Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel Features news from the Kennebec Journal of Augusta, Maine and Morning Sentinel of Waterville, Maine. Thu, 21 Sep 2017 21:11:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Verso forms committee to look at potentially selling mills Thu, 21 Sep 2017 21:11:00 +0000 Days after stakeholders expressed a desire to possibly sell the Verso paper mill in Jay to relieve frustrations regarding investments, Verso has announced it will establish a committee that will explore what it calls transaction alternatives, including the potential sale of some mills.

Verso’s announcement, which came in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing, said the company has formed a Strategic Alternatives Committee, which will continue “efforts to identify and evaluate a range of potential strategic transaction alternatives, including the possible sale of some Verso mills, engage in discussions and oversee the due diligence process with parties potentially interested in transactions with the company, and recommend to the board whether any proposed transaction is in the best interests of the company and its stockholders.”

This announcement comes shortly after the SEC filing from Mudrick Capital, a New York City-based investment firm that owns 15.3 percent of Verso’s stock. Because Verso is a public company and Mudrick now owns more than 5 percent of the company’s stock, Mudrick is required to report purchases of additional Verso stock to the SEC.

The Androscoggin Mill, owned by Verso Corp., has faced difficulty in recent months. Earlier this summer, the mill shut down its No. 3 paper machine permanently, resulting in about 120 workers being laid off, though many of those workers had either found new employment or entered into training programs before the machine was switched off.

Following the SEC filing from Mudrick, Kathi Rowzie, vice president of communications and public affairs at Verso, said the company continues to evaluate a variety of potential strategic options.

“With that said, there’s no assurance that this review will result in any particular alternative, and Verso will not be commenting further,” she wrote in an email.

According to its website, Mudrick Capital Management, L.P., is an investment firm that specializes in long- and short-term investments in distressed credit. It was founded in 2009 with $5 million under management. As of September, it had grown to manage about $1.6 billion.

Verso’s new committee is made up of independent directors Eugene Davis, Alan Carr and Steven Scheiwe, and will be assisted by Houlihan Lokey Capital, Inc., Verso’s financial adviser.

In a press release, Rob Amen, Verso’s chairman of the board, said the company is committed to exploring “strategic transaction alternatives, and the committee will facilitate this process.”

“The committee is charged with proceeding expeditiously, but will evaluate alternatives carefully for their ability to provide superior value to Verso’s stockholders,” he said.

The release concludes that there “is no assurance that the review of strategic alternatives will result in any transaction or other strategic alternative. Verso does not intend to make any further disclosure concerning these matters until a definitive transaction agreement is reached or a determination is made that none will be pursued.”

The Mudrick filing reads “The Reporting Persons are deeply frustrated with the Board’s inaction to address the Issuer’s rapidly deteriorating financial position. The Reporting Persons have expressed these frustrations to the Board and intend to continue its dialogue with the Board to help enact a strategic plan that will return value to stockholders, including a potential sale of the Stevens Point and Androscoggin mills. If the Board does not engage with the Reporting Persons in good faith, the Reporting Persons intend to pursue all other avenues to protect its investment.”

Rumors of a potential sale of the Jay mill have been circulating for some time, as Jay Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere said the Mudrick SEC filing was something they had heard about before.

In a conference call earlier this summer, CEO Chris DiSantis said, “Androscoggin Mill is being evaluated for additional capital investment for expanded product line offerings and to enhance cogeneration capabilities.”

In that call, Verso managers said they hired a consultant to look at each of the company’s seven mills and the company as a whole to determine how to wring the best value out of them for shareholders. That consultant, global investment bank Houlihan Lokey, is the top mergers and acquisitions adviser in the country, according to Thomson Reuters. The Androscoggin Mill was singled out as an example of how converting to a new product line and reducing excess capacity positions the company to increase revenue.

The No. 5 machine is now at 78 percent capacity and growing, according to the second-quarter report. Once it achieves full capacity, it could contribute $10 million in revenue.

In an earlier filing with the SEC, Verso said severance and benefits payouts related to the shutdown of the No. 3 machine would amount to about $4 million, plus another $1 million in writing off spare parts and inventory produced on the No. 3 paper machine in 2016.

The shutdown of the No. 3 machine reduces the mill’s annual coated paper production capacity by about 200,000 tons.

The Androscoggin mill has been struggling in recent times. The mill was forced to lay off the 120 employees earlier this summer, but that came after it had to lay off 300 employees in 2015 as part of a plan to reduce production capacity. Verso then emerged from bankruptcy in the summer of 2016 with about 560 employees. The Androscoggin mill is down to about 400 employees. Of the 120 employees who were laid off, about 20 were rehired for new positions at the mill. The mill’s employees are not unionized.

The overall economic landscape for Maine mills has been troublesome in recent years. Five mills have closed in the last few years, including Verso’s Bucksport mill in 2014, with more than 500 jobs lost. The Madison Paper mill closed in May 2016, which put more than 200 people out of work. More than 2,300 workers in Maine have lost their jobs since 2011.

However, earlier this week, Androscoggin mill manager Everett O’Neill said spirits remained high at the Jay mill, and that changes to the No. 5 machines were running smoothly.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

Twitter: @colinoellis

]]> 0 Androscoggin Mill in Jay on Nov. 1, 2016. Mill owner Verso announced formation of a committee that will look at ways to increase the value of its stock, including the possible sale of mills.Thu, 21 Sep 2017 17:11:00 +0000
Kennebec Journal Sept. 21 police log Thu, 21 Sep 2017 19:19:49 +0000 AUGUSTA

Wednesday at 8:49 a.m., a Bangor Street caller reported criminal mischief.

10:31 a.m., a Sunset Avenue caller reported a disturbance/disorderly conduct.

12:30 p.m., a caller from New England Road reported suspicious activity.

5:22 p.m., a 49-year-old man who was listed as a transient was issued a summons charging him with criminal trespass following a report of trespassing by a Sewall Street caller.

10:09 p.m., a Northern Avenue caller reported a disturbance.

10:42 p.m., a 21-year-old Sidney resident was issued a summons charging operating with license suspended or revoked following a motor vehicle stop on Western Avenue.

Thursday at 3:27 a.m., a Water Street caller reported a disturbance/disorderly conduct.


Wednesday at 4:02 a.m., a theft of alcohol was reported by a caller on Maine Avenue.

4:26 p.m., one person was charged after a report of a traffic accident on Maine Avenue.


Thursday at 12:44 a.m., a South Belfast Road caller reported suspicious activity.


Tuesday at 4:28 p.m., criminal threatening was reported on Commerce Plaza.

7:11 p.m., an assault as reported on Old Lewiston Road.

11:27 p.m., a family fight was reported on Morton Street.

Wednesday at 9:27 a.m., a suspicious person/circumstance was reported on Main Street.

5:20 p.m., fraud was reported, but no location was listed.

8:38 p.m., an overdose was reported on Hanson Street.

9:46 p.m., trespassing was reported on Winthrop Center Road.



Wednesday at 1:10 p.m., Ethan Eugene Swieneicki, 26, of Augusta, was arrested on charges of domestic violence reckless conduct and obstructing report of a crime after a report of a domestic disturbance from a Bangor Street caller.

2:15 p.m., Samantha M. Berube, 29, of Augusta, was arrested on a warrant on Washington Street.

6:56 p.m., David H. Dickens, 28, of Augusta, as arrested on Gage Street on a warrant from Kennebec County and a charge of theft by unauthorized taking or transfer.

]]> 0 Thu, 21 Sep 2017 15:40:02 +0000
Waterville man to serve 20 months for cocaine possession Thu, 21 Sep 2017 19:06:22 +0000 AUGUSTA — A Waterville man will spend 20 months behind bars for unlawful possession of cocaine in Waterville on Nov. 9, 2016.

Ruben D. Rincon, 33, pleaded guilty to that charge Thursday at the Capital Judicial Center, and a charge of aggravated trafficking in fentanyl from that same date was dismissed.

He was also fined $400, but that was suspended after Rincon’s attorney, Andrew Edwards, told Judge Eric Walker that Rincon had no ability to pay that.

Walker said he understood that Rincon probably would be returned to Massachusetts after completing the Maine prison term because he faces other charges there. Rincon is from Lowell, Massachusetts.

Rincon and Amanda Sanipas, now 30, of Waterville, were arrested together Nov. 9, 2016, as a result of a two-year investigation into drug trafficking, according to police.

Investigators said that Sapinas and Rincon would drive to Lowell to receive drugs and bring them back to Waterville.

Sanipas previously pleaded guilty to unlawful trafficking charges May 1 and was sentenced to an initial six months behind bars with the remainder of the eight-year term suspended while she serves two years on probation.

Also Thursday, Rincon agreed to the forfeiture of a PT-92 Taurus 9 mm handgun and $3,640 in cash seized during a search of the couple’s apartment at Home Place Inn at 150 College Ave. in Waterville.

In a separate hearing Thursday, also at the Capital Judicial Center, Corey Vannah, 28, of Augusta, pleaded guilty to aggravated trafficking in heroin and aggravated trafficking in cocaine base, both of which occurred Sept. 28, 2016.

The case was continued until Dec. 4 for a sentencing hearing.

Assistant District Attorney Katie Sibley outlined the plea agreement and a jointly recommended sentence of an initial four years in prison, with the remainder of the eight-year term suspended, and three years of probation. Sibley also said that six other aggravated trafficking charges invoving actions in the period from Sept. 20 to Dec. 1, 2016, were dismissed in exchange for the plea.

Sibley said a “cooperating individual” wearing a wire bought heroin and cocaine base from Vannah on Washington Street Place in Augusta.

The four-year prison term is the minimum mandatory term because Vannah has a prior unlawful trafficking conviction.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

Twitter: @betadams


]]> 0 RinconThu, 21 Sep 2017 15:38:09 +0000
Seal pups rescued in Maine among those released off Rhode Island Thu, 21 Sep 2017 18:34:34 +0000 MYSTIC, Conn. – Three seal pups that were apparently abandoned by their parents after birth have been released into the waters off Rhode Island.

Officials at Connecticut’s Mystic Aquarium say the three harbor seals named Aster, Azalea and Ivy were released Thursday morning in Charlestown, Rhode Island.

The aquarium says one of the seals was rescued in early May in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Another was found in Harpswell, Maine, and brought to the aquarium in June. The third was found in East Boothbay Harbor, Maine, and arrived at the aquarium in July.

The aquarium says the three seals are now healthy enough to survive on their own. Each is about 4 to 5 months old and weighs around 50 pounds.

]]> 0 21, 2017 Two seals pause on their way to the ocean after being released in Charlestown, R.I., on Thursday. Photo courtesy of Mystic AquariumThu, 21 Sep 2017 15:10:42 +0000
National group sends airplane message to Collins urging ‘No’ vote on ACA repeal Thu, 21 Sep 2017 18:33:29 +0000 A national women’s advocacy group aimed at fighting and exposing sexism had a skyborne message for U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, on Thursday.

The group, UltraViolet Action, commissioned the flight of a small airplane pulling a banner urging Collins to reject the most recent effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“Collins, Don’t back down protect our care,” read the banner that was observed over Portland on Thursday.

In August, after Collins twice voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act, the group sponsored a similar flight thanking her for her votes.

“Earlier this year, Sen. Collins stood strong for Maine families in opposing the Republican efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and taking a wrecking ball to our country’s healthcare system,” Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of UltraViolet Action, said in a prepared statement. “Now, it’s up to Sen. Collins to protect our care again. The Cassidy-Graham bill would be a disaster for Maine and the country, so Sen. Collins – don’t back down, keep protecting our care. The lives of Maine residents and millions more depend on it.”

]]> 0 21, 2017 “Collins, Don’t back down protect our care,” read the banner that was observed over Portland on Thursday. Staff photo by Christian MilNeilThu, 21 Sep 2017 14:57:24 +0000
Juvenile charged with terrorizing at Thorndike school complex Thu, 21 Sep 2017 18:00:12 +0000 Police arrested a juvenile Wednesday in connection with a threatening note found earlier this month in a student bathroom at the Mount View school complex in Thorndike, according to a Waldo County Sheriff’s Office news release.

The juvenile, a boy, has been charged with terrorizing, a class C felony. He is being held at a juvenile detention facility pending further court action, according to the release.

Administrators reported a threatening note to police around 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 14, prompting the complex to go into lockdown status, which is when classrooms are locked, lights are turned off and students are encouraged to be quiet, as the potential threat is inside the building.

After working with staff at Regional School Unit 3, police identified the suspect.

A second threat was found written on a note in Mount View Middle School on Sept. 15, prompting another lockdown at Mount View complex for a short period of time. Police identified a girl as the suspect and she was charged with terrorizing, a class C felony.

She also is being held at a juvenile detention facility pending further court action.

]]> 0 Thu, 21 Sep 2017 15:41:36 +0000
Trump announces new sanctions on North Korea over nuclear program Thu, 21 Sep 2017 17:11:12 +0000 NEW YORK — President Trump announced an executive order Thursday granting the Treasury Department additional authority to enforce economic sanctions on North Korea and target foreign companies and individuals that do business with the rogue nation in Northeast Asia.

Trump said the new powers aim to cut off international trade and financing that dictator Kim Jong Un’s regime uses support its nuclear and ballistic missile weapons programs. The president also said that Chinese President Xi Jinping had ordered Chinese banks to cease conducting business with North Korean entities. Trump called the move “very bold” and “somewhat unexpected,” and he praised Xi.

“North Korea’s nuclear program is a grave threat to peace and security in our world, and it is unacceptable that others financially support this criminal, rogue regime,” Trump said in brief public remarks during a meeting with the leaders of South Korea and Japan to discuss strategy to confront Pyongyang.

He added that the United States continues to seek a “complete denuclearization of North Korea.”

He added that the order will give Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin the “discretion to target any foreign bank knowingly facilitating specific transactions tied to trade with North Korea.”

A White House fact sheet said the executive order says that airplanes or ships that have visited North Korea will be banned for 180 days from visiting the United States, a move to crack down on illicit trade.

“This significantly expands Treasury’s authority to target those who enable this regime … wherever they are located,” Mnuchin said.

Trump’s announcement came as he has sought to rally international support for confronting Pyongyang during four days of meetings here at the United Nations General Assembly. In a speech to the world body on Tuesday, Trump threatened to “totally destroy” the North if necessary and referred derisively to Kim as “rocket man.” But the president and his aides have emphasized that they are continuing to do what they can to put economic and diplomatic pressure on the North in order to avoid a military conflict.

“We are witnessing a very dangerous confrontation spiral,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in a speech to the United Nations, filling in for President Vladimir Putin, who skipped the forum. “We resolutely condemn the nuclear missile adventures of Pyongyang in violation of Security Council resolutions. But military hysteria is not just an impasse, it’s disaster…There is no alternative to political and diplomatic ways of settling the nuclear situation on the Korean Peninsula.”

China is North Korea’s largest trading partner, but Mnuchin emphasized that “this action is in no way specifically directed at China,” and he said he called Chinese officials ahead of the announcement to give them a heads up.

In recent weeks, the U.N. Security Council has approved two rounds of economic sanctions but also left room for further penalties. For example, the sanctions put limits on the nation’s oil imports but did not impose a full embargo, as the United States has suggested it supports. The Trump administration has signaled it also wants a full ban on the practice of sending North Korean workers abroad for payments that largely go to the government in Pyongyang.

Sitting down with South Korean President Moon Jae-in before the trilateral discussion with Japan, Trump said the nations are “making a lot of progress.”

Moon praised Trump’s speech to the U.N., saying through a translator that “North Korea has continued to make provocations and this is extremely deplorable and this has angered both me and our people, but the U.S. has responded firmly and in a very good way.”

The Security Council had also applied tough new export penalties in August, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that there are signs those restrictions are having an economic effect.

“We have some indications that there are beginning to appear evidence of fuel shortages,” Tillerson said in a briefing for reporters. “And look, we knew that these sanctions were going to take some time to be felt because we knew the North Koreans … had basically stockpiled a lot of inventory early in the year when they saw the new administration coming in, in anticipation of things perhaps changing. So I think what we’re seeing is a combined effect of these inventories are now being exhausted, and the supply coming in has been reduced.”

There is no sign, however, that economic penalties are having any effect on the behavior of dictator Kim Jong Un’s regime and its calculation that nuclear tests and other provocations will ensure its protection or raise the price of any eventual settlement with the United States and other nations.

