Local & State – The Portland Press Herald http://www.pressherald.com Mon, 23 Jan 2017 05:09:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.2 On Football: Patriots get another shot at Super Bowl http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/on-football-patriots-get-another-shot-at-super-bowl/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/on-football-patriots-get-another-shot-at-super-bowl/#respond Mon, 23 Jan 2017 04:38:57 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/on-football-patriots-get-another-shot-at-super-bowl/ FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Wow. Simply, wow.

The New England Patriots are going back to the Super Bowl. And they made it look easy.

The Patriots overwhelmed the Pittsburgh Steelers with a 36-17 victory in the AFC championship game Sunday night at Gillette Stadium.

Now Roger Goodell – perhaps the most hated man in New England because of his handling of the Deflategate saga – will have to face Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in Houston, where the Patriots will play the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI on Feb. 5.

For Brady and Belichick, this will be their seventh appearance in pro football’s championship game – and most likely their most satisfying.

This season began under a dark cloud as Brady was forced to sit out the first four games, the result of Goodell’s punishment for Brady’s role in Deflategate.

The Patriots didn’t falter, however, going 3-1 in those games, first with backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and then, when Garoppolo was injured, with rookie Jacoby Brissett.

Brady returned in the fifth game and responded with an MVP-caliber season, throwing 28 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

“He’s Tom Brady,” said Matthew Slater, the Patriots special teams captain. “I don’t think I have to say anything else. He’s Tom Brady.”

But Brady wouldn’t take much of the credit – even Sunday when he completed 32 of 42 passes for 384 yards (a Patriots postseason record) and three touchdowns.

He mentioned just about everyone on the offense in his postgame news conference, citing their hard work as a factor in this team’s success.

“Well, I think it’s because of a lot of work by a lot of people, my coaches, my teammates, to the family members who support us,” he said. “It takes a lot of people. And a lot of hard work over the course of many months.

“This thing didn’t start at 6:40 tonight, this thing started in April or even before that. It’s a lot of hard work and there are only two teams standing. And I’m happy to be one of them.”

Belichick, too, didn’t think Brady’s suspension put the team in a bad situation.

“Every year has its own challenges, whatever they are they are, every team has to deal with them,” he said. “We dealt with them. It’s a special year because it’s a special team.”

In the postgame ceremony on the field – where tight end Martellus Bennett danced with the cheerleaders and led the crowd by waving pompoms – Belichick was asked what made this team so special.

“It’s all about the players,” he said. “They work hard, they’re unselfish and they’re tough.”

It’s that hard work that has enabled the Patriots to overcome whatever has been thrown at them this year.

“A lot of people work hard in this league,” said Slater. “A lot of people sacrifice a lot. We’re very fortunate to have our hard work pay off. We played a great football team and we’re just thankful for this night and this moment.”

Slater then alluded to something that both Brady and Belichick mentioned, that Brady’s absence in the first four games didn’t cast a gloom over this locker room, that they simply went to work each day and prepared for their next opponent.

“This is the ultimate team sport,” said Slater. “We have a lot of team players who believe in one another, who believe in the process. And like I said, we’ve had good fortune along the way, but you tip the hat all the way back to Week 1 the way (Garoppolo) played and then the way Jacoby played. Those guys really allowed us to be in the position we are now.

“It’s a total team effort and we relied on all 53 guys.”

Other stars have been made in New England over the years, but Brady and Belichick are the two men who changed the fortunes. When history looks back on this incredible run of championship success that the Patriots have achieved – 11 AFC championship game appearances and, now, seven Super Bowls, four of which they’ve won – the two names listed first and most frequently will be those of Belichick and Brady.

They transformed this once-laughed-at franchise into the best in the NFL.

Now they have one more game to play this year.

You can bet they’ll be ready.

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:


Twitter: MikeLowePPH

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/on-football-patriots-get-another-shot-at-super-bowl/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/01/1142134_APTOPIX_Steelers_Patriots3.jpgPatriots wide receiver Chris Hogan celebrates his touchdown catch Sunday in the first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Hogan had a career game, catching nine passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns.Mon, 23 Jan 2017 00:04:32 +0000
Virginia firm may help with Maine DHHS project http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/virginia-firm-may-help-state-with-hhs-project/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/virginia-firm-may-help-state-with-hhs-project/#respond Mon, 23 Jan 2017 04:01:18 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/virginia-firm-may-help-state-with-hhs-project/ AUGUSTA — The state is entering negotiations with a Virginia firm and a Maine contractor in hopes that a deal can be struck to tear down the vacant former state Department of Transportation maintenance facility on Capitol Street and build a nearly 90,000-square-foot office building in its place.

If the parties can agree to terms, the new building would be leased back to the state to serve as the new main office for the state Department of Health and Human Services.

The 9.2-acre property at 109 Capitol St. sits prominently on a hill within a few hundred feet of the State House Complex.

State Bureau of General Services officials selected Arlington, Virginia-based FD Stonewater out of three teams that submitted their qualifications to the state for the project. If that developer works out a deal with the state, it would partner with Scarborough-based Landry/French Construction, which built the building leased to the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Labor near the Portland International Jetport, and Virginia architectural firm HGA Architects and Portland-based Mark Mueller Architects.

City officials hope that the developer will do more than create a plain state office building on the site, given its prominence in the city and proximity to the State House.

“That property is very significant to the city and state. It’s one of the most visible and accessible properties to the Capitol,” said Keith Luke, the city’s deputy director of development services.

“Where it is situated, the development potential there is extraordinary. What happens there, with the scope and nature of the design, is going to influence how people experience the Maine Capitol for generations.”

He said city officials plan to meet with FD Stonewater officials Monday to discuss the project.

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


Twitter: kedwardskj

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/virginia-firm-may-help-state-with-hhs-project/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/01/1142115_709050_20160906_dot_offices.jpgThe former Department of Transportation complex on Capitol Street in Augusta is slated to be torn down and replaced with a new state office building.Sun, 22 Jan 2017 23:20:13 +0000
Maine State Police arrest Saco man on 6 outstanding warrants http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/maine-state-police-arrest-saco-man-on-six-outstanding-warrants/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/maine-state-police-arrest-saco-man-on-six-outstanding-warrants/#respond Mon, 23 Jan 2017 03:56:51 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/maine-state-police-arrest-saco-man-on-six-outstanding-warrants/ While conducting a distracted driving detail Saturday morning, Maine State Police ended up arresting a Saco man who had six outstanding warrants for his arrest.

State police said in a news release posted on the agency’s Facebook page Sunday night said they arrested Christopher Evans, 33.

Evans was a passenger in a vehicle that police stopped for a traffic violation near the Saco toll plaza of the Maine Turnpike. When police asked Evans for identification, he told them he did not have any paperwork on him. Officers also believe he gave them a false name, according to state police.

With assistance from the Saco police, state troopers determined that Evans had outstanding warrants for probation violation, theft by deception, operating after having his license revoked, refusing to submit to arrest, violating his conditions of release, and failure to comply with a Saco Police Department curfew.

Evans was transported to the York County Jail in Alfred, where his bail was set at $10,000 cash.

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Sloppy winter storm Monday night could make driving treacherous Tuesday morning http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/messy-winter-storm-monday-night-could-make-driving-treacherous-tuesday-morning/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/messy-winter-storm-monday-night-could-make-driving-treacherous-tuesday-morning/#respond Mon, 23 Jan 2017 03:17:34 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/messy-winter-storm-monday-night-could-make-driving-treacherous-tuesday-morning/ A winter storm that will move into Maine on Monday evening could test the driving skills of motorists by the time they leave for work Tuesday morning.

Mike Cempa, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, said that travel could prove to be treacherous by the time the storm ends Tuesday because it will bring sleet and freezing rain to some areas of the state.

“I think the Tuesday morning commute will be a mess,” Cempa said Sunday evening.

As of Sunday night, the weather service was predicting that Portland will begin to see a mix of rain and snow around 8 p.m. Monday. In other parts of the state, the storm will begin as snow. Portland could get 2-3 inches of snow by the time it turns to a wintry mix.

At some point during the late-night or pre-dawn hours, the precipitation in Portland and throughout the state will change over to sleet and freezing rain.

“The timing of when the warm air aloft will come is what is proving tricky to predict,” Cempa said. The warmer air will change the snow to freezing rain or sleet.

Forecasters also don’t know how long the freezing rain or sleet will last, but Cempa said he is not expecting anything close to ice storm conditions.

“We are not looking at a ton of freezing rain,” he said.

Eventually along the coast, the precipitation will change to all rain Tuesday. Inland areas such as Lewiston and Augusta might see longer periods of freezing rain or sleet Tuesday.

The storm is expected to produce some strong winds as well, with the potential for gusts reaching up to 40 mph.

The weather service is forecasting a mostly sunny day Wednesday with highs reaching the low 40s. Thursday should be partly sunny with a high near 44 degrees.

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


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Maine Farmers’ Market Convention lines up speakers http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/farmers-market-convention-lines-up-speakers/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/farmers-market-convention-lines-up-speakers/#respond Mon, 23 Jan 2017 01:51:28 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/farmers-market-convention-lines-up-speakers/ SKOWHEGAN — Sarah Smith, owner of Grassland Organic Farm in Skowhegan, will be among the featured speakers Jan. 29 for the ninth annual Maine Farmers’ Market Convention on the Alfond Campus at Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield.

Market vendors, managers and volunteers from across the state are expected to convene for the conference, the theme of which is “Taking the Lead,” according to Leigh Hallet, executive director of the host Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets, headquartered in Pittsfield. The Alfond campus is located in the Hinckley section of the college on U.S. Route 201.

Participants can choose from a dozen sessions throughout the day, focusing on how to cultivate collaborative markets and how to strategize for growth. The deadline for registration is Thursday.

Smith, the former manager of the Skowhegan Farmers’ Market, will be among the presenters. Smith is scheduled to discuss marketing and advertising ideas for reaching new customers and keeping the regulars coming back.

Smith will be joined at the lectern by Clara Moore of the Portland Farmers’ Market.

Hallet said the convention drew more than 100 visitors last year at Maple Hill Inn in Hallowell, where the convention had been held for the past three years. She said they are hoping to include volunteers this year from KVCC’s sustainable agriculture course of studies.

The convention is an opportunity for people interested in Maine’s farmers markets to come together for inspiration, guidance and networking opportunities, she said. The cost is $65 for members or volunteers of a farmers market and $75 for nonmembers of a farmers market, Hallet said.

The keynote address, titled “Resurgent Farmers’ Markets: Impacts Around the U.S. and Prospects for Maine,” will be given by Dr. Alfonso Morales, professor of Urban and Regional Planning and director of the Metrics and Indicators for Impact project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Morales will discuss contemporary trends for farmers markets and how Maine markets might respond to some of these trends. The talk will be based on his nationally and internationally recognized research on street vendors and marketplaces, as well as his recent work in support of the federation’s data collection efforts in Maine.

There will be 12 sessions taking place throughout the day, covering topics such as market design, food safety, specialty food trends, applying for federal grants, youth and family programming, partnering with municipalities, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program outreach and marketing techniques.

Additionally, this year an inspector from the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry will be on hand to inspect scales all day at $5 per scale. Farmers and others wishing to apply to accept SNAP benefits or update their license with the USDA may do so on site. There will also be a WIC farmer authorization class offered.

The Skowhegan Farmers’ Market, now in its winter location at Boynton’s Greenhouse on Madison Avenue, is offering incentives through the Maine Harvest Bucks program. The Skowhegan Farmers’ Market is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the first and third Saturdays every month.

During the summer, the market is held outdoors at the Somerset Gristmill.

With Maine Harvest Bucks, SNAP/EBT shoppers receive bonus local fruits and vegetables, stretching limited benefits much further.

Maine Harvest Bucks are known as “nutrition incentives,” which increase the value of federal nutrition assistance dollars through SNAP/EBT spent at participating farmers markets, community supported agriculture farms and retail outlets that sell local produce.

“For example,” said current market manager Carrie Tessier of Tessiers Farm in Skowhegan, “if you shopped at the Skowhegan Farmers’ Market and bought $25 dollars worth of bread, cheese, milk, coffee or meat, you would then receive $25 dollars in vouchers for fruit and vegetables that can be redeemed with a vendor at the market.”

Emily Buswell, a program assistant to the farmers market federation, said “there’s a whole network” of farmers markets across Maine that offer the Maine Harvest Bucks program.

“Last summer, more than 30 farmers markets participated in (the program), and 10 of those markets have continued their program through the winter,” Buswell said. “A large amount of farmers markets in Maine only run through the summer.”

For more information or to register, call 487-7114 or email assistant@mffm.org. Online registration is also available at mainefarmersmarkets.org.

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


Twitter: Doug_Harlow

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/farmers-market-convention-lines-up-speakers/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/01/1142018_823582-Sarah-Smith.jpgSarah Smith of Grassland Organic Farm in Skowhegan gets ready to milk a cow in a recent photo. Smith, the former manager of the Skowhegan Farmers' Market, will be among the speakers Jan. 29 at the annual Maine Farmers Market Convention.Sun, 22 Jan 2017 21:19:32 +0000
Westbrook man killed when car goes into Stroudwater River http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/one-dead-after-car-goes-into-river-in-westbrook/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/one-dead-after-car-goes-into-river-in-westbrook/#respond Sun, 22 Jan 2017 16:51:14 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/one-dead-after-car-goes-into-river-in-westbrook/ Westbrook police said a 22-year-old man was killed when his car left the road near the Spring Street bridge Sunday morning, went airborne and landed on the ice-covered Stroudwater River.

Police Chief Janine Roberts identified the victim as Fouad Abdullah of Westbrook. Roberts said the rear end of Abdullah’s car was spotted floating in the river by a passer-by, who notified police by calling 9-1-1.

Roberts told reporters at the accident scene that Abdullah’s vehicle – a black 2011 Chevrolet Cruze – appeared to have been headed inbound from South Portland when it crossed the centerline, hit a guardrail and went airborne.

Roberts said the victim’s 4-door sedan passed between a set of trees and a utility pole before landing on the ice-covered river. The car rolled over and came to rest on its roof before sinking through the ice.

An autopsy will be conducted by the state medical examiner’s office to determine the cause of death, Roberts said.

The car was partially submerged in the river off Spring Street when it was discovered around 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

The accident shut down Spring Street for several hours while emergency workers cleared the scene.

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


http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/one-dead-after-car-goes-into-river-in-westbrook/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/01/1141870_889324-20170122_westbrook3.jpgPolice look over a car that was removed from the Stroudwater River along Spring Street in Westbrook on Sunday after it went over the guardrail, killing one person.Sun, 22 Jan 2017 23:09:57 +0000
Piece of rock history being auctioned off in Biddeford http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/a-piece-of-rock-history-is-being-auctioned-off-in-biddeford/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/a-piece-of-rock-history-is-being-auctioned-off-in-biddeford/#respond Sun, 22 Jan 2017 16:41:22 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/a-piece-of-rock-history-is-being-auctioned-off-in-biddeford/ BIDDEFORD – A bright neon piece of rock ‘n’ roll history is going up for auction – a marquee from the legendary Los Angeles club Whisky a Go Go.

The 13-foot sign, with letters lit in bright pink, adorned the West Hollywood club in the ’80s and ’90s, during the heyday of punk, new wave and grunge.

The Saco River Auction Co. is putting it up for bid Wednesday.

“Being a guy who likes rock and heavy metal and music in general, this is like the holy grail of something that’s collectible,” said auctioneer Troy Thibodeau.

Over the years, the Sunset Strip club featured acts including Led Zeppelin, the Doors, Janis Joplin, Van Halen, Motley Crue, Frank Zappa and the Ramones.

The neon Whisky sign is seen here in 2002 over the marquee at the Whisky a Go Go in West Hollywood.

The neon Whisky sign is seen here in 2002 at the Whisky a Go Go in West Hollywood. Photo by Stephen Dyrgas via AP

The weathered marquee says simply “The Whisky.” It was replaced in 2004 with a new sign – “Whisky a Go Go” – that restored the full name used when the club opened in 1964.

The marquee sold for nearly $35,000 in 2012 and was supposed to be used in a “man cave” in a home in Maine, Thibodeau said. Instead, it ended up collecting dust in a storage unit and wound up in Thibodeau’s possession because the owner was delinquent on payments.

Thibodeau said the sign could fetch somewhere between $25,000 and $60,000.

The Whisky a Go Go got its start with dancing, as the name suggests, but live music quickly became a staple. The Doors were a house band in the late 1960s, and other acts including the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield helped to cement the club’s reputation, said Todd Mesek, from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

“It got this reputation as this great place for the hottest new bands, with a lot of street cred, and for being the place to be for new music,” he said.

The club, with a capacity for 500 people, faded a bit in the 1970s as big rock ‘n’ roll bands played larger venues, like arenas and stadiums, before getting a second wind during the punk era in the late 1970s and early 1980s with the Ramones, the Runaways and Blondie, Mesek said.

Then came the big metal bands of the 1980s, including Van Halen, Motley Crue and Guns N’ Roses. In the 1990s, grunge bands like Soundgarden and the Melvins played there.

The venue was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/a-piece-of-rock-history-is-being-auctioned-off-in-biddeford/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/01/AP17020601084458.jpgSun, 22 Jan 2017 16:52:48 +0000
Elderly Woolwich couple killed in 3-vehicle crash on Route 1 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/woolwich-couple-killed-in-crash/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/woolwich-couple-killed-in-crash/#respond Sun, 22 Jan 2017 15:37:19 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/woolwich-couple-killed-in-crash/ A Woolwich couple died in a three-vehicle crash Saturday night on Route 1 in Woolwich.

Robert S. Martin, 70, and his wife, Carolyn W. Martin, 76, were killed in the crash between the Taste of Maine restaurant and George Wright Road about 6:07 p.m., the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office said.

Robert Martin was driving south when his car was hit head-on by a Chevrolet Tahoe, which veered into the southbound lane as it was traveling north, the sheriff’s office said. A Ford Explorer traveling south was unable to avoid the crash and hit the Tahoe.

Martin was pronounced dead at the scene, and his wife was pronounced dead at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, where she had been flown by a medical helicopter.

The driver of the Tahoe, Danielle Ward, 33, of Rockport and three of her seven passengers, all children, were treated for serious but non-life-threatening injuries at Maine Medical Center in Portland.

The Explorer was driven by William Kring, 63, of Dudley, Massachusetts. Neither Kring nor his passenger was injured.

Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel Merry said the cause of the crash is not yet known.

“This was an unfortunate accident that resulted in the death of a local elderly couple. Our condolences go out to their family,” Merry said.

It could be several days before deputies can piece together the actions that caused the accident, authorities said.

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Waldoboro man killed in shootout with police http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/waldoboro-man-killed-in-shootout-with-police/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/waldoboro-man-killed-in-shootout-with-police/#respond Sun, 22 Jan 2017 14:31:32 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/waldoboro-man-killed-in-shootout-with-police/ A Waldoboro man was killed in a shootout with police early Sunday that also injured an officer.

Officer John Lash exchanged gunfire with an occupant of the home at 81 River Bend Road, who was identified as Jon M. Alspaugh, 57. The shootout erupted inside the residence, and Alspaugh was mortally wounded, police said.

Waldoboro Police Chief Bill Labombarde said Sunday night that Lash was shot in his upper torso but was probably spared more serious injury because he was wearing a bulletproof vest.

Lash and another officer, Sgt. Jamie Wilson, were called to the home around 1 a.m. Sunday to investigate the report of a domestic disturbance.

“I can’t get into those kinds of details,” Labombarde said when asked to explain the nature of the disturbance.

Labombarde said that two other people were in the home with Alspaugh when the shootout occurred. They were not injured.

A neighbor told WCSH-TV that Alspaugh lived in the home with his wife and his mother-in-law.

“To find out what happened this morning, it is surprising. … They’ve always been nice, seemed like a good couple. Never had any issues with them,” Joshua Smith told the Portland television station.

Lash’s bulletproof vest absorbed the shot, but he was taken to the Miles Campus of LincolnHealth, a health care center in Damariscotta, where he was checked out by doctors and released a short time later, according to the police chief.

As is standard procedure in police-involved shootings, Lash, who has been employed by the police department for three years, has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation by the Maine Attorney General’s Office to determine if the shooting was justified. Labombarde said Wilson was not placed on leave.

