Officials: Increase in child abuse reports isn’t surprising 

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The reported number of cases of abused children is rising in Maine, but officials say that’s not surprising. 

A new report by the state’s Child Protective Services finds the state substantiated over 2,600 cases of child abuse or neglect in 2018, up from 2,160 in 2017. 

The July report by the State Department of Health and Human Resources says new policy changes in 2018 led to more state assessments of suspected child mistreatment. 

Maine Public reports that the state’s Child Welfare Ombudsman, Christine Alberi, says those numbers don’t necessarily signal an increased risk. She says the state’s now responding differently. 

The state has revamped its call system and added a background check unit. Office of Child and Family Services Director Todd Landry says lawmakers authorized 62 new positions.  


A Portland-Westbrook rail line could top $100 million 

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The Northern New England Rail Authority estimates it would cost over $100 million for a potential rail line between Portland and Westbrook. 

But such a rail line faces operational and financial hurdles before becoming a possibility. 

The Portland Press Herald reports the authority’s study released this summer finds the cheapest possible ticket price to cover costs would be about $12.50 per trip, not including weekend revenue. 

The study says next steps would include working with Portland and Westbrook officials to finalize an operating plan and seeking Pan Am Railways’ approval and support. 

Maine’s Legislature created the public transportation authority in 1995 to develop and provide passenger rail service between Maine and Boston. The authority has a 20-year agreement with Amtrak to operate the Downeaster rail service between Portland and Boston. 


State, feds ask Mainers to go on beetle patrol for bad bug 

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — State and federal authorities are asking Mainers to keep an eye on trees this month for the Asian longhorned beetle, an invasive pest. 

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are both asking residents to be on the lookout for the beetle. The USDA has declared August “Tree Check Month” and is asking residents to take five minutes to report any signs they see of the beetle. 

The beetle feeds on hardwood trees such as maple, birch, elm and ash. The USDA says it has led to the loss of more than 180,000 trees and active infestations are going on in New York and Ohio. 

The beetle is easy to recognize in part because it has antennae longer than its body. 


Husband of woman stabbed at supermarket pushes legal fight 

SACO, Maine (AP) — A Maine man whose wife was slain inside of a supermarket two years ago is appealing a federal court’s dismissal of his lawsuit against the grocery chain. 

The Journal Tribune reports Saco resident Jeffrey Boudreau filed an appeal following the court’s July 19 decision. 

Saco resident Jeffrey Boudreau filed the federal lawsuit in 2017 as a representative of 59-year-old Wendy Boudreau, who was stabbed and killed in 2015 in a Shaw’s grocery store in Saco. 

Boudreau’s lawsuit claimed the store failed to protect Wendy Boudreau from now 35-year-old Connor MacCalister. The grocery chain had denied such allegations. 

Judge D. Brock Hornby said that Shaw’s had no way of knowing about MacCalister’s mental health or family history or previous dealings with police. 


Motorcyclist found dead near site where resident found bike 

AMITY, Maine (AP) — Police say a resident in northern Maine found a motorcycle in a ditch while going to check his mail, and the rider was found dead nearby. 

The Amity resident found the motorcycle just after 5 p.m. on Saturday. Police say the motorcycle operator was located unresponsive in the woods nearby. They say ambulances responded, but the man, 60-year-old Jeffrey Warren of Dedham, was already deceased. 

Police determined Warren lost control of the motorcycle and the bike went down on its side, sliding off the roadway into the woods. They say a helmet was located at the scene, but Warren did not appear to have been using it at the time of the crash. 

Amity is a town of about 200 people south of Houlton, near the Canadian border. 


Maine city to close recycling station to switch to new plant 

BANGOR, Maine (AP) — A Maine city is closing its local recycling station ahead of a switch to a new waste processing facility set to serve over 100 communities. 

The Bangor Daily News reports Bangor will close its station at the city’s public works garage Sept. 2. 

The public works director says residents including those who lack curbside waste collection and those with extra recycling have dropped off 400 tons of recycling at that station annually. 

The city has entered a five-year contract with Pine Tree Waste to bring mixed trash and recycling to the Fiberight plant, which was originally set to open in April 2018. 

Fiberight officials now say plant will start commercial operations in mid-August. They claim their technology that will boost recycling rates at least 50 %. 


Property owners face deadline for short-term rental rules 

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A city official says dozens of properties have yet to comply with South Portland’s new short-term rental ordinance. 

Maine Public reports that the potential violations come seven months after the rules were put into effect. 

City Clerk Emily Scully says that owners of 62 rental properties have been given two notices of violations, and may face possible fines or court action. 

She says the ordinance says violations could mean $1,000 a day for the first offense and then a fine of $1,500 per day for each additional offense. 

Scully says property owners have until Wednesday, Aug. 7, to comply and avoid fines or court action. 

Such owners can either cease their operations as an unregistered property or register their unit. 


Acadia National Park has $65M worth of overdue maintenance 

BANGOR, Maine (AP) — Acadia National Park is saddled with hundreds of deferred maintenance projects that officials say will cost an estimated $65.8 million the park doesn’t have. 

The Bangor Daily News reports that advocates and supporters have long been concerned that deteriorating roads and buildings at the park could result in fewer visitors. 

Surrounding communities rely heavily on tourist dollars from park-goers. 

The National Park Service reported that Acadia reached its highest visitation levels ever last year, with more than 3.5 million visitors that spent an estimated $387 million in area towns. 

Maine representatives are supporting two Congressional bills that would provide additional funding for $11 billion worth of backlogged maintenance projects at parks across the country. 


Maine workers to see raise, family leave in new union deal 

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A Maine union that represents thousands of public workers says its members firmly approved a new contract with the state. 

Maine Public reports the Maine State Employees Association’s contract would be in place for two years. The union represents more than 10,000 workers in the state’s executive branch. 

Union president Ramona Welton says one of the big incentives to approve the contract was 14 days of paid family leave for the birth or adoption of a child. The contract will give workers a 3% raise on Sept. 1 and at least a 4% raise in December 2020. 

Lawmakers approved funding for the new contract in June.  

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