After 15 months of an uncertain future, the sale of a group of Maine newspapers has given employees something to keep writing about.Mainetoday Media Incorporated now owns the Morning Sentinel, Kennebec Journal, Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram.The sale doesn’t come without change though.The four papers once owned by Blethen Seattle Times Group is now the product of Bangor native Richard Conner.Connor, who is CEO of Mainetoday Media Inc, now serves as editor and publisher of three daily papers including the Waterville based Morning Sentinel and the Kennebec Journal in Augusta.The sale also includes the Portland Press Herald, Maine Sunday Telegram and Mainetoday websites.Quoted in the Morning Sentinel, Richard Connor says the two central Maine papers will not see major changes made in the foreseeable future.But big changes have hit some employees. So far, 31 non-union workers have been let go, and writers for the Sentinel have reported that as many as 100 people could lose their jobs.New contracts have also gone through.”We have to have some concessions, a 10% pay cut, 2 year pay freeze, hard freeze on our pension plan. These were painful concessions, but they were needed in order to for Connor to get financing, and in exchange we get a larger voice in the company and I think a different relationship with the new owner, more of a partnership.””We have to make certain that the economic model here where the expenses are relative to revenues which have been declining in newspapers over the last few years that those two bars come together in a way that makes sense in order to do that we’ll have to trim some expenses.”Those who read the papers will also notice a difference.”We will devote more news to space going forward and I think our readers and advertisers will see a big difference.”That’s the one difference in direction which could ultimately decide the future of these papers.
A local business man and his company have been honored by the Maine National Guard for supporting the military.Lawrence Gagnon was given an appreciation award from the Secretary of the Army and the company he works for, Bankers Life and Casualty Company, was given the Seven Seals Award. That’s the highest honor the state organization can present to a business.Guard officials say they have gone beyond what is required by law to support military members and their families.Melissa Trojecki is an employee of Banker’s Life. Her husband was deployed overseas and expects to go back next year. “It’s wonderful to have all the people here who support the military.”Gagnon says, “I have a lot of respect for them, especially working in a business, we need them, and it’s great that Banker’s and everybody has that freedom to give people the freedom to protect our country.”Gagnon was presented the award in a surprise ceremony Tuesday.
For the past five years Manna in Bangor has offered residential substance abuse treatment to men and women, and less than a year ago they added a homeless shelter for men battling addiction. Now those programs are being hit hard by state budget problems.”The drugs controlled me. All day long I’d be hunting for drugs.”Lisa Maloon was a Certified Nursing Assistant, when she injured her back in 1999. She was prescribed narcotics for the pain, percocet and vicodin.At one point she took up to 20 pills a day looking to the streets for a supply. Eight years later she realized she was addicted.”What really woke me up was my daughter looked at me and said ‘Mom, that’s all you do is hunt for pills.’ I didn’t have time to be a mother to them, I didn’t have time to be a wife to my husband. My whole life consisted of finding pain pills and using them.”Lisa tried another treatment facility she says didn’t work, then she went to Manna’s Derek House and spent six months in their program.She says the difference here: this is a Faith based Christian program.Counselors say it really works.”Most residential facilities will have a 30 percent success rate. Here it’s more like 72 percent success rate.”Less than a year ago, Manna added the Elijah House for homeless men addicted to drugs or alcohol. But now those two programs are in jeopardy. Both rely on MaineCare for a quarter of their funding. Two weeks ago, Manna was notified that the state would stop all payments to them for three weeks, leaving nearly a $75,000 hole in their budget.”I have a slight trickle of sweat right now that I’m gonna have to say to somebody you can’t come back here tomorrow or have to close the doors.”Most of the funding for the programs comes from private donations, but those have been down recently.Still Manna Executive Director Bill Rae is appealing to the public for help now, to dig a little deeper into their pockets and make a donation.He says these are programs that help transform people in need, into people who have something to offer our community. Just take a look at Lisa, she’s been off drugs for close to two years now, will start working and volunteering here at Manna, and is enrolled in college to become a drug abuse counselor.”It’s like a big weight has been lifted off me that I’m not controlled by drugs anymore. I’m not controlled by anything. It’s just an awesome feeling.”If you would like to make a donation to Manna’s substance abuse programs, you can send them to: Manna Ministries 629 Main Street Bangor, Maine 04401 990-2870
It’s been a busy few months for local realtors, who say they’re finally seeing signs of life in the region’s housing market. One of the groups that’s helping to boost sales is first-time homebuyers, thanks to the tax credit they receive.”We paid off back debt to free up more toward our mortgage, so it was really handy. It gave us a little more money to make upgrades to the house,” says Jennie Cates. She and her fiance, Jean-Paul Dugre, decided to buy this house in October, thanks in part to their first-time homebuyer credit of 75-hundred dollars.Jon Dawson of ERA Dawson says low prices, low interest rates and the first-time homebuyer credit are leading to more sales.”We really saw those signs showing showing up in March or April of this year,” Dawson says. For the month of May, home sales in our area went up more than 25 percent over last year. Pending sales increased about 11 percent.”This is really the beginning of the recovery that everybody’s been looking for. I can’t stress enough the importance of housing to lead a recovery, whether it’s local or national, because it means job preservation, it means strength and vitality to the economy,” Dawson says.Robert Norris of Prudential Northeast Properties says they’re seeing more sales now than they have in years.”I believe we’re going to see improvement month over month certainly for some time,” Norris says.And he says a new credit the Maine State Housing Authority is rolling out this week could help the trend continue.”When you add all those little pieces together, all of a sudden we see people coming out, looking at houses and signing contracts,” he says.”It’s really comforting to know it’s your own home,” Cates says.
