The Maine House Ethics Committee has partially cleared an Old Town lawmaker of any wrong doing.On Tuesday, the committee convened for five hours, hearing contradictory versions of the conduct of Representative Richard Blanchard.He was involved in a fourth of July fireworks incident at his lakeside camp in Enfield.At issue were his actions after two fire marshals and a game warden showed up after fireworks were set off. And whether he abused his position by attempting to influence or intimidate wardens. Authorities claimed Blanchard poked an officer in the chest.They also testified Blanchard was drunk.Blanchard denied the accusations.On Tuesday, the committee decided unanimously that it did not have substantial proof that Rep. Blanchard violated legislative ethics statues, but that he did violate the legislative code of ethics.The committee is made up of four Republicans and four Democrats.
After 45 years of dedicated service Erwyn Brewer, Assistant Fire Chief in Hampden, is retiring.Folks got together Tuesday evening at the Hampden Public Safety building to celebrate.Brewer started volunteering for Hampden Fire back in 1964.He made many contributions to the department during his time there, including being a founding member of the ambulance service in Hampden. And being the first recipient of fire fighter of the year award.After his many years of service Brewer has this advice for aspiring fire fighters… “Well, only thing I can say is if you want to get into the fire service you better like it. And check it out before you do because it’s not all glory.”Folks at the Hampden Fire Department say Assistant Chief Brewer will be missed.As for Brewer’s retirement plans: he says he plans to do a lot of golfing.
Investigators say there were no mechanical problems reported before a helicopter, piloted by a Scottish billionaire, crashed off Little Deer Isle earlier this month.That’s according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board.Irvine Laidlaw is a member of Britain’s house of lords. He was piloting the chopper at the time of the crashThe report says Laidlaw was carrying three passengers. They had either just taken off or were trying to land on Laidlaw’s private yacht, “The Lady Christine.”The helicopter was flying about 400 feet up when it began to lose altitude. Laidlaw deployed emergency flotation devices before hitting the water.No one was seriously hurt.The N.T.S.B. says it could take up to another year before the cause of the crash is released.
A former Washington County Sheriff and retired State Trooper is in trouble with the law.52-year-old Joe Tibbetts of Columbia is charged with criminal threatening with a weapon.Authorities say Tibbetts stopped a family of four driving on the Barrens Road in Columbia and showed a gun.The family left the area and called 911.Tibbetts was arrested and taken to Washington County Jail, where he was later released on $5,000 bail.He’s due in court sometime in September.
A Washington man acquitted of beating a man into a coma two years ago, is behind bars.This time, he’s charged with severely beating a woman.Police say 28-year-old Brent Pitcher is charged with two counts of aggravated assault, and one count of criminal restraint.The victim, whom authorities are calling an acquaintance of Pitchers, suffered a head injury and three broken ribs.She was flown by medical helicopter to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston early Monday morning.Pitcher appeared in court Monday, where bail was set at $10,000 cash. In January of 2007, a jury found Pitcher not guilty of assaulting another man, that man has been in a vegetative state ever since the incident.
More than 18,000 kindergarten students will be getting some reading material this fall, for free.Volunteers were at the Augusta Armory packing the book “A Place to Sleep”, to be shipped to over 400 schools throughout Maine.It’s part of the “Read With Me” program, which started a decade ago.The books are paid for with a 75,000 dollar grant from Fairpoint Communications.The program tries to highlight Maine authors each year. “A place to sleep” is written and illustrated by Holly Meade of Sedgewick.Meade is a recipient of several awards, including a Caldecott honor.
