Local & State – Press Herald http://www.pressherald.com Mon, 29 May 2017 17:18:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 Vermont man lost in New Hampshire wilds is found in Maine http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/29/vermont-man-lost-in-new-hampshire-wilds-is-found-in-maine/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/29/vermont-man-lost-in-new-hampshire-wilds-is-found-in-maine/#respond Mon, 29 May 2017 14:43:04 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/29/vermont-man-lost-in-new-hampshire-wilds-is-found-in-maine/ PITTSBURG, N.H. — A 63-year-old Vermont man who got lost while hiking in the wilds of northern New Hampshire is safe after he was found on a road in Maine.

New Hampshire conservation officers report Robert Tremblay, of Swanton, Vermont, went into the woods in Pittsburg Saturday afternoon with his son to retrieve a game camera that had been left near Rump Mountain.

The two decided to separate so Tremblay could look for deer or moose antlers on the ground.

At about 7:30 p.m. Tremblay’s son Travis reported his father missing.

Conservation officers, Border Patrol agents and Maine game wardens searched the area until about 1 a.m. The search resumed on Sunday morning.

Robert Tremblay was found about 10 a.m. He was uninjured.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/29/vermont-man-lost-in-new-hampshire-wilds-is-found-in-maine/feed/ 0 Mon, 29 May 2017 10:43:04 +0000
York County deputies fatally shoot man in Arundel http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/29/york-county-deputies-fatally-shoot-arundel-man/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/29/york-county-deputies-fatally-shoot-arundel-man/#respond Mon, 29 May 2017 14:12:18 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/29/york-county-deputies-fatally-shoot-arundel-man/ A man was fatally shot by police during a domestic disturbance at an Arundel residence Monday morning.

The man is identified as Chad Dionne, 37, according to a statement from the York County Sheriff’s Office.

When deputies responded to a report of the disturbance around 2:15 a.m., Dionne confronted them with a firearm and they fatally shot him, the sheriff’s statement said.

An address for the residence was not given, but witnesses told WCSH they heard multiple gunshots fired in the area of Old Alfred Road.

The shooting is under investigation by the York County Sheriff’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office.

Further details were not immediately available.

Police vehicles are at the scene Monday afternoon where a man was fatally shot by York County sheriff’s deputies. Staff photo by Matt Byrne

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/29/york-county-deputies-fatally-shoot-arundel-man/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/Arundel-Shooting_1496067652297_9584268_ver1.0-copy-e1496070779594.jpgMon, 29 May 2017 13:18:13 +0000
Portland’s Dougherty Field skate park may double in size http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/29/dougherty-field-skate-park-may-double-in-size/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/29/dougherty-field-skate-park-may-double-in-size/#respond Mon, 29 May 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1203316 A possible expansion of the skate park at Dougherty Field in Portland is generating excitement among skateboarders.

The expansion would double the size of the heavily used skate park in the southern end of the field, a 4-acre facility that includes a swimming pool, playground and playing fields bounded by Douglass and St. James streets.

The Portland Parks and Recreation Facilities Department is hosting the first of two meetings to elicit ideas for the expansion, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the East End Community School cafeteria.

Skaters at the park Saturday said they are eager to hear more and give their input.

“It is a little too small for 30 to 40 people who are here in the afternoon,” said Casey McAndrew, 21, of South Windsor, Connecticut, who uses the park when he visits his grandmother in Portland.

The park was criticized as too small when it opened in 2010 with a mix of public and private money but is nevertheless considered by the skateboard crowd to be the best skate park in the state.

“This is the best park within a 50-mile radius,” said Jeff Dunton of Biddeford, who teaches skateboard lessons at the park with his brother Jeremy Dunton.

Jeremy Dunton said on a Saturday in July there may be 60 people of all ages using the park and people have to take turns when it gets busy.

On Saturday about 20 people, from little girls and boys to grown men, raced around the concrete structure on roller blades, boards and scooters.

Freeman Campbell, 6, of Auburn was making his first foray around the park.

“Did you see that, Mom?” he asked as he whirled around the course on his skateboard, undeterred by several falls.

His mother, Laura Campbell, said they made a special trip to Portland, staying in a hotel overnight, so Freeman could practice his skills.

“Anything that gets kids outside away from video games and television,” she said.

Portland Parks Director Ethan Hipple said the expansion will probably include an open concrete plaza area and a pump track, based on preliminary input from an event at the skateboard park last summer.

Hipple said the existing skateboard park has been well received by the neighborhood and is heavily used by the residents.

The Wednesday meeting will include a brief overview of the need for expansion and a presentation on the design of elements that could be added.

The skate park cost about $250,000. About half of that came from the city and the rest was raised by the local skate community.

City officials said they plan to pursue a similar funding partnership for the upcoming skate park expansion.

A preliminary plan for the skate park expansion has been posted on Facebook

A second meeting seeking input is scheduled from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. June 28 at Merrill Auditorium Rehearsal Hall.

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

bquimby@pressherald.com

Twitter: QuimbyBeth

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/29/dougherty-field-skate-park-may-double-in-size/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/1203316_807781-20170527_skatepark2.jpgSky Bullard of Portland takes to the air at the skate park at Dougherty Field in Portland on Saturday.Sun, 28 May 2017 19:47:56 +0000
South Portland’s iconic Griffin Club to close Wednesday http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/29/south-portlands-iconic-griffin-club-to-close/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/29/south-portlands-iconic-griffin-club-to-close/#respond Mon, 29 May 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1203337 SOUTH PORTLAND — The Griffin Club, a landmark tavern in the Knightville neighborhood for more than 40 years, will serve its last beer at 60 Ocean St. on Wednesday.

The sports pub is closing, but exactly what’s in store for the two-story building at Ocean and C streets remains unclear amid growing redevelopment interest in the prime waterfront area.

Bar owner Scott Parker says he’s been evicted and must be off the premises by June 2. The building has been sold, Parker said, though the owners couldn’t be reached for confirmation. The tenant of the upstairs apartment also has been evicted, he said.

But don’t assume the tavern is down for the count just yet. Parker said he’s looking for another location in Knightville and hopes to reopen soon and rehire several bartenders.

The club was founded in 1973 by Eddie Griffin, a near-legendary promoter of boxing and other sports who was fiercely proud of his Irish heritage and previously operated a bar on the other side of Ocean Street.

Following Griffin’s death in 1993 at age 65, his wife, Marjorie Griffin, ran the popular neighborhood hangout until she sold the business in 2008. She transferred ownership of the building to her son and daughter-in-law, Byron and Audrey Castro of Cape Elizabeth, before she died in 2011 at age 78.

While the Castros didn’t respond to a call about their plans for the property, City Planning Director Tex Haeuser said the owners contacted him about six months ago to discuss its development potential.

Haeuser said they were interested in replacing the gabled, wood-frame house, built around 1900, with a modern, mixed-use commercial and residential building. They didn’t offer specifics about the building, Haeuser said, but he informed them that they would need a zoning change to build more than five units allowed on the .22 acre site under current regulations.

Haeuser said he hadn’t heard from the owners lately and no formal plans had been submitted for that property. No current real estate market listing or evidence of a recent sale was readily apparent in a search of public records.

Knightville’s village atmosphere has grown increasingly popular among both residents and business owners, especially in light of the tight rental market across the harbor in Portland.

The area has attracted a variety of commercial and residential development in recent years, including a proposal by the South Portland Housing Authority for a five-story, 48-unit apartment complex at 51 Ocean St. that drew strong opposition this month.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/29/south-portlands-iconic-griffin-club-to-close/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/1203337_869809_20170526_griffin_c_5.jpgStaff photo by Derek Davis Patrons chat at the landmark Griffin Club in South Portland on Friday. The building's owners contacted the city about erecting a new mixed-use building on the site, but haven't filed plans.Sun, 28 May 2017 20:18:55 +0000
Cumberland County Teacher of the Year thinks outside the box http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/29/teacher-of-the-year-finalists-chemistry-with-students-includes-fun/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/29/teacher-of-the-year-finalists-chemistry-with-students-includes-fun/#respond Mon, 29 May 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1203361 Brooke Teller started teaching when she was just a teenager, instructing swimmers during the summers.

That innate interest, coupled with a passion for science sparked by her high school biology teacher, has landed her as Cumberland County’s Teacher of the Year, and a finalist for the statewide award.

“I’m always trying to tell stories,” said Teller, a chemistry teacher at Casco Bay High School. “Today we were launching soda bottle rockets and I told them they were pressurized to 65 pounds per square inch. That didn’t mean much, but when I said that’s about twice what a (car) tire has for pressure, they got it.”

That teaching method is tied directly to why she was nominated for the honor.

“She has contagious enthusiasm for teaching high school science and is truly dedicated to her students,” said Sarah Mills, who wrote the nomination letter. Mills and Teller are both Smith College alumnae and work together to encourage Maine students to go to Smith.

“She’ll find ways to incorporate cooking, or the making of videos, to demonstrate principles of science, which engages students in learning in different ways beyond the requisite memorization of formulas. This makes learning fun and relevant,” Mills wrote. “Her caring for each student shows in the way she regularly checks in with them, always willing to spend extra time whether about class work or broader issues of school or home.”

Teller has taught at Casco Bay High School for 10 years, and previously at two schools in Connecticut. All three schools have innovative approaches to teaching – whether as a magnet school or the expeditionary learning model at Casco that emphasizes learning through project-based inquiry.

“I’ve been part of a lot of innovative places (where) you are building the plane as you fly it, that’s why I was drawn to Casco,” she said. “I didn’t need things to be the same every day to feel comfortable.”

“I’ve never used a textbook” at Casco, Teller said. Instead, she draws up plans from her own experience, and uses online tools to work with the students. She is a particular fan of the math of chemistry, or stoichiometry, and she describes talking through difficult topics repeatedly and in different ways to make sure her students understand the concept. She also led a course where juniors studied the chemistry of climate change and produced newscasts for local fifth-graders.

“I think all my students know I’m willing to do what it takes so they’ll understand the material,” she said.

And she makes it clear science is fun, too. Above her desk, buttons read “We are Crew” – a reference to the family-like “crews” at the school, and “Frack no” and “Nerds have more fun.” Next to that is her handmade sign she carried in the science march in Portland in April, one side reading “Think like a proton! Be positive!”

Her enthusiasm for hands-on teaching earned her the nickname “Sparkles” a few years back. On the first day of chemistry class, in a new lab, she handed out sparklers. Because, yes, they’re fun, but it’s also a lesson in how heated oxidizers produce oxygen and how decomposing gases forcibly eject bits of the powdered metal.

Only Teller didn’t realize that the brand-new lab had some brand-new – and far more sensitive – fire alarms. So, off went the fire alarms, along with a full building evacuation and visit from the fire department. Some firefighters even added happy and sad firefighter stick figures to the whiteboard in her classroom, which spelled out the “before”and “after” chemistry of the Great Sparkler Experiment.

“At the end of the year, I got an award for the ‘biggest oops’ of the year,” she said with a laugh. “I graciously accepted it – I think they knew I would take it as intended. And I no longer light sparklers on the first day of class. We light glow sticks instead.”

In addition to teaching, Teller is the juniors’ team leader, the STEM endorsement coordinator at the school, serves on the building steering committee and has been the graduation coordinator. Later this year, she will teaching a new chemistry of Mars course with University of Southern Maine.

Teller has a bachelor of arts degree in biology from Smith and a master’s in biology and certification in education leadership from Central Connecticut State University.

Teller said she’s grateful for the Teacher of the Year nomination, which requires a lot of self-reflection and articulation about education and teaching. It’s something that she’d hope all her fellow teachers, and others, could experience.

“I’m learning a lot. A lot about myself,” she said. “I’m in the spotlight, but everyone deserves that spotlight at some point in their career.”

Each county winner will submit a video showcasing their classroom practices before the field is narrowed to eight this week. After a portfolio review and presentations to the selection panel, the field will be narrowed to three.

In October, after a school site visit and interview, the state’s top teacher will be announced.

The Maine Teacher of the Year is a program of the Maine Department of Education in conjunction with Educate Maine, an education advocacy organization based in Portland.

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

ngallagher@pressherald.com

Twitter: noelinmaine

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/29/teacher-of-the-year-finalists-chemistry-with-students-includes-fun/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/1203361_479607-20170525_teacher_1.jpgCasco Bay High School's Brooke Teller prefers innovative, hands-on methods like cooking to teach chemistry and online tools like videos over textbooks. "I think my students know I'm willing to do what it takes so they'll understand the material," she says.Sun, 28 May 2017 21:42:18 +0000
Sanford students delving into mystery of child’s grave http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/29/students-dig-into-grave-mystery/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/29/students-dig-into-grave-mystery/#respond Mon, 29 May 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1203374 SANFORD — In the early 1930s, more than six dozen coffins were exhumed from the overgrown Woodlawn Cemetery, carried a mile away and re-interred at the town’s new municipal cemetery.

The grave of one child was left behind, an apparent oversight that would not be discovered for more than 80 years.

For decades, children attended classes at Sanford’s Emerson School and ran on a playground that was created on the same grounds once occupied by the original town cemetery. Eventually, the school closed and last month was torn down to make way for a Cumberland Farms gas station and convenience store.

On a Thursday afternoon in early May, a construction crew digging near the new store foundation unearthed the remains of the forgotten child and the remnants of a Victorian-era coffin. The discovery halted the project and touched off a delicate process of excavating the grave, documenting the bones and cataloging each artifact found with the remnants of the coffin.

Students researching braces from the coffin have determined that the hardware is nickel-plated. They’re still researching a pair of rare, Victorian-era coffin keys that also turned up during excavation of the former Emerson School playground.

Now, local high school students born more than a century after the child was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery are helping city officials unravel the mystery of the child’s identity. After examining the remains and studying the artifacts, they are pursuing DNA tests to see if the child was the great-aunt of a Maine woman who reached out to city officials after hearing the child’s remains had been found.

“I don’t think anyone wanted to see whoever this person is just re-interred in Oakdale Cemetery in some anonymous plot when there is technology to find out who it is,” said Paul Auger, the local historian and high school teacher who exhumed the remains. “What a tragedy it would be if we had the opportunity and didn’t take advantage of it.”

On June 6, City Manager Steven Buck will ask the Sanford City Council to use about $4,800 from the proceeds of the Emerson School sale to pay for the DNA tests.

“I’m very positive we’re going to be able to identify who this is,” Buck said. “The great part of the story is we know where the family is and she could be re-interred in the family plot at Oakdale Cemetery. That’s our driver.”

A GRAVE IS UNEARTHED

The land’s history as Sanford’s first municipal cemetery was well-known to local historians and city officials, but finding remains there still came as a shock. Auger had asked the construction company building the Cumberland Farms to keep an eye out for anything unusual, but didn’t really expect them to find anything.

Buck was in a meeting on May 4 when he got a call on his cellphone from Pete Smith, the public works foreman. A few blocks down Main Street from City Hall, a construction crew had just unearthed the grave.

“This was a surprise because we had records showing everybody was moved,” Buck said.

Paul Auger stands in the pit at a Main Street construction site a day after a child’s remains were unearthed there May 4. He enlisted students to help clean the bones, study the coffin remnants and pursue clues to identification of the child. He estimates that the grave is from sometime between 1880 and 1906.

When the city sold the property to Cumberland Farms last year, the purchaser had raised concerns about the land’s previous use as a cemetery. But the city had records showing 77 bodies were exhumed and re-interred at Oakdale Cemetery by 1933, when Emerson School purchased the lot to build a playground. Everyone was satisfied with that and the city sold the property for $800,000.

The Emerson School, which closed in 2013 and needed extensive repairs, was demolished in April. Construction workers had just finished the new store’s foundation – inches from the remains, it turns out – and shifted their focus to excavating for a water line when they found the grave. The PM Construction foreman was watching every scoop of earth coming out of the trench when a piece of skull poked out of the soil. He halted work and called police.

“Within a few minutes, the entire police department and most of the fire department were surrounding the hole,” Auger said. “No one had ever seen this happen before.”

Sanford police contacted the state Medical Examiner’s Office and provided information showing the grave was found in a known cemetery. The ME’s office told the city the remains had to be hand excavated, the local historical society notified and the remains re-interred. Auger, a member of the city’s Historical Committee, was called in to help.

Auger, who was a police officer for a decade before becoming a teacher 19 years ago, remembers only one other time that an old grave was found during construction in Sanford. Back around 1980, a crew digging an elevator shaft at the Town Hall annex found a femur. Construction was stopped while the Historical Committee determined the area had once been a cemetery. The leg bone was reburied in an anonymous plot at Oakdale Cemetery.

‘GRAMPY’S LITTLE SISTER’

To prepare for the exhumation, Auger found three coworkers willing to cover his classes at Sanford High School the next day, went to the hardware store for supplies to make a sifter and arranged to have a tent put over the grave because rain was in the forecast. By 7 the next morning, he was climbing into the pit.

For hours, Auger, Buck and Smith sifted through the dirt a handful at a time, pulling out shards of glass, pieces of metal and bones caked in dirt and encased in root hairs. A large root from a nearby oak tree had grown around the coffin, perfectly outlining three sides of the grave. Auger measured everything: the length and width of the grave, the placement of the bones, the size of the coffin braces, hinges and keys. They found ribs and finger bones and pieces of jawbone with a half-dozen teeth still intact.

Their work was halted for several hours in the middle of the day as Buck and the city attorney dealt with last-minute questions from the Medical Examiner’s Office and the Department of Health and Human Services, which has purview over cemeteries and cemetery relocations. The city clerk issued a permit to exhume and move the remains, and work resumed.

Late that afternoon, as the small group tried to finish their work before it started raining, Buck’s cellphone rang. It was his assistant back at City Hall with an urgent message to call a Maine woman who saw news of the discovery and had a story to share.

“She said she was always told in her family that when the cemetery was moved in 1931, they never found Grampy’s little sister,” Buck said.

The woman, whose name city officials aren’t releasing until the remains are identified, lives in southern Maine and is an avid researcher of her family genealogy, Auger said. She provided many details about her family, including names going back generations. Auger was able to research the family and discovered the mother of the child had five living children at the time of the 1900 census, but only four of her children are shown on other records.

“We don’t even know the name of this child,” he said.

Auger said the child was likely born between 1890 and 1895. The woman who contacted local officials also provided information about a second possible match, a different girl in the extended family who died in Sanford in 1902.

STUDENTS STEP IN

With a few clues about the possible identity of the child, Auger turned to a group of students at the high school to assist in the investigation. He sees it as a unique learning experience and way to connect students with history.

One student went with Auger to a local jewelry store to determine the metal hardware used for the coffin’s handle braces was nickel-plated. They’re still researching a pair of rare, Victorian-era coffin keys.

Paul Auger holds a nail and a bracket from a grave discovered at a construction site on Main Street. Staff photo by Derek Davis

Two honors students, both headed to nursing school in the fall, cleaned and sorted the bones with help from Auger’s two children.

“We wanted to learn as much as we could from the remains,” Auger said.

Seniors Kristen O’Connell and Sydney Littlefield had never held real human bones before the afternoon they arrived at Carll Heald & Black Funeral Home in Springvale, where the remains are being stored until they are re-interred. During their anatomy classes at Sanford High, they used plastic bones and photos to learn about the 206 bones in the human body.

Using soft-bristled toothbrushes, chopsticks and water, they spent several hours cleaning dirt and roots from the bones.

“We had to try to make them recognizable,” said O’Connell, 18.

They used their anatomy textbook to help identify each bone before laying them out on an examination table to form the skeleton. The pelvis was missing, making it impossible for Littlefield and O’Connell to determine the gender of the child. They were encouraged to see the teeth that could possibly provide DNA to confirm the child’s identity.

“It’s interesting to think you could help someone find a missing relative and help put someone to rest,” said Littlefield, 17.

Officials have not allowed the bones to be photographed because of privacy concerns for the family.

Auger turned to science teacher Beth Marras and her Advanced Placement biology text to make a DNA tree to show which living family members would have the same mitochondrial DNA, which is inherited through the mother. The woman who contacted the city cannot provide the sample because the family connection would be through her grandfather, but a first cousin twice removed from the child could, the students determined after reviewing a family tree provided by Auger. Students will perform the buccal swab to collect cells from the inside of the cheek of the cousin, who has agreed to provide a DNA sample.

George Pouravelis, who teaches anatomy and physiology at the high school, said it has been amazing to watch students be part of a once-in-a-lifetime experience that has generated a lot of interest in the community.

“This is an exciting statement about this community to do the right thing here,” he said. “If it was someone in my family, it would be nice to know that someone cared enough to do this the right way.”

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

ggraham@pressherald.com

Twitter: grahamgillian

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/29/students-dig-into-grave-mystery/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/1203374_609586-20170524_Sanford-G2-e1496068131563.jpgPaul Auger explains some of the coffin artifacts to seniors, from left, Shealyn Kane, Vanessa Hodge and Sydney Littlefield in his classroom at Sanford High School. Sanford students are helping to unravel the mystery surrounding the remains of a child found last month.Mon, 29 May 2017 10:59:03 +0000
Eleven developers submit bids for city-owned land in Bayside http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/29/very-high-level-of-interest-to-develop-the-citys-former-public-works-property-in-portland/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/29/very-high-level-of-interest-to-develop-the-citys-former-public-works-property-in-portland/#respond Mon, 29 May 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1203384 Eleven developers have submitted offers to buy up to six parcels of city-owned land in the Portland’s Bayside neighborhood, which sits between the downtown area and Interstate 295.

However, the names of those developers, how much they’re offering and their development plans for the prime real estate is being kept confidential at the developers’ request, according to Greg Mitchell, the city’s economic development director.

“These are well-established developers,” Mitchell said. “We’re in the early stages of reviewing this.”

The process for selling the Bayside properties is different from the one used for the city’s gravel parking lot near the Eastern Waterfront. For the Thames Street lot, the city issued a request for proposals, which were immediately made public once they were opened. In the case of Bayside, the city hired CBRE|The Boulos Co. to market and broker the land sale.

The Bayside properties hit the market in April and the deadline for offers was May 16.

City officials have long considered the redevelopment of the former Public Works properties, totaling 4.1 acres, as being transformational for the Bayside neighborhood. Over the last year, the city had been looking to address longstanding issues in the neighborhood, stemming from a high concentration of social services, homeless shelters, soup kitchens and people openly drinking and doing drugs on the street. And next year’s budget includes additional resources for community policing in the area.

The City Council’s Economic Development Committee reviewed the offers last Tuesday in executive session. City Councilor David Brenerman, who leads the committee, said he would like the committee to choose the two best proposals for each lot to make public and then allow residents to weigh in.

“On behalf of the committee, I think we’re pleased to see this amount of interest in redeveloping the former Public Works properties. We think it will transform that neighborhood in a very positive way,” Brenerman said. “We haven’t decided which developers we will choose. That process will involve public comment and the public will get to see the more significant proposals before we move forward with negotiations.”

The properties are located at 55 Portland St., 44 Hanover St., 56 Parris St., 82 Hanover St., 65 Hanover St., and 178 Kennebec St.

Mitchell said the proposals comply with existing zoning, which in some cases allows for 105-foot tall buildings, and generally call for a mix of housing, retail and commercial uses.

Several proposals look to renovate and reuse some of the existing buildings, such as the former General Store at 82 Hanover St., Mitchell said, with some proposals being similar to trends in East Bayside, including “everything from coffee shops to breweries, including small incubator spaces for businesses.”

Mitchell said a few offers include proposals for more than one parcel. For example, one developer was interested in four of the parcels, while another wanted all six. He said there was “a very high level of interest from local developers.”

Mitchell said housing – including affordable housing – is contemplated on only three of the six parcels, mostly because the other sites are likely contaminated by former industrial uses of the land. An office use was proposed for 55 Portland St., which currently houses Public Works administration, he said.

“There was quite a bit of creativity presented in each offer,” Mitchell said. “There were some very thoughtful reuse proposals. For proposals that include more than one site, there was clear indication how they would be integrated to have the public impact we’d like to see down there. I’m pleased and kind of delighted to see that level of creativity presented with the offers.”

The Economic Development Committee will likely meet again in executive session in June to discuss the proposals. It’s unclear when details will be made public.

“We’re going to try to move as quickly as we can towards providing information for committee’s direction and discussion,” Mitchell said. “This is one of our top priorities.”

Proceeds from the sale would help finance the relocation of the city’s Public Works Department out to Canco Road.

