The prestigious Milken Family Foundation Educator Award was presented to an alternative teacher in Maine. Education Commissioner, Sue Gendron announced that Richard Meserve won this years award along with the $25,000 cash prize.Richard Meserce is a teacher at The REAL School in Falmouth, which is part of the Windam-Raymond school district. This school offers education for thoes with behaviorial, emaotional and learning disabilities. The Milken Family Foundation this year will award more than $1.2million to more than 50 educators across the nation.
Mainers will decide the matter in November, it’s Qestion 4 on the ballot. A group opposing the Tabor 2 initiative held three seperate press conferences today to voice their concerns. The events were in Portland, Lewiston, and one here in Bangor.Firefighters and police officers sounded off on Tabor 2. Ronnie Green is a 19-year veteran of the Bangor Fire Department. “When we, the professional firefighters of Maine, heard about this thing called Tabor, we contacted our brothers and sisters in Colorado to find out what it really meant to them,” he says, “what we learned from them is that in a short period of time trucks and ambulances were breaking down with no money allocated to fix them.” He says the firefighters he talked to in Colorado also told him, because of the lack of funding, the equipment wasn’t immediately fixed. “Equipment would sit for months before it was repaired and the cost of doing business was made up by cutting staffing levels which led to longer response time.”Supporters of Tabor, like Steve Bowen of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, say the decision on how to spend the tax dollars should be made by voters. “We all go to our town meetings,” says Bowen, “the firefighters come in, they say this is the equipment we need and sometimes voters say that’s an appropriate thing and sometimes they say, well this year we can’t afford it. we’re going to ask you to do the best you can, times are tough for all of us.”Opponents are concerned fire departments would have to make serious cuts if Tabor passes. “Tabor will take away the line of duty death benefit that will be paid to our families should we make the ultimate sacrifice.” This is a charge that Bowen says simply is not true. “That’s absolutely false. That benefit is established in state law. There’s a line in Tabor that changes the funding source, but it doesn’t take away the benefit. It doesn’t say the benefit no longer exists, the benefit is still in the state law, you just have to find another account to fund it out of but you still have to fund it, Tabor doesn’t change that.” Paul Gasper is the Executive Director of the Maine Association of Police and he’s afraid if Tabor passes, jobs would have to be cut that ultimately would jeopardize public safety. “To cut positions and take police officers, firefighters, and EMS responders off our streets because of the tough choices that Tabor 2 will force us to make puts our members at risk and ultimately puts our communities at risk as well.”Bowen counters by saying the voters should decide the amount of tax dollars they want to spend for these services. “The voters are going to decide, and these folks are going to have to go to voters and say look, what is the level of service you expect? Here’s how much money that level is going to cost. Do you want to do this or not and let the voters decide?”Evert Fowle is the Kennebec and Somerset County District Attorney. He’s an opponent of Tabor and said this morning that the justice system can’t afford anymore cuts. “The biggest complaint we often hear is that the criminal justice system does not hold offenders accountable, he says, “passage of Tabor stands to only make that worse, we need to prioritize and function on the core factors of state government and Tabor makes no effort to do this.”Bowen argues that cuts are not mandatory with Tabor, unless the voters themselves decide they want them. “Tabor is about giving the people of Maine the chance to choose,” he says, “it doesn’t limit spending absolutely, it doesn’t cut spending, all it says is you, as a policy maker, as a legislature, are allowed to grow government by a certain rate, and if you want to exceed that rate, if you want to grow government faster than you have to ask voters. That is all it does, so it really puts those choices in the hands of the people instead of the politicians.”However the opponents, like Ronnie Brown, don’t want those spending limits that are set during tough economic times to be binding even after the economy turns around. “Question 4, Tabor 2 will set spending limits based on a budget year when we’re experiencing a worse time since the great depression,” says Brown, “even when times are better towns and cities will be forced to stay within these limitations and still not be able to replace aging, failing equipment and provide safe staffing levels.”
