News – Press Herald Sun, 20 Aug 2017 23:07:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 New Augusta firetruck already in the shop Sun, 20 Aug 2017 23:07:45 +0000 AUGUSTA — The city’s new, $1 million multipurpose ladder firetruck is in the shop for repairs after parts of its hydraulic system failed within just a few weeks of being put into service.

The city still has its older ladder truck, which the new truck was to replace, to help fight fires while the newer truck is fixed.

The manufacturer of the truck, Nebraska-based Smeal Fire Apparatus, will replace the apparently flawed parts of the hydraulic system under the warranty at no charge to the city, according to Fire Chief Roger Audette.

The truck is currently at a Smeal dealer in Connecticut undergoing repairs, including replacement of the truck’s hydraulic hoses and fittings. The truck has been out for repairs for the last three weeks and is expected back in about a week.

“Obviously we’re not happy about having our new truck out of service, but we are happy we found out what was wrong,” Audette said.

“A million-dollar fire truck obviously has some complicated systems, so it’s not uncommon for new firetrucks to have some issues. I don’t anticipate we’ll have any further issues with it. Our last ladder truck was a Smeal and we had that for 25 years with no issues. They make a good product. We believe this is an isolated incident.”

Audette said while firefighters were training on the truck during its first month in Augusta earlier this year, its hydraulic system failed twice. Hydraulics allow the ladder and related functions to move. Audette said they now believe the wrong fittings were installed on the ladder’s hydraulic system when it was manufactured.

So the company is replacing all the hydraulic hoses and fittings, which Audette said is a time-consuming project.

He noted that a failure of the hydraulic system doesn’t mean the ladder would collapse or come crashing down, and said there is also a manual system on the truck to raise and lower the ladder when needed.

The city took delivery of the truck this year after voters approved borrowing $1 million to buy it in a referendum vote in November of 2014, in which voters also approved borrowing $3.6 million to build the recently opened North Station No. 3 across from the intersection of Leighton Road and Anthony Avenue, where the new truck is expected to be kept.

A statement from Spartan Motors, parent company of Smeal, said the company regrets the difficulties reported on the new truck.

“This is an unusual situation regarding hoses and fittings on a truck with an otherwise exceptional track record of consistent performance,” said the statement from Matt Jackson, a public relations representative.

“We are working aggressively with a regional dealer to immediately replace these hoses and fittings at no cost to the fire department, as our priority is providing our first responders with the safest, most effective firetrucks on the market today. We can assure the residents of Augusta that we’ll spare no cost or effort to ensure this unit has the full confidence of Augusta officials and the community as a whole.”

The older ladder truck temporarily filling the role of the new truck, a 1991 Pierce, was purchased used by the city in 2015, after the city’s previous ladder truck blew its engine on the way back from a call.

Audette said the older truck has no problems.

In a memo to city councilors, City Manager William Bridgeo said the city had planned all along to keep the older truck operational for a year or so “for just such a contingency as this one.”

Audette said the new Smeal ladder truck hasn’t had any other problems, although he said it hasn’t been used at a building fire yet because the department hasn’t had any when it was in service.

Keith Edwards can be contacted at 621-5647 or at:

Twitter: kedwardskj

]]> 0 Augusta Fire Department's new truck, Tower 1, is parked in May at the new North Station No. 3 in Augusta. The truck has been sent back to Connecticut for repairs.Sun, 20 Aug 2017 19:07:45 +0000
Millions get in place along solar eclipse path from Oregon to Carolinas Sun, 20 Aug 2017 22:09:10 +0000 Millions of Americans have converged on a narrow corridor stretching from Oregon to South Carolina to watch the moon blot out the midday sun Monday for a wondrous couple of minutes in the first total solar eclipse to sweep coast to coast in 99 years.

Veteran eclipse watchers warned the uninitiated to get ready to be blown away.

Planetariums and museums posted “Sold out of eclipse glasses” on their front doors. Signs along highways reminded motorists of “Solar Eclipse Monday,” while cars bore the message “Eclipse or bust.”

With 200 million people within a day’s drive of the path of totality, towns and parks braced for monumental crowds. It’s expected to be the most observed, most studied and most photographed eclipse ever. Not to mention the most festive, what with all the parties.

In Salem, Oregon, a field outside the state fairgrounds was transformed into a campground in advance of an eclipse-watching party for 8,500.

“It’s one of those ‘check the box’ kind of things in life,” said Hilary O’Hollaren, who drove 30 miles from Portland with her two teenagers and a tent, plus a couple friends.

Astronomers consider a full solar eclipse the grandest of cosmic spectacles.

The Earth, moon and sun line up perfectly every one to three years, briefly turning day into night for a sliver of the planet. But these sights normally are in no man’s land, like the vast Pacific or the poles. This will be the first eclipse of the social media era to pass through such a heavily populated area.

The moon hasn’t thrown this much shade at the U.S. since 1918. That was the country’s last coast-to-coast total eclipse.

In fact, the U.S. mainland hasn’t seen a total solar eclipse since 1979 – and even then, only five states in the Northwest experienced total darkness before the eclipse veered in Canada.

Monday’s total eclipse will cast a shadow that will race through 14 states, entering near Lincoln City, Oregon, at 1:16 p.m. EDT, moving diagonally across the heartland and then exiting near Charleston, South Carolina, at 2:47 p.m. EDT. The path will cut 2,600 miles across the land and will be just 60 to 70 miles wide.

Mostly clear skies beckoned along much of the route, according to the National Weather Service .

Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois will see the longest stretch of darkness: 2 minutes and 44 seconds.

All of North America will get at least a partial eclipse. Central America and the top of South America will also see the moon cover part of the sun.

NASA and other scientists will be watching and analyzing from telescopes the ground and in orbit, the International Space Station, airplanes and scores of high-altitude balloons, which will beam back live video. Citizen scientists will monitor animal and plant behavior as daylight turns into twilight and the temperature drops.

Near Victoria, British Columbia, where 91 percent of the sun will be eclipsed, science and math teacher Clayton Uyeda is planning to watch from a ferry along with his wife. He said he is “expecting to have a real sense of connection with the heavens.”

He has similarly lofty hopes for his students if they can bring themselves to look up at the sky instead of down at their electronic devices.

Scientists everywhere agree with Uyeda: Put the phones and cameras down and enjoy the greatest natural show on Earth with your own (protected) eyes.

The only time it’s safe to look directly without protective eyewear is during totality, when the sun is 100 percent covered. Otherwise, keep the solar specs on or use pinhole projectors that can cast an image of the eclipse into a box.

The next total solar eclipse in the U.S. will be in 2024. The next coast-to-coast one will not be until 2045.

]]> 0 congregated at the Big Summit Eclipse 2017 event near Prineville, Ore., by Saturday. The moon 'hasn't thrown this much shade' since 1918, the last eclipse to sweep the nation.Sun, 20 Aug 2017 18:51:22 +0000
Trump will address nation on path forward in Afghanistan Sun, 20 Aug 2017 20:53:13 +0000 CAMP MOREHEAD, Afghanistan — Signaling that the U.S. military expects its mission to continue, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan on Sunday hailed the launch of the Afghan Army’s new special operations corps, declaring that “we are with you and we will stay with you.”

Gen. John Nicholson’s exhortation of continued support for the Afghans suggested the Pentagon may have won its argument that America’s military must stay engaged in the conflict in order to insure terrorists don’t once again threaten the U.S. from safe havens in Afghanistan.

The White House announced that President Trump would address the nation’s troops and the American people Monday night to update the path forward in Afghanistan and South Asia.

Nicholson, speaking before the White House announcement, said the commandos and a plan to double the size of the Afghans’ special operations forces are critical to winning the war.

The Pentagon was awaiting a final announcement by Trump on a proposal to send nearly 4,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan. The added forces would increase training and advising of the Afghan forces and bolster counterterrorism operations against the Taliban and an Islamic State group affiliate trying to gain a foothold in the country.

The administration has been at odds for months over how to craft a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan amid frustrations that 16 years after 9/11 the conflict is stalemated.

The Afghan government only controls half of the country and is beset by endemic corruption and infighting. The Islamic State group has been hit hard but continues to attempt major attacks, insurgents still find safe harbor in Pakistan, and Russia, Iran and others are increasingly trying to shape the outcome.

At this point, everything the U.S. military has proposed points to keeping the Afghan government in place and struggling to turn a dismal quagmire around.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he is satisfied with how the administration formulated its new Afghanistan war strategy. But he refused to talk about the new policy until it was disclosed by Trump.

Months ago, Trump gave Mattis authority to set U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, but Mattis said he has not yet sent significant additional forces to the fight. He has said he would wait for Trump to set the strategic direction first.

]]> 0 Gen. John Nicholson, top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, left, talks with Col. Khanullah Shuja, commander of the national mission brigade of the Afghan special operations force, and U.S. Gen. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, at Camp Morehead in Afghanistan on Sunday.Sun, 20 Aug 2017 17:24:21 +0000
About 1,200 people rally in Portland against racism Sun, 20 Aug 2017 20:32:14 +0000 Paula Harvard of Woolwich stood out among a sea of demonstrators who showed up Sunday at Payson Park in Portland to protest racism and white supremacy.

Harvard sported a floral hat with a dozen tiny signs with peaceful sentiments pinned to it, rather than one of the poster-sized signs and banners many in the crowd carried.

Harvard said she had held a sign at the Women’s March in Augusta shortly after President Trump’s inauguration in January and thought she could do better than that this time.

“I can say a lot more with the hat than a single sign,” Harvard said.

Harvard was one of about 1,200 people who attended the Maine People’s Alliance event to protest the violent white nationalist rally that left one dead and more than a dozen injured Aug. 12 in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Sunday’s rally was one of several protests across the nation during the weekend. On Saturday, tens of thousands of people, including dozens from Maine, were in Boston to protest racism and white nationalism, and several hundred others attended a rally in Kittery of the southern Maine chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice.

With the Back Cove as a backdrop, speakers from minority organizations across Maine were greeted with enthusiasm at the Payson Park rally.

“We are here to stand against racism, white supremacy and hate, but more importantly, we are here today to stand for a different vision of America,” said Rabbi Erica Asch of Temple Beth El in Augusta.

Deqa Dhalac, a Somali immigrant and South Portland resident, spoke about standing up to racism in America.

“I am a Muslim, black immigrant woman and I am not going anywhere,” Dhalac said.

The crowd gave Dhalac a standing ovation.

People at the rally said they felt compelled to show up.

Danielle Bailey of Bath said she thinks a public protest is an effective way to send a message.

“I couldn’t get to Boston, but let me participate when I can,” she said.

Her friend Lindsay Kay of Portland said she had to come after a devastating week that included President Trump’s controversial remarks about the Charlottesville rally.

“I can’t allow this to happen. I need to push back. You have to make yourself visible,” Kay said.

Thul Leng, who immigrated to Portland from Cambodia as a child, said he attended the rally to support those fighting against hatred, racism and inequality.

“We have come a long way. We have all these rights. I thought we had overcome all that. I don’t want to see it all fall apart. I wish people would come together,” Leng said.

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

Twitter: bquimby

]]> 0 Harvard of Woolwich listens while wearing her handmade hat at an anti-racism rally at Payson Park.Sun, 20 Aug 2017 19:02:35 +0000
Comedian Jerry Lewis dies at 91 Sun, 20 Aug 2017 18:14:25 +0000 Jerry Lewis, who died Aug. 20 at 91, was a comic actor whose rubber–limbed pratfalls, squeaky voice and pipsqueak buffoonery made him one of the most uncontainable screen clowns of all time.

His partnership with the suave and assured crooner Dean Martin made them a sensation, easily the most popular comedy team of the mid–20th century. After their bitter break up, which devastated their millions of fans, Lewis embarked on a solo career of dizzying summits and desperate lows, including an addiction to painkillers as years of physical comedy took their toll.

Fascinated by the technical side of film, he became one of the first sound–era comedians to write, direct and star in his own movies. He was credited with laying the groundwork for later comedic writer–director–actors such as Mel Brooks and Woody Allen.

Few comedians have been so beloved and so derided as Lewis, who amassed devoted fans and stunningly hostile reviews from critics. Few have been so accomplished as humanitarians – his annual muscular dystrophy telethons had raised almost $1.5 billion by the late 2000s – or so polarizing as personalities.

Lewis could be candid and coy, insightful and insulting in the same sentence. He was tireless, demanding and insecure – in his own words “a neurotic, temperamental imbecile.” He could also play the charming child, telling interviewers he never felt more than 9 years old.

“An audience is nothing more than eight or nine hundred mamas and papas clapping their hands and saying, ‘Good boy, baby,’ ” he said. “You’ll find that people who had enough ‘Good boy, baby’ from their actual parents rarely turn to comedy.”

Lewis was, for better or worse, one of the most unforgettable entertainers of his generation. In his later years, he battled spinal meningitis, pulmonary fibrosis and diabetes, among other ailments. His death at his home in Las Vegas was confirmed by his publicist, Candi Cazau.

A struggling comedian at 19, Lewis surged to stardom at 20 after partnering with Martin in 1946 at an Atlantic City nightclub. They made 16 films together, including “Jumping Jacks” and “Artists and Models,” and they were major TV stars before breaking up in 1956 at their peak as a duo.

As an actor, Lewis brought an antic joy to hundreds of millions of people who saw him play a role he called “the Idiot,” a cross–eyed innocent who bested bullies despite his nasally voice and gangly appearance.

The Idiot was the sort of uncontrollable character – falling down laundry chutes, breaking furniture and sputtering at the sight of an alluring woman – that set the loony standard for later generations of comedians, including Jim Carrey and Adam Sandler. “The Nutty Professor,” Lewis’ 1963 comedy about a shy professor who invents a formula that turns him into wolfish swinger modeled on Martin, was remade with Eddie Murphy in 1996.

As hosts of the NBC’s “The Colgate Comedy Hour” from 1950 to 1955, Lewis and Martin burst onto the airwaves with an anarchic style unlike most television of that era. Lewis’ goofball utterings – “I like it, I like it” and “La–a–a–dy!” – became national catchphrases.

“You see Jerry Lewis running up to the cameras and into the audience and breaking the rules right off the bat,” said David Schwartz, chief film curator at the American Museum of the Moving Image in New York. “It makes Robin Williams look sedate.”

With a manic energy that often landed him in hospitals from overwork, Lewis made more than 50 films, countless club and television appearances and several popular recordings. His 1956 version of “Rock–a–Bye Your Baby,” a song first popularized by Al Jolson, sold more than 1 million copies.

Lewis was such a financial powerhouse at Paramount Pictures in the 1950s and early 1960s that one executive there was reported to have said, “If he wants to burn the studio down, I’ve got the match.”

He debuted as a director, writer and actor in “The Bellboy” (1960) – a picture set at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach – in which he played the hapless title character almost entirely in pantomime. The film was a smash and brought Lewis the cachet to control his next few projects, including “The Ladies Man” (1961), “The Errand Boy” (1961) and “The Nutty Professor.”

As a moviemaker, Lewis was greatly inspired by having worked under director Frank Tashlin, a former animator, on such films as “Cinderfella” (1960) and “The Disorderly Orderly” (1964).

Like Tashlin, Lewis exaggerated sound and sight for affect. In “The Nutty Professor,” the use of amplified sound allows the audience to experience the title character’s hangover after a night of drinking.

When prominent American critics bothered to review Lewis’s films at all, they generally dismissed them as recycled sight gags and plotless pratfalls that lacked continuity.

“In his field of comedy, which happens to be both narrow and rutted, Lewis stands as a sort of witless genius,” critic Harriet Van Horne of the New York World–Telegram and Sun wrote. “He’s the only performer I know who can be both endearing and disgusting in the space of two minutes.”

Lewis gained the grudging respect of some reviewers in 1983 when Martin Scorsese hired him for a dramatic part in “The King of Comedy” as a talk–show host kidnapped by a fan (played by Robert De Niro). In “Funny Bones” (1995), he again won over critics in an unlikable role, playing a comedian who overshadows his son’s comic ambitions.

To some French cinema theorists, Lewis was a “total filmmaker” in the comic moviemaking tradition of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, who also created and starred in their own projects. The theorists, and even directors such as Jean–Luc Godard, considered Lewis’ broad comic sensibility a comment on an American penchant for excess and male self–doubt and sexual anxiety.

Lewis was contemptuous of the media and, to some degree, American audiences, who he felt never understood his intent as a performer.

He told The Washington Post in 1972 that his humor “is not a sophisticated humor. On the contrary, it’s based on something in its simplest form. Americans are always wondering whether they should laugh if someone gets a pie in the face, if it will demean their character. Europeans don’t think about things like that. They just laugh.”

He was submerged in pie–in–the–face slapstick from his earliest years. He was born Jerome Levitch on March 16, 1926, in Newark, the son of Jewish vaudevillians who performed at New York–area resorts.

He debuted in 1931, when his parents brought him onstage at a hotel to sing the Depression–era anthem “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”

Once, he slipped onstage, and his foot went through a footlight bulb. “There was this big laugh, relieved laughter when the audience saw I wasn’t hurt,” he told The Post. “So I went after a second bulb. I’d been hit by the poison dart. I knew how it felt to get a laugh. When my parents got their next booking, the manager had to add, ‘No kicking bulbs out.’ ”

After quitting high school in 1942 – he said it was because of the flagrant anti–Semitism of his principal in Irvington, N.J. – Lewis honed his “record act,” a routine in which he mimed lyrics of operatic and popular songs playing on a phonograph. As an emcee in burlesque houses, he worked to improve his ad–libbing skills before hostile crowds.

In summer 1946, Lewis was doing his record act at the 500 Club in Atlantic City. When the singer on the bill was fired, Lewis suggested the still–obscure Martin as a replacement. The two had performed months earlier at a New York club and began joking around onstage, to the audience’s delight.

At the 500 Club, their act contained the core of what would excite crowds for the next decade: Martin acting seductively toward women, Lewis doing his utmost to interrupt the singer by breaking plates and drinking water from flower vases. Decades later, in the New Yorker, writer James Kaplan likened Lewis onstage to “a chimp on Benzedrine.”

As the Lewis and Martin act grew in popularity, the entertainers signed a movie deal with Hal B. Wallis at Paramount. Wallis saw to it that his new team would stick to a moneymaking formula, playing the same basic characters in every film: Lewis the loon, Martin the ladies’ man. Wallis started them off in secondary roles in “My Friend Irma” (1949), based on the hit radio series.

Despite their on–screen chemistry, the Martin–Lewis relationship grew tense. Lewis often described Martin, nine years his senior, as an older brother. But they competed for attention from peers and women, and Lewis found his partner increasingly aloof and intent on pursuing a separate singing and acting career. Martin, among others, called Lewis mercurial.

“Jerry, who was supposed to be the funny one, couldn’t stand it if Dean got any laughs,” the writer and producer Norman Lear, who wrote for the team, once said. He said Lewis often got physically ill when Martin stole a scene and balked when writers revealed that Lewis alone was not responsible for the jokes on the show.

The Lewis–Martin split was acrimonious. They did not speak to each other for 20 years, until a mutual friend, Frank Sinatra, prodded them to appear together on Lewis’ muscular dystrophy telethon. Dean died in 1995.

After a long run of successes without Martin, Lewis saw his film career plummet in the late 1960s amid audience demand for more topical humor. Studio officials balked at his insistence on total creative control.

Further problems developed in the 1970s. A chain of cinemas he owned went bankrupt, and he wrestled with addiction to painkilling drugs to treat a back injury. The physical pain reportedly left him on the verge of suicide.

Lewis’ movie career went fallow after filming what he considered his unreleased masterpiece. The movie was “The Day the Clown Cried” (1972), in which Lewis played a concentration camp clown who entertains children as they are led to the gas chamber. Considered by those who have seen it as one of the most offensive films ever made, the film was indefinitely withheld from release amid lawsuits among its backers and writers.

His 1944 marriage to Esther Calonico, a big–band singer known as Patti Palmer, ended in divorce in 1980. Survivors include his wife, SanDee Pitnick “Sam” Lewis, whom he married in 1983; five sons from the first marriage, including musician Gary Lewis; and a daughter from the second marriage.

A son from his first marriage, Joseph, died in 2009 of an apparent drug overdose. A complete list of survivors could not be immediately confirmed.

Lewis remained a television star as host of muscular–dystrophy telethons, for which the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognized the actor with its Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 2009.

The telethons featured guest appearances from Charo to Tony Bennett. At the end, Lewis always sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” He also had vaudeville acts, acrobats and a procession of youngsters – called “Jerry’s Kids” – suffering from muscular dystrophy.

The telethons were the subject of enduring debate. Television critics and some advocacy groups lambasting them as tasteless spectacles that exploited the children they professed to help.

Some saw the shows as a self–aggrandizing star vehicle for Lewis, who often surrounded himself with performers praising his humanitarianism despite stories generated by some relatives about his womanizing and emotional abuse as a father. He further harmed his reputation with crude remarks about gays and women.

“I have all the strength in the world to fight those morons,” Lewis told The Post about his telethon critics. “Do they want to talk to the 135,000 who are afflicted, who call me their hero? They’ll get killed. And what about the s.o.b.’s who come to you and say, ‘How much do you get out of this action?’ You have to smile, because they have capital punishment in most states.”

He called his rage when discussing the disease “the only productive hate I have.”

Lewis and the Muscular Dystrophy Association parted ways in 2010, under circumstances that remain vague. Five years later, the association said it was ending the telethon for good.

In 1995, Lewis had an acclaimed stage role as the Devil in the musical “Damn Yankees!” At $40,000 a week, he reportedly became the highest–paid performer on Broadway at the time. The New York Times, whose reviewers never much cared for his films, declared, “Jerry Lewis is legitimate at last.”

At this late–career peak, Lewis was still unpredictable in interviews – clowning with a slightly menacing touch. “Let’s put it this way,” he told a Post reporter. “You will remember we met.”

He then threatened to cut the reporter’s tie. He was half–joking.

]]> 0, 20 Aug 2017 16:20:27 +0000
At Great Falls Balloon Festival in Lewiston, the sky’s the limit Sun, 20 Aug 2017 16:19:37 +0000 0 Buker and Karen Ryder of Augusta, center, watch as balloons take flight from Simard Payne Park early Sunday morning.Sun, 20 Aug 2017 16:30:17 +0000 Extremists in Spain planned massive attack Sun, 20 Aug 2017 13:29:31 +0000 BARCELONA, Spain — Police put up scores of roadblocks across northeast Spain on Sunday in hopes of capturing a fugitive suspect from the 12-member Islamic extremist cell that staged two vehicle attacks and plotted much deadlier carnage using explosives favored by Islamic State militants.

Complicating the manhunt, though, was the fact that police have so far been unable to officially identify who exactly is at large.

