News

Evidence Collected from ‘Sophisticated’ Pot Growing Operation

Updated 5 years ago

About 60 officials continued working today to clear an area of Township 37 – in rural Washington County – of the thousands of marijuana plants found there earlier this week.Officials still aren’t sure how many thousands of plants there are, but they’re calling it the largest marijuana growing operation they’ve seen in state history.They spent yesterday collecting forensic evidence as to who’s responsible for the pot.MDEA Director Roy McKinney says because of the size and sophistication of what they’ve found, federal agents are also involved.”This is an operation where the individuals were on-scene, 24-7, cultivating these plants, and so they’re very high quality plants. Our ultimate goal is to identify who’s responsible for this cultivation, and bring a successful case to court.”No arrests have been made yet. McKinney says by tomorrow, they hope to finish collecting all the plants, some of which will be saved as evidence.

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Smoke Trailer a Big Hit

Updated 5 years ago

Home fires and burns claimed more than three thousand lives in the U.S. last year. Firefighters believe that education is the key to cutting down that number.Today, Winslow firefighters rolled out their new smoke house to raise awareness about fire dangers in the home. Fourth graders from Winslow elementary and Saint John’s school got to tour the trailer. They were asked to point out the hazards in the home that could cause a fire. But the best part for the kids was when the special effects kicked in. Theatrical smoke fills the trailer simulating what would happen in a house during a real fire. Winslow’s fire chief says the trailer is a not only a fun educational tool, it’s one that can help save lives too.

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State Spending Scrutinized in the 2009 Piglet Book

Updated 5 years ago

Today representatives of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and The Maine Heritage Policy Center (MHPC) gathered on the steps of the state capitol in Augusta to unveil the 2009 Maine Piglet Book: The Book Augusta Doesn’t Want You to Read. Featured speakers included Maine Heritage Policy Center CEO Tarren Bragdon and CAGW Vice President for Policy David Williams. The report is the second Maine Piglet Book since 2007. The report attempts to expose $2 billion in wasteful spending. Those defending the state say that CAGW and MHPC are not telling the whole truth. The study cites as examples of waste a $45 thousand playground,  a $40 million cultural building and $16 million in renovations at the(DHHS) Department of Health and Human Services Office.  Crystal Canney, Communications Director for Citizens Unified for Maine’s Future, says, “What the Heritage Policy Center neglects to tell you is that those projects were requests that the state did not fund” 

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University of Maine Celebrates Hazing Prevention Week

Rob Poindexter

Updated 5 years ago

Fraternity and sorority members, along with other students, lined up to sign the hazing prevention statement Thursday at the University of Maine. According to UMaine Junior Brian Harris, a Sigma Phi Epsilon member, this is something they take seriously here. “All fraternities individually have their anti-hazing policies,” says Harris, “we’re here today as a Greek community to show our support, backing each other up as well as the administration that’s something we won’t stand for.” The administration here has remained vigilant over the years to keep hazing as a practice of the past says Dr. Robert Dana, the V.P. of Student Affairs. “The last hazing incident I can recall was 1992,” Dana says, “so we’ve been telling our students of course for many years and they’ve been fully engaged in this, they understand the idea of brother hood and sisterhood or team connections those are very important but the way you get to that is through kindness you don’t do it by some crazy old tradition.”Fraternities and sororities on campus, as well as the sports teams, have found more productive ways to bond with new members and teammates.”We just do fun activities with our new girls, nothing exciting or crazy,” says Phi Mu Sorority V.P. Caitlyn Rafferty.Brandi Rideout, Director of Student Athletes Services says the sports teams are following suit. “A lot of teams go white water rafting, the ROTC groups on campus do a great job of working with our teams, they do ropes courses, paintball, our hockey teams hiked Mt. Katahdin so we’re doing a lot of things like that.”Dr. Dana wants to keep the prevention of hazing on top of everyone’s priority list around here. “You always want to remind people we have 2000 new students every year and 2000 students leave, and hazing is a national problem so we want to keep this in the forefront of our discussion.”

