Local & State – Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel https://www.centralmaine.com Features news from the Kennebec Journal of Augusta, Maine and Morning Sentinel of Waterville, Maine. Sun, 18 Mar 2018 02:52:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 West Gardiner approves budget amid concerns about ambulance, library costs https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/west-gardiner-approves-budget-amid-concerns-about-ambulance-library-costs/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/west-gardiner-approves-budget-amid-concerns-about-ambulance-library-costs/#respond Sat, 17 Mar 2018 23:05:28 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/west-gardiner-approves-budget-amid-concerns-about-ambulance-library-costs/ WEST GARDINER — About six years ago, Joel Bernier decided to open a gun shop on his property in West Gardiner.

“It took me about four, four and a half years to realize there’s no money in it if you’re going to do it right,” Bernier said.

Eventually, Bernier found a tenant for the building he was no longer using. But when the tenant, who is running his construction company in the building, offered to buy the building and the land it’s on, Bernier was stymied. While West Gardiner imposes a minimum lot size of 60,000 square feet for residential lots since 1987, it had nothing on commercial lots.

On Saturday, West Gardiner voters narrowly approved a change to the town’s minimum lot size ordinance as they approved the town’s $1.24 million spending plan.

The change clarifies that commercial lots will be used for commercial purposes only and will not be able to be made into nonconforming residential lots. And because the minimum size for a commercial lot is 10,000 square feet, those lots won’t be large enough for a septic permit to be issued.

The change to the ordinance prompted concern about how the move would affect West Gardiner’s rural character, and whether portable toilets would start cropping up in front of businesses on commercial lots throughout the town.

“It’s not going to change anything,” Bernier said during floor debate. “Things are changing by themselves.”

On a show-of-hands vote, the measure, which Bernier has been working on for a couple of years, was approved 28-26.

The Board of Selectmen fielded questions on — among other things — the request to spend $30,0000 on a used plow truck rather than replacing it outright.

Board Chairman Greg Couture said the town will need a new plow truck eventually to add to its fleet, and buying a used truck ensures the town will have enough equipment to clear the roads. An amendment from the floor broadened the scope of the request, allowing the money to be spent on repairing the truck, if that makes sense.

Voters also questioned the town’s proposed spending on ambulance service provided by Gardiner Ambulance and Gardiner Public Library.

The ambulance request jumped from $12,000 a year ago to $45,000; the higher cost for ambulance service reflects the number of uncollected bills for ambulance service in West Gardiner.

Residents closely questioned how the library’s charge, which increased more moderately, from $34,748 to $35,269, is determined.

Library Director Anne Davis said the cost of running the library has increased just as other costs have increased. As a department of Gardiner city government and a beneficiary of the Gardiner Library Association, the Gardiner library is an enterprise that runs on a budget of a little more than $500,000 a year, and it provides access to free programs and resources.

Tammy Hickey asked what would happen if voters approved a lesser amount.

Davis said it probably would mean that West Gardiner residents would have access to library services for a shorter period of time during the year.

Voters approved both requests.

To pay for the spending plan, selectmen opted to appropriate $444,000 from taxpayers, use $746,000 from excise tax and tap $53,000 from the town’s surplus account.

Because the property tax commitment exceeded the property tax levy amount established for West Gardiner by state law, residents voted to increase the tax levy limit.

The town’s property tax rate, $12.30 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, is expected to increase this year; it will depend in part on the budget for the Gardiner-area school district, which is being developed now for final approval in June.

In West Gardiner, elections are held from 8 a.m. to noon in the fire hall on Spears Corner Road before the budget debate.

The three races were uncontested. Couture was re-elected to the Board of Selectmen, Road Commissioner Gary Hickey was re-elected and Deb Couture was re-elected to the School Administrative District 11 school board. The terms are for three years.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632


Twitter: @JLowellKJ

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/west-gardiner-approves-budget-amid-concerns-about-ambulance-library-costs/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/816418_444085-20180317_WestGardine.jpgWest Gardiner residents vote by show of hands Saturday in the town's fire station during Town Meeting.Sat, 17 Mar 2018 20:16:21 +0000
Pittston voters approve proposed budget https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/pittston-voters-approve-proposed-budget/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/pittston-voters-approve-proposed-budget/#respond Sat, 17 Mar 2018 22:25:05 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/pittston-voters-approve-proposed-budget/ PITTSTON — Nearly 90 residents in Pittston voted to approve the town’s spending plan as proposed Saturday, with septage, books and ambulance scofflaws topping their concerns.

Among their budget votes, residents were surprised by an announcement by longtime Fire Chief Jason Farris that he will step down at the end of August.

By that time, Farris said, he will be into his 16th year as chief, and it’s time to spend time on other things. He said while he no longer will be chief, he will continue as a firefighter.

At the news, the residents gave Farris a standing ovation for his service to the town.

Farris made his announcement and residents considered an article that would reimburse the town from the department’s reserve savings account for $21,811.58 spent on equipment for the town’s new fire station in East Pittston.

After some minor debate, residents approved that warrant article, as part of the $1.2 million spending plan that was put before voters to decide.

While residents easily passed high-ticket items such as nearly $590,000 for the highway budget with little comment, they had questions about other items.

In this budget year, the cost of the ambulance service provided by Gardiner Ambulance jumped from $15,300 to $39,702, which prompted a question from Timothy Lawrence about the increase.

Gardiner Fire Chief Al Nelson said the ambulance service bill to all of the towns served by Gardiner Ambulance was higher this year.

Nelson said the ambulance service has contracted with a different company to collect the money owed to the service, which represents a portion of the town’s bill.

It’s not clear why so many bills are unpaid, he said.

“We have seen an uptick in people without insurance,” Nelson said.

In some cases, he said, insurance pays part of the bill, but the patient cannot afford his or her part.

He noted that if money comes in on the bills after residents vote at Town Meeting, it’s sent back to the town.

“That’s your money,” he said. “It’s not our money.”

Residents also briefly debated the amount requested for Pittston residents to use Gardiner Public Library.

At $23,878, the amount is only 1.5 percent higher than the request a year ago, and as one resident pointed out, it’s 0.8 percent of the town’s annual spending.

Even so, Lawrence said he was concerned about the spending.

“People are losing property over this. At some point, you have to start saying ‘no’ to some of this stuff.”

Gardiner Public Library Director Anne Davis detailed the town’s use of the library, including a program on Thursday afternoons when Pittston students at the Gardiner Regional Middle School can study, get a snack and watch a movie for free. The program has resulted in the higher number of active library cards held by young adults — 261 this year, compared to 201 last year.

Residents also focused on a proposal that has appeared every year in recent years to spend $2,000 to handle the town’s septic waste. They wanted to know why the selectmen opposed paying for it.

Selectman Greg Lumbert said he had tried to track down information about the payment, but he wasn’t able to find out why the town paid it.

The reason for the payment dates back nearly two decades to a dispute the town had with Jerald Smith, who sought to spread septage on property he was in the process of buying in the town. Smith sued the town, saying its septage ordinance violated state law, and the matter reached the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

While the current board is unfamiliar with the matter, Wanda Burns-Macomber, who served on the Board of Selectmen for many years and was chairwoman of the board, gave a short recap.

“It was a long battle, and everybody was suing everybody at the time,” she said. “I suggest you vote to fund this.”

The money pays for a site that will take what’s pumped out of the town’s septic systems in the event the hauler has no place else to take it. “If we don’t have to spend the money, we won’t,” Selectwoman Jean Ambrose said. “If we have to spend it to keep out of jail, we will.”

If the money is not spent, it will go to the town’s surplus.

Residents agreed to spend that money.

Currently, the property tax rate in Pittston is $14.40 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. Town residents won’t know until after the Gardiner-area school district budget is approved in June whether that will change. Pittston is one of the four communities that make up School Administrative District 11, which is working on its spending plan.

In Pittston, the budget debate takes place on Saturday and the municipal election is held the following Monday.

Polls are scheduled to be open from noon to 7 p.m. Monday, and voters will vote on four open seats.

Ambrose is running for another three-year term on the Board of Selectmen. She has no opponent on the ballot.

Marlene Colvin is running for re-election to a three-year term on the Planning Board. She has no opponent.

Two seats are available on the School Administrative District 11 school board, but only one candidate, James Lothridge, filed nomination papers to run. Penny Poolman and Michael Bechard are the incumbents, and their terms are up this year.

Jane Hubert, who stepped down from Board of Selectmen after her term ended in 2016, said Saturday she is running as a write-in candidate for the second school board seat.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632


Twitter: @JLowellKJ

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/pittston-voters-approve-proposed-budget/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/816407_923228-20180317_Pittstonr5.jpgResidents vote during the annual Pittston town meeting on Saturday March 17, 2018 in the Pittston Consolidated School gymnasium.Sat, 17 Mar 2018 20:15:20 +0000
Video: Ice Out Plunge in Winthrop raises $35,000 for Special Olympics https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/ice-out-plunge-in-winthrop-raises-35000-for-special-olympics/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/ice-out-plunge-in-winthrop-raises-35000-for-special-olympics/#respond Sat, 17 Mar 2018 22:15:03 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/ice-out-plunge-in-winthrop-raises-35000-for-special-olympics/ The fifth annual Maine Law Enforcement Special Olympics Torch Run Ice Out Plunge, held Saturday morning at Winthrop’s told beach, raised about $35,000, organizers said.

“It was really cold,” participant Audrey Thompson said, adding that her wet hair was starting to freeze between exiting the lake and getting back into the nearby American Legion hall to warm up.

Ninety-five people took a dip in subfreezing weather during the event to raise money for Special Olympics.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/ice-out-plunge-in-winthrop-raises-35000-for-special-olympics/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/816401_254470-20180317_PolarPlun2.jpgFrom left, Lewiston police Cpl. Patrick Griffin, Luke Booker, Lewiston police Cpl. Eugene Kavanaugh, Mike Feldman and Curtis Bohlen jump into Maranacook Lake on Saturday during the fifth annual Maine Law Enforcement Special Olympics Torch Run Ice Out Plunge fundraiser, held at Winthrop's town beach.Sat, 17 Mar 2018 20:32:46 +0000
Judge orders evaluation for mother accused of killing 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/judge-orders-evaluation-for-mother-accused-of-killing-10-year-old-marissa-kennedy/ Sat, 17 Mar 2018 21:10:42 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/judge-orders-evaluation-for-mother-accused-of-killing-10-year-old-marissa-kennedy/

Sharon Carrillo at the Waldo Superior Court in Belfast on Feb. 28, 2018. Staff Photo by David Leaming

BELFAST – A judge has ordered a mental health evaluation for a woman accused of beating her 10-year-old daughter to death.

WGME-TV reports that Stockton Springs resident Sharon Carrillo will be examined at Riverview Psychiatric Facility. She is scheduled to be arraigned April 2.

Carrillo’s lawyer Chris MacLean says that his client has a severe learning disability and is a victim of abuse herself.

The child, Marissa Kennedy, died Feb. 25 in Stockton Springs.

Police say Carrillo and Kennedy’s stepfather Julio Carrillo took turns beating her for several months and tried to make her death look like an accident. Both are charged with murder.

https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/carrillo.jpgSat, 17 Mar 2018 17:35:08 +0000
Waterboro man arrested after head-butting one deputy, biting another, sheriff says https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/waterboro-man-arrested-after-head-butting-one-deputy-biting-another-sheriff-says/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/waterboro-man-arrested-after-head-butting-one-deputy-biting-another-sheriff-says/#respond Sat, 17 Mar 2018 20:31:02 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/waterboro-man-arrested-after-head-butting-one-deputy-biting-another-sheriff-says/ A Waterboro man was arrested after head-butting a York County sheriff’s deputy and biting another deputy on the leg as he resisted their efforts to let a woman retrieve her belongings from her residence, Sheriff William King said Saturday.

Nicholas Morin, 29, was charged on Friday with assault on an officer and was being held at the York County Jail on $10,000 bail.

King said the deputies were escorting the woman to her Beaver Dam Road home in Waterboro on Thursday when they discovered Morin had barricaded the door and yelled out at them that he had a gun. They took cover and the deputy persuaded Morin to come out peacefully.

“After a short while, the highly agitated man did surrender,” King said in a statement, adding that Morin did not have a firearm.

When he was being taken into custody, Morin resisted arrest and head-butted a deputy, injuring the deputy’s nose, King said. Morin then bit another deputy on the leg, the sheriff said.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/waterboro-man-arrested-after-head-butting-one-deputy-biting-another-sheriff-says/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/morin.jpgSat, 17 Mar 2018 20:14:29 +0000
Canaan residents approve $1.3 million budget at Town Meeting https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/canaan-residents-approve-1-3-million-budget-at-town-meeting/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/canaan-residents-approve-1-3-million-budget-at-town-meeting/#respond Sat, 17 Mar 2018 19:24:44 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/canaan-residents-approve-1-3-million-budget-at-town-meeting/ CANAAN — Residents on Saturday morning approved an annual budget of just under $1.3 million at the annual Town Meeting, representing an increase of more than $103,000.

During the meeting, which lasted over two hours, nearly 100 residents turned out at the elementary school on Main Street, where they approved all 33 warrant items. The Town Meeting precedes municipal elections, which are scheduled for 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday from at the Town Hall. Six people are running for three seats on the Board of Selectmen, including incumbents Daniel Harriman, Jeffrey Clarke and Garrett Buzzell. The three challengers are Michael Gilbert, Stephen Hale and Raymond Charkey. The term of office for each seat is one year. Also on the ballot is the road commissioner’s post. Michael Robinson is running unopposed for another one-year term.

One of the lengthier discussion points during the Town Meeting involved the town’s involvement in FirstPark, a business park in Oakland near Interstate 95. When making a motion on deciding the town’s expenses, one resident asked for the town’s $10,616.93 contribution to FirstPark to be taken out. There was some discussion on what value the town was getting out of its contributions, since it and 23 other municipalities agreed to invest in the park by paying down the park’s initial debt to the Kennebec Regional Development Authority. However, most in the crowd wanted to remain faithful to the contract and remain with FirstPark, and there was also a question of whether pulling out of the pact would be legal. One resident also said the town probably has received value in additional property taxes from Canaan residents who work at FirstPark.

Another larger discussion topic in town expenses involved slashing the town’s community sports program from $6,300 to $4,410. The selectmen said the reduced figure was the result of a conversation with the sports director, who is stepping down. They said the director said the position should be funded, so part of the cut to the sports budget would allow some funding for such a position while not raising taxes. They also said this included other cuts, such as getting rid of hats and shirts for coaches, switching from trophies to certificates and getting rid of some equipment. However, the sports director was at the meeting, and she said she had proposed keeping the $6,300 budget. The selectmen said they made the cuts they thought were necessary.

One resident called the decision to cut the sports budget “unfortunate.” That resident noted the town was asking for over $7,000 to make repairs to the Town Office while cutting the sports budget.

By law, the most that residents could vote for was what the selectmen had recommended. They could lower it, but not increase it.

In the end, residents approved all the items of the $332,000 town expenses.

Other major budget items in the warrant include $160,700 for winter road maintenance; nearly $94,000 for summer road maintenance; $68,500 for the Fire Department; nearly $49,000 for the library, including increasing the library director’s pay to $20,608, up from $19,200; $115,600 for solid waste reduction; and $125,000 for road improvements. The selectmen initially had requested $175,000 for that item, but residents reduced it to $125,000.

Residents also reduced the price tag of putting money into a reserve account for adding to the existing town garage. Selectmen had asked for $50,000 to be put into the reserve account, but a resident amendment of $25,000 was passed instead. Residents also chose the lowest choice of what to raise for municipal health insurance for full-time employees. The town had recommended appropriating over $25,000, which would have been 100 percent. However, residents instead chose to appropriate 70 percent — just over $17,500.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253


Twitter: @colinoellis


https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/canaan-residents-approve-1-3-million-budget-at-town-meeting/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/816368_342317-20180317-Canaan-Town.jpgPhil Curtis moderates the Canaan Town Meeting on Saturday at Canaan Elementary School.Sat, 17 Mar 2018 15:37:11 +0000
If you savor scallops, good news: Price drop may be in store https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/if-you-savor-scallops-good-news-price-drop-may-be-in-store/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/if-you-savor-scallops-good-news-price-drop-may-be-in-store/#respond Sat, 17 Mar 2018 17:06:46 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/if-you-savor-scallops-good-news-price-drop-may-be-in-store/ Good news for scallop fans: Already one of the most readily available higher-priced seafoods, the succulent shellfish could fall in price this year.

American harvests of scallops have grown in recent years, from 33.8 million pounds in 2014 to 40.5 million pounds in 2016, and are poised to go up again in 2018 because of a potential increase in the amount fishermen are allowed to bring to shore.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has been importing even more scallops from countries such as China, Japan and Canada to meet consumer demand.

Some members of the seafood industry say it could be a recipe for the price of the shellfish to fall for consumers, who sometimes pay more than $20 per pound at supermarkets. Fishermen have received slightly less money for scallops at the docks in recent years – about $12 per pound in 2016, down about 50 cents from two years previously.

Consumers could start to see that price drop in restaurants and grocery stores this year, said Peter Handy, president and chief executive officer of Portland-based Bristol Seafood, a processor and distributor.

“There is a lot of anxiety about it. Prices could go down. I can’t think of a scenario in which prices could go up,” he said. “The question is, are we standing at the edge of a cliff or are we looking at a little bit of weakness relative to last year?”

This year has a chance to be only the third time since 1950 in which U.S. scallop harvesters – who dredge for scallops off places like Maine and Nantucket island in Massachusetts – collect more than 60 million pounds of the shellfish, Handy said. That most recently happened in 2006.

The price of scallops in the U.S. will likely be affected by this year’s imports and exports, which are hard to predict, he said.

The state scallop fisheries, led by Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia, have been fairly strong in recent years. Maine fishermen, who saw their state’s scallop fishery collapse in the mid-2000s, had their largest haul in 20 years in 2017.

Conservation efforts have helped protect the scallops as a resource, so fishermen have been having productive years, said Patrick Keliher, commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources. “Those things are paying off, and we’re seeing that in overall value,” he said.

But fishermen remain anxious about what this year will bring for the price of scallops, said Alex Todd, a Maine harvester.

