The federal stimulus package increases law enforcement funding that has been cut in recent years and Maine’s Justice Assistance Council is scheduled to meet Monday in Augusta to take public testimony on how Maine’s $9.6 million share should be spent.Maine Public Safety Commissioner Anne Jordan says the state is likely to propose spending the funds on computer upgrades. Stimulus funds could also go toward replacing bulletproof vests for state troopers.Monday’s Justice Assistance Council meeting is set for 1:30 p.m. at the Department of Public Safety in Augusta.
The financial status of Maine’s Medicaid program has drawn new cries of alarm from Republican lawmakers. But Gov. John Baldacci’s budget chief says the GOP math is flawed.The Legislature’s top Republican leaders, backed up by prominent House and Senate colleagues, issued a joint blast late Friday accusing the Baldacci administration of seeking to bury news that the state MaineCare program – as Medicaid in Maine is known – faces a $235 million shortfall through June 30.Commissioner Ryan Low of the state Department of Administrative and Financial Services said Saturday the General Fund shortfall was $65 million. He said the figure of $235 million would represent not only the state’s portion but the federal share of the jointly funded health care program.
Music lovers who turned out for a symphony concert Sunday afternoon also had the chance to help feed their hungry neighbors.The Bangor Symphony Orchestra took part in a national food drive organized by the League of American Orchestras.They asked patrons to bring non-perishable food items to today’s concert at the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono.The food will be donated to the Good Shepherd Food Bank, which will then distribute it to food pantries, cupboards and shelters across the state.Good Shepherd staffers say the timing of the food drive couldn’t have been better since the demand for food is up by about thirty percent.”so we tried to figure out any possible way to help those less fortunate people, and the bangor symphony orchestra helped a lot.”So far, more than 200 orchestras from all 50 states have held food drives at their concerts.
Another year of the Eastern Maine Sportsmen’s Show is in the books, and it looks like it was a huge success.This was the 71st year the show has taken over the fieldhouse at the University of Maine in Orono.More than 150 vendors were on hand, selling everything from sporting goods to beef jerky.There were also plenty of live shows and demonstrations: even a personal flotation device fashion show featuring the Umaine cheerleaders!Organizers say this year’s turnout was fantastic, even though the weather had many folks outside.They say the tough economy doesn’t seem to be keeping outdoor enthusiasts from buying.The folks from the Penobscot County Conservation Association use money from the admission fees for scholarships for students at schools like the University of Maine and Unity college.That money will also help send about fifty kids to conservation camp this summer.
Dozens of families came out to the bangor mall this morning, for a very special story time.Mike and Mike, from the Kiss 94.5 morning show, read out loud to members of the Simon Kidgets club.The club, open to kids 3 through 8, gets together 9 times a year for special events based on education, heath and wellness.This event centered around getting kids excited about reading.Director of mall marketing, Kimberly Reid, says membership in the club costs just 5 dollars.She says it a great value, and an easy way for kids and their parents to get together and have a little fun.Right now, the club has over 500 members.”It’s a great time and we encourage people to come and visit our tenants. There are coupon offers from our tenants at the club, so it’s just really terrific for us, and the children have a good time.”Kids got to listen to six stories today, including “Maisy Goes To The Library”, and “Babar-A Gift For Mother”….The folks from Simon Kidgets were also collecting gently used books to folks who need them.Not only did families donate their used books.We’re told many of the children in attendance brought their pennies along to give to the Children’s Miracle Network.
Organizers say this year’s CMN radiothon a great success.Folks from Blueberry Broadcasting have been at the bangor mall since early Thursday morning, trying to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network.They’ve been collecting change and donations, and taking pledges, all while sharing stories of children who have benefited from the services CMN helps to provide.Terri Sleeper, Director of donor services with Eastern Maine Healthcare Charities, says despite a slumping economy, folks have been happy to give.”They’ve really been better than last year. In the state of Maine, people are supporting their neighbors. We support everybody, even in times of need. And our children need care. And no child is ever turned away from any of our hospitals, and Children’s Miracle Network is here to help the children.”>Sleeper say she thinks they have tripled what they did in collections last year.And she says, anyone can be a Miracle Maker, pledging 10 dollars a month, or 30-cents a day, to help kids in need.Sleeper says last year, CMN helped over 147-thousand kids, from Waterville to Fort Kent.