While police have identified the 12 members of the cell, three people remain unaccounted for: two believed killed when the house where the plot was being hatched exploded Wednesday, and a suspected fugitive, Catalan police official Josep Lluis Trapero told reporters Sunday.

Trapero declined to confirm that Younes Abouyaaquoub, a 22-year-old Moroccan, was the one at large and the suspected driver of the van that plowed down Barcelona’s Las Ramblas promenade Thursday, killing 13 people and injuring 120. Another attack hours later killed one person and injured others in seaside town of Cambrils.

“We are working in that line,” Trapero said. But he added: “We don’t know where he is.”

Another police official did confirm that three vans tied to the investigation were rented with Abouyaaquoub’s credit card: The one used in the Las Ramblas carnage, another found in the northeastern town of Ripoll, where all the main attack suspects lived, and a third found in Vic, on the road between the two.

Police believe the cell members had planned to fill the vans with explosives and create a massive attack in the Catalan capital. Trapero confirmed that more than 100 tanks of butane gas were found at the Alcanar house that exploded, as well as ingredients of the explosive TATP, which was used by the Islamic State group in attacks in Paris and Brussels.

“Our thesis is that the group had planned one or more attacks with explosives in the city of Barcelona,” he said. That plot was foiled, however, when the house in Alcanar blew up Wednesday night.

The investigation is also focusing on a missing imam, Abdelbaki Es Satty, who police think could have died in the Alcanar explosion. Trapero confirmed the imam was part of the investigation but said police had no solid evidence that he was responsible for radicalizing the young men in the cell.

Es Satty in June abruptly quit working at a mosque in Ripoll and has not been seen since.

His former mosque denounced the deadly attacks and weeping relatives marched into a Ripoll square on Saturday, tearfully denying any knowledge of the radical plans of their sons and brothers. Abouyaaquoub’s mother said his younger brother Hussein has also disappeared, as has the younger brother of one of five radicals shot dead Friday by police during the Cambrils attack.

Everyone so far known in the cell grew up in Ripoll, a town in the Catalan foothills 62 miles north of Barcelona. Spanish police searched nine homes in Ripoll, including Es Satty’s, and set up roadblocks. French police carried out extra border checks on people coming in from Spain.

Neighbors, family and the mayor of Ripoll said they were shocked by news of the alleged involvement of the young men, whom all described as integrated Spanish and Catalan speakers.

Halima Hychami, the weeping mother of Mohamed Hychami, an attacker believed to have been killed by police, said he told her he was leaving on vacation and would return in about a week. His younger brother, Omar, left mid-afternoon Thursday and has not been heard from since.

“We found out by watching TV, same as all of you. They never talked about the imam. They were normal boys. They took care of me, booked my flight when I went on vacation. They all had jobs. They didn’t steal. Never had a problem with me or anybody else. I can’t understand it,” she said.

Fatima Abouyaaquoub, sister-in-law of the Hychami brothers and the cousin of Younes Abouyaaquoub, found it all hard to believe.

“I’m still waiting for all of it to be a lie. I don’t know if they were brainwashed or they gave them some type of medication or what. I can’t explain it,” she said.

Islamic extremists have made a point of targeting Europe’s major tourist attractions – especially in rented or hijacked vehicles. But in the last two years, the extremist group has steadily lost ground in its self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

On Sunday, King Felipe VI, Queen Letizia, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and other officials attended a solemn Mass at Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia basilica for the victims of the attacks.

The archbishop of Barcelona, Cardinal Joan Josep Omella, said the presence of so many people was a “beautiful mosaic” of unity and urged all to work toward a common objective of “peace, respect, fraternal coexistence and love.”

The 14 people killed spanned generations – from age 3 to 80 – and left behind devastated loved ones.

Vancouver police said Sunday that 53-year-old Canadian Ian Moore Wilson was among those killed in Barcelona and his wife, Valerie, was wounded.

Fiona Wilson, his daughter, described her father as an adventurous traveler and thanked those who helped him and her mother in his final moments.

“In the midst of this tragedy, my dad would want those around him to focus on the extraordinary acts of human kindness that our family has experienced over the past several days, and that is exactly what we intend to do,” she said.

Francisco Lopez Rodriguez, a 57-year-old Spaniard, was killed with his 3-year-old grand-nephew, Javier Martinez, while walking along the Las Ramblas promenade. His widow Roser is recovering in a hospital.

“We are a broken family,” niece Raquel Baron Lopez posted on Twitter.

Other victims included a grandmother, 74, and her granddaughter, 20, from Portugal who were visiting Barcelona to celebrate a birthday; an Italian father who saved his children’s lives but lost his own; an American man who was celebrating his first wedding anniversary.

By late Saturday, the Catalan emergency service said 53 attack victims were still hospitalized, 13 of them in critical condition.

]]> 0 woman sits next to candles and flowers placed on the ground after a terror attack that killed 14 people and wounded over 120 in Barcelona.Sun, 20 Aug 2017 16:48:35 +0000
Windham man killed in Hollis motorcycle crash Sun, 20 Aug 2017 13:16:10 +0000 Maine State Police identified the motorcyclist killed in a crash in Hollis on Saturday night as Edward Stanhope, 45 of Windham.

Police said in a news release that Stanhope was operating a 2012 Harley Davidson on Route 35, Center Road, in Hollis at about 11 p.m. when he failed to negotiate a turn and crashed into a tree. Police say he was not wearing a helmet.

Police said speed and alcohol likely were factors in the crash.

The Bureau of Highway Safety said this was the 11th motorcycle fatality of the year, one more than at the same time last year.

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

Twitter: @bquimby

]]> 0 scene tape police car genericSun, 20 Aug 2017 16:18:39 +0000
Comedian, civil rights activist Dick Gregory dies at 84 Sun, 20 Aug 2017 12:06:47 +0000 LOS ANGELES — Dick Gregory, the comedian and activist and who broke racial barriers in the 1960s and used his humor to spread messages of social justice and nutritional health, has died. He was 84.

Gregory died late Saturday in Washington, D.C., after being hospitalized for about a week, his son Christian Gregory said. He had suffered a severe bacterial infection.

As one of the first black standup comedians to find success with white audiences, in the early 1960s, Gregory rose from an impoverished childhood in St. Louis to win a college track scholarship and become a celebrated satirist who deftly commented upon racial divisions at the dawn of the civil rights movement.

“Where else in the world but America,” he joked, “could I have lived in the worst neighborhoods, attended the worst schools, rode in the back of the bus, and get paid $5,000 a week just for talking about it?”

Gregory’s sharp commentary soon led him into civil rights activism, where his ability to woo audiences through humor helped bring national attention to fledgling efforts at integration and social equality for blacks.

Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey tweeted, “Dick Gregory’s unflinching honesty & courage, inspired us to fight, live, laugh & love despite it all.” A tweet by actress/comedian Whoopi Goldberg said, “About being black in America Dick Gregory has passed away, Condolences to his family and to us who won’t have his insight 2 lean on R.I.P”

Gregory briefly sought political office, running unsuccessfully for mayor of Chicago in 1966 and U.S. president in 1968, when he got 200,000 votes as the Peace and Freedom party candidate. In the late ’60s, he befriended John Lennon and was among the voices heard on Lennon’s anti-war anthem “Give Peace a Chance,” recorded in the Montreal hotel room where Lennon and Yoko Ono were staging a “bed-in” for peace.

An admirer of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., Gregory embraced nonviolence and became a vegetarian and marathon runner.

He preached about the transformative powers of prayer and good health. Once an overweight smoker and drinker, he became a trim, energetic proponent of liquid meals and raw food diets. In the late 1980s, he developed and distributed products for the popular Slim-Safe Bahamian Diet.

When diagnosed with lymphoma in 2000, he fought it with herbs, exercise and vitamins. It went in remission a few years later.

He took a break from performing in comedy clubs, saying the alcohol and smoke in the clubs were unhealthy and focused on lecturing and writing more than a dozen books, including an autobiography and a memoir.

Gregory went without solid food for weeks to draw attention to a wide range of causes, including Middle East peace, American hostages in Iran, animal rights, police brutality, the Equal Rights Amendment for women and to support pop singer Michael Jackson when he was charged with sexual molestation in 2004.

“We thought I was going to be a great athlete, and we were wrong, and I thought I was going to be a great entertainer, and that wasn’t it either. I’m going to be an American Citizen. First class,” he once said.

Richard Claxton Gregory was born in 1932, the second of six children. His father abandoned the family, leaving his mother poor and struggling. Though the family often went without food or electricity, Gregory’s intellect and hard work quickly earned him honors, and he attended the mostly white Southern Illinois University.

“In high school I was fighting being broke and on relief,” he wrote in his 1963 book. “But in college, I was fighting being Negro.”

He started winning talent contests for his comedy, which he continued in the Army. After he was discharged, he struggled to break into the standup circuit in Chicago, working odd jobs as a postal clerk and car washer to survive. His breakthrough came in 1961, when he was asked to fill in for another comedian at Chicago’s Playboy Club. His audience, mostly white Southern businessmen, heckled him with racist gibes, but he stuck it out for hours and left them howling.

That job was supposed to be a one-night gig, but lasted two months — and landed him a profile in Time magazine and a spot on “The Tonight Show.”

Vogue magazine, in February 1962, likened him to Will Rogers and Fred Allen: “bright and funny and topical … (with) a way of making the editorials in The New York Times seem the cinch stuff from which smash night-club routines are rightfully made.” “I’ve got to go up there as an individual first, a Negro second,” he said in Phil Berger’s book, “The Last Laugh: The World of Stand-up Comics.” “I’ve got to be a colored funny man, not a funny colored man.”

His political passions were never far from his mind — and they hurt his comedy career. The nation was grappling with the civil rights movement, and it was not at all clear that racial integration could be achieved. At protest marches, he was repeatedly beaten and jailed.

He remained active on the comedy scene until recently, when he fell ill and canceled an Aug. 9 show in San Jose, California, followed by an Aug. 15 appearance in Atlanta. On social media, he wrote that he felt energized by the messages from his well-wishers, and said he was looking to get back on stage because he had a lot to say about the racial tension brought on by the gathering of hate groups in Virginia.

“We have so much work still to be done, the ugly reality on the news this weekend proves just that,” he wrote.

He is survived by his wife, Lillian, and 10 children.

]]> 0 and activist Dick Gregory broke racial barriers in the 1960s and used his humor to spread messages of social justice and nutritional health, has died. He was 84.Sun, 20 Aug 2017 16:32:32 +0000
What you need to know about Monday’s solar eclipse Sun, 20 Aug 2017 08:00:33 +0000

If you want the fullest possible Maine eclipse experience, be ready at exactly 2:45:53 p.m. Monday. That’s when the U.S. Naval Observatory predicts the maximum coverage of the sun by the moon visible in Portland, about 58 percent. It’ll only last a minute.

The farther north you go in Maine, the smaller the eclipse will be, with less than 50 percent coverage north of Caribou. And full coverage will be a few minutes later as you go north. To see what time the eclipse will be at its fullest point over your town, check the U.S. Naval Observatory’s online tool for calculating eclipse coverage.

Because we’re seeing only a partial eclipse here, there won’t be much difference in the amount of daylight we get, says Shawn Laatsch, director of the Emera Astronomy Center at the University of Maine in Orono. In states experiencing a total eclipse Monday, it will look like twilight or dawn.

Find more about Weather in Portland, ME

Of course, everything depends on clear skies. So far, the forecast for Monday calls for clear skies.

No sun is safe to stare at, ever. Radiation from the sun can cause serious eye damage. During a partial eclipse the visible light from the sun might be reduced enough to make it feel less painful, so people might think it’s safe to take a longer look. It’s not.

The only safe way to take more than a quick glance at the sun during an eclipse is to use approved glasses. They should say either “Certified By British Standards Institute” or “ISO 12312.” You’ll know they’re safe if you can’t see anything when you first put them on.

Can you take pictures of an eclipse with your smart phone? NASA’s website says generally it’s safe if you point the camera at the sun only for a moment. The lenses are small and don’t let in enough light to damage your camera. To be safe, you can cover the lens with eclipse glasses or a sheet of solar filter film.

Why use newfangled eclipse glasses when you can go old-school with a pinhole viewer? The simplest one is two sheets of paper, one with a pin-hole to catch the sunlight (held over your shoulder with your back to the sun) and another to project the image onto.

If you have to be indoors Monday afternoon, you can watch a live stream of the total eclipse from above the clouds. A group of 14 University of Maine students will be in Clemson, South Carolina, to help bring live footage of the total eclipse to the world. They are among 55 teams of college students who will launch high-altitude balloons with cameras along the path of totality, to live-stream the action to the world on NASA’s website.

A total solar eclipse will be visible in northern Maine on April 8, 2024. The next time southern Maine will see a total eclipse? 2079.

Has all the eclipse hype got you stressed out? Need to chill out with a glass of wine? You can, and still enjoy eclipse hype at a tasting/viewing party from noon to 4 p.m. at Sweetgrass Winery & Distillery in Union, near Camden. Cocktails, food and glasses available.

The last total eclipse in Maine – on July 20, 1963 – is a crucial plot point in two Stephen King novels: “Gerald’s Game” and “Dolores Claiborne.”

Some free outdoor eclipse-watching events in Maine scheduled for Monday, weather and supply of glasses permitting:
Auburn Public Library, 1:30 to 4 p.m.: Viewing with glasses and activities.
University of Maine, Emera Astronomy Center, Orono, 1 to 4 p.m.: Free viewing with filtered telescopes and glasses.
Monument Square in Portland, 1:30 to 3 p.m.: Viewing with glasses.
University of Southern Maine, Southworth Planetarium, Portland: 1:45 p.m.: Viewing, including with a telescope, outside the planetarium.

]]> 0, 20 Aug 2017 09:46:03 +0000
One year later, national monument stands its ground Sun, 20 Aug 2017 08:00:00 +0000 TOWNSHIP 2, RANGE 8 — They had come from as far away as New York’s Long Island and as close as Mattawamkeag, navigating extremely “unimproved” roads with minimal signage to find the national monument nestled in Maine’s North Woods.

“What can I say? It’s beautiful,” said Rich Brady, a New Yorker on vacation with his family, as he gazed across the valley to where the massif of Mount Katahdin jutted from the forest floor. “You come here and it’s so peaceful … it’s a whole other world. I wish I could spend a few weeks up here.”

For years, Mainers had debated – and debated – whether a tract of Quimby family land near Baxter State Park was worthy of designation as a national park or monument. President Barack Obama ended that discussion on Aug. 24, 2016, when he designated the park as Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.

Or so supporters had hoped.

This Thursday marks both the one-year anniversary of Katahdin Woods and Waters’ creation and the due date for a report to President Trump that could shape the future of Maine’s newest national monument and more than two dozen others across the country.

While Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is not expected to recommend shrinking Katahdin Woods and Waters or reversing the designation, he could suggest changes such as opening areas to timber harvesting or allowing additional snowmobiling to address critics’ concerns.

“I think the solutions should be made-in-Maine solutions, not made-in-Washington,” Zinke said after a mid-June tour of the monument. “That means we have an opportunity to do something different here.”


One year after the designation, it’s clear that some supporters’ predictions are coming true.

There are currently no fees or mandatory registrations to enter the monument, so it is impossible to say how many people have visited. But more than 2,000 vehicles have passed through the monument’s southern gate while roughly 1,200 people, representing 42 states and a half-dozen countries, have signed visitor logs at visitor centers in Millinocket and Patten.

That’s a mere fraction of the estimated 3 million-plus visitors to Acadia National Park last year. Yet the several thousand visitors to Katahdin Woods and Waters found the place despite the fact that the administration of Gov. Paul LePage, an outspoken opponent, has refused to erect any signs on state roads directing visitors to the monument.

“It’s obviously a tough place to get into,” said Tom Smith, a Ledyard, Connecticut, resident who took a day trip to the monument from a family member’s home in nearby Island Falls. As with all visitors to the monument, Smith had to drive on private logging roads and then along the monument’s rocky and jostling dirt Katahdin Loop Road.

“It’s lovely,” his wife, Laura Smith, said while photographing Mount Katahdin in the distance. “It’s nice to come to a place that is so unspoiled.”

Both Millinocket and Patten are also seeing an uptick in foot traffic at local retailers, restaurants and other businesses after years of steady economic declines. In fact, both towns have seen new businesses open or existing businesses expand during the past year.

“Partially it was the monument,” said Steve Golieb when asked why he chose to open a used bookstore, cafe and craft beer bar called Turn the Page on downtown Millinocket’s main drag, Penobscot Avenue. “There was just a lot of excitement in the area, and I saw how much investment other businesses were making and heard real estate sales were going up.”

Turn the Page took over the space formerly occupied by Pelletier Loggers Family Restaurant – the establishment run by the family featured in the popular “American Loggers” reality show – but kept much of the trucking and timber themes. Golieb and his partner, Ashley Wells, opened the business six weeks ago and said they see a healthy mix of locals and visitors coming in to browse books, get a bite or have a Maine-made beer, cider or kombucha.

“We’ve had a lot of people come in whose sole reason for being here was the monument,” said Golieb, who also has a line of all-natural foods called Edible Wilds. “They don’t know anyone up here, they weren’t hiking Katahdin. They were here for the monument.”


In fact, Penobscot Avenue was buzzing, if not necessarily busy, on Thursday morning as locals and tourists wandered in and out of the local shops.

A few blocks down from Turn the Page, vocal monument supporter and businessman Matt Polstein opened Woods & Water Shop, a gift shop that sells Maine-made beer, cheese, coffee and wooden handicrafts, as well as wine and Katahdin Woods and Waters paraphernalia. Next door, Maine Heritage Timber opened its first retail space to display furniture and other products made from timber salvaged from the Penobscot River decades or even generations after the timber sank during the drives.

Polstein operates New England Outdoor Center, which offers cabin rentals, whitewater rafting, snowmobile rentals and other services outside of town on Millinocket Lake. He bought the large, prominent downtown building – which used to house a department store, a Sears catalog store and other retailers – several years ago and restored the interior.

Among those who filtered through the Woods & Water Shop on Thursday was Peter Bolster, who grew up in Millinocket 70 years ago and remembers when any male could get a job at the Great Northern Paper mills the day after graduating from high school.

“It was such a vibrant main street,” said Bolster, who lives in Alton, New Hampshire, but returns to his former hometown at least once a year “to see the mountain.”

Bolster had yet to visit the monument but planned to, eventually.

“It may not be a tremendous economic advantage, but it is certainly not going to be a negative,” Bolster said.

In Patten, the owner of Richardson’s Hardware – a Main Street institution for nearly 70 years – added an entire outdoor section, filling a second floor of the store, to capitalize on visitors to the monument. Several Katahdin-area real estate professionals have said sales are up since the designation, offering hope in a region where a single-family house can be bought for $30,000 or less.


Obama created the 87,500-acre national monument on land donated to the federal government by the family of Roxanne Quimby, co-founder of the Burt’s Bees products line. Quimby had been advocating for a North Woods national park for well over a decade but could not win necessary support from Maine’s congressional delegation. So her Elliotsville Plantation nonprofit, led by her son, Lucas St. Clair, switched the focus to a national monument because presidents can make such designations without congressional approval.

In addition to the land, Quimby donated a $20 million endowment – with a pledge of another $20 million – to help pay for infrastructure and maintenance at the monument.

Standing atop “The Lookout” that offers sweeping views of mile-high Katahdin and the surrounding lakes and valleys, Durham residents Jennifer and Michael Fitzpatrick couldn’t say enough about the monument during their first visit.

“Definitely breathtaking,” Jennifer Fitzpatrick said. “We love it. We were thrilled this gift was given for everyone to enjoy.”

“It’s a gift to the state. When does that happen?” added Michael Fitzpatrick.

But the monument still has its vocal opponents both in Augusta and the local communities.

LePage successfully lobbied to include Katahdin Woods and Waters on the Trump administration’s review list, arguing the designation was made without adequate consultation and outreach to the local communities and the state. He even testified before a congressional committee reviewing presidents’ authority to designate national monuments, offending some Katahdin-region residents by derisively referring to the monument as being in “the mosquito area.”

Residents of several local towns, including Medway and Patten, had opposed the creation of a park or monument in straw polls conducted before the designation, and the Legislature passed a resolution in 2016 opposing a monument.

Driving Route 11 between Medway and Patten, as well as on some of the private roads needed to access the monument, it quickly becomes obvious that opposition remains high in some areas.

A house on the corner of Route 11 and Swift Brook Road in Stacyville – a corner taken by nearly everyone entering the monument’s southern end – has a large wooden sign declaring “National Park NO.” Drivers are also greeted with signs declaring the owner of the private road as well as the private bridges also opposes the monument.

The lingering resentment appears strongest in the towns of Stacyville, Sherman Mills and Sherman, judging by the numerous yellow-and-green “No national park for ME!” signs placed in yards and driveways.

“Not everybody is for it,” said Mike Guiggey, who erected a large, handmade sign declaring “Monument go bye-bye” in his front yard.

Hunting, fishing, snowmobiling and, more recently, ATV-riding are not only major pastimes for local residents but also support jobs in a region with few other economic opportunities. Fishing is allowed throughout Katahdin Woods and Waters, but hunting and snowmobiling are permissible only on about one-quarter or a third of the acreage.

Many of those involved in the region’s timber industry also oppose the monument, fearing the federal government’s presence could lead to additional restrictions.

Carl Hunt runs Hunt’s Guide Service out of his Stacyville home, one of many local residents who make a living or supplement their incomes by leading sportsmen to the fish, bear, moose or other critters they seek. Like other local opponents, Hunt’s resentment of Quimby stretches back to when she first purchased the land, put up gates to block vehicular access and then kicked some camp owners off lands they were leasing.

And he doesn’t trust his new federal neighbors any more than he did Quimby.

“There are going to be gates there eventually, and fees to keep it up,” said Hunt, who pointed out that several of the natural and man-made features in the area – including Hunt Mountain just beyond the monument boundaries – are named for his family.

Hunt acknowledged that businesses in Millinocket or Patten may be seeing additional foot traffic from the monument, but he insisted those benefits aren’t trickling down to Stacyville. And he questioned what’s so special about a monument whose best feature is views of a mountain located in Baxter State Park.

“It’s one view. Are you going to come back from Michigan to go see that again?” Hunt said. “You can see that same view from up here on the road (Route 11) or in Patten.”


Others say that local attitudes are shifting, however.

Brothers Douglas and Edward McCafferty, ages 80 and 88, made the trip from Mattawamkeag about 30 miles away to check out land they’d been on before but not since it was designated a national monument. They drove the monument’s dirt and, at times, pothole-plagued roads in Douglas’ full-size SUV, pausing to check out the views and stop for lunch at The Lookout.