Randy Billings can be reached at 791-6346 or at:

rbillings@pressherald.com

Twitter: @randybillings

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/29/very-high-level-of-interest-to-develop-the-citys-former-public-works-property-in-portland/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/1203384_872054-BaysideAerial.jpgSun, 28 May 2017 22:53:45 +0000
Bill would make lifetime driver’s license suspension permanent http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/bill-would-cut-appeal-in-lifetime-drivers-license-suspension/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/bill-would-cut-appeal-in-lifetime-drivers-license-suspension/#respond Mon, 29 May 2017 02:25:17 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/bill-would-cut-appeal-in-lifetime-drivers-license-suspension/ Two lawmakers from central Maine say they will introduce legislation to eliminate a section of state law that allows someone whose license is permanently revoked to reapply for a driver’s license 10 years after release from prison.

Bryan Carrier, who was convicted in a triple fatal crash in 1996, reapplied for a driver’s license. Staff photo by Andy Molloy

The proposal comes after a ruling in Kennebec County Superior Court this month that allows a former Skowhegan man convicted in a drunken driving, triple fatal crash in 1996 to reapply for his license, even though his license had been ordered suspended for life.

The court ruling highlighted an apparent contradiction in state law that allows a license to be revoked “permanently,” yet also outlines an appeals process for getting a license back.

Sen. Scott W. Cyrway, R-District 16, and Rep. Thomas R.W. Longstaff, D-Waterville, both members of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, said in separate interviews that they want to take out the language that allows a person to petition for license reinstatement.

“This is upsetting to me to think that ‘permanently’ does not mean permanent,” Cyrway said. “I am sorry, but in the dictionary it has a meaning – forever – no change. This may have to be changed to ‘permanent with no chance for appeal.'”

The question being asked for the last 10 years is how Bryan Carrier, 39, of Fairfield, who was ordered by the court to permanently surrender his driver’s license, could be allowed to reapply.

The license ban was intended to be permanent, say family members and friends of the victims. But it wasn’t, and the fallout from the ruling by Superior Court Justice William Stokes was palpable.

E. James Burke, a professor at the University of Maine School of Law, said Stokes was correct under Maine law to allow Carrier to seek license reinstatement despite objections from family and friends of the victims.

“I don’t have any problem with what Stokes did. I think that the statute is not irrational and wrong and internally inconsistent,” Burke said.

Cyrway’s colleague, Longstaff, also said the statute is clear, but he reads it differently: that the permanent revocation of license is imposed.

But two paragraphs down in the law, there is a provision for the person to be able to try to get a license reinstated. If there is another offense after the license is reinstated, then the revocation becomes permanent without possibility of appeal.

Longstaff said the answer to correcting the contradiction would not be to remove the word “permanent” – because it would weaken the law – but rather to remove the entire section for appeal from the law.

“My own feeling is I don’t think that the person’s license ought to be reinstated,” he said. “So rather than remove the word ‘permanently’ when it doesn’t mean ‘permanently,’ what I would say is remove that section of the law; to have an act to remove that provision so there’s no way to get another hearing; to remove the possibility of that option.

“I would work with Scott (Cyrway) to sponsor or co-sponsor a bill to delete that provision from the law. That option of getting it reinstated would be gone. It’s something I could be comfortable sponsoring, that’s for sure.”

Yet the revision to the statute, if it passes, would probably not apply to Carrier. He would only be subject to the provisions in effect at the time of the crime.

Cyrway said he would have to send a title request to the reviser’s office and have language added to the proper section to get the law changed. It would be sent to Legislative Counsel as an emergency request for this upcoming session, he said.

If approved, the revision would have to go to the Senate to get referred to a committee. Once passed, it would go to the Senate for a vote, then to the House and back to the Senate, and then to the governor. If not vetoed, it would become law.

“It is not a simple process, but it is important,” Cyrway said.

WHAT’S PERMANENT?

In the 1996 crash, Carrier drove a pickup truck at high speed through a stop sign on East Ridge Road in Skowhegan and slammed into a van that was heading east on Route 2.

Killed in the fiery crash on Nov. 22 were Arlyce Jewell, 42, and her 10-year-old son, Alex, and Elbert Knowles, who was 15. Also injured was Nicole Johnson, 17, of Skowhegan. Carrier’s blood-alcohol level was 0.11, over the legal limit of 0.08.

He pleaded guilty in 1997 in Somerset County Superior Court to three counts of manslaughter and three counts of aggravated operating under the influence. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison with all but two years suspended, six years of probation and 2,000 hours of community service on the manslaughter conviction. On the OUI charge, Carrier was sentenced to two years in prison to run at the same time as the manslaughter sentence and ordered to pay $6,000 in fines.

His driver’s license was ordered to be permanently suspended, per state law that applies to vehicular manslaughter cases in which the driver is intoxicated.

Carrier was released from the Charleston Correctional Facility on March 30, 1999.

He has appealed his lifetime revocation three times, including during an emotionally charged Bureau of Motor Vehicles hearing in September. But each time, his request to reapply for a license has been denied.

He can now try again, according to Stokes, who said that state law does, in fact, permit re-application for re-licensure. The law, passed by the Maine Legislature in 1993, is clear, Burke said.

“People can grow and change and learn from mistakes,” Burke said. “And if that happens, perhaps we should let them now live the life they have earned to live.”

The criteria for reinstatement involves the convicted person’s life since the initial revocation: Has he shown that he has not re-offended? Is he a working member of the community? Has he sufficiently proven that he is deserving of reinstatement?

Stokes said in his May 18 order that if the Legislature intended to limit the number of times someone could petition for reinstatement, it would have done so.

Timothy Feeley, spokesman for Attorney General Janet Mills, said her office will review the decision and consult with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles about future options.

LIVES CHANGED

A total of 115,607 drivers have been convicted of driving drunk only once, according to state records which date to 1980 and include out-of-state drivers who offended in Maine. More than 16,000 drivers have had four or more drunken driving convictions since 1980, and one driver has been convicted of OUI 18 times, an analysis by the Maine Sunday Telegram found.

Maine, like the vast majority of states, does not permanently revoke driver’s licenses except in cases where a fatality is involved and the person was under the influence of intoxicants.

At the September hearing with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Carrier said he was sorry for the accident and members of his family were there for support.

“I am truly sorry for what I’ve done,” Carrier said, adding that he cannot take away the pain the families continue to feel. “I hope that someday you can forgive me.”

Carrier, who still works for the family business, Carrier Chipping, said he is not the same person he was 20 years ago. He said he is married with two children and relies on his mother to take him places and often rides a bicycle to work. He said he has undergone counseling.

But victims’ family members, including Tracey Rotondi of Athens, whose mother and brother were killed that night, said the crash also put a distance between her and her father, Royce Jewell. She said the family was never the same after the accident.

Rotondi said last week that Carrier accepted a lifetime license suspension when he took the deal and he should live with it.

“He did hardly any jail time for the lives he took,” she said. “If he didn’t agree with it at the time, that’s when he should have said something. Not now. To keep putting us through this is awful. He doesn’t care about us or the lives he has changed. I think that when you take a deal, you should have to stick to it no matter what the law says. It was a judge’s order.”

“I guess (the law) should be changed because basically the sentence from the judge meant nothing.”

Doug Harlow can be contacted at 612-2367 or at:

dharlow@centralmaine.com

Twitter: Doug_Harlow

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/bill-would-cut-appeal-in-lifetime-drivers-license-suspension/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/bryan_carri.jpgMon, 29 May 2017 09:17:06 +0000
Standish man injured in rollover crash http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/standish-man-injured-in-one-vehicle-crash/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/standish-man-injured-in-one-vehicle-crash/#respond Mon, 29 May 2017 01:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1203355 A 19-year-old Standish man was injured in a single-car crash on Whites Bridge Road late Sunday afternoon, according to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.

Alec Coffin, 19, was driving a 2004 Audi and trying to catch up to a motorcyclist who had passed him, when he lost control near Shaw Acres Road, struck a rock wall and flipped the car onto its roof. Coffin was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland. His injuries were not considered life-threatening.

The accident is still under investigation, but speed appears to be a factor in the crash, according to the sheriff’s office.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/standish-man-injured-in-one-vehicle-crash/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/standish.jpgMon, 29 May 2017 08:42:28 +0000
Press Herald reporter Megan Doyle recognized as top young journalist http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/press-herald-reporter-megan-doyle-recognized-as-top-young-journalist/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/press-herald-reporter-megan-doyle-recognized-as-top-young-journalist/#respond Sun, 28 May 2017 23:25:02 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/press-herald-reporter-megan-doyle-recognized-as-top-young-journalist/ Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram reporter Megan Doyle has received the 2017 MacGregor Fiske Award, which recognizes outstanding young journalists early in their careers.

Doyle, 25, joined the Press Herald last August after working for the Concord (N.H.) Monitor for nearly three years.

Mary McCann Fiske, founder of the award, presented a $1,000 check to Doyle during a visit to the Portland newsroom last week. The award is named after her late husband, MacGregor Fiske, a career sports and news reporter, columnist and editor in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It was established by McCann Fiske and the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts to encourage promising young print journalists to persevere in the profession.

Doyle is a metro reporter, covering the city of Westbrook and surrounding towns and also writing about topics such as immigration, social trends and economic disparity.

Doyle was part of the newspaper’s team that produced “Lost,” a multimedia journalism project that revealed the human toll of Maine’s opioid overdose deaths. Her work included a poignant story about children left behind by parents who overdose and those removed from their families because of their parents’ addiction.

Doyle, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, was named the 2014 Rookie Journalist of the Year by the New Hampshire Press Association.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/press-herald-reporter-megan-doyle-recognized-as-top-young-journalist/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/08/megan-doyle-e1496061333593.jpgMon, 29 May 2017 08:35:52 +0000
Body found in debris of farmhouse fire in Surry http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/body-found-in-surry-house-fire/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/body-found-in-surry-house-fire/#respond Sun, 28 May 2017 18:22:44 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/body-found-in-surry-house-fire/ A body was found in the debris of a fire at a two-story farmhouse in Surry on Sunday.

Surry Fire Chief Richard Black said the State Fire Marshal’s office has been called in to determine the cause of the blaze and the identity and cause of death of the person.

The fire was reported by a passerby at about 5 a.m. Black said it is not clear where the fire started. The farmhouse was destroyed in the fire. There were no other injuries.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/body-found-in-surry-house-fire/feed/ 0 Sun, 28 May 2017 16:38:09 +0000
Woman killed in Lowell ATV crash http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/woman-killed-in-lowell-atv-crash/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/woman-killed-in-lowell-atv-crash/#respond Sun, 28 May 2017 13:06:25 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/woman-killed-in-lowell-atv-crash/ A woman was killed in an all-terrain vehicle crash in Lowell on Saturday.

The Maine Warden Service said the woman, whose name is being held until her family can be notified, was riding in an ATV driven by Parker Gardner, 19, of Lincoln at about 7:55 p.m. on the WARP Road in Lowell. The woman was one of two passengers in the vehicle.

The warden service said the ATV flipped over as Parker tried to perform a “power turn.” The woman, who was riding in the back, was pronounced dead at the scene.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/woman-killed-in-lowell-atv-crash/feed/ 0 Sun, 28 May 2017 16:46:45 +0000
Officer fights critical injuries as conditions hamper Saco River search http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/two-officers-injured-in-search-for-missing-woman-on-the-saco/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/two-officers-injured-in-search-for-missing-woman-on-the-saco/#respond Sun, 28 May 2017 12:29:34 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/two-officers-injured-in-search-for-missing-woman-on-the-saco/ A 38-year-old South Berwick woman was missing on the Saco River in Fryeburg after her canoe capsized, and two police officers who were trying to find her were seriously injured.

One of the officers, 20-year-old Nathan Desjardins, remained in critical condition at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston on Sunday evening.

Emergency crews wrapped up their search for Jennifer Bousquet by late Sunday afternoon as treacherous river conditions made their efforts difficult.

The search is expected to resume Monday, but the Maine Warden Service now considers it a recovery effort.

Bousquet disappeared after the canoe she was riding in with Wayne Demers, 62, of Somersworth, New Hampshire, capsized about 3:50 p.m. Saturday near mile 8 of the Saco River.

A second canoe paddled by Brian Day, 54, of South Berwick, who was riding alongside them, also capsized in the roiling waters.

Demers and Day made it to shore with the help of another canoeist, but the woman disappeared, said Maj. Chris Cloutier of the warden service.

The two Fryeburg police officers, Desjardins and 51-year-old Dale Stout, were hurt as they searched for the woman in a police boat. They were thrown from the boat after it hit something on or near the shore, the warden service said.

They were taken by LifeFlight helicopter to the Lewiston hospital. On Sunday, Desjardins was in critical condition and Stout was listed as stable.

“As you can imagine, this has been a difficult and exhausting day for Fryeburg police staff,” Fryeburg Police Chief Joshua Potvin said in a Facebook post.

Fryeburg police were receiving support from across the state Sunday, including from the Yarmouth, Bridgton and Westbrook police departments.

“The Westbrook Police Department sends thoughts and prayers to our brothers and sisters with the Fryeburg Police Department,” said the Westbrook police Facebook page.

The Desjardins family released a statement to WCSH-TV saying that Nathan Desjardins suffered “intensive head trauma” and that his “mother, father and older brother are by his side 24/7.”

“Nathan is the most caring and compassionate person,” the family statement said. “He has a genuine concern for the well-being of those around him and of all other living things. He has a strong sense of right and wrong and always tries to live up to high moral standards. We couldn’t be more proud of him and all the things he stands for.”

The warden service used its dive team, K9 team and aviation crew to try to locate Bousquet.

Cloutier described the river as extremely high, fast and cold because of recent rains, which complicated the search.

River conditions are expected to be about the same Monday, Cloutier said in an email response to questions Sunday evening.

“There is a significant amount of underwater debris that the divers have been contending with, making progress extremely slow,” Cloutier said.

The water temperature was about 50 degrees and hypothermia could set in quickly, Cloutier said. He said it is not clear whether the woman was wearing a life jacket.

The search was based at Walker’s Falls Campground in Brownfield, on a remote stretch of the river that is part of the Sanborn Wildlife Management Area.

The area can be accessed down a long dirt road or by canoe. A search by airplane was also conducted Sunday afternoon.

Some of the canoeists making their way downriver stopped at the search staging area, where the American Red Cross was handing out water and snacks to the searchers. The Fryeburg police and rescue departments were also helping in the search.

Staff Writer Joe Lawlor contributed to this report.

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

bquimby@pressherald.com

Twitter: QuimbyBeth

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/two-officers-injured-in-search-for-missing-woman-on-the-saco/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/1203210_761695-Fryeburg2.jpgGame Warden Robert Johansen returns from diving in the Saco River on Sunday during a search for Jennifer Bousquet, whose canoe flipped in cold, churning water.Mon, 29 May 2017 12:53:11 +0000
Bill Cohen’s lessons from Watergate http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/bill-cohens-lessons-from-watergate/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/bill-cohens-lessons-from-watergate/#respond Sun, 28 May 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1203077 Bill Cohen was certain of one thing in June of 1974: The voters of Maine would not send him back to Congress.

The 33-year-old Bangor mayor had been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives less than two years earlier but had done something unthinkable to many of his Republican colleagues and constituents: He’d voted to hold a president of his own party accountable to congressional investigators, opening a path that could lead to his impeachment.

President Richard Nixon, who had fired the independent investigator probing possible White House involvement in breaking into the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters in the Watergate Hotel, had offered to give the House Judiciary Committee edited transcripts of tapes he had secretly recorded of some of his key conversations. Cohen, a former prosecutor and defense attorney back in Maine, had voted with Democrats on the committee to demand access to the tapes themselves.

“I had thousands of letters coming in and Republicans were saying that they would never support me again,” Cohen recalls. “So it seemed very clear to me that I was a one-term congressman, and I was OK with that. I said, ‘I came here to do the right thing, and so be it.’ ”

So began an ordeal that would subject the young congressman to death threats, hostility from his colleagues and a deluge of angry letters that took his junior intern, 21-year-old Caribou native Susan Collins, and other staffers hours to wade through. In the crucible of the Washington summer, Cohen held his own, pursued the facts and ultimately was vindicated, when evidence emerged showing Nixon’s direct and criminal culpability in the cover-up of the break-in.

Now, 43 years later, Collins is a senator on the congressional committee spearheading an investigation into possible wrongdoing by another Republican president, and likely feeling many of the same pressures her mentor and former boss faced in the summer of 1974, when Nixon’s supporters condemned the Watergate probe as a Democratic trick to overturn the people’s will and his most stalwart opponents wanted him removed from office before all the evidence was in.

U.S. Rep. William S. Cohen on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., circa 1973. Photo by Dennis Brack/Black Star

The Maine Sunday Telegram spoke to Cohen and several of his former aides about what it was like to conduct a nonpartisan investigation of one’s own president in a partisan moment, what the consequences were and how today’s environment varies from that of the Watergate era. They tell a story about the role of both fate and character and of the relative dangers of our age, when established facts no longer take precedence over demonstrable falsehoods in the minds of the public and public figures.

“It’s almost difficult to remember that those events took place in a world without the accelerant of social media,” says longtime Cohen associate Bob Tyrer, who joined the congressman’s office straight out of high school after seeing him in the televised hearings. “It was slower and more deliberative, and while it was astonishing, there was the reassurance that the system was able to deal with it. It remains to be seen, because the president’s party controls Congress, whether congressional oversight will be as aggressive and dispassionate in the ways it needs to be.”

A simmering scandal

President Trump isn’t facing impeachment, but it’s hard to miss the parallels between Watergate and these first five months of 2017. There are questions about malfeasance during a presidential campaign, concerns about the firing of officials leading investigations into the same and debate about a suitable replacement for the FBI director. Senators are calling for the release of tapes the president may have made of key White House conversations, while some of the president’s supporters decry it all as an effort by the media and the establishment to overturn the results of an election.

Trump has been in office only a few months, but in the summer of 1974 the Watergate scandal had been brewing for two years. Nixon campaign aides had bugged phones at DNC headquarters and, on the night of June 17, 1972, five of their hirelings were arrested while breaking into the DNC offices to repair the wiretaps. New revelations trickled out in the coming months – including investigative reports by Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward – tying the Watergate “burglars” to senior White House officials.

In 1973, an independent investigator was appointed, and, during televised Senate committee hearings looking into the matter, aides revealed the existence of a secret taping system Nixon had installed in the White House. When investigator Archibald Cox subpoenaed the tapes, Nixon had him fired, along with two senior aides who themselves refused to carry out the firing. In response to a maelstrom of negative press reaction, Nixon famously proclaimed: “I’m not a crook.”

Into this crucible came a largely unsuspecting Bill Cohen, a Bangor High School basketball star who had served as Penobscot County attorney and as a Bangor city councilor and mayor before being elected to Congress in November 1972. “I didn’t really have any experience in a legislative body before coming to Washington,” he recalls. “The City Council and mayor – that was all nonpartisan, and I was always concerned about having consensus there. My whole training as a prosecutor and a lawyer was to just follow the evidence and pursue the truth. I might have been more cynical if I had had more legislative experience.”

Because of his interest in the law, Cohen asked for and received a seat on the Judiciary Committee, one of the least sought-after positions. “Seeking a seat on the Judiciary Committee was highly illogical for a freshman congressman,” says Tyrer, who joined Cohen’s office in 1975 and has worked for him in various capacities ever since. “The issues involved in a normal session are all controversial – abortion, school prayer – which have zero positive impact on your constituency and the maximum possibility to annoy.”

Instead, Cohen and his committee colleagues confronted one of the most consequential decisions in congressional history: whether to pass articles of impeachment. “The very notion that you would consider moving to remove the president of the United States, a man I had voted for a short time before and had supported,” Cohen recalls. “I knew this would be the biggest trial-like case that I would ever have, so what I did was study the material and read and memorize everything in preparation.”

Months before his resignation, President Richard Nixon faces a televised event with The Associated Press Managing Editors at Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 18, 1973, where the beleaguered president felt obliged to say: “I’m not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got.” Associated Press

Going it alone

Cohen’s own staff was largely young, inexperienced, and hadn’t had time to win the trust of their boss with a high-stakes issue. “Don’t forget, he was a very junior member, and it takes 20 years to have any committee staff people who have any loyalty to you,” recalls Mike Hastings, who was a special assistant to Cohen at the time. “As the investigation heated up, Bill wanted to become his own expert, so he was spending more and more time in the bowels of the Rayburn Building, looking at the documents that were coming in, and we were seeing less and less of him.”

Harvard University law professor Richard Fallon was then Cohen’s press secretary. “I was 22 years old and had not even graduated from college yet,” he recalls. “It’s striking to me in retrospect how hugely junior his staff was, with no lawyers on it. My sense was that he just took those transcripts and went off by himself and pored over them so he could be as prepared as he could be for every set of questioning. He wrote all his Watergate speeches, and he handled almost all the national media stuff himself. My role was pretty much limited to cranking out press releases for the Maine media.”

The only “adult” on the staff who might have had input into the Watergate issues, several aides recalled, was Chief of Staff Tom Daffron, who had served as an aide to both Democratic and Republican members of Congress and would work with Cohen for nearly two decades. (He hired intern Susan Collins as a legislative aide in 1975 and she would serve Cohen for 12 years before embarking on her own career. She and Daffron married in 2012.)

“Cohen was just a beacon of courage and toughness,” Fallon adds. “Nobody pushed him or pulled him, and there were lots of people trying to push and pull him.”

Republican colleagues already distrusted Cohen, who in a flight of apolitical idealism had dressed down one of the most powerful and liked Republican congressmen, Minority Leader Gerald Ford of Michigan, during the latter’s hearing to be confirmed as vice president to replace Spiro Agnew. Ford had made light of Cohen’s question about Nixon having offered the FBI director’s position to a judge then presiding over the trial of one of the president’s associates; Cohen scolded him in a speech championing the need to have deeds speak louder than words, especially when the issue is influencing “the impartiality and neutrality of a presiding judge in one of the most historic cases of the decade.”

Cohen acknowledges he was out of line. “I was just a young whippersnapper, and Gerald was one of the most popular members of the Congress and had been there 20 or 25 years, so my colleagues were aghast,” he recalls. “You could say I did it out of idealism, but others might say naïveté. I thought, ‘Aren’t we all here for the same reason, to pass legislation and get things done?’ And what I found was that politics was much more hard-edged and cynical in Washington” than it had been in Bangor.

Hate mail and death threats

On March 15, 1973, President Nixon speaks to reporters at the White House. He would resign less than a year and a half later. Associated Press/Charlie Tasnadi

As the impeachment hearings got underway, the national spotlight shone on every statement and appearance Cohen made, and his failure to join in an unqualified defense of the president made him very unpopular with party stalwarts. He started receiving letters containing nickels and dimes – a reference to the apostle Judas’ betrayal of Jesus for “thirty pieces of silver” – or small stones (a mute accusation that he was proverbially casting the first one). One Nixon supporter memorably wrote to declare “may a thousand camels relieve themselves in your drinking water.”

There were death threats against him and his children. At one point a bomb threat forced the committee to evacuate its quarters. Many of his Republican colleagues were furious that he wasn’t being a team player.

On one occasion, Cohen charged out onto D Street after making a tough committee vote, seething with anger. “Like some Rambo character, I had been firing mortal thoughts in a wide arc of outrage at everyone in sight” in the committee room, he later recalled in a memoir. “I did not doubt that I had cast the ‘right’ vote that night. But I knew intuitively that I had crossed a line that would define the rest of my career in Congress – which at the moment I believed would be of limited duration.” Symbolically, when he turned to re-enter the Longworth Building, he discovered the door had locked behind him.

Then, on July 28, he and five other Republican members of the committee voted with the Democratic majority to draw up articles of impeachment. “I would never compromise what I think is the right thing to do for the sake of an office; it’s just not that important,” he told the Bangor Daily News at the time. “Only time will tell if the people will accept that judgment.”

Then, a few days later, another tape emerged – the “smoking gun” tape proving Nixon had been deeply involved in the cover-up of the Watergate burglary and had lied to the American people. Nixon was forced to resign.

“Suddenly there was a switch in the people who had been defending the president,” he recalls. “That’s when people back in Maine, Republicans, started to turn around and said, ‘We were wrong, and you were right, and we’ll support this.’ ”

Cohen was re-elected handily that fall, and went on to serve three terms in the U.S. Senate and as Democratic President Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Defense.