“Even this year, price started out the same as last year, but it has dropped fairly significantly in recent weeks,” he said.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/if-you-savor-scallops-good-news-price-drop-may-be-in-store/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/1349143_Scallops_Prices_61537.jpg2_.jpgScallop meat is shucked at sea in Harpswell. Scallop prices could plunge in 2018 because fishermen are on track to harvest a high number and imports are up.Sat, 17 Mar 2018 18:00:46 +0000
Belgrade to get full-time librarian https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/belgrade-to-get-full-time-librarian/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/belgrade-to-get-full-time-librarian/#respond Sat, 17 Mar 2018 16:34:00 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/belgrade-to-get-full-time-librarian/ The town of Belgrade will have a full-time librarian at its town library and will be open more hours.

Results of voting Friday show that residents approved the move by a 17-vote margin, 179-162. The same article also added $20,990 to the library budget to pay for the changes.

In a separate article, voters gave 243-103 approval to spending $59,532 for the library budget itself.

The proposal to have a full-time library director had proved to be a divisive issue in the town.

The Belgrade Board of Selectpersons had voted 3-2 against recommending it for passage, as did one member on the Budget Committee.

A similar proposal was shot down two years ago in a 4-1 vote by selectmen, so it never actually made its way to the ballot.

Ernest Rice, board chairman at that time, said the town could not afford the additional $20,000 required to support the post for a year.

Several people who served as town librarian previously had asked the board to make the librarian post full-time, but the idea was rejected.

After the close of a public hearing in January, Janet Patterson, library director for three years, said, “I usually put in 100 hours extra over the year. There’s just so much to the job that needs to get done.”

The town has gone through a series of part-time library directors, who were paid for 32 hours a week — 25 hours while the library is open and seven hours for administrative work.

As a result of Friday’s vote, the library will be open to the public for 30 hours a week and will set aside 10 hours for administrative work.

Ernst Merckens, a selectman who is also on the library’s board of trustees, had supported making the librarian post a full-time one.

“This was a step that wasn’t warranted before,” Merckens said on Saturday afternoon. “But we’ve reached it now, so it’s a wise move for the town.”

He also said that the library was the only town department without a full-time director. “It’s certainly overdue for our current librarian, who does a outstanding job.”

The other articles voted on at the polls were approved by at least a 2-to-1 margin, and all the remaining articles were adopted at the business portion of the meeting on Saturday.

More than 100 people attended the Saturday session, including a handful of people running for public office. The meeting lasted just under 90 minutes.

Residents agreed to allow officials to explore replacing the siding on the exterior of the Center for All Seasons to avoid costs involved with restaining boards at various intervals. The article says a number of boards need to be replaced.

Voters also accepted a donation from Peter and Larry Mace of a 12-acre parcel adjacent to town land at the south end of Messalonskee Lake. Keschl said it is largely wetlands that are under conservation protection. He said it might be bundled with other land in the future and put into a conservation easement.

Residents also gave selectmen authority to spend up to $15,000 for designated projects without doing a “request for proposal” advertisement.

In the final article on Saturday, residents voted 67-6 to exceed by almost $13,000 the town’s $1.4 million property tax levy set by the Legislature under what is commonly known as L.D. 1.

In other voting results from Friday, Melanie Jewell was elected to serve the last year of of Rice’s three-year term on the Board of Selectpersons, 186-133, over Jordan Stolt. Jewell has served on the board before.

Rice had tendered his resignation with one year remaining in his term. He was recognized with a standing ovation at the start of Saturday’s meeting for his years of service to the town.

Incumbent Merckens was elected to a full three-year term on the board with 229 votes, and Kathi Wall won the other open three-year seat with 213 votes.

Incumbent Maurice Childs won re-election to a one-year term as road commissioner, garnering 230 votes; challenger Kevin Hawes got 102 votes.

Betty Adams — 621-5631


Twitter: @betadams

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/belgrade-to-get-full-time-librarian/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/816334_465607-20180317-belgrade-to.jpgMembers of the Belgrade Board of Selectpersons — from left, Chairman Gary Mahler, Michael Barret, Rick Damren, Ernst Merckens and Ernest Rice — and Budget Committee Chairman Howard Holinger listen as residents ask questions Saturday during Town Meeting at the Belgrade Center for All Seasons in Belgrade.Sat, 17 Mar 2018 20:07:27 +0000
Historic Maine wilderness inn destroyed by fire https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/historic-maine-wilderness-inn-destroyed-by-fire/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/historic-maine-wilderness-inn-destroyed-by-fire/#respond Sat, 17 Mar 2018 14:11:44 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/historic-maine-wilderness-inn-destroyed-by-fire/ The Chesuncook Lake House, a historic inn 50 miles north of Moosehead Lake, was destroyed by fire early Saturday.

The remote inn, built in 1864 in Chesuncook Village, originally supplied logging operations in northern Maine. Accessible only by snowmobile in the winter, it is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The owners, David and Louisa Surprenant, said in a Facebook post Saturday they are trying to make sense of the conflagration.

“We have suffered a tragedy overnight and the lake house had been claimed by fire. All of the family and employees escaped without harm,” they wrote. “Please refrain from riding up while we deal with this loss. The trail is the only way in and out for our equipment and family and we don’t want any other accidents on the trail.”

The Greenville Fire Department responded to the fire. Assistant Fire Chief Eric Nelson said he did not know where it started or what caused it.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating. Scott Richardson, a fire marshal investigator, said it would be several days before they will have any information about how the fire started.

Nelson said the inn was destroyed before firefighters were able to get to the scene. He said the fire started about 1:30 a.m. but it took the owners, whose cellphone service was cut off, about two hours to alert the fire department.

Nine firefighters set out on five snowmobiles, several of them loaned out by private citizens, hauling portable pumps and other equipment.

By the time they reached the inn at daybreak, the fire was over.

Nelson said the owners and their adult children were displaced by the fire. There was one guest who was not around when the fire broke out.

The inn was a popular stop-off spot for snowmobilers seeking food and gasoline.

A barn and three cabins on the property were undamaged, Nelson said.

He said the Surprenants planned to stay in the cabins. The couple also own the Abol Bridge Campground in Millinocket.

By midmorning Saturday, more than 250 people had written comments on the inn’s Facebook page.

The inn and several other buildings that make up Chesuncook Village were put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:


Twitter: bquimby

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/17/historic-maine-wilderness-inn-destroyed-by-fire/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/1349122_107676-29257653_16518268648.jpgOfficials look at the wreckage of the Chesuncook Lake House, which was destroyed by fire early Saturday.Sat, 17 Mar 2018 18:21:03 +0000
Truck laden with beer topples over on Trafton Road in Waterville https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/truck-laden-with-beer-topples-over-on-trafton-road-in-waterville/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/truck-laden-with-beer-topples-over-on-trafton-road-in-waterville/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 23:29:44 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/truck-laden-with-beer-topples-over-on-trafton-road-in-waterville/ A tractor-trailer heading toward Oakland hauling a cargo of beer hit a soft shoulder Friday on Trafton Road in Waterville and toppled over onto an adjacent field, drawing attention to the need to rebuild the road to state highway standards since the Interstate 95 interchange at exit 124 was completed last summer.

Sgt. Joshua Woods, of the Waterville Police Department, said it looked as though one of the truck’s tires hit the edge of the road. Woods noted that the road does not have a breakdown lane.

The Trafton Road interchange opened in July 2017. Since then, traffic on the road has increased, as the half-cloverleaf accommodates traffic going north or south and provides an alternative to the more congested Kennedy Memorial Drive.

The interchange was built with business development in mind and is the state’s first project under its Business Partnership Initiative, which gives road projects a higher priority if developers help pay for them. Funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Economic Development Administration, the city of Waterville and Trafton Properties, which kicked in $1.81 million plus engineering and other costs of the $5 million project, the interchange benefits Trafton Properties’ aspirations, specifically its buildings and acreage at the Trafton Road intersection with West River Road.

The state Department of Transportation plans to rebuild the road. The road’s current 10-foot-wide lanes will be widened to 11 feet with 4-foot paved shoulders, making the road 30 feet wide; and problems with the road’s width, its curves, its lack of shoulders and its sight distance are expected to be corrected.

Woods said a Waterville Fire Department rescue crew was sent to the scene of the accident to check on a Summit Natural Gas pipeline, which is not yet operational.

Workers spent the better part of the day transferring the first truck’s payload of beer to another truck.

Emily Higginbotham — 861-9239


Twitter: @EmilyHigg

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/truck-laden-with-beer-topples-over-on-trafton-road-in-waterville/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/816242_441067-20180316-beer-truck-.jpgCrews prepare to transfer a payload of beer from one tractor-trailer to another Friday after the first rolled over on Trafton Road in Waterville when it hit a soft shoulder.Fri, 16 Mar 2018 19:43:51 +0000
Industry, landowners oppose LePage bill to gut wind power permitting process https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/industry-landowners-oppose-lepage-bill-to-gut-wind-power-permitting-process/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/industry-landowners-oppose-lepage-bill-to-gut-wind-power-permitting-process/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 22:18:02 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/industry-landowners-oppose-lepage-bill-to-gut-wind-power-permitting-process/ AUGUSTA — Wind energy companies, construction firms and timberland owners urged lawmakers on Friday to reject a LePage administration proposal that would gut the state’s controversial “expedited permitting” process for wind power projects.

A longtime skeptic of the cost-competitiveness of wind power, Gov. Paul LePage imposed a moratorium on new turbine permits in January and wants to change the streamlined review process applied to most of the commercial wind energy projects in Maine. On Friday, LePage administration officials and others argued the decade-old process hinders public engagement and could harm the tourism economy of western Maine as wind energy companies seek to place taller and taller turbines on mountaintops.

“It’s time, folks, that we made this a little bit more difficult for this to happen,” said Sen. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville, whose district includes areas in the Moosehead Lake region that have been targeted for wind power development.

But LePage’s bill, which faces strong opposition from both environmentalists and industry, got a chilly reception from lawmakers on the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee. Opponents of the administration’s bill also substantially outnumbered supporters, warning that the measure seeks to roll back Maine’s green energy industry while infringing on the private property rights of landowners.

Worse still, opponents said, the bill would hamstring projects already in development while discouraging future investment and job creation in rural Maine.

“It would introduce a fair amount of uncertainty to the project and we don’t have a lot of confidence that we could complete the project with the adoption of the legislation,” said Paul Williamson with Apex Clean Energy, which is working on a $200 million project in Washington County called Downeast Wind. “Without being able to go through permitting, our investment of $200 million into the local economy will not happen.”

Passed by the Legislature in 2008, the “expedited permitting” law streamlined the permitting process for wind power projects in all of Maine’s organized towns and about one-third of the Unorganized Territory. Projects proposed for expedited permitting areas would no longer have to go through an often costly rezoning process. While projects were still subject to lengthy regulatory reviews through the Maine Department of Environmental Protection or the Land Use Planning Commission, the expedited process placed less weight to the turbines’ impacts on scenic views and featured fewer avenues for appeal.

Supporters argue the law provides the regulatory predictability that has led to more than 900 megawatts of installed wind energy in Maine, more than all other New England states combined. But the law’s critics contend the expedited permitting process robs property owners affected by the projects – and especially those in the Unorganized Territory – of a stronger voice in the regulatory review.

LePage’s bill, L.D. 1810, would eliminate the streamlined review process for all of Maine except in about a dozen towns, plantations and townships in Aroostook County. The proposal would also increase fivefold – from 8 miles to 40 miles – the area around turbines subject to visual impact studies within the remaining expedited wind permitting areas. That could make it harder for projects even within those areas to obtain permits.

While there are no wind projects currently in the permitting process, companies are developing projects throughout the state involving hundreds of turbines. And as turbine heights grow with technology improvements – with some now approaching 600 feet from base to blade tip – so do the concerns among some neighboring landowners.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Joel Stetkis, R-Canaan, said a North Carolina study suggested half of coastal-area tourists surveyed indicated they’d be less likely to return if wind turbines were visible on the horizon. Even assuming that figure might be 10 percent in Maine, that would still equate to “hundreds of millions of dollars – and thousands of jobs to the local economy – for a few temporary jobs when it comes to this industry.”

“The people that come to these regions come to these regions for the natural, pristine environment,” Stetkis said. “They’re not coming to look at 600-foot machines. They are interested in sitting around a campfire at night listening to the loons, not watching dozens or hundreds of blinking lights over the horizon.”

But Jeremy Payne, executive director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association, dismissed the governor’s bill as “a clear attempt to derail all of the economic and environmental progress that has been made over the last decade from wind farm development.” Payne said he was “puzzled by the administration’s newfound concern” for tourism in western Maine considering that the governor supports a proposed 145-mile power line from Quebec that would require construction of high-voltage lines through parts of western Maine.

Payne also blasted the 40-mile scenic impact proposal, much less the suggestion from Stetkis that the distance be further lengthened to 75 miles.

“Imagine if the city of Bangor passed an ordinance that attempted to regulate development 40 miles away in Skowhegan, Dover-Foxcroft, Ellsworth and Belfast. It’s important to remember that even at 8 miles, that’s quite a distance away from a proposed project. But extending it to 40 miles is absurd, and going beyond that is even more absurd.”

The Maine Renewable Energy Association as well as the Conservation Law Foundation have filed separate lawsuits against the LePage administration challenging the moratorium on new wind power permits.

Representatives from construction companies that help build wind turbines or their road networks, the Maine Forest Products Council and environmental groups also testified against L.D. 1810.

Duane Jordan of Osborn, who owns roughly 15,000 acres in Hancock County, said he and neighboring landowners invited wind power developers to their properties a decade ago to test wind level as a way to diversify their businesses. Disputing suggestions that the expedited process leads to speedy regulatory approvals, Jordan said it was four years before the first phase of the project was built and, 10 years later, there are still only 36 turbines spinning in his area despite the desire for more.

Jordan said those turbines are visible from atop Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park on a clear day, yet he doesn’t believe they discourage any visitors from returning to the park.

“The wind farm has been there since 2012 and I think you will find that Acadia National Park is doing very well and tourism is growing,” Jordan said.

The committee is expected to hold a work session on L.D. 1810 next week.

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 791-6312 or at:


Twitter: KevinMillerPPH

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/industry-landowners-oppose-lepage-bill-to-gut-wind-power-permitting-process/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/1323140_282278_20150514_windmills_5.jpgThree wind turbines owned by Patriot Renewables are seen along Saddleback Ridge in western Maine in 2015. Gov. Paul LePage has imposed a moratorium on wind energy permits for western and coastal Maine and created a panel to investigate wind farms' impact on tourism in the state. (Staff photo by Gabe Souza)Sat, 17 Mar 2018 13:50:41 +0000
Judge allows Eastport man in manslaughter case to go outside Riverview https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/eastport-man-convicted-of-manslaughter-allowed-by-judge-to-go-outside-riverview-psychiatric-center/ Fri, 16 Mar 2018 21:42:54 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/eastport-man-convicted-of-manslaughter-allowed-by-judge-to-go-outside-riverview-psychiatric-center/ AUGUSTA — An Eastport man found not criminally responsible last June for manslaughter won a judge’s approval Friday to be out of Riverview Psychiatric Center and in the community for up to six hours, as long as he has one-to-one supervision by a Riverview worker.

Hazen McDugald, 41, sat quietly with his attorney as both his treating psychiatrist and a psychologist with the State Forensic Service agreed that being off hospital grounds would be therapeutic for him.

At the conclusion of the hearing Friday in the Capital Judicial Center, Justice Joyce Wheeler said she concluded that granting the petition for modified release for McDugald “can be undertaken without risk to community.”

She also addressed McDugald directly, warning him that the privilege can be revoked if anything goes wrong and that the court, the prosecutor’s office and others are notified within 48 hours if any violations occur.

Wheeler said McDugald seemed to be particularly attentive to what was happening during the hearing.

“I’m assuming you get it,” she said.

“Yep,” McDugald said from his seat.

He did not testify. Generally those seeking changes do not testify at hearings on petitions for changes in the conditions under which they are held. This is the first time he has petitioned the court for such changes. Those found not criminally responsible for offenses are permitted to file petitions for changes at six-month intervals.

McDugald was found not criminally responsible for both manslaughter in the September 2015 death of Maurice Harris, 75, in Eastport and for aggravated assault in a February 2016 attack on a corrections officer at the Washington County jail.

He was committed to the custody of the commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services and placed at Riverview for treatment.

Dr. Mary Tibbetts, a staff psychiatrist at Riverview, testified Friday that McDugald was one of the 12 patients she manages and that she encounters him almost daily as well as meeting with him weekly.

In response to questions by McDugald’s attorney, Harold Hainke, Tibbetts said McDugald’s current diagnosis is “a major depressive disorder with psychotic features” and possible schizoaffective disorder.

“It’s a very interesting and tragic case,” Tibbetts said, noting that McDugald had a good upbringing and worked all his life. She said problems developed after a 1,200-pound block was dropped on him accidentally by the owner of a fishing boat he was working on, and that over the next 10 years he abused substances, largely opiates.

She said he had spent two weeks in a cold-turkey detoxification program in 2015, and then five months later attacked his father because he feared his father was plotting against him.

McDugald was found guilty in that incident and spent 55 days in jail but did not receive mental health treatment, she said.

Tibbetts said she had adjusted McDugald’s medication regimen recently because she felt his depression was “undertreated” and that she has seen improvement. She also said she has not seen any psychotic symptoms.

Tibbetts told the judge, “We would incrementalize his privileges. We would start low and go slow.”

Nadir Behrem, a psychologist with the State Forensic Service, which evaluates patients for the court, testified that McDugal had the “delusional belief that he had to kill victims under orders of the intelligence community or be killed himself.”

Behrem said that with the supervision recommended, “being able to be in community is a good step” for McDugald and would “put him on path to becoming more independent in the future.”

Wheeler said, “I think it sounds like he’s made a lot of progress” and complimented Tibbetts for her treatment of McDugald and for making the medication adjustments to support his going out in the community with eyes-on supervision.

Assistant Attorney General Laura Yustak questioned the witnesses on behalf of the state and told Wheeler that the testimony provides additional basis for the court’s decision.

Wheeler also had an institutional report prepared by McDugald’s treatment team and the Behrem’s report. Both documents remain under seal.

Betty Adams — 621-5631


Twitter: @betadams

https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2016/12/1099551_262854-Riverview.jpg$ID/NormalParagraphStyle:MENTAL HEALTH: xxx saf xxx safl;kj asdfl sadflj asdflk;j asfdljk asfdjk safdlfwvw asfdljk;dljksdf dsfe.Fri, 16 Mar 2018 21:07:52 +0000
Vehicle hits utility pole, causing outages in Waterville https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/vehicle-collides-with-utility-pole-causing-outages-in-waterville/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/vehicle-collides-with-utility-pole-causing-outages-in-waterville/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 21:41:12 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/vehicle-collides-with-utility-pole-causing-outages-in-waterville/ WATERVILLE — A driver involved in a crash Friday morning on College Avenue told police that the sun blinded him, causing his vehicle to veer off the side of the road and strike a utility pole.

