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.
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.
More than $4 million in federal money will help two airports in Maine expand.Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe made the announcement Wednesday. The U.S. Department of Transportation is awarding $2.4 million to the airport in Bangor. The money will be used to continue work on a cargo parking project.The Knox County Regional Airport in Owls Head will also receive $1.7 million. That will help pay for the construction of a new terminal building.
After several years of meetings, the Land Use Regulation Commission Wednesday granted a request by developer Plum Creek to rezone tens of thousands of acres in the Moosehead Lake region.LURC’s vote was unanimous. The reaction to the news at the meeting in Bangor today was mixed, and the opposition– at times, heated.LURC members say after many revisions by Plum Creek, they’re proud of the concept plan for the Moosehead region.”This plan requires conservation easements the likes of which this commission and the state of Maine have never seen. We now have completely re-written it to guarantee permanent, public access for recreation. And it enhances resource protection for more than 400-thousand acres of land,” says LURC Chairman Bart Harvey.They say the plan guides growth in the region to the appropriate areas. Plum Creek’s plans include building nearly one thousand private housing lots and a resort at Lily Bay.Project Manager Luke Muzzy says they have no immediate plans to start building.”Any specific development still has to go through a review process in the future. So there’s still a lot of work to do in the next thirty years. We always said this was going to be a long-term plan, and it will be,” Muzzy says.He says they’ll also deal with any opposition as it arises. Members of the the groups The Forest Ecology Network and RESTORE: The North Woods say they plan to appeal LURC’s decision.”LURC has failed in its mission. We feel very strongly that the courts will hear that argument. We can point out specific missteps and breaches of regulatory procedure,” says Jonathan Carter, director of the Forest Ecology Network.An act of civil disobedience briefly disrupted the proceedings. Protesters say the development threatens the environment in the region. Six people were arrested, and charged with disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing.”Different people have different visions for that area,” Muzzy says. “We have compromised a great deal but I guess some folks just want to see their vision happen.”
A lot of high school students aren’t sure what they want to do with the rest of their lives.Some students in Old Town might have a better idea because of something that happened at their school today.Meghan Hayward takes us to their job fair.”If you invite colleges to come in here. You get students at least a snapshot of possibly a connection with a variety of colleges, military and employers.”Junior Dacie Manion took advantage of the fair.”But now I’m getting closer to the time when I want to be applying for colleges. I did a lot of research this summer and thought this would be a great opportunity to talk to some of the programs I’m interested in.”Manion says she is interested in math and science.And was impressed by something she encountered at the job fair.”How willing the representatives from the organizations are to give you a lot of their time. I was worried that with their being so many students walking by they wouldn’t have time to do individual questions, but they’re very helpful.”First-year Destani Cotton was on the look-out for performing arts schools.But one booth, Women Unlimited, took her by surprise.”It did actually catch my interest when I found out what it was.”Executive Director of Women Unlimited Lib Jamison says that is the kind of thing she likes to hear.”A lot of these girls are not really thinking about road and bridge construction. But what we are doing is planting a seed for the young women and men because as they come by here they might think yeah that’s nice. But in five years when they have a child or have to earn a livable wage they might remember us.”Jamison says more schools need to hold career fairs.”These folks need to know what options are available to them because even though they may not want to use them now they will probably want to use them later.”Old Town High School Principal Scott Gordon says it’s certainly worthwhile.”If they can today get some sort of connection. Be it a business card, phone number or face-to-face connection that can help them later on that’s what this is really about.”
A Bangor man will spend six years in prison for a crime spree last March that included two robberies.29-year-old Travis Gustin was sentenced Wednesday on more than a dozen charges.He pleaded guilty to holding up two convenience stores on back-to-back days in March. One store was in Kenduskeag, the other in Bangor.Along with those robberies, Gustin also pleaded guilty to eight burglaries, seven thefts and aggravated forgery.Prosecutors say Gustin stole items from Aaron’s Rental in Bangor, Marden’s in Brewer and a construction site in Bangor.Several of the robbery victims were in the courtroom Wednesday and told the judge how the crimes have scarred them for life.Gustin’s family members also spoke, and asked the judge for leniency.In the end, Justice Michaela Murphy sentenced Gustin to ten years in prison, with all but six years suspended.He’ll also spend three years on probation and will have to pay restitution.Gustin himself also addressed the court today.He apologized to all his victims and said he knows he deserves prison time but hopes to use that time to kick his drug habit.
