Local & State – Press Herald http://www.pressherald.com Fri, 24 Nov 2017 13:06:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.3 Tribal representative in Maine House leaves Democrats to join Greens http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/24/tribal-representative-in-maine-house-leaves-democrats-to-join-greens/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/24/tribal-representative-in-maine-house-leaves-democrats-to-join-greens/#respond Fri, 24 Nov 2017 12:00:34 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/24/tribal-representative-in-maine-house-leaves-democrats-to-join-greens/

Rep. Henry Bear

HOULTON — A tribal representative in Maine’s House of Representatives has left the Democrats to become a Green Independent Party member.

Rep. Henry Bear’s a member of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians and a non-voting member of the Legislature. He joins Rep. Ralph Chapman of Brooksville as the second Green member of the Legislature.

Bear says he feels aligned with Greens on issues such as environment, civil rights and income equality. He says he also agrees with Greens about expanded health care.

Chapman left the Democrats to join the Greens in September. He says he’s looking forward to working with Bear as a member of the same party.

Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett said the two parties “share a commitment to protecting Maine’s environment and advancing social and economic equality.”

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Black Friday shoppers flock to scaled-back midnight openings http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/24/black-friday-shoppers-flock-to-scaled-back-midnight-openings/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/24/black-friday-shoppers-flock-to-scaled-back-midnight-openings/#respond Fri, 24 Nov 2017 10:47:18 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/24/black-friday-shoppers-flock-to-scaled-back-midnight-openings/ Lack of participation by several major retailers didn’t stop thousands of shoppers from staying up late to snag limited-time-only bargains at Black Friday midnight openings across southern Maine.

The move by some retailers to open at 6 a.m. this year instead of midnight to spare workers and reduce overhead did lead to a bit of confusion, as evidenced by a slow procession of vehicles passing in front of Target in South Portland and then driving away. Target was among retailers that opened at midnight in previous years but opted for a 6 a.m. opening today.

In the last minutes before the store opened, 10-year-old Deshawn Lamour bounced anxiously on his tip toes and rubbed his gloved hands together to stay warm.

The Portland boy was the first in line and intended to leave with a $250 55-inch television he had saved up for. He and his mother, Melynda Dunlap, arrived at 10 p.m. Thursday.

“It was a lot of fun,” Lamour said of the overnight in line, which included side trips to nearby stores to shop and warm up. “A lot of people left the (Target) line because it opens at 6 a.m.”

The later opening time caught some shoppers off guard but gave them time to hunt for deals elsewhere before coming back.

“I already waiting in one line for three hours and now I’m waiting in another for three hours,” said Carol Rickett of Portland, who was shopping at Target with her son, Daniel Hill.

They had already been to Walmart for a quick 20-minute stop, but encountered long lines at Kohl’s.

“It was a nightmare,” Rickett said with a laugh. “You do it for the kids.”

Mike Martel of Lewiston arrived at the mall around 5:45 a.m. with his sister, Kathy Bilier, and niece Lynn Carmichael. They shop together at the mall every Black Friday and were surprised by the lack of large crowds this year.

“We think Amazon has kind of killed Black Friday,” Bilier said.

“This is nothing,” Martel added. “This is like a Saturday morning. I remember times you couldn’t move in here.”

Carmichael, who carried several shopping bags, said she was able to find lots of gifts for people, even though she didn’t come with specific items in mind.

“But I ordered stuff from Amazon while I was in the mall today,” she said.

Nycole Nadeau of Brunswick sipped coffee while standing behind her display of LipSense by Senegence products. She and several other local vendors were selling products as part of a three-day holiday event organized by Maine Supporting Maine.

Nadeau said the mall was crowded at midnight, but there were lots of teenagers and people headed straight for doorbuster sales.

“I’m usually a Black Friday shopper so I know how it is,” she said.

Nadeau said she expects interest in her products to pick up as more shoppers arrive throughout the weekend.

Wendy Clarke of Westbrook showed up at Target at 11:30 p.m., but headed home to rest when she realized the store didn’t open until later. She returned at 4:30 a.m. and found herself relatively close to the front of the line, which only grew long enough to wrap around the side of the building in the 15 minutes before it opened.

Within 5 minutes of the doors opening, there were no shopping carts left for customers inside the store. A steady line of customers still flowed through the front door as the first shoppers left with large screen TVs and an oversized teddy bear.

By far the biggest draw for shoppers was electronics seller Best Buy, which had hundreds lined up outside before it midnight opening time, hoping to land a “door-buster” deal.

The most dedicated Best Buy shoppers were Solomon Benami and his friend Jackson Cochrane, both 15-year-olds from Saco, who literally camped out at the front of the line, tent and all.

“We got here Wednesday at 2 p.m.,” Benami said. “It’s been cold, definitely cold, and raining.”

The friends said they played card games, listened to music and pushed each other around in shopping carts to pass the time while they waited for the store to open. They even took a nap in the tent.

Both Benami and Cochrane were after the same deal: a 50-inch, 4K ultra-high-definition smart TV made by Sharp for $179.

Benami had intended to surprise his parents with the TV, but it didn’t take them long to wonder where their son was and call him up.

So they decided to bring food and keep him company while he waited in line.

“I missed him being home,” said Benami’s mother, Edna Benami. “I was like, ‘Let’s go check on him.'”

As midnight approached, the scene grew increasingly loud and chaotic inside the mall. Excluding the Best Buy line outside, teens comprised at least 80 percent of the mall crowd, with a scattering of semi-reluctant parents in tow.

“I’m here for Amanda, my daughter,” said Gorham Resident Sheila Richardson. “She spends all Thanksgiving making a (Black Friday) plan. She’s putting the first load into the car right now.”

Stores that appeal to teens attracted the biggest crowds, including clothing store Pink and videogame seller Game Stop. Some of the other merchants didn’t seem to be doing much business at all despite the mall being packed.

“The adults will come out tomorrow,” said Damian Michael, who was operating a LuLaRoe women’s clothing kiosk inside the mall with his wife, Erica Michael.

The couple said they started setting up Thursday afternoon and were planning to work a 24-hour shift until some friends come in to relieve them Friday afternoon.

“We actually got a hotel room right across the street, so that makes it easy for us,” Damian Michael said. “We’re here through Sunday, so we’re hoping for a good weekend overall.”

Prakash Sethia of Scarborough was pulling double duty inside the mall, manning two adjacent kiosks simultaneously. Given the high concentration of teens at midnight, he wasn’t expecting many sales from his kiosk of handmade jewelry boxes, candle stands, copper cups and other products imported from India.

Luckily, Sethia’s other booth was packed with all manner of toys, including remote-controlled cars, helicopter drones and other high-tech gadgets.

“We’re hoping for business to really boom,” he said. “So far it’s going great.”

Some of the adult mall-goers seemed to be surveying the chaotic scene with a tinge of unease, including Oxford resident Ryan LaVerdiere, who said he was only there because a friend of his wanted to go.

“This might have been the last thing I thought I’d ever do,” he said.

When asked if there was anything in particular he was looking for at the mall, LaVerdiere replied, “Just the exit.”

Twenty miles north in Freeport’s downtown shopping district, foot traffic was lighter than at the mall but seemed to contain a higher concentration of hardcore shoppers. People of all ages were moving from store to store, many of them laden with multiple shopping bags.

“We came to Freeport because the (South) Portland mall wasn’t open yet,” said Lewiston resident Jonathan Poulin, who was there shopping with his sister, Trisha Poulin of South Portland.

Freeport is home to outdoor retailer L.L. Bean, one of the only major retailers in Maine that is exempt from the state’s “blue law” prohibiting most stores from being open on Thanksgiving. L.L. Bean is a 24/7/365 operation that never closes. About a dozen other Freeport retailers, mostly clothing and accessories stores, opened at midnight on Black Friday.

Early Friday morning, the Poulin siblings hit some clothing stores in Freeport before calling it a night.

“I have to work at like 5 a.m.,” Jonathan Poulin said.

 

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English language learners – and challenges – on the rise in Biddeford http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/24/english-language-learners-and-challenges-on-the-rise-in-biddeford/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/24/english-language-learners-and-challenges-on-the-rise-in-biddeford/#respond Fri, 24 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1292453 BIDDEFORD — Patsy Gendron’s students pushed their arms above their heads, wiggling their fingers to get her attention as she added to a growing list of words associated with Thanksgiving.

Turkey. Stuffing. Family.

They broke into fits of giggles when one girl, searching her memory for the word “Pilgrim,” called out “penguins.”

For new Mainers like the 12 sixth-graders in Gendron’s class for English language learners at Biddeford Middle School, Thanksgiving provided an opportunity for a fun lesson about an American tradition and its similarities to holidays and feasts they celebrate with their families. Conversations that involve different cultures, religions and languages are increasingly common in Biddeford schools as the student population grows to include more immigrants, refugees and migrants whose families are settling in the city.

The number of English language learners in Biddeford has doubled in the past two years as families move from outside the United States or from other areas of the state. It is the latest Maine community to see a significant increase in students who speak little or no English.

Families are drawn to Biddeford as a safe city with good schools and access to jobs and transportation, and as a community that has been welcoming, say students, parents and school officials who spoke at a recent community gathering.

Over half of the English language learners in York County now attend Biddeford schools, which has more than 200 students from 20 countries this year. They speak a total of 22 languages. Arabic is the most common, with 111 students identifying it as their native language.

Some of the 202 English language learners, or ELL students, came to Biddeford knowing some English, while others have had interrupted schooling or have never attended school before.

The influx of students who are not native English speakers has both “extraordinary” benefits and challenges, said Assistant Superintendent Chris Indorf, who oversees the ELL teaching staff and curriculum. Students who come to Maine from other countries bring with them different worldviews, cultures and religions, he said.

“It’s a living curriculum,” Indorf said. “You can’t get that out of a history book.”

‘THESE STUDENTS ENRICH OUR SCHOOLS’

To meet the needs of new students, the district has more than doubled its staff of ELL instructors to eight. Indorf said he is in the process of hiring a ninth instructor, and he hopes to add a 10th during the upcoming budget process. The ELL instructors and all other teachers and staff have worked together to learn about cultural and religious differences and how to teach students with limited English skills, he said.

Indorf said that learning takes many forms: In some cases, it’s learning that a student being disciplined may not look the teacher in the eyes because in their culture that is not appropriate. It also means understanding that some students have endured hard and emotional journeys to get to Maine, often fleeing war and being separated from extended family.

“For us to be able to serve kids who come to us from war-torn countries or who cannot speak the language or who can’t eat the meat in the cafeteria, we have a ton to learn,” Indorf said. “We have a moral imperative as educators to do this.”

Superintendent Jeremy Ray said he knows the increase of students with limited English proficiency brings unique challenges, “but these are challenges we want to work on.”

“These students enrich our schools, enliven our curriculum and enhance the quality and diversity of our schools,” he said. “Their families have a parallel impact on our community.”

CREATING COMMUNITY

To bring the schools and “new Mainers” in Biddeford together, the school department last week launched a new initiative, Biddeford Rising, in collaboration with Spurwink, the behavioral health and education services nonprofit. The community-based Biddeford Rising is modeled after a similar school-to-home program in Portland, which, like Lewiston, Westbrook and South Portland, has also seen a surge in the number of students who speak languages other than English.

As students and their parents streamed into the school gym, Khulood Al Hasan greeted many of them by name and helped translate for Arabic speakers when needed. Al Hasan, an education technician at the middle and high schools, moved to Maine from Iraq two years ago with her two children and her husband, who was an Army translator and now works as an interpreter with Catholic Charities. She taught high school math for 12 years in Iraq.

Al Hasan said Biddeford Rising is a nice way to bring people together, especially families that don’t understand English.

“It’s important to connect people,” she said.

During the meeting, families and school employees sat together at long tables to talk about what Biddeford schools are doing right and what can be done better to make everyone feel welcome. Parents described finding a school community with honest teachers who are respectful to parents and students, and said their children enjoy going to school. They said they feel welcome in Biddeford, but sometimes feel like they’re learning English in slow motion.

Despite their enthusiasm for the schools, parents told Indorf and other school officials there are still challenges they’re trying to overcome as they settle in Biddeford. The local public transportation can be confusing, jobs are not always easy to find and heat is expensive. They also said their children run into cultural restrictions with food served in the school cafeterias. Students often eat a lot of pizza to stay away from meat, because it is not prepared in a way that meets their needs.

Best friends Rusul Ahmed, 17, and Mariam Gassab, 19, sat together, chatting easily with community members who asked them questions about their native Iraq, their journeys to Maine and their thoughts on attending Biddeford High School.

Ahmed, a junior, came to Maine two years ago and settled first in Westbrook before her family moved to Biddeford. She did not speak any English when she arrived and would say “yes” to every question. Two years later, she is a member of multiple school clubs and plans to attend college to become a dentist.

Ahmed said the first big challenge she and other non-native Mainers face is learning English.

In Biddeford, Ahmed said it has been easier to learn English because she is in mainstream classes with American students and not surrounded all day by other Arabic speakers. After learning English, the next big challenge is helping other people “understand why we are here” so they do not bully or discriminate against new members of the community, Ahmed said.

“We have to teach people why we came here and what I’ve done with my life,” she said.

‘TALK ABOUT RESILIENT KIDS’

Gendron, the middle school teacher, has been an educator for 22 years and is now in her third year teaching English language learners. She said she has “learned so much” from her roughly 50 students, who came to Maine from Iraq, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Jamaica, El Salvador, Ivory Coast, South Sudan, Ghana, Burundi, Tanzania, Rwanda, United Arab Emirates, Cambodia, Vietnam, China and the Philippines.

A map on her classroom wall includes a photo of each student and a string connecting them to their native country.

“Talk about resilient kids who are really motivated and have a passion to learn,” Gendron said. “You would never know looking at them the stories behind these students. They are really something special.”

English language learners at the middle school have a reading and writing class with Gendron, plus a learning lab where they get help with other subjects. Every lesson in her class includes reading, writing, listening and speaking. She tries to use a lot of visuals, as do teachers of other subjects with ELL students in their classrooms.

Gendron said ELL students spend most of their time in mainstream classrooms, which allows them to connect with their peers and do important learning about how the school works, how to get to classes and even how to open their lockers.

“The social language is the first language,” she said.

During the last class before Thanksgiving break, students played the game “Hedbanz” with the holiday-themed words they brainstormed at the start of the class. Students took turns standing at the head of their work table trying to guess the image on the card attached to their head.

Fatima Gassab, 11, wiggled her eyebrows at her classmates as Gendron attached a card showing a picture of an ear of corn to the headband strapped around her forehead. She asked a series of yes-or-no questions: Is it an animal? Does it have legs? Does it have hair? (Yes, they told her). Ultimately, she figured out it was a food product, but never guessed corn.

“That does NOT have hair!” Fatima told her classmates as she headed back to her seat.

After sampling homemade cranberry sauce – most had never tried cranberries – the students and Gendron talked about what it means to be thankful. The room grew quiet as students focused on writing out lists of the things they are most thankful for in their lives.

Rawan Ahmed, 11, who is originally from Iraq, printed neatly in her notebook that she is thankful for her friends, her life and “to have the nicest brothers, sisters, mom, dad.”

Like many of his classmates, Huseen Saad, 12, said he is thankful for his parents, his brothers and sister, and God.

“I’m thankful all of my family is alive,” he said.

 

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Car troubles leave nothing for three kids at Christmas http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/24/car-troubles-leave-nothing-for-three-kids-at-christmas/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/24/car-troubles-leave-nothing-for-three-kids-at-christmas/#respond Fri, 24 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1292357 A midcoast family suddenly found itself without a car – and an income – weeks before the holidays, so it turned to the Portland Press Herald Toy Fund for help.

“Recently we have had some hard times,” the mother of three young children wrote to the fund. “We were a two-vehicle family. Unfortunately, one vehicle now has a blown transmission. The other broke down and requires a few hundred dollars to fix.

“My fiance is a self-employed carpenter, and also a very hard worker. Without his truck (the bad transmission), he had to drop three jobs that he had lined up. We are now working on a plan to fix the other vehicle so he would be able to use it for work.”

Even paying for the repairs, let alone buying a second vehicle, is a struggle financially. And with no money to spare and three kids anticipating Christmas, the family asked for help.

“We are living on about $300 a week right now, which has been tough,” the mother wrote. “Our kids are really great kids and we would really appreciate some help in giving them a nice Christmas.”

The Portland Press Herald Toy Fund in the Spirit of Bruce Roberts is using donations from readers to provide toys to thousands of Maine children who might otherwise not receive holiday gifts because of hardships faced by their parents. Bruce Roberts was the original pen name of the newspaper columnist who co-founded the fund in 1949.

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Sediment behind Royal River dam found fairly clean http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/24/sediment-behind-royal-river-dam-found-fairly-clean/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/24/sediment-behind-royal-river-dam-found-fairly-clean/#respond Fri, 24 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1292372 An environmental analysis of sediments behind Yarmouth’s Bridge Street Dam found a few spots of lower-level contamination but largely gave the stretch of Royal River a clean bill of health despite its industrial past.

The Nature Conservancy hired a firm several years ago to test samples on the Royal River at a time when town residents and organizations were debating whether to remove or bypass the lower dam. While Yarmouth officials have since shelved those discussions – at least at the town level – The Nature Conservancy went forward with the testing.

The results were reviewed by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection this summer and summarized in a memo sent Monday to town officials.

“The Maine Department of Environmental Protection analysis of the sediment findings shows that the Royal River behind the Bridge Street Dam is in fact clean and relatively free of contaminants in the sediment,” Jeremy Bell, river and coastal restoration program director with The Nature Conservancy, wrote in the memo. “They provide residents and neighbors assurance that our river is safe.”

The firm Stantec collected sediment samples in 2015 from 10 sites behind the Bridge Street Dam, which measures 10 feet high and 275 feet wide. The dam, which creates the impoundment and flatwater popular with paddlers and ice skaters, still features a small hydroelectric facility and has been the site of numerous industrial operations over generations.

One sample contained slightly elevated levels of mercury, but the results were well below the concentrations that the DEP says would have “probable effects” on animal or plant life.

Two of the 10 samples contained levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a common class of compounds resulting from the burning of fossil fuels or that come from substances made with fossil fuels, including asphalt. One of those samples was taken next to an area where runoff drains from Route 1 – a fact noted by DEP staffers who reviewed the results. But DEP staff said the overall concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, in the sediments behind the dam “would be much lower” than the concentration likely to affect health.

“That there is some contamination of PAHs is not surprising given the industrial history and current vehicle traffic and other human activity in the watershed,” DEP biologist Barry Mower wrote in an analysis of the test results.

Also, concentrations of mercury – a neurotoxin found in many of New England’s industrial rivers – were lower in the sediments behind the Bridge Street Dam than in the estuary below the impoundment.

Bell said he was not surprised by the results, given earlier tests that showed relatively low contamination. But the Yarmouth resident said he hopes the results will offer some assurance to residents who still ask him about potential contamination behind the dam.

“It shows overall that the site is clean,” Bell said. “We were trying to be very careful and very cautious, and to take a close look at the site for any problems that may come up.”

