Local & State – Press Herald http://www.pressherald.com Sun, 24 Sep 2017 15:54:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.2 Police identify mother who struck, killed toddler daughter http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/24/police-identify-mother-who-struck-killed-toddler-daughter/ Sun, 24 Sep 2017 14:43:58 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/24/police-identify-mother-who-struck-killed-toddler-daughter/ The mother who struck and killed her toddler daughter in a Lewiston apartment complex parking lot Saturday has been identified as Taneisha Thomas, 27, of Lewiston.

Thomas struck and killed her 17-month-old daughter, Tiannah Sevey, while operating a 2004 Mercury Mountaineer at about 5 p.m. outside their apartment at the Pleasant View Acres complex, the Sun Journal reported Sunday. The child was treated at the scene and taken to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston where she died.

The mother underwent a blood test, which is standard in fatal motor vehicle crashes, to determine whether she was influenced by drugs or alcohol, Lewiston Police said.

No charges have been filed.

The Department of Health and Human Services and the District Attorney’s Office are involved with the investigation.

This story will be updated.

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

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

bquimby@pressherald.com

Twitter: @bquimby

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Dying but determined, Gorham hell-raiser attends his own wake http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/24/determined-gorham-hell-raiser-attends-his-own-wake/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/24/determined-gorham-hell-raiser-attends-his-own-wake/#respond Sun, 24 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1260249 WESTBROOK — It’s the beginning of the end for Jack Fogg.

The 64-year-old, a hell-raiser with a big heart, learned in April that his yearslong struggle with alcohol is killing him. He has liver cancer and it’s inoperable, his doctors told him.

“They said, ‘Oh, Jack, you’re not going to make it through this one,’ ” Fogg recalled. “I’m not going to feel good forever. I saw the pictures. They weren’t pretty.” In the five months since then, Fogg has lived with purpose and intention – determined to right some wrongs, apologize if needed, and live it up in the short time he has left.

And, soon after being told he had six months to a year left, Fogg decided to forgo treatment. His hope is to spare his family from any sadness or heartache that may come with his inevitable death. He said he didn’t want to be a burden.

Fogg also decided he wanted to buck tradition and say goodbye on his own terms.

While most families plan traditional services, such as a wake, a celebration of life, sitting shivah, to honor the passing of a loved one, some Mainers are choosing less traditional ways of handling death. And in Jack Fogg’s case, that meant being able to raise hell with his friends one more time.

“How many times have you gone to a wake or funeral and wanted to talk to the person?” Fogg said. “I think it’s the right thing to do in my life at this point. I’ve lost family and friends. I’ve been to a lot of wakes and a lot of funerals and I’ve always wanted to tell them I’m sorry I did this, or I’m sorry I didn’t do that, or I love you.”

Nontraditional endings are happening more often around the country as more people facing imminent death plan living wakes, said Joseph Kiley, president of the Maine Funeral Directors Association. But Kiley, who owns Kiley and Foley Funeral Service in Brewer and Bangor, said he has never planned a living wake, or attended one, in his nearly 30 years in the business.

“I’m sure the day is coming,” Kiley said. “There’s always new trends coming out, and this is one of them.”

As the day of his living wake approached in late August, Fogg was overcome with emotion, reliving memories of his life: his years as a star athlete at Gorham High School, his struggles with alcoholism, hitting rock bottom.

* * *

John “Jack” Fogg grew up in Gorham, the youngest of five children. In high school, he was a standout athlete on the soccer, basketball and track teams. He broke down in tears when recalling the 1970 season. He was team captain and his soccer team beat Waterville 1-0 to clinch the Class A Boys’ State Championship in 1970.

“That’s kind of cool,” he said, crying.

Fogg graduated from high school in 1971. He attended the former Southern Maine Vocational Technical Institute and earned a degree in building construction. In his early years, Fogg worked as a carpenter, building houses across southern Maine.

Jack Fogg stands for a portrait at the American Legion Hall, where his friends and family gathered for a living wake on Sept. 2, 2017. Staff photo by Jill Brady

In time, Fogg picked up and moved to California. He tried out for the Los Angeles Skyhawks, a professional soccer team, but didn’t make the cut. Instead, Fogg played for the club’s practice team. He said he was kicked off the team for fighting a teammate.

At the time, Fogg was married to his second wife and had his first daughter, Danielle Dame.

Fogg said he had a rocky relationship with his second wife.

“That girl put me through hell,” he said. “I was madly in love with her. She ran off with my best friend. We had a child together. It was horrible.”

Fogg said he drank to cope with the breakup. He moved back to Maine and tried sobering up. He said he got a lawyer to get custody of his daughter, but the legal battle and distance to California put a strain on his wallet and his relationship with her.

One of his biggest regrets, he said, is not having a better relationship with his oldest daughter and grandson. “It hurts, … especially at this time in my life,” Fogg said.

For more than a decade, Fogg spent winters working as a mechanic at Kimball’s Mobil in South Windham. He was good friends with the late Leo Kimball, a beloved community leader and longtime owner of the station, who died July 2, 2006.

Fogg, a self-proclaimed softy at heart, followed Kimball’s example and got involved in service work. Fogg said he volunteered for the Maine Special Olympics and was a member the Jimmy Fund’s Southern Maine Council for more than six years. Fogg said he helped plan events such as dances and booze cruises to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He started crying again.

“It was worthwhile,” Fogg said. “I’ve had people close to me die of leukemia.”

Fogg spent another decade working at Sebago-Moc Co. in Westbrook and Bridgton. In 2003, Wolverine Worldwide bought Sebago and Fogg took a job in the Dominican Republic teaching the locals how to operate the company’s machines.

There, he met a woman with two sons and later brought her back to Maine to marry her. Fogg said the marriage ended after a couple of years. It was his third failed marriage.

Most recently, Fogg worked at Sabre Yachts in Raymond for more than a decade.

* * *

He was diagnosed with liver cancer in April. He retired on Aug. 3 to live the rest of his life as best he can.

Fogg said he knew alcohol had become a problem, but he didn’t want to quit. He said he had brief periods of sobriety but always returned to drinking.

“If I could go back, I think I would try not to drink,” Fogg said. “I did (try) that, but I didn’t like it. I wouldn’t change a damn thing, actually. At this point in my life, I am what I am. If you don’t accept me, that’s OK.”

Fogg admits he made a lot of mistakes and hurt a lot of people over the years, including himself. But in spite of himself, he said, he is loved by his family and supported by a community of friends who have rallied around him in his greatest times of need.

Though Fogg, who was once considered a legend in high school and is well-known throughout Gorham’s close-knit community, feared that only a few people might show up to his unusual living wake.

“It could be a gigantic crowd or two people,” Fogg said. “I’m a very popular person in Gorham, Maine. I’m a big fish in a small pond, I guess.”

On Aug. 27, the Maine Sunday Telegram published an announcement for a living wake and “roast” to celebrate Fogg’s life.

Jack’s sister, Mary Fogg, helped organize the untraditional event. She wanted to give her brother one last hurrah.

“I look at this as a gift for him and us,” his sister said. “None of us know how to do this, but we will show up. For Jack, it’s about the relationships, the stories and love. It’s for him to say what he wants, if he can.”

Jack Fogg shares a hug with longtime friend Valerie Bonin of Windham as friend and former teacher and coach Dean Evans of Gorham looks on at Fogg’s living wake on Sept. 2. Staff photo by Jill Brady

* * *

On Sept. 2, people flowed into the American Legion Club on Conant Street in Westbrook. More than 125 came – some raring to party and others on the verge of tears.

Much like a traditional wake, there were pictures of Fogg stuck to poster boards, along with framed pictures and family memorabilia. Nearly all who attended were drinking, including Jack.

Fogg spent the afternoon reminiscing, joking, laughing and drinking.

“I’m impressed,” Fogg said about an hour in. “I know I had friends and family. This is kind of cool. I was kind of hoping for something like this. This is a roast. God only knows what’s going to happen to me.”

Fogg grabbed the microphone after several drinks of Jim Beam and ginger ale. He stood in front of the boisterous crowd of friends and family to say a few words.

“So, thank you for showing up,” Fogg said, generating cheers from the crowd. “I wish it was better things to show up for. How many times do you go to a wake or funeral and want to say something, but they’re already gone? You don’t get a chance. So this is your chance. You got something to say, bring it on.”

“Can you tell us a joke?” someone from the crowd yelled to Fogg, who let out a mischievous laugh. “There’s a couple of kids here.”

Instead, he sang an inappropriate song, spelling the swear words. “And I tried to clean that up,” Fogg said.

* * *

One by one, family and friends walked to the front of the hall to take the microphone and share their fondest and funniest memories of Fogg.

“In some circles, this guy is known as Mad Dog Jack Fogg,” said Walter Ridlon, Fogg’s basketball and track coach at Gorham High School. “But in my world, he is known as marvelous Jack Fogg. … This guy here would do anything I asked of him. For instance, I asked him if he ever tried to pole-vault. Jack said, ‘No, but I will.’ I asked, ‘Have you ever tried high jumping?’ Jack said, ‘No, but I will.’ The year he was a senior, Jack qualified for the New Englands in high jump and pole vault. So when I think of this gentleman, I think of him as a marvelous person who taught me the importance of working with kids, … young kids with a heart who always wanted to improve and be the best.”

His sister-in-law, Vicki Fogg, stepped up to the microphone, and Fogg wrapped one arm around her while holding a beer in his other hand.

She said Fogg showed up at her house one night in high school and they played her 45 rpm records. She said he started flipping through the records and made a mess on the floor. In walked Vicki Fogg’s mother, who scolded him and told him to pick up the records. When Fogg left, she got in trouble with her mother.

“My mother is why I am here,” she said, laughing. “She had a name for him.”

Fogg interrupted. “It wasn’t a good one.”

She cursed at Fogg before walking back to her seat, grinning from ear to ear.

“She crucified me for years,” Fogg said. “I’m sorry I did such things, but that’s me. I’ve never been perfect and I never claimed to be perfect.”

Throughout Fogg’s wake, he laughed and bantered with people. He shared stories from his past, sang songs and told jokes.

“He’s smiling, so this is good,” said his 25-year-old daughter, Ember Fogg of Gorham. “He’s having a good time. It’s all that matters.”

* * *

Many who attended Fogg’s wake said they were glad to be able to see him and talk to him before he’s gone. It also was clear that some guests were uncomfortable with the idea of a living wake, and many had a complicated mix of emotions.

His sister, Gail Fogg-LeBlanc of Gorham, cried off and on throughout the afternoon. When people started to show up, she cried. The more people came, the more she cried, she said.

“I can’t imagine life without him,” she said, sobbing. “He’s having a good time, so that’s what matters. This is what he wanted. God bless him.”

Mike Proulx, Fogg’s ex-brother-in-law, said was he was initially skeptical of the idea of a living wake.

“It’s a little strange,” Proulx said. “I’m not used to seeing someone off that’s still here. It’s a different sensation. I’m embracing it more and more. Jack is so upbeat all the time, so not everyone is walking around with their head down. Jack’s a pissah. He’s a ball of fire and he’s going to be until he goes.”

The moment was bittersweet, said Bonnie Miller of Windham, who has known Jack since she was 18 years old.

“It fits Jack and I’m glad he’s doing this because he has a lot of friends,” Miller said. “I think it’s nice to see people when they are happy and well, but it’s also very hard.”

Dolly Mannette of Windham agreed.

“I think this is wonderful,” said Mannette, who works at Ocean Gardens Restaurant and Tavern in Gorham, where Fogg is a regular. “A lot of people don’t get the chance to say goodbye to someone. It’s hard though. I went outside a couple of times and teared up over it. At least you get a chance to say what you want to say.”

He accepted the roasting from his friends in good humor. But it was Fogg who got the last laugh.

At the end of his roast, he dropped his pants and in perfect Jack Fogg character, mooned the guests at his own wake.

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

mcreamer@pressherald.com

Twitter: MelanieCreamer

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/24/determined-gorham-hell-raiser-attends-his-own-wake/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/09/1260249_102899-20170902_living_wa3.jpgJack Fogg shares a hug with longtime friend Valerie Bonin of Windham as friend and former teacher and coach Dean Evans of Gorham looks on at Fogg's living wake on Sept. 2.Sat, 23 Sep 2017 19:46:47 +0000
Despite setbacks and questions, a company pursues new multimillion-dollar markets for Maine wood http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/24/despite-setbacks-and-questions-a-company-pursues-new-multimillion-dollar-markets-for-maine-wood/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/24/despite-setbacks-and-questions-a-company-pursues-new-multimillion-dollar-markets-for-maine-wood/#respond Sun, 24 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1260290 BUCKSPORT — Paper was made here for 84 years, until 2014. Now, where trucks once delivered wood to a mill for paper production, an entrepreneur is trying to write a new chapter in Maine’s forest products industry.

Trucks have been pulling up daily with hemlock logs. Stacked in piles at the former paper mill’s woodyard, they’re run through a debarker. Last week, loads of logs were put into containers and trucked to Boston, where cargo ships are expected to bring them this week to China to become lumber.

But Boston is only an interim step on a proposed path to transform Bucksport, as well as nearby Searsport, into a fiber hub where ships can call to export underutilized Maine wood to Asia and Europe.

Much has been said and written about the potential for repurposing the five Maine paper mills that have closed over the past three years, and the challenges of finding new markets for 4 million tons of wood once used for pulp and power. There have been setbacks, and Arthur House, president of Searsport-based Maine Woods Biomass Exports LLC, has had his share.

But after his widely anticipated plans to export fuel-grade wood chips to European power plants this year were delayed, House pivoted to a new opportunity. The log piles rising now at the former Verso mill yard represent one of the first tangible signs of commercial progress at a shuttered Maine paper mill.

House says he has signed contracts for $28 million worth of hemlock logs – millions of board feet – destined for China, with more deals pending. He’s also headed to Turkey next month, where he hopes to sign contracts for Maine wood chips to be exported for particleboard furniture.

“No matter what, we keep working to find a path to where we need to be,” he said. “Our goal is to re-energize an industry. We really have lived this every day for the past six years. Now we’re ready to get started.”

Despite his optimism and persistence, though, House continues to experience problems that raise questions about his ability to turn a vision into reality.

Last week, a Chinese log buyer who’s doing business with House said that his company had signed a contract for a large volume of oak and ash sawlogs, but had yet to receive the shipment. Yuan Zhen, who represents Shandong Nada International Trade Group, said that Maine Woods Biomass had delivered a trial order, but a larger shipment has been delayed and he was having trouble communicating with House. He said he had to refund money to customers in China, so as not to hurt his company’s reputation.

“The problem is, we haven’t received any container, and no schedule of when we can receive it,” he wrote in an email after being contacted by the Maine Sunday Telegram.

Asked about the shipment, House said $160,000 worth of red oak for the Chinese buyer was stockpiled at Bucksport. On Tuesday, House sent pictures to the Maine Sunday Telegram of a trailer of red oak he said was part of the Nada Group order. House also said delivery delays were caused by moving processing equipment from a site in Searsport to his new operation in Bucksport. He said he was unaware of the concerns expressed by Yuan Zhen.

In a separate matter, hemlock logs destined to become pulpwood chips for making paper in China are piled at the Richard Carrier Trucking woodyard in Milo. That shipment also has been stalled.

House said the delay stems from an ongoing inability to ship wood chips out of a site he leases at Searsport, which lacks the proper equipment. The company is working to make other arrangements, but also says anxious wood suppliers delivered too many logs, despite advice to wait until shipping problems were ironed out.

Mark House, executive vice president of Maine Woods Biomass Exports, maneuvers a log during the debarking process. The company is using the former Verso Paper mill in Bucksport to prepare surplus softwood for shipping to China, lumber that has lost some of its domestic value. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

Until now, House has avoided media coverage of his Chinese ventures. He’s resentful of “naysayers” and a perception that his inability to export wood chips to Europe on schedule indicates that he lacks the financial resources to follow through.

House said his plans aren’t dependent on government grants or subsidies. With the exception of separate loans of $250,000 each from the Finance Authority of Maine and Coastal Enterprise Inc., House said he has millions of dollars of capital available personally and through private investors.

“We’re not Cate Street and we’re not Stored Solar,” House said, referencing two wood-energy ventures that ran into financial problems while attempting to reopen paper mills. “We pay our suppliers weekly. That’s why they’re here.”

‘TIMING IS EVERYTHING’

Those suppliers are focused now on delivering hemlock, a species that suddenly has very little domestic value.

Hemlock is a softwood that typically grows in mixed stands. Although some Maine sawmills do produce hemlock lumber, its greatest worth has been for making pulp for paper mills. But when Verso left here at the end of 2014, and the mill in Old Town shut down in 2015, the Penobscot River valley lost major markets for softwood pulp.

That loss has had a ripple effect. Harvesting lower-grade wood for pulp and power production provided jobs for hundreds of area loggers and truckers, offset the cost of cutting premium saw logs and contributed to what the industry says is more-responsible forestry.

“We’ve come to a cross in the road,” said Eric Dumond, a forestry consultant and vice president of procurement for Maine Woods Biomass. “We have 4 million tons of fiber a year available on a sustainable basis that has no home.”

Dumond was procurement manager for the ReEnergy wood-fired power plants in Maine before retiring last year. He came to work for Maine Woods Biomass last winter. The opportunity to ship hemlock to China emerged as word spread globally about Maine’s fiber surplus.

“Timing is everything in business,” Dumond said.

Part of the timing is that China is unable to source enough wood at home, or from the West Coast of North America, to satisfy its manufacturing demand. Maine is twice the distance from China than from the West Coast, but awareness of the wood surplus has put the state on the radar of wood buyers looking to expand their supply options. Over the past six months, a steady stream of Chinese wood buyers and their representatives have come to Maine.

“We take them through the whole state,” Dumond said. “We show them the forest. We show them where the wood is processed. And they are staggered. They can’t believe all the trees.”

Other companies also are taking advantage of the Chinese interest in Maine’s log resource. Earlier this month, Katahdin Cedar Log Homes of Oakfield shipped nine containers holding three home kits to Chengdu province. The company had previously exported its manufactured home kits to China, Japan and elsewhere, a niche market for Maine wood.

Scott King, left, a log scaler at Maine Woods Biomass Exports, and Brian Souers, owner of log supply company Treeline Inc. in Chester, tally a delivery of logs at the former Verso Paper mill in Bucksport. Souers said he has delivered at least 15 loads of lumber and is cautiously optimistic about the business’ chances of success. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

LOGS AND LOGISTICS

For Chinese visitors, one new stop is the new Maine Woods Biomass processing yard here, which House is leasing from the company that dismantled the paper mill.

Past the truck scale, a worker in a front-end loader and grapple earlier this month was feeding tree-length hemlock logs into a machine that strips off the bark. The logs were waiting to be loaded into 40-foot-long shipping containers for the ride to Boston. That bark has value, too, as mulch for landscaping in New England.

Trucks are coming from as far north as Patten and as far south as Durham, Dumond said. By next year, he said he expects up to 200 loggers, truckers and wood yard workers to be engaged moving and processing the logs.

One truck came from Treeline Inc., a diversified forestry operation in Chester, next to Lincoln. Brian Souers, Treeline’s president, watched as his driver steered 7,000 board feet of hemlock logs into the yard. He said he has delivered 15 or 20 loads and is cautiously optimistic that House can succeed.

“What he’s trying to do is really difficult,” Souers said. “He’s trying awful hard and, with us, he’s paying his bills. I have no complaints.”

Earlier this year, House started processing logs at Treeline’s wood yard. They were shipped out of Saint John, New Brunswick. Some logs also were processed in Searsport, before Bucksport came into the picture.

House said he’s now talking to Pan Am Railways. There’s a rail siding here in Bucksport, pinched between the mill yard and Route 15. House wants to load rail cars with logs for Boston. Rail would be less costly than trucking, he said.

Expanding to Bucksport has opened up another opportunity. Vessels up to 700 feet currently bring petroleum to a terminal on the Penobscot River. The river is deep enough for cargo ships to call at the former paper company dock just upriver, but truck access would have to be built, according to the town’s harbor master. House said companies are expressing interest in enhancing the dock so he could ship containers of logs directly from here to China.

Also on the table are plans to ship logs in bulk out of Searsport. Long term, logs and fiber would move by rail from northern Maine.