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Church in Pittsfield Gets New Roof for Free

Updated 5 years ago

A church in Pittsfield is getting an upgrade, and it’s free.As Meghan Hayward tells us, the gift couldn’t come at a better time.For pastor Pete Griffin and his congregation, exciting news has come their way.”I almost bawled and cried basically. This is something we’ve been praying for quite awhile that somebody would come in and donate their time.”Top Notch Roofing of Benton are happy to take on the job of re-shingling the Church of Nazarene in Pittsfield.”We’ve been out of work for three weeks now anyways sitting around the house doing nothing. I saw the shingles sitting out here so I asked the pastor if he needed his roof done. And he said he only had enough money for a new furnace and to buy the materials. So we figured we’d come up and do the favor.”Griffin says he’s still in shock.”I get to know Top Notch Roofing. I thank them from the bottom of my heart that they donated their time to do this for nothing.”The Church of Nazarene has been in Pittsfield since 1955.Griffin says the building has started to show it’s age.”It started leaking here about two months ago, you could actually see the stains in the ceiling.”Now Griffin wants to try and raise money to give back to Top Notch Roofing for their services.Something Co-owner Roger Reynolds says is not necessary.”We wasn’t really looking forward to that. We were here to do the pastor a favor.”Reynolds says they should have the job done in a week. His crew is volunteering their time too.”And happy to show up and do so.”If you’d like to help, send donations to Church of Nazarene in Pittsfield at 200 Central Street, Pittsfield, 04967Make note it’s for top notch roofing.

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New Corn Maze Crops Up in Farmington

Catherine Pegram

Updated 5 years ago

A new corn maze is cropping up in Farmington.The folks at Sandy River Farms have created the first corn maze on their property, which opens tomorrow. The maze is designed in the shape of the state with a tractor in the middle and the words “Buy Local” and “Sandy River Farms” along the edges.The maze will be open on weekends from now through Halloween. There’s also a pumpkin patch, hayrides and an animal farm to check out. For more information, go online to sandyriverfarms.com.

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New Portland Man Charged with Murder of Former Boss

Catherine Pegram

Updated 5 years ago

A man from New Portland has been charged with murder in the death of his former boss, more than two years ago.State police say 31-year-old Jeffrey LaGasse was indicted last week by the Somerset County Grand Jury. He’s accused of killing 50-year-old Louise Brochu. Her body was found outside her home and business on Route 27 in New Portland in June of 2007.Brochu ran a wood flooring business and LaGasse once worked for her.LaGasse is currently at the Maine State Prison for violation of probation. He’s expected to make his first court appearance on the murder charge tomorrow morning in Skowhegan.

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Country Music Concert for Ellsworth Woman with Cancer

Catherine Pegram

Updated 5 years ago

Some folks in Ellsworth are putting on a country music concert to help a friend with cancer.46-year-old Ellie Burns was diagnosed with lung cancer last month. She just started chemotherapy last week. Right now Burns has no health insurance and can’t work. So local musicians billed as Wade Dow & Friends are putting on a benefit concert. It’s set for this Saturday at the Elks Club in Ellsworth. The show starts at 7 o’clock – doors open at 6 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults – children 12 and under get in for free. Donations will also be accepted.

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Police Pull Pot Crop in Starks

Catherine Pegram

Updated 5 years ago

Along with a massive marijuana growing operation in Washington County, state police also seized a pot crop in Starks recently. They tell us last week they pulled more than 270 plants in the woods off Brann Mills Road, after first spotting them from the air. Game wardens and drug agents helped in the harvest. The growers have not yet been found.

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Arrest Made in Two Armed Robberies

Updated 5 years ago

A man from Fairfield is under arrest for two armed robberies in the greater Bangor area.Police from Old Town, Brewer and Bangor teamed up to arrest 21-year-old Alex Gerald in connection with robberies in Old Town Tuesday night and Brewer Wednesday night.Police say Gerald walked into Sun Tan City on Stillwater Avenue with a gun, after taking a tour of the business earlier in the evening.Then last night, Gerald walked into the Wilson Street Dunkin Donuts with a gun.Police say both guns have been recovered and were air soft guns that Gerald had spray painted black.Police believe Gerald was trying to get money to support a drug habit. He got away with less than a thousand dollars from both robberies.Lieutenant Chris Martin of the Brewer Police Department say the quick arrest was made with help from surveillance video from Downeast Toyota.”I have to stress that if it wasn’t for the assistance of DownEast Toyota and helping us identify a car and what to look for and the use and access of their technology we might still be looking for that today.”Sun Tan City opened for business Wednesday and the Dunkin Donuts re-opened at 5 Thursday morning.Gerald is behind bars at the Penobscot County Jail and scheduled to appear in court Friday. He’s charged with two counts of robbery and could face up to 5 to 10 years on each count in prison if convicted.Police say he also has similar charges in Kennebec County and with the Fairfield Police Department.

