Local mortgage brokers and realtors say their phones are ringing off the hook these days.Low interest rates combined with a new tax incentive have lots of Mainers thinking of buying or refinancing homes.Amy Erickson has the story.
Fire fighters were called to a house fire in Warren Wednesday night.The call came in just before 7pm to Rocky Hill Road, which is just off Route 90.We’re told crews from Warren as well as Union and Waldoboro spent about four and a half hours at the scene.There were no injuries reported.No word yet on damages or a cause.
GE Security in Pittsfield is cutting its workforce, likely by more than one-third.About 430 people work at the plant.Just before the end of the first shift Wednesday, company officials called workers together to tell them the news: due to a drop in sales, they have to cut jobs.They asked first for a voluntary reduction, offering severance packages with benefits.Company spokesperson Michelle May tells TV-5 the number of jobs that will be cut depends on how many people take the voluntary package.But, she says it’s likely more than 100 people will permanently lose their jobs.Some workers at the plant were already on month-long furloughs.Workers at the meeting Wednesday say both salaried and hourly workers will be affected.They preferred not to appear on camera in the hopes they won’t be laid off.May says they won’t know until the end of the week exactly how many positions will be cut – leaving folks in Pittsfield with questions.”Say you’ve been at the same job for 21 years. How do you pick up and go from that?” asks Charlotte Astbury, of Pittsfield. “There’s not too many big businesses left in this town. Where will they go? That’s the question.”GE spokesperson May says the layoffs come after the company tried every other cost-saving measure.
A two-day auction of high-end firearms and memorabilia in Fairfield reportedly generated sales totaling nearly $11.4 million.About 100 bidders and spectators showed up for the final day of the sale at the James D. Julia Inc. auction house.A highlight was the sale of 40 lots from the Colt firearms collection of Pennsylvania businessman Joseph A. Murphy.Murphy’s collection has been described as the finest, gun for gun, ever tocome to auction. Two other auctions that will include rare piecesfrom Murphy’s collection are scheduled for October and next March.
With new tax tables on the books the federal government could be giving you a little extra cash to spend. Available for tax years 2009 and 2010 the “Making Work Pay” tax credit will give back 6.2% of a taxpayer’s earned income with a maximum credit of $800 for married couples and $400 for others. However, everyone isn’t eligible to receive the money as it is phased out for higher income taxpayers. Many higher income taxpayers will see little to no change to their take-home pay because the credit is aimed at Americans who are married and filing jointly who make less than 150-thousand in earned income each year. Individuals whose modified adjusted gross income of more than 75-thousand will see less as well. The tax credit is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It is not to be confused with last year’s one time economic stimulus payment. IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman says since employers and payroll companies will handle this chance, people typically won’t need to tak any additional action. However, the IRS does suggest people who have multiple jobs to revise their W-4 Form to make sure enough federal money is being withheld. If you are eligible and haven’t seen a change in your paycheck it may be because your employer hasn’t switched tax tables yet. Employers have until April 1 to make the change.
An Ellsworth businessman is being accused of leaving customers, builders, and investors high and dry to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.The Attorney Generals office and the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection began investigating Erick Murphy and his company, Murphy Home Loans, last fall after getting complaints from several people.Cyndee Carroll was his partner in the Breezy Maples farm in Ellsworth. Carroll says she is losing everything she owns because Murphy failed to meet financial obligations:”When we started he told me that I would own the farmhouse next door. The business would pay the mortgage, that I would have all my lesson money but I would get a salary for running the stable, that I would never have to work off this farm again. The business would carry so I would be debt free. I’m not debt free. I don’t have a mortgage because the woman is going to foreclose.”Fourteen people and businesses are named in the notice of hearing filed by the attorney generals office. The accusations against murphy include denying clients access to records, transferring business funds to his own personal accounts and failing to repay investors.A hearing to consider sanctions will be held on March 30th. Murphy says there have never been any complaints against him until now. He says he plans to surrender his registration as a loan officer. Officials say it’s possible there are more people with similar complaints.They can contact the Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection at 1-800-332-8529.
G.E. Security in Pittsfield is cutting its workforce.About 430 people work at the G.E. plant.Spokesperson Michelle May tells TV 5 News it’s likely more than a hundred people will be let go.She says the layoffs come after a drop in sales and after they tried other cost-saving measures.Company officials met with employees today to ask for a voluntary eduction offering severance packages with benefits.May says they should know by the end of the week exactly how many jobs will be cut.