The issue of potential contamination came up repeatedly during the years of discussions about the future of the two Royal River dams in Yarmouth, at Bridge Street and East Elm Street. Downriver residents and businesses, such as boat yards, expressed concerns that removing the dams or even building new fish bypasses around the structures could send contaminated sediments downstream.

The town of Yarmouth owns the Bridge Street Dam. Town Manager Nat Tupper said he’s not hearing any interest among town leaders in removing the dam that creates the impoundment, which is popular with paddlers throughout Greater Portland and is used by L.L. Bean’s Outdoor Discovery Programs.

Tupper said the results of Stantec’s analysis confirmed his beliefs, based on previous testing, that there was relatively little contamination.

After pushing for years to remove the two lower dams on the river, conservation groups have shifted their focus toward improving the fishways that allow migratory fish to swim around the structures. Fish passage around the Bridge Street and East Elm Street dams is inadequate during much of the year and impedes access to more than 100 miles of watershed for migratory fish, such as alewives, eels and shad.

Tupper said organizations continue to discuss fish passage options around the dams. A local resident involved in renewable energy also continues to explore the possibility of revitalizing the Sparhawk Mill hydroelectric facilities located just upstream from the Bridge Street Dam, Tupper said.

He said the contamination study results, while not unexpected, will likely be well received.

“It’s good news,” Tupper said Wednesday. “Nobody likes to see contamination in the river.”

 

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/24/sediment-behind-royal-river-dam-found-fairly-clean/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/11/1292372_400290-20171122_dam_3.jpgThe Bridge Street Dam creates the impoundment and flatwater popular with paddlers and skaters.Thu, 23 Nov 2017 20:25:21 +0000
Portland school officials craft transgender policy http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/24/portland-school-officials-craft-transgender-policy/ Fri, 24 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1292445 The Portland school board is poised to adopt one of the state’s most comprehensive transgender student policies, one that goes beyond the “bathroom issue” by requiring staff training, using a student’s preferred name and personal pronoun, and taking the student’s side at school if there is disagreement with a parent’s wishes.

The changes will make Portland one of the first few school districts in the state to adopt policies surrounding transgender students.

Superintendent Xavier Botana said the district decided to act after the Trump administration withdrew in February the Obama-era guidelines that included gender identity under Title IX, the federal law that bans sex discrimination in schools.

“The community and board members rallied to ensure that we, as a school district committed to equity, made clear our commitment to support our transgender and gender expansive students,” Botana said. “Our equity goals state that (Portland Public Schools) is vigilant in supporting each and every student’s particular path to achieving high standards and rooting out systemic or ongoing inequities, and this policy is an effort to do just that.”

The school board will vote on the policy at its regular meeting Tuesday.

“It’s a good official first step,” said Alexander Fitzgerald, 18, a transgender student who worked on the policy with board and district officials. “It’s really important to me that I can come here and know my identity will be respected by staff. I feel like I can be myself here.”

Fitzgerald, a senior at Deering High School, said the staff training component is important because that lets students know they can go to any teacher for help – not just a counselor or someone they think might be sympathetic – and everyone will know what their rights are under the policy.

“Students won’t have to stumble around,” Fitzgerald said. He noted that in his experience so far, school officials and teachers have generally been supportive and have “good intentions,” but it’s largely been up to individual students to educate their peers and teachers about respectful language and terminology.

“It will be nice to know that it’s the adults’ job to educate each other, and not the children’s job to educate the adults,” he said.

DIFFERENT GENDER IDENTITIES

The policy also normalizes the idea that students have different gender identities, said Izzy Smith, who also worked on the policy and is co-president with Fitzgerald of Deering’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance school club. Smith, a senior, said the group has grown from four members when she was a freshman to more than 20 members this year.

“It will help,” Smith said. “It will make the process a lot more smooth.”

There are only about a half-dozen schools in Maine that have adopted transgender policies, said Gia Drew, program director of Equality Maine.

The first was adopted by Millinocket in early 2015, soon after the Maine Supreme Judicial Court issued the nation’s first state court ruling affirming the right of a transgender student to use a bathroom corresponding with her gender identity. The most recent was last week, when South Portland adopted its transgender student policy.

Drew said the policies are similar, and many are based on boilerplate language suggested by the law firm Drummond Woodsum, which represents most school districts, and the Maine School Management Association. The language reflects an interpretation of the court ruling by the Maine Human Rights Commission, she said.

In general, the policies say students should be addressed by their chosen names and pronouns, and be allowed to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. The policies also define terms such as sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and transgender, and address student privacy issues.

PROVIDES ‘UNIFORMITY’ ON ISSUES

But Portland’s policy is different in that it uses more expansive language to make clear that it applies to not just transgender students, but students who have wider gender identities. The policy also requires staff training.

For example, the policy is called the “transgender and gender expansive student policy” – with the term “gender expansive” meant to acknowledge and include students who have other gender identities: “male, female, both, neither, or in some other way (for example, students who identify in some other way such as nonbinary, queer, genderqueer or gender fluid),” the policy states.

It also includes language explicitly stating that if there is disagreement between a student and his or her parents or legal guardian, the district will “abide by the wishes of the student with regard to their gender identity and gender expression while at school.” This language is the same as recommended by the Maine Human Rights Commission.

The district has transgender students at all school levels, from elementary school to high school.

A social worker at Ocean Avenue Elementary School said he welcomed the policy, telling the school board about his experience two years ago with an 8-year-old student who came to him to say he was going to transition to female.

“This student said she knew since he was 2 years old that he was female,” said Chris Salamone. “We were mostly led by this child and her family.”

Several years ago, an elementary student at Lyseth Elementary School transitioned with the support of the school.

Exact figures on how many transgender students are in a particular district or statewide are not available from state sources.

However, in January a think tank estimated that there were 450 Maine teens ages 13 to 17, or 0.55 percent of that age group, who identify as transgender. The study was conducted by the Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles, which researches gender identity. The institute based its estimates on statistical modeling using data from a 2014 federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey in which people in 19 states were asked about gender identity. Maine did not participate in the survey.

Drew, at Equality Maine, said there are now about 80 middle and high schools in Maine that have student clubs formed around gender identity and sexual orientation, increasingly in rural areas.

Transgender policies do more than just give students the tools to advocate for themselves, Drew said. “It also gives parents something to use, and it gives schools uniformity on how to talk about these issues,” she said.

‘THIS CAN BE LIFESAVING’

Melissa McStay, a social worker at Deering High School, said there is also a public health component to the policy. Students who feel marginalized or isolated have higher rates of self-harm and suicide.

“This policy is a message to our staff, youth and faculty that they are accepted and will be supported. This can be lifesaving,” McStay said.

Maine has been at the forefront of the national discussion around transgender student rights. In 2014, Maine had the nation’s first state court ruling that affirmed the right of a transgender student to use the bathroom corresponding with her gender identity.

The issue began in 2007, when Nicole Maines, then a transgender fifth-grader at Asa Adams Elementary School in Orono, was instructed to use a staff bathroom after a grandparent of another student, a boy, complained that Maines was allowed to use the girls’ bathroom.

The Maine Human Rights Commission found that was unlawful discrimination and sued in Superior Court along with Nicole’s parents, Wayne and Kelly Maines. The case went all the way to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, which ruled in Maines’ favor in December 2014.

Within a year of the ruling, the Millinocket school district adopted the state’s first transgender policy, and Orono quickly followed.

In January 2016, the human rights commission issued guidance to reflect its interpretation of the Maines ruling on the Maine Human Rights Act.

The guidance says schools should allow any student with a “sincerely held” gender identity to be recognized in all ways as that gender, including using bathrooms, playing sports, being addressed by a preferred name and pronoun, being allowed to dress as preferred, and in the event of a conflict with parents’ wishes, to abide by the students’ wishes while at school.

But Gov. Paul LePage stopped the guidance from becoming the basis for rulemaking, saying the Legislature should pass a law before regulations are imposed.

That left it up to individual school districts to pass a patchwork of transgender policies, Drew said.

Even without statewide rules, officials say any Maine public school that prohibits transgender students from using bathrooms or locker rooms that match their gender identity likely would be in violation of the Maine Human Rights Act. The human rights commission can investigate alleged violations, and can sue to stop discrimination in the public interest. If the commission makes a finding of “reasonable grounds,” students or parents also have a right to file a lawsuit.

Other districts that have adopted a transgender policy include Mount Desert, Kennebunk and Scarborough.

PressHerald.com disables reader comments on certain news stories, including those dealing with sexual assaults and other violent crimes, personal tragedy, racism and other forms of discrimination.

 

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http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/11/1292445_327884-20171122_Trans-Pol3-e1511494641334.jpgIzzy Smith, left, and Alexander Fitzgerald, both 18-year-old seniors at Deering High School in Portland, helped shape the policy city school officials created to address transgender issues.Thu, 23 Nov 2017 22:40:45 +0000
Historic Owls Head General Store closes http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/storied-owls-head-general-store-closes/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/storied-owls-head-general-store-closes/#respond Fri, 24 Nov 2017 02:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1292406 OWLS HEAD — The historic Owls Head General Store, the last remaining place to buy groceries or other convenience items in town, has closed.

“This wonderful experience would not have been possible without all of you. However, after serious thought and consideration, we are making the very difficult decision to close the business,” Sheree Craig, who owns the store with her husband, Rob Craig, said in a written statement.

“The General Store remains for sale, and our sincerest wish is that an enthusiastic buyer will come along soon to continue the journey and tradition that began so long ago. Please keep our amazing staff in your thoughts. They are like family to us, and were the heart of our business,” Sheree Craig said.

She said Wednesday that the decision was based on personal reasons. Craig also noted that it had become difficult to find enough employees to keep the store open longer hours in the summer, when businesses must make sufficient money to survive the winter months.

The store had two full-time employees and four to five part-time workers.

The Craigs bought the store in July 2012 from Tom and Martha Luttrell, who had operated it for a little more than four years.

Craig said her intent at the time was to leave her insurance and financial career and run the store in this small coastal town southeast of Rockport in Knox County.

She said she had a change of heart, however, after the purchase.

The store has been for sale for three years but there has been no serious interest, Craig said. The asking price is $274,900.

The 1,058-square-foot building was built in 1880 and has been a general store since at least the 1920s. The store is located next to the post office and is within walking distance of Owls Head Harbor and Lighthouse Road leading to the Owls Head Lighthouse.

“Even though it was a little place, it was a gathering place,” said Linda Christie, who was raised in the Owls Head village where the store is located. “It was a big part of growing up.”

She said everyone would use the store as the place to talk about community happenings.

“You could get groceries or No. 2 pencils or crayons. They packed a lot into the store,” Christie recalled.

The general store was also the go-to place for summer visitors.

The store had gasoline pumps until about the 1970s.

In more recent decades, the residence that had been part of the building was converted to more store space. There was a kitchen where menu items were offered.

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/storied-owls-head-general-store-closes/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/11/1292406_307636-t1200-20171111_16033.jpgThe Owls Head General Store closed Nov. 6. Photo by Stephen Betts/Courier-GazetteThu, 23 Nov 2017 21:50:42 +0000
Waterville medical center helps to feed the hungry http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/medical-center-helps-to-feed-the-hungry/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/medical-center-helps-to-feed-the-hungry/#respond Fri, 24 Nov 2017 01:54:06 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/medical-center-helps-to-feed-the-hungry/ WATERVILLE — Betty Palmer, executive director of the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter, is darned glad to receive many pounds of leftover, freshly cooked food during the week from the Thayer Center for Health.

The food, cooked in the cafeteria but not sold or eaten, is packaged and collected by the homeless shelter on days designated just for the shelter. Every dollar in food that is donated to the shelter means officials there can spend money from their budget to help homeless people with employment and stable housing, Palmer said.

“It’s huge for us,” she said. “It gives us a healthy variety so people have lots of choices. It’s good partnering in the community. It feels like it gets us closer to food justice in our community when we’re not wasting food. Part of food justice isn’t just feeding people – it’s feeding people healthy food.”

The shelter and other organizations in the community are benefiting from a new program, the Food Recovery Program, that began last month when MaineGeneral Medical Center’s Thayer Center for Health contributed 375 pounds of food not purchased at the cafeteria to the shelter on Colby Street, as well as to the Evening Sandwich Program in the basement of the Universalist Unitarian Church on Silver Street.

The food otherwise would be thrown out, according to Shelley Goraj, director of MaineGeneral’s Food & Nutrition Services.

Goraj said organizations have certain days of the week when they come and collect the food, which includes cooked entrées such as chicken and meat dishes, green beans and other vegetables, and soups. Fruit also is donated.

Food that cannot be re-served at the cafeteria is taken from a steam table and bagged up, tested for temperature, cooled down, tested again for temperature and donated.

“It’s been working out pretty well. In fact, we repurposed 375 pounds of food during the month of October,” Goraj said. “That’s food that would have gone in the trash.”

The food program idea sprouted at a meeting on food insecurity in Maine held in September. In a question-and-answer session, Goraj said she had a lot of food to give to people in need and that all she needed was for someone to come and get it.

Kelly LaCasse of Healthy Northern Kennebec picked up on Goraj’s statement right away. She piped up and said she could connect Goraj with people who needed the food.

LaCasse is Healthy Northern Kennebec’s community food equity coordinator and Central Maine farm to school coordinator. She also serves on the Maine Food Strategy Steering Committee.

“We talked about types of food – leftovers from the cafeteria that did not sell that day that can’t be repurposed the next day, that can’t be heated too many times,” Goraj said.

The staff worked out a process for packaging the food and scheduling who picked up what food and when on a rotating schedule. The cafeteria cooks only breakfast and lunch, and lunch sales stop at 1:30 p.m., so those collecting the food arrive after 2:30, according to Goraj.

Now, Goraj is looking for organizations that could use leftover food from the Alfond Center for Health in Augusta.

“I’m looking for a partner in the Augusta area to do that because that’s where the majority of our food is,” Goraj said.

MaineGeneral spokeswoman Joy McKenna said there is a lot of excitement around the food program, and MaineGeneral, which works with the Good Shepherd Food Bank, is working with other partners on areas of food insecurity.

There is a lot of energy and focus on the issue in the greater Waterville area right now, she said.

“We are really proud of being part of an identified issue of need in our community and hope that we can grow this program,” McKenna said.

 

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/medical-center-helps-to-feed-the-hungry/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/11/1292392_416719-20171121-sandwich-2.jpgVolunteer Bruce O'Donnell serves at the Evening Sandwich program at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Waterville on Tuesday. It is among the organizations benefiting from the new Food Recovery Program.Thu, 23 Nov 2017 21:00:07 +0000
Waterville woman on oxygen burns face lighting cigarette http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/woman-on-oxygen-burned-lighting-cigarette/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/woman-on-oxygen-burned-lighting-cigarette/#respond Fri, 24 Nov 2017 01:35:05 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/woman-on-oxygen-burned-lighting-cigarette/ The Waterville Fire Department is warning anyone using a home oxygen system to avoid smoking materials or open flames, after a woman who lives on Spruce Street burned her face while using oxygen and trying to light a cigarette on Thanksgiving morning.

“There was more or less a ball of fire around her face, and her face was burning,” said Capt. John Gromek of the Waterville department.

The woman’s husband tried to pat the flames out, burning his own hand, Gromek said. When crews arrived from the fire department and Delta Ambulance, they treated the woman and brought her to the Thayer Center for Health emergency room.

The fire was reported around 9:45 a.m. The husband declined to go to the hospital for treatment of his own injury.

Later in the day, Gromek said he did not know the woman’s medical condition or whether she was transferred to another hospital. He declined to identify her, citing patient privacy laws.

In a statement Thursday afternoon, the fire department described the ease with which fire can spread when there’s an abundance of oxygen in the air and advised people to avoid situations where that can occur.

“Unfortunately, this incident is a reminder of the dangers of smoking while using home oxygen,” the department warned. “A person using home oxygen has an increased fire danger because of the oxygen use in their residence. The oxygen-rich environment could cause items that are nearby to burst into flames. Items such as clothes, hair and furniture become saturated with oxygen and may ignite more readily. The use of smoking materials and open flames should be avoided while the oxygen is being used.”

 

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/woman-on-oxygen-burned-lighting-cigarette/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2015/12/773365_613993-20151225-hayride-a4-e1511489776172.jpgStaff photo by Michael G. Seamans Rescue workers from the Waterville Fire Department and Delta Ambulance tend to multiple victims involved in a car-versus-horse-drawn carriage collision Friday on Industrial Street in Waterville.Thu, 23 Nov 2017 21:16:53 +0000
Maine retailers upbeat about holiday spending http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/retailers-upbeat-about-holiday-spending/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/retailers-upbeat-about-holiday-spending/#respond Thu, 23 Nov 2017 18:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1291854 Maine retailers are staffing up, stocking up and decking out their showrooms with holiday cheer to prepare for the heavily hyped Black Friday, but the actual busiest shopping day of the season likely won’t come until a month later.

Of course, that will depend on various factors including the always unpredictable Maine winter weather and consumers’ continuing shift toward online shopping, retail analysts said. Overall, retailers in Maine said they are going into the season with a fair amount of optimism.

Contrary to popular belief, the Friday before Christmas – not Black Friday – was the busiest shopping day in Maine in 2016, according to a study of 450 retailers in the state. The study, by San Francisco-based merchant technology firm Womply Inc., found that Maine retailers had their highest sales on Dec. 23, followed by Black Friday (Nov. 25) and then Small Business Saturday (Nov. 26).

“This analysis suggests that the consumers are drawn to the rush of Black Friday and then tend to procrastinate shopping until the last minute,” said Womply spokesman Dan Lalli. “Local retailers in Maine can use this information to plan their promotions and staffing this holiday season.”

Another misconception is that Mainers shop primarily at big retail chains on Black Friday and then shift their focus to smaller, locally owned merchants the next day on Small Business Saturday. In fact, both types of retailer benefit from boosted sales on both days.

In 2016, Maine retailers took in an average of 176 percent of normal daily revenue on the Friday before Christmas, 174 percent on Black Friday and 159 percent on Small Business Saturday, according to Womply.

“Black Friday doesn’t just benefit big-box stores; it’s also a better sales day, by far, than Small Business Saturday for small, local retailers in Maine,” Lalli said.

CHASING HOLIDAY SPENDING

In Maine, all of the above will depend on what happens with the weather, said Curtis Picard, president and CEO of the Retail Association of Maine. So far, the forecast for Black Friday is looking good, ranging from a low of around 30 degrees to a high in the mid-40s with no rain or snow and partly cloudy skies.

Inclement weather in November and December isn’t necessarily a holiday-killer for Maine retailers. If it happens early enough, consumers can simply postpone their shopping until things clear up.

However, it can be devastating if a storm hits right before Christmas, because there’s no time left for retailers to make up the lost business, Picard said.

“If it’s that last weekend before Christmas, you’re going to lose those sales,” he said.

Another threat to Maine retailers this holiday season is the continued encroachment on their sales by e-commerce businesses. Picard said bricks-and-mortar merchants are making a variety of adjustments to better compete with online retailers, such as offering in-store pickup and same-day delivery of items ordered online or by phone, and adding entertainment, refreshments and other perks to make shopping in the store more enjoyable.