“Watergate changed everything,” says Hastings, who later worked for Sen. George Mitchell. “The position he took turned out for the best in terms of his future career, and he went into the Senate as somebody who was bipartisan and willing to accomplish things legislatively.”

A Factless, more dangerous time

Now his former intern, Collins, is the most moderate Republican on an investigative panel whose findings might one day result in calls for impeachment, and serves alongside Sen. Angus King, who was also on Capitol Hill in the summer of 1974, serving as a junior aide to Maine Sen. William Hathaway, whom Cohen successfully challenged in 1978. And Cohen thinks the pressures on them are in many ways even greater.

“Today, by virtue of what President Trump has done by accusing the media of lying and being corrupt and untrustworthy is to have fed the notion that nothing is the truth, that there are alternative facts, as (Trump spokeswoman) Kellyanne Conway says,” Cohen says. “Then it’s not facts, but just who do you believe. And that’s a very dangerous world.”

“That makes it much more difficult for people in office to say, ‘I am seeking for the truth and am getting the facts’ when you have an administration that has alternate facts,” he says. “You can have alternative interpretations of the facts but not alternate facts.”

Colin Woodard can be contacted at:

cwoodard@pressherald.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/bill-cohens-lessons-from-watergate/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/1203077_78583-AP_740725069.jpgIn this photo of July 25, 1974, U.S. Rep. William Cohen, R-Maine, addresses the question of impeachment against President Richard Nixon during a debate by the House Judiciary Committee in Washington. Cohen's commitment to "follow the evidence and pursue the truth" initially put him at odds with his own party, his colleagues and his constituents. In the moment, he said: "Only time will tell."Sun, 28 May 2017 14:29:15 +0000
As allure of Latin wanes, new teaching methods focus on fun http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/as-allure-of-latin-wanes-new-teaching-methods-focus-on-fun/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/as-allure-of-latin-wanes-new-teaching-methods-focus-on-fun/#respond Sun, 28 May 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1203099 When she started teaching Latin 40 years ago, Patty Mullis used to drill her students on grammar and structure.

These days, Mullis and other Latin teachers are using new teaching methods to keep the “dead language” from languishing in the classroom.

“I tell the kids, Latin is everywhere you look! Medical terms, legal terms, even Harry Potter spells!” Mullis said, beaming after cheering on the Nokomis Regional High School Latin students in a muddy tug of war at the Maine Junior Classical League spring convention last week.

“Teaching at first was all geared to grammar and we’d bring in the mythology and culture to keep the kids from going crazy,” Mullis said. Today, students read original works in Latin, recite the poetry and study the political and cultural history of the Roman Empire.

Gardiner Area High School freshman Kiersten Weed, in helmet, appears to enjoy her role in a chariot race at the Maine Junior Classical League event. Staff photo by Gregory Rec

But even while Latin enthusiasts find new ways to teach and learn a dead language, there are signs that interest in it is waning.

There’s been a 16 percent drop in the number of Maine students taking the National Latin Exam over the last five years, to 888 students in 2017, from 1,059 in 2013. From 2012 to 2016, the number of Maine students taking the AP Latin exam dropped 39 percent, from 84 students to 51.

Even Cheverus High School in Portland, the last Jesuit school in northern New England, is dropping its Latin program next fall. It will not offer Latin to incoming freshmen and current students will finish out their Latin studies online.

“We have seen a sharp decrease in our enrollment in our Latin classes,” Cheverus spokeswoman Bethany Hanley said. “Education evolves.”

Hanley said the school still valued Latin, but “we also have to be forward thinking about global leaders, and the demand now is for Spanish and French.”

GENUINE CAMARADERIE AROUND LATIN

Latin was once a required core subject in many schools, but there are conflicting signs about how well it’s doing in Maine today, and the state doesn’t track the number of students taking a particular language.

Some schools, even in rural areas like Nokomis, have robust Latin programs with multiple courses and AP courses available. The Maine Junior Classical League convention drew more than 400 students from 16 schools last fall, and 350 attended the spring convention, a two-day event held earlier this month at Camp Mechuwana in Winthrop.

Jay Ketner, the language specialist at the Department of Education, said he thinks Latin popularity depends on the local district’s priorities. If there is a strong program and teacher, it thrives. If a Latin teacher retires, or the district wants to redirect its resources to modern languages such as Mandarin or Arabic, it could threaten a Latin program, even if students are still interested.

“It’s not necessarily from a lack of interest,” he said. “And where it’s growing, I think it’s very actively growing.”

Teachers, parents and teachers agree that there are some core reasons to take Latin: It’s helpful for students planning to go into law or medicine. It gives students a greater command of English and other languages once they understand the root Latin words. For some, it’s a family tradition.

At the MJCL spring convention, several students had one more reason – because it’s fun.

Hampden Academy senior Dalton Adams releases a catapult during a competition at the Maine Junior Classical League Spring Convention at Camp Mechuwana in Winthrop on Tuesday, May 16, 2017. (Staff Photo by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer) Staff photo by Gregory Rec

Schools with Latin classes frequently have Latin clubs, and if they are part of the Maine Junior Classical League, a whole culture evolves around building the chariots and catapults, figuring out the best costumes for “spirit” – a procession and competition – and practicing together for “certamen,” a “Jeopardy”-like quiz with questions that ask things like when Vesuvius erupted or who was the first Roman king with an Etruscan background.

Students build a genuine camaraderie in the buildup to the convention, and from meeting up with Latin students statewide at MJCL events.

It all makes Latin much more than a classroom experience.

“Latin is a really hard language but MJCL makes it really fun. You meet a lot of people,” said Abigail Mosson, a senior at Sacopee Valley High School who plans to teach math after college. She talks or texts almost every day with her friend Colby Kreider, a senior from Nokomis High School and president of the MJCL, who lives more than 100 miles away.

“JCL shows the fun side, not just the boring stuff,” said Kreider, who is taking AP Latin this year, and will attend the University of Maine as a psychology major. As they talk in a loose huddle with a half-dozen other students, the crowd behind them roars as another wave of chariot races begin.

“I don’t know why anyone would take Latin without the JCL,” said Dayna Cyr-Parker, 18, a senior at Sacopee Valley High School. An athlete, she’s doing the shotput in the next day’s Olympics competition.

Plus, the students agree, Latin looks good on the transcript: “Colleges know it’s intense,” Kreider said, describing the hard work of translating hundreds of lines of Latin poetry and memorizing passages. “The grammar makes you want to cry.”

But he likes the idea that he’s part of a larger, storied tradition.

“I know that JFK and Clinton had to memorize and translate the same lines,” he said, of past presidents John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton. “It’s so cool that you’re translating what former presidents had to translate.” But Kreider insists Latin students aren’t just “nerds.”

“People think it’s just nerds but you have your jocks here, and artists,” he said. Dayna jumps in – “The Olympics! It’s cutthroat!” – and the group dissolves into laughter.

Sage Landry, a senior at Leavitt High School and member of the school’s Latin Club, looks over her shoulder while clapping and chanting during a general assembly at the Maine Junior Classical League Spring Convention at Camp Mechuwana in Winthrop on Tuesday, May 16, 2017. The latin on the back of the shirt worn by Karlee Barry, right, roughly translates to “Whatever you say in Latin sounds lofty.” Staff photo by Gregory Rec

A DEARTH OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE TEACHERS

Any decline in Latin offerings is also tied to a general decline in student enrollment; Maine’s K-12 enrollment has dropped 11 percent in the last 10 years, and teachers are getting older and more are retiring. Colleges, as part of their budget-trimming efforts, are cutting classics programs.

Couple that with a shortage of language teachers in general and persistent budget pressure in most districts, and some school boards are more willing to cut Latin or not renew a program if the teacher retires.

Mary Oches, who has been teaching Latin for 20 years at Erskine Academy, said all that has an effect on the teaching of the classics.

“We’re definitely seeing a shortage of teachers for any modern or classical language in Maine,” Oches said, noting that many teaching colleges are cutting their classics programs, including the University of Southern Maine. “It’s hard to find foreign language teachers of any language in Maine.”

But at Erskine, which offers six language courses despite having fewer than 600 students, they still get at least two or three students a year who want to attend because of the Latin program, she said.

“I think there is still quite a bit of interest in Latin,” said Oches.

On the first day of class, Oches said she likes to ask the students why they are taking Latin.

“Most of the students say, I want to go into a medical field, or biology or some other science. Some of them say, I want to be a lawyer,” said Oches. “They know there is going to be a connection.”

Mullis said parents and students have “always seen the value” in Latin.

“They can see it all around them,” she said. “In a perfect world, we’d all learn Latin.”

Paul Wlodkowski, an engineering professor at Maine Maritime Academy, said he loved taking Latin at Cony High School and is glad his son Roman is carrying on the tradition at John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor.

“The classics are extremely important,” said Wlodkowski, who was watching Roman compete in the chariot race. “I’m inspired to see all these kids continue with the classics.”

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

ngallagher@pressherald.com

Twitter: noelinmaine

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/as-allure-of-latin-wanes-new-teaching-methods-focus-on-fun/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/1203099_421291-201705016_latin_5.jpgGardiner Area High School freshman Kiersten Weed, in helmet, appears to enjoy her role in a chariot race at the Maine Junior Classical League event.Sat, 27 May 2017 20:56:09 +0000
Lawmakers say they’re trying to stop a casino developer from gaming the system http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/this-time-gambling-investors-luck-may-run-out/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/this-time-gambling-investors-luck-may-run-out/#respond Sun, 28 May 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1203107 The signature-gathering effort began around Election Day in 2015.

The petition asked whether Maine voters should support another casino, to be built in southern Maine. The wording of the initiative, which few signers likely looked at closely, was unusual. It said if the referendum passed, the Maine Gambling Control Board could accept applications for a casino license, but qualifying applications could only come “from an entity that owned in 2003 at least 51 percent of an entity licensed to operate a commercial track in Penobscot County.”

The sole person who fit that definition was Shawn Scott, a former Las Vegas businessman who now calls the Northern Mariana Islands home.

Scott is the enigmatic figure behind Maine’s first successful gambling initiative, Hollywood Slots in Bangor. Despite numerous investments across the country, mostly in casinos, that have left a trail of lawsuits and allegations of deceptive practices, Scott has emerged from each mostly unscathed.

After 14 years away from Maine, the state that helped him turn a massive profit, Scott has returned to see if he can do it again. This time, his sister, Lisa Scott of Miami, has been the public face while he has stayed in the background.

The effort got off to a rocky start. Their first petition effort failed: More than half the signatures gathered were invalid, and there were complaints of aggressive tactics. But they tried again late last year, using the casino referendum to promise jobs and much needed state revenue for items such as education.

The petition is now headed for the November ballot.

But although the tactic worked in 2003, this time around lawmakers from both parties have grown concerned about Scott’s latest casino initiative and are considering unprecedented, legally tricky action to avoid a referendum.

“Given what we know so far, it certainly seems as though they are trying to take advantage of Mainers,” said Sen. Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon Falls, co-chairman of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee. “We’re going to look at all of our options to prevent that from happening and protect Maine people.”

STAYING OUT OF THE SPOTLIGHT

Scott has been denied casino licenses several times before, but that hasn’t deterred him. In each case, he sold the facility and moved on.

That’s what happened in Bangor. Scott never stuck around to see Hollywood Slots built. He sold the racetrack and the rights to a casino to Penn National Gaming for $51 million amid an investigation by state regulators that uncovered a string of lawsuits, questionable financial practices and allegations of fraud. His share of the deal was about $30 million, a good return on his initial $2.5 million investment.

Scott has used that playbook for much of his career: Buy a struggling facility, push to add gambling through the citizen initiative process and then leave town after regulators start digging into his past.

While his practices are well-documented, he has operated mostly out of the public spotlight. Most lawmakers and others who have been involved in casino discussions, both now and 14 years ago, say they have never met him and know him only by reputation. Those who have worked for him – either directly or with a layer or two of lawyers and lobbyists in between – avoid saying anything about him.

“One of the difficulties is these people involved have hundreds of shell corporations. It’s hard to tell who is really behind it and I think that veil of secrecy exists to protect themselves,” said Rep. Louis Luchini, D-Ellsworth, the other co-chair of the Veterans and Legal Services Committee.

One thing is clear: Scott is a savvy and successful developer who makes money even amid scandal.

“He’s a very mysterious guy but what he’s trying to do now, it’s not like we haven’t seen it before,” said Dennis Bailey, a longtime political operative in Maine who for many years led an anti-gambling group called CasinosNo! “This is his thing. He comes in with a scorched earth campaign to get a casino question on the ballot and then flips it once it passes.”

Neither Shawn nor Lisa Scott responded to multiple phone messages and emails for this story.

Cheryl Timberlake, treasurer for the referendum’s ballot question committee, Horseracing Jobs Fairness, and Dan Riley, a lobbyist recently hired by the committee, also did not return calls or emails.

The phone number listed on the committee’s registration form to the Maine Ethics Commission is invalid. It belongs to a woman named Gladys, who said she had no idea who Shawn or Lisa Scott were.

Much of what is known publicly about Shawn Scott comes from investigative reports and lawsuits – and there have been plenty of both.

A report by investigators in Louisiana, where he invested in the late 1990s, indicated he attended high school in Riverside, California. He has a bachelor’s degree in psychobiology from the University of California at Riverside and a master’s in biology from California State University-San Bernardino. After college, he joined his family’s real estate company.

His first venture into gambling came in 1994 in Henderson, Nevada, a Las Vegas suburb, where he received a restricted license to operate a struggling casino, but withdrew an application for a full license after the Nevada Gaming Control Board questioned his accounting practices. He later sold the facility.

He then went to Louisiana, where he purchased Delta Downs, a struggling racetrack, for $10 million, and successfully pushed to add slot machines – a tactic he would later use in Maine.

After local voters approved the slot machine referendum, though, the state’s racing commission started to question his finances. They didn’t get many answers and what they did get raised more questions, including several tax liens and lawsuits alleging nonpayment for services.

But Scott never stuck around to answer those questions. He sold the track in 2001 for $130 million to Boyd Gaming, which invested heavily in approving the facility, including adding a hotel.

Although the track was damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it has been a success and the slot machines have provided much needed revenue.

Despite the scrutiny, Scott’s sale of Delta Downs made him a name in the gaming industry. In 2002, he used some of the proceeds to buy a majority stake in another failing racetrack, Vernon Downs in upstate New York, where a new law had recently been approved to allow slot machines.

Scott couldn’t get a license to operate, though. A background check by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board raised concerns about the origin of his money and who his financial partners were. He also lied on the application about whether he had been denied licenses elsewhere. They echoed previous concerns in Nevada, where an investigator referred to Scott’s accounting practices as “smoke and mirrors” because he couldn’t account for where the money was coming from or where it was going.

Scott appealed the board’s decision but ended up selling his interest in Vernon Downs in 2004.

The other shareholders sued Scott, alleging mismanagement. The case was eventually dismissed.

At the same time he was trying to bring slot machines to New York, Scott, through his company Capital Seven, purchased a controlling stake in the Bangor Historic Raceway at Bass Park, another facility that had seen better days.

He spent $1 million to acquire a majority stake and then spent $1.5 million on a statewide referendum campaign, pitching the initiative as a way to bring badly needed jobs and tax revenue to a struggling area. He said it could save the state’s storied horse racing industry.

Maine had rejected previous gambling initiatives at the polls before, but Scott’s timing proved fortuitous.

A HARD LOOK AT SCOTT’S PAST

On the November 2003 ballot in Maine, there were two gambling-related citizen initiatives, one to allow the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot Indian tribes to jointly operate a casino in Sanford, the other to allow slot machines at horse racing tracks. In Maine, that meant Bangor and Scarborough Downs.

Voters overwhelmingly rejected the tribal initiative, with 67 percent opposed, but the other question passed with 52 percent support.

Bailey, who was involved in the opposition through his group CasinosNo!, said the referendum led by Scott flew under the radar.

“We had spent a lot of resources trying to defeat Sanford, which we viewed as the bigger threat,” he said. “In hindsight, we should have paid more attention to (Scott).”

The way that question was written required both statewide and local approval for slot machines. Bangor gave it. Scarborough did not. Scott, ironically, helped fund the campaign to defeat the local initiative there.

Penn National, the company that ended up purchasing the Bangor track from Scott, sued him for defamation, alleging that an ad in a weekly paper, paid for by Scott’s political action committee, claimed Penn National had been charged with violating federal laws for money-laundering. The case actually involved another gaming company.

The treasurer for Scott’s campaign at the time was Kathleen Newman, now Gov. Paul LePage’s deputy chief of staff. Newman did not respond to requests for comment.

Scarborough Downs later filed a lawsuit against Scott, claiming he undermined the track’s efforts to get slot machines so he could have a monopoly in Bangor. The suit also accused Scott of creating a sham political action committee and reneging on an agreement about how much time the town would have to set up its own local vote.

After the vote, Scott applied for the slots license in Bangor. That’s when regulators began to look closer at his past, culminating in a 36-page report by former Maine Harness Racing Commission executive director Henry Jackson. It’s one of the most comprehensive looks at Scott’s dealings going back to the 1990s. Scott fought against its release and for good reason: It does not paint him in a favorable light.

Shawn Scott, center, confers with attorneys at a hearing of the Maine Harness Racing Commission at the Augusta Civic Center in December 2003. While his practices are publicly well-documented, Scott has operated mostly out of the spotlight. “One of the difficulties,” says Rep. Louis Luchini, D-Ellsworth, “is … it’s hard to tell who is really behind (the casino effort) and I think that veil of secrecy exists to protect themselves.” Staff photo by Gordon Chibroski

Jackson’s investigation, aided by two assistant attorney generals and an accountant, was exhaustive. It included scrutiny of 40,000 pages of documents from four states. It was also incomplete.

Jackson said in 2004 that he had “a heck of a time” getting Scott to give up information.

What Maine investigators did find, though, was concerning.

“Mr. Scott and his associated companies have not provided many of the documents requested during the course of this investigation,” the report stated. “It is reported that he demonstrated a similar lack of cooperation during investigations conducted by the New York Racing and Wagering Board and the Louisiana State Police.”

Jackson concluded that many of Scott’s companies “have demonstrated sloppy, if not irresponsible, financial management and accounting practices over several years.”

Another major area of concern were Scott’s business associates, particularly Hoolae Paoa, who has a lengthy criminal history that included convictions for assault and felony theft. Paoa was the CEO of Scott’s firm Capital Seven and also served as vice president of Bangor Historic Track.

It was Paoa, not Scott, who spent more time in Bangor back in 2003 but Scott had a local ally he paid to help smooth things over – David Nealley, a Bangor city councilor.

Other councilors questioned Nealley about his connection to Scott at the time, and some even tried to petition to overturn the decision. It didn’t work. Nealley did not respond to requests for comment.

Maine regulators did not intend to issue him a license, so Scott looked for a buyer. He found Penn National Gaming, a gambling industry leader, and sold his stake.

Penn National was granted a license and developed Maine’s first casino, Hollywood Slots, which has turned into an unqualified success. Bangor leaders who loathed the idea of doing business with Scott warmed to Penn National.

Today, the casino offers 1,000 slot machines, dozens of table games and a hotel. The city of Bangor leveraged its share of casino proceeds to finance the construction of a new arena and conference center that sits directly across the street from the casino.

MORE LICENSING FIGHTS

Even though he made a profit from the Bangor sale, the licensing fight damaged him.

In 2004, Scott was involved with a citizen initiative to bring a slot machine parlor to Washington, D.C. Business partners distanced themselves from Scott’s involvement after officials there started to look into his past.

John Ray, a former member of the D.C. Council, told The Washington Post that after doing due diligence on Scott’s background, “We did not like what we saw on Shawn and thought he would not be a good partner.”

The effort failed after the city’s election board found forged signatures and other irregularities.

Also in 2004, Scott was involved with a citizen initiative to bring slots to Idaho. That failed for lack of signatures, but election clerks also found evidence of forged signatures.

As lawsuits started to pile up, Scott, through his company Bridge Capital, shifted his focus to overseas developments.

According to its website, the company has clients in the Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos and specializes in high-risk investments.

A casino owned by Scott and associates in Laos was seized by the government in 2015 after allegations of corruption. It has since been sold.

Even as he looked for investment opportunities overseas, Scott was still active in the U.S., particularly in casinos and racetracks.

In November, the Boston Globe reported that Scott was one of the investors in a $3.2 million campaign to open a slots parlor near Suffolk Downs racetrack in Massachusetts.

Documents filed with the state revised an earlier filing to show that Scott has been a major funder of the campaign since its earliest days, a fact contradicted by promoters’ claims.

The main developer, Eugene McCain, denied that Scott was involved in the effort, even though Scott and Paoa had done business with him before, and had helped him scout properties.

McCain also hired Nealley as a casino advocate. Nealley appeared in two debates, speaking mostly about his experiences in Bangor, where Hollywood Slots has been an economic driver.

Massachusetts last year fined the group pushing for the slots parlor $125,000 for violating campaign disclosure laws – similar allegations to the ones facing the committee here in Maine.

Luchini said lawsuits and fines and ethical questions appear to be part of the cost of doing business for Scott and his associates.

A DRASTIC OPTION

While his connection to the Massachusetts casino effort is unclear, Scott also returned to Maine in late 2015.

Signature gatherers fanned out on Election Day 2015 and in the following weeks to gather signatures. Many were accused of using misleading tactics.

In February 2016, more than 91,000 signatures were turned in to the Secretary of State’s office – far more than the roughly 61,000 needed. Less than half were valid. Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap called them a “mess.”

The wording of the referendum also raised eyebrows because it clearly benefitted only Scott.

Undeterred, Scott continued to push for signatures. Early this year, supporters turned in enough valid signatures to get a question on the ballot, even as the committee behind the effort has been plagued with fraud allegations.

There had been rumors that Scott might try to locate a new casino at Scarborough Downs. His company was in talks to buy the racetrack – the same company that he once sued and that once sued him – but a deal never materialized.

Although the ballot initiative as written allows only Scott or his associates to build a casino, his sister Lisa Scott has emerged as the face of the latest effort.

Late last month, she tried to allay lawmakers’ concerns. After amending the finance reports for the ballot question committee, Lisa Scott said they were an honest mistake.

“(The committee) did not understand the statute at issue to require Lisa Scott to identify the original sources for contributions made to her … as such all the monies were identified as coming from Lisa Scott,” the committee wrote in a statement, two days after lawmakers asked the ethics commission to investigate the committee’s finances.

Scott also said her family was committed “to bringing tens of millions of dollars in new revenues for education, health care and the horse-racing industry, as well as nearly a thousand new jobs to Maine.”

So far, about $4.3 million in donations has been collected and spent, much of it in the signature-gathering needed to place the question on the November ballot.

The latest campaign filing shows the committee had just under $700,000 left.

But as Lisa Scott was trying to be more transparent, a Maine lobbyist hired to promote the casino muddied the waters. Daniel Riley, who told lawmakers in March that he was working for Bridge Capital, the Saipan-based company owned by Shawn Scott, said this month in a letter to lawmakers that he’s actually working for a different company, Universal Capital, and doesn’t know who owns it.

Riley did not respond to requests for comment, but the revelation only frustrated lawmakers further.

Luchini and Mason are united in opposition to the referendum and are exploring all options – some unprecedented – to stop it.

“This casino case reflects poorly on the citizens’ initiative process,” Luchini said. “It essentially allows one wealthy person to pay to put a law on the books that helps them.”

They have a few options:

They could do nothing and hope the measure fails on its own.

They could pass what is known as a competing measure, which would put another question on the ballot and force voters to choose between the two.

One drastic option, one lawmakers acknowledged they are strongly considering, would be to pass a bill in the Legislature authorizing a casino in southern Maine. That would effectively nullify the referendum question. They could then repeal the bill they just passed.

Luchini and Mason admitted there is no precedent for the pass-and-repeal option but said drastic measures may be needed to stop Scott’s efforts.

“This ballot question committee has been so fraudulent from beginning to end,” Luchini said. “They have shown a blatant disregard for Maine laws and, frankly, should know better.”

