A group supporting President Obama’s healthcare reform may be coming to a living room near you. A grassroots project called Organizing For America has been setting up roundtable discussion groups in private homes. Today they held a discussion in Bangor at the home of Molly Goode. Goode’s son, Adam, represents District 15 of Bangor in the House of Representatives.State Senator Joe Perry was a part of the panel along with residents who shared their stories regarding healthcare and also discussed, what they say, is an urgent need for healthcare reform. “It’s on the front burner,” says Senator Perry, “it’s a serious problem that we’re facing, you know, healthcare costs and I came here because I want to hear the stories and I know this is a federal issue but it certainly affects every Mainer.”Director of the project, Julian Federle, says they’re trying to get the facts about healthcare reform out there, as well as provide a civilized forum for debate. “The fact is I think Mainers are very interested in this debate,” says Federle, “they’re more interested in sitting down and having a discussion like this one then they are about screaming and shouting.”
Last Wednesday the computer system at the Penobscot County Federal Credit Union went down, leaving members and staff unable to access any accounts. “I was trying to get the specifics on a loan and all they could give me was the routing number for the bank but they couldn’t give me the interest rate or my monthly payment,” says Neil Clark of Old Town, a member of the credit union.Steve Baillargeon the President and CEO of the credit union says it hasn’t been easy, but they have managed to stay open for business. “We’ve actually been open for business the entire time,” he says, “we’ve been allowing deposits and withdrawals to occur in a manual function not our typical computer function.” Members have still been able to withdraw some money. By bringing in a paystub they can withdraw money based on what the paystub shows. “But if someone has a direct deposit paycheck or something we’ve been providing them with their normal cash withdrawal if they want it that way,” says Baillargeon. The folks at the credit union also told me some of their members are so recognizable to the tellers, they’ve allowed them to withdraw money because they have a pretty good idea how much they have in their accounts.Members can still use their debit cards as well. If there’s a problem, the credit union can manually adjust the account balance to show a deposit that has not processed yet. Some members were concerned the checks they had written might bounce, but Baillargeon says that’s not the case. “The checks have not bounced,” he says, “because they have not been able to clear because of the hardware problem doesn’t allow them to clear so that is not correct.”The folks at the credit union expect to have the problem fixed by tuesday and all of the back transactions will be made. “We’re going to make all of the normal deposits and our normal daily processing will occur in sequential order,” says Baillargeon, “so whatever would have happened is still going to happen once the computer comes back online.” He also says most members have been understanding of the problem. “The members that we’ve actually been dealing with on a daily basis have actually felt kind of bad for us,: he says, “because they realize there are a bunch of us who have worked 75 hours in the 2 or 3 days so most people have been understanding.” You can count Neil Clark among those who are understanding. “I figured they would be more upset than I would,” says Clark, “you know if I needed money and they wouldn’t give it to me I’d be upset but it’s the other people that I’d be worried about.”
There aren’t many days left of summer vacation for kids now.Most schools will be starting up next week.On Sunday, kids at the Maine Discovery Museum in downtown Bangor made dreamcatchers to soak up the final days of sleeping in and no homework.The folks at the museum know that the summer season is ending for them.Summer camp just ended last week.Abby Leblanc from the discovery museum says the sunny days this summer have typically been slow, but on the rainy days they’ve been busy.Making these dreamcatchers was a chance to get the kids minds in gear before the school year starts.”Basically we’ve made the frames and they’re going to decorate them with feathers and it’s really important to get their wheels turning and have them create and do their own thing with what ever they can,” Said Leblanc.For more information or a schedule of events you can log on to their website at www.mainediscoverymuseum.org
A replacement for the aging Bangor Auditorium could cost about half as much as the city once expected to pay. That’s what community leaders heard on Friday during a presentation from a newly-hired consulting firm out of Chicago. Representatives studied the area to find out what kind of facility they think the community could support and what kind of price tag it should carry. Mayor Gerry Palmer says new estimates for a new auditorium are now coming in the 50-million dollar range – about half the cost of the last projections. He says a lot of that is because of a dip in the economy and an al a carte plan created by the consultants that would let the city pick and choose certain features and build the arena gradually. “We’re not suggesting you build the Taj Mahal,” Said David Stone of the Chicago-based Economics Research Associates. “That would be an unnecessary expense and you wouldn’t need it to get the kind of events that would be held here. It’s just not necessary and probably not affordable. But not necessary, more importantly.” “The maine way is to be frugal and I think this is much like a wedding, something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue,” Said Mayor Palmer. “And I think we’ll come up with a very good product.”The city has studied the idea of a new auditorium for years.One of the new lead ideas is to build another facility next to the current arena, then turn it into ballroom and meeting space, while updating the Civic Center.