After last weeks price drop, heating oil prices have gone up 3 cents over the past week in Maine.In a weekly survey, the state Office of Emergency Independence and Security reported heating oil prices at $2.38 per gallon, compared to $2.35 last week. Additionally, kerosene prices are up one cent, and now is $2.77 per gallon. Southwestern Maine has the cheapest prices at the moment, with oil costing $2.07 a gallon and the highest price of $2.65 a gallon in eastern Maine.
After three years, officials at Acadia National Park reopened a hiking trail on Champlaine Mountain. Formerly known as the East Face Trail, the Orange and Black Path is now open after the quake that shook Bar Harbor and Acadia in October of 2006. Acadia’s trail crew has completed rehabilitating sections of the collapsed staircase and trails that was damaged by rockslides. Damage to this trail has happened before and dates all the way back to 1913.
Gay marriage advocates say they’ve collected $2,700,000 for their campaign to defeat question 1 on the November 3rd ballot.No on 1 – Protect Maine Equality released the figure on Tuesday, the last day political action committees can file their latest reports with state campaign regulators. The campaigns are trying to persuade voters through tv ads and other media in advance of the people’s veto referendum. Maine’s gay marriage law was passed by lawmakers and signed by Governor John Baldacci in May.As of the last quarterly filing deadline, same sex marriage opponents had a funding edge, but their latest figures weren’t immediately available.Stand for Marriage Maine had raised more than $340,000 through early July.
An elderly Winthrop man is dead after a crash in Dresden Tuesday.The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department says 81-year-old Joseph Langlais, 81, was on Cedar Grove Road when he ran a stop sign at the intersection with Patterson Road.A pickup truck hit Langlais’s vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene.The driver of the truck was not hurt, but a passenger was taken to the hospital with face and leg injuries.Police say everyone involved was wearing a seat belt.
A Madison man who held up a gas station in Norridgewock will spend the next year and a half in jail.25-year-old Glen Harrington was sentenced on Tuesday.He robbed the Irving on Main Street in August and was arrested soon afterward.Police say he had some of the money from the robbery on him at the time he was taken into custody.
State police say an Augusta man faces multiple charges following a violent, drunken rampage.23-year-old Gary Davis has been charged with domestic violence assault, criminal trespass, and resisting arrest.Police say that on Sunday night, Davis’ girlfriend arrived home in Canaan to find that Davis had destroyed some of her computer equipment and punched a hole in a wall.Police say Davis grabbed the woman and pinned her down. A friend of the victim, who tried to help, was allegedly punched in the face.
An icy morning had motorists slipping and sliding across our region of the state Wednesday morning. There were several crashes in the early hours, and officials are urging caution.Bridges, always the first to ice over, were the focal points of this morning’s motor mishaps, leading to several fender-benders and some minor injuries.Roads in Old Town, LaGrange, Bangor, and Brewer were closed for a time, including the Interstate in Bangor, due to black ice crating hazardous conditions.As of 7:30 Wednesday morning, all roads have been cleared for traffic, though commuters are still being cautioned.
Firefighters in Cornville managed to save a home early Tuesday morning.The home is located at the intersection of routes 150 and 43.Authorities say the fire started in a light fixture in the kitchen ceiling at around 3:30 a.m.The residents renting the home were awakened by their dog barking, to discover the kitchen ceiling on fire.Firefighters arrived on the scene quickly and put the fire out.There was minimal damage to the home, and no injuries.
A convicted murderer from Waterville went before a judge again Tuesday.Scott Thompson, 38, pleaded not guilty to unlawful sexual touching.Police say he entered a Waterville clothing store Friday night and burst into one of the changing rooms.Thompson reportedly shoved a woman against the wall, but she resisted and called for help. He then ran off and was arrested a short distance away.A trial date has been set for December.In 1991, Thompson killed his mother, Edith Thompson, in her home in East Winthrop.He was arrested last summer for breaking into an adult novelty store soon after being released from prison on the murder conviction.Thompson is being held without bail at the Kennebec county jail.
The Ellsworth city planning office has drafted a new parking ordinance.Previously the city had required parking lots to be built to satisfy the highest peak traffic flow times.But City Planner Michele Gagnon says those spaces are rarely full.And Gagnon says those requirements have led to acres of pavement, storm water issues and underutilized land.Gagnon says the new ordinance will also ease the existing downtown parking requirements.A big change is that property owners on Main street, lower Water street and lower State street will be able to change the use of an existing building without having to add parking spaces.” We’re going to have parking that meets the uses. So it should be parking not at its peak periods but average uses.”Gagnon says the new ordinance is pro developer and pro environment.Residents can view the new ordinance at City Hall or online at www.cityofellsworthme.org.
