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. Wed, 21 Mar 2018 16:54:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 Richmond woman sentenced to 45 days in jail over credit union embezzlement https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/21/richmond-woman-sentenced-to-45-days-in-jail-over-credit-union-embezzlement/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/21/richmond-woman-sentenced-to-45-days-in-jail-over-credit-union-embezzlement/#respond Wed, 21 Mar 2018 16:12:24 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/21/richmond-woman-sentenced-to-45-days-in-jail-over-credit-union-embezzlement/ WEST BATH — A Richmond woman who pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges of taking money from a member account at the credit union where she worked was sentenced Wednesday at the courthouse in West Bath.

Clarissa Hurley, who had worked at the Down East Credit Union, was sentenced to 18 months, all but 45 days suspended, two years of probation, and she will be required to pay back the $8,500 that she stole.

Justice Daniel Billings said a sentence of six to nine months could easily be justified, but with mitigating factors the sentence she received was justified.

“In this case, although you started from meager circumstances in life, you overcame that,” Billings said. “You had the American success story and the system worked for you. You have been able to live a good life and achieve reasonable economic success. You threw that all away when you committed that crime.”

In her statement to the court, Hurley acknowledged she had betrayed the trust of her co-workers at the credit union.

“I was so very stupid,” Hurley said.

This story will be updated.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/21/richmond-woman-sentenced-to-45-days-in-jail-over-credit-union-embezzlement/feed/ 0 Wed, 21 Mar 2018 12:33:51 +0000
Hall-Dale school buildings evacuated following bathroom wall threat https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/21/hall-dale-school-buildings-evacuated-following-bathroom-wall-threat/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/21/hall-dale-school-buildings-evacuated-following-bathroom-wall-threat/#respond Wed, 21 Mar 2018 16:00:09 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/21/hall-dale-school-buildings-evacuated-following-bathroom-wall-threat/ Students were evacuated from the Hall-Dale Middle and High School buildings in Farmingdale Wednesday morning following a report of a threat written on a bathroom wall, police said.

Regional School Unit 2 officials had students moved to the elementary school as a precaution while the buildings were searched. Police received the report shortly after 10 a.m.

The evacuation came amid heightened concerns over school safety nationwide in the wake of the deadly shooting at a school in Parkland, Florida.

“At this point, nothing has been found and we expect school will reopen,” said Lt. Chris Read of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office. “We’ve found nothing out of the ordinary and no cause for concern.”

A Maine State Police K9 team was also on scene assisting in the search of the building, Read said.

This story will be updated.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/21/hall-dale-school-buildings-evacuated-following-bathroom-wall-threat/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/817710_616553-20180321_Hall_Dale3.jpgLt. Chris Read of the Kennebec County Sheriff's Office oversaw a search of Hall-Dale High School in Farmingdale Wednesday morning after a report of a threat on a bathroom wall.Wed, 21 Mar 2018 12:47:26 +0000
Cumberland County DA won’t seek re-election https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/21/cumberland-county-da-wont-seek-re-election/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/21/cumberland-county-da-wont-seek-re-election/#respond Wed, 21 Mar 2018 15:09:23 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/21/cumberland-county-da-wont-seek-re-election/ PORTLAND — Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie Anderson will not seek re-election for an eighth term in office.

Anderson took office in January 1991, and was the first woman to hold the job. Before winning her first election in 1990, she tried murder cases as an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn, N.Y., and then had a law practice in Portland.

While Anderson did not file petitions to seek re-election, five candidates have filed to run for her job as the county’s top prosecutor, according to the Maine Secretary of State’s Office.

Republican Randall Bates, a former Yarmouth Town Councilor, was the only GOP candidate to file nomination papers with the Office of the Secretary of State for the June 12 primary.

Four Democrats filed for their party’s primary, also to be held June 12:

• Jon Gale, of Portland, is a defense attorney who defended one of the protesters arrested July 15, 2016, in a demonstration on Commercial Street in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Gale helped craft a plea agreement for the 17 people arrested. The agreement eventually fell apart, but Anderson’s attempt to pursue charges of disorderly conduct and obstructing a public way was denied in Cumberland County Superior Court in May 2017.

• Cape Elizabeth resident Patrick Gordon has served as a prosecutor in Aroostook and York counties and now specializes in family law for Fairfield & Associates, according to the firm’s website.

• Brunswick resident Seth N. Levy is a defense attorney who specializes in defending veterans, according to his website.

• Frayla Tarpinian, of Windham, is now the head of the Kennebec County district attorney’s Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse Unit. She has also had her own practice in Windham, according to www.frayla.com.

Independent candidates who might enter the race have until June 1 to file nomination papers with the secretary of state. The general election is Nov. 6.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/21/cumberland-county-da-wont-seek-re-election/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/p.3.21.18.Anderson1-1-e1521645665190.jpgWed, 21 Mar 2018 11:44:27 +0000
Staff Photo of the Day: Wednesday, March 21 https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/21/staff-photo-of-the-day-tuesday-march-20/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/21/staff-photo-of-the-day-tuesday-march-20/#respond Wed, 21 Mar 2018 08:00:31 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1349933 ]]> https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/21/staff-photo-of-the-day-tuesday-march-20/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/POD-icecream.jpgWESTBROOK, ME - MARCH 20: Kendra Laughlin, manager of a Dairy Queen store on Main Street in Westbrook, hands a free small ice cream cone to Emilia Lovejoy, 3, of Portland, while sister Madeline, 1, looks on. The franchise location was offering free cones to celebrate the first day of spring. (Staff photo by Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer)Wed, 21 Mar 2018 10:45:40 +0000 Severe coastal storm damage, steep cost may offer glimpse of future https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/21/storms-wrath-hits-wallets-too/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/21/storms-wrath-hits-wallets-too/#respond Wed, 21 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1350756

A Saco city employee works Tuesday on Camp Ellis’ Surf Street, one of several roads that got washed out by the fierce winter storm that struck York County’s coast early this month. Ferry Beach State Park in Saco endured 25 to 30 feet of dune erosion. Staff photo by Derek Davis

The nor’easter that pounded the Maine coast for six straight days in early March caused at least $2.75 million in damage to public property and the most significant beach erosion in York County in more than a decade.

Representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be in York County this week to verify damage from the storm, which began March 2 and battered the shoreline through 10 tide cycles over six days. In coastal towns from Saco to Kittery, seawalls crumbled, roads and sidewalks were damaged, and tons of sand and other debris washed ashore.

“This was a doozy in terms of the duration of the event and the fact that we had around 12-foot or higher water levels for six or seven days,” said Peter Slovinsky, a marine geologist with the Maine Geological Survey. “We had incredible waves during that period.”

Slovinsky said the storm is a graphic reminder of what is predicted to be an increasingly common phenomenon as sea levels continue to rise.

“It’s a picture of what things might be in the future,” he said.

Emergency management officials and scientists who study coastal erosion say the storm was the most damaging along the York County coastline since the powerful Patriots Day storm in April 2007. That storm caused damage statewide, however, and carried a much larger damage cost of $54 million, adjusted for inflation.

The Halloween Gale of 1991, also known as the Perfect Storm, caused similar erosion and property damage in York County. It caused a total of $14 million in five coastal counties, adjusted for inflation.

Officials are seeking a federal disaster declaration for the March 2 storm that would allow towns to receive FEMA disaster assistance to cover the cost of cleanup and repairs. That money does not cover the cost of private property damage.

The storm damage is easy to see this week at 393 Webhannet Drive in Wells Staff photo by Jill Brady

The state threshold for a federal disaster declaration is $1.9 million and preliminary estimates show York County easily exceeded that amount. The preliminary estimate of $2.75 million could rise when assessments are complete.

Private property owners are expected to submit damage claims to their insurance carriers, but in some cases a disaster declaration can mean federal funding is available to cover costs not covered by insurance, FEMA said.

One oceanfront house in Wells was condemned because of damage, and several houses in Saco also suffered structural damage. Private driveways, storage sheds and garages also were damaged.

Slovinsky said 10 high tides between March 2 and March 8 exceeded flood levels and, because the storm sat off the coast for days, sustained northeast winds added 12 to 18 inches of surge to the high tide. Those water conditions coupled with waves of 10 to 20 feet or more left beaches especially susceptible to erosion and other damage.


Wind and wave conditions were most extreme off the York County coastline. A federal weather buoy nine miles east of York Beach measured waves over 10 feet for four full days, and the waves there topped out at 25 feet on March 3. The buoy also measured sustained winds of 21 to 33 mph for most of the four-day period.

“We had incredible waves during that period” of March 2-8, says marine geologist Peter Slovinsky. Here, one of those waves hits a home in Kennebunk. Staff photo by Gregory Rec

During the Patriots Day storm in 2007, a buoy off Cape Elizabeth measured waves in the 25- to 30-foot range. The recent storm, however, lasted longer and each high tide added to the damage.

“We anticipated this was going to be a larger snowstorm,” said Arthur Cleaves, FEMA director for York County. “We didn’t know how much damage would actually be caused for those high tides. After the second high tide, we realized it would be significant.”

Slovinsky said the “long, slow chewing away of the beach and dune system” caused erosion along the York County coast that is comparable to the erosion caused by the Patriots Day Storm. The Saco area was particularly hard hit in terms of erosion, where Slovinsky measured 25 to 30 feet of dune erosion at Ferry Beach State Park. Other coastal areas saw 15 to 20 feet of dune erosion, he said.

Patrick Fox, the public works director for Saco, said the damage in Camp Ellis is as bad as the Patriots Day storm in terms of damage to public infrastructure, including roads and underground utilities. The city estimates $600,000 in damage.

The main access road to Camp Ellis was washed out and will remain closed until paving plants open for the season. Cleanup has been hampered by the two large snowstorms and unseasonably cold temperatures, Fox said.

The town of York was one of the hardest hit areas with an estimated $500,000 in damage, emergency management officials said. So much sand was washed away from Short Sands in York that a seldom seen shipwreck – believed to be 160 years old – was revealed for the first time in five years.

Shaun Barrett of the Kennebunk Department of Public Works clears stones from Beach Avenue on March 5. Kennebunk accrued the highest public costs from this month’s first nor’easter: $750,000. Staff photo by Gregory Rec


Police Chief Doug Bracy, who serves as the town’s emergency management director, said much of the public property damage occurred along the 2.5-mile stretch of Long Beach Avenue. Multiple sections of the sidewalk were pushed up and will have to be rebuilt and the seawall and drainage systems also were damaged. There also was extensive damage to sidewalks and a park near Short Sands Beach.

Bracy said winter weather has hampered clean up from the storm, though temporary repairs have been made to sections of Shore Road. Damaged sidewalks remained cordoned off and there is lots of beach rock, seaweed and sand that still needs to be removed, he said.

“Until it stops snowing, we can’t do much about that,” Bracy said. “It’s going to take us time to get our walkways and sidewalks back.”

Kennebunk sustained at least $750,000 in damage, the most of any town, said Cleaves, the York County FEMA director. Roads, sidewalks and portions of a sea wall near Middle Beach were damaged. Public services crews had to use front-end loaders to clear sand from the roads, and beaches that are normally all sand were strewn with rocks.

Surrounded by evidence of erosion and shorefront damage, an Eastern Avenue property is for sale at Camp Ellis in Saco. Staff photo by Derek Davis

Slovinsky, from the Maine Geological Survey, said there are already signs for recovery from the storm as sand returns to some beaches. The shipwreck in York is already recovered by sand, as are the close to 100 tree stumps exposed at Gooch’s Beach in Kennebunk.

