In just a few weeks, foster and adopted kids from around Maine will have the opportunity to go camping, and go green, all at the same time.Joy Hollowell tells us about Squeaky Wheel Adventures.++++++++++++++++++”Had this old bus outside and thought, what can we do with kids and this bus. Pretty quickly we realized that the bus is for taking trips,” says Bryan Wolf, who runs Squeaky Wheel Adventures with his wife, Alyssa.Squeaky Wheel Adventures will take off later this month, for the first of five multi-day trips. “We incorporate some pretty commercial venues like Six Flags amusement park, the Cog Railroad up Mount Washington, with just exploring, some natural parks, some waterfalls,” says Wolf, who lives in Surry.The campers are all in foster care or some type of other out of home care such as kinship care or that have been adopted.”We felt like children in foster care were perhaps missing certain opportunities, were missing at times a feeling that someone out there is wanting to do something for them, or caring for them,” says Wolf.And then, there’s the bus.”The bus is an adventure all in itself,” says Wolf.That’s because it’s powered by used vegetable oil. “Usually, it’s a bit of a surprise, some big eyes. I don’t think they really believe what we’re saying until a few hundred miles down the road, when they’re involved in helping to fill the tank back up with the vegetable oil that we pull off the roof,” says Wolf.Solar panels on top run the appliances. the campers sleep in bunk beds in the back.There are six kids and three counselors on every trip. “Once in awhile you get one of those golden moments where they’re completely themselves and completely relaxed and I think that’s one of those moments that spurs this whole project on,” says Gerry Brache who is one of the counselors.==============For those in state care, Maine pays for about 40-percent of the trip.Adopted kids also receive some sort of state stipend.But the rest comes from grants and fund raising.There are still some spots left for this season, and the Wolfs are still looking for donations to help fund the trips.For more information, you can log onto www.squeakywheeladventures.org
On day one of Duane Waterman’s trial, jurors got a tour of the crime scene where two men from Western Maine were killed.The 33-year-old man from Sumner is accused of killing the two victims in a dispute involving unpaid debts and illegal drugs.Waterman has pleaded not guilty in the shooting deaths of 50-year-old Timothy Mayberry of West Paris and 43-year-old Todd Smith of Paris.Their bodies were found on Mayberry’s property last July.
Governor Baldacci signed a bill Monday that will make it easier for laid-off workers in Maine to get retrained.The bill got unanimous approval from the Labor Committee and passed the House and Senate last week. It extends the state worker retraining program.In the past, the program was available to someone once in their life, and only if their entire company shut down. This bill relaxes those rules, so anyone who loses their job as a result of a reduction in operations will qualify.Speaker of the House, Hannah Pingree, was a major supporter of the legislations. “There are people across the spectrum who are losing their jobs who are unlikely to return to the same kind of employer and we think that retraining and education is really the key to helping us get out of this incredibly worrisome recession.”The program will be funded by the federal stimulus money the state received for unemployment benefits.
Demand for services at food pantries goes up during summer months, when children are out of school.Today, two food pantries in each county of the state received 500 dollars, thanks to grassroots campaigns at local credit unions. There was applause as the Maine Credit Union League handed out the checks. “With the economy the way it is, you hear about fundraising challenges, but I tell you, people are more generous than ever,” says Jon Paradise of the Maine Credit Union League.The folks at Bucksport Community Concerns say it’s the generosity of local people that help keep them open.”Somebody will just walk in and give us 100 dollars. They won’t tell us their names – they’ll say ‘We don’t need any acknowledgement, just take it, and use it,’” say volunteers, Linda Hayward and Marsha Mushrall.The need at their pantry remains steady this year.”We have a turnover, different families who didn’t come before find they have to come now,” Mushrall says.The Good Shepherd Food Bank says, as a whole, the need from their member pantries is still growing.”Ours is growing by about 40 families a month. We’ve had a lot of layoffs in our town,” says Ted Ivey, president of the Town of Ludlow Food Pantry, which serves 18 communities.The pantries will use the money to stock up at Good Shepherd, where every dollar buys $12.50 worth of food.”For like 67 dollars you can get a truck of food. They provide a lot of food for us – it really stretches the dollars we have,” say Hayward and Mushrall.”It gives us more money to buy with,” Ivey says.Monday, the thanks went back to food pantry volunteers and the ability of others to help when needed.”They feel fortunate in their own lives,” says Mushrall, “and they want to help somebody else.”
