Portland, and two dozen variable-message signs to inform drivers about road conditions and crashes.

The state is also considering expanding medians and turnoffs to help state police enforce speed limits. State police have said that enforcement is not easy during high-traffic times, and that pulling a driver over can create more of a safety problem than it solves.

That Topsham-Falmouth stretch of I-295 is one of the most challenging in the state for troopers because of the high volume of traffic, state officials say.

Penelope Overton can be contacted at:

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Death toll: Numbers show overdose deaths in Maine continue to climb Sun, 26 Mar 2017 07:59:53 +0000 0, 26 Mar 2017 04:39:22 +0000 Holding on: Listen to memories from those who have lost loved ones Sun, 26 Mar 2017 07:59:37 +0000 0, 26 Mar 2017 04:39:39 +0000 Lives lost: A dad, an artist, a contractor, an adopted son Sun, 26 Mar 2017 07:59:35 +0000 0 for Day 1 of lostSun, 26 Mar 2017 04:37:32 +0000 Lost: Heroin’s killer grip on Maine’s people Sun, 26 Mar 2017 07:59:31 +0000 0, 26 Mar 2017 04:39:54 +0000 Video: Opioids take control if the brain Sun, 26 Mar 2017 07:59:12 +0000 0, 26 Mar 2017 04:37:13 +0000 A deadly epidemic: Addiction to opioids has put an entire generation at risk Sun, 26 Mar 2017 07:59:00 +0000

Behind the wheel of her daughter’s car this month, Ann Howgate of Lebanon clutches the blanket that EMTs used to cover Kristina Emard after she was found dead in the vehicle on Sept. 25, 2016. Howgate had desperately sought treatment in Maine for Kristina, 28, an Army veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and died from an overdose of cocaine and fentanyl, a powerful opioid. Staff photo by Brianna Soukup

Dr. Mary Dowd slid into a chair inside the Portland offices of Catholic Charities and surveyed the list of patients, all battling opioid addiction.

There was Rachel, a 40-year-old mother of three balancing her sobriety with a toxic relationship with her ex-husband. And Michael, 32, anxiously awaiting the birth of his second child and celebrating seven months free of heroin, hoping many more months lie ahead. And Tanya, 34, working two jobs to pay for her medication-assisted treatment and save for a down payment on a new house.

There was Shannon, 32, who confessed to a recent relapse after nine months clean. She wasn’t happy about the setback but said she could have easily “gone on a run” of destructive drug use. She came to see Dowd instead.

She knew she’d fail a drug test but said, “I want to be held accountable.”

There was Andrew, also 32, who had recently completed a detox program and was soon to check into a 45-day residential treatment center in Auburn, a prospect that terrified him.

“I’ve been trying to shake it on my own,” he told Dowd, pausing to look down, his voice lowering to a whisper. “I just couldn’t do it.”

It was a Wednesday morning in January but it could have been any day of any month in any of the last few years. This is how Dowd spends them.

Many people struggling with addiction find treatment and regain their lives. She sees it every day. Those are the lucky ones.

But it’s the people she never gets to see who frustrate her. The ones who don’t make it. The ones who are dying in unprecedented numbers.

They are dying in the potato fields of Aroostook County and the lobster-fishing harbors Down East. They are dying in the western Maine foothills where paper mill closures have sown economic anxiety. They are dying in cities like Portland and Lewiston and in the suburbs, where opioids are in plentiful supply.

The death toll reached 378 in 2016, driven almost entirely by opioids – prescription painkillers, heroin and now fentanyl, a powerful synthetic. More than one victim per day. More than car accidents. Or suicide. Or breast cancer.

Only four years ago, there were 176 overdose deaths, less than half the 2016 total. Twenty years ago, just 34 people died from drug overdoses.

But in the last few years, the crisis has been more acute here than almost anywhere else. From 2013 to 2014, Maine saw the third-highest increase in any state, 27 percent.

The following year, 272 Mainers died from overdose, a 26 percent increase, putting the state behind only New Hampshire, North Dakota and Massachusetts in the rate of increase. That gave the state an overdose mortality rate, adjusted for age, of 21.2 per 100,000 people.

Comparable state-by-state data has not been compiled for 2016 but the recent numbers for Maine, where deaths increased by another 39 percent, suggest the trend is worsening.

It shows no signs of stopping.

The list of deaths would be longer if not for the increased availability and use of the drug Narcan, which reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.

In 2016, rescue workers used Narcan 2,380 times, up from 1,565 the year before, according to state data. Republican Gov. Paul LePage has been critical of Narcan and has used language that suggests people get what they deserve and shouldn’t be saved after a couple of overdoses.

The hardest part for Dowd and the many others like her throughout the state who treat addiction every day isn’t the number. It’s the sense that Maine hasn’t seen the worst of it yet and an entire generation is at risk of being lost.

“I don’t know how we can just sit and watch this happen,” said Dowd, who is soft-spoken by nature but passionate in bursts. “Where is the outrage? Where is the urgency?”


Shortly after delivering the eulogy, Angela Fauth of South Portland bends to kiss the casket of her cousin Randy Ouellette during his burial service last month at New Calvary Cemetery in South Portland. Ouellette, a popular bartender at Blackstones in Portland, died alone in his apartment of an apparent heroin overdose on Jan. 29. He was 42. Staff photo by Derek Davis

A yearlong Maine Sunday Telegram/Portland Press Herald examination of the opioid crisis and the collective response reveals that the state was largely unprepared, particularly for the increased demand for treatment, and is now trying to catch up.

For several years as the problem worsened, policymakers – led by LePage – made it harder to get treatment, not easier. They reduced reimbursement rates for methadone, a drug used to treat opioid addiction. They tightened eligibility for MaineCare, the state’s version of Medicaid, leaving many low-income people without the ability to pay. They fought increased access to Narcan, prompting Attorney General Janet Mills, a frequent adversary of the governor, to sidestep him and use funds her office controls to provide the overdose drug to local police departments.

In a radio interview in mid-March, LePage accused Democrats of blocking his efforts to increase treatment for opioid addiction. The governor’s assertion, which contradicts his previous opposition to more treatment spending, heightens the partisan conflict over an issue that was already dividing policymakers along party lines.

