A convicted embezzler is going to prison for three-and-a-half years.Cecelia Mason of Exeter is charged with stealing more than 100-thousand dollars from the former Asian Palace in Bangor.And more than 300-thousand dollars from David Warren Company, a forestry business in Surry.Mason, who at the time of the charges went by the name Cecelia White, will have four years of probation and has to pay more than 350-thousand dollars in restitution. The state described her as a “serial embezzler.”” She in our opinion was a serial embezzler in that she went from one victim to another essentially without pausing.””I don’t know who that person is that they are talking about. I have all my life tried to be the best person I could be.”Mason is required to make monthly payments of 200-hundred dollars toward the restitution.
One month from today, TV stations will stop broadcasting their analog signal.The switchover to digital has meant a lot of work for a lot of people. Lots of viewers had no problems getting their houses ready for the digital switch, but for others, there were snags along the way.”Just because they got analog at one time, they’re not necessarily going to be getting digital,” says Anthony Delfin, an outdoor antenna and satellite installer. “So it has not been a very friendly transition. A lot of folks, in fact, are quite disappointed in terms of reception.”There’s no data available showing how many Mainers gave up trying to find a digital signal and switched over to cable or satellite.Delfin and his son, Joseph, own Patriot Satellite and Appliance in Brewer. They take calls from folks who aren’t always happy with the DTV switch.”And they feel as though, well hey, I’ve had this for a generation, 20-25 years, and now I’ve got to pay for it? Especially for older folks on fixed incomes, they’re not able to afford cable or Dish Network or Directv, and there’s a lot of confusion about what analog TV is versus digital. So we’ve been answering a lot of questions along those lines.”He says he’s seen an uptick in business for about the past nine months. For some, an outdoor antenna helped them find the digital signal. Others, especially in areas where cable isn’t available, decided to install satellite TV.”Things rolled out very badly with the DTV transition, lets be honest,” says TV5 Program Director Steve Hiltz. “We were all in the dark, even the broadcasters were. We had to switch.”Hiltz says the government sometimes sent out mixed messages.”We waited patiently, we heard about this DTV converter box that never got to market until what, about a year ago. Everyone had to get their coupons right now, and use them right now,” he says.He says now that most of the big issues have been ironed out, he’s hoping for a smooth transition on June 12th.”Here’s the real truth. Digital signals are better than analog signals, it’s a cleaner, better signal and folks who have found it will tell you that.”Even though the majority of people are ready for the analog signal to be dropped, folks who help people find the digital signal are ready for phone calls the day after June 12th.”We may not be able to help everyone,” Hiltz says, “but we will do all that we can.”
Police say a Unity College student who failed to do a thorough cleaning of her dorm room before leaving campus is facing criminal charges after security guards found several marijuana plants growing in her room.19-year-old Annica McGuirk of Cabot, AK, has been charged with cultivation, sale and use of marijuana.Afer graduation ceremonies on Saturday, security guards checked dorm rooms the following evening to make sure they were emptied. That’s when theydiscovered the plants in plastic containers.McGuirk is scheduled to appear in court July 7.
The Maine Legislature Education Committee expects to vote this week on a bill to reshape Maine’s high school graduation requirements and give students more of a choice in what they study.The state-backed legislation won praise from technical school officials and business leaders, but arts, language and physical education teachers said the measure represents a step backward.Under the proposal, students would have to meet standards in English, math, science and social studies. They also would choose to meet standards in one of four other subject areas: arts, health, world languages, or a career certification.Students would partially meet standards in the remaining subject areas in order to graduate.
Gas prices in Maine are going up as the summer travel season approaches. According to AAA, which tracks gas prices nationwide, a gallon of regular was averaging $2.28 on Monday. In the Bangor area AAA is reports an average of $2.29 per gallon. While the numbers may be rising they are still nearly $1.50 cheaper than a year ago, when gasoline prices were spiking around the world. AAA says Maine gas prices are a nickel a gallon higher than the national average.To view AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report click here.
