The search for a missing hiker from Pennsylvania last seen on Park Tote Road in Baxter State Park was called off today, after it was discovered that he wasn’t missing.On Monday, a Brewer resident contacted authorities to report that they had found an expensive backpack left on the Appalachian Trail west of Abol Bridge.Park rangers investigated the report and discovered the backpack. Upon further investigation they came to the conclusion that it belonged to a hiker named John Meharg of Reading, Pennsylvania.When investigators contacted Meharg’s family, they discovered that he was at his home in Pennsylvania.While Mr. Meharg initially denied leaving his backpack behind, he later admitted that the backpack was his.According to Meharg, he had planned on starting at the top of Mount Katahdin and then head south on the Appalachian Trail. Unable to reach the top of the mountain because of weather conditions, he ended up near the West Branch of the Penobscot River. He then made his way to a road for help after injuring himself.Meharg made it to Millinocket Hospital, where he was treated for his injuries, then took a taxi to Bangor, where he rented a vehicle to drive back to Pennsylvania.The Maine Warden Service strongly urges people who are going hiking to let someone know your route, when you are leaving and when you are expected back. The hiking trails are wet and slippery this time of year so caution should be taken.
Lights…Camera …Action.Students at Sebasticook Middle School in Corinna took the stage Thursday to show off their acting skills.As Meghan Hayward tells us, it’s a play with a message.Why didn’t I wear my bike helmet?The importance of wearing your bike helmet. That’s the message sixth graders at Sebasticook Valley Middle School are trying to get across.As part of the awesome body project the middle schoolers chose to focus on the brain.Sixth grade teacher Kelly Flagg says they had no clue how well the children would do.”They have just run with it. I mean they took our ideas and they improved them. I mean they made everything so much greater than we had envisioned that it’s been exciting for us to see what they’ve come up with.”All the sixth graders had recently read the book “Mick Harte Was Here” and decided to base their play on the novel. It’s about a boy who rides his bike without wearing a helmet and gets in an accident.”The story was very touching and very emotional too. And it made it perfect for what we’re doing.”The students have spent over a month putting the project together. Flagg says it was a great learning experience.”You know if we could prevent one, its worth it.”Fourth grader Justice Hodges says he got a lot out of the play.”I learned the most is to not ride you bike without wearing a helmet because you can get horribly injured.”Sixth graders Michaela Dumont and Shawna King also learned a lot.”That an inch of styrofoam can save you life. There’s no point of not wearing something. It might make you look bad but it will save your life.””And I think you should wear your helmets because I wouldn’t want to end up like Mick and because the doctors said he could have lived if he was wearing his helmet.”A single story with a powerful message. One that will now echo through the heads of young students.
A paper machine in Lincoln is being temporarily shut down.The machine at Lincoln Paper and Tissue will stop Friday and be off line for at least a week.We’re told it’s because of low demand for products made at the mill.The company says up to sixteen workers will be affected.President and C-E-O Keith Van Scotter says most of those workers will be reassigned to other jobs.But he expects two to four workers to be temporarily laid off.
Maine Maritime Academy’s training ship, the “State of Maine,” has been delayed on its training cruise.The ship set sail from Castine Wednesday on a two-month journey.As it was leaving East Bay, an engine malfunction occurred.The crew immediately turned around and headed back to Searsport Harbor, where they’re now anchored.MMA officials have located the part they need to fix the engine and are waiting for it to be shipped from Germany.No word yet on when the ship will be able to continue on its way.The ship’s captain, Larry Wade, says the situation is providing valuable training for students in dealing with the unexpected at sea.The training cruise will take the students as far as Florida, Puerto Rico and Newfoundland.
