Folks are just about ready with their Christmas plans, time to look forward to the New Year. Some folks in Old Orchard Beach have a cool idea for you.They’re holding the 22nd annual Lobster Dip. The money raised will benefit Special Olympics.Each year, hundreds of brave souls take a dip into the icy ocean on New Year’s Day.You still have time to register. Just call 879-0489 or you can log onto www.specialolympicsmaine.org
The director of public safety at the University of Maine got a call from Washington this week.He’s been nominated by President Obama to become the state’s next U.S. Marshal.Noel March has been the public safety director at UMaine since 2002 and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.He was recommended for the job by Representative Mike Michaud, and thanks Maine’s entire congressional delegation for their support.The U.S. Marshals Service is the oldest federal law enforcement agency in the country. They protect federal courts and judges, deal with federal prisoners and fugitives, and also work on a variety of special projects.”The witness security program, often referred to as the witness protection program is also the responsibility of the U.S. Marshal. And managing forfeited and seized property from criminal enterprises is another responsibility. So it is a very diverse and very rich role that one can play if given the opportunity, and I’m just as pleased as can be,” March says.He says getting the call was a great honor and a nice Christmas present for his family…and a good birthday present, too. He just turned 50 this week.The nomination still has to be approved by the U.S. Senate. Confirmation could come at some point in the new year.
The Penobscot County Regional Communications Center stays busy even through the holidays, answering 911 calls and dispatching emergency officials.This Christmas Eve, they’re also working on another important mission — helping Santa Claus get through the area safely.”911, where is your emergency?””It’s very busy. You constantly get phone calls and you get the radios going and the 911 phones. It can get pretty busy,” says dispatcher Elizabeth Read.Dispatchers here will be staying busy this Christmas Eve, tracking a very important visitor to Penobscot County.”All cars and stations, attempt to locate: male subject described as having white hair, a fluffy white beard, twinkling blue eyes.”Every year, officers on the streets keep an eye out for Santa Claus as he makes his way through the county. They call in to dispatchers when they see him climbing a chimney, or flying high in the sky.”Subject is 5 foot 6, 300 pounds, and last seen wearing a white jacket with red trim.””If they locate him, they will call in and let us know he just passed them in Bradford, Glenburn or Mattawamkeag, wherever he is at the time,” says Director James Ryan.They broadcast Santa’s location every half-hour across the scanner for people of any age within earshot.”We obviously want to make sure he’s safe and that he’s able to get through Penobscot County without any breakdowns or anything that’s going to slow him up,” he says. “If located, do not stop and hold. Repeat, do not stop and hold.”They say, if you believe that St. Nick is in your town, you’re advised to listen to those updates carefully.”Children will know when to go to bed and get to sleep real quick so he can deliver their presents,” Ryan says.”He may be operating a sleigh by eight tiny reindeer, heard to be saying, ‘Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.’”
There are three new park and ride lots open in Bangor, Medway and New GloucesterThe new 40 space Bangor park and ride is the second in the city, and located at the Walmart store on Stillwater Avenue.The medway one is at the Irving Big Stop.The opening of the lots in Bangor and Medway are the result of private property owners working with the Maine DOT to promote carpooling and vanpooling.
The Brewer landfill will stay closed for a bit longer.The Elm Street facility will remain closed until January fifth.The extended closure is because of unexpected delays with the landfill’s rehabilitation project.Even though the landfill is shut down, the front recycling area will remain open to residents.
Thursday is the last shopping day before Christmas.Folks were out and about in Downtown Ellsworth, making those last minute purchases.Meghan Hayward reports.Cars lined the streets in Downtown Ellsworth as folks rushed around to get their shopping done.Some by choice, others because it’s the only time they’ve had.”You know, I think some of the last minute frenzy is fun. You’re really feeling the Christmas spirit at that point. So I always save just a couple of things to last minute.””I’m usually much more organized, but I’ve been very busy at work this year, time problems.”Business owners say they love to see those last minute shoppers, no matter what the reason.”Well of course there are some men who just don’t get started, but I think everybody likes to do a little shopping at the end. Some stocking stuffers and just finish up things.”Some shoppers know just what they’re looking for.”We are getting Susan Boyle’s CD for my mother-in-law because she has everything and we had to think of something unique. So it’s a last minute, oh gosh what do we get for grandma?”Other shoppers were keeping a close eye on their wallet and looking for good buys.”We’re keeping it very small this year. Nobody has much money including myself, so I am just doing little things. If I see some little bobble I might pick it up. But I did a lot of hand knitting this year.”The Bud Connection in Ellsworth is busy delivering those last minute floral arrangements.”We are very ready for them actually. I have a whole bunch of elves helping me. It’s stress-free and we’re having a great time today.”Ruth Foster has spent the last 26 years in Downtown Ellsworth and says it’s a great place during Christmas.”Everyone has been upbeat all week long. Of course, I am upbeat so it’s nice to see other people that way.”