Route three in Vassalboro was lit by flames last week after someone set fire to the Grandview Topless Coffee Shop.It was a much different scene Monday morning.”We’re under a tent, but we’re still here, everybody’s safe so, it’s just material so we’ll rebuild again and get going”coffee, doughnuts and donations were on the menu monday. Owner donald crabtree had his employees standing near the road next to the rubble that once was the coffee shop. The coffee and donuts were free. They just want a donation to help with the rebuilding process. Krista macintyre/waitress “this is kind of the beginning yes, just showing that we’re not quitting” crabtree says he’s gotten support from around the country since the june third fire, and less than a week later, he’s at that same site continuing on. That impresses some of the folks who stopped by.”It’s great that he can have such a good attitude. I hope people support him and help him” “we’re going to do whatever we can to keep going. The customers have asked us to keep going that’s what we decided to do.”Even some of those who opposed crabtree and his topless coffee shop and plans for a strip club, seem to be changing their attitudes since flames brought the building down.”They didn’t agree with the business, but they didn’t like what happened. We just want to get rebuilt and keep going”
Cancer survivors celebrated life on the Bangor waterfront Sunday.Cancer Care of Maine hosted its annual “Cancer Survivor Day” along the banks of the Penobscot.It’s a free event that honors survivors and co-survivors.Besides a ceremony, there was plenty of live entertainment, including jazz and standup comedy…and lots of goodies, too.The event was held in conjunction with National Cancer Survivors Day.Local attorney and survivor Julio DeSanctis was one of the featured speakers at the event.He says it’s a day to celebrate what he and other survivors have accomplished.< "we've got a marvelous facility here at eastern maine...cancer care of maine...and they're building a new facility...getting the word out, raising money...you can be treated...and survive...you don't survive forever, but none of us do!">There are 12 million cancer survivors in the United States.Many of them took part in National Cancer Survivors Day, to demonstrate that cancer is not an automatic life sentence.
Maine’s economy could be headed for an upswing.Officials with the state’s Small Business Administration says they’ve seen loan activity increase since it started waiving fees to borrowers for its guaranteed loans.The Finance Authority of Maine also reports hearing from more folks looking to open or expand businesses.Even real estate seems to be picking up.Last month, pending sales of existing homes were the strongest of any month since August 2007. A new public opinion poll by Critical Insights found 70 percent of Maine voters believe the economy is worse now than it was a year ago…that’s down from more than 90 percent in the fall.
A second set of modules will be sent out from Cianbro’s Brewer Manufacturing Facility this week.The first set left Brewer about six weeks ago.They’re being shipped on a 354-foot barge to Port Arthur, Texas, where they’ll be part of a 7-billion-dollar oil refinery expansion.The second set of modules will be loaded Monday in Brewer.The facility’s general manager says it’s a reminder of what a success story the entire project has been for Cianbro, the city of Brewer and the state.< "certainly opening up the Penobscot to commerce again...after the paper mill closed...500 jobs here now..bring good jobs to the area.">This trip to Texas will be a little different, according to Cianbro officials.Instead of stopping overnight in Searsport to re-rig, as they did last time, the crews will power right through to Port Arthur.
State Senator Kevin Raye of Perry is warning Mainers not to be fooled by a phone scammer using his name.Raye says he received a complaint from a woman in Calais this weekend.She says her elderly mother received a call from a man claiming to be Raye.The man said he was collecting money for veterans and asked for her credit card information.The woman didn’t have a credit card, so the man didn’t get her information.Raye says he isn’t making any such calls, and wants to remind folks to never give out their personal information over the phone.He’s notified the State Police about the call.
The First and 391-st Army Reserve were out washing cars Saturday.The fundraiser will help with the costs of training equipment.The troop also took the opportunity to make it a family day, with some of the children helping wash cars.Family members were treated to a BBQ and games.Captain Matthew Underwood says the fundraiser will be a big help.” It’s important to do the little extra things. We’ve got the bare minimum to get the job done but we like to do a little extra. Here to support the families. So any chance we get to raise a few dollars to help that aspect especially in today’s economy we’ll take that chance.”The troop set a goal of raising 300-hundred dollars.
Athletes at the University of Maine couldn’t have asked for better weather this weekend.The 41-st annual Maine Special Olympics are underway this weekend in Orono.And thanks to a new program at the Games, many of the athletes are now living healthier lives…Meghan Hayward has the story.” I can tell you that a good number of the athletes here today probably had their bags packed a month ago in preparation for summer games.”Close to 14-hundred athletes ranging in age from eight to eighty-eight came to compete in the forty-first annual Maine Special Olypmics.Most of them have a medal in their sights.But Special Olympics of Maine President and CEO Phil Geelhoed says it’s also a great way to get the athletes into a healthy routine.There’s now a particular program working to do that.” within special olympics we have a program called healthy athletes in which we take six or seven health distinctions and we do on field screenings during this event.”There are dental, hearing and eye checkups. Physical therapy, too.The program’s getting great feedback so far.” what we’d have to do to have that happen in the community would take weeks on end to happen. it happens in one day here.”Physical therapist Jen Corbeil helps make it happen. She volunteers her time at the healthy athlete event and helps the athletes with a variety of things.” perform range of motion which is flexibility screenings, balance screenings, and aerobic screening on the athletes. and once the athletes go through they get an exercise booklet and it allows them areas they might be having trouble with to work on when they go back home or back to their programs.”Corbeil says there is nothing more satisfying than working this event.” priceless, speechless. it’s just amazing. it’s so amazing to work with this population.”Husson University physical therapy student Kim Leadbetter thinks it’s a great program too. She says she has been able to learn a lot from it.” just like the people skills and stuff like that. it’s pretty nice to get to talk to people and get an idea of what works and what doesn’t and have to adapt to different people.”A program that helps the athletes go for their goals.” I wanna get the gold.”