Until recently, there has been little increased spending on treatment to tackle the crisis. What new spending has been authorized hasn’t had an impact yet or has been offset by cuts elsewhere. The LePage administration agreed last December to spend $2.4 million for medication-assisted treatment for uninsured Mainers, many of whom lost insurance during cuts to MaineCare. And in February, the administration worked with lawmakers to add $4.8 million more for treatment into a supplemental budget.

COMING MONDAY: Families hit hard: For some caught in crisis, tragedies multiply

About 15,500 people received opioid addiction treatment in Maine in 2015, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. But the total number of Mainers addicted to opioids is unknown. The Office of the Surgeon General estimates that, nationally, only 10 percent of people living with addiction get treatment.

And despite a consensus that addiction has reached epidemic proportions, policymakers and treatment specialists – even among themselves – are not united on a solution, even as deaths reach unprecedented levels.

The state has hired more drug agents, which has led to many more arrests and heroin seizures, but those efforts didn’t address demand or stop the overdose death rate from rising.

Perhaps the biggest barrier to overcome remains societal perceptions. Though a well-documented body of scientific research shows that addiction is a chronic disease of the brain, many still see it as a choice, a bad behavior that represents a character flaw or moral weakness. From this perspective, addiction is not a condition to be treated but a stigma to be hidden or denied.

Neither LePage nor Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew agreed to be interviewed by the Telegram and Press Herald for stories about the opioid crisis. The administration has long been critical of the newspapers, accusing them of having a liberal bias.

Others, however, say every day that passes is a missed opportunity to save lives. They say the solution isn’t one thing. It’s more of everything. More treatment beds. More medication-assisted treatment. More education and prevention. More money for people who don’t have insurance. And mostly, more compassion.

Because recovery isn’t a straight line. People stumble and fall. Sometimes they stumble and fall many times.

Dr. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. Surgeon General in the final two years of President Obama’s administration, published a report on addiction in November – the first of its kind. In it, he called for a fundamental shift in the conversation. He said the societal response will be a “moral test” for the country.

“There are millions of people living in the shadows,” Murthy said in a Telegram interview. “Many don’t want to talk if there is a camera nearby. They worry about losing their job or being ostracized by friends. And I understand that but that’s not the environment we need.

“It’s so important for individuals to step up and share their stories,” he said. “They remind us that we can’t be satisfied with incremental progress. Because lives are at stake.”

In 2015, a total of 52,404 lives were lost, 33,091 from opioids alone. That’s up 11 percent from the previous year and nearly triple the total from 1999. At the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the annual U.S. death toll peaked at 50,786.

By comparison, 37,757 people died in car crashes in 2015. The number of gun deaths, including homicides and suicides, totaled 36,252.

“I spent a lot of time being terrified,” says Lynn Ouellette, whose 22-year-old son, Brendan Keating, died of an overdose on Dec. 16, 2013. “People know what happened in the end,” the Brunswick woman says, “but they don’t know about the terror leading up to it. It’s like being on a plane you’re always worried is going to crash.” Staff photo by Brianna Soukup


Over the course of a year, more than 60 families of overdose victims shared their stories with the Telegram and Press Herald. Dozens more Mainers in active recovery related their experiences as well.

Collectively, they revealed much: that people know very little about opioids until they are forced to learn; that opioids take over a person’s life in a way no other substance can; that effective treatment is hard to find and even harder to pay for; that addiction can happen in any family.

Many spoke of the overwhelming guilt and shame that are paired with addiction, how hard they are to overcome, and how it is time to reframe the conversation. Because often lost in the debate over addiction policy – a debate sometimes driven more by ideology than scientifically sound practices – is the human impact of the opioid crisis.

Families are left to agonize about what went wrong. Children grow up without a parent. Lives are fractured, perhaps irreparably.

Lynn Ouellette’s son, Brendan Keating, died from an overdose in December 2013 – as the addiction problem was just beginning to develop into a full-blown crisis.

There are things Ouellette will talk about when it comes to her son. How he got a tattoo of her last name while she was going through breast cancer. How he built her a beautiful walkway shortly after he graduated from masonry school.

But she still doesn’t share the details of finding the 22-year-old unconscious from an overdose in the basement of her Brunswick home.

“It’s still too hard,” she said. “But I was always terrified that’s how it would end. I spent a lot of time being terrified. People know what happened in the end but they don’t know about the terror leading up to it. It’s like being on a plane you’re always worried is going to crash.”

In a bedroom of Heidi-Sue Stuart’s home in Lisbon, there is a blood-stained section of rug that’s covered over by a chair.

The blood belonged to her son, Corey Coburn, who coughed it up when he overdosed on the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl and died on that spot in November 2015. Stuart held her son in her arms and screamed for help that never came. He was 28.

She doesn’t have the money to replace the soiled rug. So there it stays, a constant reminder.

Molly Parks died of a heroin overdose April 16, 2015, leaving behind her father Tom, center, sister Kasey, left, and stepmother Pat Noble. Staff photo by Brianna Soukup

In Saco, Tom Parks has left a pile of boxes in his garage that hold the possessions of his oldest daughter, Molly. She injected a lethal dose of heroin in the bathroom of the restaurant where she worked in April 2015, ending her life at 24.

Parks mourns his daughter every day but can’t bring himself to go through her things. He’s not scared of what he’ll find, just worried that the act might make it easier to move on, to forget, and he doesn’t want to forget.

It’s the same reason he wrote his daughter’s cause of death into her obituary, a disclosure that is still uncommon. He wanted people to know what killed Molly.

In Lebanon, Carly Zysk has battled opioid addiction for years, hoping to spare her parents from mourning the loss of another child.

Her brother, David, had been free of heroin for four years. He had gone back to college and maintained a near-perfect GPA. He had become a leading advocate for the Greater Portland recovery community.

At a candlelight vigil for drug overdose awareness in August 2015, David Zysk spoke about the need for people to stay vigilant in their recovery.

“As much as I hope and pray that the words about to come out of my mouth ring untrue, given the stark facts it is completely possible that not everyone who is here right now will be here a year, a month, or a day from now,” he said.

Zysk’s words were prophetic. A little more than two months later, he died alone after injecting heroin in a South Portland hotel room. He was 33.