Students at the McGraw School in Hampden will have a much easier time doing their math homework from now on…They’re now the proud owners of some important learning tools…and it’s all thanks to a unique partnership between the school and the community.Amy Erickson has the story.< "you can count by numbers."It may not seem all that exciting to grownups, but when these little ones at the McGraw school were presented with their very own calculators...it was cause for celebration."what do you do to turn it on? You hit the 'on' button."The school has had calculators on their wish list for a while...but with all the budget cuts, there wasn't much extra money to spend.Lucky for the students, the folks at Maine Savings Federal Credit Union stepped in to help.They heard about the wish list from one of their vendors."when he approached us about the need, it was a no brainer. We said sure, we'll take care of it right away."Don Poisson dropped off 300 calculators to the school Thursday...they were an instant hit."i think it's pretty nice of them to do that.""it's going to help us learn...help us in math and science and addition.""to divide and help us...add.""usually, you use calculators for math, like 9 plus 2 equals 11."Dawn Beswick is president of the school's PTO.She's hoping this is just the beginning of the organization's partnerships with community businesses interested in fostering learning."i think it's great that the community's helping the school out. It's certainly going to be a need now with the cutbacks with the budget."bite "we're going need to look at more creative ways to raise money and make the difference for the budget cuts.""anything we can do to help education, it really makes sense that we do that. And it helps our community.""i hope what they get out of that is to learn math skills, money skills and hopefully have deposits with us as they grow up (laughs)!"Amy Erickson, WABI TV5 News, Hampden.>
Lawmakers in Augusta continue to debate, at least for another day, as to whether or not changes should be made to Maine’s sex offender registry.The criminal justice and public safety committee has a bill before them that aims to give courts more power on which restrictions convicted sex offenders should abide by.Current law sets the same restrictions for all convicted sex offenders.Another bill being looked at by committee members seeks to remove some offenders from the registry.Towns are currently allowed to notify neighbors if a convicted offender has moved to the area.Both bills were tabled on Wednesday. Lawmakers will revisit them Thursday afternoon when a committee vote is expected.
Traffic on Route 1A in Winterport is back to two lanes.It had been reduced to one lane as of 6:45 Thursday morning following a car crash.Authorities tell TV5 that only minor injuries were reported in the accident, which took place near the post office in town.
Officials have identified three new cases of swine flu in Maine, bringing the state’s number of total cases to 10.The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the new cases include a child in Cumberland County and adults in York and Kennebec counties.All four cases that have been confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control are in York County.State officials said five of the Mainers who contracted the virus have a history of travel.Kennebunk Elementary School, the only Maine school to close because of swine flu, reopened Wednesday, a day earlier than expected.
Both the Cherryfield and Columbia Falls elementary schools are slated to close at the end of this year, following a decision by S.A.D 37.But voters next week could decide to keep the schools open — at a significant cost.”This town doesn’t have a lot. We have a church, we have a post office, and we have a very nice school,” says Columbia Falls Selectman Vance Pineo. “And, we want to keep it.”Columbia Falls selectmen say the state has put residents of the town in a tough spot. They can vote to keep their school open, and face a tax increase — which they figure would be around 70-percent — or close their school.”The general consensus is no, we don’t want to close our school,” says Selectman Grace Falzarano.”It’s a hard choice to go into a voting booth, and vote to raise my taxes by 70 percent — or to close my grammar school,” says Selectman Alan Grant. “That’s a no-win situation.”They say most people in town can’t afford the increase, no matter how much they want to keep the school they call the center of their community.”They’re forcing the community to close the school, ourselves, because of dollars and cents. That’s what they’ve done for us,” says Falzarano.S.A.D 37 Superintentendent David Beal says the money just isn’t there.”The board understands fully what the loss of those schools in the communities would mean, absolutely,” he says. “But, there is a tremendous burden on taxpayers as well because of the loss of revenues in the state.”If voters keep the schools, taxes would go up to cover the projected costs savings from closing.”Until we have all those figures we don’t know what the assessment would be to Columbia Falls or to Cherryfield. But whatever that assessment is, obviously costs will go up,” says Beal.He says no matter what voters decide next Tuesday, it will take the district awhile to recover. Selectmen Pineo says, “I just don’t see, really, much of a choice.”Columbia Falls held a public hearing Monday on the issue. Cherryfield is holding a similar hearing tonight at 6:30 at the elementary school.