As the holiday season approaches, businesses in downtown Ellsworth are teaming up with the city and the Chamber of Commerce to look at new ways to increase sales.Meghan hayward has the story.”They are a viable and wonderful downtown and we want it to continue.”Businesses, the city of Ellsworth and the Chamber of Commerce are looking at new approaches to ensure its vitality.”Find different ways to market downtown because it has so much to offer. I mean in the last 12 to 14 years, it has been totally renovated, the infrastructure.”Several retail stores have been in downtown Ellsworth for many years and they’re proud of that.”I think it’s great being in the heart of the city and downtown. Having a locally owned business, it seems to be a good fit.””I think it’s probably the heart and soul of traditional downtown Ellsworth where people come.”Micki Sumpter, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, says continued success is going to involve looking at the bigger picture.”Everything compliments one another, that’s our goal. We want to balance it and make sure everything compliments one another.”Denise Hue is the co-owner of Pyramid Studios. She thinks coming up with different strategies can only benefit downtown.”Anything that increases interest through marketing will have a benefit on businesses. Particularly retail coming into the Christmas season.”Leslie Harlow operates The Maine Grind. She says they’ve already put some new plans into motion.”The bottom line is we’ve had to look at our customer base and the reality of the downturn of the economics look at ourselves and say what can we do to vamp up business?”Sumpter says if businesses continue operating like they have and work with marketing strategies, the future of downtown Ellsworth will be bright.”That it continues to be as viable or even better than it is now.”
Many Mainers spend significant time volunteering. Their efforts help to provide a wide range of services others rely on.Tuesday, a conference was held at U-Maine in Orono, to celebrate those who donate their time to the community.Folks from across the state got together for The Blaine House Conference on Volunteerism. The focus – to celebrate those who donate their time. This is the 22nd year for the event.”A short five years ago there were 60 people. Now there are 300 here today.” says on of the speakers.Martin Cowling, the keynote speaker, says “We’ve seen a massive increase in the number of people saying I want to volunteer this year. Some people are doing it because they want to remain skilled, some people are doing it to build their resumes. There’s a lot of interest and a lot of concern in what this thing called volunteering is and where it’s going, what it’s looking like.”The conference included many guest speakers, as well as information sessions on topics like volunteer recruitment and philanthropic partnerships. Cowling says 26 percent of Mainers are involved in some type of volunteer work. “No surprise that Mainers turn out in droves to help their neighbor, because no matter how close or how far the people live from each other, they’re still felt of as their neighbor.” adds Tom Broussard, Assistant Dean at Brandeis University.Many of the services people depend on in the state rely on the efforts of those volunteers.Cowling says, “You wouldn’t see fire services, you wouldn’t see ambulance services, you wouldn’t see meals on wheels, you wouldn’t see counseling services, you wouldn’t see suicide lines. There are so many things that are touched by volunteers in the community.” Cowling believes, volunteerism is vital to the community, but the affects are also felt personally.”The impact you make in the community is powerful, but the impact you make in your own life is even more powerful. I’ve seen people’s lives changed because of the volunteering they are involved with.”
