The fire that burned through an 18-unit apartment building in Orono was an accident. Investigators with the State Fire Marshal’s office say the fire Tuesday afternoon was started by an electrical problem in the building’s wiring.A state electrical inspector who combed through the damage today determined the fire started in an outlet in a wall of a first-floor apartment, then spread throughout the building. More than two dozen people were left without a place to live, many of them college students. Everyone made it out safely, though one person was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation and two firefighters were slightly hurt.Firefighters were even able to rescue one of the tenant’s dogs, who spent more than two hours hidden in the rubble.
A beach in Enfield is now healthier thanks to some junior high students.As Meghan Hayward tells us, their efforts will be seen for quite some time.”So there are many pieces that brought this together. The students were happy to do it. We want them to feel that they can make a difference and to be a good citizen.”Junior high students at Hichborn Middle School in Howland did make a difference.They wrote letters to town selectmen this past winter urging them to ban tobacco at Morgan’s Beach and the ban was passed.Health and physical education teacher Barb Hamlin says she wasn’t surprised about the student’s letters being so successful.”They’re at an age where they’re really deciding for themselves whether or not they’ll do certain things and this is a key time for them to make health decisions and I think it was good they could advocate for health.”Seventh grader Aleisha Sides is one of the students that wrote a letter.She’s happy with the end result.”It’s exciting knowing we wrote something and it worked.”Sides says the ban is going to prevent children and others from getting hurt.”Little kids aren’t going to get hurt by cigarette butts and no one’s going to be burning their feet or stepping on anything so they don’t get hurt.”Thursday, the students hard work paid off as the tobacco-free signs were unveiled. Signs being presented, applauseSeventh graders Jenna Hope and Morgan Roy also wrote letters.”I felt glad.””It’s amazing. I’m speechless.”Now, every time the students come to Morgan’s Beach and see the tobacco-free signs, they’ll know it’s because of them.
Environmentalists joined forces with workers’ rights advocates for a press conference in Orono on Thursday.Members of the Sierra Club and the Maine People’s Alliance teamed up with labor officials and tradesmen to call on Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to support the “Employee Free Choice Act.”Its supporters say the the legislation will level the playing field for Mainers by giving them the choice to unionize.Sierra Club officials say the Employee Free Choice Act will help ensure that good jobs are created in the new, clean energy economy.Bill Murphy is director of Umaine’s Bureau of Labor Education.He says the legislation is about justice for all workers.< "justice delayed is justice denied. And for millions of workers in america and here in this state as well, who are legitimately trying to organize a union, they've encountered this by having their justice, equity and opportunity for equality on the job either denied or delayed.">The Employee Free Choice Act includes tougher penalties for employers who try to harass or intimidate workers who try to unionize.It would also help employees secure a contract in a reasonable period of time.
As an Obstetrician for more than 30 years, Doctor Paul Smith of Bangor has delivered thousands of babies.But lately, he’s been working on a “baby” of his own.It’s an invention he says was born out of necessity…and he’s hoping it takes off.Amy Erickson has the story.
A federal judge has ordered the city of Augusta to pay $83,264 in legal fees and expenses to antiwar protesters who challenged the constitutionality of the city’s parade permit ordinance five years ago.U.S. district judge John Woodcock agreed on Wednesday that demonstration organizers had won a significant victory for the exercise of first amendment rights in Maine’s capital city and were entitled to reasonable attorney fees.A federal appeals court in 2007 ruled that the advance notice and meeting requirements of the ordinance were unconstitutional, and that the permit fee charged to demonstrators was excessive.
Hundreds of state employees set up a tent city across from the state house on Wednesday, in a political standoff with Maine leaders.The governor has ordered cuts that will affect as many as 10,000 state workers.About 150 of them rallied and marched to the governor’s mansion Wednesday.They say the Baldacci administration has attacked their benefits and their bargaining powers.We’re told governor Baldacci was not there at the time.The Maine state employees association is in the middle of negotiations for a two-year contract. It expires at the end of June.