ADJUSTING TO CHANGE

House has had a big-picture vision of moving fiber by rail to the coast for export for years, but has suffered some setbacks.

The largest came in 2013, when a train derailment and horrific fire in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, led to the bankruptcy of the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway. House had a major contract to move logs, and it took two years for a new company, Central Maine and Quebec Railway, to take over and establish a relationship with Maine Woods Biomass.

House also had to shift gears in 2015, after the town of Prospect enacted a six-month moratorium on industrial development. The vote prevented him from building a $12 million facility to heat-treat wood for export, and led to the loss of a multimillion-dollar contract, he said. Now he plans to build the facility in Stockton Springs to meet a delivery commitment in 2018.

These events have forced House to readjust his business plan, and have contributed to skepticism about his ability to execute his vision. But with the hemlock log exports gearing up, Maine Woods Biomass is making visible progress, according to Matt Lindquist, a commercial loan officer at FAME.

Lindquist said that while the company is still in a startup stage and needs to prove itself, he’s encouraged to see what’s happening at Bucksport.

“They have so many irons in the fire, it seems a new opportunity emerges every week,” he said. “But it seems they are exporting containers, so that’s happening right now. It’s tangible and real.”

Tux Turkel can be contacted at 791-6462 or at:

ttturkel@pressherald.com

Twitter: TuxTurkel

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/24/despite-setbacks-and-questions-a-company-pursues-new-multimillion-dollar-markets-for-maine-wood/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/09/1260290_993786-20170912_Biomass_028.jpgArthur House, president of Searsport-based Maine Woods Biomass Exports, is shipping surplus softwood out of the former Verso Paper mill in Bucksport.Sat, 23 Sep 2017 21:26:12 +0000
A Maine patient’s ordeal: ‘Waiting for placement’ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/24/a-maine-patients-ordeal-waiting-for-placement/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/24/a-maine-patients-ordeal-waiting-for-placement/#respond Sun, 24 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1260295 SKOWHEGAN — For two months, Mark Madore has called the emergency department at Redington-Fairview General Hospital home.

There are two twin mattresses on the floor in a small room where he spends most of his time – asleep and awake. Two more mattresses are attached to the wall with athletic tape to protect him when the seizures come. A small whiteboard hangs on the wall that lists basic information, including the hospital staff member assigned to him any given day.

Under the “notes” section are three words that have been there since he arrived: “Waiting for placement.”

Madore, who is diagnosed with neuromuscular disease and seizure disorder and has intellectual disabilities, is among hundreds of disabled adults who receive residential services under a MaineCare program known as Section 21.

Until recently, the 34-year-old had lived in a group home in Embden for about a decade. He was abruptly evicted in July after he started using medical marijuana to treat his seizures, which was not authorized by the home that provided his care.

His mother, Cathy Madore, said she takes responsibility for the medical marijuana, but disagrees with the outcome. She just wanted to help her son. Instead she left him homeless.

“Even a stray dog gets to go to a shelter,” Cathy said. “He’s a person.”

Maine’s system for providing services to adults with developmental disabilities has been fracturing for years, mostly because of insufficient funding and poor oversight. A recent federal audit revealed that the state failed to investigate a majority of critical incident reports for adults in residential facilities, including 133 deaths over a 30-month period from January 2013 through June 2015.

Officials with the Department of Health and Human Services have both downplayed the report’s findings and insisted the system has improved, but providers, families and advocates don’t believe that’s true.

Madore’s ordeal is a good example of how broken the system has become. Although his diagnoses entitle him to services, there has been a constant shortage of funding, which has led to a shrinking number of group homes, leading in turn to longer wait time for people trying to get in. As of Aug. 31, there were 1,631 adults with developmental disabilities on a waiting list for residential services. Some will wait years.

And if Madore’s family wants him to continue using medical marijuana – as his doctor has recommended – that could complicate things further. The program that provides his services is federally funded, but in the eyes of the federal government, marijuana is illegal. That conflict has not been tested in court.

‘IT’S REALLY NOT WHAT WE’RE SET UP TO DO’

For now, he’ll stay in the emergency room.

Cullen Ryan, who chairs the Maine Developmental Services Oversight and Advisory Board, leads an advocacy group called Maine Coalition for Housing and Quality Services and has a disabled son, said he doesn’t know how common it is for people to be housed in emergency rooms.

“We certainly know families are concerned about the adequacy of the crisis system and this clearly speaks to that,” he said.

Jeff Austin, vice president of the Maine Hospital Association, said his organization doesn’t keep data on emergency room stays for patients with developmental disabilities or behavioral problems, but he described it as a “huge issue” across the state.

A DHHS spokeswoman did not respond to questions about whether the state tracks residential clients who might be in emergency rooms.

But John Comis, the medical director for the emergency department at Redington-Fairview, said his hospital has accepted patients like Madore more frequently than people might realize.

“It’s wonderful that we’re able to do it, but it’s really not what we’re set up to do,” Comis said. “Frankly, it’s horrible that we even have to.”

It’s also enormously costly. Hospital officials estimated that the cost of care for someone in the emergency room is between $1,800 and $2,000 per day.

That means that for the 60-plus days Madore has occupied a room there, it cost a total of between $108,000 and $120,000. That’s more than the cost of residential services for adults like Madore for an entire year.

STATE’S PROGRAMS FOR DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED

Cathy Madore has visited her son almost every afternoon at the hospital.

It’s more than a half-hour drive each way, and she has had to cut back her hours at work – she’s an education technician for a local school – but she does it.

The staff at the hospital is great, she said, but she’s noticed changes in Mark. He doesn’t sleep or eat well. He is more subdued, largely because of medication he was given to limit his aggressiveness.

Hospital staffers aren’t trained to manage his behavior, Comis explained.

Multiple times, he has bumped his head, sometimes hard enough to draw blood.

Cathy, whose voice is constantly weary, said she and her husband, Norm, cared for Mark in their home in Belgrade when he was younger. He attended public schools and received special education services that included one-on-one care. He was safe.

But eventually he aged out of the services inherent in a school setting. Cathy and Norm both worked, and Mark couldn’t stay home alone. So they applied for residential services through MaineCare for adults with development disabilities.

Norm and Cathy Madore pose in their Belgrade home. Their developmentally disabled son, Mark, has acute care needs that the working couple cannot provide, so when he was evicted from his group-home setting, the hospital emergency department became his last resort. Staff photo by Brianna Soukup

The state manages two programs that provide the bulk of care for this population. Section 21 places adults in residential settings – often small group homes – with integrated care depending on their needs. Section 29 is for families who receive services in their own home.

For years, the state has struggled to manage resources for this population. Both programs are costly – an average of $100,000 annually for Section 21 and $22,000 for Section 29 – and even though federal law mandates that services be provided, wait lists have been common, particularly for Section 21.

Three years ago, the state settled a lawsuit filed on behalf of dozens of clients to clear the wait list for the highest-priority clients, but that didn’t fix the larger problem.

When Cathy Madore first applied for residential care for Mark, around 2004, the process was easy. There was no wait list that she remembered.

DOCTOR SUGGESTS TRYING MEDICAL MARIJUANA

It took a couple of placements before Mark found the right fit. He was kicked out of one home because of violent behavior, but the Madores were able to find another option.

He settled in at a group home in Embden, shared by three other adults. It was staffed 24 hours a day.

The direct care workers at Mark’s group home treated him like family. Cathy said some of them even visited him in the hospital.

But his seizures were still problematic. Cathy feared that every major episode meant further loss of cognitive functions.

She met with her son’s primary care doctor this spring and he suggested a new medication: marijuana.

Patients with epilepsy have been using medical marijuana to treat seizures, and recent studies have suggested it’s effective. It was worth a shot, Cathy figured. But how could she try it without jeopardizing Mark’s care at the group home?

She pulled aside one of his workers, someone she knew would be discreet, and they agreed to administer the marijuana – authorized by Mark’s own doctor – on a trial basis in late May and early June.

The owners of the group home, MAC Residential Services, found out and evicted Mark. Steve Austin, the chief operating officer for MAC Residential, explained that the violation put staff and other patients at risk and also threatened federal funding. The worker who administered his medical marijuana was fired as well.

Austin said it is upsetting that Mark has been forced to stay at the hospital.

“We wanted to continue with Mark. He was with us for a long time,” Austin said.

With the benefit of hindsight, Cathy acknowledged she may have made the wrong decision. But now, Mark hasn’t been adequately treated or staffed for weeks.

Ryan, the advocacy group leader, said if individuals go without adequate services, they can atrophy and even deteriorate to the point where they might need more care.

“Some may not come back from that,” he said.

ADVOCACY GROUP CITES CONFLICT OF INTEREST

Mark was served with an eviction notice July 1 and had until the end of the month to leave. He didn’t make it to the end of the month at the group home.

On July 25, he met with his neurologist, who decided to keep him at the hospital in Skowhegan. By the time he was cleared to leave, though, he couldn’t return to the home.

The only other option was to return to his parents’ home in Belgrade, but Cathy and Norm both worked and he needed more acute care.

They tried to get the group home owners to reconsider their decision and even reached out to Disability Rights Maine, the group established to advocate for individuals like Madore, but were told nothing could be done. Cathy was told they couldn’t help because of a conflict of interest.

Kim Moody, the executive director of Disability Rights Maine, couldn’t talk about the Madores’ case specifically or explain what the conflict was but said they do happen.

So Mark stayed in the emergency department.

Cathy Madore grasps Mark’s hand as he reaches out recently. She says his doctor recommended the use of medical marijuana, but as a result her son was left homeless.

Comis, the medical director for Redington-Fairview’s ER, was careful not to discuss the specifics of Mark’s care but said he’s sympathetic to the family’s concerns. He also said Mark is not the only adult with developmental disabilities who has ended up unexpectedly in his emergency room.

“If people are ending up here, that certainly seems like the byproduct of a broken system,” Comis said.

If adults are on a waiting list but their current living situation – often their parents’ home – becomes unsafe, they can end up at a hospital or sometimes a psychiatric institution like Spring Harbor in Westbrook or Dorothea Dix in Bangor. If they are abruptly evicted, like Mark, the same thing can happen.

The Aug. 10 audit by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General revealed systemic problems with the state’s oversight of the residential housing program for adults with disabilities. DHHS officials have said things are vastly improved since the inspector general’s period of scrutiny – January 2013 through June 2015 – but advocates like Ryan say the problems go deeper.

A SENSE OF URGENCY? ONE EXPERT SAYS: ‘I WOULD HESITATE TO SAY’

Funding remains the biggest barrier. Providers – the small agencies that manage group homes and provide direct care services – are receiving less in MaineCare reimbursement than they did a decade ago.

Lawmakers did discuss a bill last session that would have increased funding significantly for the Section 21 program.

By increasing reimbursement rates, providers say they could afford to pay workers who staff the group homes a higher wage, which would in turn make it easier to find and hire qualified candidates. Higher rates also would make existing group homes more financially stable and able to expand, thus reducing the waiting list.

The original amount requested in the bill was $65 million in the first year and more in subsequent years, indexed to inflation. DHHS’s recommendation was $26 million, which would bring reimbursements rates back to 2007 levels, plus a 10 percent increase.

Neither passed and the bill was carried over.

Lawmakers did include an extra $11.25 million in the current budget to be split between Section 21 and Section 29 services, but the state has yet to finalize the new rules for either, so that money is dormant.

“I would hesitate to say whether there is or isn’t a sense of urgency,” said Jennifer Putnam, executive director of the Progress Center, a Norway-based provider, and recently elected president of the Maine Association of Community Service Providers. “The department hasn’t really been communicative with us on this.”

Emily Spencer, a spokeswoman for DHHS, said in an email that the new funding hasn’t been released because the state needs to finalize the rulemaking process. She didn’t say how long that would take, although DHHS officials have told providers they are working hard to expedite the process.

But they also seem to acknowledge that the additional resources aren’t enough.

Emily Kalafarski, acting associate director of DHHS’s Office of Aging and Disability Services, said at an Aug. 14 meeting with the Maine Coalition for Housing and Quality Services that “for things to change significantly it would depend on the Legislature and the governor to appropriate more funding.”

In the meantime, many group homes have closed within the last year. Those that haven’t still struggle to find well-qualified staff because they can’t pay much and can’t offer adequate training.

FOR THE MADORE FAMILY, IT’S BACK TO SQUARE ONE

Stuck in the middle are the vulnerable Mainers like the Madores.

A little more than a week ago, Cathy got what seemed like good news: There was a crisis bed for Mark. It was in Bangor, but he could go immediately and stay until a permanent house could be found.

Cathy and Norm moved him in on Friday, Sept. 8, and stayed the night in Bangor so they could check on him the next morning.

“I’m not sure he knows what to think at this point,” Cathy said that Friday. “I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.”

By Saturday he was already gone. Staff had to admit him to the emergency room again. He was hurting himself, and they couldn’t restrain him, Cathy said.

He stayed in Bangor for a few days before returning to the emergency department at Redington-Fairview in Skowhegan. Back to square one.

Cathy said she doesn’t know if she’s more angry or sad.

“We’re powerless in all this,” she said.

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

erussell@pressherald.com

Twitter: PPHEricRussell

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/24/a-maine-patients-ordeal-waiting-for-placement/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/09/1260295_499962-20170901_Mark-Mado4.jpgFor two months now, Mark Madore, 34, who has developmental disabilities and experiences seizures, has been staying in this room with makeshift padding in the emergency department at Redington-Fairview General Hospital in Skowhegan. He was evicted from his group home in Embden after his mother, Cathy Madore, right, had one of his direct care workers administer medical marijuana to treat his seizures.Sat, 23 Sep 2017 21:18:56 +0000
‘Hackles are up’ on issue of Sheepscot Pond restoration plan http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/hackles-are-up-on-issue-of-sheepscot-pond-fishway-plan/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/hackles-are-up-on-issue-of-sheepscot-pond-fishway-plan/#respond Sun, 24 Sep 2017 00:04:57 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/hackles-are-up-on-issue-of-sheepscot-pond-fishway-plan/ PALERMO — Frustration was running high Tuesday among the people gathered in the Palermo Consolidated School gymnasium.

About 100 seasonal and permanent residents around Sheepscot Pond were trying to get up to speed on a legislative proposal introduced earlier this year that would open their lake to the annual migrations of alewives, American eels and lamprey eels.

They want no part of the plan outlined in L.D. 922 that directs the commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources to open the fishway at the south end of Sheepscot Pond – town residents refer to it as Sheepscot Lake – for the spring spawning of alewife and eel populations.

They fear those species will bring diseases that will jeopardize both the fish in the lake and at the Palermo State Fish Hatchery, the fish cultural station managed by the state Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife at the south end of the pond below the dam and fishway. Residents say the only benefit is that the lobster fishery can have ready access to more cheap bait.

They said they want a three-year moratorium so that an analysis of the fishery and the dam can be completed and an environmental impact statement can be developed.

A BIGGER WORLD

The bill sponsor sees it differently.

“This is not so anyone can make money harvesting alewives for cheap bait,” said Rep. Jeffrey Pierce, R-Dresden.

The proposal, he said, is meant to ensure the health of the Sheepscot watershed, which extends from a point in Montville in Waldo County south into Lincoln County through Whitefield, Alna and Wiscasset and out to Sheepscot Bay between Georgetown Island and Southport.

“I know these people have some information, and their hackles are up,” he said. “I don’t fault them at all. They are looking at their little piece of the world. But they live in the bigger world, and we all want a healthy ecosystem.”

Pierce grew up in Augusta and remembers when the Kennebec River was colored by the dyes being used at the woolen mills along the river and when sewage flowed into the river unregulated.

“I remember the death of the Atlantic salmon run in 1978 in Bond Brook,” he said.

Since then, local governments have invested millions of dollars to treat sewage, and nonprofit conservation groups have worked to restore natural habitats.

Where waterways have been opened up to native migrating fish species, he said, the health of the system has improved.

The issue is complicated by the differing interests of the interested parties.

Pierce, who manages an alewife run in Dresden, makes no secret of his role as the founder the Alewife Harvesters of Maine, a nonprofit organization formed to preserve the state’s river fisheries and to promote sustainable harvests. He started the organization in 2007, long before he had any interest in politics. He’s currently the executive director.

“I got interested in it when I saw the restoration efforts and started to see a lot cleaner streams,” he said.

Pierce, who pulled together co-sponsors are legislators of both parties from coastal communities from Brunswick to Machias, said he doesn’t understand why the fishway is closed when he thinks it ought to be open.

As it now stands, the only time the fishway at the outlet of Sheepscot Pond is closed is during May and June, when the fish are migrating.

The alewives bring nutrients from the ocean and deposit them in the fresh water systems they travel through, and they take up phosphorus, one of the contributors of algae blooms that can diminish water quality, Pierce said, and deposit that in the ocean.

From his reading of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife laws, the state is violating its own laws in failing to open the fishway to the migrating alewives and eels.

Lynda Pound, whose father was chief of fisheries for the state, has been on the lake since 1959, when few homes and camps dotted its shores.

“We’ve always known what was going on with the fisheries, with the fish cultural station, and we understand how rare a lake we have,” Pound, who is a member of the Sheepscot Lake Association, said.

The 1,200-acre lake is home to a self-sustaining togue, or lake trout.

At its deepest point, the lake is 140 feet deep, and in many places it’s at least 100 feet deep.

“They are not stocked,” Pound said. “There’s an ecological balance in the lake that allows them to reproduce and stay strong and healthy in large numbers.”

HEALTH OF THE LAKE

The Sheepscot Lake Association, formed several years ago, works to monitor the lake’s health and maintain its quality. Among its regular tasks is deploying a Secchi disk to measure water clarity and an oxygen meter to keep track of those levels for the deep-water game fish.

They watch for milfoil and other invasive plant species, and their dues pay for weekend boat inspectors to make sure no invasives are transported into the pond.

The association also has launched a “lake smart” program to promote low-impact development.

“Do you realize this is the only lake with a fish cultural station that they are trying to put alewives in?” Pound said.

The proposal risks quite a bit in exchange for only a marginal increase in the alewife population, she said.

“It’s not the same lake it was 60 years ago,” she said. “You are looking to restore something to a point where it no longer really makes sense to this community.”

When the public hearing on the bill was held in the Legislature earlier this year, a number of groups, including the Atlantic Salmon Federation, testified in favor of the proposal.

They far outnumbered those that are seeking to delay it.

Andrew Goode, vice president of U.S. programs for the Atlantic Salmon Federation, said his organization has bought the dam at another pond – Branch Pond – and the transaction closed last week.

Residents around that lake are welcoming the fishway, he said. But at 300 acres, Branch Pond has only a fraction of the potential for supporting alewives that the 1,200-acre Sheepscot Pond has.

“For the watershed to function as it needs to and be as healthy as it can be, we should have free passage of all the native species of fish,” Goode said.

Even so, the federation supported holding the bill over to see whether any kind of consensus can be reached.

Goode said changes could be made that would not alter the lake level but would allow for the downstream passage of migratory fish.

“Our overarching desire is not to force anything down on anyone, but to bring forth and share good science and good decisions,” he said. “We don’t like to work against people. We like to work with people, and we’ll find a solution for this.”

When the Legislature meets again, a second public hearing on the measure will be held.

Senate President Michael Thibodeau, R-Winterport, whose district includes Palermo, urged the residents to attend that hearing and show the same degree of passion they demonstrated in the school gymnasium.

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

jlowell@centralmaine.com

Twitter: JLowellKJ

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/hackles-are-up-on-issue-of-sheepscot-pond-fishway-plan/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/09/1260284_300369-20170921_PalermoDa6.jpgThe fish ladder on the far side of the dam at Sheepscot Pond is closed in May and June.Sat, 23 Sep 2017 21:28:53 +0000
Toddler in Lewiston struck, killed by car driven by mother, police say http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/toddler-in-lewiston-struck-killed-by-car-driven-by-mother-police-say/ Sat, 23 Sep 2017 23:03:37 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/toddler-in-lewiston-struck-killed-by-car-driven-by-mother-police-say/ An 18-month-old girl was killed Saturday evening when her mother struck her with a car in the parking lot of an apartment complex in Lewiston, police said.

The fatality occurred about 5 p.m. at 50 Fairmount St. in the Pleasant View Acres complex, said Lt. David St. Pierre, a police spokesman.