“I still think people have this idea in their head about who is caught up in this crisis,” says Dr. Mary Dowd, who specializes in treating addiction and sees hundreds of patients through her work at Catholic Charities Maine, Milestone Foundation and the Cumberland County Jail. “It could be anyone.” Staff photo by Gregory Rec


For Mary Dowd, the main goal is to keep people alive, keep them coming back to see her.

In addition to her work at Catholic Charities, Dowd is the medical director for Milestone Foundation, which runs a 16-bed detox center in Portland. She sees patients at Discovery House in South Portland, where she prescribes Suboxone, a drug used to treat opioid dependence. She also works part-time at the Cumberland County Jail, where addiction drove so many of the inmates’ crimes.

There may be no one who is more connected to the opioid crisis in southern Maine, professionally and emotionally, than Dowd. She has submitted passionate pleas to newspaper op-ed pages, hoping her words might light fires.

“Hasn’t this crisis been in the headlines long enough? Haven’t enough of our children overdosed and died?” she wrote in an August 2015 piece to the Telegram, advocating for better access to Narcan and more funding for treatment.

In another submission from December 2016, she revisited the crisis by looking back at promises that failed to materialize.

“Last year I was hopeful. Things were happening: summits, task forces, community forums, much talk about the opioid crisis in the Legislature, in the news and in towns throughout Maine. I told my patients things were changing, help was on its way,” Dowd wrote. “But for my patients, nothing has changed.”

Not one lawmaker contacted her after that piece ran.

So she keeps going to work, frustrated.

She allowed a Telegram reporter to spend several days with her on the condition that her patients not be identified.

Among the dozen patients Dowd saw that morning in January, the oldest was in his late 50s and the youngest in her early 20s. The majority were in their late 20s or early 30s. Most had children and an underlying mental health problem that led them to use in the first place – anxiety and depression being the most common. Many had a history of substance use in their families.

Their history of use varied, but patterns emerged: They started on a prescription opioid first, often after a surgery or injury. They swore they would never use heroin, until they were using heroin. They swore it was a one-time thing. They tried managing addiction on their own, often by purchasing diverted Suboxone on the street. When they couldn’t find that, they reverted to heroin.

Opioids, perhaps more than any substance, have a profound impact on the brain. Essentially, the drugs take over to the point where the brain can only function when they are present. Getting clean means fixing a brain that has been rewired.

That’s how it has been for Michael Murphy, who agreed to be identified. As of January, he had seven months of sobriety, but it didn’t come easy. He tried many times to get clean on his own but couldn’t do it. It took him a while to ask for help.

Eventually Murphy found his way to Catholic Charities and Dowd, whose clinical approach is compassionate and judgment-free.

“It’s hard to get to that point where you ask for help,” he said. “You think you can manage it and then you just fall back.”

Dowd knows each of their stories, which is remarkable considering she sees hundreds of patients.

She knows that the best way to connect with patients in recovery is to meet them where they are, to understand that relapses are going to happen.

Westbrook native Stephen Barbour, a recovering heroin addict, spends time at a residential treatment facility in Haverhill, Mass., in the spring of 2016. Acting against medical advice, he left the facility just three days later, with hopes of managing his addiction on his own. Staff photo by Gabe Souza


The roots of the current opioid crisis were planted in the late 1990s.

At that time, the medical community was under pressure to treat pain more aggressively. Pharmaceutical companies responded. Purdue Pharma, in particular, developed a time-release version of the opioid painkiller OxyContin that was marketed as a wonder drug.

Maine’s fishermen, loggers and other physical laborers provided plenty of demand for the new pain medications, and the prescriptions flowed.

The pill was created to dissolve gradually in stomach acid, releasing the drug slowly into the system over a period of up to 12 hours. But it had a flaw: Enterprising users could crush the pill and snort it, getting the entire dose all at once to produce an instant and powerful high. “Hillbilly heroin” was born.

Kimberly Johnson, who ran the Maine Office of Substance Abuse under two governors from 2000 to 2007, said Maine was the first state to raise the issue of OxyContin nationally.

“For a while, we were voices in the wilderness,” said Johnson, who’s now director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment at the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in Rockville, Maryland.

She remembers the first time she encountered a woman hooked on heroin, a powerful and addictive drug made from poppy plants that is often injected directly into the bloodstream.

“It would be what we call a classic case now but you just didn’t see it then,” Johnson said. “She had been in a car accident and was prescribed an opioid for back pain. The prescription stopped but she still had pain.”

Johnson still remembers what the woman told her.

“She said, ‘You’ll think this is crazy but someone told me heroin would take care of that pain,’ ” she said. “And of course it did.”

The shift from prescription painkillers to heroin and now fentanyl can be explained with simple economics.

Yes, the rise in painkiller misuse in the 2000s led to tightening of prescribing practices – a fight that continues today – but high-level drug traffickers also began to flood the market with heroin.

It still found its way to big cities, but from there it started to spread to secondary markets, such as Lawrence or Lowell, Massachusetts, and then to places like Maine. Supply and demand.

VITAL SIGNS: In 2014, Gov. LePage began pushing lawmakers to add agents to the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency in response to the opioid epidemic. In late 2015, money was finally obtained for 10 additional agents. Heroin investigations by MDEA increased from 306 in 2014 to 531 last year, while investigations of other opioid cases decreased from 245 to 155.

Timothy Cheney, a longtime advocate for treatment and a member of the state’s Substance Abuse Services Commission, has studied addiction for a long time and has lived it, too. He was addicted to heroin in the 1970s, before it had spread beyond inner cities.

“To understand an addict, you have to understand their pain. We try to avoid pain,” he said in an interview at his home in Walpole.

It may start as physical pain, but it almost always progresses to suppressing emotional pain, a much more nebulous thing.

“You have to ask yourself, what is happening in this society? We have a breakdown in community, people feeling a sense of disenfranchisement, a sense of dislocation, a sense of not belonging, and in some cases, a sense of no purpose,” Cheney said. “But nobody wakes up and says this is what I want, to be imprisoned by these drugs.”