The 175th celebration of Bangor becoming a city continued Sunday afternoon.Memories from the Portico 1834 to 2009 was held, with impersonators playing the role of six famous visitors who appeared in Bangor.They stayed at the Bangor House.It opened on christmas eve 1834.Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th President of the United States, stayed at the hotel in 1871.The 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt, spoke from the hotel Portico in 1902.William Howard Taft was our 27th president. He visited the queen city in 1910.In 1943, Jack Benny stayed in Bangor for a national radio broadcast.Frederick Douglass and Amelia Earhart were also portrayed to those on hand at 6 Basin Street.There was also a juggler to entertain the crowd, and an all woman dixieland band.Souvenir coins were given out to audience members as part of the celebration.
Officials in Maine are getting ready for the new law aimed at cracking down on distracted driving.The measure passed earlier this year.It targets drivers distracted not just by talking by cell phones, but by a whole range of devices, including GPS systems.The law takes effect on September 12th.Police say they’ll likely be issuing more warnings, rather than tickets, for the first few months.
Before Hurricane Bill arrived, there was another weather system that left a mess for crews to clean up in Western Maine.The National Weather Service has confirmed that it was a tornado that hit Oxford County on Friday, leaving behind damaged homes, downed trees, and thousands in the dark.After inspecting the damage on Saturday, investigators say it was an F-1 twister, with winds around 100 miles per hour.It cut a path six miles long and as wide as two hundred yards.The tornado destroyed Young’s Greenhouse, a family run business that has operated in South Paris for 30 years.With the amount of devastation in the area, it will likely take crews a couple of days to clean up the mess.
Crews were on the scene of a bad car accident for several hours Saturday in Hancock.It happened around four o’clock in the afternoon.Several rescue crews responded after a pickup truck travelling on Route 1 rolled over and landed cab side down in a nearby stream.We’re told one man was lifeflighted to Eastern Maine Medical Center. There’s no word yet on his condition.Traffic was shut down for more than 2 hours while crews worked at the scene. They are now investigating exactly what happened.
A car crash in Shirley Sunday afternoon claimed the life of a Hermon man.It happened around three o’clock Sunday afternoon.Authorities say 27-year-old Patrick Burpee was driving when he lost control on a curve along the Blanchard Road.Burpee hit a rock, his car rolling over several times.Authorities say Burpee was killed instantly.Two other people in the crushed vehicle were taken to the hospital.They were treated and released.Police say alcohol and speed were both factors in the crash.
Fire crews are still on the scene of an apartment fire in Orono that broke out Sunday night.Officials tell us that the call came in at around 9:30 in the evening that a two-unit apartment building on Stillwater Ave. was on fire.Fire fighters from Orono, Old Town, Milford, and Glenburn responded to the scene.We’re told they were able to extinguish the blaze, but were still monitoring hot spots early Monday morning.No one was injured in the fire, and there has been no word yet on a cause.
The University of Maine system office in Bangor will be closed Monday morning.There was a water main break over the weekend in downtown Bangor.Water ended up flooding the basement of the building, and because of that the water and electricity has been turned off.There was a meeting of the board of trustees technology committee. That has been rescheduled to take place on the Orono campus at Neveille hall at 1:30pm Monday.All employees are urged to call the building information line for updates after 10 am.
Some of Maine’s top Democratic leaders got together Sunday in South Portland. The event that brought them out: the “Muskie Lobster Bake.”It’s an annual party fundraiser.Congressman Mike Michaud was just one of the big names on the guest list, which also included Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Governor John Baldacci.Besides raising money, the lobster bake also provides party leaders with a chance to reconnect with voters and the issues that matter to them…all while paying tribute to a political legend. “Muskie is a revered, revered democrat and we are all very proud of him, his history and the legacy he has left us and we just every year love to celebrate him and it…it’s great,” Said Democratic Party Chair John Knutson.Ed Muskie served as Maine Governor, U.S. Senator, and U.S. Secretary of State during his political career.