In many ways, the brothers were emblematic of the changes happening in the Katahdin region. Both retired in their 50s after careers at the local paper mills at a time when Great Northern Paper and its immediate successors offered good wages, pensions and even land for camps. But the Millinocket and East Millinocket mills are now gone, and no industry has been able to replace the thousands of stable, good-paying jobs that were lost.

“I was kind of for it because there is nothing in this area now, so anything you can get to help the local businesses, stores and economy is good,” said Douglas McCafferty. “Most of the towns … they have all changed their minds and they are for it now.”

The two were impressed with what they’d seen so far of the monument, although like many other visitors that day, they had a few suggestions.

“It needs more signage and outhouses in places,” Douglas said. “And the road, the road needs to be improved upon.”

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 791-6312 or at:

Twitter: KevinMillerPPH

]]> 0 Brady photographs the view from a scenic lookout on Loop Road in Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument last week.Sun, 20 Aug 2017 13:43:10 +0000
Abuse reports, deaths, fall through the cracks in DHHS system Sun, 20 Aug 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Terri Earley had always cared for her nonverbal autistic son at home, but as he got older, she worried about being able to truly take care of him the way he needed.

So about a year ago, 21-year-old Bradley started living in a group home. Six months later – in October – he was found dead in his bed, discovered not by one of the overnight caretakers, but by the manager arriving for work in the morning.

“I wanted him to have a better life. I thought he would be better attended, not less attended,” said Earley, of Topsham. Worse, she still has questions about just what happened. All she has is a death certificate, which says he died of a seizure. But she’s still not sure there was ever an investigation or whether there was any corrective action taken to prevent the same thing happening to someone else.

“I’m not here to say it’s the home’s fault, but I don’t know. It was an unattended death,” she said. “You would have thought there would be some kind of investigation – maybe it was a training issue, or they didn’t follow procedures. He got nothing.”

In fact, there are many laws governing the care of people with developmental disabilities who live with community-based providers. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services has oversight of the very complex system, which includes multiple state agencies, a network of hundreds of providers across the state, formal and informal advocates and the families and clients themselves.

Clients such as Bradley need transportation, help in the workplace and medical care. Funding is a mix of federal and state money, some of it determined by the Legislature and championed or decreased by any given governor, while legal issues can wind up in district attorney’s offices, before family court judges or even the medical examiner. All of it requires clear delineation of duties and responsibilities, and intensive communication.


An audit published Aug. 10 by the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services focused on how the state handled situations where something went wrong for 2,640 adults who receive community-based services under Medicaid. The audit compared hospital emergency room visit data to a state database where providers log all critical incidents – events that rise to the level that they must be reported to the state.

Under the law, each critical incident must be reviewed, and perhaps investigated, starting with the three primary players: DHHS, the providers themselves, and Disability Rights Maine, which has a $330,000 annual contract with the state to be the independent, third-party advocate for clients living with providers.

The audit prompted a strong response from all three players.

DHHS took issue with several of the audit’s findings, adding that the department had already made changes and that the audit represented past practices. Providers, represented by an association, said the root problem was money and that the state needed to increase the providers’ reimbursement rate and fix the system. Disability Rights Maine also pointed to a financial concern – but it thinks the state needs more money, specifically for Adult Protective Services, in order to hire more people and be more active in enforcement.

So how is the system supposed to work when something goes wrong?

It starts with the client and the provider.

There is a list of events that qualify as “critical incidents” or “reportable events” that run the gamut from verbal abuse or a medication issue to sexual abuse or death. Providers must file a report within a day about that incident into a state database maintained and monitored by DHHS. Someone there reviews the incoming incident reports and routes them to the appropriate agency for follow-up.

In cases of possible abuse, neglect, exploitation or a death, the Adult Protective Services unit of DHHS gets involved. If an incident falls into one of the other categories, the providers themselves do an administrative review and report their findings to DHHS within 30 days.

Federal and state regulations define a reportable event or critical incident as “any event that has or may have an adverse impact on the safety, welfare, rights, or dignity of adults with developmental disabilities or autism.”


It all adds up to a huge number of reportable incidents, covering everything from a badly stubbed toe to a death. During the 30-month period – January 2013 through June 2015 – covered by the audit, there were 36,616 critical events reported, or about 40 a day.

Providers, and the auditors, note that many incidents turn out to be relatively minor, and don’t require full investigations. In one case, a client didn’t take a vitamin for three weeks, generating 21 “incidents” even though the vitamin was not medically needed. In the audit, almost a third of the 13,039 medication “critical incident” reports were about patients refusing to take their medication, which the auditors said they didn’t consider potential abuse, neglect or a rights violation.

The audit found that community service providers were not always reporting critical incidents or doing follow-up reviews, and in turn cited DHHS for not properly overseeing the providers.

Auditors uncovered the reporting gap by comparing hospital emergency room visit information with the state database where providers report all critical incidents within a day. The auditors found that, of 2,243 emergency room visits, there were 34 percent, or 769 visits, for which no critical incident reports were submitted to DHHS, cutting off any ability for the state to investigate the circumstances that led to the visits.

Of those 769 unreported incidents, 104 were considered “high-risk,” including head injuries, the auditor said. Providers gave “various reasons, such as staff turnover and clerical errors,” for why they did not always report critical incidents, the auditors wrote.

“We’re dealing with human beings,” said Bonnie-Jean Brooks, chief executive officer of OHI, a provider with services in Hermon and Brewer. During the audit period, her company reported 400 medication issues – but that was out of more than 900,000 medications handed out. As for failing to report incidents, she said caretakers can get busy, or distracted by a more serious situation.

The auditors wrote that DHHS did not give them an explanation for why it did not ensure that providers reported all critical incidents to the database.


Each incident that gets reported gets at least an initial review by DHHS.

Officials don’t want providers reviewing themselves on serious incidents, so DHHS is required to investigate all allegations of abuse, neglect, exploitation or deaths within 30 days.

On all other kinds of critical incidents – medication issues, serious injuries, suicidal acts and dangerous situations – the providers do their own, internal, administrative review and file a report with DHHS within 30 days. At that point, DHHS can either accept their report and close the case, or request more information until it is satisfied the situation is resolved.

The auditors found significant problems with the review process: Out of 8,678 critical incidents that required follow-up reviews from providers, DHHS did not have any reviews at all. Providers had done the reviews, but told auditors the state had told them to stop sending them in, a charge the state denied. The auditors said DHHS couldn’t explain why it didn’t notice or take action when providers stopped sending in reviews, or how the state could close the cases without the reviews.

The more serious incident reports submitted to DHHS are sent to the Adult Protective Services unit.

If someone has died, Adult Protective Services reviews the circumstances, and if abuse, neglect or exploitation may have been a factor, it must notify law enforcement. Law enforcement in turn may refer the case to a district attorney or the Maine Attorney General’s State Health Care Crimes Unit. Ultimately, the case is reviewed by the Mortality Review Committee.

If a critical incident involves abuse, neglect or exploitation, it must be referred to Adult Protective Services. That unit, in turn, must report all suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation cases to a district attorney. Once Adult Protective Services completes its own investigation, any evidence that someone was abusing, neglecting or exploiting another person must be reported to a district attorney.

In one case, the auditors found that the state didn’t investigate two independent reports from mandatory reporters that a caretaker was making unwanted sexual advances and physically touching a client, including pulling her onto his lap and rubbing her thigh. The provider told auditors that the client had a “long history of making false accusations,” but the auditors said the state should have immediately investigated the incidents and reported them to a district attorney’s office.


Finally, there are two kinds of incidents – restraining a client beyond what is recommended in that person’s individual care plan, and any rights violation – that must be referred to Disability Rights Maine.

If it is a rights violation, Disability Rights Maine must do a preliminary investigation and attempt to contact the client within five days. Sometimes it intervenes with a simple phone call or email to DHHS, sometimes escalating to mediation or requiring a legal remedy. Ultimately, DRM reports the outcome of its actions into the same state database that tracks each incident.

Incidents range from a client being denied access to food or to his or her own money, and could include an objection to not having enough privacy, according to DRM executive director Kim Moody. The agency has stepped in when, for example, a client was being abused by a particular staff person, which led to that staffer being fired.

“We’ve gone in to shared living situations, and found (the client) was doing all the shoveling, all the wood stacking and living in the basement,” Moody said. “The clients we represent are being abused. Our clients are not having good lives.”

The audit found the state wasn’t properly sharing restraint data. However, Moody said that since January, DRM has begun to receive monthly summaries of restraint reports from DHHS.

Ideally, Moody said, no one would ever be restrained beyond what was therapeutically recommended. But DRM has found that clients are routinely restrained by caretakers in community-based settings.

Earley, the mother from Topsham, said she wants the state to improve its oversight of providers, and follow-up on all critical incidents. If the system were working the way it’s supposed to, she’d know what happened to her son, Bradley, and what the state did about it.

“I find it very disturbing that somebody dies and that’s it, and nothing happens. Something obviously needs to change,” said Earley.

“I don’t want his death to be in vain.”

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

Twitter: noelinmaine

]]> 0, ME - AUGUST 19: Photos of Bradley LaPointe who died at age 22 in a group home. LaPointe's mother Terri Earley, center left, said the state failed her son, both in the care they provided to him and for the lack of an investigation into his death. (Staff photo by Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer)Sun, 20 Aug 2017 14:42:00 +0000
A flawed system puts disabled adults at risk, families say Sun, 20 Aug 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Chris Landreth saw the report and could only shake his head.

Over a 2½-year period, the state of Maine failed to adequately monitor and hold accountable community-based providers who care for adults with developmental disabilities, a federal auditor concluded. Lax oversight by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services led to widespread safety concerns and instances of abuse, including numerous unexplained deaths, that went unreported or were never investigated.

Landreth and his wife, Sue, have long had concerns about her son’s care. Ethan Poulin is 24 and is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and intermittent explosive disorder. His intellect is roughly that of a 5-year-old and he is prone to hitting, both himself and others, when frustrated. He lives in a small group home in Auburn, his third such home in five years, and like hundreds of adults with disabilities throughout Maine receives care through Medicaid programs administered by the state.

From September through May of last year – an 8-month period – staff at Ethan’s group home in Auburn logged a total of 96 critical incident reports involving him, including six allegations of neglect, four medication errors, two suspected rights violations and two instances where Ethan was put in a dangerous situation. The rest were physical reports – where Ethan hit a staff member or himself.

Of all those reports, only two were ever examined by state officials and that only happened because Ethan’s family pressed the issue by filing grievances.

“The state simply has no quality assurance over any of its providers,” Landreth, Ethan’s stepfather, said from his home in Manchester. “Every time we visit Ethan, we have to police the place.”

Following the public release of the report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, several families of adults with disabilities who are receiving care have contacted the Maine Sunday Telegram to discuss their experiences. Some, like Landreth, agreed to talk at length. Some said they feel fortunate that they haven’t experienced any problems. Others had concerns but did not want their names published because they feared that care might get worse if they did so.


Advocates and some lawmakers are pressing DHHS for more answers and assurances that problems in the system are being fixed, but the department has sought to downplay the report’s findings. In a lengthy statement in response to the audit, DHHS officials agreed with some of the findings but said the problems were dated and overstated and have largely been remedied.

Shari Cochran Griffin felt the same lack of surprise as Landreth when she saw the recent story. Griffin thought of her own daughter, Brittney Ireland, who suffers from a rare, severe form of epilepsy. She can no longer walk or feed herself or go to the bathroom on her own. Brittney needs near-constant care – care that’s provided to her in Griffin’s home in North Yarmouth, mostly by Griffin herself with help from direct-care workers.

“There is no question in my mind that if she were living in a home, she’d be dead by now,” Griffin said in an interview last week, while Brittney watched Disney Junior cartoons from her wheelchair in the next room.

Griffin has not had to worry about whether her daughter is receiving proper care in a group home setting – the focus of the inspector general’s report. But she has experienced, for more than a decade, how bureaucratic roadblocks and incessant paperwork have threatened her daughter’s safety. Everything she has tried to get help with from the state – a new wheelchair, a safer bed, a ramp for their home – has been a struggle.

“I’m an advocate for my daughter, I always have been,” she said. “Anytime she was in school and they told me she couldn’t do something, I was like, ‘Oh, yes she can.’

“Now, I’m just trying to keep her alive, keep her safe. Why should that be such a fight?”

Both Landreth and Griffin also can’t help but worry about the hundreds of adults in state care who don’t have someone fighting for them. And they don’t trust state officials who have responded to the inspector general’s report by saying, essentially: This is not DHHS’s fault, and things are better now.

“I’ve seen no evidence of that,” Landreth said. “They don’t return phone calls. They don’t follow up. It’s just an indifference. They have lost their way.”


The most egregious finding in the inspector general’s report was the revelation that from January 2013 through June 2015, 133 adults with disabilities died while in a state-sanctioned home and none of those deaths was investigated.

The state has disputed that claim, saying it investigated 54 of them. But DHHS could not provide the inspector general with documentation of those investigations, and it has refused to discuss specifics with the Telegram.

Most of the deaths were not suspicious or necessarily related to poor care, but the federal watchdog agency flagged nine deaths that were deemed “unexplained, suspicious or untimely” and worthy of a thorough review.

However, the lack of oversight and monitoring of group homes and other facilities by the state also led to a massive gap between the number of reports of critical incidents of potential abuse or neglect reported by providers – 15,897 – and the number that were actually accepted for investigation by the state, 767 or 5 percent.

Landreth knows all about that.

He and his wife visited Ethan’s group home once when staff members were outside smoking marijuana instead of monitoring the clients. Another time, there were piles of garbage on the porch attracting vermin and rotting food in the refrigerator. These and other incidents were all reported, but only twice have any been investigated and even then, the problems weren’t really addressed. They’ve never had assurances that Ethan is safe there.

“I’ve been saying for a couple years now that it’s going to take deaths before anything changes, unfortunately,” Landreth said. “Maybe that isn’t enough?”

The state has an agreement with the federal government to oversee care of adults with disabilities through Medicaid. Adults who need a high level of care are in community-based group homes under a program known as Section 21. Those who live at home, like Brittney lreland, receive a lower level of services under Section 29.

The programs allow adults – approximately 2,640 – to live within the community but the state still has a responsibility to ensure their health, safety and welfare.

By that measure, the inspector general found, the state failed.

The audit is now under review by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a review that could lead to action against the state, including reduction or loss of federal funds.

DHHS hasn’t failed every family who has an adult with developmental disabilities.

Meredith Kerr of Yarmouth said the inspector general’s report came as a huge surprise because her son has always had exemplary care since he’s been a Section 29 client.

Timothy Kerr has William syndrome, a developmental disorder marked by intellectual disability. He’s 33 and lives in Cumberland in a shared living arrangement with his direct-care provider.

“I think he’s just a perfect example of what the waiver program was supposed to do,” Kerr said. “His life could not be richer or fuller.”

Kerr said her son’s direct care worker fills out a detailed daily report and she has never had to file a grievance or inquire about whether any issues were not being addressed.

She said she’s grateful her son’s experience has been positive but acknowledged it was “heart-breaking” to hear that others have not been as fortunate.

“Obviously, oversight is important,” she said.


So far, DHHS officials have not expressed much concern publicly about the report.

A lengthy statement released Aug. 10 by department spokeswoman Samantha Edwards acknowledged the report’s findings but branded them as incomplete and not “an accurate picture of the system of protection for individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism today.”

Mary Mayhew, who led the department until May when she stepped down to run as a Republican for governor, similarly downplayed the report and blamed problems on a department that she inherited from previous administrations.

Edwards noted that the time period covered by the audit was during “a time of significant transition after DHHS merged the Office of Elder Services (OES) and the Office of Cognitive and Physical Disability Services (OACPDS), to create the Office of Aging and Disability (OADS).”

Mayhew, at the urging of Gov. Paul LePage, spent much of her time as DHHS commissioner overhauling and streamlining the state’s largest department. Both have said changes were needed to keep the state from hemorrhaging money but others, like Landreth, said leaders have simply forgotten that there are people affected by the continued cuts to services. DHHS officials have declined to discuss the audit or its findings beyond its initial statement.

Around the same time that DHHS was merging its elder and disability services offices, it was also doing away with the Office of Advocacy – although that was not mentioned in DHHS’s public statement.

Richard Estabrook, who led the Office of Advocacy until it was dissolved, said there is no longer a system of checks and balances to ensure that vulnerable individuals are receiving proper care. He worries that the report could end up making things worse if the state is sanctioned.

“The ultimate sanction by (The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) would be to say, ‘We’re not paying the state of Maine for any of these services,’ ” Estabrook said. “CMS could say to Maine that the state is not keeping up its side of the bargain.”


DHHS has issued a notice to providers about proper reporting of incidents and will now hold quarterly meetings with each provider, according to a June 26 letter to the federal auditors.

Not only are providers failing to report incidents, but also DHHS is failing to follow up on incidents that are reported.

Landreth said it’s like a black hole.

“Nobody is looking at any of this paperwork,” he said. “We have plans in place for Ethan’s care that are not being followed.”

Shari Griffin has seen the same thing.

She has been fighting the state for two years just to get a wheelchair ramp installed at her house. Before that, it was a fight to get a safe bed so Brittney, who weighs less than 50 pounds, wouldn’t fall out. The state’s initial answer, Griffin said, was to put a mattress on the floor.

Before that, it was a fight to get a motorized wheelchair.

Griffin has pages and pages of her correspondence with DHHS officials. Her concerns differ from the failures in community-based services outlined in the federal audit, but the underlying problem is the same. No oversight. No follow-up.

She had to fight just to get Section 21 services for Brittney once she turned 18. Her diagnosis, a rare form of epilepsy called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, has progressed steadily. Doctors have told Griffin she likely doesn’t have much longer to live.

Through the Section 21 program, Griffin gets a regular stipend to provide care for Brittney. That includes bringing in any direct care workers. Griffin is supposed to fill out paperwork every day detailing everything she does with Brittney. She knows no one is looking at the paperwork because she’s been late filling it out and no one has asked about it.

“I’m trying to keep her alive as long as I can,” she said. “That’s more important to me.”

Landreth and his wife are trying to get a new housing placement for Ethan, but like everything else, that has been a struggle. They have debated having him live at home but they just can’t care for him there. It’s not safe.

It has been months now that the Landreths have been working with the state to find new housing. Landreth said he and his wife have actually found a place, without the state’s help, and a provider willing to staff Ethan there.

“The last email we got from the state was about a month ago,” he said. “They said, ‘We’ll let you know.’ ”

Landreth worries the apartment may be gone by then.

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

Twitter: PPHEricRussell

]]> 0 Poulin, 24, who lives in a group home in Auburn, rocks in a swing during a visit to his family's home in Manchester. Of the 96 critical incident reports logged about him during an eight-month period last year, only two were examined by state officials, and only then because family members filed grievances.Sun, 20 Aug 2017 14:44:26 +0000
Bannon expected to keep influencing Trump from outside White House Sun, 20 Aug 2017 00:58:39 +0000 WASHINGTON — President Trump’s most unconventional senior adviser, Stephen Bannon, may have left the White House, but the political turbulence that has characterized the first seven months of Trump’s presidency doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.

The tenure and departure of Bannon, the president’s chief strategist and champion of his nationalist impulses, exposed deep fissures in the Trump-era Republican Party, within the White House and beyond.

Those differences are still harming Trump’s effectiveness as he tries to kick-start a sputtering legislative agenda at a time when relationships with Republican congressional leaders are seriously frayed – largely because of the president’s behavior, including his response to hate-fueled deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend.

While Bannon’s ouster was the latest move by new Chief of Staff John Kelly to bring a greater sense of normalcy to the White House, even some of Trump’s allies question how likely that is to take hold, particularly under a president who relishes changing the national conversation with a provocative tweet – a practice Kelly has not been able to curb.

Trump – nearing the end of a working vacation at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf resort – has made a habit of continuing to solicit advice from former staffers, often through late-night calls when he is no longer under the watchful eye of Kelly.

Bannon also has made clear since he left Friday that he is going to use Breitbart News, the pugilistic conservative website, to try to advance his agenda from outside the White House.

In an interview in Washington on Saturday, Bannon warned Republican leaders to enthusiastically support Trump’s priorities on taxes, trade and funding a massive border wall – or risk the wrath of the president’s base, including Breitbart, where Bannon returned Friday as executive chairman.

“If the Republican Party on Capitol Hill gets behind the president on his plans and not theirs, it will all be sweetness and light, be one big happy family,” Bannon said.

But Bannon added with a smile that he does not expect “sweetness” anytime soon – and described the turbulent political moment in the Republican Party and the country as a necessary battle over Trump’s priorities.

In a pair of tweets on Saturday, the president wished Bannon well and thanked him for his service.

“He came to the campaign during my run against Crooked Hillary Clinton – it was great!” Trump said, referring to Bannon’s role during the general election.

Several hours later, Trump predicted Bannon would be “a tough and smart new voice at BreitbartNews … maybe even better than ever before,” adding: “Fake News needs the competition!”

Several friends and former co-workers said that they expect Bannon to use the platform to attack his political opponents, including those he has derided as “globalists.”

“I think Steve is going to be more effective on the outside,” said Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union and a longtime friend of Bannon. “On the outside, if you are well-funded and you are feared and you have a platform, you are going to be a power player. Steve has all of that in spades.”

Trump and Bannon associates also expect Bannon to continue to have Trump’s ear, as has been the case with some other fired staffers such as Corey Lewandowksi, Trump’s first campaign manager, who periodically shows up at the White House.

“With Donald Trump, once he likes you, you’re either in his inner orbit, or you’re in his outer orbit,” said Christopher Ruddy, chief executive of Newsmax Media and a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida. “You never leave altogether.”

]]> 0 Sat, 19 Aug 2017 21:17:29 +0000
Ex-Westbrook High track coach who admitted having sex with student found dead Sun, 20 Aug 2017 00:30:37 +0000 A former Westbrook High School track coach who admitted having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student has died of an apparent suicide, according to Maine State Police.

Timothy Even, 28, of Stoneham was found dead about 11 a.m. Friday in his car, which was backed into a log landing on Route 5 in Lovell near the Stoneham town line, state police said.

“His death is not suspicious and is believed to be a suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning,” said state police Lt. Walter Grzyb.

Grzyb said the state medical examiner’s office will make the final determination.

Even was indicted in November by the Cumberland County grand jury on five counts of gross sexual assault. He initially denied the relationship, then admitted it after detectives showed him copies of explicit text messages he and the student allegedly exchanged, according to an affidavit.

A friend of the victim saw the text messages on the girl’s cellphone and, along with the girl’s parents, contacted Westbrook police. According to police, the relationship began in April 2016 and continued until Even’s arrest in September.

