US Senators from Maine and New Hampshire say pending furloughs at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard say they could have been avoided.There are indications the defense department will demand civilian workers at the shipyard in southern Maine take numerous days off without pay. Maine senators Susan Collins and Angus King joined their New Hampshire colleagues to encourage congress and the president to pass a long-term deficit reduction solution to avoid that.
Last year at this time, quite a different story.It was seventy degrees in maine. The scene on Portland’s East End Beach one year ago: warm and sunny with people everywhere.”I think the last couple of years have been a blessing for the early spring, so it’s about time we have a real Maine winter.” A real Maine winter that’s putting a pinch on snow-removal budgets. The city of Portland is already 8% over-budget this week. “Public safety is our number one priority, so our public safety is what we’re going to focus on at the time right now,” said Director of Public Services, Eric Labelle. “How we finish out the budget year, that may be affected.” Nearly 50 city workers will be on 16-hour shifts.”We’re getting back and loading trucks, making sure everything’s operating as we need it to operate, and we’ll be ready for tonight,” Eric said. A couple from Kennebunkport decided to leave early for a business trip to South Carolina. “We kind of figured spring was here, but there’s a big storm coming so we’re glad we’re leaving now.” It will take foot of snow with this storm for Portland to hit the one hundred inch mark for this winter.The all-time record is the winter of 1970-71, when 141 inches fell on Maine’s largest city.
The co-founder of a charitable road race from Ogunquit to Portland that raises money for the families of Maine military personnel killed in combat says a lawsuit he brought against another race co-founder who accused him of financial mismanagement has been settled. John Mixon, who founded Run for the Fallen Maine in 2008, tells The Portland Press Herald, the suit was settled in January but he is going public now to clear up any misconceptions that remain about the race. Mixon sued co-founder Bob Winn and Winn’s girlfriend, Diana Allen, after rumors of financial mismanagement were traced back to them. Mixon says the settlement includes a six-figure sum, as well as a statement that questions about financial mismanagement “were unfounded and wrong.” Winn and Allen refused comment.
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) – Police say the death of a 65-year-old man at a Portland hotel does not appear suspicious. The man was found Sunday afternoon in a room at the Motel 6 on Riverside Street. Lt. Gary Hutcheson says the state medical examiner’s office was notified, but the man appears to have died in his motel room of natural causes and no autopsy was planned. Police are trying to locate his next of kin. Hutcheson tells The Portland Press Herald (http://bit.ly/16DSs9z) the man was a transient who was a guest at the motel but had not been living there on a long-term basis. The body was taken to a local funeral home. His name was not made public. ___ Information from: Portland Press Herald, http://www.pressherald.com(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) – A Nobel Peace Prize winner will deliver the University of Maine School of Law’s second annual Justice for Women Lecture. The school says Leymah Gbowee (LAY-maw BOH-ee) of Liberia will deliver her speech on Wednesday. Gbowee is an activist who led a peace movement that helped bring an end to the Liberian civil war in 2003. She was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Tawakkul Karman, a female icon of the protest movement in Yemen. Gbowee’s lecture will be held at the Westbrook Middle School. More than 800 people have registered. The event is free and open to the public, but space is limited and registration is required.
An apartment house fire in Jay has left nine people homeless.A discarded cigarette is being blamed for it.Firefighters responded around 12:30 p.m. Sunday to reports of a building burning out of control.Authorities say it started on a back porch on the first floor.The building was total loss.Nobody was hurt.
On Friday the governor made it official: bars can open early on Saint Patrick’s Day.State lawmakers passed the bill Thursday, and on Friday, Governor LePage signed off on it.State law had banned the sale of liquor on Sundays between 6:00-9:00AM.The new law lets bars and restaurants serve liquor as early as 6:00 on Sunday mornings that happen to be Saint Patrick’s Day, like this Sunday for instance.
Governor LePage’s administration actively courted right-leaning media during the contentious debate last month over a request by the Bangor Daily News for public records on Maine’s concealed-weapons permit holders.The governor’s spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett sent emails to talk show hosts sympathetic to gun owners. Those emails were obtained by the Portland Press Herald through a Freedom of Information request.One message went to an associate producer at Fox News in New York City, with a request to forward it to Bill O’Reilly.Another went to Howie Carr, a conservative radio host in Boston.Bennett says she was doing her job to make sure the governor’s message is “heard loud and clear.”
BRUNSWICK, Maine (AP) – Brunswick’s Planning Board has approved a zoning change that opens the door for Bowdoin College to convert a former assisted-living facility near campus to student housing. The college agreed late last year to buy the building on Harpswell Road, but needed the town to change the zoning to turn it into a dormitory. The board this week voted 4-1 to approve the change. The Times Record (http://bit.ly/ZtuE2S ) reports that a Bowdoin official says acquisition and renovation of the building is part of the college’s ongoing effort to consolidate students who are now scattered around town. The college has assured neighbors that the dorm will be “chemical-free quiet” housing. The zoning change now goes to the town council for a public hearing.