All U.N. sanctions have to be acceptable to China, North Korea’s protector and chief economic partner. China’s recent willingness to punish its fellow communist state signals strong disapproval of North Korea’s international provocations, but China and fellow U.N. Security Council member Russia have also opposed some of the toughest economic measures that could be applied, such as banking restrictions that would affect Chinese and other financial institutions.

“We continue to call on all responsible nations to enforce and implement sanctions,” Trump said.

Trump said the United States had been working on the North Korea problem for 25 years, but he asserted that previous administrations had “done nothing, which is why we are in the problem we are in today.”

Through executive orders and other measures extending back to the Clinton administration, the United States has been trying to undermine the economic underpinnings of the North Korean nuclear weapons program.

Each new sanction from Washington has been followed by evasive measures by Pyongyang, and then another attempt from Washington to ramp up pressure. Earlier sanctions restricted trade between U.S. companies and businesses involved with the North Korean regime and its weapons efforts. Until recently, however, such sanctions had limited effects because North Korea continued an expansive trade with other countries, mainly China.

In recent years, the United States has sought to expand the economic pressure by working through the international banking system, where the country has particular leverage because so much of international trade is conducted in dollars. The “vast majority of international transactions are denominated in dollars, the world’s reserve currency,” a Congressional report found last year.

Even when the companies are outside the United States, trade conducted in dollars typically must run through U.S. banks, and last year, that provided the Obama administration with an opportunity to interrupt such business.

In November 2016, a special measure implemented by the Treasury barred U.S. banks from providing the accounts that handle such transactions for any North Korean bank or any party acting on its behalf. The measure essentially cut off North Korean banks from any trade denominated in U.S. dollars.

North Korea, however, has continued to conduct such trades by using front companies located in third countries, at least some of which are in China.

The new executive order expands the U.S. pressure on the North by allowing the Treasury to single out those front companies, and any banks helping to finance any trade with North Korea, for sanctions. Those sanctions would cut off trade with those companies or forbid them from conducting transactions in dollars.

Anne Gearan in New York, Abby Phillip in Washington and Peter Whorisky contributed to this report.

]]> 0 of State Rex Tillerson sits at right as President Trump speaks at a luncheon with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday in New York.Thu, 21 Sep 2017 16:23:02 +0000
For the first time, Marines expect to have a female infantry officer among ranks Thu, 21 Sep 2017 16:49:52 +0000 The Marine Corps expects to soon have its first female infantry officer, a historic first following her anticipated graduation Monday from the service’s grueling Infantry Officer Course, said three military officials with knowledge of the training.

The lieutenant and her male colleagues completed a three-week combat exercise at the service’s training center in Twentynine Palms, Calif., on Wednesday, the final graded requirement in the 13-week program. The infantry course is widely seen as some of the toughest training in the military, with about 25 percent of all students washing out.

The class will mark its graduation Monday with a “warrior breakfast” 35 miles south of Washington, in Quantico, Va., where most of the course is conducted, the officials said. All three spoke to The Washington Post on condition of anonymity because the graduation has not yet occurred. All that remains between now and then is returning equipment used during training, and a few administrative days, they said.

This historic moment arrives nearly two years after then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter lifted the military’s last remaining restrictions for women, part of an effort by the Obama administration to make the armed forces fully inclusive. Officials shared few details about the lieutenant Thursday, and two said it is unlikely that she will agree to do any media interviews, preferring to be a “quiet professional” and just do her job.

The lieutenant will take over a platoon of infantry Marines in a service that is often seen as the most resistant to full gender integration. The Marine Corps was the only service to recommend keeping some units, especially those carrying out infantry and elite reconnaissance operations, closed to women ahead of the Pentagon requiring all jobs to be open to women.

The Marines first opened the Infantry Officer Course to women experimentally in 2012, allowing women to attempt it as a part of broader research across the Defense Department examining how to integrate all-male units. Thirty-two women attempted the course before the research ended in spring 2015, and none completed it.

Four additional female Marines have attempted the course since the Pentagon opened all jobs to women in 2015, including the lieutenant expected to graduate Monday. At least one of those four women attempted the course twice, but did not complete it.

]]> 0, 21 Sep 2017 12:54:01 +0000
Rockland may hold off on sign showdown with avid Trump supporter Thu, 21 Sep 2017 16:32:56 +0000 ROCKLAND — City officials are expected to hold off issuing a formal notice of violation to a homeowner with President Trump signs until the city council has a chance to weigh in on whether the sign law should be tweaked.

Rockland City Manager Tom Luttrell said there was no sense to go forward with formal legal proceedings if the council wants to amend the law to exempt political signs.

The city council is next scheduled to meet Oct. 2 to set its agenda for the regular monthly meeting that will be held Oct. 11.

Mayor Will Clayton issued a statement Thursday after being asked by the Courier-Gazette about the sign issue.

Susan Reitman says she won’t take down the signs on her property and won’t pay a fine for violating an ordinance regarding the size and number of signs.
Photo by Stephen Betts/Courier-Gazette

“The Code office is simply doing its job that past councils have asked them to enforce. City ordinances can be and are amended nearly every month and this may be a case to review this particular one. Maybe the size dictated in the current ordinance has some history to it, or maybe it’s just an arbitrary number. Whatever the history behind it is any council member can bring forward an amendment for review at any time. Personally I will continue to focus on more pressing concerns facing the city,” Clayton said.

Assistant Code Enforcement Officer William Butler sent a Sept. 18 email to Seavey Lane resident Susan Reitman informing her that two signs she had attached to the gate to her driveway were larger than allowed for residential properties.

He stressed to her, however, that the issue was the size of the signs not their message.

“I admire your passion for our president. Truly, I do. However, we have received a complaint and I have to do my due diligence and I have determined your signs are not in compliance with the Rockland Code. It is your business what you put on the signs. It is the city’s business regarding the size and number of signs,” Butler stated in his Sept. 18 email to Reitman.

The complaint came from a woman whom Butler has declined to identify, saying she feared for her safety if her name became public. He released an email the woman sent but the email did not include a name only an email address and a photo of the signs.

Reitman has said she would go to jail rather than take down the signs.

The notice from the assistant code officer never mentioned jail. No jail term would be considered unless the city filed a land-use complaint against Reitman and a judge agreed that she was in violation and then Reitman refused to adhere to the court order.

Butler gave Reitman until Sept. 22 to remove the signs.

Since the issue gained publicity, Butler has received six calls and emails from the public, a couple that include obscene and hateful speech.

One caller left a voicemail with obscenities and said he hoped “one day God takes care of you.”

The city’s sign ordinance limits residences to one sign attached to a structure of no more than two square feet or one free-standing sign of no more than four square feet.

The city ordinance carries a potential penalty of between $100 and $1,000 per day for violations.

Reitman moved the signs this week from the gate of her driveway to the exterior of the front of the ranch-style house. According to the city ordinance, the signs being on the house does not negate the size issue.

She said she has been trying to get an attorney to be with her when she meets with city officials but said she will likely not be able to afford a lengthy legal battle.

Seavey Lane is a dead end street off South Main Street with 10 homes.

The two signs are about 3-feet-by-4-feet each. One says “I Love Trump” and the other says “He Won, Get Over It.”

]]> 0 Reitman says she won't take down the signs on her property and won't pay a fine for violating an ordinance regarding the size and number of signs. Photo by Stephen Betts/Courier-GazetteThu, 21 Sep 2017 13:32:16 +0000
Surfers delight as storm pounds Maine shore with waves Thu, 21 Sep 2017 15:26:47 +0000 Wednesday was gloomy in southern Maine as outer bands from a former hurricane moved across New England. At least some people didn’t seem to mind. Surfers at Higgins Beach donned their wetsuits and dove into the breakers as the storm mostly fizzled in Maine, dropping less than an inch of rain.

Parts of New England could see more high seas and winds early next week as a result of Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico.

]]> 0, 21 Sep 2017 11:26:47 +0000
Hundreds of Bath Iron Works draftsmen prepare to strike Thu, 21 Sep 2017 15:23:41 +0000 The union that represents 760 workers at Bath Iron Works is accelerating preparations for a strike next week, even as a federal mediator is called in to resolve its contract dispute with the company. The ramp-up includes getting support from the biggest union at the yard, which declared its solidarity with the draftsmen Thursday.

On Sunday, an overwhelming majority of Bath Marine Draftsmen’s Association voted down a proposed contract from BIW and authorized a strike. The members, mainly mechanical designers and technicians, are working on an extended contract until this Sunday while trying to negotiate an agreement with the company. The draftsmen’s association is an affiliate of the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers, Local 3999.

UAW strike assistance personnel were expected in Bath Thursday to begin focused planning with local union volunteers, the union negotiating committee said in a Facebook post Thursday. The union is also working with the Maine AFL-CIO on strike strategy, it said. The Bath union and the UAW regional office did not return phone calls Thursday.

The proposed four-and-a-half year contract voted down Sunday would have given workers two pay increases totaling 5.6 percent, lump-sum payments worth $6,000 and more retirement benefits and paid time off. The union wage scale is $18.05-$34.96 per hour.

But a major sticking point in negotiations is BIW’s proposal to cut flex time benefits allowing employees to vary when they come to and leave work during a 40-hour week. In a statement, the union said BIW proposed to eliminate most of the benefit. Vacation and sick time allowances have eroded since flex time was implemented, including a loss of 23 sick days in the union’s 2013 contract, according to the union. Flex time gives workers the ability to care for family members and personal health while increasing productivity, it said.

“Over the last several years, the union has experienced four years of wage freezes and the loss of pension benefits for new members. The proposed elimination of this non-economic benefit now, given the recognized positive impact, makes no sense and would only harm morale and productivity,” said BMDA Vice President Trent Vellella in the statement.


To help the two sides reach a resolution, a federal mediator was brought into negotiations Wednesday, according to the negotiating committee.

“We remain hopeful that we will be able to finalize a proposal the membership feels is acceptable to ratify, we have also continued to prepare for the possibility of a strike starting Monday, Sept. 25,” the committee said in its Facebook post. The last strike at the shipyard was in 2000 and lasted 55 days.

The draftmen’s association represents workers that develop ship designs and technical drawings, laboratory technicians and material testers. Its membership accounts for approximately 13 percent of the shipyard’s total workforce of 6,000.

Loren Thompson, a Washington D.C.-based defense analyst, said this week that a strike was unlikely to immediately disrupt production. The shipyard, which mainly builds warships for the U.S. Navy, is a subsidiary of General Dynamics. It is currently working on two Zumwalt-class destroyers and four Arleigh-Burke warships.

BIW spokesman David Hench said the company would not elaborate beyond saying it is negotiating in good faith.

As time runs out to finalize a contract, the draftsmen are getting support from members of Local S6 chapter of the Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America. Local S6 is the largest union at BIW, representing approximately 3,600 workers.

S6 members intend to back draftsmen on the picket line during their free time, make signs and otherwise provide support to the union but are not allowed to strike under its labor agreement, said S6 President Mike Keenan. On Thursday, shipyard workers wore green T-shirts to show solidarity with the BMDA.

“We can’t violate law, but there are many things you can do to show support that are completely legal and we have every intention of going to extra mile to support the BMDA, far more than BIW is aware of,” Keenan said.

The draftsmen’s concerns over wages and benefits are shared by his union, Keenan said.

“The company is making record profits, but the cuts continue,” he said.

Local S6 narrowly voted for a contract in 2015 that included concessions on outsourcing, pay, pensions and health benefits. The company said concessions were needed to become cost-competitive and attract work. Despite those changes, the shipyard lost a $2.4 billion contract to make Coast Guard cutters last year and warned 1,000 workers could be laid off.

“Here it seems like the working class seems to take it on the chin,” Keenan said. “They could do so much more by rewarding folks than talking concessions.”

In a Sept. 19 letter to union members, UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell said draftsmen would be eligible for $200 a week strike benefit and appropriate costs associated with the strike would be covered with the union’s strike fund.

Peter McGuire can be reached at 791-6325 or at:

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire

]]> 0 the urging of U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree and Bruce Poliquin, the House approved a version of the defense spending bill that shields Bath Iron Works from absorbing all increased costs related to a new kind of radar system. Without the amendment sponsored by the Maine representatives, BIW would have had to absorb the cost of the advanced radar system in two Arleigh Burke destroyers it is building on a fixed-price basis. With the amendment, BIW can build the first destroyer with the existing radar system, and the second can be built with the advanced system, but the cost will be shared by the Navy and the shipyard.Thu, 21 Sep 2017 17:04:39 +0000
Sen. King joins proposal that Election Day be moved to weekend Thu, 21 Sep 2017 15:18:35 +0000 PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Maine’s independent U.S. Sen. Angus King has joined a group of Democratic senators in co-sponsoring legislation that would move federal Election Day to the weekend.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., who introduced the Weekend Voting Act, says moving Election Day from the first Tuesday in November to the first full weekend would make it easier for more people to vote

Reed says Tuesday voting is an outdated and arcane practice established in 1845 because it was easiest for farmers who traveled by horse and buggy.

He cites research that finds the most consistent reason Americans don’t vote is that they’re too busy or couldn’t get time off.

The legislation is co-sponsored by several other Democratic senators, including Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse.

A similar bill was introduced in the House in 2015 but was not voted on.

]]> 0 angus kingThu, 21 Sep 2017 15:43:41 +0000
Cianbro lands $17 million contract for work in Kittery Thu, 21 Sep 2017 15:14:51 +0000 Pittsfield construction company Cianbro Corp. has received a $17 million contract from the federal government for work in Kittery at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

The award came from U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering Command to repair or modernize wharf structures to restore their load-carrying capacity of the crane rail system along the waterfront. The contract also calls for providing corrosion protection of the wharf to allow for its optimal use.

Last November the company received a $28 million contract to perform similar work.

]]> 0 employees work Thursday at the company's new workforce development facility in Pittsfield.Thu, 21 Sep 2017 11:33:34 +0000
Portland gelato shop handles vandalism with jokes (and emojis) Thu, 21 Sep 2017 15:06:03 +0000 Portland’s Gorgeous Gelato shop took a licking Wednesday night and kept on ticking. The Old Port treat shop was apparently vandalized as its window was smashed.

The shop had a little fun with the incident, posting a sign in its window that reads “this Gelato addicted guy didn’t remember we close at 10pm.” A picture of the sign was posted on Gorgeous Gelato’s Twitter page Thursday morning.

]]> 0 Gelato tweeted about the vandalism to its Old Port shop.Thu, 21 Sep 2017 11:10:28 +0000
Judge hears request to legally declare Ayla Reynolds dead Thu, 21 Sep 2017 14:47:57 +0000 A state police lieutenant testified in Cumberland County probate court Thursday that the investigation into the 2011 disappearance of Ayla Reynolds has not yielded any information indicating she is alive, despite receiving more than 1,500 leads in the case.

The testimony, from Lt. Jeff Love, came during a hearing in which Trista Reynolds, the girl’s mother, asked probate Judge Joseph Mazziotti to declare the legal death of the infant whose disappearance has been the subject of an ongoing police investigation.

If Mazziotti agrees, it would open the door for Trista Reynolds to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the 20-month-old girl’s estate against her father, Justin DiPietro, who has been at the center of the investigation since the girl went missing.

Mazziotti offered no indication on when he would make his ruling.

Ayla was 20 months old when she was reported missing Dec. 17, 2011, from her grandmother’s house at 29 Violette Ave. in Waterville. The child was staying there with DiPietro; his then-girlfriend, Courtney Roberts; and his sister, Elisha DiPietro, while the grandmother was away overnight.

Justin DiPietro was not present in the courtroom, although he had been notified last spring of the hearing. Reynolds’ attorney, William Childs, said DiPietro’s last known residence is in California.

Reynolds testified that she does not know where her daughter is.

If Mazziotti declares Ayla Reynolds dead, Childs said he plans to file the suit against DiPietro.

Although the criminal investigation into Ayla’s disappearance was described as active and ongoing, a civil lawsuit would a wholly separate process.

In civil cases, penalties are monetary, and Childs would have to meet a lower burden of proof than in a criminal case, where the standard is to prove a crime beyond a reasonable doubt, whereas a civil case requires proof by a preponderance of the evidence.