Cheney, who also is involved with Grace Street Recovery Services, a Lewiston-based treatment center, and founded Chooper’s Guide, an online addiction resource center, joined the state commission because he was tired of seeing inaction.

“The minds that created this problem are not going to be the ones that solve this problem,” he said, paraphrasing Albert Einstein. “And we need new thoughts because, obviously, Maine hasn’t done a very good job in what they are doing.”

Other states are struggling to address the crisis, too, although some have tackled it more aggressively.


The biggest barrier to meaningful progress remains stigma.

Dowd had a family practice in Yarmouth about a decade ago when she began working part-time at the Cumberland County Jail. She was struck by how much addiction played a role in criminal behavior and decided to practice addiction medicine full time.

In the nearly nine years since, she has learned this: The only thing that separates her from most of the people who sit across her desk every day is circumstance.

“I still think people have this idea in their head about who is caught up in this crisis,” said Dowd, who wears sandals in wintertime and speaks in a warm but no-nonsense manner. “It could really be anyone.”

On that same day in January that she met with patients at Catholic Charities, Dowd checked in during the afternoon at Milestone, the only true detox facility in the state. For opioid users, detox means a gradual weaning off their substance, often with Suboxone, to stabilize them for entry into a more long-term treatment program, either a residential rehab or intensive outpatient program that couples medication with counseling and group sessions.

Dowd does medical intakes on every patient who comes through Milestone. There are 16 beds there, but patients typically spend only five to seven days. Some don’t make it that long. The facility turns away dozens every week because it doesn’t have room.

Those who do secure a spot are often desperate. Like her Suboxone patients, their stories have similarities. Many have tried to stop before, and some even had long periods of clean time before relapsing. With each relapse, the addiction worsened.

Dennis, 33, told Dowd he’s been using anywhere from 1 to 2 grams of heroin a day. He started about six years ago, after a shoulder surgery for which the doctor prescribed Vicodin. He didn’t know he was dependent until the prescription expired.

He had some legal trouble related to his drug use early on and ended up in jail. After he got out, he was drug-free and stayed that way for three years.

“But time passes,” he said. “You forget. You stop working on your recovery.”

Pills turned into heroin simply because that’s what he could afford.

At that point, Dowd asked him what she asks every patient during an intake: Why did you decide to come in?

“I’m just sick of fighting every day,” he said, his voice weary. “It’s like I’m leading a double life. I work all day and then I’m a drug addict at night. I’m just tired.”

She asked him what he planned to do after detox. He told her he got accepted into Milestone’s residential program in Old Orchard Beach. It’s a lengthy program – nine months or more – but he’s ready. And grateful. The program keeps open just three scholarship beds for people who can’t pay and, if Dennis can hold it together, one of them is his.

When he left, Dowd said she was glad he had found a treatment bed. Most patients aren’t that lucky, especially if they don’t have MaineCare or private insurance. Most facilities don’t have scholarship beds.

Jennifer Ouellette, clinical director of York County Shelter Programs, has seen the opioid crisis move in slowly but she still remembers her first client who died.

“I remember feeling so sad because he had no family support,” she said. “And all the things people value when it comes to death – I remember thinking who’s going to do that for this guy? And then I started thinking about this guy as a child. It really had a profound effect on me.”

So, she started keeping a list of people who died.

“I kept that list for years until it got to be over 100. Then I had to stop. It just got to be so painful.”

Sometimes you wonder if you make a difference, she said, and then you get a card or a phone call out of the blue and it’s someone who is doing well.

“But I see no human compassion at all sometimes. I see people say, ‘You’re choosing to use,’ but you’re missing about 30 chapters before that needle goes in the arm,” she said. “No one starts there.”


As many states grapple with their own crises, nearby Vermont offers a sharp contrast to Maine in its response.

In 2014, Gov. Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, devoted his entire State of the State speech to the opioid crisis, focusing particularly on increasing access to treatment, on treating addiction as a public health issue rather than as a crime, and on compassion.

Gov. Peter Shumlin in 2014 proposed a $6.7 million plan to create a coordinated system for treatment and recovery in Vermont. The number of overdoses in the state remained largely unchanged from 2011 to 2015 before rising in 2016. Associated Press

Within a few months, Shumlin had proposed a $6.7 million plan to create a coordinated system for treatment and recovery that is referred to as the “hub and spoke” model.

By 2015, the number of people enrolled in a methadone program had tripled.

The number of overdoses hovered between 97 and 108 a year from 2011 through 2015, before rising to 155 in 2016.

Vermont also instituted a program that steers low-level lawbreakers with drug addictions into treatment and other services, bypassing jail but using the threat of prosecution as leverage. Operating entirely outside of a courtroom, prosecutors in participating counties can allow people arrested on drug charges to move on with no charges if they adhere to a contract.

That type of intervention has happened in small pockets of Maine. The Scarborough Police Department’s Operation HOPE is a good example. But there is no state support and Operation HOPE is in danger of folding.

Just this month, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and proposed spending an additional $50 million over the next five years to battle his state’s crisis. Maryland officials believe the high death toll more than justifies the declaration, which they hope will help break down silos within government that have impeded meaningful progress.

Here in Maine, the LePage administration’s response to the drug crisis, until recently, was heavily weighted toward increased law enforcement.

In his own State of the State address in 2014, LePage spent much of his time talking about the policy goals that have defined his administration: tax cuts, bloated government and welfare reform.

He mentioned the drug crisis at the end but focused on drug-affected babies and how that would further strain the welfare system.

LePage then mentioned traffickers and said the state needed more drug agents. He never used the word “treatment.”

In the summer of 2015, after a particularly deadly two-week stretch, LePage announced a summit to address the crisis. But again, he focused on law enforcement and said that there was plenty of treatment available. In a note to Rep. Mark Eves of North Berwick, who was then speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, the governor wrote: “2014 – $72 million spent on Rehab. – Demand Addressed/Supply Growing,” before signing his name.

In the last few months, the LePage administration has committed to $5.5 million in new spending for medication-assisted treatment, both for the uninsured and for those enrolled in MaineCare. It’s not clear why the state changed its approach.