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Schools Going Green

Updated 5 years ago

A biomass heating equipment company based in Sumner, Maine has pledged to help towns and schools save money and go green. Skanden Energy, Inc. is helping municipalities and schools convert to wood thermal energy. The company is currently working with local contractors to install state-of-the-art wood pellet boilers at Strong and Kingfield Elementary Schools under a $1.08 million USDA grant, and is offering to help others convert to green energy. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, $11.4 million has been awarded to the Maine Department of Conservation (DOC) to provide grants through its Wood-to-Energy Initiative. These grants, aimed at rural schools and public entities converting to wood heating, can be used to fund the purchase and installation of Skanden equipment. In addition to selling the most advanced biomass heating technology available, Skanden helps rural schools and public entities in other ways. First, Skanden helps them through the grant application process. Then, they guide them through installation, training local contractors and helping them develop expertise in the industry. This maximizes the economic and environmental benefit to the local community. “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to help Maine communities transform the inefficiencies and hazardous risks of oil heating systems into sustainable, environmentally-friendly biomass heating systems,” said Laura Colban, founder and president of Skanden Energy. “The people of Maine have a great appreciation for the benefits of biomass heating, and we look forward to bringing new job opportunities to the state to support that.” Skanden Energy is in the process of hiring sales engineers and signing up local heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) contractors as distributors. Skanden Energy will provide training for qualified HVAC contractors. “We understand the desire to hire local contractors, who are familiar with their buildings and their needs,” said Colban. “We provide a local supervisor who will work with the contractors to ensure the best quality installation, and maximize the benefits to the local economy.” The company has already been working with MSAD 58 to install two wood biomass systems at Strong and Kingfield Elementary Schools. More than a dozen local contractors, including piping, roofers, engineers, electricians, and other specialists have worked on the two projects so far and more will be engaged soon. “Skanden Energy has demonstrated remarkable commitment to these projects and has far exceeded my expectations,” said MSAD 58 superintendent Quenten Clark. “Not only did they secure the grant funding for these installations, but they also increased the amount of the grant substantially. Their expertise and unique skill set enabled us to significantly improve upon many aspects of the installation. They are a reliable team and an excellent company to work with.” Skanden Energy points to environmental and economic advantages when heating with wood rather than fossil fuels as one reason for the substantial growth in wood-to-energy projects. When wood is burned in a Skanden system, at 2000 degrees, with automated cleaning of boiler tubes and ash removal, emissions are negligible and efficiency is more than 90 percent. Because it is all automated, maintenance is similar to that of an oil burner. For more information about the company, job opportunities, training, distributorships and more, please visit: www.skanden.com or call 207.512.5699.

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Bangor Hosts Winter Expo

Updated 5 years ago

Wednesday’s warm weather didn’t keep folks in Bangor from thinking about winter.Hundreds of people turned out at the Spectacular Event Center for Bangor Hydro’s Maine Winter Expo.It gives folks information on topics like home weatherization, budgeting for winter fuel and energy audits.Bangor Hydro officials say many Mainers are interested in learning more about alternative energy and making their homes more efficient.Matthew Damon from Penobscot Home Performance was one of the vendors taking part Wednesday.He says it’s important for homeowners to know that they can make big changes by doing small things. “It’s great to come out and talk to people so they can get an idea of the different options out there as far as energy efficiency,” Said Damon on Wednesday. “You can start with just changing your lightbulbs! Change from CFC lightbulbs…get an energy efficient fridge…you put cash out there but in the long run, it’s gonna save you energy.”Some lucky folks even walked away with free prizes on Wednesday, including free energy audits, gift certificates, and storm survival kits.

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New Program to Aid Unemployed

Updated 5 years ago

A new program to help folks who have lost their jobs is starting up Thursday in Bangor.The Maine Department of Labor and the Maine Educational Opportunity Center are teaming up to offer it.It’s a free workshop designed to help folks start on the path to further education.It starts Thursday and runs through December.Folks who tap into it can still collect unemployment benefits as long as they’re in approved training programs.The worshop will offer help applying for college help with all the paperwork and applying for financial aid.For more information or to register call 1 (800) 281-3703.

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Community Comes to Family’s Aid

Updated 5 years ago

Folks in Dover are rallying around a family who lost everything in a house fire last week.John and Briana Dyer’s home on the Dexter Road caught fire on Friday.There is no word yet on what caused it, but the home has a lot of damage.Family and friends are now collecting donations to help the family get by.Checks may be sent to:the John & Briana Dyer Fund in care of the Maine Highlands Federal Credit Union.PO box 507, West Main Street, Dover-Foxcroft, ME, 04426.The fire is under investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s office.