Still, Slovinsky said this storm should have people looking to the future. “I think this is an eye-opening event in terms of coastal erosion and flooding,” he said. “Hopefully it has folks thinking about long-term scenarios where these events might be more common as our sea level rises over time.”

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:


Twitter: grahamgillian

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/21/storms-wrath-hits-wallets-too/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/1350756_488860-20180320_CampEllis_.jpgA Saco city employee works Tuesday on Camp Ellis' Surf Street, one of several roads washed out in the fierce winter storm that struck York County's coast early this month. Ferry Beach State Park in Saco endured 25 to 30 feet of dune erosion.Wed, 21 Mar 2018 07:10:04 +0000
Hoist by their own batard: The rise of Spruce Baking https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/21/hoist-by-their-own-batard-the-rise-of-spruce-baking/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/21/hoist-by-their-own-batard-the-rise-of-spruce-baking/#respond Wed, 21 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1350457 What do bakers do when they have hundreds fewer lobster roll buns to bake in the winter? They launch a new baking business called Little Spruce Baking Co.

Kim Rodgers, executive pastry chef at Big Tree Hospitality (the owners of Eventide Oyster Co., The Honey Paw and Hugo’s) and sous chef Alison Parsons have added to their responsibilities with a wholesale baking operation in the Pepperell Mill in Biddeford. They launched on Saturday at the Saco River Market, held weekly from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Pepperell Center Event Space, 40 Main St., Biddeford. Little Spruce Baking Co., which is part of Big Tree Hospitality, is also selling specialty croissants on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Elements, 265 Main St., a coffee bar that also sells beer and books.

“We’re really psyched about doing this just because we have such a talented baking department,” said Mike Wiley, a partner in Big Tree Hospitality.

Wiley said they are looking for other coffee shops and similar businesses in southern Maine – especially in the Greater Portland area – that would be interested in selling the bakers’ creations, which include a sourdough batard; a pizza croissant with tomato jam, ricotta and pepperoni; a “moonstruck” croissant with egg, maitake mushrooms and mustard greens; and a PB&J croissant with strawberry jam, peanut glaze and sprinkles.

“We don’t have any plans yet for a brick-and-mortar store,” Wiley said. “We don’t want to bite off more than we can chew right out of the gate.”


Black Cow, the new burger restaurant that’s replacing Sonny’s in the Old Port, will hold its grand opening today. Hours will be 11:30 a.m. until midnight for the restaurant at 83 Exchange St., and the bar will stay open until 1 a.m.


For 10 years, oyster lovers have shelled out just $1.55 for each local oyster they could swallow Thursday nights in the Point 5 Lounge, the bar at Five Fifty-Five on Congress Street in Portland. This Thursday night will be your last chance to enjoy that deal, as the owners of the restaurant and bar are replacing oyster night with a $5 menu.

The good news is that one of the new $5 plates will hold five oysters, so you’ll be getting an even better deal – $1 oysters. Slurp to your heart’s content. Other offerings from the new $5 menu, which starts March 29, include sliders and mac-and-cheese.


If you’re tired of fighting the crowds on Maine Maple Sunday (scheduled for this Sunday), try Maple Madness instead, a Friday-Sunday event cooked up by the boys at East Ender and Foundation Brewing Co., both in Portland. East Ender’s Bill Leavy and Karl Deuben will be creating maple-focused specials to pair with three Foundation Brewing Co. beers they’ll have on tap – Burnside, Venture and limited edition Maple Dark Side Corruption, a beer aged in a maple syrup bourbon barrel. The specials will include meats smoked with staves from the barrel.


Make like Taylor Swift and shake it off on Sunday at the fourth annual Tiki Shake Off sponsored by the U.S. Bartenders Guild and Round Turn Distilling at Tiqa in Portland.

The event will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. at the pan-Mediterranean restaurant located at 327 Commercial St. Tickets are cash only at the door, and cost $5 for USBG members and $10 for non-members, both of which get you six (1-ounce) cocktail samples from this year’s competitors. You can vote for your favorite to receive the People’s Choice Award, and a panel of judges will name its own winner.

The six semi-finalists, selected from blind recipe submissions that use Round Turn’s Bimini Gin, are: Liz Smith from Central Provisions in Portland; Rob Roy from Primo Restaurant in Rockland; Adam Sousa from Blyth & Burrows in Portland; Patrick McDonald and Tara Rook, both from Chaval in Portland; and Owen Wolfertz from Moxy in Portsmouth.

Island dress is encouraged, so get that grass skirt and coconut bra out of the closet and get ready to shake off winter.

Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:


Twitter: MeredithGoad

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/21/hoist-by-their-own-batard-the-rise-of-spruce-baking/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/baguettes.jpgWed, 21 Mar 2018 08:11:28 +0000
Portland gas station robbed by man with handgun https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/portland-gas-station-robbed-by-man-with-handgun/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/portland-gas-station-robbed-by-man-with-handgun/#respond Wed, 21 Mar 2018 03:21:34 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/portland-gas-station-robbed-by-man-with-handgun/ Portland police say that a man armed with a handgun robbed a gas station in the Riverton neighborhood Tuesday night.

Riverton Gas Station Google photo

Lt. Kevin Cashman said the robber, whose face was covered, displayed a firearm and made off on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash.

The robbery took place around 7:40 p.m. at the Riverton Gas Station, 1585 Forest Ave. Cashman said the gas station clerk was not hurt.

No shots were fired and the robber remained at large late Tuesday night.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/portland-gas-station-robbed-by-man-with-handgun/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/riverton.jpgWed, 21 Mar 2018 06:30:13 +0000
Portland superintendent looks to cut tax hike in half by trimming $3.9 million from budget https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/portlands-school-finance-committee-asks-superintendent-to-cut-3-9-million-from-budget/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/portlands-school-finance-committee-asks-superintendent-to-cut-3-9-million-from-budget/#respond Wed, 21 Mar 2018 02:49:01 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/20/portlands-school-finance-committee-asks-superintendent-to-cut-3-9-million-from-budget/ Superintendent Xavier Botana says the Portland school board’s finance committee has asked him to cut $3.9 million from his proposed $113 million budget so that there is only a 4.5 percent increase in the school portion of the tax levy.

