It’s a new beginning for Masons in Maine.More than five years ago, a massive fire wiped out their historic hall in downtown Bangor. Now they’re getting ready to make another landmark building their home – part of the former Bangor Theological Seminary. Members of the Masonic Hall in Bangor and other Masons have been homeless since the fire. Not anymore. The Bangor Masonic Foundation President Guy Chapman says, “After you’ve been burned out of your house for 5 1/2 years, and you find a new home, how do you think we feel? Very excited. Very excited.”In January of 2004, fire leveled the historic home for the Mason’s in downtown Bangor. Bangor Mayor Gerry Palmer says the images of fire and ice are burned in many people’s minds. “It’s a terrible loss to the downtown. It was a beautiful building and we’re tickled that they’ve got something that is equally historic and wonderful right here in downtown Bangor.”The Bangor Masonic Foundation purchased three buildings on the site of the former Bangor Theological Seminary on Hammond Street at a cost of $550,000 dollars.Chapman says plans to build a new hall on Perry Road fell apart when it became too costly. But State Grand Master Bob Landry says it was for the best. “We tried different options but obviously it was meant to be that we come here. Some of the different lodges have been meeting in different places like Old Town and Hampden, different places like that. Members have been traveling to different locations. It’s just going to centralize everything, the way it should be. The way it use to be.”About 2,000 Masons will soon call the former Seminary home. Landry considers it a payback, in a way, since the Seminary once rented the space that became the Masonic Lodge more than a century ago.”It’s fantastic. It’s just the greatest thing going, really, this is really going to be a fantastic place for the Masonic lodges, for all of the Mason bodies.”The Seminary property should be ready for Mason meetings starting in the fall. Other organizations that use the space will continue to rent from the Masons. Two other properties on the Seminary site have also been sold. No word yet on what will come of the vacant land on Main Street, left behind when the hall burned down.
The Maine Public Utilities Commission will be rewarding homes and small businesses with green, when going green. New federal funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and another year’s funding from existing state sourses will give back money to thoes who use solar energy systems. Thermal incentives are set at 25% of the system, with a $1,000 maximum.While thoes with photo-voltaic systems will be given back $2 per watt, with a maximum of $2,000. To be eligible, a certified professional from PUC must preform the installation.
The amount of cases of swine flu has climbed to a total of 90 cases across the state. Eight new cases were reported on Monday, brining the total to 67 cases among Maine residents and 23 among out-of-state visitors. Out of Maine’s 16 counties, 10 have reported cases of H1N1, including 15 cases at seven different summer camps. Aroostook, Franklin, Piscataquis, Somerset, Waldo, and Washington counties have avoided the H1N1 virus.
The state has filed a petition for receivership at Down East Community Hospital in Machias, and a judge could appoint a person or an organization to take over operations as soon as Wednesday.This comes one day after the hospital placed the C.E.O. Wayne Dodwell, on administrative leave, and appointed Craig Jessiolowski as interim C.E.O.These moves are a good sign to a local group that has been critical of the hospital management over the past few years.Dr. Jim Whalen, worked as an orthopedic surgeon at Downeast Community Hospital for 30 years, but resigned on May first.”The final straw for me was the fact that i didn’t feel that my patients were safe in the hospital.”Dr. Whalen says he witnessed medical practices that were not safe, alleging that the hospital was placing profits ahead of patient safety.”I saw practices amongst the professional staff that were not acceptable and when attention was called to those practices, those practices were defended. Like what? For example, anesthesia, not doing proper interviews before surgery.”When he left, he says he was offered $50,000 by the administration at the hospital to sign a non-disclosure statement, and to not discuss any of what he saw at the hospital. He refused.”This was almost like a disease taking over there, and that’s a scarey thought.”He’s been part of a local group called Save Our Hospitals. They’ve been strong critics of the hospital leadership over the past few years.They have files of paperwork from federal officials that call for changes of practices at the hospital and have been following the investigations of the hospital closely.Down East is currently operating on a conditional licence.They were pleased to learn that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services notified the hospital that the hospital would no longer be able to accept Medicare reimbursements as of July 10, and now the latest news of the state takeover.I’m delighted to see these turn of events. We had been hoping and praying for medicare and the state to take charge, and they finally put their foot down.Julie Hixson, spokesperson for Down East Community Hospital says she has no comment about the allegations made by Dr. Whalen and the Save our Hospitals Group.She does say that the hospital is cooperating fully with the state in the receivership process, and they hope by a judge appointing someone to take over operations they will be able to continue receiving medicare reimbursements, and be able to continue full operations.