A campground in Searsport has a new addition that’s pretty doggone friendly.As Meghan Hayward tells us it’s not only a hit with the four-legged animals but their owners too.” We noticed that our guests were becoming younger and more athletic and the dogs they were bringing with them are more energetic and athletic. So they want to do more. So this was a solution so that they could bring their pets with them and let them run and play.”And the dog aquarium at the Searsport Shores campground was created.But how did it get its name?” Because when you’re driving down into the campground and you look off to the right. You see all these dogs playing behind a fence just like an aquarium and being on the seashore it seemed perfect.’Astrig Tanguay is the owner of the campground and says since opening last week the fenced-in dog run has been a hit .” One-hundred percent positive. People have been extending their stays. Peope have been talking about staying longer next year because suddenly they weren’t concerned about their dogs but now they’re seeing how well they are behaving.”The Harding family is from Massachusetts and has been coming to the campground for nine years and their dog Runner has been with them each year.They say they like the new addition.” It’s great we can come and just let them go and they can mingle with other dogs and have some fun.”The Gural family from Pennsylvania has come to the campground at least six times and say their dogs fit right in in the fenced-in area.” It’s fabulous because our two big dogs love to run around and they have a big fenced-in area at home so this is just a really big added bonus for us.”Buffy and Rufus are taking to the aquarium, too.” Oh they run around with the other dogs just chase each other and meet new friends.”Tanguay says she was a little concerned about how the dogs would get along but so far says there have been no problems.She hopes to add some obstacles and maybe even a frisbee throwing contest but right now they are happy to bring something new to their guests.
The staff at Acadia National Park is asking for your help studying birds. Hawk Watch week kicks off tomorrow and runs through mid-october. You can help park rangers find and identify certain birds, like hawks and falcons to name a few. Ranger Angela King Johnson says if you want to help them out they won’t be hard to find.”If they would just come up to the top of Cadillac Mountain and go down the North Ridge Trail, we’re about 100 yards down the trail itself, it’s marked with blue blazes, and if you come down there you can’t miss us.”
Now that the sun has finally shown up, people have begun to flock to the Bar Harbor area. Kathy Grant is the Assistant Supervisor at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center and she seen a steady increase thanks to the sunshine. “Our visitorship was down,” says Grant, “definitely since the warm weather our numbers are up, we’ve had a lot of people the last couple of days asking where our beaches are.” People are finding out that Acadia has much more to offer than just the beach, like Nancy Stangel, visiting from Windsor, Connecticut. “We came up Cadillac Mountain today, which is another magnificent spot,” says Stangel, “it’s a beautiful hot day in august, it’s wonderful.” Ryan Blutnik came from Brooklyn, New York and decide to for a bike ride. “It’s the first time I biked up Cadillac Mountain, I started at Blackwoods Campground, went up the loop road and ended up here.”The sunshine seems to have also given businesses in Bar Harbor a shot in the arm. “Oh people are smiling now you can definitely see what sunshine does to people and the increase business is obvious this week,” says denise Morgan, Operations Manager for Oli’s Trolley, “it seems like summer started this week.” Jimmy Velas runs the Quarterdeck Restaurant in downtown Bar harbor and he is seeing an increase in business. “You could tell people weren’t coming from the Bangor area down into Bar Harbor,” says Velas, “but now we’ve seen an extreme pick up in sales, people around town and stuff like that, the weather is treating us pretty well.”Folks around here say if the sun decides to stick around this season should turn out to be just fine. “Well we really hope that September and October hold,” says Morgan, “we do have many cruise ships yet to come this year and if the weather does hold we should definitely end up with a good season.”After all as 8-year-old Hannah Slamm points out, “when it’s rainy, you can’t do much stuff.”
Lots of folks have volunteered to help out at this year’s American Folk Festival in Bangor, but more are needed and welcome to join in.Organizers say they have 870 people registered to volunteer so far, which could top last year’s number. But there are still about 30 shifts open for people who want to get involved.They’re looking for folks to work the stages, in the Bucket Brigade and as safety escorts. There are some other needs to fill too.Assistant Festival Director Debbi Melinkas says volunteers are key to putting on a good festival. While many people volunteer every year, new faces are welcome, too.”They’ll get a job description and they’ll get a chance to ask me or their area leaders questions. Shifts, on average, are about three and a half hours. They get an exclusive T-shirt, and we have a private party Saturday night for volunteers, artists and staff,” Melinkas says.Most volunteer jobs have a brief training session. You need to be 16 or older to volunteer for all positions except the Bucket Brigade.Melinkas says you have until this Friday, August 21st to register. You can do that online or you can call her, at 974-3216.