The mother was backing out of a parking space, St. Pierre said.

The identities of the girl and her mother were being withheld Saturday night, St. Pierre said. The Maine Attorney General’s Office has been called to assist in the investigation, and police are working to reconstruct the accident, he said.

The mother will undergo a blood test, which is standard in fatal motor vehicle crashes, to determine whether she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, St. Pierre said.

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

mbyrne@pressherald.com

Twitter: MattByrnePPH

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Sat, 23 Sep 2017 21:15:27 +0000
Speaker at Common Ground Country Fair urges compassion amid family tragedy http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/speaker-at-common-ground-country-fair-urges-compassion-amid-family-tragedy/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/speaker-at-common-ground-country-fair-urges-compassion-amid-family-tragedy/#respond Sat, 23 Sep 2017 22:31:18 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/speaker-at-common-ground-country-fair-urges-compassion-amid-family-tragedy/ UNITY — Sherri Mitchell’s speech about supporting indigenous people’s rights and protecting the earth was compelling, but it was the end of her talk that left many in the audience speechless and tearful.

Mitchell, an indigenous-rights attorney, teacher and spiritual activist, addressed several hundred people Saturday at the Common Ground Country Fair, saying this has been a difficult year for her family.

In January, her cousin disappeared and was found dead in the Penobscot River. A week later, her nephew, who was a like a son, committed suicide.

Then at 2 a.m. Saturday, before she was to appear at the fair, another nephew took his own life, she said.

In Native American culture, the suicide rate is four times higher than the national average because of the unrelenting oppression people experience, according to Mitchell. Young people are not seeing a future for themselves because of repression and racism, she said.

Mitchell, who was born and raised on the Penobscot Indian reservation, asked the crowd to pray for her nephew’s father and little girl. She asked the audience to acknowledge that every life is valuable, and that people must connect with each other so that no one feels as if he or she is traveling alone.

“Acknowledge the preciousness of every, single life,” she said. “Please send prayers for the spirits of these lost young men.”

Mitchell, founding director of the Land Peace Foundation, an organization dedicated to protecting indigenous people’s rights and preserving their way of life, clearly was grieving. Her voice cracking. She asked each of those present to hold hands and look the next person in the eye.

“Tell them ‘you are precious, you are important, you matter’ – and give them a hug,” she said.

Mitchell is the 2010 recipient of the Mahoney Dunn International Human Rights and Humanitarian Award for research into human rights violations against indigenous people. She also received the Spirit of Maine Award in 2015 for commitment and excellence in the field of international human rights.

Before her talk and without immediately revealing why, Mitchell said Saturday was a challenging day for her.

“I wouldn’t have been here, except what we’re talking about today is important to me in a real heart-based way,” she said, adding that she wanted to honor the commitment she had made to fair attendees and share her world view about connecting to the land.

People were given the right to inhabit the earth and must live in harmony with it and respect it, according to Mitchell.

They must make conscious steps to honor the land and water they inhabit. Being complacent in the face of corporate greed and the destruction of the planet takes away our right to live on the planet, she said.

When her tribe decided the Penobscot River needed to be cleaned, members did not stand on a soapbox and complain about it. They worked in concert to take responsibility for cleaning it up, she said.

“We recognized if we wanted to claim rights for clean water for our people, then we had to take responsibility of cleaning the rivers for everyone.”

People must work together to create the kind of world they want to live in, focusing less on blaming others, she said.

Mitchell urged people to attend a harvest festival from noon to 8 p.m. on Oct. 15 that is being held as a fundraiser to help save Nibezun, a sacred ancestral land and healing center in Passadumkeag, in Penobscot territory.

After her talk, Kai Fast, 36, of Standish took a moment to reflect on what Mitchell had said.

“It’s very heavy. I feel very emotional right now,” said Fast, a project manager and designer for BrightBuilt Home of Portland which was exhibiting at the fair.

Fast said she loved hearing Mitchell’s thoughts and ideas about the interconnectedness of people and the earth, particularly in a world where people are so polarized. That polarization, Fast said, is fueled by the way people talk about hating others.

“Everyone’s hurting, and throwing stones at each other doesn’t help us to find solutions that will help everybody,” she said.

Thousands turned out in warm weather for the second day of the giant 41st Common Ground Fair, hosted by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.

Food vendors sold seafood, Italian sausage, strawberry shortcake, honey buns and other fare. Big white tents were packed with exhibitors selling pottery, jewelry, woven goods, wood carvings, folk art, paintings and other items. Fairgoers flocked to the farmers market to buy fresh produce and herbs, and people lined a fenced-in area to watch the sheepdog demonstrations.

Under the Maine Fiddle Camp tent, people of all ages were singing. The music camp, in Montville, focuses on traditional Down East fiddling in a traditional Maine summer camp setting.

In Unity Hall, people were perusing photo and vegetable exhibits, patronizing the seed exchange and checking out the children’s apple pie contest.

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

acalder@centralmaine.com

Twitter: AmyCalder17

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/speaker-at-common-ground-country-fair-urges-compassion-amid-family-tragedy/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/09/1260216_841557-20170923-common-4.jpgDozens dressed as vegetables walk in a garden parade Saturday at the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, held by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.Sat, 23 Sep 2017 18:35:41 +0000
Race teams raise $7,000 to help Farmingdale woman see again http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/race-teams-raise-7000-to-help-farmingdale-woman-see-again/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/race-teams-raise-7000-to-help-farmingdale-woman-see-again/#respond Sat, 23 Sep 2017 22:10:20 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/race-teams-raise-7000-to-help-farmingdale-woman-see-again/ MANCHESTER — In the middle of the genial chaos at the Lions Club, Ruth Short of Farmingdale wiped the tears from her eyes Saturday morning for maybe the second time, and she expected to do it many more times before the day was done.

All around her, people milled about, waiting for the event of the day, a local version of “The Amazing Race,” to kick off. Even though the teams were gearing up for the race and challenges they faced in the style of the reality television show competition, they already had done the most important work of the day.

They had raised the $7,000 that Short needs to be able to buy specialized glasses that will help her see again, and just a little bit more that will go into a fund to help someone else.

Short, 56, has macular degeneration, macular edema and glaucoma. The diseases that affect the retina and the optic nerve have robbed Short of much of her vision. Because she can see only shadows, she has never clearly seen her grandson or her great-grandchild.

But in a little over a month, Short will be able to see whatever she wants, including her great-grandson, who was born just five weeks ago.

The company eSight has created a visor with LED screens that capture in real time what’s going on and allow the wearer to see it clearly. The glasses can take pictures or be plugged into a computer.

Once the results of Saturday’s fundraiser are in, Short’s daughter, Elizabeth Ward, will be able to order the visor. Short has chosen the white version.

The Lions Club has made helping the blind and visually impaired one of its key missions.

Debbie Maddox was the Manchester Lions Club president last year when Ward was seeking a donation for her mom. The club obliged with $500.

But Maddox, who is a fan of “The Amazing Race,” also had the idea to develop a central Maine version as a fundraiser.

Fifteen two-person teams took part in Saturday’s race.

The race course took teams to businesses and public spaces in Augusta, Hallowell, Gardiner and Manchester. Before they were done, they would have to complete specific challenges.

The teams’ first challenge was to take turns shucking a dozen ears of corn. At Sparetime Recreation, they had to bowl a strike and score a specific number of points to continue.

In Gardiner, the teams’ challenge was to assemble a picnic table for the Boys and Girls Club of Kennebec Valley.

Maddox said Saturday’s race was the result of three solid months of planning, lining up sponsors and organizing the challenges.

Among the teams competing were Short’s grandson Jozef Short and his cousin Kassandra Rolling, both 17.

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

jlowell@centralmaine.com

Twitter: JLowellKJ

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/race-teams-raise-7000-to-help-farmingdale-woman-see-again/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/09/1260211_726729-20170923_RACE_9105.jpgRuth ShortSat, 23 Sep 2017 18:10:20 +0000
Portland educator stranded on St. Thomas http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/portland-educator-stranded-on-st-thomas/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/portland-educator-stranded-on-st-thomas/#respond Sat, 23 Sep 2017 21:06:22 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/portland-educator-stranded-on-st-thomas/ A former psychologist in Portland schools who traveled to St. Thomas late last month and planned to work for a year in schools there has been trying for days to get off the Caribbean island heavily damaged by two hurricanes in two weeks.

Brooke Quinn Dunphey, 36, who was a psychologist at Lyman Moore Middle School and Lyseth and Riverton elementary schools, says she is lonely and homesick and desperate to get home to Wells.

“There is absolutely no way off the island,” Dunphey said Saturday.

Dunphey’s saga started Aug. 29, when she arrived on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands with her husband, Will, for a few days of vacation before her work for the St. Thomas Department of Education was to start.

Her husband flew back to his job in Maine a couple of days ahead of Hurricane Irma. The school year was just about to start.

“It was going to be a yearlong adventure, but it has turned out to be a nightmare,” Dunphey said in a telephone interview.

She has been without power since Irma hit Sept. 6, destroying much of the island’s infrastructure and leveling homes.

At the height of the storm, she telephoned her father back in Maine.

“I called my dad bawling my eyes out I was so terrified. He said to get in the bathroom, stay low, crouch down and pray,” she said.

She said at first she hoped to stick it out, and busied herself helping out at a shelter to provide water and food to hurricane victims. With her 9-pound chihuahua-beagle mix, Piper, for company, Dunphey managed by candlelight and solar lamps at night.

She learned to flush toilets without running water. She cooked her meals – packaged macaroni and cheese and rice and beans she managed to stockpile before Irma – on a propane stove. She has been charging her cellphone by her car’s battery.

“My apartment smells like a fish bowl with dead fish in it. I have to pour bleach on the floor,” she said.

But after more devastation from Hurricane Maria last Wednesday, she decided it was time to leave once it became clear the schools on St. Thomas will not be opening for months. Any available education resources are being focused on high school seniors. All of the schools that withstood the storm are being used as shelters by storm victims.

With the airport closed and no word of when it might reopen, Dunphey has been trying to find a way out by boat.

She said it is possible a cruise ship may come in to nearby St. Croix and she has thought of finding a boat there.

“But there is a lot of fake news and scams with chartered boats and flights,” she said.

Her cousin, Matt Cosby of Portland, who alerted the Press Herald to her plight, said the whole family is worried for her.

“She is pretty lonely and sad. It has been over three weeks without any electricity and with the curfew,” Cosby said.

Dunphey said she has had some very low days.

“It is just hard to get out of bed when you don’t have much hope,” Dunphey said.

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

bquimby@pressherald.com

Twitter: bquimby

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/portland-educator-stranded-on-st-thomas/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/09/1260178_Brooke-Quinn-Dunphey.jpgBrooke Quinn DunpheySat, 23 Sep 2017 17:36:40 +0000
Maine town of Wayne considers transfer of 118 acres to land trust http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/maine-town-of-wayne-considers-transfer-of-118-acres-to-land-trust/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/maine-town-of-wayne-considers-transfer-of-118-acres-to-land-trust/#respond Sat, 23 Sep 2017 20:44:32 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/maine-town-of-wayne-considers-transfer-of-118-acres-to-land-trust/ The forested property on Wilson Pond was acquired after taxes were not paid for five years.

Wayne officials are deciding whether to transfer a forested, 118-acre property on Wilson Pond to the Kennebec Land Trust, a deal that would ensure the land is preserved after the town acquired it four years ago.

The town took ownership of that land in April 2013 after the owner failed to pay taxes on it for five years.

At Town Meeting in 2015, a majority of voters authorized the town to go through with a legal action that has cemented its ownership of the land.

That legal action, known as “quieting the deed,” was completed in August 2016, and since then, a town committee has been considering what to do with the land, according to documents available on the section of the town website for the Open Space Committee.

That committee is holding a meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at the Town Office to continue researching the various options for the property, said Ford Stevenson, committee chairman.

“We’re trying to get all scenarios that all make sense, the pros and cons, and costs and people’s feelings,” Stevenson said Thursday.

He said he does not anticipate the list being complete Monday, but once it is, the town committee then would have a session specifically to collect public input. Once that happens, the additional information would be incorporated and the list of options would be forwarded to the selectmen.

Whatever selectmen decide will be sent to the voters.

Residents have expressed an interest in preserving the land, according to the town documents; and for the last few months, the Open Space Committee has been working out a proposal that would transfer the land to the Kennebec Land Trust.

Given the largely undeveloped nature of the land and its proximity to several area lakes, the Kennebec Land Trust also is interested in managing the property, said Theresa Kerchner, the organization’s executive director.

But the Kennebec Land Trust also is waiting for a clear signal from Wayne voters that they would like such a land transfer to take place.

“I see this as a potentially very successful project, if this is what the town has as a goal,” Kerchner said. “We don’t want to force any outcome on communities. We’re in the business of conserving land. … What we’re looking for from the town is a strong message to us that they have reached a decision about the future of the property, I assume through a vote at Town Meeting.”

Residents would have to raise $70,000 to pay the back taxes and legal fees that are owed for the land, as well as an additional $17,638 for Kennebec Land Trust to manage the property, according to a May letter from Kennebec Land Trust officials.

The town of Wayne also would have to survey the boundaries of the land, and two activities – trapping and all-terrain-vehicle riding – would be off-limits.

It’s not clear how much support there is for the town to transfer the land to the Kennebec Land Trust. At Town Meeting in 2015, citizens voted 178-110 to pay the legal fees for quieting the land’s title.

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

ceichacker@centralmaine.com

Twitter: ceichacker

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How Maine’s members of Congress voted last week http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/how-maines-members-of-congress-voted-last-week-27/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/how-maines-members-of-congress-voted-last-week-27/#respond Sat, 23 Sep 2017 19:24:47 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/how-maines-members-of-congress-voted-last-week-27/ The House was in recess last week. Along with roll call votes, the Senate also passed the Eliminating Government-funded Oil-painting Act (S. 188), to prohibit the use of federal funds for the costs of painting portraits of officers and employees of the federal government; and the Financial Stability Oversight Council Insurance Member Continuity Act (H.R. 3110), to amend the Financial Stability Act of 2010 to modify the term of the independent member of the Financial Stability Oversight Council.

There were no key votes in the House last week.

SENATE VOTES

2018 MILITARY BUDGET: The Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2810), sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas. The bill would authorize a $700 billion military budget for fiscal 2018, including the Defense Department, military programs at the Energy Department, and military construction programs. A supporter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the funding would reverse a trend of giving too few resources to the military at a time of significant terrorist threats, conflicts with North Korea and Russia, and “many other dangerous developments” for the U.S. The vote Monday was 89 yeas to 8 nays.

YEAS: Susan Collins, R-Maine, Angus King, I-Maine

SOLICITOR GENERAL: The Senate confirmed the nomination of Noel Francisco to serve as U.S. solicitor general. A supporter, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, cited Francisco’s experience as a private lawyer, at the Justice Department, as counsel to the president, and as a Supreme Court clerk as “impressive credentials” qualifying him for the position. An opponent, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., claimed Francisco “already had a troubling tenure as acting solicitor general” ahead of the confirmation vote, and criticized him for supporting the tobacco and payday lending industries, and aligning himself with right-wing groups. The vote Tuesday was 50 yeas to 47 nays.

YEAS: Collins

NAYS: King

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Motorcyclist killed in Auburn crash http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/motorcyclist-killed-in-auburn-crash/ Sat, 23 Sep 2017 13:39:53 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/motorcyclist-killed-in-auburn-crash/ A 54-year-old motorcyclist was killed in a crash involving an automobile on Court Street in Auburn on Friday.

Police said in a prepared statement that Reginald Clement of Anson was killed when his 2013 Harley Davidson motorcycle was struck at 5:52 p.m. by a 2006 Chrysler operated by Steve Primavera, 33, of New Gloucester as Clement traveled east on Court Street.

Clement was taken to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston by Auburn Fire Rescue where he died from his injuries.

Primavera was not hurt.

Maine State Police are helping Auburn Police with the investigation.

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

bquimby@pressherald.com

Twitter: @bquimby

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

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Union approves new contract with Bath Iron Works http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/union-biw-reach-tentative-agreement/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/union-biw-reach-tentative-agreement/#respond Sat, 23 Sep 2017 11:11:03 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/23/union-biw-reach-tentative-agreement/ Members of a union at Bath Iron Works voted Saturday in favor of a new contract with the shipbuilder, averting a potential strike planned for Monday.

BIW officials said the company is pleased to have an agreement, and Kirk Douglass, president of the local union, the Bath Marine Draftsmen’s Association, said the vote was a positive step.

“It is good we are going to go back to work,” said Douglass.

The vote in favor of the contract was 414-117, or nearly 78 percent. The contract takes effect Monday and runs until March 20, 2022.

Douglass said the union is giving up some of its flex time benefits, a provision that allows members to determine within a certain range their start and end times each day. Flex time had been the sticking point in the contract negotiations, but any changes won’t go into effect for six months, rather than the three months the company wanted.

The union and the shipbuilder had been working with a federal mediator since Wednesday, trying to reach a compromise on a new contract for the union’s roughly 760 members. They reached a tentative agreement late Friday, which union members voted on Saturday morning in Brunswick.

“While we recognize that this tentative agreement is not perfect, and it’s not what any of us wanted when we entered into these negotiations, we believe it represents a significant improvement from what we were facing last week,” read a letter posted on the union’s Facebook page just before midnight Friday. “It has good economics and preserves a level of workplace flexibility that would otherwise have been eliminated.”

An initial contract was voted down last Sunday.

The new 4½-year contract will give workers two pay increases totaling 5.6 percent, $6,000 in lump sum payments, and more retirement benefits and paid time off.

The new contract does retain some flex time benefits, which allow employees to vary when they arrive at and leave work during a 40-hour week. Workers said flex time makes it possible for them to care for sick family members since they lost 23 days of sick leave and vacation time in the last contract in 2013, The Associated Press reported.

Union leadership applauded members’ solidarity, which was reflected in their wearing certain colors on specified days, social media campaigns and lobbying of elected officials.

“Thanks to the membership’s strong showing of solidarity and clear determination, the company moved to a position that is much more closely aligned with the BMDA proposal made available last week,” the union leadership said in its post.

The local union represents materials testers, laboratory technicians and employees who work on ship designs and technical drawings. Its membership represents about 13 percent of the shipyard’s workforce of 6,000.

The last strike at the shipyard was a 55-day walkout in 2000.

The draftsmen’s association is an affiliate of the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agriculture Implement Workers, Local 3999.

The draftsmen’s association had the support of the Local S6 chapter of the Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America, the largest union at the shipyard with about 3,600 members.

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Bull-riding competition in Portland draws fans, some protesters http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/bull-riding-competition-comes-to-portland/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/bull-riding-competition-comes-to-portland/#respond Sat, 23 Sep 2017 03:01:41 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/bull-riding-competition-comes-to-portland/

Bulls arrive at the Cross Insurance Arena in advance of the Professional Bull Riders event beginning Friday evening. Mike Law, left, from Boonesboro, Md., climbs out of the way as the bulls are unloaded from trucks backed up to the arena’s loading bays. Staff photo by John Ewing

Thousands of Mainers headed up and moved out to the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Friday night to enjoy a live, professional bull-riding competition.

The organizer, Colorado-based Professional Bull Riders Inc., expected total attendance of about 6,000 during the PBR Velocity Tour’s two-night stay in Portland, which concludes Saturday, said company spokeswoman Amanda Bevington-Tuimalealiifano. It is only the second time the nationwide tour has come to Portland, although Bangor has long been a regular stop.

Fans attending the competition said bull-riding and Maine go together like boots and cowboy hats.

“Maine has such strong agricultural roots that it should be a regular thing,” said Knox resident Dayna Woods. “I like the fast action, the excitement – it’s something unusual for the area.”

Yarmouth resident John Kyle said he has been a fan of bull-riding for a long time and bought his ticket immediately when he heard the PBR tour was coming to Portland.

“This is the first time I’ve been to an official rodeo – I’ve watched it on TV, but I’ve never seen it live,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the bull riding.”

It takes a lot of preparation to put on a bull-riding competition, Bevington-Tuimalealiifano said. It begins a day beforehand, with truckloads of locally sourced dirt being dumped into the arena to cover the entire floor about 10 inches deep to reduce injuries from falling off the bulls.

