Americold drops plan to build cold-storage facility on waterfront

International cold-storage company Americold has abandoned a plan to build a massive refrigerated warehouse on the Portland waterfront. The decision dampens immediate hopes for waterfront cold storage, which has been touted as an economic game-changer for Maine’s growing food and beverage industries. Even so, state and city officials say a refrigerated warehouse will eventually be built on the state-owned land. Atlanta-based Americold Realty Trust, the world’s largest temperature-controlled warehouse owner, was selected in 2015 to build and operate a facility on state-owned land next to the International Marine Terminal. Those plans never materialized, even after a lengthy public process to amend the zoning area around the construction site so Americold could build a nearly 70-foot-tall warehouse. The estimated cost of the project was $30 million, plus another $5 million to $6 million to stabilize the loose, muddy soil at the construction area to support the massive building. On Monday, the company announced it has dropped its plan. Read the story.


Lawmakers adopt sweeping bill setting rules for medical cannabis

Maine lawmakers last week wrapped up their efforts to rewrite the state’s marijuana laws for adult-use recreational sales and for medical use. The legislative outline of Maine’s adult-use cannabis market was finalized last month when lawmakers overturned a gubernatorial veto and paved the way for adult-use sales in 2019. And late Tuesday night, lawmakers adopted a sweeping medical cannabis reform bill that now sits on Gov. Paul LePage’s desk for review. Together with the law passed last month, the votes last week – if they become law – will change how people can legally grow, sell, manufacture, authorize and consume all forms of cannabis. Read the story.


LePage blocks sale of bonds in spat with Legislature over state borrowing

Gov. Paul LePage has stalled the sale of voter-approved bonds in a dispute with the Legislature over state borrowing and a package of new spending bills. LePage spokesman Peter Steele said Monday that the governor was concerned about “11th-hour legislative spending” and was asking State Treasurer Terry Hayes for additional time to consider signing off on about a $117 million borrowing package meant to pay for a variety of projects, including $80 million of highway projects currently underway. LePage later told Maine Public that the bonds were being held up because he didn’t have all the information he needed from Hayes. But Hayes produced documents showing LePage had been kept up to date until his final signature was needed to authorize the bond sales. Read the story.


U.S. imports record amount of seafood; trade deficit grows

The United States imported more seafood last year than at any point in its history, and the nation’s trade deficit in the sector is growing, federal data show. The U.S. imported more than 6 billion pounds of seafood valued at more than $21.5 billion in 2017, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees American fisheries. The country exported more than 3.6 billion pounds valued at about $6 billion. The widening gap comes at a time when Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who heads the federal agency that includes NOAA, has identified reducing the deficit as a priority for the government. Read the story.


Group plans to sue state over use of whale-threatening lobster gear

Another environmental group is threatening a lawsuit to stop Maine lobstermen from using vertical fishing lines that it says pose a danger to right whales. Whale Safe USA has served the Maine Department of Marine Resources with a written notice of its intent to sue that agency, the Maine Lobstermen’s Association and individual Maine lobstermen for violating an Endangered Species Act prohibition on killing and injuring endangered species such as the right whale. The paperwork serves as a 60-day notice of civil action. Led by Massachusetts advocate Max Strahan, who has called himself the “Prince of Whales,” the group wants to stop Maine from issuing licenses to fishermen who use lobster pot gear that can entangle right whales, especially the ropes that connect lobster pots that sit on the ocean floor to the buoys that float on the surface. Read the story.


Missouri brewer’s Shiphead beer no threat to Shipyard, judge rules

Shipyard Brewing Co. has lost its trademark infringement suit against a Missouri brewer that created a brand of beer called Shiphead. A Missouri federal judge Monday granted a request for summary judgment by Logboat Brewing Co., the maker of Shiphead, dismissing Shipyard’s claims that Shiphead violated the Portland brewer’s trademark with its name, the color scheme on the can and a “schooner logo” on the Shiphead can. The judge, Nanette K. Laughrey, said there was no evidence to support Shipyard’s claims that consumers could be confused by the names and the image of the schooner. The vessel on the Shipyard logo is depicted in port, while in the Shiphead logo, it is in the hair of a painting of a woman serving beer. Read the story.


Fall TV ad slots being snapped up by backers of 2nd District hopefuls

It will not be easy this fall to avoid political advertising on Maine television. In the 2nd District congressional race alone, more than 6,300 commercial spots have been reserved by two competing political action committees. And they are just getting started. The House Majority PAC, which backs Democrats, and the Congressional Leadership Fund, which pushes Republicans, are throwing down markers at stations from Portland to Presque Isle to lock in times and dates for the ads they plan to run in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 6 general election. Read the story.


Maine Med submits plans for employee parking garage

Maine Medical Center’s $512 million expansion is moving ahead with the second phase of its five-year construction: a new employee parking garage. The Portland hospital announced Monday that it has submitted plans to the city Planning Board for the 2,450-space garage at 222 St. John St., with construction to begin this fall. Maine Med is working on the first phase of its expansion, adding three floors to the visitor garage and building two floors at the hospital’s East Tower. The East Tower will have 64 new oncology rooms and be the new site of the helipad. Read the story.


Westbrook mushroom producer wins pitch-off

A specialty mushroom producer in Westbrook has won yet another business competition, this time taking home a $100,000 cash prize. North Spore beat two other small businesses to win the third annual “pitch-off” competition on the reality TV series “Greenlight Maine” earlier this month. Based in the Dana Warp Mill, the company also sells mushroom-growing kits, mushroom spawn and other similar products. Read the story.

— From staff and media partners