Childs said he has already taken the depositions of Roberts and Elisha DiPietro, and that Trista Reynolds sat for a polygraph examination in Portland, the results of which Childs plans to release to the media in the future.

The depositions yielded new information, Childs said, but he declined to elaborate on what he learned.

“We would like to find out what happened to Ayla, and where that leads us, we’ll see,” he said.

During the hearing, Reynolds testified she had entered rehab prior to her daughter’s disappearance and arranged with the Department of Health and Human Services for Ayla to stay with her sister, Jessica.

But DiPietro took Ayla from the home with the assistance of the Lewiston Police Department, moving the child to Violette Avenue in Waterville where he was staying, Reynolds said.

The wrongful death suit could also include other defendants beside Justin DiPietro, Childs said, but he said those decisions haven’t been made yet. The statute of limitations for filing that claim is six years after the five-year anniversary of when a person is reported missing, which in this case would be in December 2022.

Ayla’s disappearance drew both local and national media attention, with both parents appearing on national television at different times to plead for the girl’s safe return.

Police, after an exhaustive search and what was described Thursday as the largest investigation in state history, said in May 2012 that they believed Ayla to be dead.

The case is now in the hands of the State Police unsolved homicides squad, overseen by Love, who said that despite more than 1,500 leads in the case, nothing has pointed to Ayla still being alive.

Love also described how blood stains found in the Waterville home were determined to have belonged to Ayla.

A police dispatch transcript shows that Justin DiPietro called 911 at 8:49 a.m. Dec. 17, saying he had put Ayla to bed in her crib at 8 p.m. the previous night, that his sister checked on her two hours later, and the child was gone when he woke up in the morning.

DiPietro has maintained all along that someone must have abducted Ayla from the home, and Elisha DiPietro said last year in an interview with the television show “Crime Watch Daily” that the DiPietro family believes Ayla “is out there somewhere.”

State police have said it is highly unlikely Ayla left the house on her own or that she was abducted during the night while the adults were sleeping — no evidence was ever found suggesting either scenario — and that those who were in the house the night she disappeared withheld information from investigators that is relevant to the case.

Steve McCausland, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, has said the abduction theory “doesn’t pass the straight-face test.”

The DiPietro family has accused Trista Reynolds of involvement in her daughter’s disappearance, an accusation Trista has denied, Childs said. disables reader comments on certain news stories, including those dealing with sexual assault and other violent crimes, personal tragedy, racism and other forms of discrimination.

]]> undated photo provided by Trista Reynolds shows Ayla Reynolds, her 20-month-old daughter who was reported missing on Dec. 17, 2011, from the home where her father was living in Waterville. Reynolds is seeking a formal court declaration that Ayla is dead so a wrongful death lawsuit can be pursued against Ayla's father, Justin DiPietro.Thu, 21 Sep 2017 12:58:55 +0000
Morning Sentinel Sept. 21 police log Thu, 21 Sep 2017 14:44:32 +0000 IN CANAAN, Wednesday at 3:02 p.m., suspicious activity was reported on Moores Mill Road.

IN FAIRFIELD, Wednesday at 2:40 p.m., suspicious activity was reported on Main Street.

3:20 p.m., a disturbance was reported on Main Street.

6:53 p.m., suspicious activity was reported on Ohio Hill Road.

7:53 p.m., vandalism was reported on Center Road.

8:19 p.m., suspicious activity was reported on Howe Road.

9:12 p.m., a disturbance was reported on Main Street.

11:03 p.m., suspicious activity was reported on Pratt Road.

IN FARMINGTON, Wednesday at 5:01 p.m., theft was reported on Main Street.

7:37 p.m., harassment was reported on High Street.

11:08 p.m., suspicious activity was reported on High Street.

IN HARTLAND, Thursday at 6:10 a.m., a brush fire was reported on Pleasant Street.

IN JAY, Thursday at 12:33 a.m., suspicious activity was reported on Jewell Street.

IN MADISON, Wednesday at 3:49 p.m., an assault was reported on Main Street.

8:09 p.m., a domestic disturbance was reported on Pinewood Drive.

IN MOSCOW, Thursday at 12:22 a.m., suspicious activity was reported on Canada Road.

IN NORRIDGEWOCK, Wednesday at 8:04 p.m., theft was reported on Becki Way.

IN OAKLAND, Wednesday at 8:59 a.m., criminal mischief was reported on High Street.

11:44 a.m., suspicious activity was reported on North Gage Road.

4:15 p.m., suspicious activity was reported on Selden Lane.

4:28 p.m., an unwanted person was reported on Fairfield Street.

6:15 p.m., a domestic dispute was reported on Belgrade Road.

6:35 p.m., a domestic dispute was reported on Fairfield Street.

7:34 p.m., fraud was reported on Oak Street.

8:20 p.m., harassment was reported on Ten Lots Road.

Thursday at 3:21 a.m., suspicious activity was reported on McGrath Pond Road.

IN SKOWHEGAN, Wednesday at 3:17 p.m., threatening was reported on North Avenue.

5:49 p.m., a disturbance was reported on North Avenue.

7:03 p.m., theft was reported on Heselton Street.

IN WATERVILLE, Wednesday at 7:56 a.m., fraud was reported at Walmart.

9:21 a.m., juvenile offenses were reported on Gold Street.

10:07 a.m., sex offenses were reported on College Avenue.

10:24 a.m., suspicious activity was reported on Cool Street.

11:23 a.m., an unwanted person was reported at MaineGeneral Medical Center.

12:16 p.m., juvenile offenses were reported on Pleasant Street.

12:29 p.m., theft was reported at Mount Saint Joseph Residence and Rehabilitation.

3:58 p.m., harassment was reported on Water Street.

4:11 p.m., fraud was reported on Gray Street.

4:43 p.m., juvenile offenses were reported on Oak Knoll Drive.

4:56 p.m., suspicious activity was reported on Water Street.

6:15 p.m., juvenile offenses were reported on Water Court.

7:18 p.m., an unwanted person was reported on Ticonic Street.

7:44 p.m., an unwanted person was reported on Silver Street.

8:48 p.m., suspicious activity was reported on Lawrence Street.

10:13 p.m., an unwanted person was reported at MaineGeneral Medical Center.

Thursday at midnight, an unwanted person was reported at MaineGeneral Medical Center.

2:23 a.m., criminal mischief was reported on Main Street.

IN WILTON, Wednesday at 9:23 a.m., an assault was reported on U.S. Route 2.

5:28 p.m., harassment was reported on U.S. Route 2.

5:37 p.m., juvenile offenses were reported on Lake Road.


IN FRANKLIN COUNTY, Wednesday, Stephen Carr, 56, of Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence.

IN SOMERSET COUNTY, Wednesday at 9:53 a.m., Devon O. Williams, 25, of Brewer, was arrested on a warrant.

1:11 p.m., Tracey Leroy Steward, 51, of Skowhegan, was arrested on charges of assault and violating conditional release.

4:11 p.m., Brittany Jean Roseberry, 25, of Detroit, was arrested on a warrant.

4:50 p.m., Victor H. Wilson, 41, of Augusta, was arrested on a charge of criminal trespassing.

5:37 p.m., Steven N. Guertin, 53, of Fairfield, was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence, with one prior offense.

10:51 p.m., Dennis A. Gehrke, 69, of Bingham, was arrested on charges of driving under the influence, with three prior offenses, unlawful possession of oxycodone, and illegal possession of a firearm.

]]> 0 Thu, 21 Sep 2017 14:29:53 +0000
U.S. will now be 1 of only 2 countries in the world not to sign climate accord Thu, 21 Sep 2017 14:25:31 +0000 And then there were two.

This week, Nicaragua, one of the few holdouts from the Paris climate accords, did an about-face and said it will sign the agreement.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega announced that the Central American nation of 6 million people – about the size of Maryland – would sign the landmark pact voluntarily committing nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to El Nuevo Diario, one of the nation’s major newspapers.

After President Barack Obama, who orchestrated the pact bringing together more than 190 nations, only two nations had yet to sign the agreement in April of this year.

One was Syria, which was and still is in the middle of a bloody civil war. The other was Nicaragua, which attended 2015 talks but refused to sign the accord.

President Donald Trump announced his intent to make the United States the third nonparticipant in the pact because of, as he said in a speech in June, “the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country.”

But Nicaragua declined to participate not because its leaders thought the agreement went against its national interests. Instead, they felt the agreement did not go far enough.

“We’re not going to submit because voluntary responsibility is a path to failure,” Paul Oquist, Nicaragua’s climate envoy, said during the Paris talks in 2015. Nicaragua argued that rich countries should pay more to mitigate global warming because they were largely responsible for it.

As a developing nation, Nicaragua produces only a fraction of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. But the country, economically dependent on agriculture and in the path of Atlantic hurricanes, is ranked the fourth-most vulnerable to climate change in the world, according to the 2017 Global Climate Risk Index.

When making his announcement, Ortega this week struck a note of solidarity with other poorer regions affected by a changing climate.

“We have to be in solidarity with this large number of countries that are the first victims, that are already the victims and are the ones that will continue to suffer the impact of these disasters and that are countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, of the Caribbean, which are in highly vulnerable areas,” Ortega said, according to the Nicaraguan newspaper.

As the United Nations General Assembly met this week, Trump administration officials reiterated the U.S. commitment to leaving the Paris deal unless, as the president said in June without defining what fairness meant, “we can make a deal that’s fair.”

“The president decided to pull out of the Paris accord because it’s a bad deal for the American people and it’s a bad deal for the environment,” National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said on Sunday before the U.N. gathering. Trump’s top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, carried that message to foreign counterparts in New York later in the week.

But according to Andrew Light, a senior fellow at the World Resources Institute who was a senior climate adviser at Obama’s State Department, Nicaragua’s decision after the U.N. meeting is “further demonstration that the administration is isolated on this issue.”

]]>, 21 Sep 2017 13:27:10 +0000
Happy 70th, Stephen King. (And many more!) Thu, 21 Sep 2017 14:22:10 +0000 Based on his output, you’d have no inkling that Stephen King turned 70 years old today. Maine’s famous author has co-authored two books in 2017, and a solo effort titled “The Outsider” is in the works.

Not bad for a guy who started publishing in the 1960s.

He has published 56 novels and almost 200 short stories. He also has five nonfiction books and many of his works have been turned into TV shows and movies, like the recently released “It.”

Whether it’s Carrie or Cujo, King has made an imprint on the publishing world and he’s brought Maine along for the ride. His native state – King was born in Scarborough and went to high school in Lisbon – serves as the setting for many of his stories. The old writing advice is to “write what you know.” King has shown he knows plenty about telling a compelling tale, and he probably has many more in store.

Show how much you know about the birthday boy: The hardest Stephen King quiz you’ll ever take

Read more about “It”: King inspired ‘It’ filmmakers to become storytellers

]]> 0, 21 Sep 2017 13:17:54 +0000
Annie Proulx to receive honorary National Book Award Thu, 21 Sep 2017 13:43:01 +0000 NEW YORK – The Pulitzer Prize and numerous other awards didn’t prepare Annie Proulx for her latest honor: a National Book Award medal for lifetime achievement.

“I was astonished when first I heard that news,” Proulx told The Associated Press during a recent email interview. “I simply had not thought of my various writings as a body of work that might be considered as a contribution to American letters. It almost seemed that I had been negligent in writing what I considered discrete novels and stories instead of shaping a holistic something that might be regarded as a life work.”

Annie Proulx photographed in Madrid, Spain in 2006. Associated Press/Daniel Ochoa de Olza

On Thursday, the National Book Foundation praised the author of “The Shipping News,” “Brokeback Mountain” and other fiction for her “impressive lyricism and wit that captivates readers of all ages.” Anne Hathaway, who starred in the film version of “Brokeback Mountain,” will present the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters to Proulx during a Nov. 15 dinner ceremony in Manhattan, when competitive prizes will be given for the year’s best fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people’s literature books. Scholastic Inc. President and CEO Dick Robinson will be given the Literarian Award for “Outstanding Service” to the literary community.

Previous recipients of the Distinguished Contribution medal include Toni Morrison, Philip Roth and Joan Didion.

“Annie Proulx’s ability to explore the nuances of the human spirit and render deeply moving reflections on rural life have solidified her place in American Letters,” Lisa Lucas, the foundation’s executive director, said in a statement. “In addition to her astounding literary accomplishments, film adaptations of Proulx’s work have reached scores of viewers who may not have encountered her work on the page.”

Proulx, 82, won the Pulitzer and National Book Award for “The Shipping News,” and her novel “Postcards” made her the first women to win the PEN/Faulkner award. She has also expressed reservations about literary prizes, worrying that they overshadow the work.

“It is true that I have noticed awards sometimes affect writers negatively by encouraging them to weigh their succeeding works on a scale of notability rather than intrinsic verities in the work itself,” Proulx told the AP. “That’s badly put: I feel writing the thing on the worktable should have the focus, and that awards should come like shifts in a veering wind, as gratifying surprises.”

Born Edna Ann Proulx, in Norwich, Connecticut, the author grew up in Portland, graduated from Deering High School and attended Colby College, and set her work around the country and beyond. “The Shipping News” takes place in Newfoundland, “Brokeback Mountain” in Wyoming and her latest, the ecological epic “Barkskins,” begins in Canada and journeys worldwide. “Barkskins” warns of climate change, which Proulx considers a defining issue of the moment and one “impossible to ignore” in her future work. But she is also known for her explorations of history, whether the haunting secrets of a Newfoundland community in “The Shipping News,” or, in “Accordion Crimes,” when she traces an accordion’s journey from Sicily in the 1890s to Florida a century later.

“For reasons I have never understood the past has always had a hold on the way I look at events. I am attuned to long, slow change,” she wrote to the AP. “Throughout my life I have slid in and out of gestalt reversals, imaging earlier times for almost every situation, not only when writing, but in the normal course of a day – the Viking presence in L’Anse aux Meadows, the peopled steeps of Chaco, the funerary rites of 19th C. Vermont, the lustrous eyes of unwary pronghorn, standing on the quivering false islands of Okeefenokee, spider-webs in Pacific Northwest autumn forests. If I met you I might briefly imagine you in 18th century clothing or the raiment of Utzi or pharaonic trappings. This habit of thinking/imagining is hard to explain, but it is a kind of automatic juxtaposition of specific present situations and people into the past. I do this constantly, in every social interaction and sometimes write about the past through that channel of imagination.”

Lifetime achievement awards are a time for stepping back and looking at the impact of one’s career – one’s legacy.

“I usually write about rural places and situations and am drawn to socio-historical change as background (or foreground, depending on your perception),” she wrote in her email. “The French Annales approach to history through the lives of ordinary or working class people has guided my outlook. In the work structural backgrounds have included the disappearance of Vermont hill farms, immigration, homophobia, the shift from traditional rodeo, returning veterans, the incursion of hog farms, the collapsing Newfoundland cod fishery before the Moratorium, deforestation.

“How this all shakes out into a legacy I have no idea – it’s more a defining characteristic of the way I look at the world I have lived in. I feel writers have a responsibility to nail down a piece of the time they inhabit.”

]]> 0 - In this Jan. 26, 2006 file photo, writer Annie Proulx speaks at a news conference in Madrid. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza, file)Thu, 21 Sep 2017 09:59:34 +0000
No child is trapped at collapsed school, Mexican official reports Thu, 21 Sep 2017 13:00:33 +0000 MEXICO CITY — A high-ranking navy official said Thursday there is no missing child at a collapsed Mexico City school that had become a focus of rescue efforts following this week’s deadly magnitude-7.1 earthquake, though an adult still may be alive in the rubble.

Navy Assistant Secretary Angel Enrique Sarmiento said that while there are blood traces and other signs suggesting that someone is alive, all the school’s children have been accounted for.

“We have done an accounting with school officials and we are certain that all the children either died, unfortunately, are in hospitals or are safe at their homes,” Sarmiento said.

The attention of many in Mexico and abroad had been drawn to the plight of a girl identified only as Frida Sofia, who was said to have been located alive under the pancaked school building and became a symbol for the hopes of thousands of rescuers working around the clock in search of quake survivors.

Multiple rescuers at the school site spoke of the girl, with some saying she had reported five more children alive in the same space. Yet no family members had emerged while rescue efforts continued, and some officials had begun to say her identity was not clear.