Waterville rescue and Delta ambulance were sent to the scene to assist the driver, 20, and passenger, who both suffered minor injuries in the accident. They were taken to MaineGeneral Medical Center’s Thayer Center for Health, according to Sgt. Joshua Woods, of the Waterville Police Department.

Woods did not give the names of the parties involved, saying he did not know whether their names could be released.

No charges are pending, Woods said.

Willis Bubar, who lives on College Avenue, said he and his wife heard a “great, big bang” Friday morning and lost power shortly afterward.

Bubar said when he looked down from his third-floor apartment, he saw the crash that caused the loud sound. The utility pole had been snapped at the bottom, he said.

Workers from Central Maine Power Co. began work on the pole in the morning and were still at the scene around noon, according to Bubar, who still did not have power then.

A representative from CMP could not be reached Friday afternoon to say how many customers were affected and for how long they were without power.

Emily Higginbotham — 861-9239


Twitter: @EmilyHigg

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/vehicle-collides-with-utility-pole-causing-outages-in-waterville/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/01/cop-clip-41-2.jpgpolice for featured imageFri, 16 Mar 2018 19:04:15 +0000
Money pours in to local Democratic committee after Republican insults Parkland students https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/money-pours-in-to-local-democratic-committee-after-republican-insults-parkland-students/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/money-pours-in-to-local-democratic-committee-after-republican-insults-parkland-students/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 21:30:49 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/money-pours-in-to-local-democratic-committee-after-republican-insults-parkland-students/ The emergence of a Democratic candidate for House District 57 in Androscoggin County has been a fundraising boon to a local party committee, but it’s not clear yet how or if that money could help the candidate.

The Lewiston Democratic Committee this week launched a fundraising page on the national website ActBlue. The page was set up to oppose the candidacy of the Republican candidate, Leslie Gibson, who posted offensive statements about the survivors of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting on social media.

Gibson withdrew his candidacy on Friday, after a firestorm of criticism about his statements.

The comments made by Gibson, which included referring to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez as a “skinhead lesbian,” have made national news and been widely condemned.

Gibson also called her classmate David Hogg a “bald-faced liar” and a “moron.” Hogg responded by pleading on social media for someone to enter the race and challenge Gibson.

When Eryn Gilchrist, a 28-year-old Democrat, said she would, interest in defeating Gibson grew. As of Friday afternoon, the fundraising page had raised more than $130,000.

Kiernan Majerus-Collins, who chairs the Lewiston Democrats and started the page, said donations started to pick up dramatically after Gilchrist announced that she would challenge Gibson, who had been running unopposed.

“I’m absolute stunned by the response,” Majerus-Collins, a student at Bates College in Lewiston, said Friday.

The money will not go directly to Gilchrist’s campaign because she is running as a Clean Election candidate. Under state law, that means she must gather at least 60 qualifying contributions of $5 to qualify for the ballot. It also allows her to collect up to $1,000 in seed money. The rest of her campaign expenses will be publicly funded.

Majerus-Collins said he doesn’t know how the sudden influx of money, which has come from all over the country, will be used.

“There are strict rules when it comes to campaign funding and it will be important for us to maintain a strict ethical firewall,” he said.

Even if Gilchrist isn’t helped directly by the money, it helps her party.

Gilchrist, a Connecticut native and 2013 graduate of Bates College, didn’t expect to launch a candidacy, but Gibson’s comments left her “horrified and embarrassed” at the thought of him representing her district, which includes the mostly rural towns of Sabattus and Greene and is reliably conservative.

In addition to Gilchrist, another Republican entered the race this week to challenge Gibson in the primary.

Thomas Martin, a former state senator, said he felt compelled to run to restore civility to the race.

Some individual Republicans have denounced Gibson’s comments, but the Maine Republican Party has been silent. Others, including Lewiston Mayor Shane Bouchard, have stood by Gibson, who is a member of the Androscoggin County Republicans.

Gibson, a Navy veteran, has since scrubbed his social media pages of controversial comments.

He also apologized to Gonzalez on Twitter.

“Emma, my name is Les Gibson from Maine. I would like to extend to you my most sincere apology for how I addressed you,” Gibson wrote. “It was wrong and unacceptable.”

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:


Twitter: PPHEricRussell

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Waterville woman’s lawsuit against T-Mobile, linked to #MeToo movement, heads to trial https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/waterville-womans-lawsuit-against-t-mobile-linked-to-metoo-movement-heads-to-trial/ Fri, 16 Mar 2018 21:29:06 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/waterville-womans-lawsuit-against-t-mobile-linked-to-metoo-movement-heads-to-trial/ A Waterville woman’s allegation of unlawful sexual harassment by a supervisor from a T-Mobile call center in Oakland is on track to go to trial in federal court.

Angela Agganis had filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Maine in October 2015, shortly after holding a news conference outside the Oakland call center, where she had worked for eight years, to complain about working conditions and other practices.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge D. Brock Hornby ruled that the case can continue to trial on the claim that Agganis was subject to a hostile work environment when she was repeatedly sexually harassed by Gary Rochon, who became her coach at T-Mobile in March 2014.

The complaint says “Rochon began to sexually harass her, including, inter alia, repeated and unwanted physical contact with Agganis on at least three occasions, unwanted staring at Agganis in a sexual manner, and offering Agganis a ride home on the first day she began working for him in direct violation of T-Mobile USA’s no fraternization policy.”

One of Agganis’s attorneys, Valerie Z. Wicks, said in a prepared statement sent out Friday that “this decision is important because it reemphasizes that it’s not enough for an employer to simply have a sexual harassment policy, it must have an effective one. A policy is not effective if women are subjected to sex-based slurs, unwanted massages, and leering in the workplace.”

The statement was accompanied by the hashtag #MeToo Sexual Harassment, a reference to the movement in which a number of women have reported being sexually harassed and assaulted in the workplace. Those reports have led to scores of resignations by influential men and to loss of contracts — and to some apologies.

Wicks said Friday afternoon that while the lawsuit predates the #MeToo movement, “This was a case where Ms. Agganis was not the only customer service representative in the Oakland call center who received this type of treatment from this supervisor,” Wicks said on Friday afternoon. “Another woman had come forward previously and others came forward later.”

Agganis had worked for T-Mobile USA, Inc. for eight years prior until quitting in August 2014.

Agganis said she complained about sexual harassment, including inappropriate touching, to Karen Estes, T-Mobile’s human resources manager, and quit immediately after signing a confidentiality agreement prohibiting her from discussing the investigation with anyone. The company’s confidentiality rules were later changed.

Agganis then went public with her case. She also enlisted aid from labor unions, including the Communications Workers of America, and appeared in a video for that labor union, talking about her treatment at T-Mobile.

In his decision following March 7, 2018, oral arguments, Hornby wrote, “The parties hotly contest whether this former employee was sexually harassed at all and if so whether that harassment was objectively offensive and severe or pervasive. Crediting the plaintiff’s version of events where supported by the record as I must at summary judgment . . . I conclude that she has raised triable issues of fact on sexual harassment sufficient to go to a jury.”

The judge also made several other rulings in the case, saying that Agganis cannot recover back pay because she was not compelled to resign.

He also wrote, “I conclude that there is a jury issue on whether the defendant exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct promptly any sexually harassing behavior. A few months before (Agganis) made her complaint about the coach, his conduct had already come to HR’s attention. It was reported that the coach made two suggestive comments to a different customer service representative about her attire that made her uncomfortable. That CSR reported at least one of the comments to a manager, who informed HR.”

Later, Hornby noted, the coach was “counseled” about sending a sexually suggestive cartoon to his team, a violation of the sexual harassment policy.

“A reasonable jury could conclude that the failure ever to address the clothing incident showed that the employer’s implementation of its policy was inadequate,” Hornby said.

According to the complaint, Rochon had been accused of sexual harassment at previous workplaces, and in June 1996, he had surrendered his medical license in Wisconsin after one of his patients said he had sex with her. In a videotaped deposition taken in the offices of Agganis’s attorneys in September 2016, Rochon denies sexually harassing Agganis and says he occasionally gave representatives on his team “a squeeze” or touch on a shoulder to indicate “good job” or touched their hand to redirect a computer mouse.

Wicks, one of Agganis’s attorneys, said that Ms. Agganis has held other jobs since working for T-Mobile, and that she would be unavailable for comment. The case is currently listed for May 7 jury selection in U.S. District Court in Portland.

In the same release, Agganis is quoted as saying, “No working woman should have to endure sexual harassment on the job. And no woman should be denied the right to speak to others about what occurred. I hope this suit will ensure that women working

at T-Mobile are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve and encourage women everywhere to come forward and put an end to intolerable working conditions.”

Rochon was never a defendant in the case. “He left the company some time after Ms. Agganis’s complaint, but he was not fired as result of it,” Wicks said.

Richard Moon, the lead attorney representing T-Mobile, did not return a request for comment sent Friday afternoon via another attorney at the Verrill Dana law firm in Portland.

Betty Adams — 621-5631


Twitter: @betadams

https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/816090_614149_2015_1006_tmobile_1.jpgFormer T-Mobile employee Angela Agganis speaks at a press conference Oct. 6, 2015, outside the Oakland call center about her treatment following her complaint of sexual harassment against a supervisor. She is surrounded by Communications Workers of America and her attorney.Fri, 16 Mar 2018 17:43:00 +0000
Maine House candidate who attacked 2 survivors of Florida shooting drops out of race https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/house-candidate-who-insulted-florida-teens-drops-out-of-race/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/house-candidate-who-insulted-florida-teens-drops-out-of-race/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 21:28:24 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/house-candidate-who-insulted-florida-teens-drops-out-of-race/ SABATTUS — Controversial Republican candidate Leslie Gibson, who drew fire for insulting several teen survivors of the Florida school shooting, is abandoning his effort to win a state House seat this year.

“I am not walking away with my head hung low. I am walking away with my head held high,” Gibson said Friday.

Gibson said he made the decision after talking with his family, praying and discussing it with friends and colleagues, including Thomas Martin Jr., another Republican contender who entered the 57th District race Thursday.

“It’s the best thing for everybody,” Gibson said.

Gibson has been under fire this week for comments he made online about the teens in Florida who survived a school shooting in Parkland, Florida. He criticized two of them who were leading an effort to increase restrictions on gun sales in the wake of the Feb. 14 killings, calling one a “skinhead lesbian,” and another a “bald-faced liar.”

The 18-year-old student whom Gibson singled out, Emma Gonzalez, is among the students speaking out from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In the wake of the Feb. 14 massacre there that left 17 of her classmates dead, she emerged as a leader in students’ fight to make assault rifles harder to come by.

“There is nothing about this skinhead lesbian that impresses me and there is nothing that she has to say unless you’re a frothing at the mouth moonbat,” Gibson wrote.

Gibson said in another tweet that calling her a survivor, as many have done, is disingenuous because she “was in a completely different part of the school” when students were gunned down.

Gibson apologized in a later tweet, saying, “I would like to extend to you my most sincere apology for how I addressed you. It was wrong and unacceptable. You are doing work that is important to you. I would like to extend my hand in friendship and understanding to you.”

Gibson said that during his career in the military, he took an oath “to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

“Because of this,” he said, “I am very passionate about protecting our constitutional rights from those who seek their elimination. It was not appropriate to single out the Parkland students, but I stand firm in my defense of our constitutional rights.”

David Hogg, the other teen Gibson insulted, tweeted on Wednesday, urging someone to run against Gibson.

“Who wants to run against this hate-loving politician?” asked Hogg, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “I don’t care what party. JUST DO IT.”

Hogg has been an outspoken advocate for taking on the National Rifle Association.

The incident that apparently set off Gibson was an appearance by Hogg on CNN in which the Parkland student lashed out at NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch. He accused her of working with gun manufacturers to control Congress.

“She owns these congressmen. She can get them to do things,” Hogg told the network. “She doesn’t care about these children’s lives,” he said.

Gibson, who retired from the U.S. Navy, for years has used social media to comment on immigration, defend conservative politicians and promote Republican policies. He has a history of retweeting stridently anti-immigrant comments, often from accounts in Maine.

Last month, he explained on Facebook after “the tragedy that occurred in Florida” that there has been “a lot of misinformation, and flat out lies” circulated by “the liberal media and leftist anti-Second Amendment groups.”

As a lifetime member of the NRA, he said, he stands with the group’s efforts “to protect and preserve our Second Amendment rights,” which he said are “under attack.”

“The NRA and its members are being blamed for the Florida tragedy,” Gibson wrote. “Such blame is patently misdirected. The blame rests solely with the person who committed these murders.”

He made his social media accounts private after the uproar over his insults aimed at the teens.

Gibson had been cruising toward an unopposed election in the district, which includes Sabattus and Greene. But his comments stirred both Martin and Democrat Eryn Gilchrist to join the contest.

Gilchrist filed the required paperwork on Thursday to run for the 57th District seat.

She said she never anticipated running for office but felt so “horrified and embarrassed” at the thought of Gibson representing her that she decided to jump in.

“I would really have been happy to partake in representative democracy by voting,” Gilchrist said.

Gilchrist, 28, a Connecticut native who works for a medical device company based in Bowdoin, is a 2013 graduate of Bates College.

Martin said on Thursday he felt compelled to run after he read Gibson’s strident comments about the two Florida students.

Martin, a former state senator from Benton, said it is important to have a candidate who represents real Republican values.

“After those recent unfortunate comments, I couldn’t sit back,” Martin said.

Martin, a 52-year-old contractor, said that people have to realize “that our words and actions have consequences.”

Gibson said he hopes his departure from the race will bring things back to normal.

He said he’s going to try to “get some peace and quiet in our lives” after the turmoil of recent days.


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North Anson woman injured in rollover on Route 27 in New Vineyard https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/north-anson-woman-injured-in-rollover-on-route-27-in-new-vineyard/ Fri, 16 Mar 2018 21:23:50 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/north-anson-woman-injured-in-rollover-on-route-27-in-new-vineyard/ NEW VINEYARD — A North Anson woman suffered minor injuries Friday morning when the car she was driving south on Route 27 drifted off the road and rolled over near Ramsdell Road, Sheriff Scott Nichols Sr. said.

Franklin County Detective Kenneth Charles broke the rear window of the car, which had rolled onto its roof, to get driver Brenda Bryson, 62, of North Anson, out of it.

NorthStar EMS personnel walked Bryson to a nearby ambulance.

The driver suffered “minor injuries” but still was taken by ambulance to Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, Nichols said..

Deputy Keith Madore said that “alcohol consumption/intoxication was a factor for the crash,” Nichols said.

The case is still under investigation and charges are pending against the driver, he said.

According to a dispatcher, the accident was reported at 10:38 a.m.

Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Steve Lowell; Lt. David St. Laurent; Deputy Brad Scovil; Maine State Police Sgt. Jeff Mills, of the Commercial Enforcement Unit; and Trooper Jed Malcore responded to a report of the accident, along with the Farmington and New Vineyard fire departments.

https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/816084_353416-New-Vineyard-crash-0.jpgBrenda Bryson, 62, of North Anson, suffered minor injuries Friday morning when the car she was driving south on Route 27 drifted off the road in New Vineyard and rolled over, Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols Sr. said. Deputy Keith Madore said that "alcohol consumption/intoxication" was a factor in the crash, according to Nichols.Fri, 16 Mar 2018 17:46:27 +0000
Federal judge upholds dermatologist’s conviction https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/federal-judge-upholds-south-portland-dermatologists-conviction/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/federal-judge-upholds-south-portland-dermatologists-conviction/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 21:00:47 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/federal-judge-upholds-south-portland-dermatologists-conviction/ In a starkly worded opinion, a federal appeals court Friday rejected the appeal of a once-prominent South Portland dermatologist on charges of tax evasion, writing illegal prescriptions and health care fraud.

Joel Sabean was convicted in November 2016 in U.S. District Court in Portland after a lurid trial that included accusations of years of sexual abuse of a family member. Prosecutors said that Sabean sent the woman more than $2.3 million over five years, in part to keep her quiet about the sexual abuse and to ensure that the woman would continue sending Sabean explicit emails and pictures.

“This case, which reads like an anthology of pain, pathos, and personal degradation, paints a grim picture of the human condition,” Justice Bruce Selya of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in the 3-0 decision. But he went on to say the conviction was upheld because the record of the trial was “conspicuously free from prejudicial error.”

Sabean was sentenced to two years in prison, which was below federal sentencing guidelines. The judge indicated that he took into account physical and mental health problems of Sabean, 71, and the fact that his wife has been bed-ridden for years.

Sabean and the family member claimed that the millions he sent the woman were for medical expenses, which Sabean deducted from his taxes. He is also accused of writing dozens of prescriptions for the woman, who was not his patient, and health care fraud for making out some of the prescriptions in Sabean’s wife’s name, even though they were dispensed to the woman in Florida, with insurance picking up part of the cost.

The woman and Sabean claimed that he sent her the money to pay for her treatment for cancer, amputated limbs, “temporary brain death” and other ailments, but the woman actually spent the money on drugs and gambling.

Sabean’s lawyers appealed his conviction, saying the introduction of the sexual abuse allegations prejudiced the jury and should not have been allowed in a case that was primarily financial at its core. They also said an audiotape of the woman’s testimony in an unrelated Florida case should not have been excluded because it showed her penchant for lying. But the appeals court rejected those arguments and others.

“The grim picture, fully developed, reveals that the defendant was fairly tried and lawfully convicted,” Selya’s opinion concluded.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:


https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/federal-judge-upholds-south-portland-dermatologists-conviction/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2017/04/1187202_481315-20161118SabeanVerdic.jpgDr. Joel SabeanFri, 16 Mar 2018 21:04:21 +0000
Hallowell police still searching for truck driver who plowed into light pole, broke window https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/hallowell-police-still-searching-for-truck-driver-who-plowed-into-light-broke-window/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/hallowell-police-still-searching-for-truck-driver-who-plowed-into-light-broke-window/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 20:20:17 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/hallowell-police-still-searching-for-truck-driver-who-plowed-into-light-broke-window/ HALLOWELL — Police on Friday were trying to determine the identity of the driver and owner of a tractor-trailer that came down steep Winthrop Street, blew through its intersection with Water Street without stopping and crashed into a snowbank, knocking a street lamp into a storefront window and breaking both.