Augusta police say speed may have played a part in a car crash that killed a man from Gardiner. 52-year-old Perry Bean died last night after his van collided with a utility pole on Old Belgrade Road, just in front of the MaineGeneral Cancer Center.Perry was the only one in the car. Police are trying to determine exactly what happened. Part of Old Belgrade Road was closed for more than hour as investigators reconstructed the accident.
Police are still combing through phone tips related to a pair of break-ins in Waldo County last week, but no arrests have been made.Between midnight and 3:30 on Thursday, June 25th, someone broke in to Angler’s restaurant on Route 1 in Searsport.Shortly after, someone broke into just Barb’s restaurant in Stockton Springs.Searsport police have released surveillance video from the break in at anglers, that include pictures of the suspect.If you recognize the person, you can call Searsport police at 548-2304 or Waldo County dispatch at 338-2040.
Hannaford supermarkets is warning its customers in several states, including Maine, to check their freezers for recalled beef.The stores may have received beef that’s subject to a voluntary recall by J.B.S. Swift beef company out of Colorado. The problem: possible e-Coli contamination.Customers should check their freezers for ground beef or beef products with sell-by dates ranging from April 28th through June 6th.Hannaford will provide a refund or replacement of any beef or ground beef product purchased at their stores.
The chief operating officer of Downeast Community Hospital is now on administrative leave. Wayne Dodwell has been president and C.E.O. of the hospital since 2002.He’s been replaced by Craig Jesiolowski, who is now acting as interim chief executive officer, according to the hospital.Jesiolowski will act as hospital administrator during negotiations with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the centers for medicare and medicaid services.Downeast Community Hospital has started making changes to correct problems cited in a recent investigation.The hospital risks losing it’s medicare and medicaid reimbursements if those deficiencies aren’t corrected by July 10th.
Husson University officially has approval to go ahead with their pharmacy school.The National Accreditation Council on Pharmacy Education gave Husson notification of pre-candidacy status.That means Husson can go ahead with the doctoral program this fall, and at the end of the four year graduate program the council will take a look at the program and decide if it can be accredited.Officials at Husson say almost three quarters of the 60 students enrolled are from Maine.The first class is set to graduate in 2013.
Officials in Milo are in talks to bring a new corrections facility to the area.The town owns a piece of land on Route 11. A company called Corrections Corporation of America is eyeing the site for a medium-security facility.It would house 2,200 inmates.Officials have been working on the project for more than a year.Last week they met in Augusta to talk to legislators about it.They believe such a facility would bring 400 to 500 jobs to the region including guards, cooks, and nurses.Town officials are now hoping for a thumbs up from legislators and the governor in order to move forward with the plan. That could still take more than a year.
The folks at Ross Manor have a Bangor teenager to thank for a new deck at their facility.18 year old Jennifer Leach got the idea for the deck while volunteering at the Bangor senior citizens facility two years ago. She says some residents wanted to spend more time outside.So, Jennifer started planning the deck to earn her Girl Scout Gold Award. That’s the highest award given to girl scouts ages 14 to 18.She recruited the help of several local businesses and volunteers, and spent dozens of hours getting the work done.Monday, residents and Jennifer gathered to celebrate. “It’s awesome. It’s hard to even describe coming back here. It wasn’t even finished and they were already putting flowers up on the deck, and it was great to see they were so excited to use something that I had been so excited for for a couple years now.”American Concrete, Aubuchon Hardware, Crescent Lumber and Lane Construction all contributed to the project.Jennifer was also presented with the Gold Award at the ceremony.