Bangor Police are investigating the burglaries of three churches in the downtown area.Last Sunday, an officer responded to an alarm at the All Souls Church. He heard noises inside, called for back-up, but whoever was inside got away.Two days later, the Columbia Street Baptist Church and the First Baptist Church on Center Street reported that someone broke in. A small amount of cash was taken in those cases.Police aren’t sure if all three break-ins are connected. Anyone with information should contact Bangor Police.
The pink tulips are blooming around Bangor, and this year you’ll find yellow ones too. The gardens are part of the Pink Tulip Project, to raise money for breast cancer research.The program was started four years ago, by a breast cancer survivor in southern Maine. She got the idea to sell each tulip, and then plant them in public gardens.The money goes to the Maine Cancer Foundation, plus when the flowers arrive, awareness of the disease blooms among all those who see them.This year, you’ll also see yellow tulips. Community Organizer, Ann Marie Orr says, that’s to let people know that breast cancer can strike in men too. “This is for awareness and breast cancer for men is just as deadly as it is for women and although we have more awareness in early detection, men don’t necessarily. So, it’s important to be aware of that.”There are now eight gardens in Bangor, and two at the University of Maine.To find out how you can be a part of this, you can log onto www.pinktulipproject.org.
Laws and rules to protect animals in Maine are considered among the strongest in the nation, but we still see cases of cruelty and neglect. In fact, the state Animal Welfare Division gets more than 900 reports each year.The problem is, there aren’t enough people to enforce those rules, and so animals sometimes slip through the cracks. That was the case for Ranger.”Everyday it’s a miracle to see him do something new, exciting”Ranger has recently found a new home with Anita Buss, Maureen Connolly and their other standard poodles.For the first eight years of his life he lived at a breeding kennel in Newport. He was found at the facility last December by Barbara Skapa of Maine Poodle Rescue. She found him and the other dogs at the facility advertised, in what she considers the bible for puppy mills in Maine: Uncle Henry’s. The red flag, these standard poodle puppies, which normally would sell for over $1000 were going for only $250.”So we decided to go check it out with my friend here. We did find the situation there absolutely appalling, appalling.”The huskies are housed in the front, and the standard poodles are hidden from view out back. Barbara negotiated a deal with the owner of the facility, Carol Thibeault. Barbara would buy several puppies in exchange for getting a breeding dog for free. That turned out to be Ranger.She says, he was in bad condition.”We went to pick him up and put him in the truck. We took his collar off. It was so tight and so rusty that when we brought him to the vet the next day, he said his trachea is damaged, he can’t bark.””You could put your fingers into his spine and feel between his vertebraes when we went to pick him up which was quite disgusting”Vet records also show that Ranger was underweight, his ears were badly infected, he had severe dental disease that required several teeth to be extracted, and he had worms.Not to mention, Ranger has behavioral issues, that suggests he wasn’t around people very often. He’s very scared and isn’t social.”So how would you describe this facility in Newport? I guess borderline is how I describe it.”, says Christine Fraser, State Veterinarian.State Animal Welfare Officials say they’ve had this facility on the radar for years. In 2004, Thibeault turned over 50 dogs, and in 2007 surrendered another 15 to animal welfare. At last report she still had 17 dogs.Investigators have looked into several other complaints about the facility, including one prompted by the rescue of Ranger. They went back to the kennel last January where they did find a violation of a state rule. It was so cold in the kennels that water buckets were freezing. So state officials gave Thibeault a chance to correct the problem so the dogs could always have access to fresh water. They say she’s done so. But for animal lovers like Barbara and Anita, it’s difficult to understand why this facility can be the target of state investigations for so many years, and still be in business.State officials say their hands are tied. They say the kennel might not be pretty, but it meets all current standards.”The housing was adequate as to our standards as of this date. And she cares for them they have food, they have shelter. By law, she does what she needs, but it is always a concern about the degree of care they need. “We asked Carol Thibeault, the owner of the Newport Kennel for a comment. She declined.State officials say they are now working to improve the standards for kennels in the state.And even if they do, they might not have enough people to enforce the rules. We’ll have more on that in part two of our story.One note, there are reputable dog breeders that advertise in Uncle Henry’s as well, you just need to watch out for some red flags.