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

erussell@pressherald.com

Twitter: PPHEricRussell

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/28/this-time-gambling-investors-luck-may-run-out/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/1203107_174879-121603Harness1.jpgShawn Scott, center, confers with attorneys at a hearing of the Maine Harness Racing Commission at the Augusta Civic Center in December 2003. While his practices are publicly well-documented, Scott has operated mostly out of the spotlight. "One of the difficulties," says Rep. Louis Luchini, D-Ellsworth, "is ... it's hard to tell who is really behind (the casino effort) and I think that veil of secrecy exists to protect themselves."Sun, 28 May 2017 14:00:11 +0000
Identities released of prisoners whose sentences LePage commuted http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/27/identities-of-commuted-prisoners-released/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/27/identities-of-commuted-prisoners-released/#respond Sun, 28 May 2017 01:00:24 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/27/identities-of-commuted-prisoners-released/ A Belfast attorney who bilked two elderly clients out of almost $500,000 is out of jail early thanks to Gov. Paul LePage.

William Dawson, 63, was one of 17 prisoners released Friday after LePage granted them conditional commutations that the Department of Corrections said is linked to his attempt to close a minimum security prison in Machiasport.

Corrections Commissioner Joseph Fitzpatrick on Saturday confirmed the names of the released prisoners, who were convicted of nonviolent crimes such as burglary, theft or drug possession.

“Governor LePage was extremely mindful of who he would commute,” Fitzpatrick said. “These are all individuals that pose little risk to the public.”

The commutations shaved as little as 35 days off a Carmel man’s 18-month theft sentence, and as much as 382 days off a Rockland man’s two-year sentence for operating a vehicle after repeated license revocations, based on a review of online Department of Corrections records. Combined, LePage’s commutations took more than seven years of jail time off the 17 prisoners’ sentences.

Dawson appears to be the highest profile prisoner. The now-disbarred attorney pleaded guilty in March 2016 to two counts of felony theft and three counts of failing to pay state income taxes. He was sentenced to five years in prison with all but 30 months suspended. He was due to be released in February 2018.

Dawson regularly wrote out large checks to himself from the bank accounts of 85-year-old Veronica Pendleton and 97-year-old Doris Schmidt, who were both in a nursing home that Dawson had placed them in, according to records. Both women have since died.

In a statement Friday, LePage characterized the commutations as a fiscally responsible move that will help low-risk offenders transition into jobs, calling them a way to “build our workforce and fill positions that have been sitting vacant.” The commutations come with conditions, including a strict curfew, the prohibition of any new criminal conduct, and probation-like supervision.

Any victims have been informed of the early release of the prisoners, if they had requested notification at the time of sentencing, Fitzpatrick said.

The following prisoners have been released early, according to Fitzpatrick:

Allyn White, 29, of Brewer – 69 days off a 9-month sentence for theft

Christopher Brosius, 29, of Sanford – 46 days off a 16-month sentence for burglary

Gage Small, 26, of Carmel – 35 days off an 18-month sentence for theft and forgery

Jacob Hale, 21, of Hancock – 91 days off a 2-year sentence for burglary

Jason Aldridge, 44, of Lewiston – 287 days off a 16-month sentence for unlawful possession of an unscheduled drug

Jesse Arsenault, 30, of Peru – 91 days off a 1-year sentence for theft and burglary

Joel Curley, 55, of Newcastle – 286 days off a 2-year sentence for operating a vehicle after a habitual offender revocation

John Auclair, 31, of Bangor – 224 days off a 2-year sentence for operating a vehicle after a habitual offender revocation

Kenneth MacDougall, 48, of Greenbush – 50 days off a 9-month sentence for operating a vehicle after a habitual offender revocation

Kerry Grenier, 44, of Waterville – 112 days off an 18-month sentence for operating a vehicle after a habitual offender revocation

Michael Godbout, 46, of Augusta – 111 days off a 10-month sentence for theft

Richard Hodge, 26, of Norway – 134 days off a 10-month sentence for burglary

Shawn Willette, 43, of Rockland – 382 days off a 2-year sentence for operating a vehicle after a habitual offender revocation

Steven Francis, 58, of Monson – 196 days off 1-year sentence for operating a vehicle after a habitual offender revocation

Timothy O’Neill, 32, – 175 days off an 18-month sentence for operating a vehicle after a habitual offender revocation

Travis Wakefield, 27, of Lyman – 65 days off a 16-month sentence for theft

William Dawson, 63, of Belfast – 277 days off a 30-month sentence for theft

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/27/identities-of-commuted-prisoners-released/feed/ 0 Sat, 27 May 2017 22:19:22 +0000
Schedule of Memorial Day parades, ceremonies http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/27/memorial-day-holiday-events/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/27/memorial-day-holiday-events/#respond Sun, 28 May 2017 00:21:06 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/27/memorial-day-holiday-events/ MONDAY

Biddeford-Saco: A ceremony and parade begins with an opening ceremony at 10 a.m. at Veterans Memorial Park on the corner of Alfred and Pool streets in Biddeford, with guest speaker U.S. Sen. Angus King. The parade proceeds to Main Street, then Saco’s Main Street.

Brunswick-Topsham: A parade and ceremony begins at 8:30 a.m. with an observance on the plaza, with a parade immediately following and proceeding down Main Street in Topsham, across the Frank J. Woods Bridge, where there will be a wreath laying. The parade ends at the gazebo on the Brunswick mall. The grand marshal is Alice Johnson, a World War II Navy veteran, and speaker is Tim Martel, who served in the Navy from 1963-1988 as a naval flight officer.

Cape Elizabeth: A parade starts at 9 a.m. at the intersection of Fowler and Ocean House roads, continues north on Ocean House Road, turns left onto Scott Dyer Road and ends at the War Veterans Memorial, where there will be a ceremony and wreath laying. Parade grand marshals will be Frances Jordan Banks, an Army nurse during World War II, and Ernest Brien, an infantryman who saw combat in World War II and Korea.

Cumberland: Parade along Main Street starts at 10 a.m. at Tuttle Road and ends with a ceremony at the Veterans Monument. The guest speaker will be Brig. Gen. Gerald Bolduc. The event will be held in the Greely High School gym in case of rain. In addition, there will be a fun run at 8 a.m. and a 5K road race at 8:30.

Durham: Parade begins at 10 a.m. at Davis Road and runs south on Royalsborough Road (Route 136) to the back entrance of the Durham Community School. Stops will be made at the gazebo and at Sawyer Cemetery.

Falmouth: Parade and ceremony start at 10 a.m. from American Legion Post, 65 Depot Road, and proceed to Foreside Road. The ceremony will be held at Pine Grove Park.

Freeport: The parade will leave Holbrook Street at 9:30 a.m., with the ceremony at the town park on Bow Street at 10 a.m.

Gorham: Parade begins at 11 a.m. at the Village School and ends at Eastern Cemetery on Johnson Road.

Kennebunk: A band concert will be held on the steps of Town Hall at 1:30 p.m. The parade down Main Street will begin at 2 p.m. from the fire station at Town Hall and proceed across the Mousam River Bridge up High Street.

Kennebunkport: Parade in Dock Square will start at 9:30 a.m. on Temple Street and wind along Spring Street and down Western Avenue to Cooper’s Corner in Kennebunk and back. A 21-gun salute will be held at the Mathew Lanigan Bridge.

Old Orchard Beach: Parade begins at 1 p.m. by the police station on E. Emerson Cummings Boulevard, goes down Saco Avenue, turns right on Old Orchard Street and right onto First Street and ends at 2 p.m. with a ceremony in Veterans Memorial Park.

Portland: Parade begins at 10:30 a.m. at Longfellow Square, with the route going down Congress Street and ending at Monument Square about 11 a.m. with a wreath laying ceremony and speeches. The event is sponsored by the city and the Harold T. Andrews Post 17, American Legion. Formation for marchers begins at 9:30 a.m.

Portland: Friends of Evergreen’s fourth annual commemoration begins with a 2 p.m. parade along Stevens Avenue starting at Longfellow School and proceeding to Evergreen Cemetery gate near the chapel. The program will be held in the cemetery, followed by a talk by local historian Herb Adams.

Sanford: Parade begins with the annual water ceremony at 9:30 a.m. at Number One Pond, then travels up Gowen Park Drive, onto Main Street to Central Park, where a commemoration ceremony will be held.

Scarborough: Parade begins at 10 a.m. at Scarborough High School and ending with a service at the Maine Veterans Home at 11 a.m., sponsored by American Legion Post 76. Parade participants should form behind Scarborough High at 9:30 a.m. The parade route will be on Route 1 to the Veterans Home. The American Legion will also hold services at local cemeteries starting at 8 a.m. at Black Point, Dunstan and Blue Point. The bus leaves the Veterans Home at 42 Manson Libby Road at 7:45 a.m.

South Portland: The parade begins at 10:30 a.m. near the Southern Maine Community College campus and continues down Broadway to the Veterans Memorial Monument at Mill Creek Park and will be followed by a short ceremony. At noon there will be a wreath-laying ceremony at the public boat landing adjacent to Bug Light Park.

Westbrook: Events begin at 8 a.m. with a remembrance ceremony at Veterans Circle and the Stephen W. Manchester Gravesite at Woodlawn Cemetery on Stroudwater Street. The parade begins at 10 a.m. and travels along Main Street from Longfellow Street to Riverbank Park, where ceremonies are scheduled for 10:30 a.m.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/27/memorial-day-holiday-events/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/flag.jpgMon, 29 May 2017 08:52:24 +0000
Somerset County’s Big Six forest faces a big financial deadline http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/27/big-six-forest-faces-a-big-financial-deadline/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/27/big-six-forest-faces-a-big-financial-deadline/#respond Sat, 27 May 2017 23:05:12 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/27/big-six-forest-faces-a-big-financial-deadline/ Deep in the reaches of the Big Six Forest, a 23,600-acre wilderness spread along the northern border separating Somerset County and Canada, lies one of Maine’s most productive maple sugar bushes.

Many of the maple trees in Big Six’s 4,000-acre grove are well over 100 years old and have been tapped for generations by eight of Maine’s largest maple syrup producers. All of the Big Six operations are run by Canadian producers who, in many cases, handed down knowledge and expertise of the syruping industry through generations.

But now the future of Big Six’s maple syrup producers – and with them the industry at large – hangs in the balance as a years-long attempt to save the forest runs up against its private landowner’s 2018 deadline to either secure roughly $5.7 million in conservation easement funds to help pay down his mortgage, or start cutting Big Six’s maples.

Losing that maple production could have a damaging effect on the state’s growing maple industry, said Kathryn Hopkins of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, who added that neither she nor the extension has a position on the Big Six conservation deal. Maine relies on Big Six producers to maintain its position as the third-largest producer in the country.

“I think the thing that Mainers need to remember is that (the industry) is growing every year and gaining in popularity with the public every year,” Hopkins said.

Like most of Maine’s large-scale maple syrup operations, Big Six’s syrup producers lease, rather than own, their 330,000 taps. While the forest land has changed hands multiple times over the decades, it was purchased most recently by Paul Fortin, a Madison businessman, who bought the tract in 2012 with the intention of cutting the maples and shipping them to a chip factory he owns 10 miles up the road in Saint-Zacharie, Quebec.

When officials in Gov. Paul LePage’s administration and members of the state’s Maple Task Force Study Group learned of Fortin’s plans for the sugar bush, they intervened, asking if he would consider other options. Fortin and the state agreed on a conservation easement and he proposed bringing in the Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit conservation group that spearheads preservation projects around the country, to facilitate the project.

If funded, the easement agreement would prohibit in perpetuity any subdivision or development of the forest. Unique to this project, the easement would preserve the 4,000-acre sugar bush.

Critics of the deal say it amounts to a taxpayer-funded payoff of a private landowner. Big Six is relatively inaccessible to Maine’s recreationalists, they point out.

After a failed first attempt, the Trust for Public Land secured $3.8 million toward the easement through the federal Forest Legacy program.

The Trust for Public Land now plans to apply to the Land for Maine’s Future, a state-funded preservation board, for additional funding to help fill the gap.

Kate McCormick can be contacted at 861-9218 or at:

kmccormick@centralmaine.com

Twitter: KateRMcCormick

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/27/big-six-forest-faces-a-big-financial-deadline/feed/ 0 Sat, 27 May 2017 20:29:35 +0000
Boating season gets off to slow start in Maine http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/27/boating-gets-off-to-cool-start/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/27/boating-gets-off-to-cool-start/#respond Sat, 27 May 2017 20:37:26 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/27/boating-gets-off-to-cool-start/ Dan Chadbourne surveyed the parking lot at the Saco city pier off Bay Avenue on Saturday and was discouraged by the lack of vehicles.

Chadbourne, Saco harbormaster and a full-time lobsterman, said the money generated by the parking meters supports the pier. But for the past few weeks, the rain and wind have kept boaters away.

“If nobody comes, we can’t fix anything,” Chadbourne said.

Memorial Day weekend is the traditional start to the boating season in Maine, but this year appears to be off to a slow start thanks to a month of rainstorms and cool temperatures. Although some marinas reported a brisk business over the weekend – several freshwater boatyards said they were too busy to talk to a reporter – saltwater harbormasters and marinas acknowledged a quiet Memorial Day weekend for the state’s 107,211 registered boats.

The water temperature off Portland was 47.8 degrees Saturday, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Sebago Lake State Park staff estimated the water temperature at between 55 to 60 degrees.

Chadbourne said boaters and fishermen haven’t been able to get out of the Saco River onto the high seas for two weeks. On Saturday, there were no charter boats out, there were only half the usual boats at their moorings, and the striped bass were not biting.

“The water looks like chocolate milk. Everything is about a month behind,” Chadbourne said.

Cathy Norton, manager at Kennebunkport Marina, said it has been too cold to go out on the ocean.

“We had customers who made the trip down from Yarmouth yesterday. They took water over the top of the boat. It is still nasty out there,” Norton said.

Kevin Battle, Portland harbormaster, said the bad weather has kept people from working on their boats to get them ready for launching, but he expects the season will soon heat up because gas prices are down, the economy is more agreeable and the warm weather will eventually arrive.

“There will be more people underway,” he said.

Port Harbor Marine in South Portland was busy Saturday. Cindy and Mike Snow were washing the hull of their 38-foot sailboat, the SURPRISE, before applying a fresh coat of paint.

“We are a little bit behind with all this rain. But that’s the weather in Maine,” Cindy Snow said.

Guy LaBranche of South Portland was waxing his motorboat, the Liluna. He said he wasn’t in any hurry to get her in the water because it won’t be consistently warm enough to go out for another few weeks.

“I have gotten ready earlier, but it wasn’t worth it,” LaBranche said.

But boaters on some rivers and lakes were out in full force Saturday, with some marinas too busy to talk.

“We are so busy I really don’t have a minute right now,” said David Martens, manager of Port Harbor Marine in Raymond.

Sam Minervino of Long Beach Marina in Sebago said the upside to the cold weather is great fishing conditions.

He said the salmon and trout stay near the surface when it is this cold. He said there are more fish, because the big bay never froze over the winter so there were fewer ice fishermen.

Even Chadbourne, the Saco harbormaster, said it is hard to be discouraged for too long. He said he hopes the bad weather this spring will be balanced out by a great summer and fall.

“I am hoping for a September and October that is pretty stellar,” Chadbourne said.

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

bquimby@pressherald.com

Twitter: QuimbyBeth

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/27/boating-gets-off-to-cool-start/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/1202955_988600-20170527_boating_1.jpgChris Lloyd pulls in his boat to pick up his father Don Lloyd at the Mousam Lake launch in Shapleigh on Saturday, where a nice start to Memorial Day weekend had vessels out in number.Sat, 27 May 2017 19:02:04 +0000
In Big Six conservation deal, one-quarter of Maine maple syrup output at stake http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/27/big-six-conservation-deal-one-quarter-maine-maple-syrup-output-stake/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/27/big-six-conservation-deal-one-quarter-maine-maple-syrup-output-stake/#respond Sat, 27 May 2017 20:14:52 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1203084 Deep in the reaches of the Big Six Forest, a 23,600-acre wilderness spread along the northern border separating Somerset County and Canada, lies one of Maine’s most productive maple sugar bushes.

Many of the maple trees in Big Six’s 4,000-acre grove are well over 100 years old and have been tapped for generations by eight of Maine’s largest maple syrup producers. Among them, Big Six’s producers churn out between 25 and 30 percent of Maine’s maple syrup. All of the Big Six operations are run by Canadian producers who, in many cases, handed down knowledge and expertise of the syruping industry through two or more generations.

But now the future of Big Six’s maple syrup producers — and with them the industry at large — hangs in the balance as a years-long attempt to save the forest runs up against its private landowner’s 2018 deadline to either secure roughly $5.7 million in conservation easement funds to help pay down his mortgage, or start cutting Big Six’s maples.

Losing that maple production could have a damaging effect on the state’s growing maple industry, said Kathryn Hopkins, of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, who added that neither she nor the extension has a position on the Big Six conservation deal. Maine relies on Big Six producers to maintain its position as the third-largest producer in the country.

“I think the thing that Mainers need to remember is that (the industry) is growing every year and gaining in popularity with the public every year,” Hopkins said. “If you want that to continue — and down the line I mean there are suggestions, there have always been suggestions, that Maine should have a big packer and distributor like New Hampshire and Vermont do — well, they can never aspire to that level if they don’t keep their production going. You can’t continue your growth if you cut out 25 percent of your output.”

Like most of Maine’s large-scale maple syrup operations, Big Six’s syrup producers lease, rather than own, their approximately 330,000 taps. While the forest land has changed hands multiple times over the decades, it was purchased most recently by Paul Fortin, a Madison businessman, who bought the tract in 2012 with the intention of cutting the maples and shipping them to a chip factory he owns 10 miles up the road in Saint-Zacharie, Quebec.

When officials in Gov. Paul LePage’s administration and members of the state’s Maple Task Force Study Group learned of Fortin’s plans for the sugar bush, they intervened, asking if he would consider other options. Fortin and the state agreed on a conservation easement and he proposed bringing in the Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit conservation group that spearheads preservation projects around the country, to facilitate the project.

If funded, the easement agreement would prohibit in perpetuity any subdivision or development of the forest. It would require that commercial foresters work sustainably under state supervision and guarantee recreational access to the land. Unique to this project, the easement would preserve the 4,000-acre sugar bush.

“There is a minor amount of management that will be allowed, but it’s only to produce maple sap and not to produce saw logs, biomass or pulp,” said J.T. Horn, of the Trust for Public Land. “Those 4,000 acres are treated differently.”

SWEETHEART DEAL?

Critics of the deal say it amounts to a taxpayer-funded payoff of a private landowner. Big Six is relatively inaccessible to Maine’s recreationalists, they point out, and there is skepticism about the extent of any external development threat to the property, a condition for some of the proposed funding.

After a failed first attempt, the Trust for Public Land secured $3.8 million toward the easement through the federal Forest Legacy program. In the group’s revised application, it focused on development interest from the Canadian side of the border, noting that Big Six is only 1.5 hours from Quebec City, a major urban center. They said Fortin already had received requests from Canadians looking to develop Big Six land for recreational camps. In 2016, the U.S. Forest Service agreed the threat was sufficient and awarded the funds.

The Trust for Public Land now plans to apply to the Land for Maine’s Future, a state-funded preservation board, for additional funding to help fill the gap. From 1987 to 2016, the board helped to preserve 591,138 acres of forest and recreation land across the state, according to state records. The majority of that acreage, 316,486, was protected through easement deals; while the remaining acreage was purchased through a combination of federal, state and private funding.

Fortin and the Trust for Public Land worked with Land for Maine’s Future in the past on a 2012 deal to sell land around Seboeis Lake to the state. In that case, Fortin said, the state also approached him in looking to complete its work on the 21,369-acre Seboeis Lake Public Reserve. The Trust for Public Land cobbled together $2.7 million in funding for more than 5,700 acres, with the Land for Maine’s Future contributing $483,136 to the total, according to state records. Those funds amounted to about 8.6 percent of the more than $5.6 million Land for Maine’s Future spent across 38 conservation projects from January 2011 to December 2012.

Horn said he is not yet sure how much the partners will apply for in the Big Six case, but they are waiting for the next grant round to open, likely in June. He thinks for projects of similar size and scope, it would not be unusual to request around $1 million.

“We’re waiting to see how much money is available, what the total pool is, what the competition is, etc., before we decide what to ask for,” Horn said. “We haven’t decided if that’s reasonable yet or not.”

In the meantime, “donations are welcome,” he added.

Other critics of the Big Six easement effort say LePage’s support for the project contrasts starkly with his past criticism of Land for Maine’s Future deals as vehicles for corruption. They point to multiple donations Fortin has made to pro-LePage campaign funds as proof of a possible quid pro quo.

LePage’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment, but he has previously characterized his backing for the project as part and parcel of his support of working forests.

In a statement to the Bangor Daily News in March, LePage spokesperson Adrienne Bennett said the governor “remained consistent in his support for projects that promote working waterfronts and forests, which create good-paying jobs for Mainers.”

Fortin said he would take his hits on the political contribution critiques. State campaign finance records show he donated $6,000 to LePage’s 2014 re-election campaign and in 2016 donated $20,000 to a pro-LePage political action committee. In addition to his support for LePage, records show Fortin donated to state Republican candidates Edward Goff and Rodney Whittemore. He said he has also contributed to U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District.

In a March column, Bangor Daily News contributor Lance Dutson wrote that the timing of Fortin’s 2016 donation was troubling.

“Fortin’s donations to LePage’s campaign are not anything out of the ordinary. But writing a check for $20,000 to a PAC when the governor isn’t even up for re-election is a pretty major development,” Dutson wrote. “The implications of such a potential quid pro quo are substantial. The very definition of corruption is the exchange of campaign donations for policy favoritism,” he continued.

Horn said his group was unaware of Fortin’s political contributions when they came to the project. He argued that for his organization, the Big Six easement made sense on the merits.

“We saw this as a chance to conserve more than 20,000 acres, and if this is really a quarter of the maple syrup production in Maine, it seemed like a pretty good opportunity to make a big impact,” Horn said.

Other proponents of the easement say LePage came out in support of the project prior to Fortin’s 2014 contribution. They argue the recent focus on the possible politics around the deal has distracted from the larger question of how the state will work with private landowners to preserve and grow Maine’s maple syrup industry.

INDUSTRY IN BALANCE

For Maine’s largest maple syrup producers, negotiating with private landowners is simply a fact of life. Most large producers rent, rather than own, their taps and the land they work on. In a 2013 survey of Maine’s maple syrup operations, University of Maine professor of economics Todd Gabe found that 12 percent of Maine’s syrup producers accounted for 86 percent of Maine’s maple taps. Among those large-scale producers, worries about tap lease costs ranked third on their list of priorities after energy costs and spring weather conditions. For smaller outfits, lease costs ranked 16th.

Russell Black, a state representative from Wilton and former head of the state maple task force, supports the Big Six easement and frames the effort and others like it as an increasingly pressing matter of state policy.

“A lot of these large tracts that we’ve got, the same thing is going to happen to them. They’re going to be developed,” Black said. “You pay off the landowner to continue to have public access. If we pay (Fortin) off for part of his rights to that property, he’s going to have to allow us to use that property forever and ever, and it’s always going to have to stay in forest management.”

Black said he and his colleagues studied ways to expand what they believe could be a massive industry for the state. In 2011, the task force found that Maine had an estimated 38.5 million sugar and red maple trees large enough to support syrup production with the potential of up to 41.3 million taps. Those taps could produce up to 10.3 million gallons of syrup annually, the task force estimated.

Last year, Maine’s maple syrup industry was the third-largest in the country, after those in Vermont and New York, with 1.86 million maple taps producing 675,000 gallons of syrup, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Vermont, which dominates the maple syrup industry, had more than 4.9 million taps producing nearly 2 million gallons of syrup.

By 2013, Vermont had tapped about 27 percent of its trees, a Cornell University study found. That year, Vermont’s maple syrup operations supported 2,735 to 3,169 full-time equivalent jobs, according to a University of Vermont study. In 2016, Maine had reached about 4.5 percent of its total potential taps.

There has been little comprehensive research on the economic impact of Maine’s maple syrup industry, but it has been growing steadily for the past two decades. Between 1997 and 2012, the number of maple syrup taps in Maine more than doubled, while the number of syrup operations grew by nearly 57 percent, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

In another 2013 study, Gabe, of the University of Maine, found the industry directly contributed $27.7 million in output, 567 full-time jobs and $17.3 million in labor income to Maine’s economy. Incorporating multiplier effects such as money spent by maple farms and the other businesses, such as food retailers, that make up the maple industry, Gabe estimated the industry contributed $48.7 million in output, 805 full- and part-time jobs and $25.1 million in labor income.