Elroy Morgan has spent the past 8 years trying to grow the biggest pumpkin in Maine state history: this year he may have just done it. “I started indoors right around the 25th of April,” he says, “it went out the first week in May in the greenhouse.”What was a promising start quickly took a turn for the worse when the rains came. “It didn’t look good for me when this pumpkin was still under 200 pounds by August 1st,” says Morgan, “I said to myself this isn’t good, but boy was I wrong, when August came around that’s when the big time growth came it was growing an estimated 33 pounds a day” Today the pumpkin has an estimated weight of 1075 pounds but it’s still growing. “The Maine record is 1130 pounds this particular seed is known to go heavy on scales,” he says, “it will grow probably a little more I’m hoping to squeeze out another 25 pounds or so before I cut it from the vine and when I put it on the scale I’m hoping it will go heavier than 1130 so this could be a new Maine record.”Morgan, who works as a custodian at the Cohen School in Bangor, says he has a few tricks up his sleeve, including using a lot of organic matter in the soil. “This year what I did differently is I used more composted cow manure which was 20 yards of composted manure in the fall that I spread.” Pumpkins aren’t the only record breaking squashes he’s growing here. “I got a possible world record long gourd,” Morgan says, “I had a peak growth of 7 inches a day, right now it’s 127 inches that world record stands at 127.5 inches, so I got a chance at beating that world record in a couple days.”He’ll find out if this pumpkin breaks the Maine record Sunday in Cumberland. “It would be great, 8 years of growing and my dream to beat the Maine record, it would be the best thing in my life.”
There was a head-to-head debate in Brewer today on Question Two on this year’s ballot.A pair of panelists on each side of the issue argued for and against the measure.If passed by voters it would reduce Maine’s vehicle excise tax on vehicles less than six years old.It would also eliminate sales tax on certain fuel-efficient models.Those against the measure say excise tax is a vital way to help pay for local roads.Those for the measure say the excise tax is a huge burden on many Maine families and needs to be lowered or wiped out.Geoff Herman with the Maine Municipalities Association says, “This doesn’t do anything for the low-income people of the state. Assuming they’re unable to buy new cars except make the roads worse and their property taxes higher. I’m not buying this correlation between low-income people and the benefits of this proposal.”Tarren Bragdon with the Maine Heritage Policy Center replies, “If you buy into this argument that it’s used to fund local roads, then the question is, there are a lot more people driving on local roads who aren’t Maine residents. Why don’t we look at some kind of funding that reflects the cost of local roads on everyone who’s driving on them.”If passed, the excise tax would be cut by an average of 55-percent on vehicles less than six years old.
BANGOR, Maine (AP) – A regulatory board has unanimously approveda development with two resorts and more than 2,000 housing units inMaine’s Moosehead Lake area. Critics say the decision threatens thecharacter of the North Woods made famous by Henry David Thoreau. The Land Use Regulation Commission on Wednesday approved PlumCreek Timber Co.’s proposal, nearly five years after theSeattle-based company announced plans for the largest residentialdevelopment ever in Maine. But the vote won’t put an end to the process. Plum Creek wouldface additional approvals before construction, and opponents saidthey intend to file a lawsuit to stop the development. Prior to the vote, police arrested several protesters whodisrupted the meeting, yelled at board members and accused them ofselling out.
The folks at Penquis want to help people make their homes more energy efficient.They’re getting some help with that, thanks to a grant from J.T.G., a non-profit organization.Penquis is offering a free workshop for qualified homeowners.It includes a free home energy audit and the fixing of air leaks in homes.A workshop will be held on Wednesday at the Ballard Hill Community Center in Lincoln.There’s another one coming up Thursday at Penquis on Harlow Street in Bangor.For more information call Penquis at 973-3596
Police are investigating an armed robbery in Old Town…..It happened at Sun Tan City on Stillwater Avenue around seven Tuesday night.The suspect first came into the business and asked for a tour and then left.He later came back and was armed.The suspect is described as a 5 foot 10 white male in his early twenties.Between 150 and 160 pounds, with light beard growth.He was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and a blue jeans and ballcap.He took off on foot.No one was injured.Police are currently following up on several leads.Sun Tan City District Manager Suzi Howard tells TV5 they’re cooperating with police and hope the suspect is caught and prosecuted.The store reopened for business Wednesday.Anyone with any information is asked to call the Old Town Police Department at 827-3984.