“I’ve seen a lot of retailers try to really improve the in-store experience for people,” he said.

Some of Maine’s biggest retail outlets are scaling back on their Black Friday business hours this year by opening at 6 a.m. Friday instead of midnight as they have done in recent years. Some retailers do so to allow employees to enjoy more time off, and to cut spending on overtime pay. Retailers that have 6 a.m. openings this year include Target, the shops at Kittery Premium Outlets and about half the stores inside The Maine Mall in South Portland.

“We’re doing a soft opening at midnight with 40 to 45 stores open (out of roughly 100), and then all stores will be open at 6 a.m.,” said Maine Mall Senior General Manager Craig Gorris.

Other retailers in Maine are planning to pull an all-nighter with midnight openings and late-night deals and activities on Black Friday. They include electronics retailer Best Buy, about a dozen stores in downtown Freeport and the retailers at Marketplace at Augusta.

Picard said he is “fairly optimistic” about the upcoming holiday shopping season, given that unemployment and gasoline prices are low and consumer confidence is relatively high. As for which items will be the biggest sellers, it’s difficult to predict, he said. Last year, furniture was a surprisingly hot holiday gift item, which Picard said could be related to adult children moving out of their parents’ homes as the economy continued to recover.

A holiday shopping survey of nearly 7,500 U.S. consumers by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics found that gift cards are likely to be the hottest item this year, with each holiday shopper planning to purchase an average of four gift cards with an average value of $45 per card. The survey found that the top toys this year are likely to be Barbie dolls and accessories for girls, and LEGO sets for boys.

Nationally, retailers are expecting a slight sales increase of 2.2 percent this year, according to a survey by professional services firm BDO. The firm polled a mix of 100 top retail executives asking for their holiday season forecasts.

Last November, more than $307 million went to the state in the form of sales tax from sale of general merchandise. That was a nearly 7 percent increase over November spending in 2015.

 

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/retailers-upbeat-about-holiday-spending/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/11/1291854_159322-20171122_Mall_0510.jpgJackson Garcia, 6, center, is flanked by his cousins Emma Bennett, 6, left, and her sister Elizabeth Bennett on Wednesday as they survey a sprawling series of model train sets at the Winter Wonderland at the Maine Mall. Retailers are gearing for the heavily hyped Black Friday this week, but it isn't actually the busiest shopping day of the holiday season.Thu, 23 Nov 2017 23:42:39 +0000
Free Thanksgiving dinner serves close to 250 in Portland http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/portland-free-thanksgiving-dinner-expected-to-serve-400/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/portland-free-thanksgiving-dinner-expected-to-serve-400/#respond Thu, 23 Nov 2017 16:18:28 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/portland-free-thanksgiving-dinner-expected-to-serve-400/ PORTLAND — By the end of the day Thursday Don Morrison was pretty sure he wouldn’t be eating any turkey for dinner.

“I’ll go home and eat a frozen pizza,” Morrison, the operations director for the Wayside Food Program, said as he wrapped up one of the largest free Thanksgiving Day meals in Maine at the Portland Club.

Morrison and the hunger prevention organization’s staff and a small army of volunteers were finishing up a week’s worth of turkey meals, including two lunches and two dinners with all the fixings. Thursday’s meal included 32, 20-pound turkeys prepared by DiMillo’s Restaurant along with 15 gallons of gravy, 200 pounds of mashed potatoes, 100 pounds of squash, piles of homemade stuffing, a mountain of green bean casserole and all the other trimmings and desserts one might expect for a Thanksgiving feast.

Joining the food program’s staff in prepping and serving all that food were between 45 to 50 volunteers. Some put in a day in the prep kitchen Wednesday while 30 more chipped in as bus people, waitresses, servers, dishwashers and hostesses on Thursday.

Morrison said the Thanksgiving Day meal is special for a lot of people in the community and while the food is good, it’s often the opportunity to eat in the company of other people that’s better for those coming to eat.

“To be with other people on the holiday, to me, it’s just as important,” said Morrison, who has worked for Wayside Food eight years. He helps coordinate and prepare some 14 meals a week that are served around the greater Portland area in churches and community centers. He said any leftovers from Thursday would be used in soups, pot pies and other dishes and that turkey would likely be on the menu for some time into the future.

“Just like at home,” Morrison said.

Mary Zwolinski, the executive director of Wayside Food Programs, said the meal, which has been served at the club for about 10 years, has changed a little with a more even mix of men and women – she also noted increasing numbers of elderly coming to the meal. She said even those who may be able to afford their own meal on Thanksgiving aren’t inclined to cook for just one or two and getting to be around other people is an important part of any good meal. Zwolinski estimated the about 225 to 240 meals were served and some in attendance took home leftovers as well as cookies for later.

Meal is a collaboration of between Wayside Food Programs and the United Way of Greater Portland.

Wayside Food Programs is in its 25th year of operation and its efforts include free community meals, including a weekly meal at the Parkside Neighborhood Center each Tuesday from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. for seniors and families with children. Through its Food Rescue Program, Wayside distributes food to more than 40 agencies throughout Cumberland County, including food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. This year the program has rescued nearly 1 million pounds of food that would have otherwise gone to waste, said Laura Hamilton, a development assistant with Wayside, who tracks all the numbers, among other duties.

Hamilton said the agency, while focused on hunger prevention, also helps people in other ways, including giving some volunteers a chance to gain job skills or just to be able to contribute to the community or be around other people. “Volunteering for a meal is a really great way for them to be able to contribute and feel like they have something useful to offer, but also just to practice being around other people and getting to know each other,” Hamilton said. “We write a lot of letters of recommendation because they gain job skills, so that’s great too.”

Barbara Bhutto, a Portland resident who works as a special education technician at the Oceanside School, was donating her time as a table host – helping find seats for the guests who came to eat. She delivered beverages, cleared plates and as time allowed she sat and chatted with those who came to eat, making sure they had enough. She served Brian Plourde, who was attending the meal for the first time, a cup of coffee after his meal and then helped him fix it with sugar and cream as he liked it.

Bhutto said she donates her time because those who come for the meal make it a rewarding experience for her.

“The atmosphere on Thanksgiving Day here is just one of incredible thankfulness,” Bhutto said. “Not everybody has a great home and a car and all the other accoutrements that most of us have, but it just doesn’t matter, it’s just such a thankful room, everybody is thankful and grateful. I get hugs and countless thank yous. It just makes me feel good to help.” Bhutto said she doesn’t think she could be a waitress in real life because she wouldn’t want to listen to customers complain. During Thanksgiving Day there’s very little complaining, she said.

Dozens of local businesses donate to the event and volunteers like Bhutto help make sure everybody gets a meal and some company too.

“It’s fulfilling to do this, it’s in the spirit of giving, in the spirit of the holidays and it just feels good to serve those who need it,” said Paul Ayoob, of Biddeford, a coffee roaster with Maine Coast Roast.

Plourde and others attending said the meal was good and they got plenty to eat.

Eric Sorensen and John Campbell said as members of Portland’s recovery community they attend the meal every year because it’s simply a good vibe and fun to be with a cast of downtown characters they’ve gotten to know over the years.

“It’s all about gratitude, for me to be able to eat in a beautiful place with beautiful music and beautiful company,” Sorensen said. “Just to feel the warmth and the beauty and everything.”

Campbell said the ambiance of the Portland Club is nice too.

“And I didn’t overeat,” Campbell said. “I feel good, I’m not ready for a nap.”

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/portland-free-thanksgiving-dinner-expected-to-serve-400/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/11/1292193_534356-20171123_thanksgiv2.jpgVolunteer Lynne Gammon, third from left, listens to an attendee while her husband Rick Gammon serves turkey to another attendee at a free Thanksgiving Day meal at the Portland Club on Thursday.Thu, 23 Nov 2017 21:02:25 +0000
Medical transport plane carrying 4 crashes short of runway in Presque Isle http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/medical-transport-plane-carrying-4-crashes-short-of-runway-in-presque-isle/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/medical-transport-plane-carrying-4-crashes-short-of-runway-in-presque-isle/#respond Thu, 23 Nov 2017 15:12:51 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/medical-transport-plane-carrying-4-crashes-short-of-runway-in-presque-isle/ A medical transport plane carrying a patient, a paramedic, a nurse and the pilot crashed while landing Wednesday at the Northern Maine Regional Airport in Presque Isle.

The aircraft, owned and operated by Fresh Air LLC, is leased by the Aroostook Medical Center to transport patients to higher levels of care at different hospitals.

According to a statement issued by the hospital, the aircraft’s engine caught fire on takeoff, and when the pilot tried to return and land the plane, it crashed short of the runway.

All four people on board were injured and were being evaluated at the hospital, according to the release from medical center President Greg LaFrancois.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those involved,” LaFrancois said. “I want to thank the first responders who were so quick to action to get these individuals to safety.”

Crews from Crown Ambulance and the Presque Isle Fire Department responded to the crash scene. The crash is under investigation by federal aviation authorities.

A medical center spokeswoman said the hospital’s privacy protocol prevented it from releasing the names and conditions of those involved in the crash.

Presque Isle’s deputy fire chief told local television station WAGM that the plane involved was a twin-engine Cessna and that those on board did not appear to be seriously injured.

 

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Girlfriend charged with OUI after reporting boyfriend’s crash in Raymond http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/raymond-crash-sends-man-to-hospital-girlfriend-charged-with-oui/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/raymond-crash-sends-man-to-hospital-girlfriend-charged-with-oui/#respond Thu, 23 Nov 2017 14:56:35 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/raymond-crash-sends-man-to-hospital-girlfriend-charged-with-oui/ A 47-year-old Poland man was injured early Thursday when his car left North Raymond Road and struck a tree in Raymond, according to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.

Tom Hardy, who sustained serious, but non life-threatening injuries, was following his girlfriend Hilda Brackett, 40, also of Poland, home when his Ford Focus left the road.

Brackett returned to the accident scene and called 911. She was later charged by deputies with operating under the influence. Police said Hardy was not wearing a seat belt.

“Alcohol is believed to be a factor in the crash and test results are pending,” the release stated. “Both cases remain under investigation at this time.”

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Mainers to be thankful for http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/mainers-thankful-2017/ Thu, 23 Nov 2017 09:00:16 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1291187 Mainers to be thankful for

As Mainers gather around loaded tables and greet family members who come from afar, we also take a moment to give thanks to those among us who give their time and their energy to the larger community, sharing their humanity and enriching the world around us. Here are 10 people who have worked diligently, often without recognition, to comfort, protect, nurture and inspire others who need a helping hand.

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Jamie Dorr http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/jamie-dorr/ Thu, 23 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1291088

It wasn’t the first youth suicide to hit the community of Bath, but Jamie Dorr had seen enough.

She knew the young man who took his life in the early summer of 2016. Not well, but she knew his face. He was a regular at the Bath Youth Meetinghouse and Skatepark, where Dorr serves as president.

Dorr decided at that point she couldn’t live in a community where something like that was shrugged off or forgotten in a week.

“I just felt compelled to do something,” she said. “I didn’t want to accept that feeling of helplessness.”

Days after the suicide she was making calls, trying to start a conversation. In a few short weeks, she had created the Midcoast Community Alliance, an organization committed to mental health awareness and suicide prevention. More than 25 members, from churches to schools to police agencies, have joined.

The alliance has conducted training for parents, gathered volunteers for “You Matter” events at Bath Middle School and planted yellow tulips, a symbol of hope, at Morse High School. More than anything, it has become a resource to bring the community together around a complex issue.

Dorr said the response was heartening and happened organically but others say different. They say it happened because of her.

“It was Jamie’s leadership, her demeanor and caring approach that really made this,” said Patrick Manuel, the superintendent of RSU 1.

“She brings the heart,” added Melissa Fochesato, director of community health promotion at Brunswick’s Mid Coast Hospital. “It’s rare to have the spark come from within the community.”

Dr. Deborah Hagler, a pediatrician in Brunswick, said she has been focusing on mental health and suicide prevention for years.

“To see someone on the ground, embedded in the community, talking about these things – that’s what can have an impact,” Hagler said.

This year, when officials were soliciting nominations for Bath’s annual citizen of the year award, nine people nominated Dorr. That’s unheard of, Assistant City Manager Marc Meyers said.

“I think we have a community spirit here in Bath but sometimes, when you’re addressing a particular issue, someone has to be at the head of the table,” Meyers said. “Jamie has taken that on.”

Dorr, a web designer and mother of two teenage boys, has lived in Bath her whole life. She’s proud of the work she’s done with the Midcoast Community Alliance but deflects praise.

“It’s so easy to say I’m too busy,” she said.

« Mainers to be thankful for

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http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/11/1291088_930285-20171114_Dorr_04.jpgJamie Dorr launched the Midcoast Community Alliance in the Bath area after the suicide of a young man who used to frequent the Bath Youth Meetinghouse and Skatepark, where Dorr serves as president.Wed, 22 Nov 2017 10:24:32 +0000
Patricia Stone http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/patricia-stone/ Thu, 23 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1291098

For years, when Patricia Stone passed by the Center for Grieving Children on Forest Avenue, she would wonder about what happened there.

“I want to know about that place,” she said. “It percolated for years.”

Then about nine years ago, after Stone retired from teaching kindergartners and second-graders full time at Bridgton-based SAD 61, she called the Portland center.

Stone, 63, became a volunteer, joining a small group that leads hourlong sessions with people going through some of the darkest times in their lives. Stone focuses on people experiencing life-impacting illness, either personally or through a family member. All of her clients have a connection to a child, the main qualifying factor to receive help from the center.

With nearly 20 years of experience teaching youngsters, and because of the organization’s name, Stone assumed that volunteering would mean she would once again work with children. But she is glad her path led her to working with adults.

“Five-year-olds get old after a while,” she said.

Her role falls somewhere between friend and therapist; she is not a counselor. Although the center provides its volunteers with 30 hours of training, Stone does not dispense advice. Her job is to listen, and many times, to help absorb the sadness and pain. Her group is an outlet for the things her clients feel they cannot say out loud anywhere else, and often the stories flow as soon as her clients sit down.

“We’re not there to tell them what to do,” Stone said. “They know what to do.”

For Stone, seeing the pain and hurt of illness reminds her of her own battle more than 20 years ago with debilitating depression. She remembers the feelings of loss and despair, and she hopes to provide the kind of comfort for someone else that would have helped her years ago.

When Stone leaves each week, sometimes she is in stitches of laughter. Other times she cries herself home to Saco.

“Sometimes, I think I go there because I want to give, and on my way home I think of how much I get,” she said.

After each session, volunteers gather to debrief and support each other. It is an essential, nourishing process, she said.

“I think I’ve learned that I was stronger than I realized I was,” she said. “It sounds corny, but my heart is bigger the more I listen and the more I make space for. It feels bigger, and that’s a good thing.”

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http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/11/1291098_281797-20171118_Thankful-2.jpgPatricia Stone, of Saco, has volunteered at the Center for Grieving Children in Portland since 2009. She works with adults and her role falls somewhere between friend and therapist. "I feel like I come away with more than I ever give," Stone said.Wed, 22 Nov 2017 10:18:54 +0000
Evelyn King http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/evelyn-king/ Thu, 23 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1291107

Three years ago when the Sebago chapter of Trout Unlimited asked Evelyn King to serve on its board, King wasted no time figuring out how to use her new position to give back.

She founded and became the director of Maine Women Fly Fishers, the women-only group that teaches women to fly fish. It is one of only a handful of women-only fly fishing groups in the country.

“I feel we’re reaching a lot of people,” said King, 58, of Cundy’s Harbor. “There are no dues. Nobody takes a head count. This is an available resource.”

A native Mainer who fishes often with her husband, Bruce, King makes the outdoor sport as accessible as she can for women who may never have held a rod.

She brings them to rivers around Portland and remote ponds to teach them how to cast, select a fly, row a boat and land a fish. She organizes fishing weekends at sporting lodges in western Maine. Then she encourages them to go on fishing trips out West, in Canada, even Iceland.

“For me, I like sharing the passion of being on the water. I want other people to get on the water and be successful,” said King, who works full time in Portland as a corporate paralegal. “You have to be in the moment when you’re fishing. You think of nothing else. And if we get more women fishing, more will be involved in conservation.”

Today, there are more than 300 women learning to fish with King, with 271 on the group’s Facebook page and 190 on the email list. There are 15 to 25 who attend the monthly events – rarely the same women from month to month.

King continues to find ways to help the group grow. In 2015, after a stringent apprenticeship with a professional instructor, she became a certified casting instructor with the International Fly Fishing Federation.

And through her encouragement, now five of the 12 board members in the Sebago Trout Unlimited chapter are women.

But King envisions even more.

“My goal would be to open up (the sporting camp weekend) to women from around the country. I think the camps would fill,” King said. “I don’t get paid for this. It is my way to give back. So many people have helped teach me about fly fishing. I want to pass it on.”

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http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/11/1291107_745046-20171118_Thankful-2.jpgEvelyn King stands near the bank of the Prescumpscot River in Windham. King is the founder of the Maine Women Fly Fishers and is a big advocate for getting more women out in nature. "For me it's sharing that passion. I love the time I'm on the water and I want to help other people experience that," King said.Wed, 22 Nov 2017 10:25:09 +0000
Ayumi Horie http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/ayumi-horie/ Thu, 23 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1291115

Ayumi Horie believes every pot, every cup and every bowl she makes represents an opportunity to connect with someone and be a positive force for social change.

“What drives me to make functional objects is that they’re integral to people’s lives,” she said.

Horie, 48, lives in Portland’s Stroudwater neighborhood in a handsome 1830s brick house and works in a modern attached studio, complete with a disco ball that hangs from the ceiling and sparkles in the late-afternoon sunlight. She is among Maine’s most celebrated contemporary artists, best known for making mugs and bowls decorated with her quirky drawings of animals. These days, Horie is busily working to meet the holiday-related orders that she receives mostly through online sales.

Increasingly, Horie is focusing her work on improving her community, locally and globally. In her hands, a pot made with thoughtful intention can inspire friendships, conversations and deeper connections.

She specializes in creative, arts-oriented community projects, and has co-hosted and co-organized several online pottery fundraisers. Obamaware raised nearly $11,000 for former President Obama’s election in 2008, and Handmade for Japan raised more than $100,000 in 2011 for disaster relief following an earthquake and tsunami in Japan, her ancestral home.

During the last presidential election cycle, she collaborated with a colleague in North Carolina to create The Democratic Cup, a fundraising campaign for progressive causes funded by the sale of handmade cups designed by illustrators and inspired by leading progressive thinkers.

Their mission was simply to raise the level of conversation in America.

“We were dismayed about the incivility and the political rhetoric,” Horie said. “We were looking for a way to promote current events and issues we wanted to have conversations about.”

Horie has been one of the artists behind Portland Brick, a collaborative public art project that began in 2015 to replace broken sidewalk bricks with bricks made from local clay and stamped with the city’s histories, memories and wishes for the future. She is also the curator of the Instagram feed Pots in Action, a crowd-sourced ceramics project that features contributions from around the world, and in 2015 received a $50,000 fellowship from United States Artists.