An emotional day at the Hancock County Superior Court on Monday.49-year old Kevin Cobb was sentenced on 18 counts of gross sexual assault and unlawful sexual contact.The victim?His daughter.Joy Hollowell has reaction from both inside and outside the courtroom.++++++++++++++++ “You failed me as a father, as my elder, but most of all, you failed me as my hero.”Kayla was just 10 years old the first time she says her father sexually assaulted her. The abuse would continue for five more years and eventually lead to a jury convicting 49-year old Kevin Cobb on 18 counts of gross sexual assault and unlawful sexual contact.On Monday the Lamoine man, and Kayla, were back in the courtroom, this time for sentencing. Cobb thanked his family and friends for their support, then spoke to his daughter directly. “Please find forgiveness in your heart, if not for me, for yourself, as I shall for you.”Supporters for Kevin and Kayla packed either side of the courtroom. Many of them chose to address the judge. Cobb’s attorney, Jeffrey Silverstein, also read a letter from his four sisters, asking for leniency in sentencing.Silverstein argued that his client had no prior criminal record, had held a steady job, and always put his family first.In the end, Justice William Anderson said the violation of trust as well as Cobb’s lack of remorse were big enough factors to come up with this sentence. “16 years in the Department of Corrections, with all but 12 years suspended, so 12 years of time served in prison.”Cobb will also need to serve 10 years probation.Cobb’s family chose not to speak to TV 5. Kayla Garriott did. She says the sentence was not what she had hoped for, but it did help in the healing process. “It’s part of my past, it’s always going to be with me, but I can move forward now, and this was not necessarily a closure, but it definitely closed one door and I can start a new chapter in my life.”
After next month, Mainecare funding will stop covering some services provided by the state’s seven assisted living facilities.The director of the state’s Office of Elder Services visited Freeses Assisted Living in Bangor Monday. Diana Scully says the state is working to find money to make sure residents have what they need to keep living there.The governor has pledged a million dollars for the next two years, and other state programs will kick in too.Medicaid had provided 2.7 million dollars to assisted living facilities.Residents had worried that services, like meals and medication administration, would stop entirely. “And I just want to be totally reassuring,” says Scully. “That is not our intention, it is our commitment that they will continue to have services on July first.”Over the next few days, residents will be assessed to determine their needs.Administrators hope to have more answers about funding in the next few weeks.
Some extra money is coming to the state to help clean up brownfield sites. Those are areas that have been found to be contaminated with hazardous chemicals or pollutants. Some of the money is coming from the Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.The Town of Howland is getting $600,000 to clean up the Old Howland Tannery Site. $350,000 will be used to clean up the American Tissue Mill Site in Augusta.The Town of Orono is getting $200,000 to clean up Webster Mill, and the Washington County Council of Governments will get $400,000.
Residents of Monson are heading to the polls tomorrow to decide if their elementary school should be closed.The superintendent of SAD 68 recommended closing the Monson Elementary School as a way of saving money in the district. Then the district board voted in favor of closing the school. That would mean students would have to be bused to Dover-Foxcroft.But now residents in Monson will have their say. The vote will take place in the Monson Town Hall Meeting Room, Tuesday from 9 am – 8 pm.Residents of a school district in Washington County will also be deciding Tuesday whether to keep their schools open.The SAD 37 Board voted to close schools in Columbia Falls and Cherryfield at the end of this year.Residents could vote to keep the schools open at a significant cost. Some estimate taxes would increase around 70 percent.Voters in both towns will be going to the polls Tuesday.
