The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram » Local & State http://www.pressherald.com Fri, 30 Sep 2016 21:57:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.3.6 Finance Authority of Maine to award 16 scholarships http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/finance-authority-of-maine-awards-16-scholarships/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/finance-authority-of-maine-awards-16-scholarships/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2016 21:05:42 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/finance-authority-of-maine-awards-16-scholarships/ The Finance Authority of Maine is awarding 16 scholarships for $1,000 each to encourage more people to save money for college.

The scholarships are part of the Invest in Me 2030 initiative announced Friday that aims to have all Maine families saving for higher education by 2030.

The Harold Alfond Foundation automatically awards $500 grants to all babies born as Maine residents for the child’s NextGen 529 college savings account. Once an account is established, parents can get annual tax deductions for the first $250 contributed each year, and the Finance Authority of Maine gives parents a 50 percent matching grant on the first $600 each year.

FAME also launched a new website this summer, theloanforme.com, as a student loan resource for Maine families.

People qualify for the scholarships by opening a new NextGen account, contributing to an existing one or signing up on the FAME website. One winner from each Maine county will be selected. FAME, a semi-independent state agency, oversees higher education loans, loan repayments, grants and college savings programs in the state.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/finance-authority-of-maine-awards-16-scholarships/feed/ 0 Fri, 30 Sep 2016 17:14:39 +0000
Gorham man gets 10 years in prison for selling heroin, fentanyl http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/gorham-man-sentenced-on-federal-charge-of-heroin-fentanyl-distribution/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/gorham-man-sentenced-on-federal-charge-of-heroin-fentanyl-distribution/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2016 20:50:55 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/gorham-man-sentenced-on-federal-charge-of-heroin-fentanyl-distribution/ A Gorham man was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in prison on a charge of distributing fentanyl and heroin.

David Thurlow, 28, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Portland to 10 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Thurlow distributed heroin and fentanyl, an opiate more powerful than heroin, from at least December 2015 until February of this year, throughout Greater Portland.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Gorham Police Department.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/gorham-man-sentenced-on-federal-charge-of-heroin-fentanyl-distribution/feed/ 4 Fri, 30 Sep 2016 16:54:35 +0000
Maine issues recall of mussels, clams tainted with neurotoxin http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/maine-issues-recall-of-mussels-clams-tainted-with-neurotoxin/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/maine-issues-recall-of-mussels-clams-tainted-with-neurotoxin/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2016 19:57:08 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/maine-issues-recall-of-mussels-clams-tainted-with-neurotoxin/ The state Department of Marine Resources issued a recall notice Friday for certain mussel and clam harvests after they tested positive for unsafe levels of a neurotoxin that causes brain damage in humans.

The recall applies to mussels and mahogany quahogs harvested or wet-stored Sunday through Friday in the Jonesport area, and clams harvested Wednesday through Friday in the area from Cranberry Point in Corea to Cow Point in Roque Bluffs.

Department spokesman Jeff Nichols said the recall is based on testing of mussel and clam samples, and that no cases of illness from eating the tainted shellfish have been reported.

The samples tested exceeded the established threshold of 20 parts per million of domoic acid from the phytoplankton Pseudo-nitzschia. When shellfish eat the plankton, the acid can build up inside their systems.

Domoic acid acts as a neurotoxin when ingested by mammals, including humans. It can cause permanent short-term memory loss, brain damage and even death in severe cases. The phenomenon is known as amnesic shellfish poisoning.

The department instructed all shellfish dealers in possession of the affected mussels and clams to dispose of them immediately.

Nichols said the phytoplankton containing the acid has existed in Maine waters for decades, but that this was the first time any shellfish have tested above the safety threshold. The department has no theories on why it happened this time, he said.

“There have been no illnesses ever attributed to (amnesic shellfish poisoning) from Maine shellfish,” Nichols said.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/maine-issues-recall-of-mussels-clams-tainted-with-neurotoxin/feed/ 2 Fri, 30 Sep 2016 17:06:36 +0000
Air Force One to refuel in Bangor on Friday http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/air-force-one-to-refuel-in-bangor-on-friday/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/air-force-one-to-refuel-in-bangor-on-friday/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2016 19:34:33 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/air-force-one-to-refuel-in-bangor-on-friday/ Air Force One is scheduled to stop at Bangor International Airport sometime Friday evening to refuel on its way back from Israel.

According to information shared by the press pool traveling with President Barack Obama, Air Force One departed Tel Aviv shortly before 2 p.m. Eastern time on Friday.

It wasn’t clear what time the plane would arrive in Bangor.

Former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State John Kerry were among those who accompanied the president.

Bangor International Airport, which used to be an Air Force base, is commonly used by international aircraft to refuel. It also is home to the Maine Air National Guard’s 101st Air Refueling Wing, which services military planes.

This story will be updated.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/air-force-one-to-refuel-in-bangor-on-friday/feed/ 7 Fri, 30 Sep 2016 15:34:33 +0000
Portland man held on $250,000 bail in Rockland kidnapping http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/portland-man-held-on-250000-bail-in-rockland-kidnapping/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/portland-man-held-on-250000-bail-in-rockland-kidnapping/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2016 19:33:01 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/portland-man-held-on-250000-bail-in-rockland-kidnapping/ A Portland man is being held on $250,000 bail on charges that he tried to kidnap a woman off the street in Rockland on Wednesday.

Shane J. Hall, 29, made his first court appearance in the case Friday and is being held at Knox County Jail in Rockland.

He is facing felony charges of kidnapping, aggravated assault, criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, eluding an officer, and misdemeanor charges of refusing to submit to arrest and driving to endanger.

Hall is accused of ambushing a woman as she walked home from work, threatening her with a knife, choking her until she was unconscious and leading police on a car chase through downtown Rockland.

Assistant District Attorney Jeff Baroody recommended the bail amount along with conditions that, in the event of release, Hall have no contact with the victim, not be allowed to posses weapons and check in daily with the Rockland Police Department. Judge Susan Sparaco approved the bail and conditions in Knox County Unified Court.

Hall has not yet entered a plea.

Defense counsel for the day, William Pagnano, did not contest the bail amount, saying he believes it’s in Hall’s interest to accept the amount and consult with his attorney once one is appointed to him. “One could argue it’s excessive,” Pagnano said of the bail amount. “We’re not saying it’s reasonable.”

This story will be updated.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/portland-man-held-on-250000-bail-in-rockland-kidnapping/feed/ 0 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Shane-Hall.jpgFri, 30 Sep 2016 15:41:32 +0000
Time Warner hiring 50 in Portland area http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/time-warner-hiring-50-in-portland-area/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/time-warner-hiring-50-in-portland-area/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2016 18:09:14 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/time-warner-hiring-50-in-portland-area/ Time Warner Cable is hiring 50 customer service representatives and field technicians in the Portland area to serve customers over the phone and in person, the company said Friday.

Time Warner would not disclose salary ranges for the available positions. According to online employee survey website glassdoor.com, the typical Time Warner customer service rep earns $13 an hour, and the typical field technician earns $16 an hour. Time Warner said it currently employs more than 800 people in Maine.

To help fill the open positions, Time Warner said it will host a job fair from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday at the company’s regional call center at 901 Washington Ave. in Portland. Hiring managers will be on site for immediate interviews.

Job candidates also will have the opportunity to meet with leaders in customer and field operations, assess the company culture and learn about hours, pay and training.

Time warner said applicants should apply online and complete an assessment at jobs.twc.com prior to attending Tuesday’s career fair using requisition #180812BR for customer service jobs and requisition #181197BR for field technician jobs.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/time-warner-hiring-50-in-portland-area/feed/ 0 Fri, 30 Sep 2016 14:10:40 +0000
Father of toddler pulled from Kennebec River thanks rescuers http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/father-of-toddler-pulled-from-kennebec-river-thanks-rescuers/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/father-of-toddler-pulled-from-kennebec-river-thanks-rescuers/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2016 17:26:39 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/father-of-toddler-pulled-from-kennebec-river-thanks-rescuers/ AUGUSTA — Christopher Norwood, the Augusta man who was charged with endangering the welfare of a child after his 2-year-old son nearly drowned in the Kennebec River, released a statement through his attorney Thursday thanking the boy’s rescuers and asking the public to withhold judgment about the accident.

“This has been an extremely difficult experience, and Chris is extremely grateful for the actions of first responders and everyone who intervened to help his son,” wrote his attorney, Scott Hess, of Augusta. “Luckily, the child is doing very well and is expected to fully recover.”

Hess continued, “Although this was a very serious incident, it is important to keep in mind that not every accident is a crime. We are confident that this matter will reach an appropriate resolution in due course.”

Norwood, 31, was charged with the Class D misdemeanor after the boy’s medical condition stabilized and Augusta police Detective Tori Tracy completed an investigation of the Sept. 16 incident.

Class D crimes are punishable by up to 364 days in prison and a $2,000 fine.

The state Department of Health and Human Services has been involved in the investigation since it began and has been working to ensure the child’s safety, according to a Jared Mills, the city’s deputy police chief.

Mills said the child was released from the hospital “to a safe location designated by DHHS,” which he said, to his knowledge, was not in the custody of his parents. He said Tuesday the child’s parents have been cooperating with DHHS to make sure that he is safe.

The toddler was rescued by a passer-by, Sean Scanlon, of Dresden, who was at the East Side Boat Landing with his own son. Augusta Fire and Rescue took over the rescue when they arrived at the scene.

Norwood is scheduled to make his initial court appearance Nov. 21, according to Mills.

“Mr. Norwood was not at the East Side Boat Landing at the time of the incident and (was) at a location far enough away that he could not provide the proper care to ensure the safety of a 2-year-old child,” Mills said this week.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/father-of-toddler-pulled-from-kennebec-river-thanks-rescuers/feed/ 0 Fri, 30 Sep 2016 13:26:39 +0000
Police name suspect in central Maine bank robbery http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/police-in-central-maine-looking-for-manchester-bank-robber/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/police-in-central-maine-looking-for-manchester-bank-robber/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2016 17:04:16 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/police-in-central-maine-looking-for-manchester-bank-robber/ MANCHESTER — Police have issued an arrest warrant for a man suspected in a bank robbery Friday morning at the Camden National Bank branch at the intersection of Western Avenue and Pond Road in Manchester.

A bank employee told police that a man had approached a teller at 11:30 a.m., said he had a gun and left with an undisclosed amount of money, Kennebec County Sheriff Ryan Reardon said. No one was injured.

Police identified Clinton Richard Damboise, 40, of Belgrade, as a suspect in the case, Reardon said in a statement Friday afternoon. They have issued a warrant for Damboise’s arrest on charges of felony theft and robbery.

Bank employees described the suspect as being in his 40s and 6 feet 3 inches tall with a scruffy beard. He was reported to be wearing dark clothing, a baseball cap and a light brown Carhartt-style jacket with a band around the waist.

He left the bank on foot heading toward a nearby karate studio, bank employees reported to police, but it was not clear whether he had a vehicle.

Reardon said Damboise is just over 6 feet tall, weighs 230 pounds and has brown hair and brown eyes.

Damboise goes to Connecticut frequently, Reardon said. He advised anyone who sees Damboise to contact police and not approach him.

A nearby elementary school was locked down after the robbery but had returned to normal security by 1 p.m.

Maine State Police and the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office are investigating.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/police-in-central-maine-looking-for-manchester-bank-robber/feed/ 0 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/1083357_278576-cop-gun.jpgFri, 30 Sep 2016 17:25:17 +0000
New Yorker charged in killing of Biddeford man http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/new-yorker-charged-in-murder-of-biddeford-man/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/new-yorker-charged-in-murder-of-biddeford-man/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2016 15:15:53 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/new-yorker-charged-in-murder-of-biddeford-man/ A New York man was charged Friday in connection with the shooting death of a Biddeford man this week.

State police detectives charged Timothy Ortiz, 20, of Brooklyn, with murder. He is accused of shooting 30-year-old Jonathon Methot early Monday morning in Methot’s apartment on West Cutts Street in Biddeford.

Ortiz has been held since Monday at the Cumberland County Jail in Portland on a probation violation from New York that is not related to the shooting, according to Maine State Police. Ortiz is on probation in New York for aggravated sex trafficking and a drug charge.

Ortiz was arrested on the probation violation Monday and appeared in court Friday morning. He was then charged with murder in the Biddeford case.

Police had said little about the case since the shooting was reported around 1 a.m. Monday. It took place inside the duplex at 68-70 West Cutts St. where Methot lived. Detectives had told a neighbor they were were looking for two suspects.

Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine State Police, would not give details on the investigation or whether police had responded to previous calls for service at that address.

Methot, the father of a young son, went to Biddeford High School and last worked as an assembler for IFCO, according to his obituary. He was the father of a son, and a sports fan, the obituary said.

He had a criminal history in Maine dating back to 2005. Most of the charges were misdemeanors, including a charge for operating under the influence, but he also was convicted of felony drug trafficking and furnishing scheduled drugs, according to state records.

Ortiz is expected to be transferred to the York County Jail in Alfred on Friday. His first court appearance is scheduled for Monday in York County Superior Court in Alfred.

Ortiz has no prior criminal record in Maine, according to state records.

This story will be updated.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/new-yorker-charged-in-murder-of-biddeford-man/feed/ 28 Fri, 30 Sep 2016 14:03:53 +0000
Driver loses consciousness, causes minor accident in Portland http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/driver-loses-consciousness-causes-minor-accident-in-portland/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/driver-loses-consciousness-causes-minor-accident-in-portland/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2016 14:50:06 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/driver-loses-consciousness-causes-minor-accident-in-portland/ A driver lost consciousness at a downtown intersection Friday morning, causing a minor traffic accident.

The driver of a black, late-model Honda sedan apparently lost consciousness as he was driving on Temple Street toward Congress Street.

“I saw his head fall,” said Andrew Hanson, who walked by the scene on Temple Street, a few feet away from the accident. “He was normal and then suddenly he was not.”

The Honda continued forward for several feet after the driver passed out, scraping against the side of a commercial van that was stopped and waiting to make a turn in the next lane. Hanson said the man had a dark substance coming from his mouth.

Hanson said another passerby flagged down a passing fire engine. The doors to the car were locked, so firefighters had to break a window to get to the driver, a man who appeared to be in his 20s.

Firefighters and EMTs appeared to administer a blood-sugar test to the driver, Hanson said.

The driver eventually regained consciousness and was able to get out of the vehicle and onto a stretcher with the help of EMTs. Damage to both vehicles appeared minor.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/driver-loses-consciousness-causes-minor-accident-in-portland/feed/ 0 Fri, 30 Sep 2016 10:54:52 +0000
Lobsterman charged with sinking foe’s lobster boat http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/lobsterman-charged-with-sinking-foes-lobster-boat/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/lobsterman-charged-with-sinking-foes-lobster-boat/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2016 14:24:38 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/lobsterman-charged-with-sinking-foes-lobster-boat/ A Tenants Harbor man has been charged in connection with a boat sinking case that sent two others to jail earlier this summer.

Alan Norwood, 47, was arrested by the Maine Marine Patrol and charged with aggravated criminal mischief for his involvement in the sinking of a 36-foot lobster boat owned by Joshua Hupper.

Earlier this month, Vincent Hilt, 22, of Vinalhaven and Devin Meklin, 20, of Warren were arrested and charged with felony criminal mischief for intentionally sinking the lobster boat on Sept. 1 in Tenants Harbor. Since then, Norwood has been under investigation by the Maine Marine Patrol. He was suspected of arranging to have the boat sunk.

Investigators say evidence in the case points to a dispute between Norwood, a licensed lobsterman, and Hupper as a possible motive.