Bangor’s West Market Square has been transformed into a concert venue this weekend.The second annual West Market Festival has taken over the space near the Grasshopper Shop.The event brought together more than 20 bands, plus vendors and fashion shows for a celebration of local artists.The festival has doubled in size since last year, with two stages.This year’s headliner is one of Maine’s most popular bands…Rustic Overtones.< "we thought it was a good time to have some support in the community for the local artists and creators of art that don't have a venue to show themselves off...for people to come down, it's a free event...so it's great in a recession, because it's free.">The festivities continue until 8 p.m. Saturday in West Market Square.
Visitors to Acadia National Park can get in for free during three weekends this summer.The National Park Service is waiving entrance fees on the weekends of June 20-21, July 18-19 and August 15-16.They’re hoping it’ll encourage more Americans to visit national parks.Acadia is one of the country’s 391 national parks.
Governor John Baldacci joined nature lovers in Bangor Saturday to celebrate a much-loved park.Today marked the 25-th anniversary of the rededication of Saxl Park, which is located on the grounds of the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center.The park is named after Joe Saxl, who was superintendent of the center when it was the Bangor Mental Health Institute.Saxl believed in bringing the community and the hospital together to help get rid of the stigma surrounding mental illness.For years, the space has been an informal public park, but a recent bill made it official…it’s now legally recognized as one of Bangor’s public parks.That means it’s protected from future development.There was also a big announcement from the Bangor Trails Group.< "they, in conjunction with Dorothea Dix and EMCC, have formed an agreement to create the first segment, about a mile or so, of the Bangor Trail system...it'll go in and around Bangor on into the future.">The Bangor Trails Group is comprised of members of Keep Bangor Beautiful, the Bangor Land Trust and the City of Bangor.Saturday’s announcement coincided with “National Trails Day.”
Governor Baldacci has joined forces with Maine’s Congressional delegation to ask the feds for 20 million dollars for an offshore wind research center.They’re proposing a facility at the University of Maine and a coastal and floating test center in the Atlantic.Baldacci, the senators and representatives met with Energy Secretary Steven Chu in Washington Friday.They asked him to allocate 20 million dollars in stimulus money for the first year of the project, and asked him to support additional money from Congress for the next four years.
Social workers are awaiting the results of an evaluation done on the 8-year-old boy who was taken into custody in Norridgewock yesterday.Police say he shot three students and a school bus driver with a BB gun.No one was seriously hurt.31 children were aboard the bus when it happened…they were on their way to a Norridgewock elementary school.The students who were hit in the head and leg areas by the plastic pellets were between 5 and 11 years old.The driver was hit in the head.Another student wrestled the gun away from the boy.
A Maine National Guard unit has been put on alert that they’ll soon be deployed.Major General John Libby made the announcement Saturday that about 177 soldiers from the 1136-th Transportation Company will be deployed to Afghanistan in early 2010.The 1136th is stationed in Bangor, Calais and Sanford.While deployed, the soldiers will be providing security at military bases in Afghanistan.In 2003, the unit deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Another unit, the 133rd Engineer Battalion, already had been notified that it will train in Germany this summer, in preparation for deployment to Iraq next year.
People gathered in Hampden Friday night in hopes of saving a man’s life.William Whittlesey has a form of cancer called multiple myeloma. He’s on a heavy dose of chemotherapy but his only hope of going into remission is a bone marrow transplant.A bone marrow drive was held at the Hampden Public Safety Building. Whittlesey was there to thank everyone who showed up to get tested. “There’s a lot that they’ve got to go through to be tested to do this for me, so I really appreciate the effort and that they’re doing for me, and it’s gonna help me, but it’s also gonna help a lot of other people.”All those tested will be placed on a transplant registry.An account has been created at Maine Savings Federal Credit Union in Hampden. Donations will go towards the cost of Whittlesey’s treatment and finding a donor. Donations can be made in care of William Whittlesey: The Stem Cell account.
A woman who has spent 30 years as an educator, was honored Friday at the University of Maine.Louise Kirkland will retire at the end of the month from the cooperative extension, but her 30 year anniversary is Friday, so co-workers, friends and family threw a garden party in her honor.Louise says as an educator with the cooperative extension, she’s enjoyed teaching about everything from food safety to parenting skills. “I think the things I’m going to miss the most is dealing with the public. I love to teach and I’m a teacher by nature, and so meeting with people, answering phone calls with consumer questions, doing workshops, traveling in different parts of the county, that I’m going to miss.”Louise says she plans to use her retirement to follow her passion, sewing. She’ll also be co-chairing a major conference for the cooperative extension next year.
Some students at Vine Street School in Bangor got a jump start on their summer reading program.Karen Baldacci came and read to more than one hundred of the students.Baldacci says the importance of reading during the summer can not be stressed enough. ” Well there’s something that is known in the education community as the summer slides. We find those children that don’t read books over the summer tend to regress a little bit in their reading ability.”Baldacci says it is recommended that students each read four books during the summer.