Lawmakers in Augusta continue to debate, at least for another day, as to whether or not changes should be made to Maine’s sex offender registry.The criminal justice and public safety committee has a bill before them that aims to give courts more power on which restrictions convicted sex offenders should abide by.Current law sets the same restrictions for all convicted sex offenders.Another bill being looked at by committee members seeks to remove some offenders from the registry.Towns are currently allowed to notify neighbors if a convicted offender has moved to the area.Both bills were tabled on Wednesday. Lawmakers will revisit them Thursday afternoon when a committee vote is expected.
Traffic on Route 1A in Winterport is back to two lanes.It had been reduced to one lane as of 6:45 Thursday morning following a car crash.Authorities tell TV5 that only minor injuries were reported in the accident, which took place near the post office in town.
Officials have identified three new cases of swine flu in Maine, bringing the state’s number of total cases to 10.The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the new cases include a child in Cumberland County and adults in York and Kennebec counties.All four cases that have been confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control are in York County.State officials said five of the Mainers who contracted the virus have a history of travel.Kennebunk Elementary School, the only Maine school to close because of swine flu, reopened Wednesday, a day earlier than expected.
Both the Cherryfield and Columbia Falls elementary schools are slated to close at the end of this year, following a decision by S.A.D 37.But voters next week could decide to keep the schools open — at a significant cost.”This town doesn’t have a lot. We have a church, we have a post office, and we have a very nice school,” says Columbia Falls Selectman Vance Pineo. “And, we want to keep it.”Columbia Falls selectmen say the state has put residents of the town in a tough spot. They can vote to keep their school open, and face a tax increase — which they figure would be around 70-percent — or close their school.”The general consensus is no, we don’t want to close our school,” says Selectman Grace Falzarano.”It’s a hard choice to go into a voting booth, and vote to raise my taxes by 70 percent — or to close my grammar school,” says Selectman Alan Grant. “That’s a no-win situation.”They say most people in town can’t afford the increase, no matter how much they want to keep the school they call the center of their community.”They’re forcing the community to close the school, ourselves, because of dollars and cents. That’s what they’ve done for us,” says Falzarano.S.A.D 37 Superintentendent David Beal says the money just isn’t there.”The board understands fully what the loss of those schools in the communities would mean, absolutely,” he says. “But, there is a tremendous burden on taxpayers as well because of the loss of revenues in the state.”If voters keep the schools, taxes would go up to cover the projected costs savings from closing.”Until we have all those figures we don’t know what the assessment would be to Columbia Falls or to Cherryfield. But whatever that assessment is, obviously costs will go up,” says Beal.He says no matter what voters decide next Tuesday, it will take the district awhile to recover. Selectmen Pineo says, “I just don’t see, really, much of a choice.”Columbia Falls held a public hearing Monday on the issue. Cherryfield is holding a similar hearing tonight at 6:30 at the elementary school.
Bangor Police are investigating the burglaries of three churches in the downtown area.Last Sunday, an officer responded to an alarm at the All Souls Church. He heard noises inside, called for back-up, but whoever was inside got away.Two days later, the Columbia Street Baptist Church and the First Baptist Church on Center Street reported that someone broke in. A small amount of cash was taken in those cases.Police aren’t sure if all three break-ins are connected. Anyone with information should contact Bangor Police.
The pink tulips are blooming around Bangor, and this year you’ll find yellow ones too. The gardens are part of the Pink Tulip Project, to raise money for breast cancer research.The program was started four years ago, by a breast cancer survivor in southern Maine. She got the idea to sell each tulip, and then plant them in public gardens.The money goes to the Maine Cancer Foundation, plus when the flowers arrive, awareness of the disease blooms among all those who see them.This year, you’ll also see yellow tulips. Community Organizer, Ann Marie Orr says, that’s to let people know that breast cancer can strike in men too. “This is for awareness and breast cancer for men is just as deadly as it is for women and although we have more awareness in early detection, men don’t necessarily. So, it’s important to be aware of that.”There are now eight gardens in Bangor, and two at the University of Maine.To find out how you can be a part of this, you can log onto www.pinktulipproject.org.