Norwood was arrested Thursday and taken to Knox County Jail. Aggravated criminal mischief carries a potential punishment of up to 5 years in prison and fines. Norwood could be ordered to pay restitution.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/lobsterman-charged-with-sinking-foes-lobster-boat/feed/ 2 Fri, 30 Sep 2016 11:03:30 +0000
Portland police officers to carry Narcan http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/portland-police-offices-to-carry-narcan/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/portland-police-offices-to-carry-narcan/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2016 13:32:29 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/portland-police-offices-to-carry-narcan/ All Portland police patrol officers on Friday started carrying Narcan, the opioid antidote that can prevent fatal overdoses.

Police Chief Michael Sauschuck said all patrol officers have been trained to properly administer the drug, which revives patients who have lost consciousness from an overdose.

Portland joins several other Maine cities – including Bangor, Westbrook, Skowhegan and the Kennebec County sheriff’s office – where patrol officers are trained to give Narcan during drug overdoses. Kennebec County was the first agency to start having police officers administer Narcan in 2015.

“I don’t think Narcan is a long-term solution, but it is a miracle drug that saves lives,” Sauschuck said during a news conference Friday morning.

Sauschuck said 120 patrol officers have Narcan and will use it if the officers are on the scene of a drug overdose before Portland Fire Department emergency crews arrive. So far this year, police have responded to about 200 drug overdose calls, he said.

Fatal drug overdoses have continued to climb as Maine is grappling with the opioid epidemic. There were 272 drug overdose deaths in Maine in 2015, most caused by heroin, fentanyl and prescription opioids. Through the first six months of 2016, 189 people died in Maine from drug overdoses.

Dr. Mary Dowd, who works with opioid addicts at the Milestone Foundation’s detox center in Portland, said it’s “great” that Portland police are now using Narcan because “people are overdosing all the time.”

At Milestone, patients who have overdosed are stabilized, and medical workers try to connect people with treatment and other resources during their stay of a few days, although that’s difficult because of the lack of opioid treatment available in Maine, especially for those without insurance. But the first step, Dowd said, is to keep alive those suffering from substance abuse.

“If they’re not alive, you can’t help them anymore,” Dowd said.

Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling said in a statement that he supported the move, noting that the recovery community has been pushing for first responders to be equipped with Narcan.

The move comes as Gov. Paul LePage this year vetoed legislation to expand access to naloxone, saying that making the antidote availble does not address the root causes of the drug problem and that keeping it on hand “serves only to perpetuate the cycle of addiction.”

“Naloxone does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose,” LePage wrote in his veto letter.

LePage was heavily criticized for his view on naloxone, and the Legislature overrode the veto.

Sauschuck said if the paramedics arrive first, they would administer Narcan, and not police officers.

Sauschuck said patrol officers have told him that they are increasingly finding themselves at drug overdose scenes giving CPR before medics arrive, and the officers believed that having Narcan on hand would be another useful tool to save lives.

In Portland, firefighters or emergency medical personnel administered Narcan 161 times in 2015. This year through the end of July, the fire department said naloxone, the generic name for Narcan, was used 63 times, a decrease from 86 in the same seven-month period of 2015.

“Since the beginning of the year, we’ve been working on a three-pronged strategy to fight addiction by increasing our educational efforts, community awareness and facilitating treatment through our Law Enforcement Addiction Advocacy Program,” Sauschuck said in a prepared statement. “Having our officers carry Narcan is a logical component to this effort for those times in which we are the first to arrive on scene.”

The police department received the Narcan doses free of charge from the Attorney General’s Office. Attorney General Janet Mill is distributing the antidote in an effort to equip more first responders with the lifesaving drug. Her office has distributed at least 866 doses of the nasal spray to several law enforcement agencies, including 150 in Portland.

In August, Mills’ office had spent $76,500 to buy 2,040 doses from AdaptPharma, which produces the nasal spray form of the drug. To pay for the program, Mills has drawn from the consumer trust fund, a pot of money built from court settlements that is controlled by the attorney general and is used to fund the consumer protection division and other initiatives at the attorney general’s discretion.

In Westbrook, all 39 officers have been trained to use Narcan, and have used it eight times since February, when the Narcan was first handed out to police, said Chief Janine Roberts.

“There’s definitely a need and a benefit,” Roberts said. “It gets the medication into the patients a minute or two faster than they would have received it otherwise.”

She said it’s difficult to know whether any of the eight would have died prior to medics arriving, but it’s possible the measure has already saved lives.

Nationwide and in Maine, more people now die from drug overdoses than vehicle accidents.

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

jlawlor@pressherald.com

Twitter: joelawlorph

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/portland-police-offices-to-carry-narcan/feed/ 17 Fri, 30 Sep 2016 17:09:39 +0000
Westbrook crash knocked out power in 4 towns http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/westbrook-crash-knocks-out-power-in-4-towns/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/westbrook-crash-knocks-out-power-in-4-towns/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2016 12:54:20 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/westbrook-crash-knocks-out-power-in-4-towns/ A car crashed into a pole on County Road in Westbrook Friday morning, knocking out power to 1,400 customers for a short time.

County Road – also known as Route 22 – was partially closed during the morning commute because of the crash. The crash occurred near Smiling Hill Farm and required power company crews to replace a broken pole.

Central Maine Power Co. says 1,400 customers in Westbrook, Scarborough, Gorham and Buxton lost power because of the crash.

In Windham, Nash Road between Falmouth Road and Roosevelt Trail was closed during the morning commute as CMP crews replaced a pole that was knocked down during a crash. Emergency dispatchers said the road may be closed for several hours and drivers should seek an alternate route.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/westbrook-crash-knocks-out-power-in-4-towns/feed/ 0 Fri, 30 Sep 2016 11:53:11 +0000
Port Clyde lobsterman’s boat intentionally sunk twice http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/port-clyde-lobstermans-boat-intentionally-sunk-twice/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/port-clyde-lobstermans-boat-intentionally-sunk-twice/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2016 12:47:54 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/port-clyde-lobstermans-boat-intentionally-sunk-twice/ ST. GEORGE — The Maine Marine Patrol is investigating the sinking of a Port Clyde lobsterman’s boat on Wednesday, just days after the owner had repaired the boat after an earlier sinking on Aug. 17.

Tony Hooper, 37, said his lobster boat was released from its mooring overnight, with hoses and bilge wires cut, and left to wash up on a nearby island.

The sinking comes little more than a month after an earlier incident when his boat was found 30 feet underwater.

“I’m doing all I can to keep my wits about me,” he said. “This is getting ridiculous.”

Hooper said he had already lost around $30,000 to repairs for the boat after the first incident and weeks spent off the water. This time, he said he was lucky to have found the boat beached on a nearby island at low tide, with water in the engine. He said he does not know how much these new repairs will cost.

“I’ve been losing traps all season,” Hooper said. “I’ve always had a little bit of a problem before, but not to this extent.”

Sgt. Matthew Talbot of the Maine Marine Patrol confirmed both sinkings are under investigation and appear to be intentional.

Hooper said he thought other lobstermen were paying drug addicts to destroy rival lobstermen’s property.

On Sept. 1, two men sunk another lobster boat and stole an abandoned a skiff in St. George, according to court documents.

One of the men told investigators they then drove to Augusta to buy drugs with money they were paid to sink the boat. Three men have been charged in that incident.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/port-clyde-lobstermans-boat-intentionally-sunk-twice/feed/ 5 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/1083213_Tony-Hoopers-boat1.jpgFri, 30 Sep 2016 10:08:00 +0000
Two years after referendum, Gorham unveils new public safety complex http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/two-years-after-referendum-gorham-unveils-new-public-safety-complex/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/two-years-after-referendum-gorham-unveils-new-public-safety-complex/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1082988 Gorham residents will get their first peek this weekend at the product of a $5 million renovation and expansion to their public safety complex on Main Street.

The transformed fire station and a new 10,000-square-foot police station will be unveiled during an open house Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

“This is a vast improvement,” said police Chief Dan Jones, who joined the department a little more than a year ago.

The police and fire departments long shared a building, but the town identified the need for more space in 1999. Officials claimed the showers, sleeping areas, interview rooms, offices and storage space were not sufficient.

“The first time I sat down and really talked about it was 17 or 18 years ago,” said longtime Fire Chief Robert Lefebvre.

In 2013, town officials presented voters with a $6.3 million plan that called for renovating the former Little Falls School into a new headquarters. Disappointed with the price and the location, nearly three-quarters of voters said “No.” So in 2014, the town tried again, this time with a cheaper plan to renovate the existing building for the fire station and build the new police station next door. By a narrow margin – 3,588 to 3,490 – the question passed.

Among the improvements in the new buildings are more storage and work space for all employees. The police department added three interview rooms, a secure entrance and a secure room for evidence testing and storage.

“It had been repurposed so many times that all the rooms were also hallways,” Jones said of the old department. “If people had to get from one end of the building to another, they would have to walk through those rooms.”

The new fire station boasts two new bays, a safer cleaning station for contaminated gear and a 60-seat training room that doubles as an emergency operations center. That space was not previously available to the departments and was one of the priorities for a redesign, the chief said.

“Before there were a lot of places we were just sitting on top of each other,” Lefebvre said.

“It was difficult to have a lot of pride when someone came in both facilities,” he added. “Now, we feel like a professional organization.”

Gorham’s staff includes 24 police officers. The fire department has 14 full-timers, and the call team totals 170. The open house on Sunday will be a chance for the public to take tours of both departments, as well as watch demonstrations and the dedication of a new memorial.

“This facility will certainly serve the community for the next 25 years or better,” Lefebvre said. “It gives us the resources that we need.”

Ever since the police department moved into its new building in the spring, Jones said the work environment for officers has improved. In March 2015, a town-commissioned report cited claims of domestic violence and low morale among Gorham officers.

“Just the fact that it’s a lot easier for the officers to get their jobs done, morale seems great right now,” Jones said.

The public safety complex is located at 270 Main St.

Megan Doyle can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

mdoyle@pressherald.com

Twitter: megan_e_doyle

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/two-years-after-referendum-gorham-unveils-new-public-safety-complex/feed/ 0 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/1082988_8860-20160927_Gorham1534.jpgFri, 30 Sep 2016 04:00:00 +0000
WEX embraces new parental leave policy to attract, keep workers http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/wex-embraces-new-parental-leave-policy-to-attract-keep-workers/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/wex-embraces-new-parental-leave-policy-to-attract-keep-workers/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1083024 Parents who work at WEX Inc. have a new perk: up to six weeks of fully paid parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child.

The South Portland payment processing technology firm has joined a small but growing list of employers that offer paid leave to both male and female employees for childbirth and adoption. WEX implemented the new policy Sept. 1, retroactive to the beginning of this year.

That’s good news for Johann Sabbath, a strategic planner at WEX whose daughter, Pemma Sabbath, was born on April 27. He used two weeks of vacation time to be with his wife, Yasmin Mahal, and their newborn daughter. Now he has the vacation time back, along with the option to take four more fully paid weeks off.

An employee at WEX Inc. in South Portland, Johann Sabbath of Portland used two weeks of vacation when his wife, Yasmin Mahal, gave birth to their daughter, Pemma, in April. A retroactive change to his company's family leave policy allows the new dad to get his vacation time back and take another four weeks of paid time off.

Johann Sabbath of Portland, an employee of WEX Inc. in South Portland, used two weeks of vacation when his wife, Yasmin Mahal, gave birth to their daughter, Pemma, in April. A retroactive change to his company’s family leave policy allows the new dad to get his vacation time back and take another four weeks of paid time off. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

“It enables me to take time off and pinch-hit with childcare,” said Sabbath, whose wife also has a career. “I think this new policy is awesome for expecting parents or those looking to adopt children.”

The new benefit is in addition to WEX’s existing maternity leave allowance, which provides up to eight weeks of short-term disability leave at two-thirds pay for female workers. WEX, which has 2,600 employees worldwide, including about 760 in Maine, had no prior leave policy for new fathers.

According to the Alexandria, Virginia-based Society for Human Resource Management, only 17 percent of U.S. companies offer paid parental leave to both male and female employees. Only 21 percent provide paid maternal leave to female workers, it said.

WEX’s parental leave policy only applies to the company’s full-time U.S. workers, but Senior Vice President of Human Resources Jenifer Rinehart said most other countries in which the company operates already have government-mandated parental leave policies that meet or exceed the new WEX policy.

“In the U.S., we lag behind in robust benefits for new parents,” Rinehart said.

Those benefits vary by industry, said Amie Parker, state director-elect of the human resource management society’s Maine chapter. “There are some industries that are ahead of the curve.”

For instance, colleges and universities, law firms and technology companies are among those most likely to offer paid parental leave, Parker said. Large corporations also are more likely than small businesses to offer the benefit, she said, adding that many small businesses cannot afford to pay workers for parental leave.

Portlanders Yasmin Mahal and Johann Sabbath with their infant daughter, Pemma Sabbath. Johann Sabbath works for WEX Inc. and is benefiting from the company's new parental leave policy.

Yasmin Mahal and Johann Sabbath of Portland with their infant daughter, Pemma Sabbath. Photo courtesy Wex Inc.

Rinehart said WEX researched the costs and benefits of adding a parental leave policy and found that the pros outweighed the cons. For example, a California study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that 87 percent of businesses that implemented parental leave policies on a trial basis reported no impact on their bottom line. Another 9 percent said they actually saved money because of decreased employee turnover and other benefit payments. Only 4 percent said the policy had a negative financial impact.

WEX also found that companies with parental leave policies gain a distinct edge over their competitors when it comes to attracting new talent, Rinehart said.

“It will definitely help us from a recruitment perspective,” she said.

WEX found evidence that parental leave policies benefit parents and children, as well. A study in Iceland by the Icelandic Review of Politics and Administration found that parents who take time off for childbirth and adoption are 70 percent more likely to share in child-rearing duties, and 18 percent less likely to suffer from depression.

WEX employee Johann Sabbath, who is a new father, recently took advantage of his company's parental leave policy. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

WEX employee Johann Sabbath, who is a new father, recently took advantage of his company’s parental leave policy. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Adding parental leave for adoptions is important because the average adopting family must spend seven to 10 days in the birth state of the adopted child, according to the Association of Administrators of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. The time requirement can be even longer for adopted children born in foreign countries.

Parker said few employers in Maine offer parental leave benefits, in part because the state is dominated by small businesses. Still, WEX isn’t the only company in the state that provides employee benefits to parents who are not the birth mother or primary caregiver.

Idexx Laboratories Inc. in Westbrook implemented a “bonding leave” benefit in 2014, which provides two weeks of fully paid leave to non-birth mother parents to bond with their newborn or adopted child, in addition to its paid maternal leave policy of six weeks at half pay and $5,000 in financial assistance toward the cost of adopting a child.

In general, Parker said, changes in family dynamics and increased adoption rates have helped bring the issue of parental leave further into the spotlight.

“Employers that are more progressive are moving in that direction,” she said.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/wex-embraces-new-parental-leave-policy-to-attract-keep-workers/feed/ 19 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/1083024_623443-20160929_wex-02372.jpgFri, 30 Sep 2016 08:01:42 +0000
Owners of Scarborough campground and farm dispute EPA charges http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/owners-of-scarborough-campground-and-farm-dispute-epa-charges/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/owners-of-scarborough-campground-and-farm-dispute-epa-charges/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1082865 An attorney for the owners of a popular Scarborough campground and farm disputed the federal government’s claims that they “filled wetlands” on their property, saying the family only settled to avoid a costlier legal battle.

But Bayley’s Camping Resort also faces more potential sanctions from Maine environmental regulators for allegedly filling in additional freshwater wetlands without first receiving state permits.