“We fill our arenas with about 70 tons of dirt,” she said.

The event itself was like a cross between a sporting event and a rock concert, with a dash of conservative politics thrown in for good measure. The competition began with a prayer for the bull riders and the troops, followed by a short speech in which the announcer scolded in absentia the athletes who refuse to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Then, everyone stood for the national anthem.

More than 50 bulls, weighing as much as 2,000 pounds each, were moved into holding pens set up in the Cross Insurance Arena before Friday night’s competition. Staff photo by John Ewing

During the competition, pop and country music blasted, lights flashed, and machines pumped smoke while riders lurched out of the gates one at a time, each flailing and hanging on for dear life to his spastic bull.

About 40 riders and bulls participate in each event, Bevington-Tuimalealiifano said.

PBR rookie Garrett Ashley, a 21-year-old bull rider from Kansas City, Missouri, said he was hoping to rack up big points Friday night. Bull riders accrue points over the course of a season, with their totals ultimately determining who will go on to the finals that year in Las Vegas.

Ashley said he enjoys traveling with the tour, the atmosphere at competitive events, “and trying to tame the beast.”

Outside the arena, a handful of protesters held signs and handed out cards urging people to reconsider their decision to attend a bull-riding event.

“We just would like people to question a form of entertainment that is exploitative, and think about whether it’s worth it,” said Nickola Cole, a volunteer for Animal Rights Maine.

Bulls are led into holding pens backstage before the evening show at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland. Staff photo by John Ewing

The protesters were quick to point out that they scored a big victory this week when the city of Portland passed an ordinance outlawing the use of exotic animals for entertainment, such as those involved in a traveling circus.

However, they acknowledged that – at least politically – bull-riding is a completely different animal.

“In some ways I feel like this might be a harder fight,” said Animal Rights Maine volunteer Ben Asselin. “It’s more obvious that an elephant is out of place, or a tiger.”

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

canderson@pressherald.com

Twitter: jcraiganderson

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Motorcyclist seriously injured in head-on collision with car in Auburn http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/motorcyclist-seriously-injured-after-head-on-collision-with-car-in-auburn/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/motorcyclist-seriously-injured-after-head-on-collision-with-car-in-auburn/#respond Sat, 23 Sep 2017 01:45:13 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/motorcyclist-seriously-injured-after-head-on-collision-with-car-in-auburn/ AUBURN — A motorcyclist was severely injured Friday when he was struck head-on by a car on Court Street.

This story has been updated: Motorcyclist killed in Auburn crash

Witnesses told the Lewiston Sun Journal that the biker was headed toward the downtown with another motorcyclist around 5:45 p.m. when the driver of a Chrysler sedan drifted into the oncoming lane, causing the bikers to crash.

The woman who had been driving the second motorcycle was not seriously injured.

The identities of those involved were not available Friday night. The male motorcyclist who was struck was unconscious and didn’t have a pulse when first responders arrived, witnesses said.

A nurse who responded to the crash administered CPR, witnesses said, and the man was rushed to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.

Police blocked off a section of Court Street, near the intersection at Western Avenue, as emergency crews arrived. Officers were interviewing witnesses and questioning the driver of the Chrysler, a man who appeared to be in his 30s.

Both motorcyclists were wearing helmets, witnesses said.

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Feature obituary: Fernanda D’Andrea Darrow, 57, popular Spanish teacher at Cheverus http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/feature-obituary-fernanda-dandrea-darrow-57-popular-spanish-teacher-at-cheverus/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/feature-obituary-fernanda-dandrea-darrow-57-popular-spanish-teacher-at-cheverus/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 23:42:37 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/feature-obituary-fernanda-dandrea-darrow-57-popular-spanish-teacher-at-cheverus/ Fernanda D’Andrea Darrow, a popular Spanish teacher at Cheverus High School in Portland, died Wednesday after suffering a brain aneurysm last week. She was 57.

Mrs. Darrow was remembered Thursday as a loving mother and dedicated teacher who inspired students to rise above adversity and live with passion and purpose.

Mrs. Darrow, of Portland, was known for her infectious laugh and generous spirit. She joined the Cheverus faculty in 2002 and served a few years as a tennis coach.

John Moran, principal at Cheverus, said she was a beloved teacher who wanted every student to succeed and love the Spanish language. Moran spoke Friday about her passion for social justice and the lengths she went to help underserved students around the world. Mrs. Darrow organized an annual karaoke night and Christmas tree drive to raise money for schools in Latin America, including in Argentina, Chile and Guatemala.

“She had a very vibrant personality,” Moran said. “She would be the first one on stage at karaoke night and get all of her students to sing songs in Spanish and have choreographed dance moves.”

On Sept. 7, Mrs. Darrow suffered a brain aneurysm and was admitted to the intensive care unit at Maine Medical Center in Portland. A week later, she suffered another aneurysm and did not recover.

Since then, the Rev. Robert J. Pecoraro has met with students to offer prayers and counseling. A crisis management counseling team is also in place to help students struggling with her death.

There is a board in Mrs. Darrow’s classroom filled with cards and letters of gratitude from students and alumni.

“She was passionate about her students, her faith, and her culture,” Pecoraro said in a letter to the Cheverus community. “She was dedicated to issues of justice. Her life impacted the lives of thousands and we have been blessed to have known her joyful presence in our community.”

Mrs. Darrow was the loving mother of three children: Mattias, 28; Maria, 25; and Cassandra, 22. The siblings each shared stories Friday about their mother’s passion for life and her ability to rise above adversity and make the best of every situation.

Cassandra Darrow, of New Haven, Connecticut, said her mother was strong and fiercely protective of them. She talked about the days she came home from school after a bad day. Her mother would take her to the European Bakery to celebrate.

“She could make anything better,” her daughter said. “She had a glitter about her, a warmth. She was really good at inviting people to be themselves. She was really good at seeing other people and accepting them and loving them. She was a champion of misfits and underdogs in that way. She loved so hard.”

Maria Darrow, of Conway, Massachusetts, said her mother was intensely empathetic.

“I’ll miss her eyes,” her daughter said. “I’ll miss the way she looked at us, like we were perfect. She believed we were no matter what.”

Mattias Darrow, of Chicago, said he will miss his mother’s laugh.

“She had this sheer joy and appreciation for life,” he said. “It’s unbelievable how much joy she took from even the worst situations. So much of what I heard about persevering, I have learned from her. Even if something wasn’t ideal, she could find a way to make it good for us.”

Mrs. Darrow loved spending time with her sisters, and had a passion for playing tennis. Her youngest daughter said she played almost every day.

“She was a rock star,” Cassandra Darrow said. “Sometimes we played together. She beat me every time,” she said, laughing.

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

mcreamer@pressherald.com

Twitter: MelanieCreamer

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Investigation underway in shots fired incident in Chelsea http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/investigation-underway-in-shots-fired-incident-in-chelsea/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/investigation-underway-in-shots-fired-incident-in-chelsea/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 23:25:18 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/investigation-underway-in-shots-fired-incident-in-chelsea/ The Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a shooting incident that took place early Tuesday in Chelsea. Deputies were called about 3:45 a.m. to 32 Ricky Road to investigate a report of guns being shot at the home.

According to a news release issued Friday by the sheriff’s office, the residents of the home were asleep when unidentified people armed with rifles shot dozens of bullets into the building. One resident briefly tried to follow the vehicle that drove off, but was shot at by the people in the suspect vehicle.

Detectives collected evidence at the scene and from other locations in Maine, and it has been submitted to the Maine State Crime Lab for analysis. They are working to identify the suspects.

Investigators think this was not a random act, and there is no danger to the general public.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office at 624-7076 or to provide information anonymously at the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office tips line at tipshotline@kennebecso.com.

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Deputies acted in self-defense in fatal Naples shooting, attorney general says http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/deputies-acted-in-self-defense-in-fatal-naples-shooting-attorney-general-says/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/deputies-acted-in-self-defense-in-fatal-naples-shooting-attorney-general-says/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 22:35:16 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1259815 AUGUSTA – Maine Attorney General Janet Mills says sheriff’s deputies acted in self-defense when they fatally shot an armed man who’d killed his roommate and critically injured another man.

Mills said Friday that Sgt. Andrew Feeney and Deputy Derek Brill of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department killed 59-year-old Norman Strobel of Naples in a November confrontation in Naples.

She said the officers simultaneously fired when Strobel raised the handgun in their direction after refusing orders to drop the weapon. Tests showed he had a high blood-alcohol level.

Authorities say Strobel had gone to his ex-girlfriend’s Casco home a day before his death and shot her daughter’s boyfriend, leaving him critically hurt. Police said they confronted Strobel at a Naples mobile home where he’d shot and killed his roommate.

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TD Bank paying compensation for shortchanging customers at coin counting machines http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/td-bank-paying-out-compensation-for-shortchanging-customers-at-its-coin-counting-machines/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/td-bank-paying-out-compensation-for-shortchanging-customers-at-its-coin-counting-machines/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 22:12:26 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/td-bank-paying-out-compensation-for-shortchanging-customers-at-its-coin-counting-machines/ TD Bank customers in Maine and around the country saw the shiny “Penny Arcade” coin counting machines unplugged, covered up and eventually carried away from the lobbies of their local branches last summer.

In recent weeks, they’ve received cards in the mail hinting at why: a notice that they were eligible members of a class action settlement against the bank over the Penny Arcades, which had allegedly been shortchanging customers for years.

The problem with the festive machines was first uncovered by NBC television’s “Today” show, which in April 2016 tested machines at five New York City TD Bank branches and found all of them were undercounting, some by a penny or two on the dollar, one by 15 percent. “Today” also tested rival Coinstar machines and found those to be completely accurate.

Before the segment even aired, the Toronto-based bank – whose U.S. subsidiary is headquartered in New Jersey – announced it was pulling all Penny Arcades from service to be evaluated. They never returned to operation.

That’s in part because of a class action lawsuit filed shortly thereafter at a federal court in New Jersey by attorney Stephen DeNittis, who already had notoriety for his role as co-lead counsel in a class action suit against Subway alleging its footlong subs were shorter than advertised. The settlement he helped negotiate with Subway was thrown out by a federal appeals court on Aug. 25 after the judge deemed it was “no better than a racket” because it benefited only the plaintiff’s attorneys, who would have collected $525,000.

The Penny Arcade settlement, however, has proved enduring and awards $7.5 million to people who used the machines between April 11, 2010, and July 12, 2017. The attorneys received $1.9 million and plaintiffs named in the suit $65,000.

TD Bank’s New Jersey-based spokesman, Matthew Doherty, declined to discuss the settlement or what went wrong with the Penny Arcades. “We don’t comment on litigation,” he said by email.

DeNittis did not respond to interview requests.

The class action payments will be made automatically to those who were TD Bank account holders at the time, but non-customers who used the Penny Arcades have to submit a claim form online (at www.pennyarcadesettlement.com) by Oct. 27.

Most claimants will receive a refund of 0.26 percent of their Penny Arcade transactions during the period, likely a dollar or less for a casual user or a child cashing out a piggy bank.

The original suit alleged TD Bank’s machines “continuously undercounted coins placed in them by consumers for years and resulted in the loss of millions of dollars for consumers.”

TD Bank subsequently tested more than 1,000 Penny Arcades twice and found net undercounts of between 0.117 percent and 0.090 percent, according to court documents.

TD purchased Portland-based Banknorth in 2008, and it began introducing the Penny Arcades throughout Maine. The counting machines were free for bank customers, but an 8 percent fee was levied on non-customers.

 

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Phone scammer posing as York County deputy http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/phone-scammer-posing-as-york-county-deputy/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/phone-scammer-posing-as-york-county-deputy/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 22:12:03 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1259783 A phone scammer posing as a York County sheriff’s deputy has been calling Mainers and demanding money, the sheriff’s office said Friday.

The scammer refers to himself by various names, including “Sgt. Jackson” and “Dep. Timothy Cook,” and warns victims that an arrest warrant will be issued against them unless they pay a fine, the York County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

In at least one case, the scammer said the fine was for missing jury duty.

The sheriff’s office said it was getting inundated with phone calls about the scam – including one from the Bangor area – and asked victims outside York County to contact their local police departments.

The sheriff’s office emphasized that it never solicits payment of fines over the phone and advised residents not to pay any money. York County residents should report any such calls to the sheriff’s office at 324-1113.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

canderson@pressherald.com

Twitter: jcraiganderson

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Conservation projects compete for $4.5 million in Land for Maine’s Future funding http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/conservation-projects-compete-for-4-5-million-in-land-for-maines-future-funding/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/conservation-projects-compete-for-4-5-million-in-land-for-maines-future-funding/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 21:59:48 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/conservation-projects-compete-for-4-5-million-in-land-for-maines-future-funding/ AUGUSTA — More than two dozen land conservation projects will compete for more than $4.5 million in Land for Maine’s Future funding during the program’s first open application process in three years.

The 26 projects seek to protect properties ranging from a few dozen acres in the midcoast to a 23,000-acre parcel in western Maine that reportedly features one of the nation’s largest “sugar bushes” for maple syrup. However, the precise location of the projects and amount of money being sought by each application was not disclosed by the program. Those and other details are considered confidential under state purchasing policies until projects are selected for funding.

All told, the applicants are seeking $7 million from Land for Maine’s Future, a program that provides matching funds for projects that conserve natural areas and recreation lands, farms and working waterfronts.

“We’re encouraged by the level of support out there and we’re not entirely surprised,” Jeff Romano with the Maine Coast Heritage Trust said of the number of applicants for the limited funding. “The Legislature and the governor have not supported a bond measure for many years now, so there is a lot of built-up demand out there.”

When the LMF board meets on Nov. 7 and 9, it will be the first time a new round of finalists for funding will have been selected since the popular conservation program became embroiled in political controversy 2½ years ago. In March 2015, Republican Gov. Paul LePage – a vocal critic of conservation programs that use public funding – sought to use bonds for the LMF program as a bargaining chip with lawmakers as he sought legislative support for a plan to increase timber harvesting on state-owned lands.

The political tensions over the program have since eased, although there has not been an LMF bond measure since 2012. The $4.3 million now available comes from unexpended portions of two bond packages approved by voters in 2009 and 2011.

November’s meeting also will also be the first time LMF’s new board – comprised entirely of recent LePage appointees or members of his Cabinet – begins the process of deciding which projects receive funding, and how much.

Director Sarah Demers released a list of the names of funding applicants and a total dollar figure for the requests – $6,991,065 – but cited state statutes in declining to provide further details of the projects.

“According to the state’s Division of Purchases policies, all proposals are confidential until notification of award by the contracting agency, after which time they become public record,” Demers wrote in an email. “The board will be meeting publicly on November 7th … to review the proposals, hear presentations from applicants and adjust their scores for each proposal. The board will then meet on November 9 and go into executive session to select finalists and make the financial allocations for each project.”

Maine’s conservation community will be closely watching how the board handles one particular application, the so-called “Big Six Forest.”

Sought by landowner Paul Fortin and supported by several major conservation organizations, the Big Six Forest features 23,056 acres in a remote section of Somerset County along the Maine-Canada border.

The project already has received approval for $3.8 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Legacy program, which requires applicants to match every $3 in federal funds with $1 from non-federal sources. The Trust for Public Land, a national organization, is working on behalf of Fortin and the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands to secure $1.2 million in LMF funding.

The Big Six Forest is home to 4,000 acres of sugar maples that, according to the applicant, is the largest “sugar bush” – a collection of tapped maple trees – in the country. The Big Six sugar bush reportedly accounts for 19 percent of Maine’s maple syrup production.

The project is already receiving some scrutiny, however, because of limited access to the land from the U.S. side. All projects that receive funding through LMF’s “conservation and recreation” program are required to provide public access for hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities. Fortin is a political and financial supporter of LePage, who has previously claimed that the program primarily benefits wealthy landowners.

J.T. Horn, senior project manager at the Trust for Public Land, said he looked forward to presenting the project to the public.

“We really view it as a continuation of the long-standing work to protect key tracts in the northern forest region and in the north Maine woods,” Horn said Thursday. “This property sits at the western boundary of the Penobscot watershed, where there has been a tremendous amount of conservation investment, and the St. John River watershed, where there has also been a tremendous amount of conservation investment.”

While the Big Six Forest application is seeking $1.2 million of the more than $4 million in available funding, past LMF boards have often opted to spread limited funding across more projects by only partially funding many requests.

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

kmiller@mainetoday.com

Twitter: KevinMillerPPH

 

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/conservation-projects-compete-for-4-5-million-in-land-for-maines-future-funding/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2015/06/846969-20150604_Clapboard5.jpgFALMOUTH - JUNE 4: Ledges and rock outcropping line the shores of Clapboard East Preserve on Clapboard Island in Falmouth recently purchased for use by the public with money raised by Land for Maine's Future Program, Falmouth Land Trust and Maine Coast Heritage Trust. (Photo by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer)Fri, 22 Sep 2017 23:02:34 +0000
Maine election system not targeted by Russian hackers http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/maine-election-system-not-targeted-by-russian-hackers/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/maine-election-system-not-targeted-by-russian-hackers/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 21:38:14 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1259744 The U.S. Department of Homeland Security confirmed Friday that the state of Maine’s election systems were not targeted as part of a string of cyberintrusion attempts during the 2016 general election.

Early this summer, DHS officials announced that 21 states’ elections systems were targeted during the election, but did not name the states. DHS did not directly notify chief election officials of their states’ status until Friday, according to a news release from the Maine Department of the Secretary of State.

“We are very confident in the security of our elections systems here in Maine, and pleased to finally have confirmation that we were not among the 21 states that were targeted in 2016,” Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said in a statement. “I will continue to advocate for immediate notification from DHS in the event of any future attempts on our election systems, so we can respond appropriately to threats as they arise.”

Maine employs several best practices for election security, the department said. Voters use paper ballots, which are counted by tabulator machines in the larger municipalities. Those machines, as well as the computers used to create Maine ballots, are not connected to the internet, and a strict chain of custody is maintained for all election materials, in concert with pre-election testing.

The only aspect of Maine’s election system that is accessible via the internet is the Central Voter Registration database, and it is protected by user passwords, a firewall and regular monitoring by in-house cybersecurity staff, the federal department said. If the system were compromised, Maine’s same-day voter registration law would still ensure that no voter is disenfranchised at the polls.

DHS officials confirmed this week that the 21 instances of scanning and attempted breaches of state election systems are linked to Russian hackers. The majority of the efforts found by DHS were scanning, but not breaches, and the officials stressed that there was “no evidence of any impact to voting anywhere,” the news release said.

The department is working with members of the National Association of Secretaries of State, as well as other chief election officials across the nation, to improve communication protocols regarding voting system security in the future, it said.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

canderson@pressherald.com

Twitter: jcraiganderson

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/maine-election-system-not-targeted-by-russian-hackers/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/07/voting_edi-copy.jpgDuring the voter fraud investigation, five students voted in two different states in the same year – but not in the same election – and that was legal.Fri, 22 Sep 2017 19:47:26 +0000
Sen. King lobbies for lobster emoji http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/king-lobbies-for-lobster-emoji/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/king-lobbies-for-lobster-emoji/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 21:29:23 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/king-lobbies-for-lobster-emoji/ U.S. Sen. Angus King took a respite from the Democrat-versus-Republican battles in Congress on Friday and threw his weight into the lobster vs. crab battle.

King, an independent, sent a letter lobbying for the adoption of a lobster emoji to the non-governmental consortium that oversees the availability of emojis worldwide. The Unicode Consortium, which selects emojis for use by websites, application and operating systems worldwide, is preparing to release its next list of approved emojis in October.

“The members of the Unicode Technical Committee know better than most that emoji have become an increasingly important medium for communication, and that individuals and businesses have benefitted from being able to use a growing set of emoji options,” King wrote in his letter. “And people in Maine – as well as others across the world – understand that the lobster is a culturally- and economically-important animal.”

He noted that emojis exist for shrimp, fish and crabs, and then used Google Trends data to underscore his argument to the technology-minded members of the consortium’s technical committee. He pointed out that web searches of “lobster” outpace searches for “crab,” and that #lobster leaves #crab in the dust in Instagram searches.

“I respectfully request that the UTC include (a lobster emoji) in Unicode Version 11.0, so that people who fish, process, serve, eat, or otherwise admire the lobster can accurately express themselves in emoji form,” he wrote.