The Attorney General’s Office said Sunday night that there have been 73 officer-involved shootings in Maine since 2007, including one involving Gregori Jackson, an 18-year-old man who was shot and killed by Waldoboro police Officer Zachary Curtis on Sept. 23, 2007. The AG’s Office ruled that Curtis’ use of deadly force was justified.

Of the 73 officer-involved shootings, 36 resulted in the death of an individual, according to figures supplied by the AG’s Office.

There were six officer-involved shootings in 2016, including two that resulted in death.

According to The Courier-Gazette, Alspaugh was assistant director of the Rockland wastewater treatment plant. The newspaper quoted City Manager Audra Caler Bell as saying that Alspaugh was hired by the city last year.

The home where the shooting occurred is located at the end of a long dirt road, off Route 32. The Courier-Gazette reported that the home is owned by Alspaugh’s mother-in-law. The family has lived in Waldoboro for about 17 years.

Investigators told the Rockland newspaper that Alspaugh did not have a criminal record. Police had not been called to the property before Sunday’s shooting.

Waldoboro police said in a news release that the Attorney General’s Office and Maine State Police are handling the investigation of the shootout.

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


http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/waldoboro-man-killed-in-shootout-with-police/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/01/t1200-20170122_085605.jpgWaldoboro police remained on the scene of a fatal shooting into Sunday morning, Jan. 22, 2017.Sun, 22 Jan 2017 23:09:21 +0000
Five people wounded in 3 Portland stabbing incidents http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/four-stabbed-in-2-portland-incidents/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/four-stabbed-in-2-portland-incidents/#respond Sun, 22 Jan 2017 14:14:21 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/four-stabbed-in-2-portland-incidents/ Portland police said five people suffered wounds or cuts in three separate stabbing incidents over the weekend.

Authorities said the stabbings do not appear to be related and that the public is in no danger because the suspects were known to the victims.

WCSH-TV reported that a transient identified by police as Justin Hill, 31, stabbed an employee of the Preble Street Resource Center in the face with a fork Sunday morning. The worker’s injuries are not considered life-threatening. Hill was charged with aggravated assault and is scheduled to appear in court Monday morning.

Police spokesman Lt. Robert Martin said Sunday night that the incident involving Hill happened in the resource center’s soup kitchen.

Martin said three people were involved in a stabbing at 31 East Oxford St. about 4:30 a.m. Sunday. Police found one of the victims, who had left the scene, on Congress Street. That person, a man with neck and chest wounds, was taken to Maine Medical Center, where he was treated and released.

Martin said the other two people, a man and a woman, suffered hand lacerations, but police are not certain if their cuts were caused by a knife or broken glass. They were also treated at Maine Medical Center and released. Police are continuing to investigate. No charges were immediately filed.

Police are also investigating the stabbing of a man on outer Washington Avenue about 7:30 p.m. Saturday after receiving a report of the stabbing from the medical staff at Maine Medical Center, where the man was being treated for torso and arm wounds.

Police said they have identified a suspect, who was described as a Somali man, about 5-foot-9 with a damaged eye.

Martin said the condition of the Washington Avenue victim is not known.

The names of the victims are not being released by Portland police.

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


Twitter: QuimbyBeth

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


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New Bath Iron Works chief: Despite contract loss, shipyard’s in good shape http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/lesko-lessons-learned-from-lost-coast-guard-contract-position-biw-for-better-future/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/lesko-lessons-learned-from-lost-coast-guard-contract-position-biw-for-better-future/#respond Sun, 22 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1141668 Bath Iron Works’ new president said last year’s loss of a massive Coast Guard contract was a significant blow but efficiencies and improvements made in pursuit of the bid will better position the shipyard for future Navy work.

“We’re conscious of our need to be affordable,” said Dirk Lesko, a longtime BIW manager who took over as president on Jan. 1. “Our customer (the Navy) reminds us frequently of our need to be affordable. And no matter how well you’ve done or how much you improve, there is always more opportunity.”

Lesko succeeded Fred Harris as president of General Dynamics-owned Bath Iron Works three months after BIW lost the Coast Guard cutter ships to a smaller, leaner shipyard and potentially a year before negotiations begin on the next multi-year Navy destroyer contract.

Bath Iron Works President Dirk Lesko

Bath Iron Works President Dirk Lesko Derek Davis/Staff Photographer Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

While BIW remains one of Maine’s largest employers, with a workforce of roughly 6,000, the cutter contract would have supported more than 1,000 jobs in the shipyard. Those positions could be lost absent a major shift in Navy shipbuilding.

“So the program was a big deal,” Lesko said during a recent candid discussion with the Maine Sunday Telegram about BIW’s challenges and future options. “There aren’t all that many opportunities to build the kinds of things that we build, particularly outside of the Navy.”

Of course, the recent shake-up at the White House and in Congress could bring major changes to shipbuilders like BIW.

Both President Trump and Navy officials are talking about the need to increase the size of the Navy fleet from 274 ships to 350 or 355 ships over the next three decades. Sixteen of the 47 additional ships would be “large surface combatants,” meaning cruisers or the guided-missile destroyers built in Maine and Mississippi.

Such a building spree wouldn’t come cheaply or easily. A recent Congressional Research Service analysis put the price tag at an additional $5 billion to $5.5 billion a year – money that Congress would have to appropriate.

For his part, Lesko laughed and said it was “nice to hear” the talk of a 355-ship Navy.

Yet six weeks before Friday’s inauguration, Trump had sent shock waves through the defense contracting community by using his bully pulpit – in this case, his Twitter feed – to pressure Lockheed Martin to reduce the costs of its F-35 stealth fighter jet. Weeks later, the head of Lockheed Martin emerged from a meeting with Trump to say they were working to lower costs. The F-35 program also directly employs nearly 1,000 workers in Maine.

“It would be impossible to be in the business that we are in and not worry about that,” Lesko said when asked about political pressure to reduce previously agreed-upon costs. “But I will also tell you that, from what I see, we have an opportunity to improve. And some of that opportunity comes from … the fact that the Navy is building the DDG 51 (destroyers).”


BIW currently builds two types of destroyers: the Arleigh Burke-class DDG 51 guided-missile destroyers that have been the workhorses of the Navy fleet for decades, and the stealthy, Zumwalt-class DDG 1000 destroyers. Arleigh Burkes run the Navy about $1.7 billion apiece while each high-tech Zumwalt exceeds $4 billion.

The Navy commissioned the first Zumwalt in October, although the ship has also had some engineering problems not uncommon for first-of-its-class ships. Two more Zumwalts as well as four Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are at various stages of construction in Bath.

The shipyard has an annual payroll of $400 million and does $60 million worth of business with subcontractors in 12 Maine counties. Yet decision-making at the Navy during the past 15 to 20 years illustrates the challenges facing BIW and other defense contractors.

The Navy’s shift during the early-2000s from Arleigh Burke destroyers to the larger-yet-stealthier Zumwalt destroyers forced BIW to switch to a “revolutionary program” that created both opportunities and considerable uncertainty.

Rather than continuing to build a ship that had been BIW’s bread and butter for several decades, the shipyard was building a ship “from the ground up” with all new specifications, technologies and new skill sets for workers. As shipyard workers retired, they were replaced with new workers trained in how to build the Zumwalt.

But a combination of factors – including shifting global geopolitical dynamics, particularly in Asia, as well as changing weapons technology and skyrocketing costs – prompted the Navy to whittle down the planned number of Zumwalts from more than 30 to just three ships.

At the same time, the Navy revived and upgraded the Arleigh Burke or DDG 51 line, forcing yet another major shift at BIW and Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi.

“You won’t find anyone who is not excited that the Navy is building DDG 51s. We really love building DDG 51s in Bath,” said Lesko. “But stopping or transitioning back out of the building of Zumwalts … and taking a step into the past is not perfect. So we have spent a lot of the last three years trying to find ways that we think we did better on the DDG 1000 and fit those affordably back into DDG 51.”

The most recent Navy contract for Arleigh Burke destroyers awarded five ships each to both BIW and Ingalls Shipbuilding.

That even-split nearly didn’t happen, however, because Bath’s per-ship price was significantly higher than the bid from the Pascagoula shipyard.

BIW is also in the midst of lengthy negotiations with the Navy over an additional destroyer that BIW and Maine’s congressional delegation said is owed to Bath under a complex, decade-old “ship swap” agreement. The two sides have been haggling since May over the price tag and whether the ship will be the first of a new, upgraded version of the Arleigh Burke.


There has also been talk – led, at times, by Maine Sen. Angus King – about the need for additional Coast Guard icebreakers to better position the U.S. militarily and economically as regular shipping routes open in the melting Arctic. The Coast Guard has only one operational heavy-duty icebreaker capable of deploying to the polar regions. Russia, by comparison, has more than three dozen polar icebreakers, with more under construction.

Lesko said BIW is “carefully looking at it” but acknowledged that building icebreakers would be a “technical challenge” because their hulls and other specifications are so different from that of a Navy destroyer. BIW would likely have to make hefty investments in its shipyard, which is designed specifically for destroyers.

“But if there is a fleet of icebreakers, that is different from just a couple,” Lesko said with a laugh.

In the meantime, he and other BIW managers are gearing up for the next large, multi-ship Navy destroyer contract.

Lesko’s predecessor, Harris, won several hard-fought contract concessions from BIW’s largest union, the Local S6 chapter of the Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America, as the shipyard competed for the Coast Guard cutter contract.

The potential $10.5 billion contract went to Eastern Shipbuilding Group in Florida, a non-union company with no prior experience building military ships.

Harris announced his retirement from BIW and another General Dynamics shipyard, NASSCO, two months later.

Lesko said those negotiations “helped to position us” for the next bid, as have changes in early-stage construction that are improving their on-schedule delivery record and quality.

“I see us making progress,” Lesko said. “In the end, whether or not it’s enough progress has an awful a lot to do with what level of progress (Ingalls Shipbuilding) makes and what choice they make in terms of how they will bid for that work. But I can tell you we are not sitting still.”

He added that the shipyard’s skilled workforce, union leaders and management are all working toward the same goals. The trick, he said, is getting “everybody lined up and pulling in the same direction at the right time.”

“The culture of the shipyard is one of its greatest strengths,” he said. “I don’t think there is anybody who works there that isn’t interested in doing well or improving, and isn’t fiercely proud of what they do or what they contribute to the end product.”


http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/lesko-lessons-learned-from-lost-coast-guard-contract-position-biw-for-better-future/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/01/1141668_63620-20170112_Dirk_Lesk2.jpgBath Iron Works president Dirk Lesko was disappointed that a Coast Guard contract went elsewhere, but says BIW is well-positioned for Navy work.Sat, 21 Jan 2017 21:44:50 +0000
Maine’s rural hospitals fear crisis if Obamacare is repealed without comparable replacement http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/maines-rural-hospitals-fear-crisis-if-obamacare-is-repealed-without-comparable-replacement/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/maines-rural-hospitals-fear-crisis-if-obamacare-is-repealed-without-comparable-replacement/#respond Sun, 22 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1141808 Love it or hate it, the Affordable Care Act has helped Maine’s hospitals stay solvent, and experts fear its repeal could make it hard for some of them to avoid cutbacks and even closure.

President Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress have vowed to repeal the law, also known as Obamacare, but it’s unclear whether they will replace it with a viable and comparable alternative. On Monday, Maine’s senior U.S. senator, Susan Collins, will reintroduce an alternative plan she co-sponsored in 2015 that would allow states to opt for other solutions, but its prospects are unclear.

Absent a comparable alternative, an ACA repeal would leave 80,000 Mainers who receive health insurance through its exchange without coverage. Some would presumably find alternate coverage, but tens of thousands would not be able to afford it, meaning big losses for Maine’s hospitals and clinics, which are obligated by state law to provide “medically necessary” care to those unable to pay.

“We’re all worried,” says Jeffrey Austin, vice president of government affairs at the Maine Hospital Association, who estimates that the state’s hospitals receive $200 million a year from ACA-subsidized insurance policies. “The average operating margins in Maine hospitals are about 1 percent. There just isn’t room for dramatic negative impacts.”

The Washington Post reported late Friday that Trump had signed an executive order giving federal agencies broad powers to unwind regulations created under the Affordable Care Act, including enforcement of the penalty for people who fail to carry the health insurance that the law requires of most Americans.


Maine’s rural hospitals are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of repeal because, apart from the ACA, few of their patients have commercial insurance. Many have Medicare, the federal program for the elderly, and some have MaineCare, the state’s version of Medicaid, which covers the very poor, but hospitals say the payments they receive from those programs don’t cover their costs. The rest have no insurance at all, but under state law must be given medically necessary treatment if their incomes are less than 150 percent of the federal poverty level and under federal law must provide emergency treatment to everyone.

“The extent to which we’re challenged by bad debt and charity care presents significant problems,” says Katie Fullam Harris, senior vice president for public relations at MaineHealth, the state’s largest health care network, with hospitals and acute care centers in seven counties. A full ACA repeal, she says, would dramatically increase the number of uninsured and underinsured, and cost MaineHealth nearly $1 billion over the next decade, with serious consequences.

A study released Friday by the Maine Center for Economic Policy estimates that if the ACA is repealed, uncompensated care costs to Maine hospitals would triple to $475 million in 2019. Revenues would also decline by $560 million, the study estimated, as the underinsured avoided or were priced out of treatments, creating a total hit of nearly $1 billion statewide.

That’s a significant number in a state whose three tertiary care hospitals – Maine Medical Center in Portland, Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, and Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston – had total combined revenues of $2.8 billion in 2014.

“There would have to be substantial changes to the infrastructure and the way that health care services are delivered in the state of Maine,” Harris says. Although she and other hospital industry officials avoided specifics, some agreed that they would include staff layoffs, the closure of hospital departments and termination of services, and even the possible failure of some hospitals.


In fiscal year 2016, five of MaineHealth’s seven local health care systems ran in the red, including the networks serving much of York, Knox, Waldo, Franklin and western Oxford counties. Only Maine Medical Center in Portland, Lincoln Health in the Damariscotta area and Western Maine Health, based around Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway, made money – despite the fact that the network primarily serves the more affluent third of the state.

Officials at two hospitals in more remote parts of the state – Down East Community Hospital in Machias and Cary Medical Center in Caribou – declined and did not respond to interview requests, respectively.

Statistics on ACA marketplace enrollments in Maine show those who could potentially lose their insurance are disproportionately concentrated in rural towns that also have a high proportion of self-employed individuals. The program is most heavily used in logging or fishing communities like Greenville Junction, Pemaquid, North Haven, Vinalhaven and Round Pond (where more than a fifth of all residents are insured via Obamacare) or Beals, Stratton, Brooklin, Sedgwick, Chebeague Island and Stonington (where 1 in 6 is insured through the ACA).

Most larger towns and cities had an Obamacare-insured rate of only 3 percent to 5 percent, including Bangor, Lewiston, Auburn, Augusta, Waterville, Westbrook and Biddeford. Portland’s rate is 9.3 percent.


Maine hospitals and clinics are already under stress for a variety of reasons. Maine is the most elderly state in the nation, and older people typically require more frequent and expensive care. Gov. Paul LePage declined to expand Medicaid eligibility under the ACA, which would have greatly reduced the number of uninsured patients they treat.

The poor state of the economy – especially in the so-called “rim counties” of western, northern and far eastern Maine – means there are fewer workers with employer-sponsored health insurance. This is happening at the same time many surgical services are being concentrated at larger hospitals, reducing inpatient use and revenues.

“As mills close and large employers leave, one of the things they take with them is commercial insurance coverage for the local population,” says Austin of the Maine Hospital Association. “What’s left is Medicare, Medicaid and the uninsured, and it’s very difficult to survive with that payer mix.”

“Where is the sense of outrage? We are losing hundreds of people to opioids. It’s infuriating,” says Gordon Smith, executive vice president of the Maine Medical Association.

Gordon Smith, executive vice president of the Maine Medical Association. Derek Davis/Staff Photo Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Gordon Smith, executive vice president of the Maine Medical Association, which represents the state’s physicians, says for these reasons a repeal of the ACA without a comparable replacement would be “as devastating to Maine as any other single state.” And he’s not optimistic about the outcome in Washington, D.C., under Trump’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary, Tom Price, a longstanding critic of Obamacare.

“Nobody thinks Secretary Price and others are going to have a system that’s highly dependent on public sources (of funding). They’re talking high-risk pools and health savings accounts,” he says. “People will have ‘universal access’ to health insurance, but they’ve always had that, if they could pay for it.”


Andrew Coburn, a nationally recognized expert on rural health at the University of Southern Maine, agrees the road ahead will likely be difficult for Maine hospitals. “If you take what has been proposed before on the Republican side, you have to assume that replacement plans offered will be less generous, with fewer subsidies, higher deductibles and more co-insurance,” he says. “The impact on hospitals will be more and more, these out-of-pocket costs will have to be borne by the hospitals as bad debt or charity care.”

The Maine Hospital Association, the Maine Medical Association and MaineHealth all say they have been closely engaging Maine’s four-person congressional delegation, imploring them to ensure that if the ACA is repealed it is replaced with something that provides comparable insurance to the 80,000 Mainers currently covered.

Maine’s U.S. senators split on a vote Jan. 12 that cleared the way for the ACA to be repealed with a simple majority rather than a filibuster-proof one, which would have potentially allowed the Senate’s minority Democrats to block the effort. Sen. Collins voted for the measure, independent Sen. Angus King against.

The text of Collins’ replacement bill – to be introduced Monday by her Republican colleague Bill Cassidy of Louisiana – hasn’t been released but it is modeled on the 2015 Patient Freedom Act, which allowed states to either keep using the ACA or to instead divert their federal subsidies to fund their own state exchange programs or to residents’ health savings accounts. Her office did not respond to an interview request.

Colin Woodard can be contacted at 791-6317 or at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/maines-rural-hospitals-fear-crisis-if-obamacare-is-repealed-without-comparable-replacement/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/01/561955_923913-EmergencyRoom.jpgGeneric emergency room hospital cropSun, 22 Jan 2017 14:12:51 +0000
Bill Nemitz: Social media may have State House all atwitter http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/bill-nemitz-social-media-may-put-state-house-in-a-twitter/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/bill-nemitz-social-media-may-put-state-house-in-a-twitter/#respond Sun, 22 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1141549 It somehow seems fitting, in the same week the United States of America inaugurated its first Twitter-obsessed president, that the Maine House of Representatives found itself debating the pros and cons of social media.

Personally, I’m torn over a request by Rep. Matt Pouliot, R-Augusta, to allow House members to fire up their Facebook and other social media accounts when they’re in session.

As a public policy matter, it raises serious questions about discipline, diligence and deportment.

But as pure entertainment? Be still my beating heart.

We begin with House Rule 109, titled “Use of personal electronic communication devices.”

It states, “During all sessions of the House, a member shall restrict that member’s use of all personal electronic communication devices to personal business and business of the House and shall in such use exercise high standards of discretion, conduct and decorum.”

Such high standards, of course, are subject to interpretation. House members routinely have their phones out and laptops open during those lengthy roll calls and interminable debates.

In fact, more than once in recent years, members have been caught from behind watching the Red Sox or playing solitaire when they’re supposed to be conducting the people’s business.

They also send text messages – the quicker, easier alternative to the longstanding practice of scribbling “Hear, hear!” or “You know not of what you speak!” on a scrap of paper, summoning a House page and having it hand-delivered to the object of one’s admiration or scorn.

But Pouliot’s plan, as articulated on Wednesday to the House Rules Committee, goes way beyond that.

He envisioned photos and video recordings, taken by House members of themselves or other House members, popping up on the internet in real time as the people’s representatives go about their constitutional duties.

As reported by Press Herald State House staffer Scott Thistle, Pouliot told the committee, “It is all about creating broader access and insight to the governing process and frankly, it enhances the general public’s ability to participate by using a platform such as Facebook Live that they’re already familiar with.”

Pouliot just turned 30 last month. He knows about these things.

Others don’t.

Rep. John Martin, D-Eagle Lake, was once a young buck in the Maine Legislature just like Pouliot. That was … let’s see here … more than a half-century ago.

Now 75, Martin described himself during the hearing as “not a proponent of social media.”

The man’s being modest. He actually hates social media.

“If I had my way, there would be no Facebook and no accounts out there, no tweakers or whatever else,” Martin told Pouliot. “And society would be a lot better off if they read the newspapers and watched the news.”