Husson University is moving forward with plans for a new law school. Students, faculty, and alumni gathered at Husson today to hear the exciting news. The University announced the first three faculty members for the law school they plan to open in Fall of 2010, including Michael Mullane as the founding dean.Husson’s program hasn’t received accreditation from the American Bar Association, but Mullane says they are seeking the state court’s approval. “What we’re asking the supreme judicial court to do is allow our students to sit for their bar, even though we are not an ABA accredited school.” The program is targeting those who want to practice law in Maine. Those involved hope it will help to fill a void the state is experiencing.”There’s a dearth of lawyers in Northern Maine, and something like only 20 percent of the lawyers practicing here are under 50. So our goal as far as this law school is concerned is that we’ve got legal services available for people, Bangor and north.” says Judy Potter, who will be a part time faculty member of the law school. When the program first begins they plan to cater to the working crowd. They’ll have classes at night and use existing facilities to house them.”We have a case study classroom in Kominsky Auditorium, we have several high tech classrooms where we can have interactive teaching if we want to bring in law professors online.” Says Bill Beardsley, President of Husson University.Even though the program is still about a year and a half from starting, they say there’s already been about 130 inquiries. Their first class will have about 40 students.Mullane says they will present their plans and curriculum to the court this summer and apply for program approval.After that he says they’ll shift full swing into promoting the new law school.
There is still time for young women to apply for the New Leadership Institute planned for this summer at the University of Maine.It’s being sponsored by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.The idea is to get college aged women interested in politics. Women who have already served in government will serve as the inspiration during the week-long institute in June.Students will be taught everything from networking to public speaking.It’s free to the 25 college students who will be accepted, but you need to apply by this Friday.Honorable Mary Cathcart, Co-Director of the Institute explains that undergraduate students are eligible to apply. “Either a college in Maine or a Maine student enrolled in a college out of state. We are not accepting grad students and we are not accepting high school graduates who have just graduated in June because we want them to have a year of college under their belt.To get an application or get more information go to their website: mcspolicycenter.umaine.edu/?q=NEWleadershipIf you can’t get the application in by Friday, you can give them a call at 581-1539, and let them know that you’re interested.
What do you get when you cross Maine’s most famous truck stop, with one of Maine’s most famous loggers? A pound of beef, or Dysart’s new “Bone Crusher” burger.”To me, it’s a great thing, you know not everybody has something named after them. Maybe a president or, you know, a famous star! I don’t feel like a famous star. I feel like the bone crusher.”Like it or not, the drivers from the Millinocket based Gerald Pelletier Logging, are becoming famous, thanks to the new discovery channel show, American Loggers. The latest perk to come out of their new found glory, is to be honored at the Mecca of maine truck stops, Dysart’s restaurant.”We decided that the big loads, the big amount of logging, and all the bigness of what this TV show is, needed a big burger to go with it.”Thus, the newest addition to the dysart’s menu was born say hello to the bone crusher.”The burger is one full pound of beef on a great big 7 or 8 inch roll, that’s totally loaded with everything.””I can’t even put it in to my mouth! Just looking at somebody eat that, I’m full just watching them eat it.”The bone crusher was inspired by one of the show’s newest stars, trucker Brian Nutting, aka, the real life bone crusher.”I can eat a lot…holy cow! that’s large!”Crusher, who got his name after hitting a moose with his rig on the Golden Road, says he’s still in awe of the show’s success, and he’s amused to share his name with a hamburger.”I just laughed, you know—it’s like, what’s next?”Dysart’s will also start carrying American Logger merchandise in the store next week.But this day was all about the burger.”It’s definitely gonna be 2 hands.”And as bone crusher sat down to try the “bone crusher”, someone had the audacity to ask him if he needed to cut it in half.”Do you want to cut it? Do I look like a little boy or an ice road trucker? argh!!!!!!”You can also find American Logger merchandise on the web at www.pelletierbrothersinc.com. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the American Loggers show yet, it airs Friday nights at ten o’clock.
A Waterville man accused of robbing a credit union in Madison last year has been indicted by a Somerset county grand jury. 21-year-old Michael Phillips allegedly walked into the Franklin-Somerset County Federal Credit Union last July with another male. Police say they were armed with a pellet gun. Phillips was tracked down in New York and brought back to Maine. He’s currently being held at the Somerset County Jail on $250,000 cash bail.
A movie about the work of troop greeters at Bangor International Airport has won an honorable mention in the documentary film category at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas. The 80-minute film, “The Way We Get By,” focuses on the lives of three of the troop greeters who have welcomed hundreds of thousands of troops as they passed through the airport on their way to and from overseas assignments. The film was directed by Old Town native Aron Gaudet. One of the greeters featured in the film is Gaudet’s mother. The festival’s awards ceremony was held Tuesday night.
There is some good news about our economy. At least our local economy.The G-C-S call center in Pittsfield celebrated its first anniversary with an employee appreciation day on St. Patrick’s Day.A year ago they had fourteen employees..now 110 people work there.And last week was the most productive in the center’s first year.Their goal is to grow by twenty percent this year and increase their work force to 150.And this call center recently received some special recognition from its parent company according to site manager Selena Fogg. ” Out of 13 GCS centers Pittsfield was the number one center for the fourth quarter of 08, so it was a lot of different things that were that that was comprised from and I would say we’re going great.”G-C-S is located in the Somerset Plaza in Pittsfield.They handle sales calls for several fortune 500 companies, like Bank of America. And they sell insurance and advertise for insurance agents.