Tuesday’s magnitude-7.1 quake killed at least 245 people in central Mexico and injured over 2,000. That included at least 21 children and five adults at the Enrique Rebsamen school in southern Mexico City.

Earlier Thursday, the navy announced it had recovered the body of a school worker from the school.

Rescuers removed dirt and debris bucketful by bucketful and passed a scanner over the rubble of the school every hour or so to search for heat signatures that could indicate trapped survivors. Shortly before dawn the pile of debris shuddered ominously, prompting those working atop it to evacuate.

“With the shaking there has been, it is very unstable and taking any decision is dangerous,” said Vladimir Navarro, a university employee who was exhausted after working all night.”

Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said the number of confirmed dead in the capital had risen from 100 to 115, bringing the overall toll from the quake to 245. He also said two women and a man had been pulled alive from a collapsed office building in the city’s center Wednesday night, almost 36 hours after the quake.

Still, frustration was growing as the rescue effort stretched into Day 3.

Outside a collapsed seven-story office building in the trendy Roma Norte district, a list of those rescued was strung between two trees. Relatives of the missing compared it against their own list of those who were in the building when the quake struck — more than two dozen names — kept in a spiral notebook.

Patricia Fernandez’s 27-year-old nephew, Ivan Colin Fernandez, worked as an accountant in the seven-story building, which pancaked to the ground, taking part of the building next door with it.

She said the last time the family got an update was late yesterday: That about 14 people were believed to be alive inside, and only three had gotten out.

“They should keep us informed,” Fernandez said as her sister, the man’s mother, wept into Fernandez’s black fleece sweater. “Because I think what kills us most is the desperation of not knowing anything.”

Referring to rumors that authorities intend to bring in heavy machinery that could risk bringing buildings down on anyone still alive inside, Fernandez said: “That seems unjust to us because there are still people alive inside and that’s not OK.”

“I think they should wait until they take the last one out,” she said.

Seeking to dispel the rumors, National Civil Protection chief Luis Felipe Puente tweeted Thursday that heavy machinery “is NOT being used” in search-and-rescue efforts.

President Enrique Pena Nieto declared three days of mourning as soldiers, police, firefighters and everyday citizens dug through the rubble, at times with their hands, gaining an inch at a time.

“There are still people groaning. There are three more floors to remove rubble from. And you still hear people in there,” said Evodio Dario Marcelino, a volunteer who was working with dozens of others at a collapsed apartment building.

A man was pulled alive from a partly collapsed apartment building in northern Mexico City more than 24 hours after the Tuesday quake and taken away in a stretcher, apparently conscious

In all, 52 people had been rescued alive since the quake, the city’s Social Development Department said, adding in a tweet: “We won’t stop.” It was a race against time, Pena Nieto warned in a tweet of his own saying that “every minute counts to save lives.”

People have rallied to help their neighbors in a huge volunteer effort that includes people from all walks of life in Mexico City, where social classes seldom mix. Doctors, dentists and lawyers stood alongside construction workers and street sweepers, handing buckets of debris or chunks of concrete hand-to-hand down the line.

At a collapsed factory building closer to the city’s center, giant cranes lifted huge slabs of concrete from the towering pile of rubble, like peeling layers from an onion. Workers with hand tools would quickly move in to look for signs of survivors and begin attacking the next layer.

In addition to those killed in Mexico City, the federal civil defense agency said 69 died in Morelos state just south of the capital and 43 in Puebla state to the southeast, where the quake was centered. The rest of the deaths were in Mexico State, which borders Mexico City on three sides, Guerrero and Oaxaca states.

Associated Press journalists Miguel Tovar and Peter Orsi in Mexico City and Carlos Rodriguez in Jojutla contributed to this report.

]]> 0, 21 Sep 2017 16:14:53 +0000
‘Hoax’ call of officer down in Fairfield came from a police radio, chief says Thu, 21 Sep 2017 12:57:47 +0000 The person who called in a false alarm about an officer being shot Wednesday in Fairfield had used what authorities called a police radio, but it’s not clear how the radio was obtained and whether there’s a threat of additional public safety hoaxes.

The radio call came directly into police cruisers around 5 p.m., claiming that an officer was down on Ohio Hill Road and needed assistance, and that the officer was with an armed person, according to Fairfield police Chief Tom Gould.

A large police contingent responded. Officials from nine agencies descended on Fairfield to search up and down the road, and a helicopter flew above to check for anything unusual, Gould said in an interview Thursday.

However, the officers were unable to find anything that matched the call or was out of the ordinary.

Fairfield police wrote on their department Facebook page Wednesday evening that the report was apparently a “hoax.” In its Facebook post, the department apologizes for any fear the call may have caused in the community.

“We also appreciate all of the kind words and prayers that I have seen posted and being forwarded to us,” the department’s post states. “We’re sorry for the scare that we put into the residents of Fairfield, we were right there with you.”

Gould said Thursday he doesn’t yet know the cost for the manpower used in response to the call.

So far police have no suspects in the case, but all Fairfield officers were working on it Thursday and continued canvassing the area, Gould said.

If Fairfield police find the person who called in the false alarm, they will “absolutely” charge him or her, Gould said. The charge of making a false public report is a class D misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

“It’s not unheard of for members of the public to get their hands on” a police radio, he said, although he said it’s rare. It could be an old, discarded radio or one bought online and tuned to the police frequencies.

There’s no way for the police to trace the location of the radio.

“The transmission was short and quick,” Gould said. “It was clear, so we know it was within a set distance from where the officer was when he heard it.”

Police radios can run on two systems: straight analog, conventional systems or digital systems, according to John Richards, director of radio operations for the Maine Office of Information Technology.

Most public safety systems in Maine — about 90 percent — use the conventional system, which is slightly more vulnerable to penetration, Richards said.

But either way, Richards said, “if the people have the money to spend on the equipment, they can get into just about anything.”

Anyone could purchase a regular radio on Amazon and then program it to tap into the police frequencies, he said.

“If a person knows what they’re doing and they’ve got the numbers, it’s not difficult to spoof,” he said, though finding out the numbers is the difficult part.

Still, this situation doesn’t happen often. This is the second instance in recent memory, Richards said.

There’s no prevention policy for these penetrations, but he said police responded correctly in this case.

“I know the dispatch center up there,” Richards said. “They are excellent at what they do. Whether they knew it was real or they had any inclinations, they rolled and they went to make sure everyone was safe.”

Authorities asked that anyone with information related to the case email the department at

“We would be grateful if anybody had any information, no matter how minor,” Gould said.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

Twitter: @madelinestamour


]]> 0, 21 Sep 2017 16:28:11 +0000
Maine’s fate lies with a zombie hurricane as Maria moves north Thu, 21 Sep 2017 12:11:24 +0000 Hurricane Maria continued its thunderous roll northward as forecasters struggled to pin down a trajectory. Whether the storm makes landfall again could be determined by a zombie.

That’s what former Hurricane Jose will soon be in the meteorological vernacular, a once-dangerous tropical system that has fallen apart and been robbed of its brute force. But it can still have an impact. As Maria moves on from Puerto Rico and the other Caribbean islands it ravaged on Tuesday and Wednesday, the remains of Jose will be hovering over the Atlantic Ocean, with enough life left to influence the larger cyclone’s track.

Depending in part on zombie Jose, Maria could spin out to sea — or into the eastern seaboard.

Forecasting the scenario is difficult because there are so many moving parts. As of late Wednesday, most computer models called for Maria to end up over the ocean. Few meteorologists, though, were willing to lay bets.

“Models don’t handle storm-storm interaction very well,” said Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “There is a lot more uncertainty than usual. There are two very uncertain things interacting.”

Downgraded to a tropical storm Tuesday, Jose will turn in an ever tighter circle through the rest of the week, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Maria will move toward that circle in the coming days, its ultimate destination as yet unknowable.

And it has been a season of surprises. While many meteorologists expected an active summer of storms, the burst in the last month was a shock. “It is extraordinary, no question about that,” said Joel Myers, founder, president and chairman of AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.

Since Aug. 25, when Harvey slammed into Texas, a train of hurricanes have hit the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean. The death toll is over 100.

Damage to the U.S. and Puerto Rico could reach $170 billion from Harvey, Irma and Maria, according to Chuck Watson, a disaster analyst at Enki Research in Savannah, Georgia. The total could reach $300 billion when destruction on islands including Barbuda and Dominica are taken into account, Myers said.

In all, six Atlantic storms were strong enough to earn names in the last four weeks. Five became hurricanes and four grew into systems with winds of 111 miles per hour or more. Three Category 4 hurricanes have now struck U.S. territory. That’s a first for one season, Masters said.

There’s a 20 to 25 percent chance Maria will threaten North Carolina’s Outer Banks by Tuesday and then swirl by New York’s Long Island and Cape Cod in Massachusetts, said Todd Crawford, lead meteorologist at the Weather Company in Andover, Massachusetts. About $8.7 trillion in insured property lies between Maine and North Carolina, and some 39 percent of that is in New York, according to the Insurance Information Institute in New York.

“These areas should be thinking about preparing for the less likely scenario of a direct landfall,” Crawford said. Masters said it could be an either-or situation. If Virginia and North Carolina take a hit, then the Northeast will be spared. Another scenario has southeastern Massachusetts absorbing a blow.

As Jose falls apart, there’s a chance the high-pressure system that’s forcing it into its loop will grow more robust, Masters said. This would push Maria into the coast. “I am not at all confident Maria is going out to sea,” he said.

A saving grace: Jose held its hurricane power for a long while, stirring up a lot of cold water from the depths of the Atlantic. Maria needs a warm ocean to keep up its strength.

Still, for now, it’s smart to prepare, Myers said. “You ought to be cautious, because a lot can happen.”

]]> 0, 21 Sep 2017 11:53:08 +0000
Judge to release some court records in quadruple slaying case Thu, 21 Sep 2017 12:04:47 +0000 AYER, Mass. — Some court records in the case of a Maine man charged with fatally beating his mother, grandparents and their caretaker in a Massachusetts home can be made public, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Judge Margaret Guzman impounded the records after Orion Krause, of Rockport, Maine, was arraigned Sept. 11 in the slayings in Groton three days earlier.

Media outlets challenged the order on constitutional grounds, and the judge rescinded it Wednesday although she said some of the documents will remain closed to the public in accordance with state law.

None of the redacted records will be released immediately because Krause’s lawyer, Edward Wayland, was granted a request that they remain closed while he appeals the decision. He said the documents should remain closed to protect his client’s right to a fair trial and the privacy interests of his family.

“Future jurors in this case will be discussing these things long before my client has the ability to challenge their admissibility,” Wayland said.

Suspect Orion Krause, right, stands with his attorney, Edward Wayland, at Krause’s arraignment in Ayer District Court on Sept. 11. The Boston Globe via AP/Josh Reynolds

Krause, 22, a talented musician who recently graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio, is being held without bail at a mental health facility for a competency evaluation. His next court date is Oct. 30.

In his request to keep the files closed, Wayland included affidavits from a psychiatrist and Krause’s father, Alexander Krause, who said that opening the records would cause the family grief.

“In just the past two weeks I have had to bury my wife, my in-laws, and see my son confined to an institution for the criminally insane,” he wrote. “Must I now also read the grisly details of the crime scene in the newspaper?”

Krause has pleaded not guilty in the killings of his mother, Elizabeth Krause, 60; his maternal grandparents, Frank Darby Lackey III, 89, and Elizabeth Lackey, 85; and their caretaker, Bertha Mae Parker, 68.

Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan has said a baseball bat was found at the scene and may have been used in the killings. No motive has been disclosed.

Ryan’s office, which sought impoundment of the records at Krause’s arraignment, did not oppose the motion to open them. disables reader comments on certain news stories, including those dealing with sexual assault and other violent crimes, personal tragedy, racism and other forms of discrimination.

]]> Orion Krause, right, stands with his attorney, Edward Wayland, at Krause's appearance Monday in Ayer District Court.Thu, 21 Sep 2017 12:31:37 +0000
A stunned Puerto Rico seeks to rebuild after Hurricane Maria Thu, 21 Sep 2017 11:12:48 +0000 SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans stunned by a hurricane that crushed concrete balconies, twisted metal gates and paralyzed the island with landslides, flooding and downed trees vowed to slowly rebuild amid an economic crisis as rescue crews fanned out across the U.S. territory Thursday.

The extent of the damage is unknown given that dozens of municipalities remained isolated and without communication after Maria hit the island Wednesday morning as a Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds, the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in over 80 years.

Uprooted trees and widespread flooding blocked many highways and streets across the island, creating a maze that forced drivers to go against traffic and past police cars that used loudspeakers to warn people they must respect a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew imposed by the governor to ensure everyone’s safety.

“This is going to be a historic event for Puerto Rico,” said Abner Gomez, the island’s emergency management director.

Previously a Category 5 with 175 mph winds, Maria hit Puerto Rico as the third-strongest storm to make landfall in the U.S., based on its central pressure. It was even stronger than Hurricane Irma that storm roared into the Florida Keys earlier this month.

In the capital of San Juan, towering eucalyptus trees fell nearly every other block over a main road dotted with popular bars, restaurants, and coffee shops, some of which were damaged. Outside a nearby apartment building, 40-year-old tourism company operator Adrian Pacheco recounted how he spent eight hours in a stairwell huddled with 100 other residents when the hurricane ripped the storm shutters off his building and decimated three balconies.

“I think people didn’t expect the storm to reach the point that it did,” he said. “Since Irma never really happened, they thought Maria would be the same.”

Hurricane Irma sideswiped Puerto Rico on Sept. 6, leaving more than 1 million people without power but causing no deaths or widespread damage like it did on nearby islands. Maria, however, blew out windows at some hospitals and police stations, turned some streets into roaring rivers and destroyed hundreds of homes across Puerto Rico, including 80 percent of houses in a small fishing community near the San Juan Bay, which unleashed a storm surge of more than 4 feet.

“Months and months and months and months are going to pass before we can recover from this,” Felix Delgado, mayor of the northern coastal city of Catano, told The Associated Press.

The sound of chain saws began to fill the silence that spread across San Juan late Wednesday afternoon as firefighters began to remove trees and used small bulldozers to lift toppled concrete light posts. Some neighbors pitched in to help clear the smaller branches, including Shawn Zimmerman, a 27-year-old student from Lewistown, Pennsylvania who moved to Puerto Rico nearly two years ago.

“The storm didn’t bother me,” he said. “It’s the devastation. I get goosebumps. It’s going to take us a long time.”

Maria has caused at least 10 deaths across the Caribbean, including seven in the hard-hit island of Dominica and two in the French Caribbean territory of Guadeloupe. Puerto Rico’s governor told CNN one man died after being hit by flying debris. No further details were available, and officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Maria weakened to a Category 2 storm later in the day but re-strengthened to Category 3 status early Thursday with winds of 115 mph. It was centered about 70 miles north of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and moving northwest near 9 mph.

The hurricane was still dumping rain overnight Wednesday in Puerto Rico, where crumbled red roof tiles lay scattered across many roads, and curious residents sidestepped and ducked under dozens of black power lines still swaying in heavy winds. But they posed no danger: Maria caused an island-wide power outage, with officials unable to say when electricity would return.

Puerto Rico’s electric grid was crumbling amid lack of maintenance and a dwindling staff even before the hurricanes knocked out power. Many now believe it will take weeks, if not months, to restore power.

Edwin Rosario, a 79-year-old retired government worker, said an economic crisis that has sparked an exodus of nearly half a million Puerto Ricans to the U.S. mainland will only make the island’s recovery harder.

“Only us old people are left,” he said as he scraped a street gutter in front of his house free of debris. “A lot of young people have already gone…If we don’t unite, we’re not going to bounce back.”

]]> 0, 21 Sep 2017 10:23:55 +0000
Is the current season of monster hurricanes the new normal? Thu, 21 Sep 2017 10:00:00 +0000 It’s been a very active hurricane season with some incredible storms reaching levels rarely seen in the Atlantic ocean. From Houston to the Keys in Florida to Barbuda and San Juan, Puerto Rico, there’s been a lot of damage from tropical systems this year. It’s only natural to ask what’s going on with the weather and why this year has been so active with so much destruction.

Hurricane Maria reached Category 5 strength this week. NOAA-GOES 16

Good science demands we ask good questions. One thing we should be asking is how much influence man-made factors might be having on the number of hurricanes, their strength and even the track of these storms. Another factor is the role of natural fluctuations in the global climate, such as El Nino, La Nina, this decade. (If you’re reading with preconceived ideas it may be difficult to see beyond your own ideological view.)