His current budget would require a 9 percent increase in the tax rate.

Among the ideas being considered are increasing class sizes, closing the island elementary schools, charging students fees to play sports, eliminating some assistant principal positions and cutting some crossing guards and school resource officers, according to a list of possible savings presented in a school board workshop Tuesday night.

Other options include consolidating schools, but Botana said the finance committee said that would not be considered this year, but in future years since the state’s subsidy to Portland is expected to decline over time. Botana’s budget will next be considered at a joint meeting of the city and school board finance committees on Thursday.

“Honestly, I’m just shocked. These are major things, disruptive of the entire district,” school board member Marnie Morrione said after the proposed cuts were reviewed. “I will not agree and do not support a 4.5 percent (rate.)”

Morrione said she thought the board should put forward the budget with the costs of the programming and staffing levels that they believe best serves the students.

“Xavier has a plan. We made a promise,” said board member Roberto Rodriguez, urging support for Botana’s original budget. “I’m here to advocate for our students and for our teachers, and our promise to narrow that achievement gap.”

Board member Mark Balfantz said he supported immediately forming a committee to pursue school consolidation next year, and board member Laurie Davis said she supported redistricting elementary schools.

Jenna Vendil, the chairwoman of the board’s finance committee, said asking for the cuts was an attempt to head off likely objections from city officials.

“Our intention is to not make the budget a political football between the city council and (the board),” Vendil said. “We wanted to put forward a modest proposal that reflects our best thinking having done due diligence, leaving no stone unturned in terms of what we can do.”

Botana said he would present the adjusted budget to the school board next Tuesday.

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


Twitter: noelinmaine

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/portlands-school-finance-committee-asks-superintendent-to-cut-3-9-million-from-budget/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/892770_437220_20160502_superinte_2.jpgXavier Botana was cited for his transformative work by Portland School Board Chairwoman Marnie Morrione.Wed, 21 Mar 2018 08:20:33 +0000
South Portland sets date to reconsider short-term rental rules https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/south-portland-sets-date-to-reconsider-short-term-rental-rules/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/south-portland-sets-date-to-reconsider-short-term-rental-rules/#respond Wed, 21 Mar 2018 02:22:07 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/20/south-portland-sets-date-to-reconsider-short-term-rental-rules/ SOUTH PORTLAND — Residents continued to battle over new short-term rental regulations Tuesday night, even as the City Council merely set a date to reconsider the controversial rules as required by a recent referendum petition.

On April 3, the council will hold a seventh public hearing on Airbnb-style home rentals and vote on whether to repeal regulations that were approved last month. The council made only brief comments after setting the date.

“I certainly am ready to listen,” said Councilor Maxine Beecher.

Preble Street resident Michael Frabotta and fellow petitioners collected an estimated 1,484 petition signatures in an effort to force the council to reverse its 6-1 vote on Feb. 20. If the council fails to overturn the rules, the city will hold a referendum on the petition question at an upcoming election.

The city clerk’s office certified 1,289 signatures of registered voters – well over the 1,000 needed to suspend the new rules from going into effect and move the petition forward for council reconsideration.

At the center of the disputed regulations is a ban on unhosted stays in residential neighborhoods that aims to stop people from buying and converting single-family homes into whole-house rentals.

There are 282 short-term rentals in South Portland offered on websites such as Airbnb and HomeAway, according to a recent count by Host Compliance, a third-party web service. About 200 of them are single-family homes that are not owner-occupied, allowing travelers to rent a whole house or apartment for a few days or a few weeks.


South Portland is one of the latest U.S. cities to grapple with the spread of short-term rentals, along with neighboring Portland. South Portland’s outright ban of non-owner-occupied rentals is the most restrictive so far in Greater Portland.

Cape Elizabeth adopted a permitting process in 2012 that allows the town to revoke the permit if the property is the subject of three complaints within three years. Portland passed a more involved registration process last April that sets a cap on the number of non-owner-occupied rentals citywide at 300.

Other U.S. cities, including New York and Nashville, also have banned or severely restricted unhosted home rentals, although the crackdowns have proved difficult to enforce. A recently released study by McGill University researchers concluded that most short-term rentals in New York are illegal and that the practice has fueled a housing shortage and rent increases.

Public comment Tuesday night on the South Portland regulations was limited to open citizen discussion periods near the beginning and end of the council meeting.

Frabotta and other petitioners say they’re trying to protect landowners’ rights and fighting for a better municipal review process. The council held four workshops and a total of six public hearings before passing the regulations.

Frabotta chided councilors for showing a “lack of leadership” and promoting division in the community. He urged them to repeal the new rules and set up a committee of stakeholders to develop “reasonable regulations.”

“Use your positions for leadership and work to alleviate the environment of us vs. them,” Frabotta said. “I want to ensure that you, the public, have a chance to vote on sweeping ordinances restricting your land rights.”


Supporters of the new regulations say they are trying to preserve affordable housing and protect neighborhoods from being overtaken by commercial home rentals they describe as mini-hotels.

“Operating a boutique hotel next door to my residential home is a violation of my property rights,” said Peter Stanton of Deake Street.

Stanton disputed the claim of some petitioners, overheard while they were collecting signatures, that a clause in the new regulations would eliminate a wide variety of home occupations.

“People heard this message and were duly alarmed,” Stanton said. “You can find essentially identical (ordinances) in Cape Elizabeth, Portland, Westbrook, Falmouth, Scarborough, Saco, Windham, Cumberland and Yarmouth. … All manner of home occupations are thriving in all of those towns.”

Stanton and several other speakers urged the council to let the regulations go to referendum.

“Defend your ordinance. Defend your honor. Defend our neighborhoods,” Stanton said.