“This is a situation that started with the best of intentions,” Even wrote in an affidavit released in September. “Unfortunately, my lack of professionalism and self-control created a situation that got out of hand.”

He was convicted in December on misdemeanor counts of unlawful sexual contact and assault, according to state records.

The age of consent in Maine is 16, but teachers or school employees are prohibited by law from having sexual relationships with students if the employee has disciplinary or supervisory authority over the student.

Even had been a full-time ed tech for the Westbrook school district since 2013 and an adviser for the high school’s class of 2018. Before working in Westbrook schools, he was an assistant cross country and track coach at Fryeburg Academy. He had also worked at Camp Susan Curtis, a nonprofit camp for economically disadvantaged youths, since 2004 and most recently had been assistant director of the camp’s 10-week summer program.

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

]]> EvenSun, 20 Aug 2017 09:46:27 +0000
Wildfires force evacuation of hundreds in California, Oregon Sun, 20 Aug 2017 00:00:12 +0000 SISTERS, Ore. — Evacuation orders affecting hundreds of people were issued in California and Oregon as wildfires neared small towns, including one that’s a prime location for viewing the eclipse.

About 600 residents were told to leave the tourist town of Sisters, Oregon, and authorities said Saturday another 1,000 people had been told to be ready to leave if necessary.

Sisters is located on the edge of a 70-mile swath of the state where the moon will completely blot out the sun.

Crews were expecting a tough day Saturday with winds gusting to more than 20 mph.

On Monday, they will have to contend with the solar eclipse that fire officials say will ground all firefighting helicopters and most fixed-wing aircraft for about 35 minutes as the moon’s shadow passes over the area.

In California, authorities issued an evacuation order for the small town of Wawona as a week-old fire in Yosemite National Park grew and air quality reached a hazardous level.

The U.S. Forest Service said the fire grew to more than 4 square miles overnight because of winds from thunderstorms. Authorities ordered people to leave as air quality was expected to worsen.

Wawona, with a population of 1,000 to 2,000 people at any given time, is less than 2 miles from the fire. The evacuation order included the historic Big Trees Lodge, formerly known as the Wawona Hotel.

The fire has closed campgrounds and trails in the national park since it began a week ago. It was 10 percent contained.

In Montana, 155 National Guard troops arrived to monitor about three dozen security checkpoints in an area south of Missoula that was evacuated because of a fire that flared up after burning since at least July 15. The fire destroyed two homes and several outbuildings Thursday.

The Missoulian reported that heavy smoke has settled into valleys and officials warned of poor air quality.

Idaho’s two largest wildfires were burning mostly in wilderness areas.

One fire burned 17 square miles in Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, and another in Gospel Hump Wilderness had burned 21 square miles.

]]> 0 Sat, 19 Aug 2017 20:16:17 +0000
Arthur J. Finkelstein, shadowy Republican campaign mastermind, dies at 72 Sat, 19 Aug 2017 23:49:14 +0000 Arthur J. Finkelstein, whose sharp, relentless attack ads helped elect dozens of conservative political candidates in the United States and abroad and made him a kingmaker in Republican circles for decades, died Aug. 18 at his home in Ipswich, Massachusetts. He was 72.

The cause was metastasized lung cancer, his family said in a statement.

Finkelstein cultivated a reputation as a shadowy behind-the-scenes figure, seldom granting interviews and rarely drawing attention to himself in public – all of which lent him a mystique as a pollster, campaign manager and ruthless operative in electoral politics.

He became an influential political power broker in the 1970s who helped propel the careers of Republican senators such as James L. Buckley (N.Y.), Jesse Helms (N.C.), Orrin G. Hatch (Utah) and Alfonse D’Amato (N.Y.), as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He also fostered a generation of Republican political consultants whose careers began on his campaigns.

Finkelstein was considered a master at developing simple campaign messages, which were repeated in such a steady barrage of negative television commercials that he was sometimes called the “merchant of venom.” As much as anyone, he was responsible for making the word “liberal” a political slur.

He was also something of a political conundrum – especially after it was revealed in 1996 that his private life as a gay man was in sharp contrast to the views of some of the conservative firebrands he helped elect. Helms, for instance, often railed against the “homosexual movement,” which he said “threatens the strength and the survival of the American family.”

In 1996, New York Times columnist Frank Rich described Finkelstein as someone who “sells his talents to lawmakers who would outlaw his family’s very existence.”

Finkelstein was credited with helping raise Ronald Reagan’s national profile during the 1976 Republican primary campaign. Ultimately, the nomination went to President Gerald R. Ford, who lost the general election to Democrat Jimmy Carter.

Reagan’s insurgent campaign against a sitting president laid the groundwork for his overwhelming presidential victory in 1980. Finkelstein was seen as one of several Republican strategists, including Roger Ailes, Lee Atwater and Charlie Black, who were instrumental in helping shape what became known as the Reagan Revolution.

“Without Arthur Finkelstein, Ronald Reagan might never have become president of the United States,” historian and Reagan biographer Craig Shirley wrote on the website of National Review magazine in January 2017.

During Reagan’s eight years in the White House, Finkelstein was an informal adviser to the administration and managed congressional and gubernatorial campaigns across the country.

“He uses a sledgehammer in every race,” political scientist Darrell M. West told the Boston Globe in 1996.

]]> 0 Sat, 19 Aug 2017 19:55:30 +0000
Researchers find wreckage of lost WWII warship USS Indianapolis Sat, 19 Aug 2017 23:43:44 +0000 Naval researchers announced Saturday that they have found the wreckage of the lost World War II cruiser USS Indianapolis on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, 72 years after the vessel sank in minutes after it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine.

The ship was found almost 31/2 miles below the surface of the Philippine Sea, said a tweet from Microsoft cofounder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen, who led a team of civilian researchers that made the discovery.

Historians and architects from the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington joined forces with Allen last year to revisit the tragedy.

The ship sank in 15 minutes on July 30, 1945, in the war’s final days, and it took the Navy four days to realize that the vessel was missing.

About 800 of the crew’s 1,200 sailors and Marines made it off the cruiser before it sank. But almost 600 of them died over the next four to five days from exposure, dehydration, drowning and shark attacks. Nineteen crew members are alive today, the Navy command said.

The Indianapolis had just completed a top secret mission to deliver components of the atomic bomb “Little Boy” to the island of Tinian. The bomb was later dropped on Hiroshima.

In a statement on its website, the command called the shipwreck a “significant discovery,” considering the depth of the water.

“While our search for the rest of the wreckage will continue, I hope everyone connected to this historic ship will feel some measure of closure at this discovery so long in coming,” Allen said. His research vessel, Petrel, has state-of-the-art subsea equipment that can descend to depths like those at which the ship was found.

The cruiser’s captain, Charles Butler McVay III, was among those who survived, but he was eventually court-martialed and convicted of losing control of the vessel. About 350 Navy ships were lost in combat during the war, but he was the only captain to be court-martialed. Years later, under pressure from survivors to clear his name, McVay was posthumously exonerated by Congress and President Clinton.

The shipwreck’s location had eluded researchers for decades. The coordinates keyed out in an S.O.S. signal were forgotten by surviving radio operators and were not received by Navy ships or shore stations, the Navy command said. The ship’s mission records and logs were lost in the wreck.

Researchers got a break last year, however, when Richard Hulver, a historian with the Naval History and Heritage Command, identified a naval landing craft that had recorded a sighting of the Indianapolis hours before it was sunk. The position was west of where it was presumed to be lying. The team was able to develop a new estimated position, although it still covered 600 square miles of open ocean.

The ship is an official war grave, which means it is protected by law from disturbances. Naval archaeologists will prepare to tour the site and see what data they can retrieve. No recovery efforts are planned.

]]> 0 Sat, 19 Aug 2017 19:43:44 +0000
Spanish police search for van driver, missing Moroccan imam Sat, 19 Aug 2017 23:43:40 +0000 RIPOLL, Spain — A missing imam and a house that exploded days ago became the focus Saturday of the investigation into an extremist cell responsible for two deadly attacks in Barcelona and a nearby resort, as authorities narrowed in on who radicalized a group of young men in northeastern Spain.

Investigators searched the home of Abdelbaki Es Satty, an imam who in June abruptly quit working at a mosque in the town of Ripoll, the home of the Islamic radicals behind the attacks that killed 14 people and wounded over 120 in the last few days. Police were trying to determine whether Es Satty was killed in a botched bomb-making operation Wednesday, the eve of the Barcelona bloodshed.

His former mosque has denounced the deadly attacks and weeping relatives marched into a Ripoll square Saturday, tearfully denying any knowledge of the radical plans of their sons and brothers. At least one of the suspects is still on the run, and his younger brother has disappeared, as has the younger brother of one of the five attackers slain Friday by police.

Catalan police said a manhunt was centered on Younes Abouyaaquoub, a 22-year-old Moroccan suspected of driving the van that plowed into a packed Barcelona promenade Thursday, killing 13 people and injuring 120. Another attack early Friday killed one person and wounded five in the resort of Cambrils.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for both.

Everyone so far known in the cell grew up in Ripoll, a town in the Catalan foothills near the French border 62 miles north of Barcelona. Spanish police searched nine homes in Ripoll, including Es Satty’s, and two buses, and set up a roadblock that checked each car entering the town. Across the Pyrenees, French police carried out extra border checks on people coming in from Spain.

Neighbors, family and even the mayor of Ripoll said they were shocked by news of the alleged involvement of the young men, whom all described as integrated Spanish and Catalan speakers with friends of all backgrounds.

Even with Abouyaaquoub at large, Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido declared the cell “broken” Saturday. In addition to the five killed by police, four were in custody and one or two were killed in a house explosion Wednesday. He said there was no new imminent threat of attack.

Police also conducted a series of controlled explosions Saturday in the town of Alcanar, south of Barcelona, where the attacks were planned in a house that was destroyed Wednesday by an explosion.

Authorities initially thought it was a gas accident, but took another look after the attacks.

Initially, only one person was believed killed in the Wednesday blast. But officials said DNA tests were underway to determine if human remains found there Friday were from a second victim. A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing searches, said investigators believe the remains may belong to Es Satty.

The official said investigators also discovered ingredients of the explosive TATP, used by the Islamic State in attacks in Paris and Brussels, as well as multiple butane tanks that the group may have wanted to combine with the homemade explosive and load into their vehicles.

Neighbors on Saturday said they had seen three vehicles coming and going from the home, including an Audi used in the Cambrils attack and the van used in the Barcelona attack.

The president of the mosque where Es Satty preached, Ali Yassine, said he hadn’t seen him since June, when he announced he was returning to Morocco for three months.

“He left the same way he came,” said a bitter Wafa Marsi, a friend to many of the attackers, who appeared Saturday alongside their families to denounce terrorism.

Members of Ripoll’s Muslim community denounced the vehicle attacks and offered their sympathy to the families of the victims.

]]> 0 of young men believed responsible for the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils gather along with members of the local Muslim community to denounce terrorism in Ripoll, Spain, on Saturday.Sat, 19 Aug 2017 19:56:54 +0000
Colby family holds reunion at namesake college Sat, 19 Aug 2017 23:38:17 +0000 WATERVILLE — Alice Dickinson, 97, sat admiring the works of Maine artist Marsden Hartley on Saturday at the Colby College Museum of Art – a museum that might not exist had it not been for the gift her relative, Gardner Colby, made to the college in 1864.

Then known as Waterville College, the institution was struggling financially and facing closure, and Colby offered an endowment of $50,000 if the school could raise $100,000 on its own, which it did, within two years.

Colby, a successful wool manufacturer from Massachusetts and formerly of Waterville, would become a member of the college’s board of trustees after that, giving the school a total of about $200,000 by his death in 1879 – but not before the college was renamed Colby College in his honor.

Dickinson, of New Hampshire, was attending the Colby family’s 64th annual reunion, held for the first time at Colby College. While her family has held reunions for about 100 years, it was celebrating its 64th as part of the Colby Clan Association, incorporated in 1954. Family members arrived Friday and will stay in Waterville through Sunday.

“It’s pretty nice,” Dickinson, a retired English teacher and Bates College graduate, said. “I’ve been coming to Colby reunions ever since they started.”

Dickinson was one of about 20 Colby descendants from all over the country to attend the reunion, which included a tour of the art museum with docent Pam Gemery, and lunch Saturday at Best Western Waterville Grand Hotel. A presentation, annual awards and business meeting and reports also were on the weekend agenda.

Barbara Zdravesky of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, has been the association’s secretary for 15 years and said the group has met several times in New Hampshire, but the last time it met in Maine was in 2006, in South Portland. In 2002, the reunion was in Wiscasset, she said.

It was Zdravesky’s first visit to Colby. Asked how it felt to be on the campus of a College her ancestor helped save, she said it was a good feeling.

“Definitely for the Colby name there’s a lot of pride and there are many stories because there are many, many Colbys all over,” she said.

The reunion designates a different host every year and each year, the host determines the location, Zdravesky said. Laura Harris, 56, and her husband, Tommy, 58, of Ripley are this weekend’s hosts.

“We all belong to Anthony Colby,” Laura Harris said of Gardner Colby’s grandfather. “My grandmother was a Colby.”

She said it was special to have the first family reunion at Colby, since Gardner Colby contributed to its survival long ago.

“I’m glad, because to me, education is one of the most important things,” she said.

Glenn Poulin, 53, of Bath was attending his first Colby family reunion. An electrician at Bath Iron Works and a 1981 Messalonskee High School graduate, he said he rode the school bus in his youth along Washington Street near Colby but never knew the story of his ancestor, Gardner Colby.

“I only know a small portion of my Colby family, through the family association,” he said. “My mother was a Colby. She grew up in Jackman and now is Frances St. Armand and lives in North Carolina.”

Other attendees came from Texas, Minnesota and Massachusetts.

Dorothy Greene, a cousin of Gardner Colby who lives in Amesbury, Massachusetts, in the summer and Austin, Texas, in the winter, said she was attending her third family reunion and had never been to the college.

“I’ve never been this far north in Maine,” she said.

Anthony Colby and his family lived in a house in Amesbury that was built in 1654 and now is owned by the town and is open to the public by appointment, family members said.

Vicki Gutenkauf of St. Paul, Minnesota, said she has attended reunions for several years and they always are held in New England.

“There are several famous Colby descendants that we know of – Joseph Smith, the father of the Mormons, President Chester Arthur and the Pillsbury family – and Laura Ingalls Wilder,” she said. “Her mother and my great-grandmother were second cousins.”

Colby College Communications Director Kate Carlisle welcomed the reunion members and took a photograph of them in the museum that she said she would post to the college’s Facebook page.

“We are delighted to welcome the descendants of our namesake, Gardner Colby,” Carlisle said. “This is the first time the family has actually met on Mayflower Hill and we’re tickled that they chose a museum tour as their significant activity this year.”

Gardner Colby was born in 1810 in Bowdoinham to Josiah C. and Sara Davidson Colby. Josiah, a shipbuilder and successful businessman, lost his fortune after the shipping embargo during the War of 1812, according to family literature. Gardner Colby spent part of his childhood in Waterville with help from then-Waterville College President Jeremiah Chaplin. Sara eventually went to Boston and Gardner eventually joined her there and became a successful merchant and businessman who dealt in manufacturing, shipping and railroads.

“Mayflower Hill, a History of Colby College,” written by Earl Smith, a former Colby dean, details Gardner’s role in helping to save the college and documents Gardner’s being a guest speaker at the Waterville College commencement dinner in the town hall in 1864 where he announced his $50,000 endowment.

“The audience sat in stunned silence and then erupted into wild cheering and stomping,” Smith writes on page 23 of his book. “Waterville College was not going to perish after all. Matching money was raised in two years.”

Amy Calder can be contacted at 861-9247 or at:

Twitter: AmyCalder17

]]> 0 Colby pushes the oldest living member of the Colby clan, Alice Dickinson, 97, during a tour of the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville on Saturday.Sat, 19 Aug 2017 20:08:51 +0000
Strong economy has housing costs rising in Massachusetts Sat, 19 Aug 2017 23:06:58 +0000 BOSTON — Massachusetts’ booming economy is bringing with it a downside for those looking to rent an apartment or buy a home in the state: soaring housing costs, particularly in the greater Boston area.

The problem isn’t new, but it’s more acute in places where the economy has taken off, spurred by a surge in the life sciences sector and the arrival of top companies like General Electric to the state.

That upward pressure is one reason why Beacon Hill leaders are continuing to look for ways to create new affordable housing units while preserving existing units.

Gov. Charlie Baker this week announced $72 million in housing subsidy funds and additional state and federal tax credits to 25 projects across the state. The goal is to help create, refurbish and preserve 1,970 housing units, including units reserved for low-income families and families making their way out of homelessness.

“Safe and affordable housing is a cornerstone to the success of our commonwealth’s families, including access to job opportunities for many of our most vulnerable populations,” Baker said in announcing the funds for 17 communities.

Among the projects is Mechanic Mill, a mixed-income historic rehabilitation project in Attleboro. When finished, the project will offer 91 housing units, including 56 affordable. Of the affordable residences, 10 will be reserved for households earning less than 30 percent of the area’s median income. All 91 units will be reserved for people who are 55 or older.

Baker isn’t alone in focusing on the state’s housing needs.

At the Statehouse, dozens of bills have been filed in response to the ever-tightening housing market.

One bill would give tenants of residential buildings with three or more units the right of first refusal to buy their building at fair market value; other legislation would expand or tighten the definition of affordable housing; and another bill would address affordable housing developments in certain communities.

The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Housing is holding a hearing Tuesday at the Statehouse to consider nearly two dozen bills, including some aimed at preventing homelessness and others that would attempt to stabilize the rental market and help those looking to buy their first home save the money needed for a down payment.

As of the end of June, Massachusetts home values had gone up 7.2 percent over the past year, according to real estate data provider Zillow, which predicts a rise of 3.3 percent during the next year. While the median home value in Massachusetts is $375,500, the median price of homes currently listed in Massachusetts is $425,000.

Rents are also high, with the median monthly rent in Massachusetts at $2,600.

]]> 0 Sat, 19 Aug 2017 19:19:32 +0000
Trump’s interim communications director isn’t new to his ways Sat, 19 Aug 2017 23:01:07 +0000 HAGERSTOWN, Md. — Others tried without much success, and now the job of keeping President Trump on message has fallen to Hope Hicks, a young aide who entered his orbit not knowing the ride would eventually take her to the pinnacle of Washington politics.

Word of Hicks’ promotion to interim communications director – the 28-year-old was already in charge of “strategic” communications – landed last week just as the White House confronted one of its biggest messaging challenges.

After Trump went off script and blamed “both sides” for deadly violence between white supremacists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, the blowback was sharp and swift.

Members of Congress in both parties urged the president to forcefully denounce the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who marched through the college town. Some openly questioned his competence and moral leadership. Uniformed leaders of the armed services denounced racism and hatred without naming their commander in chief.

Repairing the breach, or at least keeping it from growing, is among the most immediate tasks facing Hicks.

She succeeds Anthony Scaramucci, the flamboyant New York businessman whose 11-day tenure as White House communications director ended after the publication of his expletive-filled tirade to a reporter.

“Hope is a terrific person and will do a great job. Wishing her the best,” Scaramucci tweeted after the White House announced Hicks’ promotion. The Greenwich, Connecticut, native will help shape and steer Trump’s messaging until someone who wants the assignment permanently comes aboard.

Those who have worked with the shy former teen model describe her as trustworthy.

“Hope is wise beyond her years and is someone I trust to always be there for the president,” said Brad Parscale, the digital director of Trump’s presidential campaign who, like Hicks, was one of Trump’s few original campaign members. “I have been disappointed in seeing so many use President Trump as an opportunity to maximize their own self-interest.”

Hicks avoids the spotlight, unlike colleagues who got under Trump’s skin by letting their profiles rise.

Hicks has long served as a gatekeeper to Trump and plays the role from her desk near the Oval Office. As it was during the campaign, media requests to interview the president go through Hicks, who was the only aide in the Oval Office when Trump sharply criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a recent New York Times interview. She does not appear on TV.

Parscale said Hicks is dedicated to Trump’s broader aims.

“His campaign was about millions of Americans across this country who have been left behind,” Parscale said, adding that Hicks understands that and “truly wants to see President Trump succeed.”

A former Ralph Lauren fashion model and public relations pro who worked for Trump’s daughter Ivanka, Hicks had no political background when she signed on for the celebrity businessman’s fledgling campaign in 2015. Soon, she became a one-woman communications shop for an unconventional candidate who attracted unprecedented media attention.

Hicks approved interview requests, often tapped out tweets that Trump dictated and remained at his side as he barnstormed the country.

She followed her parents, Paul and Caye Hicks, into the public relations business. After graduating in 2010 from Southern Methodist University with a degree in English, Hicks moved to New York and worked with Hiltzik Strategies, which has also worked for Hillary Clinton – as did her father. Paul Hicks used to do communications for the NFL, and is now managing director at a firm in Washington.

In 2014, the daughter joined the Trump Organization to help promote Ivanka’s merchandise. Trump shifted her to the campaign a year later.

Hicks attracted considerable media attention by herself, but largely eschewed face-to-face interactions with reporters. She preferred to limit her contacts with journalists to telephone and email.

“She’s always on the phone talking to reporters, trying to get the reporters to straighten out their dishonest stories,” Trump said as a postelection rally in Alabama in December.

Don’t look for Hicks to try to curb Trump’s tweeting, as others have suggested.

“You can own the news cycle with one tweet and I think that speaks to both the power of his presence and personality, but also his message, and his ability to captivate,” she said in a brief video for Forbes magazine’s “30 Under 30” series. Hicks is not on Twitter.

]]> 0 Hicks, shown departing Air Force One in Morristown, N.J., in June, avoids the spotlight, unlike her predecessor, Anthony Scaramucci, who lasted just 11 days on the job.Sat, 19 Aug 2017 20:17:16 +0000
Two Florida police officers killed, 2 injured in 2 separate shootings Sat, 19 Aug 2017 22:45:30 +0000 Two officers were killed and two others were injured in two separate Florida shootings Friday night, outbreaks of violence against police that reverberated across the nation.

The first shooting happened in Kissimmee, just south of Orlando. Officers were responding to a report of suspicious activity in a high-crime area when they were taken by surprise, officials said.

The second shooting, about 90 minutes later in Jacksonville, left two officers injured. Police were dispatched to deal with an armed suicidal man when he came out firing.

All the shootings were “deflating to law enforcement and heartbreaking,” Kissimmee Chief Jeff O’Dell told reporters, shortly after he announced that Officer Matthew Baxter had died of his injuries. Sgt. Sam Howard died Saturday, police announced on Facebook Saturday afternoon.