Security video footage shows the truck, just after 5 a.m. Thursday, barreling into the intersection at the bottom of the Winthrop Street hill without stopping, turning to the right but appearing to not be able to make the turn. The truck then slid and came to an abrupt halt, apparently striking a snowbank on the river side of Water Street, causing the truck’s trailer to tip up and teeter before its wheels came back to rest on the snow-covered Water Street.

Police Chief Eric Nason said the incident probably caused $6,000 to $7,000 worth of damage to city and private property, between the lamppost and large broken window, and another $3,000 or so in damage to the truck itself.

The truck, after the incident, backed up and drove off to the south on Water Street, the video shows.

Nason said Friday that police have not been able to identify either the truck’s driver or its owner, though they are seeking to do so.

He said the truck is a tractor-trailer with a gray cab and a white box, and the truck would have damage to its front end, including pieces missing from the driver’s corner of the rig.

Nason said the driver could face charges of leaving the scene of an accident and, potentially, violating a city ordinance that bans trucks heavier than 16 tons from most of Winthrop Street, unless they are an emergency vehicles such as a firetruck, or are making a local delivery.

The city ordinance prohibits trucks of more than 16 tons of gross weight, and all trailer trucks, unless they are making local deliveries or are of local origin, “from Winthrop Street westerly from Middle Street to the Whitten Road.” The Water Street intersection is east of Middle Street, but the truck might have come from west of that intersection, in violation of city ordinance. Fines for violating the ordinance range from $100 for trucks of less than 25 tons up to $1,000 for trucks over 40 tons.

Nason said the incident, in which the truck hit no people or other vehicles, could have been worse and could had posed a greater risk of injury if it had occurred later in the day, when there would be more pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

“Given the time it occurred, there were not yet a lot of pedestrians around, though traffic was picking up about that time,” Nason said Friday. “The timing of it was something beneficial to us, as far as not having any type of injuries.”

Some nearby residents initially thought the truck had struck the Water Street building across the street from the intersection. Instead, according to the building’s owner, Terry Berry, the truck hit a snowbank, causing a chain reaction in which a city street lamp was knocked over, into the window of a vacant storefront there, breaking the street lamp and the window.

The building, with street addresses of 104, 106 and 108 Water St., contains apartments, Berry’s real estate business, and the Easy Street Lounge.

It’s not the first time a vehicle has come down the steep incline of Winthrop Street and been unable to stop at the intersection. In 2003 a truck carrying water lost control and ended up in the basement of the same building. And in the late 1980s, another large truck crashed into the building just north of Berry’s, ending up on its ground floor for several months before it was removed. And, in 2012, a pickup truck lost control coming down the hill, went through the intersection and into a parked car, injuring two occupants of the truck.

Nate Rudy, city manager, said at the request of city officials the state Department of Transportation has agreed to install bollards, short sturdy posts meant to deflect traffic, at the intersection below Winthrop Street, as part of the upcoming reconstruction of Water Street through the downtown area.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647


Twitter: @kedwardskj

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/hallowell-police-still-searching-for-truck-driver-who-plowed-into-light-broke-window/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/816043_897405-20180315_TRUCKvBUI6.jpgTodd Talon, left, of the Hallowell Public Works Department, scrapes snow away from the base of a broken light pole as Dick McGibney, of Dick's Electrical Service, prepares to wrap up wires Thursday. They were cleaning up after a tractor-trailer truck hit the streetlight and broke a window at 108 Water St. in downtown Hallowell.Fri, 16 Mar 2018 16:50:02 +0000
Police investigate shots fired into homes in Knox County https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/police-investigate-shots-fired-into-homes-in-knox-county/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/police-investigate-shots-fired-into-homes-in-knox-county/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 20:18:49 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/police-investigate-shots-fired-into-homes-in-knox-county/ FRIENDSHIP — The Knox County Sheriff’s Office is investigating reports of shots being fired into homes in Cushing and Friendship.

The reports came in early Friday morning.

“We are asking everyone, regardless of town, to be alert to unusual happenings and report things that are unusual,” Patrol Administrator Patrick Polky said in a statement.

“Please ensure you lock your vehicles when unattended and to lock your homes when unattended or sleeping,” the statement said.

Anyone with information about the shots fired is encouraged to contact Detective Donald Murray at 594-0429, extension 723.

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PUC to decide next week whether to expand its review of CMP billing https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/puc-to-decide-next-week-whether-to-expand-its-review-of-cmp-billing/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/puc-to-decide-next-week-whether-to-expand-its-review-of-cmp-billing/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 18:55:12 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/puc-to-decide-next-week-whether-to-expand-its-review-of-cmp-billing/ After receiving hundreds of consumer complaints over unexpectedly high bills, the Maine Public Utilities Commission will decide next week whether to open a full investigation of Central Maine Power Co.’s billing, metering and customer service operations.

The PUC is in the midst of a preliminary inquiry that could lead to a full investigation, called a management audit. It will meet on Tuesday to decide whether to pursue the management audit.

Harry Lanphear, spokesman for the PUC, said the commission has gotten more than 1,000 complaints over bills.

“That’s a very large number of complaints,” Lanphear said, and while some were resolved, there are still hundreds of open complaints on bills for which consumers feel there’s been no adequate explanation.

Complaints over bills spiked in December and January. The standard offer – which is the per kilowatt-hour price that most customers pay – increased late last year, and a sharp cold snap over the holidays caused electricity use to jump, but many customers said their bills increased beyond what could be explained by those factors.

Late last month, the PUC said it had decided to start an inquiry and it has filed a data request with CMP for information on about two dozen aspects of its electricity delivery operation, including usage, billing and the company’s new billing system, which was installed last year.

Lanphear said that if the PUC approves the management audit, the commission will likely hire a consultant or consultants with expertise in billing and use issues as well as how customer service operations handle complaints and questions.

The hiring process should take about two to three months and, once the consultant or consultants are hired, the management audit will begin. Lanphear said he couldn’t offer any estimate of how long the review might take.


It could not be determined Friday night what range of remedies the PUC could order if it determines that CMP customers were billed incorrectly. But recent history may offer an indication. Following complaints from Emera Maine customers in 2016, the PUC initiated a management audit that identified shortcomings in the handling of customer service functions and the implementation of a new billing system. The PUC ended up reducing the company’s request for a rate increase, from 8.3 percent to 3.75 percent.

In the CMP situation, some customers said their electricity bills more than doubled from the same month a year before. Patti Kelley-Clark of Camden said her bill jumped that much even though the only major change she made was the installation of a new, more efficient water heater. Attempts to figure out with CMP customer service workers why the large increase occurred left her confused and still unsure of why the bill went up so much, she said.

However, Gail Rice, a spokeswoman for CMP, said last month that the company spent a lot of time trying to figure out and explain the situation to customers and, in most cases, the standard offer price hike and cold snap were to blame.


Lanphear said that while the number of complaints the PUC has fielded in this case is large, it’s not unusual for regulators to do a management audit of a utility’s operations. He pointed to the PUC management audit of Emera Maine, which provides electric service to northern and eastern Maine, two years ago when questions were raised about its customer service operations, how it responded to power outages and other issues.

Overseeing the operation of the utilities is part of the PUC’s job, he said.

The PUC is also reviewing how the two utilities responded to an October windstorm that left nearly a half-million customers without power. CMP has said that the storm caused $69 million in damage and it wants customers to foot the bill for about $13 million under a 2014 agreement.

Staff Writer Bob Keyes contributed to this report.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:


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Watch the video: Blogger says LePage shoved her; he says she was chewing in his face https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/video-blogger-says-lepage-shoved-her-he-says-she-was-chewing-in-his-face/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/video-blogger-says-lepage-shoved-her-he-says-she-was-chewing-in-his-face/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 17:10:51 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/video-blogger-says-lepage-shoved-her-he-says-she-was-chewing-in-his-face/ Maine Gov. Paul LePage had an interesting interaction with a blogger outside his office Thursday.

And there’s video.

A 20-second clip posted on Facebook by WMTW-TV reporter Jim Keithley shows LePage speaking to a group of media members. In the front is Carol McCracken of Portland, who writes a blog called Munjoy Hill News.

McCracken points a small camera at the governor from a few feet away. As she films, she chews with her mouth open, and it’s full of food.

“Do you mind? Do you mind moving, please?” LePage says. He then takes both hands and gently pushes McCracken back.

She replies, “Don’t push me, please.”

LePage then says, “You’re eating in my face,” and wipes his cheek before turning and walking away.

“You’re the rude one, not me,” McCracken said.

LePage then continues to walk away, out of the State House.

“Eat your lunch,” he says over his shoulder.

Asked to comment Friday about the interaction, LePage’s spokeswoman, Julie Rabinowitz, said McCracken “very aggressively pushed her way into the Governor’s personal space, took several flash photos just inches from his eyes.”

“She was taking advantage of the buffet in the Hall of Flags, which was intended for legislators, and was chewing with an open mouth. Chicken salad flew from her mouth, spraying the Governor with bits of food,” Rabinowitz wrote in an email. “After she bombarded the Governor with flying bits of her sandwich, she spoke very rudely and aggressively to his staff. So a security officer came to talk to her, and she was still eating the sandwich, and food from her mouth flew onto the officer as well.

“It was an awkward and uncomfortable position for the Governor to be in while he was giving an on-camera interview with reporters. No harm was intended.”

Reporters were waiting outside the governor’s office to ask him about a decision by a Superior Court judge that LePage was wrong to close a prison in Washington County.

McCracken wrote about the encounter on her blog and characterized LePage’s actions as a “shove” that caused her to lose her balance. Other reporters who were there disputed that characterization.

She also referred to herself as “just an easy target for this bully.”

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:


Twitter: PPHEricRussell

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Winthrop superintendent to resign; MEA official releases memo detailing complaints https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/embattled-superintendent-resigning-from-winthrop-school-department/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/embattled-superintendent-resigning-from-winthrop-school-department/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 16:38:25 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/embattled-superintendent-resigning-from-winthrop-school-department/ The embattled superintendent of the Winthrop School Department announced Friday that he will resign at the end of the school year, but one town official accused Gary Rosenthal of making his announcement to avert a vote of no-confidence that school employees were planning to hold later in the day.

In an interview, Rosenthal denied that he knew the vote of no-confidence was coming on Friday and said he’s “been looking at this for a while.”

In his letter to staff, Rosenthal said he is stepping down on June 30 “due to irreconcilable differences with members of the administration.” He has been superintendent since 2011.

Over the last year-and-a-half, Rosenthal has come under fire from town officials who have disagreed with him about school funding and the origin of a financial error that led to a large deficit in the school budget. Last year, the Town Council held a vote of no-confidence in him.

But in recent months, employees of the department that Rosenthal oversees also have started to sound the alarm. Their latest effort came Friday afternoon, when they too held an overwhelming vote of no-confidence in him.

Of the 135 employees who participated in the vote, 125 responded that they had no-confidence in Rosenthal, according to Joan Morin, a regional director for the Maine Education Association, which is the state’s largest teacher’s union. Just five said they have confidence in the superintendent, while the remaining five abstained from casting ballots.

Principals and other staff of the Winthrop School Department have declined to speak with the Kennebec Journal about their specific concerns, instead referring questions to Morin.

Morin, meanwhile, says that those employees don’t want to speak publicly because they fear retaliation from the School Department. She has been collecting individual complaints about the superintendent — more than 45 have come in, she says — and pressuring the School Board to take action on behalf of the rank-and-file employees.

Just a day before the school employees held their vote of no-confidence, Morin sent a memo to the employees that mentions some of the complaints she’s received.

That memo — a copy of which was obtained by the Kennebec Journal — includes allegations that Rosenthal has made inappropriate comments about the ethnicity and sexual orientation of staff, and the burden pregnant employees place on the School Department.

It also references a March 2017 test of the water in Winthrop Middle School that came back showing elevated lead levels in two faucets, and accuses Rosenthal of misleading the School Board when he told them the water had passed its tests.

Both Morin and Sarah Fuller, chairwoman of the Winthrop Town Council, said on Friday that they’re still concerned Rosenthal will remain in his position until the end of year, given the number and nature of complaints that have been made about him.

They also questioned why he made his announcement before the vote of no-confidence on Friday. And they criticized the School Board, which has continued to support Rosenthal and recently extended his contract. Fuller also questioned why past allegations against Rosenthal didn’t raise concern when he was applying for his job.

In the early 2000s, Rosenthal worked as a principal for the Dorchester County Public School System in Maryland. But in 2003, the department didn’t renew his contract after an administrator raised several areas of concern, according to records from the Maryland State Board of Education.

The document includes allegations that Rosenthal “emailed a joke that had racist overtones” and “charged inappropriate mileage and Internet expenses.”

Fuller sees echoes of those comments in the recent memo from Morin.

“With the vote (of no-confidence) and the documentation of the complaints, it’s unconscionable to keep someone who’s creating such a hostile work environment until June 30,” Fuller said. “This has obviously been going on a long time and the Board of Education has been a bit tone deaf to it, which is a bit disturbing. But with evidence, I would hope they take immediate action to protect teachers and staff, who they are ultimately responsible to. … Our teachers and students and our families deserve better.”

Members of the Winthrop School Board and an attorney for the School Department didn’t respond to requests for comment on Friday or an emailed list of questions.

But the School Board has remained supportive of the superintendent, suggesting that he helped the district finish many budget years with a surplus and see improvements in its academics. The district’s test scores have been among the best in the region.

Interviewed late on Friday afternoon, Rosenthal declined to speak about the allegations that have been made about him and told a reporter that he couldn’t speak for very long because of a family matter. He did suggest that some of the employees who indicated on Friday that they have no-confidence in him may have been pressured to do so — an assertion that Morin denied.

“This is not something that we just did overnight,” Rosenthal said of his decision to resign. “I’ve been thinking about it for a while. With a lot of the things going on, it’s time for a change. And it’s been a really good run. This was my decision.”

Rosenthal referred many questions to his attorney, Maria Fox, who cautioned that confidentiality laws prevent the superintendent from responding to many of the allegations against him.

“It’s really disappointing to see the (Maine Education Association) take that approach with this,” Fox said of Morin’s memo. “Allegations are allegations, and the Association knows that. They know that neither the superintendent nor the board can comment on the details of a (confidential, personnel matter). Throwing that out there (has tied Rosenthal’s hands). We can’t respond without violating employee confidentiality.”

Fox did respond to the allegation that Rosenthal misled the School Board about the lead levels at Winthrop Middle School, saying that he “may have misspoken” and that those sinks are not used and are located science lab.

She said the district is working with the state to fix those lead levels and that no other water sources in the district has been shown to have high levels.

Fox also said that Rosenthal is “steadfast” in his decision to work the rest of the school year and help the district transition to new leadership, and she reiterated some of the academic achievements the school district has made under his leadership.

“He’s accomplished a lot for this district,” Fox said. “I don’t want the community to lose sight of the positive things that have been able to happen.”

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642


Twitter: @ceichacker

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/embattled-superintendent-resigning-from-winthrop-school-department/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/815918_274638_20170523_winthropt_2.jpgSuperintendent of Schools Gary Rosenthal speaks on May 23, 2017, during a Winthrop Town Council meeting at Town Hall. Rosenthal confirmed Friday that he will resign at the end of the school year.Fri, 16 Mar 2018 21:27:52 +0000
Attorney for laid-off workers demands LePage administration reopen Downeast prison https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/unions-attorney-demands-lepage-administration-reopen-machiasport-prison/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/unions-attorney-demands-lepage-administration-reopen-machiasport-prison/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 16:22:11 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/unions-attorney-demands-lepage-administration-reopen-machiasport-prison/ AUGUSTA — Attorneys for laid-off workers at the Downeast Correctional Facility are demanding the LePage administration reopen the prison or provide back pay following a judge’s ruling that officials illegally closed the facility.

LePage’s lawyers countered that the Maine Department of Corrections is working “to determine how to implement the court’s order as quickly as possible” but wouldn’t commit to reopening a prison at the center of a legal and political battle.

On Wednesday, Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy concluded that the LePage administration exceeded its legal authority by effectively closing the minimum-security prison on Feb. 9. Murphy said the sudden closure of the Machiasport facility was causing “ongoing irreparable harm” to former employees and the local community. But while she ordered the department to continue operating the prison, Murphy deferred to Corrections Commissioner Joseph Fitzpatrick to decide how, exactly, to carry out that mandate.

Attorneys for the unionized prison workers are vowing to go back to court if the LePage administration does not reopen the facility or offer back pay to employees.

“Please confirm when the department will be reopening the facility, including when the employees will be reinstated and when the inmates will be returned,” Jeffrey Neil Young with the firm Johnson, Webbert & Young wrote Thursday to Patrick Strawbridge, the private attorney brought in to represent the LePage administration in the case. “Since the department was able to close DCF in a matter of hours, it should be able to restore the status quo by tomorrow. At the very least, the department should place the employees on paid status with back pay.”

In a response Friday, Strawbridge called the group’s demand of a Friday reopening “an artificial deadline” and an unreasonable expectation given the planning that would be needed to reopen the prison. Strawbridge said the administration was working to follow the ruling as quickly as possible but needed more time.

“Those efforts are ongoing, and involve necessary considerations about programming, facilities and grounds, inmates who are appropriate for transfer, the requirements of the (collective bargaining agreement), and the needs of the department,” Strawbridge wrote. “As you know, the order requires the department to operate DCF consistent with the governing statutes, but it does not require any specific level of staffing, programs, expenditures or number of prisoners.”

The governor’s spokeswoman said LePage plans to meet with the commissioner and his attorneys Monday.

The LePage administration emptied the prison and notified employees of pending layoffs during a predawn operation on Feb. 9. While LePage argues the 150-bed prison is inefficient and no longer necessary, Washington County officials contend it is a well-run institution that provides not only much-needed jobs to local residents but also assistance to businesses that rely on the facility’s work-release program.

The Legislature has thwarted LePage’s past attempts to close the prison, most recently by writing the facility into statute and providing funding through June 30. A bill to earmark an additional $5.5 million to the prison – enough to keep it open for another year – is currently stalled in the Maine House because of substantial opposition from Republican lawmakers.

In her ruling, Murphy cited the statutory references to Downeast Correctional and the current-year funding as proof that the LePage administration could not unilaterally close the facility. But she said previous cases make clear that the courts should not dictate how the department should operate the prison.