She grew up in Maine, moved away for college and her career, and came back in 2012, skilled in her craft and eager to improve her community. Pottery has a long history of being apolitical, but Horie finds it to be an effective medium for her message.

“People don’t expect it, but it feels very natural,” she said.

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http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/11/1291115_407879-20171123_Mainers-T2.jpgAyumi Horie glazes new work in her studio in Portland. Horie is a ceramics artist who often uses her art to make statements and create dialogue about social and political issues.Wed, 22 Nov 2017 10:26:05 +0000
Jim Godbout http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/jim-godbout/ Thu, 23 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1291123

Even on his most stressful days, Jim Godbout carves out moments to give back to his community because it brings joy to his life.

Godbout’s commitment to the communities that helped him when he needed it most has inspired hundreds of volunteers to come together to mentor teens, educate students about the dangers of substance abuse and band together to save and restore Biddeford’s beloved Waterhouse Field.

“It gives me a good feeling inside to help others. If someone hasn’t had that feeling before, it’s something they need to experience,” said Godbout, owner of a plumbing and heating business. “I always tell my guys this every day: ‘We’re only here a very short time. See what you can do to make a difference in someone else’s life.'”

Godbout, 55, says he grew up fairly poor in Saco. His family fell apart after his twin brother died of leukemia at age 5. After his father left, Godbout went to work to help support his younger brothers, relying on the generosity of his aunts and mentors in the trades to help him through his teens. By 17, he was coaching Little League and finding other ways to help people around him. Over the years, he has coached youth sports and became president of the Waterhouse Field Association, the nonprofit that owns and rents the field to the city of Biddeford for youth sports.

When Waterhouse Field was shut down because its bleachers were deemed unsafe, Godbout organized volunteers to take down 6,000 seats in one day and inspired a campaign to reopen the field in time for the fall sports season.

“People respond to him because he never asks people to do something that he wouldn’t do,” said Jeremy Ray, superintendent of Biddeford schools. “That’s what’s inspiring about him. He clearly does it for no other reason than to do good.”

Godbout, who lives in Saco, joined the Biddeford-Saco Rotary Club 15 years ago because he identified with its “tremendous mission to help others.” Rotary has the resources to help continue the work he loves, including programs to train teens to work in the trades and fill labor shortages. Godbout spearheaded an initiative with the Biddeford Regional Center of Technology for students torenovate and sell tax-acquired properties given to the program by the city.

Since the 1970s, 52 of Godbout’s friends, colleagues and students have died from substance use and abuse, he said. Motivated by those losses to help make a culture change, he challenged his Rotary Club to tackle the issue. The Red Ribbon Committee now develops and supports educational programming about substance abuse in Biddeford, Saco and Old Orchard Beach schools.

Even after years of volunteer work, Godbout said he still is sometimes moved to tears by the way people in the community will come together to help others.

“I hope what I do becomes a little infectious in the community and others give back a little too,” he said.

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http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/11/1291123_70103-20171118_Thankful-G2.jpgAs president of the Waterhouse Field Association in Biddeford, Jim Godbout led the charge to renovate the field. "I wanted the kids to have a safe space to play their fall sports," Godbout said. It is just one of the many ways he finds to give back to his community.Wed, 22 Nov 2017 10:26:41 +0000
Brenda Viola http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/brenda-viola/ Thu, 23 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1291128

It was in Maine that refugee Brenda Viola found her voice. Now she’s using it to uplift others in her community.

The 17-year-old Deering High School senior came to Maine five years ago after spending much of her young life in a Kenyan refugee camp after fleeing violence in her native South Sudan. Maine was strange and different, and she said she didn’t say much of anything to anyone.

“I was so isolated. I didn’t have anyone to talk to,” said Viola.

But as she studied and learned English, made friends and became enmeshed in Portland life, she got more and more involved in the community.

Today, she’s committed to making the immigrant experience easier for others, by telling her story and getting involved in a half-dozen activities to make connections and help others.

“A lot of kids come from other countries, they’re not connected, and when you come here it’s a different culture,” she said. “I’m trying to change that. I want everyone, when they come here, to feel connected.

“I lost my father, my grandparents. As an immigrant (in the refugee camp) I didn’t really go to school, I stayed home helping my mom,” she said. “For me, it’s hard. The memories are painful for me.”

But telling people about her own life, explaining what many immigrant children go through, is about connecting the listeners to the immigrants who are not yet able to tell their stories. And it’s about healing herself, too.

“By sharing something emotional about my life story, I can make them understand it,” Viola said. “It brings me relief too. I don’t have to hold that story any more. I’ve been holding it so long.”

In addition to speaking at conferences, she sings out her story about the immigrant experience with Pihcintu, a group of multilingual choral students who create original works and perform in Maine and Washington, D.C.

She also tutors students in reading one-on-one at Riverton Elementary School. In the wider community, she created her own project interviewing homeless people at the Portland soup kitchen about their lives, and she volunteers with Maine People’s Alliance on a civic engagement project about civil rights and voter registration.

As she looks to the future, she plans to go to college – somewhere in Maine, she hopes – and become a doctor. She’s already involved in Maine Medical Explorers, which introduces high school students to the health professions.

“When I came here to America, I had help to get here,” she said, explaining why she got involved with so many groups.

“I want to help everybody. It’s not about race. It’s all people who live in my community,” Viola said. “I’m passionate about making change.”

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http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/11/1291128_162877-20171120_Thankful-2.jpgBrenda Viola, 17, a senior at Deering High School in Portland, came to the United States from a refugee camp in Kenya when she was 12 and now volunteers to help new immigrant students acclimate.Wed, 22 Nov 2017 10:27:15 +0000
Dale Robin Goodman http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/dale-robin-goodman/ Thu, 23 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1291133

Dale Robin Goodman says she’ll do whatever she can to protect people’s rights to free speech.

Over the last decade, she’s worked toward that end by helping to organize record sales and fashion shows, making a lot of phone calls and putting together radio beg-a-thons. As development director for Portland community radio station WMPG, Goodman is a crucial part of all the various ways the small FM station raises its approximately $300,000 budget each year.

To her it’s not just about keeping the station on the air. She sees her job as a mission, a mission to guarantee people’s rights to the airwaves, at a time when most of the airwaves are controlled by corporate interests.

“I really see community radio as the last place in the broadcast world where there is a real mechanism for free speech,” says Goodman, 62, of South Portland. “I think it’s so important today to still have a platform to reach people with different languages, voices and ideas.”

WMPG, on the campus of the University of Southern Maine in Portland, has a few paid employees and an army of volunteers. Volunteer deejays play every kind of music from rockabilly to Jewish music to gospel, and put on community news and events programming.

Goodman had always been drawn to radio, growing up in Brooklyn, New York, volunteering at radio stations as a teen and in college. As a youngster, she’d stay up late at night to hear the offbeat sounds coming from New York radio stations.

She moved to Maine about 30 years ago, and has two grown children. When the job at WMPG became available 10 years ago, Goodman left a job she loved, as administrator of an early-childhood program in York County.

“That was the job I always loved doing, but I knew this was the job I was about to love,” she said of WMPG.

Goodman is also a performing musician, playing banjo and guitar, so she said just being in the WMPG studio with its vast collection of eclectic music makes “my heart beat faster.”

Besides organizing fundraising events, Goodman attends countless public functions, trying to raise awareness of what WMPG does and what opportunities it presents to the average person. Goodman thinks it’s a little ironic that she’s the development director, since she describes herself as “not a money person.” But in her job it’s not so much about managing money as it is asking for it.

“I have no trouble asking for money to support this place, because I think community radio is so valuable,” she said.

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http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/11/1291133_88304-20171109_Goodman_02.jpgDale Robin Goodman is development director at community radio station WMPG in Portland. "Community radio is important because it is giving people an avenue for free speech and preserving public access to the public airwaves," Goodman said.Wed, 22 Nov 2017 10:27:54 +0000
Merrie Allen http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/merrie-allen/ Thu, 23 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1291143

Merrie Allen greets people by name when they enter the West End Neighborhood Resource Hub, a two-room trailer at 586 Westbrook St. in South Portland.

It may be the working single mom who picks out a few used children’s books and a hand-me-down winter coat for her daughter, or the older man in a wheelchair who stops by for the weekly distribution of free day-old baked goods.

Or the weary middle-age woman who slumps into a chair and shares the latest news about her aging father’s struggles back in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico.

Each person gets a warm but casual welcome, as if they’re stopping by Merrie Allen’s kitchen.

“It’s very natural for me,” said Allen, 67, a longtime social worker who runs the Hub. “It’s just being open to people and listening to people. Every day is a new connection.”

The Hub is a community outreach program hosted by the city of South Portland and staffed by the Opportunity Alliance that serves a growing and diverse neighborhood of low-income, senior and market-rate housing complexes near the Maine Mall. As the full-time community builder at the Hub, Allen provides a variety of services and referrals for everything from food insecurity and job counseling to language classes and legal assistance.

Since starting at the Hub five years ago, Allen has established herself as someone for whom helping others is more than just a job. Last month, Allen won the President’s Award, which the Opportunity Alliance gives each year to an outstanding employee. She was nominated by neighborhood residents.

“Merrie is amazing,” said Jennifer Lessard, a leader of the South Portland West End Neighborhood Association. “For her, it’s not a job – it’s a part of her life being here and bringing people together. She enjoys it so much, I sometimes forget it’s her job.”

A Portland resident and native of Worcester, Massachusetts, Allen came to Maine in 1969 for a job with a direct-mail company. Eventually, she got a social work degree from the University of Southern Maine and worked for more than two decades in residential youth programs.

She traces her concern for the welfare of others back to her Scottish great-grandfather, a man who was known as a “problem solver” for other coal miners when they had money troubles or family issues. She also credits the civil-rights-oriented pastor of the church she attended as a kid and her parents, who raised their four children in a loving, working-class home.

“They really cultivated caring about other people,” Allen said. “They taught us how to enjoy each other and tolerate our differences and that every person matters.”

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http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/11/1291143_162185-20171123_Mainers-T2.jpgMerrie Allen is a longtime social worker who runs the West End Neighborhood Resource Hub in South Portland. Allen said her favorite thing about her job is the connections she has made with the people she serves.Wed, 22 Nov 2017 10:28:30 +0000
Stephen Betters http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/stephen-betters/ Thu, 23 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1291082

Stephen Betters might come across as a gruff biker guy with his black-and-red flannel, his gold earring and the military patches on his leather jacket.

The hot pink beard, however, gives away his softer side.

Betters, 62, volunteers with childhood cancer patients at Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, visiting kids in treatment a couple times a week and often participating in fundraising events for the hospital.

“I can put smiles on their faces,” Betters said.

It all started with a bet.

In January 2014, the New England Patriots were set to play the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship. Betters, who lives in Standish, pledged his buddies in the Bangor chapter of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association he would dye his hair and beard if the Patriots lost. The Broncos won, 26-16, and Betters had to buy a tube of hot pink hair color.

“My dad used to say, ‘Turn lemons into lemonade,'” Betters said.

Betters took his dad’s advice to heart. He posed for a photo with his new hairdo, and made a sign promising to donate $1,000 to Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital if his picture got 1,000 likes on Facebook. He didn’t have a personal connection to the hospital, but liked its cause. Friends helped Betters launch a Facebook page called “Lemonade for Kids” and a website under lemonadeforkids.com. He was interviewed by local and national news organizations. He hit thousands of likes within days, and his fundraiser inspired others to donate to the hospital, too.

“I knew about social media, but I was blown away,” Betters said. “It humbles me.”

Betters cut his check to the hospital, but his advocacy didn’t end there.

The development team for the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital said Betters routinely supports fundraising campaigns and other projects, such as the campaign to make a specialty license plate to benefit the children’s hospital. They estimated his efforts have brought tens of thousands of dollars to the hospital.

“When I first met Steve, we all assumed this would be a temporary project until he had honored his bet,” said Matt Parks, director of philanthropy. “But I asked him, when is he going to retire his dye? He said, ‘Why would I stop when I’m making a difference?’ ”

They said Betters also forms special relationships with patients and their families.

“He’s not afraid to be silly with the kids,” said Kate Richardson, philanthropy manager. “That goes a really long way.”

Betters spent 20 years in the U.S. Army and then 23 years working for the U.S. Postal Service. He retired this year and now spends even more time working on Lemonade for Kids. The business makes T-shirts, bracelets, hats, pillowcases and other gifts for the kids. He uses the Facebook page to share inspirational stories, GoFundMe pages and updates on kids in the hospital. He writes personal notes to young patients and brings them “Junior Lemonader” certificates. He gets his hair treatment at a Portland salon, the same one his wife frequents.

Betters insisted he benefits from his experience as much or more than the kids do.

“They teach me what it means to have courage and resilience,” he said. “They’ve got all these machines hooked up to ’em. They’ve got all these medicines. And they still manage to put a smile on my face.”

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http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/11/1291082_822791-20171118_Thankful-2.jpgStephen Betters volunteers at the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital and said that a grown man walking into a hospital room with hot pink hair brings a smile to kids' faces. "It takes them away from the beeping of the machines and all that," Betters said. "It allows them to be a kid again for a moment."Wed, 22 Nov 2017 10:19:37 +0000
Lucky Hollander http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/23/lucky-hollander/ Thu, 23 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1291154

When the call came about a child in need, Lucky Hollander figured she could help.

It was as simple as that.

That’s how the retired child welfare worker found herself not only stepping in to be the legal guardian of an unaccompanied minor from overseas, but launching an informal network of willing adults also ready to step in and help such children. Since 2013, Hopeful Links has helped more than 40 unaccompanied children, many from Central Africa, find stable housing and assistance in the Portland area. The children often come to the United States legally on student or visitor visas, but get cut off from their relatives and must fend for themselves without adult guardians.

Most of the children are fleeing war-torn areas. Sometimes they are the sole person in their family who can get a visa, or the family can only afford to send one person to escape violence in their home countries. Sometimes their planned housing falls apart – their host family moves to another town, or they lose their housing – and the young people wind up at the Teen Center, or a social worker at their school realizes they don’t have a stable place to live.

Under Maine law, minors need a legal guardian if they don’t have stable housing. School counselors tend to be the first ones to know a student needs help, but they’re so busy doing their jobs it can be hard to navigate the bureaucracy of getting a legal guardian, Hollander said.

“So I said, would it help if I did that?” and Hopeful Links was born. “I know how to connect the students to health care, get them to school, how to help host families. It’s not a big deal.”

For the students, however, it is a big deal, she said.

“They’ve lost everything. They’ve lost families, they’ve lost countries. There’s an overwhelming sense that they have no one and nothing.”

Hopeful Links mostly operates by word of mouth, with Hollander reaching out to friends and old professional contacts to help students in need. But the work has bound them to the students and to each other.

“People are really coming out and saying ‘I need to do something. I don’t know what I can do, but I can mentor one family.’ Or, ‘I don’t have money, but I can give someone a ride to a doctor appointment,’ or ‘I can get a food card,'” Hollander said.

“Tell me what I can do.”

Hollander said people wishing to donate or volunteer with Hopeful Links can contact her at luckyh@maine.rr.com.

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http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/11/1291154_109894-20171118_Thankful-Ho.jpgLucky Hollander helps connect unaccompanied minors and new young immigrants with guardians and mentors through her organization, Hopeful Links. Hollander realized the need for someone to help make the connections after she and her family became the guardians of a unaccompanied minor, a young woman from Burundi, over four years ago.Thu, 23 Nov 2017 12:21:30 +0000
Mother of El Faro crewman organizing donation drive to benefit Puerto Rico http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/mother-of-el-faro-crewman-organizing-donation-drive-to-benefit-puerto-rico/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/mother-of-el-faro-crewman-organizing-donation-drive-to-benefit-puerto-rico/#respond Thu, 23 Nov 2017 03:13:14 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/mother-of-el-faro-crewman-organizing-donation-drive-to-benefit-puerto-rico/ The mother of a crewman who perished when the container ship El Faro sank two years ago has organized a donation drive to benefit the victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

Deb Roberts’ son, Michael Holland, was among the 33 crewmen, including four from Maine, who died when the 790-foot ship sank off the Bahamas on Oct. 1, 2015, after encountering intense weather and engine trouble on its trip from Jacksonville, Florida, to Puerto Rico.

Roberts, of Wilton, announced on her Facebook page that she will be at the Scarborough Walmart from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday collecting donations of supplies. Walmart has loaned her a tractor trailer to store the donations in.

Walmart will transport the supplies to Jacksonville, where they will be loaded onto a boat and shipped to Puerto Rico by TOTE, the company that owned and operated El Faro. The El Faro frequently traveled between Florida and Puerto Rico, and Roberts said her son loved to visit the island, which sustained billions of dollars in damage from the recent hurricane.

“Please consider making a donation in memory of Mike to help the people of Puerto Rico as they are still trying to recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria back in September,” Roberts said in a Facebook post.

From Monday through Dec. 1, donations will be accepted from noon to 7 p.m. People can drop off donations at the customer service desk if the trailer is not manned.

Roberts is looking for a wide array of supplies that may include: bottled water, stand up flashlights, fans, generators, gas cans, deodorant, lotion, batteries, battery operated lanterns, toilet paper, adult diapers, toothbrushes, toothpaste, mosquito repellent, red, black or white beans, and canned fruit or rice.

“These are the types of things that keep me going,” she told WCSH-TV. “My main focus and my main goal for this always starts with finding ways to honor Mike’s legacy. For me as a grieving mom, that’s the way that I’ve found the healing process. To help others helps my heart heal.”

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

dhoey@pressherald.com

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/mother-of-el-faro-crewman-organizing-donation-drive-to-benefit-puerto-rico/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/02/805047_653057_holland.jpgMICHAEL HOLLANDWed, 22 Nov 2017 22:31:05 +0000
Foundation founder Travis Mills hopes to expand program for wounded veterans http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/foundation-founder-travis-mills-hopes-to-expand-program-for-wounded-veterans/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/foundation-founder-travis-mills-hopes-to-expand-program-for-wounded-veterans/#respond Thu, 23 Nov 2017 00:51:24 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/foundation-founder-travis-mills-hopes-to-expand-program-for-wounded-veterans/ WATERVILLE — Retired Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills, a quadruple amputee who oversees a central Maine retreat for injured veterans, said Tuesday he hopes in upcoming years to expand the free program with more facilities and availability for service members and their families.

That could include opportunities next year for veterans of the Vietnam War, he said.

Mills, 30, of Manchester, made the comments about the next “umbrella project” during an evening talk with Portland Press Herald columnist Bill Nemitz, as part of the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal’s “Community Voices” speaker series held at Colby College.

Mills and a board manage the Travis Mills Foundation, a nonprofit that oversees the lakeside retreat in Rome that held a grand opening this past summer and hosted more than 50 veterans. The event Tuesday night drew a crowd of about 180, with about $1,800 in ticket sales all donated to the foundation.

“My vision for the foundation would be five to 10 years, maybe we open another one or two facilities, but that’s possibly around the nation where families can’t fly with that many kids,” Mills said. “… Next fall I’m hoping to unveil another branch of the foundation where we bring up Vietnam vets. Because, you know what, ladies and gentlemen? … The first thing I tell people is I didn’t serve any more than anyone else. I make fun of the other branches, joking around, but we put a right hand up in the air and took the oath. So thank you for your service, if you’re a Vietnam vet. Thank you for your service and welcome home.”