About 9:30 p.m. Friday, Baxter and Howard were on patrol in a neighborhood in the north part of the city where police were trying to crack down on heightened drug activity.

The officers were searching several suspects when they got into a scuffle with one, who opened fire, O’Dell said at the news conference.

The officers didn’t have time to return fire, O’Dell said. “It looked like they were surprised by the gunfire.”

Police began searching for the gunman and announced Saturday morning that they’d arrested Everett Miller, who is charged with murder.

As investigators learned more about Miller, O’Dell said he was disheartened to learn that the suspect had posted violent anti-police comments on social media and that no one had reported it to authorities. O’Dell didn’t detail the comments.

Nearly two hours later and 165 miles north, police in Jacksonville were summoned to a home on the city’s west side to defuse a situation involving a suicidal man armed with a gun, according to the Florida Times-Union.

There was an extra element of danger: Dispatchers told the officers that three other people were inside the home with the armed man.

As a team of officers approached the house, they heard gunshots and feared they were dealing with an active gunman.

The suspect came out firing a high-powered rifle, police said. He was killed during the ensuing firefight with officers and had not been identified Saturday.

Two officers were wounded, although their injuries were not life-threatening. The three other people in the house were uninjured.

]]> 0 Chief Jeff O'Dell discusses the shooting deaths of two police officers and the arrest of a suspect at a Saturday news conference in Kissimmee, Fla.Sat, 19 Aug 2017 19:23:15 +0000
Nursing home wedding in Augusta shows it’s never too late Sat, 19 Aug 2017 22:33:13 +0000 AUGUSTA — When Bryant Brunye asked Sonya Trott to marry him on July 8, the timing was spontaneous but the sentiment was not.

Brunye had been thinking about it for a while, and it was just time.

On Saturday, the two were wed in the community center of Gray Birch, MaineGeneral’s rehabilitation and long-term care facility in Augusta.

The Brunyes, Bryant, 79, and Sonya, 75, cut their cake, fed each other just a bite, tossed the bouquet and the garter and accepted the well wishes of friends and family.

Their romance, observers say, bloomed slowly from friendship to something more. Bryant Brunye, originally from Connecticut, and Sonya Brunye, who is from Augusta, have known each other for a couple of years. They have been seen holding hands at lunch and at movies. They have gone on trips together.

“It’s much better to travel with someone, particularly of this caliber,” Bryant Brunye said, looking over at his wife.

At that, she beamed.

On the day he proposed, he said, they were by themselves.

“I said, ‘Marry me,'” he said, retelling the event in his quiet and deliberate way.

Sonya Brunye said she was surprised.

“I never thought he’d ask me what he asked me,” she said. “He never gave me any indication.”

Her immediate answer: Yes.

Bobbie Jo Welch, the activities director at the facility, was in her office when Sonya came in with the news.

“It was kind of a surprise,” Welch said Saturday during the reception, where she and Melissa Black, the activities coordinator, fulfilled their roles as wedding planners to make sure the event progressed smoothly. “I guess I didn’t expect them to get married.”

In doing so, the Brunyes have made a little history at Gray Birch. In the two decades that Welch has worked there, this is the first time a wedding has taken place between residents. In her memory, Welch said, only one other wedding has taken place, between a resident and a volunteer.

With only six weeks, Sonya Brunye and her daughter went to work, along with Welch and Black, planning the wedding and getting everything done, from planning the menu and getting the marriage license to booking the entertainment and picking the colors.

This is the second wedding for Sonya, and it was, she said, far more elaborate than her first.

She chose the peach and aqua color scheme in honor of a late friend.

“She loved the colors,” Sonya Brunye said, “and she said she wanted them for her wedding.”

Her friend was killed in a car crash and never made it to her wedding, Sonya said.

For their wedding, they both wore those colors.

“This is better than we ever thought,” Bryant Brunye said. “We thought we would have a quiet, little event. It got out of hand.”

In all, about 50 people were on hand to celebrate the day.

As for their plans after the wedding, Sonya Brunye had this to say: “I’ll never tell!”

They might take a trip, but that’s for later.

On Saturday, the Brunyes were delighting in the celebration and in each other.

“It’s the happiest day of my life,” Sonya Brunye said.

“It’s a relationship we never even thought of,” Bryant Brunye said, “and it gets better by the day.”

Jessica Lowell can be contacted at 621-5632 or at:

Twitter: JLowellKJ

]]> 0 happy couple, Sonya Trott and Bryant Brunye, enjoy their wedding cake after exchanging vows Saturday afternoon at MaineGeneral's rehabilitation and long-term care facility in Augusta.Sat, 19 Aug 2017 22:43:08 +0000
Low-flying fighter jet training over Maine delayed again Sat, 19 Aug 2017 22:03:55 +0000 A National Guard proposal to expand airspace for fighter jet training low over the mountains of western Maine has dragged on for so long that many of the aircraft currently used for training could be retired by the time the plans are completed.

Vermont-based F-16 fighters account for the bulk of the training flights and are due to be replaced by stealthy F-35 fighters that won’t be allowed to fly as low.

With the departure of the F-16s, the number of low-flying jets would be cut by more than two-thirds each year and the remaining low-level training flights would be dispersed over a larger area, further reducing the impact, the National Guard says.

“I can’t guarantee someone that they won’t hear an airplane, but I can guarantee that they won’t hear it consistently,” said Jamie Flanders, airspace manager.

But a former fighter pilot instructor warned there are no guarantees on numbers of fighters using the airspace if the changes are ultimately approved. They’ve been in the works for 14 years.

“It could turn into an air warfare center for the entire East Coast. It would not be good for western Maine, for anyone who’s concerned about the pristine environment and quality of life in that area,” said retired Lt. Col. Mike Wells, who lives in Wilton.

Under the proposal for the 4,000-square-mile Condor Military Operations Area over Maine and part of northern New Hampshire, pilots could fly low over the entire area instead of along existing, narrow corridors.

The Air Force delayed the process again by ordering a revised environmental impact statement aimed at ensuring alternatives were adequately explored and documented. That will likely push final action to 2019, the year the F-35s are due to be delivered to the Vermont Air National Guard. Once that happens, the older F-16 models will be phased out.

The Air National Guard will hold additional public hearings once a thorough assessment is completed, Flanders said.

State Sen. Tom Saviello, a Republican from Farmington, said he hopes the military does a better job than last time in explaining why the changes are needed. The last effort was fraught with problems and did little to earn the confidence of residents, he said.

“This is my take: If any pilot’s life is saved because of this training, then I’d support it. However, I want them to do this right,” Saviello said.

The Massachusetts Air National Guard, whose fighters were the first over New York after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in 2001, contends it needs additional low-level training over mountainous terrain for its twin-engine F-15 fighters to ensure pilots are prepared to defend the Northeast.

Those F-15 training sorties amount to 72 per year, compared with 324 by the Vermont National Guard F-16s that are being retired.

Nonetheless, critics like Toni Seger remain concerned about disturbances caused by military jets in a part of the state that depends on tourists and second-home buyers looking for peace and quiet.

“I still come back to the same thing. It’s not a good fit with the economy of this region,” said Seger, of North Lovell. “It’s completely at odds and there’s no justification for it.”

]]> 0 F-16 fighters such as this one at the Air National Guard base in South Burlington are set to be replaced by stealthy F-35 fighters that won't be allowed to fly as low, cutting by more than two-thirds the number of low-flying jets each year.Sun, 20 Aug 2017 17:22:30 +0000
Tuition, fees unchanged in Maine Community College System Sat, 19 Aug 2017 21:41:29 +0000 Tuition and fees at Maine’s seven community colleges will be unchanged this fall.

Tuition again will be $92 per credit hour, so for a full-time student taking 30 credits, it will be $2,760 a year. Fees are about $1,000.

Maine Community College System President Kerek Langhauser said the freeze was possible because of an increase in the state appropriation. The system has the lowest tuition and fees in New England, officials said.

]]> 0 Sat, 19 Aug 2017 18:16:06 +0000
Lenin statue in Seattle also has detractors Sat, 19 Aug 2017 21:10:20 +0000 There is a 7-ton statue of Vladimir Lenin in Seattle. It’s 16-feet tall, made of bronze and has resided in the city’s free-spirited Fremont neighborhood since 1995. Tourists flock to see it.

This week, protesters did too.

In a twist on the recent calls to remove Confederate monuments, Seattle’s Lenin statue has attracted renewed scrutiny this week after an impromptu protest by activists supporting President Trump, who has endured blistering criticism for insisting “both sides” – that is, the white nationalists who staged their rally in Charlottesville and the demonstrators who opposed them – share equal blame for the mayhem that was caused.

The violence, and Trump’s argumentative response, has fomented division within communities across the country.

On Thursday, Mayor Ed Murray joined critics in seeking the removal of a monument that has long been a subject of curiosity and controversy. Murray, a Democrat, also has taken aim at a Confederate memorial in the city’s Lake View Cemetery. Both are privately owned.

“We should never forget our history,” he wrote in a prepared statement, “but we also should not idolize figures who have committed violent atrocities and sought to divide us based on who we are or where we came from.”

Lenin led Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 before founding the country’s Communist Party. Countless suffered and died during the civil war that ensued, a fact highlighted by those who think the statue should come down.

As one observer mused on Twitter, “He only killed a few million people. Why isn’t the left tearing down his statue?”

The sculpture’s path to Seattle has little to do with Lenin’s communist ideology, according to local accounts. It was created in Slovakia by artist Emil Venkov between 1978 and 1988, when it was installed in the city of Poprad, not far from the Polish border. A year later, as the Soviet Union broke apart, the statue was taken down.

It was discovered in a junkyard by Lewis Carpenter, an American visiting from Washington state, who was said to be so enamored with its artistry that he leveraged his mortgage to finance the purchase and ship it home to Issaquah, 20 miles east of the Seattle. It was moved to Fremont after Carpenter’s death in 1994. Carpenter’s family still owns the statue and, according to the Seattle Times, has been hoping to sell it for many years. The asking price is $250,000.

Ultimately, because both of the controversial Seattle memorials reside on private property, both would need to be removed by their owners, voluntarily. So Murray, Seattle’s mayor, has few options other than voicing his opinion.

]]> 0 Sat, 19 Aug 2017 17:10:20 +0000
Maine getting $950,000 under settlement with EpiPen maker Sat, 19 Aug 2017 21:10:20 +0000 AUGUSTA – Maine is getting $950,000 from EpiPen maker Mylan as part of a national settlement.

The company this week finalized a $465 million federal agreement settling allegations it overbilled Medicaid for its emergency allergy injectors for a decade.

Maine Attorney General Janet Mills called the company’s conduct “unconscionable.”

It’s the second settlement with the Department of Justice that Mylan has made since 2009 for allegedly overcharging the government. The new case involves Mylan paying Medicaid too-low rebates for the devices by classifying its brand-name product as a generic, which requires lower rebates.

Those actions are separate from another lawsuit Maine filed against Mylan for alleged price-fixing for a certain diabetes medication and an antibiotic. That lawsuit is pending.

]]> 0 Sat, 19 Aug 2017 17:50:12 +0000
Fatal Finland stabbings investigated as terrorism Sat, 19 Aug 2017 21:01:08 +0000 BERLIN — Authorities in Finland said Saturday they were investigating a fatal stabbing attack in a southwestern city as terrorism.

Two people were killed and eight others wounded Friday when an 18-year-old Moroccan man went on a stabbing rampage, police said. He was shot in the leg by police and was being treated in intensive care.

The attack unfolded in Turku, about 100 miles west of Helsinki, jolting a continent still learning the full extent of a terrorist strike targeting Spain, where police were trying to piece together details of two deadly vehicular assaults and an explosion at a house that police said had been used by the attackers.

The Islamic State claimed links to the attacks in Spain, the nation’s worst in more than a decade.

Police in Finland initially said they did not believe the stabbing was related to terrorism. However, Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation took control of the case and was investigating with the assistance of Finnish security services.

Saying new information had emerged overnight, police in southwest Finland said Saturday that the stabbings were being investigated as murders with “terrorist intent.” The investigative bureau said it had reason to believe the attack was planned in advance but did not offer further details.

Security services said it was the first suspected terrorist attack in Finland, and that the overall risk level remained relatively low.

Police said the suspect had arrived in the country as an asylum seeker last year. Four other suspects, also Moroccan citizens, were arrested in connection with the stabbings, police said, and there was an international search warrant for a sixth suspect.

The two people who died of stab wounds were Finnish women, police said. Among the injured were a Swede, a Briton and an Italian.

Finland’s prime minister, Juha Sipila, offered condolences to relatives of the victims and called the day’s events “tragic.” The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, also weighed in to condemn the attack, saying its gravity was heightened by the attacks in Spain hours earlier.

Security was tightened across the country, including at airports and train stations. National Police Commissioner Seppo Kolehmainen warned civilians that they might see armed security personnel in the streets.

A video circulated Friday on Twitter in which users said a man could be heard crying “Allahu akbar,” but others replied saying that the shouts were Finnish for “watch out.”

An eyewitness told Turun Sanomat, a Turku-based newspaper, that she was buying potatoes in the market square when she saw people running and screaming. Among the victims, she said, was a woman with a small child.

Also Friday, police in the western German city of Wuppertal were searching for one or more suspects in a stabbing that left one person dead and another wounded, although the case was being treated as a homicide and is not linked to terrorism, police said.

]]> 0 woman places a candle Saturday by floral tributes to the victims of a stabbing attack in Turku, Finland, on Friday that killed two people.Sat, 19 Aug 2017 17:53:21 +0000
Duke takes down vandalized monument of Robert E. Lee Sat, 19 Aug 2017 20:59:22 +0000 DURHAM, N.C. — Duke University removed a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee early Saturday after it was vandalized amid a national debate about monuments to the Confederacy.

The university said it removed the carved limestone likeness before dawn from the entryway to Duke Chapel, where it stood among 10 historical figures.

Officials discovered early Thursday that the statue’s face had been gouged and scarred and that part of the nose is missing.

Another statue of Lee, the top Confederate general during the Civil War, was the focus of the violent protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, that turned deadly a week ago.

Duke University president Vincent Price said in a letter to the campus community that he consulted with faculty, staff, students and alumni before deciding to remove the statue.

“I took this course of action to protect Duke Chapel, to ensure the vital safety of students and community members who worship there, and above all to express the deep and abiding values of our university,” Price said in the letter.

Durham has been a focal point in the debate over Confederate statues after protesters tore down a bronze Confederate soldier in front of a government building downtown on Monday. Eight people face charges including rioting and damaging property. Days later, hundreds marched through Durham in a largely peaceful demonstration against racism before an impromptu rally at the stone pedestal where the statue stood.

Other monuments around North Carolina also have been vandalized since the Charlottesville protest, and calls are growing to take down a Confederate soldier statue from the campus of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

Gov. Roy Cooper has urged the removal of Confederate monuments from public property around the state, though his goal would be difficult to achieve because of a 2015 state law prohibits their removal. Duke is a private university and outside the scope of that law.

The Lee statue had stood for about 85 years between two other historical figures of the American South, Thomas Jefferson and poet Sidney Lanier, along the main entryway to the neo-Gothic church at the center of Duke’s campus. It was moved into storage at 3 a.m. Saturday and its future is undetermined, university spokesman Michael Schoenfeld told the Herald-Sun of Durham.

“We want people to learn from it and study it and the ideas it represents. What happens to it and where it will be is a question for further deliberation,” Schoenfeld said.

The decision was supported by the university’s trustees, Schoenfeld said.

Duke has been affiliated since its founding with the United Methodist Church. Luke Powery, dean of Duke Chapel, said Saturday he sees the empty space formerly occupied by the Lee statue as creating a new opportunity to heal the ongoing racism problems confronting the country.

The gap “in many ways represents a hole in the heart of the United States and the ongoing struggles of racism, hatred and bigotry – all the things we’re seeing in our streets. We haven’t come as far as perhaps we thought we had come as a nation,” Powery said.

]]> 0 now-removed statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee at the entrance to Duke Chapel in Durham, N.C., before it was vandalized last week after the Charlottesville, Va., turmoil.Sat, 19 Aug 2017 16:59:22 +0000
Amtrak brings back 1955 dome car to Downeaster train Sat, 19 Aug 2017 20:52:30 +0000 Amtrak is bringing back a domed rail car that offers panoramic views for riders of the Downeaster.

The Downeaster will begin four daily trips starting Saturday using the “Amtrak Great Dome rail car.” The rail car features an upper level with windows on all sides.

Riders will have views of the coastline, marshes and streams along the Downeaster route. The car was also used on the Downeaster line one year ago, in August and September 2016.

Seating in the dome car is available to Downeaster passengers at no extra cost, but those seats are unreserved and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The dome car is available through Sept. 24. The Downeaster runs from Boston to Brunswick.

]]> 0 interior of the 70-year-old dome car contains a lounge with padded swivel chairs, tables and benches, all encased in a glass dome that gives riders a 360-degree view of the scenery. as the train travels between Portland and Boston.Sat, 19 Aug 2017 17:44:05 +0000
Two of Trump-linked oligarch’s companies file for bankruptcy Sat, 19 Aug 2017 20:22:27 +0000 WASHINGTON — Two companies owned by the Russian oligarch who bought Donald Trump’s former Florida mansion filed for bankruptcy protection in North Carolina Friday, adding to the mystery about the firms and the rich Russian behind them.

Dmitry Rybolovlev has drawn attention not only for his 2008 purchase of Trump’s home for nearly $100 million, but also for the fact that his Airbus 319 intersected with Trump’s plane at U.S. airports several times last fall. McClatchy reported in March that his plane had been in the Charlotte area twice during the 2016 presidential campaign at the same time as Trump’s.

Rybolovlev’s spokesman first called the crossings coincidental, later confirming McClatchy’s reporting that he was the main shareholder of a battery plant in Concord, N.C., just outside Charlotte.

Trump and Rybolovlev deny knowing each other.

The battery plant is the most prominent physical manifestation of the companies that just filed for bankruptcy, Alevo USA and Alevo Manufacturing – U.S. arms of Alevo, which is based in Switzerland and part of the Rybolovlev empire.

The oligarch’s far-flung holdings include the Monaco soccer club, a Greek island, New York real estate and Trump’s former West Palm Beach mansion.

The Charlotte Observer broke news of the impending bankruptcy filing Friday, and Alevo’s website was replaced with a single page saying the two U.S. subsidiaries sought “to achieve an orderly liquidation of their assets and maximize value to pay their creditors.” Alevo filed under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code, allowing the company’s new predominantly Russian management a say on which assets are sold and how.

Very little about Alevo was ordinary, including its top shareholder and management team. Alevo was established in Boca Raton, Fla., in January 2009. Later, Alevo USA and Alevo Manufacturing were registered in Delaware, which requires little public disclosure about privately held companies.

In Concord, Alevo promised to make 40-foot lithium ion batteries that resembled shipping containers to store solar-generated power. The company bought an old Philip Morris cigarette plant for $68.5 million, quickly sold it, and then leased it back. But it was far from the Mid-Atlantic States where it was trying to sell its products.

Alevo’s management team had a few American energy veterans but was dominated by Russian associates of Rybolovlev with no background in power generation, electricity markets or the grid. Few of the large batteries were delivered to clients. The Maryland city of Hagerstown is the only publicly acknowledged recipient of a GridBanks battery.

The Delaware coastal city of Lewes has been waiting for months to receive its battery, which it planned to use to fill in power supply during times of peak usage or outages.

“Our contract is such that we don’t have a lot of financial harm coming to us,” Darrin Gordon, who heads the public works department in Lewes, said in a recent interview.

Last April, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency announced a $1.6 million grant to Alevo and a little-known British firm, Xago Africa, to study the feasibility of exporting its technology to a remote part of Kenya. McClatchy has learned that the grant had been pursued by Xago Africa through the U.S. Embassy in Kenya. But no money had been provided because the proposal was held up by the agency in a secondary process.

Rybolovlev remade Alevo’s corporate board with top executives of his former fertilizer company, Uralkali, which at its height controlled about a fifth of the world’s production of potash, which is used mostly as a fertilizer and in soap products. Rybolovlev sold it in 2010 for a reported $10 billion; some news reports have said Russian President Vladimir Putin forced the sale.

]]> 0 Rybolovlev's private jet was at U.S. airports at the same time as President Trump's campaign plane last fall.Sat, 19 Aug 2017 18:12:02 +0000
Border agents track drone from sky to drugs on the ground near San Diego Sat, 19 Aug 2017 20:22:24 +0000 SAN DIEGO — A 25-year-old U.S. citizen has been charged with using a drone to smuggle more than 13 pounds of methamphetamine from Mexico, an unusually large seizure for what is still a novel technique to bring illegal drugs into the United States, authorities said Friday.

Jorge Edwin Rivera told authorities that he used drones to smuggle drugs five or six times since March, typically delivering them to an accomplice at a nearby gas station in San Diego, according to a statement of probable cause. He said he was to be paid $1,000 for the attempt that ended in his arrest.

Border Patrol agents in San Diego allegedly saw the drone in flight on Aug. 8 and tracked it to Rivera about 2,000 yards from the Mexico border. Authorities say agents found Rivera with the methamphetamine in a lunch box and a 2-foot drone hidden in a nearby bush.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said in a recent annual report that drones are not often used to smuggle drugs from Mexico because they can only carry small loads, though it said they may become more common. In 2015, two people pleaded guilty to dropping 28 pounds of heroin from a drone in the border town of Calexico, California.

That same year, Border Patrol agents in San Luis, Arizona, spotted a drone dropping bundles with 30 pounds of marijuana.

Alana Robinson, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California, said drones haven’t appealed to smugglers because their noise attracts attention and battery life is short.

Also, payloads pale compared to other transportation methods, like hidden vehicle compartments, boats or tunnels.

As technology addresses those shortcomings, Robinson expects drones to become more attractive to smugglers.

The biggest advantage for them is that the drone operator can stay far from where the drugs are dropped, making it less likely to get caught.

“The Border Patrol is very aware of the potential and are always listening and looking for drones,” Robinson said.

Benjamin Davis, Rivera’s attorney, declined to comment. Rivera is being held without bail and is scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 7.

]]> 0 Police say this drone flew drugs across the Mexican border into California earlier this month. ABOVE: Twelve packages of methamphetamine were confiscated after a border agent saw the drone flying over the border fence.Sat, 19 Aug 2017 18:15:19 +0000
Afghanistan ramps up its fight against corruption Sat, 19 Aug 2017 20:20:09 +0000 KABUL, Afghanistan — They were important men – tall and imposing, well-dressed and well-connected, used to giving orders and getting respect. One was a white-haired army general, the other a wealthy entrepreneur – both members of the Afghan elite long considered too powerful to touch.

