The warden of the Maine State Prison has been fired.That’s according to Jim Mackie, a Union official representing corrections officers.Patricia Barnhart became warden of the state’s largest prison three years ago.Mackie says Corrections Commissioner Joseph Ponte went to Barnhart’s office Thursday morning, and fired her on the spot.Representative Mark Dion co-chairs the criminal justice and public safety committee. He says Ponte told committee members last week he was planning to make a change, but didn’t say why.
A small Maine fuel company is getting a big boost from the federal government.Congress has approved a tax credit for the makers of biodiesel.Maine Standard Bio Fuels is the only biodiesel producer in Maine.”Well, it’ll run just the same as diesel fuel.” Though, chances are, this diesel fuel once filled a “fry-o-lator.”It’s all recycled cooking grease that Maine Standard reformulates and touts as a cheaper, more environmentally friendly form of fuel.”It’s a cleaner fuel. It’s locally made fuel made here in Maine, and you’re taking advantage of recycling from that used cooking oil from restaurants,” says founder of Maine Standard, Mark Mays.The company collects from 500 restaurants all across northern New England, producing some 300 thousand gallons of bio diesel a year. Still, that’s just a fraction of the potential business it could be doing, but, these days, the grease market is tough.(00-21-37)(matt pemberton/cheif operating officer)”It’s pretty cut throat,” commented Matt Pemberton, Chief Operating Officer. “Our competition is primarily Commodity Brokers. They collect the oil and resell it on the commodities market.”Maine Standard collects its own oil, and hope that because the government reinstated a 2-year, 1-dollar a gallon tax incentive for bio diesel producers as part of the fiscal cliff deal, it’ll help this company expand faster, enabling it to better compete with those brokers.(00-18-00)(jarmin kaltsas/founder, maine standard biofuels)”I can look at maybe purchasing a new truck, or another truck for collection or bio-heat delivery. It allows us to increase our process a bit, as well as hiring more employees to grow,” said Jarmin Kaltsas, another founder of Maine Standard. In five years the company has already grown from 3 to 11 employees. Its owners convinced as more Mainers realize its benefits, the demand for bio diesel, essentially used cooking grease, will continue to grow as well.”It’s great for the environment: it’s lower emissions: you don’t have to make any modifications to your furnace, car or truck,” Mays added. The company’s biodiesel gas sells for about four dollars a gallon. Its biodiesel home heating fuel goes for about $3.40 a gallon.
The president of Colby College will leave that post next year.William Adams has led the school since 2000.Under his tenure, Colby’s academic programs have grown, especially in environmental studies and visual arts.He also led a 376-million dollar capital campaign that resulted in several new buildings on the Colby campus.
President Barack Obama has chosen a poet from Maine to give a poetry reading at his inauguration. Obama announced Wednesday that Richard Blanco is the 2013 inaugural poet at his Jan. 21 swearing-in ceremony. The son of Cuban exiles, the 44-year-old Blanco lives in Bethel, where he serves on the planning board. In announcing Blanco as his choice, Obama said Blanco’s writing will celebrate “the strength of the American people and our nation’s great diversity.” Inauguration planners said Blanco will be the youngest-ever inaugural poet and the first Hispanic or gay person to recite a poem at the ceremony. Blanco will be the fifth poet to read at a presidential inauguration, joining a group that includes Robert Frost and Maya Angelou.
Maine police say three people have been arrested on drug charges after their vehicle was pulled over as it exited the Maine Turnpike in Auburn. Maine Drug Enforcement agents say the trio was stopped Wednesday as they were returning from Connecticut with a shipment of cocaine to be sold in the Lewiston-Auburn area. Police seized 72 grams of crack cocaine with a street value of $7,500. Charged with aggravated trafficking in cocaine were Amanda Beth Rodriguez of Auburn: Margoliz Julie Velazquez of Hartford, Conn.: and Markevin Faucette of Lewiston. The three are being held at the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn in lieu of $75,000 bail each. They are likely to make their first court appearance in Auburn on Friday.