The owners of Bayley’s Camping Resort, Bayley Hill Deer and Trout Farm have agreed to restore nearly 65 acres of wetlands and pay a $227,500 civil penalty over alleged federal Clean Water Act violations dating back decades.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s case against Fred, Kathleen and Thomas Bayley and their related companies – FKT Resort Management LLC and FKT Bayley Family Limited Partnership – stems from work the Bayley family did on their farm and campground near the Pine Point area of Scarborough and Old Orchard Beach. That work was sometimes carried out in cooperation with state agencies.

Attorney Gene Libby pointed out that the Bayleys settled “without any admission of liability” and said the family never “filled in” wetlands but, instead, redeposited soil previously moved from the site. Libby also portrayed the EPA and U.S. Department of Justice as Goliath taking on David, in this case private property owners.

“We have two individuals who are both 77 (years old), and at this stage in their lives they simply do not have the stamina to engage in this sort of fight,” Libby said. “So clearly this is a compromise.”

COMPLEX LAWS TO NAVIGATE

The case of Bayley Camping Resort and Bayley Hill Deer and Trout Farm in many ways highlights the complexities for landowners trying to navigate the maze of state and federal environmental regulations, as well as the challenge of enforcing those laws.

The EPA alleges that the Bayleys placed fill and other materials in wetlands that are part of Scarborough Marsh at their Ross Road farm and at the campground. The agency contends the actions were done without first obtaining the necessary permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and constitute illegal discharges into the waterways.

At the campground, the EPA claims the Bayleys had discharged dredge or fill into 18 acres of designated wetlands since 1984 without first obtaining permits. As part of the settlement, the Bayleys agreed to restore a roughly 7-acre area known as the “goose pasture” that attracts waterfowl but that the campground has used for farming and other activities in the past.

But Libby suggested the EPA targeted the Bayley family for activities it undertook as part of a 450-acre waterfowl habitat restoration project in Scarborough Marsh. The Bayleys provided equipment, labor and $5,000 to rebuild an impoundment on state-owned land to create the wetlands, working with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife as well as Ducks Unlimited.

As part of the project, Fred Bayley created the “goose pasture” for migratory birds with help and advice from the state. The Scarborough Marsh wetlands and pasture restoration even received a lengthy write-up in the Maine department’s magazine as an example of the state’s work to improve wildlife habitat.

While Libby said the EPA dropped initial charges for the dam work because it was on state-owned land, he said the Bayley family agreed to restore 7 acres of the pasture land “because it was the least expensive way to resolve the controversy.”

The family, however, is under additional scrutiny from the state for allegedly filling in other wetlands and improving areas of the property without permits.

FINE PAID, ALLEGATIONS DISPUTED

During a January 2015 inspection, DEP staff noted that up to 35,281 square feet of freshwater wetlands had been filled by the campground owners without a permit. Additionally, DEP staff noted 5.4 acres of newly developed campsites, an excavation area and a new road, all done without prior DEP approval.

The DEP issued a “notice of violation” to FKT Bayley Family Limited Partnership in March 2015. A department spokesman declined to comment because the case is still pending.

In the case of the farm property, the settlement with the EPA alleges that the Bayleys or their employees discharged materials into about 77 acres of wetlands and along about 3,773 feet of tributaries.

Libby countered that some of the work was done “with the advice and consent of” the Cumberland County Conservation District, which was formerly a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Also, land clearing in 2007 was done under a provision of Maine law that allows farmers to convert freshwater wetlands into farm fields as long as the topography is not affected, Libby said.

“We don’t have a dredge-and-fill operation here,” he said. “We have a farmer creating farmland who ran into some restrictive regulations.”

But Bayley Hill Deer and Trout Farm paid a fine of more than $19,500 to the state three years ago for some of the same site work.

In May 2012, a Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry official inspected the farmland in response to the complaint about wetlands disturbance.

“It appeared as though the character of the land wasn’t significantly altered other than some smoothing,” inspector Matthew Randall wrote in his report.

EPA CONFIDENT IN SETTLEMENT

Ultimately, however, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection determined that the farm violated the state’s Natural Resources Protection Act by “removing or displacing” soil or vegetation and then filling a freshwater wetland without obtaining a permit. The Bayleys also built a culvert, a stream crossing and a road adjacent to the stream without a permit.

While the DEP’s May 2013 consent agreement with the Bayleys acknowledged Maine law allows wetland alterations for farming purposes, the settlement noted that “when the agricultural fields were created, some land topography was altered in the wetland areas.”

The Bayleys subsequently filed for “after-the-fact” permits from the DEP and restored some of the wetlands.

An EPA spokesman declined to comment Thursday when asked for a response to Libby’s statements.

“EPA and DOJ do not comment on our negotiations when reaching a settlement,” the statement from the EPA states. “However, the United States is confident that we have reached a fair and appropriate settlement in this matter.”

The EPA consent agreement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval.

 

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/owners-of-scarborough-campground-and-farm-dispute-epa-charges/feed/ 20 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/1080330_732853-20160928_bayleys-003.jpgFri, 30 Sep 2016 08:47:07 +0000
Tragedy at sea: Sinking of El Faro recalled one year later http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/tragedy-at-sea-el-faro-recalled-one-year-later/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/tragedy-at-sea-el-faro-recalled-one-year-later/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1082883 One year ago, the crew of the container ship El Faro, with five Maine Maritime Academy graduates on board, got caught in a powerful Category 4 hurricane and sank off the coast of the Bahamas in 15,000 feet of water.

All 33 crew members, including the ship’s captain, 53-year-old Michael Davidson of Windham, were lost at sea in one of the worst maritime tragedies in U.S. history.

This weekend, many of the families of the victims will gather in Jacksonville, Florida, to mark the one-year anniversary of the El Faro tragedy. The ship sank on the morning of Oct. 1, 2015.

Several events to remember the victims are scheduled this weekend in Jacksonville, which was the El Faro’s home port.

Maine Maritime Academy President William J. Brennan said Thursday evening that the school will not commemorate the El Faro incident out of respect for the families of all the graduates who have died at sea.

“At Maine Maritime Academy we work on the sea, and we train hard for extremely complex and even perilous situations, so our purpose here at MMA is all the more critical in the face of an incident such as the sinking of the El Faro,” Brennan said in a statement. “Out of respect for the families of all of our alumni who have been lost since the founding of the Academy, we will not commemorate the one-year mark of the incident in a public way.”

Brennan said scholarships have been established in the names of the El Faro crew.

“We are honoring the legacy of our alumni who are forever the officers and crew of the El Faro through the establishment of scholarships in their names,” Brennan said.

Brennan said the names of all MMA alumni lost at sea will be read at the Regimental Induction Ceremony during the school’s 2020 Regimental Induction Weekend on Saturday, Oct. 8.

“The names of all of our alumni lost in the line of duty or at sea will be read at the ceremony, recognizing their service, their contributions, and their influence on us,” Brennan said.

In addition to Davidson, the other crew members with a connection to Maine were 25-year-old Michael L. Holland of Wilton, 23-year-old Dylan O. Meklin of Rockland and 34-year-old Danielle L. Randolph of Rockland. A fifth crew member, 26-year-old Mitchell T. Kuflik of Brooklyn, New York, graduated from Maine Maritime Academy.

Holland’s mother, Deb Roberts of Wilton, traveled to Jacksonville to participate in the ceremonies. Roberts said she was looking forward to meeting some of the families that she has only been able to correspond with on social media.

She met a close friend when her flight landed in Atlanta. Laurie Bobillott’s daughter, Danielle Randolph, was on the El Faro when it sank. Roberts and Bobillott were booked on the same flight from Atlanta to Jacksonville.

“I’m feeling good, but it has been a mix of emotions,” Roberts said Thursday evening in a telephone interview from Florida. “It’s hard coming back here. It brings back a lot of emotions and memories from when I came here last year with the hope that Michael was still alive.”

Roberts and other El Faro family members have been invited to attend a Friday night dinner hosted by the American Maritime Officers union in Jacksonville.

The Seafarers International Union will hold a remembrance Saturday at 11 a.m. in Jacksonville. Seventeen of the El Faro crew members lived in the Jacksonville area. A monument will be unveiled at the union hall, featuring a miniature lighthouse with 33 stars.

Earlier this week, the Florida Times Union reported that the Jacksonville City Council voted to pass a resolution changing the name of Dames Point Park to El Faro Memorial at Dames Point Park. The newspaper said El Faro’s owner – Tote Services Inc. – will pay for improvements to the blighted park and erect a permanent 10-foot statue in the crew’s memory.

That statue will be unveiled at 4 p.m. Saturday, according to Roberts.

“We don’t have a grave. No body was buried, but at least we will have a place we can return to,” Roberts said, referring to the memorials.

The El Faro made its final departure from Jacksonville on Sept. 30. At the time, the cargo ship was carrying 391 shipping containers and 294 cars and trailers. Davidson was aware of the storm, which had been named Joaquin, and was trying to travel under the weather system. Instead, he sailed directly into the hurricane’s path.

El Faro lost propulsion and started to take on water during the storm, which battered the 790-foot ship with waves as tall as 30 feet.

Davidson ordered the crew to abandon ship, according to El Faro’s voyage data recorder, which the National Transportation Safety Board and the Navy recovered in August. It contains 26 hours of conversations that took place on the bridge, as well as navigational data, onboard radar images and wind data.

In addition to 28 American crew members, there were five Polish mariners on board the cargo ship. Tote Services has settled 23 of the 33 wrongful death claims filed by the families, according to the Florida Times Union.

The NTSB and the Coast Guard continue to investigate the circumstances that caused the El Faro to sink. Two hearings have been held this year by the Coast Guard’s Marine Board of Investigation, with a third hearing expected to be held once the NTSB has developed a transcript of the sounds and discernible words captured on the El Faro’s bridge audio.

“The vessel’s loss of propulsion was mentioned on the bridge audio about 6:13 a.m. (Oct. 1). Also captured was the master speaking on the telephone, notifying shoreside personnel of the vessel’s critical situation. He also informed them he was going to send out an emergency distress signal,” the NTSB said in a news release issued after the data recorder had been found. “The master sounded the abandon ship alarm about 7:30 a.m., Oct. 1.”

The recording of conversations on the bridge ends about 10 minutes later.

 

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/tragedy-at-sea-el-faro-recalled-one-year-later/feed/ 2 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/779320_573406_el_faro.jpgFri, 30 Sep 2016 08:03:01 +0000
Small Westbrook lab in race to help speed up testing for Zika http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/small-westbrook-lab-in-race-to-help-speed-up-testing-for-zika/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/small-westbrook-lab-in-race-to-help-speed-up-testing-for-zika/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1082967 WESTBROOK — A test that soon could be available to help millions of people worldwide determine whether they have the Zika virus could rely on research done at a small lab in a Westbrook industrial park. Unlike current tests that take weeks to process, the new tests would give patients quick results, potentially within 20 minutes.

ViroStat Inc., a private company on Spiller Drive, is in a race with at least one other company to develop an antibody that could be used in diagnostic tests kits, company officials said. The Zika virus has become a worldwide public health hazard because scientists have concluded that the virus can cause birth defects.

ViroStat doesn’t make the tests, but sells the antibodies to diagnostic testing companies.

The lab, which has six employees including president and founder Doug McAllister, has spent a year researching and testing and is close to the point where the antibodies could be sold to makers of the diagnostic tests. Three U.S. test-making companies are evaluating the antibodies produced in the ViroStat lab, McAllister said, and if all goes well, the Zika tests could be put on the market in 2017.

ViroStat's president and founder Doug McAllister said the tests would be a boon to combating the Zika virus, especially in developing countries.

ViroStat’s president and founder Doug McAllister said the tests would be a boon to combating the Zika virus, especially in developing countries.

“It’s a race to be first and a race to see who has the best-quality test,” McAllister said.

The price for the antibodies is $50,000 per 4-ounce bottle. McAllister estimates that 4 ounces of antibodies could be used in millions of Zika tests, probably a blood test from a finger prick in a doctor’s office or by medical workers in the field.

“This is like selling the razor blades to the razor companies,” said McAllister, 69, who founded the company in 1985.

McAllister said the tests would be a boon to combating the virus, especially in developing countries where many have suffered from the Zika virus, which is known to cause microcephaly, a condition where babies are born with small heads. The mosquito-born Zika virus has spread throughout much of South America and the Carribbean, and cases have started appearing in the United States, especially Florida.

CURRENT ZIKA TEST HAS FLAWS

Zika virus symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes, muscle pain and headaches, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There is no cure or vaccine for Zika, and treatment would be rest, rehydration and pain relievers while waiting for symptoms to pass.

The mosquito that carries the Zika virus cannot live in Maine because of its cold climate, but there have been 11 cases of Zika in Maine involving people who traveled to tropical areas, contracted the virus and returned to Maine, according to the CDC. Because the mosquitoes that live in Maine can’t transmit the Zika virus, the virus can’t be spread here, scientists have said. However, a person with Zika can spread it to a sex partner.

Meghan May, an associate professor of biomedical sciences at the University of New England who has studied the effectiveness of Zika diagnostic tests for the CDC, said that if an antibody test is developed, it would be superior to the tests currently in use.

At ViroStat's lab in Westbrook, Amber McAllister fills vials holding antibodies that could be used in new diagnostic tests for Zika to get faster results.

At ViroStat’s lab in Westbrook, Amber McAllister fills vials holding antibodies that could be used in new diagnostic tests for Zika to get faster results.

Antibodies – blood proteins – bind to the virus, signaling its presence.

Aside from the length of time to get results, an antibody test would be better than the current tests that use ribonucleic acid, or RNA, to detect the Zika virus in blood, May said. She said the RNA tests for Zika result in too many false negatives, in which the test came back negative when the patient actually had the virus. That’s partly because the Zika virus is constantly evolving, making it difficult to detect with the RNA tests, she said.

“With an antibody, it’s much less likely the virus is going to escape detection,” said May, who wrote a research paper on the topic that was published in September.

Obtaining immediate test results is always preferable for the patient, she said. For example, a pregnant woman who suspects she has the Zika virus could have a “terrifying” two to three weeks of waiting for test results.

Also, she said being able to administer the tests in the field would be beneficial in third world countries, where access to clinics and communication with patients can be difficult.

“It can be quite an ordeal to get to some of these clinics, and many people don’t have a phone,” May said. “It can become impractical to administer these tests.”

TEN MICE AND A ZIKA VACCINE

The potential new tests cost less – about $10 for a field or doctor’s office test versus $100 per test for those that have to be sent away to get the results, McAllister said.

He said ViroStat has developed antibodies used in tests for many common infectious diseases, including RSV, influenza and rotavirus. There are only a few companies in the world that do this type of research, he said.

May agreed that it’s a narrow, “very specialized” research field, and that not many labs have the expertise to do it.

Researching an antibody is a long and arduous process. Near the beginning of the research a year ago, 10 mice at a lab in Wisconsin were given a Zika vaccine. Although there is no human vaccine for Zika, there is one for mice.

In its Westbrook lab, ViroStat developed cells taken from the vaccinated mice that secrete an antibody that binds to the Zika virus. Researchers at a California lab then took those cells and injected them into other mice where they could grow more rapidly. The cells are then extracted from those mice and returned to ViroStat to be purified and packaged in 4-ounce containers.

“The work we do has to be very specific so you don’t end up with false positives or false negatives,” McAllister said. He said it’s nice to know the tests could potentially help millions of people, especially if one day a cure or better treatment for the Zika virus is discovered.

“The quicker the results can come back from these tests, the quicker medical action can be taken,” he said.

