Summits suspends service to improve connections

Summit Natural Gas of Maine will temporarily suspend service to its customers in the Waterville area as it inspects equipment believed to have been improperly installed by its contractors. The company started examining 400 tees that connect service lines at residences and businesses with main gas lines in Waterville, Fairfield and Madison. Natural gas will be shut off for up to 12 hours to replace many of the connections. Summit has known about the problem since November, but decided to wait to start work until the spring, when natural gas service interruption would be less disruptive, said Summit communications manager Tammy Poissonnier. The company does not expect to replace all 400 tees. Read the story.


DeCoster sentenced in salmonella case

Infamous egg baron Austin “Jack” DeCoster, and his son were sentenced Monday to three months in jail for their role in a 2010 salmonella outbreak that sickened thousands of people nationwide. DeCoster, 81, of Turner and his son Peter DeCoster, 51, of Clarion, Iowa, pleaded guilty last year to selling contaminated eggs from their Iowa egg farms. Under the sentence handed down Monday in federal court in Sioux City, the DeCosters were also fined $100,000 each. Their company, Quality Egg, had pleaded guilty to bribing a federal inspector and other charges, and was fined $6.79 million. The DeCosters previously owned egg farms in the Maine towns of Turner, Leeds and Winthrop, but sold them in late 2011. They now lease their Iowa facilities to another company. Read the story.

Foam, plastic containers get the boot in Portland

Coffee shops and restaurants in Portland enacted a ban Wednesday on polystyrene cups and takeout containers. The city ordinance was passed in June along with a nickel fee for use of disposable plastic or paper bags. At Hannaford Supermarket on Forest Avenue, polystyrene products were already off the shelves, and the store has switched to other materials for certain packaging, such as for meat trays, said Eric Blom, Hannaford spokesman. He said the city’s new ordinance is not a major financial burden for Hannaford. Read the story.


Portland to negotiate temporary deal with Uber

Following a game plan it has used in cities across the country, ride-sharing service Uber has convinced Portland to negotiate a temporary agreement on how to regulate the company’s activity while city officials try to hash out a permanent set of rules. Over the initial objections of one of its members, Portland’s Transportation, Sustainability & Energy Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to initiate the negotiation process for a temporary operating agreement that both Uber and the city would have to sign. The committee voted 3-0, with Chair David Marshall absent, to direct city Corporation Counsel Danielle West-Chuhta to work out an agreement that would address basic safety concerns such as vehicle inspections and criminal background checks for drivers of the service, which connects passengers and drivers through a mobile app. Read the story.


Bluefin tuna stocks rebound

The bluefin tuna is on the rebound a decade after it symbolized the failure of international fisheries management. U.S. fishery managers announced Wednesday that they are removing bluefin tuna from the list of species subject to overfishing, and plan to recommend to an international body that the catch quota for the U.S. be increased. In the U.S., Maine is second to only Massachusetts in the number of commercial fishermen who pursue bluefin tuna, the premium choice for sushi and sashimi in restaurants in Japan and, increasingly, other countries. While the increasing abundance of tuna in the Atlantic is welcome news for fishermen, it’s unclear how increasing quota limits could help Maine fishermen because other conditions, such as weather and the abundance of natural predators, are bigger factors. Read the story.

Elver harvest stalled by weather

Cold weather has slowed the harvest of elvers, the baby eels that have been among the most valued of Maine’s commercial landings. Because they haven’t migrated to inland waters from warmer ocean water, the catch volume has been low, according to the Associated Press. The two-month season ends May 31. But for those fishermen who are landing elvers, the payoff has been high. Some fishermen are getting prices of $1,800 per pound. Last year, the average price per pound was $845. Read the story.


Sports tourism touted by commission

A symposium held Thursday at the University of Southern Maine in Portland extoled the economic virtues of attracting more sporting events to the state. The event, hosted by the Maine Sports Commission, said the goal is to get potential partners such as municipal leaders and venue owners thinking about sports as a way to bring added revenue to their communities. According to the National Association of Sports Commissions, Maine’s commission has generated about $4.6 million in economic impact during the past year through sporting events it single-handedly brought to Maine, and another $8.1 million through collaborative efforts such as the one with Westbrook. Robert Coppola, the commission’s new strategic director, said he is working on bids for a variety of future events that could bring nearly $13 million in revenue to Maine in 2016. Read the story.


E.S. Boulos Co. bought by Illinois firm

An Illinois company has signed a purchase agreement to buy a local electrical contracting company that has been in business for 95 years. MYR Group Inc. of Rolling Meadows, Illinois, announced that it acquired E.S. Boulos Co. of Westbrook in an $11.4 million deal completed Monday. The acquisition of E.S. Boulos will enhance MYR’s transmission and distribution footprint in the Northeast and establish a commercial presence in the region, according to a news release from MYR Group. E.S. Boulos offers construction services for the electric utility sector, communication infrastructure and has extensive experience providing commercial and industrial electrical construction. The company was bought by Eversource Energy in 2001 and has operated as a stand-alone, non-regulated entity. E.S. Boulos will continue to operate with its existing staff, under its own name as part of the MYR Group. Read the story.

Otto Pizza destined for Handy Andy space

Andy’s Handy store, a landmark Yarmouth store, will be home to an Otto Pizza and two other businesses later this year when the store’s renovation is complete.

The store has been a Yarmouth institution since 1938. Otto Pizza, an upscale eatery which opened its first store in Portland in 2009, now has nine restaurants throughout New England. The new owners plan to keep the store’s traditional ice cream operation going through the summer. Read the story.