Valerie Robertson had Hobnobber’s Pub in Milo up and running for just three weeks when it was destroyed by a huge downtown fire last year.Now she’s in a new location, and she says, it’s time for a new history.”We’re going to start building the bar over there,” Robertson says, pointing through what will be a dining room. “I’ve picked out my color palette.”She’s starting over in what used to be the Milo Community Hospital – it’s a place known for new beginnings.”All people ever say when you mention this hospital building is, ‘I was born there!’” she says.Tammy Vail and Patty Estes heard the building was available when they were looking for a location for a new salon.”It was in really good shape but it was a lot larger than what the two of us needed,” Vail says.They had worked with Robertson at the pub before the fire and knew she would be on board.”We all worked together as a team,” Estes says. “The community was really turning out for us. We had a packed house the night before the fire.””All of a sudden it just clicked. We’ve got a connection to this building, as does anybody who’s lived their lives in Milo,” Robertson says.The women are keeping a few pieces from the hospital building’s past through the renovations, but are looking forward to a new start.”Oh, it’s going to be great,” Vail says, “I can’t wait.”There will be a salon called “Hospitality” Hair and Nails, and Hobnobber’s Pub, with a new slogan – “Good For What ‘Ales’ You.””We’re recycling as much as we can, both for economic reasons and for sentimental ones,” Robertson says.They say the community has been overwhelmingly supportive, and lots of people are pitching in to get the businesses going.”We’re anxious to get started and move on,” Estes says.”The fact that we can be here, in business, in our 50s, just seems like a natural circle of life,” Robertson says.She says she already has a party booked for the pub in September, so she’ll be open before then.The salon should be open for business within a few weeks.
Somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 people packed the All Souls Congregational Church in Bangor monday to honor some very special seniors from around the area. The third annual George Hale Silver Frame awards were handed out to six people from three different age groups who remain active members of their communites. George Hale was on hand to hand out the awards. “I’m in awe of the people who won the awards, they call it the George Hale award but let me tell you something,” Hale says, “it could be called their award because these are people that just absolutely refuse to let time stand still.”Lawrence Sherwood of Holden was one of the award recipients, and he hasn’t slowed down one bit, maintaining a more active schedule than people half his age.”I do stay active,” Shewood explains, “28 years in the navy, still climbing towers, spend four days a week in belfast stepping sailboats, which is getting to be hard work, and I’m in a number of organizations. I just keep on going and going.”All of those honored today have similar stories. Noelle Merrill is the executive director at the Eastern Area Agency on Aging and she sees first hand how beneficial it is for people to remain active.”At our agency we have a motto. age well, live well and we think its important to make sure that people understand that they are responsible for part of their own health,” she says.The one thing all the award recipients have in common is there uncanny ability to serve as role models for everyone they encounter, regardless of their age.”They’re a great example of it’s either use it or lose it,” Hale says of the award winners, “I mean someone said here today if you sit in a chair long enough you become part of the chair. People who get up and get moving and contribute to their communities and do good things, and keep their bodies in shape, these are the people that set a great example and they deserve all the accolades they have.”
Renewable energy is a topic the entire country has been focused on recently…Mainers are already taking steps toward becoming energy independent – by installing wind turbines on several sites throughout the state…Folks on Vinalhaven and North Haven are getting closer everyday to reaping the rewards of renewable energy….”People are willing to do anything to bring the price of electricity down. And the two islands doing something together is a really good thing.” says Nancy Hopkins-Davisson, a resident of North Haven.Vinalhaven and North Haven will soon be getting their energy in a much greener way. Three wind turbines are being installed on Vinalhaven. Folks on the islands are excited about the turbines going up and their energy bills going down.”They pay about three times the national average for electricity and about twice the New England average and the communities have come together around this project at an extraordinary level of support. 98 percent of the people voted for this project last summer.” explains George Baker, CEO of Fox Island Wind.”This will produce virtually all the power that we use on the island year round. We’ll send some back to the mainland in the winter and will buy some in the summer, but we’ll be virtually energy self-sufficient.” says Chellie Pingeree, a member of Congress.Peter Vigue, of Cianbro, says this project is not only important to the island – but also to the state.”We believe it’s the future for energy in this region and this neighborhood and will become a major industry in years to come.”Vigue says this project costs about 13 million dollars, and it’s created about 45 jobs.Construction has already started on the site. They expect to have the turbines up and producing power by November.”We’re doing something to get a little off our dependence of oil. And I think everybody wants that.” adds Hopkins-Davisson.Part of the funding for this wind turbine project came from Diversified Communications, the company that owns WABI. Diversified invested almost five million dollars in the project.