The Red Cross says the O-negative shortage is at a critical level. The Bangor Donor Center says its blood supply is down 300 units this month.Type O-negative blood is often given to newborn babies, emergency patients and accident victims.Trudy Darling of the Red Cross says for the month of August they’ll be offering an extra thank-you to those who donate.”You’re going to receive a ticket to a cruise down the Penobscot River, courtesy of Bangor Harbor Cruises, in the 19th century replica The Patience. And every blood donor that comes in gets one of those tickets,” Darling says.She says their Donor Center at 900B Hammond Street in Bangor is air conditioned and there’s no wait to donate.They’re open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 to 6, and on Friday from 8 until 2.
For the fourth week in a row, heating oil prices go up. This time its only for one penny per gallon. A statewide verage of $2.42 per gallow was reported by The Office of Energy Independence and Security, following and increase of 18 cents over four weeks. Surveys indicate that the lowest prices have been found in southwestern Maine with and average price of $2.12, while the highest prices at $2.70 per gallon in northern Maine.
Ray Lahood, U.S. Transportation Secretary went to the University of Maine to check out a new way to build bridges. Researchers at UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center laborartory are using a process called “bridge in a backpack” This process takes strong unfolded carbon fiber fabric, inflated and coated with resin at the construction site. Once the carbon fiber is layed out, it is filled with concrete. Overall, this allows the process for building bridges cheaper and quicker. Gov. John Baldacci escorted LaHood during his tour. LaHood requested for printed materials on the research to share with members of President Obama’s Cabinet.
A mobile home became quite immobile on I-95 in Bangor Monday night, creating traffic delays for several hours.Crews were clearing what was left of that home on the side of the highway Tuesday. It was being hauled along the interstate Monday when two wheels blew out. State police say contractors spent several hours trying to fix the wheels but the structure remained too unsteady to be safely moved. So the decision was made to tear it apart.”We wanted to create a safer work environment for not only DOT and workers here, but motorists. And so we figured if it had to be taken apart in pieces in the travel lane, it could just as easily be taken apart in pieces in the breakdown lane. So we pushed it off into the breakdown lane,” says Maine State Trooper Trevor Snowe.We’re told the trailer was being towed to a new area to be used as a storage facility, and was no longer being used as a home.
As the Obama administration triples the number of workers processing Cash for Clunkers transactions as some dealers complain the government has been slow to reimburse them for the car incentives, used car dealers say the program could have benefited more people. “I think they’re wasting a lot of good cars, a lot of cars gotta a lot of time left in them, and with all the cars being crushed, parts are going to be even scarcer.” says Dan Witham. Witham owns Dan’s Used Cars and Parts in Benton. He’s says even though business is up this year he adds that lower income Mainers who could have benefited from the clunkers being resold are being left out of the widely popular progam. With some hundreds of thousands of clunkers being crushed Witham expects it to be harder to find spare parts for older models. Senator Susan Collins has also expressed her disappointment in the program saying, â€œIt is unfortunate that the House did not stay in session to work to improve the program by increasing fuel efficiency requirements and including a voucher for consumers who purchase fuel-efficient used cars instead of just new cars.”The Cash for Clunkers program, as expected, has been a boon for carmakers — especially those in Japan and South Korea. Government data shows that while 54 percent of the top-10-selling vehicles were manufactured domestically, eight out of 10 carry Japanese or South Korean nameplates. The Toyota Corolla is the most popular car bought under the program. Only the Ford Focus and the Ford Escape cracked the top 10. American automakers are dominating one area — trade-ins. All the top trade-ins were made by U.S. companies, with the Ford Explorer four-wheel-drive leading the pack. The government data show that fuel economy of vehicles bought under Cash for Clunkers is now 25 miles per gallon, while the mileage of trade-ins stands at 15.8 miles per gallon.As for the backlog of Cash for Clunker applications from new dealerships an administration official says the Transportation Department hopes to have 1,100 public and private sector workers processing the vouchers by the end of the week. That’s up from 350 through the end of last week. The official was not authorized to discuss the work force issues publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity. Dealers have reported submitting tens of thousands of dollars worth of rebates for repayment. But many of the reimbursements are still pending. The car program offers vouchers of $3,500 or $4,500.