OK, I admit I loved the society-should-read-newspapers part. But no more Facebook? No “tweakers”?

Give Pouliot credit for respecting his elder. “Social media is not going away,” he gently informed Martin. “I hate to break it to you.”

Still, Martin had a point when he worried aloud that social media “creates more problems” than it solves.

President Trump’s tweets alone have already destabilized the entire planet. When it comes to fake news, Facebook has become an express lane on the disinformation highway. And don’t get me started about Snapchat because, well, I’m not sure how it works.

But back to the House floor. As if these people weren’t dysfunctional enough, imagine what a savvy lawmaker could do with a raw, 30-second video of his opponent proclaiming, “Madam Speaker, I may not be the sharpest tool in the box, but this bill makes no sense! I need help comprehending how it could, in any way, be beneficial to the Maine people!”

The tightly edited Facebook video version: “Madam Speaker, I may not be the sharpest tool in the box. I need help.”

Then there are the perils of the still photo.

Back in 2005, during a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, then-President George W. Bush discreetly penned a note to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Captured for posterity by a nosy Reuters photographer, the message read, “I think I may need a bathroom break. Is this possible … W.”

Within hours, the whole universe knew the leader of the free world was, ahem, having trouble following the proceedings.

Nefarious edits and embarrassing moments aside, unleashing the power of social media on the Maine House also raises significant questions about what is and what isn’t a matter of public record.

“Any substantive transmission (by a legislator in the course of his or her official business) is a public record,” said David Cheever, Maine’s state archivist, in an interview on Friday.

Cheever has long struggled to educate anyone and everyone in state government that their official emails are public records and thus should be retained just like written memos were back in the day.

Facebook and Twitter only compound that challenge, Cheever said.

For starters, the moment a lawmaker posts something official on Facebook, it becomes the sole property of Facebook. How then does the state ensure that said posting, assuming it’s juicy enough, is preserved for archival posterity before … poof … it’s erased?

And what if a Facebook skirmish were to break out during a House floor session? One lawmaker starts video-recording another, prompting the other to video-record right back and before you know it, the entire chamber is engulfed in a smartphone shootout. Is all of that a public record?

Quipped Cheever, “All you’re doing is underscoring my inability to do my job.”

Wherever all of this is headed, it’s not going to get there fast. After kicking Pouliot’s proposal around for a while last week, the House Rules Committee voted to table it until … whenever.

Meaning Rep. Martin can rest easy. For the duration of the 128th Maine Legislature, at least, it appears there will be no Facebooking in the House chamber.

Or tweaking.

Bill Nemitz can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/bill-nemitz-social-media-may-put-state-house-in-a-twitter/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2014/09/Top-Story-Block-Bill-e1412944716710.jpgPORTLAND, ME - MAY 15: Images of Portland Press Herald news reporters and columnists, Wednesday, May 15, 2014. (Photo by Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer)Sat, 21 Jan 2017 21:05:19 +0000
Unabashed Linda Bean has passion for politics http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/unabashed-linda-bean-has-passion-for-politics/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/22/unabashed-linda-bean-has-passion-for-politics/#respond Sun, 22 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1141645 When an activist group last week called for a boycott of L.L. Bean to protest Linda Bean’s support for Donald Trump, the reaction of the granddaughter of the founder of the Freeport outdoor goods retailer didn’t surprise her political allies or business associates.

While others might have gone quiet, hoping to let the controversy die down, the 75-year-old Bean, decked out in a cheery red sweater and her family company’s famous hunting boots, went on Fox News to denounce those calling for a boycott as “bullies” who would hurt company employees in seeking to punish her for expressing a political viewpoint.

In doing so, she thrust the family business, which has largely operated without taking political sides, into a firestorm. President Trump tweeted his support for Bean, and encouraged people to purchase from the store, undoing the company’s efforts to stay out of the fray.

“She’s not a timid soul,” said Rick Bennett, who has been chairman of the Maine Republican Party for the past four years and is stepping down from the post this month. “She knows the best way to deal with people is directly.”

“Passion, energy, drive,” Bennett added. “She has all that in spades.”

Despite her passion for her businesses and for politics, Bean has never been one to want the spotlight, but her $30,000 donation to a Maine-based, pro-Trump political action committee pushed her into it anyway.

The Federal Election Commission said she violated donation limits in giving the funds to Making America Great LLC, triggering attention from the Grab Your Wallet boycott campaign against L.L. Bean. The firestorm of attention put the 105-year-old Freeport store in a national spotlight, with stories written by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Slate and other national media.

The company insisted that Bean’s political contributions were her own, and separate from the company itself, despite her famous last name.

“L.L. Bean’s position remains the same: no political endorsements or contributions. Period,” a company spokeswoman said last week in response to the controversy. “As always, our top priorities remain making boots, selling products and serving our customers.”

Bean is one of six family members who sit on the 10-member L.L. Bean board, but she doesn’t play a management role in the company. Her own political runs were more than two decades ago. And while her political donations have been substantial, she hasn’t sought out publicity for them.

Backing Trump in itself was an act of defiance for Bean. Her late cousin Leon Gorman, who ran the company during its time of greatest growth, gave significant donations to former President Obama, Democratic and left-leaning candidates. And when people sought to punish her family’s company for her political leanings, she pushed back forcefully.

“It’s bullying me personally,” she said on national television. “It’s bullying now the company that didn’t give the donation. I gave the donation personally to a PAC to support Trump.”


Associates say Bean’s drive, focus and protectiveness is evident in how she runs her own businesses, which span the gamut from wedding planning to lodging and even waterside tours – on Bean’s 42-foot lobster boat – of the Maine spots frequented and depicted by the Wyeth family artists. The businesses are grouped under the lifestyle umbrella company called “Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine.”

But Bean, who shares the famous first two initials of her grandfather’s name, seems to be stepping back some. Even though she has given no sign of leaving the L.L. Bean board, last year she turned over many of her business enterprises to employees under an employee stock ownership plan.

Her personal wealth is impossible to determine because both L.L. Bean and Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine are privately held and don’t have to report profits or losses publicly. L.L. Bean last year did say that it had net sales of $1.6 billion in 2015, essentially level with the year before, when it announced that employees were getting bonuses of 3 percent of their annual pay, but beyond that, the performance of the company is hidden to the public.

Bean has held fast to conservative political views since her two unsuccessful runs for Congress – in 1988, when she lost in the Republican primary to a more moderate candidate, and 1992, when she lost to incumbent Tom Andrews, a liberal Democrat – in the state’s 1st District. Bennett noted that running as a Republican in southern Maine is likely to be a losing effort, but that didn’t stop Bean.

“It’s a very challenging district for us, but Linda is willing to do what she’s passionate about,” he said. “It’s always good to win, but she showed the value of fighting on.”


In those races, Bean opposed abortion, gay rights and gun control and backed increased military spending because it supported “a native Maine industry.”

Bean, who did not respond to a request for an interview for this article, has been a generous donor to conservative Republican candidates and causes, giving money to candidates such as Trump, Carly Fiorina and former Texas Rep. Ron Paul and his son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. Her donations to Trump included the $30,000 to the Maine PAC supporting his campaign; the PAC has since moved to re-establish itself as a super-PAC that can accepted unlimited donations.

State Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, met Bean in 2012, when they both supported efforts to send a Ron Paul-dominated Maine delegation to the Republican National Convention that year. Brakey said he and Bean shared Paul’s vision of “limited government and liberty for the little guy.”

Brakey said he admires Bean’s support for libertarian ideals, when most people who can afford to give a lot of money to candidates do it to curry favor with insiders.

“If you want that (access), you don’t do it by supporting libertarian causes or by supporting Ron Paul in 2012,” Brakey said. “I think that says something about someone who truly believes what she believes and is not like so many people in politics who are just there to try to get close to the levers of power.”

He said his admiration for Bean grew when, after the group was ejected from the convention, she joined fellow Paul supporters in a walkout and kept trooping more than a mile from the convention hall in Tampa, Florida.

Bean, Brakey said, “will show up and get her hands dirty.”


Her connection to Maine and its iconic retailer has been important to Bean and played a big role in her success, said Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association.

The lobster industry has also learned from her example, McCarron said.

“She has shown the strength and power of branding,” McCarron said. “As a company, Linda Bean’s Maine Lobster has really been leveraging the whole Maine and L.L. Bean connection. It’s very powerful.” Bean backed her commitment to the state by concentrating on selling only Maine lobster that was processed here, McCarron said. Before Bean got involved in the industry, most lobster dealers had connections with Canadian counterparts because the U.S. fishery operated primarily from spring to late fall. In Canada, lobstering is regulated and key fishing grounds are open from late November through spring. So dealers usually combine lobsters from Maine and Canada to provide a steady supply year-round.

Linda Bean's Maine Kitchen & Topside Tavern is sited across from L.L. Bean's flagship store in Freeport. L.L. Bean Executive Chairman Shawn Gorman has said that a call to boycott because of Linda Bean's support of Donald Trump is misguided.

Linda Bean’s Maine Kitchen & Topside Tavern is sited across from L.L. Bean’s flagship store in Freeport.  Photo by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

“Linda rejected that,” she said. “It was Maine lobster and she was going to brand it with the state.”

“With Linda, it will always be ‘All Maine, all the time,’ ” said John Hathaway, president of Shucks Maine Lobster, which developed a way to extract lobster meat from the shell without cooking the lobster, enabling chefs to use raw meat to prepare dishes and avoiding the sometimes rubbery texture when frozen meat is thawed and recooked. Bean invested in Hathaway’s business in 2008.

Bean also benefited from a dramatic increase in the amount of lobster pulled from Maine waters – the catch has risen to record levels in the past three years and stood at more than 120 million pounds in 2015. That allowed her to buy enough Maine lobster to build up an inventory of frozen meat and be able to supply it to customers year-round.

It also helped that she had money behind her. McCarron said, because dealers have to buy the lobster when it comes in, pay to process it and then build up that inventory of frozen meat. All that requires substantial capital to be able to shell out the money early and recoup it in sales later.

Bean set up restaurants to sell the lobster, mostly in rolls, and also established channels to retailers outside the state to sell the frozen meat, McCarron said. Some of the meat is also sold to other restaurants and lobster roll food trucks that have proliferated around the country.

“It all requires a finely tuned business plan,” and Bean has developed that, McCarron said.

At Shucks Maine Lobster, Hathaway said Bean’s investment helped him more than triple sales over the past eight years. Hathaway echoes McCarron’s praise for Bean’s focus on the state’s most famous export.

“She has been a relentless warrior for Maine lobster, not just lobster,” he said, noting that she backed the effort to have the state fishery certified as sustainable.


In his business, Hathaway noted, Bean did not insist on being given a board seat in exchange for her investment, although she has always been encouraging and willing to offer her advice when asked.

And, Hathaway said, he doesn’t expect Bean to back off, even if she steps back from day-to-day management of her businesses.

“Even though she is officially retired, Linda remains true to her Maine roots and continues to fight for the Maine brand and the Maine people,” he said.

Bennett said that reflects another of Bean’s admirable qualities – her relentless effort to learn. When she got into the lobster business, she sought out veterans of the industry for help, admitting that she needed to educate herself about the business.

But, he said, despite trying to learn from others, people shouldn’t expect Bean to follow a script of someone else’s design.

“In her heart,” he said, “I think she’s a rebel and believes in challenging the status quo.”


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Earthquake reported in Oxford County http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/earthquake-reported-in-oxford-county/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/earthquake-reported-in-oxford-county/#respond Sun, 22 Jan 2017 03:28:02 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/earthquake-reported-in-oxford-county/ A small earthquake hit western Maine on Saturday, and nearby residents reported hearing a loud boom and feeling shaking. A 2.1 magnitude earthquake happened at 4:51 p.m. near West Paris in Oxford County, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was reported about 3.7 miles north-northeast of Paris, according to WCSH6.com.

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Car crash closes Route 1 in Woolwich http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/car-crash-closes-route-1-in-woolwich/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/car-crash-closes-route-1-in-woolwich/#respond Sun, 22 Jan 2017 02:23:28 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/car-crash-closes-route-1-in-woolwich/ Route 1 in Woolwich was closed Saturday evening because of a multi-vehicle auto accident. Traffic was diverted onto Middle Road, according to the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office.

No other information was available. The sheriff’s office said it would release more information after it completes its investigation.

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Police arrest man, secure baby after Waterville standoff http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/man-accused-of-gun-threat-yields-to-police-in-waterville/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/man-accused-of-gun-threat-yields-to-police-in-waterville/#respond Sun, 22 Jan 2017 00:58:17 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/man-accused-of-gun-threat-yields-to-police-in-waterville/ WATERVILLE — A Waterville man was arrested Saturday after he holed himself up in an apartment on Front Place with a loaded handgun and his 20-day-old infant as state and local police evacuated area homes and tried to communicate with him to come out peacefully.

Dakota Lewis, 20, of 2 Front Place, Apartment 2, reportedly threatened his girlfriend’s mother with the gun in the second-floor apartment just before 2:16 p.m. and the mother left and called police, according to Waterville police Chief Joseph Massey.

“There was some sort of an argument that happened, and he got very upset at his girlfriend’s mother, and that’s when he pulled the gun and threatened her with it,” Massey said later at the police station. “The mother left the apartment and the girlfriend left the apartment.”

At 3:28 p.m., Lewis walked out of the apartment building and approached officers, and they took him into custody, Massey said.

“A loaded .45-caliber handgun was recovered from the kitchen table of the apartment,” he said.

Massey said he did not know what precipitated the argument.

Lewis was being booked at the police station as Massey spoke, just after 4 p.m. He said Lewis was charged with terrorizing, a class D misdemeanor, and criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, a class D crime that is elevated to class C at sentencing if he is found guilty. Massey said Lewis is known to police.

Dakota Lewis

Dakota Lewis

“We have dealt with him in the past for disturbing-type calls, disorderly conduct,” he said, adding that Lewis had an address of Livermore Falls, but police think he lives with his girlfriend on Front Place.

Lewis, whose bail was set at $500, was to be taken Saturday evening to Kennebec County jail in Augusta, according to Waterville police Sgt. Dan Goss, who was the supervisor on duty during the standoff. Lewis is scheduled to appear March 7 at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta, Goss said.

Later, a woman called the Morning Sentinel and, though she declined to give her name, said she is the baby’s mother.

“A person came into the apartment and was attacking my boyfriend in front of my infant son,” she said. “He was just defending himself, and he’s being made to look like the bad guy, and he got arrested.”

The standoff started just before 2:30 p.m. when police descended on Front Street with blue lights flashing and blocked off the street at Union Street just south of the three-story apartment building on Front Place, which is off Front Street. State police arrived soon afterward and set up a station in the American Legion Hall parking lot north of the apartment building. The parking lot can be accessed by vehicle from both Front Street and College Avenue, which run parallel to each other.

Massey said police called the State Police Tactical Team to assist and Waterville police hostage negotiators, Sgts. Alden Weigelt and Jennifer Weaver, arrived and tried to reach Lewis by phone, but the number they were given went to a line that was disconnected.

“That became problematic because we had no way to communicate with this individual,” Massey said, adding that negotiators were in the process of trying to contact Lewis through the social media site Facebook when he emerged from the building.

Waterville officers and troopers stood with long guns at strategic places around the apartment house, after asking neighbors to leave their homes. Those neighbors congregated at the corner of Front and Union streets, watching police work from a distance.

Former Waterville city Councilor T.J. Tavares, who lives next to the apartment building, said he was in his house just before 2:30 p.m. when his dog, Sophie, a 5-year-old border collie-Rotweiller mix, started barking.

“I looked out and saw one Waterville officer by the car and then there was another one right next to my steps,” Tavares said. “They asked if there was another entrance for me to get out. I told them I could cut out through my back fence. I left through the back, and here I am.”

Tavares said police told him the reason he had to leave was that a man with a handgun was in a second-floor apartment next to his house.

As Tavares spoke on the sidewalk, a Waterville police officer escorted a woman who left the apartment building to a cruiser parked in the street. The woman was not wearing shoes. The officer spoke with her for a while and at 2:50 p.m. drove her up Union Street toward Main Street.

At 3:28 p.m., a commotion brewed in front of the apartment building as a man wearing an orange hunting jacket emerged from the building and an officer yelled, “Put your hands up, now! Walk towards the front of the house. Do it now. Lie down. Do not move. Do not move.”

The man got on the ground and officers took him into custody, placed him in a cruiser and drove off. Then officers went into the building and one emerged, carrying a baby.

“At least it ended peacefully,” said Peter York, a man who was watching the standoff and said he lives two streets away.

A young girl who said she lives on the first floor of the apartment building said the baby, a boy, was born Jan. 1.

At 3:43 p.m., several State Police Tactical team members entered the building. Shortly afterward, neighbors were allowed to go back into their homes.

The standoff was reminiscent of a standoff that occurred about a year ago when a man drove to the police station and threatened to kill himself. State and local police at that time set up a command post in the same American Legion parking lot, and after several hours and negotiations, the man surrendered peacefully.

Meanwhile, Massey said Saturday that he and Rep. Thomas R.W. Longstaff, D-Waterville, have been working on a bill to try to change the requirements regarding police standoffs. Currently the law requires police to warn a person that if he does not surrender and leave a barricaded structure within 30 minutes, he could be charged with the civil offense of creating a police standoff.

“The problem with that is, negotiators try to build a rapport and credibility with that person,” he said, adding that the person likely would stop communicating at that point. He hopes the statute is changed to make it a class E crime instead of a civil offense.


http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/man-accused-of-gun-threat-yields-to-police-in-waterville/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/01/1141731_144810-Standoff-1.jpgPolice carrying weapons work on Saturday to convince an armed man to come out of an apartment on Front Place in Waterville.Sat, 21 Jan 2017 21:21:06 +0000
Pain patients brace for Maine law cutting opiate prescriptions http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/pain-patients-brace-for-maine-law-cutting-opiate-prescriptions/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/pain-patients-brace-for-maine-law-cutting-opiate-prescriptions/#respond Sat, 21 Jan 2017 23:39:48 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/pain-patients-brace-for-maine-law-cutting-opiate-prescriptions/ As John Nichols tries to go about his daily life, he aches and his knees and hips hurt, among other daily pains.

“It feels like someone is stabbing a knife in my neck and it’s stuck in there, and every time I move it gets stabbed,” he said, describing his daily pain level as a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10.

A few months ago, his pain was at level 3. He could still do the simple things he needs to do to live his life – mow his lawn, do his dishes or go fishing with his son. Nichols, 50, of Winslow, is one of many patients with chronic pain who fear the worst as they are weaned off their opiate medications by their doctors: the loss of quality of life.

“You think I want to lay on the couch my whole life?” Nichols said. “I’m really scared.”

Now he and thousands of others like him are bracing for the pain while the effects of a new state law take hold. The law aims to reduce the amount of medication that can be prescribed to patients, with some exceptions, as the state grapples with a growing opiate abuse epidemic. At the same time, some central Maine patients on opiate medication for chronic pain treatment say they shouldn’t be punished for others’ illegal drug use with new medication limits, and even some medical professionals fear the short-term effects of the law.

And while patients concerned about medication limits may be able to qualify for exceptions, two of the people interviewed weren’t aware of exceptions and already were being tapered off their medications by doctors. Another said there’s scant information available about how to apply and qualify.

L.D. 1646, introduced by Gov. Paul LePage during the 2016 session, is meant to prevent opiate abuse and bolster prescription monitoring to prevent people from “doctor shopping.”

Limiting prescriptions is among the most controversial aspects of the bill, called “An Act to Prevent Opiate Abuse by Strengthening the Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program.” New patients are limited to a dosage amount of less than 100 morphine milligram equivalents, or MME, of opiates, and those already taking medications above the limit must taper to less than 100 MME by July 1, 2017. Medical professionals measure opiates by morphine milligram equivalents to figure out corresponding dosages of different medications.

Meanwhile, there’s a growing body of evidence that using opioid medication to treat chronic pain is worse for patients over the long term, but those already using such treatment now might have no other choice.

The Maine Medical Association worked with the LePage administration to compromise on some aspects of the bill and ensure there would be exceptions for patients who need high dosages of the medications. A number of doctors have said they understand that something needed to be done to curb the growing opiate abuse epidemic, but some still wish measures could have been taken without legislation.

“I hate having medicine legislated,” said Steve Diaz, chief medical officer for MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta. “I believe as a profession we physicians should be policing ourselves and have the wherewithal to provide guidelines. But I think the issue here is the opioid epidemic was getting worse, and there was no national or state medical response to rein it in.”