Experts who have studied the epidemic for years have concluded that the investment in treatment has the biggest payoff. The return for every $1 spent on treatment is $4 to $5 saved on health care and as much as $7 on law enforcement, according to estimates by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

In addition to relatively flat funding of treatment, it was only last year that lawmakers overrode a LePage veto to provide funds for needle exchanges, and little state money has been committed for Narcan – both of which are proven to reduce harm and save lives.


Maybe the solutions are simpler than massive line items in a state budget.

Some think every physician in Maine should apply for a federal waiver that allows them to prescribe Suboxone. Soon, thanks to relaxed federal regulations, nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants will be able to apply as well.

Rep. Ellie Espling, R-New Gloucester, submitted a letter to House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, and Senate President Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport, asking them to convene a joint select committee to work solely on Maine’s drug crisis. Staff photo by Joe Phelan

Ouellette, with York County Shelter Programs, said maybe organizations can offer more free care.

“Maybe you do a bottle drive or maybe you don’t buy new office furniture for a couple years. If everyone did this …” she said before snapping back to reality. “But I think everyone is kind of doing their thing, which is to try and survive, to keep the lights on and to keep their clients alive. That’s no way to operate.”

Rep. Eleanor Espling, a Republican House leader from New Gloucester, late last year proposed a joint special committee devoted solely to the crisis. The idea didn’t get much traction and instead was effectively replaced by yet another task force. LePage, during his State of the State address in January, declared “everything is on the table” when it comes to battling the crisis and,  so far, his administration has committed more resources.

Ouellette, the Brunswick psychiatrist who lost her son more than three years ago, said she worries that a lack of consensus will lead to inaction. She doesn’t want other parents to feel what she lives with every day.

“We’re trying to address this as the problem is growing, and it’s growing at a much faster pace than we’re addressing it,” she said. “We’re just not getting ahead of it.”

That’s how it feels for Dowd, too. Two weeks after that morning in January, she was back at Catholic Charities, seeing some of the same patients as before.

Tanya, the 34-year-old mother of three who is trying to buy a house in Buxton, returned. She and Dowd talked about the previous 14 days.

Tanya said she had watched the HBO documentary “Intervention,” about addiction.

“It was sad because it reminded me of how I used to be,” she said. “But I feel so far from that.”

Tanya has four years under her belt. She’s proud of that. She’s still on Suboxone. She sees Dowd twice a month and does additional counseling once a month.

She works a lot. She wants to go back to school.

“Work is fine but I want a career,” she said.

Another young woman, Jessica, came in next. The nurse had warned Dowd that she believed Jessica was using again. She was fidgety. Her handwriting compared to the previous session was messier.

When Dowd asked her, Jessica just shook her head.

Her answers were short.

Dowd tried one last time to break through.

“You know, if you relapse, we’ll still work with you,” she told her. “It’s always better to be honest.”

The woman walked out, prescription in hand.

Dowd sighed and turned back to the list to see who was next.

Staff writers Mike Lowe and Steve Craig contributed reporting for this story.

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

Twitter: PPHEricRussell

]]> 0 NOT USE FOR FILE UNTIL AFTER HEROIN SERIES RUNS A RECURRING SCENE: Shortly after delivering the eulogy, Angela Fauth of South Portland bends to kiss the casket of her cousin Randy Ouellette during his burial service last month at New Calvary Cemetery in South Portland. Ouellette, a popular bartender at Blackstones in Portland, died alone in his apartment of an apparent heroin overdose on Jan. 29. He was 42.Sun, 26 Mar 2017 13:30:34 +0000
Kushner’s Israel ties may raise questions about impartiality Sun, 26 Mar 2017 00:54:09 +0000 JERUSALEM — Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has deep business and personal ties to Israel that could raise questions about his ability to serve as an honest broker as he oversees the White House’s Mideast peace efforts.

But some say these ties, which include a previously undisclosed real estate deal in New Jersey with a major Israeli insurer, may give Kushner a surprising advantage as he is expected to launch the first peace talks of the Trump era. Having the trust of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the thinking goes, could make Kushner well positioned to extract concessions from the hard-line Israeli leader.

Kushner’s family real estate company has longstanding and ongoing deals with major Israeli financial institutions. These relationships, along with a personal friendship with Netanyahu and past links to the West Bank settler movement, could emerge as potential stumbling blocks by creating an appearance of bias.

Harel Insurance Investments & Financial Services Ltd. confirmed that it shares ownership and profits on a New Jersey apartment building with the Kushner Companies. Harel informed The Associated Press of the joint investment and said it had not previously announced it publicly. In addition, the Kushner Companies confirmed longstanding relationships with two major Israeli banks that have been investigated by U.S. authorities for allegedly helping wealthy clients evade U.S. taxes.

“Financial investments in Israel would seem to only further complicate conflicts of interest issues,” said Larry Noble, senior director of regulatory programs and general counsel at Campaign Legal Center, which advocates for strong enforcement of campaign finance laws.


Jared Kushner headed the billion-dollar family firm before joining the White House as a senior adviser in January. As a condition to taking the job, Kushner has agreed to file a financial disclosure report and divest some holdings that could create a conflict of interest.

While Kushner’s role in Mideast diplomacy remains unclear, Trump has said his son-in-law will work to “broker a Middle East peace deal.”

Last week, Jason Greenblatt, a White House envoy who reports to Kushner, paid his first official visit to the region, holding a series of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials on what was billed as a listening tour to sound out the sides.


As the U.S. pushes forward, Kushner’s family’s business and personal ties to Israel have raised questions over his ability to mediate.

“Of course the Palestinians are not happy dealing with Jared Kushner … but they have no other options,” said Palestinian political analyst Jehad Harb. “Kushner and the whole new American team assigned to handle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict … have very close ties with settlements (and) it’s unlikely they are going to understand the Palestinian demand of dismantling most of the Jewish settlements, but the Palestinian Authority cannot say no at this stage.”

Indeed, Palestinian officials appear mindful about alienating the new U.S. administration with going public with grievances about a feared bias. And they seem relieved in recent weeks to be in contact with various U.S. envoys and at signs the administration is moving away from early positions that pleased Israeli nationalists, such as the notion of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The newly disclosed deal with Harel, one of Israel’s biggest financial groups, was for a multifamily residential building in New Jersey with Kushner, the Israeli insurer said.