Guilty. That’s the verdicts in the double murder trial of a man from Sumner.After a full day of deliberations jurors found 33-year-old Duane Waterman guilty in the shooting deaths of 50-year-old Timothy Mayberry of West Paris and 43-year-old Todd Smith of Paris last July at Mayberry’s home.The prosecution said Waterman had been dealing drugs for Mayberry and owed him money.Waterman took the stand and denied having any part in the shootings.Waterman was returned to the county jail and awaits sentencing. Murder in Maine is punishable by 25 years to life in prison.
Some story books came to life in Bangor today.The folks at Downeast Elementary School held their annual Books on Parade.Each classroom picks their favorite story book they have read and creates a float based on the book.The students walked their way around the school twice showing off what they have been working on.Librarian Kimberly McNutt says it seemed like a fun way to get the students involved in reading.”I just thought it was a great way to end the year. Reminding the students they can read books throughout the summer.””Just going around and pulling the float and seeing everybody.”Family members showed up for the parade.The students tossed candy to the crowd.
A teacher in Milo was recognized today for all the years he has dedicated to educating others.A serious endeavor indeed.But as Meghan Hayward tells us today there were plenty of laughs at his expense. “Declare June 16, 2009 Walter Oakes day.””Because he just thought he was going to retire and just quietly go away, and it’s been one party and thing after another.”MSAD 41 Staff made sure Mister Oakes’ retirement would not be a quiet one.At Tuesday’s ceremony they took a trip back in time with photos and even serenaded Walter who sometimes goes by his middle name Eddie. “Eddie your leaving.”Walter has been teaching for fifty years, with 47 of those years being within MSAD 41.Penquis Valley High School principal Scott Gordon says there’s a uniqueness to Walter.”First of all his longevity. He’s been here for 50 years and that in itself is something unusual for an educator in Maine.”Gordon says even after teaching all those years Walter’s sense of humor is still intact.”He emails the staff…you might be a redneck if and the response varies from day to day and that’s his thing. His way of spreading humor.”At Tuesday’s ceremony several staff members dressed in flannel shirts in honor of those redneck jokes.But what is the next step for Walter Eddie Oakes?”Well they tell me I’m at the top of the substitute list. Can’t really break clean I guess.”His wife Nancy says she has plenty of things for him to do.She says his chores have slipped over the years.But she admires his dedication to the school and his students.”He’s never missed a day of school. And I say you have 395 sick days let’s go to Bangor and he would never think of doing something like that.”There is one thing Nancy thinks he will enjoy about retirement.”I’m a walker and I get up at 6 or 7 and he says not to bother him until 8.”A man whose been waking up early and going to school for 67 years and left an impression on so many.
We’re pleased to announce that WABI TV 5 has reached a long-term agreement with major cable provider Time-Warner.It means we’ll be carried on Time Warner Cable Systems for many years to come.And it means that all of TV 5’s high definition programs will become available through Time Warner Cable.Time Warner will add WABI’s high definition signal to its digital service soon and will inform its subscribers when that feature is added.