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St. George Home Destroyed

Updated 5 years ago

Fire destroyed a home in St. George on Wednesday.Crews from St. George as well as South Thomaston were called to Atlantic Quarry Road around 4:30 Wednesday afternoon.Authorities say a next door neighbor called in the fire.The family was not home at the time.No one was injured in the fire.No word yet on a cause.

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RV Destroyed by Fire at Naples Campground

Updated 5 years ago

State investigators are looking into an explosion at the four seasons campground in naples Wednesday night.The fire reportedly leveled a camper.Naples Fire Chief Chris Pond said the apparent owner of the trailer left in a car, which he crashed a short distance from the campground. He was taken to a hospital for treatment of second-degree burns to his arms.At the campground, 29-year-old Jessica Jackson of Casco was arrested, accused of assaulting an investigator from the State Fire marshal’s Office.

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Camp Tracy Funding

Updated 5 years ago

The theatre at Camp Tracy in Oakland is getting an upgrade.Recently, construction began to create more bench seats, new lighting, and a new sound system.All the work is costing a lot of money though.Now, thanks to Lester and Barbara Jolovitz of Waterville, funding isn’t an issue.The couple donated $25,000 to make the renovations happen. “We see these youngsters outdoors for fresh air and they are doing things that will shape their character for the future and open up a whole new area of experiences it’s a great feeling,” Said Lester Jolovitz on WednesdayAs a founder of Camp Tracy in the 1960’s, Lester Jolovitz helped clear the land near Mcgrath Pond in Oakland where the camp is today.Each summer the camp serves more than one-thousand campers.

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Brewer Robbery

Updated 5 years ago

Police in Brewer have arrested a suspect in connection with an armed robbery.The Dunkin’ Donuts on Wilson Street was robbed last night around 6 p.m.Brewer Police are releasing details on the arrest this afternoon. We will update that information as it becomes available.

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Skowhegan Shelter

Updated 5 years ago

Last year, more than 7000 people found shelter at the 42 homeless shelters in Maine, but none of those folks stayed in Somerset County… because there was no shelter there.Then the Trinity Evangelical Free Church in Skowhegan opened its doors to the homeless. Nearly 20 people are housed there now, but the church has become more than just a roof over their heads, it’s become a second chance.”I used to be a drug dealer.” “I had a really bad drinking problem.” “I came here from the Kennebec County Jail.” They each have a different story with one similarity, they’re trying to turn their lives around.”I’ve been sober now since May 16th.” When Bret got out of jail, he had no place to go. So he came to the Trinity Evangelical Free Church.”We didn’t set out to start a homeless shelter.”Social workers donate their time offering counseling and career services.Things that helped Mike change his ways.”It felt good to have someone who cared.”Mike is studying to become a pastor and Brett is enrolled at UMA with a goal to become a substance abuse counselor.Jack Weeks, the former drug dealer is back on track too. After being homeless, today he owns his own home and is the church’s shelter director.”You’ve got guys that had their house burn down, divorces, getting out of jail. We’ll take guys under house arrest. We are very careful that though no one with sexual offenses because we do have children here on the weekends.”It all started last year when pastor Richard Berry took in one man. Word spread, and now the church houses 17 men.”Everybody now sees them as a burden if they’re homeless, but there’s no real burden if nobody’s helping them.”But with room running out, and the town code enforcement officer taking notice, both men are praying for a new building.”We need materials to build with and we’re trying to do everything without money.” Donations have helped get the foundation in, but the goal is to have a 24 bed house up by winter.Because Berry says it’s men like this who can be helped if given a second chance.

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Trenton Elementary Unveils New Sign

Updated 5 years ago

Folks got together at Trenton Elementary School this evening for the unveiling of a new sign.The sign was a gift from last year’s 8th grade class.A student speaker said the class wanted to give the school something that was unique.The design showcases the school’s mascot, the Timberwolves.The Students did fundraisers last year to pay for the gift. Barbara Buza, a local artist, designed the sign. Buza says, “I volunteered to paint some wolves for the kids and I really wanted it to be a nice sign to represent the Timberwolves and so we worked on it over the summer and I think everyone’s pleased with it.”The artist says she is going make prints of the painting and give one to the school. She also says they’re thinking of making the sign a little larger over the winter.

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