Police say they have arrested a woman who is nine months pregnant for allegedly acting as the getaway driver in a Kennebunk burglary that was interrupted by the homeowner. A department spokesman says the victim came home Tuesday afternoon to find an SUV with Florida plates in her driveway, the pregnant woman inside. When she opened her garage door, she saw a pile of electronics and guitars and saw a man run out the back door and jump in the SUV, which then took off. The woman followed the SUV, got the license plate number, and called police. Officers tracked down the vehicle and arrested Michael Gonyer and Ryana Garcia on burglary charges. Both are 21. Police say Garcia was taken to a hospital because she is nine months pregnant.
The Portland Museum of Art has finished 2012 with the second-highest attendance in museum history and the highest visitor count in more than a decade. The museum had nearly 178,000 visitors for the year, a 34 percent jump over 2011. The museum set a one-month attendance record in December, when nearly 26,000 people visited, drawn by a Winslow Homer exhibition. Director Mark Bessire said the museum had a successful year in terms of attendance, membership, store and cafe sales, and fundraising. He said the museum’s national reputation was boosted with the opening of its Winslow Homer art studio in Scarborough and its successful Homer exhibition.
A Maine mental health agency has been awarded a $1.6 million federal grant that will provide help to children who have been exposed to violence or some other trauma. Community Counseling Center in Portland said the grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will be used to launch the Maine Children’s Trauma Response Initiative. For the initiative, Community Counseling will work with mental health agencies and community organizations throughout Maine to develop a system that will ensure that any child who has been exposed to violence has access to mental health treatment. Additional efforts include outreach, community education and training for mental health providers and community members.
Some moms in Maine are mad at the governor.It’s all over the chemical BPA.Last week, the Department of Environmental Protection recommended the board reject a proposal to remove BPA from baby and toddler food packaging.Today, a group of moms went to Governor Lepage’s office demanding his administration retract the DEP’s statement.The DEP did recommend BPA be banned in infant formula.
Time is running out for Maine teens to sign up for a contest that involves running a virtual company. All high school students are invited to take part in the Junior Achievement Titan Challenge.Teams of three compete.This year’s challenge is February 13th at several locations throughout Maine.So far, 88 teams from 26 high schools are signed up.The deadline to register is this friday.
Maine has earned a top grade for children’s dental health.The Pew Center awarded an “A” grade to Maine again this year, making our state one of only five to get that grade.States were graded on efforts to give children access to dental sealants, which dentists say are an effective way to prevent tooth decay.
If you haven’t had one already, you should consider getting a flu shot.So say doctors, with Maine in the middle of a serious flu outbreak. They say it’s not just the numbers, but the severity of the cases they’re seeing that’s causing concern.(dr. august valenti/maine medical center epidemiologist) “It’s very bad I think. This is a pretty aggresive flu season.” Infectious disease specialist, Doctor August Valenti, in fact, says it’s one of the ‘most’ aggressive flu seasons in years. Statewide, he says, Maine’s reported 32 actual cases so far, compared to just ten all of last season, and this year’s predominate strain is different.”This flu is an H3N2, which is a circulatory strain. It’s not anything particularly uncommon but we just haven’t seen it as a predominate strain in a few years.””It’s a public safety issue, and a public health issue,” says Education Comissioner, Stephen Bowen.Such an important issue, he’s now urging schools to further offer and encourage all students to get flu shots, working with Maine’s CDC, the vaccinations are free.”You get through the holidays and as everybody gets back to school let’s remind everyone that this opportunity exists.” “We don’t want emergency rooms crowded with influenza.”Here at Maine Medical Center, doctors say too many people are showing up to the emergency room with flu or flu-like symptoms. Not only does that lead to overcrowding, but it can help spread the disease as well.”It’s best not to rush to the hospital, we can treat it many times over the phone.” Valenti says the flu season generally follows a bell-like curve, peaking around February: however this year he’s hoping we may’ve already seen the worst. “With the season starting a little early, my hope is it will peak a little early and disappear.”Again, if you have flu symptoms, either call your doctor or go to a clinic. Hospitals discourage people from showing up at the emergency room.
