The folks at Morgan Hill officially opened the facility for business on Thursday.They were joined by the town of Hermon and the Bangor region chamber of commerce for a ribbon cutting.New owners purchased the event center about a year ago, since then they have worked to improve the landscape as well as the inside of the building.The facility has three rooms, and can seat up to 400 people.Hymie Gulak, one of the owners, says community support has been very important to the business.Even though the business just officially opened Gulak says they have hosted events there.There is also a dance studio and photographer on the premises.
A new state program is helping Maine fishermen save money and become more energy efficient at the same time.Amy Erickson has the story.This brand new engine will soon be inside Jason Witham’s lobster boat, the Siren.”It’s more efficient. I’m going to use less fuel. Probably it’s going to save me 20 gallons of fuel a day.”But Witham says even better than that is the that he got it for half price, thanks to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s new Clean Marine Engine Program.It helps fishermen repower their boats with new engines which are about 70 percent cleaner.”They’ll take your old engine and replace it with a new one. And the program will cover 50 percent of the engine cost and 50% of the labor.””It’s about $43,000 for the engine and the install. So you’re looking at $20,000 of savings.””We are repowering over 40 vessels, including 30 lobster boats, 4 fishing vessels, 3 ferries and a schooner out of Eastport.”Lynne Cayting is with the Maine D-E-P.She says the new engines will reduce harmful diesel exhaust emissions.And the cost savings will be felt by folks all over the state…not just those who make their living on the water.”Using over 1.2 million dollars in stimulus funds to repower commercial vessels with a brand new EPA tier 2 engine. So we’re taking old, nonregulated engines and replacing them with compliant EPA engines.””It helps the local community, the boatyards, mechanics…it even helps the banks. It helps the sternmen…so many people in a meaningful way using stimulus dollars and it helps the environment.””It’s saving me a lot of money with the price of lobsters being down and the fuel and everything. It’s a way for me to be able to get a new engine that will last me a lot longer and be able to get my bottom line up.”
An Addision man was killed today after the tractor he was driving rolled over on top of him.21-year-old Jonathan Brock was working for Cherryfield Foods in a remote area of Washington County near Holmes Falls.Officials say he was driving the tractor down a dirt road when he lost control. The tractor went off a bridge into the Machias River, pinning Brock underneath it.A co-worker saw it happen and called for help, but when officials arrived a short time later, Brock had died.
About 60 officials continued working today to clear an area of Township 37 – in rural Washington County – of the thousands of marijuana plants found there earlier this week.Officials still aren’t sure how many thousands of plants there are, but they’re calling it the largest marijuana growing operation they’ve seen in state history.They spent yesterday collecting forensic evidence as to who’s responsible for the pot.MDEA Director Roy McKinney says because of the size and sophistication of what they’ve found, federal agents are also involved.”This is an operation where the individuals were on-scene, 24-7, cultivating these plants, and so they’re very high quality plants. Our ultimate goal is to identify who’s responsible for this cultivation, and bring a successful case to court.”No arrests have been made yet. McKinney says by tomorrow, they hope to finish collecting all the plants, some of which will be saved as evidence.
Home fires and burns claimed more than three thousand lives in the U.S. last year. Firefighters believe that education is the key to cutting down that number.Today, Winslow firefighters rolled out their new smoke house to raise awareness about fire dangers in the home. Fourth graders from Winslow elementary and Saint John’s school got to tour the trailer. They were asked to point out the hazards in the home that could cause a fire. But the best part for the kids was when the special effects kicked in. Theatrical smoke fills the trailer simulating what would happen in a house during a real fire. Winslow’s fire chief says the trailer is a not only a fun educational tool, it’s one that can help save lives too.