In its 2011 recommendations to the state, the Maine Maple Task Force Study Group noted the vast untapped potential in Maine’s maple groves and urged state lawmakers to invest resources in the industry. As its first order of business, the task force called for the formation of a permanent commission dedicated to studying and promoting growth in the industry, likening it to similar groups formed around Maine’s potato, blueberry and lobster industries.

But Black said LePage opposed the commission, seeing no purpose to it, and the effort eventually stalled. After four years, the task force disbanded, having made little progress on its work to create a distinct Maine maple syrup brand.

“The ground work is all laid to move ahead with marketing and promotion, but we were not able to at this time,” Black said.

In the absence of state leadership, members of the Maine Maple Syrup Producers Association, an independent organization of maple syrup operations, has taken on the task of promoting the industry and improving branding for Maine syrup, said Hopkins, of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

The group applied for and received a crop specialty grant three years ago, Hopkins said, and had used the money to update its website and fund development of a unique Maine maple syrup logo. The group now travels to The Big E — the Eastern States Exposition — billed as the largest agricultural event on the East Coast, and represents Maine’s maple syrup alongside the state’s other well-known commodities.

Even without state funding for marketing, however, Maine’s maple industry has seen attendance at its signature Maine Maple Sunday event explode since it began in 1983. When he started participating in Maine Maple Sunday in 1999, maple syrup producer Lyle Merrifield said about 400 people showed up at his Gorham farm. This year, that number ballooned to nearly 8,000 over the course of the weekend.

One of the consequences of that growth has been that smaller southern syrup producers have come to rely on their larger northern counterparts to keep up not only with Maple Sunday but year-round demand.

“You go through so much syrup that one weekend, you have to continue to buy syrup,” Merrifield said. “Especially if you have an off year down here, because the lower part of the state is only producing about 5 percent of the total syrup crop. The Golden Road area and Big Six are producing the other 95 percent.”

STRICTLY FINANCIAL

Much of Big Six’s maple syrup is sent to wholesalers in Vermont and New Hampshire and sold as products of the U.S. — not Maine — but some does make its way to other Maine operations. Maine Maple Products, in Madison, is the largest maple syrup bottler and distributor in the state, and it relies on Big Six syrup. Black, of the task force, said he too had turned to Big Six producers to supplement him on Maine Maple Sunday.

Black believes that further investment in Maine’s maple syrup infrastructure could keep more Big Six syrup in the state. Fortin said his sons are considering opening a bottling plant in Maine that could partner with Big Six operations.

For his part, Fortin said the deal is strictly a matter of finances. He has a $6.3 million mortgage to pay down and is running out of ways to do so. Typically, Fortin said, he would have processed the timber by now, sold it to his contract clients and moved on to another property.

But with so much of his company’s capital wrapped up in Big Six, he has been unable to purchase any new land since 2012.

In the interim, Fortin has agreed to a new 20-year contract with Big Six’s producers, that he says is contingent upon his getting the easement. Without it, he said, he could not cover his short-term costs, even with the higher tap prices (nearly twice what they were) he negotiated.

Fortin said he still hopes to avoid cutting the Big Six sugar bush. He has come to know and respect Big Six’s maple syrup producers and learned more than he ever thought he would about how important they are to the state’s syrup industry.

“These guys up there are good guys,” Fortin said. “They’re all good guys and they don’t want to be mistreated, and I don’t want to mistreat them.”

Kate McCormick — 861-9218

kmccormick@centralmaine.com

Twitter: @KateRMcCormick

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/27/big-six-conservation-deal-one-quarter-maine-maple-syrup-output-stake/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/725311_849469-bix-six.jpgJean Francois Faucher repairs a sap line in April 2015 on the LaRiviere sugarbush in Big Six Township. The property has more than 300,000 maple syrup taps.Sun, 28 May 2017 08:10:06 +0000
Feature obituary: Clinton Schoff, 77, longtime South Berwick traffic officer http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/27/longtime-south-berwick-traffic-officer-dies-at-77/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/27/longtime-south-berwick-traffic-officer-dies-at-77/#respond Sat, 27 May 2017 19:21:56 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/27/longtime-south-berwick-traffic-officer-dies-at-77/ Clinton Schoff, a beloved traffic officer for the South Berwick Police Department, who directed traffic at its town square for 15 years, died on Tuesday after a yearlong fight with cancer. He was 77.

Mr. Schoff was a founder and dedicated volunteer for the South Berwick Emergency Rescue Squad, who gave tirelessly to the community he loved.

Mr. Schoff was remembered by loved ones last week as a stand-up guy, who had a tremendous impact on others. The police department’s Facebook post about his passing has reached more than 50,000 people and generated 212 comments as of 9 a.m. Saturday.

Every day an estimated 17,000 cars pass through the busy junctions of Routes 236 and 4 in South Berwick – and all without a traffic light. Mr. Schoff was at the center of it all.

He directed rush hour traffic from 6 to 9 a.m. guiding motorists through town square and waving to kids heading to school. Early in his career, he also worked the 3 to 5 p.m. shift.

Lt. Chris Burbank, of the South Berwick Police Department, said Friday it’s a very stressful job and he did it with a smile.

“He was really the heart and soul of the community,” Burbank said. “He wanted to be in a place where he could interact with people. If 200 kids were crossing the street, 200 kids were giving him high fives. When he saw a school bus drive by, every face was in the window smiling and waving at him.”

Mr. Schoff was always quick to volunteer at special events like the town’s annual Strawberry Festival, parades and road races.

A lifelong resident of South Berwick, he was also a founder and dedicated volunteer for the town’s emergency rescue squad for more than 20 years. He served several years as chief.

His daughter, Lori McPherson, shared many heart-felt stories Thursday of how her father gave back to the community he loved. She said he raised money for the rescue squad to ensure residents had the best care. He was also known for offering jobs to people down on their luck and for helping people to get assistance, McPherson said.

“There was never a moment my dad wasn’t doing for other people,” she said. “He went on some pretty bad calls. He used to share some with us. In every story, there was a lesson. … My friends respected him so much. Many feel that his life lessons to us, were theirs.”

He was a loving husband of Jacqueline Schoff for 55 years. The couple lived in South Berwick, where they raised three children.

His wife said he was a devoted family man who worked hard to provide a good life for their family.

“He always wanted to make sure I was all right,” she said. “He always protected me. He was really a wonderful husband. We always loved each other.”

In his early years, Mr. Schoff served in both the Marine Corps Reserve and Coast Guard. In 1962, his unit was deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

He continued his service at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in its sail loft. He went on to serve as an apprentice instructor. He also represented co-workers as a two-term union president for the American Federation of Government Employees. He worked at the shipyard for 37 years and retired around 1998.

“His favorite thing was being part of the union,” his daughter said. “My father saved many jobs. He was always for giving people another chance. He had a tremendous way of communicating … not reacting, keeping a level head.”

About a year ago, Mr. Schoff was diagnosed with bile duct cancer. McPherson said he remained positive through all he faced with cancer. She reflected on his approach to life and the lessons he passed on to loved ones.

“He was a remarkable human being,” his daughter said. “He always had the mindset that everyone was all right. If I was dealing with something, he would say, you’re all right. To me, and I can speak for my brothers, no matter what we faced, my dad, the rock of our family, believed in us. I have confidence that no matter what comes my way, I’m all right. He instilled that in us.”

A funeral mass with full military honors will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Thursday at Our Lady of the Angels Church, 162 Agamenticus Road in South Berwick.

A reception to celebrate his life will follow at The Red Barn at Outlook Farm, 310 Portland St.

Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

mcreamer@pressherald.com

Twitter: MelanieCreamer

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/27/longtime-south-berwick-traffic-officer-dies-at-77/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/1202939_952790-Clint-Schoff.jpgClinton SchoffSat, 27 May 2017 18:37:28 +0000
New owners, artful plans for Gardiner’s Milliken Block http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/new-owners-artful-plans-for-gardiners-milliken-block/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/new-owners-artful-plans-for-gardiners-milliken-block/#respond Sat, 27 May 2017 02:52:36 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/new-owners-artful-plans-for-gardiners-milliken-block/ GARDINER — For years, blinds covered the street-level windows at 252 Water St., creating a visual barrier between what was going on inside the building and the rest of the world.

Those blinds have come down and the new owners of the building are throwing open the doors.

Cheryl Clark and Mike Gent have plans for the architecturally prominent Milliken Block, which became theirs in mid-April. Those plans begin and end with art, wrapped around plans for a microbrewery.

“It was the third floor that sold me,” Gent said.

He had been looking for a small studio space for himself. For 40 years he’s been working on paintings and drawings while working at his company in Pennsylvania, which manufactures hydraulic pumps and electrical feeds. It’s specialized work with a lot of precision grinding.

Gent and Clark had looked at the building before, but at 11,510 square feet, it was too much space, and at close to $500,000 it was too much money.

“I called and asked if we could buy half,” Clark said.

They had looked at other buildings that were more attractively priced, but which would have required too much work.

When they finally looked inside the building, Clark said, Gent took only a minute to decide.

The third floor, which had been apartments at one time, had been gutted, and stood unfinished.

“I didn’t care about the first two floors, but they were attached,” he said.

They bought the building for less than $300,000 from Camden National Bank.

“We bought it with SpinOff Studios in mind, and now SpinOff will be here,” Clark said.

Ashley Rogers, program coordinator for the studio, confirmed it’s moving in early in the fall. SpinOff, now located outside the heart of downtown, provides creative space for artists and supports them in their artistic practice.

It will share space on the first floor with Two Gramps Brewing, which will occupy the space next to Johnson Park.

“SpinOff’s current location keeps them isolated. This is a better space,” Gent said.

The second floor, which housed a title company at one time, is still fitted out as professional space. Clark and Gent are planning to find a tenant for that space, perhaps an artists’ agency.

The third floor is the key. Brick walls divide it into four unfinished spaces; all are lit front and back by windows and overhead by skylights.

Gent already has picked out the spot for his studio, overlooking Johnson Park. There’s space for a second artist. The other rooms are designated for shared studio space, collaborative space and maker’s space with a wood shop.

“The drywall is happening this week. We’re not eating for another six months,” Clark said, laughing, “but this is the dream that Michael has had his whole life, when he was punching out holes in his manufacturing company.”

That’s only part of the work on the list for the contractor. It also includes electrical work on the third floor and moving walls on the Water Street level.

The details are all coming together, she said.

Some of those details will be handled by other people. Kristy and Joe Gould are working on the microbrewery, Two Gramps Brewing. They have signed a lease, a necessary step for securing federal approval for making beer there.

“We’re quite excited,” Kristy Gould said. “This has been a dream with wings. It really hasn’t had legs.”

Gould said both the timing and location were right.

“We could not have found a better place or nicer people,” she said.

They are planning for a fall opening.

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

jlowell@centralmaine.com

Twitter: JLowellKJ

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/new-owners-artful-plans-for-gardiners-milliken-block/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/1202858_920226-20170525_Milliken13.jpgMike Gent, left, and Cheryl Clark stand in the third floor studio Thursday in their recently purchased building, the Milliken Block, in Gardiner.Sat, 27 May 2017 00:02:26 +0000
Speaker tells students of life after causing death http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/speaker-tells-students-of-life-after-causing-death/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/speaker-tells-students-of-life-after-causing-death/#respond Sat, 27 May 2017 02:30:11 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/speaker-tells-students-of-life-after-causing-death/ WATERVILLE — Chris Sandy was like many other young men at 22, having fun with friends, going to parties and enjoying life.

That changed when he had four drinks at a party one night and got in his car with a friend to hit another party nearby.

Driving 80 mph along a dark country road, Sandy caught up to a white minivan and decided to pass it. As he did, he saw a car coming in the opposite direction, preparing to turn into a driveway.

Sandy tried to get back into his own lane but couldn’t and the vehicles collided. When he awoke, he could barely breathe and was seriously injured.

“I heard somebody yelling, ‘There’s a fatality on the scene! There’s a fatality on the scene!'”

It was not until later in a hospital that he learned he had caused not one death, but two – an elderly couple visiting a relative to get help with their taxes.

Sandy, now 39, of Georgia, told this story Friday to about 500 students, faculty and staff who packed the Waterville Senior High School auditorium as part of a program, “Choices Matter,” sponsored by Alliance Highway Safety. The alliance works with agencies around the country to get the word out about making smart choices on the road.

Sandy, whose crash occurred on April 11, 2000 in Atlanta, is a motivational speaker, author, life coach and mentor. He was in Waterville on Friday as part of a pilot program made possible by the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety.

He has talked to about 1 million students in more than 40 states and chronicled his story in a book he wrote with his brother-in-law, Erik Krug, called “Enduring Regret: Two Different Stories of Drunk Driving, Two Very Different Prisons.” Sandy was also featured in the Emmy Award-winning television documentary, “Enduring Regret: Chris Sandy’s Life After Causing Death.”

Sandy said Friday that he spent two months recuperating at his parents’ home before being arrested and sentenced to 13 years in prison with 17 years probation. He served 8.5 years but remains on probation until 2031.

“What I’ve learned through this experience is ultimately the biggest consequences in life are learning to live with the choices that we make,” he said.

Friday was the day before the high school prom, and the audience entered the auditorium for Sandy’s talk not knowing what to expect. But as Sandy got into the grit of his life story, the crowd became silent.

Senior Jonathan Thompson said he found himself close to tears after hearing the story. Thompson, 18, plans to enter University of Southern Maine in the fall to study information technology and political science.

“I think it’s really nice that we can get someone to do this with prom time here,” Thompson said. “I think I’m especially worried about people making good decisions, and if this presentation can at least change one person’s mind, I think that will have made all the difference.”

Sandy showed photos of the wrecked cars from his crash, including that of the two victims, Nellie King and her husband, William. He said the guilt never goes away.

“I hate waking up every day of my life, knowing right here I killed two innocent people,” he said.

Being in prison was tough and lonely, he said. His friends from school had started their lives. He had no idea what he would do for a job when he got out. He would be a convicted felon and his driver’s license was suspended indefinitely.

His parents divorced as a result. His sister visited him only five times in prison.

The prison took a chance on Sandy when a production company making a television documentary featured his story. When he got out of prison, he told that story in schools. Eventually he would marry Krug’s sister, whom he met when Krug visited him in prison. Krug, who had been a star high school baseball player, was injured in a 1997 alcohol-related accident that killed his best friend.

Krug suffered debilitating injuries in the crash. Later, he became best friends with Sandy and traveled with him on his speaking tours.

Sandy and his wife have two children and he coaches his daughter’s soccer team. But when he sought to become a school coach, he couldn’t because he was a convicted felon. He also was prohibited from volunteering in schools.

“I turn 40 this year,” he said. “That choice I made when I was 22 years old – it does still impact my life.”

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

acalder@centralmaine.com

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/speaker-tells-students-of-life-after-causing-death/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/1202824_117029-20170526-Chris-Sandy.jpgChris Sandy, a motivational speaker, talks Friday about his time in prison as he walks past a projection of his Georgia prison cell during a "Choices Matter" presentation at Waterville Senior High School. Sandy killed two people in an accident he caused while driving drunk.Sat, 27 May 2017 00:12:10 +0000
South Portland boy injured in collision with car still in critical condition http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/11-year-old-skateboarder-remains-in-critical-condition-at-maine-med/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/11-year-old-skateboarder-remains-in-critical-condition-at-maine-med/#respond Sat, 27 May 2017 01:52:23 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/11-year-old-skateboarder-remains-in-critical-condition-at-maine-med/ The 11-year-old skateboarder who sustained life-threatening injuries in a collision with a car in South Portland on Wednesday remained in critical condition at Maine Medical Center on Friday night.

South Portland police issued a statement Friday night identifying the skateboarder as Bradin Dingwell of South Portland.

He was skateboarding on Palmer Street Wednesday, entering the intersection with Elm Street in the Turner Island neighborhood, when he collided with a four-door compact Toyota driven by James Mackay, 41, of Lewiston, police said.

Police ruled out speed and alcohol as factors in the crash.

Mackay has not been cited, but the final investigation has not been completed, South Portland Officer Thomas Simonds said.

“The initial investigation showed nothing that we would cite for, but until all avenues of the investigation are complete, we will leave the option open,” Simonds said in an email.

A crash reconstructionist from the Gorham Police Department is helping to investigate the circumstances of the crash.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/11-year-old-skateboarder-remains-in-critical-condition-at-maine-med/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/1201587_975496-20170525Skateboarder.jpgThe intersection of Elm Street and Palmer Street in South Portland was the scene of a skateboard and car collision Wednesday that sent a South Portland boy to the hospital.Sat, 27 May 2017 19:55:27 +0000
Charred Richmond building demolished http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/charred-richmond-building-demolished/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/charred-richmond-building-demolished/#respond Sat, 27 May 2017 01:25:59 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/charred-richmond-building-demolished/ RICHMOND — Five months and one day after a Main Street apartment building was damaged by fire, it was demolished Friday.

A backhoe was on site Friday morning, knocking the structure down and shifting the debris. Caution tape marked off the work area on the south side of Main Street to keep passers-by on foot and in vehicles clear of the demolition zone.

The fire was reported Dec. 25, not long after midnight, on the second floor of the multi-unit house. Two police officers – one from the Richmond Police Department, the other a corporal from the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office – pulled one of the tenants from the burning building after finding him in his bathroom. The tenant, Wade Welner, who was bleeding and unconscious when he was taken from the building, also suffered from smoke inhalation. He was taken to MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta and transferred to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where he was in reported to be in critical condition later that same day, and upgraded to serious condition the following day.

A second tenant, who reportedly tried to get Welner to leave, was able to get out on his own. He was not identified at that time.

The investigation that followed showed that the fire had started in Welner’s apartment.

On Friday, Welner said that wasn’t how he had planned to spend his Christmas.

“I was lucky to survive, even with all the inconvenience,” he said.

Welner, 30, said he has memory problems and suffers from headaches.

All he remembers from that night is making a chimichanga in a microwave oven at one point.

“I still haven’t really heard from investigators what caused the fire,” he said. “There was talk I may have been shot in the head, but that’s kind of ridiculous. I don’t know anyone who would want to shoot me. If I shot myself in the head, how could I have gotten rid of the gun and set fire to my apartment?”

He said he was interviewed by investigators from the Maine State Police and the state Fire Marshal’s Office.

“I think it was more likely that something exploded,” he said.

During his recovery, he said, he was unable to work and unable to get food stamps or MaineCare, but friends and his family helped out with donations of clothes and money through a GoFundMe.com campaign set up by his sister that raised nearly $4,000.

Welner said he now has a part-time job working for Great Falls Marketing in Auburn and has applied for a second part-time job in Freeport.

Residents and town officials in this riverfront community have been waiting ever since for the charred building to be taken down.

“I’m pretty ashamed it was up there so long,” property owner Gary Nash said.

A sign advertising a Jan. 11 demolition date had been posted on the front of the building in early January, but the work was delayed.

“We were in the process of getting it cleaned up quickly,” Nash said. But apparently, the investigation into the cause of the fire was not yet complete at that time, and the work was delayed.

“It’s been a long, drawn-out affair,” he said.

A call to the Maine Department of Public Safety on the cause of the fire was not returned Friday.

When the site is cleared, it will leave a vacant spot in Richmond’s downtown.

Nash said the lot probably will be redeveloped. The lot has a view of the Richmond waterfront, where investments have been made by both the town of Richmond and the state of Maine to improve facilities.

He’s not sure whether it might be a commercial building or a combination of commercial and residential, but he would like the building to complement Richmond’s historic village area. In the short term, he wants to landscape the lot.

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

jlowell@centralmaine.com

Twitter: JLowellKJ

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/charred-richmond-building-demolished/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/1202740_353958-20170526_RichmondD3.jpgDriving a Bobcat excavator, Bob Anair demolishes 34 Main St. on Friday in downtown Richmond. The house across the street from the Old Goat Pub had been heavily damaged by a fire last Christmas.Fri, 26 May 2017 21:37:27 +0000
Despite uncertain future, Katahdin monument fully open for Memorial Day weekend http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/despite-uncertain-future-katahdin-monument-fully-open-for-memorial-day-weekend/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/despite-uncertain-future-katahdin-monument-fully-open-for-memorial-day-weekend/#respond Sat, 27 May 2017 00:31:19 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/despite-uncertain-future-katahdin-monument-fully-open-for-memorial-day-weekend/ Its future may still be uncertain, but the Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument has fully opened just before Memorial Day weekend.

Tim Hudson, the monument’s superintendent, said Friday that the opening of the facility’s 21-mile Loop Road will increase access for casual visitors and hardcore hikers or paddlers, alike. The north gate, another main point of entry, has been open since May 13.

“It’s the beginning of the season, so I suspect we’ll see more Maine traffic than anything,” he said. “But all through the winter, interest in the monument has been steady.”

Depending on how a Trump administration review of the monument’s designation goes, it could be the only chance for some to see it.

Former President Barack Obama last year designated the 87,500-acre parcel just east of Baxter State Park as a national monument as allowed under the Antiquities Act of 1906. Some local and state officials, including Gov. Paul LePage, complained that the designation was an overreach.

After Donald Trump was elected, LePage appealed to the Trump administration, which agreed to add the Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument to a list of 27 monuments and parks under review by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

LePage has long argued that there was not enough local or stakeholder input before the monument’s designation, something others had flatly rejected. The governor also has dismissed its possible popularity among tourists, referring to it in recent testimony before a congressional committee as the “mosquito area.”

More recently, LePage ordered his departments to not erect any signage that advertises or promotes the monument. A hand-made sign monument supporters apparently hung over a highway overpass was recently taken down.

A preliminary report on Zinke’s recommendations is expected in June, and a comprehensive report that is scheduled for release in August could include the revocation of monument status for some of the areas.

Two members of Maine’s congressional delegation, independent Sen. Angus King and Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree, each sent letters to Zinke this week urging him to let the monument stand.

“I know that this administration is serious about growing jobs in rural areas; I am absolutely convinced that the prompt conclusion of this review and reaffirmation of the monument designation would be a positive step in this direction,” King wrote. “I therefore urge Interior to work with the community and help the KWW Monument to move forward. This monument is some of the first positive news for the Katahdin region in a long time; please don’t let it be taken away.”

Pingree joined 84 other House members in writing that the executive branch does not have the authority “to rescind or substantially reduce the size of any national monument – the ostensible purpose of Zinke’s review.”

Lucas St. Clair – whose mother, philanthropist Roxanne Quimby, donated the land to the federal government – has become a leading advocate of the monument and said it’s unfortunate to see it caught up in political games.

“What happens when people go see it for themselves is they fall in love with it,” St. Clair said. “So the more people who visit and support the local businesses, that’s only going to help make the case to keep it open.”

King expressed concern in his letter to Zinke that the federal review is having an “economically chilling effect” on the region. That has caused many local elected officials who had previously opposed the monument, including state Rep. Steve Stanley, D-Medway, to reverse their positions and work toward its success.

Although there are no signs leading to the park, St. Clair said people are seeing that as a sort of “challenge” to go find it themselves. And the monument’s roads are all labeled.

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

erussell@pressherald.com

Twitter: PPHEricRussell

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/despite-uncertain-future-katahdin-monument-fully-open-for-memorial-day-weekend/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/01/1134722_811379_20140717_sign_2.jpgMATAGAMON, ME - July 17: A sign near the north entrance to Baxter State Park along Grand Lake Road indicates the start of a scenic byway connected with the Katahdin Woods & Waters recreation area. Photographed on Thursday July 17, 2014. (Photo by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer)Fri, 26 May 2017 22:46:11 +0000
Portland High School student reports assault to police http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/portland-high-school-student-reports-assault/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/portland-high-school-student-reports-assault/#respond Fri, 26 May 2017 22:52:13 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/portland-high-school-student-reports-assault/ An 18-year-old Portland High School student told police that she was assaulted about 10:30 a.m. Friday on Oxford Street, near the Chestnut Street intersection.

The teenager reported that she was reaching into her car when she was groped by a man who appeared to be about 20. She said she immediately yelled, getting the attention of a student nearby and causing the man to flee.

He was last seen running on Chestnut Street toward Cumberland Avenue. He is described as about 6 feet tall with short blond hair, clean shaven, and wearing a light gray shirt and dark blue sweat pants with a University of Maine logo.

The victim reported the incident to school staff and police. Police have set up additional patrols and are collecting surveillance video from area businesses.