A newly remodeled playground in Bangor is dedicated to a man who’s dedicated his life to supporting kids. Students at Downeast Elementary School celebrated the opening of the Jeffrey L. Simpson playground today. It’s named in honor of the school’s former head custodian. Simpson was in charge of keeping the building well-maintained for 14 years.He no longer works at the school because of health issues. But he says he’s touched so many students still remember him and all the kids in the community have a nice, new place to play. “It’s exciting because it’s all about the kids. That’s the way I’ve always been, it’s all about the kids. You never cleaned a building for the teachers or for your boss, you clean it for the kids. It has to be clean for the kids in the morning time. That’s the way i’ve always believed.”The previous equipment had been used for more than 10 years and was showing a lot of wear and tear. Members of the Parent-Teacher Organization worked for months to get grant money from the city to replace the playground, which includes lots of slides, swings and even a rock climbing wall. There’s also a shaded area for picnics and other activities.
Environmental activists in Bangor used a massive baby bottle as a backdrop to raise awareness about toxic chemicals in products for children. They stood in front of a 20-foot inflatable bottle to demand a ban on the chemical known as BPA and encourage businesses not to sell products with it.BPA is usually found in plastics, such as as baby bottles and sippy cups. It’s also used in the lining of metal food cans, including infant formula.The activists say BPA is linked to health concerns such as cancer, reproductive problems and learning disabilities.Heather VanFrankenhuyzen is a mother concerned about her daughter’s safety.”I do everything I can not to expose her to toxic chemicals. We use all natural stuff to clean our house. I try to make sure everything she wears is safe and then when we don’t even realize it, we’re giving her chemicals that are disrupting her growth, that are endangering her in the future and it really upsets me.”The Maine People’s Alliance says the federal government needs to step up and close loopholes that allow the use of such chemicals such as BPA. Maine is already leading the way with the Kid Safe Products Act, passed last year. But members say the effort needs to rise to the national level.
A mustard mill in Downeast Maine is celebrating the delivery of its award-winning condiment to the White House.Senator Olympia Snowe served as the middleman, shipping over a gift pack of Raye’s Mustard after news reports said President Obama preferred mustard on a burger.Raye’s is described as the last remaining authentic stone ground mustard mill in North America.It’s owned and operated by Senator Snowe’s former Chief of Staff, Maine Senate Minority Leader Kevin Raye, and his wife, Karen.They are the fourth generation of the Raye family to own and operate the Eastport mill. It was established in 1900 to supply Maine’s once-thriving sardine industry.
Blethen Maine Newspapers, which include the Kennebec Journal in Augusta, The Morning Sentinel in Waterville and the MaineToday.com website, are now under new ownership.The sale went through Monday to an investor group led by Bangor Richard Connor.The Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram are also part of the sale.Together, the papers employ nearly 500 people.Connor says his new company is poised to be profitable, but future cuts at the newspapers might cost 100 employees their jobs.Connor has let go a number of employees already including top executives.
A spaghetti supper tonight in Orono will benefit victims of the apartment fire there last week.23-people were left without a place to live, many of them college students.The fire started in a wall outlet in a first-floor apartment.Everyone made it out safely, including several pets.Area organizations are hosting a dinner tonight at the Church of Universal Fellowship, at 82-Main Street in Orono.Seatings start at 6 and 7 p.m. Donations will go to help those who lost their homes and belongings.The church is also collecting clothing, furniture and household items until 9 p.m. tonight.For more information you can call the church at 866-36-55.
Officials say arson is to blame for a fire at an abandoned house in Lagrange Tuesday night.It happened on Route 16, right across the street from the fire station.No word yet on exactly where the fire started.Fire fighters in Lagrange have had a busy couple of nights.Another fire Monday night destroyed an abandoned home.Investigators say arson was to blame for that fire as well.Evidence from both scenes has been taken to the state crime lab.
A 30-year-old Mars Hill woman had her first court appearance Monday after she was arrested following an investigation by British police into child pornography on the internet.Julie Carr is charged with gross sexual assault and sexual exploitation of minors.She’s being held in the Aroostook County Jail and appeared in court in Caribou by videoconference.Carr was arrested Friday after a tip from British police in about video that had been streamed online showing a woman performing sex acts on a child.Carr’s bail is set at $50,000 cash, along with conditions that bar contact with anyone under 18 and the use of computers and the internet.
Jury selection got underway Monday in the murder trial of a man charged in the 1983 stabbing death of a 23-year-old mother from Fayette…..The trial of 52-year-old Thomas Mitchell Jr. is taking place in Franklin County Superior Court in Farmington.Mitchell is charged in the death of Judith Flagg, who was stabbed to death in her home 26-years ago.Mitchell was a suspect at the time, but there wasn’t enough evidence to bring charges. DNA evidence led to his arrest in 2006.