In an effort to make sure you decide whether or not you or your children get a flu shot, state representative Doug Thomas has introduced a bill that would forbid mandatory vaccinations.Maine’s top health official Dr. Dora Anne Mills says she’s surprised by the bill adding that there is no current statute in Maine requiring mandatory vaccines, therefore she says there’s no reason to codify the law. Currently, students are required to have four vaccines including chicken pox and polio shots before entering school, however, there are so called “opt outs”, in which parents are able to decide to not vaccinate. Rep. Thomas is standing behind his bill saying, “I believe that opens the door for some other bureaucrat to single out another segment of society to say you must be vaccinated and I’ll tell you what, if some bureaucrat tells me I have to get vaccinated against my will we’re going to have a fight. I’d like to prevent that fight.”On Thursday, October 15, the legislative council will take up the bill and decide whether or not to kill the bill or allow it to be given serioius consideration by lawmakers. 10:00 am – LEGISLATIVE COUNCILRoom 334, State House, Augusta
The Bangor Public Library has become the latest victim of the tough economy. The library has been a fixture here in Bangor for over 100 years. Babara McDade is the Dierector at the library and she knows what this institution means to the community. “Bangor really, really is a reading community,” says McDade, “we’re just always amazed how many people have library cards and what our circulation is for a town that has 33,000 people, our circulation is over half-a-million per year so it’s just amazing.”The sagging economy is now forcing the people here to make some tough decisions. “The City Council couldn’t fund the library at the rate we needed to keep the library open so the library board said we could take 6 furlow days this fiscal year,” she says, “we’ve already taken two, those were in August, we have four more, and those will fall the week before Christmas.” In additon to the furlow days the library is counting on the generosity of their card holders to help them weather the storm. “We do rely on our annual fund every year to fund a significant portion of our budget,” McDade says, “of course we’re hoping the people can be generous enough this year to give us more money so we can keep the lights on and the doors open and the heat on.”If the financial troubles continue here that could mean the loss of some very valuable resources. “The library is just an important part of so many peoples lives, so many people come here, we get 300 subscriptions to magazines, we know some people come here everyday to read the newspaper, we know that when people have lost their jobs, that even to apply for a job you have to have a computer and if they’ve lost their internet connection they come and use the library computers, and just recreation, reading is great recreation.”
Some supporters of Question One on the November ballot, the effort to repeal the same sex marriage law, say someone is stealing their signs.Jean Barry and Cara Vereault received signs from the Yes on One campaign and started posting them around the Bangor area last week.Barry and Vereault say they put up all the signs according to regulation, out of the vision of traffic on Thursday.But by Friday, they say all of Barry’s one-thousand signs were gone.Barry, Yes on One Signs Stolen: “My signs that are in front of the Civic Center were gone. My signs next to the park on union Street were taken. My signs at the triangle next to city hall are taken. My signs at the corner of Broadway and State Street are taken. My signs at the triangle of Harlow and Kenduskeag are taken.”Vereault says she posted 30 signs in Old Town and all of them were gone by this week.It is unlawful to remove political signs. If caught and convicted, it’s punishable by a fine of up to 250-dollars.
There’s an organization in Bangor looking for blood this Halloween season.We’re not talking about vampires.The American Red Cross needs new blood donors to help replenish their blood supply.The last two months, they have under collected across the state.If you give blood, you’d not only be saving a life, but you’ll be entered to win tickets to Stephen King’s Halloween Fright Night at the Movies!Trudy Darling, American Red Cross: “Now this is on Halloween night, and it’s invitation only, and it’s a pretty big deal. You get to go watch a Stephen King movie, get a bag of goodies and help some lives by donating here at the Red Cross.”Donors can donate at the Bangor donor center on Hammond Street Tuesday through Thursday from 11-to-6 pm, and Friday and every first and third Saturday from 8-to-2 pm. For more information call the Red Cross at 941-2900 or 1-800-GIVE-LIFE.
Republican Senator Olympia Snowe was on TV5 News at to discuss her decision to vote for a Democratic health care bill, breaking with her party on President Obama’s top legislative priority.Senator Snowe kept virtually all of Washington guessing how she would vote until she announced it late in the Senate Finance Committee debate Tuesday. Until then, she told reporters, she had not even let Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in on her secret. She told her colleagues: “When history calls, history calls,” even though she had some criticism of the bill.Democrats, aware that Snowe could be the only Republican in Congress to vote for their health care overhaul, have spent months addressing her concerns about making health care affordable and how to pay for it. President Obama is praising Republican Senator Snowe for being “extraordinarily diligent” in working with Democrats on health care reform.
A fire in an abandoned house in Gouldsboro has been ruled arson by the State Fire Marshal’s office. Tim York with the Fire Marshal’s office says the arson is under investigation.The initial call came in just before 8 Thursday night.The residence was on the West Bay Road.Firefighters cleared the scene a few hours later.