The legislation also limits the amount of opiates that can be prescribed for daily use as well how much can be supplied within a certain period. A patient can’t be prescribed more than a 30-day supply of opioids for chronic pain treatment, or a seven-day supply for acute pain treatment. It also requires prescribers who have the capability to prescribe all opiates electronically to do so.

The Prescription Monitoring Program will require prescribers to check prescription monitoring information for a patient’s records at the initial time of prescribing an opioid and every 90 days afterward, unless it is in a hospital or facility setting. Prescribers also must complete three hours of education on opioid medication prescribing every two years.


About 16,000 patients in Maine are prescribed more than 100 morphine milligram equivalents, according to Gordon Smith, executive vice president of the Maine Medical Association. About 1,300 Maine patients are prescribed more than 300 MME.

“Even at 200 morphine milligram equivalents, you have a 1 in 32 chance of dying within the next two-and-a-half years,” Smith said. “That’s a mortality rate that’s very, very high.”

According to the state attorney general’s office, Maine had 286 drug overdose deaths in 2016 through Sept. 30, exceeding the 272 deaths in all of 2015. Most of those deaths were fueled by the opioid epidemic.

The Maine Medical Association, a statewide organization aimed at supporting Maine physicians as well as the health of the state’s citizens, ultimately backed L.D. 1646 after the LePage administration agreed to lengthen the maximum supply for prescriptions. A number of exceptions also are included in the legislation.

Smith, the association’s executive vice president, said he thinks there are enough exceptions to account for nearly every patient’s situation.

Physicians can prescribe opioid medication above the new legal limit for pain related to cancer treatment, end-of-life care, treatment for substance abuse and palliative care. Palliative care, as defined by state law, is patient-centered care that aims to optimize quality of life by anticipating and treating “suffering caused by a medical illness or physical injury or condition.”

Patients suffering from chronic pain, such as those who talked with the Morning Sentinel, most likely could qualify for the palliative exception, but it’s unclear how they would go about qualifying for it. Nichols said his doctor hasn’t talked with him about finding a way to keep his normal dosages, and it’s unclear if patients would be able to qualify for an exception without a doctor’s cooperation or effort.


Kate Carll, 60, of Hallowell, was taking up to 1,200 morphine milligram equivalents of methadone in one day after a back surgery eight years ago and other injuries left her with severe, chronic pain in her back, legs and feet. Her doctor, James Wilson at MaineGeneral Physiatry, now has switched her to a different opiate painkiller, oxymorphone, and lowered her dosage to 20 milligrams, or 60 MME, per day. A MaineGeneral spokeswoman said the health care system would not be able to discuss individual patients, even with that patient’s permission.

“I can’t be on more than 20 milligrams a day – that’s breakfast food,” Carll said. “I understand the law. I totally understand what they were trying to do, but it’s going to make it worse. I’m going to end up in a nursing home, and as a result, they’re spending more money on me.”

Because her new dose is not strong enough, Carll said, she has had increasing difficulty walking. She now uses a cane and has a hunch in her back. She doesn’t think she would ever look to street drugs to help with the discomfort, but worries she’ll eventually be confined to a wheelchair and a nursing home.

So Carll did some research and found the palliative care exception, she said, determining that she could qualify, and her doctor agreed to work with her to get the exception.

“That was not offered to me; that was because I dug,” she said.

However, she said it’s not clear yet what the process will be. Carll will get the paperwork to start the process and sign a contract, and at the end her doctor will be able to prescribe her medication up to a “therapeutic level,” though she said that probably won’t be at the level she was at before. Carll also said she’s afraid a lot of people with chronic pain will “fall through the cracks” and either won’t realize there’s an exception or won’t be offered a chance to use it.

Samantha Edwards, spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the law and the palliative care exception.

Smith, from the Maine Medical Association, said paperwork shouldn’t be involved for those who qualify for the exception. However, he also acknowledged that it’s been difficult to raise awareness about the exceptions, even in the medical community.

“One would hope that the providers and the patients work together,” Smith said. If not, there is the option of going to a different provider, but he acknowledged that “very few people in the current environment are very enthusiastic” about patients with severe chronic pain.

The new law won’t be enforced until a much later date, he said. For the prescription monitoring component, enforcement will begin March 1. The state will begin enforcing opioid limits as late as October.

This gives patients, their families and prescribers the opportunity to attend public hearings and argue for more exceptions.


Jeff Miller, 54, of Albion said he started taking methadone about five years ago.

Miller was in a snowmobile accident in 1997, breaking his left ankle, hip, elbow, heel, both his scapulae and his nose. The accident also broke six of his ribs and compressed some of his vertebrae. At first he was prescribed Percocet for the pain. He never wanted to start taking methadone, but it was recommended because of its longer release time, he said.

Miller was taking nine 10-milligram methadone pills per day in the late summer, which equals 1,080-milligram morphine equivalents, and now has been tapered to less than five 10-milligram pills per day.

Now he’s afraid he’ll return to the same level of pain he had after the accident.

“I’m going to start back where I was, and I’m going to have a craving for this stuff,” Miller said. “What are we going do?”

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


Twitter: madelinestamour

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/pain-patients-brace-for-maine-law-cutting-opiate-prescriptions/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/12/1125427_AP_16273781823723.jpgOxycontin remains among the prescription painkillers frequently abused, leading to addiction and death.Sat, 21 Jan 2017 20:02:27 +0000
Maine student wins Horatio Alger scholarship http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/maine-student-wins-horatio-alger-scholarship/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/maine-student-wins-horatio-alger-scholarship/#respond Sat, 21 Jan 2017 23:01:48 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/maine-student-wins-horatio-alger-scholarship/ Sierra Goodridge was preparing to apply for a scholarship on the advice of an adviser from an Upward Bound program held at Bowdoin College when she learned about another opportunity that fit her perfectly.

The Horatio Alger National Scholarship program criteria included being the first generation in the family to attend college, being from a low-income family, and having overcome hardship.

Goodrich said she thought, “If a scholarship fits me, this is it.”

On Jan. 2, Goodridge, a senior at Gardiner Area High School, learned it was the right choice. She was one of 106 students selected to receive a $25,000 scholarship, and the only 2017 winner from Maine.

A look at the lengthy list of her accomplishments and memberships makes it easy to see why. It starts with her participation in the concert and jazz bands, track, the Civil Rights Team, the Latin Club, the yearbook and being a student body representative on the school district’s Wellness Committee, and goes through placing first in the Dirigo Girls State Americanism Essay Contest, in which she took the instrumental talent award as well.

Steve Ouellette, athletic director and the high school’s assistant principal, said, “Sierra is just an outstanding young lady. She’s hardworking in everything she does, is very involved in her school and community and does a terrific job working with all ages.”

He offered one example of her accomplishments.

“This past winter she became a cheerleader, and two teammates were not doing well academically,” Ouellette said. “She volunteered as much time as they needed to get them back on track, and she did a tremendous job.”

It’s Goodridge’s first try at cheerleading.

“Indoor track got cut, and I wanted to continue being involved with sports at the school,” she said.

Goodridge, 18, is normally a distance runner and is a captain of the cross-country and outdoor track teams.

She plans to major in biology and has applied to nine colleges.

In the essay she submitted with her application, she describes her approach to overcoming hardship.

“The hardships that I have endured during my life have shaped me into a passionate and driven person. When dealing with hardships I find ways to transform each event into a positive learning experience. When my father committed suicide (five years ago), I took the chance to learn about mental illness and how to support others in times of crisis. Now, whenever I see another in distress, I go out of my way to offer support, guidance and care to them.”

Her mother, Sara Goodridge, said, “I’m very proud of her. She goes out of her way to help others. She recognizes if somebody is having a hard day and she’s always trying to cheer somebody up.”

The Horatio Alger Scholarship money gives her flexibility.

“If I do get accepted to one of my top choice schools, I will be able to at least think about going there,” Goodridge said.

In the meantime, she is applying for other scholarships as well.

She laughs when asked what she does in her free time.

“I’m really always at school,” she said. “I don’t need free time; I’m always having fun at school.”

According to the Horatio Alger Association program, it “recognizes outstanding students, who, in the face of great adversity, have exhibited an admirable commitment to continuing their education and serving their communities.”

Since 1984, the program has awarded more than $125 million to more than 25,000 students. The 2017 scholars come from households with an average income of $12,775 per year.

In addition to the scholarship, Goodridge and the other national scholars will travel to Washington, D.C., from March 30 to April 1 for the Horatio Alger National Scholars Conference.

Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:


Twitter: betadams

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/maine-student-wins-horatio-alger-scholarship/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/01/1141621_423882-20170120_Goodridge2.jpgSierra Goodridge, 18, a student at Gardiner Area High School, has won a $25,000 Horatio Alger Scholarship.Sat, 21 Jan 2017 20:06:18 +0000
Body recovered from river in Bucksport http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/body-recovered-from-river-in-bucksport/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/body-recovered-from-river-in-bucksport/#respond Sat, 21 Jan 2017 22:31:53 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/body-recovered-from-river-in-bucksport/ BUCKSPORT — Police say a body has been recovered from the Penobscot River in the town of Bucksport.

Police said Saturday that the chief medical examiner in Augusta is undertake to determine the identity of the male body.

No other information has been released at this time.

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How Maine’s members of Congress voted last week http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/how-maines-members-of-congress-voted-last-week-6/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/how-maines-members-of-congress-voted-last-week-6/#respond Sat, 21 Jan 2017 20:15:59 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/how-maines-members-of-congress-voted-last-week-6/ Along with roll call votes lastweek, the Senate also passed the TALENT Act (H.R. 39), to codify the Presidential Innovation Fellows Program.


DEMOCRATIC BUDGET PLAN: The House has rejected a substitute amendment sponsored by Rep. John A. Yarmuth, D-Ky., to a bill (S. Con. Res. 3). The amendment proposed a Democratic plan for the federal government’s budget for fiscal 2017, and budget levels for fiscal 2018 through fiscal 2026, that would have preserved the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and invested in a nationwide infrastructure program. Yarmuth said the Democratic plan sought to avert significant damage to the economy and health insurance that would result from the Obamacare repeal advocated by Republicans, as well as hundreds of billions of dollars of tax cuts for corporations and wealthy individuals. An amendment opponent, Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., said it would maintain a situation of collapsing competition in health insurance markets, rising insurance premiums and deductibles, and less health care choice for patients. The vote, on Jan. 13, was 149 yeas to 272 nays.

YEAS: Chellie Pingree, D-1st District

NAYS: Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District

REPEALING OBAMACARE: The House has passed a bill (S. Con. Res. 3), sponsored by Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., to set forth a government budget for fiscal 2017, and outline budget levels for fiscal 2018 through fiscal 2026. A supporter, Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., said the bill’s repeal of Obamacare would provide relief from costly and ineffective health insurance plans, and replace it with a better plan “that will provide access to care for all Americans and increase choice and competition.” An opponent, Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, said the repeal threatened to end insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions, increase prescription drug costs, and end many “consumer protections for people enrolled in insurance and in the Medicaid program.” The vote, on Jan. 13, was 227 yeas to 198 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

EXEMPTION FOR DEFENSE SECRETARY: The Senate has passed a bill (S. 84), sponsored by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to provide an exemption from the requirement that a person named Defense Secretary not have served as a military officer within the past 7 years. The exemption would open the way for recently retired general James Mattis to be confirmed by the Senate. A supporter of the exemption, Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, called Mattis a highly regarded, exceptional leader with unique abilities in the field of national security. An opponent, Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., said the House Armed Services Committee needed to have Mattis testify before the committee and address concerns about having “a retired military officer who is still subject to military law” serve as Defense Secretary before voting on the exemption. The vote, on Jan. 13, was 268 yeas to 151 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin


GAO INVESTIGATIONS OF FEDERAL SPENDING: The Senate has passed the GAO Access and Oversight Act (H.R. 72), sponsored by Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., to authorize the Government Accountability Office to file civil lawsuits to compel federal government agencies to give the GAO records needed for the GAO to examine agency spending. A supporter, Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said the authority would especially help the GAO use a Health and Human Services database of employees nationwide to uncover wasteful and fraudulent spending in benefit programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, and the Supplemental Security Income disability program. The vote, on Jan. 17, was unanimous with 99 yeas.

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

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/how-maines-members-of-congress-voted-last-week-6/feed/ 0 Sat, 21 Jan 2017 15:15:59 +0000
Man threw marijuana out car window during Maine Turnpike chase, police say http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/scarborough-man-arrested-after-maine-turnpike-chase/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/scarborough-man-arrested-after-maine-turnpike-chase/#respond Sat, 21 Jan 2017 20:09:55 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/scarborough-man-arrested-after-maine-turnpike-chase/ A Scarborough man was arrested after a state trooper spotted him throwing marijuana out of his BMW during a chase Friday on the Maine Turnpike, Maine State Police said.

State police reported on Facebook that officers from Troops, A, B and G and the Air Wing were conducting an aircraft speed detail on the turnpike in Saco when they tried to stop a red BMW for speeding at 10:43 a.m.

Police said the car continued southbound, failing to stop for a trooper who saw the driver throwing marijuana out of the car during the attempt to stop it.

The chase ended about 2 miles away at the Exit 36 ramp.

Police said 3.7 pounds of marijuana was found in the car.

The driver, Brandon Joseph Dagnese, 23, of Scarborough, was arrested on charges of violation of bail and unlawful trafficking, both Class C offenses, and failing to stop for a law enforcement officer, a Class E offense. Dagnese was out on bail for other trafficking charges, state police said.

A passenger in the car was not charged.

Dagnese is being held without bail at the York County Jail in Alfred.

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Thousands converge on Augusta for Women’s March on Maine rally http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/thousands-converge-on-augusta-for-womens-march-on-maine-rally/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/thousands-converge-on-augusta-for-womens-march-on-maine-rally/#respond Sat, 21 Jan 2017 19:23:10 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/thousands-converge-on-augusta-for-womens-march-on-maine-rally/ AUGUSTA — Thousands of people converged Saturday behind the Maine State House for causes as big as civil rights and as individual as wanting to be heard.

The Women’s March on Maine, one of hundreds of events related to the Women’s March on Washington a day after the inauguration Friday of President Donald Trump, drew people from varied backgrounds from across the state for two hours to hear a slate of speakers, chant, show support and bang on drums.

“This is beyond my wildest dreams,” said Bekah McIntyre, one of the event’s six organizers, as the event wrapped up at noon.

While the rally was promoted as an effort to support women’s rights, civil liberties and protection of the planet, and not an anti-Trump rally, Trump was the reason that many turned out and the reason that many carried signs.

For Augusta resident Julie Hopkins, her reason for attending was clear.

“This man who is our president represents everything I thought American is against,” Hopkins said, weighing her words. She said Trump promotes violence and has boasted about sexually assaulting women.

“We have to stand up and get together now and oppose everything he stands for, which is racism, sexism and bigotry. We have to stop it now by speaking out, contacting our representatives, and organizing and showing up to rallies and marches. As women, we have to stand up against what he has said and done.”

Attendance estimates varied widely among organizers and onlookers. Organizers said earlier in the week that perhaps 3,000 to 4,000 would attend, based on indications from the Facebook event page and Eventbrite, an online event planning platform where people could register their intent to attend.

Eliza Townsend, executive director for the Maine Women’s Lobby who served as emcee for the event, said it was the largest crowd she’s seen at a rally at the Capitol.

Organizers floated estimates as high as 7,000 to 10,000.

The Capitol Police put the number at 5,000, but said that’s an estimate,

Regardless how big the number was, the rally brought some logistical problems.

The Maine Turnpike Authority reported Saturday morning that traffic heading north on Interstate 95 into Augusta had backed up to the toll plaza in West Gardiner.

Tom and Cherylyn Brubaker were caught in that traffic and wondered if they would arrive in time.

The Brubakers both wore pink “pussy” hats with cat ears, a symbolic reference to a controversial Trump remark about women that was revealed during the presidential campaign, that Cherylyn Brubaker had knitted; they were two of the six she had made. The other four went to her son’s girlfriend and three friends who headed to the Women’s March on Washington.

Cherylyn Brubaker said she’s concerned because she thinks the United States is on a scary path. She’s particularly concerned about health care and the military, because she has two sons, ages 29 and 31.

“For me,” Tom Brubaker said, “as much as I dislike (Trump), he is the president. This is a disagreement we have at home. He is the president, we have transitioned and he is in charge. For me, it’s about the preamble to the Constitution, ‘We the people.’ It says ‘in order to form a more perfect union,’ and I can’t disagree more with his vision of a more perfect union.”

Hopkins, who has been attending rallies recently in the Augusta area, said she was not surprised by the turnout.

“There are a lot of wonderful, good, decent caring people in the state,” she said, “and I am not surprised they came.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632


Twitter: @JLowellKJ

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/thousands-converge-on-augusta-for-womens-march-on-maine-rally/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2015/07/Malaysia-Missing-Plan_Semp.jpgFILE - In this March 22, 2014 file photo, flight officer Rayan Gharazeddine on board a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion, searches for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in southern Indian Ocean, Australia. Amid mounting frustrations over the expensive, so-far failed search for vanished Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, questions by experts about the competence of the company leading the search are growing, including whether crews may have passed over the sunken wreckage without even noticing. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith, File)Sat, 21 Jan 2017 14:23:10 +0000
Portland native and national education advocate Lois Dickson Rice dies http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/portland-native-and-national-education-advocate-lois-dickson-rice-dies/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/portland-native-and-national-education-advocate-lois-dickson-rice-dies/#respond Sat, 21 Jan 2017 16:33:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1141506 The daughter of a Portland janitor and maid who rose to become a national champion for eduction has died. Lois Dickson Rice, born in Portland in 1933 and raised on Lafayette Street, died Jan. 4.

Her daughter, Susan E. Rice, who was United Nations ambassador and later national security adviser to former President Obama, told The New York Times the cause of death was cancer and pneumonia.

The daughter of Jamaican immigrants, Lois Dickson Rice graduated Radcliffe College and joined the College Entrance Examination Board, where she helped create the Pell grant program, which awards college students grants on the basis of financial need.

She promoted the program from its creation in 1972 through 1981 while holding various positions within the board now called the College Board.

A childhood friend remembered Rice on Saturday as a smart, friendly and spirited woman who returned regularly to reunions at Portland High School through the years. “She was a very fine pianist and an exceptional student,” said Judy Halpert, who grew up with Rice on Munjoy Hill and walked to school with her for years. They graduated together from Portland High in 1950. “The family was so sweet and so inclusive of each other.”

The Rice family was among the few families of color on Munjoy Hill in the 1940s, Halpert said. Most people in the neighborhood were Irish.

Everyone got along, and she doesn’t remembering any racial tension involving her friend. If Rice encountered racism in Portland growing up, she never talked about it, Halpert said. “I don’t think Lois felt anything was wrong,” she said. “We stayed friends for a long time.”

Rice also held director positions with 11 of the largest corporations in the U.S. from 1978 to 2003.

Since 1992, she had been a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/portland-native-and-national-education-advocate-lois-dickson-rice-dies/feed/ 0 Sat, 21 Jan 2017 21:33:36 +0000
In Portland, massive protest teems with more than 10,000 people http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/signs-sentiments-crowd-eastern-prom-for-womens-march/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/signs-sentiments-crowd-eastern-prom-for-womens-march/#respond Sat, 21 Jan 2017 15:46:38 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/signs-sentiments-crowd-eastern-prom-for-womens-march/ Shoulder to shoulder and stretched out over a mile, a crowd of more than 10,000 people participated Saturday in one of the largest protest marches ever held in Portland. It was one of hundreds of such marches held in the nation’s capital and across the country the day after the inauguration of President Trump.

“It’s awesome and it makes me proud,” said Deborah Stone of Cape Elizabeth, marching down Congress Street with her 16-year-old daughter, Mollie. “I hope people will find ways to translate this to meaningful change.”

Like the march in Washington and others, the Portland march – called Women’s Walk Portland – drew far more people than expected. Portland police said the size of the orderly protest crowd was “of historic proportions” but could not say when the previous record was set.

Police Lt. Bob Doherty said the crowd easily equaled the 10,000 people who show up for the Fourth of July celebrations in Portland.

It was one of several rallies held across the state to coincide with the Washington march to support issues and causes that organizers fear are threatened by the new Trump administration.