The reality of most issues is often found somewhere in the middle of two different thoughts. When it comes to the role humans play with our weather and climate, the truth likely lies straddled between the ideas that humans are causing all these big storms and the idea that nature is just being nature and these things would occur regardless of whether we drive SUV’s or not.


Natural variability plays an enormous role in each hurricane season. Whether or not there is an El Nino, things like the amount of dust and dry air coming off sub-Saharan Africa, whether the Atlantic is in it’s warm or cold phase and the relative strength of the Bermuda high all influence the number of tropical systems that occur each season. This is why this year’s hurricane season was accurately predicted to be average long before it began.

An article this past April in The Journal of Geophysical Research looked at many of the natural variables and how much influence they have on each hurricane season. These factors can change monthly, yearly or even over decades. The chart below shows many of these different variables in each square: red is indicative of a positive often warm phase, blue a negative, often cooler phase.  Depending on the phase of the particular variable, it can either help bring about a more active hurricane season or a less active one. If you have several variables all favoring more tropical activity, such as this year, we see very active seasons. The opposite has been true as recently as 2014 when there were only 8 named storms.

Standardized time series of various climate indices used in this study: (a) AMO, (b) Atlantic relative SST, (c) Atlantic SST, (d) subpolar gyre temperature, (e) AMM, (f) Sahel rainfall, (g) standard NAO, (h) mobile NAO, (i) SST anomaly over the Nino3.4 region, (j) SSNs, and (k) 100 hPa temperature over the MDR. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres Volume 122, Issue 8, pages 4258-4280, 25 APR 2017 DOI: 10.1002/2016JD026103


Of course human influence on the climate is widely accepted and some of the warming we have observed over the past 100 years is due to man’s influence. It’s naive to think anthropogenic warming has no influence on the planet or its weather patterns.

In the journal Climate Dynamics back in 2014, researchers looked at the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes with regard to observed warming trends. The researchers from the National Center for Atmospheric Research concluded the number of hurricanes wasn’t changing, but those that did occur were more likely to be in the stronger category than a few decades ago.

Relationship of annual Cat 4–5 proportions to annual variations in tropical SST anomalies relative to the 1975–2010 mean: a global proportions, b western North Pacific proportions. The data are binned into 0.1 °C intervals from which average, maximum, and minimum proportions are derived. Holland, G. & Bruyère, C.L. Clim Dyn (2014) 42: 617.


Last year, Nam-Young Kang and James B. Elsner wrote about a tradeoff between intensity and frequency of global tropical cyclones. Their paper, like the NCAR research above, found no significant increase in the overall number of storms in the past century, but the storms which did occur were more likely to be in the stronger category.  

NOAA data is similar, but does show an increase in short-lived smaller storms. For those that argue there are more storms now, remember that satellites were not used to see these storms prior to 1960 and we are now naming tropical storms that would not have gotten a name 50 years ago.

Atlantic tropical storms lasting more than 2 days have not increased in number. Storms lasting less than two days have increased sharply, but this is likely due to better observations. Figure adapted from Landsea, Vecchi, Bengtsson and Knutson (2009, J. Climate)


We can make some conclusions from this research. First, we are not seeing a new normal in terms of the frequency of hurricanes. This year’s higher than average activity is primarily due to cyclical climate factors, not a warmer ocean. However, the fact that some of these storms reached such intense levels may be attributed to the warming oceans over the past century. While the trend line for the number of storms remains essentially flat, (we will have active and inactive years in the future) those storms which do occur appear to be getting stronger. This has important ramifications for how individuals, local government and even FEMA all prepare for these storms.  

Whether a hurricane hits a populated area is somewhat due to just bad luck, but when they do hit, it appears the odds of a particular storm bringing stronger winds, higher storm surges and more rain may be something we need to get used to.

Follow Dave Epstein on Twitter @growingwisdom

]]> 0, 21 Sep 2017 06:53:00 +0000
Our View: In youth football, little collisions really add up Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:10:00 +0000 After Mike Webster, Junior Seau, and Dave Duerson, after “League of Denial” and “Concussion,” football players at the highest level are counting their concussions and deciding whether it is a good idea to keep playing, while officials are ordered to look out for wobbly legs on the field, a sign of possible brain injury.

But more and more it looks like those risks are not limited to the professionals — to the biggest and strongest who play the game for money — nor is it as simple as watching out for concussions. That should have every parent and youth coach concerned, and ready to take action to keep kids safe.

The latest bit of worrisome research comes from Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalophy Center, well known for testing the brains of former NFL players for CTE, a degenerative brain disease that is found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma, and which can only be diagnosed posthumously.

Of the 111 NFL players tested at the center, 110 have tested positive for CTE. In addition, seven of eight players from the Canadian Football League tested positive, as did nine of 14 semipro players, 48 of 53 college players, and three of 14 high-school athletes.

As those results suggest, size, speed and duration of play were commonly seen as factors in developing long-term problems from playing football. But that’s not the whole story.

In a study published this week, researchers at the center say it may not be so much how long you play, or how hard, but when. The developing brains of adolescents, they argue, are particularly vulnerable to injury, even from relatively minor collisions, and the effects can last a lifetime.

The study shows that children who played tackle football before the age of 12 double their risk of developing mood and behavioral problems. They also triple their chance of depression as adults and have a greater risk of having difficulty with problem-solving and organizing. Those effects are not tied to the number of concussions either — they are from the kind of repetitive, non-concussive hits that happen dozens of times to each player every game.

Those hits, another study shows, are associated with the alteration of the brain’s white matter, and can occur even after as little as one season of youth football.

The timing of those changes is evident even in professional football players, another study showed, with players who started before age 12 noticeably worse off than those who started later.

Some youth football leagues are already adjusting. Some limit the number of games, or the number of days players can have full contact. The NFL is sponsoring a league with a smaller field, fewer players, no special teams and other changes meant to cut down on violent collisions.

That may not be enough. Tackle football is tackle football, however you frame it. Changes may limit the number of obviously harmful plays, but it is impossible to remove all the little collisions that researchers say add up to big problems.

More research is needed, but it looks like tackle football and young kids just don’t mix. Indeed, some communities have switched to flag football for its younger participants. Others should follow.

NFL players have reviewed the latest information on football and brain trauma, and some have opted to retire early.

With youth sports, the decisions on what and when to play ultimately fall on parents and coaches, and it’s on them to make the right choice for kids.

]]> 0, 21 Sep 2017 08:01:26 +0000
Maine gubernatorial candidates on York County casino: Vote it down Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000

A rendering of a York County casino called the Vacationland Resort and Events Center shows what it might look like if approved by voters in November. No specific location has been proposed. Courtesy O’Neil & Associates

Mary Mayhew

AUGUSTA — They may not agree on much, but the pantheon of candidates now hoping to replace Gov. Paul LePage in 2018 seem to agree that a ballot question that would give one person an exclusive chance to build Maine’s third casino is a bad idea.

From former Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew, a Republican, to Attorney General Janet Mills, a Democrat, to State Treasurer Terry Hayes, an independent, all 9 of the 15 contenders who responded to a Portland Press Herald query said they will be voting “no” on Question 1 in November, and a tenth has been an outspoken critic of the casino effort.

“I have complete faith that the voters of Maine will make an informed choice on this issue,” Mayhew said in a text message. “Personally, I’ll be voting ‘no.’ I have serious concerns about this casino based on the issues raised by the ethics commission, the Legislature and the numerous news stories I have read over the past few months.”

Terry Hayes

Hayes and Mills simply said they do not support the measure.

“I am not voting for it,” Mills wrote in an email. “I will vote ‘no’ on the casino question on the ballot,” Hayes wrote.

Janet Mills

The referendum is written to allow only one person, Shawn Scott, to apply for a permit to build a casino at an unspecified location in York County. Scott is an international gambling entrepreneur who won voter approval to add slot machines to Bangor’s struggling horse track in 2003. He then sold those rights to Penn National – which still operates what is now Hollywood Casino – for $51 million as regulators scrutinized his businesses and associates.

Scott, his businesses, his sister Lisa Scott and a host of other companies scattered across the globe – including in Florida, Nevada, California, U.S. territories in the South Pacific and even Japan – are still facing the scrutiny of investigations by the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices and the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee.

The panels are probing whether casino backers complied with legal requirements to disclose who contributed the $4.3 million that was spent on gathering voter signatures to put the question on the Nov. 7 ballot, as well as the additional ongoing spending on a campaign to convince voters to support the measure.

The ballot question and its backers have also faced withering criticism from lawmakers on the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over casino gambling.

Adam Cote

Progress for Maine, the political action committee that’s backing the casino, said in a written statement that the casino question will be decided by Maine voters, not political figures.

“We are focused on making the case to Maine voters that a York County casino will bring jobs and tax revenues to Maine at a time when they are sorely needed,” the statement said.

The gubernatorial candidates offered a range of reasons for their opposition, but all reflected a concern that the casino’s backers are trying to cash in on Maine’s constitutional provision for citizen-initiated legislation. Using the initiative process for the financial gain of a single person or company, while technically legal, doesn’t meet the constitutional intent that the initiative process would be used when the Legislature failed to act on an issue important to the people, critics say.

Democrats are uniformly opposed to the measure, including both of the party’s candidates from York County, Adam Cote, a Sanford attorney, and Mark Eves of North Berwick, the former speaker of the Maine House.

Mark Eves

“The York County casino initiative is a bad bet for Maine’s economic future,” Eves said. “Mainers deserve good jobs and strong wages, not false promises of employment from investors with a track record of shady practices.”

Cote said that as a Sanford native, he could give a “non-political” answer. “What we need in York County and across Maine is new leaders focused on a strategic approach to developing the education, training and physical infrastructure we need to support and attract a broad range of new jobs, businesses and career opportunities,” he said.

Diane Russell

Former state Rep. Diane Russell, a Portland Democrat, said she would vote against the casino referendum.

“If the Legislature had created a comprehensive, statewide approach to gaming, we could have avoided the kind of clear corruption we have seen with this casino drive,” Russell said. “It would have been a significantly fairer process, too, benefiting our Native American tribes and harness racing horsemen.”

James Boyle, a Gorham Democrat and former state senator, said he also would be voting against the ballot measure.

“Based on the questionable conduct of the people backing the initiative and the way dark money has moved around the campaign, it looks like another example of super-wealthy individuals trying to game the system for their own advantage,” Boyle said.

James Boyle

“I also don’t like that fact that the way the initiative is written, only one person can take advantage of the change in the law. I respect the citizen’s initiative process and think our top priority should be attracting real investment and creating jobs. But this proposal raises serious concerns.”

Democratic candidate Betsy Sweet did not respond with her views on the casino question, and Democrat J. Martin Vachon could not be reached for comment.

Garrett Mason

On the Republican side, Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason of Lisbon, the Senate chairman of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, which oversees casino regulation, has been an outspoken critic of the campaign. Mason was poised to announce his candidacy for governor Sept. 5 but postponed action when his mother, also a state lawmaker, died unexpectedly.

Also exploring a run for governor is House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport. Attempts to reach Fredette for comment were unsuccessful.

Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins has said she will make a decision this fall about running for governor. Collins’ spokeswoman, Annie Clark, in response to a request for comment on the casino referendum, said Wednesday that “as a federal official, Senator Collins does not weigh in on state issues.”

Some of the lower-profile candidates in the race also voiced opposition to the ballot question.

Patrick Eisenhart

“I am emphatically voting ‘no,’ ” said Patrick Eisenhart, a retired Coast Guard officer from Augusta. He described Scott, the casino developer, as “a sneaky, underhanded guy whom I do not trust,” and said the sources of funding for the casino campaign aren’t being properly revealed to state regulators.

Green Party candidate Betsy Marsano of Waldo also opposes the casino, saying it has the backing of wealthy developers who have made no assurances that Maine would reap any benefits.

Betsy Marsano

She also noted that voters and the Legislature have rejected efforts by Maine’s Indian tribes to develop casinos and use the profits to protect their lands and waters.

“I would suggest prior to authorizing a new casino, driven by out-of-state developers, we consider empowering and enabling out Indigenous People to move forward with their plan,” Marsano said.

Green Party candidate Jay Dresser Lunt and Libertarian Party candidate Richard Light could not be reached for comment.

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 791-6330 or at:

Twitter: thisdog

]]> 0 rendering of a York County casino called the Vacationland Resort and Events Center shows what it might look like if approved by voters in November. No specific location has been proposed.Thu, 21 Sep 2017 10:24:23 +0000
Proposed marijuana rules would let adults buy online and at drive-thrus Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Maine may make purchasing an ounce of marijuana almost as easy as buying a six-pack of beer.

Proposed adult-use cannabis regulations from the Legislature’s marijuana committee would allow licensed retail stores to sell pot from drive-up windows and over the internet. Like any other recreational marijuana consumer, drive-up and online customers would have to show identification to the window or delivery employee to prove they are at least 21 years old.

Supporters say such retail conveniences are already available to the state’s alcohol industry and will help Maine’s new legal marijuana market compete with a thriving illegal market. But opponents, including a leader of the marijuana committee, warn against making it too easy to buy a drug that is still illegal under federal law, and too hard for new state regulators to track sales.

“If Maine allows it for alcohol, we see no reason why it shouldn’t be allowed for marijuana, the safer substance, so long as Maine puts in place reasonable regulations to protect public safety and the consumer,” said David Boyer, director of the Maine chapter of the Marijuana Policy Project. “The voters want it regulated and taxed like alcohol. The rules should be the same.”


But state Sen. Roger Katz of Augusta said allowances for drive-thrus and home delivery should be stripped from the proposed bill to decrease the risk that delivered marijuana will end up in the hands of underage users or residents of towns that have adopted a local ban on marijuana sales. Delivered marijuana might more easily be diverted across state lines, which could draw unwanted federal attention to Maine’s newly legal recreational market, he said.

“Given the fact that about half the people in the state voted against legalization, I think we ought to go slow and be cautious in the beginning,” said Katz, Republican co-chairman of the Joint Select Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation. “But this is a legislative process. We reach decisions collectively. This is just a draft. I anticipate a vigorous debate. We’ve still got a ways to go yet.”

The committee’s bill, which sets up the regulatory framework for commercial cannabis cultivation, manufacturing and sales, will be the subject of a public hearing at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Room 228 at the State House in Augusta. The committee will reconvene Sept. 27 and 28 to discuss the bill. If the committee approves it, the full Legislature will likely consider it next month.


The bill essentially outlines how the new market would work, from who could grow recreational marijuana and the cost of a license, to the maximum amount of THC allowed in an edible marijuana product and how much marijuana would be taxed. The committee had hoped adult-use licensing would begin in February, but now says it is unlikely to hit that deadline.

Although advocates support drive-thru, online and home delivery options and hope the language will stay in the bill, they say they won’t draw a line in the sand over them if they put the bill’s future at risk. The proposed 20 percent sales tax rate is a much bigger burden for recreational cannabis users than having to make face-to-face, in-store purchases, said Paul McCarrier, president of Legalize Maine.

“Back in July, the committee agreed that delivery would help combat the black market,” said McCarrier, whose advocacy group helped pass the statewide ballot measure that legalized adult-use marijuana in Maine. “We know that convenience is one of the big reasons that somebody turns to the black market, but price is an even bigger one. That is our top priority, keeping it affordable for Mainers.”

The Marijuana Legalization Act approved by citizen initiative last fall did not address drive-thru windows or online cannabis sales and delivery. Something that is not prohibited in state law is usually legal by default. Although these provisions were not mentioned in the initiative, supporters argue that the legalization campaign was based on the belief that marijuana should be treated like alcohol.

In Maine, stores that sell alcohol can have drive-up windows and alcohol can be purchased online for delivery by the liquor store to a consumer’s home, said spokesman David Heidrichs of the state Department of Administrative and Financial Services, which oversees the Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages & Lottery Operations and will soon regulate the sale of adult-use marijuana.

A liquor store cannot deliver alcohol to one of Maine’s so-called dry towns, even if the store is located in a town that permits liquor sales, said Heidrichs, because the point of sale in such a transaction is actually the consumer’s home, and local law applies. It is unclear if local marijuana bans would prevent home delivery of online marijuana purchases.


