Maine lawmakers have approved a bill to let alewives in the Saint Croix River for the first time in nearly two decades. If signed into law by the governor, it takes effect immediately. Advocates say it will benefit the state’s environment and fishing industry. Opponents are concenred restoring the alewife run would harm the smallmouth bass population.
Senator Susan Collins says she’s thrilled the postal service has delayed implementing a five-day-a- week delivery schedule. Orginally, the shortened delivery week was scheduled to start in August, but Congress is not allowing it to happen. Collins says cutting mail delivery will only drive away customers, causing revenues to further decline.
Fairpoint Communications is cutting ninety jobs in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.The cuts are in addition to thirty management positions eliminated across the company last month. The company says it hopes the cuts will save it about $11-million a year.Fairpoint employs 1,200 workers in Maine, with more than half of them in the Portland area.
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) – Recent immigrants, community leaders, labor officials and business organizations are coming together in Maine to press Congress for comprehensive immigration reform. Representatives of Maine business and labor groups are gathering in Portland plan to highlight the recent agreement between the AFL-CIO and U.S. Chamber of Commerce on new visa program for guest workers. The proposal would allow up to 200,000 workers a year into the county to fill jobs in construction, hospitality, nursing homes and other areas where employers say they have a difficult time hiring Americans. Others involved in the immigrant community will share their stories about problems in America’s immigration system and encourage Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King to take action. The event is scheduled for Wednesday morning at the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church in Portland.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) – A retired business consultant who lives in Auburn will serve as AARP’s Maine state president. The seniors’ issues organization says Rich Livingston was chosen following a statewide search. In the volunteer role, Livingston will serve as a leader and spokesman for hundreds of volunteers and more than 230,000 AARP members in Maine. The state president works in collaboration with the state director to advance AARP’s mission and priorities in the state. Livingston has experience in the Washington, D.C., broadcasting industry and has done consulting for television and radio stations nationwide. He also was chief operating officer of a $35 million advertising and public relations agency representing local, regional and national clients.
The Maine Senate has upheld the governor’s veto of a bill to bar children from using tanning salons.Lawmakers passed the bill which was meant to protect youths from skin cancer, but Governor LePage vetoed it, saying it’s an issue for parents to decide, not lawmakers.Current state law says anyone from 14 to 17 can use a tanning bed with a parent’s permission.Meanwhile, the House has voted to raise Maine’s minimum wage.That’s been sent to the Senate for a final vote, and the House turned down a bill calling for mandatory motorcycle helmets and the banning of cell phones by motor vehicle drivers on Tuesday.
Two Waterville men convicted of robbing a pharmacy last summer are going to jail for 2-and-a-half years. Lance Vashon, 35, of Benton, and Nicholas Hunter, 34, of Waterville were sentenced last week. Police say Vashon and Hunter’s son robbed the Rite Aid on Main Street. Nicholas Hunter called police the morning of the robbery to divert them from the crime scene.
A union representative says seven faculty members at the University of Southern Maine have been told they will lose their jobs as the school tries to trim $5 million from next year’s budget. A university spokesman says the number of layoffs will be larger. Bob Caswell said Monday he cannot say how many employees will be affected because the notification process won’t be completed for weeks. The university has yet to make an internal or public announcement about the layoffs, but both academic and administrative jobs will be eliminated. He tells The Portland Press Herald, that university officials have identified $4.4 million in savings so far. The music department will be hit hard, with one layoff and three positions left vacant. USM has campuses in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston.
Maine’s charter school commission has put a proposed Portland school involved in a high-profile controversy on track to open this fall. Baxter Academy for Technology and Science already received initial approval, but that was before the ouster of the school’s founder amid allegations of financial mismanagement. The Portland Press Herald says cheers broke out after Monday’s unanimous vote, which means details of the contract can be hammered out. A final vote is likely in May. The Legislature still plans to look into the charter school selection process after the school board fired John Jaques, the school’s founder and executive director. Jaques initially refused to relinquish control of the school’s website. That led to a suit and counter-suit.
Maine fire marshal investigators believe a candle started a fire that claimed the life of a homeless man at an encampment in Portland. Officials on Monday identified the victim as 53-year-old Brian Barbour of Portland and declared his death to be accidental. An autopsy determined that he died from smoke inhalation. Firefighters responded to a fire just before midnight on Saturday on West Commercial Street. As crews extinguished the fire, the badly burned body of a man was found nearby. The fire also destroyed a tent, some personal belongings and scorched a small area of woods. Fire Chief Jerome LaMoria says the death highlights the vulnerability of the homeless population who use open flame for heating, lighting and cooking.
Portland authorities say a homeless man has died in a fire at his encampment along railroad tracks in the city. Firefighters responded to reports of a fire on West Commercial Street just before midnight on Saturday. As crews extinguished the fire, the badly burned body of a man was found nearby. The fire also destroyed a tent, some personal belongings and scorched a small area of woods. The victim’s name was not made public pending notification of family. An autopsy is scheduled. Fire Chief Jerome LaMoria says the death highlights the vulnerability of the homeless population who use open flame for heating, lighting and cooking. The chief hopes to establish an outreach program to educate the homeless in fire safety tips.
The Maine Public Broadcasting Network is cutting up to ten jobs. MPBN’s president blames automatic federal budget cuts, state funding cuts, and lower than expected public donations.He says the network faces about a $400,000 deficit through the end of the fiscal year.Most of the layoffs will be come from a video production unit. The network’s weekly news program “Maine Watch” will also be put on hold through the summer.