David Webbert, one of the attorneys working on the case for the laid-off workers, said Friday afternoon that it shouldn’t take long for the LePage administration to at least put employees back on the payroll. Webbert said Murphy clearly ruled that the administration violated the law when it effectively closed the facility, so denying those laid-off workers paychecks or back pay is similarly illegal.

“Unless they put them back on pay next week, we’ll be back before the judge,” Webbert said.

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 791-6312 or at:


Twitter: KevinMillerPPH

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/unions-attorney-demands-lepage-administration-reopen-machiasport-prison/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/1348583_28647_downeast_correctional1.jpgGov. Paul LePage wants to shut down the Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport. Photo from Machiasport.orgSat, 17 Mar 2018 00:48:02 +0000
New Balance gets $17.3 million contract to provide military footwear https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/maine-lawmakers-cheer-17m-defense-contract-with-new-balance/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/maine-lawmakers-cheer-17m-defense-contract-with-new-balance/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 16:06:56 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/?p=815907 The U.S. Defense Department has awarded New Balance a $17.3 million contract to provide athletic shoes for military personnel entering basic training, according to an announcement Thursday by U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin.

The contract is expected to provide work for nearly 1,000 people at New Balance manufacturing plants in Norway, Skowhegan and Norridgewock.

“It’s great news for the town,” Norway Town Manager Manager Dennis Lajoie said Thursday night. He said he knew the contract was in the works earlier this year and was glad to hear it had been approved.

The company operates a factory outlet store on Route 26 in neighboring Oxford.

According to the announcement, members of the Maine delegation fought for the inclusion of a provision in the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act that required the Department of Defense to consider athletic footwear subject to the Berry Amendment by providing initial entry service members with American-made athletic shoes upon arrival at basic training.

The Berry amendment, passed in 1941, requires the U.S. military to provide its personnel with American-made equipment and uniforms to the greatest extent possible. Despite this long-standing law, and despite the fact that it issues similar Berry-compliant items such as combat boots and service uniforms, the entire Department of Defense has not previously issued new recruits athletic footwear that is compliant with the Berry Amendment.

New Balance secured one of three contracts awarded by the Department of Defense for American-made athletic footwear under the provision. The contract, awarded by the Defense Logistics Agency, contains a base performance period of 18 months, with an additional 18-month option contract clause.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/maine-lawmakers-cheer-17m-defense-contract-with-new-balance/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2016/06/834626_20110509_newbalance001.jpgJustin Waring lays soles on shoes at New Balance in Norridgewock in 2011. The Department of Defense has delayed requiring service members to buy American-made athletic shoes, putting the future of the company and hundreds of Maine families in jeopardy.Fri, 16 Mar 2018 13:10:31 +0000
Falmouth theater getting hate calls for staging play with Holocaust theme https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/falmouth-theater-getting-hate-calls-for-staging-holocaust-play/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/falmouth-theater-getting-hate-calls-for-staging-holocaust-play/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 15:44:28 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/falmouth-theater-getting-hate-calls-for-staging-holocaust-play/

Michael J. Tobin, executive artistic director of Footlights Theatre, says, “Not all theatre can be happy, funny and full of musical numbers.” Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

FALMOUTH — A community theater in Falmouth has received 11 hate calls since it began production of a Holocaust-themed play last week.

Michael J. Tobin, executive artistic director of Footlights Theatre, described the phone calls as vile and hateful, but not threatening. “I had one woman tell me, ‘I don’t want to see a play about those (expletive) Jews,” Tobin said Friday night as he and the cast prepared for another performance of “APPELL: The Other Side of the Fence.”

It’s a new play by first-time playwright Anne Drakopolous, who adapted it from personal accounts, poems, stories and memories of Holocaust survivors. Among the survivors portrayed in the play are Kurt and Sonja Messerschmidt of Portland, who married in a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia in 1944, survived the Holocaust and immigrated to the United States, settling in Portland in 1951. Kurt Messerschmidt died in September, and Sonja died in 2010.

Tobin sent an email Thursday to patrons and supporters detailing some of the calls. “I need people to know this is happening,” he said. “It’s not an open invitation to hate again.”

People attending the play and actors involved in it expressed outrage and surprise on Friday night.

“Are you serious? That just surprises me. I really thought we were past that,” said Josie DiPhilippo, a student from the University of Southern Maine, who was unaware of media reports that the theater had been targeted.

“It’s sad there are people out there in this day and age who still feel this way,” said Carolyn Thomas of Falmouth, who attended with her partner, Jennifer Curran. Their daughter, Meghan Scott Curran, performs in the play. “The political environment we’re in right now seems to make it OK to express those opinions,” Thomas said.

Jackie Oliveri, an actress who portrays Sonja Messerschmidt, echoed that dismay. “A part of me can’t believe it. This is Maine. In Maine, you don’t run into that kind of hate. But this is a different political climate now, and it’s OK to hate,” she said.

Phyllis McQuaide, left, Ann Foskett Miller, Cheryl Reynolds, Victoria Machado, Jackie Oliveri and Pam Mutty in “APPELL: The Other Side of the Fence.” Photo by Cooper Caron

She is proud to be involved in a play that tells the stories of Holocaust survivors, who overcame hate and whose stories serve as inspiration for others facing oppression. “I’m honored to play Sonja Messerschmidt,” Oliveri said. “Her message is one of hope, and that’s what I try to hold on to.”

Tobin said most of the calls have come from women, and based on the timbre of their voices, he thinks most of them were older women. One man who called told Tobin the Holocaust never happened.

“I tried to talk to him. I want to engage. I want to know why they feel the way they do, but they don’t want to talk about it,” he said.

He received two calls in September, when he announced that Footlights would produce the play. By the time it opened on March 8, the theater had received five calls, and six more have come in since the opening, he said. No one has left a message. In each instance, Tobin has talked directly with the person making the call, he said.

While the calls have been troubling, they reaffirm his belief that doing the show was a good idea, he said. “This show is about survivors. It’s inspirational. You listen to these people and hear about how they overcame such horrific circumstances,” he said.

The play, which runs through March 24, centers on a small group of Holocaust prisoners who tell their stories while waiting outside for roll call.

Carolyn Thomas and Jennifer Curran of Falmouth speak Friday night about the hate calls that Footlights Theatre has received since it opened a Holocaust-themed play last week. Thomas said, “It’s sad there are people out there in this day and age who still feel this way.” Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

David Greenham, program director of the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine, located in Augusta, said he’s not surprised that the show has provoked a negative response.

“There is a great divisiveness in our country right now, not only anti-Semitism but anything that is considered different,” he said.

The Anti-Defamation League reported this month that anti-Semitic incidents increased by 57 percent in the U.S. last year, the highest number that the organization has recorded in more than two decades.

The ADL said the sharp rise includes 952 vandalism incidents, an increase of 86 percent from 2016. The group also counted 1,015 incidents of harassment, a 41 percent increase from 2016.

ADL national director and CEO Jonathan Greenblatt told The Associated Press that the “alarming” increase appears to be fueled by emboldened far-right extremists as well as the “divisive state of our national discourse.”

Greenham said he doesn’t think the feelings expressed by the callers are new, but that it seems like people are more willing to be open about those feelings.

“It’s a tremendous test for our democracy and our understanding of the First Amendment,” he said. “For me, I feel like it’s bad when people express opinions that are hateful, but I would rather see that than seeing them just silently hold opinions. If they are open about it, then conversations can be had that move things forward.”

In his email, Tobin characterized the calls as “filled with such hate, denial and uneducated judgment.”

Tobin wrote that the play is difficult to watch but said that’s the point.

“Look, not all theatre can be happy, funny and full of musical numbers. We need to do important theatre like this. We must do important theatre like this,” he wrote. “And I (and the cast) are very proud of APPELL and all it brings to the stage, to our patrons and to the memories of those that lived it, survived it and died because of it.”

Marty Pottenger of Portland came to the theater Friday night to hear the stories of survivors. She attended an opening at the Maine Jewish Museum last week, watched eight films as part of the Maine Jewish Film Festival during the week, and capped her week off by attending “APPELL: The Other Side of the Fence.”

She said she had no time or space for hate in her life. “I am here for the power of love,” she said.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/falmouth-theater-getting-hate-calls-for-staging-holocaust-play/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/509385-20180316_Theatre231.jpgFALMOUTH, NH - MARCH 16: Michael J. Tobin, executive artistic director of Footlights Theatre at the Falmouth theater Friday, March 16, 2018. (Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer)Sat, 17 Mar 2018 00:12:22 +0000
Flat sales for 2017 mean L.L. Bean will cut close to 100 jobs, and workers won’t get bonuses https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/l-l-bean-reports-difficult-year-in-2017/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/l-l-bean-reports-difficult-year-in-2017/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 15:35:02 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/l-l-bean-reports-difficult-year-in-2017/ Citing flat sales in 2017, Freeport retailer L.L. Bean Inc. said Friday it plans to eliminate about 100 positions this spring and will not be giving out performance bonuses to employees.

In a memo to the staff, company President and CEO Steve Smith said 2017 was a difficult year for the retailer, with problems including a slight drop in sales and shipping problems related to a systems upgrade.

“As you know, 2017 was a very challenging year for L.L. Bean, as we continue to operate in a very dynamic, ever-evolving and uncertain retail environment,” Smith said in the memo.

In addition, L.L. Bean incurred added costs associated with upgrades to its order fulfillment and human resources systems, a significant change in its lifetime product guarantee policy, and early retirement packages offered to hundreds of veteran staff members, Smith said. The combination of those factors led to the decision not to give out annual bonuses for the first time since 2008.

“Given these headwinds, L.L. Bean delivered overall sales revenues slightly under 2016 results, and net sales finished at $1.6 (billion), ending the year relatively flat,” he said. “We regret the company performance will not allow L.L. Bean to pay a cash performance bonus for 2017.”

Smith said the 100 employees whose jobs are being eliminated will have the opportunity to apply for other available positions. He also noted that about 500 employees accepted an early retirement package offered in February, which will cut costs and better position the company for future growth.


The layoffs and early retirements represent a roughly 10 percent reduction in L.L. Bean’s workforce. The company now employs about 6,000 people, including 2,500 in Freeport.

Smith noted that in February 2017, L.L. Bean froze its employee pension plan and initiated a 401(k) retirement program. It also rolled out new paid parental leave and elder care benefits, he said.

In another cost-saving measure, the company announced that beginning in 2019, it will no longer subsidize the cost of medical and dental insurance for employees who work fewer than 30 hours a week.

Another major announcement was that eligible employees would be offered early retirement packages in the spring. Smith said the company received a strong response to the offer and nearly met its target, with about 500 employees accepting the deal.

“We’re very pleased by the response to the generous offering and excited for participants who can now begin their next chapters earlier than they might have originally planned,” he said.

Regarding the roughly 100 planned layoffs, Smith said those would likely occur by early April. However, he noted that L.L. Bean also will have a need to back-fill roughly 200 essential positions that will be vacated as a result of the early retirements.

“All employees facing a job elimination will have the opportunity to apply for those positions, or to receive the company severance package and outplacement services,” he said.

Smith said that despite the company’s various setbacks over the past year, it also achieved a number of positive milestones.


In February, L.L. Bean added new restrictions to its lifetime product guarantee policy, blaming customer abuse for the change. It also eliminated free shipping on orders under $50. Smith said customer reactions to the policy change were mostly supportive, and that the new restrictions will save the company a significant amount.

Problems with the fulfillment systems upgrade that caused “significant service and productivity challenges in the initial months” were resolved by the fall, and L.L. Bean was able to achieve record sales during its peak winter season, Smith said.

In September, the company transitioned to a new human resources and payroll system in addition to a new sales channel and merchandise planning tool that will help L.L. Bean make more informed, strategic decisions as it grows, he said.

Smith said the company identified a new target customer in 2017, the “outdoor family enthusiast,” and launched a successful new advertising campaign in the fall titled “Be an Outsider.”


The retailer saw sales growth in a number of product lines, including swimwear, rugby, insulated totes, flannel, fleece and the signature Bean boot, which had record-breaking sales, he said.

L.L. Bean continued to expand its retail presence last year with six new store openings, bringing the total number of stores outside of Maine to 35, with plans to open five more stores in 2018, Smith said.

The company continued its Japan expansion with three new store openings, bringing the total number of Japanese stores to 28.

“Additionally, we launched our first ever Bootmobile in Japan,” Smith said.

L.L. Bean received a variety of accolades and awards in 2017, including being ranked No. 15 on Forbes magazine’s list of America’s best midsize employers, he said.

“We weathered significant events this year, both planned and unplanned,” Smith said. “Overall, there were many bright spots in 2017, and we made significant progress on numerous fronts that provide a strong foundation for future success.”

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:


Twitter: jcraiganderson

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/l-l-bean-reports-difficult-year-in-2017/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2017/01/1136704_558672-20170112_Bean_0085-1.jpgJeff Bernier of Oxford leaves L.L. Bean's flagship store in Freeport on Thursday. Bernier said he was pleased that company board member Linda Bean financially supported Donald Trump's campaign.Fri, 16 Mar 2018 23:51:08 +0000
Engineering firm behind collapsed Miami bridge helped design Maine bridges https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/engineering-firm-behind-collapsed-miami-bridge-also-designed-maine-bridges/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/engineering-firm-behind-collapsed-miami-bridge-also-designed-maine-bridges/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 15:01:34 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/engineering-firm-behind-collapsed-miami-bridge-also-designed-maine-bridges/ The company that designed a Miami pedestrian bridge that killed at least six when it collapsed Thursday was involved in the construction of at least four bridges in Maine.

FIGG Bridge Engineers, an internationally known firm based in Tallahassee, Florida, helped design the new Sarah Mildred Long Bridge between Kittery and Portsmouth, New Hampshire; the Penobscot Narrows Bridge near Bucksport; the Sagadahoc Bridge in Bath; and the Wiscasset Bridge.

Maine bridges are safe and evaluated based on the latest national standards, Maine Department of Transportation spokesman Ted Talbot said in a statement Friday.

“These bridges were designed in accordance with the latest national design standards and are all in very good condition,” Talbot said. “Maine DOT’s experience with FIGG is that they are experienced and competent bridge designers and we are confident that these bridges are safe.”

None of the three completed Maine bridges FIGG designed were included in a list of structurally deficient bridges put out last year by TRIP, a national transportation research group.

FIGG, in a statement Friday, said the Miami event was “unprecedented” in the company’s 40-year history.

“No other bridge designed by FIGG Bridge Engineers has ever experienced such a collapse,” the company said in a statement.

The company worked on the Kittery-Portsmouth bridge in partnership with Hardesty & Hanover, a Boston-based engineering firm. FIGG also worked on the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge in Boston.

The $164.8 million Sarah Mildred Long Bridge was supposed to open in September, but has been delayed six months by Cianbro, the Pittsfield-based construction company building it.

The Maine Department of Transportation has said the lift span bridge is safe and operational. The department recently ordered Cianbro to open it to traffic by the end of March.

The pedestrian bridge at Florida International University collapsed onto a busy highway Thursday, killing at least six people and injuring nine others. The 950-ton span was still under construction.

The $19.4 million Miami bridge was built by FIGG and Miami-based MCM Construction Management.

Talbot said it was difficult to correlate the Florida bridge with Maine’s bridge inventory.

“Due to the investigation being in its early stages, we, along with the rest of the nation, do not know the cause of the bridge collapse nor will we speculate,” Talbot said.

In an emailed statement Friday, FIGG said it was “stunned by the tragic collapse” in Miami and would cooperate with appropriate authorities to find out what went wrong.

The company has worked on more than 230 bridges in the U.S. and has designed almost 35 miles of bridges in the Gulf of Mexico and the southeastern Atlantic region that have withstood multiple hurricanes, FIGG said. Bridges are inspected every two years by state authorities, it said.

FIGG Bridge Builders was fined $28,000 in 2012 to pay for four violations when a piece of concrete fell from a bridge project after the company allegedly did not get consent to modify a girder used during construction, according to the Virginian-Pilot newspaper.

MCM Construction Management has been fined for workplace violations four times since 2013 and has been sued for negligence and personal liability cases, according to the Miami Herald.

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


Twitter: PeteL_McGuire

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/engineering-firm-behind-collapsed-miami-bridge-also-designed-maine-bridges/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/1348551_edipic_0314.jpgA sailboat leads a boat parade under the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory in 2006 during Bridgewalk, a celebration of the newly constructed bridge. FIGG Bridge Engineers helped design the bridge.Sat, 17 Mar 2018 00:06:51 +0000
Maine man, 2 women from New York accused of dealing crack in midcoast https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/warren-man-2-women-from-new-york-accused-of-dealing-crack-cocaine/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/warren-man-2-women-from-new-york-accused-of-dealing-crack-cocaine/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 14:34:05 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/warren-man-2-women-from-new-york-accused-of-dealing-crack-cocaine/ WARREN — Two women from New York and a Warren man are behind bars after police arrested them Thursday evening on charges of dealing crack and powdered cocaine.

Raquel Renfro, 18, of Rochester, N.Y. and Shaundrea Fuller, 20, of Rochester, N.Y. were charged with aggravated trafficking in drugs, according to paperwork filed in Knox County Unified Court.

Joseph Malburg, 51, of Warren, was charged with trafficking in drugs.

All three were taken to the Knox County Jail in Rockland. Bail for Renfro and Fuller was set at $50,000 cash. Malburg’s bail was set at $2,500 cash.

Each of the suspects are scheduled to make their initial appearance in court Friday afternoon, March 16.

The three were arrested at Malberg’s residence on Route 1 in Warren near the Waldoboro town line, according to Maine Drug Enforcement Agency Supervisory Agent James Pease.

Shaundrea Fuller and Raquel Renfro had been staying for the last three to four weeks at local motels and residences in Knox and Lincoln counties where they would sell crack cocaine to local users, according to a statement from Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Public Safety Department. Undercover agents made several purchases of crack cocaine from the two during the investigation.

A search of Malburg’s residence was done Thursday evening. Fifty-five grams of crack cocaine was seized, Pease said. Half of the drug was packaged for resale. Ten grams of powdered cocaine was also seized, he said.

The charges were aggravated because of the amount of drugs.

Agents, assisted by the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, also recovered $1,000 in cash. Some of the money recovered was paid to the suspects by an undercover individual as part of a controlled drug buy.

Also assisting in the investigation were the Rockport and Waldoboro police departments.