Governor John Baldacci has ordered flags across Maine to be flown at half staff on Monday.The order is to honor the funeral of a Marine from Maine who was killed in Afghanistan.Lance Corporal Joshua M. Bernard of New Portland died on August 14th while supporting combat operations in Afghanistan.The funeral will be held Monday morning at the Crossroads Bible Church in Madison at 10 o’clock.
In Owls Head the community has rallied behind three local fishermen whose boats were victimized by vandals.”I woke up one morning and it was sunk,” says Keith Simmonds, one of the victims,”they sure put it to me, they’ve been putting it to me for years.”Simmonds was among the fishermen who found their boats sunk back on August 5th. Donald and Richard Mcmahan are the other two and Donald’s sister Deborah remembers that day all too well.”Oh I was devastated because my brother worked 2 years to get back fishing again because he had a stroke and and an aneurysm,”said Damon “so I was upset when it happened.”All three men are back fishing again but for how long nobody knows. The long term damage to their boats is more extensive then they once thought. “They all got their boats back going,” says Damon, “now they’re having problems with traps getting cut off, some of them lost their electronics so we have to find out what the electronics are going to cost, the engines, they’re working right now, but some of them are having problems with them so they may have to replace them before the years is out, that could be $10-$20,000 for one engine.”This benefit is to help to raise the money needed to keep these fishermen on their feet. The people around here are just hoping to see an end to all the territorial fighting. “I want to see an end to it,” says Damon, “I wish everybody could just get along, everybody could just fish their own area like they’re supposed to instead of fighting, cutting each other off, i just think it needs to end and everybody needs to get along.”Anyone interested in donating money to help these three lobstermen can call Deborah Damon at 207-594-8565 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Coast Guard has said that one of the people pulled from the water, a seven year old girl, has died. The girls name has not been released, but Steve Steve McCausland of Maine Public Safety said she was from New York state.The other two, a 12 year old girl and an adult male, are still in the hospital at this hour.MDI hospital treated 15 people, 11 were treated and released, 4 required additional care.The eyes of the northeast were trained on Hurricane Bill, and it’s path through the Atlantic.That brought out crowds of people along the coast to watch the storm surge.It turned into a day of horror for some in Acadia National Park.” A lot of folks were coming to Acadia just to see the surf, the offshore influences from Hurricane Bill plus the high at 1:38 made for some pretty spectacular waves so the public came to the shore to se that activity the park was packed,” said Stuart West, Chief Ranger of Acadia National Park.The waves were delivering the views that people came to see cresting at 12 to 15 feet. But West would say later, people got too comfortable and too close to the water.Coast Guard Chief Bosun Mate Kevinn Smith, the Executive Petty Officer for Coast Guard Station Southwest Harbor said ” Shortly after noon this afternoon the Coast Guard received a report of persons in the water, Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park we launched a 47 foot Motor Lifeboat from our station in Southwest Harbor we also launched two aircraft from Cape Cod.”Virginia’s Diane Brown was visting friends on MDI when they decided to go into Acadia National Park.They arrived at about the same time as the rescue crews, and they parked near Thunder Hole.” That’s where they set up all the emergency vehicles and they had the rescue workers with ropes but the surf was coming in way to strong they couldn’t rescue from land.”Smith of the Coast Guard continued, ” About 1:05pm they rescued two persons from the water, they were transferred to the local EMS in Seal Harbor and then resumed their search for a possible third person in the water.”” The Coast Guard finally came in and we were all watching with a lot of anticipation,” said Brown. ” And when the Coast Guard finally got close enough they threw a rope out but the person had been in the water at that point for a long time and one of the Coast Guard rescuers jumped in the water and pulled them to safety and everyone cheered and it was a really good feeling but it was only one person.”” at 3:30 this afternoon our Motor Lifeboat rescued a third person from the water and were transported to the EMS at Seal Cove, ” said Smith.