Anyone with information about the incident can call Portland police at 874-8575.

The Portland Police Department regularly offers self-defense training for women, Rape Aggression Defense. For more information, call 874-8643 or email ppdrad@PortlandMaine.gov.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/portland-high-school-student-reports-assault/feed/ 0 Fri, 26 May 2017 22:59:07 +0000
Memorial Day weekend events in Maine http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/memorial-day-weekend-events-in-maine/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/memorial-day-weekend-events-in-maine/#respond Fri, 26 May 2017 22:49:59 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/memorial-day-weekend-events-in-maine/ SATURDAY

AUGUSTA: A grave flag program will be held at the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery at 9 a.m., at Civic Center Drive and Mount Vernon Road, with an opening by Maine Public Safety Pipes and Drums.

BRISTOL: The Friends of Colonial Pemaquid are hosting a performance by the Maine St. Andrew’s Pipe and Drum Corps at 2 p.m. at the Colonial Pemaquid State Historic Site. The Corps is a kilted band that performs traditional tunes of the British Isles. There will also be a commemorative commentary and a salute to all those who have served our nation.

PORTLAND: Peaks Island will host a parade sponsored by American Legion Post 142 starting at the Lions’ Club at 10:45 a.m., with ceremonies at the cemetery off Central Avenue. A barbecue lunch will follow the parade.

SUNDAY

ARUNDEL: The Arundel Historical Society holds a service at 11 a.m. Sunday at the Veterans Memorial at the fire station on Limerick Road.

MONDAY

BIDDEFORD-SACO: A ceremony and parade begins with an opening ceremony at 10 a.m. at Veterans Memorial Park on the corner of Alfred and Pool Street in Biddeford, with guest speaker U.S. Sen. Angus King. The parade proceeds to Main Street, then Saco’s Main Street. Master of ceremonies is Marshall Archer of AmVets Post 1, and grand marshal is Joseph Armstrong, president of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1044 in Biddeford.

BRUNSWICK-TOPSHAM: A parade and ceremony begins at 8:30 a.m. with an observance on the plaza, with a parade immediately following and proceeding down Main Street in Topsham, across the Frank J. Woods Bridge, where there will be a wreath laying. The parade ends at the gazebo on the Brunswick mall. The grand marshal is Alice Johnson, a World War II Navy veteran, and speaker is Tim Martel, who served in the Navy from 1963-1988 as a naval flight officer.

CAPE ELIZABETH: A parade will start at 9 a.m. at the intersection of Fowler and Ocean House roads, continues north on Ocean House Road, turns left onto Scott Dyer Road and ends at the War Veterans Memorial, where there will be a ceremony and wreath laying. Parade grand marshals will be Frances Jordan Banks, an Army nurse during World War II, and Ernest Brien, an infantryman who saw combat in World War II and Korea. An open house will follow the ceremony at the town center fire station. The event will be canceled in case of rain.

CUMBERLAND: Parade along Main Street starts at 10 a.m. at Tuttle Road and ends with a ceremony at the Veterans Monument. The guest speaker will be Brig. Gen. Gerald Bolduc. The event will be held in the Greely High School gym in case of rain. In addition, there will be a fun run at 8 a.m. and a 5K road race at 8:30.

DURHAM: Parade begins at 10 a.m. at Davis Road and runs south on Royalsborough Road (Route 136) to the back entrance of the Durham Community School. Stops will be made at the Gazebo and at Sawyer Cemetery.

FALMOUTH: Parade and ceremony start at 10 a.m. from American Legion Post, 65 Depot Road, and proceeds to Foreside Road. The ceremony will be held at Pine Grove Park.

FREEPORT:  The parade will leave Holbrook Street at 9:30 a.m., with the ceremony at the town park on Bow Street at 10 a.m.

GORHAM: Parade begins at 11 a.m. at the Village School and ends at Eastern Cemetery on Johnson Road.

KENNEBUNK: A band concert will be held on the steps of Town Hall at 1:30 p.m. The parade down Main Street will begin at 2 p.m. from the Fire Station at Town Hall and proceed across the Mousam River Bridge up High Street.

KENNEBUNKPORT: Parade in Dock Square will start at 9:30 a.m. on Temple Street and wind along Spring Street and down Western Avenue to Cooper’s Corner in Kennebunk and back. A 21-gun salute will be held at the Mathew Lanigan Bridge. About 11 a.m., a smaller version of the parade will regroup for a second parade in the Cape Porpoise section of town.

OLD ORCHARD BEACH: Parade begins at 1 p.m. by the Police Station on E. Emerson Cummings Blvd, goes down Saco Avenue, turns right on Old Orchard Street and right onto First Street and ends at 2 p.m. with a ceremony in Veterans Memorial Park.

PORTLAND: Parade begins at 10:30 a.m. at Longfellow Square, with the route going down Congress Street and ending at Monument Square about 11 a.m. with a wreath laying ceremony and speeches. The event is sponsored by the city and the Harold T. Andrews Post 17, American Legion. Formation for marchers begins at 9:30 a.m.

• Friends of Evergreen’s fourth annual commemoration begins with a 2 p.m. parade along Stevens Avenue starting at Longfellow School and proceeding to Evergreen Cemetery gate near the chapel. The program will be held in the cemetery, followed by a talk by local historian Herb Adams on Maine involvement in World War I, at Wilde Memorial Chapel. Refreshments will be served.

SANFORD: Parade begins with the annual water ceremony at 9:30 a.m. at Number One Pond, then travels up Gowen Park Drive, onto Main Street to Central Park, where a commemoration ceremony will be held.

SCARBOROUGH: Parade begins at 10 a.m. starting at Scarborough High School and ending with a service at the Maine Veterans Home at 11 a.m., sponsored by American Legion Post 76. Parade participants should form behind Scarborough High at 9:30 a.m. The parade route will be on Route 1 to the Veterans Home. The American Legion will also hold services at local cemeteries starting at 8 a.m. at Black Point, Dunstan and Blue Point. The bus leaves the Veterans Home at 42 Manson Libby Road at 7:45 a.m.

SOUTH PORTLAND: The parade begins at 10:30 a.m. near the Southern Maine Community College campus and continues down Broadway to the Veterans Memorial Monument at Mill Creek Park and will be followed by a short ceremony. At noon there will be a wreath-laying ceremony at the public boat landing adjacent to Bug Light Park.

WESTBROOK: Events begin at 8 a.m. with a remembrance ceremony at Veterans Circle and the Stephen W. Manchester Gravesite at Woodlawn Cemetery on Stroudwater Street. The parade begins at 10 a.m. and travels along Main Street from Longfellow Street to Riverbank Park, where ceremonies are scheduled for 10:30 a.m.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/memorial-day-weekend-events-in-maine/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/1202603_474502__20150525_parade_5.jpgKevin Woods, 8, of Old Orchard Beach is given beads by a marcher at the Old Orchard Beach Memorial Day parade.Sat, 27 May 2017 11:06:10 +0000
Waterville woman accused of leaving 3 kids home alone overnight http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/waterville-woman-charged-with-child-endangerment/ Fri, 26 May 2017 22:31:24 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/waterville-woman-charged-with-child-endangerment/ WATERVILLE — A 33-year-old Waterville woman was summonsed after police allegedly found her three children alone in their house Thursday.

Samantha Renee Clark of Western Court charged with endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, when she returned home and allegedly acknowledged that she had left her children alone all night, Police Chief Joseph Massey said.

Police responded to a caller who said there were children alone in the apartment around 7:15 a.m., Massey said. When they arrived, the children, ages 4 to 13, told them they had been alone through the night and “did not know where their mother was.”

Massey said it didn’t appear that the children were in danger. He didn’t know if they seemed upset or if this appeared to be a regular occurrence, he said.

About 45 minutes after the officers arrived, Clark showed up, he said.

Clark said she was helping a friend, according to Massey, and allegedly admitted she had been gone the whole time.

Clark, who was on probation after being convicted of drunken driving, had been due to serve five days in jail for the conviction starting Thursday, Massey said.

Officers tested Clark and found that she had drunk alcohol recently, which was a violation of her probation. The new criminal conduct was also a violation of her probation.

Clark is scheduled to appear Aug. 8 in Waterville District Court on the charge of endangering the welfare of a child. She is currently serving her sentence at the Kennebec County jail.

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

mstamour@centralmaine.com

Twitter: madelinestamour

]]>
http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/1202585_971386-clark.jpgSamantha ClarkSat, 27 May 2017 11:05:16 +0000
Amended LePage budget would end state funding for county jails http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/amended-lepage-budget-would-end-state-jail-funding/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/amended-lepage-budget-would-end-state-jail-funding/#respond Fri, 26 May 2017 22:14:20 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/amended-lepage-budget-would-end-state-jail-funding/ AUGUSTA — LePage administration proposals to eliminate state funding for county jails next year and to hold the line on compensation for court-appointed attorneys received a chilly reception from Democratic budget writers Friday.

Gov. Paul LePage made the proposals as part of a nearly 200-page budget “change package” that may – or may not – become part of lawmakers’ deliberations as they try to finalize a new two-year budget.

Among the additional budget requests or proposals from the governor’s office:

 $2 million to cover legal bills when Attorney General Janet Mills, a Democrat, declines to represent the administration.

 The elimination of $16 million in state funding for county jails beginning in March 2018.

• A nine-month funding extension for the Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport, which LePage had planned to close on June 10.

• The elimination of $556,000 for a civil rights program in the Attorney General’s Office for school-age students. Created by the Legislature two decades ago, the program works with civil rights teams in elementary, middle and high schools that identify and address bias in schools.

LePage argues the office would be better housed in the Department of Education. Mills said she was taken aback by the proposal to eliminate program funding and the two staffers that work with the 188 volunteer civil rights teams statewide.

“Just Monday of this week, 550 Maine students from 54 schools across Maine convened at the Civil Rights Team Project Conference,” Mills said in a statement. “The Conference got rave reviews from students and faculty alike, so we were very surprised to see the administration’s sudden proposal to eliminate the two positions in our budget that support and advise these teams, on the heels of such a successful conference. We hope the Legislature will reject the proposed cut to this popular program.”

Much of the early discussion during Friday’s Appropriations Committee meeting was on county jails and “indigent legal services.”

LePage has been pushing for years for either the state or counties to assume full control of the jails, replacing the current scenario in which counties manage the facilities but require state funding. LePage’s original two-year budget also proposed the creation of a Public Defender’s Office for low-income defendants now represented by private attorneys appointed by the courts.

The administration’s top financial official acknowledged that part of the impetus behind the policy decisions is to pressure lawmakers to address long-standing concerns over the court and correctional systems.

“The arguments that are coming back time and time again are, ‘Defend the status quo, keep the status quo . . . without reform and without modification,'” said Richard Rosen, commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services. “So I think the question I would pose back to the Legislature in general and to this committee is: Are you comfortable with the status quo?”

But that approach did not go over well with some Appropriations Committee members.

Rep. Denise Tepler, D-Topsham, said it was difficult for her “to see this as a genuine attempt to ask us to come together around a solution.”

Tepler compared the governor’s use of the budget to pressure lawmakers to the “sequestration” budget cuts on Capitol Hill. Congress passed a law requiring 10 years of across-the-board budget cuts as a way to incentivize members to find less indiscriminate ways to reduce the federal deficit. Years later, the “sequestration” cuts are still in place.

“It failed miserably,” Tepler said. “No one came together to create a new and more creative solution. Instead, the cuts that were proposed just happened and what that looks like, from my side of the aisle, is a deliberate attempt to reduce the services that government provides.”

Earlier this month, the account that provides funding for court-appointed attorneys for low-income defendants ran dry because lawmakers did not appropriate enough money in the current budget. As a result, court-appointed lawyers are not being paid.

LePage’s budget “change package” does not provide any further funding in the current fiscal year for court-appointed attorneys, which several Democrats seized on during Friday’s discussion with Rosen.

“This is a constitutional requirement,” said Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook, co-chair of the Appropriations Committee. “The idea that we are going to simply not appropriate any money… as a way of pressuring us to solve a problem that we’ve had a hard time solving in the past, is a very dangerous and concerning approach to me.”

But that prompted Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, to point out that it’s the Legislature that makes the final decision on funding programs.

“We will appropriate money for the rest of this fiscal year, through June 30th, because lawyers are working and not getting paid,” Katz said. “And we will fund it to whatever level we believe is appropriate for the entire biennium to fulfill this constitutional responsibility.”

The LePage administrations change package does, however, propose an additional $2 million – or $1 million in each fiscal year – to cover the LePage administration’s legal expenses.

Maine’s Republican governor and Democratic attorney general long have clashed over legal issues, with Mills declining on several occasions to represent LePage in the lawsuits that he frequently joined with other Republican governors. In such instances, LePage must seek Mills’ authorization to hire outside counsel. But those private attorneys have cost the state more than $385,000 since 2014, according to a recent tally by The Associated Press.

LePage sued Mills earlier this month, accusing her of abuse of power by declining to represent his administration in federal lawsuits. Mills has countered that the attorney general is an independent constitutional officer whose duty is to represent the public interest, not the administration.

Kevin Miller can be contacted at:

kmiller@pressherald.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/amended-lepage-budget-would-end-state-jail-funding/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2015/01/573084_252656_somerset_jail_1_3_co-e1495855087246.jpgInmates read and play board games in the day room in the medium security wing at the Somerset County Jail in East Madison. While some jails are crowded, others have room to spare.Fri, 26 May 2017 23:23:39 +0000
Maine expecting strong tourist season, with gas prices steady and consumers ready to spend http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/2017-shaping-up-to-be-strong-tourism-season/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/2017-shaping-up-to-be-strong-tourism-season/#respond Fri, 26 May 2017 21:32:27 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/2017-shaping-up-to-be-strong-tourism-season/ Tourism officials predict a steady start to another strong summer travel season, buoyed by high consumer confidence and stable gas prices.

More than 1.6 million New Englanders are expected to hit the road this Memorial Day weekend, 2.7 percent more than last year, according to the American Automobile Association. A big chunk of those road trippers are coming to Maine, with about 960,000 vehicles expected to travel Interstate 95 from Friday to Monday, the Maine Turnpike Authority said. That would be a 3.1 percent increase in travel over last year’s Memorial Day weekend.

The number of New Englanders expected to travel at least 50 miles from home using any form of transportation, including air, boat and train, signals the busiest Memorial Day travel weekend forecast since 2005, said Pat Moody, director of public affairs for AAA Northern New England. Nationally, at least 39 million Americans will travel.

“Higher confidence has led to more consumer spending,” Moody said. “Many Americans are choosing to allocate the extra money on travel this Memorial Day.”

The travel industry itself is predicting a strong summer.

Memorial Day holiday traffic builds on the Maine Turnpike in Portland on Friday. The Maine Turnpike Authority expects about 960,000 vehicles on the highway this weekend. Staff photo by John Ewing

“The start of the year has been strong and we are hopeful of this continuing through the peak season,” said Steve Hewins, the president and CEO of Maine Inkeepers and Restaurant Association. “Advance bookings from those properties I have spoken with look good. The national economy appears to be improving, and even the long-term weather outlook is favorable.”

Campground reservations are filling up quickly and the big holiday weeks are already mostly booked, said Steve Lyons, the acting director of the state’s tourism office. The season already has begun in Bar Harbor, which is predicting a season to rival last year’s, which saw a 17 percent visitor spike as a result of Acadia National Park’s centennial celebrations, Lyons said.

Since 2012, the number of visitors to Maine has increased by about 6 percent annually, Lyons noted. In 2016, Maine hosted almost 36 million visitors. An estimated 5 million of those came to Maine for the first time. Of those newcomers, many came from the mid-Atlantic states, a region that the state’s tourism marketing program began to target in 2014. Maine will increase its marketing dollars in that region in 2017, Lyons said.

“The numbers demonstrate that the Maine brand resonates with today’s travelers, who want to escape the everyday, and are inspired by that sense of place, and perspective, that is distinctly Maine,” he said. “The pervasive natural beauty of Maine and the connection with the natural environment in our daily lives is not something you can easily find elsewhere.”

Jonhard Joensen, from Denmark, touches up paint on the stage area at the Old Orchard Beach Pier in preparation for opening day Friday. Joensen has been doing maintenance on the pier since February and will soon take a summer job as a deckhand on the Monhegan Island ferry. Staff photo by Jill Brady

But will Maine be ready? Low unemployment and changes to the federal visa program that provided many Maine inns and restaurants with foreign temporary workers are causing serious staffing shortages for some of the state’s hospitality businesses, Hewins said. Employers got some relief from an extension of a program that allows returning foreign workers not to be counted toward the cap on these seasonal workers. But the state’s low unemployment rate of 3 percent is an enduring challenge.

PUMP PRICES PLAY A ROLE

While the natural beauty may draw travelers to Maine, some industry players said stable gas prices will be what gets them on the road in the first place.

More than 82 percent of the drivers who use GasBuddy, a smartphone app that tracks local gas prices, plan to take a road trip this summer, according to the company’s annual summer travel study. That’s 7 percent more than in 2016.

Of those surveyed, about 70 percent plan to hit the road more than once. GasBuddy attributes the surge to stable gas prices, with Memorial Day gas likely to cost $2.39 a gallon, just 5 cents more than on Jan. 1.

“It has been a remarkably quiet spring at the pump,” said Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy. “As a result, we are finding that more people than ever will be taking advantage by hitting the road.”

Although stable, the national average price of gas is still about 5 cents higher than it was on Memorial Day 2016, AAA said. Airfare, hotel and vehicle rental rates also are higher, according to AAA. Average airfare for the top 40 domestic flight routes is 9 percent higher, with a typical round-trip ticket costing about $181. A three-diamond hotel room will cost $215, or 18 percent more. Daily rental cars will run $66, or 7 percent more.

But that’s not stopping Americans from travel, even on a holiday like this weekend, when crowds can sometimes bring a hassle.

About two out of five Americans surveyed by Digital Research Group, a Portland-based polling company, expect to kick off summer with a Memorial Day trip. The most popular reason for traveling is to spend time with friends or family, which was cited as the goal of 69 percent of those surveyed. Sight-seeing came in second, at 40 percent. Overall, almost half of Americans, or 46 percent, expect to fire up their grills.

“The ‘official’ unofficial start to the summer season is clearly a time to kick back,” said DRG president Bob Domine. “Americans are ready for a break.”

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

poverton@pressherald.com

Twitter: PLOvertonPPH

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/2017-shaping-up-to-be-strong-tourism-season/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/1202534_313844-20170525_BIZ_summer0.jpgOLD ORCHARD BEACH, ME - MAY 25: Marija Bralovic of Serbia sweeps the parking lot at the Green Dolphin Motel in preparation for opening day Friday in Old Orchard Beach. (/Staff Photographer)Fri, 26 May 2017 22:47:46 +0000
New Hampshire man dies at scene of car-versus-motorcycle crash in Wilton http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/new-hampshire-man-died-at-the-scene-of-a-car-versus-motorcycle-crash-in-wilton/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/new-hampshire-man-died-at-the-scene-of-a-car-versus-motorcycle-crash-in-wilton/#respond Fri, 26 May 2017 19:47:04 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/new-hampshire-man-died-at-the-scene-of-a-car-versus-motorcycle-crash-in-wilton/ WILTON — A New Hampshire man riding a motorcycle died at the scene late Friday morning after colliding with a car on Route 133, according to Wilton police.

John Marden, 29, of Franklin, New Hampshire, was driving a 2015 Yamaha motorcycle along Route 133 when he crashed into a Jeep, Chief Heidi Wilcox said in a news release.

Marden was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, the release said.

Phillip St. Germain, 54, of Chesterville, was driving a 2002 Jeep Wrangler down McCrillis Corner Road and was crossing Route 133. He did not report any injuries.

No passengers were involved in the accident.

Police are not releasing further information about how the crash happened until Maine State Police have finished reconstructing the accident, Wilcox said in an interview.

Wilton police also are asking that any witnesses to the crash, or anyone who was in the vicinity of it, call Officer Ethan Kyes at 778-6140. Wilcox said police think two other cars passed through the area at the time of the crash.

The Jeep sustained substantial damage from the crash, she said, and the motorcycle was a total loss.

Wilton police were assisted by the Jay fire and police departments, the Chesterville Fire Department and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

mstamour@centralmaine.com

Twitter: @madelinestamour

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/new-hampshire-man-died-at-the-scene-of-a-car-versus-motorcycle-crash-in-wilton/feed/ 0 Fri, 26 May 2017 16:41:47 +0000
LePage names DHHS administrator Ricker Hamilton as acting commissioner http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/lepage-names-dhhs-administrator-ricker-hamilton-as-acting-commissioner-of-the-agency/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/lepage-names-dhhs-administrator-ricker-hamilton-as-acting-commissioner-of-the-agency/#respond Fri, 26 May 2017 19:46:29 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/lepage-names-dhhs-administrator-ricker-hamilton-as-acting-commissioner-of-the-agency/ AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage on Friday tapped longtime Maine Department of Health and Human Services administrator Ricker Hamilton to serve as the agency’s acting commissioner.

Hamilton, the deputy commissioner of programs at DHHS, will take over for Mary Mayhew, whose resignation was announced Wednesday by LePage.

“I am pleased to appoint Ricker as acting commissioner of DHHS,” LePage said in a prepared statement. “He has been actively involved in reforming welfare, improving services for the truly needy and bringing fiscal responsibility and accountability to a department that was plagued by massive shortfalls under previous administrations.

“Ricker will provide a wealth of experience and a steady hand to guide DHHS as the department continues to improve and reform the programs that are vital to so many Mainers.”

It was unclear Friday whether Hamilton will hold the post temporarily, or whether LePage will nominate him to the Cabinet-level position for the remainder of his term. DHHS is the state’s largest department and accounts for about a third of all state spending.

Peter Steele, LePage’s communications director, said the governor would be deliberate in considering all of his options and potential candidates for the post. Any candidate nominated to the job in a permanent capacity would face a confirmation hearing before the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee and a vote of the full Senate.

Under state law, Hamilton can serve as long as six months in an acting capacity. Finding a permanent replacement for Mayhew may be difficult for LePage. He has only 19 months remaining in office, and qualified candidates might be leery of taking the job and risking being replaced by the next governor.

Hamilton has 40 years of experience in management, program development, strategic planning and social work in programs that provide services for children and families, substance abuse, mental health, sexual assault and domestic violence, aging and disability, and acute psychiatric care, LePage said.

Since 2013, Hamilton has managed and directed the Offices of Aging and Disability Services, Child and Family Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center and Riverview Psychiatric Center. He also served as program administrator for adult protective services at DHHS and as an instructor at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, where he developed a curriculum on elder abuse.

Hamilton holds a bachelor’s degree from Saint Anselm College and a master’s degree in social work from Boston College.

Mayhew, a former Democrat who also lobbied for the Maine Hospital Association before joining LePage’s administration, has been a key advocate for LePage’s efforts to revamp programs that affect thousands of Mainers, including efforts to tighten requirements for Medicaid enrollees, re-establish work requirements for food stamps, clamp down on welfare fraud, and advocate for other changes, such as forbidding junk food purchases with food stamps. LePage frequently has praised Mayhew’s fiscal management at the department, which had previously been the source of gaping budget deficits.

There has been persistent speculation that Mayhew will run for governor, but she has not confirmed that or any other plans.

LePage also announced Friday that Alec Porteous will serve as the department’s chief operating officer and chief financial officer, filling a role left vacant by Sam Adolphsen, who departed DHHS this year.

“Alec has a diverse background in the private and government sectors and has been integral in guiding the department to a stable financial footing,” LePage said, also in a prepared statement. “He will continue to be a strong, reform-minded leader within the department.”

Porteous previously worked as a policy adviser on Wall Street reforms and the Consumer Protection Act for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Washington, D.C. He also worked as an associate at Lehman Brothers/Barclays Capital to provide strategic and financial advice to clients, including Procter & Gamble, Hormel and Unilever. Before joining DHHS, Porteous was vice president at Harpswell Capital Advisors in New Gloucester.

Porteous also served from 2011 to 2013 as the state office representative in Portland for Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and as Collins’ campaign finance director during her 2013 reelection campaign. Porteous received his bachelor’s degree from Colby College in 2002 and his Master of Business Administration from Cornell University in 2007.