Santa was making the rounds in Rockland as a taxi driver for Schooner Bay Taxi. The taxi service hired St. Nick to make some rounds after the co-owners saw him at the American Legion Christmas celebration. Renita Merritt who co-owns Schooner Bay Taxi with her husband says they thought it might be a great idea to put Santa behind the wheel. She says, “We thought he’d pick up a lot of family members and such and we really thought it’d be great to have Santa cover for a couple of days for us, and he graciously agreed to do it.” As Santa has been making the rounds, he’s also been making the kids smile. He says, “They seem to enjoy it too cause it’s festive, and we give them candy canes and wish them a Merry Xmas.” Santa will be headed back to the North Pole tonight.
The relatively low price of lobster this year means the tasty crustacean will be featured at many Christmas dinner tables. For some, the idea of replacing the usual ham or turkey is a novelty.For others, it’s turned into quite a Christmas tradition.Orders move quickly the day before Christmas at McLaughlin Seafood in Bangor, with lobster at the top of list for many, like Tony Michaud of Veazie.”It’s just something different to do on Christmas Eve. The whole family gets together. We’ll have lobsters and scallops. Just something different to do and get together.”Hundreds of people have been getting together at McLaughlin’s this week to bypass the traditional turkey or ham dinner. Manager Toby Fox stocked up with nearly 2,000 pounds of lobster to meet the Christmas Eve demand.”The phone’s been ringing. It probably rings a good 3-400 times a day. And even before noontime. You don’t even have time to catch your breath really. It’s been really busy.”Fox points to a couple of reasons for the crush of customers.”People like, instead of having ham, people like lobsters. And the price is not too bad, also, you know.”And it’s not just lobsters they’re after. Shrimp, salmon and haddock are also a big catch. And don’t forget…”Scallops. Scallops has been a big seller. We’ve gone through 500 pounds of scallops in just two days.”The last two weeks of December will be the busiest time of the year for these workers – who hope to make a lot of holiday meals, merry and bright. “Everybody was helpful. I have my lobsters and my shrimp. And I’m ready for Christmas dinner. I just have to pick up the corn.”Fox says he expected to serve at least five hundred customers before he finally closes the doors, Christmas Eve day.
A race to benefit Champion the Cure is happening this weekend.It’s the 4th annual Epic 5K Road Race. It’s sponsored by Epic Sports and Sub 5 Track Club.The race takes place Sunday. It starts and finishes in Pickering Square in Downtown Bangor.Folks who plan to walk the route will start at 9 in the morning. Those running the race will begin at 10.Pre-registration begins at 8 am in the lower lobby of the Discovery Museum.There is a $10 entrance fee if you register in advance, or it’s $15 on Sunday.
A couple organizations are making Christmas a little more merry for many folks in the area by hosting holiday dinners.Manna Ministries annual Christmas dinner is located at the Bangor Parks and Recreation Center on Main Street from 11-1.Everyone is welcome.Bangor bus pick-up starts at 10:30. Pick-up spots are: Downtown Parking GarageLeadbetters on the corner of Ohio and Hammond Sts.Center Street (by old Manna)or call out to the Manna bus for them to stop.For more information call 990-2870.And we’re told the town of Milo is also offering a dinner. The Free Community Christmas Day Dinner will be in the Milo Town Hall from noon to 1:30. Everyone is welcome.The menu features roast pork, potatoes, salad, vegetables, rolls and dessert.
Police say speed may have been a factor in a head-on collision that killed a man in Belgrade. Kennebec County sheriff’s deputies say just before 9 o’clock last night 30-year-old Jeremiah Baker was driving south on Route 27, in the wrong lane. Baker’s car crashed into a car headed north, driven by 31-year old Jessica Bourget. We’re told Baker was thrown from his car and died at the scene. Bourget was taken to a local hospital with a crushed ankle and a broken leg. Authorities say Baker was not wearing his seat belt.
Two leading construction companies are teaming up, and it could mean more jobs here in Maine.Starcon, which provides industrial and mechanical construction services, and Cianbro are are creating an alliance.Both firms have experience mobilizing large construction and maintenance projects throughout North America. “We’re tracking about 30 projects across and outside the United States right now, and we believe that those will go forward in time,” Said Cianbro CEO Pete Vigue. “So we’re maintaining a relationship and clients and looking forward to the opportunity.”Cianbro currently employs more than 1,300 Mainers. Company officials say they’re optimistic about the company’s continued growth.
Bangor police say they’ve now identified the suspects behind a string of burglaries in the Bomarc Road area.They say the stolen property they’ve recovered is worth tens of thousands of dollars, and is on the way back to its rightful owners.They tell us three homes, three businesses, and two vehicles were broken into between October and the first week of December.Lots of electronics were taken, including flat screen televisions and computers. The burglars also took some heirloom jewelry.Police say they found the suspects, and got the stolen property back through some quick police work. “It basically started in the patrol division,” Said Sgt. Paul Edwards of the Bangor PD. “The midnight crew got some information and relayed that swiftly to the detective division. They were in turn able to locate some suspects, more than one, up to three people that they were interviewing during this process.”Police aren’t naming those suspects yet, but expect they will be formally charged soon.