But, Gen. Mohammad Moeen Faqir, the former commander of embattled Helmand Province, and Abdul Ghafar Dawi, the director of a large fuel company and other businesses, chafed in silence as prosecutors in an anti-corruption court charged them with embezzlement and abuse of authority.

The two brief trials, which concluded with prison terms and large fines imposed on both men, were among a clutch of high-profile anti-corruption cases brought by the Afghan government in recent weeks.

The other convicted defendants included prison officials who made deals to release inmates early, bank officials who made loans with fake collateral and senior military officers who schemed to steal thousands of gallons of generator fuel.

Together, the cases are part of an accelerating campaign, headed by Attorney General Farid Hamidi, to convince the Afghan public and Afghanistan’s foreign backers that the government, plagued by a raft of other problems, is making significant progress in efforts to end an entrenched culture of impunity and entitlement among the country’s military and civilian elites.

“When we started out, everyone was skeptical. Now they are starting to believe,” said Hamidi, who was appointed 18 months ago by President Ashraf Ghani. “These cases show that money and power are not a guarantee. We face many difficulties, but we are committed. We still do not have complete justice in Afghanistan, but we no longer have complete impunity.”

Hamidi’s efforts have met with dramatic setbacks. One was the unsolved double murder of two police investigators on their way to work at the Anti-Corruption Justice Center. Another was the defiance of Gen. Abdurrashid Dostum, the country’s first vice president and a former militia boss, who was accused of ordering the rape of a political rival last year. Dostum refused to be questioned by Hamidi’s office and fled to Turkey, where he remains in self-exile.

There have also been complaints that Hamidi was failing to go after the most influential Afghans linked to corruption, and that the effort was politically motivated or aimed at distracting the international community from the government’s failures. But such criticism has diminished as prosecutors have worked through several hundred cases, taken prominent people into custody for trial and sent some of them to prison.

To date, Hamidi’s aides said, 1,097 cases have been tried in three anti-corruption courts, 468 people have been sent to prison, and repayments and fines totaling more than $14 million have been ordered. In the generator fuel scheme, two army colonels were sent to prison for 18 and 20 years and fined more than $1.5 million.

Rohullah Abed, executive director of the justice center, where the trials took place, said when “powerful people see us coming, they are a little afraid now.”

They also fight back, hiring multiple defense lawyers, packing courtrooms with supporters and rebutting charges with an array of arguments. During their recent trials, both Faqir and Dawi seemed confident and relaxed, exchanging nods and smiles with co-defendants and lawyers as they listened to the proceedings.

In both cases, the defendants and their attorneys also made emotional pleas for leniency or dismissal based on their many years of contributions to Afghanistan’s economic development and national defense – character portraits that contrasted sharply with the grubby accusations against them.

Faqir, who served in the military for 38 years before his arrest, was charged with abusing his authority by appropriating military vehicles for his personal use and ordering 30 active-duty soldiers to serve as guards and drivers at his private homes. He and several other officers were separately charged with embezzlement for keeping large amounts of cash that had been intended to be used to purchase food for combat troops under his command.

“My client has risked his life. He has fought terrorists and Taliban. … It was not a vacation,” declared Faqir’s attorney, Abdul Jalil, arguing that he deserved to have his home and family protected and that there was nothing “abnormal” about the practice.

In the end, the three-judge panel sentenced Faqir to nine years in prison and ordered him to repay $1.2 million for the military rations.

The case against Dawi, one of the most successful business owners in Afghanistan, was more complex. At the heart of the prosecution were charges going back a decade, alleging that his company manipulated bids and contracts for aviation fuel and facilities, establishing a “monopoly” in collusion with transportation officials.

Dawi was also charged with defrauding several other oil companies and embezzling $16 million in loans from Kabul Bank by creating 17 front companies that never repaid them.

Dawi’s lawyer, Najla Rahil, presented an exhaustive defense, arguing that the prosecution was biased and conspired with Dawi’s business competitors.

“We rebuilt an airport that was destroyed after 30 years of war,” protested Dawi’s top lieutenant, Mohammad Asghar Ghiasi.

The judges listened politely until every defendant and lawyer had spoken. When they returned from deliberating, they ordered both Dawi and Asghar to be imprisoned for nine years and pay multimillion-dollar fines. Asghar’s two daughters rushed over and hugged him, weeping. Dawi, struggling to keep his composure, turned and faced the courtroom wall.

]]> 0, 19 Aug 2017 18:44:02 +0000
Bowdoin relocates Confederate plaque Sat, 19 Aug 2017 18:49:25 +0000 In response to the deadly violence last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, Bowdoin College announced Saturday that it has relocated from a public space to its archives a bronze plaque listing the names of alumni who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War.

“What occurred in Charlottesville and the subsequent national conversation have led us to conclude that historical artifacts like this that are directly tied to the leadership of a horrible ideology are not meant for a place designed to honor courage, principle, and freedom,” Bowdoin President Clayton Rose said in a statement.

The 21-by-25-inch plaque includes the names of 19 Bowdoin College and Medical School of Maine alumni who fought for the Confederacy, including Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who received an honorary degree from Bowdoin a few years before the war.

Bowdoin said the plaque was relocated from the ground floor lobby of Pickard Theater in Memorial Hall to the Brunswick college’s archives and special collections in Hawthorne-Longfellow Library.

According to Bowdoin College records, the honorary degree – and the plaque – have been controversial before. Two years ago, the college ended an annual student award given in Davis’ name.

A Bowdoin historian said Davis got the honorary degree in 1858 because he happened to be attending a Bowdoin commencement during a doctor-ordered stay in Portland.

“The Boards were in an embarrassing position,” Louis Hatch wrote in “The History of Bowdoin College.” “Mr. Davis was the Southern leader in the United States Senate and his principles were diametrically opposed to those of a majority of people in Maine; but when a man of his ability and prominence … was present at Commencement, it would have been a personal insult not to give him a degree.”

When Davis was elected president of the Confederacy in 1861, there were efforts to rescind his honorary degree. College officials considered it, Hatch wrote, but decided that “when the degree was conferred Mr. Davis was a fitting man to receive it and that his later conduct had no bearing on the matter.”

The plaque listing the names of the men didn’t go up until 1965, when the school marked the 100th anniversary of the Confederate Army’s formal surrender at Appomattox, overseen by Bowdoin graduate and Union officer Joshua Chamberlain. The lobby in Memorial Hall also has large tablets with the names of 288 Bowdoin alumni, including Chamberlain, who fought for the Union.

Then-Bowdoin President James S. Coles dedicated the plaque in memory “of the Bowdoin men who served with the Confederate forces 1861-1865.”

“We are gathered this evening in Memorial Hall, dedicated to the Bowdoin men who fought … for the preservation of the Union. Other Bowdoin men, led by conscience or circumstances unknown to us, saw fit to espouse the cause of the Confederacy,” he said.

On Saturday, Rose noted the dissonance of having the plaque in Memorial Hall.

“For the last fifty-two years, this plaque has hung, incongruously, in a space completed in 1882 that honors the service of alumni who fought to preserve the Union and to end slavery,” he said, adding that it belonged “in a setting appropriate for study and reflection.”

Rose also said that “this move explicitly preserves and acknowledges our history, our unusual relationship with Davis, and the fact that there were those at the College who did not support the preservation of the Union or the causes of freedom and human dignity.”

Bowdoin officials said Saturday the plaque had already been removed and will be replaced with a panel describing its history, why it was moved and where it can be viewed.

Bowdoin also once had a Jefferson Davis Award, funded entirely by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, given annually to a student excelling in constitutional law.

“Beginning in 1960, there was a determined effort by admirers of Davis to create a lasting memorial in his name at Bowdoin,” according to the campus website.

In 1972, the award was created.

In 2015, citing Davis’ efforts to preserve and institutionalize slavery and to dissolve the Union, the Bowdoin board of trustees voted to return the value of the prize fund to the United Daughters of the Confederacy and discontinued the Jefferson Davis Award.

“It is inappropriate for Bowdoin College to bestow an annual award that continues to honor a man whose mission was to preserve and institutionalize slavery,” Rose said at the time.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy were also the driving force behind a plaque to Jefferson Davis on a pew inside First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church on Congress Street in Portland. First Parish is considering whether to remove the plaque.

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

Twitter: noelinmaine

]]> 0 College in Brunswick has Maine’s lowest default rate on federal student loans, at 0.6 percent, according to the latest federal figures.Sat, 19 Aug 2017 21:11:39 +0000
One person killed, one injured in Lebanon pickup rollover Sat, 19 Aug 2017 18:39:25 +0000 One person was killed in a pickup truck crash on Center Road in Lebanon on Friday night.

The Lebanon Fire and EMS Department responded to the accident at 1003 Center Road at 8:28 p.m., the department reported on its Facebook account.

The department said a single pickup truck rolled over with two occupants inside. One was pronounced dead at the scene and another was taken to Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New Hampshire.

Center Road was reduced to one lane while crews and Maine State Police worked to clear and then reconstruct the accident.

No further information from Maine State Police or the Lebanon fire department was available.

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

Twitter: @bquimby

]]> 0 siren lights genericSat, 19 Aug 2017 22:03:02 +0000
Thousands of counterprotesters march in Boston against racism Sat, 19 Aug 2017 18:21:37 +0000 BOSTON — Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans converged Saturday on downtown Boston in a boisterous repudiation of white nationalism, dwarfing a small group of conservatives who cut short their planned “free speech rally” a week after a gathering of hate groups led to bloodshed in Virginia.

Counterprotesters marched through the city to historic Boston Common, where many gathered near a bandstand abandoned early by conservatives who had planned to deliver a series of speeches. Police vans later escorted the conservatives out of the area, and angry counterprotesters scuffled with armed officers trying to maintain order.

Members of the Black Lives Matter movement later protested on the Common, where a Confederate flag was burned and protesters pounded on the sides of a police vehicle.

Later Saturday afternoon, Boston’s police department tweeted that protesters were throwing bottles, urine and rocks at them and asked people publicly to refrain from doing so. About 10 minutes before that, President Trump had complimented Boston police, tweeting: “Looks like many anti-police agitators in Boston. Police are looking tough and smart! Thank you.”

He also complimented Boston’s Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh.

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said 27 arrests were made – mostly for disorderly conduct while some were for assaulting police officers. Officials said the rallies drew about 40,000 people.

Trump applauded the people in Boston who he said were “speaking out” against bigotry and hate. Trump added in a Twitter message that “Our country will soon come together as one!”


Organizers of the conservative event, which had been billed as a “Free Speech Rally,” had publicly distanced themselves from the neo-Nazis, white supremacists and others who fomented violence in Charlottesville on Aug. 12. A woman was killed at that Unite the Right rally, and many others were injured, when a car plowed into counterdemonstrators.

Opponents feared that white nationalists might show up in Boston anyway, raising the specter of ugly confrontations in the first potentially large and racially charged gathering in a major U.S. city since Charlottesville.

One of the planned speakers of the conservative activist rally said the event “fell apart.”

Congressional candidate Samson Racioppi, who was among several slated to speak, told WCVB-TV that he didn’t realize “how unplanned of an event it was going to be.”

Some counterprotesters dressed entirely in black and wore bandannas over their faces. They chanted anti-Nazi and anti-fascism slogans, and waved signs that said: “Make Nazis Afraid Again,” “Love your neighbor,” “Resist fascism” and “Hate never made U.S. great.” Others carried a large banner that read: “SMASH WHITE SUPREMACY.”

Chris Hood, a free speech rally attendee from Dorchester, said people were unfairly making it seem like the rally was going to be “a white supremacist Klan rally.”

“That was never the intention,” he said. “We’ve only come here to promote free speech on college campuses, free speech on social media for conservative, right-wing speakers. And we have no intention of violence.”

Robert Paulson, another free speech rallygoer, said there was definitely a lot of tension.

“They believe that we’re Nazis and KKK down here. That’s what they think, a lot of them. It’s not true. A lot of the people down here just love the United States, are here to promote free speech,” he said.

Rockeem Robinson, a youth counselor from Cambridge, said he joined the counterprotest to “show support for the black community and for all minority communities.”

Katie Griffiths, a social worker also from Cambridge, who works with members of poor and minority communities, said she finds the hate and violence happening “very scary.”

“I see poor people and people of color being scapegoated,” she said. “Unlearned lessons can be repeated.”


TV cameras showed a group of boisterous counterprotesters on the Common chasing a man with a Trump campaign banner and cap, shouting and swearing at him.

But other counterprotesters intervened and helped the man safely over a fence into the area where the conservative rally was to be staged. Black-clad counterprotesters also grabbed an American flag out of an elderly woman’s hands, and she stumbled and fell to the ground.

Yet Saturday’s showdown was mostly peaceable, and after demonstrators dispersed, a picnic atmosphere took over with stragglers tossing beach balls, banging on bongo drums and playing reggae music.

The Boston Free Speech Coalition, which organized the event, said it has nothing to do with white nationalism or racism and its group is not affiliated with the Charlottesville rally organizers in any way.

Rallies also were planned in cities across the country, including Dallas, Atlanta and New Orleans.

Hundreds of people gathered at City Hall in Austin, Texas, Saturday morning, holding signs in support of racial equality.

In Laguna Beach, California, an anti-racism rally was held one day before the group America First! planned to hold a demonstration in the same place that’s being billed as an “Electric Vigil for the Victims of Illegals and Refugees.”

Protesters gathered Saturday outside Trump’s private golf club in New Jersey where he recently spent a 17-day vacation.

The protesters staged a “No Hate in the Garden State” rally, with those in attendance sharply rebuking Trump’s handling of the protests in Charlottesville. Many also blasted his assertion that “both sides” – the white supremacists and the counterprotesters – were to blame for the violence that left one protester dead.

]]> 0 hold signs at a "Free Speech" rally by conservative activists on Boston Common, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Boston. Thousands of demonstrators marched Saturday from the city's Roxbury neighborhood to Boston Common, where the "Free Speech Rally" is being held. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)Sun, 20 Aug 2017 12:52:17 +0000
Dozens of Mainers take part in counterprotest on Boston Common Sat, 19 Aug 2017 15:03:04 +0000 Genevieve Morgan of Portland said her husband and children were worried about her safety when she announced she was going to Boston on Saturday to rally against white supremacy.

But despite the heat and sporadic scuffles in the crowd, Morgan said she was glad she spent the day on Boston Common protesting racism and hate.

“It was a positive experience. We all feel it was such a beautiful expression of what our country is all about,” Morgan said as she rode back to Maine with a group of friends after the rally ended Saturday afternoon.

Morgan was one of dozens of Maine residents who took part in a counterprotest at a noon rally by a group called the Boston Free Speech Coalition. Only a few dozen coalition members actually showed up and they left before their rally was scheduled to end.

The coalition, which says it is against white supremacy and racism, describes itself as a group of “libertarians, progressives, conservatives, and independents and we welcome all individuals and organizations from any political affiliations that are willing to peaceably engage in open dialogue about the threats to, and importance of, free speech and civil liberties.”

Officials worried the protest would attract white nationalists in the wake of the deadly demonstrations last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Boston police were prepared for big crowds. They erected barricades, shut down streets and closed some subway lines in the area in an effort to prevent violence. Police also banned all weapons and items that could be used as weapons. Marchers were asked not to carry bags or backpacks, which authorities said would be subject to searches.

The possibility of violence did not keep away some Mainers.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, Naomi Mayer of Portland and her group of about 10 “hardy” Mainers were getting ready at a parking garage at Government Center, about a 15-minute walk from Boston Common.

Kelli Burton of Waldoboro was already at Boston Common when the first marchers arrived shortly before 11 a.m. Burton said there was a large police presence.

“It is all peaceful. Everything is good,” Burton said.

Marena Blanchard, a Portland organizer who co-founded For Us, By Us, a fund to support people of color in Maine, was at the Fight Supremacy rally Saturday in nearby Roxbury, where people were getting ready to march to Boston Common.

“All I can see is people,” Blanchard said.

Morgan said she saw the Boston Free Speech Coalition members at their rallying spot at the Parkman Bandstand gazebo. She was positioned at the barricades erected to keep the protesters and counterprotesters separated. She said only 30 to 40 protesters showed up.

“I have to tell you the Nazis threw a party and no one came. There wasn’t enough to fill a bus,” Morgan said.

She was with a contingent of Maine groups, including Mainers for Accountable Leadership, Women’s March Maine, March Forth, Rise Up, Brunswick Indivisible, Rapid Resist and March for Truth.

Morgan said the conditions were uncomfortable at Boston Common as the sun came out and the day wore on. She said she saw a few scuffles between men wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and the counterprotesters. There were helicopters thundering overhead.

She also saw members of the “antifa” – far-left-leaning militant groups that resist neo-Nazis and white supremacists at demonstrations and other events – dressed in their signature black hats, black face bandannas and clothing.

Morgan, a writer who said she has been swallowed up in activism since the Women’s March on Washington in January, said Boston police did a great job keeping everyone calm.

“It was impressive and scary,” she said of the event.

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

Twitter: bquimby

]]> 0 wait for the start of a planned "Free Speech" rally on Boston Common, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Boston. Police Commissioner William Evans said Friday that 500 officers, some in uniform, others undercover, would be deployed to keep the two groups apart. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)Sat, 19 Aug 2017 18:00:05 +0000
Proposal to roll back stream rules has farmers, environmentalists rowing in opposite directions Sat, 19 Aug 2017 08:00:00 +0000 AUGUSTA — A Trump administration proposal to roll back controversial environmental regulations on smaller streams is eliciting cheers from some Maine farmers but jeers from conservation groups that fought for years to secure more stringent water protections.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers have proposed dropping an Obama administration policy that protected many tributaries, intermittent streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act. The June 2015 policy sought to clarify the scope of the 1972 Clean Water Act – a legacy of Maine’s late Sen. Edmund Muskie – after years of debate and conflicting court opinions over the federal government’s ability to regulate pollution and discharges into smaller waterways.

But courts suspended the Clean Water Rule within months as agricultural states and organizations such as the American Farm Bureau accused the EPA of a regulatory “power grab.” And soon after taking office, President Trump directed the EPA to begin the lengthy legal and regulatory process to dismantle rules he called “one of the worst examples of federal regulation.”

Maine agriculture groups and conservation organizations were on opposite sides of the Obama administration regulations – and still are as the EPA moves to return to the pre-2015 interpretation before crafting new rules. The EPA is accepting public comments on the proposal through Aug. 28.

“Who knows what is going to change with the current review underway, but it seems unlikely that the rules are going to be any more protective of headwater streams,” said Jeff Reardon, Maine brook trout project director with Trout Unlimited. “The big issue is water flows downstream … and the vast majority of those stream miles are in headwater streams. And if you want to protect those bigger rivers, you need to protect the headwater streams.”

Maine farmers, meanwhile, are expressing relief about the rollback of rules that caused uncertainty and confusion.

“My hope is the EPA is going to find a good balance between protecting the trout populations, but also protecting the farmers because they are both equally important to the environment and to our state economy as well,” said Julie Ann Smith, executive director of the Maine Farm Bureau.

The 45-year-old Clean Water Act actually contains broad exemptions for agriculture. For instance, farmers are not required to seek permits from the EPA or Army Corps for discharges connected to plowing, seeding, cultivating, harvesting or minor drainage as long as the activities are “associated with normal farming.” Landowners would be required to obtain a permit – a potentially lengthy and costly process that could involve mitigation – if they wanted to, say, fill in a wetland to create more farm acreage or build new drainage ditches.

The Clean Water Act has largely been used to enforce discharge permits on so-called factory farms, or “confined animal feeding operations,” or agribusiness operations.

Conservation groups accused large agricultural organizations, such as the American Farm Bureau, of misconstruing the 2015 rules to scare farmers into action. However, some Maine farmers raised concerns that the 2015 rules could affect Maine’s growing agricultural industry as farmers try to convert land back into agriculture.

And it’s not just farmers and environmentalists engaged in the debate.

Four of Maine’s breweries – a growing industry that contributed an estimated $228 million to the state’s economy last year – are urging the Trump administration to keep the 2015 rules.

“We oppose any changes to the Clean Water Rule that would weaken the protections it established for critically important waterways like small streams and wetlands,” Rising Tide Brewing Co., Baxter Brewing Co., Allagash Brewing Co. and Maine Beer Co. wrote in a July letter to the EPA and the Army Corps. “Our craft breweries depend on those waterways to provide the clean water that we use to brew our beer.”

Sheep in a pasture at North Star Sheep Farm at Collyer Brook Farm in Gray. North Star leases the land at the Gray site and maintains it. Under current law, farmers must get a permit to fill in a wetland to create more farm acreage or build new drainage ditches.

It is unclear what changes, if any, will result on the ground in Maine from Trump’s decision to rescind a Clean Water Act interpretation that was never really implemented. Maine already has strong anti-pollution laws in place to protect streams and rivers, although Reardon with Trout Unlimited said the federal rules would provide “a backstop” against future attempts by the Legislature or the governor to whittle away at those protections.

Trump’s many opponents in the environmental and scientific communities regard the Clean Water Rule as merely the latest example of the administration’s attempts to systematically dismantle environmental protections enacted by President Obama and his predecessors.

National agriculture organizations in concert with Midwestern and Western farmers – who are more dependent on irrigation ditches and canals – led the fight against the 2015 rules, although industries involved in fossil fuels and real estate also were vocal opponents. But even in Maine, where most farming is smaller-scale, farmers were concerned enough about the rules that Obama’s EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, held a roundtable discussion with farmers during a visit to the state in November 2015.

At the time, McCarthy was facing not only a bevy of court cases challenging the rules, but also House and Senate votes disapproving of the rules. McCarthy acknowledged that the EPA needed to do a better job of explaining what the Clean Water Rules were and weren’t, especially to farmers concerned that irrigation ditches would suddenly become regulated streams.

“The Senate is right: The proof is in the implementation,” McCarthy said while visiting Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook. “And we really need to be very clear about how the Army Corps and the EPA are going to implement this rule.”

Among those who attended McCarthy’s roundtable discussion was Lisa Webster, president of the Agriculture Council of Maine and co-owner of North Star Sheep Farm in Windham.

Webster, who raises about 2,000 sheep for wool and meat, said her farm and most others take careful steps to protect nearby streams, rivers and lakes. After all, Webster said, farm families depend on those same water bodies for drinking water, fishing, swimming and other purposes. But Webster said the 2015 rules would have been problematic for Maine because they could have required the state’s many small farms to meet the same costly regulations as larger industries or agriculture operations.

“I’m really pleased the EPA is going to keep the status quo because … the rules were adequate for protecting small waterways,” Webster said.

Darin Hammond, who works for one of Down East Maine’s larger wild blueberry growers but was speaking for himself, expressed concerns that the 2015 rules were overly broad and could include standing waters. He also worried the confusion around the rules would invite more lawsuits against farms from environmental groups.