Running a business anytime can be tough, but when the economy is bad, it’s even harder.Janyce Boynton in Bangor has seen a dip in her sales, but she keeps on going because she loves what she makes.Janyce Boynton used to be a teacher, and didn’t imagine she’d be making a living sitting behind a sewing machine.Especially since 10 years ago, she didn’t even sew. But nearly a decade ago, she got hooked on quilting. “Actually it sort of was an accident. I’ve always been interested in art and I was at the craft store with my boyfriend’s mother and she held up a magazine that had mini quilts on the front.”Janyce learned to make them, and didn’t want to stop. At the time she was taking a break from her teaching career, and figured she could make a little money selling her work. That’s how her business, Sojourn Quilts, was born.Janyce has her own take on quilting. “I don’t make traditional quilts but I do like quilted art wall hangings and I use traditional techniques but I use my own designs that tend to be contemporary.”Some of those wall hangings sell for a few hundred dollars, but Janyce has discovered those are not her biggest sellers these days.Her customers are being a bit more frugal in this down economy, so she’s come up with these original art quilted cards, that go for just a few dollars.Janyce’s business has taken another hit, federal regulations require crafters like Janyce to prove that their products don’t contain lead and other chemicals.She’s trying to get the proper documentation from all the manufacturers who sell her supplies.But that’s been slow going,so that means her most popular item, the Not Your Typical Lobster, is not being sold right now. “More than anything else that’s why my sales are so slow because it’s like I’m starting over again because my most popular item, I don’t feel comfortable putting on line.”So Janyce is looking at this as an opportunity to be more creative, and expand her product line.Not to mention she’s still getting to do a job that she enjoys, it’s really a dream come true. “Can I believe it? Not really. It’s kind of fun to do something that you like to do and make money at it. So in that way it’s sort of unbelievable. I get to work out of my home, I get to meet really cool people, I get to play with fabric, It’s pretty fun.”To contact Janyce, you can log onto her website: www.sojournquilts.etsy.com
At a price tag of fifteen thousand dollars, a windmill is a pretty sizeable investment for any residence.But when the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor received enough grant money to cover the windmill and it’s installation, they just had to decide where to put it.Then they decided to use it as a teaching experience. “We had talked about doing a turbine on campus but the ordinances for Bar Harbor were prohibitive,” Said Anna Demeo, a lecturer at COA, “so it made sense to do one here at the farm.”Beech Hill Farm in Mount Desert is used by students as a classroom and an organic farm. The ten students in the Practicum in Windpower of the College of the Atlantic had the optimistic goal of having the turbine cover the farm’s electricity needs. “What we’ve really tried to do is bring the students into what was done for example for siting where on this farm are we going to put the turbine,” said Demeo. We chose this spot because there was a point in the course where the students walked around to all the sites we had considered and looked at the pros and cons.”Learning about those pros and cons will help the students who want to go into alternative energy after graduation like Senior Haley Schwartz of Colorado. “There is so much siting that has to be done and research getting just spreading the word and letting people know that this is an alternative that’s feasible for them.”This is the same type of set up you’d use at your house according to Demeo. “It’s very demonstrative of any residence who would like to do a wind power project that power goes back to the grid and it’s a net metering system here in Maine so credits are generated for times when the wind turbines are producing more power than the house is using, the farm gets a credit and when it’s the other way around they pay for the electricity.”The turbine being lifted and bolted into place, made all of the hours the students put in the class worth it. “It’s really exciting we had one of those turbines in our classroom for a good two weeks and we just looked at it and knew that one day it’d be up in the air so it’s super exciting we’ve been doing a lot of work to get to this point,” said Schwartz. “We can see the work that we’ve done and it’s actually going to be put to use and other people are going to be seeing that for years to come, so it’s been an awesome course.”College of the Atlantic will hold a public “opening” of the turbine at the Beech Hill Farm with presentations by faculty and staff on Wednesday May 27th, at 9:30am.It is the first wind turnbine to be erected on Mount Desert Island, and is part of an ongoing commitment by COA to “develop leadership in residential scale alternative energy innovations.”
The Bangor Daily News says 43,000 mid-coastal Maine residents and businesses will receive its new free weekly newspaper beginning May 21st. The Midcoast Beacon is patterned after a Bangor-area paper called the weekly, which has been published for seven years. The Midcoast Beacon will be mailed free to every household in Waldo and Knox counties, as well as Waldoboro in Lincoln county. It will also have an online component. Bangor Daily News Executive Editor Mark Woodward says the Midcoast Beacon is designed to reach a broad audience in a targeted geographic area.