Mills said he hoped the foundation by this time next year would host Vietnam veterans and a half-dozen or more of their “buddies” to come out to the retreat for “a chance to connect and regroup.”

“We have a beautiful facility now,” Mills said.

The retreat is run by some paid staffs, but largely by volunteers, and aims to provide wounded veterans with a relaxing place to stay free for a week and in the company of veterans going through similar recoveries. About 90 percent of the veterans who attended the retreat this summer were wounded by improvised explosive devices, known as IEDs, Mills said Tuesday.

Mills founded his organization in 2013 and has made a career in motivational speaking. To open the retreat, his foundation raised $2.5 million – both cash and in-kind gifts – in 2015 and 2016.

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Cape Elizabeth trust wins public funding for Shore Road land acquisition http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/cape-elizabeth-trust-wins-public-funding-for-shore-road-land-acquisition/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/cape-elizabeth-trust-wins-public-funding-for-shore-road-land-acquisition/#respond Thu, 23 Nov 2017 00:35:10 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/cape-elizabeth-trust-wins-public-funding-for-shore-road-land-acquisition/ CAPE ELIZABETH — The Cape Elizabeth Land Trust will receive $250,000 from the publicly funded Land for Maine’s Future Program to help purchase 52 acres of woods, fields and trails next to the Robinson Woods Preserve, trust officials said Wednesday.

The trust has signed an agreement with Robinson Family LLC to buy the Shore Road parcel for $845,000, said Cindy Krum, executive director of the trust. The trust received a letter confirming the Land for Maine’s Future funding on Wednesday, she said.

The property runs along the southern edge of the existing preserve, between Olde Colony Lane and Beach Bluff Terrace, just down the road from Fort Williams Park and Portland Head Light. The trust must raise an additional $595,000 to complete a purchase that will ensure public access to the 52 acres and preserve sensitive wildlife habitat forever.

“We plan to work with the town and other community members to preserve these special forests, fields, wildlife habitat and pond’s edge that make this such a priceless acquisition,” said Anne Carney, the trust’s outgoing president.

The current owners have allowed the public to walk and bike on the property, Carney said, but permanent protection is the only way to ensure future recreational access and strong wildlife protections.

At 145 acres, the adjacent Robinson Woods has more than 3 miles of trails and typically draws nearly 1,000 visitors weekly in summer months, the trust said. The preserve is open year-round to area residents and visitors for hiking, mountain biking, Nordic skiing and snowshoeing.

The pending 52-acre acquisition will create the largest area of conserved land in Cape Elizabeth and leave views in Robinson Woods unobstructed by housing that could be built near its pond if the property were developed.

Founded in 1985, the trust has permanently protected more than 680 acres in Cape Elizabeth. The Land for Maine’s Future Program has helped to protect over 600,000 acres across the state in the last 30 years – most of it open to the public for hiking, fishing, swimming, boating and other activities.

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

kbouchard@pressherald.com

Twitter: KelleyBouchard

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Nurse from South Berwick charged with illegally obtaining oxycodone http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/nurse-from-south-berwick-charged-with-illegally-obtaining-oxycodone/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/nurse-from-south-berwick-charged-with-illegally-obtaining-oxycodone/#respond Thu, 23 Nov 2017 00:02:17 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/nurse-from-south-berwick-charged-with-illegally-obtaining-oxycodone/ CONCORD, N.H. — A nurse at a long-term care facility in New Hampshire has been indicted on charges that she unlawfully obtained three residents’ oxycodone.

The indictment alleges that to get the drugs, Jennifer Blaisdell, 46, of South Berwick, Maine, fraudulently documented that doses had been given to the residents by other nurses at the facility in Dover.

Blaisdell was indicted on 26 counts of obtaining a controlled drug by fraud, deceit, misrepresentation or subterfuge in January.

A Strafford County grand jury indicted her in July on two counts of obtaining a controlled drug by forgery of a written order and three counts of obtaining a controlled drug by fraud.

Blaisdell is scheduled to be arraigned Dec. 7. It wasn’t immediately known if she had a lawyer.

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Attorneys general, including Maine’s, urge park service to scrap fee hike http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/attorneys-general-including-maines-urge-park-service-to-scrap-fee-hike/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/attorneys-general-including-maines-urge-park-service-to-scrap-fee-hike/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 23:42:23 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/attorneys-general-including-maines-urge-park-service-to-scrap-fee-hike/ A group of state attorneys general on Wednesday urged the National Park Service to scrap its proposal to more than double the entrance fee at 17 popular national parks.

The top government lawyers from 10 states and the District of Columbia sent a letter saying the increase could put access to the parks out of reach for many Americans.

“We cannot let the most popular and awe-inspiring national parks become places for the wealthy,” they said in the letter to the Park Service’s acting director.

All the signers are Democrats except for Arizona’s Mark Brnovich, a Republican.

The AGs say the increase is inconsistent with the laws governing the park system because the administration did not provide an economic analysis to support its claims that raising fees would increase revenue.

The Park Service estimates that higher fees will generate an additional $70 million a year, more than half of which would be used to chip away at a backlog of maintenance and infrastructure projects.

But the AGs say the increase actually could reduce the number of visitors and revenue.

It would particularly hit lower-income people who already use the parks less frequently than those with more money, they said.

In a separate statement, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra suggested he and his colleagues could take legal action if the Park Service moves ahead with the plan, which would boost the entrance fee to $70 per vehicle at the targeted parks, up from $25 or $30.

The fee would go into effect during peak season at heavily visited parks, including Glacier, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite and Zion in the West, and Acadia and Shenandoah in the East. Five of the AGs who signed the letter represent states that include parks that would be subject to the fee increases; six do not.

Raquel Coombs, a spokeswoman for Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, said it didn’t matter that Maryland does not have a park that would be affected: “Everyone should have access to our nation’s national parks,” she said.

The letter was also signed by the Attorney General Janet Mills of Maine, as well as attorneys general of Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington.

The Park Service has received some 65,000 comments on its proposal and has extended the public comment period to Dec. 22.

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/attorneys-general-including-maines-urge-park-service-to-scrap-fee-hike/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/11/1291972_AP_120521148250.jpgThe peak-season entrance fee to Acadia National Park, seen in 2012, would almost triple under the National Park Service's proposal, which is intended to generate additional revenue.Wed, 22 Nov 2017 19:12:41 +0000
Press Herald Toy Fund expands its reach into Androscoggin County http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/press-herald-toy-fund-expands-its-reach-into-androscoggin-county/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/press-herald-toy-fund-expands-its-reach-into-androscoggin-county/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 23:18:12 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/press-herald-toy-fund-expands-its-reach-into-androscoggin-county/ For nearly 70 years, the Portland Press Herald Toy Fund has brightened the holidays for thousands of children across southern Maine who might otherwise not receive any gifts.

Supported by donations from readers, the fund raised $159,998 last year and provided age-appropriate gifts to 3,603 kids in Cumberland, York, Sagadahoc, Lincoln and Knox counties. Organizers have set a goal to raise $200,000 this year – with help from a variety of fundraising events – and they’ve expanded the program to include families in need who live in Androscoggin County.

“We’ve been getting applications from families in Androscoggin County for years,” said Kathleen Meade, executive director of the fund. “It just made sense to expand into that area.”

Now in its 68th year, the gift-giving program used to be known as the Bruce Roberts Toy Fund. It was named for a former editor at the newspaper who wrote a column under the pen name Bruce Roberts.

In December 1949, the editor called on his readers to send in donations that a city welfare worker would use to buy gifts for children who weren’t likely to receive Christmas presents. The first effort raised nearly $4,000 and provided gifts to more than 1,500 kids.

The program has grown and evolved through the years. Today, dozens of volunteers fuel the program. They unpack boxes of dolls, arts-and-crafts sets, electronics and other new toys purchased with donations to the fund and sort them into bags according to the age and gender of each child.

Larry Bennett, 86, of Westbrook, has been a toy fund volunteer for more than 20 years, first at the newspaper’s former printing plant on Congress Street and now at the fund’s warehouse on Route 1 in Falmouth.

“It’s something I can do, so it’s no big deal,” Bennett said. “I just go over once a week and help out.”

Families enrolled in the program receive a letter telling them where and when to pick up the gifts.

The fund’s expansion into Androscoggin County is welcomed by agencies such as Advocates for Children, which provided parenting classes, play groups, home visits and other assistance to about 800 young parents and more than 2,000 children last year.

“We see need across the board,” said Gillian Roy, executive director of the Lewiston agency. “Most of the families we work with live on less than $20,000 a year. The holidays are difficult for many parents who want to provide a special experience for their children but simply can’t afford it. We know the toy fund will make a significant difference in our community.”

In addition to donations from readers, the gift-giving program will benefit this year from several fundraising events, including a 50/50 raffle at the Maine Red Claws game on Nov. 16 that raised $358 for the toy fund.

Another fundraiser will be held Tuesday at Otto Pizza at 125 John Roberts Road in South Portland, near the Maine Mall. From 5 to 9 p.m., a portion of all sales will be donated to the fund, including dine-in, takeout and gift card purchases.

On Dec. 19, a similar fundraiser will be held from 4 to 9 p.m. at Elsmere BBQ & Wood Grill, 448 Cottage Road, South Portland; and the band Sons of Quint will play a benefit concert from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Bunker Brewery, 17 Westfield St., Portland.

And on Dec. 8, businesses throughout Greater Portland are invited to host potluck luncheons to celebrate the holidays together and raise money for the toy fund. Five companies took part last year, raising $2,500 for the fund.

To participate, employees are asked to sign up to bring some type of food – an appetizer, soup, side dish, main dish or dessert – then everyone in the company is invited to the feast. For each plate of food, people are asked to make a tax-deductible donation to the fund, which receives all proceeds.

Organizers hope the second-annual event, known as #PortlandPotluck on social media, attracts more participants this year.

“We’re hoping it becomes the largest potluck in Maine,” said Chris Sobiech, a Press Herald employee and potluck organizer. “It’s a fun way to get the word out about the toy fund and encourage people to help children in need.”

Click here to register a potluck fundraiser.

To apply to the fund, download an application at pressheraldtoyfund.org; pick one up at the Portland Press Herald, 295 Gannett Drive, South Portland; or call 791-6672 to receive one by mail. To make a donation, visit the fund’s website or send checks to the Portland Press Herald Toy Fund, P.O. Box 7310, Portland, ME 04112.

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

kbouchard@pressherald.com

Twitter: KelleyBouchard

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National Park Service extends comment period on Acadia fee increases http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/national-park-service-extends-comment-period-on-acadia-fee-increases/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/national-park-service-extends-comment-period-on-acadia-fee-increases/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 22:51:20 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/national-park-service-extends-comment-period-on-acadia-fee-increases/ Friends of Acadia and Maine’s congressional delegation are strongly opposed to the plan.

The U.S. Department of the Interior has extended the comment period on a proposal to significantly increase entrance fees during peak tourism season at Acadia National Park and 16 other popular national parks.

Public comments were originally due by Thursday, but the National Park Service extended the deadline until Dec. 22 “to accommodate interest in this issue from members of Congress and the public.” More than 65,000 comments had been submitted as of Tuesday.

Last month, the Park Service unveiled a proposal to increase the vehicle entrance fee at Acadia from $25 to $70 during “peak visitor season” from June 1 to Oct. 31. The cost of an annual pass to Acadia would jump from $50 to $75, and entrance fees for individuals would rise from $12 to $30 and from $20 to $50 for motorcyclists during peak season.

All passes would be valid for seven days. Park access fees would not change for vehicles, motorcycles and individuals from Nov. 1 to May 31.

Fees would also rise at 16 other heavily visited parks – including Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain, Shenandoah, Yellowstone and Yosemite national parks – under the proposal. Acadia reported 3.3 million “visits” in 2016, ranking it eighth nationally in terms of total visitation.

The proposal was touted as a way to make a larger dent in the estimated $11.3 billion maintenance backlog in the park system, a figure that includes $71 million in deferred maintenance at Acadia. Under federal law, 80 percent of entrance fees stay within the park where they were collected.

“Fees have long been an important source of revenue used to improve the visitor experience and recreation opportunities in national parks and on other federal lands,” the Park Service said when announcing the extended public comment period. “Estimates suggest that the peak season price structure could increase national park revenue by $70 million per year. The funds would be used to improve roads, bridges, campgrounds, waterlines, bathrooms, and other amenities which enhance the visitor experience.”

The size of the increase – a 180 percent jump for vehicle passes at most parks, including Acadia – caught many people by surprise. Friends of Acadia, the nonprofit that works with the park, expressed concerns about how the increase would affect people’s relationship with the park and the local economy.

All four members of Maine’s congressional delegation also came out strongly opposed to the proposed increase at Acadia.

“Like most other parks, Acadia has felt the strain of the maintenance backlog, in part due to this sustained visitation,” Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins wrote in a letter last month to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. “While we recognize that this proposal would bring additional revenue to the park, we are not certain that this would either solve the problem or outweigh the risk to the local community of making the park more difficult to visit.”

Comments can be submitted online at: parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?documentID=83652. Written comments can also be mailed to: National Park Service, Recreation Fee Program, 1849 C Street, NW, Mail Stop: 2346 Washington DC 20240.

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

kmiller@mainetoday.com

Twitter: KevinMillerPPH

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/national-park-service-extends-comment-period-on-acadia-fee-increases/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/11/1291927_234842-acadia2.jpgTwo women take in the view from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. A proposed 180 percent jump for vehicle passes caught many people by surprise.Wed, 22 Nov 2017 18:56:00 +0000
Oxford County sheriff solicited sex with employees, sent explicit photos, union official says http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/oxford-county-sheriff-sent-explicit-photos-to-employees-propositioned-them-for-sex-official-says/ Wed, 22 Nov 2017 21:09:38 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/oxford-county-sheriff-sent-explicit-photos-to-employees-propositioned-them-for-sex-official-says/ Oxford County Sheriff Wayne Gallant made unwanted solicitations for sex to at least two of his employees, said an official for the union that represents 23 sworn officers.

Ray Cote, business agent for Teamsters Local 340, said he received the reports directly from the employees, whom he declined to name. In one instance, Gallant sent multiple sexually explicit photographs of himself to a male deputy’s girlfriend and requested that Gallant, the deputy and the woman have sex, Cote said. When the employee rebuffed the advances, Gallant threatened his job, Cote said.

In another instance, Gallant typed a message on a cellphone indicating he wanted to perform oral sex on a male employee, and then showed the person what he typed, Cote said.

Copies of four of the images sent to the deputy’s girlfriend, which were obtained by the Portland Press Herald, show Gallant displaying his genitalia. His face is visible in three of the images, including one in which Gallant is in uniform.

Gallant admitted Tuesday to a TV news station that he had sent a sexually explicit photograph several years ago to a woman he did not identify, and announced he was resigning as president of the Maine Sheriff’s Association.

He said Tuesday night during a county budget meeting that he did nothing illegal. “It was an adult thing that happened two years ago,” he told the Bangor Daily News.

Gallant did not respond to messages left Tuesday night on his office telephone and cellphone, and did not respond to repeated requests for comment Wednesday.

The union’s accounts about Gallant come on the heels of a national outpouring of allegations of sexual misconduct against powerful men at the highest levels of the media, business, entertainment and political worlds.

Cote said Oxford County, through its attorney, has been investigating the claims for several weeks, after a sheriff’s employee complained to the county. He said the county was preparing to interview members of the sheriff’s office about what they knew or experienced, but county officials told Cote he could not be present for the interviews, even though he represents the union members in employment matters.

“I insisted if they were going to do any investigating, as to bargaining unit members, I wanted to be present, and they denied that request,” Cote said.

The county attorney, Bryan Dench, would not comment on whether he was conducting an investigation into Gallant’s behavior, whether commissioners had sought advice on possibly removing him, or whether Cote’s allegations are true.

“The law with regard to county government puts the sheriff as an elected constitutional officer in the position of being in charge of the sheriff’s department without it being direct control or oversight by the county commissioners except in matters of finance,” Dench said. “The county commissioners really don’t have a whole lot of power or authority over the conduct of a sheriff, so their position is very limited with regard to something like this, but they do have the authority … to make a referral to the governor. Ultimately, the governor’s the one, if anyone does, to have the authority to take any action.”

Dench said it would be the commissioners’ call if Gallant’s behavior warrants a complaint to the governor, but he would not say whether the commissioners have asked for his advice on that.

EXPOSING GENITALS A MISDEMEANOR

State law makes it a Class E misdemeanor to knowingly expose one’s genitals under circumstances that are likely to cause affront or alarm, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

According to the Maine Human Rights Commission, which enforces the state’s anti-discrimination laws, any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when the sexual conduct is a condition of employment, if rejecting the advances is used to make employment decisions about the person being harassed, or if the conduct creates a hostile, intimidating or offensive working environment.

Cote said he chose to speak publicly about the situation because he felt Oxford County officials were not doing enough to protect the members of the sheriff’s office.

“I’m certainly not going to protect a sexual predator who is preying on my bargaining unit members,” Cote said Wednesday. “I want this completely exposed.”

Cote said Gallant’s misconduct should disqualify him from his job and that he should be removed from office.

Gallant confirmed Tuesday night to WGME-TV, after being told about one of the explicit photos, that it was him in the photograph and that it was taken in his office. Gallant, who was first elected in 2006 and is in his third four-year term as county sheriff, has served as president of the sheriffs’ association since January.

“I bring discredit to myself, to my uniform, my badge and the Maine Sheriff’s Association,” Gallant said in a written statement. “The appropriate thing for me to do is not remain in a leadership position with the association and to step down.”

Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce, who was appointed acting president of the sheriff’s association after Gallant’s resignation, said accusations by employees against Gallant should be fully investigated. Joyce said he had not heard any information that the images that Gallant sent involved employees.

If the allegations are true, Joyce said it would be difficult for Gallant to continue in office. He said that whether Gallant remains should be up to the people of Oxford County.

“We serve our communities, we serve our constituents, we serve the taxpayers, and really that’s a question of what do they want,” Joyce said.

The Attorney General’s Office, which investigates allegations of misconduct against police, did not respond to a message Wednesday regarding Gallant.

The Maine Constitution gives the governor the power to remove a sheriff who “is not faithfully or efficiently performing any duty imposed upon the sheriff by law.” The process, last attempted in 1951, requires a complaint, due notice to the sheriff and a hearing.

NO COMMENT BY GOVERNOR’S OFFICE

Julie Rabinowitz, a spokeswoman for Gov. Paul LePage, declined to comment on whether the governor’s office was involved in any discussion about removing Gallant, saying “it’s (a Human Resources) situation.”

Peter Steele, LePage’s director of communications, also refused to comment.

“Our comment is we are not commenting on this issue,” Steele said.

Steve McCausland, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, said he had no information about Gallant, his conduct or whether the department is investigating him.

County Administrator Scott Cole said that because Maine sheriffs are elected, county government has no role in his employment.