Waterville is the place to be for Monty Python fans Friday night.The Waterville Opera House is premiering Spamalot.Tonight is the first of six performances. “It’s a lot of fun, if you’ve seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail, it’s basically a recreation but the musical version so it’s much more funny, exaggerated, colorful, bright and entertaining,” said Spamalot set designer, Chad Lefebvre.Friday night’s show starts at 7:30.For more information or to buy tickets, call 873-7000 or go to www.operahouse.com.
State lawmakers are calling for an investigation after a state worker says she was abused because she refused to shred official documents.Sharon Leahy-Lind says her bosses swore at her, called her names, even physically abused her because she wouldn’t break the law. Sharon Leahy-Lind spoke about her case Thursday afternoon at her lawyer’s office but would not answer any questions. “Sunshine is the best disinfectant, and it is my goal to shine light on one area of state government that is broken and causing harm to me and to the people of Maine.” Leahy-Lind says her bosses at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention verbally harassed her and physically abused her because she wouldn’t follow orders that she says broke the law. She says her boss ordered her to shred documents before a newspaper could request them through a Freedom of Information act.Part of the complaint reads, “When she found out I hadn’t shredded the documents, she physically assaulted me, and ordered me to take the documents to my home and destroy and dispose of them there.”Leahy-Lind says she didn’t take them home or destroy them.The documents allegedly related to how the CDC went about distribuing money to certain health programs. Leahy-Lind alleges the process was rigged. One of the losers in the funding fight: Healthy Adroscoggin of Lewiston. The organization’s CDC funding was cut by more than half.”I have no idea what the administration was thinking about when they did that,” said Democratic senator from Lewiston, Margaret Craven. “It just seems like an unfair thing to do.” Craven serves on the board of Healthy Androscoggin and also represents Lewiston at the State House. She’s one of the lawmakers calling for an investigation to get to the bottom of this. “These are public dollars, and I think that the people of the state of Maine need to know that dollars are distributed equally and fairly, and actually be able to trace the dollars that are spent in the state of Maine.”The state’s oversight committee will decide next Friday whether to investigate.The Maine CDC and DHHS say they won’t comment on personnel matters.Sharon Leahy-Lind is on paid administrative leave.
Bowdoin College’s nationally-ranked men’s tennis team will forfeit its next four matches and won’t be allowed to participate in postseason play for what school officials call a hazing incident. The Portland Press Herald, reports the sanctions were announced Wednesday in a letter from Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster and athletic director Tim Ryan. Details of the hazing were not released. They said no one was put in physical danger and blamed the incident on “poor judgment.” Foster and Ryan wrote that the matter was brought to their attention by a student not affiliated with the team. After interviewing team members they found the school’s “well-articulated and frequently explained policy that prohibits hazing” was violated. The Division III Polar Bears are ranked sixth in the country with a 9-2 record.
Administrators at a Maine jail have ordered kitchen staff to peel bananas before they’re served to inmates, and the jail has stopped serving oranges entirely, because prisoners have been drying and smoking the peels. Lt. Jeff Chute of the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn says the peel smoking has been a problem for six or eight months. Chute says guards were tipped off by a strong tobacco-like smell that was traced to the peels. He says there’s an urban legend out there that smoking dried peels and rinds can give the user some sort of high. He says that’s not true. He tells the Sun Journal, that all smoking is banned in the jail. Inmates have been using smuggled lighters or altered electrical outlets to spark the fruity smokes.
Those who lost loved ones in the deadliest submarine disaster in U.S. history are preparing for an emotional 50th anniversary. There are weekend events in Portsmouth, N.H., and Kittery, Maine, to memorialize the nuclear-powered submarine USS Thresher, which sank with the loss of 129 lives about 220 miles off Cape Cod on April 10, 1963. The Navy believes a leak in a pipe shorted out an electrical panel, leading to a cascading series of events that caused the destruction of the sub, now on the sea floor 8,500 feet deep. Part of the Thresher’s legacy is safety. Vice Adm. Kevin McCoy, commander of the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, D.C., says, “We can never, ever let this happen again.”
New Hampshire transportation officials estimate it will cost $2.5 million to repair a bridge between New Hampshire and Maine that was struck by an oil tanker that broke loose from a pier on Monday. Transportation spokesman Bill Boynton says the truss elements of the 73-year-old Sarah Long Bridge need to be replaced. Boynton said Pittsfield, Mass.-based contractor Cianbro has already begun work on steel fabrication, mobilization and staging. State officials were able to obtain the original design drawings dating back to the 1930s from the Missouri-based company that built the bridge, which will expedite construction of the new truss elements. The bridge carries 15,000 vehicles per day between Portsmouth, N.H. and Kittery, Maine. Officials in both states say reopening it is a top priority. The work could take four weeks.
Police say a Lewiston woman has been taken to a hospital after she was attacked by a knife-wielding man in her own apartment. A suspect was taken into custody shortly after the attack was reported just after midnight Thursday. The victim was taken to Central Maine Medical Center with what were described as minor lacerations. The suspect was caught about a mile away by police who had a description of him. Police say early reports were that the victim had recently taken out a restraining order against the man. No names were released.
Maine game wardens say a Massachusetts man survived being trapped under an overturned snowmobile for 20 hours. Wardens say searchers on Wednesday morning found 64-year-old Paul Lessard of Milford, Mass., underneath his overturned snowmobile in a ditch with running water in St. John Plantation, near the Canadian border. Wardens determined that Lessard had been trapped since the previous day. They say he was conscious but showing signs of hypothermia following a frigid night with snow squalls. He was taken to Northern Maine Medical Center and then transferred to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor where he was listed in fair condition. Wardens began searching for Lessard on Tuesday after a friend reported that he was overdue. He had left a rental camp Tuesday morning in Fort Kent.