Today representatives of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and The Maine Heritage Policy Center (MHPC) gathered on the steps of the state capitol in Augusta to unveil the 2009 Maine Piglet Book: The Book Augusta Doesn’t Want You to Read. Featured speakers included Maine Heritage Policy Center CEO Tarren Bragdon and CAGW Vice President for Policy David Williams. The report is the second Maine Piglet Book since 2007. The report attempts to expose $2 billion in wasteful spending. Those defending the state say that CAGW and MHPC are not telling the whole truth. The study cites as examples of waste a $45 thousand playground, Â a $40 million cultural building and $16 million in renovations at the(DHHS) Department of Health and Human Services Office.Â Crystal Canney, Communications Director for Citizens Unified for Maine’s Future, says, “What the Heritage Policy Center neglects to tell you is that those projects were requests that the state did not fund”Â
Fraternity and sorority members, along with other students, lined up to sign the hazing prevention statement Thursday at the University of Maine. According to UMaine Junior Brian Harris, a Sigma Phi Epsilon member, this is something they take seriously here. “All fraternities individually have their anti-hazing policies,” says Harris, “we’re here today as a Greek community to show our support, backing each other up as well as the administration that’s something we won’t stand for.” The administration here has remained vigilant over the years to keep hazing as a practice of the past says Dr. Robert Dana, the V.P. of Student Affairs. “The last hazing incident I can recall was 1992,” Dana says, “so we’ve been telling our students of course for many years and they’ve been fully engaged in this, they understand the idea of brother hood and sisterhood or team connections those are very important but the way you get to that is through kindness you don’t do it by some crazy old tradition.”Fraternities and sororities on campus, as well as the sports teams, have found more productive ways to bond with new members and teammates.”We just do fun activities with our new girls, nothing exciting or crazy,” says Phi Mu Sorority V.P. Caitlyn Rafferty.Brandi Rideout, Director of Student Athletes Services says the sports teams are following suit. “A lot of teams go white water rafting, the ROTC groups on campus do a great job of working with our teams, they do ropes courses, paintball, our hockey teams hiked Mt. Katahdin so we’re doing a lot of things like that.”Dr. Dana wants to keep the prevention of hazing on top of everyone’s priority list around here. “You always want to remind people we have 2000 new students every year and 2000 students leave, and hazing is a national problem so we want to keep this in the forefront of our discussion.”
A church in Pittsfield is getting an upgrade, and it’s free.As Meghan Hayward tells us, the gift couldn’t come at a better time.For pastor Pete Griffin and his congregation, exciting news has come their way.”I almost bawled and cried basically. This is something we’ve been praying for quite awhile that somebody would come in and donate their time.”Top Notch Roofing of Benton are happy to take on the job of re-shingling the Church of Nazarene in Pittsfield.”We’ve been out of work for three weeks now anyways sitting around the house doing nothing. I saw the shingles sitting out here so I asked the pastor if he needed his roof done. And he said he only had enough money for a new furnace and to buy the materials. So we figured we’d come up and do the favor.”Griffin says he’s still in shock.”I get to know Top Notch Roofing. I thank them from the bottom of my heart that they donated their time to do this for nothing.”The Church of Nazarene has been in Pittsfield since 1955.Griffin says the building has started to show it’s age.”It started leaking here about two months ago, you could actually see the stains in the ceiling.”Now Griffin wants to try and raise money to give back to Top Notch Roofing for their services.Something Co-owner Roger Reynolds says is not necessary.”We wasn’t really looking forward to that. We were here to do the pastor a favor.”Reynolds says they should have the job done in a week. His crew is volunteering their time too.”And happy to show up and do so.”If you’d like to help, send donations to Church of Nazarene in Pittsfield at 200 Central Street, Pittsfield, 04967Make note it’s for top notch roofing.
A new corn maze is cropping up in Farmington.The folks at Sandy River Farms have created the first corn maze on their property, which opens tomorrow. The maze is designed in the shape of the state with a tractor in the middle and the words “Buy Local” and “Sandy River Farms” along the edges.The maze will be open on weekends from now through Halloween. There’s also a pumpkin patch, hayrides and an animal farm to check out. For more information, go online to sandyriverfarms.com.