Harel would not say when the property was purchased, how much it cost or even give its address, though it said it was a “relatively small” investment. The company, which trades on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, managed some $50 billion in assets as of the end of 2015, according to its website.

Harel said it has also partnered with Kushner on a much larger deal: A consortium of lenders that provided some $50 million to the Chetrit Group and JDS Development, two New York firms that are trying to build a 73-story residential tower that aims to be Brooklyn’s tallest. The loan was repaid and “yielded a handsome profit,” Harel said in a statement.

]]> 0 Sun, 26 Mar 2017 04:50:09 +0000
Authorities ban Sunday opposition rally in Moscow Sun, 26 Mar 2017 00:40:08 +0000 MOSCOW — When police break up your meeting because of a false bomb threat, that could be just bad luck. When someone glues your office door shut, that could be just a misunderstanding about the rent. And when a stranger comes up to you in the street and dumps green guck all over your face, that could be just a random act of hooliganism.

When this kind of thing happens to you every day, that means you’re Alexei Navalny, Russia’s most prominent anti-corruption crusader and a declared candidate for next year’s presidential election – the mother of all uphill battles, given that your likely opponent is Vladimir Putin.

And if you’re Alexei Navalny, there’s a good chance you’re going to wake up Monday in jail.

Authorities have preemptively banned a rally Navalny has organized for central Moscow on Sunday, as well as others planned across Russia.

The demonstrations were called to protest what he claims is rampant corruption in the Kremlin. Putin’s spokesman has said that even urging people to take part is illegal.

And Alexander Gorovoi, a senior Russian police official, warned Friday that authorities will “bear no responsibility for any possible negative consequences” for people who do show up.

That could mean that if something is started by pro-government activists who routinely interfere with Navalny’s campaign stops, officers might stand aside and let it happen.

Navalny, who has been arrested several times over the years, said the rally will go on.

“The Kremlin sees us as their enemy, but what should I do?” he said Thursday in his Moscow headquarters. “I’m not going away. I live here. I’m going to live here.”

What Navalny has done to provoke official enmity is issue frequent statements alleging instances of top Kremlin officials amassing huge fortunes. Most recently, he released a report and a 50-minute video detailing allegations that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has funneled more than $1 billion in bribes through companies and charities run by his associates to acquire vineyards, luxury yachts and opulent mansions.

The Russian government has barely acknowledged those accusations. One lawmaker in the State Duma, a communist, asked for an inquiry into Navalny’s report. Otherwise, the only palpable reaction has been that when the activist appears in public, eggs are tossed in his face, activists from the pro-government National Liberation Movement shout down his speeches, and occasionally he is doused with a green, Soviet-era topical antiseptic known as zelyonka.

But that is shaping up to change Sunday when Navalny and his supporters plan to challenge the bans on their rallies in Moscow and across the country.

In an interview Thursday, during a rare stop in Moscow, Navalny argued that staging the protests is worthwhile, despite the likelihood that he will be arrested, because it will signal the breadth of the support for his message – that Russia needs to rid itself of what he sees as a kleptocratic and authoritarian regime. People in 100 Russian cities have indicated they will turn out Sunday, he said, and more than 10 million people have watched the YouTube video about Medvedev.

]]> 0 Sat, 25 Mar 2017 20:40:08 +0000
Feature obituary: Dana Morton, 75, worked for CIA, built engineering firm Sun, 26 Mar 2017 00:26:55 +0000 Dana R. Morton’s penchant for finding out things that other people didn’t know was apparent from his college days, one of his longtime friends recalled Saturday.

“He had all this information about lots of stuff,” Terry Weymouth of Buxton said. “How he found out the things he found out, I still don’t know. In college, he found a ski dorm at Sugarloaf that was just $2 a night – if we did the dishes. It was quite a tragedy when the lift tickets went from $6 to $8.”

Morton, who died March 16 in Portland at age 75, went on to find out more things that most other people didn’t know. After college he went to work for the Central Intelligence Agency.

After getting stationed in places like Area 51, the top-secret Air Force base in Nevada, and working on projects including development of supersonic reconnaissance jets such as the SR-71 Blackbird, he returned to his home state of Maine and helped found SMRT, an engineering firm.

Weymouth said Morton was always coy about what he knew and didn’t know.

“It was always a joke with my wife – she would say, ‘Dana, do you still work for the CIA?’ And Dana would just smile,” Weymouth said.

Morton grew up in Gorham. He and Weymouth, who grew up in South Portland, met in the freshman dorm at the University of Maine in the fall of 1959. They later joined the same fraternity.

Weymouth said Morton’s knack for mechanical things showed in college, when he paid $125 for a 1929 Ford that had been stored in a barn and got it running. In the winter, it sat at Morton’s parents house, but in the spring, Weymouth and Morton would drive it up to Orono to use for weekend jaunts.

The trips up to Orono, in the days before an interstate highway made it a relatively short venture, were especially enjoyable, Weymouth said.

“We weren’t 21, but let’s just say we were able to get beer, and we did that for several years in a row,” he said.

In the CIA, which recruited him from college, Morton was part of a new crew of engineers that the spy agency brought in, said Noble Dowling, who worked with Morton in the mid-1960s, when the Cold War was in full swing.

Dowling said prior to the early 1960s, most CIA workers were spies, spy handlers or analysts who worked on finding out information. Morton, Dowling and others were part of a new wave of CIA hires who were engineers and scientists who could make sense out of the detailed information that was being collected.

Dowling said other CIA employees stole the telemetry – readings on speed, altitude and the like – from Soviet Union rocket tests and then he and Morton would analyze it. Dowling specialized in figuring out the capabilities of Soviet rockets, while Morton’s focus was on determining the kinds and capabilities of nuclear warheads the Soviets would pack on top of the rockets.

“It was an interesting period because we were among the few engineers hired by the CIA,” said Dowling, now 79 and living in Florida.

Dowling said he and Morton and the other engineers would usually socialize only with one another. They had weekly cookouts, he said, mainly because they were the only people they could talk shop with while grilling steaks in the backyard.

