Cape Elizabeth physician chosen to lead Maine CDC

A Cape Elizabeth physician has been chosen to be Maine’s top public health officer.

Dr. Sheila Pinette will take over as head of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on May 1, according to an announcement by Mary Mayhew, commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Pinette was a physician assistant and developed a program at Maine Medical Center to serve high-risk pregnant mothers before earning her degree as a doctor of osteopathic medicine from the University of New England in 2000.

She now has a medical practice in Cape Elizabeth but will leave the practice to take on her new job.

As head of the Maine CDC, Pinette will oversee the state’s public health programs, response plans and disease prevention efforts.

Dr. Stephen Sears, the state epidemiologist, has been acting CDC director since December, when Dr. Dora Anne Mills stepped down from the post to become medical director of MaineCare. Mills was let go last month from the MaineCare job as part of a management shake-up by the LePage administration.

Former CEO of Dingley Press named to DHHS finance post

A former chief executive officer and chairman of The Dingley Press in Lisbon has been named deputy commissioner of finance for Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services.

Commissioner Mary Mayhew said Wednesday that Christopher Pierce’s background and financial knowledge make him well-suited for the job.

Pierce, who graduated from Bowdoin College, takes the job amid rising enrollment in MaineCare that accounts for the bulk of a $65 million shortfall in the state budget for the current fiscal year ending June 30.

Pierce purchased The Dingley Press in 1980 after it lost 95 percent of its revenue when L.L. Bean decided to produce its catalogs elsewhere. From then until 2004, Dingley increased annual revenue to more than $100 million. It employed more than 500 people when it was sold to its current owner, the Sheridan Group.

Lawmaker wants cellphones to come with warning labels

A year after lawmakers rejected a bill requiring warnings about cellular phone use, a Sanford lawmaker is back with a new version.

Democratic Rep. Andrea Boland’s new bill would require warning labels on cellphones, and notices would have to be posted by cellphone retailers warning users of potential health hazards and explaining how to use cellphones more safely.

A year ago, a watered-down version of a similar measure was rejected. It would have directed Maine’s health website to include links to existing federal cellphone advisories and encourage more research on the issue.

Boland’s new bill is based on a similar bill in Oregon.


Third Democrat plans to run for open state Senate seat

Another candidate has announced he will run for a seat being vacated by state Sen. Larry Bliss of South Portland.

Attorney Paul Aranson of Scarborough filed with the Maine ethics commission as a Democrat for Senate District 7, representing Cape Elizabeth, South Portland and part of Scarborough. Rob Schreiber, an adjunct faculty member at Southern Maine Community College, and Rep. Cynthia Dill, D-Cape Elizabeth, already have announced they are interested in the Democratic nomination.

The Cumberland County Democratic Committee will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday in South Portland’s council chambers to nominate one candidate for the election.

Republican Joe Palmieri of South Portland also has filed with the ethics commission. Bliss was re-elected in November, defeating Palmieri by 75 votes.

Bliss, who is resigning to take an out-of-state job, will serve his last day April 15. A special election to fill the spot will be held May 10.


UMaine researchers create a biodegradable golf ball

University of Maine researchers have developed a biodegradable golf ball made from lobster shells.

Intended for use on cruise ships, the balls are made from crushed lobster shells with a biodegradable binder and coating. The balls are the brainchild of Carin Poeschel Orr, who earned a master’s degree in marine bioresources at the university.

The ball was developed by David Neivandt, biological and chemical engineering professor, and undergraduate Alex Caddell of Winterport, with help from The Lobster Institute.

The university has a provisional patent for the lobster shell mixture, which also can be used for other products such as plant pots.

The shells are provided by the lobster processing industry, which has traditionally sent them to landfills.

The raw material for the balls cost about 19 cents each. The balls are expected to retail at competitive prices.


King, Mellencamp team up for ‘Southern gothic musical’

A new musical dreamed up by rocker John Mellencamp and horror writer Stephen King will make its world debut in Atlanta next year.

The Alliance Theater has announced that it will produce “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County,” what it calls “a riveting Southern gothic musical.”

King’s story is based on the real 1957 deaths of two brothers and a young girl. Mellencamp is in charge of the “roots and blues-tinged score.” The Alliance’s artistic director Susan V. Booth will direct, and legendary producer T. Bone Burnett will provide musical direction.

It is scheduled to run from April 4 to May 13, 2012.