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After decade of restoration in Auburn, iconic ’50s airliner returning to Germany https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/lufthansa-packing-up-its-iconic-airliner-housed-in-auburn-and-taking-it-back-to-germany/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/lufthansa-packing-up-its-iconic-airliner-housed-in-auburn-and-taking-it-back-to-germany/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 14:13:01 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/lufthansa-packing-up-its-iconic-airliner-housed-in-auburn-and-taking-it-back-to-germany/ AUBURN — After 10 years of restoration work, the historic 1950s-era Lufthansa airliner housed in a hangar at Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport will be packed up and shipped to Germany, Lufthansa Technik announced Thursday.

At different phases, the project to restore the Lockheed L-1649A “Super Star” Constellation employed hundreds of people.

Project Manager Oliver Sturm said 70 people work there now.

“The airplane is too complex to finish here because it’s a very old aircraft, coming from the ’50s,” Sturm said.

He didn’t have a firm date for its departure nor did he know whether any final public tours were planned.

“(The decision) is so brand new, we have to figure out what does it mean for the people, for the crew, for the aircraft,” he said.

In a statement released from Lufthansa Technik’s corporate parent, the company thanked local workers, business partners and both communities for its “steadfast support.”

“The project concludes an important phase since its inception and is soon to commence the next phase of its journey and will be welcomed in Germany where it will continue to be a shining example of German-U.S. aviation heritage and honoring the long-standing ties between both countries,” according to the statement.

“The L-1649A, known as the ‘Super Star,’ was the aircraft which served the United States on nonstop flights from Germany, three years after the re-establishment of Deutsche Lufthansa in 1955,” the statement continued. “The restoration of this magnificent aircraft continues to be a journey of precision work and collaboration with a very talented and dedicated team of experts, engineers, and skilled workforce on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque said it had been an honor to host the crew and have the project here.

“While we are sad to see the project shift to Germany ahead of their initial schedule, we are pleased to know that Auburn played such an important role in bringing back a true aviation icon,” he said. “It’s time for the airport and both Lewiston and Auburn to look boldly forward to the future economic impact the infrastructure that they leave behind will bring to our community.”


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Man allegedly hunting for pot opens garage, wakes homeowner, gets arrested https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/man-allegedly-hunting-for-pot-opens-garage-wakes-homeowner-gets-arrested/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/man-allegedly-hunting-for-pot-opens-garage-wakes-homeowner-gets-arrested/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 13:23:58 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/man-allegedly-hunting-for-pot-opens-garage-wakes-homeowner-gets-arrested/

Jeremy Doughty Franklin County Detention Center photo

FARMINGTON — A local man is accused of entering a garage on Bailey Hill Road looking for marijuana to steal, police officer Jesse Clement said Thursday.

Clement said he arrested Jeremy Doughty, 20, of Farmington on a charge of felony burglary. He was being held Thursday afternoon at the Franklin County jail on $1,000 cash bail.

There was no marijuana in the garage, police said.

The homeowner was sleeping in living quarters above his garage when he heard the garage door open at about 5 a.m. Thursday, Clement said. The man investigated and saw a thin man duck behind a trailer in the garage. As the owner walked closer, the man ran off.

Officer Kevin Lemay talked to the owner, and later Clement and Sgt. Edward Hastings looked for evidence and discovered footprints outside.

The owner provided the name of a possible suspect, Clement said. Police went to the suspect’s residence on Farmington Falls Road and noticed the same footprints that were at the scene, he said.

Police talked to the suspect, who said he had been asleep all night. Clement said he noticed a pair of shoes, asked who they belonged to and was told they belonged to a boyfriend of a family member.

But after more questioning, Doughty confessed to entering the garage in search of marijuana to steal, Clement said.


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Much-loved restaurant owners who moved south announce their return to Maine https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/much-loved-restaurant-owners-hoss-and-mary-announce-their-return-to-maine/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/much-loved-restaurant-owners-hoss-and-mary-announce-their-return-to-maine/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 13:03:44 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/much-loved-restaurant-owners-hoss-and-mary-announce-their-return-to-maine/ Hoss and Mary are coming home.

Brian “Hoss” Coddens and Deena “Mary” Eskew, the former owners of a popular Old Orchard Beach restaurant that closed in April 2015 much to the dismay of legions of devoted followers, announced Thursday night they are closing their food truck in Key West, Florida, and returning to Maine. They plan to reopen a restaurant in southern Maine and are currently looking for a location.

“The love of Maine calls us every day,” Coddens said Friday morning. “We need to go back and reclaim what we once had.”

The couple closed their restaurant, Hoss and Mary’s, in April 2015. At the time, they said they wanted to move back to Key West, where they first met, and focus on a new challenge after operating a popular restaurant in a high-traffic tourist spot.

During their time in Florida, Coddens and Eskew survived Hurricane Irma, which devastated the Keys. They rode out the storm at a friend’s house and posted updates on Facebook as the storm bore down on the island. After the hurricane destroyed numerous homes and businesses, things changed in the Keys and the couple felt a stronger pull to return to New England, Coddens said.

“The hurricane changed the attitudes of a lot of people here,” he said. “It’s suddenly become real dog-eat-dog conditions down here as far as living and working.”

Hoss and Mary’s in Key West was operating out of a food truck parked at a marina, but those conditions were not ideal. Coddens and Eskew love interacting with customers, but that was difficult with the truck’s set-up. It was also 130 degrees inside the truck on hot days, he said.

The announcement that Hoss and Mary will return to Maine was cheered by fans who left more than 600 comments and 1,300 reactions within hours Thursday night.

“Well, once Mainers always Mainers I guess,” posted Rick Chalek. “Looking forward to seeing you guys again and jumping on a fried haddock sammie.”

Dozens of people suggested locations from Portland to Sanford. Others, who became fans once the food truck opened in Key West, said they were sad to see Coddens and Eskew leave.

“Our hearts have been emptied telling the people we love our goodbyes, but seeing our Maine love we get just fills it right back up,” Coddens and Eskew wrote on Facebook.

Coddens said they hope to open a restaurant with a similar setup to the one they previously ran in Maine. The menu featured innovative comfort food – heavy on burgers and cheesecakes – that fans often posted photos of online.

Coddens said he doesn’t know exactly when he and Eskew will be able to reopen in Maine, but they’re already considering several options and are encouraged by the number of people who have already reached out with suggestions for locations.

“The love that’s been continuously shown is really calling for us to come back there,” he said.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/much-loved-restaurant-owners-hoss-and-mary-announce-their-return-to-maine/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/979362-20150426_ThatMomen2-e1430434698377.jpgOLD ORCHARD BEACH, ME - APRIL 26: Brian Coddens (Hoss) gives a kiss to Deena Eskew (Mary) as they put up the open sign for the last time at their Old Orchard Beach restaurant Sunday, April 26, 2015. (Photo by )Sat, 17 Mar 2018 00:26:36 +0000
A pro-civility Republican also emerges to challenge Gibson in District 57 https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/a-pro-civility-republican-also-emerges-to-challenge-gibson-in-district-57/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/a-pro-civility-republican-also-emerges-to-challenge-gibson-in-district-57/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 12:59:16 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/a-pro-civility-republican-also-emerges-to-challenge-gibson-in-district-57/ AUGUSTA — The Democrats aren’t the only ones taking a stand against Republican state House contender Leslie Gibson.

Thomas Martin, Jr. Courtesy photo

Gibson, whose harsh words for teens who survived a school shooting in Florida last month drew national ire, now faces two challengers for the 57th District — one of them from within the ranks of Republicans.

Thomas Martin Jr. said late Thursday that when he read Gibson’s strident comments about the two Parkland, Florida, students, he felt compelled to get into the race.

Martin, a former state senator from Benton, said it is important to have a candidate who represents real Republican values.

“After those recent unfortunate comments, I couldn’t sit back,” Martin said.

With Martin’s entrance into the contest, there is a possible Republican primary on June 12 if Gibson opts to remain in the mix. The winner would face Democrat Eryn Gilchrist, who also jumped into the fray after Gibson’s words made national news.

“There’s enough division in our state and country” already without ramping up the rhetoric as Gibson did when he took on the students for their efforts to push gun control after a shooting spree left 17 dead at their high school on Valentine’s Day.

Martin, a 52-year-old contractor, said that people have to realize “that our words and actions have consequences” so it’s necessary to carry on a civil debate even on the most divisive issues.

Both Gilchrist, 28, and Martin filed paperwork in Augusta Thursday — the deadline for major party candidates — to ensure that Gibson did not go unopposed in the Nov. 6 general election.

Gibson has not spoken about his political plans since his words created a furor that focused attention on his rural district, which includes both Sabattus and Greene. He has been vilified online for the comments he made about two seniors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who have appeared on television frequently, David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez.

Gibson called Gonzalez a “skinhead lesbian” and Hogg “a bald-faced liar.”

For Martin, that was beyond acceptable discourse.

He said he has reached out to Gibson but has not heard anything from him yet.

Martin served a single term in the state Senate started in 2011. He said he enjoyed his stint in Augusta, learned a lot and made some lasting friends on both sides of the aisle.

He lost a reelection bid in 2012 in the 25th District, representing much of Kennebec County.

Martin said he moved to Greene more recently after getting married. They chose to raise a family in Greene, he said, because it proved a good midway point for their respective jobs.

The 57th District includes Greene and Sabattus. It has been represented by Stephen Wood, a Republican who can’t run for reelection because he is in his fourth term, the longest he can serve by law The general election is Nov. 6.

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Maine resident Jesus Christ sends letter to Oprah Winfrey https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/maine-resident-jesus-christ-sends-letter-to-oprah-winfrey/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/maine-resident-jesus-christ-sends-letter-to-oprah-winfrey/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 12:43:45 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/16/maine-resident-jesus-christ-sends-letter-to-oprah-winfrey/ WATERBORO – Jesus Christ, who lives in Maine, says she didn’t know Oprah Winfrey was asking for a sign from God about running for president when she sent a letter to the television magnate.

WGME-TV reports 83-year-old Jesus Christ in northern Waterboro says she began a letter writing campaign 50 years ago to spread a message of faith and peace after legally changing her name. Christ says she sent the letter to Oprah because she likes her but had no idea it would get so much attention.

Television anchor Gayle King posted about the letter to Oprah on her Instagram on Wednesday, asking if it was the sign her best friend was looking for.

Christ says if Oprah runs for president, she’ll vote for her.

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Maine marches to the women’s beat in college basketball https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/maine-marches-to-the-womens-beat-in-college-basketball/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/maine-marches-to-the-womens-beat-in-college-basketball/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 02:47:27 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/maine-marches-to-the-womens-beat-in-college-basketball/

The University of Maine women’s basketball team celebrates its win in the America East championship game last week in Bangor. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

Before Gary Fifield left his Vermont high school coaching job to take over the University of Southern Maine women’s basketball program in 1987, he went on a recruiting trip that February.

“My first (Maine) high school tournament game that I saw – Mount View versus Messalonskee – I walked in the Augusta Civic Center and the place was packed,” said Fifield, who compiled a 660-137 record at USM before stepping down in 2015.

Lydia Caputi takes a shot during practice this week as Bowdoin prepares to play in the Division III Final Four. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

“I thought, ‘This is unbelievable. It doesn’t happen in other states like this.’ ”

That popularity often translates to the college game. This weekend, while most of the nation is focused on the men’s NCAA basketball tournament, March Madness in Maine takes on a different meaning.

Bowdoin College plays Friday night in the NCAA Division III women’s basketball Final Four in Rochester, Minnesota. The University of Maine women’s team heads to Austin, Texas, for a first-round game Saturday against Texas in the NCAA Division I tournament.

The success of women’s basketball teams historically has dwarfed that of men’s teams in the state. The UMaine men’s basketball team has never played in the NCAA tournament, while the UMaine women’s team will be playing in the NCAAs for the eighth time.

The popularity shows up in attendance, too. The UMaine men averaged 1,029 fans per game this season at Bangor’s Cross Insurance Center. The women’s team drew an average of 1,612.

Although the UMaine women have featured international talent in recent years, its success over the years – and the success of other women’s basketball teams in the state – typically has been built on homegrown players.

“That was always neat to see the University of Maine, with Maine kids, play against other Maine schools with Maine kids,” said Rachel Bouchard, who followed others to UMaine, where she enjoyed an All-American career from 1987-91. “I think that the first thing (about Maine’s success) starts with tradition. Traditionally, the state of Maine has been a basketball state.”


Beyond Bowdoin and UMaine, there are other women’s basketball success stories, all at the Division III level.

In the Great Northeast Athletic Conference, where only one of the 13 teams is from Maine, St. Joseph’s won its third straight title this year.

Same with the 10-team Coastal Commonwealth Conference, with the one team from Maine – the University of New England – winning its sixth straight championship.

In the North Atlantic Conference, four of the 10 teams are from Maine, and two of them met in the 2018 championship game, with Husson defeating Maine Maritime for the Hawks’ third straight championship.

Husson’s roster had 12 Mainers, and MMA’s had 11.

“We’ve been fortunate to get some of the better players from up in The County as well as the eastern Maine area,” said Husson coach Kissy Walker. “When you look at Bowdoin going to the Final Four, and UNE, and St. Joe’s … there are so many Division III-type of players in the state of Maine.”

Not to mention Division I players, including Walker herself. The graduate of Cony High in Augusta played for UMaine from 1982-86.

In Walker’s senior year, the Black Bears won the Seaboard Conference championship, although at the time there was no NCAA berth connected to the title of what is now the America East Conference. The Black Bears’ program was just starting to grow.

“We didn’t have a ton of role models,” Walker said.


But Walker became a role model, including for one girl who grew up in Augusta and moved to Farmingdale, attending Hall-Dale High School.

“I watched Kissy Walker and thought, ‘If she can play Division I, maybe I could,’” said Bouchard.

Bouchard became sold on the Black Bears when she attended games in Orono’s Memorial Gymnasium, aka The Pit.

“The place was rocking. The team would come out of the locker room to the Maine Stein song, and I remember me saying I want to be a part of this,” she said.

Bouchard was a three-time All-American and set the school’s scoring record (2,405 points), a mark surpassed by another Maine high school icon who would head to Orono – Cindy Blodgett of Lawrence High, who scored 3,005 points from 1994-1998 and attracted thousands of fans.

Maine’s success not only attracted in-state recruits, such as Amy Vachon, but also out-of-state talent like 6-foot-3 Jamie Cassidy. The trio of Blodgett, Vachon and Cassidy helped the Black Bears to six straight titles.

“You’ve got girls looking up to the Rachel Bouchards, the Cindy Blodgetts and Amy Vachons,” said Tony Hamlin, chairman of the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame. “They showed they can win with Maine girls.

“And Gary Fifield was winning with Maine girls.”

USM has been to 26 NCAA Division III Tournaments, reaching the Final Four five times, and finished second in the nation three times (1998, 2000, 2006).

Bowdoin (in its 18 NCAA appearances), UNE (nine), Husson (six), Bates (six), St. Joseph’s (four), Maine Maritime (three), UMaine-Farmington (two) and Colby (two) have all been contributing to the success of women’s basketball in Maine.

UMaine has been the most popular program. In the Blodgett years, thousands packed into Alfond Arena, with an average of 4,846 attending her senior season (1997-98). That number dropped to 3,310 in Vachon’s senior season in 1999-2000, but still ranked 27th nationally among Division I schools.

UMaine continues to be a consistent attendance leader in the America East Conference. Consider that New Hampshire has had a strong team for the past two years and average attendance was 401 last season and 391 this year.


Last week’s America East championship game, played in Bangor, drew a crowd of 3,373, the largest for a title game since UMaine last hosted the event in 1998 (3,578).

The current UMaine roster has only three Mainers. None are starters, although Parise Rossignol of Van Buren is the first guard off the bench and has been one of the team’s leading scorers in the postseason.

Bouchard said it’s great when UMaine gets Maine players, but even the others get caught up in the atmosphere.

“Students from out of state are surprised that Maine is a basketball state,” Bouchard said. “Look at the women’s team this year. One thing all of those athletes have is the Maine tradition. Doesn’t matter if you’re out of the country or out of state, you understand Maine tradition.”

Curt Smyth, the athletic director and former women’s basketball coach at UNE, said women’s basketball success in this state “speaks to the strength of girls’ high school basketball in Maine. When I recruited, a good percentage of Maine high school players had toughness and competitiveness you can’t teach … something I found to be a real asset.”

While both boys’ and girls’ games are popular in the state at the high school level, men’s college teams in Maine have not had the same success as the women’s, especially in recent years.

The Husson men have earned Division III NCAA berths in six of the past 10 seasons, the last coming in 2017, although the Hawks are still looking for their first NCAA win.

Bates reached the D-III NCAAs in 2015. Bowdoin has been four times, the last coming in 2008. UMaine-Farmington (2010), St. Joseph’s (2009) and UNE (2009) have all been once to the national D-III tournament. Colby reached the tournament three times in the 1990s, and USM had a nice run of four straight NCAAs (1988-91), reaching the D-III Final Four in 1989.

The University of Maine men’s basketball team has not had a winning season since 2004.

For now, March Madness in the state means women’s basketball programs enjoy success that eludes the men’s teams.

“I can’t put my finger on why,” Smyth said.

Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:


Twitter: KevinThomasPPH

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/maine-marches-to-the-womens-beat-in-college-basketball/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/1348405_610260-20180309_Basketbal6.jpgABOVE: The University of Maine women's basketball team celebrates its win in the America East championship game last week in Bangor. AT RIGHT: The Black Bears' Dor Saar on the move.Fri, 16 Mar 2018 11:46:48 +0000
Former employee sues prospective buyer of Saddleback resort https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/former-employee-sues-prospective-buyer-of-saddleback-resort/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/former-employee-sues-prospective-buyer-of-saddleback-resort/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 01:36:30 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/former-employee-sues-prospective-buyer-of-saddleback-resort/ A former employee for the Australian development company that is planning to buy Saddleback Mountain resort in Rangeley has filed suit against the company alleging he was not paid for his services.

News Center Maine (WCSH/WLBZ) reported on Thursday that Perry Williams of Rangeley sued the Majella Group for nearly $30,000 in unpaid wages. Williams was hired on Jan. 1, 2017, as a consultant for the Saddleback project.

Williams alleges that as of Nov. 9, 2017, he is owed $21,250 in consultant fees and $8,461 in past due gross wages, according to court documents obtained by News Center Maine. As of Jan. 31, the date the suit was filed, Williams said he still had not been paid, News Center Maine reported.

