More than 500 talented high school students were in Bangor today, showing off their stuff…The Maine Drama Festival State Finals for Class A were held at Bangor High School…Casts from nine different schools put on short plays for a panel of judges…They were then critiqued on their performance…There’s more to the festival than competition, though…< "it's more of a festival. A festival is something where you celebrate the arts. People from other schools get to see other plays, meet other people. It's a celebration of a very important component of maine education.">The winners from today’s competition will go on to represent Maine at the New England Drama Festival in Connecticut next month.
IRS Staffers helped folks around the state file their taxes today.Three IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers opened their doors to provide free tax preparation, answer questions and arrange payment schedules.Folks who met the income guidelines were eligigble for the free preparation…IRS officials say the poor economy has more folks out of work and in need of free tax help…so they’re seeing more people than usual…They say they’re also seeing more folks needing to make payment plans for money they owe the IRS…Experts are trying to get the word out that because of lost jobs or reduced income, many people may be eligible for certain tax credits for the first time. They say that’s one more reason to get professional help when preparing your return this year.
A man from Portland has pleaded guilty to bringing illegal aliens from Massachusetts to Maine to help them get driver’s licenses.64-year-old Carlos Da Silva is a native of Brazil who now lives in Portland….he’s been a US citizen for more than 30 years.According to prosecutors, Da Silva was paid to help more than two dozen illegal aliens get licenses.Prosecutors said Da Silva’s involvement included helping aliens get a mailbox to use as a Maine residence on their license applications and for correspondence with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
Court documents are providing details into the death of a 29-year-old Belfast man whose wife is charged with his murder.An affidavit just released says Amber Cummings shot James Cummings while he was sleeping in his bed on December 9th…According to the document, Cummings admitted to State Police that she shot her husband twice in the head while he slept….The documents also indicate that James Cummings was a collector of child pornography.A search warrant affidavit says a computer removed from the home contained digital movie clips and images depicting childpornography.Until recently, those court documents were impounded.
For the second time in three years, cheerleaders from Hermon High School are making the trip to New Englands along with four other Eastern Maine schools.The girls will be competing at the University of New Hampshire against other top teams for a coveted spot at the National Cheerleading Competition.Excitement was in the air as the Hermon High cheerleaders boarded the bus for New Englands.”It’s basically where the top three teams from Maine at least go down and compete against the other New England Teams. It’s a huge accomplishment because not many teams get to do it.” Says Rachel Taggart, a senior and one of the team captains.”We get to go down and represent Maine in the competition and that’s a big deal.” Cortney Hawes, a junior explains.The Hermon girls had a season sweep this year – winning all their competitions. Head coach, Lisa Pratt says, “It was amazing because the girls, each week, we saw them achieve more and more and more for them to be able to win all four was really great.”They say a lot of hard work has gone into being number one in the state.”We had to do two, three hour practices everyday. We had to win or be in the top three for states.” says Taggart.But for these girls, it’s not all about jumps, stunts, and dancing. Beside a trophy, they’re looking forward to bringing home some great memories.Kayla Pelletier, a senior and captains says, “We’re going shopping today, so that’s gonna be pretty fun, but getting to spend more time with the girls because this is my last year and just being able to have this one last experience with them is gonna be awesome.”Their hard work got them into the competition, but they say they owe a lot to those who supported them along the way. “Thank you to our school, our principal, for letting us go down here, the school board, the community, for helping us get to where we are, and especially our coaches” says Pelletier.Joining the girls from Hermon at New Englands will be teams from John Bapst, Waterville, Bangor, and Jonesport Beals.
Health officials with the University of Maine and the Maine CDC say there has been a confirmed case of tuberculosis on the Orono campus.Dean of Students, Robert Dana, issued an announcement on the University’s website this morning, outlining precautions for folks who might have been exposed to the infected person.According to the CDC, TB can spread through the air, when an infected person coughs.But it requires prolonged close contact.University officials believe the number of people exposed is very small.The school is working with health officials to contact those who might have been exposed, asking them to be tested within the next two days.Details are available on the web either through the University at WWW.UMAINE.EDU, or through the CDS’s sight, WWW.MAINEPUBLICHEALTH.GOV.
