The most recent figures show Mainers spent more than $800 million dollars for prescription drugs in just one year.Thursday, Augusta’s mayor rolled out a new program that’s giving people a discount on their meds, for free.One in four Mainers under the age of 65 were without health insurance in 2007 and 2008 according to a report released last month.Louanne Manter is one of those people.She runs her own business in downtown Augusta, and was the first person to receive a prescription discount card from the city.”You don’t have to pay or be a member to get the card, you just have to be a resident of Augusta, and that’s pretty cool.” Augusta is the first place in Maine to take part in the program that will save customers on average about 20% per prescription.The card can be used on meds that are not covered by insurance.All major pharmacy chains are taking part, and if you’re wondering what the catch is, mayor Roger Katz says there isn’t one. “There is no catch. The city is paying nothing for this program. It doesn’t cost individuals anything at all.” If you have insurance already, Katz says it’s worth having a card just in case.”There are many prescription drugs not covered, so this card will still apply. Also, it’s going to apply to a lot of folks pets.” Yes, some pet prescriptions are covered too. Nearly 200 cities across the U.S. have signed up.”We launched this in November with four pilot cities.”CVS Caremark representative Brad Stone says pharmacies will be absorbing the costs in exchange for getting more people through their doors. “While people do purchase a prescription, they’re likely to purchase some over the counter products as well.” Monthly reports are sent to each participating city showing how many residents use the card and how much they saved.Manter says any savings these days.”Is a good thing.” If you’re an Augusta resident, you can pick up the card at one of three locations.City Hall, the Lithgow Library or the Buker Center.For more information on the program, log onto www.caremark.com/nlc.
Babies cry, it’s normal.There’s a typical period of time in their young lives when the crying reaches its peak. That’s when infants are extra prone to being injured by frustrated parents and caregivers.That’s why “The period of purple crying program” was created.It’s a national program to promote awareness about the problem and to protect babies.Thursday the program was discussed in a big way at Maine Coast Memorial Hospital in Ellsworth.For many parents the reality of a crying baby is a lot to handle.”By the time they’re 6 to 8 weeks old, they hit what we call a peak period of crying. That can be for some babies as much as 6 hours.”This leaves many new parents frustrated. Experts say many cases of shaken baby syndrome stem from this frustration.”Typically, crying is the trigger, so we want to get this educational program out there to try to impact how people understand and deal with baby crying.”There’s now a program aimed at educating caretakers on what to do.”We felt that the period of purple crying had the best mix of education about crying and discussion of shaken baby syndrome. We really wanna focus on how families understand normal crying and how they respond to it.”Educating the public about this now is particularly important.”We’ve seen a dramatic, if not three fold or more, rise in cases of abusive head trauma.””Experts say there’s a number of reasons why the number of infant head traumas has gone up. However, they say the economy could be a major factor.””The best predictor of the abuse rate is the employment rate, so there’s no question that plays a role.”Experts say alcohol, drug abuse and a rise in domestic violence may also play a role.They say an average of 12 to 15 cases have been reported in Maine in the past two years, but those are just the tip of the iceberg. “For every baby hospitalized with shaken baby syndrome as many as 10, even perhaps 100 babies are actually shaken.”For more information on shaken baby syndrome, or about the period of purple crying program, you can visit the National Center for Shaken Baby Syndrome’s website.
The University College of Bangor has been providing education to folks in the area for 40 years, and Thursday night they are celebrated that anniversary.Students, staff and alumni gathered on campus to mark the milestone.The evening’s presentation included a look back at the history of the school, a proclamation by the city of Bangor and a ceremonial cake lighting.Dean Gillian Jordan says, “Forty years is not as long as some of the very old institutions but we’ve seen a lot of students go through and have seen a lot of changes. It was just time to thank the community and our students and have fun.”Dean Jordan also says they plan to have a couple other events this year to celebrate their 40th anniversary.