After a few years, Dowling left to work for rocket manufacturers for the U.S. space program. Morton, he said, “went into the black stuff,” meaning supersecret projects, including the SR-71, a high-flying, supersonic spy plane that was the successor to the U2 and was used to capture photographs of military installations and equipment inside the Soviet Union. Ultimately, the spy planes were supplanted by spy satellites.

Arthur Thompson, eventually Morton’s business partner, said Morton returned to Maine in the late 1970s, where he opened his own engineering and surveying firm in Buxton, That firm was later blended into SMRT with Thompson and others. The Portland-based engineering firm now has more than 100 employees and offices in four states.

Thompson said Morton’s was eager and positive, two traits that were essential in a startup.

“When all the chips were down, he was always ready to go, go, go,” Thompson said. “He always had this little twinkle in his eyes – he would walk in a room and really light it up.”

The Morton family plans a celebration of Dana Morton’s life in July in Kennebunkport. Morton lived in Kennebunkport and also had a house in Venice, Florida.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

]]> 0 MortonSat, 25 Mar 2017 20:38:11 +0000
Across U.S., cheers, jeers over ACA’s fate Sun, 26 Mar 2017 00:22:41 +0000 NEW YORK — Some Americans breathed a sigh of relief, others boiled with frustration, and nearly all resigned themselves to the prospect that the latest chapter in the never-ending national debate over health care would not be the last.

The withdrawal of the Republican-sponsored health bill in the face of likely defeat Friday in the U.S. House seemed to ensure that the deep divisions over the Affordable Care Act and its possible replacement will continue to simmer.

As news spread, Americans fell into familiar camps, either happy to see a Democratic effort live another day, or eager to see Republicans regroup and follow through with their “repeal Obamacare” promises.

“Yessssss,” an elated 27-year-old artist, Alysa Diebolt of Eastpointe, Michigan, typed on Facebook in response to the news, saying she was relieved those she knows on Affordable Care Act plans won’t lose their coverage. “I’m excited, I think it’s a good thing,” she said.

Millions more shared her view, and #KillTheBill was a top trending topic on Twitter on Friday afternoon. Among those who have long sought to see former President Barack Obama’s health law dismantled, though, there was disappointment or chin-up resolve that they still could prevail.

“Hopefully they’ll get it right next time,” said Anthony Canamucio, the 50-year-old owner of a barbershop in Middletown Township, Pennsylvania. He gave his vote to Trump in November and wanted to see Obama’s health law repealed, but found himself rooting for the Republican replacement bill to fail. He is insured through his wife’s employer, and laments the growing deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, blaming Obama’s law even as health economists say those trends in employer-provided health coverage preceded the legislation.

For Canamucio, the Republicans’ bill didn’t go far enough in dismantling the ACA. But he remains steadfast behind Trump and said he believes the president will still deliver.


Cliff Rouse, a 34-year-old banker from Kinston, North Carolina, likewise was willing to give the president he helped elect a chance to make good on his promise. He sees Obama’s law as government overreach, even as he knows it could help people like his 64-year-old father, who was recently diagnosed with dementia but refused to buy coverage under a law he disagreed with. Rouse sees Trump’s moves on health care as hasty, but believes Republicans will eventually come around with better legislation.

“They’ve not had enough time to develop a good plan,” Rouse said. “They should keep going until they have a good plan that Americans can feel confident in.”

It remained far more than a petty political debate, though, and some like Janella Williams, framed the issue as a question of life and death.

The 45-year-old graphic designer from Lawrence, Kansas, spent Friday in the hospital hooked up to an intravenous drip for a neurological disorder, getting the drugs that she says allow her to walk. Under her Affordable Care Act plan, she pays $480 a month for coverage and has an out-of-pocket maximum of $3,500 a year. If she were to lose it, she wouldn’t be able to afford the $13,000-a-year out-of-pocket maximum under her husband’s insurance. Her treatments cost about $90,000 every seven weeks.

As she followed the efforts to undo Obama’s law, Williams found herself yelling at the TV a lot. She wrote her senators, telling how she felt “helpless and out of control,” and how her hope was dwindling.

After watching coverage on Friday while tethered to a port in an outpatient area, she said when the bill was withdrawn, “I am thankful. I hope that this makes Trump the earliest lame duck ever.”

Whatever comes of the developments, they became the latest chapter in a long-running policy debate – from Teddy Roosevelt’s call for national health insurance in 1912, through waves of New Deal and Great Society legislation that brought Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, but no comprehensive health system for all, to an unsuccessful attempt at universal coverage at the start of Bill Clinton’s administration. For now at least, Trump joins a list of American presidents who sought but failed to bring major health reform.

Trump has railed against the 2010 ACA since the start, and Republican leaders in Congress have rallied for its repeal with dozens of votes during the Obama years. Republicans won the chance to replace the health law with Trump’s win and control of both chambers of Congress.

“This is our opportunity to do it,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Friday. “We’ve talked about this thing since 2010. Every Republican … has campaigned, from dogcatcher on up, that they would do everything they could to repeal and replace ‘Obamacare.’ ”


Meantime, the Affordable Care Act has enjoyed growing approval with Obama’s departure from the White House and the emergence of details of Trump’s plan. For the first time, the law drew majority approval in a Pew Research Center poll last month, with 54 percent of Americans in favor.

Even some of Trump’s voters have come around to supporting the Obama law, or to a late realization that their coverage was made possible by it.

Walt Whitlow, a 57-year-old carpenter from Volente, Texas, gave Trump his vote even as he came to view Obama’s law as “an unbelievable godsend.” He went without health coverage for nearly 20 years, but after the ACA passed, he signed up. Two months later, he was diagnosed with tongue cancer. He proclaims himself opposed to government handouts that he thinks people grow too dependent on, though he wouldn’t say what he hoped would happen with the Republican bill. Still, its withdrawal brought relief for a man who says his ACA coverage kept him from massive debt and maybe worse.

“It saved my life,” he said. “I really don’t know what to say.”