“The Clean Water Act prior to 2015 was pretty restrictive,” Hammond said. “And if you look at what has happened over the last 30 years, the waters have become much cleaner.”

North Star Sheep Farm at Collyer Brook Farm in Gray. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

However, environmental and conservation organizations contend that the rules are not as comprehensive as they need to be.

Nick Bennett, staff scientist at the Natural Resources Council of Maine, pointed out in comments filed with the EPA that more than 400,000 Maine residents use drinking water that has surface water as its source. If smaller streams and tributaries are not protected, Bennett said, it could jeopardize public water supplies and the larger lakes, streams and rivers that are critical to Maine’s outdoor economy.

In an interview, Bennett said the Trump administration should let the rules work their way through the courts.

“They have no scientific justification for what they are doing,” Bennett said. “It just seems arbitrary. It took years to put these rules together and a lot of experts were consulted. But this just seems like a rollback for the sake of a rollback.”

Jack Williams, senior scientist with Trout Unlimited, said the EPA and Army Corps held hundreds of meetings and received thousands of comments before instituting the 2015 rules. Williams, who is based in Oregon, said there was never any attempt to capture agricultural irrigation ditches or normal farming activities in the rules.

Williams said he believes the Trump administration is trying “to throw the protections for all of these small streams and waters around the country.” Those streams, in addition to supplying an estimated one-third of the nation’s water supply, provide a large percentage of the insects and small critters that feed bigger fish in rivers and lakes.

“I do know that it is going to be critical that people have an awareness about what is going on,” Williams said. “People need to understand the threats to water supplies and to the streams and rivers.”

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 791-6312 or at:

Twitter: KevinMillerPPH

]]> 0 Webster holds a gate as her sheep go from one pasture to another at North Star Sheep Farm at Collyer Brook Farm in Gray. Some groups accuse large agriculture organizations such as the American Farm Bureau of stoking fear from an Obama-era interpretation of the Clean Water Act in 2015. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick OuelletteSat, 19 Aug 2017 09:32:46 +0000
What’s a Jefferson Davis plaque doing in downtown Portland’s Unitarian church? Sat, 19 Aug 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Go looking for Maine monuments to the Civil War, and you will find roughly 170 permanent memorials to Union soldiers that dot the state’s town squares and cemeteries.

But an enshrinement to a Confederate, deep in Joshua Chamberlain territory? Those are harder to find, and their days could be numbered.

Nailed to a pew inside the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church on Congress Street in Portland is a rectangle of brass honoring Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, possibly the only memorial in Maine dedicated to a leader of the soldiers in gray.

But a week after deadly violence erupted at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and in the midst of impassioned discussion over the removal of statues dedicated to Confederate leaders, First Parish is considering whether to remove the plaque, which has been, until now, mostly an oddity to church leaders, who have puzzled for years over how it got there.

A second plaque at Bowdoin College honors 19 alumni who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War, including Davis, who received an honorary degree from Bowdoin. Bowdoin President Clayton Rose announced Saturday that artifacts “directly tied to the leadership of a horrible ideology are not meant for a place designed to honor courage, principle, and freedom,” and that the plaque would be moved into the college’s archives.

While Maine has not seen the same level of anger or anguish over how to treat – or remove – statues of significant historical figures, it has had to grapple with its own racial history when honoring figures that are significant to the state.

A statue of Portland’s founder, George Cleeve, was caught in controversy about 15 years ago when city officials refused to accept the statue because Cleeve was rumored to have owned a “colored servant” when he and his business partner Richard Tucker arrived on the peninsula in 1633, even though there was no proof that he ever owned a slave.

In Kittery this year, a new historical marker was dedicated to Gen. William Whipple, the only Maine native to sign the Declaration of Independence. Whipple owned a slave before the war for independence, but later expressed his support for emancipation.


While other Civil War monuments stand in hallowed spaces or depict revered men, the plaque in Portland does neither. Attached to a pew almost at ankle height, it is unreadable from eye level. The message blends into the many other memorials that dot the pews and walls of the historic church.

“In this pew worshipped Jefferson Davis secretary of war, U.S.A., 1853-1857,” it reads. “Presented by the Nashville Chapter No. 1 United Daughters of the Confederacy.”

Although Davis never lived in Maine, he vacationed here for two summers, in 1857 and 1858, the only time he is believed to have been in Maine.

“What strikes me about it is this is hardly a significant accomplishment in Davis’ life. What a weird thing to do, you know?” said Janet Puistonen, a First Parish trustee, who has been puzzling since the Charlottesville rally over why and how the plaque got there. Davis’ time in Maine is barely a footnote in his life.

After he served as secretary of war under President Franklin Pierce until 1857, Davis returned to his seat as a senator from Mississippi. After an arduous winter in which he caught a serious cold, Davis and his wife spent a few months enjoying Portland’s summer to recuperate.

His visit was well documented at the time – a band serenaded him outside his Portland hotel, and Davis, known for his oratory, spoke before multiple groups, including local Democrats. He received an honorary degree from Bowdoin College while attending graduation exercises there in 1858, and was even a late addition to a bill of speakers at a high school graduation.

Erin Blakemore, a Colorado journalist and historian, said the donation by the Daughters of the Confederacy so far from the battlegrounds where the Civil War was fought fits into the organization’s campaign over decades, starting just after the war’s end, to redefine Confederate history in more favorable terms to the South and create a narrative of the “lost cause.”

“I also see it as a territorial move on the part of the UDC, to say ‘Hey, we’re here, and this narrative is here,'” Blakemore said. “One of the weirdest things, especially when you get to these higher-level figures (such as Davis), people wanted to reconstruct, like, every minute of these people’s lives. There is this PTA, ladies auxiliary, Junior League-type of aspect to these activities. I don’t know if it’s sinister necessarily, but these small ways, one plaque at a time, one pew at a time, is how these narratives become part of our culture.”

Blakemore said newspaper clippings from the Baltimore Sun and the Atlanta Journal Constitution from October 1952 tell how Glenn Long, of Newton, North Carolina, then the president-general of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, presented the brass slab, proudly noting it was the only one of its kind in the Northeast, save for a marking in Brooklyn honoring Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

Long said Davis was described on the inscription as Secretary of War because “that’s what he was when he attended services here,” she told The Associated Press, according to the Oct. 20, 1952, edition of the Baltimore Sun.

The marker was accepted by First Parish’s then-pastor, the Rev. Alexander Winston, who said at the dedication service that Davis was one of the nation’s greatest men, according to the report. Winston’s sermon that day was titled “In Christ, No North or South.”

On Friday, a woman who identified herself as an archivist at the United Daughters of the Confederacy national office in Virginia refused to give her name and did not return a call seeking comment on the plaque.


The plaque is not the only commemoration in southern Maine of a historical figure with connections to slavery.

The marker dedicated to Whipple in Kittery mentions that his views of slavery evolved over time. He owned a slave and transported at least one shipload of slaves to the Colonies before renouncing slavery later in his life.

Maine State Historian Earl Shettleworth said Cleeve, Portland’s founder, had an indentured servant, not a slave. At the time of the controversy over the placement of Cleeve’s statue, his descendants presented evidence indicating that the man purported to be his slave, Oliver Weekes, was actually a sailor hired to assist Cleeve’s settlement in Portland. The council, however, was unpersuaded and public outcry scuttled plans to celebrate Cleeve, whose statue now stands on private property near Portland Harbor.

A year after Cleeve’s statue was moved to near the water’s edge behind a chain-link fence at Portland Yacht Services, the city refused to allow the Amistad replica ship to dock there. The Amistad was a 19th-century tall ship that was taken over by slaves and depicted in a movie of the same name.


Whether First Parish can easily remove the plaque dedicated to Jefferson Davis has not been decided. As the oldest place of worship in the city with roots that go back to the 17th century, the church has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Making changes to the building, large or small, is a complex process.

Puistonen said that immediately after bringing the plaque to the attention of other trustees and church leaders, the consensus has been to remove it. Davis’ values would have been at odds with the church’s values, both then and now, but she said no action has been decided upon, and she hopes only to start the conversation.

“The abolition movement was heavily, heavily associated with Unitarians,” Puistonen said. “So why on earth would (Davis) choose that as the place to attend is a puzzlement.”

Today, the First Parish congregation is active in the Black Lives Matter movement, supports equal rights for all regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, and welcomes people of all races, ethnicities and faith backgrounds to its services.

“We have a very historic church and there are people who are memorialized on the walls, including one of the early ministers, who owned a slave,” Puistonen said. “When you have that much history, you have the good and the bad. But as far as I can tell, Jefferson Davis didn’t really have any history with the church. So it’s one thing for us to own our early reprobate ministers. It’s another thing to own Jefferson Davis.”

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

Twitter: MattByrnePPH

]]> 0 plaque commemorating a visit to Portland by Jefferson Davis is seen Friday at the First Parish Church.Sat, 19 Aug 2017 18:58:58 +0000
Mainers will join thousands in Boston to condemn racism Sat, 19 Aug 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Mainers will be among thousands on Boston Common on Saturday when conservative activists and counterprotesters stage demonstrations one week after a white nationalist rally in Virginia turned deadly.

It’s expected to be one of the first large racially charged gatherings in a major U.S. city since a man drove his car into anti-racism protesters in Charlottesville last Saturday, killing one woman and injuring 19 others. Events similar to the rally in Boston are planned in Atlanta and Dallas on Saturday. Police in Boston and other cities are bracing for big crowds and vowing to prevent or quickly stop any violence.

“It’s important to stand up to white supremacy wherever it manifests,” said Marena Blanchard, a Portland organizer who co-founded For Us, By Us, a fund to support people of color in Maine. She is among several Mainers who said they are going to Boston to stand against hate.

Boston granted permission for a group called the Boston Free Speech Coalition to host a rally on the Common that a coalition leader has said could draw 1,000 people.

The group wrote on Facebook that they are not affiliated with the organizers of the Charlottesville Unite the Right gathering that attracted neo-Nazis last weekend. Participants are expected to come from Maine and other New England states, according to a Facebook page for the event.

“We are not associated with any alt-right or white supremacist groups, we are strictly about free speech,” the group said.

However, authorities are worried that the event will attract white nationalists, and the Boston-area leaders of Black Lives Matter have said they believe that the event really is about white supremacy. Counterprotesters are planning a 2-mile march from Roxbury to the Common that could draw 20,000 to 30,000 people.

Rochelle Greenwood, who lives in Wells, plans to attend the event with a handful of friends from New Hampshire. She said she’s a conservative and fierce believer in freedom of speech and was interested in hearing some of the speakers.

But after Charlottesville, Greenwood is worried about what she’ll encounter in Boston.

“If there’s violence, that’s just not something I want to be a part of,” she said.

Greenwood, 45, said she doesn’t want to raise her young children in a world where violence is normal. She denounced the actions of white supremacists last weekend, but also criticized Black Lives Matter protesters.

Other Mainers who signed up to attend the event on Facebook did not respond to messages Friday.

Meanwhile, progressive activists in Maine expect dozens of people from the state to be in Boston on Saturday as part of the counterprotests.

A group of women from local social justice groups – Mainers for Accountable Leadership, March Forth and the Maine chapter of the Women’s March on Washington – will travel down together. They hosted a news conference in Portland on Friday afternoon to promote a GoFundMe campaign that has raised more than $6,000 for Life After Hate, which helps people leave hate and white supremacy groups. Several of the women plan to meet and march with the leaders of Life After Hate in Boston.

“When we heard about what was happening in Boston, we felt like it was our responsibility to try to counter that with a compassionate response,” said Dini Merz, one of the founders of Mainers for Accountable Leadership.

The women reiterated that the protest is a peaceful one, but they are aware of the possibility of violence, especially after seeing the events unfold in Charlottesville last weekend. The city of Boston will have a large police presence at the event, and items such as backpacks and anything that could be used as a weapon have been banned.

“People of color every single day walk out of their houses and feel afraid,” said Jennifer Jones, who helped found an informal activist group called March Forth. “We don’t experience that as white women often. We don’t feel that it’s right to sit home in our safe little houses and watch what is going on in front of our TVs. We want to stand up.”

Some people have suggested that a counterprotest on the Common will only amplify any racist message that might be voiced at the rally. Genevieve Morgan, who was one of the Maine state organizers for the Women’s March on Washington, said she wondered the same thing.

But she said she still couldn’t be silent or stay home.

“I always asked myself, ‘What would I be doing in 1930s Germany,’ ” Morgan said.

There is no official count of people traveling from Maine to Boston for these events, but Jones guessed that as many as 200 people could be making the trip.

“I think there will be more of us than there are people preaching hate tomorrow,” she said.

Christine Baglieri of Lewiston, who is involved with the central Maine chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice, said she also will participate in the counterprotest. She knows of several carloads of people from around the state who will be there as well.

“I think it’s really important that when people of color in a dangerous time like this put out a call, that we follow that leadership and show up for them,” Baglieri said.

Blanchard, the founder of For Us, By Us, said she is traveling to Boston as an individual to volunteer for Black Lives Matter and other organizations. She works in social justice and had no hesitation about joining the counterprotest.

“I’m not afraid,” she said. “I’m prepared.”

Blanchard said she hopes people in Maine think about how white supremacy is present in their communities and support initiatives led by people of color.

“It’s really important for people in Maine to start thinking about how they are going to work to eradicate white supremacy in the locations where they are, to start to think about how to see it,” Blanchard said. “A lot of times it’s invisible to white folks.”

Activists in Maine also are planning two local events this weekend in response to the violence in Charlottesville a week ago.

The southern Maine chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice has organized a solidarity march at 2 p.m. Saturday at John Paul Jones Park in Kittery, and the Maine People’s Alliance has planned a rally in Portland’s Payson Park at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

Staff Writer Eric Russell contributed to this report.

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

Twitter: megan_e_doyle

]]> 0 from left are Marie Follayttar Smith, co-founder of Mainers for Accountable Leadership, with Susie Crimmins, Jennifer Jones and Dini Merz, also a co-founder of Mainers for Accountable Leadership. Multiple social justice groups from Maine will travel to Boston to take part in Saturday's rally, speaking out against hatred and white supremacy. Staff photo by Joel PageSat, 19 Aug 2017 11:40:56 +0000
In Trump country, despair and faith Sat, 19 Aug 2017 03:07:58 +0000 ABERDEEN, Wash. — One-hundred-fifty baskets of pink petunias hang from the light posts all over this city, watered regularly by residents trying to make their community feel alive again. A local artist spends his afternoons high in a bucket truck, painting a block-long mural of a little girl blowing bubbles, each circle the scene of an imagined, hopeful future.

But in the present, vacant buildings dominate blocks. A van, stuffed so full of blankets and boxes they are spilling from the windows, pulls to the curb outside Stacie Blodgett’s antiques shop.

“Look inside of it,” she says. “I bet you he’s living in it.”

Around the corner, a crowded tent city of the desperate and addicted has taken over the riverbank, makeshift memorials to too many dead too young jutting up intermittently from the mud.

America, when viewed through the bars on Blodgett’s windows, looks a lot less great than it used to be. So she answered Donald Trump’s call to the country’s forgotten corners. Thousands of her neighbors did, too, and her county, once among the most reliably Democratic in the nation, swung Republican in a presidential election for the first time in 90 years.

“People were like, ‘This guy’s going to be it. He’s going to change everything, make it better again,'” she says.

Blodgett stands at the computer on her counter and scrolls through the headlines. Every day it’s something new: details in the Russia campaign investigation, shake-ups at the White House, turmoil over Trump’s response to race-fueled riots. His administration’s failed plans to remake the health care system may or may not cost millions their coverage, and there’s a lack of clarity over how exactly he intends to eradicate a spiraling drug crisis that now claims 142 American lives each day – a growing number of them here, in Grays Harbor County.

“Has he done anything good yet?” she asks. “Has he?”

Blodgett was born and raised in this county, where the logging economy collapsed decades ago, replaced by a simmering sense of injustice that outsiders took the lumber, built cities around the world and then left this place to decay when there was nothing more to take. The community sank into despair. Suicides increased, addiction took root. Blodgett is 59, and the rate at which people here die from drugs and alcohol has quadrupled in her lifetime.

She thought opening an antiques and pawn shop with her boyfriend on a downtown street bordered by petunias would be fun. Instead, she’s confronted every day with her neighbors’ suffering. They come to pawn their jewelry to pay for medication. They come looking for things stolen from them. They come to trade in odds and ends and tell her food stamps won’t cover the dog food.

She keeps a bag of kibble behind the register.

Stacie Blodgett, who voted for Donald Trump, works in her antique and pawn shop in Aberdeen, Wash. “Has he done anything good yet?” she asks. “Has he?” She hopes Trump understands the stakes in places like this.
with little room left for error from Washington, D.C. Associated Press/David Goldman

Now they come to discuss Trump, and their differing degrees of faith that he will make good on his promise to fix the rotting blue-collar economy that brought this despair here.

Many here agree the thrashing and churning in Washington looks trivial when viewed from this place 3,000 miles away that so many residents have been trying so hard to save. Some maintain confidence Trump will rise above the chaos to deliver on his pledge to resurrect the American dream. Others fear new depths of hopelessness.

Blodgett just prays Trump understand the stakes – because in places like this, there is little room left for error from Washington, D.C.

There, he is tweeting insults about senators and CNN.

Here, her neighbors have been reduced to living in cars.

Economy slipping since 1960s

Across the country, Trump disproportionately claimed these communities where lifetimes contracted as the working class crumbled.

Penn State sociologist Shannon Monnat spent last fall plotting places on a map experiencing a rise in “deaths of despair” – from drugs, alcohol and suicide wrought by the decimation of jobs that used to bring dignity. On Election Day, she glanced up at the television. The map of Trump’s victory looked eerily similar to hers documenting death, from New England through the Rust Belt all the way here, to the rural coast of Washington, a county of 71,000 so out-of-the-way some say it feels like the end of the earth.

Aberdeen was built as a boomtown at the dawn of the 20th century. Its spectacular landscape – the Chehalis River carves through tree-topped hills to the harbor – offered ships easy access to the Pacific. Millionaire lumber barons built mansions on the hills. There were restaurants and theaters and traffic that backed up as the drawbridge into town seesawed up and down for ship after ship packed with timber. Now that drawbridge pretty much stays put.

The economy started to slip in the 1960s, slowly at first, as jobs were lost to globalization and automation. Then the federal government in 1990 limited the level of logging in an attempt to save an endangered owl.

Today, the riverbank hosts a homeless encampment where residents pull driftwood from the water to construct memorials to the dead. An 8-foot cross honors their latest loss: A 42-year-old man who had heart and lung ailments made worse by infrequent medical care and addiction. A generation ago, people like him worked in the mills, lived in tidy houses and could afford to see a doctor, says the Rev. Sarah Monroe, a street minister here.

“But instead his life ended living in a tent on the riverbank.”

The county’s population is stagnating and aging, as many young and able move away. Just 15 percent of those left behind have college degrees. A quarter of children grow up poor. There is a critical shortage of doctors. All that gathered into what Karolyn Holden, director of the public health department, calls “a perfect storm” that put Grays Harbor near the top of the lists no place wants to be on: drugs, alcohol, early death, runaway rates of welfare.

“Things went from extremely good to not good to bad to worse, and we’ve got generations now where they don’t know anything else,” she says. “We have a lot of people without a lot of hope for themselves.”

Forrest Wood grew up here; his parents even picked his name in tribute to the local timber history. He watched drugs take hold of his relatives, and he swore to himself he would get out, maybe become a park ranger. But he started taking opioid painkillers as a teenager, and before he knew it he was shooting heroin – a familiar first chapter in the story of American addiction.

He sits under a bridge next to a park named after Kurt Cobain, the city’s most famous son, the Nirvana frontman and a heroin addict, who shot himself in the head at 27 years old in 1994. Wood is 24. He plunges a syringe full of brown liquid into his vein, though he knows well how this might end.

“My uncle died right over there in his truck,” he says, pointing to a cluster of battered houses and blinking back tears. “He was messing with drugs. He did too much.”

Wood’s mother got treatment at the county’s methadone clinic and has stayed clean for years, paid for by her coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Holden was so happy on the day President Barack Obama signed the legislation, she cried. It’s an imperfect program with premiums and deductibles rising for some, she says. But thousands here received coverage; the uninsured dropped from 18 percent in 2012 to 9 in 2014 – one of the greatest gains in the state.

She reads about all the proposals Republicans have offered to topple it – repeal and replace, just repeal, do nothing and let it buckle on its own – and believes the consequences of an unstable system will be most painful in counties like hers, where residents die on average three years younger than the rest of the state. The health department last year collected 750,000 needles at its syringe exchange – an incredible number for a small community, but still down from more than 900,000 the year before. Holden attributes that improvement to the methadone clinic.

Molly Carney, the executive director of Evergreen Treatment Services, says each client costs $14.75 per day for a combination of counseling and medication that prevents the sickness that strangles so many addicts’ attempts to get clean. More than 95 percent of her patients are covered by Medicaid. If the nation’s health care system collapses and patients are left uninsured, Carney says her clinic and others won’t survive, and even more will end up homeless, in jail or dead.

Tarryn Vick and Anjelic Baker line up before dawn every morning outside the clinic. They both beat crushing addictions by drinking their daily cup of pink liquid, and without it they believe they would tumble back into that deadly spiral. On this morning, they worry together over the possibility that Obamacare will be undone. Baker begins to cry.

“Are we going to lose our coverage?” she asks Vick. “Are we going to die?”

Vick shrugs, shakes her head and says she doesn’t know.

Addiction crisis

Robert LaCount flips open his Alcoholics Anonymous book, the binding frayed from a decade of reading, and pulls out a funeral program he keeps tucked among its pages. The photo on the front shows a woman with long hair and sad eyes, 32 years old, a mother of three.

He walked her down the aisle at her wedding. Eight months later, he carried the casket at her funeral. She had been addicted to heroin, recovered, relapsed and hanged herself.

“It’s too sad,” says LaCount, himself a recovering addict. “But it happens all the time.”

For years, LaCount cycled in and out of jail and it did nothing to stop the addiction. He endangered his own children, spent Christmases in missions, didn’t care if he lived. Then one day it occurred to him that his life was so empty no one would care enough to claim his body from the morgue when he died. He got clean nine years ago, and now runs a sober housing program and fields 10 calls for help a day that he has to say no to because there’s so much need and so few resources.

LaCount is a Trump supporter looking for action on the addiction crisis. The president this month declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency, potentially unlocking federal funding for deterrence and treatment. However, other moves by the administration have LaCount concerned.