 

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/small-westbrook-lab-in-race-to-help-speed-up-testing-for-zika/feed/ 1 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/49241-20160923_zika0079.jpgFri, 30 Sep 2016 10:02:55 +0000
LePage administration faces new question of whether it followed open meetings law http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/lepage-administration-again-faces-questions-about-whether-it-followed-maines-open-meetings-law/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/lepage-administration-again-faces-questions-about-whether-it-followed-maines-open-meetings-law/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2016 03:18:46 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/lepage-administration-again-faces-questions-about-whether-it-followed-maines-open-meetings-law/ AUGUSTA — Less than three weeks after paying a $500 fine for violating Maine’s open meetings law, the administration of Gov. Paul LePage is again facing questions about whether it provided adequate notice for a public meeting.

A special working group composed of lawmakers, administration officials and members of the public is set to meet at the Department of Health and Human Services offices in Augusta at 1 p.m. Friday to devise a way to block point-of-sale purchases for items that are illegal to buy with certain welfare benefits. Public notice of the meeting, which is required under the state’s Freedom of Access Act, went out just two days before it was to be held.

“The ‘Feasibility Working Group’ appears to be subject to the public proceeding requirements of FOAA,” Brenda Kielty, an assistant attorney general who serves as the state’s FOAA ombudsman, wrote in a message to Ana Hicks, the chief of staff for House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick.

“Absent emergency circumstances, notice for a public proceeding pursuant to FOAA must allow “ample time” for public attendance and should be “disseminated in a manner reasonably calculated to notify the general public,” Kielty wrote. “I question whether a two-day notice to the DHHS website and a listserv is ample time to reach the general public.”

Nick Adolphsen, the legislative liaison for the DHHS who organized the meeting, said Thursday that Legislative leaders were informed of the time and place of the meeting in June when they were requested to make their respective appointments to the panel. But Adolphsen also said it was an “oversight” on his part that more public notice was not provided. He said if there were members of the public or others who felt they were unable to attend the proceedings Friday because of the short notice he would schedule additional meetings to address those concerns.

Adolphsen also said the law creating the working group set an Oct. 1 deadline for the group’s first meeting. The law also calls for the working group to provide its recommendations to the Legislature by Dec. 15.

Sigmund Schutz, an attorney who represents the Portland Press Herald and other news organizations on open meetings and public records law, said the short notice is clearly a violation of both the “letter and the spirit” of Maine’s Freedom of Access Act.

“It’s compromising the ability of this group to do its job, it’s compromising the public’s right to know and participate and attend and probably at least risk a legal challenge to the validity of this group’s work,” Schutz said. While the short notice may be an honest mistake, it was still “problematic on many levels,” he said

Schutz said the violation isn’t as clear cut as the case in April, when members of the Republican governor’s staff worked to keep the first meeting of a Blue Ribbon Task Force on public education reform behind closed doors. Maine Attorney General Janet Mills brought a case against LePage’s administration in Kennebec County Superior Court over that violation and rather than fight the case, the administration decided to pay the $500 fine.

Even those appointed to the working group said they only found out the meeting was set for Friday, late on Wednesday afternoon.

“The department never notified me of the meeting, the department sent out (an email) listserv late yesterday afternoon and that’s the first time I received any notification from the department,” Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook, said Thursday. Gattine, who serves as the co-chairman of the Legislature’s Health and Human Service Committee, said he had a previously scheduled engagement on Friday that conflicted with the set meeting time. He intended to show up late for the meeting, which was scheduled for just two hours.

Gattine said he hoped DHHS staff had not already reached a predetermined decision on how to proceed with the point-of-sale ban for those receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families via a state-issued Electronic Benefits Card. He also said the Legislature passed the work of figuring out the details of a point-of-sale ban to the working group because it needed careful consideration, time and expertise that wasn’t readily available as lawmakers worked to craft a compromise that could be acceptable to various stakeholders including the merchants who accept EBT cards for payment.

A law passed by the Legislature this year banned the purchase of various products, including alcohol, lottery tickets, tobacco or adult entertainment products with TANF funds.

“I hope they don’t expect that we are going to get our work done on this (in one meeting) – this is more than one meeting and I’m expecting that we are going to continue to have additional meetings and my expectation is that the notice to the committee members will be a little bit better and the notice to the public will be a little bit better.”

In a email to the Press Herald Thursday, Kielty wrote that she was under the assumption that Adolphsen had notified the public, including the media, about the meeting, and “that notice for following meetings will be provided in ample time.”

Rep. Paul Stearns, R-Guilford, also appointed to the working group, said he knew the meeting was coming up and was told about it by Legislative staff in June, but he too never received any official notice of the meeting from DHHS. “About three weeks ago, I looked and said, ‘Oh my goodness that meeting is coming up, I’m surprised I haven’t heard anything about it,” Stearns said. He said he contacted Legislative staff last week and they confirmed the meeting was set for Friday. Stearns said he doesn’t think there was any ill intent on the part of DHHS and that people do make mistakes.

“They finally sent out an email notification today,” he said. “I think it was really just ineptitude really, and I don’t know on whose part, but I think it just fell through the cracks as far as notification. That was my feeling.”

 

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/lepage-administration-again-faces-questions-about-whether-it-followed-maines-open-meetings-law/feed/ 30 Fri, 30 Sep 2016 08:02:25 +0000
See art, visit artists during Open Studio Tour Saturday http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/see-art-visit-artists-during-open-studio-tour-saturday/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/see-art-visit-artists-during-open-studio-tour-saturday/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2016 03:00:44 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/see-art-visit-artists-during-open-studio-tour-saturday/ The Wesserunsett Arts Council is hosting its seventh annual Open Studio Tour on Saturday in galleries, barns, storefronts – even a mural high atop the back of a building in downtown Skowhegan.

The tour, which is free, runs 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at more than 20 locations in Mercer, Canaan, Skowhegan, Anson, Solon and Wellington.

Participiants are invited to meet and visit with local artists and experience the connection each artist has with his or her rural Maine setting. Visitors will see where artists live and work.

Saturday’s art travelers can enjoy the fall foliage while exploring art that includes oil paintings, watercolors, pastels, landscapes, abstract images, still life, furniture, photography, felting, pottery and sculpture. Work will be for sale and refreshments offered at all studios.

The South Solon Meeting House also will be available for tours Saturday. Built in 1842, the meeting house has its original podium, pews, choir loft, windows and steeple, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

A map of the tour and a list of locations is on the arts council website.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/see-art-visit-artists-during-open-studio-tour-saturday/feed/ 0 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/1082868_485095-Tour.jpgThu, 29 Sep 2016 23:00:44 +0000
Saco restaurant owner, former senator, teacher and coach David Kerry dies at 77 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/saco-restaurant-owner-former-senator-teacher-and-coach-dies-at-77/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/saco-restaurant-owner-former-senator-teacher-and-coach-dies-at-77/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2016 02:20:30 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/saco-restaurant-owner-former-senator-teacher-and-coach-dies-at-77/ Mourners will gather Tuesday at a funeral Mass to honor David Kerry, a longtime co-owner of Traditions Italian Restaurant and the Kerrymen Pub in Saco.

Mr. Kerry died on Sept. 22 after a 20-year battle with cancer. He was 77.

He was remembered Thursday as a respected businessman and dedicated community leader who sought to make a difference in the world.

Mr. Kerry opened the Kerrymen Pub in 1978 with his three brothers and a cousin.

Mr. Kerry took on various roles such as public relations and booking bands. Many of those bands, including Schooner Fare, still play at Kerrymen Pub today.

John Kerry, his younger brother, said Schooner Fare is expected to play at Mr. Kerry’s funeral. John Kerry laughed Thursday recalling the way his brother would greet patrons.

“David used to sit at the end of the bar. He would get up and hug and kiss every woman that walked through the door. He shook every guy’s hand,” he said, laughing. “He was such an affectionate and outgoing guy. He was extremely charming.”

Mr. Kerry was the “visionary” behind Traditions Restaurant, which opened around 2000. He owned and operated the business with his brother Richard Kerry and two friends.

John Kerry noted his brother’s generosity. He said he helped many employees who were having difficulty in their lives.

“He was very unselfish in the giving of himself to others. He helped many people,” he said.

Mr. Kerry’s service to others was a theme throughout his life.

In his early years, Kerry was a history teacher and assistant football coach at Thornton Academy. He helped lead the Trojans to a state championship in 1962. He went on to teach and coach in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, before moving back to Saco in 1972 when he began teaching history and coaching football at Biddeford High School.

His brother said he loved helping students succeed in and out of the classroom.

“He saw history as a guide to help people fulfill their potential,” he said. “He taught in the classroom and sat on a bar stool and taught. He was always teaching everyone.”

Mr. Kerry went on to serve several years in the Maine State Senate. His obituary, which was published on Sept. 25, said he forged lifelong relationships with political figures such as former Sen. George Mitchell, former governors Joseph Brennan and John Baldacci, and former Senate President Gerard Conley.

Kerry’s visiting hours on Tuesday drew roughly 1,000 people including Brennan, Baldacci, state senators, and community leaders.

“David was always very gracious and very open to good discussions and friendships with everyone,” his brother said.

In addition to his brothers, he is survived by three children, Jennifer Kerry, Kathryn Kerry and Seamus Kerry; and a granddaughter Chelsea Tarbox.

The funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Most Holy Trinity Church in Saco. Interment will follow at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Biddeford.

 

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/saco-restaurant-owner-former-senator-teacher-and-coach-dies-at-77/feed/ 0 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/1082805_DKerry3001-e1475249205174.jpgFri, 30 Sep 2016 11:27:03 +0000
Canadian organic waste company picks Unity for first U.S. facility http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/canadian-organic-waste-company-picks-unity-for-first-u-s-facility/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/canadian-organic-waste-company-picks-unity-for-first-u-s-facility/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2016 01:31:12 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/canadian-organic-waste-company-picks-unity-for-first-u-s-facility/ In a boon for Maine’s hard-hit and changing wood products industry, a Canadian-based organic waste company announced Thursday it plans to open its first U.S. facility in an industrial building in the town of Unity and eventually create 30 jobs while investing $4 million.

Envirem Organics will open its facility in a building on 15 acres at 39 Cornshop Road in Unity, where it will house offices, warehousing, and distribution functions, according to the Kennebec Regional Development Authority, the organization that helped Envirem choose a location.

Brad Jackson, executive director of the development authority, said Thursday that the wood products industry is one of several “cluster” industries he has been looking to draw to the region. The $4 million investment is estimated to involve a complete build-out of the 30,000-square-foot facility in Unity, including new equipment and machinery purchases.

“This won’t happen overnight,” Jackson said. “It will be phased in over a couple of years.”

The company describes itself as a “diversified environmental company, specializing in industrial and organic waste recycling and environmental sustainable waste diversion processes,” according to a news release from the development authority. Envirem selected the site in Unity “for its access to the New England organic lawn and garden markets, available shipping lanes, the environmental science programs at Unity College, the sustainable culture of the area, the local artisanal food movement, and proximity to New Brunswick, Canada, where the company is headquartered,” the release said.

“Unity and the Kennebec Valley region of Maine checked all the boxes for our first expansion into America,” Bob Kiely, president and general manager of Envirem, said in the release. “It provides the marketplace advantages we desire in terms of workforce, location and infrastructure and the quality of life we want for our employees.”

A report released this month by the Maine Forest Products Council says the total economic impact of Maine’s forest products industry fell from $9.8 billion in 2014 to $8.5 billion in 2016, with corresponding declines in payroll and local taxes as well.

Patrick Strauch, executive director of the Maine Forest Products Council, said he was pleased to hear the news Thursday about Envirem’s plans.

“To me, it looks like they’d have a line of mulch, and that’s always been an important part of moving sawmill residuals,” he said. “They should think about locating at a sawmill.”

Strauch, in a summary within the new report proclaiming “the forest products industry is reinventing itself,” writes that the industry has reached a turning point. Even as pulp and paper mills have closed, “technology and changing demands have transformed the global market, but also created opportunities.”

Strauch said the market for bark and wood residuals will be helped by Envirem’s presence, perhaps sustaining a year-round demand for material that’s traditionally been more seasonal. “I think we’ve always been pretty creative with these materials, and moving into the bark markets has always been part of the mix; but if we’re able to develop even more demand for it, that’s great,” Strauch said. “We’re searching for markets like this to take a large amount of tonnage, so it’s an opportunity.”

The Kennebec Regional Development Authority said it has been working with Envirem on the expansion for the last couple of months.

Development authority officials also said Envirem’s expansion could help the state’s struggling logging industry, in the wake of several mill closures such as Madison Paper.

Envirem’s products “utilize a part of the tree that makes logging more profitable,” Jackson said.

Jackson also said Envirem could establish several operating sites across the state over the next decade or so. Kiely, the company president, couldn’t be reached for comment immediately Thursday.

In Canada, the company employs nearly 1,400 people among eight locations.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/canadian-organic-waste-company-picks-unity-for-first-u-s-facility/feed/ 1 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/1082643_737636-20160929-unity-shop.jpgThu, 29 Sep 2016 21:31:12 +0000
Augusta children’s museum moving to Waterville http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/augusta-childrens-museum-moving-to-waterville/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/augusta-childrens-museum-moving-to-waterville/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2016 00:37:18 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/augusta-childrens-museum-moving-to-waterville/ The Children’s Discovery Museum, an Augusta fixture for families with young children, is moving to downtown Waterville.

The decision comes after nearly a year of research by museum officials, who viewed a number of presentations and went on a number of site tours.

The new location is expected to make the museum part of Waterville’s revitalization effort to draw more people to live, work and visit the city, funded by Colby College in partnership with investors and developers.

A number of details have yet to be worked out, but the plan is to begin construction of the museum’s new space in 2017 with an expected opening in 2018. During that time, the museum would remain open in Augusta.

“We think this is our best option to serve both communities,” Amarinda Keys, the museum’s executive director, said Thursday.

The Children’s Discovery Museum, which provides opportunities for hands-on learning through play for children ages 6 months to 8 years old, started as a series of traveling exhibits in 1984. Its first physical home was established on Water Street in 1992. A series of expansions took place over the next several years, and in 2007, after a yearlong renovation, it reopened its modernized facility. Two years later, the museum moved to its current location on Capitol Street.

Augusta Mayor David Rollins said city officials reached out to the museum board to understand the nature of the move and what they could do to persuade the museum to stay.

“As I look at the board, it seems to me there are more people not from Augusta on the board than are from the city of Augusta,” he said. “I think they felt their program opportunities would be better up there.

“There’s no hard feelings, and we wish them well.”

Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro said he knows the conversation has been going on a long time, and he’s excited to hear the news.

“If you had talked to me a year and a half ago, there were a lot more skeptics,” Isgro said. “Now we have a better track record.”

Last fall, Colby College President David Greene detailed a vision for downtown Waterville that included students living in downtown apartments and contributing to life in the city.

Art galleries, new retail stores and restaurants would be a part of the revitalized Waterville, joining the city’s existing assets, which include the Waterville Opera House, Railroad Square Cinema, the hospitals, colleges and the Colby College Museum of Art. College students and faculty members would live downtown. Traffic would move more slowly through downtown, and perhaps sidewalks would be made wider to afford shoppers and diners the leisure of spending time outside on the streets.

The college has bought land and a number of downtown buildings, with plans to renovate some and replace others with new construction. Demolition of four buildings started in July.

In addition to Colby’s investments, several developers have purchased other buildings downtown and hope to renovate.

“When there is a lot of commercial investment in any market, it creates a lot of interest,” Isgro said, “When you look at Waterville and the services we offer and the educational network we’re building, the Children’s Discovery Museum is a good fit.”

Megan Bourque, president of the museum board, said in a news release Thursday that the possibilities for collaboration are endless.

“We are excited to create a larger educational space for the Kennebec Valley community,” she said.

The Children’s Discovery Museum will continue to raise money to operate the Augusta facility until it opens in Waterville.

Keys said she hopes the community will be excited about this new opportunity.