Tensions between the two sides escalated the weekend of March 10, when Frabotta and other petitioners were confronted by residents who said they were “shadowing” petitioners because they were overheard giving false or misleading information about the regulations.

That Saturday, petitioners called police several times, prompting Officer Andrew Nelson to issue a cease harassment notice to Daniel Romano based on a complaint filed by Frabotta. The following Monday, Frabotta took out a restraining order against Romano because, he said, he continued to feel threatened by Romano.

Romano said Tuesday that he plans to contest the order when he appears in District Court on March 30.

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:


Twitter: KelleyBouchard

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/south-portland-sets-date-to-reconsider-short-term-rental-rules/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/1320721_945132-20180118_SoPoRentals.jpgSOUTH PORTLAND, ME - JANUARY 18: This two-family home on Willard Beach, overlooking Simonton Cove and Casco Bay, is one of a growing number of short-term rental properties in South Portland that are the subject of ongoing debate before the City Council. (Staff photo by Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer)Tue, 20 Mar 2018 22:30:24 +0000
Maine on track to get grazed by another nor’easter https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/maine-on-track-to-get-grazed-by-another-noreaster/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/maine-on-track-to-get-grazed-by-another-noreaster/#respond Wed, 21 Mar 2018 01:34:51 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/maine-on-track-to-get-grazed-by-another-noreaster/ Spring arrived Tuesday, bringing with it sunny, relatively warm weather. But it appears winter isn’t done with the state just yet.

Eric Schwibs, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, said Portland could get grazed Wednesday by another nor’easter, which is expected to track far offshore from the coast of Maine.

Snow will start falling Wednesday night, but by the time people wake up Thursday morning, the storm will have ended and any accumulated snow will be melting. Schwibs said Thursday’s forecast calls for high temperatures in Portland in the low 40s.

Portland could get 3 or 4 inches of snow, while inland areas such Sebago might get 1 inch.

“Due to the angle of the sun, the pavement will be warm and the snow will melt,” Schwibs said. “You won’t need to go outside. You can actually wait it out in your house.”

While many Mainers might believe it has been a harsh winter, it really hasn’t been all that bad – at least compared to past winters.

Schwibs said 89.9 inches of snow had fallen this season in Portland as of March 20. At this time last year, Portland had recorded 83.8 inches of snowfall. And while the 2017-18 snowfall total is 34 inches above normal for this time of year, it doesn’t even come close to the all-time record.

Portland was buried under 141.5 inches of snow during the 1970-71 winter season.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/maine-on-track-to-get-grazed-by-another-noreaster/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2017/02/695614-20170209_gr_noreast.jpgKENNEBUNK, ME - FEBRUARY 9: Francois Maudave walks through heavy falling snow along Coventry Woods Drive in Kennebunk on Thursday, February 9, 2017. (Staff Photo by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer)Tue, 20 Mar 2018 23:45:43 +0000
Senate approves $5.5 million for prison LePage wants to close https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/senate-approves-5-5-million-for-prison-lepage-wants-to-close/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/senate-approves-5-5-million-for-prison-lepage-wants-to-close/#respond Wed, 21 Mar 2018 00:52:54 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/senate-approves-5-5-million-for-prison-lepage-wants-to-close/ AUGUSTA — A minimum-security prison that Gov. Paul LePage emptied without legislative approval could receive another year of funding under a bill considered by the Maine Senate on Tuesday.

The Senate approved a bill Tuesday to provide $5.5 million for the Downeast Correctional Facility starting in June, but a similar bill lacked sufficient support in the House last week. Both chambers must pass the legislation before it can be sent to the governor to sign into law.

The minimum-security prison has long been on the state’s chopping block, while supporters argue that it provides jobs and inmates’ free labor to the surrounding rural community. The prison, with about 150 beds, has an annual state budget of about $5 million.

Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy ruled last week that LePage lacked authority to close the prison in February, but she stopped short of ordering all of the inmates to be returned. The judge left it up to the Department of Corrections to determine staffing and the number of inmates.

The Republican governor said Monday that he will comply with the court order by adding a “minimal” number of staffers and inmates to the facility through June, when current funding runs out.

David Webbert, a lawyer for laid-off prison workers, said the governor’s plan is too limited.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/senate-approves-5-5-million-for-prison-lepage-wants-to-close/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2017/05/Downeast-correctional.jpgGov. Paul LePage wants to shut down the Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport.Tue, 20 Mar 2018 21:18:18 +0000
Renowned chef and her husband, former owners of Zapoteca, indicted on theft charges https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/former-owners-of-old-port-restaurant-indicted-on-theft-charges/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/former-owners-of-old-port-restaurant-indicted-on-theft-charges/#respond Wed, 21 Mar 2018 00:34:15 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/former-owners-of-old-port-restaurant-indicted-on-theft-charges/ The former owners of a popular Old Port restaurant have been indicted by the Cumberland County grand jury on charges of theft by deception and negotiating a worthless instrument.

Renowned chef Shannon D. Bard, 47, was indicted on Class C felony charges of theft by deception and negotiating a worthless instrument, according to the March list of Cumberland County grand jury indictments.

Her husband, 62-year-old Thomas Bard, was indicted on Class B felony charges of theft by deception and negotiating a worthless instrument. The couple live in Kennebunk, according to the indictment.

The Bards operated Zapoteca, a well reviewed Mexican restaurant on Fore Street, for six years before it closed in June of last year. Shannon Bard, who published a cookbook two years ago, rose to fame through TV cooking appearances, taking the top prize in 2014 from the Food Network show “Kitchen Inferno.”

But by September last year, the couple were facing a dozen lawsuits filed by vendors who say the couple left a trail of unpaid bills when they closed.

The restaurant was among the most highly regarded in Portland and Bard was well known even beyond Maine, with appearances on cooking competition shows on the Food Network and a cookbook published two years ago. The couple said they decided to close it and concentrate on a restaurant and cooking school in their hometown of Kennebunk so they could spend more time with their children, who are in high school and college.