Five states allow recreational marijuana sales now. In Oregon, state law allows home delivery of up to $3,000 worth of adult-use cannabis, but many municipalities forbid it, including Portland. Washington doesn’t allow drive-thru windows. Alaska prohibits internet sales and home delivery, but its law does not address drive-thrus. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper recently killed a home delivery bill there.

Colorado’s former “marijuana czar,” Andrew Freedman, said it might be easier for a state like Maine, which is new to the regulatory game and has the advantage of launching with the latest seed-to-sale tracking systems, to consider allowing conveniences like these than it is in states with an established adult-use regulatory system.

“In Colorado, we thought it would be too hard to maintain the integrity of what was then the country’s first-in-the-nation, seed-to-sale marijuana tracking system,” said Freedman, who left his state job in January to launch a Denver-based cannabis consulting firm. “We did not want to do anything to make it harder for our regulators to do their job, and in-store sales was a big part of that strategy.”


Colorado allows drive-thru liquor stores and home delivery of alcohol purchased online, but Freedman said alcohol and marijuana are not the same thing – especially in the eyes of federal authorities, who could at any time decide to crack down on states that allow medical or adult-use marijuana sales. Demonstrating a robust regulatory system is one way for a legalized state to avoid that, he said.

While states should take steps to encourage black-market producers and consumers to go legitimate, they shouldn’t try to make the legal and illegal marijuana worlds the same, Freedman said, or they risk losing many of the safety and public health benefits of a state-regulated market. But as technology improves and more states legalize, this kind of innovation is likely to happen, he said.

California will likely allow drive-thru windows, online sales and home delivery. A draft version of regulations released this year allows for them, but these regulations had to be pulled last month and may be rewritten because of a rider attached to the annual budget bill calling for the merger of the state’s medical and adult-use markets. Most of the draft rules are expected to stand, however.


In Nevada, early attempts to innovate hit a wall after a rash of marijuana delivery robberies.

The state’s temporary startup rules have allowed home delivery since retail sales started July 1, but regulators decided to cut it out of the permanent regulations they proposed in August, saying the possibility of fraud and driver robberies was too high.

But store owners there are fighting the change. Nevada regulators are expected to release an updated version of its draft rules later this month.

Massachusetts is a few steps ahead of Maine in launching its adult-use market, which voters there approved through citizen initiative last fall. State lawmakers rewrote the law in July, but the new version doesn’t mention drive-thrus, delivery or online sales. It will be up to the newly appointed Cannabis Control Commission to consider these issues before adult-use sales are likely to begin in the summer.

Penelope Overton can be contacted at 791-6463 or at:

Twitter: PLOvertonPPH

]]> 0, 21 Sep 2017 07:06:49 +0000
State wants to shift special education for 3- to 5-year-olds to school districts Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 A funding crisis and broken delivery model is prompting Maine education officials to recommend shifting special education services for 3- to 5-year olds from the state to local school districts.

The proposal, expected to take three years to fully implement, took many superintendents by surprise.

At recent regional superintendents meetings in Sanford and Westbrook, several superintendents said they support the idea, but have practical questions about how to pay for it, whether they have the physical space in their buildings to take on the new students, the ability to find specialists needed or even have the buses and bus drivers needed to transport the students to school.

“We should have those kids, (but) we have to think about logistics,” said Katie Hawes, superintendent of Regional School Unit 21 in Kennebunk.

Statewide, there are 2,068 3- to 5-year-old students with special education needs today, officials said.

Special education covers a complex network of services, tailored to each individual student’s needs. According to a memo sent out to districts last week, the schools will not only provide the actual special education services, but they will be responsible for finding the children, case management, evaluation, determining eligibility and developing individual education plans.

“There are a lot of challenges with this transition, there is no doubt about that,” said Roy Fowler, director of Child Development Services, which runs the birth-to-age-5 special education services as part of the Department of Education.

Education Commissioner Bob Hasson said the system isn’t working because a shortage of providers means too many of those students are not actually getting the services they need.

For years, Child Development Services has had multimillion dollar deficits.

The budget for CDS’s program for 3- to 5-year-olds is about $30 million a year.

Shifting to a school-based model, where schools already have specialists for school-age children and have existing transportation infrastructure, can increase access to services and cut costs, officials said. For example, instead of a hearing specialist driving two hours each way to work with a child at their home for one hour a week, the student can use the school bus transportation system to see a hearing specialist at a local school.

But school districts already regularly report difficulty finding specialists for their special education students, and it was unclear whether shifting the program from Child Development Services to the schools would ease the shortage of providers.

Most states already deliver services for 3- to 5-year olds through the public school system, officials said.

“It’s very, very frightening the number of students that go without services,” Hasson told York County superintendents this week. It’s not working “in spite of all good efforts to reorganize that part of education. We have to organize it another way.”

Hasson said the department has been working on the plan internally for about six months but is just now notifying school districts. DOE plans to run a year-long pilot program in Western Foothills Regional School Unit 10 in Dixfield, but the pilot has not started yet.

CDS will continue to provide services for individuals from birth to age 2, Hasson said.

A DOE memo to districts said the school-based model would “better address the needs of children with disabilities by decreasing their transitions between programs at an early age, providing more frequent, appropriate and timely services closer to home, and introducing an earlier integration into their local schools.”

Officials also cited “flat state funding, rising costs in special education and inadequate management of resources” for the deficit.

Maine schools are already seeing a spike in special education costs for the traditional students they serve.

The autism rate in particular is increasing.

In 2016, at least 3,280 students aged 5 years and up were diagnosed with autism and served by Maine schools, marking an 86 percent surge from the 1,760 diagnosed a decade earlier, according to data from the Maine Department of Education.

That surge is one of the reasons state funding for special education increased over the same decade from $255 billion to $368 billion, said Jan Breton, the state’s director of special services.

It will take about three years to phase in the change, Hasson said, and it will need legislative approval. Hasson said the department hoped to introduce a bill in the upcoming short session.

The first step, he said, is to create a working group to determine how it might work.

Several superintendents asked how the funding would work: If it flows through the usual funding formula, some high-tax-base towns will get less money, while lower-tax base towns will get more.

Deputy Commissioner Suzan Beaudoin said the department is in the process of doing an audit of school facilities and calculating the financial impact on high receiver and low receiver districts.

“The money follows the child, that’s the basic idea,” she told them.

To help schools get an idea of how many of these students might be entering their schools, the department was determining where the current 2,068 students are located. Fowler said that district-level information would be released in about two weeks.

“The big question is how are we going to be able to do this,” said Steve Bailey, a former superintendent of the year who is now executive director of the Maine School Management Association. “We have limited space, or staff we have might be able to work with current students but aren’t necessarily trained to work with younger students.”

According to the annual report, CDS had 296 contracts with providers, including 100 for speech and language services, 62 for occupational therapy, 39 for physical therapy, 13 for transportation and 120 contracts for services such as psychologists, interpreters and behavior analysts.

Some of the larger CDS providers are Woodfords Family Services, Spurwink and Margaret Murphy Centers for Children. Hasson said the providers would be part of the shareholder group to develop the transition plan. Those providers would likely continue to have a role in the new model, Fowler said.

When asked if it was realistic to set in motion a three-year plan as the LePage administration is winding down, Hasson said the department would “go as far as we can in the time we’ve got.”

“It’s not easily redirected,” he said. The Department of Eduction has tried to reform CDS services at least four times before, he said. “It’s time has come.”

Noel K. Gallagher can be reached at 791-6387 or at:

Twitter: noelinmaine

]]> 0, 20 Sep 2017 23:22:39 +0000
Maine Compass: Statewide paid family leave would add to Maine’s allure Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 As editor in chief of Down East magazine, I get hundreds of letters a year from people sharing their passion for this state we call home. Take it from me, Maine, we’ve got something special, something you can’t manufacture in a marketing firm overnight, something based on this enduring truth: People want to live in, return to or relocate to Maine. In short, we have curb appeal.

As a member of the millennial generation, I also see stubborn obstacles and mindsets that are preventing us from capitalizing on this priceless asset. Our demographics and related economic challenges have been amply covered and articulated; and yet, we haven’t made the changes necessary to chart a new, more hopeful course. If we want to be competitive in recruiting new and younger Mainers to support our aging and retiring workforce, we have to have a competitive advantage. And the “quality of life” sales pitch rings hollow if you don’t have the opportunities and policies to back it up.

There are a lot of relevant issues that need solutions, from affordable and quality child care and health care to internet access and job opportunities. As a working mother, I believe one of the policies that could make a huge difference is a comprehensive paid family leave law.

Now, you have probably heard that the United States is in the company of only Swaziland, Papua New Guinea and Lesotho on the list of countries that don’t offer paid maternity leave, a prominent component of paid family leave. But paid leave is not limited to women having babies. It also, for example, covers an ever-growing contingent of us Mainers who are or will be caring for our aging parents or sick family members.

I won’t bore you with sad statistics. (OK, I can’t resist. Did you know that one in four American moms goes back to work less than two weeks after having a baby?) I also won’t guilt you with all the morally compelling reasons why paid leave is simply the humane thing to do. (OK, you try navigating a child’s cancer treatment while fearing for the job that provides your insurance.)

But what I will do is entice you with the argument that seems to have the highest chance for success: the bottom-line benefits. Researchers have found that paid family leave increases female participation in the labor force, increases employee retention rates, reduces turnover costs, improves worker satisfaction, loyalty and productivity, and vastly improves medical and mental health outcomes, which — you guessed it — reduces health care costs for everyone.

Current Maine law states that if you work for a company with more than 15 employees, you won’t get fired if you take up to 10 weeks of unpaid time off in a two-year period. If you happen to be at a smaller business, you’re totally at the mercy of your employer, many of which can’t afford or manage paid leave programs.

Maine, we can do better.

Building on successful programs in other states, we can create a paid leave fund that functions like insurance so that workers receive at least a partial income when they need to take family leave. A statewide policy makes this much easier on small and large businesses alike and ensures that all Mainers have more options when faced with major illnesses, welcoming a new child to our families or caring for a loved one.

Here at Down East, we now offer three months of paid parental leave along with a host of progressive workplace policies, including unlimited sick and vacation days. We made the change because we want to retain and recruit talented people. We also made the change because we represent Maine values in everything we do – not just on our pages.

If Maine truly wants to be the way life should be, we need businesses, towns and cities and, ultimately, the state to step up and support the families that already live here as well as inspire the ones that want to move here to take the plunge.

Maine is deeply ingrained in who I am and what I do – and I want it to be a thriving place for decades to come. Passing a comprehensive paid family leave law is one step we have to take if we want a bright future for our state.

Kathleen Fleury is editor in chief of Down East magazine and a resident of Camden.

]]> 0, 20 Sep 2017 16:30:05 +0000
Today’s editorial cartoon Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 0, 20 Sep 2017 16:30:53 +0000 Very sad, bad things happening to language Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Many people have been telling me, and you can trust me on this, that our president has been destroying, on a daily basis, many of our beautiful adjectives and American figures of speech.

Think about that, and you’ll know it’s true. You can see it happening everywhere. Trust me. And it’s incredible that it’s happening here in America. Very sad. Unbelievable! Every day you see what’s happening to fantastic words like “incredible,” “unbelievable,” “huge” and even “beautiful,” and it’s a disaster.

It’s a very bad thing — a very, very bad thing — even a very, very, very bad thing — and the truly incredible thing — the really unbelievable thing is, and you can believe me, is that it’s not even the bad, disgusting people in the press who don’t love America or the English language who are doing this. It’s our president. The man who tweets. Incredible.

And you see it happening everywhere, more and more, every day. So you need to be afraid — very, very afraid. But please don’t forget to also be sad while continuing to chant, “Lock her up.”

Abbott Meader


]]> 0 Wed, 20 Sep 2017 14:29:44 +0000
DREAM Act just a Trojan horse Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Nothing is quite so infuriating as a salesman presenting a rip-off as an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

In his recent column, “DACA legislation could be a win for all Americans” (Sept. 16), Gordon Adams describes the DREAM Act as a “gift from the gods.” It is really a Trojan horse. He describes it as a chance for the Republican Congress to show they can get something done — I am not sure how passing the Democrats’ agenda would be counted as a win.

There are several problems with the legislation. First, it would likely cover at least 2 million to 3 million people, not the 800,000 currently enjoying DACA protection. Secondly, the standards of the program regarding education, criminal history, and employment are all much looser than we have been led to believe; for example, taking an English as a Second Language course could qualify you (and some reports suggest up to half of applications contain fraudulent information).

Third, despite talk of “innocent children,” people up to age 17 would be eligible, which would include many who did come of their own volition (also, if given citizenship, DREAMers could sponsor their parents, who were at fault for them being here illegally).

Fourth, people who are supposedly “American in all ways but one” (editorial, Sept. 7) are allowed to use a translator to apply — meaning that fluent knowledge of English is not required.

On the topic of DREAMers being “American,” does anyone else remember Live Oak High School banning American flag shirts on Cinco de Mayo because students of Mexican heritage were offended? Wanting legal status in order to exploit the country is not the same thing as wanting to be a part of it.

We need internal and border enforcement, the wall, and mandatory E-Verify before we even think about another amnesty.

Michael Jose


]]> 0 Armenta, holding a sign saying "No human is illegal," chants "D-A-C-A, Dreamers have the right to stay" with other people rallying to support DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, at Portland City Hall on Friday. Armenta, a Bowdoin College freshman from Tucson, Ariz., says her parents came to the United States from Mexico while she was in her mother's womb.Wed, 20 Sep 2017 22:24:28 +0000
Socialism critique leaves out good examples Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 In Paul Anderson’s tirade against socialism (“Socialism has proved its worthlessness,” letter, Sept. 13) he states inaccurately that socialism “has never produced a higher standard of living for people than the capitalist system described by Adam Smith in his ‘The Wealth of Nations.'”) Anderson needs to take a trip abroad and observe successful socialism. Many countries in Europe and elsewhere that practice democratic socialism to varied degrees are far more prosperous than the United States.

In “The Wealth of Nations,” Smith warned of many abuses and flaws inherent to the capitalist system.

Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.

It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.

Anderson’s examples of the worst attempts at socialism is reminiscent of the anti-communist hysteria of the 1950s. Apparently Margaret Chase Smith failed to eradicate all of Joe McCarthy’s toxic spores.

Harold Nilsson


]]> 0 Wed, 20 Sep 2017 14:29:38 +0000
In wake of Equifax hack, safeguard your credit Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 In the wake of the news that the credit-reporting firm Equifax had been hacked, many consumers across the country were left feeling vulnerable. However, no matter which entity is hacked, there are important steps each of us should take to keep our data safe.

Mainers of all ages should place a freeze on their credit report (sometimes known as a “credit file”). Because a security freeze safeguards a person’s credit report, it is one of the most effective ways to protect consumers from identity theft. Without access to the sensitive information housed in your credit report, an identity thief is unable to obtain credit in your name. In Maine, freezing and unfreezing your credit report is free.

You need to place the credit freeze with each of the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Transunion, and Equifax online, by mail or by telephone. Each bureau will also provide you with a free copy of your credit report annually upon request.

Parents and grandparents should place a freeze on their children and grandchildren’s credit reports as well.

It is also recommended that you closely monitor your bank and credit card statements and report any unfamiliar charge, even if it is a small amount. Scammers will often charge a “test charge” on a stolen credit card to verify the number. This amount is usually just a few cents so many people don’t report it.

For more information visit During an era of unprecedented data breaches, placing a freeze on your credit report and closely monitoring your accounts has never been more important.

Michael Parent

AARP Maine Fraud Watch Network Volunteer


]]> 0 Wed, 20 Sep 2017 14:29:30 +0000
Finally, event recognizes lung cancer survivors Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 I can actually say that after all of the years that I have participated at Harold Alfond Cancer Survivor Day, the recent event was a true Cancer Survivor Day (”Cancer survivors, caregivers, celebrate 10 years of Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care,” Sept. 9).

In prior years there was no speakers supporting lung cancer survivors. They had a breast cancer survivor speak one year, another breast cancer survivor speak another year, a colon cancer survivor another.

The first year they were handing out pink ribbons to everyone that got off the bus for the event. I mentioned to the organizer that cancer wasn’t always represented by pink — each cancer had its own color. I suggested that if they hand out ribbons to make it in multiple colors. The next year, they didn’t hand out ribbons.