Spring has begun, and if you need a little more inspiration to dream of warmer weather, you might want head to the Bangor Auditorium this week-end.The 24th annual Bangor Boating and Marine Show opened Friday afternoon.It features all types of power and sail boats, deck systems, boating accessories, and more.You’ll find the latest boat models, and this year, you’ll also find deals on last year’s stock.”A boat show is always a good time to come out, especially on the first day of spring, and dream about ice out and warmer weather, and who knows, you talk to some of the dealers, you might find a way that you could actually get yourself into that new boat.” says Mike Dyer, Director of Bass Park.For the kids, they have Ed Morris’ Comedy Magic Show and Strolling Balloon Zoo.The show hours are: Friday, March 20 2:00 pm-8:00 pm, Saturday, March 21 10:00 am-8:00 pm, Sunday, March 22 11:00 am-4:00 pm.Admission is five dollars for adults, kids under twelve are free.
In Bangor it’s as sure a sign of spring as robins basking in the sun.Gifford’s ice cream is open for the season…and it’s celebrating by giving away ice cream.Cori Skall has the story.”Looks like we both survived the winter?””Oh, I come here quite often. Why? What brings you back to Gifford’s? Well, it’s good ice cream!”It’s a sure fire sign that spring is here.”I thought I’d get a cone, since this is the first day that Gifford’s is opening up.”Dozens of folks lined up just after noon, to get their first taste of the season.”Tastes like Spring.””They’ve gone exactly a whole winter without ice cream, so they’re ready! And it could be 17 degrees and they’re going to be out there waiting for ice cream!””I’m getting ice cream! What kind? Vanilla with sprinkles!””What do you get typically? Orange Pineapple. And who’s that for? That’s for the Mrs. What does she get? Almond Crunch!””I’m getting a purple kind.”This is Brittany Madden’s 8th season with Gifford’s.”Last summer, I was pregnant while I was working, so that was exciting! And it’s nice not to be working with my belly in the way now.”And this is Gifford’s newest addition!As they do on every opening day, Gifford’s will give out free cones.”It’s just something we do for our customers to welcome them back and it brings a lot of excitement.Manager Rhonda Charette said they gave out almost 6 hundred last year!”Plain cones right?” And in case you’ve forgotten over the long winter months, besides your appetite, there’s one thing you want to remember when coming to Gifford’s.”We don’t take debit or credit cards. We only take cash or check. But there is an ATM nearby, right? Yes, right next door and across the street.””You need a lot of napkins to eat Gifford’s, huh? Mmm-hmm.”Cori Skall, WABI TV 5 news.
A man from Wilton has been indicted for manslaughter in connection with the death of his girlfriend’s 17-month-old son.Police say 25-year-old David Cook was babysitting Matteo Hanson when the boy died on November 29th.According to police documents, the cause of death was multiple blunt-force trauma, consistent with severe punching or kicking.In an autopsy report, the medical examiner says he also found old injuries on the child, including rib and skull fractures.Police say Cook told them the boy’s 3-year-old sister pushed him down the stairs, causing his death.
Folks at the UPS store in Bangor are trying to help unemployed Mainers find work.Store staffers have joined a UPS promotion to allow anyone who’s unemployed to fax resumes anywhere in the United States…for free.Owner Richard Marston says a UPS store owner from Massachusetts came up with the idea as a way to help get folks back to work.So starting today, he’ll fax resumes anywhere in the country for free… for those looking for employment.< "It's important to help anyone that's having a hard time. These folks are what make us go...they're our customers and we just want to provide what we can. It's a small thing but a useful thing.">Marston’s UPS store is located on Broadway in Bangor.
A man from Orono tried to escape the police by jumping from a second story window today…while in handcuffs…It happened at the Orchard Hills apartments…Police went to the man’s home to do a bail check…after searching the residence, they found he was in violation of his felony bail conditions…They arrested and handcuffed him…that’s when the trouble started.< "He happened to be seated near the living room area with another officer...on a stool. He managed to get up from the stool, run through the living room and dove out the second story window. We then pursued him through the parking lot where we caught up with him again.">Police did not release the man’s name.He was taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center with cuts on his hands.Police say he’ll also undergo a psychiatric evaluation.He’s charged with violation of bail conditions…but other charges could be added.