Last month entrepreneur Luke Holden, owner of a chain of lobster restaurants, started a petition drive to get the consortium to adopt a lobster emoji. His campaign, Let’s Make the Lobster Emoji Happen on Change.org had nearly 4,300 signatures as of Friday.

King sent his letter three days in advance of National Lobster Day. He and fellow U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, asked the U.S. Senate in July to designate Sept. 25 as National Lobster Day. The resolution was unanimously passed in August.

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Jury picked for Robert Burton’s murder trial, due to start Monday in Bangor http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/jury-picked-for-robert-burtons-murder-trial-due-to-start-monday-in-bangor/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/jury-picked-for-robert-burtons-murder-trial-due-to-start-monday-in-bangor/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 20:45:17 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/jury-picked-for-robert-burtons-murder-trial-due-to-start-monday-in-bangor/ A jury has been selected for the Sept. 25 trial of Robert Burton, a man charged with killing his former girlfriend in June 2015 and leading police on one of the longest manhunts in state history.

The trail will be held at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor.

Burton, 40, is charged with murdering Stephanie Gebo in the Piscataquis County town of Parkman. Indicted by a grand jury in October 2015, he pleaded not guilty to the charge in December 2015 in Piscataquis County Superior Court in Dover-Foxcroft. A jury of nine men and six women have been selected for the trial, which starts Monday.

Gebo was killed the day after Burton’s probation for a domestic violence conviction that sent him to prison for 10 years ended. Gebo’s children told police that Burton had lived with them for about two years at 46 Kulas Road in Parkman and that he had moved out May 31 to live with his parents. He allegedly returned June 5 and shot Gebo to death.

Gebo, 37, a single mother of two, was shot to death with a pistol, according to police. She had broken up with Burton a week earlier and was so afraid of him that she had changed the house locks and slept with a handgun under her pillow, police said. Gebo was discovered by her 13-year-old daughter, who called 911. As she was calling, she saw a camouflage backpack and jacket outside that she recognized as Burton’s. Inside the backpack police said they later found a knife, duct tape and medication in bottles prescribed to Burton. Police said they also found Burton’s cellphone in the jacket.

Gebo was found unresponsive and was tied up with duct tape.

The death was ruled a homicide by a medical examiner, who found multiple gunshot wounds to the lungs, spinal area and trachea.

Burton was on the run for 68 days, making it one of the longest manhunts in state history. Police believed he had been living in the woods before he gave himself up at the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department, saying he was afraid he was going to be shot by police.

Burton is represented by Bangor attorney Hunter Tzovarras, who replaced Jeffrey Toothaker after Burton sought a new lawyer. Burton filed a handwritten motion, received in the Penobscot court, complaining about his attorney and seeking new legal representation. The proceedings had been planned for August 2016 but were postponed because Burton wanted a new attorney.

Assistant Attorneys General John Alsop and Don Macomber are prosecuting the case, and Superior Court Justice Robert Mullen is presiding over the trial. The trial was moved from Dover-Foxcroft in Piscataquis County to Bangor in Penobscot County because of concerns about pre-trial publicity.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

cellis@centralmaine.com

Twitter: @colinoellis

 

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/jury-picked-for-robert-burtons-murder-trial-due-to-start-monday-in-bangor/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/09/760430_122470_burton_2_kb.jpgRobert Burton, 38, enters the courtroom in 2015 at Piscataquis County Superior Court in Dover-Foxcroft. Burton goes on trial Monday at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor in connection witn the June 5, 2015, slaying of Stephanie Ginn Gebo, 37, who was found dead inside her Parkman home by her two children.Fri, 22 Sep 2017 17:02:54 +0000
Saint Joseph’s College food institute launched with $4 million in funding http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/4-million-in-funding-helps-launch-saint-joseph-food-institute/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/4-million-in-funding-helps-launch-saint-joseph-food-institute/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 19:04:16 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1259657 An institute dedicated to developing Maine’s food and beverage industry while improving food security for its citizens was launched Thursday at Saint Joseph’s College.

Officials from federal, state and local governments attended the ceremonial unveiling of the college’s Institute for Local Food Systems Innovation, a strategic partnership among various levels of government, as well as corporations and individuals. To help the institute launch, a nearly $2 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration was presented.

In addition, private donations of $500,000 from the Hannaford Charitable Foundation, a $750,000 award from Organic Nutrition Inc. and donations from several private foundations and individuals, collectively, match the federal grant.

“The institute will fill key needs to strengthen our food system and grow our economy in Maine. … The institute will support the creation of new jobs and a strengthened economy, which is perfectly in line with Greater Portland region’s goals of doubling the region’s food manufacturing employment in 10 years,” said U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, on behalf of Maine’s congressional delegation, in announcing the EDA grant.

The $4 million in funding will allow the Standish college to begin the first phase of its development: construction of a quarter-acre hydroponic greenhouse, a 3,400-square-foot commercial kitchen, a livestock barn, connection to the municipal water system, and a biomass boiler system, according to a statement from the college. The institute will encompass five enterprises: a food manufacturing incubator, a hydroponic farm, a traditional crop and livestock farm, an agritourism event center, and an entrepreneurship development and education program offering certificates in areas such as hydroponic farming, food processing and food merchandising.

An economic impact analysis conducted by 45 North Research projected the institute to result in $4.1 million in earnings and 135 jobs during construction and operation. According to the report, the food incubator will have the largest long-term economic impact as it helps home-based food businesses scale up operations.

Plans call for the college to break ground for the hydroponic greenhouse in 2018, and the first certificate programs related to hydroponic food production are expected in the fall of that year.

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Woman injured when car collides with logging truck in Strong http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/woman-injured-when-car-collides-with-logging-truck-in-strong/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/woman-injured-when-car-collides-with-logging-truck-in-strong/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 16:51:57 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/woman-injured-when-car-collides-with-logging-truck-in-strong/ STRONG — A Lewiston woman who is a teacher at Mt. Abram High School was injured Friday morning when her car drifted into the path of a tractor-trailer truck loaded with logs on Route 4, police said.

Dayle Castonguay, 25, told police that she had something in her eye and was rubbing it, and the car drifted over into oncoming traffic as she was traveling toward Strong, Maine State Police Trooper Eric Ward said.

The truck, driven by Albert Silver, 43, of Bryant Pond, was heading toward Farmington, he said.

Silver tried to go right to avoid the accident, but the truck hit the guardrail and it brought him back to the left, Ward said.

The vehicles collided on the front driver’s-side corners, he said.

Silver was not injured in the accident, which was reported at 7:07 a.m., he said.

Firefighters had to extricate Castonguay from her car, he said. She was taken by a NorthStar EMS ambulance to Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington.

Ward said he had talked to Castonguay after the accident and it seemed that she has a broken leg.

“She was fortunate. It could have been a lot worse,” he said.

Both the tractor-trailer, owned by R.C. McLucas, of Porter, and Castonguay’s car sustained significant damage and had to be towed from the scene.

The accident remains under investigation, Ward said.

Ward was assisted by Franklin County sheriff’s Chief Deputy Steven Lowell and Deputy Sandy Burke at the scene. The Strong Fire Department, the Farmington Fire Rescue Department, a Maine State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit and NorthStar personnel also assisted at the scene.

dperry@sunmediagroup.net

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/woman-injured-when-car-collides-with-logging-truck-in-strong/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/09/760327_795368-strongcrash-e1506099498324.jpgDayle Castonguay, 25, of Lewiston, was injured when her car collided with a fully loaded tractor-trailer truck hauling logs Friday morning on Route 4 in Strong, police said.Fri, 22 Sep 2017 16:13:31 +0000
Portland advances tax relief plan for low-income seniors http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/portland-advances-tax-relief-plan-for-low-income-seniors/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/portland-advances-tax-relief-plan-for-low-income-seniors/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 16:23:17 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1259529 Nearly 900 seniors in Portland could receive property tax relief under a proposal now headed for final approval.

On Thursday, a City Council committee endorsed a proposal from Mayor Ethan Striming to provide rebates to homeowners and renters over the age of 62.

Finance Committee members voted unanimously to send it to the full council.

“I’m very pleased we are joining the many municipalities around us who have already put this into place,” Strimling said Friday. “Our seniors need this and deserve it.”

Targeted tax relief for Portland’s seniors has been a goal of city leaders for the last 15 years.

Portland previously attempted a similar program in 2003, but it was deemed unconstitutional by the courts because there was no state law allowing it. The Legislature has since passed enabling legislation.

The council will discuss the plan next month and could vote on the program as soon as Nov. 6, although the first tax rebates would not be sent out until sometime in 2019.

Portland’s Senior Tax Equity Program, or P-STEP, is modeled after a similar state program.

To participate in the local program, seniors must already be eligible for the State of Maine’s Property Tax Fairness Program. That program is open to people with a maximum adjusted gross income of between $33,333 and $53,000, depending on the size of the household. And property taxes paid must be more than 6 percent of the household income, while rents must exceed 40 percent of household income.

P-STEP would provide tax rebates of up to $600 for residents between the ages of 62 and 65, while those over 65 could receive up to $900. Those maximum amounts match what is available under the state program.

The program could cost $250,000 a year. That estimate assumes that 90 percent of the 889 eligible seniors apply for and receive the benefit.

The mayor’s office estimates the average benefit to qualified Portland seniors would be $197 per renter and $324 per household.

Strimling said City Manager Jon Jennings will be tasked with including funding for the program in the next city budget.

Similar tax relief programs exist in South Portland, Scarborough, Cumberland, Kennebunkport, Berwick, Harpswell, Kittery and York, the mayor’s office said.

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

rbillings@pressherald.com

Twitter: randybillings

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/portland-advances-tax-relief-plan-for-low-income-seniors/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/11/1105765_471720-CityHall_04-e1482173262914.jpgGordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer. May 05, 2008. Various photos of Portland City Hall. This is a composite of three images using PhotoMerge in Photoshop.Fri, 22 Sep 2017 21:25:48 +0000
Sen. Collins, a pivotal vote, says she’s ‘leaning against’ Graham-Cassidy health care bill http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/collins-says-shes-leaning-against-voting-for-graham-cassidy-health-care-bill/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/collins-says-shes-leaning-against-voting-for-graham-cassidy-health-care-bill/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 16:11:42 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/collins-says-shes-leaning-against-voting-for-graham-cassidy-health-care-bill/ Sen. Susan Collins all but said she would vote “no” on an Affordable Care Act repeal bill during an appearance at an event in Portland on Friday. Hours later, the bill appeared to be in its death throes after Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., announced his opposition.

With all Democrats against repeal, Republicans can afford to lose only two votes and still have Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote to eliminate the ACA. Collins, McCain and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, were the only Republicans to vote “no” in a dramatic late-night vote on July 27, defeating the previous repeal effort by one vote.

“I’m leaning against the bill,” Collins said after listing a series of serious deficiencies in the Graham-Cassidy repeal bill.

“I’m just trying to do what I believe is the right thing for the people of Maine,” said Collins, appearing at the Holiday Inn By the Bay to give a speech about affordable housing.

About 80,000 Mainers are among the roughly 20 million Americans who have ACA insurance.

McCain issued a written statement announcing he “cannot in good conscience” vote for the Graham-Cassidy bill, a critical step that could kill the measure. Murkowski has criticized the bill, but has not yet revealed how she will vote. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, is so far opposing Graham-Cassidy from the political right, putting the bill in further peril.

Collins slammed the bill on Friday, pointing out that it undermines pre-existing condition protections enshrined in the ACA.

“I’m reading the fine print on Graham-Cassidy,” Collins said. She said insurers could charge sky-high rates to people with pre-existing conditions. “The premiums would be so high they would be unaffordable.”

Collins said she would likely make her decision early next week, after a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the bill, but she had nothing positive to say about Graham-Cassidy on Friday.

Collins’ speech came on the same day that Gov. Paul LePage of Maine met with Pence, and LePage was pressuring Collins and Sen. Angus King – an independent who caucuses with the Democrats – to vote in favor of Graham-Cassidy.

When asked about LePage, Collins said she welcomes “input from all of my constituents.”

“The governor in particular has stepped up his efforts,” Collins said. “There is a lot of pressure, but I’ve had a lot of pressure on a lot of different issues over the years.”

Collins said she gathers all the data and tries to “make the best decision.”

“If I don’t do that I can’t look at myself in the mirror,” Collins said.

She said rural hospitals would be in great danger of closing if Graham-Cassidy were approved, and held out Charles A. Dean Hospital in Greenville as an example.

“If Medicaid is cut that hospital will not survive,” Collins said. “It’s the biggest employer in town. It has 180 good-paying jobs. So not only would people lose access to health care that they need, it would be a devastating blow to the community. You could go all over the state and find that would be true.”

Republicans face a Sept. 30 deadline to pass Graham-Cassidy, at which point special rules that prevent a Democratic filibuster will expire and 60 votes would be needed. The Republican leadership has been attempting to repeal the ACA, former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement, for seven years.

Another GOP failure to undo the ACA could have a seismic impact on the legislative dynamic in Washington and the emerging contours of the 2018 midterm elections. If Graham-Cassidy fails, Trump could turn on congressional Republicans more forcefully and be tempted to work with Democrats, whom he recently has courted on a series of narrower issues.

Cassidy-Graham would turn funding for the ACA into block grants for states and sharply cut Medicaid spending over time. Three independent analysis have predicted that more than 30 states would lose federal funding between 2020 and 2026 under the measure.

LePage, however, touted a Trump administration analysis that showed Maine gaining Medicaid funds under Graham-Cassidy, and in a Facebook post urged Collins to vote for the bill.

Pence also put pressure on Collins during his meeting with LePage.

“President Trump and I are absolutely determined to carry this case all across the country and to call on members of the Senate – most especially Senator Susan Collins from the great state of Maine – to join us in giving the people of Maine and the people of America a fresh start on health care reform,” the vice president said.

But the Trump administration’s conclusions have been widely discredited by a number of independent analysts, and Collins said her reading of the Medicaid funding also showed drastic cutbacks across the country and in Maine under the bill. Collins said the Trump administration is counting money going in but not money that’s been cut.

“This is a case of the federal government giving with one hand and taking away with the other,” Collins said.

She said she has seen “nothing to contradict” analysis showing cliffs in Graham-Cassidy funding that would kick in after 2026, and that changing the funding formula for Medicaid would be harmful to many states, including Maine. By some calculations, Maine would lose more than $1 billion in federal health care money over the next 10 years.

Collins bemoaned that bipartisan efforts to fix the Affordable Care Act have been dropped. In early September, Collins was working with the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee on bipartisan solutions to the ACA, but Republican leadership stepped away after prospects for Graham-Cassidy improved.

“We were on our way to producing a bipartisan bill that would have addressed some of these problems. Unfortunately, the Graham-Cassidy bill has derailed that effort at least temporarily. That’s very unfortunate,” Collins said.

She said any bill that addresses health care reform should be bipartisan and undergo “extensive hearings.”

“I don’t think you make fundamental changes in a program that has been on the books for 50 years, the Medicaid program, and that serves our most vulnerable citizens, without holding a single Senate hearing on it,” Collins said. Republican bills to repeal the ACA have been crafted behind closed doors without committee hearings.

McCain also has been calling for committee hearings and bipartisanship.

“I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried,” McCain said in his statement.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-New York, said in a statement that McCain revealed “courage” by opposing Graham-Cassidy.

“I have assured Senator McCain that as soon as repeal is off the table, we Democrats are intent on resuming the bipartisan process,” Schumer said.

Collins also has introduced a bill with Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., that would stabilize the ACA’s health insurance marketplace.

Collins said her goal is to expand the number of insured Americans, while the Republican bills offered so far would have resulted in millions more uninsured.

“We should not be going backward in this area,” she said.

Three Washington, D.C., think-tanks have estimated that there would be 32 million fewer Americans with health insurance if Graham-Cassidy were approved.

Collins also criticized a tactic, reported by The Associated Press, in which Republican leadership would allow Alaska to maintain the Affordable Care Act as a way to persuade Murkowski to vote for Graham-Cassidy.

“To carve out a special rule that only applies to one state in order to get a senator’s vote is not a good way to make public policy,” Collins said.

Collins’ comments against Graham-Cassidy were praised by Steve Butterfield, public policy director for Consumers for Affordable Health Care, an Augusta health advocacy group.

“She must be under an enormous amount of pressure,” Butterfield said. “It must take a tremendous amount of heart and courage. It cannot be easy.”

But Sue Hawes, of Portland, who joined about 50 people protesting Graham-Cassidy outside the hotel on Friday, was less impressed. She said the uncertainty around the bill was “terrorizing” people who are worried about losing coverage.

“If she’s against it, I wish she would just come out and say she’s against Graham-Cassidy,” said Hawes, who was holding a “Kill the Bill” sign. “Just say it and get it over with.”

With wire service reports.

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

jlawlor@pressherald.com;

Twitter: joelawlorph

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Jackson Lab files lawsuit against Chinese university over sales of mice http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/jackson-labs-files-lawsuit-against-chinese-university/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/jackson-labs-files-lawsuit-against-chinese-university/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 16:00:24 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/jackson-labs-files-lawsuit-against-chinese-university/ Jackson Laboratory, the Bar Harbor breeder of mice for medical and scientific research, has filed suit against a Chinese university, alleging Chinese researchers are breeding and reselling strains of mice that Jackson lab has developed.

The suit seeks to force Nanjing University and related research facilities into arbitration over the allegations. It was filed this week in federal court in Bangor.

Jackson lab breeds mice for use in medical research around the world. It develops mice with specific genetic features to enable researchers to study the effects of different illnesses and their treatments on successive generations of mice.

The Maine lab started selling mice to Nanjing University in 2002. The mice have been bred to have an extremely deficient immune system. According to the suit, that allows researchers to introduce human cells or tissues into the mice without triggering an immune system response. The mice are then used for research on human immune function, infectious diseases, diabetes, cancer and stem cell biology, the suit said.

According to the suit, Nanjing University signed a standard purchase agreement for mice with Jackson Lab that allows the university to breed the mice as part of its research into the impact of the diseases and treatment on subsequent generations, but bars it from selling them.

Jackson Lab alleges that the university has offered subsequent generations of the mice for sale on the research labs’ website.

Jackson Lab said it sent a cease-and-desist letter to Nanjing Biomedical Research Institute, an arm of the university, on March 31, 2016, demanding that it stop selling the mice. An official with NBRI told Jackson Lab that it had stopped selling the mice, but Jackson Lab said the institute is still advertising and selling “mice that are clearly the descendants of mice purchased from Jackson for research purposes only.”

Jackson Lab sent another cease-and-desist letter in June, the suit said, and then a July letter demanding that the university and its research facilities go to arbitration over the matter as outlined in the original sales agreement, but the Chinese university and research labs have rebuffed attempts to take the dispute to arbitration.

“To date, Nanjing MARC (Model Animal Research Center) has refused to cease commercial sales of mice descended from Jackson’s originally purchased mice and has refused to arbitrate as agreed,” Jackson Lab said in the court filing.

In addition to forcing arbitration, Jackson Lab also is asking to recover its court costs and wants an order blocking Nanjing University and the research labs from selling mice covered by the sales agreement until the arbitration is complete.

Timothy Shannon, the lawyer for Jackson Labs, declined to comment on the suit.

Court documents indicate that the university was served notice of the suit in China, but the records didn’t indicate whether the school had retained an attorney. It is likely the university would hire legal representation in the United States if it does decide to arbitrate the disagreement.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

emurphy@pressherald.com

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‘I freed them,’ Orion Krause said after telling police he killed 4 people with baseball bat http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/unsealed-court-documents-detail-slayings-of-four/ Fri, 22 Sep 2017 15:47:42 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/unsealed-court-documents-detail-slayings-of-four/ Shortly after he confessed to police that he killed four people with a baseball bat, Orion Krause sang quietly to himself and said, “I freed them,” according to court documents unsealed Friday.

A Massachusetts judge released documents that detail – often graphically – the Sept. 8 deaths of Krause’s mother, Elizabeth Lackey Krause, 60; his grandparents, Frank Darby Lackey III, 89, and Elizabeth Lackey, 85; and their home health care worker, Bertha Mae Parker, 68.