The prices ranged from a few hundred dollars to a few hundred thousand dollars – it was the 32nd Annual New England Auto Auction today in Owls Head. Nearly 200 cars were up for auction, including lots of classic and special interest vehicles.The bidding went for several hours, on everything from a 1911 Buick Roadster to a 2006 Maserati.Folks at the Owls Head Transportation Museum say the turnout today was tremendous, with crowds spilling out of the tents they had set up. And we’re told all those cars come from all over.”I would say a good 80-percent are consignments, some cars, some of the Model A’s that we’ve been putting up just now, have been donated. All proceeds benefit the museum and that’s a great way for us to raise money,” says Park Morrison.Morrison says hundreds of volunteers also turn out to help run the event.This is the museum’s largest fundraiser. Last year, it brought in more than 200 thousand dollars.
Over the next two weeks, Maine police will be stepping up their patrols looking for drunk drivers. The effort, called “Drunk Driving – Over the Limit – Under Arrest,” is part of a nationwide effort from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Three hundred thousand dollars in federal money will go to the 55 local police departments, 11 sheriff’s offices and state police to fund additional patrols.The effort will run now through Labor Day on September 7th.
Augusta was the place to be for retired veterans today.They were able to get information on what benefits are available to them at the twelfth annual Northern New England Retiree Day.Meghan Hayward has the story.” Certainly one of those things folks don’t know what’s available for them so it’s nice to have a day where they can come regardless of their service and background and can rotate through the stations and learn more about their benefits.”Merle Kaples was one of more than 500 retired veterans who attended the event.She joined the marine corps during World War Two.And met her husband at Camp Pendleton in California during boot camp.They raised their four children mainly in Maryland, but she calls Maine her home now.Kaples joined the Marine Corps at the age of twenty. A decision she is happy she made.” It was the thing to. In World War Two this country was so involved in helping in World War Two.”Kaples says she was glad she could attend the event.” This has been a real treat today to talk to people who are volunteers and active duty. The information we’ve gotten has just been wonderful.”Kaples says she had no idea the amount of benefits out there for her and other women.” I absolutely did not know that me as a veteran and spouse was eligible for the veteran’s care.”And there was one organization on-hand that was making sure women like Kaples would leave knowing what benefits were out there for them.The Maine Advisory Commission on Women Veterans was a great source for Kaples.” There are about 10,000 women veterans in the state of Maine and that equals about 7 percent of the Maine veteran population so that’s quite a significant amount and that number is expected to increase by 2,000 women veterans in the next two to three years.”Chair of the organization Terry Moore says she wasn’t surprised that so many women were unaware of what was available for them.” Women veterans need to see women veterans and that’s part of the issue. We need to have a presence and the more they know we’re out here and we can refer them to services they are more apt to access them.”Kaples says she is leaving the event with a better knowledge of what is available to her and an even bigger feeling of pride.” Military bands still stir me completely.”
A center that helps people with substance abuse problems could use some help right now.Folks at the Open Door Recovery Center in Ellsworth just learned that a $300,000 endowment that had been provided annually has been eliminated.Executive Director Barbara Royal says because of the current economy the patron is not able to provide the funds anymore.The center provides many services and just recently opened the Hill House, which is a residence for women and their children to live while the women go through substance abuse treatment.Royal says if they can not come up with that $300,000 by the first of the year they may have to close the Hill House and cut some other services too.”We want to be able to serve this community and to make it a little safer for everyone so having services available locally allows us to be able to be part of that solution.”If you would like to make a donation to the center you can send it to the Open Door Recovery Center, P.O. Box 958, Ellsworth, Maine 04605Or go to www.opendoorrecoverycenter.org and you can pay through Pay Pal.
Holden police say the driver of a mini van may have made a misjudgement that caused three vehicles to collide on Route 1-A.The mini van, a truck, and an SUV crashed last night at the intersection of 1-A and Upper Dedham Road.Police say 17-year-old Kevin Bonefas of Dedham was driving the mini van and pulled onto 1-A and thought he could get into the flow of traffic.That’s when he was hit by the truck, driven by James King of East Millinocket, headed in the opposite direction.The driver of the SUB, David Silver of Massachusetts, then collided with the van as well.Catherine O’Neal, Bonefas’s sister, was injured and taken to the hospital. Her condition is not known. Their mother was also riding with them but not hurt.