Call center reverses course, says it won’t hire workers

A call center in Orono has reversed course and says it won’t be hiring hundreds of workers to take calls from people in other states affected by Superstorm Sandy.

NexxLinx of Maine said last week that it would hire 400 employees for a contract with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide assistance to people from nine mid-Atlantic and New England states and Washington, D.C., who were registering for federal disaster assistance or seeking relief program referrals.

The company announced Saturday that FEMA has canceled the contract after determining it had enough resources on hand and that the call center no longer needs to hire anyone.

NexxLinx has its headquarters in Atlanta and call centers in Maine, New York, North Carolina and Texas.


Mainers join other workers on Hostess plant picket line

Several hundred workers at a Hostess plant in northeast Philadelphia are off the job, honoring picket lines by the bakers’ union at the bankrupt company’s plants.

The Philadelphia Inquirer said about 330 workers at the Philadelphia plant have joined several dozen workers from Maine who arrived to picket. Hostess operates a bakery and distribution center in Biddeford, with about 370 workers.

The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union said Friday’s walkout began after Hostess Brands Inc. imposed a contract that cuts wages and benefits by 27 precent to 32 percent, with an immediate 8 percent wage reduction.

Only some Hostess workers are free to strike, according to a union fact sheet, but the existing contract allows striking workers to set up picket lines at other plants, and workers at those plants can honor the picket lines.

Hostess, which makes Twinkies, Wonder Bread and Ding Dongs, filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.


Jackson Laboratory ready to develop new campus

The Jackson Laboratory is ready to begin developing a new campus following the purchase of a former Lowe’s store in Ellsworth.

The Bar Harbor-based biomedical research facility said it has completed the acquisition of the former big-box store, which closed late last year. The sales price was not disclosed.

The Bangor Daily News reported the laboratory will now begin planning and engineering the facility, which will be used for office and warehouse space and potentially as a site for mouse production.

Spokeswoman Joyce Peterson said it’s going to take time to plan out the space and complete renovations, and that it could be four years before Jackson Laboratory employees report for work there.


Commemorative plate aims to mark Acadian Congress

The state of Maine will issue a commemorative license plate to mark the 2014 World Acadian Congress.

Event organizers say it’s the first time since the U.S. Bicentennial in 1976 that the state is issuing a commemorative license plate to mark a significant event.

The World Acadian Congress is held every five years in a region inhabited by Acadians. It draws more than 50,000 visitors from 44 countries and has an economic impact that exceeds $50 million.

In 2014, the congress will be hosted by the international region known as Acadia of the Lands and Forests, which incorporates northernmost Maine, northwestern New Brunswick and southeastern Quebec.

A commemorative license plate does not have any numbers or letters and cannot replace the legally issued plates.

Man suffers serious burns from gasoline in wood stove

Fire officials say an Augusta man is being treated for serious burns after a fire that started when he used gasoline to ignite wood in his wood stove.

The state Fire Marshal’s Office said 38-year-old Michael O’Leary was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland after the Saturday morning fire. His wife was treated at MaineGeneral in Augusta for smoke inhalation, and the family dog died.

Officials said the couple’s ranch-style home sustained heavy smoke and heat damage.

Fire Marshal Joe Thomas said homeowners should never use a flammable liquid to start a wood stove fire because the vapors are explosive and cause a fireball when ignited.


Museum offering free pass for armed services veterans

The Owls Head Transportation Museum in Maine is offering free admission Monday to all veterans of U.S. armed services in recognition of Veterans Day.

Admission for adult non-veterans is $10 and children under 18 are admitted free.

Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day in recognition of the end of World War I.

Many of the museum’s aircraft on display were developed for use during World War I. Also on display is the museum’s featured exhibition, called MGs & Microcars, which showcases a unique collection of vehicles from the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s.


Two Maine ski mountains open trails for early skiing

Skiers hit the slopes over the weekend on a dozen trails at two Maine ski mountains for the early start of ski season.

Nine trails were open at the Sunday River ski resort in Newry, while Sugarloaf in Carrabassett Valley reported three open trails.

Sunday River, which opened Tuesday, says it’ll be scaling back to six trails Monday.

Sugarloaf said it’ll be shutting down Monday for additional snowmaking and grooming during the midweek, with plans to reopen Friday.


Alcohol, excessive speed blamed for fatal car crash

Police say alcohol and excessive speed are believed to be factors in an early morning crash that killed a 24-year-old Oakland man.

Police said Estanislao Garcia was killed when he crashed his new sports car into two utility poles on a Waterville street shortly after 1 a.m. Saturday. A passenger was taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor with injuries.

Waterville Police Chief Joseph Massey said Garcia had just bought the 2013 Subaru a few days earlier.

He said police estimate the car was traveling at more than 80 mph when it went airborne, careened out of control and hit the utility poles with such force that the engine block was found 40 to 50 feet away from the engine compartment.


King travels to Washington for discussions on caucuses

Independent Sen.-elect Angus King traveled to Washington on Sunday for the first time since his election for a series of meetings that will help him decide which party he’ll align with.

King has said he could caucus with Democrats or Republicans or neither. Regardless, he said he’ll vote his conscience, not party lines.

Democratic Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate majority leader, already had reached out to King to congratulate him and to open the door to discussions about caucusing with his party.

King, who said he’s keeping an open mind, said this week would be the earliest he’d announce his decision. He said it could take until after Thanksgiving.

— From staff and news services