There’s good news from a recent survey of the scallop population off the Eastern Seaboard.It shows an upswing in the number of young scallops in a key fishing area, which scientists say could be a good sign for years to come.Scientists say the numbers of juvenile scallops they found on Georges Bank were the highest since 2000.
The man accused of plotting the nation’s biggest-ever theft of credit card and debit card information is being described as a one-time government informant.Prosecutors say Albert Gonzalez of Miami, Florida broke his own record for identity theft by hacking into retail networks, including the Hannaford Brothers grocery store chain.He was allegedly trying to gain access to 130 million credit and bank accounts.Authorities say Gonzalez is a former informant for the U.S. Secret Service who helped the agency track down hackers. The agency found out that he had also been working with criminals, and feeding them information about ongoing investigations.His efforts came to an end when he went to jail on charges stemming from a previous case.
The Maine House Ethics Committee comes up with a mixed-decision in the case of an Old Town lawmaker accused of abusing his power.Today the committee convened for five hours hearing contradictory versions of what happened on the fourth of July between Representative Richard Blanchard and law enforcement officials.Two fire marshals and a game warden showed up at his lakeside camp in Enfield after fireworks were set off.Authorities claimed the Blanchard poked an officer in the chest and say he was drunk. Blanchard said that’s not true.The committee voted unanimously that there was no proof Blanchard received preferential treatment but they agreed that his conduct was unbecoming of a legislator.
A man from Lincolnville accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl has been indicted by a Waldo County grand jury.45-year-old Brian Feener is charged with gross sexual assault, unlawful sexual contact and abusing a minor. All are felony charges.Prosecutors say the crimes took place on July 23rd.Feener was arrested four days later.He is free on $1,000 bail.
James Miekka of Surry is a target shooter with an accuracy most people would admire. He’s also completely blind. His accuracy comes from his ingenuity.”My favorite thing is when I see somebody who’s never seen him shoot before. And if they watch him shoot, their jaw just drops open. And they go, ‘How does he do that?’” says Miekka’s neighbor, Robert Duhaime.Miekka can’t see his target…he hears it, using an artificial vision system he designed himself.”It requires an extreme amount of concentration,” Miekka says.He shoots using instruments to do the same job as the eyes of sighted people, changing light into electric signals.”So, I’ve taken the light I’ve converted to electricity, and then it travels down the cord which is the equivalent of your optic nerve. Finally, I have to take that signal and put it in a way my brain can decode it,” Miekka says.For that, he uses sound. The sound frequency is proportional to the light intensity on the target.”I hear tick, tick, tick and I scan around for black next to white, and very quiet next to very loud. That white on that target should be the loudest thing out there,” he says.Neighbor Rick Zeamer helped Miekka, a former physics teacher, research the special photocells at the heart of the system, and calibrate the scope for his backyard shooting range.”I think it’s just the beginning of what could be a rather important technological development for artificial vision,” Zeamer says. Neighbor Robert Duhaime says Miekka’s accuracy is better than most people who can see.”It’s a passion that he’s had for such a long time. And he refuses to let anything stop him,” Duhaime says.”It gives me a great deal of pleasure to be able to be a completely blind person participating in a sighted sport. And usually, when people come out and shoot, they can’t beat me,” he says, with a smile.