Maine’s drug enforcement agency is hoping folks checking their Facebook, will help them catch criminals.State police spokesman, Steve McCausland, says the MDEA created a Facebook account two weeks ago, and they already have over 150 fans.MDEA Director Roy McKinney says he was inspired to create the account, after hearing about the success other police agencies have had with the network.He says it’s a great way to network and get important information out to the public.The sight features pictures of wanted criminals, and links to MDEA news.To find it, go to facebook.com and search the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.
Officials with the University of Maine and the CDC are still looking into an incident that left several people sick after a swim meet.More than 600 swimmers, spectators, and coaches were at Umaine’s Wallace Pool last weekend.Many of the folks attending the 2009 winter combined championships complained of eye irritation and respiratory issues .That prompted university officials and the CDC to look in to what was causing the symptoms.They discovered that two large ventilation fans had been switched off, causing an unsafe level of chlorine to build up in the air.University spokesman Joe Carr says it does not appear the fans were malfunctioning.”When the switches were turned back on this week, everything worked just fine. So there’s nothing wrong with the heating or ventilation system itself. It’s just that the fans were, for some reason, switched off, and that caused it not to be working properly.”Carr says he doesn’t think the fans were off as a result of vandalism.It’s still unclear when the fans were turned off, and for what reason.
Former Bangor mayor Richard Greene was in court on a drunk driving charge for the second time in as many days.Greene was arrested Thursday night in Bangor at the Holiday Inn for operating under the influence.Just hours earlier, he’d been in court, being arraigned on an OUI charge from Wednesday.He’s now charged with two counts each of OUI, and violation of bail conditions.District Attorney Chris Almy says, “He’s going to probably spend some time in jail because of these two new cases, and he’ll have to pay a large amount of fines, and he’s going to get his license suspended for a long period of time.”Prosecutors have filed a motion to revoke Greene’s bail on the first OUI charge.They’ll hold a hearing on that Tuesday.Until then, Greene stays behind bars.
A church in Rockland is offering families on a tight budget a way to spend time together without having to spend money.The Grace Bible Fellowship, located on Sherer Lane, is hosting a free movie night.They’re inviting families to put on their comfy pj’s, grab their fluffy pillows, and head to the church to watch “Milo and Otis”.Narrated by Dudley Moore it’s the story of a barnyard kitten and his puppy pal and the adventures they have when they stray from the farm.Folks from the church say they realize times are tight for parents trying to keep food on the table and heat in their homes.They hope a free movie in a warm room will give families a chance to come together and forget their troubles, if just for awhile.
There will be a celebration of international films in camden tomorrow, as the Camden Opera House hosts the International Film Festival of the Spirit.Four full-length international films will be screened, ranging in topics from life after the Rwandan genocide, to a rags to riches tale set in modern India.There will also be short films in between the features.The first movie, an Indian film called Ama,l is scheduled to start at 1pm.And the final film, Fierce Light, will start at 7:30.Following the last show, there will be a question and answer session with the film’s director.Dave Morrison, with the Camden Opera House, says the event brings something different to the area.”It sort of brings the world in to our little town with some of these films that have some pretty heavy subject matter, global issues, and things like that. So, I think it’s going to be thought provoking and to give a voice to some of those bigger issues, and to do it in the context of this community.”Tickets are ten dollars per film, or you can purchase an all day pass for 30 dollars.You can find more information on the International Film Festival of the Spirit online at WWW.CAMDENOPERAHOUSE.COM.