A fire in Bradford Thursday afternoon, destroyed a home, and torched some woods nearby. Crews were called to the scene on the Jones Road just after one.By the time firefighters got there, the fire had a good head start. It took them about 20 minutes to knock down the flames, but several hours to put out all hot spots.Lyda Koslowski lived there with her husband. They weren’t home at the time. Bradford Fire Chief Scott Demoranville says some people who were visiting next door noticed the fire. “Some guests had pulled into the yard, noticed the fire and smoke down back and actually thought that the owners were down there burning brush and they mentioned it, and said nobody was burning brush and it turned out to be an actual structure fire.”There were two cats and a dog in the home. They died in the fire.Koslowski did not have insurance.The fire chief isn’t sure what started the fire, but suspects it might have something to do with the electrical wiring.
Students and staff at Sebasticook Valley Middle School are doing their part to support Maine troops overseas.The spent the day folding flags into pocket bags…they’ll be sent to deployed servicemen and women.One of the flags will be sent to Afghanistan and then returned to the school to be displayed as a reminder of the troops’ sacrifices.Teachers say the project is especially important because several staff members and students have loved ones who are actively serving overseas.The students say they were glad to help.< "because they're fighting for our freedom and some of them are dying and we're just helping them out because the families need it.">Students and staff members have also been collecting donations to send to troops overseas.They’re preparing boxes with all kinds of snacks and toiletries to be shipped to Maine soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A woman from Newport is Maine’s newest millionaire.Four years after buying a scratch ticket on a whim, Brenda Ripton got the word from the Maine State Lottery that she’d hit the jackpot…literally!Amy Erickson has the story.< "it's just such a blessing. i haven't been able to absorb the whole thing yet."Brenda Ripton got the shock of a lifetime when her phone rang Tuesday morning. "the lady said brenda ripton? And i said yes. And she said are you sitting down? And i said no...why would i be sitting down?" "they finally said this is the maine state lottery, you've won a million dollars."Ripton didn't buy it...she thought someone was playing a cruel joke.She hung up...got the number for the Maine State Lottery and made the call...sure enough, it was for real.Almost four years ago, she bought a "texas Hold 'em" scratch ticket. It was a loser, but as part of a promotion, she filled out the back and mailed it to lottery headquarters. She never heard a thing until this week."they finally...had 2.4 million tickets to sell. It took that long to sell all those tickets and they finally had the drawing and they drew my name."Ripton filled out the paperwork Tuesday...and should have the actual check in hand by Thursday night. "i'm getting 700 thousand once the state and their government takes their part."And it couldn't have come at a better time.Ripton and her husband have both been out of work.Plus, she's dealing with health problems...and some major home improvement needs. "it's gonna be a big help to us.""yeah, i'm getting a well. We've had problems with our water. we ran out of water this winter."Family members say it couldn't have happened to a more deserving person."it's a blessing and someone that really deserves it. She does so much for so many people and it's just really great that it's my mother in law!" "i just look at this as a gift that God has given me and I have to just be a good steward with my money.""i have to see it first and hold it before i really believe this is all true. i told my husband if i wake up from this dream and it isn't true, i'm going to be very upset!"Amy Erickson, WABI TV5 News, Palmyra.>
Residents of Vassalboro packed into the town office Wednesday night. Their mission, draft a new town ordinance addressing nudity. The issue started when the topless coffee shop, the Grand View, opened. The owner now wants to expand the business, and add a strip club. Vassalboro residents discussed several options, including an outright ban on establishments that have nudity. Many residents say, at the very least, they want to set strict guidelines for any new businesses opening in town.Vassalboro selectwoman Libby Mitchell warns an outright ban could result in a long legal battle. When the town of Farmingdale tried to put a ban on the books, the state supreme court overturned the ordinance. Vassalboro town selectmen will draft an ordinance in the next week and then hold another public hearing.The final vote will be June 8th.
The Maine State Planning Office hopes to use $2.3 million in federal stimulus money to retrieve lobster traps lost on the ocean floor.Referred to as “ghost” traps by fishermen and industry officials, the traps end up piling up on the ocean floor when they break free from their buoy. The traps continue to do their jobs catching lobsters, which eventually die because they can’t crawl out.Each year, the Department of Marine Resources sells 3.2 million trap tags to allow lobstermen to replace up to 10% of their tags due to lost traps.The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is expected to announce next month whether it will fund the 18-month project.