“We still have a lot of great work to be done during our remaining time in Augusta,” she said.

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

jlowell@centralmaine.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/augusta-childrens-museum-moving-to-waterville/feed/ 0 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/1082445_132556-20160929_Childrens2.jpgThu, 29 Sep 2016 20:37:18 +0000
Waterville police find 2-year-old wandering barefoot, charge couple http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/waterville-police-find-2-year-old-wandering-barefoot-charge-couple/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/waterville-police-find-2-year-old-wandering-barefoot-charge-couple/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2016 00:00:09 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/waterville-police-find-2-year-old-wandering-barefoot-charge-couple/ WATERVILLE — A couple were summoned on charges of endangering the welfare of a child after someone called to report a barefoot child wandering alone along the street Wednesday afternoon.

Dustin A. Moody, 25, and Sierra-Dawn Bailey, 18, were each issued a summons on the Class D misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

Police found a 2-year-old girl walking alone near the intersection of Ash Street and College Avenue, which is also busy U.S. Route 201, around 4:30 p.m., said Deputy Chief Bill Bonney. Police stopped the child and found that her feet were red and sore from walking on pavement.

After canvassing the area, officers found a door open at 9 Ash St. Inside, they found Moody in his apartment, where he reportedly was supposed to be watching the child for his girlfriend, who is the child’s mother.

Moody said his girlfriend, Bailey, was at work and that he works nights, so he had fallen asleep after the child had fallen asleep around 1 p.m. At some point the child must have awakened and wandered off from the apartment, Bonney said.

While Bailey was not present during the incident, she was still charged because she is the child’s parent and “is responsible for making sure the child was with somebody safe, which wasn’t the case,” Bonney said.

Bonney said police reported the incident to the state Department of Health and Human Services, which left the child in Bailey’s custody while investigating further.

Moody and Bailey are scheduled to appear Dec. 6 in Waterville District Court to answer the charges.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/waterville-police-find-2-year-old-wandering-barefoot-charge-couple/feed/ 0 Thu, 29 Sep 2016 20:00:09 +0000
Bangor man gets 20 years for taking explicit pictures of children http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/bangor-man-gets-20-years-for-taking-explicit-pictures-of-children/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/bangor-man-gets-20-years-for-taking-explicit-pictures-of-children/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2016 21:34:53 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/bangor-man-gets-20-years-for-taking-explicit-pictures-of-children/ A 29-year-old man from Bangor was sentenced Thursday in Bangor to 20 years and 10 months in federal prison, followed by lifetime of supervised release, for sexual exploitation of a minor.

Andy Quinn Goodall took sexually explicit images of two prepubescent minors, uploaded them to a foreign website and provided links to the images in emails he sent to others. Authorities found he had hundreds of other images and dozens of videos containing child pornography, according to U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty.

Goodall plead guilty to the charge Jan. 29.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/bangor-man-gets-20-years-for-taking-explicit-pictures-of-children/feed/ 0 Thu, 29 Sep 2016 17:34:53 +0000
Maine substance abuse official charged with driving drunk http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/maine-substance-abuse-official-charged-with-oui/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/maine-substance-abuse-official-charged-with-oui/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2016 20:59:01 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/maine-substance-abuse-official-charged-with-oui/ FARMINGTON – The associate director for the Maine Office of Substance Abuse is facing a charge of operating under the influence.

Police say 62-year-old Joan Smyrski of Jefferson was charged with drunken driving after being stopped Sunday evening in the Franklin County town of Avon. She was freed on $150 cash bail.

The Sun Journal reported that Smyrski is scheduled to speak about opioid-prescribing limits at the Maine Nurse Practitioner Association’s annual fall conference in November.

Smyrski couldn’t be reached immediately for comment, and it wasn’t known if she has hired a lawyer. An automatically generated email indicates she was out of the office starting Sept. 27.

The newspaper said she’s due in court next month. If convicted, the penalty for OUI is a $500 fine and loss of license for 150 days.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/maine-substance-abuse-official-charged-with-oui/feed/ 61 Thu, 29 Sep 2016 17:56:49 +0000
New Mainers Alliance will encourage immigrants to vote http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/new-mainers-alliance-will-encourage-immigrants-to-vote/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/new-mainers-alliance-will-encourage-immigrants-to-vote/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2016 20:27:25 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/new-mainers-alliance-will-encourage-immigrants-to-vote/ Leaders of Maine’s immigrant community have created a nonprofit to encourage new residents to vote and make their voices heard at the State House in Augusta.

The New Mainers Alliance announced its launch Thursday during a news conference at Portland City Hall.

Its members include representatives from the Iraqi, Congolese, Sudanese, South Sudanese, Somali and other immigrant communities in Maine. If successful, the group’s leaders said the New Mainers Alliance will help organize the civic work of those groups under one umbrella.

“Integrating our community into the society starts by a civic engagement process that explains the legal tools available in the system to get involved and to have a voice,” said Elmuatz Abdelrahim, one of the group’s officers.

The first priority for the New Mainers Alliance is educating immigrants about getting involved in civic processes. The group is planning fundraisers and a get-out-the-vote campaign leading up to this fall’s election.

“A community that’s actively engaged in the civic process, including voting, is a stronger community, a healthy community,” said Mahmoud Hassan, the president of the Somali Community Center of Maine and one of the founders of the New Mainers Alliance. “It’s an American tradition, and we should cherish that tradition as a cornerstone of our American democracy, and we should bring new Mainers to fully participate and fully understand that American tradition for a stronger and more prosperous and more equitable society for all of us.”

The group has also incorporated as a 501(c)4, a type of nonprofit social welfare organization that can engage in lobbying, which the New Mainers Alliance plans to pursue.

“We can be able to lobby and bring our issues to the steps of the Capitol and to the City Council and to the places where decisions are being made,” Abdelrahim said.

Abdifatah Ahmed said he and the group’s other founders have been meeting with local and state officials to talk about their goals.

“As members and leaders of the new Mainers community, we understand the urgent needs of the community,” he said. “Recent biased statements against immigrants and minorities in the national and state political discourse could create an atmosphere of uncertainty and anxiety. The New Mainers Alliance will work hard to ensure that such feelings do not cause suppression in voting among immigrants and minorities.”

Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling said he would encourage the New Mainers Alliance to attend city council meetings, testify about pending legislation and contact their councilors to voice their opinions.

“I think any group that’s trying to get more engaged politically is a good thing,” Strimling said. “We want our newest residents to be as engaged in the political process as those who have lived here for a long time.”

Last year, Abdelrahim and Ahmed also formed a political action committee with many of the same goals to represent new Mainers. According to its financial reports, the New Mainers PAC has spent a little more than $9,000 in payments to people who are helping new voters. The two groups are separate from each other, though many of the same people are involved in both.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/new-mainers-alliance-will-encourage-immigrants-to-vote/feed/ 17 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/1082040_789830-20160929_alliance-00.jpgFri, 30 Sep 2016 06:08:08 +0000
Roxanne Quimby buys campground near Acadia National Park http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/roxanne-quimby-identified-as-buyer-of-ocean-woods-campground/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/roxanne-quimby-identified-as-buyer-of-ocean-woods-campground/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2016 19:34:57 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/roxanne-quimby-identified-as-buyer-of-ocean-woods-campground/ Conservationist and Burt’s Bees co-founder Roxanne Quimby has purchased the scenic Ocean Woods campground on the Schoodic Peninsula in Hancock County and intends to continue operating it.

Portland-based real estate auction house Tranzon LLC disclosed on Sept. 9 that the 113-acre property had been placed under contract, and that a previously scheduled Tranzon auction had been canceled. On Thursday, Tranzon acknowledged that the sale had been completed and that the buyer was Quimby. It did not disclose the sale price.

Quimby has been a controversial figure in Maine. Her foundation, Elliotsville Plantation Inc., donated more than 87,500 acres in the Katahdin region to the federal government in August in a critical step toward the creation of a national monument in Maine’s North Woods. In August, President Obama designated the area a national monument.

Lucas St. Clair, president of Elliotsville Plantation and Quimby’s son, said Thursday that the family intends to continue operating Ocean Woods as a campground. St. Clair said Quimby chose to purchase the property because of its natural beauty and proximity to Acadia National Park.

“It’s just a beautiful place on the coast of Maine that really is so unique,” he said. “It’s also a great way to keep people on the Schoodic Peninsula.”

St. Clair said the campground provides an alternative to the sometimes crowded Acadia park and gives visitors a way to stay on the peninsula overnight. He said it also complements the recently opened Schoodic Woods campground, which the National Park Service operates further inland.

“In my opinion, it’s one of the most beautiful places on the coast of Maine,” he said.

Quimby’s land donation to the federal government was controversial and opposed by many local residents.

Although mile-high Mount Katahdin is located in Baxter State Park, Quimby’s land in the area include miles of frontage along the East Branch of the Penobscot River as well as Wassataquoik Stream. She has used proceeds from the sale of Burt’s Bees, the company she co-founded, to purchase large tracts of land in the Moosehead and Katahdin regions.

Quimby has amassed fans of her conservation philanthropy, and also ardent critics because she restricted hunting, snowmobiling and forestry on some of her land.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/roxanne-quimby-identified-as-buyer-of-ocean-woods-campground/feed/ 16 Thu, 29 Sep 2016 21:55:28 +0000
Portland woman charged with selling heroin, crack from motel room http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/portland-woman-charged-with-selling-heroin-crack-from-motel-room/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/portland-woman-charged-with-selling-heroin-crack-from-motel-room/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2016 19:25:07 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/portland-woman-charged-with-selling-heroin-crack-from-motel-room/ A 34-year-old Portland woman was arrested Wednesday on charges of selling crack cocaine and heroin from a motel room near the Portland/Westbrook line, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency said Thursday.

Erica Burwell was charged with two counts of unlawful trafficking in scheduled drugs and receiving stolen property following a brief investigation by the Westbrook Police Department and the MDEA that was spurred by a heroin overdose.

Earlier Wednesday, Westbrook police and emergency medical personnel responded to a heroin overdose near 17 Main St., according to police.

The man who overdosed was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where he was treated and released. At the scene of the overdose, police found several packages of heroin with distinctive packaging. Investigators determined that the heroin was being sold from a motel room at the Portland Travelodge at 1200 Brighton Ave.

Surveillance of the motel revealed that the occupants of room 127 appeared to be selling drugs. Police searched the room Wednesday night and found about 4 grams each of heroin and crack cocaine, two handguns, and about $4,500 in cash. The heroin seized was packaged in the same material as the drugs found at the overdose location, police said.

One of the handguns had been reported stolen during a burglary in Standish, police said.

Burwell was arrested as she attempted to flush the drugs down the toilet, police said.

She was taken to Cumberland County Jail in Portland, where she is being held on $50,000 bail.

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

mbyrne@pressherald.com

Twitter: MattByrnePPH

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/portland-woman-charged-with-selling-heroin-crack-from-motel-room/feed/ 14 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/1081935_630421-Burwell.jpgFri, 30 Sep 2016 08:01:17 +0000
Environmental concerns to be focus of South Portland candidates’ forum http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/environmental-concerns-to-be-focus-of-south-portland-candidates-forum/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/environmental-concerns-to-be-focus-of-south-portland-candidates-forum/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2016 18:30:53 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/environmental-concerns-to-be-focus-of-south-portland-candidates-forum/ SOUTH PORTLAND — The South Portland Land Trust will quiz City Council candidates on a wide variety of environmental issues at an election forum to be held Tuesday evening in the council chamber at City Hall.

The trust has invited the seven candidates who are running for two at-large seats in the Nov. 8 election. They are Maxine Beecher, who is the incumbent, Richard Carter, James Gilboy, Susan Henderson, Kate Lewis, Louis B. Maietta Jr. and Michael Pock. Steve Jocher, trust president, will serve as moderator of the 7 p.m. event.

Jocher said past forums hosted by the trust have revealed a great deal about candidates’ positions on the use of open space and other environmental concerns that are hot topics in South Portland and across the nation.

“Taxpayers want to know their candidates’ views,” Jocher said in a news release.

Prepared questions will cover subjects such as funding for the South Portland Land Bank, the city’s open space plan, land acquisition bond questions, recreational trails and maintenance responsibilities, and pets and open space. Members of the public also will be invited to ask questions.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/environmental-concerns-to-be-focus-of-south-portland-candidates-forum/feed/ 0 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/959405_56973-20160707SPcityhall.jpgThu, 29 Sep 2016 19:50:29 +0000
Drought conditions spread dramatically, now ‘extreme’ in most of Cumberland, York counties http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/drought-conditions-dramatically-expand-reach-across-maine/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/drought-conditions-dramatically-expand-reach-across-maine/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2016 17:39:08 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/drought-conditions-dramatically-expand-reach-across-maine/ Nearly all of York and Cumberland counties and the entire Casco Bay region are now experiencing extreme drought conditions, according to federal data released Thursday.

The latest map of Maine shows a dramatic expansion of the most drought-stricken part of the state compared with data released a week ago that showed only southern York County in the extreme drought zone. An area designated as being in severe drought, one level lower then extreme, now reaches north to the Bangor region and east to Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park.

More than 1.05 million Mainers are now living in drought, according to the updated model from the U.S. Drought Monitor, which is 79 percent of the state’s 1.33 million residents.

Also Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture declared that an expanded disaster area now includes Cumberland, Androscoggin, Oxford, Sagadahoc and York counties because of the drought. Farmers within the disaster area will be eligible for assistance from the federal Farm Service Agency, including emergency loans. Farmers in York, Cumberland and Oxford counties got emergency assistance under a more limited disaster declaration earlier this month.

Rainfall has been far below normal this summer. Rainfall in York County since Oct. 1, 2015, has totaled 33 inches, about 16.6 inches below normal, according to the National Weather Service. Sagadahoc and Cumberland counties also have seen about 33 inches of total rainfall, which is 14.6 inches below normal in that part of the state.

And forecasters expect the drought to deepen before there’s any dramatic change in the weather. Some showers are in southern Maine’s short-term forecast, but there is an even chance of above- or below-average precipitation in the next three months, according to the weather service’s Climate Prediction Center.

LOW WATER LEVELS CLOSE TO RECORD

Conditions are the driest in 15 years, and groundwater levels are dropping closer to the lowest point reached during the region’s last serious drought from 1999 to 2002, said Nicholas Stasulis, data section chief for the U.S. Geological Survey in Maine.

Water in a monitoring well in Sanford is a foot above the lowest point measured during that drought, Stasulis said. But groundwater levels typically reach their lowest in the fall, and if the dry weather trend holds, the levels could meet or break those records.

“Even though we haven’t reached the levels we had in the early 2000s, at a lot of our wells we saw the lowest July, August and probably September in the last 20 to 30 years,” Stasulis said. “That would lead us to believe that low levels in October and November would set those records.”

Stream flow data, which goes back more than a century in some cases, may be an even more significant indicator of the drought’s severity than groundwater readings, Stasulis said. Many of the state’s major waterways are considered to be in severe or extreme hydrologic drought, meaning there are only a few days on record with lower water flow measurements. For example, a section of the Saco River in Cornish is lower than 99 percent of readings recorded there over the past 100 years, Stasulis said.

Almost 10 percent of the state, including Cumberland, York and Sagadahoc counties, are in an extreme drought, one step away from exceptional drought, the most serious condition used by the national monitor. Severe drought has spread north and east and now affects most of Androscoggin, Kennebec, Knox, Waldo, Lincoln and Hancock counties. Roughly 18 percent of the state is in a severe drought, up from only 7 percent last week, according to the monitor.

Of the state’s 16 counties, only Aroostook has no areas experiencing drought, although a small portion is abnormally dry.