A teenager from Winterport had his wish come true.Now he’s working hard to make sure other children have their wishes granted too.At first glance, Tony Cote looks like your average 13-year old.But take a step closer and you’ll find a unique and courageous boy.”Tony was diagnosed with CF when he was nine months old. We had issues from the day he was born. Literally from the time we brought him home from the hospital, well before I brought him home from the hospital, I knew there was something not right.”Tony wakes up at 6 a-m each morning for treatment and takes 35 pills every day.When he heard about the Make A Wish Foundation and the chance to escape it all for a week, he jumped at the opportunity.”It was nice to be able to like get out, stop, take a break with the treatments and stuff. I still had to do them, but it didn’t seem as long. It felt better down there.”Before Tony could escape, he had to choose a wish.He says he had a little help.”My mom pretty much said that I had to do something that wasn’t totally selfish and we had been talking about how we wanted to go to Disney World for awhile and I just decided on that.”A decision Tony is happy he made and one Jim Christie of the Make A Wish Foundation is glad he could grant.”He is just incredible, I mean the kid is a dynamo.”Tony was given V-I-P treatment from the minute he was picked up in a limo.After his experience, he decided he wanted to help other children with their wishes.The Winterport Dream Walkers were created.”Mom wanted something that would have the town’s name in it.”The Dream Walkers are trying to raise enough money to grant two maine kids in the Bangor area their wishes.The average cost of a wish is six thousand dollars.Jim Christie says it’s people like Tony that allow them to be able to do what they do.”When somebody like Tony steps up and says I want to do my part its tremendous, its just tremendous.”
A Calais firefighter was remembered Wednesday.Billy Townsend lost his battle with leukemia last Friday…he was just 27 years old…As Meghan Hayward tells us, his friends say he really was one of a kind.He was a simple man who loved simple things. He didn’t need anything lavish or anything like that.”Calais Fire Captain Dale Purton says that’s the best way to describe Billy Townsend…he credits Billy for the kind of person he is today.”He made me a better person. He made me see things a lot different. For me to be more compassionate with people.”Townsend came from a family of firefighters and at a young age fell in love with the job.By the age of fourteen, he was enrolled in the junior program…a program that Purton says other teens have because of billy.”He was the first person to do that, first person to complete that and basically he got the program going.”As soon as Billy turned eighteen, he was in the chief’s office signing up to be a call person.He left Calais for awhile and worked in Lincoln, but Purton says Billy was a hometown guy and wanted to return to Calais.”The truth, he was a true firefighter. He loved to fight fires and liked to do everything that was involved with that.”Wednesday, firefighters from Calais, Lincoln. and St. Stephen came to pay their respects.”And probably the biggest thing we will with him is his smile. He always smiled.”Purton says that smile was on his face when he was fighting fires, or outdoors hunting and fishing…but most of all, when he was with his children.It’s that smile that will stay with Purton and the other firefighters who had the honor of working alongside Billy, firefighter number thirteen.”For me I’ll miss him forever and there will never be anyone that can replace him.
There could be fewer state lawmakers in Maine in the future and voters would get the final say.A bill to reduce the number of Representatives to the Maine House from 151 to 131 was approved in the House Wednesday.It faces further House and Senate votes.If it passes it would be a Constitutional Amendment, which would require a state-wide vote in the fall.If voters passed it, the change would take hold in 2013.
A local jeweler is reaching out to local Moms with children deployed overseas.He’s treating them to a little bit of luxury this Mother’s Day weekend.Amy Erickson has the story.”Well, they’re doing a heck of a job for us, so whatever I can give back to them. I really appreciate what they do.”Sonny LeClair has been thinking of ways he can honor the men and women serving the country overseas.As the owner of Quality Jewelers in Bangor, he has several employees with relatives in the military.So he’s decided to run a special Mother’s Day promotion for those females with loved ones serving overseas.”We’re going to give away a free strand of cultured pearls to anyone that has a family member deployed, whether it be a mother, grandmother, sister, aunt…anything at all.”You don’t have to buy a thing to get a necklace.LeClair says the giveaway is just his way of saying thank you to the servicemen and women making sacrifices.”The necklace is an 18″ strand of pearls…they are cultured pearls, natural…and they’re very nice.”They’re valued at $200 apiece…and LeClair has 100 to give away.”We’re gonna do it friday and saturday this week. We open at 9 both days, we lose at 5 on friday, 4 on saturday, and while supplies last, we’re going to give away the strands.”And it’s not just about honoring the mothers and grandmothers…LeClair hopes the women will bring in a reminder of their loved ones…so others can see the men and women putting their lives on the line on a daily basis.”We’d like to have them bring in a picture that we can post on the wall, just to show people.”Amy Erickson, WABI TV5 News, Bangor.