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) – A Gorham man has been sentenced to eight years in prison for molesting three children. Michael Emerson on Thursday pleaded guilty to three counts of unlawful sexual contact with children younger than 12. Authorities say the 48-year-old Emerson molested two girls and a boy at his second home on Frye Island last summer. In deal reached with prosecutors, Emerson was sentenced to 25 years in prison with all but eight years suspended, followed by 10 years of probation. He must also register as a sex offender. Emerson apologized in court and called himself a “pedophile.” The mother of one victim said in a victim impact statement that Emerson is a “repulsive, disgusting person.” Another victim said in a letter read by a relative that she felt “scared” and “ashamed.”
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) – A Maine legislative committee is taking up a bill that would allow the Transportation Department to raise the speed limit on Interstate 295 from Scarborough to West Gardiner to 75 miles per hour. The speed limit on that southern Maine stretch is now 65 mph. Democratic Rep. Justin Chenette of Saco is sponsor of the bill, which will be reviewed Friday morning by the Transportation Committee. In 2011, the Legislature passed a law allowing the speed limit to go up to 75 mph on Interstate 95 from Old Town to Houlton in northern Maine.
Advocates for tax reform joined lawmakers in Augusta on Thursday to launch a grassroots campaign they say will fix Maine’s broken tax system.The group says it’s unfair that Maine’s wealthiest, and large corporations, pay a lower tax rate than low and middle income Mainers.The group announced the launch of the “Fair Share Campaign.”They say the path to a fair budget begins with a fair tax system.”Right now, those that have the least are paying the most,” said Bangor Democratic Representative, Adam Goode, “and those that have the means aren’t paying anything close to their fair share. The past few years have made this disparity worse with more tax cuts for the wealthy and more cutbacks to education and healthcare.”To learn more about the campaign, go to Facebook and search for “Fair Share Now.”
If you’re ready for spring, you’re probably ready for some ice cream, too. Gifford’s ice cream stands open for the season on Friday.Gifford’s has locations in Auburn, Bangor, Farmington, Skowhegan, and Waterville.If you’re going to head down, plan some time to do it. On past years, the lines have been long on opening day.
Bills are starting to pile up on the governor’s desk.Bills dealing with the Jobs for Maine’s Graduates program and the opening day for smelt season are among the ones that have passed but are yet to be signed.”You know I’m not 100% sure what the governor’s hang up is at this point,” said Democratic Representative from Skowhegan, Jeff McCabe. “There was some discussion whether this was having to do with the liquor contract or not. You know we’ve had a public hearing there. We’re willing to discuss that issue and move forward. The bills are on his desk and we’re hopeful he’ll sign them so we can continue doing other important work.”If the governor does not veto the bills, they’ll become law in ten days without his signature.
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) – A former Republican legislator tabbed to serve on the board of Maine’s Dirigo Health Agency by Gov. Paul LePage has withdrawn his nomination and criticized what he called a “coordinated attack” from three liberal groups that opposed him. Jonathan McKane said Tuesday at a hearing before the Legislature’s Insurance Committee that the Maine Education Association, the Maine Peoples Alliance and Consumers for Affordable Healthcare had subjected him to “ridiculous, baseless insults” at a hearing last week. McKane, a former state representative from Newcastle, is a longtime critic of Dirigo Health. The agency coordinates affordable health care coverage to eligible small employers, the self-employed and individuals. LePage has indicated he would leave the board seat vacant if McKane was not nominated.
BATH, Maine (AP) – Maine State Police say a Bath man has been arrested on charges of dealing the highly addictive drug methamphetamine near an elementary school. Police say 35-year-old Mark Corson was charged Wednesday with aggravated trafficking of meth, after agents searched his apartment and found evidence of a methamphetamine lab. A team from the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency searched the Dummer Street apartment in protective clothing around noon on Wednesday. Police say the charge was elevated because the apartment is near the Newell Elementary School. Officials say this is the fourth suspected meth lab found in Maine this year. The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency says 13 meth labs were discovered last year.
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is speaking in Maine on his department’s efforts to improve childhood nutrition and prevent obesity. Vilsack is speaking Thursday at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center on the Agriculture Department’s initiatives to elevate the national dialogue in promoting proper nutrition and increased physical activity for America’s youth. Vilsack is also planning to visit the U.S. Coast Guard station in South Portland, where he will underscore the importance of proper nutrition to America’s military readiness. The USDA says only one out of four Americans between 17 and 24 are eligible to serve in the armed forces, in part because many are overweight or obese.
A University of Maine at Machias professor receives a boost for shellfish research. Doctor Brian Beal has received a $100,000 grant from the Maine Economic Improvement Fund. The money will let researchers examine the production potential for blue mussels and arctic surfclams using current methods and testing new ones. Beal says it could create new economic opportunities for the shellfishing industry in downeast Maine.
What was expected to be a poor shrimping season has turned out to be even worse than anticipated.The catch has been tiny, resulting in short supply and higher prices for consumers.In the first seven weeks, shrimpers had caught less than 600,000 pounds, putting the season on course for the smallest shrimp harvest in more than thirty years.Just two years ago, fishermen from Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts caught 13 million pounds.
The president of the University of Southern Maine says the school must trim $5 million from its budget, which could mean staff cuts.The president set prelimary cuts of $3.2 million from academic affairs and $1.8 millon from adminstration, and she’s asked deans and department heads to offer recommendations.