The sheer size of the Portland march was hard to capture from one location, as it stretched more than a mile along Congress Street from Munjoy Hill. From Franklin Street, marchers were five to six people abreast back to the Eastern Promenade, while the leading edge had already traveled past the library. As they marched, men and women in pink hats occasionally chanted and clapped – at one point singing along to the Beatles’ “All You Need is Love,” which a Munjoy Hill resident was blasting out of a speaker perched on a window frame.

There were a handful of speakers at Congress Square Park, but the area could only hold a few hundred people and most of the crowd milled around the surrounding blocks chatting and taking pictures of signs and selfies with the crowd.

The only police presence was for traffic control, and Doherty described the march as “peaceful and orderly.” Along the route, marchers stopped for stop signs and some drivers honked in solidarity, or waved at the participants.

In Maine, marches were also held Saturday in Augusta, Brunswick, Sanford and Kennebunk. Several thousand people turned out for the march in Augusta, and an estimated 200-300 participated in Brunswick.


The vast majority of the marchers in Portland were women, many of them at least middle-aged, and several said they feared Trump would undo hard-won gains for women’s rights.

“In 83 years, I have seen a lot of changes for the good and now it is all going backwards. I don’t like it,” said Jean LeConte of Westbrook, who came to the march with three close friends.

Next to her, Marcia Mullen, 66, of Poland Spring was passing out handmade hats in pink and other colors and buttons that read “March On.”

“It’s not over with this march,” Mullen said, explaining the meaning behind the buttons. “It’s just the beginning.”

Like many others at the march, Mullen saw Saturday’s march as the latest in a string of protests stretching back decades. “We started this march years ago. We marched for women’s rights and Roe v. Wade and now it is all at risk,” said Mullen.

As they walked, marchers chanted “Love Trumps Hate,” and “Fired Up! Let’s Go!” and “Who deserves equal rights? Everybody!”

Aside from the pink hats made by the Pussyhat Project that mocked Trump’s 2005 recorded remarks about grabbing women by the genitalia without their consent, the march was dominated by elaborate homemade signs, many created at sign-making parties in the days leading up to the march.

They included sharp political messages, silly puns and heartfelt demands for equal rights. “And Justice For All,” “Solidarity,” “Make America Think Again,” “We Go High” and a simple “Nope” sign tapped into political language and recent campaign slogans.

One man held a sign that said: “Duderus for uterus.” Other whimsical takes included “Put out the Trumpster fire,” “I am woman, hear me roar,” “You’re Fired” and “Hoo-ray for the EPA.”

Some offered a more pointed message for Maine politicians, including “Impeach LePage,” referring to the Maine governor, and “Call your Girlfriend. It’s time to have the talk,” with a photo of Republican Sen. Susan Collins and her phone number.

“A lot of us have marched before,” said Nancy Wallerstein of South Portland, holding up a “Peaceful Patriots” sign. “It’s exciting to see this energy again.”

Others said they plan to be more politically engaged going forward.

“This wasn’t a fair election,” said Alison McCue, a nurse from Portland. “This has really spurred me. I wasn’t much of an activist before. I am now.”

Although Portland police could not say when or if there had been a larger protest in the city, Saturday’s event was easily the largest demonstration of the new century. According to a reference librarian at the Portland Public Library, about 1,000 people participated in a world peace march in 2003 in advance of the war in Iraq, and 1,400 marched against tar sands in January 2013. The librarian did not have immediate access to information about protests during the civil rights era and the Vietnam War.


Thousands of people converged Saturday behind the State House in Augusta for the Women’s March on Maine.

Eliza Townsend, executive director of the Maine Women’s Lobby who served as emcee for the event, said it was the largest crowd she’s seen at a rally at the Capitol.

Organizers floated numbers as high as 7,000 to 10,000 people, although Capitol Police estimated 5,000.

“This is beyond my wildest dreams,” said Bekah McIntyre, one of the event’s six organizers, as the march wrapped up at noon.

While the rally was promoted as an effort to support women’s rights, civil liberties and protection of the planet, and not as an anti-Trump rally, Trump was the reason that many turned out and the reason that many carried signs.

For Augusta resident Julie Hopkins, the reason for attending was clear.

“This man who is our president represents everything I thought America is against,” Hopkins said, weighing her words. She said Trump promotes violence and has boasted about sexually assaulting women.

“We have to stand up and get together now and oppose everything he stands for, which is racism, sexism and bigotry. We have to stop it now by speaking out, contacting our representatives, and organizing and showing up to rallies and marches. As women, we have to stand up against what he has said and done.”

Grayson Lookner traveled to Augusta from Portland as a volunteer for the Maine Democratic Party to sign people up for membership in the party.

As a supporter of Bernie Sanders, the main challenger to Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries, Lookner said he was excited to keep the progressive energy of Sanders’ campaign alive.

He said he’s worried that Americans will lose voting rights and free speech rights.

“The rights of free assembly are enshrined in the First Amendment. I would hate to see a right-wing Supreme Court take away those rights.”

Kennebec Journal Writer Jessica Lowell contributed to this report.

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


Twitter: noelinmaine

This story was updated at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 22 to correct the estimate of participants in the 2013 protest against tar sands.

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/signs-sentiments-crowd-eastern-prom-for-womens-march/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/01/144594-20170121_March_3-1.jpgSun, 22 Jan 2017 17:10:36 +0000
About 4,000 Mainers take part in Washington march http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/mainers-are-gathering-near-the-national-mall-for-the-womens-march-on-washington/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/mainers-are-gathering-near-the-national-mall-for-the-womens-march-on-washington/#respond Sat, 21 Jan 2017 14:25:18 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1141483 Genevieve Morgan went to the nation’s capital fearful for her country. She’s coming home to Portland filled with hope after joining an estimated 4,000 Mainers on Saturday in the Women’s March on Washington.

“It was such a great antidote for the fear and despair that so many people have been feeling,” said Morgan, who helped organize the effort to mobilize people from Maine. “It was such a positive, hopeful spirit, and there were so many of us. We feel bonds of sisterhood and brotherhood, and we will move forward to continue this movement.”

Morgan, 50, traveled overnight in a bus, arriving in Washington around 10 a.m. Saturday and then marching to the Washington Mall. It was exhausting and exhilarating, she said. Organizers estimate 500,000 people or more attended the march, held one day after the inauguration of Donald Trump as president.

The march felt more like a rally because there was no room to move, said Frank O Smith of Portland, who flew to Washington on Friday with his wife and was part of a group of nine marchers.

“It was really remarkable to come up out of the Metro and onto the surface streets near the mall and experience the press of people that filled the streets,” said Smith, 69. “The sense of it was really amazing. I kept hoping to get some sort of iconic panoramic shot where you could see the crowd, but we were in the press of people from 10:30 to 3:30 and almost never had a chance to see other than the several hundred people around us.”

Like Morgan, Smith is returning to Maine with a new sense of purpose. An ardent supporter of Bernie Sanders, he felt despair after the election, and helpless. Saturday’s march reminded him why it’s important to participate in politics.

“It’s more important now than ever that we realize if this is a democracy, it cannot be a spectator sport. We have to stand up,” he said. “It was empowering to be there with this mass of people of very like minds. It felt like a significant event in history. People came from all over the country to be there to voice dissent and stand up and speak out against the election of Donald Trump.”

To turn Saturday’s action into change, participants will have to harness their energy and spirit and apply it to local issues that are important to them, said Felicia Sanchez of Nobleboro. She drove to Washington on Friday with a group of college friends. “It really renewed my commitment to buckle down and volunteer vis-a-vis the causes I believe in. There is something about being in a crowd that size that is so inspiring. It’s hard to put into words, but it is so important to know that you are not alone,” she said.

Sanchez volunteered for Hillary Clinton last fall, and plans to do grassroots work on the midterm elections in 2018 as well as local, regional and national issues. “My problem is not being able to find a cause to get behind, my problem is to winnow them down,” she said. “I feel that everything I believe in is threatened by (Trump). Immigration is important to me. The environment is important to me. We don’t have time to fiddle while Rome burns.”


During the drive on Friday. Sanchez said strangers rallied with one another at rest stops and along the highways, united by knit pink hats that symbolize the women’s march. The plane ride on Friday was a similar experience, Smith said, “where 90 percent of the people on the plane were coming down for the march.”

Morgan began organizing the Maine contingent the day after the election. She had never volunteered for anything like this before, and had no idea what to expect. Her cousin Nathanial Clark made a donation from his foundation to help cover some transportation costs. He grew up in New Hampshire, and now lives in London. He joined his cousin in Washington.

“This is something we can do in the present,” he said, adding that he was happy to support the Maine contingent.

“Maine is showing its moxie,” said Kristen Farnham, 48, of Falmouth, who works at a nonprofit agency.

Early in the day, Mainers gathered at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden beside the mall before setting out for the rally. Soon they were overwhelmed by the crowds and many spent the day far away from the main stage where a long list of women’s leaders, celebrities and activists spoke and sang to the crowds.

Many of those taking part from Maine sported the pink hand-knit hats made by Maine knitters and crocheters as part of the Pussyhat Project – a reference to Trump’s 2005 recorded remarks about grabbing women by the genitalia without their consent – and blaze orange scarves and mittens.

Sally Struever, who drove down to stay with family members in Baltimore and took the train into Washington at 5 a.m. Saturday, said there were small crowds when she first arrived about 7 a.m. but by 8:30, the ranks had begun to swell.

“Everybody is pretty excited,” said Struever, 37, a Portland designer.

Many of the 25 buses that left Maine on Friday night made it into Washington a little late for the rally.

Michelle Fournier, 46, of Falmouth, a Falmouth Middle School French and Spanish teacher, said the mood on her bus was buoyant despite the long ride.

“It is very inspiring to be around so many powerful women making history,” Fournier said.

Erica McNally, 37, an environmental scientist from Cape Elizabeth, said the highway rest areas she stopped at on her route south were packed with people headed to the march. “Women and men wearing their pink pussy hats, high fiving, cheering and thanking the female bathroom attendants, taking pictures, hugging and chatting,” she said in an email. “Can’t wait for us all to meet up tomorrow!”


Among the Mainers in Washington on Saturday were 54 women and one man who boarded a bus Friday night in Augusta. Those interviewed during the trip said they were committing themselves to the long journey because the issues at stake under the new administration were worth it.

Madelyn Besse, 43, of Industry traveled with her 11-year-old daughter, Amelia Tiermey, to the march.

Besse said “it didn’t take me long” to sign up for the march when she saw it on social media. She felt “heartsick” after the presidential election, she said, and thought the march would “keep me positive and hopeful.”

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Madeline St. Amour contributed to this report.

Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:


Twitter: pphbkeyes

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


Twitter: QuimbyBeth

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/mainers-are-gathering-near-the-national-mall-for-the-womens-march-on-washington/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/01/1141483_202797-Mainers_inDC1.jpgA marcher wears a Maine state flag near the National Mall before the Women's March on Washington.Sat, 21 Jan 2017 23:00:34 +0000
Waterfront project worth as much as $30 million hinges on Portland zoning change, official says http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/port-investment-of-up-to-30-million-hinges-on-zoning-change-official-says/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/21/port-investment-of-up-to-30-million-hinges-on-zoning-change-official-says/#respond Sat, 21 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1141403 Though not a final design, these sketches show what a proposed Americold warehouse on Portland's eastern waterfront might look like. The top image depicts a view from Beach Street and the bottom shows what it could look like from Commercial Street.

Though not a final design, these sketches show what a proposed Americold warehouse on Portland’s western waterfront might look like. The top image depicts a view from Beach Street and the bottom shows what it could look like from Commercial Street. Courtesy renderings by Canal 5 Studio

The world’s largest cold-storage company will most likely walk away from its proposal to invest up to $30 million in Portland’s western waterfront unless city officials allow it to build a massive warehouse that would exceed the current height limit by nearly 25 feet, an economic development official said Friday.

The Portland Planning Board will hold a workshop Tuesday to learn more details about a request by cold-storage provider Americold Logistics LLC to build a 68-foot-tall cold-storage warehouse on the city’s western waterfront, on property zoned for buildings no taller than 45 feet.

“The workshop is about a zoning language change that’s being considered by the city,” said John Henshaw, executive director of the Maine Port Authority, an economic development group focused on the marine industry that supports the zoning change. “Without the zoning change, there likely will not be a project.”

Americold representatives did not return calls seeking comment Friday.

The Atlanta-based company was chosen through a competitive bidding process to build a modern refrigerated warehouse on the Portland waterfront, providing the port with a critical missing element to compete with larger, more congested ports on the Eastern Seaboard.

However, Americold has since asked the city to let it build a structure that would be 23 feet higher than current zoning allows, arguing that the added height is necessary to make the project financially viable. The request has proven wildly unpopular with area residents, who say the hulking Americold structure would defile the ocean landscape for those passing through the city’s gateway to Casco Bay.

Portland officials have published dozens of letters from residents opposing the zoning change, along with a lesser number expressing support. Tuesday’s meeting, scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at Portland City Hall, will be informational in nature and will not involve a vote on the proposed change to the property’s height restrictions.

After the workshop, the planning board will hold a public hearing and make a recommendation on the zoning request to the City Council, which will have the final say. If the rezoning is approved, the state would lease a 6.3-acre site to Americold, which would design the warehouse, fund its construction and operate it. The total estimated amount of Americold’s investment would be $19 million to $30 million. The project is part of a state-led effort to make the port more competitive with other ports and boost Maine’s seafood, agriculture and food and beverage industries.

This rendering show what the cold-storage facility would look like from the air.

This rendering shows what the cold-storage facility would look like from the air.

The Maine Port Authority announced in August 2015 that Americold had won the bid to develop the site, located adjacent to the expanded International Marine Terminal on West Commercial Street.

Americold already operates a 65-year-old cold-storage warehouse on Read Street in Portland. It is partnering on the waterfront project with Eimskip, the Icelandic shipping company that made Portland its North American headquarters in 2013. Eimskip would be both an investor and an anchor tenant.

Americold submitted a set of renderings to the city, published Friday, that give a general sense of what the project would look like and how it would fit in with the surrounding area. Henshaw said the company hopes the renderings will allay some of the board’s – and residents’ – potential concerns.

“The purpose of submitting the renderings is hopefully to make people more confident about what will ultimately get built if the city approves the zoning change,” he said.

Bill Needelman, waterfront director for Portland’s economic development department, said economic development officials are expected to present their case Tuesday for why the relaxing of height restrictions for Americold would benefit Portland and the state.

The city could go a number of ways with respect to the company’s request, he said. It could deny the maximum height change altogether, make it applicable only to the Americold property, or relax height restrictions for all properties along the waterfront.

“Zoning can be applied broadly or narrowly,” Needelman said.

Many Portland residents have expressed vehement opposition to the zoning change, characterizing the entire affair as a bait-and-switch, since there was no mention of the possibility of raising height restrictions when the cold-storage project was originally proposed.

“About 60 residents attended the city-sponsored neighborhood meeting on Nov. 3 to speak in opposition to the proposed 70-foot rezoning, including some who don’t live in the West End but who feel strongly that a huge, out-of-scale white box has no place on Portland’s waterfront,” resident Jo Coyne wrote in a letter to the planning board. “Residents clearly want the city to achieve a better balance between economic development and existing neighborhoods than what’s on the table.”

But others, including a number of businesses, said they support the height change because of the economic benefits Americold’s project would deliver to the waterfront.

“We must strive to adapt to the shipping marketplace, or, as so many other ports, wither,” said William York, president of the Propeller Club of Portland, a maritime industry group whose members are dedicated to promoting commerce in the Port of Portland. “The proposed modest and logical alteration in allowable building height … will allow private capital to build a much-needed port facility, a facility which will improve opportunities for businesses far inland, and which will allow the Port of Portland to continue to be a powerful driver of the regional economy.”

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


Twitter: @jcraiganderson

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Pittston voters may ban pot businesses http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/pittston-voters-may-ban-pot-businesses/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/pittston-voters-may-ban-pot-businesses/#respond Sat, 21 Jan 2017 03:17:11 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1141350 Pittston officials have postponed a special town meeting that had been scheduled for Wednesday to consider a proposed moratorium on marijuana-related businesses in town.

Instead, a public hearing now is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 1 to consider an outright ban of those businesses, and a special town meeting to vote on that is now scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 8.

Both the ban and the temporary ban will appear on the warrant, as well as proposals to discontinue maintenance on two roads.

The proposed new ordinance would expressly ban shops, cultivation facilities and facilities that make marijuana products; retail testing facilities; and social clubs.

“We were thinking we would give ourselves some time to figure out what to do,” said Jean Ambrose, a member of the Pittston Board of Selectmen, explaining the request for a six-month moratorium.

But at last week’s public hearing, residents appeared to be leaning toward a complete ban.

Last Saturday, a three-question poll went up on the town’s website. The questions are:

n Do you think that recreational marijuana retail operations should be completely banned in Pittston?

n If not completely banned, do you think that recreational marijuana retail operations should exist in Pittston with certain allowances and limitations?

n Are you a resident of Pittston?

Peter Coughlan, who manages the website for Pittston, said that as of Thursday, 94 people had voted and the vast majority of them were town residents. Of those, 52 percent voted for a ban, 45 percent voted against, and 3 percent had no opinion. Fifty-three percent of those who participated voted “yes” when asked if they favored regulating marijuana enterprises, 39 percent voted “no” and 8 percent had no opinion.

Coughlan said he saw a strong uptick in votes in the last few days.

In November, Mainers narrowly voted to legalize personal use and possession of limited quantities of marijuana by voting yes on Question 1.

With that vote came the option to allow retail shops and social clubs.

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


Twitter: JLowellKJ

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/pittston-voters-may-ban-pot-businesses/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/01/1141350_363388_marijuana.jpgPittston town officials are considering an ordinance to ban marijuana-related shops, cultivation facilities, production facilities, retail testing facilities and social clubs.Sat, 21 Jan 2017 00:59:19 +0000
Hallowell takes wait-and-see approach on retail pot sales http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/hallowell-takes-wait-and-see-approach-on-retail-pot-sales/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/hallowell-takes-wait-and-see-approach-on-retail-pot-sales/#respond Sat, 21 Jan 2017 03:03:58 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/hallowell-takes-wait-and-see-approach-on-retail-pot-sales/ HALLOWELL — Derek Wilson opened a medical marijuana retail shop on Water Street this month and says he’s well positioned to expand his business once the rules and regulations for selling recreational marijuana are announced.

Wilson, who has been a licensed caregiver since 2012, pulled back a black curtain Jan. 5 at 184 Water St. He said having a retail location is important because of market saturation.

“I tried to go to Augusta, but I got shut down because they said I had to be in the city’s medical district near the hospital. But I wanted to be near where I grow (my plants),” Wilson said.

By law, caregivers can have five patients under their care and can grow six cannabis plants per patient; caregivers can be their own sixth patient, meaning they can grow 36 marijuana plants. Wilson has four regular patients he sells to and uses his fifth slot on a rotating basis.

Hallowell Mayor Mark Walker appointed a marijuana task force, which met Tuesday, to look at how other states and cities handle recreational marijuana and to recommend whether Hallowell should enact a moratorium. Last month, the Augusta City Council approved a six-month moratorium on the establishment of any recreational marijuana stores and social clubs within city limits.

Hallowell City Councilor Lynn Irish, who is on the committee, said she was surprised that everybody seems to be in favor of taking a wait-and-see approach.

“Everyone on the task force agrees that there is no sense in doing anything until we know what the state’s going to do,” Irish said at her Water Street quilt studio.

“The Maine Municipal Association has been recommending a moratorium, but so far, nobody here has been in favor of it,” she said.

Irish said she in unsure when the task force will meet again. Meanwhile, Hallowell officials will wait for guidance from the state and local agencies regarding potential licensing, background checks and permits for recreational marijuana-related business.

During the meeting, task force members talked about the potential effects marijuana social clubs or retail stores might have on local business, whether Hallowell would need additional police officers to enforce the new law and what the application process would look like.

Hilary Davis, who owns Scrummy Afters Candy Shoppe, said she doesn’t know enough about the marijuana industry to judge what it might mean to Hallowell, and she isn’t sure other business owners do, either. She said any change to the downtown district is difficult, but she doesn’t feel strongly either way.

“I don’t know if it would bring a new demographic or what it would mean,” she said. “Maybe it would be good for us because of the munchies.”