A man from New Portland has been charged with murder in the death of his former boss, more than two years ago.State police say 31-year-old Jeffrey LaGasse was indicted last week by the Somerset County Grand Jury. He’s accused of killing 50-year-old Louise Brochu. Her body was found outside her home and business on Route 27 in New Portland in June of 2007.Brochu ran a wood flooring business and LaGasse once worked for her.LaGasse is currently at the Maine State Prison for violation of probation. He’s expected to make his first court appearance on the murder charge tomorrow morning in Skowhegan.
Some folks in Ellsworth are putting on a country music concert to help a friend with cancer.46-year-old Ellie Burns was diagnosed with lung cancer last month. She just started chemotherapy last week. Right now Burns has no health insurance and can’t work. So local musicians billed as Wade Dow & Friends are putting on a benefit concert. It’s set for this Saturday at the Elks Club in Ellsworth. The show starts at 7 o’clock – doors open at 6 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults – children 12 and under get in for free. Donations will also be accepted.
Along with a massive marijuana growing operation in Washington County, state police also seized a pot crop in Starks recently. They tell us last week they pulled more than 270 plants in the woods off Brann Mills Road, after first spotting them from the air. Game wardens and drug agents helped in the harvest. The growers have not yet been found.
A man from Fairfield is under arrest for two armed robberies in the greater Bangor area.Police from Old Town, Brewer and Bangor teamed up to arrest 21-year-old Alex Gerald in connection with robberies in Old Town Tuesday night and Brewer Wednesday night.Police say Gerald walked into Sun Tan City on Stillwater Avenue with a gun, after taking a tour of the business earlier in the evening.Then last night, Gerald walked into the Wilson Street Dunkin Donuts with a gun.Police say both guns have been recovered and were air soft guns that Gerald had spray painted black.Police believe Gerald was trying to get money to support a drug habit. He got away with less than a thousand dollars from both robberies.Lieutenant Chris Martin of the Brewer Police Department say the quick arrest was made with help from surveillance video from Downeast Toyota.”I have to stress that if it wasn’t for the assistance of DownEast Toyota and helping us identify a car and what to look for and the use and access of their technology we might still be looking for that today.”Sun Tan City opened for business Wednesday and the Dunkin Donuts re-opened at 5 Thursday morning.Gerald is behind bars at the Penobscot County Jail and scheduled to appear in court Friday. He’s charged with two counts of robbery and could face up to 5 to 10 years on each count in prison if convicted.Police say he also has similar charges in Kennebec County and with the Fairfield Police Department.
A biomass heating equipment company based in Sumner, Maine has pledged to help towns and schools save money and go green. Skanden Energy, Inc. is helping municipalities and schools convert to wood thermal energy. The company is currently working with local contractors to install state-of-the-art wood pellet boilers at Strong and Kingfield Elementary Schools under a $1.08 million USDA grant, and is offering to help others convert to green energy. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, $11.4 million has been awarded to the Maine Department of Conservation (DOC) to provide grants through its Wood-to-Energy Initiative. These grants, aimed at rural schools and public entities converting to wood heating, can be used to fund the purchase and installation of Skanden equipment. In addition to selling the most advanced biomass heating technology available, Skanden helps rural schools and public entities in other ways. First, Skanden helps them through the grant application process. Then, they guide them through installation, training local contractors and helping them develop expertise in the industry. This maximizes the economic and environmental benefit to the local community. “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to help Maine communities transform the inefficiencies and hazardous risks of oil heating systems into sustainable, environmentally-friendly biomass heating systems,” said Laura Colban, founder and president of Skanden Energy. “The people of Maine have a great appreciation for the benefits of biomass heating, and we look forward to bringing new job opportunities to the state to support that.” Skanden Energy is in the process of hiring sales engineers and signing up local heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) contractors as distributors. Skanden Energy will provide training for qualified HVAC contractors. “We understand the desire to hire local contractors, who are familiar with their buildings and their needs,” said Colban. “We provide a local supervisor who will work with the contractors to ensure the best quality installation, and maximize the benefits to the local economy.” The company has already been working with MSAD 58 to install two wood biomass systems at Strong and Kingfield Elementary Schools. More than a dozen local contractors, including piping, roofers, engineers, electricians, and other specialists have worked on the two projects so far and more will be engaged soon. “Skanden Energy has demonstrated remarkable commitment to these projects and has far exceeded my expectations,” said MSAD 58 superintendent Quenten Clark. “Not only did they secure the grant funding for these installations, but they also increased the amount of the grant substantially. Their expertise and unique skill set enabled us to significantly improve upon many aspects of the installation. They are a reliable team and an excellent company to work with.” Skanden Energy points to environmental and economic advantages when heating with wood rather than fossil fuels as one reason for the substantial growth in wood-to-energy projects. When wood is burned in a Skanden system, at 2000 degrees, with automated cleaning of boiler tubes and ash removal, emissions are negligible and efficiency is more than 90 percent. Because it is all automated, maintenance is similar to that of an oil burner. For more information about the company, job opportunities, training, distributorships and more, please visit: www.skanden.com or call 207.512.5699.
