BIW wins maintenance contract for Zumwalts

The U.S. Navy has awarded General Dynamics subsidiary Bath Iron Works a $26.4 million contract to provide upgrade and maintenance services for DDG-1000 “Zumwalt-class” guided missile destroyers, the company said Thursday. The contract includes options which, if exercised and fully funded by the Navy, would bring the total value of the contract to $86.7 million and extend the contract through 2023. The contract is for what are known as “planning yard services,” which include design, material kitting, logistics, planning and execution of ship maintenance and modernization. Most of the planning yard services work will be performed in Maine, BIW said in a written statement. BIW already manages maintenance and modernization for DDG-51 destroyers and littoral combat ships. Read the story.


Falmouth developer connected to new ownership of Time & Temp building

Public documents reveal that the buyer of Portland’s iconic but troubled Time & Temperature Building is connected to a local developer based in Falmouth. A quitclaim deed dated Dec. 12 lists the buyer as TT Maine Venture LLC of Delaware, and an accompanying document from the state Department of Environmental Protection names Falmouth developer Chris Rhoades as a partner in the venture. Rhoades is the same developer who is converting the former Navy housing at Brunswick Landing into a residential development. Rhoades declined comment on Friday. The 14-story office tower at 477 Congress St., which opened in 1924 as the 12-story Chapman Building, was seized by a collections agency in 2016 after years of neglect and a mass exodus of tenants. It was then sold at auction to TT Maine Venture on Oct. 11 for $9.3 million. Read the story.

Historic, redeveloped Westbrook mill sold

A developer with a history of reinventing old mills has purchased a high-profile Westbrook building, the latest investment to underscore a revitalization of the city’s downtown. Chinburg Properties, of Newmarket, New Hampshire, this month closed on the $5.1 million purchase of the Dana Warp Mill at 90 Bridge St. from local investor Aleksandar “Sasa” Cook. The five-story brick building stretches along the Presumpscot River and overlooks downtown Westbrook, and has become a symbol of the city’s economic rebranding from an odorous mill town with a dirty river to a home for high-tech business and a desirable place to live. The city hired a new economic development director last year amid what officials called a surge of new energy in the downtown. The 246,000-square-foot former textile mill is now about 70 percent leased by dozens of commercial tenants. Read the story.

Demolition continues at former mill site

Demolition is continuing at a former paper mill site in Bucksport that will one day become home to a salmon farm and Maine Maritime center. Town Manager Susan Lessard said landowner American Iron and Metal, a scrap metal recycler, is completing demolition while a company seeks permits for a $250 million salmon farm. The demolition is expected to cost $4.45 million and generate about 14,000 cubic yards of demolition debris. Read the story.


Johnson nominated for DECD commissioner

Gov.-elect Janet Mills nominated the woman charged with expanding broadband access in Maine to be her economic and community development commissioner Thursday. Heather Johnson, who has a background in public- and private-sector economic development and communications, now heads the ConnectME Authority, the agency responsible for expanding Maine’s broadband network. Mills pledged during the campaign to improve broadband access in Maine. Johnson, 48, is Mills’ seventh Cabinet nominee. She would replace acting Commissioner Denise Garland, who was appointed by Republican Gov. Paul LePage after George Gervais resigned in June. Read the story.

Scat artist solicited for reality TV show

The Maine moose turd lady may go global. Mary Winchenbach and her wife, Deb Nicholls, are in discussions with TNT about a reality series featuring their moose-turd art, which exploded in popularity after a video of Winchenbach hawking her moose-poop wares was viewed 3.3 million times on Facebook. Their Lincoln County business, Tirdy Works, was flooded with so many orders that Winchenbach quit her day job so the two could make more earrings, clocks and other items out of moose droppings. Raina Falcon, a spokeswoman for Turner, a Time Warner company that owns TNT, confirmed Thursday that the cable network is discussing a reality show about the moose-turd artists from Somerville. Read the story.

Money magazine throws South Portland some love

Money magazine has once again determined that South Portland is a great place to live. The latest accolade, announced this month as part of the magazine’s 2018 rankings, names South Portland the best place to live in Maine for the second year in a row. The magazine based part of its analysis on a median household income of $56,472 and a median home price listing of $355,800. It says residents have short commutes, including to Portland International Jetport, and fantastic harbor views with two lighthouses, a beach and a greenbelt walkway through the city. Read the story.

Portland’s Federal Spice closes

Federal Spice, a casual Jamaican restaurant on Federal Street in Portland, has closed after more than 20 years. A typed note that hangs on the door and on a sandwich board out front from chef Eric Martin says that “with deep regret” he closed the restaurant for good on Christmas Eve because he was “unable to reach an amicable lease renewal.”

The note goes on to thank customers for their patronage. Martin could not be reached for comment, and the Federal Spice website and Facebook page have not been updated to announce the closure. Federal Spice, which opened in 1995, offered an inexpensive mix of Jamaican and Mexican specialties. Read the story.


Expert: Mills has power to scrap work requirement for Medicaid

When Gov.-elect Janet Mills takes office in January, she will likely have the power to torpedo new Medicaid work requirements approved by the federal government last week at the request of outgoing Republican Gov. Paul LePage. Similar work requirements in Arkansas, the first state to implement them, led to nearly 17,000 people losing their Medicaid benefits. Mills, a Democrat, was noncommittal about her intentions in an interview Thursday. But MaryBeth Musumeci, associate director of the Program on Medicaid and the Uninsured at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a national health-policy think tank, said she believes Maine’s new governor would not be obligated to implement the work requirements granted under a federal waiver. Medicaid is a federal program operated and partially funded by the states, but some deviations from the standard program have to be approved by the federal government. Read the story.


Lobster marketing group changes focus

A state-funded marketing council is expanding its new-shell lobster crusade to focus on courting the fishmongers who sell seafood, not just the chefs who cook it. The Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative plans to appoint a celebrity spokesman, submit a trademark application and create a seasonal calendar to persuade the middlemen of the seafood supply chain to carry Maine soft-shell lobster, which accounts for 80 percent of the state’s annual lobster landings and is deemed by some of the nation’s best-known food bloggers to be sweeter and more tender than hard-shell lobsters fished in Canada. Now the agency will redirect the bulk of its $2.2 million a year budget away from after-hours chef tasting parties and training sessions toward winning over lobster distributors, the oft-forgotten segment of the supply chain that buys new shell from Maine dealers and sells it to restaurants, hotels, cruise lines and grocery stores. A lack of availability may be the reason Maine lobster is listed on less than 5 percent of restaurant menus, the collaborative’s director said. Read the story.

Holidays draw crowds to fish market

The weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year’s are the busiest time of the year at Harbor Fish Market on Custom House Wharf, which prepares by hiring 10 temporary workers for the rush. Owner Mike Alfiero said some of the demand is linked to traditions such as like the multi-course fish feast his Italian-American family enjoyed when he was growing up. For others, it is an excuse to indulge in some special holiday foods. The store was so busy Sunday morning that a policeman and employee dressed in a Santa costume were directing traffic into parking spaces on the narrow wharf. Read the story.

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