DESPERATE MEASURES TO GET WATER

Farmers in Maine have been trying to weather the drought by increasing irrigation. The dry weather hurt hay crops in particular and meant some farmers lost second and third cuttings of hay that’s relied on to feed livestock during the winter.

Nina Fuller watches as her sheep head to a pond for water on her property in Hollis. The sheep usually don't drink from the pond, but because of the drought, that has changed this year, she said. Rainfall in York County since Oct. 1, 2015, is about 16.6 inches below normal. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Nina Fuller watches as her sheep head to a pond for water on her property in Hollis. The sheep usually don’t drink from the pond, but because of the drought, that has changed this year, she said. Rainfall in York County since Oct. 1, 2015, is about 16.6 inches below normal. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Public water sources, which provide drinking water to about 66 percent of the state, have mostly held up, so far, although the York Water District recently contracted with Kennebunk to pipe in water and has asked its customers to limit water use.

Private well owners, particularly those with shallow dug wells, have been hit especially hard in recent weeks as wells have run dry or are threatening to. Many of those Mainers are limiting water use, and some have resorted to ordering bulk water deliveries or spending thousands of dollars to drill deeper into shrinking groundwater aquifers.

Glen Brand, director of the Maine Chapter of the Sierra Club, said the worsening drought is consistent with extreme weather expected to be brought on by climate change.

“I would not say, ‘Oh, this drought was caused by warming pollution.’ No one could say that with any scientific legitimacy,” Brand said. “But what scientists are telling us is that long periods of drought are one of the manifestations of worsening climate disruption.”

 

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/drought-conditions-dramatically-expand-reach-across-maine/feed/ 22 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/1081671_142507-20160923_drought_2-e1475208257646.jpgFri, 30 Sep 2016 05:40:39 +0000
Bath police go to home for child custody complaint, find 17 pounds of pot http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/routine-investigation-results-in-discovery-of-17-lbs-of-pot-at-bath-home/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/routine-investigation-results-in-discovery-of-17-lbs-of-pot-at-bath-home/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2016 16:31:29 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/routine-investigation-results-in-discovery-of-17-lbs-of-pot-at-bath-home/ A routine investigation into a child custody complaint resulted in the seizure of 17 pounds of marijuana in Bath on Tuesday, police said.

A Bath police detective went to 5 Bumpy Hill Road at about 2:55 p.m. Tuesday. While there, the detective smelled an overwhelming odor of marijuana. The residents, Joseph Plummer and Alison Hartill, ultimately showed the detectives a massive amount of pot.

Some of the marijuana was already packaged in plastic bags, while a larger amount was held in a large plastic storage tote.

Both Plummer and Hartill were issued summonses charging unlawful possession of Schedule Z drugs, a Class C felony. They are both due in West Bath District Court on Nov. 22.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/routine-investigation-results-in-discovery-of-17-lbs-of-pot-at-bath-home/feed/ 11 Thu, 29 Sep 2016 13:14:48 +0000
Portland man charged with snatching Rockland woman off the street http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/portland-man-charged-in-kidnapping-of-rockland-woman/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/portland-man-charged-in-kidnapping-of-rockland-woman/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2016 14:47:05 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/portland-man-charged-in-kidnapping-of-rockland-woman/ ROCKLAND — A Portland man faces charges that he abducted a 22-year-old woman off a downtown street in Rockland and then fled from police.

Shane Hall, 29, was arrested on a felony charge of kidnapping and eluding an officer.

Rockland Deputy Police Chief Chris Young said Hall refused to stop his vehicle for Sgt. Matthew Lindahl, who said he saw Hall driving erratically on Main Street around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday. While officers were chasing the vehicle, the woman called 911 and told dispatchers that she had been kidnapped.

After a short chase, the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed. Police said Hall tried to run away but was caught and arrested.

The woman in the vehicle, who asked that her name not be used, suffered minor injuries.

She said she was walking down Camden Street after work when she heard a car door slam behind her and turned to see a man in a ski mask coming at her.

She said she head-butted the man and bit him as he put his arm around her neck, but she couldn’t breathe and eventually passed out. When she woke up, she was in the passenger seat of the vehicle, speeding south through downtown Rockland.

She said that when her attacker saw that she was conscious, he put a knife to her throat and said he would kill her.

She noticed blue lights come on behind the vehicle as she was struggling to retrieve her cellphone from the back seat.

“I said to myself, ‘Hold on a little longer,'” she said.

She said the man then sped up and tried to push her out of the vehicle, telling her to tuck and roll as she jumped.

“I didn’t want to do that and maybe get run over,” she said.

She continued to fight and managed to dial 911. She started screaming out information about who she was and where she was, hoping the dispatcher could hear her, while struggling with the man.

“I was petrified,” she said. “He was very strong. I did the best I could.”

As the chase proceeded onto Pleasant Street, she said she grabbed the steering wheel and her attacker asked if she wanted him to crash. She said she told him she did.

The vehicle crashed into a utility pole. Hall tried to escape out the window and then went out through the sun roof. Police arrived, drew their guns and immediately caught him, she said.

She said she has sprained fingers, bruises and injuries to her face, but overall she is OK physically. However, the violent attack has taken an emotional toll.

“No one should have to feel this way,” she said. “It’s not right. It’s the worst feeling, thinking you’re not going to see your loved ones the next day.”

“My family has been surrounding me through this ordeal, making sure I know I’m safe. I don’t know what I will do when I’m alone.”

Hall was taken to the Knox County Jail in Rockland and is expected to make an initial appearance in Knox County Court on Friday.

Hall has a criminal record in Maine dating back to 2008, including felony convictions for robbery, burglary and aggravated assault for attacking a man with a shovel.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/portland-man-charged-in-kidnapping-of-rockland-woman/feed/ 34 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/1081470_677002-mugshot.jpgThu, 29 Sep 2016 21:54:54 +0000
Latest water main break, in Westbrook, is fixed http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/water-main-break-reported-in-westbrook/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/water-main-break-reported-in-westbrook/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2016 14:00:24 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/water-main-break-reported-in-westbrook/ The Portland Water District spent part of Thursday dealing with another water main break, this time in Westbrook.

The district this week has responded to multiple breaks in Portland and Gorham that cut off water to customers, lowered water pressure and caused traffic detours and delays.

The break in Westbrook was reported Thursday morning on Stroudwater Street. The break, which did not affect any customers, was repaired by 11:30 a.m.

On Wednesday, a water main broke on outer Congress Street in Portland near the Westbrook line, delaying traffic along the heavily traveled corridor. At the same time, crews were working to repair water main breaks on Brighton Avenue and Colonial Road, also in Portland. About 30 households near the Colonial Road break were without water for the day.

A significant water main break in Gorham reported Tuesday resulted in low water pressure for customers in several communities, including Portland and South Portland. That break was in a 30-inch main and is expected to be repaired Thursday.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/water-main-break-reported-in-westbrook/feed/ 8 Thu, 29 Sep 2016 14:27:39 +0000
Maine immigration resource center gets $300,000 for sex assault resources http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/maine-immigration-resource-center-gets-300000-for-sex-assault-resources/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/maine-immigration-resource-center-gets-300000-for-sex-assault-resources/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2016 11:47:02 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/maine-immigration-resource-center-gets-300000-for-sex-assault-resources/ LEWISTON – The federal Office on Violence Against Women is giving a Maine immigration resource center $300,000 for sexual assault and domestic violence advocacy in the immigrant community.

The money is going to Immigration Resource Center of Maine, which is located in Lewiston. The center was formerly called the United Somali Women of Maine.

Maine U.S. Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins say the immigration resource center will create, maintain and expand sexual assault services for East African sexual assault victims who live in southern Maine.

The senators say the money will help provide culturally specific services to ensure that members of Maine’s East African community have support and education about sexual assault and domestic violence.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/maine-immigration-resource-center-gets-300000-for-sex-assault-resources/feed/ 11 Thu, 29 Sep 2016 08:29:37 +0000
Maine archers head out to hunt deer http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/maine-archers-head-out-to-hunt-deer/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/maine-archers-head-out-to-hunt-deer/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2016 11:43:15 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/maine-archers-head-out-to-hunt-deer/ AUGUSTA – Maine archers are heading into the woods to participate in the state’s annual fall hunt for those who harvest deer with bow and arrow.

The archery season begins on Thursday and lasts until Oct. 28.

The firearms hunting season for deer follows the archery season and begins on Halloween. It lasts until Nov. 26.

There is also an “expanded archery season” that runs from Sept. 10 to Dec. 10. That season is centered around designated areas where the state says the deer herd can withstand more hunting.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/maine-archers-head-out-to-hunt-deer/feed/ 0 Thu, 29 Sep 2016 08:29:53 +0000
Downeaster will bus passengers between Brunswick and Wells this fall http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/downeaster-will-bus-passengers-between-brunswick-and-wells-this-fall/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/downeaster-will-bus-passengers-between-brunswick-and-wells-this-fall/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1080852 The Amtrak Downeaster will transport passengers on buses between Brunswick and Wells for about six weeks this fall as workers replace railroad ties on about 30 miles of track.

The use of buses is intended to avoid service interruptions and late trains that plagued the Downeaster during a tie replacement project last year, said Patricia Quinn, executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority.

Also, one of the Downeaster’s five daily round-trips will be suspended during the work and there will be no service on two weekends in October and November because of track construction and bridge work in Massachusetts.

The inconveniences will undoubtedly turn passengers away, Quinn admitted.

“It is definitely going to have an impact on ridership and revenue,” she said. “We’ve planned and budgeted for that.”

However, a relatively brief service disruption is preferable to a months-long nightmare of delays and cancellations the service experienced in the past two years, Quinn said. From July 2014 to June 2015, only 30 percent of Downeaster trains arrived on time, mainly because of a massive construction project to replace 30,000 railroad ties on a 78-mile section of track. The Downeaster tried to schedule trains to avoid construction, but ended up with hourslong delays and canceled trains instead. The problems were exacerbated by a long, cold winter and construction delays.

This year, the Downeaster recovered from that setback, with 81 percent of trains running on time in April, May and June, an August report from the rail authority said.

About 15,000 ties on 30 miles of track between Portland and Wells will be replaced this year. Instead of trying to schedule around the construction, rail authority staff opted to use buses to transport passengers. Busing is a common way to replace train service during interruptions such as construction, Quinn said.

“The fact that we are going around all the construction is much better,” she said. “It is inconvenient, but it’s not some horrible crazy thing that doesn’t happen anywhere.”

Starting Oct. 11, Downeaster passengers from Brunswick, Freeport and Portland will be bused to and from the Wells station, where they will board trains for Boston. Passengers between Saco and Wells will be taken in a van. The bus service will start five to 15 minutes earlier to make sure the train from Wells is on time, Quinn said. Busing is expected to last until Nov. 21, when the Downeaster will release a new service with three round-trips a day between Brunswick and Boston, Quinn said.

A midday service between Boston and Portland also is being suspended during the tie replacement. Trains 683 northbound, at 11:26 a.m. and 684 southbound, at 12:40 p.m., and equivalent weekend trains, 693 northbound and 694 southbound, will be taken off line. There isn’t typically a lot of demand for those off-peak services, Quinn said.

To complicate matters, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is working on bridges over the Merrimack River over the next two months, and will be busing train passengers between Haverhill, Massachuestts, and Boston on Oct. 8-9 and Nov. 19-20. The Downeaster will not run any trains on two weekends, Oct. 22-23 and Nov. 5-6, to avoid busing passengers for most of the trip, Quinn said.

Downeaster passengers will be compensated with reduced fares during the construction period. One-way tickets between Boston and any of the stops north of Wells will cost $17, the cost of the Wells-Boston trip, Quinn said. A one-way ticket on the Downeaster from Boston to Portland now costs $25, or $34 for business class.

Because bus space is limited, passengers should make reservations well in advance, Quinn said.

“This is not a good time to show up without a reservation,” she said.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/downeaster-will-bus-passengers-between-brunswick-and-wells-this-fall/feed/ 36 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/1080852_449729-Downeaster2.jpgThu, 29 Sep 2016 08:28:58 +0000
Poll suggests Mainers open to changing the way they vote http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/poll-suggests-mainers-open-to-changing-the-way-they-vote/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/poll-suggests-mainers-open-to-changing-the-way-they-vote/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1080978 AUGUSTA — Maine voters are trying to make up their minds about being first in the nation to use a ranked choice system to vote for members of Congress, the Legislature and governor.

A recent Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center shows that 48 percent of likely voters support the ranked choice method.

However, the poll also found that 23 percent of voters were undecided and 29 percent will vote against the change.

The switch would make Maine the first state to adopt the system, which allows voters to rank candidates by preference instead of choosing a single candidate for each race come Election Day.

The system is used now for Portland’s mayoral and City Council races and has been adopted by other cities in the U.S., but Maine would be the first state to use the system or all statewide elections, including votes for the Legislature, Congress and governor.

The poll, which included more than 500 likely voters and surveyed both mobile and land-line telephones, was conducted in mid-September. The question will appear as Question 5 on the ballot Nov. 8.

Kyle Bailey, the campaign manager for Yes on 5, said the campaign was pleased with the numbers, but noted that other polls suggest stronger support and fewer undecided voters.

“We know there are a lot of undecided voters out there who haven’t heard about this or need more information,” Bailey said.

It’s a point that could be critical to the campaign’s success in 2016, according to Andy Smith, a political scientist and the director of the UNH Survey Center. Smith said with four other ballot questions facing voters, and two of those on the hot-button issues of guns and marijuana, how Mainers vote may not be at the forefront of voters’ minds come November.

“It’s not an issue that most people are very concerned about and it’s certainly not something that people are going to think about very often,” Smith said. He also said the fact that having to explain how ranked choice voting works makes for a difficult sell.

Smith said undecided voters will typically vote no on a question they don’t fully understand. “It’s a very foreign idea and something that’s hard to explain in a short period of time, especially when there are a lot of other things going on, other issues that are more visible or more understandable like legalizing marijuana, for example.”

That’s why the Yes on 5 campaign is focused on informing voters about how ranked choice voting works. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the top votes cast after the first tally, the candidate with the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated. Voters who chose the eliminated candidate have their ballots added to the totals of their second-ranked candidate and the ballots are retabulated. This process continues until one candidate has a majority of votes and is declared the winner.

“If your favorite candidate can’t win and no candidate gets an outright majority your vote is not wasted, it counts for the candidate you ranked as your second choice to help us reach a majority winner who is more broadly supported by voters,” Bailey said.

The poll indicates that Republicans are more likely to reject changing Maine’s voting laws with 43 percent or a plurality of those polled saying they would vote against the measure. That compares to 61 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of independents who support the switch.

Younger people surveyed showed higher levels of support for the change, with 51 percent aged 18 to 49 saying they will vote for the switch, while among voters aged 50 and over, only 46 percent saying they favor the change.

Fifty seven percent of voters in households earning less than $30,000 a year supported the proposal, but voters with higher incomes were less enthusiastic. In households earning $30,000 to $60,000, 48 percent supported the measure, while 49 percent supported in households earning more than $60,000.

 

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/poll-suggests-mainers-open-to-changing-the-way-they-vote/feed/ 19 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/1080978_44730-Question5RankedChoice.jpgThu, 29 Sep 2016 00:06:55 +0000
Man who raped wife sentenced to 15 years in prison http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/man-who-raped-wife-sentenced-to-15-years-in-prison/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/man-who-raped-wife-sentenced-to-15-years-in-prison/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1081104 AUGUSTA — Raymond R. Killam was sentenced Wednesday to a minimum of 15 years in prison for raping his then-wife in 2015.

Killam, 43, who pleaded guilty in early August to two counts of gross sexual assault, was sentenced to 25 years in prison with all but 15 years suspended and four years of probation for the first count. For the second count, he was sentenced to an additional 10 years in prison, all suspended, and another four years of probation.