They made no mention of the lawsuits filed in Cumberland County courts that suggest increasing financial pressures on the restaurant starting last fall.

The suits paint a picture of Bard that is starkly at odds with her national reputation as an acclaimed restaurateur who has cooked at the world-famous James Beard House in New York.

In November, Independent Restaurant Supply of Portland, which sells silverware, furniture and kitchen equipment to restaurants, filed suit against the Bards, claiming it was owed $6,000 by Bard Enterprises, the parent company of Zapoteca.

In the suit, the company said Zapoteca had ordered supplies from the company through 2013 and after that made only occasional payments, “which ended in June 2015 along with any communication regarding their outstanding balance.”

In November, Tom Bard, who operates Bard Enterprises, spoke briefly to the Portland Press Herald, playing down the couple’s financial difficulties.

“We’re working with everybody” to settle the bills, he said. “Closing down a restaurant is never an easy thing to do.”

Bard said Zapoteca was “a good, strong, profitable restaurant,” and suggested that some of the financial problems they have experienced stemmed from Mixteca, the restaurant the two operated in New Hampshire.

“Everything kind of got pushed up from there,” he said. “We’re basically working through it and that’s all I’ve got to say about it.”

Other creditors who filed suit included a natural gas supplier, which said it was owed nearly $13,000, with court costs; Micucci’s, an Italian grocer in Portland, which said the restaurant owed it nearly $900, with additional costs for its attempts to collect the money; a restaurant supply company, which said its $6,000 bill had not been paid; a food service company, which said it had an unpaid bill for slightly more than $10,000; and Republicash, a check cashing and payday loan company, which filed suit for $9,000 after it said the restaurant’s paychecks to employees bounced.

Many of the suits were filed last spring and summer, while others date even further back, including one in which a New Hampshire landlord claimed to be owed more than $70,000 for a restaurant named Mixteca that Bard operated in Durham, New Hampshire, and closed in January. That debt is impinging on Tom and Shannon Bard’s private life, with a lien placed on the couple’s 227-year-old, $440,000 house near downtown Kennebunk.

Casco View Holdings III, the landlord of the building that housed the Portland restaurant, also filed suit against Zapoteca, claiming the restaurant failed to pay its rent in January. In November, the rent was more than $6,600 a month, with taxes, trash collection fees, water bills and a late fee pushing the tab to over $10,000 a month.

Sergio Ramos, the former manager of Zapoteca, also filed suit against the restaurant, saying the company had not paid him in line with the terms of his $50,000-a-year contract, which also had a provision that would allow him to buy a piece of the business, with increasing amounts depending on how long he worked there. The lawyer handling the suit for the former manager said the dispute has been ordered into arbitration and he declined to discuss the details.

Several of the lawsuits against the Bards were resolved as default judgments because the Bards did not show up to contest them.

Agera Energy, the restaurant’s natural gas supplier, filed suit after it claimed the Bards failed to pay a bill for $8,081. Interest added more than $1,700 to the tab, plus $3,000 for attorney’s fees, for a total of $12,803.72, more than 50 percent above the original bill. The lien filed by 6 Jenkins Court, the New Hampshire landlord of the restaurant there, is accruing interest at a rate of nearly 7 percent.

Trimark United, a food service and equipment supplier, said it was owed $10,007.90 by the Bards. That company’s suit also alleged that Tom Bard changed a section in the credit agreement between the company and Bard, crossing out information indicating that the couple owned their house in Kennebunk and instead, writing that the house was rented, possibly an attempt to shield it if the company sought to collect any unpaid bills by putting a lien on the house. Trimark United’s suit against the Bards indicated that the company was seeking half the value of the house, or $220,000, as a punitive measure.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/former-owners-of-old-port-restaurant-indicted-on-theft-charges/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/Bards-2-pack-crop.jpgWed, 21 Mar 2018 09:08:52 +0000
Lawmakers uphold veto of Bar Harbor port authority bill https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/lawmakers-uphold-veto-of-bar-harbor-port-authority-bill/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/lawmakers-uphold-veto-of-bar-harbor-port-authority-bill/#respond Wed, 21 Mar 2018 00:28:04 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/lawmakers-uphold-veto-of-bar-harbor-port-authority-bill/ BAR HARBOR — The Maine Legislature has sustained Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a bill to create a port authority in Bar Harbor.

Opponents of the bill feared the possibility of a large cruise ship pier coming to the area. LePage vetoed the bill earlier this month, and lawmakers sustained that veto on Tuesday.

LePage called the proposal a needless creation of bureaucracy. Officials in Bar Harbor have argued that creating a port authority could help prevent congestion and debt.

Friends of Frenchmen Bay, a local group that opposed creation of the authority, cheered the decision. Spokeswoman Pamela McCullough said the proposal “would have benefited only the out-of-state cruise ship industry.”

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/lawmakers-uphold-veto-of-bar-harbor-port-authority-bill/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/CruisingNewEngland_Semp-e1521594743375.jpgTue, 20 Mar 2018 20:36:42 +0000
Waterville council upholds mayor’s veto of housing study committee https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/waterville-council-upholds-mayors-veto-of-its-earlier-vote-to-create-a-housing-study-committee/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/waterville-council-upholds-mayors-veto-of-its-earlier-vote-to-create-a-housing-study-committee/#respond Wed, 21 Mar 2018 00:11:38 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/waterville-council-upholds-mayors-veto-of-its-earlier-vote-to-create-a-housing-study-committee/ WATERVILLE — In a surprise move Tuesday night, the City Council voted unanimously to uphold Mayor Nick Isgro’s veto of a vote the council took March 6 to create a housing study committee.

With Councilor Winifred Tate, D-Ward 6, absent Tuesday and the Ward 5 council seat vacant after Nick Champagne’s recent resignation, councilors voted 5-0 against overriding Isgro’s veto.