The day when everyone is a little bit Irish was celebrated in Bangor, and patrons of Paddy Murphy’s, an Irish Pub on Main Street, got started before the sun came up.But the surprise of people coming through the doors at that hour was not a suprise to server Andy Day, ” Everybody’s marveling at people being here more than anything so but they’re all here too so. hahaha.”The doors to Paddy Murphy’s in downtown Bangor opened at 6am on this Saint Patrick’s Day, the same way it did two years ago when the Irish Pub opened in Pickering Square.”I picked six am because I thought it would work well” said the owner of the Pub, John Dobbs. “you know it’s a nice thing to do for people who really want to enjoy St. Patty’s day right from the get go. Nobody else does it and I’m looking to start a nice tradition.”Some sat at the bar, others filled booths. Some stopped in for a drink and something to eat before work. Others stopped in on their way to classes at UMaine, like Michael Perry.”I got class at nine thirty, gotta go to class and then we’ll see where the day goes from there.”This is the third St. Patrick’s Day the pub has welcomed folks in at this early hour. It’s just the start of 20 hours of celebration. And with five bands performing Irish and Celtic folk music through the day, those who have been through this before know what lies ahead.”This is about what I expected.” said Day. “You got the troopers in here at six in the morning and everybody wants to get a table early. I’m kind of astonished that we have one open now so we’ll see how long that lasts and yeah it’s a good crowd..”A good crowd and a good time, but there’s always next year to be ready for and that will soon be Dobbs’ focus.”You can always do better, you can always be faster, more efficient, you can always give more to people who frequent your establishment. So what can we do better for next year? We’ll start talking about that tomorrow.”
About 20,000 FairPoint Communications customers in Maine who lost e-mail service during the conversion from Verizon are eligible for credit rebates.Representative Herb Adams from Portland says he proposed the rebates as a goodwill gesture to the affected customers.The company agreed to the payments last week at a meeting of the legislature’s utilities and energy committee.Customers who lost service for a week or more will get one month’s credit on their next billing.Those who were out for a shorter period will get a $10 credit.The service disruptions occurred during several weeks of the e-mail cutover in January and February.
A woman in Old Town managed to escape unharmed from her burning apartment house late Tuesday night.Fire fighters were called to 4 Spring Street just after midnight Wednesday morning. Officials tell DT5 that there was just the one renter inside the building at the time.Crews from Old Town as well as Orono spent about a half hour knocking down the flames. there has been no word yet on a cause or damages to the building.
A pair of new buildings got the go-ahead from the Bangor Planning Board Tuesday night.First, board members heard about a new project for the Rock Church, a non-denominational Christian church on Ohio Street.”We have actually ten and a half acres of land,” says Pastor Kirk Winters.He says they want turn their current church into a space for youth activities – and behind it, build a new, nearly 10-thousand square foot house of worship for their hundreds of followers.Winters says they’ve come a long way since the church began in 2005.”Since then we’ve gone from one, to two, to three, to four weekend services,” Winters says. “We currently have about 500 people in a building that’s built for 100 people. So we’ve just outgrown our space.”He says they’re working now on raising funds, and hope to break ground in 2010.Meanwhile, as soon at the frost leaves the ground, Manna Ministries Director Bill Rae says they’ll break ground on their new family shelter. The six-unit building behind Manna’s current spot on Main Street would take in moms with their kids when they have nowhere else to go. It would be the only shelter of its kind in Bangor.He says they hope to open before the weather turns cold once again.”Mom comes in she has no place to stay, she can stay there for the night – two nights – five nights,” Rae says. “Whatever she needs to do to get herself back into her own apartment or back into her own stable environment.”Bill Rae says Manna is a quarter of the way to its one million dollar fundraising goal.
The president of the University of Maine says layoffs are inevitable in the coming fiscal year, as the University struggles under budget pressures.In an open letter to the University community, Robert Kennedy said the budget-cutting process will be painful as the school figures out ways to cut $8.6 million for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins in July.Kennedy said the University will address budget cuts at two forums in Orono on March 26 and March 30.
Governor John Baldacci has ordered a partial payment of $45 million to Maine hospitals on a years-old debt totaling hundreds of millions of dollars for services rendered under the Medicaid program.The order enables the state to use $45 million in federal stimulus money to leverage additional federal money that will provide hospitals with a payment totaling $163 million.Baldacci has proposed an additional state payment of $57 million that, combined with federal matching money, will provide hospitals with nearly $211 million.
Maine potato farmers say their partnership with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, has saved them millions of dollars over the last several years.Potato farming is one of the top agricultural commodities in Maine, bringing in more than half a billion dollars to the state.And growers, like Steven Crane of the Crane Brothers farm in Exeter, say the key to growing a healthier, more substantial crop is knowing how to manage the fields.Thanks to technology, and help from Cooperative Extension’s Potato Integrated Pest Management Program, farmers like crane have a better idea of when to treat their crops.By collecting information through weather stations like this one, and sharing that information with local farmers.”We used to heat by calendar, not by science. Now we’re using science to help us determine when to apply the products at the correct times.”Crane says his farm has been working with the cooperative extension for more than twenty years.He says farmers who haven’t taken advantage of the resource, are missing out.Crane’s farm produces 13-hundred acres of potatoes, supplying them to Frito Lay.