Governor Baldacci is pledging his support to Maine’s independent truckers, still struggling from last year’s fuel price increases and the weak economy. The governor met with a group of truckers who say they may not be able to stay in business. In addition to the economic crisis, they’re also feeling the effects of mill slowdowns and closures across the state. Baldacci supports changing federal law to raise truck weight limits on interstate highways in Maine. He also supports efforts for a federal law insuring that money raised from fuel surcharges goes to truckers.
It’s the biggest thing to happen to television since we switched from black and white to color. The transition to digital — and it’s nearly here. By now, just about everyone knows that on June 12th, TV stations will stop broadcasting their analog signal. But finding the digital signal hasn’t been easy for everyone, and some people still have questions.”What antenna is going to work for me?” That’s the number one question posed to Jeremy Rackliff about DTV. The number two question? “What do I need to hook it up?”The Radio Shack manager has been fielding questions about the switch to digital TV since late last year. But he says there’s still confusion out there. First — HD and DTV aren’t the same thing.”They’re two separate pieces,” he says. “The high definition is just a very good quality picture that comes across and is aired on some shows, not all, versus the digital transition is actually the airwaves that are sending this picture to you.”Getting that digital signal is what’s causing problems for some people. The landscape in our state doesn’t make it easy.”Digital signals are very directional and very subject to interference,” says TV5 Program Director Steve Hiltz. “If there’s anything in the way or if your antenna is not in the exact right place, literally just moving it a few feet can help.”He says now that most folks have converter boxes, if they needed them for their analog TVs, the biggest challenge is positioning their antennas properly.”Finding that spot is a lot harder with digital television,” he says. “A few degrees off could make a huge difference in your ability to receive a signal.”Every TV and every house is in a different spot relative to the closest TV transmitter, so there’s no magic answer for everyone. Hiltz says it might take a lot of old-fashioned experimentation. “Although it’s been burdensome, I think in the end, like everything else that happens with technology, it will be worth it.” He says we’ll see a cleaner, better picture.But what about those who’ve tried everything, and they’re still not getting the digital signal? For now, there’s cable — if it’s available in your area — or satellite.”I don’t think the difficulties are going to go away. I have to say honestly there might be folks out there who can’t receive a digital signal at their current location. And those are going to be the areas we have to look into what’s the next step. I think that’s going to be a federal and state issue, probably primarily a federal issue,” he says.—Tomorrow we’ll hear about some bumps in the road to DTV, and we’ll talk to a local antenna and satellite installer.If you still have questions about your conversion, the FCC will be holding DTV clinics at the following locations in Maine. You can also log on to www.dtvforme.com for more information.DTV CLINICS—Date: May 11, 2009Time: 4:00 PM-8:00 PM Location: K-Mart, 830 Main St., Presque Isle ME, 04769— Date: May 12, 2009Time: 5:30 PM-8:00 PM Location: 389 Main St., Madawaska ME, 04756— Date: May 13, 2009Time: 3:00 PM-7:00 PM Location: K-Mart, 830 Main St., Presque Isle ME, 04769— Date: May 19, 2009Time: 4:00 PM-8:00 PM Location: K-Mart, 18 Elm Plz, Waterville ME 04901—Date: May 20, 2009Time: 4:00 PM-8:00 PM Location: K-Mart, 603 Center St, Auburn, ME 04210— Date: May 21, 2009Time: 4:00 PM-8:00 PM Location: K-Mart, 688 Hogan Rd, Bangor ME 04401—Date: May 22, 2009Time: 4:00 PM-8:00 PM Location: K-Mart, 58 Western Avenue, Augusta, ME 04330—Date: May 23-24, 2009Time: 9:00 AM-2:00 PM Location: Spring Auto Festival & Antique Aeroplane Show, Owls Head Transportation Museum, Owls Head, ME 04854— Date: May 26, 2009Time: 4:00 PM-8:00 PM Location: K-Mart, 18 Elm Plz, Waterville ME 04901— Date: May 27, 2009Time: 4:00 PM-8:00 PM Location: K-Mart, 603 Center St, Auburn, ME 04210—Date: May 28, 2009Time: 4:00 PM-8:00 PM Location: K-Mart, 688 Hogan Rd, Bangor ME 04401— Date: May 29, 2009Time: 4:00 PM-8:00 PM Location: K-Mart, 58 Western Avenue, Augusta, ME 04330
Customs and Border Patrol officials say they’re ready for the new regulations that go into effect June first.That’s when the country fully implements the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.It requires everyone entering the country to have specialized documents, like passports or special driver’s licenses, that prove who they are and where they’re from.Officials say most people crossing the border now already have all the required documents.