State police are treating the death of an inmate at the state prison as a homicide.Officials say 64-year-old Sheldon Weinstein of New Hartford, New York died in April from injuries he suffered at the prison in Warren.The medical examiner determined he died of blunt force trauma.Weinstein had been transferred there just eight days before his death.
The transition to digital TV is less than two days away. The switch will be made at midnight on Friday.Sue McNeil, with the Federal Communications Commission spent some time at the Bangor Public Library Wednesday, meeting with people who still have questions on how to get ready. “The turnout’s been terrific so far and really great questions. People wanting to know what they need to do to either purchase a box, to set up their box, to ask questions about how to set up their antenna and it’s been great.The FCC is holding more informational sessions over the coming days. For a complete list you can log onto www.DTV.com.You can also call 1-888-CALL-FCC.
Over the years, the Statewide Homeless Council has looked at a plan to end homelessness in Maine.It became clear that one population didn’t fit easily into their plans – homeless and runaway youth.The ceremonial signing of a bill in Augusta Wednesday marks the state’s commitment to ensure services for that group.”It’s to make sure this population, who are a very special, distinct, population are served, and it’s based on the national model,” says Sally Tardiff, of the Shaw House in Bangor.The national model is a three-tiered program providing shelter, outreach and transitional services.Or as Tardiff says, taking at-risk kids from emergency, to stability. And saving the state money in the long run.”Because the community won’t have to pay the higher cost in the long term of kids who are not self-sufficient, who may become incarcerated,” Tardiff says.That’s where 17-year-old Matthew Anderson says he’d be, without the services at the Shaw House.”Probably in jail,” Anderson says. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve gotten off probation, I got my GED, I got my permit and I enrolled in college. I start at NESCOM in September.” 19-year-old Eric Moore says within a month of coming to the Shaw House, he’s living on his own and getting ready for UCB.”I started getting my life back on track from getting out of the juvenile system,” Moore says.While Tardiff says today is a happy day, it only marks the beginning of more hard work to come.”At this point in time, there’s no funding attached to the bill,” Tardiff says. “I guess what I’d say is it’s a good first step. There obviously has to be dollars to actually provide the services the bill recommends.””Now that I see what these organizations actually do for teenagers,” says Anderson, “I think it’s something that should be funded.”
Students at Harmony Elementary School saw their hard work pay off today.As Meghan Hayward shows us, their principal may not have been quite as excited. “Kiss the pig, kiss the pig.””This year, they said I had to kiss a pig so that was the deal. So I upped the ante and I said you have to raise 1,000 dollars in pennies.”The entire Harmony Elementary School gathered outside Wednesday to see their principal kiss the pig.The students raised $1,000 dollars worth of pennies to go toward a new playground.David Chadbourne of Chadbourne Farm brought the pig.”I was just hoping he would be gentle with her. She’s not use to this. I told him he should have some flowers since its the first date, she should be given flowers.”The pig, sometimes called “pork chop,” made her entrance, bow and all. But not without putting up a fight. “pig grunting”Finally, the big moment. “Kissing”Tracy says the kids deserved this for all their hard work.”The students themselves, predominantly the K through 5 kids, have been really excited and really put a lot of work into this.”The Parents Teachers for Kids Group organized the entire fundraiser.President Tracy McKenney says she saw the need for a new playground when her daughter first started school.”And I just decided the playground was not a safe place for her to be playing. The slide was huge and I just didn’t like her going down the slide.”Tracy’s daughter, first-grader Caitlin McKenney, says her favorite part about the whole thing was seeing her principal dress up like a farmer.”Cuz he’s a farmer, he’s kissing a pig and he’s a farmer. Farmers always kiss pigs.”A fun fundraiser that got the children involved and left the principal saying there’s a first time for everything.”I have never kissed a pig before.”
Some Peace Corps recruiters were in Bangor today.The Peace Corps is approaching its fiftieth anniversary.There are nearly 200,000 voLunteers, 1,500 of those from Maine.Today they provided an informational session for anyone interested in joining.Recruiter Ed Dalton says it’s a big commitment, but he always gets great feedback. “Most people say that they’re very happy to have joined the peace corp. They enjoy the peace corps and almost everyone says they get a lot more out of it then they were able to give.”For more information, you can log onto www.peacecorps.gov.