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 791-6330 or at:

sthistle@pressherald.com

Twitter: thisdog

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/lepage-names-dhhs-administrator-ricker-hamilton-as-acting-commissioner-of-the-agency/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/Ricker-Hamilton-Mary-Mayhew.jpgFri, 26 May 2017 23:26:10 +0000
Attorney for Saco man who allegedly shot at police seeks to have him hospitalized http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/saco-man-who-shot-at-police-to-remain-in-jail/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/saco-man-who-shot-at-police-to-remain-in-jail/#respond Fri, 26 May 2017 18:51:37 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/saco-man-who-shot-at-police-to-remain-in-jail/ The 25-year-old man who exchanged gunfire with Gorham police as they tried to apprehend him Wednesday was suicidal and wanted police to kill him, a prosecutor said in court Friday.

Aaron Bouchard of Saco was ordered held on $50,000 cash bail by Judge E. Paul Eggert at his initial appearance in Cumberland County Unified Court.

He is charged with reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and terrorizing. All are felonies punishable by up to five years in prison, a $5,000 fine or both.

His attorney, Heather Gonzalez, said Bouchard had been experiencing mental health problems and despite attempts to get treatment, his condition worsened Wednesday.

“He needs to be in a hospital,” Gonzalez said. “He was suicidal. He is suicidal. He basically just snapped.”

According to Assistant District Attorney Carlos Diaz, Bouchard drove to a location along Route 202 in Gorham, near where he grew up.

Police had said in an earlier statement that they communicated with Bouchard via text message at the scene.

Diaz said Bouchard emerged from the wooded area where he had been hiding, and from a moderate distance, fired three rounds, which passed above the heads of the police officers.

Gorham Police Chief Dan Jones, who exchanged gunfire with Bouchard, was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office, a standard step whenever deadly force is used by a police officer.

No one was injured in the incident, which shut down a portion of Route 202 in Gorham.

Despite the gunfire, the District Attorney’s Office chose not to proceed on the most serious charge, attempted murder, which could have carried a penalty of up to 30 years in prison.

In requesting bail, Gonzalez said Bouchard’s family does not have the money to pay the cash component, but they are seeking treatment for Bouchard, although options are limited.

“I would ask for 60-day inpatient at Riverview, but there is no room there,” Gonzalez said.

Absent a plan to hospitalize Bouchard, Eggert agreed to the state’s bail request of $50,000.

Matt Byrne can be contacted at:

mbyrne@pressherald.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/saco-man-who-shot-at-police-to-remain-in-jail/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/1202417_259187-20170526Bouchard_1.jpgAaron Bouchard, 25, makes his initial appearance in Cumberland County Unified Court with defense attorney Heather Gonzalez on Friday.Fri, 26 May 2017 23:29:14 +0000
LePage, aiming to shut down prison, orders early release of 17 inmates http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/governor-to-finalize-prisoner-commutations/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/governor-to-finalize-prisoner-commutations/#respond Fri, 26 May 2017 18:41:15 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/governor-to-finalize-prisoner-commutations/ Gov. Paul LePage granted 17 prisoners early release Friday as part of a conditional commutation effort that the Department of Corrections has said is linked to his attempt to close a minimum-security prison in Machiasport.

A statement LePage’s office issued Friday did not provide any information about which prisoners will be set free, the timetable for their release, their crimes, or how much time is left on their sentences. Department of Corrections Commissioner Joseph Fitzpatrick has declined to comment on any aspect of the prisoner release plan since May 19, and he did not respond to a voicemail seeking comment Friday.

Jim Mackie, a spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 93, the union that represents the state’s correctional workers, said 16 inmates were moved from Maine Correctional Center in Windham to another facility in the state where they are likely to be released out of sight of the media.

Although LePage’s statement did not link the commutations with the announced closure of the Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport, the corrections department, in written responses to legislators’ questions this week, acknowledged that officials would release inmates to make room at other state facilities for the people currently housed at Downeast.

About 65 general population beds are open statewide, according to the department’s written response. The state now houses about 2,300 inmates.

The Portland Press Herald has filed a Freedom of Access Act request with the governor’s office and Department of Corrections for details on the commutation process, who the prisoners are, and what agencies, if any, were involved in making the commutation decisions.

In a statement Friday afternoon, LePage characterized the commutations as a fiscally responsible move that will help low-risk offenders transition into jobs, calling them a way to “build our workforce and fill positions that have been sitting vacant.”

The state Department of Labor will work with the released prisoners to find employment, the statement said, but offered no details on what that assistance would consist of, and whether this process would differ from current practices when a prisoner is released on schedule.

Much like probation, the commutations come with conditions. Prisoners who are released by the governor will be supervised as if they are on probation, and will be expected to not engage in criminal conduct, and to obey a strict curfew and other standard conditions.

The Downeast Correctional Facility is an aging minimum-security prison built to accommodate about 150 inmates. It now houses about 100 low-security inmates, including some sex offenders, who have been convicted of a variety of major felonies and are nearing the end of their sentences.

On May 19, LePage ordered the prison to close on June 10 and sent layoff notices to 55 of the facility’s employees, but this week his office appeared to back off that timetable, giving the prison a nine-month reprieve by submitting a revised budget plan that would keep Downeast running through March 2018.

On Friday, however, Mackie said he learned that layoffs at Downeast would be delayed only until August.

LePage had zeroed out funding for the Downeast Correctional Facility in his $6.8 billion budget proposal, but jump-started the closure process last week after lawmakers signaled they would continue funding the prison.

On Wednesday, the Senate voted 30-3 in support of a resolution directing the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee to fund Downeast Correctional for two years. The House unanimously endorsed the resolution Thursday without debate. It next goes to the appropriations committee for a vote.

It remains unclear whether LePage has the authority to close the prison if the Legislature votes to fund it.

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

mbyrne@pressherald.com

Twitter: MattByrnePPH

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/governor-to-finalize-prisoner-commutations/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2014/02/windham+Prison.jpgSat, 27 May 2017 11:05:47 +0000
Maine voters approved 4 laws in 2016. Here’s where they stand http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/maine-voters-approved-4-laws-in-2016-heres-where-they-stand/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/maine-voters-approved-4-laws-in-2016-heres-where-they-stand/#respond Fri, 26 May 2017 18:31:38 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/maine-voters-approved-4-laws-in-2016-heres-where-they-stand/ Maine voters thought they approved sweeping changes to the state’s rules on marijuana, taxes, voting and the minimum wage when they went to the polls last year.

But think again.

The four referendums have hit roadblocks as Republican Gov. Paul LePage, the state Legislature and the courts have weighed in. The final rule changes could be very different from the proposals voters approved in November.

Maine’s Constitution makes clear that the referendums are like any other law. But just like any other law, they can be taken off the books, said Marshall Tinkle, a Portland attorney and author of “The Maine State Constitution.”

“But I would say it’s politically dicey when people of Maine decide that they want something, and the governor or the Legislature decide they just don’t want to implement it,” he added.

VOTING FIGHT

The state’s adoption of the country’s first “ranked-choice” voting system came under fire this week when the Maine Supreme Judicial Court unanimously concluded the election overhaul conflicts with the Maine Constitution. Lawmakers who are considering whether to implement the system or get rid of it altogether requested the court opinion.

The referendum was designed to allow residents to rank their ballot choices from first to last in a system that ensures a candidate wins majority support. Supporters say it weeds out the possibility of “spoiler” candidates.

A Democratic lawmaker wants to change the law to address the court’s concerns and propose the revised measure as a constitutional amendment. Rep. Heather Sirocki, R-Scarborough, and other Republican opponents of the voter-approved law say it is unconstitutional. Former Rep. Diane Russell, a Democrat, called efforts to undermine ranked-choice voting “shameful and anti-democratic.”

In the weeks ahead, legislators will debate the proposed constitutional amendment and the possibility of repealing ranked-choice voting entirely.

WAGES FOR WAITSTAFF

LePage opposes the minimum wage increase that voters approved in November. The plan calls for raising the hourly minimum wage from $7.50 to $12 by 2020. The governor submitted a bill this week to instead increase the wage in 50-cent increments until it tops out at $11 an hour in 2021.

Mainers For Fair Wages campaigner Mike Tipping called LePage’s move “a slap in the face to the 55.5 percent of voters that approved it.” LePage’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

The implementation schedule is not the only aspect of the voter-approved law that’s under pressure. A legislative committee voted this month to recommend another bill that would restore the authority of employers to pay less than minimum wage to workers who make up the difference in tips.

SCHOOL TAX TUSSLE

A dust-up over a tax on high earners to fund education has the potential to hold up the state’s passage of a budget.

Voters approved a new 3 percent surtax on portions of household income above $200,000. LePage opposes the tax, as do several large employers in the state, and Republicans have said they are committed to leaving it out of the budget.

Democratic leaders say they are open to getting rid of the tax if they can still provide the increased school funding voters approved at the polls.

John Kosinski of the Stand Up for Students campaign, which backed the school-tax proposal, said, “Voters are incredulous that some legislators could thumb their nose to the voters.”

MARIJUANA BEING IMPLEMENTED

The implementation of the state’s legalized marijuana program seems to be moving along with the least amount of resistance, but it will still likely be 2018 before anyone can legally buy pot in Maine.

The Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation has been hammering out rules to govern the retail sale of marijuana. Meanwhile, many municipalities have enacted moratoriums on pot sales until they can get a look at the final rules.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/maine-voters-approved-4-laws-in-2016-heres-where-they-stand/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/02/1153164_letters_0227-e1487068299333.jpgStaff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette Voters make their way in and out of voting booths at Kennebunk Town Hall on Election Day in 2002.Fri, 26 May 2017 14:37:25 +0000
Portland building evacuated after it is hit by truck http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/portland-building-evacuated-after-it-is-hit-by-truck/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/portland-building-evacuated-after-it-is-hit-by-truck/#respond Fri, 26 May 2017 17:31:15 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/portland-building-evacuated-after-it-is-hit-by-truck/ A Portland building has been evacuated until it can be stabilized after it was hit by a truck involved in car crash Friday afternoon.

The pickup truck that hit the building at the corner of High and Sherman streets was one of two cars involved in a crash, according to Portland police. Two people were taken to a hospital with minor injuries.

The impact of the truck caused structural damage to the building. Occupants of the building will be allowed to return once a wall is built to stabilize the structure.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/portland-building-evacuated-after-it-is-hit-by-truck/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/1202315_665313-20170526_crash0772.jpgPORTLAND, ME - MAY 25: A pickup truck crashed into a building at High and Sherman streets in Portland on Friday, May 26, 2017. (Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer)Fri, 26 May 2017 22:57:54 +0000
Two Democratic lawmakers drop out of party http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/two-democratic-lawmakers-drop-from-party/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/two-democratic-lawmakers-drop-from-party/#respond Fri, 26 May 2017 17:15:43 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/two-democratic-lawmakers-drop-from-party/ Two Democratic lawmakers have unenrolled from the party.

Rep. Denise Harlow of Portland and Rep. Ralph Chapman of Brooksville – two veteran lawmakers and progressive members of the Democratic caucus – both dropped their party affiliations earlier this week, according to the office of House Speaker Sara Gideon. Both lawmakers are heavily involved in environmental issues and recently split with most of their party, opposing a bipartisan bill to overhaul Maine’s metallic mining regulations.

“Obviously, this is not a decision that I have taken lightly,” said Harlow, who added that her family’s Democratic roots go back to her great-grandfather. “I have been a member of the Democratic Party for my entire adult life and have proudly represented part of Portland in the Legislature for 6 1/2 years … I continue to be aligned with the core Democratic values.”

However, Harlow said “individual thinkers are often marginalized” in the party and she remains “extremely concerned” about the influence lobbyists have in Augusta. Harlow is serving her fourth term and is prohibited under Maine’s term limits from running again in the House. While Harlow could seek a Senate seat, she said Friday she had no plans to run again.

Chapman, who is also serving his fourth term, could not be immediately reached for comment Friday.

Their decisions to unenroll reduces the narrow Democratic majority in the House but is unlikely to significantly alter the political balance because both lawmakers are considered liberal or progressive. Democrats now hold 75 seats in the House while Republicans hold 71 and independents occupy five, including Chapman and Harlow.

Gideon said she respected the pair’s decision.

“I’m disappointed that Rep. Harlow and Rep. Chapman have unenrolled from the Democratic Party, but I respect their decision and value their friendship,” Gideon, D-Freeport, said in a statement. “I have always admired their progressive values and the passion they bring to their work. Democrats will continue to staff them and our door is always open to them. I look forward to continuing to work with them on issues that matter to all of us.”

Harlow declined to go into specifics about her decision. However, she and Chapman both opposed the mining bill, arguing that it could still allow groundwater contamination and other pollution problems.

The Callahan Mine, a former open pit mine for copper and zinc that is now a Superfund site, is located in Chapman’s district.

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

kmiller@mainetoday.com

Twitter: KevinMillerPPH

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/two-democratic-lawmakers-drop-from-party/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/Denise-Harlow-Ralph-Chapman.jpgSat, 27 May 2017 11:27:36 +0000
Speaking in Skowhegan, Sen. Collins cites need for ‘fanatical moderates’ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/in-skowhegan-speech-u-s-sen-susan-collins-cites-need-for-fanatical-moderates/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/in-skowhegan-speech-u-s-sen-susan-collins-cites-need-for-fanatical-moderates/#respond Fri, 26 May 2017 15:47:15 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/in-skowhegan-speech-u-s-sen-susan-collins-cites-need-for-fanatical-moderates/ SKOWHEGAN — Bipartisanship is being scorned and the art of the compromise appears out of date, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said Friday, calling for “fanatical moderates” in an increasingly polarized political world.

Collins, R-Maine, made the remarks Friday morning to a full house at the Margaret Chase Smith Library.

“We need centrists, pragmatists to be as active in shaping the political debate as the energized far left and the aggressive right,” Collins told the gathering for the 28th annual Maine Town Meeting. “We need more fanatical moderates.”

Recently named for the fourth year in a row the most bipartisan senator and also making the list as one of the most effective senators, Collins said there is a link between working with other people and getting things done.

Collins grew up in Caribou and met Sen. Margaret Chase Smith at her Washington, D.C., office as a high school senior in 1971. At the time, Smith, a Skowhegan native, was the only woman in the U.S. Senate. Today, there are 21 women in the Senate, according to the U.S. Senate website, and Collins occupies the seat once held by Smith.

In her Skowhegan talk, which coincided with the library’s 35th anniversary celebration, Collins cited the legend that George Washington told Thomas Jefferson that the Senate was created to be a “cooling saucer” to the hot legislation that comes from the House. She said the current hyperpartisanship and obstructionism has turned that cooling saucer into “an overheated skillet.”

“Since I joined the Senate nearly 20 years ago and have had the honor of representing Maine, I have witnessed a withering of this culture of patience, perseverance and persuasion,” she said. “Ideology and partisanship dictate far too much of our conduct.”

Collins cited certain Senate traditions, such as “Seersucker Thursday,” on which members don the white-and-blue striped garments as a show of camaraderie, even in the face of deep political differences. She said the Senate traditions are important because they are intended to depersonalize the debate and to remind “heated adversaries” that when the current disputes are over, they will be working again with their opponents on different issues on which they well might agree.

Civility, Collins said, is an increasingly rare commodity. She said America “is coming apart” on 24/7 television news and talk radio, telling viewers and listeners what they want to hear and ignoring the middle ground of partisanship. She referred to “residential sorting,” in which conservatives appear to be migrating to rural areas, while liberals tend to cluster in the nation’s cities.

“We are isolating ourselves,” she said.

Collins has been listed as being among the most moderate Republicans.

She’s spoken out against President Donald Trump’s partial immigration ban, his omission of any mention of Jews in his Holocaust remembrance statement, his appointment of former Breitbart News executive director Stephen Bannon to the National Security Council and his nomination of billionaire Betsy DeVos as education secretary.

Collins objected to the House-passed health care bill on Wednesday, saying a new report by the Congressional Budget Office shows that the legislation will hit older, low-income Americans especially hard.

“Unfortunately, the CBO estimates that 23 million Americans would lose insurance coverage over the next decade, and the impact would disproportionately affect older, low-income Americans,” Collins said in a statement.

Collins and GOP colleague Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana have met with a group of Republican and Democratic senators to negotiate alternative legislation based on a proposal they introduced earlier this year, according to The Hill.

The group has met separately from the 13-member working group that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, has convened to rewrite the House bill, which narrowly passed in that chamber earlier this month, according to the website.

“I urge my colleagues to support the comprehensive ACA replacement plan Sen. Cassidy and I introduced that will allow more Americans to obtain health insurance, preserve significant consumer protections and help moderate the cost of health care,” she said.

She said the recent political wrangling over appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court was again parting with tradition and breaking faith with the ideals of the nation’s founders. She said the way Republicans treated Judge Merrick Garland, who was nominated last year by former President Barack Obama to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court, was wrong.

Collins said the Constitution does not limit the president’s ability to make nominations in his final year in office — an argument made by Senate Majority Leader McConnell in refusing to schedule a confirmation hearing for Garland.

After her address Friday morning, some in attendance asked if she had met with the Supreme Court nominees.

Collins said she had met with Garland, an appeals court judge, in April 2016, saying he deserved a hearing and a vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“I believe that we should follow the regular order in considering this nominee,” she told National Public Radio in March 2016. “The Constitution’s very clear that the president has every right to make this nomination, and then the Senate can either consent or withhold its consent. The only way that we can do that is by thoroughly vetting the nominee, and that means having personal meetings, which I have scheduled to come up in about three weeks, or — and to hold a public hearing.”

Even so, Collins also said Democrats “further aggravated” the partisanship surrounding the Supreme Court selection by filibustering — and ultimately largely voting against — President Donald Trump’s selection of Judge Neil Gorsuch for the vacant seat on the high court. She said she believes that any nominee for the Supreme Court ought to have a right to an up-or-down vote from the full Senate.

Maintaining the bipartisan thread of Friday’s meeting, attended by more than 100 people, the senator said that on the surface, politicians refer to their counterparts as being “esteemed” or “my friend”; but she said she really is friends with fellow Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent.

Collins on Friday was introduced by library Director David Richards. Merton Henry, vice president of the Margaret Chase Smith Foundation, gave a brief history of the library, founded 35 years ago. Collins was followed after a break by Mark Brewer, a professor of political science at the University of Maine.

Two recipients of the Margaret Chase Smith essay contest also were on hand to receive their awards Friday. They were Sigrid Sibley, of Poland Regional High School, and Gabrielle Kyes, of Mattanawcook Academy.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

dharlow@centralmaine.com

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/in-skowhegan-speech-u-s-sen-susan-collins-cites-need-for-fanatical-moderates/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/1127533_collins1_01-1.jpgU.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has called for several legislative steps intended to increase drug price competition, including giving priority review to drugmakers that develop cheaper versions of drugs that are only available from a single company.Fri, 26 May 2017 22:29:55 +0000
Woman charged with OUI after car crashes into Arundel Fire Station http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/biddeford-woman-charged-with-oui-after-car-crashes-into-the-arundel-fire-station/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/biddeford-woman-charged-with-oui-after-car-crashes-into-the-arundel-fire-station/#respond Fri, 26 May 2017 10:53:37 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/biddeford-woman-charged-with-oui-after-car-crashes-into-the-arundel-fire-station/ A Bidddeford woman was charged with operating under the influence after her car slammed into the Arundel Fire Station on Thursday night.

Arundel Fire station Thursday night. Photo courtesy of the York County Sheriff’s Office

York County Sheriff Bill King said Kastara Ylonen, 25, drove her 2009 Toyota Highlander into the side of the building that is used for sleeping quarters for firefighters and emergency medical technicians.

Ylonen was extricated from the vehicle by fire and rescue crews from Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel, then taken to Southern Maine Healthcare in Biddeford for evaluation. She was alone in the car.

King said he does not know if there were any first responders in the sleeping quarters when the crash occurred. No other injuries were reported. Damage to the fire station on Limerick Road is estimated at $50,000.

Ylonen is expected to make her initial appearance on July 19 in Biddeford District Court.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/26/biddeford-woman-charged-with-oui-after-car-crashes-into-the-arundel-fire-station/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/arundel-crash.jpgFri, 26 May 2017 20:01:06 +0000
Police identify victim in fatal South Thomaston crash http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/one-person-killed-two-injured-in-single-car-accident-in-south-thomaston/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/one-person-killed-two-injured-in-single-car-accident-in-south-thomaston/#respond Fri, 26 May 2017 03:31:38 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/one-person-killed-two-injured-in-single-car-accident-in-south-thomaston/ SOUTH THOMASTON — The Knox County Sheriff’s Office said it will forward findings of its investigation into Thursday night’s fatal car crash to the district attorney’s office.

One person died and two others were injured following the May 25 crash on Route 131.

According to Knox County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Timothy Carroll, passenger, Zachary Elwell, 21, of St. George was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver, Kelsey Campbell, 19, of South Thomaston, and another passenger, Austin Jurkowski, 19, of St. George, were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

The crash occurred on Route 131 in South Thomaston near Alder Lane just after 7 p.m.

The chief deputy reported that witnesses stated that a car was traveling at a high rate of speed and had just passed a vehicle before going off the road, striking many trees, and rolling over multiple times.

Elwell was ejected from the vehicle.

“It is also believed that alcohol will be a contributing factor,” Carroll stated.

Carroll said Friday that the department will be gathering more evidence and conducting interviews to see what led to the crash. He said a blood test was taken of the driver, which is standard when there is a fatal crash.

Once the investigation is complete, the information will be given to the district attorney’s office to determine if charges are warranted, he said.

South Thomaston Fire and Ambulance, the St. George Fire Department and Thomaston Fire Department assisted at the scene. The Knox County Regional Communications Center dispatchers helped coordinate all crews involved.

Route 131 was closed to through traffic from Westbrook Street on the Thomaston end and near Harbor Road Veterinary Hospital on the St. George end.

The road was reopened shortly before 11:30 p.m.

Knox County Sheriff’s Office Reconstruction and Mapping Teams are continuing with the investigation.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/one-person-killed-two-injured-in-single-car-accident-in-south-thomaston/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/thomaston.jpgPhoto by: Beth A. Birmingham Traffic being diverted from Route 131 in South Thomaston to Westbrook Street shortly after 7 p.m. May 25 due to a fatal crash just before Harbor Road Veterinary Hospital.Fri, 26 May 2017 23:09:53 +0000
Proposed waterfront park would cost $16 million, Portland officials say http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/proposed-waterfront-park-would-cost-16-million-city-officials-say/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/proposed-waterfront-park-would-cost-16-million-city-officials-say/#respond Fri, 26 May 2017 02:16:46 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/proposed-waterfront-park-would-cost-16-million-city-officials-say/ A proposed city park next to Ocean Gateway that includes event space, sailing facilities and elevated berms to protect against sea surge would cost about $16 million, city officials said Thursday.

“This is a very different space than we originally thought,” said Bill Needelman, the city’s waterfront coordinator. The design, he said, was driven by the need for “resiliency” in the face of flooding or rising waters.

“This is a demonstration of how development makes us safer and how our investments can be expected to protect us,” he told about 50 people gathered at a public forum to see the concept designs at Ocean Gateway on Thursday.

The space is known as the Amethyst lot, a neglected, 1.5-acre parcel between the Ocean Gateway terminal and the former Portland Co. complex at 58 Fore St.

The redesign is part of a larger renovation of Portland’s Eastern Waterfront.

The central waterfront edge of the proposed “Portland Landing” is dominated by an event space and promenade along the water, and large oversize steps leading down to the water. The pilings near the edge are removed, while the pilings in the middle of the cove remain. A community building that will house SailMaine and a sailing dock are in the center of the space.

An aerial view of the proposed “Portland Landing” park, which would be located on the waterfront behind the Ocean Gateway cruise ship terminal. City of Portland

On the northern edge, the grounds would be more wild and “naturalized,” the promenade runs partly over the water and includes a new dock for day sailors to tie up.

Moon Tide Park, a tidal area that contains contaminated dredging materials from the 1980s, will be expanded about 15 feet on every side and enclosed. A new triangular pier that extends over the water is located off the park, and a fishing platform is added along one corner.

A triangular space next to Moon Tide Park and running along the existing parking lot will have charter boat access.

A rendering of the proposed “Portland Landing” park, looking toward Munjoy Hill from the current site of the Moon Tide Park. City of Portland

Some people at the meeting raised questions about the cost, how it would be paid for, why the central pilings weren’t being removed and why there was no vehicle access to the docks for day sailors.