Legislators took Mother’s Day off from working on the budget over the weekend.Appropriations committee members convened Saturday and will be back at it Monday at the State House.Specific items expected to come up include statewide personal services and state employee health insurance.Negotiators are reviewing a revised proposal from Governor Baldacci to cover a potential shortfall through June of 2011 of more than 900 million dollars.
Local fire crews were out in force Saturday night, responding to reports of fires sparked by lightning.There were reports of utility poles on fire and a few houses hit, but fortunately, no serious damage was done.But Bangor Assistant Fire Chief Rick Cheverie says it’s a good opportunity to remind folks about lightning safety.He says this time of year, people need to be aware of how to protect themselves during storms.His advice? If there’s less than 30 seconds between strikes, that means it’s close, and you should seek shelter.Cheverie says it’s also important for homeowners to know what to do in the event that their house is hit… “If you believe your home has been struck by lightning, the first thing to do is get out of your home…call the fire department and check it out…it can cause a smoldering fire in many locations within a home.”Cheverie says it’s also important for boaters to remember to get off the water immediately if they notice thunder and lightning.
The shelves of Maine’s food pantries will soon be better stocked…thanks to the generous folks who took part in the National Letter Carriers Food Drive Saturday.The event is in its 17-th year.It’s the largest one-day food drive in the country.Letter carriers left notices in mailboxes this week, encouraging folks to leave out bags of non-perishable foods.On Saturday, they collected the goods by the ton.Then, volunteers sorted it all at the Hampden Postal plant.Everything collected in our area will stay local. “All the food that’s donated in a particular area stays in pantries in those areas. the food is collected locally so for example, food that’s collected in calais, maine stays in calais maine for families who need it there.” So said United Way of Eastern Maine member Sarah Yasner.Since 1993, Letter Carriers have collected more than three quarters of a billion pounds of food for the hungry.
Health officials have released the latest swine flu statistics for the state.According to the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are now 13 cases in Maine.Maine’s top physician, Dr. Dora Anne Mills, says an adult from Cumberland County represents the latest case to be confirmed by the state lab.There are now five cases in York County: three in Kennebec County: four in Cumberland County: and one in Penobscot County.Mills says six of the 13 traveled to an area with confirmed swine flu. Of the other seven, five had no contact with an identified patient. Mills says that suggests they got swine flu from others with the disease in Maine who have yet to be documented.
Folks attending certain other commencement ceremonies this month will notice some changes from years past.In the wake of the swine flu scare, several schools have initiated new health procedures for their ceremonies.At the University of Maine at Farmington, where the commencement will be held next Saturday, students are being asked to apply hand sanitizer before they go on stage to get their diplomas.In central Maine, Colby, Thomas, Unity and Kennebec Valley Community colleges, as well as the University of Maine at Farmington and the University of Maine at Augusta, all have flu plans.That’s according to the Morning Sentinel newspaper.Unity College will have hand-washing stations set up at its commencement events, and free packets of hand sanitizer will be handed out.