“Only the governor can remove a sheriff from office,” Cole said. “That is the bottom line.”

Oxford County commissioners David Duguay of Byron and Steve Merrill of Norway both said via email they would have no comment on the matter.

Cole said county commissioners held an all-day meeting Tuesday that finished at 5 p.m., then reconvened at 6 p.m. for a budget meeting that Gallant took part in.

“At the end of the (5 p.m.) meeting, the sheriff came in and spoke with the commissioners and myself privately and he basically told us what he told Channel 13,” Cole said. “He owned it, and that was that, there wasn’t much conversation.”

ADMITTING ERROR IN JUDGMENT

Cole said Gallant told commissioners that he had made an error in judgment. “He had sent a picture to somebody. ‘Not a good move,’ ” is what he told commissioners, Cole said.

Asked if Gallant was on duty when the photo was taken, Cole said he could not respond to specific questions. “Recent revelations in the news are what county officials know,” he said.

Cole has not yet responded to a request for copies of any disciplinary records involving Gallant.

Gallant, who is divorced, was an Army sergeant who served in the Vietnam War. He worked with the Rumford Police Department from 1980 to 2005, eventually serving as police chief. He then worked as police chief in Wilton in 2005 before being elected sheriff in 2006. Rumford Town Manager Linda-Jean Briggs said she had one disciplinary record from Gallant’s time in Rumford stemming from a complaint by then-Police Chief Timothy Bourassa in December 1996. Gallant, a lieutenant at the time, had made two statements to a reporter “alleging misconduct on the part of Chief Bourassa.”

The Rumford Board of Selectmen found that Gallant’s statements to the reporter were motivated by a longstanding feud with the police chief and a desire to take the chief’s job. The disciplinary action resulted in a week’s suspension without pay.

Reporter Kathryn Skelton of the Sun Journal in Lewiston and Advertiser Democrat Reporter Erin Place contributed to this report.

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

mbyrne@pressherald.com

Twitter: MattByrnePPH

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http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/11/1291868_810025-Gallant2.jpgOxford County Sheriff Wayne Gallant did not respond Wednesday to requests for comment about allegations of sexual misconduct, but Tuesday night he reportedly said he did nothing illegal.Wed, 22 Nov 2017 23:26:03 +0000
Bounty of nuts, berries fattening Vermont, New Hampshire critters http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/abundance-of-acorns-nuts-keeping-new-englands-bears-birds-squirrels-happy/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/abundance-of-acorns-nuts-keeping-new-englands-bears-birds-squirrels-happy/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 20:34:11 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/abundance-of-acorns-nuts-keeping-new-englands-bears-birds-squirrels-happy/ MONTPELIER, Vt. — Abundant crops of acorns, beech nuts and other lesser-known species are providing wildlife across at least parts of the Northeast with an unusually bountiful Thanksgiving feast that is fattening every animal that depends on them, from mice and squirrels to turkeys, deer and bears.

The volume of nuts and berries in the woods this fall is so great in some areas that birds are staying away from backyard feeders, prompting calls of concern to experts. But there’s nothing wrong, experts say; the birds are just finding plenty to eat in the woods, so there’s no reason for them to visit feeders.

“It is truly a bounty for our wild animals this year,” said Scott Darling, a biologist with the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, who noted that the sound of chipmunks and squirrels in the woods this fall “is almost deafening.”

Andrew Timmins of the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game attributed the abundance to the wet summer and the lack of a late frost last spring.

“There are no losers in these abundant food years,” Timmins said.

There is no central record keeping of the health of the forest nut production, and it’s unclear how far the regional bounty extends.

Travis Lau, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, said his state is also reporting a bumper crop, if not a record crop, of hickory nuts this year. Acorns from red and white oak and beech nuts are also plentiful.

“Within our state’s boundaries, we are looking at this abundance statewide,” Lau said.

But it doesn’t extend to Michigan. Katie Keen, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said the forest food crop this year in the northern Lower Peninsula is on the lower end.

She said some years, acorns cover the forest floors of the northern Lower Peninsula. “This just isn’t one of those years,” she said.

Back in northern New England, the small animals feasting on the nuts and berries are also providing themselves as food for the animals that prey on them – foxes, coyotes and bobcat, not to mention pine martens, mink and fisher.

“It impacts up the food web,” said Robert Cordis, wildlife special projects coordinator with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. “It’s not just the primary consumers, but all the way up the chain.”

Bears are not looking for food in trash cans or bird feeders, and complaints from humans are way down, Vermont bear biologist Forrest Hammond said. Bears are also staying out of their dens longer, and it’s expected Vermont’s just-completed bear hunt will see higher numbers taken by hunters.

One potential downside is that ticks will thrive on the rodents that live on the forest floor, but any increase won’t come right away, Hammond said. The tick population would be expected to grow next season. Lyme disease-carrying deer ticks would be greatest in 2019.

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/abundance-of-acorns-nuts-keeping-new-englands-bears-birds-squirrels-happy/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/11/1291855_Thankful_Wildlife_69880.jpg-e1511385947679.jpgA pine grosbeak chews on a berry in a tree in Montpelier, Vt. Northern New England wildlife is enjoying a record bounty of nuts and berries.Wed, 22 Nov 2017 18:21:45 +0000
Father, son suspected in Auburn home invasion arrested in Illinois, Florida http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/father-son-suspected-in-auburn-home-invasion-arrested-in-illinois-florida/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/father-son-suspected-in-auburn-home-invasion-arrested-in-illinois-florida/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 19:16:12 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/father-son-suspected-in-auburn-home-invasion-arrested-in-illinois-florida/ AUBURN — A father and son suspected in the armed robbery of an Auburn woman in her home last month have been taken into custody by police in two different states.

John Michaud, 49, of Lewiston was arrested Tuesday in Illinois and his son, John Michaud Jr., 19, also of Lewiston, was arrested earlier this month in Florida, Auburn police say.

The men entered the home of a woman on Park Avenue, tied her up at gunpoint and stole her SUV to escape, according to police.

The victim’s Ford Explorer was recovered Oct. 15 on Torrey Road in New Gloucester, where it had been set ablaze.

Detectives learned that the suspects fled the state together shortly after the incidents. They developed enough evidence and probable cause to charge both with felonies – robbery, burglary, criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, theft and theft-unauthorized use of property – as well as obstructing the report of a crime, a misdemeanor.

The father was arrested Tuesday in Eureka, Illinois, by the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force, which charged him with being a fugitive from justice. He is being held in the Woodford County Jail in Eureka awaiting extradition to Maine.

His son was arrested Nov. 5 by the Jacksonville County Sheriff’s Department in Jacksonville, Florida, and charged with carrying a concealed weapon, possessing a firearm with an altered or removed serial number and loitering. He is being held in the Jacksonville County Jail awaiting trial on the Florida charges and eventual extradition to Maine to face the Auburn charges.

“This is a prime of example of how collaboration among local and federal partners shows that these offenders will be pursued and brought to justice,” Auburn Deputy Chief Jason Moen said.

“I expect that more arrests will be made in this case as well as additional charges brought against both Michauds once they are returned to Maine,” he added.

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Community Partners Inc. to join Spurwink http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/community-partners-inc-to-join-spurwink/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/community-partners-inc-to-join-spurwink/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 18:49:51 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/community-partners-inc-to-join-spurwink/ Community Partners Inc., a 50-year-old behavioral health organization in Biddeford, will merge with Spurwink Services at the start of the new year.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The combined nonprofit will retain the name Spurwink Services and continue each organization’s history of providing service to Maine people with intellectual and development disabilities, autism, and behavioral health and medical needs, according to a release from Portland-based Spurwink. The merger requires regulatory approval from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

“Our missions are fully aligned and both organizations have reputations for high quality, client-centered services,” said Alistair Raymond, chair of the Spurwink board of directors, in the release. “Together, we will be able to offer a full continuum of care and services from early childhood through a person’s lifetime, and meet a wide range of behavioral health, IDD and medical needs.”

Eric Meyer, Spurwink’s president and CEO, and Francoise Paradis, Community Partners’ chair, said the merger will allow the combined organization to better provide critical behavioral health services, improve client care and continue to deliver community-based services to clients throughout the state.

The staff of Community Partners will be retained in the merger.

“There is great depth of experience in the CPI staff and their expertise, skill and commitment are essential to a successful merger,” said Kristen Farnham, Spurwink vice president of development.

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Maine has nation’s highest rate of increased Affordable Care Act enrollment http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/maine-has-nations-highest-rate-of-increased-affordable-care-act-enrollment/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/maine-has-nations-highest-rate-of-increased-affordable-care-act-enrollment/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 18:04:28 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/maine-has-nations-highest-rate-of-increased-affordable-care-act-enrollment/ Maine is leading the nation with a more than 72 percent increase over last year in Affordable Care Act enrollment, according to data released Wednesday.

A health policy analyst says that reflects the ACA’s enduring popularity in Maine despite the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine the law. Sign-ups in Maine through the first 18 days of open enrollment, Nov. 1-18, totaled 19,880, or 72.4 percent higher than the same period last year. The next closest state was Wyoming, with a 60.7 percent increase in enrollment. Most states have experienced enrollment surges of 40 to 50 percent over last year.

In total, 80,000 Mainers signed up for a 2017 ACA insurance plan through the individual marketplace. The ACA marketplace is where those who don’t have access to health insurance through an employer – often part-time workers or the self-employed, can purchase subsidized insurance.

Nationally, 2.3 million people have signed up so far for ACA insurance for 2018, according to numbers released by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. When open enrollment ended for 2017, 9.2 million Americans had ACA individual insurance.

Mitchell Stein, a Maine-based independent health policy analyst, said Maine Sen. Susan Collins’ key vote to preserve the ACA got a lot of media attention in the state, and may have contributed to a greater awareness of the ACA, boosting enrollment.

Collins was one of three Republican senators – Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John McCain of Arizona were the others – who voted July 27 against the party’s attempts to repeal the law, keeping it intact by one vote. Collins’ vote and subsequent opposition to a similar attempt in September vaulted her into the national spotlight. The Maine Medicaid expansion referendum also shined a light on the ACA, as Mainers decisively voted in favor of expanding Medicaid, 59 to 41 percent.

Recently, Collins has expressed strong reservations about the Republican leadership’s inserting a clause to repeal the ACA individual mandate in the pending tax reform bill. She also criticized other provisions of the bill, such as sunsetting tax cuts for individuals while making corporate tax cuts permanent. The Senate tax reform bill touted by Republican leadership would result in a tax increase for about 50 percent of Americans by 2027 – according to the Tax Policy Center, a Washington-based think tank – trigger cuts to Medicare and increase marketplace health insurance premiums by $2,300 on average. Tax cuts would largely go to the top 1 percent of wage earners. A vote on the Senate tax bill could happen as early as next week.

The ACA’s individual mandate imposes a tax penalty on people who don’t obtain insurance. The mandate brings more healthy and younger people into the insurance pool, keeping premiums in check, health policy experts say.

Stein said another factor in Maine’s strong enrollments may be the emergence of new zero-premium plans developed after the Trump administration’s decision to withhold certain subsidy payments to insurers. Maine and other states took steps to keep insurance companies from losing money, with the effect that companies are now offering zero-premium basic plans.

About half of the Mainers who are eligible for subsidies – those who earn between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level – would also qualify for a zero-premium bronze plan for 2018. The bronze plans have fewer benefits and higher deductibles than silver and gold plans, but lower premiums.

Kevin Lewis, president and CEO of Community Health Options, one of the insurers on the Maine marketplace, said enrollees are choosing bronze plans in greater numbers, and it’s likely being driven by the zero-premium plans.

“We’ve seen a definite increase in members choosing bronze plans. Almost half of the bronze plans being chosen (at CHO) have zero premiums. It’s a significant factor,” Lewis said.

He said business has been brisk over the past few weeks, with many people choosing plans.

Other factors in Maine’s increased enrollment rate may be the state’s relatively high levels of self- and part-time employment, the people the marketplace was intended for because they were more likely to lack affordable options for health insurance.

Maine also ramped up outreach efforts in the face of Trump administration cuts to advertising and outreach, which may have also helped, Stein said. Maine’s health insurance navigators did not experience the steep cutbacks applied to other states, and the Maine Health Access Foundation contributed $200,000 in outreach funding. Nationally, the Trump administration cut advertising funding by 90 percent.

Even with a surge in sign-ups, the enrollment period was slashed in half this year, from 12 weeks to six weeks. So total enrollment will likely be lower in 2018, even in Maine, which is largely a reflection of the compressed enrollment period.

“So there’s good news and bad news. The law is still working,” Stein said. “The sabotage by the Trump administration has been effective, but not as effective as (Trump) hoped.”

Joe Lawlor can be contacted at 791-6376 or at:

jlawlor@pressherald.com

Twitter: @joelawlorph

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Inspection reveals 19 fire-safety violations at troubled Time & Temperature building http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/major-safety-violations-discovered-in-time-temperature-building/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/major-safety-violations-discovered-in-time-temperature-building/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 17:22:34 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/major-safety-violations-discovered-in-time-temperature-building/

In October, tenants said the Time & Temperature building at 477 Congress St. suffers from long-term neglect. Staff photo by Derek Davis

Multiple fire safety violations were discovered in the Time & Temperature building during a surprise November inspection, adding to problems in the iconic downtown Portland high-rise.

Fire department officials found 19 violations during a Nov. 3 inspection triggered by an anonymous complaint.

Five floors in the 14-story building lack sprinkler systems, and multiple floors did not have hard-wired smoke detectors, according to the inspection report. Inspectors also found multiple expired fire extinguishers, inoperative emergency lighting, missing exit signs, blocked fire exits and other problems.

The department is working with the building owner to resolve the violations, which were found in floors occupied by tenants, said Assistant Fire Chief Keith Gautreau.

“In a building that big, you are going to find a number of violations,” Gautreau said.

The Time & Temperature building is owned by CW Capital Asset Management, a special loan servicer in Bethesda, Maryland. The company declined to comment on the violations, and whether it plans to sell the building.

A representative of NAI Hunneman, the Boston company that manages the building, did not answer questions about the violations in an email Wednesday.

A photo taken earlier this year, before the city’s Nov. 3 inspection of the Time & Temperature building, showed exposed wiring. A fire official said the 19 safety violations found recently are typical of Portland’s old downtown office buildings. Staff photo by Michele McDonald

Fire safety deficiencies like those found at the Time & Temperature building are not uncommon in Portland’s downtown office buildings, Gautreau said.

“I would say for the amount of older commercial buildings, this is par for the course,” he said. “Had we been in the building without any sprinklers or fire alarms, that would have been a problem, but that isn’t the case here.”

The management company has fixed many of the minor violations and is working on getting price quotes for major items such as sprinkler systems, Gautreau said.

“For a building that size, we are happy they are being responsive,” he said. The owner or management company is expected to file a plan of action with the fire department that includes prices and a timeline to resolve violations.

“We understand you can’t install a sprinkler system in one week, but we need to see things moving in the right direction,” Gautreau said.

The inspection early this month was the first in at least six years, he said. He did not respond to an emailed question about why the violations were not flagged in prior inspections.

Department inspectors have focused on residential units since six people were killed in an apartment fire on Noyes Street in 2014. The department will not conduct regular inspections of commercial buildings until the department is caught up on residential inspections, Gautreau said.

The building’s 30-foot-wide rooftop digital clock has been a highly recognizable element of Portland’s skyline. Staff file photo by Gordon Chibroski

Tenants of the Time & Temperature building, at 477 Congress St., said in October that the building suffers from long-term neglect and has fallen into disrepair. About 100 businesses have space in the building.

Problems cited by the remaining tenants included malfunctioning elevators, peeling paint and corroding pipes. Much of the building was unheated last winter and offices are sweltering in the summer, according to tenants.

CW Capital Asset Management seized the property after it foreclosed on the previous owner, a subsidiary of Brooklyn-based Kalmon Dolgin Affiliates.

The building was opened in 1924 as the 12-story Chapman Building. In its early history, the building was distinguished by a ground-floor shopping arcade with a glassed-in mezzanine illuminated with a skylight.

The building’s 30-foot-wide, 9-foot-high rooftop digital clock has been the most recognizable landmark in the Portland skyline since it was installed in 1964.

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

pmcguire@pressherald.com

Twitter: PeteL_McGuire

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Suspect stole kayak, lottery tickets, other gifts donated for Waterville festival, police say http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/waterville-tree-festival-to-go-on-even-after-theft-of-donated-presents/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/waterville-tree-festival-to-go-on-even-after-theft-of-donated-presents/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 17:03:52 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/waterville-tree-festival-to-go-on-even-after-theft-of-donated-presents/ WATERVILLE — A suspect has been charged with trying to steal hundreds of dollars’ worth of donated Christmas presents from a local holiday festival, but many of the items, including a kayak, have been found and the event will go on as planned.

Bobby Campbell

Bobby Campbell, 51, a transient, was arrested on felony charges of burglary and theft by unauthorized taking or transfer. Waterville police Chief Joe Massey said police have dealt with him a number of times.

Massey said Campbell is being held at the Kennebec County Jail in lieu of $500 bail. He will appear in court on Jan. 29.

Massey said police were notified around 8 a.m. Tuesday about the burglary and believe it occurred sometime Sunday night.

Annette Marin, organizer of the Sukeforth Family Festival of Trees, said she received a call Tuesday morning from police informing her that a number of items were found by workers in back of the Hathaway building, where the event is held.

Marin said she went to the Hathaway building and immediately saw the kayak was missing from one of the vendor stations. She then called the other vendors to see what else had been taken.

The Sukeforth Family Festival of Trees, which opened Friday and is now in its third year, is an event where festivalgoers buy chances to win trees and gifts provided by vendors. The proceeds go to Hospice Volunteers of Waterville Area, Spectrum Generations’ Meals on Wheels and the Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers.

Most of the missing items were found behind the Hathaway building. Some were still missing, including $1,000 worth of lottery tickets and a DVD player. The thief also apparently helped himself to a bottle of wine while stealing the items.

Waterville police Sgt. Alden Weigelt looks over some of the items recovered from outside the Hathaway Creative Center on Wednesday that were taken from various vendors at the Sukeforth Family Festival of Trees some time Sunday night, including a kayak, tools, fishing equipment and a chainsaw. Bobby Campbell, a transient, has been charged with burglary and theft. Staff photo by David Leaming

Surveillance footage showed a man carrying the kayak out of the building, as well as moving inside the building with a backpack and what appeared to be the DVD player. She wasn’t sure if the thief hid the kayak and other items in the hope of coming back later to retrieve them.

“We won’t let one bad apple spoil our Christmas fun,” Marin said.

Massey said, “We’re very pleased we were able to catch him,” adding that it’s always unfortunate to see such crimes during the holidays, especially when many of the items were for charity.

Police do not have a complete list of the stolen items, Massey said, and they are still working to recover some of them.

Campbell has been arrested on several charges, such as obstructing government administration, and was summonsed earlier this year on charges including public drinking and theft by unauthorized taking or transfer.

Marin said the doors to the building were locked, and the thief must have found a way to get them open. Going forward, she said, festival organizers will take extra precautions to ensure the doors are secured. However, Massey said the doors were not locked at the time, and there was no forced entry.