Livermore Falls is considering seceding from Androscoggin county and joining Franklin county.The select board in the community is looking into it.State Representative Gary Knight lives in the town of 3,500 people.He says the move makes financial sense because it’s closer to the Franklin county seat than to the Androscogging county seat, which would mean money saved in the transportation of criminals to jails and courts, but at least one Franklin county commissioner is against the move because it would increase that county’s costs.
State police are looking for a man who broke into a home in Lebanon and shot the homeowner.It happened Tuesday.Authorities say 41-year old Richard Patorski was shot in the shoulder and his injuries are listed as serious.Police say Potorski was home for lunch when he surprised the intruder. His wife called 911 when she returned home at about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. Potorski’s vehicle was found a few miles away across the state line in Rochester, N.H. The suspect is described only as a white man wearing a camouflage cap.
The Maine Charter School Commission has granted approval for a proposed Harpswell Coastal Academy to proceed with its application review. The next step will include an interview and public hearing to be held on Jan. 18 in Harpswell. Four other applications for charter schools – in Kennebunkport, the Bangor area and two statewide virtual schools – were denied on Tuesday. The commission said three applications failed to show that they’d met the governance requirements and the fourth failed to show that their financial structure could support the school. Harpswell Coastal Academy plans to open in September as a grade 6-12 school, but with an initial enrollment of 40 to 80 students in grades 6 and 9. Charter schools are funded with state dollars but operate independently of local school boards.
Home heating oil costs more this week in Maine.The governor’s energy office say it’s up four cents from last week to an average of $3.69 a gallon.The average price of propane went up two cents to $2.71: kerosene is also up two cents to $4.13 a gallon.
The Maine Legislature is back in session.Governor Lepage continues to avoid meeting with democratic leaders.He canceled a meeting with them in early December after asking the Democratic party to call off a cameraman hired to shadow the governor and record him at public events.Senate President Justin Alfond and House Speaker Mark Eves say they’re still seeking a sit-down with the governor.
A lot of June brides, and grooms, got busy in January at the Portland Wedding Show.It takes a lot of planning to set up the big day.The show has everything from gowns, to honeymoon spots, and no detail is overlooked…. This show is just as important to vendors, because even though some weddings are still months awasy, they know now is the time to plan.”In the bridal aspect you have to start planning now because it takes a long time for the dresses to come in to plan for the wedding,” said Sandy Bisson, of Bridal’s by Sandy, and now some of those vendors are starting to see a greater increase in their business, as same-sex couples are now legally getting married here in Maine.”It actually increased our business,” said Dannielle Frick of David’s Bridal. “They have been coming in. tTey are extremely excited. We welcome them all.” Ann Schwartz and Sarah Holmes are already planning their big day for New Year’s Eve 2013. The two say they were thrilled to be at the wedding show, and are now making the most of the state’s newly passed law. “This is not something I thought was going to happen,” said Schwartz. “I never thought I would be at a wedding expo.””No, never in a million years did I think this would happen,” Holmes added. “I am so excited that it did. I was so grateful that it did.”
A couple of cars were destroyed along with a garage that burned in Lewiston.Authorities say it started around noon Saturday.The homeowner says he was jump-starting a Porsche in his garage when it backfired.Authorities believe that’s what sparked it.The fire spread to the house, melting some of the siding.A fire investigator says there’s about $80,000 worth of damage.
Opening statements were heard on Monday in the trial of a Massachusetts man accused of a double murder in Maine.32-year-old Joel Hayden is charged in the deaths of 27-year-old Renee Sandora of New Gloucester, and 28-year-old Trevor Mills of Massachusetts.Police say Hayden shot the pair outside Sandora’s home in July of 2011. Authorities say Sandora and Hayden’s 7-year-old son watched the shootings, while the couple’s three other children were in a car parked nearby.The boy told the jury on Monday he was shocked by what he saw.He said his father was inside his mother’s house when he saw Trevor Mills fall through a glass door. He said Hayden then came outside and shot his mother.