College Republicans face pushback for ‘Deck the Wall’ party

ORONO, Maine (AP) — A college Republicans group at the University of Maine is facing criticism for its decision to host a “Deck the Wall” holiday party over the weekend.

Group President Charles Honkonen says the event was intended to spark a dialogue on the topic of President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall. NewsCenter Maine reports a number of students and faculty viewed the party marketed as being exclusive and offensive to some in the college community.

Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Robert Dana says the group’s intent was missed because of wording in their marketing. The UMaine College Republicans say they will be working with administration next semester to create events meant to foster dialogue.

School cancels classes over heating oil smell

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Classes have been canceled at a Maine middle school after the smell of heating oil left some students and staff with headaches and nausea.

Superintendent Ken Kunin says Memorial Middle School students will attend classes at a nearby high school Thursday while workers try fix boilers blamed for the smell.

A custodian found the boiler room flooded Monday, prompting officials to cancel classes.

Students returned Tuesday, but the smell of heating oil lingered and the boilers failed again that morning.

Kunin canceled classes Wednesday, and he says he is keeping the school closed Thursday “out of an abundance of caution.”

He says the state Department of Environmental Protection tested the air quality and found it was at safe levels.

Kunin says he hopes to reopen the school by Friday.

Maine skipper charged in crew member’s death

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Federal prosecutors who’ve charged a Maine sailboat captain in the death a crew member who jumped overboard are beginning to lay out their case.

The Portland Press Herald reports that maritime experts will testify 66-year-old Rick Smith should’ve intervened long before the crewmember jumped in route to the Virgin Islands.

Documents indicate 54-year-old David Pontious had been seasick for three days, had become paranoid and had even attacked Smith before jumping.

Two experts say Smith, of Camden, Maine, should’ve altered course to get help and should’ve initiated life-saving measures. But another expert says Pontious himself is to blame.

Smith, who’s under house arrest in the Virgin Islands, is due to be tried next month. He’s charged under a maritime law for negligence that contributes to a death at sea.

Maine governor calls ranked voting ‘repugnant’

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine’s Republican governor is casting doubts on election results while a GOP congressman continues a federal lawsuit over Maine’s new voting system.

Gov. Paul LePage called Maine’s ranked voting system “repugnant” to constitutional rights in Wednesday filings.

Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin is fighting to undo Democratic opponent Jared Golden’s election under ranked-choice voting, which allows voters to rank candidates.

Poliquin asked courts Tuesday to prevent Maine from certifying an election winner. LePage declined to sign an election certificate Maine sent to the House showing Golden won.

State law discusses whether governors can issue such certificates when elections face litigation.

But Democratic Secretary of State Matt Dunlap’s brief says such law only applies when state courts resolve recounts. Dunlap says it’s up to the House whether to seat Golden Jan. 3.

Portland’s largest and newest solar array completed

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Officials say Portland’s largest and newest solar array will generate about 3 percent of the city government’s electricity.

City officials and renewable energy advocates gathered Tuesday to celebrate the recently completed 4-acre solar array installation. The Portland Press Herald reports the array has been producing power since Dec. 10, and consists of over 2,000 photovoltaic panels installed over the summer.

The array is the city’s third to come online this year, and by far the largest. It is expected to produce 1.2 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year.

Democratic Mayor Ethan Strimling thanked community advocates for keeping the project on officials’ minds.

Lowest paid coach in CAA notches winning season

ORONO, Maine (AP) — The University of Maine’s head football coach who is also the lowest paid coach in the Colonial Athletic Association may be fielding more lucrative offers following a winning and historic season.

Joe Harasymiak guided UMaine to its first Football Championship Subdivision national semifinal appearance in school history, and the team compiled a 10-4 record. The Bangor Daily News reports the 32-year-old was named the American Football Coaches Association Region 1 Coach of the Year.

Harasymiak says he was recently contacted by other schools about coaching jobs, but nothing went further than that. He is paid $153,000 per year by UMaine and his contract extends through 2020.

Harasymiak says he is focused on his current position. UMaine Athletics Director Ken Ralph says he wants to keep Harasymiak in Orono.



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