He was stunned when Trump’s attorney general announced a return to the tough-on-crime sentencing policies of the War on Drugs, and he’s unnerved by Trump’s calls to undo the health insurance system he and many addicts rely on to get clean. LaCount recently finished a $90,000 treatment that rid his body of the hepatitis C he contracted using injection drugs. Those trapped in addiction have little chance to get out of it without health coverage, he says.

But it’s hard to tell sometimes what news is real and what’s blown out of proportion, he says, frustrated by what he sees as mass obstruction to the president’s every proposal. People in big cities, rooting for Trump’s failure, don’t have nearly as much on the line as they do here, LaCount says.

“We’re banking on him.”

He traded his motorcycle for $30,000 worth of woodworking tools to teach people the skills they’ll need for the jobs Trump promised to create. He sees opportunity all around him: a port, railroads, a lot of open real estate and a beautiful wildness, where deer sometimes meander along city streets. So he’s scraping paint from a run-down church with dreams of building a community center to help other people see it, too.

He considers his old building a metaphor for his community – good bones, a good soul, a working organ that plays beautiful music. It just needs help.

Many others trying to pull their neighbors from despair are similarly optimistic about a future under Trump. People like Chad Mittleider, a paramedic, who applauds Trump’s efforts to renegotiate trade deals and roll back welfare programs and regulations like those that helped drag down his community.

The Rev. Sarah Monroe can’t afford to be patient. Already, she has held seven funerals this year. She tallies the initials of the dead on a tattoo that winds around her bicep: AB, dead at 23; ZV, at 24.

Now she has a new one to add: Shawn Vann Schreck, dead at 42.

Most in her flock are too consumed by the daily chaos of addiction and poverty to be engaged in what’s happening in Washington. But their lives might depend more than most on Trump’s plans for health care, drug policy and the safety net, she says.

But Monroe has seen this again and again. They claw their way out and get clean – then there’s another friend to bury, the despair returns and the cycle starts anew.

“I don’t think our politicians know how high the stakes are here, and after so many years have gone by with our situation still as devastated as it is, I don’t know if they care,” she says.

Counting on Trump

When Blodgett was young, people could walk out of high school, get a job in the woods and make enough money to ascend to the middle class and shop downtown. They didn’t have locks on their doors. But the addiction and despair plaguing the people of Grays Harbor have fostered other problems now.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, Blodgett and her elderly mother got home to find a swarm of police cars clogging their street in the next-door town of Hoquiam. A 95-year-old man who lived in a little house six doors down for 20 years had been found bludgeoned and stabbed to death.

Blodgett read the details of his death in the local paper: He’d hired a young woman to mow his lawn. That woman, believed to be an addict, allegedly stole his checks. There was a confrontation, and police say she later confessed she returned to his home, beat him with a flashlight and stabbed him with a knife.

“It makes me sick to my stomach,” Blodgett says. “I’m sick, just sick.”

And so she checks to make sure her backyard is empty before she goes to sleep every night. As she drives to the antiques shop every morning, she passes block after block of abandoned buildings – homeless people in the doorways, syringes in the streets. She has three grown kids and five grandkids, and she worries about their futures here.

“Kids are being raised around this,” she says. “No wonder when they graduate they get out of it if they can.”

Her worry has turned into anger, directed at the president she once saw as a savior. She sees Trump tweeting about talk show hosts, foreign allies, the nuclear arsenal, his own attorney general – a seemingly endless series of squabbles that will do her and her neighbors no good. Blodgett found Trump’s bluster refreshing when he was a candidate. It seems reckless with the fate of the nation in his hands.

“What he needs to do is quit talking, and do what he said he’s going to do.”

Her brother had a stroke and is in a nursing home, paid for by Medicaid. She has pre-existing conditions, and she’s terrified about what could happen to them both.

She cast her ballot for Trump because he said he’d look after the underdogs, and her community is full of them. But “as soon as he gets in there,” she says, “it’s like to hell with you people.”

Each new headline ignites more regret. So when the computer on her counter beeps to mark the arrival of a news alert, she stiffens.

“Oh my God,” she groans. “What has he done now?”

]]> 0 Wood, 24, injects heroin into his arm under a bridge along the Wishkah River at Kurt Cobain Memorial Park in Aberdeen. Wood grew up here, watching drugs take hold of his relatives, and he swore to himself that he would get out. But he started taking opioid painkillers as a teenager, and before he knew it he was shooting heroin.Sat, 19 Aug 2017 18:28:15 +0000
Brunswick police arrest suspect in robbery of TD Bank branch Sat, 19 Aug 2017 02:59:50 +0000 Brunswick police arrested a man late Thursday in connection with the robbery of a TD Bank branch a day earlier.

A male suspect entered the bank at 10 Tibbetts Drive on Wednesday, demanded cash from a teller and then fled the scene. He did not have a weapon and no one was hurt. Police released a physical description as well as surveillance photos and asked for the public’s help.

The next day, police received a tip from someone who identified the man in the photos as William Hartley, 33, according to a police statement Friday. Officers obtained a warrant to search the man’s home on Independence Drive on Thursday, but he wasn’t there.

Hartley was located Thursday night at the Best Western Plus motel on Gurnet Road, where he had rented a room. He was arrested on one count of Class B burglary and taken to Cumberland County Jail.

Bail was set at $10,000.

]]> 0, 18 Aug 2017 23:09:16 +0000
Kents Hill Orchard reopening just in time for pick-your-own season Sat, 19 Aug 2017 02:56:36 +0000 KENTS HILL — It will be just like old times with the pick-your-own apples at Kents Hill Orchard reopening after a three-year hiatus.

John Harker, former director of production development at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources, took over management of the trees for Henry and Corinne Drake, who retired.

The stand of stooping apple trees sits just behind The Apple Shed Bakery at Kents Hill.

For a while the Drakes’ son Terry managed the orchard, but for the past three years, it was left fallow.

Harker, who leased the orchard from the Drakes after he returned to Maine full time last year, walked into the orchard at midweek, plucked a McIntosh from a limb and examined it.

“It’s probably still very, very green,” he said. “It’s coloring up good, though, and should be in full color here by Sept. 9.”

That’s the day the orchard will reopen for those who like to twist their own apples from the branches.


“You can tell they’re ready when the seeds start to turn brown,” Harker observed.

The orchard holds a variety of different apples.

Corinne Drake, 82, who ran Kents Hill Orchard with her husband, Henry, for years and founded the bakery in 1979, listed the apples still growing in the 3-acre section that will be available for picking.

The early apples are the Paula Reds, popular with people who want the first of the new crop.

Then the McIntosh, the Cortlands, the Galas, the Senshus, followed by the later apples, the Red Delicious, the Macouns and the Honey Crisps.

It comes down to personal preferences for tart or sweet apples.

When she made her apple pies for the bakery, Drake preferred the “perfect” combination of Cortland and McIntosh applies.

“The Cortland is perfect for baking because it doesn’t fall apart,” Drake said as she stood in bakery’s driveway looking over at the orchard.

“It keeps its shape. Mixed with the McIntosh, it makes a juice.”

She offered to help pick the Paula Reds, telling Harker, “Don’t wait too long; they’ll be on the ground.”

On Wednesday, Harker and his daughter Erin Fife presented Drake with a framed sketch of the Kents Hill Orchard logo, an image of a split red and green apple with a couple of seeds inside.

“Thank you. You deserve a hug,” Drake said to Fife.

Fife, who lives in Concord, Massachusetts, had worked two seasons at the orchard and bakery when she was a teen. She credited her husband, Brian, with redoing the logo.

“We had a lot of fun with it,” she said.

Henry Drake, 83, who ran a paper-making machine before deciding to work with apples full time, was a self-taught apple grower. Corinne Drake said the couple acquired their first orchard in 1963, moved to a second one in North Livermore in 1970 before taking on Kents Hill Orchard in 1975. Henry Drake retired about seven years ago.


“He knew where the first apple maggot was going to show up and he was right,” Harker said, explaining that he dealt with pests by spraying, following the Integrated Pest Management Program guidelines issued by the University of Maine Extension Service.

Most of the Drakes’ land on the hilltop was sold to the Maine Farmland Trust in 2009 and later went to Brian and Lee Ann Baggott in a deal to protect farmland. It now produces field corn, sweet corn and other vegetables.

But the Drakes kept 15 acres for themselves, 3 of them holding the apple orchard.

On Wednesday, a clear day, a stiff breeze crossed the hilltop.

“You can see all the way to Sugarloaf and Mount Blue,” Harker said. “On a really good day, if you were to stand on top of the barn there,” he added, pointing to a nearby two-story barn, “you could see all the way to Mount Washington.”


With a degree in horticulture, the experience gained in his former state job, and with his own wholesale cranberry plant business, Cranberry Creations in Mount Vernon, Harker had the know-how to do the pruning and keep the weeds under control so they didn’t drink up the precious rain.

“I am a friend of Henry and Corinne and could not see the orchard go downhill,” Harker explained.

Rod Cumber of Winthrop did the mowing.

“It’s different from doing the cranberries,” Harker said about working in the Drakes’ orchard. “The key for me about this whole thing is that they’ve been willing to keep this alive. They could have torn this whole thing down and put in a housing development. They’re hoping someone down the road will take it and run with it again. That’s not me.”

He anticipated a crop of about 800 bushels this year, with some of them available for sale at the bakery.

Trina and Bill Beaulier and their daughter Meggen have agreed to handle the sales during the weekdays, with Harker and his wife handling the Pick-Your-Own section on weekends.

Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:


]]> 0 manager John Harker has a degree in horticulture and was the former director of production development at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources.Fri, 18 Aug 2017 23:00:22 +0000
Colby College makes landmark investment in downtown Waterville with move into long-empty building Sat, 19 Aug 2017 02:35:07 +0000 WATERVILLE — The Hains Building in downtown Waterville welcomed its first residents in recent memory as Colby College staffers began moving in Friday.

Around a dozen staffers from the Colby College Museum and Department of College Advancement will have offices in the building on 173 Main St., with shuttle service available to the main campus. Those employees will likely park on campus and take shuttles to their new offices, said Colby’s director of communications, Kate Carlisle.

“As our teams have expanded up here, some of our groups have outgrown their space and we thought, well, we happen to have some space a little bit downtown,” Carlisle said in an interview Friday. “It’s awfully fitting, in my mind anyway, that Colby’s staff are moving back downtown.”

Founded in 1813, Colby College was originally housed in downtown Waterville but moved to Mayflower Hill starting in the early 1940s in a bid to further extend the campus. Eager to keep the college in Waterville, a citizens committee set about finding the Mayflower Hill location and raising $107,270 from more than 600 donors towards its purchase, according to the school’s website. Construction at the new location began six years later, in 1937.

The new rear entrance to the Hains Building now housing Colby College staff in downtown Waterville. Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans/Staff Photographer

Colby purchased the Hains Building in 2015 for $220,000 in a deal hailed by local observers. The sale came shortly after the college purchased the Levine building, at 9 Main St., for $200,000. Supporters of the move believed it could prove a boon for downtown Waterville and a rare source of relief for the city’s shrinking tax base. The building has remained on the city’s tax rolls despite Colby’s nonprofit status.

“This is really exciting because Colby has stepped up to say, ‘We’re your partners,’ ” said Mayor Nick Isgro shortly after the purchase was announced. “When you have people like (Colby president) David Greene willing to put his hand out and say, ‘We’re here – we’re all tied in this together,’ great things happen.”

The college is planning to officially mark the opening of its new space in a ribbon-cutting ceremony next month, Carlisle said. The date for that ceremony has not yet been set.

Kate McCormick can be contacted at 861-9218 or at:

Twitter: KateRMcCormick

]]> 0 new rear entrance to the Hains Building now housing Colby College staff in downtown Waterville.Fri, 18 Aug 2017 22:39:59 +0000
Massachusetts officials detect EEE for first time this year Sat, 19 Aug 2017 02:12:37 +0000 WESTPORT, Massachusetts — Massachusetts health officials say eastern equine encephalitis has been detected in a mosquito in the state for the first time this year.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health made the announcement Wednesday, saying they found the carrier mosquito in Westport from a sample collected Monday. There have been no human cases of the disease in the state in 2016 or 2017.

State epidemiologist Catherine Brown says it remains important for residents to take steps against mosquito bites. She says residents should cover up and use insect repellent.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the disease is not apparent in most infected persons. In severe cases, infected persons can suffer from a high fever and vomiting, which and can progress to seizures or comas.

]]> 0 Fri, 18 Aug 2017 22:12:37 +0000
MaineGeneral Medical Center’s billing fiasco an irritant for patients Sat, 19 Aug 2017 02:07:26 +0000 AUGUSTA — When Christine Wilson received a notice from a collection agency saying she owed $15.21 for services at MaineGeneral Medical Center, she sent a check immediately.

“I was going to write ‘Really?’ on it, but I thought, it’s $15.21,” she said. “I thought it had been paid, but I didn’t research it. I made the check out to MaineGeneral.”

A couple of days later, the 66-year-old Bowdoinham woman received a second letter from The Thomas Agency, this time saying she owed the hospital $99.89.

She knew she didn’t because she had a canceled check showing she paid that hospital bill on May 19.

Now she’s questioning whether she really owed the $15.21 and has called the hospital to find out.

She is one of a slew of people who responded to a story last week about a billing error by MaineGeneral Medical Center in which 9,700 people received letters from the collection agency saying they owed money to the Augusta-based hospital for services received in the past year.

“At this point, we are handling each person’s billing questions individually,” MaineGeneral Medical Center spokeswoman Joy McKenna said in an emailed response to questions, declining to provide additional details about what the hospital would only describe as a “technical” error. “There is nothing more for us to add at this time.”

She directed anyone with questions to call the hospital billing department or The Thomas Agency.

A week ago, MaineGeneral Health Chief Financial Officer Terry Brann issued an apology on behalf of the health care system.

“We have isolated the cause for the error and are implementing corrections to ensure this does not happen again in the future,” he said in an email. “Patients’ credit ratings are not impacted by this occurrence. We apologize for the confusion caused by these letters.”

Steve Butterfield, policy director for Augusta-based Consumers for Affordable Healthcare, had not heard of a similar billing mistake elsewhere among Maine health care providers.

“It’s not at all uncommon for bills to go to collection, but typically hospitals go through their own collection process before they forward anything to a collections agency,” Butterfield said. “They give you a chance to pay your bill.”

Butterfield said Consumers for Affordable Healthcare operates a consumer assistance helpline and he is concerned that the number does not appear on anything sent to a consumer from a collection agency related to a health bill.

“I hope MaineGeneral has plans under way that anybody who is affected by this is being reached out to is being told that this is a mistake,” Butterfield said. “It should not be up to 9,700 people to fix MaineGeneral’s mistakes.”

MaineGeneral Medical Center operates under MaineGeneral Health, which recently ended its last fiscal year in the red. To help shore up the system’s finances, administrators eliminated about $5.4 million in recurring expenses for supplies, contracts and other costs. And for the last two pay periods of the fiscal year in June, they cut the earned time off that employees see on their paychecks.

Most of the recipients of letters from The Thomas Agency apparently had not been billed first by the hospital.

Charles Atwood of Skowhegan is one of those. He received two bills from the collection agency, one for $20 and one for $25.

“Twenty bucks don’t seem like much, but when you’re retired, it’s everything, and when added to all the other things, it’s quite a lot,” said Atwood, 83.

He called The Thomas Agency and was told it was for co-pays. He said he had not received a bill prior to the collection agency notices. Atwood says he pays his bills right after the first of every month.

Other collections notices were for particularly small amounts.

“I got caught up in that for $2 I didn’t know I owed,” Nancy McKenney of Readfield said via email. “I was speechless when I opened the letter, then laughed at how ridiculous it was.”

Jeannette Stackpole, 51, of Farmingdale, said that her first inkling she owed a balance at MaineGeneral came in a series of phone calls within the past month from a collection agency – she was unsure which one.

“No letters, no phone calls from the hospital,” she said. Her son, Kenny Stackpole Jr., 29, a petty officer in the U.S. Navy stationed in Saudi Arabia, also got calls from a collection agency saying he owed the hospital money.

Jeannette Stackpole called the hospital’s billing department immediately.

“I talked to billing, and they said, ‘You have a balance.’ I asked, ‘How come no one sent me a statement or a letter or a phone call?'”

“I’m an honest person,” she said, “If I had gotten a bill I would have paid it.”

Stackpole requested a letter to verify the dates of service, telling them, “I can’t pay you guys if I don’t have anything to go by.”

Stackpole said she suspected it was from a procedure she had in August 2016. Two weeks later, she received the letter and the next day paid $740.

“I wasn’t happy with the protocol,” she said.

Her son also called the hospital billing department and was told they had sent him a letter about the bill. He had not received it.

Jeannette Stackpole said her son’s bill should have been picked up by TRICARE, a health care program for uniformed service members and retirees and families. Once it was researched and billing codes changed, it was indeed picked up.

Stackpole said she remains concerned about how this incident will affect her credit rating, and plans to contact the hospital to see what it plans to do about it.

Stackpole, who moves between Farmingdale and Florida, has her mail forwarded, but did not get any bills.

Will Lund, superintendent of the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection, said that new rules require that once any new medical debt is paid, it disappears from credit reports.

He said medical bills are “unanticipated debt,” unlike debt that can arise from other purchases.

“It’s a good change,” Lund said.

He also noted that medical bills are payable when the service is provided, as most health care facilities indicate with placards on site.

People with concerns about receiving a collection letter can call the numbers on the letter – 772-4659 or (800) 639-2408 – which go to The Thomas Agency, or they can call MaineGeneral’s customer support at 872-4680 or toll-free at (877) 255-4680.

For help from Consumers for Affordable Healthcare, call (800) 965-7476.

Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:

]]> 0 WilsonSat, 19 Aug 2017 20:29:39 +0000
Transit-crazed duo hits all of Boston’s subway stops in 7.5 hours Sat, 19 Aug 2017 01:52:54 +0000 REVERE, Mass. — Two Boston-area residents say they’ve set the world record for traveling to every stop on the city’s subway system in about 7 1/2 hours.

The Boston Globe reports Dominic DiLuzio and Alex Cox accomplished the feat on Friday in 7 hours, 29 minutes and 46 seconds. The men hope to get official recognition from Guinness World Records and are submitting photos, videos and other evidence.

DiLuzio says he came up with the plan and enlisted Cox, a Massachusetts Department of Transportation employee.

They started their journey around 5:30 a.m. at Cambridge’s Alewife Station, which is the end of the Red Line.

They ended at about 1 p.m. at Revere’s Wonderland stop, at the end of the Blue Line. They were greeted there by friends, media and transit officials.

]]> 0 Fri, 18 Aug 2017 21:52:54 +0000
Jews bullied at their Charlottesville, Va., temple Sat, 19 Aug 2017 01:42:27 +0000 NORFOLK, Va. — For Diane Gartner Hillman, the new reality of being Jewish in Charlottesville sunk in when she had to leave Congregation Beth Israel through the back door.

On any other Saturday, worshippers at the city’s lone synagogue would have left through the front and walked without fear to their cars, parked near the statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee in Emancipation Park.

But now, men wearing white shirts and khaki pants and other white supremacists carrying semi-automatic rifles were streaming past their sanctuary, taunting Beth Israel with phony ‘Brooklyn’ accents and mocking old fashioned Yiddish expressions, such as “oy gevalt.”

“We were in a different world than where we had been previously,” Hillman, 69, said Friday, as a stream of people entered the synagogue, now guarded by three police officers out front and several more in the park.

“We just don’t know where things are going to go from here.”

The presence of hundreds of white nationalists and the loss of three lives last weekend have members of the synagogue confronting new levels of anxiety and resolve.

Anti-Semitic vitriol and violence has been on the rise in the United States, according to the Anti-Defamation League and other organizations that monitor hate groups.

But the dynamic in Charlottesville showed an intensity of bigotry rarely seen out in the open.

Writing for the website of the Union of Reform Judaism, Beth Israel President Alan Zimmerman said Nazi websites had called for the temple to be burned.

“Fortunately, it was just talk – but we had already deemed such an attack within the realm of possibilities, taking the precautionary step of removing our Torahs, including a Holocaust scroll, from the premises,” he wrote.

Beth Israel hired an armed security guard for the first time last Saturday, and plans to increase security, according to the congregation’s Facebook page.

One Beth Israel member was “injured by the terrorist who used his car as a weapon, but is recovering at a local medical center and is expected to do so fully,” that post said.

As much as the show of hatred increased fears, it also boosted a sense of community in this normally quiet college town.

Cale Jaffe, a University of Virginia law professor, watched as the white nationalists marched past with guns, helmets and body armor, “explicitly with the intent of intimidation and to create violence,” and for the first time, felt anxious about walking into his synagogue, he said.

“But it has crystalized for me why it’s so important to push through that anxiety and step inside the sanctuary,” said Jaffe, 44. “It made it clear that’s a place I need to be.”

And many people in Charlottesville who aren’t Jewish have come to Beth Israel to show their solidarity, Jaffe said.

“What gives me hope going forward is knowing so many people in the larger Charlottesville community feel that way and are there with us.”

]]> 0 Fri, 18 Aug 2017 21:42:27 +0000
Eclipse glasses hot items Sat, 19 Aug 2017 01:01:02 +0000 SALT LAKE CITY — Eclipse mania is building and so is demand for the glasses that make it safe to view the first total solar eclipse to cross the U.S. in 99 years.

Lines are forming, prices are rising and shelves are emptying as people scurry to obtain special eyewear to view the sun Monday as it is obscured by the passing moon. Complicating the rising demand from last-minute shoppers was a recent recall by Amazon that forced libraries and health centers around the country to recall glasses they gave away or sold.

For stores that still have the glasses, prices are spiking. The ones still for sale on Amazon were going for steep prices Friday, around $11-$12 each.

Nancy West, a 67-year-old retired nurse from Utah, was delighted to be among the final people to get glasses Thursday before the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City ran out. It sold nearly 90,000 pairs at $2 each this week.

“I will never see a total eclipse again because I will not live long enough,” West said. “It’s an opportunity to understand how our universe works and what part I play in that.”

Amy Watts and her 13-year-old son, Ethan, waited in line for an hour at the planetarium so they could secure a safe way to watch the historic moment.

“We heard the frenzy of getting ahold of some eclipse glasses so we thought, ‘What the heck, we’ll give it a shot,”‘ said Watts, a health coach. “We actually scored some.”

Doctors around the U.S. warn that people can damage their eyes staring directly at the sun, even the slimmest sliver of it.

]]> 0 eclipse-watchers line up outside the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City to get eclipse glasses from the gift shop Thursday. Eclipse mania is building and so is demand for the glasses that make it safe to view the first total solar eclipse to cross the U.S. in 99 years.Fri, 18 Aug 2017 21:01:02 +0000