I checked the resource room to see what they had on lung cancer. To my surprise they had nothing despite all the material that I gave them. I spoke up about that as well. The next year the organizer took me by the hand and lead me into a room where they had set up tables filled with brochures. Sure enough, they had our brochures lying on the table.

This year they gave T-shirts with a white ribbon on it. Lung cancer patients could keep the ribbon white and other cancer survivors could paint the ribbon to coincide with their cancer color. The speakers represented every cancer that the hospital treats.

I can’t tell you how thrilled to finally see support for the lung cancer community. A community that lies fate to stigma, shame, blame and isolation. A community whose survival rate is often less than five years. A community that deserves respect, support, care and a voice at the table.

Deb Violette

president and CEO

Free ME from Lung Cancer


]]> 0 Wed, 20 Sep 2017 14:29:36 +0000
Entries for ARTinME! exhibit Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 The Boothbay Region Art Foundation Maine invites artists who paint, draw, sculpt, produce hand-pulled prints or create assemblages to submit their work for selection in “ARTinME, 2017.”

Chris Crosman will juror the exhibit this year.

Crosman, the former director of the Farnsworth Art Museum, where he served for 18 years, is the founding chief curator of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. He has written extensively about American art and artists, including serving as editor and principal essayist for Celebrating the American Spirit, the inaugural publication of the collection of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and author of “Islands for Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect,” an exhibition opening at the Brandywine Museum, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and traveling to the Seattle Art Museum this fall. He lives in Thomaston, where he is an independent curator, consultant and writer.

Entries are open to all artists with a Maine address. Up to two pieces may be submitted, no larger than 2,500 square inches each. Sculptures must be manageable in size and weigh 50 pounds or less. Photographic and digital entries are not accepted for this exhibition.

Submissions need to be received between noon and 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 10, and between 9 a.m. and noon Wednesday, Oct. 11, at the BRAF Gallery, 1 Townsend Ave., in Boothbay Harbor.

For more specifics, guidelines for artwork and registration forms, visit or call 633-2703.

]]> 0 Thu, 21 Sep 2017 04:00:00 +0000
J.P. Devine Movie Review: ‘Maudie’ Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 If you’re poor, mistreated by family and suffering from truly crippling arthritis in your late 30s, you don’t want to endure all of that on the barren seaside moonscape of Nova Scotia, where winter comes like a whip in the hand of a tyrant.

This then is the plight of Maud Dowley (Sally Hawkins) who was born in 1903, not the best of years and certainly not in Nova Scotia where, in her tiny village, life was a daily parade of endurance.

The real Maud Dowley was a natural artist, a primitive painter much like Grandma Moses in the 40s.

Maud, who took what paints and brushes were available to her, painted on pieces of wood, glass, doors, walls and even ceilings, copying what she saw around her, and gave us enchantment.

When Irish director Aisling Walsh (“The Inspector Calls”) first shows us Maud, her parents have died, and she is left with a soulless brother seemingly offended by human imperfection.

The brother Charles (Zachary Bennett) pays their cold, puritanical aunt (Gabrielle Rose) to take Maud in, telling her it’s only temporary. Then one day he comes and announces that he has sold their childhood home, and that her berth in this chilly house is where she is to stay until she dies.

Now, like a bird with two broken wings with scarcely a warm branch to light on, Maude bravely sets out to seek a place in a warmer tree.

When local handyman and fish peddler Everett Lewis, (an amazing Ethan Hawke) who brings an even deeper meaning to taciturn, posts an ad for a housekeeper, Maude walks several miles to his two-room shack to apply for the job.

Everett, who seems threatened even by the air around him, is a broken soul who grew up in a local orphanage and still eats his lunch there.

When he reluctantly hires her, he makes it clear that she is nothing to him, “first comes the dog, then the chickens, then you,” he barks.

In a handful of scenes where abuse and disdain pile even more horror on Maud’s fragile bones, and when it seems that those of us sitting in the warm and comfortable darkness can take no more, it gradually becomes clear that this splintered child is one of God’s frail angels who walks amongst us with a message.

Give me your worst, Maud seems to say, your most unendurable, and I will endure; give me your most unsurvivable conditions, yet I will not only survive — but I will open doors to beauty where you did not even know beauty existed.

Maud, with every fiber of her heart and soul, with every ounce of courage she can muster, sings poetry to Everett’s troubled soul, and teaches him the magic of love.

Through the years, with patience and a sudden discovery by a visiting New York woman (Kari Matchett), Maude becomes a world famous primitive artist, and even hangs one of her works on the walls of then Vice President Richard Nixon’s West Wing office.

Sally Hawkins, a gifted actor who keeps surprising us all in one startling performance after another (“The Shape of Water” coming next) brings to “Maudie” a shattering realism.

There have been few actors in even fewer films where we have seen artists twist their bodies into shapes that make us wince with the pain they must be feeling. Daniel Day Lewis’s “My Left Foot,” and Eddie Redmayne’s “The Theory of Everything” are two such examples. In “Maudie,” Hawkins nails it.

“Maudie” is more a parable than just a film, and Hawkins’ work, always impressive, is more a vivid display of art than just a role.

Sally Hawkins reminds us that the actor’s body is an instrument that often plays soothing music, and sometimes, rarely, produces a majestic sonata.

Ethan Hawke’s work here is, in my opinion, the very best he’s ever shown. To watch him grow from a snarling, confused animal, to a tender partner, rendered from stone to lace by Maud’s gentle touch was wonderful.

Aisling Walsh, an Irish film and television veteran’s beautiful direction, and a perfectly wrought script by Sherry White.

“Maudie” is music seldom heard, art seldom seen, and a gift, in this sordid season of big screen disasters, to all of us.

J.P. Devine, of Waterville, is a former stage and film actor.

]]> 0 Hawkins is Maud Lewis in "Maudie."Wed, 20 Sep 2017 09:43:17 +0000
Lucky Clark On Music: David Sancious Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 David Sancious got his start as a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band playing keyboards in 1974. After recording three albums and touring the country, he left that group and started his own called TONE and recorded several albums of original compositions. Since then, he’s been in great demand as a keyboard player for such artists as Eric Clapton, Seal (for whom he also played guitar and was the musical director), Paul Simon, Jeff Beck and Santana, just to name a few. He’s also lent his producing skills to Natalie Merchant and Yousou Ndour. Needless to say, Sancious is a talent to be reckoned with.

Sancious also is headed to Cumston Hall in Monmouth for a performance on Friday, Sept. 29. Having seen him perform on Peter Gabriel’s “Back to Front” Blu-ray concert disc, I just had to chat with this musician’s musician and find out a little more about him and his plans for this concert coming up, so I called him at home in Woodstock, New York.

Sancious: Well, it’s my only Northeast show of the season and I’m going to premiere a couple of songs from the new album called “The Treehouse Sessions.” We’re still working on that, actually. We’re still mixing it. We’re not quite done, but I’m going to do my sort of combination improvisation and song show with my percussionist, Joe Bonadio. We’ve been this together for some years now. So, yeah, that’s it. It’s going to be us playing, and like I said, we’re going to do at least two maybe three things from the new album.

Q: Have been to Maine before?

Sancious: I have. I played, I think, in Hallowell. Ed Desjardins organized that show. I’ve been a couple of times. I did a private show for him at his house, and then we did another show at a school auditorium somewhere was the last time we played there. But this Cumston Hall will be the first time we’ve played at that venue. It looks lovely from what I’ve been able to see of it.

Q: You mentioned house concerts. Do you do many of them?

Sancious: I haven’t been doing many of them, because I’m not really around regularly. For the last seven years consecutive, I’ve been touring back and forth between Sting and Peter Gabriel, but I’m not touring this year. So when I’m not touring, that is the kind of thing that I do.

Q: Well, it seems to me that you have the best of both worlds: you can make your own albums and do shows on your own, and then go out and perform with the likes of Peter Gabriel and Sting.

Sancious: (Chuckle) It is pretty nice.

Q: I was going to say that it’s pretty sweet.

Sancious: It is. I mean, you still have the life of an artist, the ins and outs and all the challenges that come attached to that. But in general, I’m very fortunate to have the life I have now.

Q: And you started out with a pretty solid one, too.

Sancious: Yeah, Bruce — that was a great introduction to professional music making.

Q: Now you mentioned earlier that folks at the Cumston show will be hearing two or three of your latest compositions.

Sancious: Uh-huh, and officially it’ll be early October. I just want to try (the new material) out live. I don’t know much more live stuff I’m going to be doing on the East Coast this year, because it looks like I’ll be going back to some degree of touring next year in Europe. But I’ve been having a lot of fun making a record. I’ve been making it in between concert tours with other artists, when I have time to come home and work on it some more. It’s just about to that stage where I can see the daylight at the end of the tunnel, but I’m really pleased with it. It shows a pretty broad range of, ahh, I’m going to call this composing. It’s more like a film composing than songs — it’s not really a collection of pop songs, it’s instrumentals with the exception of three songs. But the writing on it is very, how can I say it without patting myself on the back. It evokes a lot of imagery, you know, the kind of atmosphere that gets created when you’re writing music for film or something like that. I’m very happy with it.

Q: When it comes to the concert in Cumston Hall, will you be playing just keyboards?

Sancious: I’m going to be playing keyboards, acoustic guitar and electric guitar. I’m going to do the show in sections: Joe and myself will do a few songs together, then I’ll do some things on piano by myself, and I’ll do something on synthesizer. Then we’ll switch to guitar: I’m going to play acoustic guitar, and he’s going to play some percussion, and then I’m going to do a couple of songs on electric guitar. Then I’ll go back to keyboards, and we’ll wrap it up.

Q: Do you sing?

Sancious: I do sing. I’m not going to promise how much of it I’m going to do that night, but I do sing, yeah. And there’s definitely vocals on the record.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the folks reading this column?

Sancious: No, just that I’m looking forward to being back in Maine. We’ve had a great response from the crowd every time we’ve been there. It’s a lovely place, and I’m very much looking forward to the show.

Lucky Clark has spent 45 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

]]> 0 SanciousThu, 21 Sep 2017 04:00:00 +0000
Lucky Clark On Music: David Sancious Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 David Sancious got his start as a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band playing keyboards in 1974. After recording three albums and touring the country, he left that group and started his own called TONE and recorded several albums of original compositions. Since then, he’s been in great demand as a keyboard player for such artists as Eric Clapton, Seal (for whom he also played guitar and was the musical director), Paul Simon, Jeff Beck and Santana, just to name a few. He’s also lent his producing skills to Natalie Merchant and Yousou Ndour. Needless to say, Sancious is a talent to be reckoned with.

Sancious also is headed to Cumston Hall in Monmouth for a performance on Friday, Sept. 29. Having seen him perform on Peter Gabriel’s “Back to Front” Blu-ray concert disc, I just had to chat with this musician’s musician and find out a little more about him and his plans for this concert coming up, so I called him at home in Woodstock, New York.

Sancious: Well, it’s my only Northeast show of the season and I’m going to premiere a couple of songs from the new album called “The Treehouse Sessions.” We’re still working on that, actually. We’re still mixing it. We’re not quite done, but I’m going to do my sort of combination improvisation and song show with my percussionist, Joe Bonadio. We’ve been this together for some years now. So, yeah, that’s it. It’s going to be us playing, and like I said, we’re going to do at least two maybe three things from the new album.

Q: Have been to Maine before?

Sancious: I have. I played, I think, in Hallowell. Ed Desjardins organized that show. I’ve been a couple of times. I did a private show for him at his house, and then we did another show at a school auditorium somewhere was the last time we played there. But this Cumston Hall will be the first time we’ve played at that venue. It looks lovely from what I’ve been able to see of it.

Q: You mentioned house concerts. Do you do many of them?

Sancious: I haven’t been doing many of them, because I’m not really around regularly. For the last seven years consecutive, I’ve been touring back and forth between Sting and Peter Gabriel, but I’m not touring this year. So when I’m not touring, that is the kind of thing that I do.

Q: Well, it seems to me that you have the best of both worlds: you can make your own albums and do shows on your own, and then go out and perform with the likes of Peter Gabriel and Sting.

Sancious: (Chuckle) It is pretty nice.

Q: I was going to say that it’s pretty sweet.

Sancious: It is. I mean, you still have the life of an artist, the ins and outs and all the challenges that come attached to that. But in general, I’m very fortunate to have the life I have now.

Q: And you started out with a pretty solid one, too.

Sancious: Yeah, Bruce — that was a great introduction to professional music making.

Q: Now you mentioned earlier that folks at the Cumston show will be hearing two or three of your latest compositions.

Sancious: Uh-huh, and officially it’ll be early October. I just want to try (the new material) out live. I don’t know much more live stuff I’m going to be doing on the East Coast this year, because it looks like I’ll be going back to some degree of touring next year in Europe. But I’ve been having a lot of fun making a record. I’ve been making it in between concert tours with other artists, when I have time to come home and work on it some more. It’s just about to that stage where I can see the daylight at the end of the tunnel, but I’m really pleased with it. It shows a pretty broad range of, ahh, I’m going to call this composing. It’s more like a film composing than songs — it’s not really a collection of pop songs, it’s instrumentals with the exception of three songs. But the writing on it is very, how can I say it without patting myself on the back. It evokes a lot of imagery, you know, the kind of atmosphere that gets created when you’re writing music for film or something like that. I’m very happy with it.

Q: When it comes to the concert in Cumston Hall, will you be playing just keyboards?

Sancious: I’m going to be playing keyboards, acoustic guitar and electric guitar. I’m going to do the show in sections: Joe and myself will do a few songs together, then I’ll do some things on piano by myself, and I’ll do something on synthesizer. Then we’ll switch to guitar: I’m going to play acoustic guitar, and he’s going to play some percussion, and then I’m going to do a couple of songs on electric guitar. Then I’ll go back to keyboards, and we’ll wrap it up.

Q: Do you sing?

Sancious: I do sing. I’m not going to promise how much of it I’m going to do that night, but I do sing, yeah. And there’s definitely vocals on the record.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the folks reading this column?

Sancious: No, just that I’m looking forward to being back in Maine. We’ve had a great response from the crowd every time we’ve been there. It’s a lovely place, and I’m very much looking forward to the show.

Lucky Clark has spent 45 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

]]> 0 SanciousWed, 20 Sep 2017 09:48:03 +0000
‘Harlow 2.0’ to open Water Street location Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Kennebec Valley Art Association and Harlow Gallery will present “Harlow 2.0,” the debut art exhibition at its new location at 100 Water St., in downtown Hallowell. The public is invited to come see the new location filled with work by local artists, representing a range of genres and media. The exhibit will be on view Sept. 23 through Nov. 4.

Participating artists include Karen and Ru Allen, Nancy Keenan Barron, Megan Daigle, Whitney Gill, Judy Herman, Pamela Hetherly, Nancy Holland, Eddie Leaman, Kay Morris, Anita Morrissey, Linda Murray, Petrea Noyes, Peter Precourt, Judy Schuppien, Sally Wagley and more.

The Harlow Gallery, located at 160 Water St., will remain open into the spring of 2018. The current exhibition is POW!, an art exhibition of original comics as well as artwork inspired by comics, which on view through Oct. 21.

Gallery hours are noon- 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

For more information, visit or call 622-3813.

]]> 0 photo Whitney Gill, ceramicsWed, 20 Sep 2017 09:40:18 +0000
Girls, Guns & Glory to perform in Gardiner Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Girls, Guns & Glory will performing at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23 at Johnson Hall Performing Arts Center, Water Street, in Gardiner. Doors open at 7 p.m.

The decade began with Ward Hayden and several like-minded musicians getting together. Their love for early rock ‘n’ roll, true country, raw blues and pretty much any kind of authentic American music branded them quickly as anomalous — and electrifying. Since that time they’ve barnstormed far beyond their Boston hometown, playing honky-tonks, beer joints and more recently concert venues throughout the U.S. They’ve amassed a loyal legion of fans along the way.

Now, in this milestone year, with Girls, Guns & Glory recording for the first time on its own label, the group has channeled all it’s experienced into its most personal and, paradoxically, hardest-rocking release to date.

