Hammond Lumber adding to coastal Maine operations

Belgrade-based Hammond Lumber Co. plans to expand into coastal Maine with the acquisition of stores owned by Sanford-based New England Building Materials.

The three stores are in Damariscotta, Boothbay Harbor and Pemaquid, said a news release. With the acquisitions, which are expected to close Oct. 21, Hammond will have 12 Maine locations.

Mike Hammond, the company’s vice president, called the acquisitions a “natural progression” for Hammond, which has worked with contractors and homeowners in coastal Maine for years.

The news release said the sale is part of an effort by New England Building Materials to focus increasingly on sales to large construction companies in southern Maine and eastern Massachusetts.

New England Building Supply, which had eight stores in Massachusetts and Maine, will consolidate Maine operations at its Sanford location.

“Our new model of concentrating on fewer, but substantially larger, delivery centers will allow us to compete more successfully in the southern markets, from Portland to Cape Cod,” said New England Building Materials CEO Don Collins.

Heating oil price declines in latest survey by state

The latest heating oil survey by the state of Maine indicates prices have fallen 6 cents per gallon since the season’s first survey last week.

The Governor’s Office of Energy Independence and Security said Tuesday that its weekly survey put the average price at $3.44 a gallon.

That’s still nearly 80 cents higher than it was around the same time last year.

State blames computer for halting jobless claims

Maine Department of Labor officials said they have resolved a computer problem that prevented some unemployment claimants from filing weekly unemployment claims Sunday and Monday. 

The issue affected people who attempted to file their weekly claims online or by using the automated phone system, the department said in a news release. 

“The system is back online and accepting weekly claims again,” said Laura Boyett, director of the Bureau of Unemployment Compensation. 

“Because of the high call volumes, people who tried unsuccessfully to file over the weekend should try to file their claim online at www.fileforui.com. Those who prefer to file using the automated telephone system should try later in the day or after regular business hours.” 

Weekly unemployment claims are required of anyone collecting unemployment benefits.

Pittsfield call center closes; 65 people losing their jobs

A call services company has closed a center in Pittsfield after a client unexpectedly ended its contract, costing 65 people their jobs.

George Simons, a vice president of Global Contact Services, calls the situation “very unfortunate.”

Simons wouldn’t say which client it was, nor would he say why the contract was pulled, but he’d heard that other call centers working for the same customer were also closed.

Simons said a Global Contact Services call center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was also closed. The company now has eight domestic call centers plus one in the Philippines.

‘Core switch failure’ cited as BlackBerry woes linger

The maker of BlackBerry smartphones says the problems that have plagued users worldwide for two days were caused by a core switch failure within the company’s infrastructure.

Research in Motion Ltd. said that a transition to a backup switch did not function as tested, causing a large backlog of data.

In an update Tuesday, the company said it is now working to clear the backlog and restore normal service as soon as possible.