Krause, 22, a gifted musician from Rockport, Maine, has been charged with four counts of murder and is being held at Bridgewater State Hospital in Massachusetts pending a psychiatric evaluation. He is next due in court on Oct. 30.

The court documents unsealed Friday outline the probable cause for Krause’s arrest and include written statements from four police officers who were at the crime scene or spoke with Krause.

Although detailed, the documents do not include any clear motive Krause may have had, other than his cryptic assessment that he “freed” the victims. They do, however, include an admission from Krause that he was a heroin user – a detail that had not previously been disclosed – although nothing in the documents indicates he used heroin immediately before the killings.

“No one should make any assumptions about anything he is alleged to have said, including that any of it was actually true,” said Edward Wayland, Krause’s attorney. “Determining the truth is what the legal process is designed to do and it has barely begun to do it.”

Police were called to a home on Common Street in Groton, Massachusetts, shortly before 6 p.m. on Sept. 8. The homeowner, Wagner Alcocer, had called 911 to report that a man, later identified as Krause, had shown up at his house.

Groton Police Officer Gordon Candow was one of the first to arrive.

“I walked up the step to the back patio and I could see a white male in his early twenties sitting in a patio chair,” he wrote. “The male was naked and it appeared he had rubbed mud all over his body. The male was also covered in thin cuts. When I approached him I asked, ‘Are you okay?’ and ‘What’s going on?’ The male stated, ‘I murdered four people.’ ”

Krause then told the officer who he had killed. When asked where it happened, he pointed toward the woods near Alcocer’s house and said, “somewhere over there.”

At that point, Krause was handcuffed. Candow asked him the name of his grandparents and he responded, “Lackey,” and spelled it. The officer contacted dispatchers, who located the home at 80 Common St. – a few houses away from Alcocer’s – owned by Frank and Elizabeth Lackey.

Three officers went to the Lackey residence while Candow and another officer stayed with Krause.

Alcocer brought a sheet from his house and the officers wrapped it around Krause. When he sat back down in the patio chair, Candow wrote, Krause began singing and said, “I freed them.”

Groton police Sgt. James Goodwin, who had gone to the Lackey residence, then radioed to Candow.

“I could tell by the tone in Sgt. Goodwin’s voice that he may have found the victims,” the officer wrote.

Krause was read his Miranda rights. He said he understood them and then declined to speak to Candow any further.

Goodwin and two others approached the Lackey residence. The sergeant wrote that he could see a light and a television on through a bay window.

“As I looked in the window I observed two elderly looking people seated separately in chairs facing my direction,” Goodwin wrote. “Both persons appeared to have severe trauma to the face and forehead.”

The front door was locked but Goodwin kicked it open so he could give aid to the victims, although they were already dead. They were identified as the Lackeys, Krause’s maternal grandparents.

“As I walked a little closer I then saw a third victim that I was not able to see prior,” he wrote. “The victim was seated in a chair slouched down with the back of their head against the corner of the kitchen island.”

The third victim was later identified as Elizabeth “Buffy” Krause, Orion Krause’s mother.

After finding the three victims inside, Goodwin and the other two officers found a fourth victim outside, “face down in the flower bed parallel to the driveway.” That victim was identified as Parker, who was a health care worker for Frank and Elizabeth Lackey. The documents do not indicate whether Parker was killed outside or whether she may have tried to flee.

As police gathered evidence from the scene, including a wooden baseball bat covered in blood, and clothes that they suspected belonged to Krause, he was taken by ambulance to a local hospital for an evaluation. It was during that evaluation that Krause told a nurse that he was a heroin user, Candow said in his statement.

Alcocer, in an interview after the killings, had said Krause told him he needed his sleeping pills but there had been no other mention of drugs.

Krause grew up on Monhegan Island and then Rockport, an affluent midcoast community. He was a talented jazz drummer and graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio last spring.

Friends and others who knew him and his family said the killings were entirely out of character.

Krause’s father, Alexander “Lexi” Krause, who spoke briefly to a reporter this month, said the tragedy highlights the need “to pay more attention to mental health,” but he didn’t address whether his son suffered from any mental illness.

The documents released Friday had been impounded by court order on Sept. 11, when Krause was arraigned. Media outlets challenged the order on constitutional grounds, and the judge rescinded her order Wednesday despite protests from Wayland, Krause’s lawyer, who said the documents should remain closed to protect his client’s right to a fair trial and the privacy of his family.

“Future jurors in this case will be discussing these things long before my client has the ability to challenge their admissibility,” Wayland said.

In his request to keep the files closed, Wayland included affidavits from a psychiatrist and Krause’s father, who said that opening the records would cause the family grief.

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

erussell@pressherald.com

Twitter: PPHEricRussell

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http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/09/1254029_244942-AP_17254611768567.jpgSuspect Orion Krause, right, stands with his attorney, Edward Wayland, at Krause's appearance Monday in Ayer District Court.Fri, 22 Sep 2017 22:45:30 +0000
Portland ad agency shines with new L.L. Bean ‘invisible ink’ ad http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/l-l-bean-publishes-outdoors-ad-only-visible-in-the-sunlight/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/l-l-bean-publishes-outdoors-ad-only-visible-in-the-sunlight/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 15:18:42 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/l-l-bean-publishes-outdoors-ad-only-visible-in-the-sunlight/ A Portland advertising agency received national attention Friday for creating an L.L. Bean print advertisement that is visible only in sunlight.

The ad, which ran as an insert in Friday’s New York Times, came about through a combination of strategy, technology and creativity, according to Leeann Leahy, CEO of The Via Agency.

Indoors, the ad appears to be mostly blank space. It contains just a few words scattered across the page, which say, “L.L. Bean,” “Be an outsider,” “Bring this outside,” and “No, seriously. Take this outside.”

When exposed to sunlight, the ad’s missing text appears in sky blue ink in a manner similar to a Polaroid photo developing, but faster. It begins, “Welcome to the outside. Where there are no strangers. Only friends we haven’t met yet.”

The ad goes on to extol the virtues of an outdoor life, and it encourages readers to explore the outdoors. It does not specifically mention L.L. Bean or its products. Once the ad is taken back indoors, the text quickly disappears.

Leahy described the text as a “manifesto” that was developed by the agency as a guide to the ad campaign it is producing for L.L. Bean, which is called “Be an Outsider.” She said it originally was intended for internal use only.

“We wrote it so that everyone understood what ‘being an outsider’ meant,” she said. Because of client confidentiality concerns, she declined to reveal the cost of the ad.

Via began working with the Freeport-based outdoor retailer in March after competing with other agencies from around the country for the L.L. Bean contract. The first Via-produced ads for L.L. Bean began running in July.

Early on, one of the agency’s creative teams came up with the idea of using photochromic ink, which changes color under ultraviolet light such as that of the sun or a blacklight, to prompt readers to actually take the ad outdoors in order to read it, Leahy said. It was decided that the manifesto would be ideal for such an ad.

“The guys at L.L. Bean really loved it,” she said. “The challenge was, ‘Can we print that?’”

Via contracted with a company called Chromatic Technologies Inc. in Colorado to produce the inserts, which were not actually printed on New York Times newsprint. The company, also known as CTI, has used specialty inks to produce a broad range of color-changing marketing materials and packaging for products such as Coca-Cola soft drinks, Duracell batteries, Lay’s potato chips and Coors Light beer.

The light-sensitive ad received widespread praise on social media Friday, and an online feature about it by the trade publication Adweek was the site’s most popular story of the day.

“We’re very excited about the response we received today,” said Chris McDonough, chief marketing officer at L.L. Bean. “We really wanted to kickstart the campaign with something that would be pretty unique.”

McDonough said the New York Times ad was the product of “a lot of conversations around how you could get people to take a blank piece of paper … and take it outside.”

The “call to action” aspect of the ad really appealed to L.L. Bean executives, he said. It got people to get up and go outdoors, which is the whole point of the ad campaign.

The sunlight-sensitive ad was meant as a one-off but could be repeated in some form in the future, McDonough said. Leahy said her agency has other inventive ideas for L.L. Bean ads that it intends to deploy in the future.

“Of course we do … but I can’t tell you what they are,” she said.

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Democratic state lawmaker from Biddeford unenrolls from party http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/democratic-state-lawmaker-from-biddeford-enrolls-from-party/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/democratic-state-lawmaker-from-biddeford-enrolls-from-party/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 14:53:40 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/democratic-state-lawmaker-from-biddeford-enrolls-from-party/ Martin Grohman, a two-term Democratic state representative from Biddeford, announced Friday that he has unenrolled from the Democratic Party.

Martin Grohman

“Maine is an independent state and we’re independent thinkers. We don’t like being told what to do or how to do it,” Grohman said in a statement. “Unfortunately, in the Maine Legislature special interest groups use party affiliation to push positions that are not in the best interest of Maine. The parties sway votes by encouraging lawmakers to vote their party line, and delay action on vital issues. This type of partisan decision-making is a truly ineffective means of making laws and building consensus for the betterment of Maine and our country.”

Grohman, a member of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, joins four other representatives as an independent, although Democrats still hold a slight majority in 151-member Maine House.

Grohman is an engineer and entrepreneur who founded CorrectDeck, a composite decking manufacturing company.

He is the third sitting Democratic House member to unenroll from the party this year.

In May, Rep. Denise Harlow of Portland and Rep. Ralph Chapman of Brooksville dropped their party affiliations, in part because of their opposition to a bill to overhaul Maine’s metallic mining regulations that was supported by most Democrats.

This story will be updated

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Maine Air National Guard to help with hurricane relief in U.S. Virgin Islands http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/maine-air-national-guard-to-help-with-hurricane-relief-in-u-s-virgin-islands/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/maine-air-national-guard-to-help-with-hurricane-relief-in-u-s-virgin-islands/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 13:41:23 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/maine-air-national-guard-to-help-with-hurricane-relief-in-u-s-virgin-islands/ Seven members of a Maine Air National Guard communications team have been dispatched to the U.S. Virgin Islands to assist recovery efforts after hurricanes Irma and Maria battered the region.

The airmen left Bangor on Thursday night on two C-130 aircraft bound for the island of St. Croix, where they will provide temporary communications to the airfield.

Lt. Col. Brian Camire, commander of the 265th Combat Communication Squadron, said his personnel have the capability to establish emergency radio communication service and wireless internet within six hours of landing.

“We’ve got to get the airfield opened up so we can start landing planes into St. Croix to start relief efforts,” Camire said. “Then they can build that out and increase their footprint and push services.”

The airmen packed the cargo planes with enough equipment, vehicles, food and water for the unit to be self-sufficient for up to 30 days.

“The last thing we want to do is be dependent on the folks who are down there,” Camire said.

The unit also brought technology that can be rapidly deployed to take the place of both military and civilian communication channels, if necessary.

Because of the devastation caused by the hurricanes, local fire and police may lose the ability to communicate among themselves and with other agencies. Camire said his people can provide those services if they’re required.

The National Guard likely will rotate the airmen out of the area within about 30 days, he said, but the needs are so fluid that it was difficult to predict how long the Maine Air National Guard will participate in the recovery effort.

Camire said the mission was made possible by the families and employers of the seven airmen, who were asked to undertake the mission on short notice.

A spokeswoman for the Maine National Guard said the group was expected to land Friday, depending on conditions on the ground, where most runways are still out of service.

“The mission is constantly changing depending on what the needs are down there,” Staff Sgt. Angela Parady said.

The 265th, based in South Portland, has provided communications support after a hurricane before. In a deployment to Vermont in 2011, members of the Maine Air National Guard Engineers assisted recovery efforts after hurricane Irene. The unit also provided communications assistance after Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc along the Gulf Coast in 2005.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of the Caribbean as they respond to the aftermath of another devastating hurricane,” Brig. Gen. Douglas Farnham, adjutant general for the Maine National Guard, said in a statement. “Our Maine National Guard service members are prepared to provide critical communications support to help restore normalcy to the region.”

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

mbyrne@pressherald.com

Twitter: MattByrnePPH

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Two Maine-Vermont drug ring leaders sentenced to lengthy prison terms http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/two-maine-vermont-drug-ring-leaders-sentenced-to-lengthy-prison-terms/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/two-maine-vermont-drug-ring-leaders-sentenced-to-lengthy-prison-terms/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 13:13:40 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/two-maine-vermont-drug-ring-leaders-sentenced-to-lengthy-prison-terms/ BURLINGTON, Vt. — Two men have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms for leading a large drug trafficking organization in Maine and Vermont.

Gary Delima and Sharif Cargo were charged with conspiring to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin and 28 grams of cocaine base.

Gary Delima was sentenced federal court in Burlington on Thursday to 13 years in prison and Sharif Cargo was sentenced to 11 years on trafficking and fraud crimes. Both are 28 and are from New York.

Court records say they were leaders of a group that imported heroin and cocaine base to multiple communities in Maine and Vermont from 2012 to 2015. They used local addicts to function as hosts for out-of-state co-conspirators, providing safe harbor for the drugs. Police have linked their activities to at least one overdose death.

According to the U.S. Attorney of Vermont, the two men also were involved sex trafficking, functioning as pimps and using the threat of withdrawal from herion to force them to work as prostitutes.

Delima and Cargo were arrested in Lewiston in March of 2014.

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Route 1 in Scarborough reopened but traffic pattern altered into next week http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/route-1-southbound-in-scarborough-remains-closed/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/route-1-southbound-in-scarborough-remains-closed/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 11:17:57 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/route-1-southbound-in-scarborough-remains-closed/ Route 1 southbound in Scarborough reopened Friday, a day after a water main break closed the road entirely.

A southbound lane of Route 1 between Hillcrest Avenue and Pleasant Hill Road reopened after 8 a.m. Friday, according to Scarborough police. Northbound lanes reopened overnight.

Southbound traffic is reduced to one lane for about 250 feet from Pleasant Hill Road before it opens back up to two lanes. That traffic pattern will remain into early next week as crews make final repairs, said Michelle Clements, water district spokeswoman.

The Portland Water District reported the break around 12:45 p.m. Thursday. The water main break and road closure led to major traffic backups in town, according to Scarborough police.

Clements said some customers’ water service was affected, but was restored overnight.

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Autumnal equinox – a.k.a. fall – arrives today, but weekend will be beachy http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/autumnal-equinox-k-fall-arrives-today-beach-weekend/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/autumnal-equinox-k-fall-arrives-today-beach-weekend/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 10:34:28 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1259378 Seasons happen.

In spite of all the other unpredictable things in life, including bizarre weather, the seasons arrive every three months on a predictable schedule.

Today we welcome fall or autumn.  This is the period of the year when we will lose even more daylight and by the time we reach the final day of this season, the noontime sun will be at its lowest point and there will be just under 9 hours of daylight between the morning sunrise and the afternoon sunset.

December 20th will mark the final day of fall with winter to follow.  The term equinox is derived from the idea of equal day and night.  The reality is everywhere on the planet has nearly equal day and night today, but our 12-hour day won’t actually occur until Monday.

The rate of light loss will begin to slow after the equinox. TimeandDate.com

COOLING AIR

Temperatures will also continue to tumble in this season.  Even though daylight reaches a minimum during autumn, our temperatures won’t really bottom out until we’ve had about a month of winter.  We’ve actually been cooling for nearly two months (on average).  Already, normal highs are in the 60s.

Average temperatures take a tumble in autumn. Dave Epstein

Fall is quite dramatic here in the Northeast.  In Maine, we can have warm temperatures even reaching the 80s,  as we will next week, but it can also snow.  Snow can accumulate as early as the first half of October, but more likely we won’t see our first flakes until late in that month or November. In some years snow doesn’t arrive until December, but it’s highly unlikely we won’t see some in the autumn season.

HERE COME THE COLORS

The decreasing light, more than the cooler air, causes plants to start shutting down in preparation for winter. We can already notice foliage changing and this will continue to spread south and east in the coming weeks.

Peak foliage is a rather subjective idea since some people love the landscape when all the leaves have changed and others enjoy a blend with some green still on the trees.  There are certain trees that change very early – like many maples – and if you wait until you see the word “peak” to go leaf-peeping  you will miss those colors.

Foliage is already worth viewing in northern areas and the higher elevations. Foliage Network

WHY SEASONS HAPPEN IN THE FIRST PLACE

Seasons occur because the Earth is tilted on its axis at 23.5 degrees.

As the Earth revolves around the sun, different amounts of sunlight reach the surface of the planet at different angles and for varying amounts of time.

Those two variables – length of daylight and angle that sunlight hits the Earth – give us our different seasons.

At the equator, both daylight and angle of the Sun don’t change much. That’s why tropical areas around the equator pretty much have the same weather all year.

Here in Maine the angle of the sunlight and the amount of daylight have dramatic swings.  In the summer we have over 15 hours between sunrise and sunset; in winter that number goes below 9 hours.  In summer the sun is nearly 70 degrees above the horizon at noon, in winter it’s only about 23 degrees above the horizon – an incredible shift bringing about temperature changes of over 100 degrees from winter to summer. Pretty awesome!

The fall equinox arrives September 22nd – that’s today! NOAA

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Biddeford teams lose their biggest fan with death of ‘Desi’ Desjardins http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/biddeford-teams-lose-their-prized-super-fan/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/biddeford-teams-lose-their-prized-super-fan/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1259346

Robert Desjardins, seen cheering on the Biddeford High softball team in May 2008, attended hundreds of sporting events involving Biddeford teams – at all levels. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

Robert “Desi” Desjardins remained Biddeford’s No. 1 sports fan to the very end, using his last words to tell two friends: “I didn’t get to finish my scrapbook.”

Julie Maloy and Donna Cadorette took the newspaper clippings about Biddeford teams that Desjardins had collected and placed them in the scrapbook just before he died Thursday at the Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough. The Biddeford native, who had cancer, was 75.

Desjardins devoted much of his adult life to supporting Biddeford athletes and chronicling their exploits in the scrapbooks that he started compiling in 1966. He never married, and the legion of athletes, coaches and parents he met over the years became his family. Maloy and Cadorette were among a group of women he called “his daughters.”

Maloy, who served as his power of attorney, said that she and the circle of friends who cared for Desjardins as his health worsened found more than 200 scrapbooks – containing mostly newspaper clippings about Biddeford student athletes and their lives – in his Graham Street apartment. Those scrapbooks and the Biddeford High School yearbooks that Desjardins purchased each year will be donated to Biddeford High School.

Friends say Desjardins will be remembered by generations of Biddeford athletes and their families. He has no known living relatives, having been predeceased by his parents and several aunts and uncles.

“He is survived by all of the former and current Biddeford Tiger students and families whom he tirelessly supported,” his obituary reads.

Desjardins, who was nicknamed for actor Desi Arnaz, attended Biddeford schools, playing basketball and running track and cross-country at Biddeford High before graduating in 1960. His love of sports carried over into his adulthood. Over the years, Desjardins attended hundreds of sporting events involving Biddeford teams. And the level of competition didn’t matter. He attended Little League softball and baseball games, high school field hockey games and football games.

Robert ‘Desi’ Desjardins made hundreds of friends as a fan of Biddeford sports teams and recently was awarded a football game ball.

“Desi was Biddeford’s No. 1 sports fan,” Maloy said.

Sports events were how Desjardins’ “daughters” met him, Maloy said. Their children, who participated in Biddeford athletic programs, all knew Desjardins because he would come to their games.

Now in their late 40s and early 50s, Maloy, Cadorette, Lisa Brown-Lewis, Kelly Reuillard, Debbie Creapeau and Deb Dumoulin banded together about eight years ago to look after Desjardins, who worked in the Pepperell Mills for many years, retiring as a security guard.

“About eight years ago, Desi got really sick,” Maloy explained. “And we realized that he didn’t have any family to take care of him.”

They drove him to games, to doctor’s appointments, cleaned his apartment, had him over to their homes as a guest for the holidays, and even recruited community members to provide him with a week’s worth of meals every Sunday.

Dumoulin’s son, Brian Dumoulin, plays in the National Hockey League for the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Maloy said Dumoulin regards Desjardins as his grandfather.

“Brian loved him. He called himself Desi’s biggest fan,” Maloy said. Dumoulin called him last Friday at Gosnell House and urged him to keep fighting.

“Desi told him I’m not sure I can,” Maloy recalled.

“(Desi) bleeds Biddeford black and orange and I’m not sure there will be another person like him,” Deb Dumoulin said.

