Bangor Savings appointment advances leadership transition

Bangor Savings Bank has taken a major step toward its planned leadership change with the appointment of Bob Montgomery-Rice as president, effective Jan. 1, the bank said Wednesday.

Montgomery-Rice will complete the transition by replacing current top executive Jim Conlon as CEO on April 1, the bank said.

Bangor Savings said in February that Conlon planned to retire in spring 2015, and Montgomery-Rice had been chosen to replace him.

Since joining the bank in 2004, Montgomery-Rice has worked in a variety of executive leadership roles, including as head of the consumer banking, information technology, human resources and real estate management departments.

Conlon joined Bangor Savings in 1996 as its senior lender, and was named CEO in 2005. In March 2006, he became president and CEO, only the 11th person to hold that position in the 162 years since the bank was founded in 1852.

Tom’s of Maine preparing for donations to nonprofits

Tom’s of Maine is gearing up to award more than $500,000 to nonprofits for this year’s “50 States for Good” initiative.

This is the second year in which the Kennebunk-based natural personal care products company has donated to projects that benefit communities in all states and the District of Columbia.

Since it was founded in 1970, Tom’s of Maine has donated 10 percent of its profits back to the community. It also encourages employees to use part of their paid time off to volunteer.

Gap between rich and poor widest in at least 30 years

There’s even more proof that the rich are getting richer while everyone else gets poorer.

In a new report, Pew Research Center said Wednesday that the gap between the nation’s wealthiest households and middle- and low-income earners is the widest it has been since the government began collecting data 30 years ago.

Pew, which analyzed Federal Reserve data, said the median wealth of upper-income families was $639,400 in 2013. Middle-income households were worth $96,500, while low-income families were worth $9,300. Pew calculated wealth by adding a family’s assets, including homes, cars and businesses, and subtracting its debts.

Lawsuit accuses Sprint Corp. of illegal billing for a decade

Federal regulators are accusing Sprint Corp. of illegally billing its wireless customers hundreds of millions of dollars in charges for text message alerts and other services that they didn’t order.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Wednesday that it has sued the third-largest U.S. cellphone carrier over billing for unauthorized charges, a practice known as “cramming.” The agency said Sprint failed to oversee third-party companies, allowing illegal charges to be put on customers’ bills. Over a decade, consumers were charged for items like cellphone ringtones or horoscope text messages they didn’t want and didn’t sign up for, the regulators said.

Because Sprint profited from the billing system, receiving up to 40 percent of the revenue from the charges, “there was little incentive for (Sprint) to put a stop to them,” said consumer bureau Director Richard Cordray.

Sprint, based in Overland Park, Kansas, disputed the government’s allegations.

Consumer prices decline as gas prices drop in November

Plunging gasoline costs pulled U.S. consumer prices lower in November, muting inflation across the entire economy.

The Labor Department said Wednesday that the inflation reading fell a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent last month, after prices were flat in October. Gas costs plummeted 10.5 percent in November, the steepest decline in nearly six years.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile energy and food prices, rose 0.1 percent in November. For the past 12 months, overall inflation has risen 1.3 percent while core inflation has increased 1.7 percent.

– From staff and news services