A Tuesday afternoon law enforcement flight has led to the discovery of an outdoor marijuana growing operation in Washington County that could be the largest ever found in Maine.An estimated 50 members of law enforcement, including members of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, are at the area about 12 miles off Route 9 outside the town of Wesley. The marijuana plants stand between five to eight feet tall and the crops cover a several square mile area.”We’re talking thousands of plants,” McCausland said.He said the plants are located in plots in a remote, wooded, swampy area. This month marks the end of the marijuana growing season. No one has been found on the property, but McCausland said that when members of a law enforcement agency spotted the crop in a flight Tuesday, growers began to set plants on fire. Law enforcement officials arrived on the ground Tuesday afternoon and emergency responders put out the fire.Seizure of the plants could last until the end of the week.”This has the makings of the largest crop ever seized by law enforcement in Maine,” McCausland said.Â
Winthrop Police caught a lucky break pulling over a driver who was allegedly linked to a burglary Monday night.Police received a tip that about 60 bundles of shingles were stolen from Lapointe lumber in Gardiner, when an officer happened to see the suspects vehicle driving through Winthrop with the shingles.Police say 30-year-old Martha Bergeron of Sidney, 43-year-old George Higgins of Augusta, 36-year-old Keith Laney of Augusta and 34-year-old Jonathan Scott of Lewiston were in that vehicle, which was towing a trailer with a flat tire.The four have been charged with theft, and were taken to the Kennebec county jail.
A Kennebec county grand jury has indicted a West Gardiner man in connection with five bank robberies in central Maine.Augusta Police say 44-year-old Paul Rivera, robbed the Northeast Bank in Augusta in August, the Maine Educational Credit Union in Augusta in March, Key Bank in Gardiner in January, the Savings Bank of Central Maine in Hallowell in December 2008 and the Savings Bank of Maine in Augusta in November.A police affidavit says that Rivera confessed to the robberies, after police found money in his motel room that police said that was from one of the robberies.Police also reported finding a silver toy gun during a search of his car.
A jury has found a 23-year-old man from Windham not guilty of murder.Agostino Samson was accused of killing a former employer and leaving the body in a car on train tracks to try to make the death look like an accident.Jurors met briefly Monday in Oxford County Superior Court, and deliberated throughout the day. They delivered a verdict late Tuesday afternoon.Prosecutors say Samson killed 25-year-old Scott Libby of Raymond by strangling him and beating him with a frying pan.This morning, jurors were re-read testimony from a fingerprint expert with the Maine State Police Crime Lab.Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson said a key point of evidence in the case is Samson’s fingerprint on a doorknob, which likely contains the victim’s blood.The defense disputed that likelihood, and raised questions about the quality of the police investigation.
One of the issues Mainers will be deciding in November is a measure that would cut the excise tax on newer and more fuel efficient vehicles.Folks who have questions about that ballot initiative can head to a forum at the Muddy Rudder Restaurant in Brewer tomorrow morning.Meghan Hayward spoke with two of the panelists.In November, residents will be asked whether they want to reduce the municipal excise tax on motor vehicles less than 6 years old by an average of 55 percent and to exempt hybrid and other alternative-energy and fuel-efficient vehicles from sales tax and three years of excise tax.The topic will be debated at an Excise Tax forum Wednesday which will give folks the opportunity to ask questions and form their own opinions.Old Town City Manager peggy daigle says only about 30 percent of mainers will benefit from the decrease in excise tax rates.”It affects those people who can afford to buy a new car or have newer cars. Those people that don’t, whose vehicles are at least six years older, are going to see very little to no impact.”But the Chairman of the More Green Now Campaign, Chris Cinquemani, says mainers will see benefits.”I believe Maine’s excise taxes are too high and too much of a burden for Maine families and businesses. And I know by reducing that excise tax burden, we will have a tremendous positive financial impact on Mainers across the state.”Cinquemani will be one of the panelists at the Excise Tax Forum at the Muddy Rudder.”Maine’s excise tax is the seventh highest in the nation. And 22 other states pay no excise tax at all. So here we have another example of Maine leading the pack when it comes to tax burden.”Daigle says if the measure passes, services like road work will have to be cut.”The problem that we’ve encountered is that what some people think is a service you can do away with is not what someone else feels you can do away with.”The Excise Tax Forum will be held tomorrow morning at the Muddy Rudder in Brewer as part of the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce early bird breakfast to RSVP, you can call 947-0307.