Standing in the courtroom Wednesday at the Capital Judicial Center, the victim compared her situation to that of Valerie Tieman, the Fairfield woman whose body was discovered Sept. 20 by investigators and whose husband has been charged with her slaying.

“I think if Ray is released he will come to hurt me,” she said. “(Valerie Tieman) could have been me. That could have been me if he is allowed to go free.”

Killam did not turn around during the proceeding, but in lengthy remarks he spoke of “demons” he’s experienced in the past and apologized to a number of people, including his ex-wife, their children, his parents and young men he had mentored through a religious program in Waterville.

“I’m truly, truly sorry for not being the husband that you needed me to be,” Killam said.

Authorities said Killam raped his ex-wife when they were married in April and May 2015. Justice Michaela Murphy explained that gross sexual assault can be committed by one spouse against the other.

 

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/29/man-who-raped-wife-sentenced-to-15-years-in-prison/feed/ 12 Thu, 29 Sep 2016 00:19:31 +0000
Council’s Housing Committee backs proposals to protect Portland renters http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/portland-councils-housing-committee-backs-longer-notice-for-rent-increases/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/portland-councils-housing-committee-backs-longer-notice-for-rent-increases/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2016 01:50:20 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/portland-councils-housing-committee-backs-longer-notice-for-rent-increases/ The Portland City Council’s Housing Committee voted Wednesday to recommend lengthening the required notice period before landlords can raise tenants’ rent.

The change was part of a package of modest proposals designed to address housing security in the city’s hot rental market. The proposals will be forwarded to the council next month.

Several members of the public criticized the five-member committee for not making more meaningful changes, such as adopting rent control or establishing a moratorium on no-cause evictions. West End resident Joey Brunelle urged the committee to show “more leadership and perhaps more ambition” in its effort to protect low-income renters, who are being squeezed out of Portland’s rental market.

“I am flabbergasted that this is all that’s been proposed,” Brunelle said. “This is barely more than nothing.”

Councilor and committee Vice Chairman David Brenerman said more aggressive changes are legally questionable, and that the package of proposals is designed to be educational for landlords and tenants.

The proposals being sent to the council would expand the notice requirement for rent increases from the state-mandated 45 days to 75 days. They also would require landlords to provide tenants with pamphlets outlining their rights and responsibilities, as well as information explaining at-will tenancies.

At-will tenancy – a monthly rental arrangement – can be terminated by a landlord or tenant with 30 days’ notice. Housing advocates often refer to a landlord’s decision not to continue a monthly rental agreement as a “no-cause eviction,” especially when a low-income tenant is being kicked out so the unit can be renovated.

The committee also is recommending the formation of an advisory committee to track the city’s rental market and report back to the Housing Committee. The advisory panel would act as a clearinghouse for tenant and landlord information, but would not mediate disputes.

The Housing Committee is also interested in exploring City Councilor Jon Hinck’s proposal for a Tenant Relocation Assistance ordinance, which would provide funding to help pay some of the expenses of low-income residents who get displaced because of housing renovations, change of use or demolition. It would be based on a program in Seattle, which provides about $3,500 in assistance to people who earn less than 50 percent of the area’s median income. The landlord and the city each cover half of the $3,500 payment.

The committee would study ways to fund the program and tailor it to Portland.

Councilor Belinda Ray said that proposal is probably the council’s best opportunity to address housing insecurity for low-income families. “I hope we can find a way to make it work,” she said.

The committee voted down Councilor Spencer Thibodeau’s so-called leeway program, which would have essentially increased at-will tenancies to 90 days, unless a landlord bought out a tenant. It also voted against requiring landlords to accept housing vouchers, which is now a voluntary federal program.

Last month, Mayor Ethan Strimling proposed more aggressive protections for renters, including restricting the frequency of rent increases and limiting the number of units that could be vacated for renovations.

Strimling issued a written statement in response to the committee’s proposals, calling for “bold, decisive action.”

Although the mayor spoke in support of Thibodeau’s proposals, Strimling did not ask the committee to take any votes on his own package.

 

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/portland-councils-housing-committee-backs-longer-notice-for-rent-increases/feed/ 6 Thu, 29 Sep 2016 00:17:15 +0000
Officials unveil special vehicle for testing suspected drunk drivers http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/public-safety-officials-unveil-special-vehicle-for-testing-suspected-drunk-drivers/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/public-safety-officials-unveil-special-vehicle-for-testing-suspected-drunk-drivers/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2016 01:47:36 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/public-safety-officials-unveil-special-vehicle-for-testing-suspected-drunk-drivers/ AUGUSTA — State and federal public safety officials unveiled a vehicle Wednesday that’s designed to make roadside testing of drivers suspected of impaired driving safer, faster and easier for law enforcement agencies.

The 37-foot truck, bought using a nearly $300,000 grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is going to give “all police departments and law enforcement a great opportunity to help defeat impaired driving,” Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Morris said at a news conference at the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety.

“There’s a lot of people dying because drivers are impaired,” Morris said. “This rig has everything officers need to enforce the impaired driving rules in the state, and it’s very exciting and will hopefully be very successful.”

Morris said 34 percent of all highway fatalities involve drivers with a blood-alcohol content at or above the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

“(State officials) have taken the time to make sure this vehicle is fully equipped … to remove the greatest number of impaired drivers, while also taking into account officers’ safety,” said Gabriel Cano, deputy regional administrator for the NHTSA. “It’s one of the things we’re very concerned about.”

The hulking vehicle is emblazoned with “Drive Sober, Maine!” and images of an alcoholic drink, car keys, handcuffs, pills and a marijuana leaf. It holds an Intoxilyzer 8000 device that tests breath for alcohol level, and an area where officers – including those with the training to recognize impairment in drivers under the influence of drugs other than, or in addition to, alcohol – can conduct field sobriety tests such as the “walk-and-turn.” Cameras are mounted on each side of that area to accurately capture tests that may end up being viewed by a jury.

Law enforcement agencies can request the vehicle on any given night, and barring any scheduling conflicts, the vehicle will be dispatched to an impaired-driving checkpoint. Officials hope it will be used every night.

The Maine State Police, the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office and Augusta police planned to be the first agencies to take the vehicle for a spin. They were scheduled to conduct a joint operation Wednesday night in Kennebec County.

Augusta police Lt. Kevin Lully said the vehicle will be a tremendous asset to his and other departments across Maine. His department already has a device to test blood-alcohol level, so Lully doesn’t expect to use the vehicle consistently, but he touted its merits.

“It’s a phenomenal piece of equipment,” Lully said. “This allows us to work in conjunction with these other agencies and allows for better roadside investigation.”

Lully said the vehicle will make conducting investigations during snowy, icy conditions safer and easier.

“We can do those investigations without compromising a person’s ability to perform the tests based on the road conditions,” he said. “We can bring them inside and everything can be done right there in a controlled atmosphere.”

State officials have been working on the project for a number of years and are happy to see it come to fruition, said Lauren Stewart, director of the Bureau of Highway Safety.

Having the vehicle on scene provides a number of advantages to law enforcement, officials said. Some departments have to drive people suspected of driving while intoxicated more than 45 minutes before administering a blood-alcohol test, and often that person’s blood-alcohol level has decreased enough to straddle the line between intoxicated and not intoxicated.

“I couldn’t imagine being stationed somewhere on the interstate or on a country road with poor lighting, doing roadside tests all by myself,” Lully said. “This probably has more lights than my entire fleet, and everything can be done within the confines of a safe zone.”

Lully said this type of vehicle will help because officers aren’t just looking for drivers who are under the influence of alcohol, and more and more drivers are being found to be under the influence of drugs, especially opioids.

While noting the large marijuana leaf on the side of the vehicle, Morris said his fear is that law enforcement will be “facing a real issue here with impaired driving.”

Legalization of marijuana for personal use is on the ballot in November, and there is no blood-test threshold that can reliably determine marijuana impairment.

 

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/public-safety-officials-unveil-special-vehicle-for-testing-suspected-drunk-drivers/feed/ 0 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/1080792_55671-20160928_Drunk_Drivin.jpgThu, 29 Sep 2016 08:40:27 +0000
Panel formed by LePage finds no bias by Human Rights Commission http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/panel-formed-by-lepage-finds-no-bias-by-human-rights-commission/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/panel-formed-by-lepage-finds-no-bias-by-human-rights-commission/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2016 00:35:53 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/panel-formed-by-lepage-finds-no-bias-by-human-rights-commission/ AUGUSTA — A panel created by Gov. Paul LePage has found no bias by Maine’s anti-discrimination agency.

LePage threatened last year to go to court over accusations that the Maine Human Rights Commission edited an audiotape while investigating allegations of religious discrimination at Moody’s Diner in Waldoboro.

But in a report Wednesday, the panel said misinformation and misunderstanding feed perceptions of bias. And some of the panel members took LePage to task, saying he was inappropriately intruding in the affairs of an independent agency.

The panel also found understaffing and underfunding. The commission’s executive director, Amy Sneirson, said those problems go back decades.

LePage’s office didn’t comment.

Last year, the governor defended his creation of the panel by saying when something sneaky happens, it’s his job to look into it.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/panel-formed-by-lepage-finds-no-bias-by-human-rights-commission/feed/ 20 Wed, 28 Sep 2016 20:38:10 +0000
Proposal would prevent PACs from paying Maine lawmakers http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/proposal-would-prevent-pacs-from-paying-maine-lawmakers/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/proposal-would-prevent-pacs-from-paying-maine-lawmakers/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2016 00:27:39 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/proposal-would-prevent-pacs-from-paying-maine-lawmakers/ AUGUSTA — A state commission is again proposing legislation to bar politicians from using their own committees to pay themselves.

Right now, Maine law doesn’t restrict how a political action committee can spend its money.

The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices wants the law changed so PACs can’t compensate current legislators or their family members for services they provide to the PACs. On Wednesday, commissioners agreed to submit the proposed legislation, which would apply to any lawmaker with a “principal role” in a PAC.

A similar bill last year got caught up in Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s wave of vetoed legislation. What remains to be seen is how the idea will sit with legislators, who have rejected attempts to change rules for PACs run by lawmakers who say they’re seeking legislative leadership positions.

The measure would apply to all PACs, not just leadership PACs. But commissioners said Wednesday that they hope the legislation will draw attention to examples of spending abuses by leadership PACs.

“If I have a leadership PAC and want to go to six different conferences around the country, it pays,” said Chair Margaret Matheson, an independent. “The good thing about it, it all gets reported.”

Commissioner Richard Nass, a Republican, said the point of leadership PACs, which allow publicly and privately funded legislators to accept unlimited amounts of money, was to help candidates get elected to office.

“It’s gotten some misuse later,” he said.

Executive Director Jonathan Wayne told commissioners that the legislation follows recent media reports highlighting PACs that paid legislators.

In 2014, the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting disclosed that former Democratic Sen. John Tuttle used $17,251 of his leadership PAC’s funds to reimburse himself and his family. Tuttle lost his re-election bid that year.

The investigative nonprofit also reported this year that Democratic Rep. Diane Russell’s leadership PAC had paid her $7,747 for building an email list to drum up online support for local and national progressive causes.

In July, the commission fined Russell $500 for failing to report the email list as an in-kind contribution. But the commission rejected a complaint alleging that Russell used her PAC as an “unregulated money mill.”

Asked to comment Wednesday, Russell said, “Any clarities and guidelines that would provide clearer guidance to elected officials I think is a great thing.”

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/proposal-would-prevent-pacs-from-paying-maine-lawmakers/feed/ 2 Wed, 28 Sep 2016 20:27:39 +0000
With Willowbrook Village closing, another history-recreating complex hopes to take its place http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/as-one-history-recreating-complex-closes-in-maine-another-hopes-to-take-its-place/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/as-one-history-recreating-complex-closes-in-maine-another-hopes-to-take-its-place/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2016 00:16:40 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/as-one-history-recreating-complex-closes-in-maine-another-hopes-to-take-its-place/ After delighting and educating thousands of Mainers for the past 46 years, the historic complex known as 19th Century Willowbrook Village in Newfield will close for good Oct. 10.

But much of its 5,000-piece collection – displayed in some 20 buildings on a rural, 7-acre site – will continue to be accessible to future generations. A large portion of Willowbrook’s collection is being donated to Curran Homestead, a living-history farm and museum in Orrington, near Bangor.

Curran Homestead’s board is hoping to use the donation to expand its property over the next three to five years, transforming it into a hands-on history village comparable to Willowbrook, treasurer Irv Marsters said Wednesday. Curran Homestead currently has eight buildings on 75 acres and has been open to the public for 25 years.

When Willowbrook’s management began publicly announcing the closing in late summer, citing a lack of money, it issued a news release that said the collection would be offered to several Maine groups, including Curran Homestead, Boothbay Railway Village and Skyline Farm in North Yarmouth. But Wednesday, Willowbrook director Robert Schmick said in a written statement that “the bulk of the collection,” including Willowbrook’s 1894 Armitage-Herschell carousel, would be donated to Curran Homestead.

Besides the rare carousel, with horses that quickly gallop forward instead of bobbing up and down, the collection includes a stagecoach, carriages and sleighs, farm equipment, antique printing equipment, and all manner of 19th century clothing and furnishings.

Unlike most museums, Willowbrook feels like a small town circa 1880 to visitors. People can stroll the dirt streets and walk into the home of the town doctor, the printing office, the school, the general store or the barber shop and feel utterly transported.

“It’s such a loss for Maine, because there is so much there … so many pieces of history and life in the late 1800s,” said Kathy DiPhilippo, executive director of the South Portland Historical Society and curator of the Cushing’s Point Museum. “You could walk in the print shop and smell the ink. You could sit in the barber chair. It’s a very unusual place.”

Willowbrook began with the passion of one man, Don King, who lived in Massachusetts but loved hunting in Maine and was an avid collector of antiques. In 1965, he bought 7 acres in Newfield for building a vacation home. The property had a house, store, barn and mill.

King soon became enamored of the history of his property and began buying up others, as well as old buildings he moved to the property. He opened the historic complex to visitors in 1970 and created a not-for-profit group to run it in 1980. Willowbrook has drawn more than 430,000 visitors over the years.

After a stock market slump around 2008 severely depleted King’s endowment, the museum has struggled to generate enough revenue, including grants and admissions, to keep the place going. In 2011, Willowbrook officials went public with a plea for donations and paid members, saying they might have to close in 2012 if goals weren’t met.

In his statement Wednesday on the futures of Willowbrook and Curran Homestead, Schmick wrote that Willowbrook has “faced austerity budgets” since 2008 and that among board members “there was a realization that a closing was inevitable unless patronage on the scale of King’s contribution” could be found. Admission to Willowbrook is $15, and $8 for children.

Marsters, the treasurer, said Wednesday that the Curran Homestead board was notified by the Willowbrook board last February of the pending closing, and Curran submitted a formal request for some of Willowbrook’s collection. But as talks between the two groups continued, the idea of donating most of Willowbrook’s collection to Curran Homestead became the focus. Other parts of the collection will be given to the Maine State Museum in Augusta, the Brick Store Museum in Kennebunk and several others.

Marsters said Schmick had worked for Curran Homestead in the past as a consultant, and that the Curran board is planning to hire him as director of an expanded Curran Homestead. The Orrington property will be renamed Curran Homestead Village at Fields Pond, and the Willowbrook property in Newfield will be known as Curran Homestead Village at Newfield beginning in January. Marsters said the Newfield property and buildings will be used for special events and for school tours during the next year. School tours have been a big part of Willowbrook’s business over the past several years.

Marsters said that some buildings may be moved from Willowbrook to Curran Homestead, but he’s not sure which or how many. Curran Homestead will run the Willowbrook property and oversee the “phasing out” of the history village there, which may include leasing buildings and land, or selling them.