On Wednesday Governor Baldacci signed the bill that would legalize gay marriages in the state of Maine. Voters could still overturn the law in a referendum.Wednesday morning, the Maine State Senate voted 21-13 in favor of legalizing same sex marriages. Late afternoon Wednesday New Hampshire lawmakers passed a bill to allow gay marriage. There are four states that currently allow same-sex marriages. Connecticut, Massachusetts and Iowa have been ordered by the courts to do so, and Connecticut has enacted a law codifying a court ruling. Vermont passed a gay marriage law in April over the governor’s objection.To watch WABI TV5’s special series on the Gay Marriage Debate click on the stories here.
The prospect of a one cent tax on water brought a crowd to the state house on Tuesday.The bill would impose a penny per gallon tax on water pumped from springs and other sources here in Maine.Out of state water bottlers wouldn’t have to pay it.Nearly one hundred opponents of the bill showed up in Augusta to let their feelings be known. Most of them work for the Poland Spring water company.They say the new law would discourage Poland Spring from growing its business in Maine.It’s estimated the penny tax would cost Poland Spring seven-million dollars each year.
A Newburgh man has been charged in connection with the death of 17-year-old Nathan Clark, the Hampden teen who went missing in March and who’s body was later found in a gravel pit in Winterport.Hampden police say 44-year-old Michael Fortunato provided kids under the age of 18 with a place to consume alcohol, and provided them with marijuana and prescription drugs.After a month long investigation, authorities say there’s evidence that Clark was one of the teens Fortunato associated with.Fortunato has been charged with two counts of aggravated furnishing of a scheduled drug. Both of which are class C crimes or felonies, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.Hampden police say the charges against Fortunato are not in relation to the cause of Clark’s death.They are still looking into the case, and say more charges related to alcohol could follow.The State Medical Examiner has not yet released an official cause of death in Nathan Clark’s case. Fortunato is scheduled to appear in Bangor Superior Court in June.
Eleven days after his internet service went out, a business owner in Camden says he can’t believe the problem still hasn’t been fixed.He says it’s hurting his business.”It’s almost impossible to operate right now,” says Raymond Brunyanszki, owner of the Camden Harbour Inn. They use online services to book all their reservations and run credit cards. Except for the past 11 days.”In this day and age, the internet is a vital component to our operation, and we are losing money because of Fairpoint,” he says.The Inn lost service after some server upgrades. But Brunyanszki says after daily calls to Fairpoint, they still don’t know why they’re not back online.He says restaurant reservations are down twenty percent, and taking down everything by hand and using the phone to run credit cards is tying up business.”Well, we’re back to the seventies, we have slips and this thing — I don’t even know what you call it anymore.”He says on the old slips, people are forgetting to tip their servers. And hotel guests aren’t pleased there’s no Wi-Fi.”At some point, I just got, you know, it almost became like a joke to me, that every time when I called them we got the same response. Sometimes they they couldn’t find the account they had opened for us.”A representative for Fairpoint tells TV-5 they’re working on issues like large call center volumes.”That’s likely the problem that we’ve had with the situation in Camden,” says company spokesman Jeff Nevins. “We have detailed plans for pretty much every area where we’re not operating as business as usual.”He says problems cropped up after their recent company switchover, but that they should be back to normal by the end of June.”We did decide to change providers now,” says Brunyanszki, “because it’s been enough.”