For now, Marin said, the festival will take care of the cost of the missing items for the vendors, but she said people have already started coming forward offering to help out.

The event will continue as scheduled and will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

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Maine shrimp fishery looks unlikely to reopen in 2018 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/shrimp-fishery-unlikely-to-open-in-2018/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/shrimp-fishery-unlikely-to-open-in-2018/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 16:51:50 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/shrimp-fishery-unlikely-to-open-in-2018/ The Maine shrimp fishery appears headed toward another closed season in 2018, based on bleak stock assessments made earlier this year, regional fishery regulators say.

If a panel meeting in Portland on Nov. 29 agrees with the recommendations released this week, 2018 will be the fourth year the small but much-loved winter fishery is closed.

“It was not a good result for shrimp this year,” said Max Appelman, who coordinates the fishery for the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the interstate regulatory body that oversees the fisheries along the Atlantic Coast.

Abundance of the species was at a 34-year low in 2017, the commission said. During the annual summer scientific survey, data showed that survival of the shrimp that spawned in 2016 was the second lowest observed in the history of the survey, which began in the mid-80s.

Climate change is the likeliest cause for the crash in the fishery; Northern shrimp, or pandalus borealis, require cold winter water to spawn. Waters in the Gulf of Maine, the southernmost waters the shrimp can survive in, are warming faster than 99 percent of the world’s oceans, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute has reported.

The environment for shrimp is increasingly “inhospitable,” the commission’s report said, attributing the rising temperature to climate change. There is consensus among scientists around the world that the earth’s climate is changing as a result of human activity, including burning fossil fuels to heat homes, emissions from cars and the gases emitted by livestock.

The Northern Shrimp Advisory Panel will meet at the Portland Westin Harborview on Wednesday to review the findings, and that afternoon members of the Northern Shrimp Section will make a final decision.

Appelman said it’s not unheard of for the section board to buck a recommendation by the advisory panel.

“It is almost rare that the section does exactly what the technical committee recommends,” Appelman said. “But it is mostly in the same ballpark.”

In the fall of 2012, Northern shrimp recruitment – the number of the species that survive to reach reproductive age – was down and the technical committee recommended closure. Despite this, the section voted to open the fishery in 2013. It closed early that year because toward the end of the season, the shrimpers were not meeting their quota, Appelman said, and what they were catching included too many of the small male shrimp that are vital to reproduction.

Arnie Gammage, a longtime shrimp trapper out of South Bristol and a member of the advisory panel, wasn’t surprised to learn that the numbers were down. Typically by this time of the year, lobstermen would be seeing the occasional shrimp turn up in their traps, he said, caught in a corner. Not a lot, maybe a half dozen a day. This year, he said, “I haven’t heard of one person who has seen one good shrimp yet.”

His son was one of a small group of Maine shrimpers who participated in a research program last winter, making limited shrimp runs once a week in February and March and then reporting their findings to the Maine Department of Marine Resources, enabling state biologists to track shrimp size and what stage of development they had achieved. Northern shrimp start their lives as males and transition to female, typically in their third season.

While Gammage said his son did find shrimp in the area he was assigned to, near Pemaquid Point, he told his father that by the middle of February, most of the shrimp he caught already had dropped their eggs.

“The eggs that drop that early don’t survive,” Gammage said.

That’s because the algae that the shrimp feed on can’t grow at that time of year. It’s not a matter of warmth, but rather sunlight reaching into the water. The shrimp that were out there this past winter were not in sync with the season. From Gammage’s perspective, whatever shrimp are out there should be left alone, in hopes the species can rebound.

“Why kill off the shrimp?” he said. “We have to give them the best chance.”

Mary Pols can be contacted at 791-6456 or at:

mpols@pressherald.com

Twitter: MaryPols

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One killed, 2 seriously injured in head-on crash in Gorham http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/county-road-22-closed-in-gorham/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/county-road-22-closed-in-gorham/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 16:51:24 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/county-road-22-closed-in-gorham/ One person was killed and two suffered serious injuries in a head-on collision Wednesday morning on Route 22 in Gorham.

Gorham police Sgt. Ben Moreland confirmed late Wednesday night that a person had died, but said he could not identify the victim, pending notification of family members.

The accident, which happened around 11 a.m., led police to shut down the heavily traveled road, also known as County Road, between Deering and Hodgdon roads for nearly three hours.

A hospital spokeswoman said Marion Green, 78, of Gorham was in critical condition early Wednesday night. Around 10 p.m., the spokeswoman said she did not have any information on Green’s condition.

The hospital said that her husband, Richard Green,75, of Gorham, was in serious condition and that Sidney Brown, 18, of Limington, a passenger in the other vehicle, was in fair condition.

Deputy Police Chief Christopher Sanborn said an SUV driven by Kyle Phelan, 21, of Limington crossed the center line near Deering Road and hit the black Ford Taurus driven by Richard Green. Marion Green was a passenger in the Taurus.

Gorham firefighters extricated the Greens from the wreckage while a crew from the Buxton Fire and Rescue Department took Brown to the hospital.

“It was determined that (Phelan) was traveling eastbound on County Road and crossed the center line into the westbound travel lane striking (Green) head-on,” Sanborn said in a written statement.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

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With pledges dying, colleges crack down on hazing http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/with-pledges-dying-colleges-crack-down-on-hazing/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/with-pledges-dying-colleges-crack-down-on-hazing/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 16:26:10 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/with-pledges-dying-colleges-crack-down-on-hazing/ COLUMBUS, Ohio — The deaths of at least four fraternity pledges this year have helped fuel a re-examination of Greek life at U.S. colleges, which have long struggled with how to crack down on hazing, alcohol abuse and other unwelcome aspects without disbanding organizations that have loyal members and alumni.

Changing attitudes, increased public scrutiny and fears of facing lawsuits also have caused schools to take action, anti-hazing advocates say. Tracy Maxwell, founder of HazingPrevention.org and a longtime Greek life consultant, sees parallels with the national discussion about sexual harassment.

“People are at a breaking point, where they’re not willing to accept behavior that has been acceptable in some circles for decades or centuries,” she said.

Students listen to music and drink at an outdoor party at Ohio State University. Associated Press/Dake Kang

Researchers have limited data about hazing and what strategies could best stop it — which prompted a pending federal proposal to require that colleges report data on hazing incidents — but they can learn from studies on related topics, such as bullying and public health, said Elizabeth Allan, a University of Maine professor who leads the Hazing Prevention Consortium.

Four universities have suspended fraternity activities on their campuses within the past two weeks.

Florida State suspended 55 fraternities and sororities following a pledge’s suspected alcohol-related death. Texas State did the same when a student died following an initiation ritual. Events also were temporarily halted for many fraternities at Ohio State University and the University of Michigan, which emphasize student safety as a priority as they investigate allegations of misconduct. They join a growing list of schools hitting pause on the organizations over concerns about misbehavior.

Twenty-six people are charged in the Penn State case over the February death of Tim Piazza, a 19-year-old student from New Jersey. Investigators said security camera footage from a fraternity house showed he was given 18 drinks within 90 minutes.

Attorney Tom Kline, left, and Evelyn and James Piazza, third from left, arrive at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., for a preliminary hearing on charges related to the fraternity hazing death of their son, Penn State student Timothy Piazza. Twenty-six people are charged in the Penn State case over the February death of Piazza, a 19-year-old student from New Jersey. PennLive.com via Associated press/Dan Gleiter

At Louisiana State, 10 people were arrested on misdemeanor hazing charges in the alcohol-related death of 18-year-old Maxwell Gruver, and one suspect also was charged with felony negligent homicide.

The U.S. has had at least one college hazing death each year since 1961, but the publicity of those cases has changed dramatically, said Hank Nuwer, a journalism professor at Indiana’s Franklin College who has researched the history of hazing. Cases that were sometimes swept under the rug decades ago now become major headlines as parents speak out and threaten lawsuits, becoming activists for change, Nuwer said.

Fraternities say that they’ve long worked to tackle issues such as hazing and alcohol abuse in policy and practice, and that efforts made to hold individuals and chapters accountable are a sign of that.

Jake Chobany, a sophomore at Ohio State University who aspired to join a fraternity, poses for a picture in Columbus, Ohio. Associated Press/Dake Kang

“Students are saying enough is enough, and we want to lead ourselves out of this, and we want to work with the university and our organizations and our stakeholders to enhance health and safety,” said Heather Kirk, spokeswoman at the North-American Interfraternity Conference.

Broad suspensions also can sideline those who play by the rules or are just trying to get involved.

Sophomore Jake Chobany planned to rush a fraternity at Ohio State this spring and was disappointed that it has halted recruitment and new member activities.

“You look at all these people that want to do it, and now they can’t because of the actions of another fraternity in a whole different state,” Chobany said.

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Travis Mills plans 2018 program for Vietnam veterans at Rome retreat http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/travis-mills-plans-program-for-vietnam-vets-next-year-at-rome-retreat/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/travis-mills-plans-program-for-vietnam-vets-next-year-at-rome-retreat/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 16:07:54 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1291682 WATERVILLE — Retired Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills, a quadruple amputee who oversees a central Maine retreat for injured veterans, said Tuesday he hopes in upcoming years to expand the free program with more facilities and availability for service members and their families.

That could include opportunities next year for veterans of the Vietnam War, he said.

Mills, 30, of Manchester, made the comments about the next “umbrella project” during an evening talk with Portland Press Herald columnist Bill Nemitz, as part of the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal’s “Community Voices” speaker series held at Colby College.

Mills and a board manage the Travis Mills Foundation, a nonprofit that oversees the lakeside retreat in Rome that held a grand opening this past summer and hosted more than 50 veterans. The event Tuesday night drew a crowd of about 180 people, with about $1,800 in ticket sales all being donated to the foundation.

“My vision for the foundation would be five to 10 years, maybe we open another one or two facilities, but that’s possibly around the nation where families can’t fly with that many kids,” Mills said during the talk with Nemitz. “… Next fall I’m hoping to unveil another branch of the foundation where we bring up Vietnam vets. Because, you know what, ladies and gentlemen? … The first thing I tell people is I didn’t serve any more than anyone else. I make fun of the other branches, joking around, but we put a right hand up in the air and took the oath. So thank you for your service, if you’re a Vietnam vet. Thank you for your service and welcome home.”

Mills said he hoped the foundation by this time next year would host Vietnam veterans and a half-dozen or more of their “buddies” to come out to the retreat for “a chance to connect and regroup.”

“We have a beautiful facility now,” Mills said.

The retreat is run by some paid staff members, but largely by volunteers, and aims to provide wounded veterans with a relaxing place to stay free for a week and in the company of veterans going through similar recoveries. About 90 percent of the veterans who attended the retreat this summer were wounded by improvised explosive devices, known as IEDs, Mills said Tuesday.

Mills founded his organization in 2013 and has made a career in motivational speaking. To open the retreat, his foundation raised $2.5 million — both cash and in-kind gifts — in 2015 and 2016.

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Quick action by Augusta firefighter saves home for family of 8 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/quick-action-by-augusta-firefighter-saves-red-maple-lane-home/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/quick-action-by-augusta-firefighter-saves-red-maple-lane-home/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 15:48:06 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/quick-action-by-augusta-firefighter-saves-red-maple-lane-home/ A fire heavily damaged the garage attached to a home on Red Maple Lane in Augusta on Tuesday afternoon, but the quick action of a firefighter who lived nearby may have prevented further damage.

That firefighter, Donny Genest, lives on the same street and went to 66 Red Maple Lane after he heard a popping sound outside, which came from the tires of a car that had caught fire in the home’s driveway, the Augusta Fire Department wrote on its Facebook page.

The fire had also spread to the home’s attached garage, and the residents of the home escaped safely.

Around 3:15 p.m., Genest called 911, and when a fire engine arrived, he “quickly deployed a fire hose and contained the bulk of the fire before it could spread to the house,” according to the Facebook post. “As you can see his actions and quick thinking kept a serious fire from being much worse. All of the firefighters that responded did an amazing job.”

No one was injured in the fire. The American Red Cross of Maine is assisting the family of eight who lived in the home with shelter, food and other needs, it announced in a news release.

Several other area departments assisted Augusta firefighters. The Facebook post didn’t indicate what caused the original car fire.

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/quick-action-by-augusta-firefighter-saves-red-maple-lane-home/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/11/779770_853542-fire-1.jpgA garage on Red Maple Lane was significantly damaged Tuesday, but quick thinking by an Augusta firefighter kept the fire from spreading to the home.Wed, 22 Nov 2017 11:50:42 +0000
Students injured, cat riding on driver’s lap killed when car hits school bus http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/cat-riding-on-drivers-lap-killed-students-injured-when-car-hits-school-bus/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/cat-riding-on-drivers-lap-killed-students-injured-when-car-hits-school-bus/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 14:22:08 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/cat-riding-on-drivers-lap-killed-students-injured-when-car-hits-school-bus/ NEW CANADA — Maine State Police say a driver with a cat on her lap got distracted and collided with a school bus carrying 58 students, injuring some of them and the bus driver.

Police said driver 19-year-old Alicia Fiordellisi also suffered non-life-threatening injuries to her head and leg in the Tuesday afternoon crash in New Canada. Her cat was killed.

Police said Fiordellisi was traveling south on Route 161 with the cat on her lap. She said she felt a wet spot on her pants from the cat and looked down. When she looked up, she had swerved into the northbound lane and collided with the bus.

The bus driver and some students suffered minor injuries.

Police said they are still investigating the crash and that charges are pending.

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/cat-riding-on-drivers-lap-killed-students-injured-when-car-hits-school-bus/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/07/shutterstock_91783064.jpgshutterstock.com Ninety-two percent of school bus drivers believe it’s “their job” to step in when a student is being assaulted, taunted or threatened, a survey found – but only 56 percent say they’ve been trained in how to intervene in bullying incidents.Wed, 22 Nov 2017 11:48:04 +0000
Board abruptly postpones vote on LePage workforce funding proposal http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/maine-board-abruptly-postpones-vote-on-lepage-workforce-funding-proposal/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/maine-board-abruptly-postpones-vote-on-lepage-workforce-funding-proposal/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1291533 AUGUSTA — The Maine Department of Labor abruptly postponed a potential vote Wednesday on a controversial LePage administration proposal to require workforce development agencies to spend a larger portion of the federal dollars they receive on job training.

Gov. Paul LePage wants Maine’s three regional workforce development agencies to devote 60 percent of their federal funding to worker training, in his latest push against a system he says spends too much on administration. But critics contend the 60 percent threshold – which would be the highest in the nation – is unrealistic and could destabilize a system that provides career counseling, job training and business services to tens of thousands of clients annually.

“If you go to 60 percent it doesn’t mean more people would be served,” said Mike Bourret, executive director of Coastal Counties Workforce Inc., the agency that oversees workforce development in southern and coastal Maine. “What it means is we are dropping case managers and locations to get to that 60 percent.”

The three regional agencies that oversee administration of the federal workforce programs devote 10 percent to administration. Exact amounts differ, but the agencies generally split the remaining 90 percent in thirds between worker training, staffing such as case managers and counselors, and spending on leases, utilities, equipment or other infrastructure.

On Wednesday, the Maine State Workforce Board was scheduled to hold an “emergency meeting” to vote on the 60 percent threshold. But some members and leaders of the workforce development agencies objected to the timing of the meeting – the Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving – as well as to plans by the chairman to allow members of the 25-person board of gubernatorial appointees to cast votes by proxy without being present.

Also, staff for the Maine State Workforce Board, the Department of Labor and LePage’s office did not respond to multiple requests Tuesday from the Portland Press Herald for copies of the public meeting’s agenda or the proposed policy changes.

At the same time, Coastal Counties Workforce is suing LePage and his labor commissioner in federal court, alleging they are illegally withholding millions of dollars in federal funds.

“Given the challenges of gathering board members on the day before a holiday and to allow a maximum number of board members to participate, it was determined to cancel the November 22 meeting,” Garret Oswald, staff director of the Maine State Workforce Board, wrote to members Wednesday in an email obtained by the Press Herald. “We apologize for any inconvenience that this ongoing legal challenge has presented. The board will consider the proposed policy at the next regularly scheduled meeting on December 1, 2017.”

ONLY ONE AGENCY NEEDED, LEPAGE SAYS

These are just the latest developments in a years-long dispute over spending and oversight among LePage, federal officials and the regional workforce boards.

LePage has argued for years that Maine only needs one centralized workforce agency to administer the federal dollars aimed at helping unemployed Mainers get the skills they need to find jobs. Yet the Obama administration and, earlier this year, the Trump administration rejected LePage’s request to dismantle the regional system that supporters say caters to the unique needs of Maine’s diverse workforce.

After the Trump administration’s rejection, LePage asked the U.S. Department of Labor not to send any more money to the state and told Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta that “Maine is no longer participating” in the federal workforce program.

“The current system is fraught with redundancies and waste, and I have tried for nearly seven years to reduce overhead and administrative costs so that more funds can go directly to the constituents we are trying to put back to work,” LePage wrote to Acosta. “I will not continue to participate in a system that wastes money.”

Last month, Coastal Counties Workforce – which administers the programs in York, Cumberland, Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox and Waldo counties – charged in federal court that LePage was illegally withholding $8.4 million in federal funds. While the administration has since released funds from fiscal year 2016, Coastal Counties Workforce said in its most recent court filing that LePage and Labor Commissioner John Butera “attempted to impose conditions” on the fiscal year 2017 contract in order to receive funds. Those conditions included the 60 percent worker training threshold.

LePage spokeswoman Julie Rabinowitz declined to comment on the 60 percent proposal, saying the issue of releasing federal funds to Coastal Counties and the other agencies “is part of the ongoing litigation.”

“However, the governor’s consistent position since he took office is that the funds going into occupational skills training should be maximized because it directly benefits Maine workers,” Rabinowitz said.

But Joanna Russell, executive director of the Bangor-based Northeastern Workforce Development Board, said requiring that 60 percent of the board’s funding go to training ignores all of the other services needed to help unemployed workers. Someone needs to assess workers’ skills, experience and education to help steer them toward training that they can complete and turn into long-term employment. Other would-be workers, such as individuals whose joblessness is tied to personal issues or people recently released from prison, may need counseling and a case worker to help ensure they stay on track, Russell said.

Also, Maine’s three regional workforce development agencies are obligated under federal law to provide certain services that would inevitably be cut if 60 percent of funding had to go to training.

“It’s not as simple as writing a check to Eastern Maine Community College for training for nursing,” Russell said. “We are required to determine ability, to determine capability to complete these programs, and then we are required to do follow-up with them.”

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

kmiller@mainetoday.com

Twitter: KevinMillerPPH

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Hemlock pest spreads, forcing Maine landowners to cut trees http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/forest-pest-spreads-forcing-maine-landowners-to-cut-down-hemlocks/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/forest-pest-spreads-forcing-maine-landowners-to-cut-down-hemlocks/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1291523

Tom Briggs of Berwick stands on the land trust property where hemlocks were cut down to reduce the presence of the hemlock woolly adelgid. Briggs, who lives nearby, was surprised to see the cutting on trust land, but says he understands the need to fight the pest. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

BERWICK — A tiny pest that has devastated hemlock forests from southern Appalachia to New England is steadily spreading in Maine, forcing some landowners to choose between saving and harvesting trees.