New Census Bureau data shows New Hampshire’s population exceeding that of Maine for the first time in 209 years.Both states have about 1.3 million residents. Estimates released Wednesday put New Hampshire’s population ahead by 6,274 people.Maine also has a much older population and therefore more deaths and fewer births than New Hampshire.New Hampshire’s growth rate has slowed recently. Migration from Massachusetts, for example, has declined by 34 percent in the last several years.
A Pittston home was destroyed by fire Wednesday morning.Crews were called to the home on Smithtown Road before noon.The homeowner said he emptied ashes from the woodstove into an ash bucket and placed it outside near the porch. He said he left for a short time, and came home to find the house filled with smoke.By the time firefighters arrived, there was little they could do.The homeowner and a dog got out safely. The rest of the family was out Christmas shopping.
A fire ripped through a house in Greenbush Wednesday Night.The fire was on Main Road. Crews from Greenbush, Milford, Passadumkeag and Bradley responded to the scene around 5:30. The fire was called in by Rob Nason, who was driving by the home at the time. Fire fighters say when they arrived the fire had already spread. Fire fighters suspect the blaze began in a back corner of the home, but an exact location or cause is not known. At last report fire crews were still on scene fighting the blaze. Officials say the cold weather was creating a few problems and because of the size of the fire they were having trouble with man power.The home owners were not there at the time of the fire, however their two dogs were, they were rescued from the home. Route Two was closed for a while because of the blaze, but is now reopened.
Some recently deployed Maine Army National Guard troops will be spending the holidays at home.The 3rd Battalion 172nd Infantry unit is scheduled to leave for Afghanistan soon. But, thanks to a donation from Stephen and Tabitha King, they got a ride home to Maine first.Their bus pulled in to the Brewer Armory and the excitement grew.”Are you excited for Dad?” Ashley Gaboury asks her niece, Pheobe. “They all ask her ‘What do you want for Christmas?’ And she says, ‘For my Dad to come home.’”After a long ride from Indiana, these soldiers were home, for a 10-day visit.”It’s exciting, especially when they’re going to be leaving for a long period of time,” Gaboury says.”It’s awesome. It was an unexpected thing because we didn’t know if they were going to come home or not,” says Michelle Griffin, who was waiting for her fiance.The troops had some time off over the holidays, but many didn’t know how they’d be able to get home…until the King family donated the money for a bus ride.Spc. Tom Belton is from Bucksport.”I just plan on having a good Christmas with my family…and I’ll see the old lady,” Belton says, with a smile. “It’s not often something like this happens, you get to go home, see your family for Christmas and then take off again, but it’s just good to be home for the holidays.”They’ve been training in several different locations for the past couple of weeks.”We’re learning all the things we need to do, so we can do what we need to do overseas,” Belton says. “We’ve had a lot of good training, been to Louisiana, now we’re in Indiana,” says Sgt. First Class Brian Baker. For Baker, the trip home is especially good timing. His wife Angela is pregnant and their baby is coming any day.”Hopefully,” he says. “It better!” says Angela. “Thank you to Stephen King for bringing him home,” she says.Their unit is scheduled to leave for Afghanistan next month.
If you’re planning to spend Christmas alone, some folks in Central Maine want to invite you to dinner.For the 3rd year, The Central Maine Family Christmas Dinner is being planned.It’s being held Friday at the Waterville Elks Lodge from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM.They’ll have a traditional turkey dinner and stockings for the kids. Last year they served about 700 meals. This year they’re planning on 1000.”It’s basically don’t spend Christmas alone. That’s the whole thing we didn’t want. That’s how it started, they said a lot of people are alone at Christmas. Come on out and enjoy the festivities. We got a hay ride going, Christmas caroling, Santa Claus for the kids.”Everything is free of charge. It’s all made possible by donations from area businesses and individuals.If you don’t have a ride, they’ll even provide that for you.Just give them a call at 877-5258. You can also log onto www.centralmainefamilychristmasdinner.com
An explosion in Thomaston at a cement manufacturer could be felt about 13 miles away in Union.That’s according to Sgt. Ken Grimes with the State Fire Marshal’s office.The explosion happened just after noon today at Dragon Products, while a demolition crew was tearing down part of the plant that is no longer used.Grimes says the explosion happened when sparks from a cutting torch set a pile of debris on fire.”While it was burning smoke and hot gases from the fire went inside this stand alone tank and at some point the mixture was just right and there was a smoke explosion which took the top of the tank off.” explains Grimes.There were some demolition workers nearby when the top blew off the tank, but they were not hurt.There was some damage done to the Main office building. The windows were blown out by the blast.Luckily the folks who would normally be in that building were at a company Christmas party when the explosion happened.No one was injured.
Some Maine entrepreneurs are giving folks the gift of warmth this year.Tom and Kate Chappell founded Tom’s of Maine. Now they own Ramblers Way Farm where they produce lightweight wool thermal wear.The Chappell’s decided to make a donation of 5000 pieces to families in need.They joined the Governor in making the presentation Wednesday. “There are so many people that are struggling. This is a real nice lift in their day to be able to get something like this for free, and to be warm and comfortable all day, it’s a great gift.”The thermal wear will be given to transition teams who work with struggling Mainers.For more information on the products, log onto www.ramblersway.com