Expect to pay a little more for maple syrup this year.A couple of poor seasons as well as an increase in demand globally have driven up the price.As Cori Skall explains, a local maple producer says it has spurred a rise in the number of folks making their own syrup this year.”Retail prices keep rising, but also, the cost of production keeps rising, so we’re not getting rich, as it may seem.”Bob Moore owns Bob’s Sugarhouse in Dover-Foxcroft.He says a couple of bad seasons, coupled with the depletion of the canadian surplus, has forced the price of maple syrup to go up.”2-3 years of bad seasons, bad production, low production, and the increase in….international demand, that surplus has been wiped out.””With the exception of last year, Maine was the #2 producer in the United States…of course Canada is the world’s largest producer and Vermont being the number 1. But last year, the bad season we had, Maine dropped to #3. But there’s no problem…we will be back to #2, in a couple of months.”Moore says with a little help from mother nature, the prices could come down in a few years.”Several good seasons in a row, and get the surplus built back up, and probably the price would come down.””Ideal weather would be in the 20′s nights, and everything would freeze up. And then warm up in the days, low 40′s, without wind and lots of sun.”And Moore says one thing that’s come out of the higher prices of syrup, folks branching out to make their own.”The economy and the prices today, we have seen more back-yarders starting this year, to make their own.”But Moore says that the rise in price hasn’t stopped people from buying this year.”The demand is still there. There’s still people buying syrup and we’ve been able to see all we can produce, which is good.”He says he’s looking forward to this weekend’s Maine Maple Sunday, and he hopes this season will be better than last years.”Just hope completely in the power of the Weather Man…to get us some good weather and let it last for a month…and we’d be very happy.”Maine Maple Sunday is this Sunday, which means many sugar shacks will be open to the public, with all sorts of maple goodies to sample.Bob’s Sugarhouse will be taking part in the annual Maple breakfast at the Dover Foxcroft firehouse this sunday from 7 to 10.
The economic slump is taking a huge toll on a lot of businesses, but there’s a new business in Bucksport that might have perfect timing.Susan Farley explains.”You always need appliances. You’ve got to have them.”Ralph McAvoy and his family started their appliance business in their garage in Searsport. It became so popular they recently opened RKT Enterprises in Bucksport.”It started out as a scrap business. We thought we were buying scrap stuff but it ended up being better than scrap and it was too bad to throw it away.”The Main Street business specializes in appliances that are new, some are slightly damaged.”Some you can’t tell the scratch or the dent is on the back or on the bottom.”Everything comes from a big store that no longer wants it.”If the box is damaged too much they’ll discard it because they don’t want to even open it to see if, how bad it’s broken or if it’s really broken.””It isn’t like it’s old or used or anything. Some of it’s discontinued. They upgrade the product and they just get rid of what’s left on the floor at the end of the year.””We get lots of display models. When they are on the floor they get a scratch or something. They just don’t sell them.”It isn’t all appliances. You can find everything from generators and ladders to gas grills and water heaters.”When the snow finally disappears we have lawn mowers and all the lawn care stuff too.”Ralph says the tough economy is making their shop very attractive to lots of buyers.”It still looks new and the prices on it are cheap. They usually sell it for a third of what it costs. A lot of people buy it so they can save money.”The price isn’t the only way to save money. They’ll even take away the old appliance without charging a disposal fee.”With the economy the way it is it’s definitely a good thing.”RKT Enterprises is located on Main Street in the same building as the Bucksport House of Pizza.
It’s now official: there is no longer a Father Curran Bridge in Augusta.On Thursday, Governor Baldacci signed into law a bill to rename the bridge.It was originally named for a roman catholic priest. But after Father Curran died, he was accused of sexual abuse. A person who says he was one of Curran’s victims thanked the state Thursday for the name change. “It’s very important.” Said Bob Dupuis. “I think it sends a clear message that we’re very serious in preventing things like this and what happened to me from ever happening again.” “It shows, I think, that we stand behind and honor the victims that have come forward, stepped forward to let us know and we won’t stand for that in our community.” Said lawmaker Patsy Crockett, a supporter of the bill to change the name.The new name is the Calumet Bridge at Old Fort Western.Calumet means “peace pipe.”
Maine fiscal officials say rising unemployment is cutting into state revenue. Governor John Baldacci’s budget chief, Ryan Low, told lawmakers on Thursday that general fund revenue in February was under budget by more than $20,000,000, or by 15.2%. That put the general fund below budget by $16,100,000 – about 1% – for the first eight months of the fiscal year.A major drag has been sales and use tax receipts which are down by more than $5,000,000 for February.Year-to-date sales tax revenue is under budget by $26,000,000, or 4.3%.Maine’s unemployment rate in January was 7.8% – up from 4.8% a year earlier.