The value of Maine’s lobster catch plunged in 2008.The Department of Marine Resources reported that lobstermen caught 67.4 million pounds, bup by 3 million pounds from 2007, but the value of the catch fell $49.7 million.Commissioner George Lapointe said the numbers show him that the lobster population off Maine is in good shape, but the industry is in economic distress.The declining value of the catch not a surprise after demand and prices for Maine’s signature seafood tanked last fall.
Most people like a good book, and it becomes even better when it’s good enough to eat. There were lots of edible books at Eastern Maine Community College Wednesday.The Friends of the EMCC Library were hosting their 8th annual Books 2 Eat competition. People of all ages were asked to use edible materials to depict one of their favorite books. You could find everything from the Enchanted Forest, to Inch by Inch to March of the Penguins. Lois Marchand, Board Member for Friends of the EMCC Library says, ost of the entries were cakes, but some weren’t. “We have some nice ones that are not cake, that are vegetables. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one. There are just some very unique entries. It just always amazes me what people can come up with.”There were several categories for judging including Professional Chef, Children under 12 and Stephen King Representation.Folks who attended the event voted for their favorite. Then afterwards the masterpieces were either going to be auctioned off, or cut up and eaten.
Students in Glenburn were learning important lessons today on staying healthy. The Glenburn Elementary School held its 2nd Annual Wellness Health Fair.There were booths to teach kids about everything from the importance of hand washing to internet safety to basic first aid. Plus, crews from the Glenburn Fire Department were on hand to talk about fire safety. There was plenty to keep the kids busy.”The coolest thing I think, is the fitness testing over there. That or the stuff about asthma over there.”, said 4th Grader Zack Caron. Fellow 4th Grader Mackenzie DeIuliis added, “I think it’s important to learn these things so you’re healthy and it’s not hard for you to move, you have proper exercise and everything.”Staff members weren’t left out, there was a special section for them, that included massages. School officials hope the students will take what they’ve learned back home to their parents and siblings.
Across the country today, folks gathered for tax day tea parties. It was a grassroots effort that gave many a stage to voice opinions about government and the economy.In Bangor, the rally was held across the street from the Federal Building.Patriotic protesters took a cue from our forefathers. They say times may have changed, but taxes are still the topic of this tea party.”The problem is, we went from a two cent tax on tea, causing a revolution against a vast empire, to a time right now when 120 thousand dollars per person is gonna be extracted from every person in the country just to pay the interest on the money they just spent.” “They’re taxing us to death, and they’re spending money we don’t have.”People stood with signs and flags. They chanted and yelled for the causes they came to represent. As people drove by, they showed their support for those who showed up.”I’m here because I believe in our constitution and bringing back the freedoms of the people again.””We’re fed up with the way things are going, and how is that going. Spending our way out of this economy is not gonna work.””I’m here to help support getting the control back to the people and getting it away from the government.”They say the tea parties have nothing to do with political parties.”It is non-partisan. It definitely concerns taxation.””This is a homogenized group of people that the political group is not what’s important to. It’s what we have to say that’s important all over the country.”Their message was loud and clear.”We the people. We’re the ones that started this wonderful nation and we’re the ones that have got to keep it going.”