Brian Curit, Biddeford High’s football coach, said Desjardins’ love for the Biddeford teams went deeper than just showing up at a game to cheer athletes on.

“Desi has just been around forever. He supports all sports – girls, guys, freshman, JV,” Curit said. “It might sound odd, but we’re his family. It’s mind-blowing really. He was at my wedding, he has been at funerals, he was at my son’s graduation party three months ago.”

What made his attendance at contests even more impressive was that Desjardins did not drive. Curit said he would walk, ride a bike, or get a ride from someone to attend games. Biddeford residents drove Desjardins to away games.

“I don’t know what he ever sought to do, but his impact was immense. He was a very gentle, very caring, very decent human being,” Curit said.

Don Wilson, a former athletic director and coach at Biddeford High, said Desjardins was not your typical sports fan. Wilson developed a lifelong friendship with Desjardins after meeting him in the seventh grade. At the time, Desjardins was a high school senior.

“He cheered for everybody. He would take interest in any sport in Biddeford, at any level, male or female, and cheer for that team. Biddeford sports, all Biddeford sports, was his family,” Wilson said.

He would even show up at team practices. Every year before football season started, Desjardins would bring Wilson a list of athletic supporters or former Biddeford athletes who had passed away in the previous year.

“Desi wanted us to have a moment of silence for them before the first home game every year. And we always did,” Wilson said.

Desjardins was able to attend the Biddeford Tigers’ football home opener on Sept. 2. It was the last sporting event he watched in person.

Before the game started, the entire football team and coaches greeted Desjardins and wished him well.

“They all hugged him and many of them were crying,” Maloy said. After the game, the team captains brought the game ball to Desjardins’ apartment.

Wilson said that in one old yearbook he found a quote from Desjardins that said he wanted “to make a million.”

“The way I look at it is he didn’t want to make a million dollars. He wanted to make hundreds and hundreds of friends. And he did that.”

Visiting hours will be Sunday from 3-7 p.m. at Hope Memorial Chapel, 480 Elm St., Biddeford. A mass of Christian burial will be celebrated beginning at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Joseph’s Church in Biddeford.

Staff writers Mike Lowe, Steve Craig and Melanie Creamer contributed to this report.

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

dhoey@pressherald.com

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/biddeford-teams-lose-their-prized-super-fan/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/09/501739-20080505_Dezi001.jpgStaff Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette: Biddeford fan Robert "Dezi" Desjardins cheers on the Biddeford softball team Monday, May 5, 2008.Fri, 22 Sep 2017 12:19:15 +0000
Bill Nemitz: In dispute over Rockland resident’s Trump signs, city official stays on message http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/bill-nemitz-rockland-dispute-is-a-sign-of-the-times/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/bill-nemitz-rockland-dispute-is-a-sign-of-the-times/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1259160 When was the last time you thanked your local code enforcement officer?

Probably never. Most homeowners hide in their basements at the mere mention of the title.

But today we honor William Butler, assistant code enforcement officer for the city of Rockland – a man who believes in following the law, even if it means getting run over by the Trump Train.

“I try to go as straight ahead as possible,” Butler said in an interview, one of many he’s given to the media this week. “I look at what the code says and stick to the code and not try to get off on too many tangents.”

Meaning he has no personal or political beef with Susan Reitman, whose home on dead-end Seavey Lane is adorned with two large signs: “I (red, white and blue heart) Donald Trump” and “He Won … Get Over It!”

Butler wants Reitman to take down the signs – but not because they’re too pro-Trump.

They’re too big.

The problem is, Reitman’s not budging.

“Look, I’m a 75-year-old widow living on a fixed income,” Reitman said in a telephone interview from her home. “There is no way I could ever pay that $100-a-day or that $1,000-a-day fine. He can put a lien on my house – I have two mortgages. He can take my house. He can put me in jail or whatever. To me it’s the principle of the thing, you know?”‘

Did she say she’d go to jail? Over a couple of Trump signs?

“Yes, I would. Yes, I would,” Reitman replied. “I know you probably think I’m crazy.”

Let’s go with “passionate.” In a previous chat with cable network NECN this week, Reitman went so far as to proclaim, “I would lay down my life for Donald Trump!”

Believe it or not, there’s a name for this kind of thing.

Psychologists call it “basking in reflected glory,” or BIRG. Often associated with sports teams, it’s the behavior people exhibit after their side wins and, like it or not, they’re going to make darn sure the rest of the world sees them revel in it.

In other words, the theory goes, “He won … Get Over It!” has at least as much to do with Susan Reitman’s self-image as a Trump supporter as it does her love for Donald Trump. As Trump won last fall, so did Reitman – and she put out her signs to prove it.

At least one neighbor, who complained anonymously, sees it a little differently. No Trump fan, she’s told Butler that she thinks the sign is aimed – both figuratively and literally – at her.

(In an odd twist, Butler divulged that the complaining neighbor has a son who’s a pilot and once worked for Trump. Meaning we now have one neighbor who would die for Trump pitted against another neighbor whose son would fly for Trump. Back to the action …)

Being a good civil servant who’s spent decades enforcing codes for four Maine municipalities and the Department of Environmental Protection, Butler wants no part of this political cage match.

His only concern is the city’s sign ordinance, which requires that residential properties be limited to one sign no larger than 2 square feet if affixed to a structure or 4 square feet if it’s freestanding.

Both of Reitman’s signs, which she estimates at 3 by 4 feet, far exceed those maximums. Big league.

“I know I’m not in compliance. I know that,” Reitman conceded. “My point is that he had all the opportunity in the world to tell me that I was not in compliance. He saw the signs. I told him about them.”

She did it once in an email last month in which she announced her plans for the signs. Butler recalls the email but said it was so laden with “pro-Trump political” stuff that the mention of the signs flew right past him.

The second came during a site visit Butler made recently to Reitman’s property to discuss her plans for a new fence. The signs were actually up by then, but Butler, unsure of what the heretofore obscure residential sign ordinance actually said, decided to go back and research it before causing a brouhaha.

Then the neighbor complained, forcing Butler to take action. And with that, a cause was born.

We won’t repeat the content of the voicemails left on the code enforcement office phone by callers who support Reitman and think the world would be a lot better off without Butler.

“They were vulgar, rude,” Butler recalled. “And they suggested (pause) that they didn’t understand (pause) what we were trying to do.”

Sounds like he’s being diplomatic here.

“I’m trying,” he replied.

Smart move. This thing could take a while.

On Thursday, Rockland City Manager Tom Luttrell told Courier-Gazette reporter Stephen Betts that the whole thing is on hold until Oct. 2, when the City Council will decide whether the residential sign ordinance needs an upgrade.

Code enforcement officer Butler, for one, thinks that’s a great idea.

“I’m actually hoping that this is a segue to changing the ordinance,” he said.

More help may be coming from another, entirely unexpected direction.

Butler said Thursday that he’d just received a call from someone identifying himself as a member of the “Trump campaign.”

The caller said they’re ready, willing and able to provide Reitman with a compliant Trump sign at no charge – in exchange for the two offending placards she just moved (for safe keeping) from her driveway gate to the front of her house.

And get this: The Trump folks will even try to have the sign signed by Donald Trump himself.

“I think that might satisfy her,” Butler mused, adding that the city would consider waiving its $60 fee for a sign permit as a show of good faith.

How this sits with the angry neighbor will be anyone’s guess. But she too has options – as does anyone in Rockland looking for a way to peacefully shield themselves from all of Trump’s reflected glory.

Cafepress.com, which sold Reitman her signs, is an equal-opportunity offender where Trump opponents – who, according to the shrinks, are suffering from “cutting off reflected failure,” or CORF – can purchase a post-election message all their own.

It sells for a mere $24.95.

It’s easy to read – just black letters on a white background, minus all the fancy-dancy red, white and blue stuff.

And it’s small enough – at least by the city of Rockland’s standards – to plant legally on your front lawn today.

It reads: “Elect a clown, expect a circus.”

Bill Nemitz can be contacted at:

bnemitz@pressherald.com

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/bill-nemitz-rockland-dispute-is-a-sign-of-the-times/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2014/09/nemitz1.jpegPORTLAND, ME - MAY 15: Images of Portland Press Herald news reporters and columnists, Wednesday, May 15, 2014. (Photo by Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer)Fri, 22 Sep 2017 12:18:44 +0000
Artist draws on Portland for scenes in new Batman comic series http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/artist-draws-on-portland-for-scenes-in-new-batman-comic-series/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/22/artist-draws-on-portland-for-scenes-in-new-batman-comic-series/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1259314

Sean Murphy drew Gotham City Hall as a near-replica of Portland City Hall for the new Batman series. Illustration by Sean Murphy / Staff photo by Ben McCanna

Holy municipal government! Is that Portland City Hall on the pages of the new Batman comic book?

Almost, old chum. It’s actually Gotham City Hall, where city fathers base their battles against The Joker, The Penguin and assorted super-villains. But it looks just like that place where Portland officials battle each other over waterfront views and school renovations.

The spitting image of Portland City Hall will appear in the DC Comics publication “Batman: White Knight #1,” which goes on sale Oct. 4. The comic book’s artist and writer, Sean Murphy, moved to Portland about a year ago from Brooklyn and finds that its Victorian vibe is perfect for his personal vision of Gotham City.

While other Batman comics and movies feature sleek modern architecture as a backdrop for mayhem and mystery, Murphy used the Old Port’s cobblestone streets, the waterfront’s weathered wharfs and downtown’s ornate red-brick commercial blocks as models for the locales in his Gotham. Besides drawing Gotham City Hall as a near-replica of the 1912 Portland City Hall, Murphy also used the H.H. Hay building at Congress and Free streets, which dates to the mid-1800s, as the model for a building on a future issue’s cover.

“I hadn’t seen another artist do Gotham with Victorian or Edwardian architecture, with cobblestone streets and iron gates,” said Murphy, 37, who lives in the West End. “I like the idea of seeing the Batmobile drive down streets that look like Jack the Ripper might be there.”

The series will have eight issues, and the first issue has sold about 90,000 pre-ordered copies, local comic dealers say. DC Comics said “Batman: White Knight” already is one of the top three best-selling comic books for October. Murphy will sign copies of the issue on Oct. 14 at Coast City Comics on Congress Street.

Even before Murphy moved to Portland, the city was inspiring his artwork. He came here for a few days in 2006 with a former girlfriend and ended up using some locations in a comic book called “Joe the Barbarian.” There’s a cemetery in that comic that looks a lot like the Eastern Cemetery, with its sweeping views of the waterfront.

“It just feels like this perfect foggy New England town. There’s something very Stephen King-y in the air,” Murphy said.

Sean Murphy works in his studio at home in Portland. Murphy said he used the city as the model for some scenes because “it just feels like this perfect foggy New England town.”

RARE TREAT FOR LOCAL COMIC FANS

“Batman: White Knight” will be a rare treat for locals, because there likely aren’t any other mass-produced superhero comic books with easy-to-recognize Portland scenes, according to the owners of two Portland comic shops: Tristan Gallagher at Coast City Comics and Rick Lowell at Casablanca Comics.

It’s also somewhat rare, they say, that a comic book artist is allowed by a major publisher, such as DC Comics, to do both the art and writing for a comic book – especially one as well-known as Batman, which began in 1940 and has spawned TV shows, movies and thousands of comic book series. About 100 comic book issues starring Batman come out each year.

Lowell called Murphy “one of the few superstar comic creators working in the industry,” and said comic book fans are eager to see his interpretations of Batman and Gotham City.

An email sent by the DC Comics public relations office, in response to questions for this story, said DC’s management “loved the White Knight” when Murphy pitched the idea to them and “jumped at the opportunity” to have Murphy produce it.

STARTING YOUNG, TRYING HOLLYWOOD

Artist Sean Murphy of Portland used the flat iron-style H.H. Hay building at Congress and Free streets, which dates to the mid-1800s, as the model for a building, left, to appear on a future cover of the comic book series “Batman: White Knight.” The image will be printed in color. Artwork copyright DC Comics 2017

DC also allowed Murphy to create a new character for the “White Knight” series, although he can’t say anything about that yet. He can say that the story he wrote centers on The Joker, who after being beaten nearly to death by Batman and forced to take medicine for his insanity, becomes a charming and likable fellow. He runs for city council and becomes a popular figure, and in a clever media campaign he publicly blames Batman and Gotham officials for the city’s constant state of crime.

Murphy said he got some inspiration for the story line from President Trump’s campaign and election, especially his use of media to win over voters.

Murphy has been working as an artist for DC for about eight years. He’s done the art for parts of Batman comics before, but never a whole series. Some of his comic book artwork for DC has included “Hellblazer” and “The Wake.” He wrote and illustrated a comic book series for DC called “Punk Rock Jesus,” about a clone of Jesus created for a reality TV show who eventually quits the show and starts a punk rock band.

Murphy grew up in Meredith, New Hampshire. He credits teachers with recognizing and fostering his talent for art, at one point putting him in a fifth-grade art class when he was in third grade. He remembers a friend showing him a Spider-Man comic, and he immediately had to draw his own.

Murphy attended the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia and after graduating moved to Los Angeles, hoping to work as an artist creating story boards for movies and television.

While in Hollywood, he read about how to write a screenplay, and decided it was a lot like writing a comic book. You have to get maximum punch from a minimum of dialogue.

Murphy struggled to make a living doing comics for several years – and even slept in a dumpster one night – before getting more steady employment and eventually being courted by major publishers. He views the opportunity to be the writer and artist for a Batman comic as just about the best job he could get.

“I think this is the top of the mountain for comics, to get paid what you’re worth and to be left alone to some degree. I don’t think there’s a better gig,” he said. “Working on Spider-Man and X-Men is cool, but it doesn’t pay as well as Batman.”

MORE PORTLAND SCENES TO COME?

Murphy and his wife, writer Colleen Katana, started coming to Portland a few years ago, drawn partially by restaurants and comparatively low real estate prices. They began spending summers in the city in 2013. Then as Brooklyn prices continued to climb, they moved to Portland permanently about a year ago.

After he’s finished with “Batman: White Knight,” Murphy will do another Batman series for DC. He’ll create the art for it and comic book writer Scott Snyder will handle the story.

Now that Murphy is living in Portland full time, will more city scenes show up in his comics? In “Batman: White Knight,” Murphy didn’t just use the city’s old buildings or quaint cobblestone streets in his drawings. He needed a lobby of a youth club in Gotham City, so he sketched out one based on the lobby of the YMCA on High Street, where he often has worked out.

“I like the idea of putting my city into a comic book,” he said.

Ray Routhier can be contacted at 210-1183 or at:

rrouthier@pressherald.com

Twitter: @RayRouthier

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L/A Arts laying off employees, moving out of office http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/la-arts-laying-off-employees-moving-out-of-office/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/la-arts-laying-off-employees-moving-out-of-office/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 03:37:47 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/la-arts-laying-off-employees-moving-out-of-office/ LEWISTON — L/A Arts is laying of its employees two months after the organization’s director said the nonprofit had “made huge strides” financially.

Board Chairman Jim Parakilas said Wednesday that the area’s premier arts organization hasn’t been able to bring in enough money to support itself.

“It’s been an accumulation of things,” he told the Lewiston Sun Journal said.

L/A Arts has a full-time consulting director and a part-time programs manager. It usually has a full-time business manager as well, but that position is vacant and the organization has been using a part-time bookkeeper to fill in the gaps.

L/A Arts will be moving from its longtime location at 221 Lisbon St. Google photo

The director and programs manager will leave in the coming months. The business manager position will not be filled. It is unclear what will happen with the bookkeeper.

In place of full-time employees, the 44-year-old organization will use volunteers, board members and independent contractors to keep its programs running.

The organization also plans to move out of its office space on Lisbon Street in Lewiston. The board has not yet decided on a new location.

The nonprofit focuses on arts in education, community arts events and arts agency initiatives, like the development of a Lewiston-Auburn cultural plan.

L/A Arts has struggled financially in recent years. Tax forms filed between 2013 and 2015, the latest years available, show the organization often ran a deficit.

Two months ago, Louise Rosen, L/A Arts’ consulting director, told the Sun Journal it that had been able to improve its finances despite the loss of a $75,000 Maine Arts Commission grant, thanks to other grants, increases in individual donations and business support and changes to the way it operates.

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Madison sues to gain access to closed mill’s assessment http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/madison-files-suit-to-gain-access-to-shuttered-mills-assessment/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/madison-files-suit-to-gain-access-to-shuttered-mills-assessment/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 02:03:37 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/madison-files-suit-to-gain-access-to-shuttered-mills-assessment/ MADISON — The town of Madison has filed a lawsuit against the owners of the community’s former landmark paper mill, ratcheting up a dispute over property values and access to assessment information.

At stake are thousands of dollars in property taxes as the town struggles in the wake of the mill’s 2016 closure and the loss of more than 200 jobs in this town of about 4,800 people.

The town says it is taking owners of the shuttered Madison Paper Industries to court to allow access by town officials and their attorneys to information, which currently is confidential, about the town’s assessment of the mill’s real estate and personal property.

Under Maine law, only the town’s assessor and the state tax assessor – not the town manager or the selectmen – are allowed to see the tax assessments if the company does not want others to see the information, according to court documents.

Any violation of that state statute would be a Class E misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Complicating the matter is the fact that the Board of Assessors – the only municipal partner allowed to see MPI’s valuations – is composed of the same people who sit on the Board of Selectmen.

Madison voters in February 2015 voted to abolish the Board of Assessors and transfer its duties to the Board of Selectmen. That decision allows selectmen, who are charged with creating a municipal budget, access to information that will inform them better in creating a budget. However, according to a 2014 Maine law, assessors are required to maintain confidentiality about assessments for a major taxpayer requesting a change in valuation.

The town, through its attorney, David Silk of the Portland law firm Curtis Thaxter, is seeking to make those documents available to town officials so they can mount a challenge to MPI’s appeal of taxes for 2016-17.

“What the town is trying to do with this lawsuit is find a way so that the other folks besides the Board of Assessors can look at this information,” Silk said. “The Board of Assessors believe that the information is relevant to the valuation of the mill.”

The object of the filing in Somerset County Superior Court is to have a judge declare that the confidential information is no longer “proprietary” information because Madison Paper “appears to no longer be in business,” according to court documents.

Madison Paper Industries closed in May 2016, putting about 215 people out of work. The mill, a producer of super-calendared paper used for magazine publishing, had been in Madison since 1978 and was producing about 195,000 tons of paper annually.

Silk recently filed a motion for entry of an order to allow the documents to be viewed by town officials during a time when MPI is appealing its tax assessment before the state Board of Property Tax Review. The mill’s valuation has dropped by about $8 million since the closure was announced, and it is currently valued at $72,362,681.

The tax rate for 2016 was estimated to be $21 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, meaning the mill owes about $1.5 million in property taxes to the town.

Madison Town Manager Tim Curtis did not return calls for comment.

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

dharlow@centralmaine.com;

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow;http://twitter.com/Doug_Harlow

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/madison-files-suit-to-gain-access-to-shuttered-mills-assessment/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/09/1259267_712105-20170921-mill.jpgAbout 215 people lost their jobs when the Madison Paper Industries mill closed in 2016. The mill is challenging its valuation, which has dropped $8 million to $72 million.Fri, 22 Sep 2017 09:28:51 +0000
Standish man sentenced to more than 5 years on drug charges http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/standish-man-sentenced-to-more-than-5-years-on-drug-charges/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/standish-man-sentenced-to-more-than-5-years-on-drug-charges/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 01:56:02 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1259259 A Standish man was sentenced Thursday to more than five years in prison for possessing heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine with intent to distribute, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

Judge D. Brock Hornby sentenced 28-year-old Kyle Braga of Standish to five years and three months during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Portland.

In addition to a prison sentence, Braga was ordered to undergo three years of supervised release. He pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges on April 4, according to Acting U.S. Attorney Richard W. Murphy.

Court records show that Braga distributed cocaine on Jan. 20, 2016. Drug agents stopped his car and seized heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine from a magnetic box under the car.

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Tests show residents’ wells near former Brunswick air station are safe, Navy says http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/tests-show-residential-wells-near-former-brunswick-air-station-are-safe-navy-says/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/tests-show-residential-wells-near-former-brunswick-air-station-are-safe-navy-says/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 01:01:59 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/tests-show-residential-wells-near-former-brunswick-air-station-are-safe-navy-says/ BRUNSWICK — Navy officials Thursday touted test results showing little to no contamination in private wells near the former Brunswick Naval Air Station but pledged to continue sampling for a potentially harmful chemical once used in aviation firefighting.