Williams’ attorney, Frank K. N. Chowdry of Portland, filed the complaint against Majella Developments Seven LLC and three other Majella companies in Cumberland County Superior Court.

The sale of Saddleback is still pending. The resort has been closed since July 2015.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/former-employee-sues-prospective-buyer-of-saddleback-resort/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/1347974_503846-Sebastian-Monsour.jpgAttendees applaud as Saddleback Resort owners Irene and Bill Berry pass the traditional wooden ski to new owner Sebastian Monsour, center, chief executive officer of the Majella Group, at a sale announcement at the ski resort in 2017.Fri, 16 Mar 2018 13:34:52 +0000
Photos: Cony High students take to the stage in 127th ‘Chizzle Wizzle’ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/photos-cony-high-students-take-to-the-stage-in-127th-chizzle-wizzle/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/photos-cony-high-students-take-to-the-stage-in-127th-chizzle-wizzle/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 00:36:58 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/photos-cony-high-students-take-to-the-stage-in-127th-chizzle-wizzle/ AUGUSTA — Cony High School students held their annual “Chizzle Wizzle” performance Thursday night, taking to the stage for what’s billed as the nation’s oldest student variety show.

After Tuesday and Wednesday shows were cancelled by a snowstorm, the “Chizzle Wizzle” finally opened and Cony students took the stage on Thursday. “Chizzle Wizzle,” the nation’s longest-running student variety show, marks its 127th year with a “Just Add Water” theme. There are two more performances, tonight and next Friday, March 23, with both shows starting at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the school 1-7 p.m. today and 2-7 p.m. Tuesday, March 20.

About 200 students participated on stage and behind the scenes in the annual production. The “Chizzle Wizzle” originated in 1892 as a fundraiser for the football team at the high school. The name comes from the cheer, “Chizzle Wizzle, Chizzle Wizzle, sis boom bah! Cony High, Cony High, rah, rah, rah!”

Some “Chizzle Wizzle” participants who have gone to careers in the arts include ballet dancer and instructor Alphonse Poulin and actors Richard Dysart and Rachel Nichols.

This year’s performance was recorded by CTV7 and will be show on on Spectrum channel 1301 at a yet to be determined date.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/photos-cony-high-students-take-to-the-stage-in-127th-chizzle-wizzle/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/815752_31861-20180315_ChizzleWiz4.jpgMiqueias Biasuz sings "Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay" durring the Chizzle Wizzle performance on Thursday at Cony High School.Thu, 15 Mar 2018 21:32:46 +0000
Rescuers use cellphone coordinates to reach lost hiker in western Maine https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/rescuers-use-cellphone-coordinates-to-reach-lost-hiker-in-western-maine/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/rescuers-use-cellphone-coordinates-to-reach-lost-hiker-in-western-maine/#respond Thu, 15 Mar 2018 23:54:29 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/rescuers-use-cellphone-coordinates-to-reach-lost-hiker-in-western-maine/ NEWRY — Authorities say searchers rescued a hiker who lost his way on a trail in rural western Maine.

Thomas Dilger, 29, of Worcester, Massachusetts, used a mobile phone to call for help Wednesday, said the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. He lost his way on Grafton Loop Trail in Newry, and a search for him began after 3 p.m.

The department said Dilger got lost near the side of Puzzle Mountain. Searchers used the coordinates from Dilger’s phone so they could get close to him with snowmobiles, then snowshoed for several hours before finding him.

Dilger was safe by 11 p.m. Wednesday. He was slightly hypothermic but did not receive medical attention.

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LePage plan to align Maine taxes with federal law spurs debate https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/lepage-plan-to-align-maine-taxes-with-federal-law-spurs-debate/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/lepage-plan-to-align-maine-taxes-with-federal-law-spurs-debate/#respond Thu, 15 Mar 2018 23:28:44 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/lepage-plan-to-align-maine-taxes-with-federal-law-spurs-debate/ AUGUSTA — Lawmakers’ review of a proposal by Gov. Paul LePage to make Maine’s tax code conform with the federal tax law passed by Republicans in December has revived the debate about tax cuts in Maine.

LePage’s bill would return about $88 million to individuals and businesses who file taxes in Maine, but opponents of the proposal from the state’s Republican governor said most of those benefits, including a new estate tax exemption that would make the first $20 million of an inheritance tax free, are geared largely to benefit mostly the wealthiest Mainers or even out-of-state corporate entities.

Alec Porteous, LePage’s commissioner of the Department of Administration and Financial Services, told the Legislature’s Taxation Committee that conformity with federal law would help businesses while removing another 17,000 low-income families from the state tax rolls entirely.

And while some lawmakers and other advocates have said there is no need for lawmakers to tackle the issue this year and that it can wait until the next Legislature convenes in 2019, Porteous warned it would be unlikely to top the agenda of the next administration or Legislature.

“Indeed, this would be taking place during a period of time when the new administration is proposing its biennial budget package and legislative committees are reviewing and addressing the two-year state fiscal blueprint,” Porteous said. Any tax reform deliberations starting next January also would be difficult to enact in time for tax filing deadlines in April, Porteous warned.

Under LePage’s proposal, a portion of a state revenue surplus would be earmarked for families in the form of a child and dependent tax credit. The measure also extends tax benefits to businesses by allowing them to write off a larger portion of business investments while providing an average tax break of about $542 a year for a family of four earning $50,000 a year and a tax cut of about $467 a year for a family of four earning $90,000.

“Together, the two measures represent a pro-growth, recruitment and retention strategy for Maine of young professionals and families – effectively encouraging recent college graduates to remain in, or relocate to, Maine and then to settle here permanently and raise their families in our state,” Porteous said.

Opponents to the proposals, including those with the left-leaning Maine Center for Economic Policy, urged lawmakers to use any surplus to fund a voter-approved expansion of Medicaid and to gear tax relief at property taxes, which are hurting many of the state’s elderly living on fixed incomes.

“This legislation proposes over $88 million of tax breaks overwhelmingly benefiting wealthy individuals such as heirs with multimillion dollar estates and profitable corporations,” said Jane Gilbert a retired state employee from Augusta. “These are the same individuals and corporations that secured substantial tax breaks under the Republican tax bill passed at the national level. It is unconscionable that anyone would consider giving even more tax breaks to Maine’s wealthiest individuals and corporations when so many needs have gone unfulfilled in our great state.”

Sarah Austin, with the Maine Center for Economic Policy, told lawmakers that by forgoing additional state level tax cuts Maine would be in a position to fully fund its public schools, expand MaineCare, the state’s low-income health care program, to thousands more people, as well as make needed investments in public infrastructure.

“Or, we can continue to put those public goods and services further out of reach with tax breaks for those who are already prospering, and who just received a substantial windfall from federal tax reform,” Austin said.

Crunched for time as they head toward an April adjournment date in an election year, lawmakers on the committee offered mixed reactions to the bill, as they prepared for what would likely be multiple work-session meetings on the measure starting Monday at 1 p.m.

Rep. Matthew Pouliot, R-Augusta, said he realized there were many parts of the proposal that would not get the support of the full committee, but suggested some of the bill might have broader support.

“There are definitely parts of this bill that I think we would both agree should be considered, like the personal exemptions,” Pouliot said to Gilbert. He said the new tax credits for families were, “probably a good thing.”

“I think there are some aspects of conformity that are actually good for people who aren’t wealthy,” Pouliot said. “I would like to figure out how we could move forward on something, maybe, even if it’s not all of it.”

But Democrats on the committee, including state Rep. Gay Grant, D-Gardiner, said there a lot more questions that need answers. Grant said she had “probably 20 pages of questions” on the bill she hoped to get answers on during the upcoming work sessions on the measure.

Meanwhile, Democratic leaders at the State House also signaled Thursday the bill would face stiff opposition.

House Speaker Sara Gideon of Freeport said Democrats would not accept any proposal that could jeopardize the state’s economic recovery or working families.

“There is no requirement for Maine to automatically conform with any proposal from the federal government or this administration,” Gideon said in a prepared statement. “It comes with a price tag of nearly $90 million dollars, and it irresponsibly raids state coffers at a time we are seeing a systemic breakdown across nearly every department. “

Senate Minority Leader Troy Jackson, D-Allagash said, “Democrats are not buying it. We’re not interested in amending Maine’s tax code on behalf of large businesses, out-of-state corporations and a handful of wealthy individuals.”

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 713-6720 or at:


Twitter: thisdog

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/lepage-plan-to-align-maine-taxes-with-federal-law-spurs-debate/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2017/09/1135897_Tax_Refund_Delays_53288.j2.jpgRefund delays – likely until the end of February – will affect families claiming the earned income tax credit and the additional child tax credit, which benefit the working poor.Thu, 15 Mar 2018 20:35:49 +0000
Yarmouth’s Main Street to close this weekend for bridge work https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/yarmouths-main-street-to-close-this-weekend-for-bridge-work/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/yarmouths-main-street-to-close-this-weekend-for-bridge-work/#respond Thu, 15 Mar 2018 23:28:07 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/yarmouths-main-street-to-close-this-weekend-for-bridge-work/ Main Street in Yarmouth will be closed for most of the upcoming weekend while a contractor installs framework for the new deck of the Route 1 bridge that crosses Main Street near the Yarmouth Public Library, town offices and North Yarmouth Academy.

The road will be closed from 4:30 a.m. Saturday until about 7 p.m. Sunday.

“During this time, crews will work around the clock to install framework over Main Street for the new deck of the Route 1 bridge that spans Main Street,” said Maine Department of Transportation spokesman Ted Talbot in a prepared statement. “There will be no pedestrian or motor vehicle access to Main Street directly under the bridge during this weekend.”

Route 1 will remain open during the weekend closure. Drivers will be able to access Route 1 from York or School street.

Talbot said the $4.1 million bridge replacement will still take several more months, with an expected completion date of summer 2019.

Talbot said there is no need to worry about the project’s effect on the popular Yarmouth Clam Festival, scheduled from July 19-23. All construction will be suspended during the festival.

After this weekend’s closure, an 11-foot height limit for vehicles will be in effect on Main Street for the duration of the project.

The new bridge will have a 5-foot-wide paved sidewalk on the east side of Route 1 and a 10-foot multi-use path on its west side. New lighting, railings and illuminated crosswalks will also be installed on the bridge.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:


https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/yarmouths-main-street-to-close-this-weekend-for-bridge-work/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2017/05/1194185_929895-RoadWork.jpgThis bridge that carries Route 1 over Main Street in Yarmouth is scheduled to be repaired but the bond for the project was being held back because of a dispute between Gov. Paul LePage and state Treasurer Terry Hayes.Thu, 15 Mar 2018 19:32:54 +0000
Primary field for Maine governor narrowed to 12 in the two major parties https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/primary-ballots-for-maine-governors-race-are-set/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/primary-ballots-for-maine-governors-race-are-set/#respond Thu, 15 Mar 2018 23:11:42 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/primary-ballots-for-maine-governors-race-are-set/ AUGUSTA — The two major parties finalized their gubernatorial slates for the June primaries Thursday, narrowing what had been a field of more than 24 candidates down to 12 – seven Democrats and five Republicans.

Thursday was the deadline for candidates to turn in the signatures of 2,000 Maine voters to the Secretary of State’s Office so their name appears on the primary ballot.

Registered party members will pick their nominees during Maine’s first-ever statewide ranked-choice primaries.

Republicans making the deadline include: Ken Fredette, Garrett Mason, Mary Mayhew, Shawn Moody and Mike Thibodeau. On the Democratic side, candidates Adam Cote, Donna Dion, Mark Dion, Mark Eves, Janet Mills, Diane Russell and Betsy Sweet all turned in the required signatures, some of which were still being verified late Thursday.

The field includes an eclectic mix of politicians with a range of experience from nearly all parts of Maine.

Fredette, the Republican House Minority Leader from Newport, announced he had made the ballot late Thursday afternoon. Other Republicans, including Shawn Moody of Gorham, founder of Moody’s Collision Centers; former Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew of South China; state Senate President Mike Thibodeau of Winterport and Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason of Lisbon turned in signatures earlier this month.

Moody, a former independent who joined the Republican party int October, is the only candidate on the Republican side to have run for governor – he ran in a five-way race in 2010 won by Maine’s outgoing Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

On the Democratic side, Adam Cote, a Sanford attorney and a long-serving officer in the Maine National Guard, made the ballot, as did state Sen. Mark Dion of Portland, an attorney and former Cumberland County Sheriff. Also making the Democratic ballot is Betsy Sweet, an Augusta lobbyist and liberal activist; former Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills of Farmington, former state Rep. Diane Russell of Portland and former Biddeford Mayor Donna Dion.

Independent candidates, who have until June 1 to turn in 4,000 signatures, include State Treasurer Terry Hayes of Buckfield and Alan Caron, founder of the nonprofit GrowSmart Maine, which focuses on sustainable development. Hayes served four terms in the Maine House of Representatives as a Democrat.

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 713-6720 or at:


Twitter: thisdog

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Temple residents approve town budget of $487,645 https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/temple-resident-approve-town-budget-of-487645/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/temple-resident-approve-town-budget-of-487645/#respond Thu, 15 Mar 2018 23:00:12 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/temple-resident-approve-town-budget-of-487645/ TEMPLE — Voters approved a budget of $487,645 and elected a selectman to a three-year term at Monday’s Town Meeting.

David Lovejoy was nominated and elected unopposed to fill the selectman’s seat by the roughly 50 residents who attended.

“I’ve got some experience with budgets and management,” Lovejoy said. “I’d love the opportunity to help keep the town organized and keep things going.”

Toby Hellgren was re-elected to a two-year term as road commissioner.

Only a few articles generated any discussion.

Resident Rita Smith asked about the Town Office hours.

“Who set up the Monday and Thursday days to operate?” she asked. “I just feel the opening isn’t fair to us as a town.”

Smith pointed out there were several Monday holidays that town employees did not have to work.

The article dealing with town officials’ salaries was amended because Fire Chief David True turned down a $1,000 raise. Instead, he said, that raise should go to Assistant Chief Wayne Tuttle.

“As (fire) chief, this job has changed,” True said. “It’s become so much more administrative.”

As a result, he added, Tuttle has had to take on more responsibilities.

Hellgren said he was concerned about the amount some property owners owe in overdue taxes. He asked about the progress town officials were making in collecting the money.

Selectman Tracy Dunham said there is a lengthy process that the town must go through to address overdue taxes. She added that selectmen have been successful in getting two properties back onto the town’s tax rolls.

Amounts that were appropriated included $25,000 for waste collection, $35,200 for town officials’ salaries, $14,000 for waste disposal. $78,000 for town roads and bridges, $75,000 for paving, $85,000 for snow plowing, $30,000 for winter sand, $21,000 for the Fire Department, $8,000 for maintenance of town-owned buildings and $4,000 for the ambulance service.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/temple-resident-approve-town-budget-of-487645/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/815715_34460-Temple-town-meeting-T.jpgModerator Tom Saviello, left, is sworn in Monday by Town Clerk Lou Brackett at the Temple Town Meeting.Thu, 15 Mar 2018 19:27:13 +0000
Industry Town Meeting OKs $500,000 for roads https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/industry-town-meeting-oks-500000-for-roads/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/industry-town-meeting-oks-500000-for-roads/#respond Thu, 15 Mar 2018 22:49:15 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/industry-town-meeting-oks-500000-for-roads/ INDUSTRY — Town Clerk Angelina Davis has announced the outcomes from the Town Meeting elections held Saturday.

Incumbent Robert Geisser was written in for second selectman. He received 28 votes.

Jesse Sillanapaa was written in for the Regional School Unit 9 school board position, receiving 28 votes.

All articles were passed as written, with considerable discussion about roads. Voters raised $100,000 and approved borrowing $400,000 over four years, with the first payment due in 2019.

The budget passed for 2018 totaled $456,944, an increase of $47,495 from last year.

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Libertarians to caucus Saturday in Dixfield, Wilton https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/libertarians-to-caucus-in-dixfield-and-wilton-saturday/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/libertarians-to-caucus-in-dixfield-and-wilton-saturday/#respond Thu, 15 Mar 2018 22:42:05 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/libertarians-to-caucus-in-dixfield-and-wilton-saturday/ Libertarians in Franklin and Oxford counties will have the opportunity to meet at caucuses being called for Saturday in Wilton and Dixfield.

Those attending will have an opportunity to meet candidates and representatives from the Libertarian Party of Maine. Only recently certified as an officially recognized party in Maine, the Libertarian Party of Maine is required to hold the caucus to maintain its party status and to maintain ballot access for Libertarian candidates.

“The caucuses are a great way to meet Libertarian candidates and other Libertarians,” said Will Sampson, of Dixfield, who called the Dixfield caucus.

Sampson was a designated elector for the Libertarian Party of Maine in 2016.

“It’s important for all Libertarians and those interested in registering as Libertarians to attend the caucus, because the event is crucial to ensure the Libertarian option to major parties is represented on Maine ballots,” Sampson said

The Dixfield Libertarian Caucus is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday in the conference room of the Ludden Memorial Library in Dixfield.

The Wilton caucus is being called by Evret Greer of Wilton. That event will be held at at 5 p.m. Saturday the Wilton Town Office.

Chris Lyons, Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate, is scheduled to attend both events.

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Chesterville residents OK operation of agency liquor stores https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/chesterville-residents-ok-operation-of-agency-liquor-stores/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/chesterville-residents-ok-operation-of-agency-liquor-stores/#respond Thu, 15 Mar 2018 22:40:41 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/chesterville-residents-ok-operation-of-agency-liquor-stores/ CHESTERVILLE — Voters at Town Meeting on Monday night approved of operating agency liquor stores seven days a week but rejected Sunday consumption on the premises.

Articles permitting agency liquor stores to operate Monday through Saturday passed 142-74, and operating them on Sunday passed 114-103.

Permitting consumption on the premises Monday through Saturday passed 114-98, but permitting consumption on Sunday failed 95-118.

Robert Wheeler, owner of The Corner Store, petitioned to have the articles on the warrant and said there would be no alcohol consumption at his store.

Voters opposed increasing the state’s municipal property tax limit. The vote was 30-35. The state law, L.D. 1, regulates the amount of money municipalities can raise through property taxes used for municipal operations.

Before the secret-ballot vote, Anne Lambert asked whether, if all articles were approved as presented, the amount would exceed the tax limit; and if so, how much.

Treasurer Erin Norton said it would be about $29,000 over if the highest amounts were approved.

Voters later rejected appropriating $163,282 for administration as suggested by selectmen.