Voters in Bar Harbor have rejected a moratorium on large commercial development in the village of Town Hill, allowing a grocery store project to move forward.Hannaford Brothers wants to build a new store in Town Hill. It would be the second Hannaford grocery on Mount Desert Island.Some residents are worried the store would change the character of the village. More than 200 signatures were gathered on a petition calling for a six-month ban on such projects. But in a town vote yesterday, 55-percent of voters nixed the ban.The Bar Harbor planning director says Hannaford Brothers has not yet submitted an application for the project.
A man from Bangor convicted of rape will remain in prison. The state’s highest court decided to uphold the conviction of John Auclair. The 45-year-old man was sentenced in October to four years behind bars for sexually assaulting a woman.Auclair’s lawyer appealed to the Maine Supreme Court and argued the jury didn’t hear all the evidence it should have, specifically from Auclair’s girlfriend who died before the trial.The defense claimed the victim made up the story about being raped and Auclair’s girlfriend would have backed that up.The court disagreed that a jury should have heard that information.
Nearly two dozen people are homeless after fire gutted a historic apartment building in Orono.It happened Tuesday evening.As Amy Erickson reports, it’s going to be quite a job finding out what started the fire and taking care of all those who are displaced.< "We are just beginning the investigation into where the fire started and what caused the fire."Two investigators from the state Fire Marshal's office spent the morning digging through the rubble at the historic building on the corner of Main Street and Bennoch Road in Orono.Little more than a shell remains after flames ripped through the nearly 180-year-old building Tuesday evening.All the tenants who were inside managed to get out. One was taken to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.Two firefighters also suffered minor injuries.It took hours to get the flames under control."Overall, we had four communities here trying to battle this fire. Over 50 firefighters. It's a very big, very cut up building and a very significant fire. So what we've got left standing is pretty impressive."The folks from the Pine Tree Chapter of the American Red Cross have quite a job in front of them.They've had trouble determining exactly who was living here at the time of the fire, since many of the tenants were students...some of whom have seasonal jobs on the coast."Tracking down the tenants through the landlord, the town, the fire department and hopefully we'll have a better handle on who's here, who wasn't and who needs our services.""A multi-unit fire is devastating for the chapter and also for the victims. First, we have to locate everybody and make sure they've got shelter, a place to go, a place to stay."For now, the Red Cross has set up shop at the Orono Town Office, providing assistance to any fire victims who need it, including mental health services, hotel vouchers and clothing debit cards.While the destruction is devastating, firefighters say it could have been much worse.They say it's a small miracle that everyone got out safely, including several animals...one of whom is Bingley the dog...who was presumed dead, but ended up making it out, to the cheers of spectators Tuesday night."It was quite a while into the fire when we could finally get in and find the dog that was hidden in a bathroom but he came out, we got him some oxygen and he went to the vet and he's doing great."Amy Erickson, WABI TV5 News, Orono.>
Skowhegan Police have seized a motorcycle and clothing they believe is linked to Wednesday’s armed robbery at the Taconnet Federal Credit Union.A man walked in shortly after 11 o’clock, showed a knife and demanded money.The thief then took off on a motorcycle with another man.That motorcycle was found abandoned off middle road in fairfield.Police say they found the owner of the bike and searched the property, finding clothing that matches what the robbers were wearing.Skowhegan Police Chief Michael Emmons says the suspects have been interviewed but are not being cooperative.Emmons says he’s confident an arrest will be made soon.