Advertising students at the University of Maine got to advertise what they’ve been working on all semester.And it’s a project that will benefit some local businesses.Meghan Hayward reports.Real life practice and experience is what students in the University of Maine’s advertising campaign class have been getting.”So it’s basically a service learning course which means they not only need to learn from the textbook but also use their knowledge in giving back to local clients and solve real-world problems for them.”UMaine seniors spent the spring semester creating marketing campaigns for the Maine Discovery Museum, the Grasshopper Shop and Henry’s Bridal Boutique and Formal Wear.Jeniffer Chiarell, Marketing Director at the Maine Discovery Museum, says working with the students was fun and educational for her.”I’ve really benefited from what they’ve had to say and they had some really good ideas. I love some of the spots and creativity they used.”Chiarell says she wasn’t too surprised at how well everything turned out because of all the work the students put into it.”We kept in conversations throughout the semester and they asked me a lot of questions and that really indicated to me that they were putting a lot of work into the project.”Senior Sonja Fickett worked on the Maine Discovery Museum campaign and says she benefited from the hands-on experience.As the semester comes to an end, Fickett says it is hard to believe it’s done.”Well it’s a bittersweet feeling just because it feels really good to have this accomplishment because we haven’t had the chance to work in this type of environment before. It’s really good in that way but it’s also sad that it’s coming to an end.”But an experience that Fickett and other advertising students will take with them as they graduate and head into the real-world.
This Mother’s Day is going to be extra special for a 4th Grader from Newport Elementary School.She had planned to give her mom a candle, instead she’ll be giving her a gold and tourmaline necklace that she designed herself. That’s because Hannah Bickford won a design contest sponsored by a local jewelry store.”I didn’t think that I was gonna win because, oh my word, there’s a lot of kids in the contest.”More than 400 kids in fact entered the jewelry design contest sponsored by Yankee Goldsmiths in Newport.It’s the 5th year they’ve sponsored the contest, asking students from five area schools to design a piece of jewelry for their mothers. The winning design would be created into a real piece of jewelry for their mom.”I just thought it would be really appropriate and special to be on Mother’s Day.”There were a lot of ideas, that included everything from hearts, to unicorns, to dogs to flowers.Hannah’s idea: “All I did was a watermelon. I didn’t think that was gonna win, a watermelon.”But Rusty Bickford, jeweler at Yankee Goldsmiths thought it was great. It took him more than 10 hours to craft the gold and watermelon tourmaline design. He estimates it would retail for more than $500.”You could just see the finished product right away and it was a style that we liked.”Hannah thinks her mom will like it too, because her mom loves summer, and loves to eat watermelon.So Hannah’s pretty good at the design part, but not so great at keeping secrets.”I came home and screamed kind of and I wasn’t supposed to tell my mom but I did because I was getting put to the questions.”There’s no question that Hannah is happy she won this contest so that she can give her mom such a special gift this mother’s day, because she says she has one special mom.”She’s just the best mom in the world, you couldn’t get a better one than her. She just is. I don’t know how to explain it, she’s just one in a million, she’s the best.”Hannah will get to pick up the necklace on Saturday along with her mom. Twenty kids who received honorable mentions will get a sterling silver charm for their moms.
One in eight Mainers lived in poverty in 2007. That’s according to a study done by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine and the Maine Community action association. The 12.2% figure is about one percentage point lower than the national average. Washington county had the highest poverty rate at just over 20%. York county had the lowest at around 8%. The poverty line in the report is defined as $20,650 for a family of four.
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) – After a three-hour debate, the Maine House approved a same-sex marriage bill. The bill faces one more vote each in the House and Senate. Representatives voted 89-58 Tuesday afternoon in favor of the bill after rejecting an amendment that called for a November referendum. The bill was sent back to the Senate after the House vote. The proposal would make Maine the fifth state to allow gay marriage. But it’s unclear whether Gov. John Baldacci would sign the bill. Baldacci remains undecided. Four states now allow same-sex marriages: Connecticut, Massachusetts and Iowa by court orders and Vermont through legislation. New Hampshire’s Legislature is actively considering a gay marriage bill.To watch WABI TV5’s special series on the Gay Marriage Debate click on the stories here.
Monday was the first chance the public had to comment on the governor’s plan to close a $570,000,000 shortfall in the state budget.Members of the appropriations committee heard strong objections to governor Baldacci’s proposed budget.The governor’s plan is designed to reduce the general fund spending by $300,000,000.New initiatives would include $70,000,000 less in local school aid, $60,000,000 less in potential tax breaks, and two dozen government shutdown days.Baldacci would use $75,500,000 from the state rainy day fund and nearly $41,000,000 in other reserves to offset shortfalls through June 2011.
A fox has tested positive for rabies in Aroostook County.The animal bit a dog on Friday in Masardis.Authorities say the dog was up to date on it’s rabies shots, and there was no human exposure.Rabies has not been detected that far north until now.There have been twenty cases of the disease reported in Maine this year: mostly in the central and southern part of the state.