Selectman Edward Hastings IV said he was concerned about cutting the budget to bare bones and cited a recent example of having to pay unexpected unemployment costs.

Budget Committee member Kathy Gregory said there was a significant increase in pay for town employees.

Resident David Gray asked if selectmen would take a cut in pay.

“You’re meeting half as often with the same pay,” he said.

Residents voted to reconsider the question and approved $159,782, which the Budget Committee had recommended.

Voters cut $51,494 from capital roads projects to bring the Road Committee’s recommendation in line with the $150,000 recommended by selectmen and the Budget Committee.

By a vote of 37-25, residents approved a 3 percent discount for property owners who pay their taxes within a month of getting their bill.

Outgoing Selectman Ross Clair said there were two sides to the issue.

“There’s $250,000 (in unpaid property taxes) on the books,” he said. “We’re charging 7 percent interest because people can’t pay their taxes. By getting that money, it gives us cash flow, which is better than borrowing money. We’re asking people who can’t pay their taxes to spend $40,000 to $45,000 for the discounts.”

Norton said the discount isn’t a good idea because large taxpayers, such as Central Maine Power Co., are taking advantage of the discount, while those who can’t pay their taxes are paying for the discount.

Hastings said he takes advantage of the discount.

“Every taxpayer can make that choice or another one,” he said.

In elections, Allan Mackey won a three-year selectman’s seat with 127 votes. His challenger, Daniel Morse, got 59. Maitland Lord Jr. won a one-year selectman’s seat with 69 votes. His challengers were Anne Lambert, with 65; Guy Iverson, with 52; and Carroll Corbin, with 27.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/chesterville-residents-ok-operation-of-agency-liquor-stores/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/815704_627283-Chesterville-TM.jpgAnne Lambert casts her ballot Monday night at the Chesterville Town Meeting as Glenda Barker oversees the ballot box.Thu, 15 Mar 2018 19:13:24 +0000
LePage urges passage of $50 million in bonds to pay for interest-free student loans https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/lepage-urges-passage-of-50-million-in-bonds-to-pay-for-interest-free-student-loans/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/lepage-urges-passage-of-50-million-in-bonds-to-pay-for-interest-free-student-loans/#respond Thu, 15 Mar 2018 22:38:38 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/lepage-urges-passage-of-50-million-in-bonds-to-pay-for-interest-free-student-loans/ AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage urged lawmakers to approve $50 million in bonds to provide zero-interest student loans to Mainers attending school in-state while allowing others to refinance if they stay in Maine after college.

With Maine facing a “demographic winter” as more of the workforce approaches retirement-age, the state needs a multi-pronged approach to convincing recent college graduates to stay in Maine or move to the state, LePage said. The governor is proposing a Finance Authority of Maine program to provide zero-interest loans – backed by $50 million in voter-approved bonds – to college students who live and work in the state for at least five years after graduation, with possible extensions if they remain in the state longer.

Students with existing debt could consolidate loans or refinance to a lower interest rate if they agree to reside and work in Maine for at least five years.

“Our businesses need young people here to fill the jobs that will be coming available when people retire,” LePage told members of the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. “We need young people to settle here and have families. We need them to buy houses from those who retire and downsize, to keep our communities going. The longer we can have a young person here after graduation, the more likely they will make a long-term commitment to the state.”

The bill, L.D. 1834, was endorsed Thursday by officials from the University of Maine System, the University of New England and Eastern Maine Health System but is likely to face scrutiny from some lawmakers within the governor’s own party. Last year, a bill co-crafted by the LePage administration proposing a student loan repayment program with $100 million in bonds stalled in the Legislature largely because of Republican opposition.

LePage acknowledged afterward that some Republicans “have a problem” with the student loan programs. But he blamed Democrats for blocking another bond bill – which he says is the business side of the student loan initiative – to invest in research and commercialization.

“I think they need to work together to come up with” a solution, LePage said. “I’d like to see both of them in the final package.”

A recent report by the Institute for College Access and Success estimated that members of the Class of 2016 attending four-year colleges and universities in Maine graduated with, on average, $31,295 in debt. That ranked Maine eighth nationally behind New England neighbors New Hampshire, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

High debt loads drive some Maine college graduates to other states where jobs are more plentiful and salaries higher. Meanwhile, the state is facing the growing economic, health and societal challenges that come with an aging population.

LePage said his bond bill for student loan debt should be coupled with another proposal from his office that would provide a tax credit to students repaying loans or companies that help pay down employees’ loans. That bill, L.D. 1537 sponsored by Republican Rep.  Matthew Pouliot of Augusta, is pending in the Legislature’s Taxation Committee.”

Bill sponsor Rep. Marty Grohman, I-Biddeford, acknowledged that there are multiple options for addressing the serious student loan debt issue. The Legislature is still considering a bill to offer a state-financed student loan repayment or forgiveness program to graduates who commit to working in Maine. But Grohman said the zero-interest loan program would set Maine apart nationally at a time when the state is losing college grads to other areas.

“I think this would also be an important tool for employers,” Grohman said. “I think if you’re a Maine employer and you want to attract a recent college graduate – whatever age they may be – this is something that we can offer that no one else can. And I’m really excited about that.”

Grohman’s bill is one of dozens of proposed bond measures – totaling more than $700 million – competing for what is traditionally a modest borrowing package, often consumed largely by transportation projects. Because bond bills are often among the last issues settled during the legislative session, they often become bargaining chips in negotiations between legislative leaders from both parties and LePage, who has also withheld selling voter-approved bonds in order to gain leverage on other issues with lawmakers.

Bond measures must receive two-thirds support in both the House and Senate before they can be placed on the statewide ballot for voter consideration.

This story was updated at 1:45 on Saturday, March 17, 2018, to correct the student loan tax credit bill that Gov. Paul LePage says should be coupled with his $50 million bond proposal.


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Belgrade voters to gather Saturday for annual Town Meeting https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/belgrade-voters-to-gather-saturday-to-do-town-business/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/belgrade-voters-to-gather-saturday-to-do-town-business/#respond Thu, 15 Mar 2018 22:26:34 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/belgrade-voters-to-gather-saturday-to-do-town-business/ Belgrade voters will gather at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Belgrade Center for All Seasons for the business portion of Town Meeting.

This follows elections for town offices and other items voted on in secret ballot 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at the Town Office.

Residents dealing with almost 40 articles on the warrant on Saturday will decide whether to establish a reserve fund for a Fire & Rescue Department Building and place $30,000 into it. That carries the unanimous recommendation of both selectmen and Budget Committee members.

Town Manager Dennis Keschl said that the fund is intended to build a central fire station to meet future needs. He said a site has not been chosen, but it might be near the Town Office.

The facilities maintenance budget request increased about $26,000 from the fiscal 2017 request to $184,222 this year. That also carries the recommendation of both groups.

Town officials also are seeking residents’ permission to look at replacing the siding on the exterior of the Center for All Seasons to avoid costs involved with restraining boards at various intervals. The article says a number of boards need to be replaced.

The siding on the Center for All Seasons, which opened in 2002, was last stained a decade ago.

Officials also are asking to borrow up to $50,000 through a tax anticipation note. Last year they requested $18,200 but spent $11,886.

Keschl said the amount is higher than the 2017 request because the interest rate from the lowest acceptable bidder is twice as much as last year’s 1.12 percent.

Voters also will be asked if they want to accept a donation from Peter and Larry Mace of a 12-acre parcel adjacent to town land at the south end of Messalonskee Lake. Keschl said it is large largely wetlands that are under conservation protection.

Residents also will decide whether to give selectmen authority to spend up to $15,000 for future projects without doing a “request for proposal” advertisement.

The limit was previously $10,000, Keschl said.

Betty Adams — 621-5631


Twitter: @betadams

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Sanford bicyclist in serious condition after collision with car https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/sanford-bicyclist-in-serious-condition-after-collision-with-car/ Thu, 15 Mar 2018 21:40:35 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/sanford-bicyclist-in-serious-condition-after-collision-with-car/ Sanford police say James Comppen, 57, suffered head and internal injuries when the bicycle he was riding collided with a car on Main Street on Wednesday evening.

Sgt. Craig Andersen said in a statement Thursday that Comppen, of Sanford, underwent surgery Wednesday night and was being treated at Maine Medical Center in Portland.

Clay Holtzman, a spokesman for the hospital, said Comppen was listed in serious condition Thursday night.

Comppen was riding north on Main Street, near the intersection with Acorn Street, around 6 p.m. when the bicycle he was riding collided with a car, Andersen said.

Comppen was flown by LifeFlight helicopter to Maine Medical Center.

The driver of the vehicle, a minor, was not injured.

No charges have been filed and the investigation into the crash continues.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:


https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2017/09/shutterstock_655712101-e1501172751470-2.jpgThu, 15 Mar 2018 20:49:29 +0000
Hallowell committee recommends moving police to current firehouse https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/hallowell-committee-recommends-moving-police-to-current-firehouse/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/hallowell-committee-recommends-moving-police-to-current-firehouse/#respond Thu, 15 Mar 2018 20:54:08 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/hallowell-committee-recommends-moving-police-to-current-firehouse/ HALLOWELL — The City Properties Planning Group on Thursday decided to recommend building a new public works facility, but it couldn’t come to a consensus on what to do with the historic Second Street fire station.

The seven committee members voted unanimously to recommend moving the Police Department to the first floor of the current firehouse and keeping the city’s food bank in the basement, but there was less agreement on what to do with the rest of the 190-year-old structure or how to pay for any of the projects.

Councilor Maureen Aucoin said she couldn’t see any reason to spend any money renovating the public works garage, and the committee agreed that building a new building — potentially at the city’s old dump site near the reservoir — makes the most sense.

“There are a lot of missing pieces to this,” Aucoin said. “We don’t have the money for these projects.”

The group said it couldn’t prioritize one project over the other because more information is needed about how the projects would be funded. The current firehouse is in such need of repair that outfitting the first floor, which is presently used to house the Fire Department’s vehicles, would cost several hundred thousand dollars, police Chief Eric Nason said.

The current firehouse will be vacated when the Fire Department moves to its new station at Stevens Commons in early April. There is no timetable for when either of the two projects discussed by the committee would be completed.

“If we’re going to keep it, it has to be maintained at a certain level and it has to be consistently used,” Councilor Diano Circo said. He said it would be hard to justify the city keeping the property without it including the Police Department.

“I think that having the Police Department down there makes sense,” Circo said.

Committee member Gerry Mahoney said he was concerned with how much it would cost to turn that building into a usable space for the police and for whatever becomes of the second floor. There is support for turning that large space, which includes an apartment, into a museum.

Mahoney, a member of the nonprofit historical organization Row House Inc., said there would be ongoing, significant maintenance costs associated with the building, especially if it didn’t produce any revenue.

“There’s an opportunity to promote Hallowell in a way it has never been promoted before.” Mahoney said. “We need to turn a nonfunctioning space into something that is an attraction for the city.”

There was no disagreement over what to do with the decrepit public works garage.

Public works foreman Chris Buck said the structure has deteriorated over the years because it hasn’t been maintained. He said his department needs a new garage and a separate covered building for sand and salt. He would like seven or eight vehicle bays with an inside washing area for the winter, an office, a break room, a shower and a space to perform equipment maintenance.

He envisions a 60-feet-by-120-feet facility, and he said it wouldn’t be smart to buy a piece of land if the city already has usable property. The committee also discussed including a recycling component to the new public works facility.

Mayor Mark Walker created the property planning committee — which includes councilors Michael Frett, Maureen Aucoin and Diano Circo — to look at the best uses of city-owned properly, and the mayor made finding the best future use of the 190-year-old firehouse on Second Street and the public works garage a high priority. Rudy said the goal is for the group to make a recommendation to the City Council at the council’s April meeting about what to do with the two structures.

At previous meetings, committee members expressed an attachment to the historical significance of the fire station and the public works garage and what the firehouse has meant to the city since its construction. But the firehouse needs additional repairs and is too costly for the city to continue to maintain for its current use. The public works building is in a visible part of the city — the north end of Water Street — and on a fast-moving thoroughfare, which presents a challenge when the department tries to move equipment.

Rudy said the existing 5,600-square-foot public works building presents operational challenges for that department, and he said the city is looking at solutions that include enhancing the current space or building a new space.

The city can borrow up to $250,000 without voter approval, but Buck has estimated a new building for his department would cost at least $500,000. Rudy said a proposal that the city make that additional investment is something that calls for a lot of discussion in the community.

Rudy said nobody on the committee is talking about securing bonds yet, and if that happens, the committee would have to make a request through the Property Committee, and then it would go to the City Council.

The committee is scheduled to meet once more next week, when it will review the draft of the recommendations for the council, which will be written by committee chairman Frank O’Hara.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663


Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/hallowell-committee-recommends-moving-police-to-current-firehouse/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/815548_616553_20150223_washing_fir.jpgRichard Clark washes a Hallowell fire engine in 2015 at the city's historic Second Street fire station. A city committee has not been able to reach consensus on the best future use for the building, which will be vacated when the Fire Department moves to its new station at Stevens Commons in early April.Thu, 15 Mar 2018 17:27:25 +0000
LePage says he’ll address ‘major holes’ in Maine’s system for protecting at-risk children https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/lepage-vows-to-order-improvements-to-child-protective-services-after-beating-death-of-10-year-old-girl/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/lepage-vows-to-order-improvements-to-child-protective-services-after-beating-death-of-10-year-old-girl/#respond Thu, 15 Mar 2018 20:48:09 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/lepage-vows-to-order-improvements-to-child-protective-services-after-beating-death-of-10-year-old-girl/ Gov. Paul LePage vowed to issue executive orders to address systemic problems with Child Protective Services in the aftermath of the beating death of a 10-year-old Stockton Springs girl.

LePage, speaking to reporters Thursday at the State House, said he is “seeing major, major holes” in the system, and he is working with Maine Department of Health and Human Services officials to improve CPS.

“We just need to beef it up,” he said.

LePage, a Republican, said CPS needs to replace antiquated computer software and provide additional training to agency employees, but he didn’t mention extra staffing to handle reports of suspected abuse or neglect. The details of the executive orders will be released soon, he said.

Police say Marissa Kennedy had been beaten at home for months by her mother and stepfather before dying Feb. 25 of battered child syndrome. Sharon Carrillo, 33, and Julio Carrillo, 51, have been charged with depraved indifference murder. Since Marissa’s death, activists have called for a thorough examination of Maine’s system to protect children.

Neighbors and Bangor school officials told the media that when the Carrillos lived in Bangor, DHHS was notified of suspected abuse in the home. The Carrillos moved to Stockton Springs last fall. School officials there have refused to detail what steps, if any, were taken with Marissa, who was enrolled in Searsport Elementary School. Police said she stopped attending in November.

DHHS officials have refused to comment on the specifics of Marissa’s case, saying those details need to be kept confidential while the criminal case is pending.

LePage said he’s been working for the past two weeks on how to improve the system.

According to data reported to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Maine’s CPS workforce has remained at 145 from 2011 to 2016, but the caseload per worker has increased.

The number of completed reports per CPS caseworker per year in Maine increased from 55 in 2011 to 73 in 2016, the latest year for which federal data is available.

Also, according to Maine DHHS, reports of suspected child abuse and neglect have jumped 31 percent since 2008, from 6,313 cases to 8,279 in 2016. LePage acknowledged that CPS caseworkers have stressful jobs, and many suffer from “burnout.”

“Some of these caseworkers have to visit 10 homes per day,” LePage said.


In response to follow-up questions from the Portland Press Herald, LePage spokeswoman Julie Rabinowitz said the governor will make comprehensive recommendations after an internal DHHS investigation is complete.

“There are no specific recommendations as yet, no cost estimates and no time frame because these investigations are not yet complete. There may also be other internal policy changes as well as legislation he may submit. He will use all tools at his disposal,” Rabinowitz said in an email.

Separately, the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee has ordered a watchdog agency – the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability – to investigate the deaths of Marissa and Kendall Chick, a 4-year-old girl who died in December. OPEGA will also conduct a review of Child Protective Services.

Patty Hymanson, D-Wells, co-chair of the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee, said she’s encouraged that LePage is taking the issue seriously, but she believes the OPEGA investigation will be more thorough and in-depth.

LePage also indicated that CPS needs to change its focus.

“I think (family) reunification in the state of Maine is the priority. I think it’s the wrong priority,” he said. “This is the dialogue we are not having. What is best for the child? It could be reunification in some cases. In other cases it might not be.”

But Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, a Washington-based nonprofit think tank, said the scientific research on the topic is overwhelming that children do better when the state works to keep them with their families when possible. The next best alternative is to have a relative care for the child, such as grandparents or aunts and uncles. Removal should be “rare,” he said.

“When you hear about these horrific cases, don’t listen to your gut instinct and do the exact opposite,” Wexler said. “We as a society are underestimating the enormous trauma to children that is inherent in removal.”

Claire Berkowitz, executive director of the Maine Children’s Alliance, a nonprofit that advocates for children, said that while government officials are examining the issues within DHHS, they need to make sure they are doing so in a comprehensive way, taking the time to diagnose problems and come up with difference-making solutions.

“I’m glad they want to make change, but they need to make sure they’re making the right changes and understanding what the issues are that need to be addressed,” Berkowitz said.


The number of children in state care – including foster care, kinship care and in institutions – declined from nearly 3,000 children in the early 2000s to about 1,300 per year under the administration of Gov. John Baldacci. Since LePage took office, the numbers have increased to 1,852 in 2017, although there are no clear reasons for why more children are in state care.

Some experts say the opioid crisis could be a contributing factor because it has led to record numbers of deaths and potentially more unstable parents. Also, confirmed cases of physical abuse of children in Maine rose 52 percent from 2008 to 2016, even though there were no increases in other forms of child abuse, including neglect and sexual abuse. Neglect cases declined and sexual abuse cases were about the same, according to Maine DHHS statistics.

LePage said the system also needs to do a better job of sharing information with outside agencies, and that DHHS workers need to be able to recognize when there are numerous complaints about the same family. He said the current system does not make it easy for employees to notice when there are many complaints about the same family.

Joe Lawlor can be contacted at 791-6376 or at:


Twitter: joelawlorph

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/15/lepage-vows-to-order-improvements-to-child-protective-services-after-beating-death-of-10-year-old-girl/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/1344801_387676_marissa_kennedy_250x.jpgKendall Chick, 4, left, of Wiscasset and Marissa Kennedy, 10, of Stockton Springs. Police say both children died after being beaten for months.Fri, 16 Mar 2018 00:18:59 +0000