If you love chocolate, you’ll want to head to Rockland this weekend.The 4th Annual Chocolate March is set to kick off Saturday at ten.And TV 5’s Cori Skall has a sneak peak to wet your appetite.”They can expect an overwhelming sentiment of chocolate throughout the day, but in ways they never thought of.”For the fourth year in a row, the Historic Inns of Rockland are getting ready to roll out their Chocolate March.”It’s not just chocolate in your mouth, although there’ll be a lot of different ways to sample eating chocolates, from ganache to fondue to hand dipped chocolate to chocolate in hot chocolate…but also for the medicinal property of chocolate facials, chocolate oils for massage. So we run the whole spectrum.”Over 20 Rockland businesses are taking part in this year’s event, including the Pastry Garden, where they’ll be making a special Irish chocolate treat.”I think it’s just nice to see, in the middle of winter, our downtown sort of come alive in a special way.”Over at the Lily Bistro, chef Lynette Mosher will be teaching folks the art of the chocolate ganache.”Given the economy, and given that this particular event, there’s all these participating places..be it the farnsworth or the boat house or Amalfi..all of the other restaurants that are working with this. I think it’s a terrific value for people. And to be able to see all these different things. Also, everybody is providing samples, and who doesn’t like free samples.”And over at AMALFI, chef David Cook has some decadent desserts featuring…”A little bit of chocolate and a smile.”Some of the proceeds from the event will go to help a local food pantry.And there’s even a “chocolate express” to help shuttle folks from stop to stop.Organizers hope the event brings people outside to enjoy everything Rockland’s downtown has to offer.”We wanted an event that kind of celebrates the transition and gets people feeling good and wanting to get outside and enjoy this time of year–and you know, frankly, chocolates are a great venue for doing that.”Tickets to the Chocolate March are 20 dollars, and can be purchased at any participating inn.Or for more information, you can call the Limerock Inn, at 594-2257.There are also details online at WWW.HISTORICINNSOFROCKLAND.COM.
There are seven active hunt preserves in the state where hunters pay a fee to hunt game in confined areas. With a move in Augusta to make them illegal preserve owners like Marc Luce are having to try to save the industry. Luce, who owns Hindsite Deer Hunt Preserve in Newport says there is plenty of misinformation regarding guided hunts including how the animals are killed and that the hunters are inexperienced. Supporters of legislation to ban preserves say the industry is not profitable in Maine. In 2007 the department of agriculture took in about 10-thousand dollars from license and tag fees. Maine Friends of Animals Director Robert Fisk is pushing the ban saying the “canned hunts” are unethical and inhumane. Fisk is familar to trying to change the law as the banning issue came up in the 90’s when it was turned down by lawmakers.
Another paper mill is forced to make cut-backs to weather the economic storm. Lincoln Paper and Tissue has announced plans to temporarily layoff 17 employees, cut-back the hours of maintenance workers, and lower the salaries of others by 15 percent.The global pulp and paper market has gone through a sharp economic downturn, and it’s really hitting home here in Maine.”We’ve seen it in the past and we’ll see it now.”Temporary layoffs and cut-backs were just announced for Lincoln Paper and Tissue, and some people fear the worst is yet to come.”Do you think it’s really gonna effect this area?” TV5 asked a concerned citizen, “Yup, sure is, look at Millinocket.” he replied.Years ago the Lincoln mill was on the brink of closing. Keith Vanscotter, the CEO, bought the mill and saved it. He says these layoffs and cut-backs are temporary. They’re scheduled to last 3 months, and Vanscotter hopes it’s even less. Some in the community think it’s a smart move. “Right now we’re hoping it’s more of a preventative measure that they’re taking. I think it’s a wise choice on their part in view of what the market is right now.” Says Larry Smart, owner of Smart’s True Value in Lincoln.The effects of mill layoffs radiate throughout the community. Local businesses are likely to feel the pinch as well.”It will have an effect on us because the money is short anyway, and this is just gonna add to it.” Says Nancy Kilbride, a cashier at Lincoln’s Steaks N’Stuff.”With their loss of income it most definitely, I’m thinking, will effect our business personally.” Sean Sibley, a worker at Pat’s Pizza, explains.The Governor’s office is staying positive because the layoffs are only temporary, and say they ‘will continue to work with the mill to help the effected workers.’ Overall, the community is trying to make the best of it and come together.”Short term I don’t think it will be devastating. Last time this happened to the mill, when they closed we found that people were taking the time to do some things at home, while they had a chance. So I’m hoping maybe this time it might be the same.” says Smart.”People in Lincoln are very supportive, very supportive, from the kids all the way up.” adds Kilbride.