Medical marijuana was legalized in Maine in 1999, and recreational marijuana will become legal Jan. 30 after voters approved a referendum question in November and a recount request by opponents was withdrawn.

Jason Pafundi can be contacted at 621-5663 or at:


Twitter: jasonpafundiKJ

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/hallowell-takes-wait-and-see-approach-on-retail-pot-sales/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/01/1141336_355913-20170119_Hallowell3.jpgDerek Wilson talks about his new business, The Cannabis Healing Center, on Thursday in Hallowell.Sat, 21 Jan 2017 01:00:15 +0000
Mainers head to Women’s March on Washington for show of solidarity http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/mainers-headed-to-womens-march-on-washington-for-show-of-solidarity/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/mainers-headed-to-womens-march-on-washington-for-show-of-solidarity/#respond Sat, 21 Jan 2017 02:52:33 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/mainers-headed-to-womens-march-on-washington-for-show-of-solidarity/ Norita Boynton holds a protest sign near the Portland Transportation Center on Friday night while waiting to board a bus bound for Washington, D.C., for Saturday's Women's March. Tara LaFreiere, left, is a volunteer organizer.

Norita Boynton holds a protest sign near the Portland Transportation Center on Friday night while waiting to board a bus bound for Washington, D.C., for Saturday’s Women’s March. Tara LaFreiere, left, is a volunteer organizer. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Thirty years ago, Amy Cousins marched in support of women’s reproductive rights in Washington. At the time, she and other marchers hung wire coat hangers on the fence outside of the White House to highlight the need for safe access to abortion.

On Friday night, the 62-year-old Old Orchard Beach resident was among dozens of women waiting to board a fleet of charter buses in Portland to make the 11-hour trip to the nation’s capital to join the Women’s March on Washington, an event aimed at highlighting women’s rights.

“It’s frustrating we’re having to go back and fight this fight,” said Cousins, who is recovering from a hip replacement surgery. She leaned on a crutch and was bringing a wheelchair. “We’ve come so far and there’s so much at stake. We can’t go back.”

Saturday’s march is in response to the inauguration of Donald Trump as America’s 45th president. Trump won the presidency despite losing the popular vote by roughly 3 million votes and making rude remarks about women, including a statement about being able to grab their genitalia without their consent.

His vice president, Mike Pence, is considered an enemy of women’s reproductive rights, with a longstanding goal to defund Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit health clinic that provides a range of health care services for women, a small fraction of which include non-federally funded abortions.

Group organizer Judy Gove talks to other protesters as they wait to board a bus Friday night for the Women's March on Washington.

Group organizer Judy Gove talks to other protesters as they wait to board a bus Friday night for the Women’s March on Washington. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

The election has prompted women, as well as other groups concerned about a rollback in their rights, to organize.

The Women’s March on Washington was launched by a Hawaiian grandmother on her Facebook page the day after the Nov. 8 election. About 200,000 marchers are expected, according to estimates this week by organizers of the grassroots, peaceful demonstration.

“Sister marches” are being held Saturday in Maine in Augusta, Brunswick, Eastport, Kennebunk, Portland, Sanford, Surry and Vinalhaven, according to the Women’s March on Washington’s website.

The Women’s Walk Portland is meeting at the Obelisk Memorial on the Eastern Promenade at 10:30 a.m. and marching from there to Congress Square Park. The Women’s March on Washington Solidarity Vigil in Brunswick is being held from 10-11 a.m. on the Town Mall.

Many of the women waiting to board buses Friday night at Thompson’s Point were wearing Pussyhats, winter hats made out of pink yarn that have become a national symbol of protest against Trump’s comments about women.

More than 200 women were expected to board a half-dozen buses in Portland, according to Judy Gove, a volunteer organizer.

Norita Boynton, a 28-year-old Portland resident who works two jobs, showed off a sign she made out of a pizza box. It featured a picture of Princess Leia, the “Star Wars” character played by the late Carrie Fisher who became a feminist icon for leading the rebellion against the empire. The sign contained a message: “A woman’s place is in the resistance.”

Group organizer Tara LaFreniere relays information to fellow protesters while waiting to board buses bound for Washington, D.C.

Group organizer Tara LaFreniere relays information to fellow protesters while waiting to board buses bound for Washington, D.C. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Women interviewed in Portland emphasized that the march was not a protest – but rather a show of support and solidarity for basic human rights, such as health care, reproductive rights, immigrant rights or voting rights.

Several women said they didn’t even bother to watch Trump’s inaugural address on Friday.

“Watching it only normalizes and legitimizes what is not a normal or legitimate event or president,” said Anna Walker, a 67-year-old Southwest Harbor resident. “I think he’s frightening.”

Others simply loathe the man.

“I have a great deal of difficulty with him as a personality and a president,” said Lee Thompson, a 65-year-old retired psychotherapist who lives in South Portland. “If we don’t stand up and make some noise, we’re going to be second-class citizens again.”

Melissa Gilbert of Portland said she watched Trump’s speech, even though she’s disgusted by his comments, which trivialized sexual assault on women. The 51-year-old small-business owner didn’t like what she saw and heard during Friday’s inauguration.

“It was as if it was from a movie – it didn’t seem real,” Gilbert said, comparing it to Nazi Germany. “It was all about putting nationalism first. It wasn’t about putting people first.”

There were several younger women headed to Washington, including three students from the Maine Girls Academy in Portland. One of them was Gilbert’s 15-year-old daughter.

“Our president and a good portion of our population apparently think sexual assault is OK and I’m here to show it’s not,” Kelly Gilbert said. Her friend Liz MacAleney, 16, of Cumberland felt the same way. She said she cried when she learned that Trump won the election. Now she wants to turn that sadness into something more constructive.

“We can’t be silent,” McAleney said.

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


Twitter: randybillings

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Richard Blanco writes a new poem for America http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/richard-blanco-writes-a-new-poem-for-america/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/richard-blanco-writes-a-new-poem-for-america/#respond Sat, 21 Jan 2017 02:03:21 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/richard-blanco-writes-a-new-poem-for-america/ Richard Blanco has written a new poem for America.

The part-time Maine resident and inaugural poet at former President Barack Obama’s second inauguration published a new poem on the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration that celebrates the diversity of America and the power of coming together as a community “to fulfill the promise of being one people.”

Blanco, who lives in Bethel, published “Declaration of Inter-Dependence” on the poetry website Split This Rock.

The seven-stanza poem portrays Americans working two jobs, struggling against oppression and unable to “mine a life anymore in a town where too much, too little has happened, for too long.”

It also sees the goodness in community, the reward of kindness and the strength of standing together and speaking up:

“We’re the living who light vigil candles and the cop who didn’t shoot. We’re the inmate with his volunteer teacher diagramming sentences, the Buddhist alongside the stockbroker serving soup at a shelter. We’re the grandfather taking a selfie with his grandson and his husband, the widow’s fifty cents in the collection plate and the golfer’s ten-thousand-dollar pledge for a cure.”

Blanco delivered the poem “One Today”for Obama’s 2013 inauguration, and returned home to Maine that winter to read the poem at Merrill Auditorium.

He was the first Latino, immigrant and gay person to serve as inaugural poet. He was born in Madrid to Cuban exiles and raised in Miami.

When the United States reopened its embassy in Havana, Cuba, in 2015, Blanco wrote a poem reconciling his split loyalties and heritage between Cuba and America, and delivered it at the opening.

Bob Keyes can be contacted at:


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George H.W. Bush showing improvement at Houston hospital http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/george-h-w-bush-showing-improvement-at-houston-hospital/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/george-h-w-bush-showing-improvement-at-houston-hospital/#respond Sat, 21 Jan 2017 00:43:06 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1141221 HOUSTON — Doctors removed former President George H.W. Bush’s breathing tube Friday and he was breathing well on his own at a Houston hospital, his spokesman said.

The tube was inserted Wednesday while the 92-year-old former president was being treated for pneumonia. Bush remains in intensive care at Houston Methodist Hospital but is comfortable, family spokesman Jim McGrath said.

“He was extubated this morning, and is breathing well on his own with minimal supplemental oxygen,” McGrath said. “President Bush is comfortable and watching inauguration coverage together with Mrs. Bush, their son Neil and daughter-in-law Maria.”

Former first lady Barbara Bush, 91, also remained hospitalized Friday for treatment of bronchitis, but she’s feeling better and “focusing on spending time with her husband,” McGrath said. She is expected to remain in the hospital over the weekend as a precaution.

The Bushes, longtime summer residents of Kennebunkport, were married Jan. 6, 1945, and their 72-year marriage is the longest of any presidential couple in American history.

Their son former President George W. Bush offered thanks on Instagram on Thursday for all the messages “of love and support for Mother and Dad.”

“Your prayers are working: 41 and Mom are doing much better today and fighting on,” he said in his first public comments about their illnesses.

The younger Bush and his wife, former first lady Laura Bush, were at President Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday.

Trump and former President Bill Clinton sent their well wishes earlier this week via Twitter, and Barack Obama offered similar thoughts earlier this week at his farewell presidential news conference.

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/george-h-w-bush-showing-improvement-at-houston-hospital/feed/ 0 Fri, 20 Jan 2017 19:43:06 +0000
Affordable Care Act repeal would harm Mainers, according to think tank http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/affordable-care-act-repeal-would-harm-mainers-according-to-think-tank/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/affordable-care-act-repeal-would-harm-mainers-according-to-think-tank/#respond Fri, 20 Jan 2017 23:41:19 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/affordable-care-act-repeal-would-harm-mainers-according-to-think-tank/ The Maine Center for Economic Policy, an Augusta-based progressive think tank, has released a new report detailing the economic harm it says would be caused by repealing the Affordable Care Act.

The Trump administration and Republicans in Congress are touting a repeal, although if the law were repealed, it’s unclear what it would be replaced with.

“Repealing the law without a suitable replacement would cause 95,000 fewer Mainers to have health insurance in 2019,” the report said. “The ACA has helped curb increases in health insurance costs for individuals and businesses in Maine. It has also helped reduce uncompensated care costs for Maine hospitals. These benefits have been evident across the state, but the ACA has been particularly beneficial for Mainers aged 55-64 and those living in rural areas.”

The loss of federal subsidies that help Mainers purchase ACA marketplace insurance would total $390 million in 2019, according to the report.

The report also said 19,000 Mainers with mental illness or substance use disorders would lose access to counseling and medication needed for treatment if the law were repealed.

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Backyard Farms names new chief for tomato growing http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/backyard-farms-names-new-chief-for-tomato-growing/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/backyard-farms-names-new-chief-for-tomato-growing/#respond Fri, 20 Jan 2017 23:40:33 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/backyard-farms-names-new-chief-for-tomato-growing/ MADISON — Backyard Farms has named a new head grower to oversee the company’s 42-acre greenhouse operation.

Tony Stevens will be in charge of the tomato growing operation in Madison. He has 18 years of greenhouse growing experience, according to a news release from the company.

Backyard Farms also is marking 10 years of operation in Madison and is launching a website – www.10yearsoftomatoes.com – to highlight the company’s history with its first shipment to a Hannaford supermarket, and to offer recipes and tips.

“The head grower position is an important, highly visible role in our greenhouse and a critical component of our leadership team,” Backyard Farms President Stuart Jablon said in a prepared statement. “In addition to his proven track record of excellence and productivity, Tony shares our company values and understands our vision to be the most trusted brand in America. I’m confident in his ability to manage and develop our people as well as our crop and I look forward to seeing our company gain from his considerable experience and fresh perspective.”

Stevens was most recently a senior grower with Windset Farms in Santa Maria, California. He also held senior leadership positions at other commercial greenhouses, including hydroponic tomato producer Colorado Greenhouse, Eurofresh Farms and Nature Sweet Farms, according to the release.

“I’m excited to have been entrusted to maintain Backyard Farms’ reputation for excellence while exploring new ways to make our greenhouse as efficient and productive as possible,” Stevens said in a statement. “I truly admire the company-wide commitment to quality and taste.”

Stevens has a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics and agriculture business from the University of Wyoming. In 2005, he was recognized by Vortus Consulting as the top grower in North America.

Backyard Farms, which is the largest commercial grower of year-round tomatoes in New England, produces 25 million to 30 million pounds of tomatoes annually from about 600,000 plants. It’s also the largest employer in Madison, with about 200 employees.

The company has faced obstacles along the way, including several months in 2013 when a whitefly infestation forced the greenhouse to cease operations and furlough employees.

Backyard Farms’ greenhouses are hydroponic, which means that nutrients are distributed to plants through a water-based system in which they grow. The greenhouses are kept at 69 to 72 degrees during the day and about 10 degrees cooler at night.

The company grows several varieties of tomatoes that are sent to stores including Hannaford, Whole Foods, Wal-Mart and Shaw’s.

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Man charged with killing father in Gardiner wants to claim self-defense at trial http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/man-charged-with-killing-father-in-gardiner-wants-to-claim-self-defense-at-trial/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/man-charged-with-killing-father-in-gardiner-wants-to-claim-self-defense-at-trial/#respond Fri, 20 Jan 2017 23:22:20 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/man-charged-with-killing-father-in-gardiner-wants-to-claim-self-defense-at-trial/ AUGUSTA — Leroy Smith III, accused of murdering his father in May 2014, is adamant that he wants a trial so he can tell jurors he acted in self-defense.

Smith, now 27, believes his father was putting rat poison in the food he served, and he wants attorneys to investigate that theory and theories involving an event Smith believes happened at a Phish concert, where members of the Hells Angels held him at gunpoint and warned him that his father would try to kill him. The band Slayer was involved, as well, Smith has said.

Forensic psychologists and others who have dealt with Smith have testified that those accounts are delusions.

Three psychologists discussed Smith’s recent condition during a hearing Friday at the Capital Judicial Center, and all said he has made progress over the past year or so while on medication. It was not clear when Justice Michaela Murphy will issue the next order, which could deem Smith competent to stand trial or request that he continue to receive treatment at the Riverview Psychiatric Center.

Smith has been in court about every six months and evaluated frequently because he has been found incompetent to stand trial and is under a court order to be involuntarily medicated, if necessary, in an attempt to restore him to competence.

While he has been taking the medication voluntarily, it has had side effects, including an obvious weight gain and some tremors, which apparently have been reduced.

Following passage of a law in 2015, Smith is the first person in Maine to be forced to take psychiatric medication in an effort to restore his mental capacity to a level at which he can participate fully in his own defense.

In June 2016, a judge found Smith competent to enter a plea of not guilty. The judge entered a plea of not criminally responsible on Smith’s behalf as well.

On Friday, Smith sat quietly at a table behind his two attorneys, with his head shaved and a trimmed long dark beard, and wearing a long-sleeved white dress shirt and a tie.

A chain was wrapped around his waist and connected to his handcuffs. He was watched closely by Kennebec sheriff’s deputies as he listened to testimony about himself. He was not expected to testify, and at one point leaned over the table to discuss something with Scott Hess, one of his two attorneys.

Smith has tried to fire both Hess and attorney Pam Ames, but Justice Michaela Murphy told him Friday that they will remain on the case as long as his mental competence is at issue. Smith has been unwilling to meet with them.

Police say the younger man stabbed Leroy Smith Jr., 56, to death in May 2014 in the Gardiner apartment they shared, then dismembered the body, distributing some parts in a wooded area of Richmond.

Smith, who doctors say suffers from delusional disorder, has been held at Riverview since his arrest several days after his father’s death.

At Friday’s hearing, three psychologists who evaluated Smith testified that he has improved enough to recognize that people might think his theories are crazy, but he still wanted his day in court.

“Mr. Smith’s motivation to come to a disposition at this time is extremely high,” she said.

Ann LeBlanc, director of the state forensic service, said that while Smith holds to his delusions, “his ability to step back from his delusions when talking about his case has improved.”

She said Smith is reluctant to plead not criminally responsible for the murder because he has spoken with others who have been held at Riverview for long periods until a judge has decided they can be discharged.

She also said Smith has done well in his efforts toward recovery and recently was elected president of the unit on which he is being held at Riverview.

Peter Donnelly, another clinical psychologist, testified that Smith regrets not having his hair tested for the presence of rat poison closer to the time of his father’s death.

Donnelly said Smith told him the story about the encounter with the Hells Angels and Slayer.

“He believes he was forced to take peyote,” Donnelly said. “He believes he was being tested for not leading the right kind of life or not playing music correctly.”

Donnelly said Smith hopes Slayer’s tax records can be found, and Smith wants to recover his 2011 Facebook postings – in which he apparently threatened the president – because they should have alerted the government to step in, thereby preventing his father’s death.

At one point, the Secret Service warned Smith after questioning him about threats he allegedly made against President Obama.

According to information in an affidavit by Maine State Police Detective Jonah O’Roak, who sought the original arrest warrant, the younger Smith told investigators he had killed his father and then “filleted him and buried him in the woods because his dad sexually assaulted him his whole life.”

There was no record of Leroy Herbert Smith Jr. on a sex offender registry in the United States, and the younger Smith had lived in Massachusetts until moving in with his father not long before the slaying.

Smith also said he rented a carpet steamer to help clean up the blood. At a hearing five days later, the younger Smith claimed to be a political prisoner.

Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:


Twitter: @betadams

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/man-charged-with-killing-father-in-gardiner-wants-to-claim-self-defense-at-trial/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/01/1141151_158825-20170120_LeroyCOur2.jpgLeroy Smith III sits in court Friday during a hearing on his competence to stand trial for the 2014 killing of his father.Fri, 20 Jan 2017 19:05:18 +0000
Maine Turnpike worker hit and killed at construction site near Exit 48 in Portland http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/two-dead-in-crashes-in-westbrook-and-whitefield/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/two-dead-in-crashes-in-westbrook-and-whitefield/#respond Fri, 20 Jan 2017 20:05:28 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/two-dead-in-crashes-in-westbrook-and-whitefield/ A Maine Turnpike Authority employee was killed when he was hit by a truck at a construction site in Portland in one of two highway fatalities Friday afternoon in Maine.

Jeffrey Abbott, 53, of Saco died when he was struck after he left the cab of an MTA safety vehicle to remove traffic cones on the northbound side of the highway near Exit 48 around 1:35 p.m., Maine State Police spokesman Stephen McCausland said.

The driver of the truck, 20-year-old Cody Craig of Turner, had struck two vehicles ahead of him that had slowed for the construction. The truck, owned by Nortrax Corp. of Westbrook, then veered into the construction area and hit Abbott.

The two vehicles the truck hit were operated by Joshua Brown, 40, of Rumford and Kelly James, 25, of Lewiston. Neither driver was injured.

There were significant delays until state troopers cleared the scene about 5:15. No charges were filed, but the crash report will be reviewed by the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office after it is completed.

In Whitefield, police said Robert Frith, 62, of West Gardiner was killed when the dump truck he was driving overturned off Doyle Road about 1:30 p.m. The truck, which was loaded with gravel, ended up on its side and struck a tree, police said.

Frith was working for BHS Inc. in Farmingdale, McCausland said. Doyle Road, which is unpaved, was closed Friday afternoon while police investigated the crash and brought in equipment to remove the truck.

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Down East salmon also served during inauguration http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/down-east-salmon-also-served-during-inauguration/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/down-east-salmon-also-served-during-inauguration/#respond Fri, 20 Jan 2017 19:27:10 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1140949 Maine lobster wasn’t the only Pine Tree State delicacy consumed by revelers at the inauguration of Donald Trump.

Farm-raised salmon from Eastport also made the menu.

Atlantic salmon raised at the Cooke Aquaculture farm in Eastport were hand selected and shipped to Washington, D.C., where they were smoked and served Thursday by the executive chef of the Blair House where Trump spent the night before his inauguration, according to a news release from the Maine Aquaculture Association.

“To have farmed salmon that were raised in the state of Maine served to President Trump, Gov. LePage and to those celebrating today’s inauguration, is a real honor and affirmation of our healthy, high-quality, sustainably produced farmed seafood,” said Sebastian Belle, the association’s executive director.

Cooke, which is based in New Brunswick, employs approximately 250 people in Down East Maine in its salmon farming operations.

Maine lobster was on the menu for lunch Friday following the swearing-in of the nation’s new president.