Tickets cost $22 and are available from noon to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday at Johnson Hall’s Box Office, or call 582-7144 or visit

]]> 0, Guns & GloryWed, 20 Sep 2017 09:39:03 +0000
Articiulated Animals collection to be featured during Wiscasset Art Walk Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 WISCASSET — A series of sterling silver animals, each hand made and fully articulated, will be on exhibition from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28, at Trifles, 55 Main St., during the Wiscasset Art Walk. The Articulated Animals collection includes a gecko, praying mantis, frog, snake, shrimp, cicada and cricket.

According to sculptor and goldsmith Oleg Konstantinov, some creatures are more sculptural than others, and he finds insects particularly well suited to his detailed and articulated (having moving parts) creations. He credits his interest in Japanese art and the magnificence of nature as his primary inspirations, although his brother, a well-known entomologist with a specialty in beetles, was an early influence, according to a news release from Lucia Droby, an organizer of the Wiscasset Art Walk.

Konstantinov, who was born in Minsk, Belarus, and immigrated to the U.S. in 1989, has been creating these limited edition silver sculptures for 17 years. The prototype of each species is carved in wax to create a mold and then cast in sterling silver with hand assembling and finishing. Each creature has many moving parts because every joint moves. The gecko, measuring 3/4-inches high by 3 inches wide by 7.25 inches long, has 60 movable parts, and the shrimp, 2 inches high by 3/4 inches wide by 12 inches long, has 66 moveable parts; Konstantinov attaches each part by hand with a tiny pin.

Trifles owner Matthew Robinson has known the artist since purchasing one of his Articulated Animals, a gecko, 10 years ago. Robinson describes the pieces as “really cool toys” because everyone who comes to his home plays with his silver gecko. Robinson finds the articulated creatures so beguiling that he prefers to keep his on a tabletop rather than under glass. Konstantinov, on the other hand, “gets nervous when people touch them” because he knows how delicately they are put together.

Konstantinov’s Articulated Animals have been featured in art magazines, including Silver, and are in private collections around the world. In 2012, his work was exhibited at the Smithsonian Craft Show and was given the Silver Award.

This event will be the finals Wiscasset Art Walk of the 2017 season. Participant sites are marked with colorful streamers and touring maps are available throughout the village.

Major sponsors for Wiscasset Art Walk 2017 are Donna and Frank Barnako, Ames True Value, Big Barn Coffee, Carl M.P. Larrabee Agency, Carleton Real Estate, Carriage House Gardens, First National Bank, Red’s Eats, and The Maine Real Estate Network/Chris Almasi, broker. Additional sponsors are Cod Cove Inn, Fogg Art Restoration, and In the Clover.

For more information, email Lucia Droby at, call Violet Brandwein at 917-327-1449, or visit .

]]> 0 articulated gecko in sterling silver, with 60 movable parts, was designed and handmade by artist Oleg Konstantinov. A selection of the artist's animals will be featured Sept. 28 at Trifles during the Wiscasset Art Walk.Thu, 21 Sep 2017 04:00:00 +0000
Train rides available to Common Ground Fair Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad will offer train rides tor and from the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity.

Trains will depart from Thorndike and Unity Friday through Sunday, Sept. 22-24, carrying fair attendees to the center of the MOFGA Fairgrounds. Brooks Preservation Society, which leases the track from Belfast to Burnham, offers runs approximately every 20 minutes from 8:40 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 8:40 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

This year, both depots will be at a new location. The Thorndike depot will run out of the historic Farwell Mill buildings on Route 139, east side of the track. That ticket office is the last building from the road, with a “lumber” sign over the door. The Unity depot will run out of Envirem Organics on Cornshop Road. The Thorndike Depot will offer beverages and snacks for purchase, music and free tours of the 1873 Mill and Museum Store.

Traffic tip: During the fair, Route 139 is the least-traveled route out of Winterport, Monroe and Belfast and offers easy entry to the Thorndike train parking.

Fares for the train alone are $15 for adults and $5 for children; a combination train/fair ticket will cost $23 for adults or $20 for senior citizens.

To purchase a voucher or for more information, visit

]]> 0 Wed, 20 Sep 2017 09:27:47 +0000
Maine State Museum to host Museum Day Live! Sept. 23 Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 AUGUSTA — The Maine State Museum will participate in Smithsonian magazine’s 13th annual Museum Day Live! Saturday, Sept. 23.

For free tickets, visit, according to a news release from the museum. The museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on that day.

“Our visitors often think of the Maine State Museum as a kind of mini-Smithsonian,” said Museum Director Bernard Fishman, according to the release. “This is a compliment to both institutions and makes our participation in Museum Day a good fit for the Maine State Museum. Both museums use objects from nature and culture to enhance understanding and knowledge, and convey the incredible richness and diversity of the many kinds of worlds that surround us.”

The Smithsonian recognizes the extraordinary power of museums, and other cultural institutions, to provide visitors with insight and inspiration. Museum Day Live! represents a nationwide commitment to boundless curiosity and the pursuit of knowledge.

For more information, visit

For more information about the Maine State Museum’s exhibits and programs, visit

]]> 0 Thu, 21 Sep 2017 04:00:00 +0000
MOFGA to host 41st Common Ground Fair Sept. 22-24 Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 The 41st annual Common Ground Country Fair will take place Sept. 23and 24 at the home of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association in Unity. The event celebrates rural and sustainable living in Maine. The fair is unique because there are no midway carnivals, fast food or games of chance, according to a MOFGA news release.

“Vendors, demonstrators, entertainers and exhibitors feature traditional skills, talent, local organic food, and made-in-Maine crafts,” said Fair Director April Boucher, according to the release. “Common Ground has some of the most delicious food of any fair in Maine. MOFGA places a great deal of emphasis on educating people about available alternatives for living healthfully, happily and comfortably in the Northeast.”

Each day, there are hundreds of talks, demonstrations and exhibits focusing on healthy and environmentally sound living. The fair’s activities are spread out over 40-plus acres of well-tended land adorned by perennial gardens, walkways and orchards.

The success and continued growth of the fair is attributable to donations and the loyalty of MOFGA’s volunteer community.

Throughout the fair weekend, there will be livestock shows, contests and demonstrations featuring draft horses and ponies, dairy cattle and oxen, donkeys and mules, goats and sheep, poultry, rabbits, llamas and alpacas, and pigs. Sheep Dog demonstrations will take placen three times a day.

Dozens of Maine’s entertainers will perform in the Amphitheater, on the Spotlight Stage, and as rovers around the fairgrounds.

The Children’s Area is a mini-fair in itself. There are countless free activities for children, and there is a stage with entertainment for families. A children’s garden parade winds around The Common twice daily. All are welcome to don garden costumes and march.

The fair is held rain or shine. MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center is on the Crosby Brook Road in Unity. Gates open at 9 a.m.

MOFGA offers free admission to the fair for its members. Tickets at the gate cost $15 for general admission or $10 for elders.

For more information, call 568-4142 or visit

]]> 0 Wed, 20 Sep 2017 09:27:38 +0000
Maine Farmland Trust Gallery to open CSA II Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Maine Farmland Trust Gallery, in partnership with the Harlow Gallery/Kennebec Valley Art Association, will present CSA II — one of three exhibitions of work by 13 Maine artists who have been partnered with CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farms throughout the 2017 growing season.

Meet the artists and farmers at the opening reception set for 5-8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22, with a gallery talk at 5 p.m. at Maine Farmland Trust Gallery, 97 Main St., in Belfast. The exhibition will on view Sept. 22 through Nov. 10.

For more information about Maine Farmland Trust Gallery visit

Participating artists and farms are: Ingrid Ellison of Camden paired with Hope’s Edge Farm, Helene Farrar of Manchester paired with Farmer Kev’s, Dylan Gifford of Kents Hill paired with Wholesome Holmstead, Karen Merritt of Portland paired with Crystal Spring Farm, Anna O’Sullivan of Portland paired with The FarmME, Tim Ouillette of Portland paired with Hancock Family Farm, Tyson Pease of Gardiner paired with Tender Soles Farm, Alyssa Phanitdasack of Portland paired with Sheepscot General Farm and Store, Jessica Rhoades of Thomaston paired with Whatley Farm, Susan Bartlett Rice of Walpole paired with Tarbox Farm, Nicholas Runco of Oakland paired with KVCC CSA, Kris Sader of Orono paired with Ripley Farm, and Rebecca May Verrill of Portland paired with Frith Farm.

During CSA II, participating artists have been visiting their partner farms regularly since January 2017, at the very start of this year’s growing season, creating art inspired by their farmers’ lives, work and landscape. The resulting body of artwork will be exhibited at three venues in the fall of 2017: at the Maine Farmland Trust Gallery in Belfast Sept. 22 through Nov. 10; at the Harlow Gallery in Hallowell Oct. 27 through Dec. 2; and at Engine in Biddeford Nov. 10 through Dec. 16.

Participating farms are Community Supported Agriculture.

Maine Farmland Trust Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For more information, visit

]]> 0 photo "Tarbox Start," by Susan Bartlett Rice, oil on canvas.Thu, 21 Sep 2017 04:00:00 +0000
Fight over label law for flushable wipes goes before federal court Thu, 21 Sep 2017 02:18:16 +0000 WASHINGTON — The question of whether flushable wipes – used by potty-training toddlers and people looking beyond traditional toilet paper – are clogging sewer systems will be hashed out in federal court, where a manufacturer has sued the District of Columbia over a new city law regulating when such wipes can be labeled “flushable.”

Dallas-based Kimberly-Clark, which manufactures Cottonelle, Scott Naturals and Pull-Ups flushable wipes, alleges that the District law – the first of its kind in the U.S. – is unconstitutional because it tries to regulate businesses beyond the city. The company also alleges that the law violates the First Amendment because it could require companies that believe their wipes to be flushable to label their products as “do not flush.”

“In seeking this court intervention, Kimberly-Clark is fighting for our consumers and standing up for our brands,” company spokesman Bob Brand said in an email. “The District of Columbia has unfortunately passed a law that will severely restrict, if not eliminate, consumers’ ability to purchase flushable wipes in Washington D.C.”

The law, which takes effect Jan. 1, came in response to complaints from city sewer officials that flushable wipes are jamming pumps, blocking screens and clogging equipment at treatment plants.

Washington is not alone in its complaint. The problem costs U.S. utilities up to $1 billion annually, according to the National Association of Clean Water Agencies.

The issue drew international attention a few years ago, when a 15-ton glob of wipes and hardened cooking grease the size of a bus – and nicknamed “Fatberg” – was discovered blocking a London sewer pipe.

The D.C. law requires that wipes sold in the city be labeled “flushable” only if they break apart “in a short period of time after flushing in the low-force conditions of a sewer system.” Wipes that don’t meet that standard – the city hasn’t yet proposed detailed regulations – must be “clearly and conspicuously” labeled as something that “should not be flushed.”

D.C. Council Member Mary Cheh, who sponsored the legislation, called Kimberly-Clark’s lawsuit “sort of ridiculous.”

Cheh, who teaches constitutional law at George Washington University, said local and state governments routinely pass consumer protection laws that affect out-of-state companies. Courts give “wide latitude” in such cases, she said, as long as a law doesn’t discriminate against certain companies.

“We’re not banning these wipes,” Cheh said. “Let’s be really clear about that. We’re just saying they should tell the truth and shouldn’t label them as flushable when they’re not.”

Cheh said the wipes industry is attacking the law because it’s the first attempt to regulate what qualifies as “flushable,” and companies are concerned other governments will follow suit. A similar proposal recently died in the Maryland General Assembly. Cheh noted that wipes companies unsuccessfully lobbied Congress to kill the D.C. law.

The lawsuit, which was filed Friday in U.S. District Court, names the city; Mayor Muriel Bowser; city attorney general Karl Racine; Tommy Wells, director of the D.C. Department of Energy & Environment; and DC Water.

A spokesman for Racine said he couldn’t comment on a pending lawsuit, and a DC Water spokesman declined to comment.

In its complaint, Kimberly-Clark said it “has spent millions of dollars and over two decades of study” to develop wipes that “lose strength” once they hit toilet water and “become increasingly likely to break into pieces” as they move through home plumbing and sewer pipes.

]]> 0 popular bathroom wipes are triggering complaints from sewer officials across the country.Wed, 20 Sep 2017 23:58:07 +0000
Republican health-care bill called costly to many states Thu, 21 Sep 2017 02:16:03 +0000 WASHINGTON — Most states would take a stiff budgetary hit if the latest Senate Republican health care bill becomes law, according to an analysis released Wednesday. That would likely result in more uninsured Americans.

The consulting firm Avalere Health found that the Graham-Cassidy bill would lead to an overall $215 billion cut to states in federal funding for health insurance through 2026.

“A reduction in federal subsidies for health insurance is likely to result in more people being uninsured,” said Caroline Pearson, a senior vice president at Avalere, which specializes in health industry research.

States that voted for President Trump would not be immune from cuts, though deep-blue California and New York face the deepest reductions. West Virginia, a Trump bastion, would see a $1 billion cut from 2020-2026.

The Avalere analysis comes as Senate leaders are rushing a vote on the legislation by the end of the month.

Named for Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, the bill would repeal much of the Obama-era Affordable Care Act and limit future federal funding for Medicaid.

The bill would also end Obama’s health insurance subsidies and put money into a pot that would be distributed among states. Governors and legislatures would have leeway on how to spend the money, and could also seek waivers from ACA requirements. Though insurers would still have to cover people with medical problems, in some states they could charge more.

Arizona and Alaska would be among the losers, a detail that could be important. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, are seen as undecided on the legislation, and Republican leaders cannot afford many defections.

New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie said he is opposed to the Graham-Cassidy bill because of cuts to his state, estimated by Avalere at $10 billion from 2020-2026.

Texas would be the biggest winner, with a $35-billion increase by 2026. Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Virginia would also see funding gains, as would Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Within states, the analysis found that there could be winners and losers among people at different income levels. Because the Republican bill focuses on covering the poor, states may decide to reduce support for middle-class people who now receive subsidies under Obama’s law.

Funding for the Avalere report was provided by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.

]]> 0 Lindsey Graham, left, and Bill Cassidy are pushing a last-ditch effort to uproot the Affordable Care Act.Wed, 20 Sep 2017 23:59:25 +0000
Timing’s not right for a time-zone change, says Massachusetts report Thu, 21 Sep 2017 01:50:10 +0000 BOSTON — Massachusetts could benefit by shifting from the Eastern to the Atlantic Time Zone, but only if other New England states follow suit, according to a draft report issued Wednesday by a special study commission.

The 11-member panel, created by the Legislature last year, spent months examining the pros and cons of effectively establishing Daylight Savings Time year-round, which would eliminate the practice of setting clocks forward and back twice every year.

“Although there are appreciable costs associated with making this change, on balance the commission finds that doing so could have positive benefits,” the draft said.

State Sen. Eileen Donoghue, a Lowell Democrat who chaired the commission, conceded that a time shift isn’t likely anytime soon, but was optimistic about the longer term prospects.

“If I had a crystal ball, I would hope that we together with the other New England states and New York and other states that see fit, would stop turning our clocks back and forth for no good reason,” Donoghue said.

She asked members to submit comments on the draft, with a final vote slated for early November.

The report will then be submitted to the Legislature.

Benefits of year-round daylight savings time could include energy savings, a boost for retail stores and less seasonal depression, proponents suggest.

The preliminary report acknowledges potential downsides as well. For example, if sunset is a later hour, sunrise would be an earlier hour, posing dangers for children walking to school or waiting for buses in the dark.

The report said any change would have to be accompanied by later start times for public schools, though no specific proposal was offered.

But the biggest stumbling block with a unilateral change to the Atlantic Time Zone by Massachusetts would be putting the state in sync with the Canadian maritime provinces and out of sync with its U.S. neighbors for several months a year, likely causing considerable confusion.

“We would never recommend that Massachusetts just go out and do it alone,” said Donoghue.

The state should consider shifting only if a majority of other New England states also make the change, the report said.

Lawmakers in Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island have considered similar proposals, also contingent upon regional consensus.

State Rep. Paul Frost, who has been among the commission’s most skeptical members, said any change would require more than just New England cooperation.

“You can’t do this without New York,” said Frost, an Auburn Republican, citing disruptions in transportation and broadcast schedules that would result if New York operated in a different time zone than Boston.

]]> 0, ME - MAY 17: On the Job: Kris Guyot, repair technician at Swiss Time, applies wood glue to a cuckoo clock. (Staff photo by Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer)Thu, 21 Sep 2017 15:49:57 +0000