Tony Donovan of the Maine Rail Transit Coalition, an advocate of rebuilding Maine’s passenger rail network said the entire plan was “flawed” because it did not make use of the nearby train tracks.

The design team, from Stantec Consulting Services of Scarborough, emphasized that the plans were still in the design phase. Needelman said the pilings were a great “memory” of the Grand Trunk pier, but the city will “have to figure out what to do with them in the future.”

Needelman said the proposal will now go to city committees for review.

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

ngallagher@pressherald.com

Twitter: noelinmaine

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/proposed-waterfront-park-would-cost-16-million-city-officials-say/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/Festival-plaza-1024x454-cropped.jpgFri, 26 May 2017 10:18:39 +0000
Lobstering ban near coral gardens could cost industry almost $9 million a year, fishermen say http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/lobstering-ban-near-coral-gardens-could-cost-industry-almost-9-million-a-year-fishermen-say/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/lobstering-ban-near-coral-gardens-could-cost-industry-almost-9-million-a-year-fishermen-say/#respond Fri, 26 May 2017 02:15:03 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/lobstering-ban-near-coral-gardens-could-cost-industry-almost-9-million-a-year-fishermen-say/ ELLSWORTH — The financial toll of a lobster fishing ban near deep-sea coral gardens in the Gulf of Maine could top $8 million a year, almost double what was originally projected by the regional regulatory group that is considering the ban, a Maine fishing representative said Thursday.

The 50 Maine lobster boats that fish Outer Schoodic Ridge and Mount Desert Rock – the areas where fragile coral colonies have been found – drop more traps there for more months of the year than originally estimated, said Pat Keliher, Maine’s top fisheries official.

The New England Fisheries Management Council originally had estimated that Maine fishermen likely landed about $4.2 million worth of lobster from the 49 square miles under consideration for coral protection. Dave Cousens, head of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, estimates the total is closer to $9 million.

“Lobster fishing is the economic backbone of Down East coastal Maine,” Keliher said. “Each of these proposed coral protection areas represents an important fishing ground for over 50 vessels from approximately 15 communities.”

About 75 lobstermen attended a meeting in Ellsworth on Thursday, the only Maine public hearing on the council’s proposed coral protections. Only a handful spoke out, but all raised their hands when a council member asked how many supported lobster fishing in the areas.

Many worried about what would happen when the fishermen that would be forced out of the proposed coral zones moved into new fishing grounds. The financial impact would be felt by those 50 boats as well as other fishermen who would have to share their fishing grounds with the displaced boats, fishermen warned.

“This would force fishermen to fish outside their normal fishing areas,” said Hilton Turner, head of the Down East Lobstermen’s Association. “This leads to gear conflict. We really don’t think we want to add any more fuel to this fire.”

A section of the dense, multi-species deep-sea coral garden that was found 200 meters below the surface in a federally funded survey of the Gulf of Maine in 2014. Courtesy of NOAA Fisheries/New England Fisheries Science Center/University of Connecticut/University of Maine

It was the most heavily attended of the council’s public hearings on the proposed coral zones – the crowd was bigger than all the others combined, said council member Doug Grout, chief of New Hampshire’s state marine division.

The meeting was packed despite the council’s vote last month to recommend a lobster exemption to the proposed coral fishing ban that will be considered at its June meeting. State officials had wanted a crowd to ensure the council stuck with its “preferred alternative.”

In April, the council appeared swayed by the financial impact of a lobstering ban in these two popular fishing grounds, and the danger posed to right whales if those lobstermen moved into nearby waters favored by the whales.

Cousens warned of a potential “wall of rope” that would be created when displaced fishermen joined those already fishing just outside the proposed coral zones.

“We’ve worked our asses off for the last 20 years trying to accommodate fishing and right whales,” said Cousens. “This would be a disaster for the fishermen and the whales.”

The council has spent two years developing regulations to protect the delicate, slow-growing coral gardens of sea whips, fans and pens found on the steep rock walls in the northwest Atlantic Ocean.

The corals are deemed essential fish habitat, providing shelter, food and refuge to fish such as cod, pollock and redfish. But researchers have found evidence that fishing, especially bottom trawling, has damaged these coral habitats.

Many lobster fishermen who trap in these areas say they have never found coral in their pots, arguing that they avoid the rocky ledges to protect their gear, but researchers say they have found evidence that lobster pots can crush or dislodge the coral.

The proposed Outer Schoodic Ridge coral zone is a 31-square-mile area that lies about 25 nautical miles southeast of Mount Desert Island. The Mount Desert Rock zone is an 18-square-mile area about 20 nautical miles south of Mount Desert Island.

The bottom near the ridge looks like an underwater slot canyon, with depths ranging from roughly 350 feet to more than 800 feet. Researchers have found sea fans and red trees on the steep vertical rock faces there, sometimes in thickets known as coral gardens.

Water depth near the rock can go as deep as 650 feet. Researchers have surveyed this area a half-dozen times since 2002, finding both low-density coral habitats and coral gardens on the high slopes, as well as sea pen beds.

Penelope Overton can be contacted at:

poverton@pressherald.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/lobstering-ban-near-coral-gardens-could-cost-industry-almost-9-million-a-year-fishermen-say/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/1201162_151398-Mount-Desert-Rock.jpgRegulators are weighing a fishing ban in an 18-square-mile area southwest of Mount Desert Rock, above, to protect coral.Fri, 26 May 2017 06:47:00 +0000
Gorham has 2 finalists for town manager post http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/gorham-has-2-finalists-for-town-manager-post/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/gorham-has-2-finalists-for-town-manager-post/#respond Fri, 26 May 2017 01:14:39 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/gorham-has-2-finalists-for-town-manager-post/ The two candidates to be Gorham’s next town manager already work in Maine municipalities.

David Cole, who has been Gorham’s town manager for 23 years, will retire this fall. The two finalists to replace him are Ephrem Paraschak, the town manager of Naples, and Michael Murray, Portland’s island and neighborhood administrator.

Each candidate will meet the town’s department heads and the school superintendent June 8. The town will host an informal meet-and-greet for the public from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. the same day at Town Hall.

A second round of interviews will be held June 13, and a final decision will be announced the next week.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/gorham-has-2-finalists-for-town-manager-post/feed/ 0 Thu, 25 May 2017 22:08:06 +0000
Messalonskee High School’s robotics team competing in China http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/messalonskee-high-schools-robotics-team-competing-in-china/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/messalonskee-high-schools-robotics-team-competing-in-china/#respond Fri, 26 May 2017 00:59:12 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/messalonskee-high-schools-robotics-team-competing-in-china/ When Lisa Klein, a coach for Messalonskee High School’s Infinite Loop robotics team, opened her email and saw an invitation to travel to China for a competition, she was taken by surprise.

Her first thought was that the email came from China, Maine. She messaged her friend who works for FIRST – For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, the nonprofit that promotes interest in science and mathematics and runs competitions for robotics teams – and asked, “Is this for real?”

The invitation was for real, and it was coming from the China halfway around the world in Asia, not the one a half-hour away in Kennebec County.

Students from the FIRST robotics team at the high school, along with Klein, two mentors and two program alumni, boarded a bus Tuesday afternoon in Augusta to begin the journey to Qingdao, China, a city on the east coast south of Beijing and north of Shanghai. Two students, senior Michael Viens and freshman T.J. Petrill, represent the team. The two alumni are Gretchen Rice, who graduated last year and just finished her first year at the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in Needham, Massachusetts, and Justin Shuman, a student at Kennebec Valley Community College.

They will work with another team based in Qingdao and compete in the FIRST China International Competition starting June 2 at the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum. Principal Paula Callan said the students arrived Thursday morning.

“Obviously it’s exciting. It’s intriguing,” said Klein, who coaches the team along with Keith McGlauflin. “You know, there’s a little bit of nervousness going to a new country.”

No one in the group has been to China before, and one of the students had never been on a plane, she said.

They’re excited, though, Klein said, because the invitation was an honor for the program.

Infinite Loop, which started in 2007, is one of six teams in the United States invited to participate in the competition in China, which will feature 200 teams from around the world. In 2016, more than 2,600 teams from the U.S. competed in the FIRST Robotics Competition. FIRST estimates that more than 52,000 teams worldwide are competing in different competitions. A group of students in Falmouth, called Team 172 – Northern Force, also was chosen to compete.

“We feel like it’s because we’ve made a name for ourselves,” Klein said in discussing why her team was chosen, both through winning competitions and promoting interest in the fields of STEM, or science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

For eight days, the students will build a 120-pounds-or-fewer robot with a team from China, whom they’ve talked with over Skype. After a day of sightseeing, they’ll spend three days competing before returning home.

The students are “going over a little bit blind” about how the process works, especially in such a short time frame, Klein said.

In a normal season, FIRST releases the new rules for the game in January and the students have six weeks to build a robot that complies with the rules, purchasing all their own materials. Then, they compete for another six weeks.

The rules are based on a theme. Last year was a medieval theme, with obstacles such as a water moat and rough terrain the robot had to get over. This past year, the theme was steampunk, and the robot had to collect fuel, deliver gears to airship pilots and then climb a rope to the airship for the last 30 seconds, among other things, said Klein, who was a mentor for five years before becoming a coach two years ago. The teams compete in groups of three versus three.

Despite the nerves about the short time frame, Klein said this will be a “wonderful experience” for the students, not only because they’ll get to experience a different culture, but also because they’ll be helping and growing with another team.

Infinite Loop was chosen in part, Klein believes, because the team “knows how to help another team get started doing what they need to do.”

The FIRST organization is paying for in-country travel, meals and lodging, and the students held fundraisers to pay for the international plane tickets and visa costs. The school also gave the group $7,500.

Infinite Loop, which has 16 student members, has won a number of awards in competitions over the years, including the engineering inspiration award and the gracious professionalism award. The team also has won the chairman’s award, which Klein said is considered the most prestigious award at competitions, for five years in a row.

The award goes to teams that are a model others should emulate, according to FIRST’s website, as well as those that embody “the purpose and goals of FIRST.”

The students do a lot of outreach to promote interest in the STEM fields, Klein said, a major goal of the FIRST organization, which emphasizes that it’s about “more than robots.” They present demonstrations in classrooms or summer camps, mentor middle schoolers during Lego week and help other schools jump-start their own FIRST teams.

“We’ve gone to many, many schools and tried to get the interest going,” Klein said, “… which is what FIRST is all about. They want to grow interest in STEM fields.”

The Messalonskee students have helped create 13 teams in the area, including programs in Hallowell, Livermore Falls and Brewer. Sometimes, they chat via Skype with students farther away in towns such as Brewer, or they offer to share their building space at Wrabacon Inc. in Oakland with other teams that don’t have a place to work.

“I just think that this is a wonderful opportunity for them to get hands-on learning,” Klein said, adding that the students not only learn about engineering, but also about business.

At Messalonskee High School, students run the program like a business, she said, working together on a $60,000 budget, which is funded through donors, sponsors and $5,000 from the school. There are meetings and captains, as well as positions such as treasurer.

“They get the business aspects as well as the STEM aspects,” she said.

FIRST was founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen, an inventor and advocate for science and technology, to inspire young people to take part in more science and technology programs.

Now more than 460,000 students worldwide are involved in one of the FIRST programs, and interest in the STEM fields is rising. Studies on the effects of the robotics program show that it encourages students to do better in school and strengthens their skills in leadership and problem-solving.

According to an evaluation of the effect of FIRST programs by the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University in 2011, 83 percent of students who take part in FIRST programs were interested in becoming an engineer or a scientist, and 92 percent increased their interest in going to college.

A Brandeis University study from 2005 found that FIRST participants were twice as likely to major in science or engineering than their peers, and 33 percent of women participants majored in engineering.

More than 75 percent of FIRST alumni also enter a STEM field as a student or professional, according to a survey conducted by FIRST.

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

mstamour@centralmaine.com

Twitter: @madelinestamour

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/messalonskee-high-schools-robotics-team-competing-in-china/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/1202004_453611-robot.jpgStudents in the Infinite Loop robotics team at Messalonskee High School built this robot for FIRST competitions.Thu, 25 May 2017 22:09:22 +0000
Libra Foundation begins effort to revitalize Monson as hub for artists http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/effort-underway-to-revitalize-monson-as-artists-hub/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/effort-underway-to-revitalize-monson-as-artists-hub/#respond Thu, 25 May 2017 22:04:25 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/effort-underway-to-revitalize-monson-as-artists-hub/ The Libra Foundation has launched an effort to revitalize the town of Monson by creating a hub for artists.

The Portland-based philanthropic foundation already has purchased about 12 downtown properties and is renovating them into artists’ residences and studios. The hope is that once an artists’ community is populated, it will draw economic investment into the poorest county in Maine, Piscataquis.

Jere Michelson

“Monson is at the gateway of the Moosehead region, yet it is invisible to those who drive through there,” said Jere Michelson, president of the Libra Foundation. “We’re trying to change that.”

The foundation decided to concentrate its efforts on Monson’s downtown, which has borne the scars of shuttered factories and a declining population. The town was once home to Moosehead Manufacturing Co., a bustling furniture manufacturer that closed in 2007. According to 2015 census information, Monson had a median household income of $32,734, versus the state’s median of $49,331. And with a median age of 55.7, it is much older than the statewide median of 43.8.

Despite being nestled in one of the most beautiful parts of the state, the area’s economy has suffered. Last year, unemployment in Piscataquis County hovered around 5.5 percent, well above the state’s average of 3.9 percent. Nearly one in five residents there lives in poverty.

In its heyday, Monson was home to painters, sculptors, photographers and other artists, some of whom still live and work there, Michelson said. That’s a legacy that Libra wants to grow.

One of the buildings, a general store, is expected to be renovated in time to open this summer, he said. If all goes well, he hopes there will be artists living in their new homes next summer.

WHY MONSON

Michelson said Libra executives spend a lot of time driving around the state and take notice of depressed areas. Part of the foundation’s mission is to spur economic development where it is needed most.

It successfully revived the abandoned Maine School for the Feeble-Minded into Pineland, a mixed-use campus in New Gloucester that is home to agricultural operations, offices and recreation areas. The foundation also has developed agricultural and recreational projects in Aroostook County.

“We kept talking about ‘Who needs a push?’ ” Michelson said. Inevitably, the conversations kept coming back to Monson.

If an artists colony can take hold, then perhaps other investment will be drawn in and growth will occur organically, he said.

In addition to rehabbing the buildings and recruiting artists, Libra also is hoping to make investments in local agriculture and in recreation.

Besides being the gateway to the Moosehead region, Monson has the only downtown that is traversed by the Appalachian Trail. It is a provisioning station and boarding stop on the 2,200-mile trek from Georgia to Mount Katahdin.

“It’s right at the cusp of the 100-Mile Wilderness,” Michelson said.

Details about the agricultural and recreational investments are still being worked out, he said, but the foundation is prepared to spend about $1 million this year on the revitalization effort, and to make a multi-year commitment.

“We haven’t worked out the terms explicitly, but this will be a lasting commitment,” Michelson said.

Carol Coultas can be contacted at 791-6460 or at:

ccoultas@pressherald.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/effort-underway-to-revitalize-monson-as-artists-hub/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/556162_20140206_libra21.jpgThu, 25 May 2017 20:43:37 +0000
Wilton man to spend 12 years in prison for assault on child http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/wilton-man-to-spend-12-years-in-prison-for-assault-on-child/ Thu, 25 May 2017 20:22:54 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/wilton-man-to-spend-12-years-in-prison-for-assault-on-child/ FARMINGTON — A Wilton man who pleaded guilty in March to charges of gross sexual assault and misdemeanor assault was sentenced Thursday in Franklin County Superior Court to 20 years in prison with all but 12 years suspended.

Lance Woodbury, 40, sat quietly at the defense table as attorneys for the state and the defense made their arguments before Justice Robert Mullen. Having previously agreed in a plea deal to 20 years in prison and six years of probation, the attorneys presented cases for the suspension of all but eight or 12 years of that sentence.

Woodbury was arrested last year in connection with an April 22, 2016, incident in which he was accused of having sex with a 12-year-old relative in his Wilton home. The misdemeanor assault charge stemmed from a March 8 confrontation with another inmate in Franklin County Jail. That inmate was set to testify that Woodbury had admitted in prison to the gross sexual assault, said Assistant District Attorney Claire Andrews.

The day after the prison fight, Woodbury pleaded guilty to all charges. Twenty days later, he submitted a letter to the court asking to retract his plea and seeking new legal representation. After hearing from the prosecution and defense earlier this month, Mullen denied the motion.

At Woodbury’s sentencing hearing Thursday, Andrews argued that the nature and severity of the crime, its perpetration against and impact on Woodbury’s then 12-year-old family member justified the longer sentence.

“That one night has drastically changed this child’s life,” Andrews told the court.

She noted Woodbury’s apparent lack of remorse — saying he has argued the victim was the aggressor in the sexual assault — and criminal history dating back to 1996, which includes convictions for multiple thefts, assaults, and operating under the influence offenses as further reason for the 12-year sentence.

Woodbury’s attorney, George Hess, acknowledged the seriousness of the crime, but argued Woodbury had no previous sex offense convictions and had not actively “groomed” his victim before the assault. Hess said there was no evidence of coercion or force, prompting a quick retort of, “no, just a 12-year-old,” from Andrews. Woodbury declined to speak on his own behalf.

In running through his sentencing guidelines, Mullen said he found the case to be “on the more heinous side of the continuum” and noted that any mitigating factors “are pretty much lacking.”

“If there wasn’t a plea agreement here, I would be thinking long and hard of a higher sentence than 12 years,” Mullen said. “Frankly, I think 12 years is on the generous side.”

Noting the state’s desire to protect the victim from having to testify at trial, Mullen said he would abide by the agreement. He also sentenced Woodbury to six months on the misdemeanor assault case, to be served concurrently with the 12-year sentence. Additionally, as part of his probation, Woodbury will have to complete sex offender counseling, register as a lifetime sex offender and have no contact with the victim or children under 18 with one exception: Woodbury will be able to write to his two sons.

Toward the end of the hearing, Mullen looked to the back of the courtroom where the victim, her mother, a friend and a victim’s advocate were seated. He thanked the victim for attending the hearing.

“I hope it’s not too late for you to be a kid,” he said before rising and leaving the room.

Kate McCormick — 861-9218

kmccormick@centralmaine.com

Twitter: @KateRMcCormick

]]>
Thu, 25 May 2017 21:03:00 +0000
Committee rejects LePage plan to merge turnpike authority with DOT http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/committee-rejects-lepage-proposal-to-merge-maine-turnpike-authority-with-dot/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/committee-rejects-lepage-proposal-to-merge-maine-turnpike-authority-with-dot/#respond Thu, 25 May 2017 20:19:45 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/committee-rejects-lepage-proposal-to-merge-maine-turnpike-authority-with-dot/ AUGUSTA — A legislative committee Thursday rejected LePage administration proposals to merge the Maine Turnpike Authority with the Department of Transportation and move toward a single highway toll in York.

The unanimous vote came moments after an hourlong public hearing during which opponents urged the Transportation Committee to preserve the quasi-independence of an agency that manages what some described as “the gateway to Maine.”

“Commuters and shippers alike pay a premium to keep this critical artery in good shape,” said Maria Fuentes with the Maine Better Transportation Association, an organization that advocates for better transportation funding. “Stripping (the turnpike) of most of its funding source would be devastating to the state’s economy and would force it to compete with other roads for what is already inadequate funding.”

Under Gov. Paul LePage’s bill, the Maine Turnpike Authority would have until late 2027 to pay off its debts and to submit a plan to the Legislature to transfer all authority for the 109-mile highway to the Maine Department of Transportation. The bill, L.D. 1617, would also have required the Maine Turnpike Authority or DOT to close all toll facilities along the highway except one in York. The turnpike authority is already planning a new toll plaza in York to replace the existing one.

LePage senior policy adviser Lance Libby told lawmakers the bill was “an attempt to streamline the management of the state’s transportation infrastructure.” Libby testified that the $60 million in toll revenue currently collected in York is more than sufficient to cover the estimated $46 million in additional costs for the DOT to assume responsibility for the turnpike, which runs from the Maine/New Hampshire border to the Augusta area.

“The governor also believes that Maine citizens and businesses living along the turnpike are at a disadvantage by having to pay tolls to commute to work or to get their products to market,” Libby said. “Major transportation corridors like the turnpike should be part of the DOT and operated as one statewide transportation system. This would ease the toll burden on Mainers while still ensuring safe and well-maintained roads.”

But Diane Johanson with the Maine Tourism Association predicted that a merger – and the collection of a single, larger toll in York – could send the wrong message to tourists and harm an industry responsible for one in six jobs in the state.

“Visitors proceed past various signs that welcome them to our state: ‘Maine: The Way Life Should Be,’ ‘Maine: Worth a visit, worth a lifetime’ and ‘Maine: Open for business,'” Johanson said. “Now, imagine 10 years from now passing those welcoming signs only to reach the town of York only and be asked to hand over $10 in tolls before you can continue on down the road to your final destination.”

Created in 1941 by the Legislature and billed as New England’s first “superhighway,” the Maine Turnpike is entirely self-funded through toll revenues and bonds issued to pay for infrastructure projects. The turnpike carried a record 66.2 million vehicles in 2015 and collected $128.2 million in revenue from tolls, according to authority statistics. Two-thirds of toll revenue on the turnpike comes from out-of-state sources.

Turnpike Authority Executive Director Peter Mills officially testified neither for nor against the bill on Thursday. But Mills, a former lawmaker widely respected in the State House, warned that the bill “does not make sense” from transportation, financial, legal and policy perspectives.

Mills said requiring the authority to pay off debts within a decade would require an immediate, systemwide toll increase of 28 percent. And Mills said that Maine DOT cannot afford to manage the turnpike, as evidenced by chronic funding shortages that have forced the department to “abandon any systematic plan to reconstruct the existing roads for which they are responsible.”

In other examples, Mills shared with lawmakers a picture of a badly corroded, 100-foot-tall light pole along a stretch of highway that the turnpike authority recently purchased from the DOT. The pole was so badly corroded, Mills said, that a strong wind might have one day blown it onto the six lanes of traffic. And Mills said turnpike plow truck drivers earn a starting wage of $18.50 an hour compared to $13 an hour at the DOT.

“I’m not here to cast any aspersions on the department,” Mills said. “But they are operating under highly constrained circumstances.”

The turnpike authority also uses 5 percent of its revenues – roughly $5 million to $6 million annually – to pay for DOT projects under a compromise reached to end the Legislature’s habit of dipping into turnpike funds. And while the two agencies routinely work together on issues, Mills said, he wouldn’t anticipate a merger to yield many efficiencies.

“I’m hard pressed to say there is duplication between the two,” Mills said. “Over the years, they have worked out the efficiencies.”

Faced with a Friday deadline to complete work on bills, committee members opted to move straight into a work session after the public hearing on the bill. They then immediately voted “ought not to pass” on the bill, which is likely to be quickly dispatched by the House and Senate.

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

kmiller@mainetoday.com

Twitter: KevinMillerPPH

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/committee-rejects-lepage-proposal-to-merge-maine-turnpike-authority-with-dot/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/1201813_321339_20140723_turnpike_2.jpgTraffic moves along the Maine Turnpike in York in 2014. A legislative committee has rejected a bill proposed by the governor to merge the Maine Turnpike Authority and the Department of Transportation.Thu, 25 May 2017 19:19:55 +0000
Porter man found dead in pond after fishing trip http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/porter-man-found-dead-in-pond-while-on-fishing-trip/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/porter-man-found-dead-in-pond-while-on-fishing-trip/#respond Thu, 25 May 2017 20:14:39 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/porter-man-found-dead-in-pond-while-on-fishing-trip/ Game wardens have recovered the body of a missing Porter man who did not return from an evening fishing expedition.

The body of Duane Day Sr., 53, was recovered from Plain Pond on Thursday afternoon.

Day had left his house Wednesday around 6 p.m. to catch catfish.

His family found his truck parked near the pond and discovered his capsized flatbottom boat. They reported him missing Thursday around 9 a.m.

His body was found under the boat in about 9 feet of water, game wardens said.

It is unknown why Day entered the water or how he died.

Although two life jackets were found with the craft, Day was not wearing one. The medical examiner’s office is expected to examine the body.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/25/porter-man-found-dead-in-pond-while-on-fishing-trip/feed/ 0 Thu, 25 May 2017 17:41:33 +0000