There was no discussion before or after the vote, but Council Chairman Steve Soule, D-Ward 1, said after the meeting that not all councilors were of the same persuasion on the issue as when they voted earlier this month to create the study committee.

“We knew that we weren’t going to be able to come to a compromise and we wouldn’t have the consensus to override the veto, so we thought it was best to let it go and move on to other pressing items,” Soule said.

Isgro said after the meeting that he was glad councilors did not override his veto.

“I’m very pleased that the council had an open approach on this and seemed to really listen to the voice of the people who spoke in opposition to this study committee,” he said.

The council voted 6-0 March 6 to create the committee, which would have investigated methods and tools to help city code enforcement officers ensure that businesses renting properties for housing meet city, state and federal government laws and ordinances related to health and safety and construction standards.

The next day, March 7, Isgro vetoed the council’s vote to create a housing study committee.

The committee would have looked at vacant and abandoned properties and work with city departments, including code enforcement, to explore what other communities are doing to address the need for safe housing.

The committee would have had up to 10 members, including three city councilors; a representative of the Waterville Housing Authority; a landlord; two residents, Erik Thomas and Bob Murray; Paula Raymond, a representative of the South End Neighborhood Association; and ex-officio, or nonvoting, members including code enforcement officers Daniel Bradstreet and Garth Collins and City Planner Ann Beverage.

Isgro’s written veto said those promoting the committee had “insidious” intentions to enact a landlord registry that would involve fees for rental property owners.

Councilors later said the resolution was not looking to create a registry, which was floated as a possible outcome last summer.

City Manager Michael Roy said Monday that whenever a mayor vetoes a council decision, the issue automatically goes back on the agenda for council consideration. The council did not ask to consider overriding the veto.

Roy said five council members had to vote to approve the housing study committee for the mayor’s veto to be overturned.

In other matters Tuesday, the council voted 5-0 to award a contract to Freightliner, of Bangor, for a $153,997 dual-axle dump truck with accessory equipment to replace an old truck. Freightliner submitted the lowest of five bids received for the truck and equipment.

Roy said that over the last two weeks, two and three city trucks were inoperable at various times, even during snowstorms, and the city had to hire plow trucks to help.

“This is extremely important,” he said of awarding a contract for a new truck.

Soule concurred, intimating that Public Works Director Mark Turner has had his hands full with equipment breakdowns.

“If you look up the word ‘adversity,’ I think you’d find Mark’s picture,” Soule said, to laughter and applause.

City Clerk Patti Dubois reminded those present that her office is accepting letters of intent from people interested in being appointed to the Ward 5 council seat. The letters must be submitted to her office in City Hall by 5 p.m. March 29, she said.

Dubois also praised her election crew, including Joan and Roland Hallee and Herb Oliver, who worked during a snowstorm last week and had to have their vehicles plowed out when it was time to leave.

“It was a skeleton crew and they did yeoman’s work,” she said. “It was a long day.”

The council also voted 5-0 to award a $147,295 contract to B&B Paving Inc. of Hermon, and a contingency allowance of $14,729, for a pavement upgrade on County Road. The work would be done this summer. B&B submitted the lowest of eight bids the city received for the project.

The council voted 5-0 to change the zoning at 19, 21 and 23 Summer St. from residential to contract zoned commercial with the conditions that a financial institution is the only permitted use and that the dimensional requirements of the transitional district would apply. New Dimensions Federal Credit Union is requesting the change because it wants to construct a credit union branch there.

Councilors approved authorizing the city to apply for funds for projects this year at Robert LaFleur Municipal Airport and donate two properties to the airport. The council also voted 5-0 to award a $21,175 contract to Sherwin-Williams Paint Store, of Waterville, for paint used to stripe streets, parking lots, crosswalks and parking stalls.

Amy Calder — 861-9247


Twitter: @AmyCalder17


https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/waterville-council-upholds-mayors-veto-of-its-earlier-vote-to-create-a-housing-study-committee/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2015/11/449156_120656-Waterville-City-Coun.jpgThe entrance to the Waterville City Council chambers inside The Center in downtown Waterville.Tue, 20 Mar 2018 20:17:09 +0000
Rep. Poliquin sells house in Oakland, remains in 2nd District https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/rep-poliquin-sells-house-in-oakland-remains-in-2nd-district/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/rep-poliquin-sells-house-in-oakland-remains-in-2nd-district/#respond Wed, 21 Mar 2018 00:04:23 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/rep-poliquin-sells-house-in-oakland-remains-in-2nd-district/ OAKLAND, Maine — Maine’s Republican congressman has sold his house in the 2nd Congressional District, but is continuing to live on the property through a rental agreement.

Rep. Bruce Poliquin moved into the home in Oakland before running for his first term in the U.S. House, in 2014. The town assessor says his home sold for $450,000 on Jan. 3 to Gary and Elizabeth Ouellette of Winslow.

An adviser says Poliquin is leasing back an apartment on the property. He brokered that deal during the sale of the home.

A spokesman said last year that Poliquin was looking to downsize. The assessor says the Oakland property included two structures, a two-story house and a lakeside camp.

Poliquin represents Maine’s sprawling, northern 2nd Congressional District. He also owns a home in Georgetown, which is in the 1st Congressional District.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/rep-poliquin-sells-house-in-oakland-remains-in-2nd-district/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2017/11/Poliquin-e1515171943655.jpgWed, 21 Mar 2018 12:47:35 +0000
Jay woman pays off $5,000 in restitution to C.N. Brown https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/jay-woman-pays-off-5000-in-restitution-to-c-n-brown/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/jay-woman-pays-off-5000-in-restitution-to-c-n-brown/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 23:13:08 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/jay-woman-pays-off-5000-in-restitution-to-c-n-brown/ FARMINGTON — A Jay woman entered into a one-year delayed sentencing agreement Monday in connection with stealing nearly $5,000 from a C.N. Brown convenience store in Farmington.

Lisa Parent, 49, pleaded guilty to two counts of felony theft in December in Franklin County Superior Court.