Wednesday’s warm weather didn’t keep folks in Bangor from thinking about winter.Hundreds of people turned out at the Spectacular Event Center for Bangor Hydro’s Maine Winter Expo.It gives folks information on topics like home weatherization, budgeting for winter fuel and energy audits.Bangor Hydro officials say many Mainers are interested in learning more about alternative energy and making their homes more efficient.Matthew Damon from Penobscot Home Performance was one of the vendors taking part Wednesday.He says it’s important for homeowners to know that they can make big changes by doing small things. “It’s great to come out and talk to people so they can get an idea of the different options out there as far as energy efficiency,” Said Damon on Wednesday. “You can start with just changing your lightbulbs! Change from CFC lightbulbs…get an energy efficient fridge…you put cash out there but in the long run, it’s gonna save you energy.”Some lucky folks even walked away with free prizes on Wednesday, including free energy audits, gift certificates, and storm survival kits.
A new program to help folks who have lost their jobs is starting up Thursday in Bangor.The Maine Department of Labor and the Maine Educational Opportunity Center are teaming up to offer it.It’s a free workshop designed to help folks start on the path to further education.It starts Thursday and runs through December.Folks who tap into it can still collect unemployment benefits as long as they’re in approved training programs.The worshop will offer help applying for college help with all the paperwork and applying for financial aid.For more information or to register call 1 (800) 281-3703.
Folks in Dover are rallying around a family who lost everything in a house fire last week.John and Briana Dyer’s home on the Dexter Road caught fire on Friday.There is no word yet on what caused it, but the home has a lot of damage.Family and friends are now collecting donations to help the family get by.Checks may be sent to:the John & Briana Dyer Fund in care of the Maine Highlands Federal Credit Union.PO box 507, West Main Street, Dover-Foxcroft, ME, 04426.The fire is under investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s office.
Fire destroyed a home in St. George on Wednesday.Crews from St. George as well as South Thomaston were called to Atlantic Quarry Road around 4:30 Wednesday afternoon.Authorities say a next door neighbor called in the fire.The family was not home at the time.No one was injured in the fire.No word yet on a cause.
State investigators are looking into an explosion at the four seasons campground in naples Wednesday night.The fire reportedly leveled a camper.Naples Fire Chief Chris Pond said the apparent owner of the trailer left in a car, which he crashed a short distance from the campground. He was taken to a hospital for treatment of second-degree burns to his arms.At the campground, 29-year-old Jessica Jackson of Casco was arrested, accused of assaulting an investigator from the State Fire marshal’s Office.
The theatre at Camp Tracy in Oakland is getting an upgrade.Recently, construction began to create more bench seats, new lighting, and a new sound system.All the work is costing a lot of money though.Now, thanks to Lester and Barbara Jolovitz of Waterville, funding isn’t an issue.The couple donated $25,000 to make the renovations happen. “We see these youngsters outdoors for fresh air and they are doing things that will shape their character for the future and open up a whole new area of experiences it’s a great feeling,” Said Lester Jolovitz on WednesdayAs a founder of Camp Tracy in the 1960’s, Lester Jolovitz helped clear the land near Mcgrath Pond in Oakland where the camp is today.Each summer the camp serves more than one-thousand campers.