The hemlock woolly adelgid – a sap-sucking insect barely the size of a pinhead – first arrived in York County via natural spread of the insects in 2003. Since then, the adelgid has reached four other Maine counties and is now considered “established” in scattered areas of more than 40 towns.

“Landowners are going to have to adapt to it,” said Dave Struble, chief entomologist with the Maine Forest Service. “We have seen the hemlock woolly adelgid moving up the coast, and it is now established in Lincoln County.”

An invasive transplant from Asia, the hemlock woolly adelgid targets only the tree species that lends it its name. Hemlocks infested with the woolly adelgid in New England eventually turn brown from the top down before succumbing to the bugs. Often, an infestation is present for years before it is noticed.

In the York County town of Berwick, for instance, logging crews have been harvesting trees on a 100-acre parcel that is part of the conservation lands owned or managed by Great Works Regional Land Trust. Forester Jeffrey Williams said about 40 acres “were pretty well infested” with the woolly adelgid, prompting the Wright family that owns the land to approve a forest management plan to remove much of the juvenile-to-mature hemlock while thinning out the tree canopy to allow for more diverse regrowth.

“It’s been here for quite some time,” said Williams, owner of Maine Forest Management. “There has only been a little bit of mortality, but it was bound for more mortality in the next decade” if the infestation hadn’t been discovered.

The aphid-like insects are nearly too small to see with the naked eye, but normally manifest themselves as white egg sacs with a woolly or cottony appearance on the underside of the outermost branches or the base of needles. To control the spread of the woolly adelgid, the state of Maine has established a quarantine on hemlock plants or products in all of York, Lincoln and Sagadahoc counties, as well as parts of Cumberland and Kennebec counties. The quarantine prohibits movement to non-quarantined areas of rooted hemlock plants, hemlock branches or needles as well as hemlock chips and uncomposted bark containing branches or needles.

A tractor drags harvested hemlocks from the Great Works Regional Land Trust property in Berwick. The hemlock woolly adelgid first arrived in York County by natural spread in 2003, and has since reached four other Maine counties. The invasive pest is now considered “established” in parts of more than 40 towns. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

SURPRISE OVER LAND TRUST TREE-CUTTING

The hemlock woolly adelgid is tiny, less than 1/16-inch long in its nymph stage, and varies from dark reddish-brown to purplish-black in color. As it matures, it produces a covering of wool-like wax filaments, below, to protect itself and its eggs from natural enemies and prevent them from drying out. The ‘wool’ is readily observed from late fall to early summer on the underside of the outermost branch tips of hemlock trees. U.S. Forest Service photos

Individual trees can be treated with pesticides to kill or control the adelgid, but such an approach would have been unfeasible or cost prohibitive for an infestation the size of the one in Berwick. Forestry and entomology professionals in Maine also are experimenting with the release of predatory beetles – also from Asia – that feed exclusively on the woolly adelgid. Such natural-control methods are costly, however, and often take years to take root, if they ever do.

Williams, who has worked on adelgid infestations elsewhere in Berwick and in Cape Elizabeth, said landowners in southern and coastal areas should be aware of the potential presence of the destructive bug.

“It’s something to look for,” Williams said.

The sight of heavy equipment harvesting large stands of trees came as a surprise to some neighbors. When they bought their home on a secluded, rural cul-de-sac about three years ago, Debra and Tom Briggs were told the land had been permanently protected. But the conservation easement held by Great Works Regional Land Trust allows the Wright family to control for disease and insects as well as to manage the land for forest health. A member of the family, Michael Wright, serves as president of the land trust.

Watching from his backyard one recent afternoon as a skidder hauled piles of hemlocks out, Briggs said he and his wife were most concerned about the impact on the deer, birds and other wildlife living in the harvested areas. But Briggs said he understood the concerns about the woolly adelgid.

“Nobody caused this, and nobody created it,” Briggs said. “It just happened.”

NO PEST STRATEGY YET IN ELIOT, OGUNQUIT

Darrell DeTour, the land trust’s stewardship director, said the woolly adelgid also has been spotted on properties owned by the organization in Eliot and Ogunquit. While the Eliot land is largely hardwood trees unaffected by the adelgid, the Ogunquit property has more hemlocks that are more challenging to access. DeTour acknowledged that the trust has yet to decide on a path forward.

“It’s not so extensive yet where we are seeing devastated trees, but it’s not something that we have talked about how to address it yet,” DeTour said. “There is no easy response to the woolly adelgid.”

Struble, the forest service entomologist, said invasive pests such as the woolly adelgid can put land trusts and conservation organizations in awkward situations by forcing them to consider more heavy-handed cutting than some would prefer.

The good news, if there is any, is that the adelgid hasn’t spread nearly as rapidly in Maine during the past decade-plus as it has in many other states. Some parts of the southern Appalachians in Virginia and Tennessee, where hemlocks are a key species, have seen massive tree die-offs during the past 20 years.

“Our climate is marginal for it,” Struble said. “Our cold weather doesn’t eradicate the adelgid, but it will knock them back.”

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

kmiller@mainetoday.com

Twitter: KevinMillerPPH

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/22/forest-pest-spreads-forcing-maine-landowners-to-cut-down-hemlocks/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/11/1291523_707832-20171114_hemlock0172.jpgTom Briggs of Berwick stands on the land trust property where hemlocks were cut down to reduce the presence of hemlock woolly adelgid. Briggs, who lives nearby, was surprised to see the activity on trust land, but says he understands the need to fight the pest.Wed, 22 Nov 2017 10:57:39 +0000
Inmate jumps from 2nd floor of Cumberland County Jail housing unit http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/21/inmate-jumps-from-second-floor-of-cumberland-county-jail-housing-unit/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/21/inmate-jumps-from-second-floor-of-cumberland-county-jail-housing-unit/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 03:53:14 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/21/inmate-jumps-from-second-floor-of-cumberland-county-jail-housing-unit/ An inmate at the Cumberland County Jail in Portland was transported to a hospital Tuesday night after he jumped from the second floor of a jail housing unit.

A statement issued by the jail said Peter Call, 23, landed on a table in the dayroom of housing unit C-3.

Call was taken by ambulance to Maine Medical Center, where he was treated before being returned to the jail.

The incident happened around 6:35 p.m. No additional details were provided by the jail.

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Judge rules underweight horse, mule to stay with state http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/21/judge-rules-underweight-horse-mule-to-stay-with-state/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/21/judge-rules-underweight-horse-mule-to-stay-with-state/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 03:45:49 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/21/judge-rules-underweight-horse-mule-to-stay-with-state/ AUGUSTA — A judge ruled Tuesday that a dangerously underweight horse taken Oct. 24 from a Pittston property will remain in state custody after its owner argued unsuccessfully that the animal should be returned to her during a court hearing at the Capital Judicial Center.

Last month, Kelsey Radley, the owner of the 23-year-old horse, said that the animal had lost about 100 pounds in the last half-year, despite her earnest attempts to feed the animal more and diagnose what health problems might have been causing the weight loss.

Radley declined to comment after the hearing Tuesday.

During the hearing, she maintained that she is able to care for the horse, named Zin, and a mule that shared its enclosure. The mule, named Pocket, also will remain in state custody after being seized in October.

Kelsey Radley, the owner Zin the horse, right, and Pocket the mule, in October. A judge ruling to keep the horses in state custody said they had not been adequately cared for. Staff photo by Joe Phelan

Radley also argued that state animal welfare representatives didn’t give her enough time to follow their recommendations, which included stocking at least two weeks’ worth of hay and repairing the floor of her barn.

“I did comply with everything that was instructed,” she said. “The due process and everything was out of whack with this.”

In testimony Tuesday, a state humane agent and two veterinarians described the horse as dangerously underweight when they saw it in October. They also suggested the mule had a health problem of its own, a bacterial infection on its hooves, and they pointed to the bark gnawed off a tree near the animals’ enclosure that suggested they were looking for other sources of food.

One of the veterinarians, Caitlin Daly, said the horse tested negative for two conditions – Lyme disease or Cushing’s disease – that could have caused it to lose weight, suggesting that it was actually malnourished.

Daly runs a midcoast practice focused on horses. She saw Zin last summer and again in the fall.

During a visit in August, Zin appeared “thin, but it was not alarming,” Daly testified Tuesday. At the time, she recommended a strict diet to Radley, she continued, under which Zin “definitely shouldn’t have been losing weight; he should have been gaining weight.”

But when Daly saw Zin in late October, she said, he was “emaciated” and she thought he eventually could die if he continued to lose weight, particularly with winter coming.

What’s more, after the horse was brought into state custody and put on a diet of just hay and water, it gained about 40 pounds within three weeks, said Rae-Ann Demos, a state humane agent who responded to complaints about Zin.

Demos also said that when she went to the Pittston home in October, the mule’s hooves appeared unhealthy, were overgrown and caked in mud and manure. And a veterinarian for the state, Rachael Fiske, said the mule appeared to have a bacterial infection on its hooves that’s associated with overexposure to wet areas.

In mid-October, a woman who lives near Radley posted a picture on Facebook of her horse in which its ribs could seen, and she urged people to contact animal control authorities about it. The image was reposted more than 400 times.

Around that time, Demos testified, she asked Radley to make several changes to her care of the horse and the mule, including regularly keeping an ample supply of hay. But after making daily stops past the property, Demos found Radley wasn’t providing the recommended amount of hay consistently, she said.

Radley said she couldn’t provide hay a couple days because she was away with a health problem and her sister, who was looking after the animals, was busy. She also said her barn would not be capable of storing a lot of hay until she repaired it. But Demos didn’t find those to be satisfactory explanations.

“In my opinion, I didn’t think she could care for them financially, or, if she was having all these issues, physically,” Demos testified.

In her own testimony, Radley questioned that version of events, saying that she had been working to follow Demos’ and Daly’s recommendations. She also cast doubt on whether Demos would have been able to see her property adequately from the road to assess how much hay was there, and whether she was misrepresenting how much food they were feeding the horse when it recently gained 40 pounds.

“I know I can take care of them,” she said. “I know that’s hard to believe for some people, because he did lose a lot of weight, but I also acknowledged he lost all that weight, which is why the vet came out in the first place. … I wasn’t given a chance to prove that I could get a healthy weight on him.”

After explaining that the burden was on Radley to explain why the horse and mule should be returned to her custody, Judge Paul Mathews said that she failed to meet that legal standard.

“There’s no question in my mind that your intentions are good, that you love these animals,” Mathews said, but he added that “the court finds that these animals were not adequately cared for and that over the course of the time period which culminated in October, (there was) what the court understands to be, as it relates to the horse, a crisis situation, and it’s a result of the horse losing weight. That was apparent certainly in July and certainly in August.”

Mathews also referred to pictures taken before and after the horse gained about 40 pounds in state custody.

“It is clear, as a result of that, it wasn’t any other condition; it was the nourishment the horse experienced under your care,” he continued. “The court finds the animals were cruelly treated.”

Before Mathews found that there were grounds for Radley to forfeit the animals, an assistant district attorney, Tracy DeVoll, said the state would like to have the animals put up for adoption by a family that can care for them.

Charles Eichacker can be contacted at 621-5642 or at:

ceichacker@centralmaine.com

Twitter: ceichacker

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Oxford County sheriff admits to sending woman sexually explicit photo, steps down as association chief http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/21/oxford-county-sheriff-wayne-gallant-admits-to-sending-woman-sexually-explicit-photo-tv-station-says/ Wed, 22 Nov 2017 01:13:07 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/21/oxford-county-sheriff-wayne-gallant-admits-to-sending-woman-sexually-explicit-photo-tv-station-says/ Oxford County Sheriff Wayne Gallant is being replaced as president of the Maine Sheriffs’ Association after a report that he sent a woman a sexually explicit photograph of himself in uniform inside his own office.

“The Maine Sheriffs do not condone the inappropriate actions of the Oxford County sheriff,” the association said in a statement issued Tuesday night. “Vice President Sheriff Kevin Joyce (of Cumberland County) will be acting president of the association.”

The association’s action came hours after Gallant admitted to a TV news station that he sent the sexually explicit photograph to a woman he did not identify.

WGME-TV reported Tuesday night that it confronted Gallant about a photo it “uncovered” and that he confirmed he is the person in the photograph and that it was taken in his office. Gallant, who was first elected in 2006 and is in his third four-year term as Oxford County sheriff, has served as president of the sheriffs’ association since January.

“I bring discredit to myself, to my uniform, my badge and the Maine Sheriff’s Association,” Gallant said in a written statement to the station. “The appropriate thing for me to do is not remain in a leadership position with the association and to step down.”

Gallant did not respond to messages left Tuesday night on his office telephone and cellphone.

The sheriffs’ association website was updated Tuesday night to show that he was no longer the group’s president.

Timothy Turner, chairman of the Oxford County Commissioners, said commissioners met with Gallant during a county budget meeting Tuesday night, but did not take any actions to discipline him. He said commissioners are aware of the situation.

“We as commissioners can’t do anything about it,” said Turner, who referred all questions to the county attorney, Bryan Dench of Lewiston.

WGME quoted the county attorney as saying that commissioners could file a report about the incident with the governor’s office, who has the authority to determine if a state statute was violated and if disciplinary action should be taken against Gallant.

It is not known how the TV station acquired the sexually explicit photograph of Gallant, but the station’s report comes amid a national outpouring of allegations of sexual misconduct against men that has reached the highest levels of the media, business, entertainment and politics.

The sheriffs’ association is a nonprofit organization whose mission, according to its website, is to “improve and professionalize the sheriff’s offices in Maine and to assure that call citizens receive the highest-quality law enforcement and jail services in an efficient, courteous and humane manner.”

Other sheriffs in the association expressed surprise when they were told about the WGME report and did not want to comment to the Press Herald until they learned more about the situation.

“This is unbelievable if it’s true,” York County Sheriff William L. King Jr. said Tuesday night. King serves as secretary of the association.

Past association president Joel Merry, the Sagadahoc County sheriff, also was surprised by the report.

“It’s news to most of us,” he said.

Joyce, the Cumberland County sheriff, said he was caught off guard by Gallant’s admission.

“I’m kind of shocked to be honest,” Joyce said Tuesday night after being told about the station’s report. “I don’t know what to say. This is the first I’ve heard of it.”

After being informed of the incident, Joyce polled other members of the sheriffs’ association’s executive board, which issued the statement that Joyce would become acting president.

Joyce said Gallant is well-respected in the law enforcement community.

“Wayne is an honorable guy and a military veteran, a take-care-of-business kind of guy,” Joyce said. “He is someone I admire.”

Gallant served in the Army during the Vietnam War, according to a profile posted Nov. 12 on the website of the Sun Journal in Lewiston. Gallant, who often volunteers at events for veterans, he had lived in Rumford all of his life before recently moving to Bethel.

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

dhoey@pressherald.com

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http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/11/Wayne-Gallant.jpgTue, 21 Nov 2017 23:28:36 +0000
Record traffic expected on New England roads over Thanksgiving holiday http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/21/record-traffic-expected-new-england-roads-thanksgiving-holiday/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/21/record-traffic-expected-new-england-roads-thanksgiving-holiday/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 00:32:30 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1291357 A strong economy, affordable gas and a decent weather forecast has experts predicting record-breaking travel in New England over the Thanksgiving holiday.

More than 2.2 million New Englanders will journey 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving weekend, a 3.5 percent increase over last year, which would be the highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2005, according to AAA. The Maine Turnpike Authority is predicting traffic volume will top last year’s record-breaking 1 million transactions by about 2 percent, or an extra 20,000 tolls paid.

“The economy remains solid, gas prices remain relatively affordable (although up from last year) and the weather along the Turnpike corridor looks good for traveling,” MTA spokeswoman Erin T. Courtney said. “More importantly, people just love to come to Maine. Whether they are returning home, visiting family and friends, or want to enjoy the outdoors or shop, Maine is just an awesome place to be.”

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving traditionally has the highest traffic volume of the weekend. Last year, the MTA reported 257,000 tolls paid, which was 4 percent higher than 2015. Even so, it’s not the busiest weekend of the year for the Turnpike, Courtney said. The system reports high volume on Labor Day, Columbus Day, and throughout all of August, she said.

More Mainers are hitting the road even though gas prices are higher than last year at this time. The average price for a gallon of gas in Maine last Thanksgiving was $2.23, or about the same as it was in 2015, according to the price-tracking website gasbuddy.com. This year, the average price is $2.55 a gallon, ranging from $2.39 at one cash-only station in Pittsfield to $2.76 a gallon in Madawaska. The national average is $2.53 per gallon, according to gasbuddy.com.

Rising incomes and higher consumer confidence will likely fuel “a strong year for the travel industry,” said Pat Moody of AAA Northern New England. The increase in drivers in New England for the weekend is forecasted to slightly surpass the national average, with a 3.3 percent increase from 1.89 million to 1.96 million in New England as compared to a 3.2 percent national increase. Regional holiday air travel is likely to grow by 5.4 percent, to about 249,000 leisure travelers.

Nationally, AAA is projecting that 50.9 million Americans will travel during the five-day Thanksgiving period from Wednesday through Sunday. About 89 percent of holiday travelers, or 45.5 million, will be hitting the road. The cheapest airfares in four years is fueling a 5 percent bump in air travel. And travel by other means, such as trains, buses and cruises, will increase 1.1 percent to 1.5 million Thanksgiving travelers.

Holiday travel times in the most congested cities could be as much as three times longer than usual. In Boston, which AAA ranks as the eighth most congested city in the country, the worst wait will likely occur at the intersection of Interstates 90 and 84 from 5:15-7:15 p.m. Tuesday. Logan Airport is projecting higher than usual holiday volume and is advising travelers to show up early for their flights, according to a Massport advisory.

The Portland International Jetport is projecting volume will be about the same as last year, with about 36,000 people flying in and out of the facility over the holiday week, assistant airport director Zachary Sundquist said. Flights will be full, but fewer flights will be offered than in July and August – the airport’s busiest travel times. Sundquist advises passengers to arrive at least 75 minutes before their scheduled departure.

Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, which operates the Downeaster, is projecting near-capacity travel on all trains over the holiday week, Executive Director Patricia Quinn said. The service runs five daily round-trips between Brunswick and Boston during the week, but will cut back to its three-round-trip service on Thursday. Quinn is expecting heavy traffic throughout the five-day holiday.

“We advise people to book ahead so they don’t get there and find they can’t buy a ticket,” Quinn said. “We are expecting that many of our trains will be sold out.”

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

pmcguire@pressherald.com

Penelope Overton can be contacted at 791-6463 or at:

poverton@pressherald.com

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/21/record-traffic-expected-new-england-roads-thanksgiving-holiday/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/12/1123326_688101-20161208_traffic_1Li.jpgTraffic on Interstate 295, as seen last week looking southbound from the Bucknam Road overpass in Falmouth, increased by 12 percent from 2009 to 2015. The current average is 1.18 million vehicles a day.Wed, 22 Nov 2017 08:14:46 +0000