In his written statement about the futures of Willowbrook and Curran Homestead, Schmick wrote that the homestead’s location would be better for attracting visitors because it’s near Interstate 95 and on the way to Acadia National Park. Willowbrook is in a rural, out-of-the-way portion of western York County. It’s on the New Hampshire border and more than an hour’s drive from Portland and I-95.

“One of the major challenges (for Willowbrook) was probably being far from Greater Portland, away from population centers,” said DiPhilippo, noting that a museum’s location also can affect the kind of funding it gets from local businesses. “So that area, with all the visitors, is probably an opportunity for them.”

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/as-one-history-recreating-complex-closes-in-maine-another-hopes-to-take-its-place/feed/ 1 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/214149-20110714_willowbro3.jpgThu, 29 Sep 2016 08:41:50 +0000
Maine Community College System to request 13 percent increase in state funding http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/community-college-system-to-request-13-increase-in-state-funding/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/community-college-system-to-request-13-increase-in-state-funding/#comments Wed, 28 Sep 2016 23:14:18 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/community-college-system-to-request-13-increase-in-state-funding/ SOUTH PORTLAND — The Maine Community College System is seeking a 13 percent increase in state funding, with the bulk of the new money earmarked to expand workforce development programs, officials said Wednesday.

“We all know the needs of the Maine economy are changing. They are changing in scope and speed and diversity,” system President Derek Langhauser told trustees Wednesday at a meeting on the Southern Maine Community College campus. “We are uniquely situated to help meet those needs. We have a responsibility to not just request money, but present a meaningful proposal on how to help more Maine workers and more Maine businesses.”

The trustees voted to support the request.

If approved by lawmakers, the state allocation for the seven-campus system would increase from $62 million in 2017 to $70 million in 2019.

Langhauser said the system needs an annual 3.5 percent increase just to keep up with increasing costs, such as higher health care and energy bills. The rest of the increase would be used to expand workforce development programs, resulting in new initiatives and more graduates. Some of the programs are specifically intended for people already working in Maine, but who need additional training.

System officials also said the budget request assumes tuition will increase by $2 per credit hour next fall, to $94 per credit hour for in-state students. A final decision on tuition has not been made.

Langhauser noted that the state appropriation has become a shrinking proportion of the system’s overall budget. Currently, the state supports 38 percent of the $177.3 million budget, down from 51 percent in 2003 when the system transitioned from technical colleges to community colleges.

Also Wednesday, Langhauser told trustees that early fall enrollment numbers are up, which is notable since low unemployment tends to depress enrollment at two-year colleges.

“We have performed well in a difficult operating environment,” he said. “I’m very pleased.”

As of last week, enrollment was 16,659 students, 1.2 percent higher than last year’s enrollment at the same time.

Final enrollment figures will be available Oct. 15. The community college system can see big changes in the final weeks as people enrolled elsewhere transfer in, or students add or drop classes before the deadline.

Earlier this month, the University of Maine System trustees voted to seek a 12 percent increase in state funding. If approved, the total state appropriation to the university system would increase from $200.6 million in 2016 to $225.1 million in 2019.

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

ngallagher@pressherald.com

Twitter: noelinmaine

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/community-college-system-to-request-13-increase-in-state-funding/feed/ 38 Thu, 29 Sep 2016 08:43:21 +0000
Kingfield woman denies helping boyfriend conceal drunken fatal hit-and-run http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/woman-denies-helping-conceal-fatal-farmington-crash/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/woman-denies-helping-conceal-fatal-farmington-crash/#comments Wed, 28 Sep 2016 23:12:46 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/woman-denies-helping-conceal-fatal-farmington-crash/ FARMINGTON — A Kingfield woman is denying that she helped her boyfriend conceal a drunken hit-and-run crash on New Year’s Day that killed an East Wilton woman.

Nikita Tolman, 27, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a felony charge of hindering apprehension or prosecution and a misdemeanor charge of false public report, according to Franklin County District Court documents. She was indicted on the charges in August.

Tolman was one of two female passengers in Tommy Clark’s car when he struck and killed Taylor Gaboury, 21, early on the morning of Jan. 1 while Clark was driving drunk on Route 2 in Farmington.

Clark pleaded guilty in June to aggravated operating under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident. He has begun serving his prison sentence of seven years, with four years suspended.

Gaboury was walking to her parents’ home in Farmington when Clark struck her near Franklin Memorial Hospital. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Tolman, who had not been charged previously with a crime, was sitting in the passenger’s seat and saw Gaboury before the crash, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in conjunction with Clark’s case. She tried to alert Clark but it was too late, the affidavit says.

Clark checked on Gaboury after hitting her with his car, but when he realized she was dead he fled to the Colonial Valley Motel, where police found him later.

As he fled the scene, Clark left Tolman and the other passenger, who has not been charged with a crime, at the entrance to Webber Insurance Agency just down the road from where Gaboury was struck. Tolman called 911 at 1:40 a.m. to report that a woman had been hit by a car, the affidavit states.

When police arrived, the passengers told officers that they’d seen a boot in the road, which led them to find Gaboury in the embankment behind the guardrail. After being interviewed by police, the passengers were taken to Colonial Valley Motel, where they were staying.

The affidavit says police found the interview “highly suspicious” and went to the motel, where they saw Clark in Tolman’s Dodge Intrepid. Tolman’s car was parked directly beside Clark’s Dodge Dart, which had signs of extensive damage to the front passenger side.

Tolman’s bail was set at $3,000 unsecured bond. Her next court appearance is Dec. 5 for a dispositional conference.

Tolman’s attorney, Chris Berryment, did not respond to a message left Wednesday. Assistant District Attorney Clair Andrews, who is prosecuting the case, was unavailable for comment.

Lauren Abbate can be contacted at 861-9252 or at:

labbate@centralmaine.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/woman-denies-helping-conceal-fatal-farmington-crash/feed/ 0 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/1080426_709767_gabouryhorizontal1.jpgWed, 28 Sep 2016 21:28:26 +0000
Susan Collins cites 5-year-old who lived in Portland woods in Senate speech on anti-poverty bill http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/susan-collins-cites-5-year-old-who-lived-in-portland-woods-in-senate-speech-on-anti-poverty-bill/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/susan-collins-cites-5-year-old-who-lived-in-portland-woods-in-senate-speech-on-anti-poverty-bill/#comments Wed, 28 Sep 2016 23:06:58 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/susan-collins-cites-5-year-old-who-lived-in-portland-woods-in-senate-speech-on-anti-poverty-bill/ U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, called for reforms in federal anti-poverty programs Wednesday and highlighted the story of a 5-year-old girl who lived in Portland’s woods this summer as an example of the gaps in existing programs.

In a floor speech to introduce new legislation, Collins spoke about the struggles of Arianna and her family during the month they spent living in woods behind a Portland strip mall.

They were among dozens of homeless people who were ordered by police to leave the longtime encampment known as Tent City. After struggling to find subsidized housing, the family ultimately rented an apartment in Auburn and moved in without furniture or beds.

Standing beside a large photo of Arianna in front of her family’s tent, Collins noted that Maine’s poverty rate is 13.4 percent and affects both rural and urban families. Such poverty often stunts the potential of children, she said.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is calling for reforms in federal anti-poverty programs. In a floor speech Wednesday to introduce her bill, she highlighted, as an example of the gaps in existing programs, the Maine Sunday Telegram's story about a 5-year-old girl who lived in Portland's woods this summer.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is calling for reforms in federal anti-poverty programs. In a floor speech Wednesday to introduce her bill, she highlighted, as an example of the gaps in existing programs, the Maine Sunday Telegram’s story about a 5-year-old girl who lived in Portland’s woods this summer. Image from video/c-span.org

“Just this weekend, the Maine Sunday Telegram reported on the heart-wrenching story of a 5-year-old girl named Arianna who lived in a makeshift tent in the woods outside of Portland,” Collins said. “Thanks to the involvement of a state social worker and the Maine Homeless Veterans Alliance, who were committed to keeping the family together, this story has a happy ending. Arianna and her mother now live in an apartment in Auburn, Maine, and she finally just started kindergarten.”

Collins added, “We know that the well-being of children like Arianna is tightly linked to the well-being of their parents.”

The legislation introduced by Collins on Wednesday, the Two-Generation Economic Empowerment Act, is co-sponsored by Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico. It would align and link existing anti-poverty programs and funding streams in an effort to increase economic security, educational issues, social capital, and health and well-being. Such coordination would improve the effectiveness of the programs, Collins said.

The bill would give states, local governments and tribes more flexibility to tailor their programs to meet the needs of their respective communities.

It also would create an Interagency Council on Multigenerational Poverty to coordinate and link programs from more than a dozen federal agencies that deal with transportation, agriculture, housing and labor, among other issues.

The goals of Two-Generation, as it is being called, focus on anti-poverty strategies such as extending the hours for career services and childhood development programs, expanding home visiting programs that provide education and workforce training, and expanding access to education and other services for low-income students who have young children.

The bill also would allow state, local and tribal governments to test new approaches, including so-called Two-Generation Social Impact Bonds, which would allow private investors to lend money to service providers. If those providers met certain goals, then the federal government would repay the loans. If not, the federal government would pay nothing.

The bill also would direct the Government Accountability Office to identify any barriers and opportunities for collaboration for recipients of federal block grants, and would report back to Congress.

“Mr. President, with this bill, we have the chance to make a permanent difference in the lives of millions of families in this country who are struggling and living in poverty,” Collins said. “We have the opportunity to finally break the multi-generational cycle of poverty.”

The story of Arianna and her family prompted an outpouring of support from people who offered to furnish the family’s apartment, pay rent and donate clothes, toys and children’s books.

Arianna’s mother, Chrissy Chavez, 38, wants to go back to school to become a social worker, and her boyfriend, Troy Jethro, 34, has been working temporary jobs – mostly overnight shifts in a warehouse.

 

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/susan-collins-cites-5-year-old-who-lived-in-portland-woods-in-senate-speech-on-anti-poverty-bill/feed/ 141 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Collins.sharper-copy.jpgThu, 29 Sep 2016 06:02:19 +0000
South Portland approves 118-unit apartment complex, Dunkin’ Donuts proposal http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/south-portland-approves-118-unit-apartment-complex-dunkin-donuts-proposal/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/south-portland-approves-118-unit-apartment-complex-dunkin-donuts-proposal/#comments Wed, 28 Sep 2016 22:32:05 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/south-portland-approves-118-unit-apartment-complex-dunkin-donuts-proposal/ SOUTH PORTLAND — The Planning Board has unanimously approved a 118-unit apartment complex in the Brick Hill neighborhood, along with a Dunkin’ Donuts on the site of the former Wok Inn restaurant on Main Street.

The board voted 7-0 on Tuesday to give Riverbrook Properties final major subdivision and site plan approval for the market-rate, multi-family development at 20 Lydia Lane, said Planning Director Tex Haeuser. Each one- and two-bedroom unit will have a deck and/or patio. Four units on the 6.4-acre property will be designed for handicapped accessibility. The complex’s parking areas and sidewalks will connect to its mailboxes, trash facility and open space.

The board also endorsed a plan to redevelop the Wok Inn site at 818 Main St. into a two-tenant building, Haeuser said. It will include a 2,322-square-foot Dunkin’ Donuts with drive-up service and a 1,735-square-foot retail space next door. The project will redefine the driveway to align with New York Avenue and the traffic signal on Main Street.

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/south-portland-approves-118-unit-apartment-complex-dunkin-donuts-proposal/feed/ 15 Wed, 28 Sep 2016 18:34:39 +0000
Scarborough campground agrees to restore wetlands, pay $227,500 civil penalty http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/scarborough-campground-agrees-to-restore-wetlands-pay-227500-civil-penalty/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/scarborough-campground-agrees-to-restore-wetlands-pay-227500-civil-penalty/#comments Wed, 28 Sep 2016 21:59:25 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/scarborough-campground-agrees-to-restore-wetlands-pay-227500-civil-penalty/ The owners of a campground and farm on Pine Point in Scarborough have agreed to restore more than 64 acres of wetlands on the two properties and to pay a civil penalty of $227,500.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday in a news release that they have reached a settlement with Bayley Hill Deer and Trout Farm Inc., Bayley’s Camping Resort and its related corporate entities regarding allegations that the owners violated federal laws by filling in wetlands and other waterways on the property.

Mark Abueg, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice, said the proposed consent decree and a pending complaint or civil action were filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Portland.

Abueg said the settlement won’t be finalized until it has been approved by a judge and a 30-day public comment period passes. But court documents state that both sides have “resolved all claims in this litigation.”

The campground operators, Thomas Bayley and Fred W. Bayley – they are named in the complaint as defendants along with Kathleen Bayley – could not be reached for comment. A worker at the campground office said Thomas Bayley would not be available until Thursday.

In its news release, the EPA alleged that the Bayleys and their corporate entities violated Section 404 of the Clean Water Act by filling wetlands and other waterways at their campground and Ross Road farm properties in Scarborough and Old Orchard Beach. The bulk of the cited violations occurred on the farm, rather than the campground.

Federal officials said the violations began in the late 1980s and continued through the mid-2010s.

Gene Libby, the Kennebunk-based attorney identified in court records as representing Bayley’s Camping Resort, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. An automated email response to a request for comment said he is out of the country.

Bayley’s Camping Resort is located at 275 Pine Point Road, near Scarborough’s Pine Point neighborhood, town landing and Pine Point Beach. The campground is on the border with Old Orchard Beach, which is about a half mile from the resort.

Bayley’s has been dedicated to “family camping” since 1970, its website says.

The civil suit and consent decree were filed in court on Wednesday by lawyers representing several federal enforcement agencies including: Amy Dona, an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice; Thomas E. Delahanty II, the U.S. Attorney for Maine; and Laura Beveridge, an enforcement counsel with the EPA.

The civil suit names Bayley’s Campground Inc., FKT Resort Management LLC, FKT Bayley Family Limited Partnership, Bayley Hill Deer and Trout Farm Inc and the Bayleys as defendants.

The suit also contains a number of supporting documents that talk about the ecological significance of the Scarborough Marsh.

The suit says that Scarborough Marsh, which covers more than 3,000 acres in the towns of Old Orchard Beach, Scarborough and Cape Elizabeth, is the largest contiguous salt marsh system in Maine, filtering pollution from the water and providing food and shelter for numerous species of birds, fish, mammals and shellfish.

Under terms of the consent decree, the Bayleys agree to establish through restoration and mitigation at least 64.5 acres of freshwater wetlands, restore site hydrology, and permanently protect all restored and mitigated wetlands, as well as associated riparian, upland and open-water habitat through enforceable conservation easements, the EPA said. The Bayleys also will be required to pay a civil penalty of $227,500. Court documents do not specify how much it will cost the Bayleys to restore wetlands.

The civil complaint alleges that the Bayleys or their contractors filled wetlands on their property with dredged or fill material – defined in court records as dirt, rock or sand – for a period of more than 30 years.

Bayley’s Camping Resort is located within the Scarborough Marsh “focus area,” and the fill affected Jones Creek and its tributaries, court documents state.

“Wetlands are incredibly valuable ecological areas that provide important functions including protecting and improving water quality, and helping to buffer floods and major storm events,” Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England Office, said in a statement. “Each acre of destroyed or lost wetlands means our communities are losing critical resources that feed the rivers, lakes and streams we depend on to provide sources of food, transportation and recreational opportunities.”

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

dhoey@pressherald.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/28/scarborough-campground-agrees-to-restore-wetlands-pay-227500-civil-penalty/feed/ 67 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/1080330_732853-20160928_bayleys-003.jpgThu, 29 Sep 2016 14:38:00 +0000