The trial began in Bangor Monday for a Danforth man accused of causing a car crash that left his passenger in a wheelchair.31-year-old Jayson Caron is facing charges of aggravated assault, OUI and aggravated OUI.The state says Caron’s blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit when his vehicle flipped over in Carroll Plantation in 2007.His passenger, 19-year-old Bobbi Jo Norris, was his girlfriend at the time. She was pregnant. Norris was ejected and suffered severe spinal injuries, and is now paraplegic. The baby survived.The state says a witness saw Caron get behind the wheel at a store after the Springfield Fair.”He insisted on driving. She unfortunately slid over into the passenger seat and then he drove from the store to the North Road in Carroll Plantation where the serious crash occurred,” says Gregory Campbell, assistant district attorney.The jury heard opening arguments and testimony from Norris Monday morning. The trial is expected to last until Thursday.Aggravated assault is punishable by up to ten years in prison.
After a teenaged girl passed away last Sunday, her classmates looked for a way to honor her life. They found a way to do that by making a donation to United Cerebral Palsy in Bangor. Members of the student council at the Cohen School gathered there Monday, to honor Meghan Plunkett. “You realize it’s a really young age to pass away and it’s just so much life, just lost. It’s really sad,” says Jacob Birmingham, student council president.The students took a big chunk out of their treasury, money they raised throughout the year, to help the organization that helped her. “She was a very nice person. You could just feel in your heart,” Birmingham says. “When I heard the family had picked us I was very grateful, because this is probably one of the worst times in their lives. And to remember us, I’m very grateful,” says UCP Executive Director Bobbi Jo Yeager.Yeager says they’ve received several donations in Meghan’s name. The 25 hundred dollars from the students will help support the UCP preschool, which Meghan attended. “I was very excited because this is a significant donation that will help UCP a lot,” Yeager says.They remembered 14-year-old Meghan as a quiet, sweet girl who meant a lot to people. “She obviously touched a lot of lives and I think it’s wonderful they’re remembering her in this way,” Yeager says. “We feel very sorry she’s passed away, but this is what we’re doing in her honor,” says Birmingham.
Cancer survivors are among the folks who will be walking in Millinocket next weekend to benefit cancer programs.It’s year two for the the Katahdin Region Relay For Life.It starts with opening ceremonies and the survivor’s lap at six Friday night and will last until closing ceremonies at noon on Saturday.Last year two dozen teams raised more than 18-thousand dollars.225 People were part of the relay…25 Of them people who survived cancer…The goal is to do even better this year according to the event organizer Margo Stevens. “Yeah it is to have more participants to have more survivors, to increase our fundraising money that we make and all of it stays right here in maine so that’s really important.”Part of the goal is already met because 26 teams are signed up this year, but you can still sign up a team or make a donation by logging on to their website. http://relayforlife.org/katahdinme.All of the proceeds stay local.
16 hundred square miles coverings 20 towns.That’s the area Penobscot Valley Hospital in Lincoln takes care of.The hospital broke ground Monday on something that will speed up coverage for those in the most dire of circumstances. “We started discussing this probably about three or four years ago” said hospital CEO Dave Shannon “and at that time we didn’t really have the funding available to get it started, so maybe about six or eight months ago we started talking about a lesser project of being able to put it in the parking lot which really brought the cost down considerably.”Lifeflight helped with $140,000 of the total bill, which is expected to be about $400,000. Part of the money came from a 2003 state transportation bond. Bangor savings bank also contributed five thousand dollars.Some of the parking lot is going to be used as the landing area, so there are plans to expand other parking areas near the building according to Shannon. “So what we decided to do was put it in the parking lot here and then we’re going to push the bank back in a couple of places and add parking on the side of the building that which when we’re all said and done will add about four spaces.”But for patients in need of immediate care, it will subtract travel time. “It significantly reduces the time that they are out of a major hospital that may require intervention for a heart, surgery or neonatal those types of things” says Aviation Manager for LifeFlight of Maine Dennis Small. “So it reduces the time just about in half that their transport time is much less.”Currently, flights land at the airport, and patients are transported from the hospital to the helicopter by ambulance, which is time consuming according to the Director of Emergency Services at PVH, Jill Bouchard. “We can actually put a patient directly onto their equipment, versus moving them back and forth from our equipment on to theirs.”The work on the site began as soon as the ceremonial photos were taken. Flights are expected to be able to land by the end of the summer.