The Glenburn Fire Department is $1,000 closer to purchasing the jaws of life.G & H Ambulance Service donated the money to the department.They need about $12,000 to purchase the equipment and have about $2,500 so far.The generous donation will help the town of glenburn and the G & H Ambulance Service too.” We have to wait for jaws to come into Glenburn anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes. So what we’re looking to do is bring a piece of equipment into town that will save someone’s life.”” Many of our members are on the Glenburn Fire Department and we partner with them so we felt it would be a generous gift from us to actually kick off the fundraising.”If you would like to help the Glenburn Fire Department purchase the equipment you can contact them at 942-6118.Or email them at email@example.com.
Organizers of the American Folk Festival held a press conference today to talk about the financial shape of the event. They tell us the festival drew more than 100,000 people to the waterfront this year. Despite having one of their biggest opening days ever, organizers say they are still around $130,000 in debt.They’re now asking for a little more help to dig out. Maria Biaza is the Chairperson on the Folk Festival Board and she says they’re asking they’re supporters for a little more help. “We’re having a conversation with our major sponsors who we couldn’t have done this without,” she says, “the city we couldn’t have done this without them, but yet they need to be included in this conversation, and our festival goers, would they come to the festival if they were charged, would they give to the bucket brigade if there was a charge, these are all things we need to look at.”Rain put a damper on the final numbers for the Folk Festival this year. The bucket brigade managed to raise more than $100,000. The festival costs about $1,000,000 to put on every year.
Some seniors in Bangor found a tasty way today to wrap up summer and welcome in fall – with a good old fashioned clam bake. Jean Davis is use to a coast of Maine meal. “My husband came from Stonington. We had lobster, clams and all that stuff all of the time. Crabs.” But it’s a taste she’s never grown tired of.”Oh, yes – it’s a delicacy – love it. Don’t have it that often.”Davis one of nearly 80 residents at Phillips-Strickland House in Bangor to take part in this end of summer treat. Activities Director Linda Nickerson says “We have lobster and clams. For those who don’t like lobster and clams, we have chicken and we have corn on the cob, potato salad, cole slaw and Maine blueberry cake for dessert.”Nickerson says, for years, the residents use to board a bus and take a trip to the coast for a meal like this. Now, with the help of Bangor Savings Bank, the coast comes to them. “It’s just been a hit because we’ve been able to let all of our residents enjoy the meal. Not as many people could go on the bus trips now as they did in the past.”Gilberte Bickford’s been looking forward to this plate full of food for a long time.”Oh, it’s wonderful. The lobsters – they’re so big! And the clams, I don’t eat clams, but some does. But it’s everything that’s good.”And Nickerson says it’s a good way to say goodbye to summer.”The residents are just truly enjoying this. This is something extra special. They don’t get lobster and clams on their regular menu, so this is just an extra treat for them. And it’s nice to see the the full dining room and everyone enjoying themselves.”
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has wrapped up its investigation into a fuel spill in Deer Isle. A truck hauling lobsters went off the road, rolled over and caught fire Monday afternoon. Fuel from the truck spilled into the water.Police say 60-year-old Franz Gerani of Rockland lost control of his truck on a sharp curve near the Deer Isle-Stonington town line. The driver suffered minor injuries.Sand was used to absorb diesel fuel from the truck and 70 gallons of diesel fuel was caught. The lobsters were unloaded and quarantined. The wrecked truck was hauled to Orrington.