Federal, state and local tax dollars are being used to buy products made in sweatshops, according to a new report released today by SweatFree Communities. But, the report says, more local and state governments are adopting policies that would require government contractors to meet a set of ethical standards, and advocates are calling on elected officials to join the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium to end tax dollar support for sweatshops.Â Maine officials and advocates are part of the Consortium steering committee.Report findings include child labor, obligatory pregnancy tests, firing and blacklisting of workers who support a union, poverty wages, and forced and unpaid overtime. Subsidizing Sweatshops II: How our tax dollars can foster worker rights and economic recovery rather than fuel the race to the bottom follows the groundbreaking 2008 first report.Â It is based on in-depth interviews with over 100 workers in 8 factories spanning five countries who produce uniforms for public employees such as police officers and fire fighters for nine major uniform brands. Four of the case studies are newly-researched factories, while four look at what improvements have been made in factories researched for the 2008 report.Workers at Propperâ€™s Suprema Manufacturing factory in the Dominican Republic make pants for the Maine State Police.Â The workers report serious concerns about low wages, excessive production quotas, and an unhealthy working environment.Â One worker was fired just days after she was interviewed for this report.Â According to investigators, Sonia Altagracia Shals was fired for associating with members of the legally registered union at the company.Â Sonia is a single mother with four children, who had worked 7 years at the Suprema factory.â€œMaineâ€™s Code of Conduct for apparel suppliers does not allow freedom of association violations where workers have that right and we take very seriously credible reports about labor violations in supplier factories,â€ Maine Purchasing Director Betty Lamoreau said.Â â€œWe have asked our vendor to request that the company investigate the firing of Sonia Altagracia Schals and to reinstate her with full back pay if there is evidence the company fired her in retaliation for supporting the union or for participating in the research project.â€Â Lamoreau added, â€œWe seek to work with vendors to rectify labor violations and ensure working conditions improve rather than terminating contracts.â€Elected officials, fair trade advocates, clergy, and labor leaders gathered today at the State House in Augusta and at U.S. Post Offices in at least 17 U.S. cities to release Subsidizing Sweatshops II and call for end to taxpayer support for sweatshops.â€œWe have a choice: we can use our tax dollars to elevate conditions for working people, or our tax dollars can fuel the race to the bottom that has cost hundreds of thousands of U.S. workers their jobs and led to inhumane sweatshop conditions around the world,â€ said Bjorn Claeson, Executive Director of SweatFree Communities and author of the report. â€œBy joining the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium, our cities and states can make a real difference in the lives of working people while helping to create a more sustainable economy.â€Maine is one of the leaders of the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium.Â â€œI am pleased that Maine has joined the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium, and proud of Maineâ€™s continuing leadership in sweatshop-free purchasing,â€ said Lamoreau.Â Other states and cities that have committed to join the Consortium include the State of Pennsylvania: the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin: the City of Portland, Oregon: and the City of Olympia, Washington.Download the report at www.sweatfree.org/subsidizingSweatFree Communities coordinates a national network of grassroots campaigns that promote humane working conditions in apparel and other labor-intensive global industries by working with both public and religious institutions to adopt sweatshop-free purchasing policies. Using institutional purchasing as a lever for worker justice, the sweatfree movement empowers ordinary people to create a just global economy through local action. Learn more at [ http://www.sweatfree.org/ ]www.sweatfree.org.The Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium, comprised of states, cities, counties, local government agencies, and school districts, as well as human rights advocates and labor rights experts, will pool resources of public entities to investigate working conditions in factories that make uniforms and other products for public employees. Cities and states will hold vendors to ethical standards, and create a market large enough to persuade companies to deal responsibly and ethically with their suppliers and workers. Learn more at www.buysweatfree.org
It’s a sure sign of spring.Acadia National Park’s Loop Road and Visitors Center opened for the season today.Amy Erickson takes us there.<"it's gorgeous. We were just watching bald eagles out here today."Park Ranger Betty Lyle says Mother Nature couldn't have provided a better day for the start of the season at Acadia National Park. "it's a beautiful day here. We've had a lot of hiking requests, a lot of people want to get down along the ocean...it's just a great day to be anywhere in the park."Visitors were everywhere...from Sand Beach...to Thunder Hole...They came from all over the country to get a glimpse of Acadia's beauty.Nancy and Ed Faust journeyed from Cornwall, New York. "it's the most beautiful park we've ever seen. We love to walk and hike and it's nice to be in the mountains and see the ocean at the same time."The couple's last trip here was more than 30 years ago, so they planned on retracing their steps. "we're just going to do the loop. We want to try to get to schoodic, because that's left an impression with me all this time."They shouldn't have any problems getting around, since much of the Park is now open."most of the hiking trails are open, though we want people to use a lot of caution because there's still snow and ice out there. The trails that are still closed are the precipice because the peregrines back and they're nesting there."The Valley Cove trail is closed for the same reason.The carriage roads are also closed, since they're still too soft for traffic.But that isn't stopping the War family of New Jersey from doing what they've set out to do in the park." "we're on a mission to see a moose!" "what do you want to see today? A moose. Do you see a lot of moose in New Jersey? No."Amy Erickson, WABI TV5 News, Acadia National Park.>The Hull’s Cove Visitors Center is now open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.For more information, log on to www.nps.gov/acad
Medicare officials spent the day at Downeast Community Hospital in Machias.April 15-th was the deadline set for the hospital to comply with federal requirements or risk losing Medicare reimbursement.A recent federal survey found the 25 bed hospital out of compliance.According to the Bangor Daily News, a Medicare investigation found failures in the hospital’s emergency room procedures.Hospital spokesperson Robin Popp was hopeful the inspectors would finish their survey by the end of the day.No word yet on their findings.In February, state officials downgraded the status of the hospital’s license to conditional.
