January 7, 2013

Dispatches

From staff and news services

PORTLAND

King says U.S. government needs to get house in order

Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine says the hard work is still ahead as the federal government tries to get its fiscal house in order.

King appeared Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," taking part in a roundtable discussion with 2012 Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra of California, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne and former business executive Carly Fiorina.

King said President Obama should gather a group from Congress and start negotiating the best way to cut spending and raise revenues.

He said he thinks Obama should call them up to the Camp David presidential retreat, "lock the door and say, 'Let's get it done.' "

King was sworn in last week as Maine's newest senator, replacing Olympia Snowe. 

Renovation work at civic center reported on track

Work on the Cumberland County Civic Center renovation is on track, and the only fly in the ointment at this point is a hot hockey team.

The first phase of the project, including a new Free Street entrance, is halfway completed and is on schedule even as events continue inside the building. But the civic center will shut down altogether in April for four to five months as work moves indoors.

The Portland Pirates are playing well and there could be a scheduling conflict with the renovation if the team makes it into the American Hockey League playoffs a few months from now, WCSH-TV reported.

If the team makes the playoffs, officials say they'll have to decide whether to postpone work inside the civic center or move those games to another venue.

AUGUSTA

Grant to seek another term as Democratic chairman

Ben Grant says he'll seek another term as Maine Democratic Party chairman when the state committee votes later this month.

The party committee is scheduled to vote Jan. 27 on a new chair.

Grant told the Sun Journal of Lewiston that he wants to head the party during the 2014 elections when Democrats will try to retake the governor's office from Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

Grant, a Portland-based lawyer, became party chair in 2011. He said results of the 2012 elections, in which Democrats took back control of the Legislature, show the competitiveness of the party after earlier losses in key elections. 

Farmers come to Augusta for annual trades show

More than 5,000 farmers, woodland owners, livestock breeders, equipment suppliers and others interested in farming will be in Augusta this week for the 72nd annual Maine Agricultural Trades Show.

The three-day show, held Tuesday through Thursday at the Augusta Civic Center, is one of the state's largest agricultural events and is hosted by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Gov. Paul LePage is scheduled to open the free-admission event.

This year's show will feature dozens of lectures, demonstrations and meetings involving 40 major agricultural organizations and agencies. It also includes more than 150 exhibits featuring the latest in agricultural and forestry products, equipment and services. 

Nominations being taken for governor's awards

Maine officials are accepting nominations for the 2013 Governor's Awards for Business Excellence.

The awards recognize companies that are committed to employees, community, customer satisfaction, and manufacturing and service excellence.

Economic and Community Development Commissioner George Gervais said the awards showcase business innovation and spirit that have earned Maine a reputation for high-quality workmanship.

The awards were created in 1991, and 117 companies have received an award since then.

The nomination deadline is Feb. 15, and an awards ceremony will be held in the spring. Nomination forms are available on the Department of Economic and Community Development's website.

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