]]> 0 Williams, 45, monitors action on the Obamacare replacement bill Friday as she watches news reports while receiving treatment for a neurological disorder at Lawrence (Kan.) Memorial Hospital. "I am thankful," she said later. "I hope that this makes (President) Trump the earliest lame duck ever."Sat, 25 Mar 2017 20:40:31 +0000
Some Gorsuch traits revealed during days of grueling hearings Sun, 26 Mar 2017 00:19:15 +0000 WASHINGTON — Nominees appearing before the Senate all have one goal in mind: Win confirmation. And when one party controls the Senate and the White House, the strategy of saying as little as possible doesn’t vary much. But because Supreme Court nominees spend days in televised hearings, they still manage to reveal things about themselves, professionally and personally.

Here are a few things we learned about Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s pick for the high court:


Gorsuch was careful in his phrasing and steadfastly refused Democratic attempts to get him to talk about abortion, guns, campaign finance and a host of key issues in a way that might signal how he’d rule. “If I did make a bunch of campaign promises here, what’s that mean to the independent judiciary?” he said.


A judge on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver since 2006, Gorsuch described how he comes to decisions, starting with past decisions, or precedent. “It’s the anchor of the law, it’s the starting place for a judge,” he said. Democrats seemed more interested in knowing when Gorsuch might decide a past decision needs to be jettisoned, and which ones in particular. He listed factors, including “age of the precedent, how often it’s been reaffirmed, the reliance interests surrounding it, whether it was correctly decided, whether it was constitutional versus statutory.”


Shortly after Gorsuch’s final day of testimony began, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled public schools must do more for learning-disabled students than Gorsuch’s 10th Circuit had deemed sufficient. The opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts took aim at a phrase from an earlier case that Gorsuch himself wrote about minimum standards. “Merely more than de minimis progress” doesn’t cut it, Roberts wrote. “If I was wrong, senator, I was wrong because I was bound by circuit precedent and I’m sorry,” Gorsuch said when Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois asked him about the ruling.


Democrats remain upset about how Republicans treated Judge Merrick Garland. Gorsuch praised Garland, but cited the need to remain above the political fray. “Senator, I appreciate the invitation. But I know the other side has their views of this, and your side has your views of it. That by definition is politics,” Gorsuch told Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota.


He has degrees from the some of the best, and oldest, schools – Columbia, Harvard and Oxford – a Supreme Court clerkship, more than 10 years as a federal judge and a couple of books to his name. Even Democrats acknowledged that he has an enviable resume.


Gorsuch was describing the most prominent signature on the Declaration of Independence with a word of more recent vintage. “No one remembers who John Hancock was but they know that that’s his signature, because he wrote his name so bigly, big and boldly,” Gorsuch said.

]]> 0 GORSUCHSat, 25 Mar 2017 20:43:36 +0000
Belarus police crack down on demonstrators Sun, 26 Mar 2017 00:16:51 +0000 MINSK, Belarus — Police in Belarus cracked down hard Saturday on opposition protesters who tried to hold a forbidden demonstration in the capital. A human rights group said more than 400 people were arrested and many were beaten.

The demonstrators had hoped to build on a rising wave of defiance of the former Soviet republic’s authoritarian government, led by President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled since 1994.

About 700 people tried to march Saturday along Minsk’s main avenue, but were blocked by a cordon of riot police wielding clubs and holding shields. After a standoff, the arrests began.

“They’re beating the participants, dragging women by the hair to buses. I was able to run to a nearby courtyard,” demonstrator Alexander Ponomarev said.

Tatiana Revyako of the human rights group Vesna said more than 400 people were arrested, saying “many of the arrested were beaten and are in need of medical help.”

Among those arrested were about 20 journalists, according to the Belarusian Journalists’ Association.

“They grabbed everybody indiscriminately, both young and old. We were treated very harshly,” BBC Belarus correspondent Sergei Kozlovsky said.

Even before the protesters gathered, police raided Vesna’s office and detained more than 50 people.

In the days preceding Saturday’s demonstration, more than 100 opposition supporters were sentenced to jail terms of three to 15 days, Vesna reported before the raid. Prominent opposition figure Vladimir Neklayev reportedly was pulled off a train by police overnight while trying to travel to Minsk.

The anti-government protests also attracted hundreds of people Saturday in Brest and Grodno, two other large cities.

Belarus has seen an unusually persistent wave of protests over the past two months against Lukashenko, who recently claimed that a “fifth column” of foreign-supported agitators was trying to bring him down.

Saturday’s demonstrators shouted slogans including “Shame!” and “Basta! (Enough!)” and deployed the red-and-white flag that is the opposition’s symbol. The flag was first used by the short-lived independent Belarusian People’s Republic in 1918 and again after the country’s independence from the Soviet Union, but was replaced in 1995 after Lukashenko gained power. He has stifled dissent and free media and retained much of the Soviet-style command economy.

]]> 0 woman tries to argue as a cordon of club-wielding Belarus police block a street during an opposition rally in the capital of Minsk on Saturday.Sat, 25 Mar 2017 20:44:55 +0000
In New Jersey, 2,000 demonstrate for president Sat, 25 Mar 2017 23:46:31 +0000 SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. — Hundreds of President Trump’s supporters rallied Saturday at the Jersey shore, vowing their help in “making America great again.”

More than 2,000 people turned out for the event staged on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, one of several marches held across the nation.

The event was mostly peaceful but there was a minor scuffle early on when some anti-Trump protesters tried to make their way through the crowd and were confronted by supporters of the president. However, undercover police officers immediately surrounded the anti-Trump group and walked them out of the crowd without further incident.

Seaside Heights police said there were no major issues during the rally and no arrests were made.

Borough Mayor Anthony Vaz had initially denied the request for a permit to stage the rally on the town’s boardwalk, citing concerns about potential clashes with opposing groups. He asked the Trump supporters to move the rally elsewhere.

But it was eventually approved to avoid any potential legal issues.

Many Trump backers carried homemade signs stating their support for him and his policies, while others carried American flags. Many also chanted “Trump” and “lock her up,” the latter a reference to Hillary Clinton.

“I’m here because Donald Trump is my hero and I’m trumping for him,” Barbara Messano, of Toms River, told “I support him because he’s not a politician. He’s honest and a businessman, and I know he will do what’s best for the country.”

]]> 0 Ross, of South Toms River, N.J., shows her support for President Trump during a mostly peaeful rally briefly upset by opponents Saturday on the boardwalk at Seaside Heights, N.J.Sat, 25 Mar 2017 19:55:43 +0000