A teenager from Winterport had his wish come true.Now he’s working hard to make sure other children have their wishes granted too.At first glance, Tony Cote looks like your average 13-year old.But take a step closer and you’ll find a unique and courageous boy.”Tony was diagnosed with CF when he was nine months old. We had issues from the day he was born. Literally from the time we brought him home from the hospital, well before I brought him home from the hospital, I knew there was something not right.”Tony wakes up at 6 a-m each morning for treatment and takes 35 pills every day.When he heard about the Make A Wish Foundation and the chance to escape it all for a week, he jumped at the opportunity.”It was nice to be able to like get out, stop, take a break with the treatments and stuff. I still had to do them, but it didn’t seem as long. It felt better down there.”Before Tony could escape, he had to choose a wish.He says he had a little help.”My mom pretty much said that I had to do something that wasn’t totally selfish and we had been talking about how we wanted to go to Disney World for awhile and I just decided on that.”A decision Tony is happy he made and one Jim Christie of the Make A Wish Foundation is glad he could grant.”He is just incredible, I mean the kid is a dynamo.”Tony was given V-I-P treatment from the minute he was picked up in a limo.After his experience, he decided he wanted to help other children with their wishes.The Winterport Dream Walkers were created.”Mom wanted something that would have the town’s name in it.”The Dream Walkers are trying to raise enough money to grant two maine kids in the Bangor area their wishes.The average cost of a wish is six thousand dollars.Jim Christie says it’s people like Tony that allow them to be able to do what they do.”When somebody like Tony steps up and says I want to do my part its tremendous, its just tremendous.”
A Calais firefighter was remembered Wednesday.Billy Townsend lost his battle with leukemia last Friday…he was just 27 years old…As Meghan Hayward tells us, his friends say he really was one of a kind.He was a simple man who loved simple things. He didn’t need anything lavish or anything like that.”Calais Fire Captain Dale Purton says that’s the best way to describe Billy Townsend…he credits Billy for the kind of person he is today.”He made me a better person. He made me see things a lot different. For me to be more compassionate with people.”Townsend came from a family of firefighters and at a young age fell in love with the job.By the age of fourteen, he was enrolled in the junior program…a program that Purton says other teens have because of billy.”He was the first person to do that, first person to complete that and basically he got the program going.”As soon as Billy turned eighteen, he was in the chief’s office signing up to be a call person.He left Calais for awhile and worked in Lincoln, but Purton says Billy was a hometown guy and wanted to return to Calais.”The truth, he was a true firefighter. He loved to fight fires and liked to do everything that was involved with that.”Wednesday, firefighters from Calais, Lincoln. and St. Stephen came to pay their respects.”And probably the biggest thing we will with him is his smile. He always smiled.”Purton says that smile was on his face when he was fighting fires, or outdoors hunting and fishing…but most of all, when he was with his children.It’s that smile that will stay with Purton and the other firefighters who had the honor of working alongside Billy, firefighter number thirteen.”For me I’ll miss him forever and there will never be anyone that can replace him.
There could be fewer state lawmakers in Maine in the future and voters would get the final say.A bill to reduce the number of Representatives to the Maine House from 151 to 131 was approved in the House Wednesday.It faces further House and Senate votes.If it passes it would be a Constitutional Amendment, which would require a state-wide vote in the fall.If voters passed it, the change would take hold in 2013.