Domtar Corporation announced Wednesday that it will be reopening its Woodland pulp mill in Baileyville, Maine. Approximately 300 employees will be called back for the restart of pulp production, which is targeted to resume the week of June 22, 2009. The mill has an annual hardwood pulp production capacity of 398,000 air dry metric tons. Domtar announced the closure of the Woodland pulp mill for an undetermined period on March 5, 2009, due to weak global pulp demand, historically high inventory levels and depressed prices. Domtar pulp inventory levels have since been substantially reduced. The timely benefits from the refundable tax credits for the production and use of alternative bio fuel mixtures, and other important conditions, such as stronger global demand, improving prices and favorable currency exchange rates have made the reopening possible. Domtar will closely monitor the mill’s profitability, which is critical to maintaining operations. About Domtar Domtar Corporation (NYSE/TSX:UFS) is the largest integrated manufacturer and marketer of uncoated freesheet paper in North America and the second largest in the world based on production capacity, and is also a manufacturer of papergrade, fluff and specialty pulp. The Company designs, manufactures, markets and distributes a wide range of business, commercial printing and publication as well as converting and specialty papers including recognized brands such as Cougar(R), Lynx(R) Opaque, Husky(R) Offset, First Choice(R) and Domtar EarthChoice(R) Office Paper, part of a family of environmentally and socially responsible papers. Domtar owns and operates Domtar Distribution Group, an extensive network of strategically located paper distribution facilities. Domtar also produces lumber and other specialty and industrial wood products. The Company employs nearly 11,000 people. To learn more, visit www.domtar.com.
The Bangor Rotary Club handed out 18-thousand dollars in grants Tuesday. The money is going to four different groups.–The Acadia Hospital for their Challenge Day program, that prevents bullying and violence in schools:–The Challenger Learning Center for their science program:–The Maine Discovery Museum, for a youth group they are starting and:–The American Red Cross. Shannon Cox says they’re starting a program to help young people and seniors come up with emergency plans and kits. “In a year when economic events affected all of us, the Rotary Club’s generosity is most welcome, and it couldn’t have come at a better time and to also remember together we will be saving lives.”The money was raised through the Rotary’s annual theater production called Music Off Broadway.
A woman from Rockland accused of providing methadone to her brother that lead to his death plead guilty to part of the charges Tuesday.Prosecutors say Rochelle Kenney gave the drug to her brother, John Kenney back in 2005. The 43 year old man was later found dead on Matinicus Island.In U.S. District Court Tuesday, Rochelle Kenney pleaded guilty to one count of healthcare fraud, and one count of unlawful distribution of methadone. A third count of drug distribution was dismissed under a plea agreement.Kenney did not admit: however, that the methadone actually caused her brother’s death. That will be determined by the federal judge at a later hearing.Kenney began to cry as she was taken away in federal custody. Kelly Kenney tells us she stands by her sister, but it has been a devastating time for the entire family. “I was devastated because my sister has a 12 year old daughter. I have a sister-in-law who, her husband’s gone and she has three daughters that she’s bringing up, and this methadone that’s going around everywhere, people are dropping left and right. I don’t understand it.”Under the plea agreement Kenney faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. If she had been found guilty by a jury, she could have been sentenced to life.The defense says that John Kenney had an enlarged heart, and had changed his medication the morning he died. They say that combination and not the methadone could have been the cause of death.
An apartment fire in Orono on Bennoch road shut down the downtown area for several hours this evening. The historic brick building that went up in flames is on the Corner of Bennoch Road and Main Street.The call came in around 4:45 this afternoon. Crews from Orono, Bangor, Old Town, and Veazie responded to the blaze.Smoke could be seen from miles away and flames were shooting through the roof of the building for hours.Initial reports from officials say the fire may have started on the bottom floor of the structure and spread throughout the building.Hundreds of folks gathered to watch as fire fighters worked for more than three hours to put out the flames.Officials say there are 18 units in the apartment building, and most of the tenants were college students. During the school year there were just under 30 people living in the building. Because school is not currently in session official say only 19 people were living there. Everyone has been accounted for. Officials say no one was injured in the fire. Crews rescued three cats and one dog from the building. The cause of the fire is not known at this time. The Fire Marshal is on scene investigating the blaze. TV5 will continue to update this story as information becomes available.
A section of Route 100 in New Gloucester has been closed following a fatal accident.State troopers are at the crash site near the Route 231 intersection.A detour has been set up around the crash and motorists should expect delays on the evening commute or take an alternate route.