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Body found on Cape Elizabeth beach identified as missing Portland man http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/body-found-on-cape-elizabeth-beach-identified-as-missing-portland-man/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/body-found-on-cape-elizabeth-beach-identified-as-missing-portland-man/#respond Fri, 20 Jan 2017 19:05:02 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1140935 The body that washed ashore this week in Cape Elizabeth has been identified as Evariste Munyensanga, a man who had been missing from Portland since November.

Munyensanga, 29, was reported missing by family members on Nov. 21. He was last seen Nov. 18 at his Cumberland Avenue home.

A person walking a dog Tuesday night on Cliff House Beach in Cape Elizabeth found the body, which police described as heavily decomposed and without identification.

Police initially thought the person was white and had ruled out Munyensanga, who was black, as a possibility, but that confusion resulted from the condition of the body, Portland police Lt. Robert Martin said Friday.

Munyensanga was an avid long-distance runner who frequented the coastline north of Portland, where he enjoyed taking cellphone pictures, police said. He was also a regular at the Portland YMCA and the Salvation Army Church.

Munyensanga had a medical condition that required him to take medication every day. Munyensanga, who was originally from Rwanda, was featured in a documentary, “Into the Heart of Rwanda,” by filmmaker Rajah Bose. In the film, Munyensanga described how a heart surgery performed by a team of American doctors saved his life and allowed him to comfort and support others facing the same surgery.

Rheumatic heart disease is almost unknown in the U.S. because it’s caused by untreated strep throat. It is treated by open-heart surgery to repair heart valves that are damaged by the disease.

Before having the surgery, Munyensanga couldn’t walk without becoming exhausted easily because of the disease.

“They think the people with heart disease can’t produce anything in society. We are rejected. Even in the family, they reject … us because they think of us as a burden to them,” he said in the film.

Annette Lock, an official with the Salvation Army in Portland, said Munyensanga attended the organization’s church and was thinking of going to the Salvation Army seminary so he could work for the group.

Lock said Munyensanga had been involved with the Salvation Army in Rwanda and came to Portland last spring with the help of Healing Hearts, the organization featured in the documentary.

“He was extremely intelligent, capable and caring,” she said. “He was using his life to help others.”

Munyensanga had recently attended a Salvation Army retreat for young adult members of the church, she said.

When he initially went missing, Lock said, Munyensanga’s friends and church officials didn’t suspect anything was amiss because he often traveled in his effort to support Healing Hearts, speaking to groups about his experiences.

He was last seen on a Friday, she said, but church officials and friends became worried when he didn’t attend church the following Sunday and wasn’t around at the beginning of the week.

She said there were no signs that Munyensanga might have meant to harm himself, so church officials hope law enforcement continues its investigation to find out what happened.

Lock said she contacted Cape Elizabeth police the day after the body was found, but was told that it appeared to be Caucasian.

When the body turned out to be Munyensanga, after all, “we were shocked and surprised,” she said.

The medical examiner’s office is still investigating his death, but said it did not appear to be suspicious.

Portland police are asking anyone who saw Munyensanga around the time of his death and has not yet spoken to detectives to call 874-5424.

Staff Writer Gillian Graham contributed to this report.

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


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Dead River sells South Portland office building to New York investor http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/dead-river-sells-large-south-portland-office-building-to-new-york-investor/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/dead-river-sells-large-south-portland-office-building-to-new-york-investor/#respond Fri, 20 Jan 2017 18:26:29 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/dead-river-sells-large-south-portland-office-building-to-new-york-investor/ A 114,000-square-foot office building in South Portland valued by the City Assessor’s Office at $15.8 million has been sold to a New York real estate investment firm for an undisclosed price, according to a broker involved in the transaction.

According to CBRE|The Boulos Co. in Portland, property owner Dead River Co. sold the building to Time Management Corp., a New York-based corporation with other holdings in Maine. Existing tenants in the building include Dead River and ON Semiconductor, formerly Fairchild Semiconductor International.

The sale transaction for the four-story “class A” office building at 82 Running Hill Road was completed Wednesday, according to Boulos, which represented the seller. NAI The Dunham Group in Portland represented the buyer.

The building, which sits on about 12.4 acres, was developed in 1987 by Joe Boulos for Unum Group. In 2006, Boulos sold the property for $15 million to Dead River Co., which has owned and managed it ever since. While Boulos would not disclose the sale price, the South Portland Assessor’s Office valued the property at $15.8 million in 2016 for tax purposes.

82 RHR

Charles Day, a broker at The Boulos Co., says the building’s location and amenities made it a “prime investment target.” CBRE | The Boulos Company

Boulos said in a news release that it began marketing the property on behalf of its owners last summer. It said the offering was well-received in the marketplace.

“We had interest from buyers throughout the United States,” said Charles Day, a broker at Boulos. “This building is well-maintained and offers great amenities. Add to that its ideal location, and it’s a prime investment target.”

According to Boulos, the overall vacancy rate across the Maine Mall area’s 1.7 million square feet of prime office space sits at a healthy 3.4 percent. According to a presentation on office space made at the annual Maine Real Estate and Development Association conference Thursday, the vacancy rate for mall-area office buildings was about 11 percent in 2014.

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


Twitter: @jcraiganderson

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For Mainers at swearing-in, Trump’s inaugural address is ‘wonderful, inspiring’ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/mainers-in-washington-say-there-is-a-party-atmosphere-despite-intense-security/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/mainers-in-washington-say-there-is-a-party-atmosphere-despite-intense-security/#respond Fri, 20 Jan 2017 15:49:22 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/mainers-in-washington-say-there-is-a-party-atmosphere-despite-intense-security/ Mainers attending the inaugural ceremonies in Washington, D.C., Friday said they were inspired and filled with hope for the future after hearing Donald Trump’s first speech as the 45th U.S. president.

“I thought it was wonderful and inspiring,” said Laura Zajac of Cape Elizabeth, one of the many Mainers in the nation’s capital to watch Trump take the oath of office on the steps of the Capitol.

Trump’s inaugural address lasted about 20 minutes and echoed the populist themes of his campaign. He described abandoned American factories as “tombstones” and vowed to bring back jobs, while rebuilding schools and roads. He said Washington, D.C., now would listen to people who feel left behind.

“The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer,” Trump said as light rain fell.

Zajac, a 47-year-old mother of three teenagers, said she was filled with pride to witness her first inauguration. She believes Trump struck the right chord in his remarks.

“I look forward to a unified America and encouraging business,” she said.

Zajac said that there were many young, passionate people on the National Mall, although numerous media outlets reported that the crowds overall were noticeably smaller than for recent inaugurations.

“People are emotional about this and it’s very nice to see,” said Zajac, the president of an engineering firm.

Julie Sheehan also was attending her first inauguration. The event was particularly meaningful for the 49-year-old real estate agent from Cape Elizabeth, who was an early supporter of Trump. She went to the state and national Republican conventions, and was present when one of Maine’s delegates cast a vote in the Electoral College for Trump.

“It was like I have come full circle,” she said. “It’s almost unreal.”

Sheehan said the mood in the crowd at the inauguration was upbeat and positive. The mother of three said the most powerful moment came at the end of the speech when the crowd joined Trump in articulating his campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” “He is giving back the United States to the citizens and we will unite and we will make America great again,” she said.

Adam Ratterree, 35, of Belfast, was an early Trump supporter who helped organize grassroots support in Waldo County. After hearing the speech, he was convinced that Trump would be a president for all Americans and act in the country’s best interests.

“It was a breath of fresh air,” Ratterree said.

Top-ranking Republican officials, including Gov. Paul LePage and outgoing Maine Republican Party Chairman Rick Bennett, also attended the ceremony.

The governor’s daughter, Lauren LePage, was there, as well, and said the day was “absolutely historic” and “really moving.” The 28-year-old Waterville resident works as executive director of Maine People Before Politics, an advocacy group formed to advance her father’s agenda, and was the Maine coalitions director for the Trump campaign.

A law student, she said one of the biggest moments during the ceremony was seeing the former presidents and first ladies introduced before Trump was sworn in, highlighting the peaceful transfer of power between presidents.

“It showed this amazing tradition this country has,” she said.

Aaron Chadbourne, a 33-year-old senior policy adviser for Gov. Paul LePage, said he didn’t know what to expect at the inauguration. Though there were sporadic disruptions and chaos outside the security area, he said the event he witnessed was peaceful and well-organized.

“I think I was struck by the mood,” the Gorham native said. “It was a very reverential atmosphere.”

Rep. Ellie Espling, R-New Gloucester, sat in front of the Capitol and watched as high-profile dignitaries and politicians such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich were ushered to their seats Friday morning. Espling, a national Republican committee member from Maine, was in a group with other committee members who were up at 5 a.m. to get to their spots. While her direct view of the stage wasn’t great, she said, there were giant television screens set up so people could see what was happening.

Espling was impressed with Trump’s speech, even though he wasn’t her first choice. She said she hopes that people will rally around Trump, for the sake of the country.

“Overall, I thought he had a good message and decent points,” Espling said. “I certainly think it’s good for our country to have a positive attitude and hope for the future. That means supporting the leaders we have in our government and hope that they do a good job. We all will benefit from (Trump) doing a good job.”

Before the address, the city was buzzing with security personnel and visitors making their way to positions along the parade route or taking their seats in the grandstands to watch Trump being sworn in.

“It’s just a little drizzle right now, but not bad,” Brad Littlefield, a Scarborough resident, said in a telephone interview shortly before Trump was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts. Littlefield and his friends were taking in the sights as they familiarized themselves with the city’s underground train system and scoped out a spot near the junction of 15th Street and New York Avenue to watch the inaugural parade.

As the parade got underway, anti-Trump protesters burned piles of trash and set a limousine on fire after the windows were smashed out.

Littlefield said security was tight, with Jersey barriers and dump trucks full of sand being used to block vehicle access to streets that are normally busy with traffic. He said helicopters buzzed in the skies above and there was a large police presence on the ground.

“There’s no petty crime going on down here today,” Littlefield said. He said their group witnessed only one small anti-Trump protest, but that had been contained to a small area and, for the most part, things were peaceful. He also said that while security was tight, it wasn’t overbearing and didn’t dampen the “party atmosphere.”

“You never see one police car. You see four if they are going anywhere,” Littlefield said. “But it’s not so bad that you can’t breathe, either.”

He said the lobby of the hotel where they stayed Thursday night had to be evacuated and a bomb squad called in, but that turned out to be a false alarm and the disruption was minimal. He and friends traveled to the concert at the Lincoln Memorial where Trump greeted his supporters.

Littlefield also attended a reception for Mainers on Thursday with Sen. Susan Collins and offered her one dance slipper for the inaugural ball, a joke about Collins’ injured right ankle. She broke it over the holidays in a fall on ice at her Bangor home. Collins was still in a cast, Littlefield noted, and not likely to be doing much dancing.

Sheehan and Zajac, the women from Cape Elizabeth, said they were caught up in a police clash with anti-Trump protesters outside the National Press Club on Thursday night. At some point, a smoke device was set off, and the women took refuge in a nearby store. “It turned rather quickly,” Sheehan said, noting that people began coughing as a result of the smoke. “It got a little scary.”

Staff Writer Scott Thistle contributed to this report.

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


Twitter: randybillings

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/mainers-in-washington-say-there-is-a-party-atmosphere-despite-intense-security/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/01/1140743_71144-MainersinD.C.jpgMainers in D.C. for Donald Trump's inauguration included, front row: Rep Ellie Espling, R-New Gloucester, Karen Bennett, Maine Republican Party Chairman Rick Bennett. Back row: Melissa Willette, former state Rep. Alex Willette.Fri, 20 Jan 2017 21:07:39 +0000
Maine blueberry processor, EPA reach settlement over handling of chemical http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/maine-blueberry-processor-epa-reach-settlement-over-handling-of-chemical/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/maine-blueberry-processor-epa-reach-settlement-over-handling-of-chemical/#respond Fri, 20 Jan 2017 15:10:18 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/maine-blueberry-processor-epa-reach-settlement-over-handling-of-chemical/ BOSTON — Hancock Foods has agreed to pay a $103,613 settlement to resolve federal concerns over its handling of a chemical used in refrigeration.

The settlement agreed upon by the company and the Environmental Protection Agency resolves questions surrounding the blueberry processor’s handling of anhydrous ammonia and its failure to timely report a release of the chemical.

Anhydrous ammonia, which is used in refrigeration, is flammable, and potentially explosive, in some situations. It’s also corrosive to the skin, eye and lungs.

The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The EPA says the case is one of many brought to improve safety at companies that have industrial refrigeration systems.

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Backlog slows license reinstatement for Mainers convicted of driving drunk http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/backlog-slows-reinstatement-of-maine-drivers-licenses-after-oui/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/20/backlog-slows-reinstatement-of-maine-drivers-licenses-after-oui/#respond Fri, 20 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1140545 AUGUSTA — Mainers trying to have their driver’s licenses reinstated after drunken-driving suspensions are waiting an average of five additional weeks because of a paperwork backlog in the Department of Health and Human Services, according to a lawmaker who is trying to fix the problem.

Sen. Joyce Maker is pushing a bill, L.D. 134, that would streamline the process so people don’t lose their jobs or face other unfair hardships because of the delays, she said.

Gov. Paul LePage, meanwhile, wants to move responsibility for counseling and evaluating drunken-driving offenders from the DHHS to the Secretary of State’s Office.

“While we all know that operating under the influence is a serious crime, once the time has been served and the requirements have been met, the government shouldn’t be allowed to stand in the way of individuals trying to better themselves and move on with their lives,” Maker said.

Maker, a Republican from Calais, said she was notified of the backlog by a constituent. He had paid his fine, served his sentence and completed the mandatory DHHS Driver Education and Evaluation Program, but is still waiting for the department to send confirmation of his participation to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Maker said such delays in reinstating licenses could result in the loss of a job for anyone who needs a license for work or just needs to get to work.

“My constituent had a job on Jan. 4, and without his license, he couldn’t take it,” Maker said.

Under Maine law, a person charged with operating under the influence faces an immediate 30-day administrative license suspension. If convicted of a first offense, he or she faces a minimum 150-day driver’s license suspension and a fine of no less than $500. Subsequent convictions result in longer suspensions, higher fines and jail time. In Maine, as in most states, a driver with a blood-alcohol level of more than 0.08 percent is considered under the influence, although those driving with lower blood-alcohol levels or impaired by drugs can also be charged.

To regain driving privileges after a conviction, a driver 21 or older must complete the state’s 20-hour Driver Education and Evaluation Program, DEEP, which is designed to reduce the person’s likelihood of reoffending.


Maker’s bill would allow the Secretary of State’s Office, which oversees Maine’s driver’s license system, to issue a provisional license based on documents showing the applicant has completed the OUI education program. The office would not need to wait for formal certification from the DHHS. Maker’s bill would pertain only to first-time offenders, according to a summary of the legislation.

The delays are being attributed to an office staffing shortage caused by illness and injury, according to a copy of a message by Roberta Mullen, a behavioral health intervention manager in the DHHS Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, that was provided to the Portland Press Herald by an anonymous source.

“My clinical staff has been decimated,” Mullen wrote. “The DEEP receives over 200 client cases per month for review, with one staff member in the office it’s impossible to keep up.”

DHHS spokeswoman Samantha Edwards confirmed Thursday that there is a backlog. She said in an email that the Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services is tapping clinicians from other divisions of the DHHS to try to clear it, but the work is complex.

“Each case must be thoroughly reviewed before the individual can be deemed successful in completing the program (and) thus be given approval to once again pilot a motor vehicle,” Edwards wrote.

LePage wants to take management of the OUI education program out of the DHHS. The governor’s two-year state budget proposal would transfer about $1.6 million of the program’s funding to the Secretary of State’s Office, and suggests that office would then be responsible for overseeing the program. The program has seven employees, including office staff and two substance abuse specialists.

Edwards said DHHS wanted to transfer the program “because DEEP is an education program for individuals who have lost their licenses due to OUI conviction. Given the secretary of state’s responsibility for qualifying and licensing drivers, this program makes more sense under the purview of that department.”


Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said the backlog is a relatively new problem that, under current law, he can do nothing to solve.

“It’s becoming a real problem for some folks,” Dunlap wrote in an email to the Press Herald. “They get convicted of OUI, pay all their fines, wait out a suspension period, and go through substance abuse counseling. The holdup here is that we can’t reinstate their licenses until DHHS, through the drug education and evaluation program (DEEP), certifies that they’ve completed the required counseling.”

Dunlap said the backlog is “a growing problem, and a bit of a mystery, because historically DEEP has been a great office to work with.”

Dunlap said he supports Maker’s bill as a short-term fix. He didn’t, however, understand why the LePage administration wants to transfer DEEP to his office. Substance abuse counseling is more a function for DHHS, he said.

“We would prefer to have some separation,” Dunlap wrote. “I’m not sure what that’s about.”

Maker’s measure has been submitted as an emergency bill, which would require two-thirds support of the Legislature for passage, but would take effect sooner than if filed as a conventional bill. The bill also calls for automatic repeal on Dec. 31.

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


Twitter: thisdog

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Sheriff’s office investigates swastikas on barn in Standish http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/19/sheriffs-office-investigates-swastikas-on-barn-in-standish/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/19/sheriffs-office-investigates-swastikas-on-barn-in-standish/#respond Fri, 20 Jan 2017 03:48:09 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1140611 The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office is investigating two swastikas painted on an abandoned barn in Standish.

A Standish woman, who does not want to be identified, notified the sheriff’s office on Jan. 12 about the swastikas – the emblem of the German Nazi Party.

She took photographs of the symbols, which were painted on the side of a red barn within a few feet of Richville Road – part of Route 114.

Deputy Donald Brown investigated, but found out that the property at 1193 Richville Road was unoccupied and for sale. The owners live out of state.

“He (Brown) spoke to all the neighbors, he looked at tax maps and he contacted the Realtor,” Capt. Scott Stuart said late Thursday evening. “He certainly put a lot of effort into this investigation, but it’s complex because the owner is not local. We can’t just go there and paint over it ourselves.”

Stuart said the realtor told Brown that she had been led to believe that the owner’s grandchildren were going to paint over the swastikas.

The realtor said the hate symbols would be covered up because the property could not be shown to a potential buyer if they were still on the barn, according to Stuart.

Stuart said the swastikas should be removed as soon as possible. “This appears to be an isolated incident. I don’t think they were directed at anyone in particular,” he said.

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


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Augusta will accept donation of the Howard Hill property http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/19/augusta-will-accept-donation-of-the-howard-hill-property/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/19/augusta-will-accept-donation-of-the-howard-hill-property/#respond Fri, 20 Jan 2017 03:13:49 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/19/augusta-will-accept-donation-of-the-howard-hill-property/ AUGUSTA — City councilors voted unanimously Thursday night to accept the donation of the 164-acre Howard Hill property from the Kennebec Land Trust.

Terms of the agreement conveying the land, which provides a scenic backdrop to the State House, specify that it shall never be developed or subdivided, shall have its natural resources protected, and shall remain open to the public.

The deal to transfer the property could close as soon as Friday.

roadblocks on way

“This is just a tremendous example of public-private partnership,” said Augusta resident Michael Seitzinger, a former land trust board member. “The result here for the people of the city of Augusta, the entire capital community, and the entire state of Maine, is outstanding.”

Gov. Paul LePage and members of his administration, over the last year, have accused the Land for Maine’s Future program of overpaying for properties, and specifically cited Howard Hill as an example.

The Kennebec Land Trust bought the land for about $925,000 from local attorney Sumner Lipman in 2015, with plans to give the property to the city.

The land trust initially was expected to use $337,500 in Land for Maine’s Future money to help pay for the purchase. However, five of six members of the Land for Maine’s Future Board, all of whom were either appointed by LePage last year or work for him, voted in October to reduce the state’s contribution to the project to $163,500, expressing concerns about the accuracy of the roughly $1 million appraisal of the property. The property is assessed by the city, for tax purposes, at $171,000.

Land trust officials have defended what they pay for such properties, stating they have the properties professionally appraised, based upon their “highest and best use,” or what their value would be if they were to be developed.

The trust took out a loan to close the funding gap so the project could proceed.

The originally proposed terms of the agreement with the city stated the privately funded land trust would give the city, in addition to the land, a $100,000 endowment to help the city form a plan for the property and to maintain it.

However, since the state reduced its funding of the purchase, the land trust proposed to modify its agreement with the city.

Instead, the land trust, according to City Manager William Bridgeo, will give the city $25,000, will be credited $7,500 it spent to have a forest management plan done for the property, and will pay the city the remaining $67,500 in the next two years. City officials said they accept the arrangement and have no doubt the land trust will pay the remaining money as promised.