The leader of Maine’s community colleges says starting this fall the statewide system will cover tuition costs for up to two years for full-time dependent students whose parents lost their job.Speaking to lawmakers on Tuesday, president John Fitzsimmons of the Maine community college system, as well as University of Maine system chancellor Richard Pattenaude, pledged to maintain and enhance effectiveness and efficiency during a period of economic turmoil.Tuition runs about $2,500 a year, according to Fitzsimmons.He says that Maine’s community college system may be one of the state’s most important tools for economic recovery.
A local firefighter and his family are homeless, after flames ripped through his residence in Pittston Tuesday. Another firefighter was injured fighting the blaze. The two and a half story home at North Beech Hill Road is still standing, but it has significant damage, according to Pittston fire chief Jason Farris.Nick Edgar is an Augusta Firefighter.Edgar was working in his garage when he first noticed the flames.Edgar was able to get the family’s pets out safely. No one else was inside at the time.Seven surrounding communities were called in to help battle the fire.One firefighter was hospitalized with heat exhaustion. Chief Farris says the fire started in a corner bedroom.He’s calling it accidental, but adds the cause will likely remain a mystery because of the heavy damage.The Augusta fire department is accepting donations for the family. Items may be dropped off at the central station at the top of Water Street.
The Coast Guard is assisting a commercial fishing boat from Maine that was disabled after a collision with another vessel about 50 miles Southeast of Cape May.A Coast Guard spokesman says no one among the eight-member crew of the 71-foot fishing boat Dictator, homeported in Southwest Harbor, was injured when the boat collided with the 965-foot merchant vessel Florida.The Dictator’s rudder was damaged in the collision shortly before 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, leaving it unable to proceed under its own power.The Coast Guard says a cutter, dispatched from Cape May, was planning to tow the Dictator and its crew to the nearest port.The Florida was proceeding to Savannah, GA.The accident is under investigation.
The owner of the Grand View, a topless coffee shop in Vassalboro, is setting his sights on opening a strip club.Donald Crabtree now plans to seek an entertainment license for a strip club that would be open from 6 am to 1 am and have a seating capacity of 300.The Vassalboro town manager has drafted a proposed adult entertainment ordinance that would ban nudity at local businesses. That came in response to complaints about the coffee shop.A town meeting has been called for Wednesday night to discuss the ordinance.The public is encouraged to attend and voice their opinions.The meeting is scheduled to take place at 6:30 at the town office on Main Street.
Colby College President William D. Adams will hold a public forum Wednesday, April 15, at 8 p.m., regarding the events of Sunday, April 12, that resulted in the arrests of two students. The forum will take place at the Alfond Rink in Colby’s Alfond Athletic Center.President Adams and his senior administrative colleagues will answer questions and speak to the concerns that have been expressed.A Web site providing updates from the College is available at www.colby.edu/april12incident.Colby College students demonstrated in protest Tuesday against the arrests of two students at the campus in the early morning hours of Easter Sunday. Organizers of Tuesday’s lunch-hour rally say police and college security used excessive force and that the treatment received by one of those arrested may have been racially motivated. Police from Waterville and three neighboring communities, plus sheriff’s deputies and state troopers, responded to a call for additional police support. Authorities say two drunken students were arrested after they interfered with efforts to help a student who was ill. Protesters have released a video clip of the arrests that they say backs up their case that excessive force was used.