A local jeweler is reaching out to local Moms with children deployed overseas.He’s treating them to a little bit of luxury this Mother’s Day weekend.Amy Erickson has the story.”Well, they’re doing a heck of a job for us, so whatever I can give back to them. I really appreciate what they do.”Sonny LeClair has been thinking of ways he can honor the men and women serving the country overseas.As the owner of Quality Jewelers in Bangor, he has several employees with relatives in the military.So he’s decided to run a special Mother’s Day promotion for those females with loved ones serving overseas.”We’re going to give away a free strand of cultured pearls to anyone that has a family member deployed, whether it be a mother, grandmother, sister, aunt…anything at all.”You don’t have to buy a thing to get a necklace.LeClair says the giveaway is just his way of saying thank you to the servicemen and women making sacrifices.”The necklace is an 18″ strand of pearls…they are cultured pearls, natural…and they’re very nice.”They’re valued at $200 apiece…and LeClair has 100 to give away.”We’re gonna do it friday and saturday this week. We open at 9 both days, we lose at 5 on friday, 4 on saturday, and while supplies last, we’re going to give away the strands.”And it’s not just about honoring the mothers and grandmothers…LeClair hopes the women will bring in a reminder of their loved ones…so others can see the men and women putting their lives on the line on a daily basis.”We’d like to have them bring in a picture that we can post on the wall, just to show people.”Amy Erickson, WABI TV5 News, Bangor.
On Wednesday Governor Baldacci signed the bill that would legalize gay marriages in the state of Maine. Voters could still overturn the law in a referendum.Wednesday morning, the Maine State Senate voted 21-13 in favor of legalizing same sex marriages. Late afternoon Wednesday New Hampshire lawmakers passed a bill to allow gay marriage. There are four states that currently allow same-sex marriages. Connecticut, Massachusetts and Iowa have been ordered by the courts to do so, and Connecticut has enacted a law codifying a court ruling. Vermont passed a gay marriage law in April over the governor’s objection.To watch WABI TV5′s special series on the Gay Marriage Debate click on the stories here.
The prospect of a one cent tax on water brought a crowd to the state house on Tuesday.The bill would impose a penny per gallon tax on water pumped from springs and other sources here in Maine.Out of state water bottlers wouldn’t have to pay it.Nearly one hundred opponents of the bill showed up in Augusta to let their feelings be known. Most of them work for the Poland Spring water company.They say the new law would discourage Poland Spring from growing its business in Maine.It’s estimated the penny tax would cost Poland Spring seven-million dollars each year.
A Newburgh man has been charged in connection with the death of 17-year-old Nathan Clark, the Hampden teen who went missing in March and who’s body was later found in a gravel pit in Winterport.Hampden police say 44-year-old Michael Fortunato provided kids under the age of 18 with a place to consume alcohol, and provided them with marijuana and prescription drugs.After a month long investigation, authorities say there’s evidence that Clark was one of the teens Fortunato associated with.Fortunato has been charged with two counts of aggravated furnishing of a scheduled drug. Both of which are class C crimes or felonies, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.Hampden police say the charges against Fortunato are not in relation to the cause of Clark’s death.They are still looking into the case, and say more charges related to alcohol could follow.The State Medical Examiner has not yet released an official cause of death in Nathan Clark’s case. Fortunato is scheduled to appear in Bangor Superior Court in June.
Eleven days after his internet service went out, a business owner in Camden says he can’t believe the problem still hasn’t been fixed.He says it’s hurting his business.”It’s almost impossible to operate right now,” says Raymond Brunyanszki, owner of the Camden Harbour Inn. They use online services to book all their reservations and run credit cards. Except for the past 11 days.”In this day and age, the internet is a vital component to our operation, and we are losing money because of Fairpoint,” he says.The Inn lost service after some server upgrades. But Brunyanszki says after daily calls to Fairpoint, they still don’t know why they’re not back online.He says restaurant reservations are down twenty percent, and taking down everything by hand and using the phone to run credit cards is tying up business.”Well, we’re back to the seventies, we have slips and this thing — I don’t even know what you call it anymore.”He says on the old slips, people are forgetting to tip their servers. And hotel guests aren’t pleased there’s no Wi-Fi.”At some point, I just got, you know, it almost became like a joke to me, that every time when I called them we got the same response. Sometimes they they couldn’t find the account they had opened for us.”A representative for Fairpoint tells TV-5 they’re working on issues like large call center volumes.”That’s likely the problem that we’ve had with the situation in Camden,” says company spokesman Jeff Nevins. “We have detailed plans for pretty much every area where we’re not operating as business as usual.”He says problems cropped up after their recent company switchover, but that they should be back to normal by the end of June.”We did decide to change providers now,” says Brunyanszki, “because it’s been enough.”