“Some roadblocks were placed along the way, and you folks overcame them,” Mayor David Rollins told land trust officials. “This will be a treasure for the city of Augusta, one of our collection of gems.”

Theresa Kerchner, executive director of the Winthrop-based land trust, said people in the area have suggested for decades that the land needed to be preserved.

historic property

Kerchner said numerous individuals, businesses and foundations donated money so the trust could buy the land.

The property is named for the family of Capt. James Howard, one of the founders of Augusta. It was later owned by local publishing magnate William Howard Gannett, who in the 1890s bought some 450 acres, including Howard Hill, where he created Ganneston Park. The park included gardens, ponds, carriage paths and trails he opened to the public. The property, tucked between developed parcels in Augusta and extending to the Augusta-Hallowell city boundary, provides sweeping views of the area, including the Maine State House dome.

City officials said a plan will need to be developed to provide public access points to the property.

Among the limited existing access points is an old carriage road where Ganneston Drive comes to a dead end.

Kerchner said the land trust already has had discussions with the developer of the formerly state-owned Stevens School campus in Hallowell, Matt Morrill, about also providing public access to Howard Hill from the proposed development there.

Terms of the proposed agreement require the city to complete a conservation plan within a year of receiving the property.

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


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Route 24 bridge will be gone in 2 weeks http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/19/route-24-bridge-will-be-gone-in-2-weeks/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/19/route-24-bridge-will-be-gone-in-2-weeks/#respond Fri, 20 Jan 2017 02:55:44 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/19/route-24-bridge-will-be-gone-in-2-weeks/ RICHMOND — The blows to the railroad bridge that crosses Route 24 have been fairly frequent and pretty hard, but they won’t be coming for much longer.

The bridge, located just north of where routes 24 and 197 merge, will be removed by the end of the month.

Earlier this week, traffic on Route 24 was slowed while Maine Department of Transportation workers removed the ties and the rails from the bridge using a boom truck for lifting the pieces out. They placed barricades across the tracks at each end of the bridge to keep people who might be on the tracks from falling onto the roadway below.

Starting Monday, the structure that spans the state highway will be removed in pieces, cut by shears and then scrapped.

Jeff Pitcher, a Maine Department of Transportation transportation manager and Federal Railway Administration track safety inspector for Maine, said the structure was built in 1903.

In the last few years, it has been damaged and dented by several hits.

“One of them was pretty significant,” Pitcher said. An excavator on the back of a truck heading north struck the bridge and damaged it. As it is, he said, it could not handle train traffic and would have to be repaired before a train could cross it.

The rail line runs from downtown Brunswick along the Kennebec River to Waterville, Pitcher said, but it’s not in use. In Augusta, the line is interrupted by a parking lot, where gravel has covered the rails.

During its service, both passenger and freight trains used the route. It now belongs to the state of Maine.

Despite its “low clearance” signs and flashing lights advertising its 11-foot-2-inch height, the bridge has been a target of tall vehicles.

Richmond Town Manager Janet Smith said town officials have been asking for the structure’s removal for years.

“There have been a lot of hits in just the short time I’ve been here,” Smith said, and by a wide variety of vehicles – box trucks, recreational vehicles and the excavator.

The detour, which will direct traffic onto Ferry Road and around the removal site, required the approval of Richmond selectmen, which they granted at a meeting Wednesday.

Otherwise, Smith said, the detour would have to be on state roads, and that would take people 20 miles out of their way.

“That’s not fair to Richmond residents,” she said.

The state sought a closure for five days, but the work is not expected to take that long, she said.

Transportation department spokesman Ted Talbot said the removal doesn’t have to be permanent.

The Maine Rail Group has been lobbying to bring passenger rail service back to central Maine using the line that connects Brunswick to Augusta and Waterville.

“We own the tracks,” Talbot said, “so we have the ability, if those tracks come back into service, to accommodate that.”

If it is replaced, Pitcher said, it will have to be raised about 15 inches.

Electronic signs have been posted alerting drivers to the pending Route 24 closure. On Thursday, Talbot said the wording on the sign had been changed to urge drivers to follow the detour.

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


http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/19/route-24-bridge-will-be-gone-in-2-weeks/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/01/1140562_88283-20170117_RIchmondBr3.jpgThe railroad bridge over Route 24 in Richmond will be torn down starting Monday after years of being hit by vehicles too tall to pass under it.Thu, 19 Jan 2017 23:37:11 +0000
Manchester school begins testing air quality, but only certain rooms http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/19/manchester-school-begins-testing-air-quality-but-only-certain-rooms/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/19/manchester-school-begins-testing-air-quality-but-only-certain-rooms/#respond Fri, 20 Jan 2017 01:30:04 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1140493 MANCHESTER — Air quality testing of select rooms began Thursday at Manchester Elementary School, although several parents continued to express concern that the entire school isn’t being tested for mold.

In an email to parents Thursday afternoon supplied to the Kennebec Journal, Principal Janet Delmar said she was providing an update and a copy of the agreement with Air Quality Management Services, Inc. in the “spirit of transparency.”

Delmar said she will send the test results report to parents when the school receives it, and it will be available in the school’s office.

She said the heating and ventilation units, as well as other air handling systems, also will be checked to ensure they are operating properly.


“This has been a top priority for a very long time and will continue to be,” Superintendent Donna Wolfrom said. “We’re working and acting as quickly as we possibly can.”

During Wednesday night’s Regional School Unit 38 board meeting, more than 20 parents spoke out against the way the district and school administration handled the mold problem from the time it was first discovered in October to when the basement and three classrooms were remediated and cleaned in late December.

“They should’ve let us know about the mold earlier than they did,” said Stephanie Garofalo, a parent of a 6-year-old who has experienced wheezing, coughing fits and headaches since September.

Other parents said the way the district communicated – two emails, on Nov. 28 and Jan. 4 – was “unacceptable,” “poor” and “inexcusable.”

While one parent said testing select rooms is a starting point, Jeremy Payne, who has three children at the school, said it’s another misstep and not nearly enough to satisfy parents.

“Rather than acquiescing to the requests of concerned families, the school has chosen to go it alone,” Payne said via email. “If we find out in a matter of weeks or months that some rooms that weren’t part of this initial testing do indeed have mold, and we’ve exposed our children to an unsafe environment during that time, should we be satisfied?”


The district held a meeting at Manchester Elementary School last week to shed some light on the process that took place last year and to answer questions.

Multiple requests were made during that meeting that the entire school be tested, so Payne is unsure why that isn’t happening.

“They easily could’ve indicated last night they’ve heard the community’s concerns loud and clear and would expand the testing to cover the whole school,” Payne said.

The testing plan was signed by Curt Morse, the district’s director of operations and transportation on Tuesday, the day before the school board meeting. The plan called for testing the air quality in three additional classrooms, two hallways and the gymnasium and stage at a cost of $1,630.

The test also included carpet vacuum samples of the three classrooms to determine the level of mold in carpet dust.


The agreement states the final report will be provided to the school within 10 to 15 business days after testing, with interim results provided when available.

Wolfrom said the important thing is to communicate with parents as soon as the district knows anything about Thursday’s testing.

“Curt has asked the (air quality testing) company to let us know if there is any immediate danger, like we requested during the last tests,” Wolfrom said.

Payne said selectively choosing which rooms to test doesn’t make any sense.

He said there are several grades that have multiple classrooms, and it’s wrong to assume just because one room is clean, the other room would also be clean.

“This assumption would defy logic,” Payne said.

Wolfrom declined to say whether the district plans to continue testing the remainder of the school.

Rather, she said it will await the results of this test and follow the advice of the experts.

“The plan would be to first meet with the facilities committee, and at this point, we’ll have to consult with them every step of the way,” the superintendent said. “It takes time to get those people together, but we’ll do it as timely as possible, as we have always done.”


Mold is a naturally occurring, necessary part of the environment that can be found everywhere, the Maine Indoor Air Quality Council states on its website.

Symptoms of mold exposure are allergy-like, including coughing, wheezing and nasal stuffiness, according to an allergist and immunologist at MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta.

During Wednesday’s public meeting, parents spoke of symptoms their children have exhibited over the last year, including nagging coughs, headaches and other unexplained illnesses, and several teachers talked about problems they have had in their classrooms.

There are no federal health standards for mold, but the state uses indoor air quality standards from the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as a guide for air quality, David Heidrich, spokesman for the state Department of Administrative and Financial Services, said via email.

Jason Pafundi can be contacted at 621-5663 or at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/19/manchester-school-begins-testing-air-quality-but-only-certain-rooms/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/01/1140493_265304-20170118_moldmeeti5.jpgSuperintendent Donna Wolfrom, left, speaks Wednesday beside board Chairwoman Terri Watson during an RSU 38 board meeting where parents and teachers expressed concern about mold at Manchester Elementary School.Thu, 19 Jan 2017 20:49:33 +0000
Taking a deeper look at the health of former President George H.W. Bush http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/19/taking-a-deeper-look-at-the-health-of-former-president-george-h-w-bush/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/19/taking-a-deeper-look-at-the-health-of-former-president-george-h-w-bush/#respond Fri, 20 Jan 2017 01:12:18 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/19/taking-a-deeper-look-at-the-health-of-former-president-george-h-w-bush/ Former President George H.W. Bush is being treated for pneumonia in intensive care at a Houston hospital where doctors are evaluating him before removing a breathing tube.

His underlying health problems include vascular parkinsonism, a rare syndrome that mimics Parkinson’s disease. The 92-year-old Bush also broke a vertebra in 2015 and has used a motorized scooter or a wheelchair in recent years. Some answers to common questions about his health:

Q: When does a pneumonia patient need a breathing tube?

A: When a patient is not getting enough oxygen in the blood, doctors will insert a soft plastic breathing tube into the windpipe and connect the patient to a breathing machine called a ventilator. The patient is usually sedated because inserting the tube is uncomfortable.

“It means it’s a really bad pneumonia and is certainly life-threatening,” said Dr. Michael D. Schwartz, a pulmonologist and critical care doctor at National Jewish Health in Denver, Colorado. Doctors at the patient’s bedside “believe this person is likely to perish without this type of life support.”

Q: When can the breathing tube come out?

A: The longer a patient has a breathing tube, the higher the risk of a secondary infection. So when an improving patient can follow simple commands and has a strong enough cough, doctors will remove the tube and let the sedation wear off.

Coming off sedation can bring on delirium, especially for elderly patients, so doctors will monitor whether the patient is agitated and disoriented, Schwartz said.

Q: What are the risks of pneumonia?

A: Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can be mild or severe. Elderly patients are at risk of deadly complications.

The former president wrote to President-elect Donald Trump on Jan. 10, saying that he would be unable to attend Friday’s inauguration because of doctor’s orders: “My doctor says if I sit outside in January, it will likely put me six feet under. Same for Barbara. So I guess we’re stuck in Texas.”

Q: What is vascular parkinsonism?

A: People diagnosed with the condition walk with shuffling steps, and brain scans suggest they have suffered small strokes. However, they do not have the characteristic tremors of Parkinson’s disease, and they do not respond to drugs for Parkinson’s.

“They look like Parkinson’s from the waist down. From the waist up, they look very expressive,” said Dr. Alberto Espay of the University of Cincinnati’s Gardner Neuroscience Institute.

Q: Is it different from Parkinson’s disease?

A: Yes. It does not get steadily worse in the same way Parkinson’s does. Classic Parkinson’s disease develops when cells that produce one of the brain’s chemical messengers, called dopamine, begin to deteriorate and die. Dopamine transports signals to parts of the brain that control movement. Parkinson’s symptoms appear after enough dopamine-producing cells die that there’s too little of this neurotransmitter in the brain.

Vascular parkinsonism can closely mimic a number of other disorders, including classic Parkinson’s, progressive supranuclear palsy and excessive fluid on the brain.

Q: What has President Bush said about the condition?

A: In a 2012 interview with Parade magazine, Bush said: “It just affects the legs. It’s not painful. You tell your legs to move and they don’t move. It’s strange, but if you have to have some bad-sounding disease, this is a good one to get.”

Bush said the symptoms have been difficult for him “because I love being active, (playing) sports, being in the game. But you just face the reality and make the best of it.”

Q: Who gets it?

A: People in their 70s and older are most likely to be diagnosed, said Dr. Tanya Simuni, who conducts research on Parkinson’s and other movement disorders at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago. She calls it a “difficult diagnosis” because of the lack of accurate diagnostic tests.

The risk factors are the same as for stroke and heart disease: history of smoking, lack of exercise and poor diet. It’s rarer than Parkinson’s disease, which affects about 1 million Americans. In contrast, roughly 20,000 people have been told they have vascular parkinsonism.

Q: How is it treated?

A: Since the condition does not respond well to drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease, treatment relies on lowering the risk factors for stroke. That means quitting smoking, exercising, eating a healthy diet and perhaps taking a daily aspirin. Preventing falls is important, so a patient may receive physical therapy to improve balance.

Q: What causes the disease?

A: This is where answers get tricky. Conventional thinking says the disease is caused by strokes. But without a perfect test, lots of problems get lumped under the umbrella. Espay has written a paper questioning whether most parkinsonism is related to vascular disease.

Q: Is there a cure?

A: Physical therapy can help with balance and walking, but the damage cannot be reversed, said Dr. Corneliu Luca, assistant professor of neurology at University of Miami. “If you do not control risk factors for stroke, they can have another stroke, and the walking can get even worse,” Luca said.

Q: What complications are most worrisome?

A: Falls are the biggest concern because they can lead to fractures, Simuni said. Bush took a spill in 2015 and fractured his C2 vertebra, the second one below the skull. It’s not known whether that fall was directly related to parkinsonism.

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Lewiston names new police chief http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/19/lewiston-names-new-police-chief/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/19/lewiston-names-new-police-chief/#respond Fri, 20 Jan 2017 00:17:12 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1140447 The city of Lewiston has named a new police chief, according to an announcement posted Thursday on the department’s Facebook page and the city’s website.

City Administrator Ed Barrett confirmed that Brian O’Malley will be sworn in Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at Lewiston City Hall.

O’Malley has led the police department on an interim basis since former chief Michael Bussiere retired six months ago. The city undertook a national search to find his replacement.

“Brian O’Malley was the consensus choice of a diverse hiring panel that evaluated over 20 qualified applicants for the Lewiston chief’s position,” Barrett said in a statement. “Through that process, it became clear that he is strongly committed, not only to continuing and building upon the success the department has achieved, but to the community that it serves.”

O’Malley said he is looking forward to serving as the city’s new police chief, adding that he considers the department “to be the finest police department in the state.”

O’Malley has served with the Lewiston department for 27 years. He has held a variety of positions, including patrol officer, detective, patrol sergeant, sergeant of detectives in the Criminal Investigations Division, and deputy police chief.

O’Malley has advanced training in crisis negotiation and homicide investigation, and is a certified civil rights officer.

“Brian’s dedication and professionalism have been demonstrated time and time again over the last 27 years, and I am very pleased that he will now be at the helm of the Lewiston Police Department,” Mayor Robert E. Macdonald said in a statement.

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


http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/19/lewiston-names-new-police-chief/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/01/1140447_696121-OMalley.jpgBrian O'MalleyThu, 19 Jan 2017 21:08:15 +0000
Maine man gets life in prison for killing girlfriend, 2 children http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/19/maine-man-gets-life-in-prison-for-killing-girlfriend-2-children/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/19/maine-man-gets-life-in-prison-for-killing-girlfriend-2-children/#respond Fri, 20 Jan 2017 00:07:51 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/19/maine-man-gets-life-in-prison-for-killing-girlfriend-2-children/ BANGOR — A man convicted of killing his girlfriend and her two children asked for mercy before a judge imposed three life sentences Thursday.

Keith Coleman received the maximum penalty for the slayings of 36-year-old Christina Sargent, 10-year-old Duwayne Coke and 8-year-old Destiny Sargent at home in Garland, about 100 miles northeast of Portland. There is no death penalty in Maine.

Police said Coleman told them that he chased down and strangled the children because they’d witnessed their mother’s death. The bodies were found Dec. 20, 2014.

Jurors in November heard a taped confession from Coleman, who was arrested a day after the bodies were discovered.

“I did it,” Coleman said through sobs. “I did it. I don’t want to say that word but I did it. I killed my girl.” Then he clarified he killed the children as well.

Coleman told the judge Thursday that he’s been painted as a “monster” but that he’s remorseful. He said he felt responsible for the deaths, even though he didn’t say he killed them.

“I just hope you have mercy on me,” he told the judge, according to WLBZ-TV.

Coleman was convicted of three counts of murder and one count of sexual assault. He received a 20-year sentence for sexually assaulting Sargent’s daughter.

Coleman’s attorneys have indicated that they intend to appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

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Committee endorses $61 million bond to renovate 4 Portland schools http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/19/speakers-at-hearing-back-70-million-renovation-plan-for-4-portland-schools/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/19/speakers-at-hearing-back-70-million-renovation-plan-for-4-portland-schools/#respond Thu, 19 Jan 2017 23:48:15 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1140436 After hours of heartfelt public testimony supporting the idea, city and school officials on Thursday endorsed a $61 million bond proposal to renovate four Portland elementary schools.

“I’m thrilled,” parent Emily Figdor said after the vote. She had helped organize a parents group that lobbied officials to support a larger $70 million bond to renovate Presumpscot, Reiche, Lyseth and Longfellow elementary schools.

The Portland School Facilities Ad Hoc Committee voted 7-1 to endorse the proposal, with City Councilor Nick Mavodones dissenting. Mavodones had proposed a more limited $32 million bond to renovate two schools and seek state funding for the other two. That proposal did not get any support. The committee has been meeting for months, and had whittled the $70 million proposal down to $61 million.

The committee’s recommendation will now go to the school board for approval, then to the full City Council for a final vote on what bond amount will go to voters. The school board has previously voted to endorse a $70 million bond.

“We keep coming back to the same conclusions – get it to the voters. We need to do that, otherwise I don’t think we have a lot of credibility as your elected officials,” said school board member Marnie Morrione. “This will make Portland great.”

“I really think we need to make this investment,” said school board chairwoman Anna Trevorrow, who also sits on the ad hoc committee. The deferred maintenance at the schools, she said, “is devastating.”

During several hours of public testimony, dozens of people said they support bonding for all four schools. Only three people supported a more limited bond.

“Please take this very necessary first step,” said Jess Marino, who has three children in the district. “Our schools are worth it.”

Multiple speakers talked about the poor conditions in their children’s classrooms, such as skunks living under a modular classroom, students seeing social workers in an office created out of a broom closet and a wall falling over last week at Reiche. The renovations are earmarked for practical fixes, such as installing functional heating and windows that open, making schools accessible for all users, eliminating use of trailers for classrooms and easing severe overcrowding.

In addition to dozens of parents speaking, several lawmakers spoke in favor of the full bond.

“We can’t wait around any longer to mess around with this,” said local state Rep. Richard Farnsworth. “We have put off for 20 years what should have been done annually.”

The elementary schools have not had major investments since they were built, about 45 to 65 years ago. The schools have old mechanical systems and asbestos. Students attend classes in modular buildings and classrooms without walls, and receive non-classroom instruction in hallways and converted closet spaces.

City officials estimate that a $61 million bond would increase property taxes by 3 percent over the next 20 years, costing the owner of a $225,000 house nearly $2,500.

Mavodones said his $32 million alternative plan was an effort to save the city money.

“If we can save the local taxpayers money to do one or two of those schools (with state funds) I think that is a prudent thing to do,” he said Thursday.

The state, which provides construction funds for the neediest schools, closed the most recent funding cycle in September, just as Reiche and Longfellow had moved up to Nos. 2 and 3 on the list of projects to be funded. Typically, no more than about a dozen schools receive money in any one funding cycle.

“It’s time to ask the public if they want to pay for it,” said school board member Sarah Thompson, noting that the board has spent more than $7 million over decades studying the need to renovate the schools. “I’m tired of talking about this.”

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


Twitter: noelinmaine

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/19/speakers-at-hearing-back-70-million-renovation-plan-for-4-portland-schools/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/01/1140436_6533-20170119_council_3.jpgResident Joey Brunelle on Thursday adds his voice to those favoring a bond to renovate four Portland schools.Fri, 20 Jan 2017 00:26:50 +0000