Lincoln Council deadlocked over the First Wind TIF on Monday night.The councilors voted 3-3.First Wind has plans to build 40 wind turbines in the area.The TIF that was proposed would have been a 60 – 40 split in favor of First Wind.Stephen Clay, Town Council Chairman, says he’s not sure why the council deadlocked, but he says people in Lincoln seem to be in favor of the plan.Clay says it would be good for economic development in the area. “It generates revenue for the town. If we do TIF it we’re able to do some projects that if we normally did them we’d have to tax the tax payer to do them. This way the tax rate doesn’t go sky high doing these project.”Clay says some of the projects include general repairs to the town that would take place over 20 years.The Council is having another meeting later in the month to negotiate a different TIF.
It’s a tough loss for the folks in the Blue Hill area.Officials at Blue hill Memorial Hospital say financial problems are forcing them to close the obstetrics department.Last month, the board of trustees voted to close the department as part of an economic turnaround plan unless 600-thousand dollars could be raised to keep it open.Supporters raised a large amount of money, but they fell short of the goal.Interim CEO, Doctor Erik Steele says “it’s especially difficult to announce this closure given the tremendous efforts to save the program”.The unit is scheduled to close at the end of May.
Quick work by firefighters kept an a fire at a business in Orono from spreading to neighboring businesses.Around 9 Friday morning someone from the Curtis Law Firm on Main Street called 9-1-1 after seeing smoke coming from the basement of the building, where three apartments are located.Everyone managed to get out safely. By the time fire crews arrived, they could see heavy smoke pouring from the basement. Orono fire called in help from Veazie, Old Town and Bangor. They also shut down Main Street while they battled the flames.Lt. Hardison says the law office has some minor smoke damage, but two of the basement apartments have heavy smoke and fire damage. There was no fire damage to client files.The fire was out within about an hour.
A 25-year-old man was arrested after leading state police on a 27-mile chase that reached speeds in excess of 100 mph. Paul Coyne was arrested following the chase Thursday night from Sidney to Waterville and back to Augusta. Coyne, formerly of Hallowell, faces nearly a dozen charges and was in Kennebec County jail in Augusta. Among the charges against Coyne are reckless conduct with a motor vehicle, criminal speed and operating after suspension. The 1999 Pontiac Grand Am Coyne drove was reported stolen from Madison. The car was clocked on Interstate 95 in Sidney at 102 mph. The chase ended when Augusta police used spike mats to pop a tire.
A hair salon in Newport will be cutting hair for a cause on Monday. The stylists at the Hair Shack on the Moosehead Trail are sponsoring a Cut-A-Thon.That means all the money they get from hair cuts from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm on Monday will be given directly to Spruce Run, the local domestic violence shelter.They’ll also be selling pins and if you don’t want a hair cut, but you’d like to help, they’ll also be accepting donations.”It’s a big issue in this area. We lost somebody that we knew because of domestic violence, and I really feel strong for it and that’s why we’re doing it.”, says Ame Richards, owner of the Hair Shack.For more information on the Cut-A-Thon or to make an appointment, give the hair shack a call at 368-5501.
For the past five years, students at Brewer Middle School have hosted college kids from Japan.Tuesday 14 students from the other side of the globe were in the halls with the kids from Brewer.Going to classes with them and experiencing a day in the life of an American student like 7th grader Nicole Vieira.”It’s something different to do than to watch other people do it and it’s a good opportunity to talk to them.””I thought it would be really cool to have a Japanese Shadow follow me around for the day because they sound really interesting from what they said and they are, they’re actually really fun and they’re interesting to talk to.” said 7th grader Megan Pike.The Japanese students are in college and are just learning the English Language. The Brewer students are in middle school and speak no Japanese, but they were in class together all day.The students that were supposed to be at home, were the most nervous like Nicole.”Well I knew that they had to study a lot of English and I wanted them to like me and not be confused when I talk to them so I’m kinda like nervous in a way to meet them.”At Hirosaki University, the students are studying a variety of courses. One wants to be an English teacher, so she felt this program would give her a chance to practice what she has learned.”In Japan I have no chance to speak English, so I have to come and I have to experience in America so I decided this program.” said 21 year old Haruna Hanamaka.For the last few years, Brewer has been requested by the faculty at Hirosaki University. It teaches them a lot about what a day is like for a typical American student. The Brewer students also learn something new according to their math teacher Cathy Atwood.”I want the Brewer kids to realize that people from other cultures and other countries are people. Some of the students you talked to said they could never do this but seeing students who are doing this can give them the idea that may be they could do it, it’s not such an impossible task.”