Moose and motorists can be a deadly combination.While 2008 saw no fatal moose accidents in the state, there are still hundreds of crashes every year. And springtime can be a dangerous time.”As the snow goes away,” says Maine Game Warden Alan Gillis, “they’re hanging around the roadside and they get in the salt in the road that the DOT has put down during the winter.”He says we’re getting near the peak time of year for car-moose collisions. “They’re just such a dark animal. It makes it difficult at night.”Many accidents happen just before dark, or in the early morning. So, he says, use your high beams whenever you can, and keep scanning the sides of the road for emerging moose.”If you do see one or you have one cross the road in front of you,” he says, “be aware there might be another one right behind it.”Slowing down a bit also doesn’t hurt.”If there’s going to be a collision – it just can’t be avoided – brake hard before you strike the animal. And at the last second, you’d want to let off on the brake,” he says.Doing that will raise up the front of your vehicle, and can help keep the moose’s heavy body from coming through your windshield. He says, if you can, duck down.Gillis says the danger is so great you need to stay on the alert, no matter where you live in Maine.”It’s not all uncommon to have a moose right in Bangor around the Interstate every spring,” he says. “We’ll get calls on that every year, so it’s certainly possibly to have an encounter around here.”Also keep in mind – moose are so tall, your headlights might only shine on their legs, making them harder to see. And, their eyes don’t shine like deer at night, so you can’t spot them that way.
A group of Hampden Academy graduates are working to lend a helping hand in the african country of Liberia, but they need some help of their own in getting there. “From what I was told, the white man represents so many things to them, and they’re striving for those things, right now, but it’s so hard to get their feet off the ground, when they don’t have anything really to work with.”Two years ago, Hampden Academy graduate Harvey Shue took a trip to Liberia. Seeing the conditions the people there were living in, Shue was inspired to help. So he put together a documentary, and founded the group, Friends of Liberia.”The goal and mission is to go and help Weajue, Liberia, right now, and try and develop it in to a more prosperous country.””I’ve always dreamed of Africa. It’s always been in the back of my mind that I would go there, and live there and work there…So I am going.””Over there, the problems are really, really simple. They’re things like clean drinking water, and food, and education. They’re problems that can be solved relatively easily.”Fellow Hampden graduates, and group members, Shaylah Goss and Andrew Deighan, along with Sean Higgins, plan to go to the Liberian village of Weajue this summer, to help with those problems.”My specific program is the school development. And the first thing I am going to do when I go over there is get the teachers training.”The organizations motto: Working to Calalyze Progress. They plan to spend three months in Liberia but need to raise 39-thousand dollars before they go. they have, at this point, almost 4 thousand. But say they have many fundraisers planned, and hope to get some aid from the government.”With our education, we can make a big difference with just a very small amount of help.”The Friends of Liberia will be holding a number of fundraisers in the coming weeks, including a murder mystery dinner and silent auction at Pairings in Winterport, at the Winterport Winery.It will take place this Saturday, March 21st at 6pm. Tickets are 20 dollars per person, and 35 per couple.The money will go to help with the trip, and for supplies they need to help the village. For more about the organization, log on to friendsofliberia.org.
Patients recovering from heart surgery at Eastern Maine Medical Center can rest a little easier these days, thanks to the efforts of dedicated volunteers.They’re making pillows to help those patients feel more comfortable during their recovery.Amy Erickson has more.
Six years ago, the war in Iraq began.Peace activists in Bangor gathered Thursday to mark the anniversary and reflect on what’s happened over the past six years.Members of the Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine held a press conference at their headquarters to reflect on the work they’ve done to call for an end to the war…They say they’re still committed to helping bring the troops home, and to bringing peace to Iraq.< "had people been listened to 6 years ago, we wouldn't have lost the lives we have, we wouldn't have spent billions of dollars. So it's important for people to realize that they can make a difference by speaking out.">The folks at the Peace and Justice Center will hold a “teach in” this Saturday at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Bangor…The event, called “new Organizing strategies for the Obama era,” will be held from one to five and is free and open to the public.
A fire at a vacant home in Etna was deliberately set, according to the State Fire Marshal’s Office.Investigator Tim York says the home on the corner of Latkins and Stage Roads, is owned by Wesley Leighton of Holden. This fire happened on March 8th.York says the arson investigation is still underway.This past Monday, another one of Leighton’s properties, a garage on Route 2, burned down.The cause of that fire will remain undetermined due to the amount of damage.