“Probably the most important point is nobody here has been negatively impacted: We did all of the residential well sampling and they came back clean,” said Paul Burgio, the Navy’s environmental coordinator for the Brunswick base. “Nobody is drinking contaminated water … so this is a really good story. We still have information that we are going to collect and gather.”

The Navy has been testing for the presence of perfluorinated compounds in groundwater, surface water and sediments. Once widely used in both industrial and household products, so-called PFCs have been shown to cause health problems in laboratory animals – including impacts to reproduction and development – and are listed as an “emerging contaminant” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

On Thursday, members of the Restoration Advisory Board that helps oversee environmental cleanup at the former air station received updates on testing for PFCs both on-base and off-base.

Tests conducted last year on more than 30 private wells just outside the base showed little to no PFCs in the water, suggesting plumes of the chemicals are not migrating outside of known contamination hotspots on base.

Nineteen of 29 private wells in a neighborhood along Coombs Road tested positive for one type of PFC – also often referred to by the acronym as PFAS – but at levels far short of the EPA’s “health advisory” threshold. Another type of PFC was detected in eight of the wells but, again, well below the 70 parts per trillion health advisory level for drinking water.

Samples collected from four wells north of the base also either had no detectable PFCs or levels below the EPA threshold. While several surface water sources – stormwater or drainage sites – had levels higher than the EPA’s health advisory, the levels “do not pose a human health risk/hazard above target levels,” according to a draft report.

Burgio said the Navy would conduct further testing of a subset of those wells in the future, with landowner permission, to ensure conditions have not changed.

“Don’t lose sight of the fact that the closest residential wells have all come back clean and the Navy continues to investigate PFAS both on- and off-base and in public water,” Burgio said.

All homes and businesses located on the former base are connected to municipal water supplies and are, therefore, not considered to be at risk from PFC contamination in drinking water.

Brunswick Area Citizens for a Safe Environment, a group that closely monitors base cleanup efforts, had been pushing for tests of private wells near the base. Member Carol White said the group was pleased the Navy agreed to the sampling.

“I feel a lot better about the PFC problem around the residential levels,” White said. “I, personally, still have concerns on the northern part just because of the limited number of sites.”

Perfluorinated compounds are a class of chemicals that were widely used in airport firefighting foam because of their ability to essentially form a blanket over flammable petroleum products. But PFCs were also used in countless household products, including Teflon cookware, stain-resistant carpet and fast-food wrappers.

The Navy has known for years about PFC contamination at several sites on the former air station, which closed in 2011 and now serves as the Brunswick Landing business campus.

Recent tests around the site of a former building that stored the firefighting foam, known as Building 653, found elevated PFC levels in groundwater. While those levels were above safe levels for drinking water, they were below the level that would pose a human health risk for incidental exposure, according to contractors who performed the testing for the Navy.

The Navy and contractor plan further tests and are still evaluating options for addressing the contamination.

Other sites on the base have shown even higher levels, based on previous testing. The Navy plans to launch another round of basewide testing starting this month and continuing into next year, including sampling 40 groundwater sites, seven stormwater systems and five surface water sites.

PFCs have made headlines in communities near military bases across the country, even forcing some communities to turn off public water supplies found to be contaminated with the chemicals. Some adults and children living or working near the former Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth, N.H., for example, have substantially elevated PFC levels in their blood.

But Burgio pointed out that the Navy began testing on-base groundwater for PFCs years ago and continues to expand that monitoring program.

“If you look across the country, a lot of it is piecemeal or disorganized,” Burgio said. “We, I think, have had a very comprehensive and inclusive process.”

White and other members of the Brunswick Area Citizens for a Safe Environment also credited the Navy for working with them on the issue.

Kevin Miller can be contacted at:

kmiller@pressherald.com

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/tests-show-residential-wells-near-former-brunswick-air-station-are-safe-navy-says/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2014/06/20110330_BNA_Aerials_0001.jpgBrunswick Naval Air Station. A developer from Topsham is proposing a $21 million mixed-used development at the entrance to the former Navy base. Provided PhotoFri, 22 Sep 2017 05:51:57 +0000
State seeks more time to reply to filings in Sanborn murder case http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/state-asks-for-more-time-to-reply-to-sanborn-court-filings/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/state-asks-for-more-time-to-reply-to-sanborn-court-filings/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 00:49:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1259225 The Maine Attorney General’s Office has asked for more time to respond to recent filings by attorneys for Anthony H. Sanborn Jr., who last week submitted new allegations and information in advance of an Oct. 10 hearing to examine whether Sanborn’s conviction for the 1989 murder of Jessica L. Briggs should be overturned.

It is unclear whether the state’s request will affect the start of the hearing, which is expected to last for several days in Cumberland County Unified Court. Sanborn has proclaimed his innocence since his arrest and conviction for the murder of Briggs, his former girlfriend.

Sanborn was released on bail in April after 27 years behind bars, after his attorneys raised questions about the investigation by Portland Police. Sanborn’s lawyers alleged that he was the target of a concerted effort by detectives to conceal evidence helpful to his defense and coerce witnesses into incriminating him.

The only eyewitness in the case, Hope Cady, recanted her testimony and said detectives told her to implicate Sanborn or she would be locked up.

In new pleadings submitted Sept. 15, Sanborn’s attorneys, Amy Fairfield and Timothy Zerillo, say they have identified a key figure in the murder – the so-called “boy on the bike,” a young-looking man who witnesses saw walking with Briggs toward the Maine State Pier shortly after midnight. The lawyers say the man was Morris “Butch” King, not Sanborn.

Sanborn’s team wrote that King more closely fit the description of the person seen with Briggs, and traced a relationship between King and Briggs. Detectives’ notes, old police reports and other scraps of information from police files show King had a proclivity for violence, had threatened other women with a knife, and had been dating Briggs, who also owed him money from a drug deal, the attorneys wrote.

The theory regarding King incorporates information pulled from the boxes of evidence, police notes and Briggs case material that had been stored at the home of retired police Detective James Daniels, who was the lead investigator on the case. The boxes were turned over in June, and have been central to the arguments made by Sanborn’s attorneys since then.

Sanborn’s attorneys have said in court filings that the boxes contain information that would have been helpful to Sanborn but was never released to his defense team at his original trial.

But the state, in Sept. 19 filings signed by Assistant Attorneys General Meg Elam and Paul Rucha, says Sanborn’s attorneys are too late to continue adding allegations to the case, and have not followed a judicial directive to be more specific in their pleadings, including specifying which documents are the source of their claims.

The Attorney General’s Office has argued in the past that without such detailed, specific information, the state cannot adequately prepare to defend the conviction’s validity.

Briggs and Sanborn were both 16 at the time of her death, and the two dated briefly several weeks before she died. Her body was found in Portland Harbor near the Maine State Pier.

Investigators found Briggs’ throat was slashed and she had been stabbed multiple times and nearly disemboweled, according to authorities.

Prosecutors said during Sanborn’s 1992 trial that he had been looking for her before she died, and that when he found her, they argued when Briggs refused to come to Virginia Beach with him or hand over tip money she had earned that night busing tables at DiMillo’s floating restaurant.

Sanborn denied killing her, and told investigators that he was home that night at his parents’ apartment on Oxford Street.

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

mbyrne@pressherald.com

Twitter: MattByrnePPH

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/state-asks-for-more-time-to-reply-to-sanborn-court-filings/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/09/1259225_186635_sanborn.jpgAnthony H. Sanborn Jr.Thu, 21 Sep 2017 23:51:16 +0000
Verso raises possibility of selling off mills http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/verso-raises-possibility-of-selling-off-mills/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/verso-raises-possibility-of-selling-off-mills/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 00:14:42 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/verso-raises-possibility-of-selling-off-mills/ Days after stakeholders said they would consider selling the Verso paper mill in Jay, Verso announced it will establish a committee to explore what it calls transaction alternatives, including the potential sale of some mills.

Verso’s announcement, which came in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing, said the company has formed a Strategic Alternatives Committee, which will continue “efforts to identify and evaluate a range of potential strategic transaction alternatives, including the possible sale of some Verso mills, engage in discussions and oversee the due diligence process with parties potentially interested in transactions with the company, and recommend to the board whether any proposed transaction is in the best interests of the company and its stockholders.”

This announcement comes shortly after the SEC filing from Mudrick Capital, a New York City-based investment firm that owns 15.3 percent of Verso’s stock. Because Verso is a public company and Mudrick owns more than 5 percent of its stock, Mudrick is required to report purchases of additional Verso stock to the SEC.

The Androscoggin Mill has faced difficulty in recent months. Earlier this summer, the mill shut down its No. 3 paper machine permanently, resulting in about 120 layoffs, though many of those workers had either found new employment or entered training programs before the machine was switched off.

Following the SEC filing from Mudrick, Kathi Rowzie, vice president of communications and public affairs at Verso, said the company continues to evaluate its options.

“With that said, there’s no assurance that this review will result in any particular alternative, and Verso will not be commenting further,” she wrote in an email.

According to its website, Mudrick Capital Management, L.P., is an investment firm that specializes in long- and short-term investments in distressed credit. It was founded in 2009 with $5 million under management. As of September, it is managing about $1.6 billion.

Verso’s new committee is made up of independent directors Eugene Davis, Alan Carr and Steven Scheiwe assisted by Houlihan Lokey Capital, Inc., Verso’s financial adviser.

In a statement, Rob Amen, Verso’s board chairman, said the company is committed to exploring “strategic transaction alternatives, and the committee will facilitate this process.”

The statement concludes that there “is no assurance that the review of strategic alternatives will result in any transaction or other strategic alternative. Verso does not intend to make any further disclosure concerning these matters until a definitive transaction agreement is reached or a determination is made that none will be pursued.”

The Mudrick filing reads: “The Reporting Persons are deeply frustrated with the Board’s inaction to address the Issuer’s rapidly deteriorating financial position. The Reporting Persons have expressed these frustrations to the Board and intend to continue its dialogue with the Board to help enact a strategic plan that will return value to stockholders, including a potential sale of the Stevens Point and Androscoggin mills. If the Board does not engage with the Reporting Persons in good faith, the Reporting Persons intend to pursue all other avenues to protect its investment.”

Rumors of a potential sale of the Jay mill have been circulating for some time, and Jay Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere said the Mudrick SEC filing was something local officials had heard about before.

In a conference call earlier this summer, CEO Chris DiSantis said, “Androscoggin Mill is being evaluated for additional capital investment for expanded product line offerings and to enhance cogeneration capabilities.”

In that call, Verso managers said they hired a consultant to look at each of the company’s seven mills and the company as a whole to determine how to wring the best value out of them for shareholders. That consultant, global investment bank Houlihan Lokey, is the top mergers and acquisitions adviser in the country, according to Thomson Reuters. The Androscoggin Mill was singled out as an example of how converting to a new product line and reducing excess capacity would position the company to increase revenue.

The No. 5 machine is now at 78 percent capacity and growing, according to the second-quarter report. Once it achieves full capacity, it could contribute $10 million in revenue.

In an earlier filing with the SEC, Verso said severance and benefits payouts related to the shutdown of the No. 3 machine would amount to about $4 million, plus another $1 million in writing off spare parts and inventory produced on the No. 3 paper machine in 2016.

The shutdown of the No. 3 machine reduces the mill’s annual coated paper production capacity by about 200,000 tons.

The Androscoggin mill has been struggling. It laid off 120 employees earlier this summer and 300 others in 2015 as part of a plan to reduce production capacity. The Androscoggin mill is down to about 400 employees. Of the 120 who were laid off, about 20 were rehired for new positions at the mill. The mill’s employees are not unionized.

The overall economic landscape for Maine mills has been troublesome in recent years. Five mills have closed in the last few years, including Verso’s Bucksport mill in 2014, with more than 500 jobs lost. The Madison Paper mill closed in May 2016, which put more than 200 people out of work. More than 2,300 mill workers in Maine have lost their jobs since 2011.

Colin Ellis can be contacted at 861-9253 or at:

cellis@centralmaine.com

Twitter: @colinoellis

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/verso-raises-possibility-of-selling-off-mills/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/09/1259192_836798_20161101_mill_2.jpgThe Androscoggin Mill in Jay. Mill owner Verso announced formation of a committee that will look at ways to increase the value of its stock, including the possible sale of mills.Thu, 21 Sep 2017 21:26:17 +0000
Lewiston man gets 5 years in prison for credit union robbery http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/lewiston-man-gets-5-years-in-prison-for-credit-union-robbery/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/lewiston-man-gets-5-years-in-prison-for-credit-union-robbery/#respond Thu, 21 Sep 2017 23:17:59 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/lewiston-man-gets-5-years-in-prison-for-credit-union-robbery/ A federal judge has sentenced a 33-year-old Lewiston man to five years in prison for robbing a credit union this year.

U.S. District Judge Jon Levy sentenced Brent Roaix on Wednesday. Roaix pleaded guilty in May.

Acting U.S. Attorney Richard Murphy said Roaix handed a bank teller a handwritten note demanding money on Jan. 25 at a Rainbow Federal Credit Union in Lewiston. The teller gave money to Roaix, who fled.

Murphy said Lewiston police found Roaix hiding in a nearby apartment, arrested him and recovered the stolen money.

Roaix faced up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.

The Sun Journal reported that Roaix faces sentencing in Androscoggin County Superior Court on Friday on 2014 robbery charges.

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Dogs, cats get care in Maine after arriving from hurricane-struck Virgin Islands http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/dogs-and-cats-get-medical-care-in-maine-after-arrival-from-hurricane-struck-virgin-islands/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/dogs-and-cats-get-medical-care-in-maine-after-arrival-from-hurricane-struck-virgin-islands/#respond Thu, 21 Sep 2017 21:54:17 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/dogs-and-cats-get-medical-care-in-maine-after-arrival-from-hurricane-struck-virgin-islands/ Thirty animals evacuated from shelters in the hurricane-ravaged U.S. Virgin Islands arrived in Westbrook early Thursday morning and are receiving medical care.

The Animal Refuge League in Westbrook is one in a network of shelters that took in animals from St. John, St. Croix and St. Thomas, which were heavily damaged by Hurricane Irma earlier this month.

The 23 cats and seven dogs that arrived Thursday were evaluated by a veterinarian at the shelter and will be given care over the next several weeks before they become available for adoption. They are all under a two-week quarantine required by state law.

“They are doing well,” Jeana Roth, director of community engagement, said of the animals. “Most importantly, they are settled in and resting. It was a long two days of travel for them, so to be able to stretch their legs, eat, relax and sleep was our top priority for them.”

The shelter is encouraging people to consider adopting cats and dogs that are currently ready to go home so there is more space for animals expected to arrive from areas impacted by hurricanes Irma and Harvey, Roth said. The shelter is expecting more than 20 cats and dogs to arrive Friday from an operation in Mississippi that is supporting efforts to relocate animals in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

The Animal Refuge League has been looking for more people to foster animals and this week received more than 50 inquiries from local families interested in joining the network.

“There was a line out the door when we opened at 11 a.m. (Thursday) for adoptions and we anticipate sending many animals off to new happy homes, which will allow us to continue to extend a helping hand to hurricane-impacted shelters,” Roth said.

The Animal Welfare Society in Kennebunk and Buddy Up Animal Society in Portland also are taking in animals from shelters in southern states that were impacted by the hurricanes.

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Maine man charged with killing 2 cats agrees to fine, counseling http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/maine-man-charged-with-killing-2-cats-agrees-to-fine-counseling/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/maine-man-charged-with-killing-2-cats-agrees-to-fine-counseling/#respond Thu, 21 Sep 2017 21:22:01 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1259082 LEWISTON – A Maine man who police say strangled two cats will avoid jail time if he pays a fine, completes community service, and attends mental health counseling.

The Lewiston Sun Journal reported that 47-year-old Michael Hermann of Greene agreed to the deal Monday. Hermann had previously been charged with aggravated cruelty to animals.

Police say a woman dropped the cats off at Hermann’s house on March 23. Hermann said he had asked the woman not to bring the animals because his daughter is allergic to cats. Authorities say Hermann euthanized the cats in the woods.

Hermann has been ordered to pay $278 in restitution to an animal clinic, complete public service, attend mental counseling and avoid breaking the law over the next 18 months. He could be sentenced if he violates the agreement.

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Maine ports director who oversaw marine terminal expansion steps down http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/maine-ports-director-steps-down/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/maine-ports-director-steps-down/#respond Thu, 21 Sep 2017 21:19:30 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/maine-ports-director-steps-down/ The man who oversaw more than $45 million in upgrades to the port of Portland and helped transform it into a modern shipping terminal has resigned.

John Henshaw, executive director of the Maine Port Authority, stepped down Wednesday after a decade of leading the state agency.

During his tenure, Henshaw oversaw the expansion of the International Marine Terminal in Portland and is credited with helping convince Eimskip, an Icelandic shipping company, to locate its North American headquarters in Maine. Recently, Henshaw pushed for a waterfront zoning change to allow a cold-storage warehouse near the container terminal.

“He did an outstanding job for the port authority, including being heavily involved in many milestones at the International Marine Terminal,” said Ted Talbot, spokesman for the Maine Department of Transportation. The authority is an office within the MDOT that oversees Maine’s three commercial ports in Portland, Searsport and Eastport.

“We wish him all the luck in the world for his future endeavors, we were lucky to have him,” Talbot said.

Henshaw submitted his resignation Sept. 7. Wednesday was his last day in the office.

“The future appears bright for the port authority,” Henshaw wrote in his resignation letter. “There will be some new and exciting developments announced at the International Marine Terminal in Portland in the coming weeks and months. I believe the momentum is there to carry the facility far into the future. Searsport and Eastport should see some positive developments in the future as well.”

Henshaw did not respond to an interview request Thursday.

One of his major contributions was the revitalization of the International Marine Terminal after the company that had been providing container service there left during the recession that began in 2008. In 2009, when the authority took over management of the shipping terminal from the city of Portland, it was used for snow storage.

Since then, more than $45 million has been invested to upgrade and expand the port, including its crane system and a rail spur directly to the container terminal. More improvements worth up to $15.5 million are planned in the near future.

Investment in the port attracted Eimskip, which has steadily added calls to Portland every year and plans to have weekly container service by 2020.

Over the past year, Henshaw helped get a Portland zoning change approved that allows for construction of a large cold-storage warehouse on the waterfront near the marine terminal worth more than $20 million. The zoning change was fiercely opposed by nearby residents upset with the size of the building.

Matt Burns, director of ports and marine at the MDOT, will take over as acting executive director at the port authority while the board of directors starts a search for a permanent replacement, Talbot said.

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

pmcguire@pressherald.com

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/maine-ports-director-steps-down/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/09/1259081_494676-20130910_iceland10.jpgJohn HenshawThu, 21 Sep 2017 19:38:36 +0000
Seal pups rescued in Maine among those released off Rhode Island http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/seal-pups-rescued-in-maine-among-those-released-off-rhode-island/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/seal-pups-rescued-in-maine-among-those-released-off-rhode-island/#respond Thu, 21 Sep 2017 18:34:34 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/seal-pups-rescued-in-maine-among-those-released-off-rhode-island/ MYSTIC, Conn. – Three seal pups that were apparently abandoned by their parents after birth have been released into the waters off Rhode Island.

Officials at Connecticut’s Mystic Aquarium say the three harbor seals named Aster, Azalea and Ivy were released Thursday morning in Charlestown, Rhode Island.

The aquarium says one of the seals was rescued in early May in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Another was found in Harpswell, Maine, and brought to the aquarium in June. The third was found in East Boothbay Harbor, Maine, and arrived at the aquarium in July.

The aquarium says the three seals are now healthy enough to survive on their own. Each is about 4 to 5 months old and weighs around 50 pounds.

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/21/seal-pups-rescued-in-maine-among-those-released-off-rhode-island/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/09/Seal-Release-1.jpgSEPT. 21, 2017 Two seals pause on their way to the ocean after being released in Charlestown, R.I., on Thursday. Photo courtesy of Mystic AquariumThu, 21 Sep 2017 19:04:34 +0000