Extra prayers are being said tonight from members of the All Souls Congregational Church in Bangor.64 members,including some from St. John’s Episcopal church in Bangor, are in Honduras tonight, a country whose leader was overthrown by a military coup over the weekend.The assistant pastor of All Souls has been in steady contact with Reverend Bob Carlson, who’s leading the Bangor church until the group returns.”It was right at the beginning of worship, I said I had some news, I spoke to Mrs. Garrett and explained that there had been a military coup, however everybody was safe, there were no outbursts of violence,” says Reverend Carlson.One week ago Monday, 64 adults and youths from All Souls Congregational Church and St. John’s Episcopal church in Bangor flew to Honduras. It’s a volunteer missionary trip that’s taken every other year. Sunday morning, Reverend Bob Carlson received a phone call from All Soul’s Assistant Pastor Renee Garrett.”She said there’s been a little problem, there’s been a military coup. And the president of Honduras was taken captive,” says Reverend Carlson.Soldiers snatched President Manuel Zelaya from his palace in the capitol, and flew him into exile in Costa Rica. The bangor group is only 10 kilometers north. they were instructed to stay at their training center Sunday.”Both Senator Collins and Senator Snowe and their staff have been working very diligently with the state department. The embassy does know exactly where they are, so we’re not anticipating any problem, and that’s a good thing,” says Reverend Carlson.In fact, Reverend Carlson received another phone call from the group late Monday morning, saying they were being allowed to leave the training center and again work on their projects.”She said everybody is fine. And it’s actually a normal workday,” says Reverend Carlson, referring to the phone call from Renee Garrett.The Bangor group is scheduled to leave Honduras Wednesday night.Reverend Carlson says one member already flew out Monday, without problems, on a pre-planned trip.A special prayer service was held at All Souls Congregational Church Sunday night.
On Maine’s Long Lake this weekend, fire officials stated that an electrical problem most likely started an explosion to a boat. Shortly after the boat was fuling at the marina in Harrison, the fire began. All four people on the boat were not harmed as a result. The explostion diverted game warderns who were patrolling the waters in search for intoxicated boaters. Wardens were taking part of an effort called, Operation Dry Water, to “dry up” the waters by saying that boating and alcohol should not mix.
With a mixture of pollution and heavy rains, clam diggers in eastern Maine are facing closures due to toxic red tide algae. Over the weekend, Darcie Couture of the Maine Department of Marine Resources stated that the state will shut down most of the flats to clam and mussel harvesting from the Roque Bluffs to the Canadian Boarder. However, good news is that areas from East Penobscot Bay to Machias will remain open,
Without assistance, a 67-year old man became the first to travel the Northern Forest Canoe Trail in his kayak. This incredible journey stretches over 740 miles from New York to Maine. Gil Whitney took over 57 days to complete this remarkable feat. The trail starts in Old Forge, NY and concludes in Fort Kent, Maine. Though there have been solo canoeists, Gil Whitney, a retired tractor trailer driver from Lakeville, Maine, was the first solo kayaker to complete the trail. During his adventure, he shed nearly 30 pounds, paddled through 9 days of rain, and even had an encounter with a swimming black bear.
A section of Route 137 in Knox was shut down due to a collision between a tanker truck and a passenger vehicle. The crash happened on Route 137, also known as Belfast Road, just after 11am Monday. Route 137 was closed for much of the day, but has since re-openned.A Waldo County emergency management assistance team member who was on scene has told TV5 that the two drivers were taken to the hospital. Waldo County Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Jones says the driver of the truck is 51 year old Raymond Pottle of Carmel. TV5 has been told by officials that the driver of the truck does not have injuries that are life-threatening. The identity of the driver of the car has not been released. The tanker was carrying a hazardous liquid that has partially spilled into 15 Mile Stream. A HazMat team was called to the scene, along with the Knox County Sheriff’s Department and State Police.
(AP)- Maine’s first island wind-power project is being ushered in Monday with a groundbreaking ceremony.The $15 million project involves building three turbines on 250-foot-high towers on the west side of Vinalhaven, the largest of Maine 15 year-round islands.Once erected, the 1.5-megawatt towers will supply electricity to residents of Vinalhaven and the neighboring island of North Haven.Construction begins in July, and the turbines are expected to be generating power in November.The project was approved last summer by members of the Fox Islands Electric Cooperative, a cooperative that supplies electricity to Vinalhaven and North Haven.