Sentencing was delayed to provide time for Parent to pay back the nearly $5,000.

Deputy District Attorney James Andrews told the court Monday that Parent had paid restitution in full.

In December, Andrews said if the case went to trial, testimony would have been heard that Parent was a manager at the Route 4 store and the only one who had access and the combination to the safe. Only a manager is authorized to make deposits for the store

There would also be testimony that only a partial deposit was made Feb. 2, $2,331 short of what was supposed to be deposited. No deposit was made on Feb. 9, which should have been $2,558, Andrews said.

A district manager for the store called the Farmington police after money’s absence was discovered. Officer Darin Gilbert conducted an investigation before arresting Parent.

If Parent completes the conditions in the deferred sentencing agreement, she will be able to withdraw her pleas to felony charges and plead to a misdemeanor and there would be a discharge in the case, Andrews said.

If she is unsuccessful, she faces up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/jay-woman-pays-off-5000-in-restitution-to-c-n-brown/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/817419_603553-Lisa-Parent.jpgLisa ParentTue, 20 Mar 2018 19:53:03 +0000
New Sharon residents OK budget, elect incumbents https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/new-sharon-residents-ok-budget-elect-incumbents/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/new-sharon-residents-ok-budget-elect-incumbents/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 22:31:44 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/new-sharon-residents-ok-budget-elect-incumbents/ NEW SHARON — For the second year in a row, voters approved a budget less than the previous year’s and they elected four incumbents for another three years.

The $859,885 budget is $40,093 less than last year’s $909,978.

Most of the remaining 44 articles were passed as presented.

An article seeking $3,300 for the New Sharon Historical Committee and Museum was amended to $1,800.

Town Clerk Pamela Griswold said voters approved a 3 percent discount for taxes paid within a month of receipt of the bill, but they amended the article to stipulate funds would be taken from surplus rather than raised through taxes.

She said voters amended the rate of interest on delinquent taxes from 0.67 percent per month to 8 percent annually. By state law the interest can not exceed 8 percent annually, and the per month amount would have equaled 8.04 percent.

Voters gave selectmen authority to make final determinations on the closing or opening of roads for winter maintenance. They also voted to allow the board to explore the cost of discontinuing Bassett Road.

Griswold said the road is off Industry Road between Jersey Avenue and Prince Road.

“The board proactively brought it to the voters to start the discussion. If they decide to close the road, they would bring it to the voters,” Griswold said.

During Friday’s elections, Travis Pond received 137 votes for selectman. There were 15 write-ins.

Jeff Harris, who was elected to the Regional School Unit 9 board of directors, received 153 votes. Erin Norton received 145 votes for treasurer, while John Pond received 151 votes for road commissioner.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/new-sharon-residents-ok-budget-elect-incumbents/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/Town-Meeting-web-2018.jpgtown meeting logo 2018Tue, 20 Mar 2018 19:05:42 +0000
Owner of J’s Oyster in Portland gets 4 months in jail for failing to pay Maine taxes https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/owner-of-js-oyster-bar-in-portland-to-serve-4-months-for-failing-to-pay-taxes/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/owner-of-js-oyster-bar-in-portland-to-serve-4-months-for-failing-to-pay-taxes/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 22:29:34 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/owner-of-js-oyster-bar-in-portland-to-serve-4-months-for-failing-to-pay-taxes/

Cynthia Brown, photographed Tuesday at J’s Oyster, will serve four months in jail for failure to pay state sales and income taxes. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

The owner of a landmark bar and restaurant on Portland’s waterfront will serve four months in jail and pay more than $1.3 million in restitution for failing to turn over most of her sales taxes to the state, and for not paying her personal and corporate Maine income taxes, over a period of seven years.

Cynthia Brown of Portland, who owns and operates J’s Oyster on Commercial Street, was sentenced Monday by Superior Court Justice Lance Walker to four years in prison with all but four months suspended, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills said in a statement Tuesday. Brown, 58, also was placed on three years probation.

Brown, who has an 11-year-old grandson, will begin serving her sentence, most likely at the Cumberland County Jail, in two weeks.

Mills said that Brown owed Maine Revenue Services, the state tax agency, more than $1.3 million in restitution, and has repaid more than $829,000 since pleading guilty in January 2017. Brown is required, under terms of her probation, to repay the remaining $473,000.

“Maine citizens trust business owners to pay over the sales tax charged to their customers to Maine Revenue Services and to pay personal and corporate taxes on the income that they earn,” said Mills, a Democratic candidate for governor. “My office will pursue individuals who abuse the trust placed in them to collect sales tax for the benefit of the people of the State of Maine. We also will strive to recover as much restitution as possible in order to make Maine taxpayers whole.”

Brown, beginning in March 2008, began failing to turn over most of the sales tax she collected from restaurant patrons to Maine Revenue Services. Mills said Brown “illegally kept” the remaining funds for her own personal and business use.

“Brown then underreported the restaurant’s taxable sales and sales taxes collected, which enabled Brown to steal over $800,000 in sales tax,” Mills said in the statement. “She also failed to pay personal and corporate income tax during this time period.”

Mills said the practice of not paying sales and income taxes to the state eventually ended in March 2015.

Brown’s attorney, Tom Hallett of Portland, said his client’s willingness and ability to repay restitution to the state earned her a reduced sentence. If she had gone to trial and lost her case, Brown might have received a longer sentence – potentially in the range of seven to 15 months.

“You always hope for no jail time, but we weren’t able to do that in this,” Hallett said Tuesday. “In all honesty, this was a fairly lenient sentence.”

Hallett said he remains hopeful that jail officials will grant Brown work release privileges. If that were to happen, Brown could work at her restaurant during most of the day, Hallett said. She won’t be eligible for work release until about one month into her sentence.

In a telephone interview Tuesday evening, Brown was asked if she had any regrets about what she did.

“Yes, one hundred percent. I was in a dark place,” she said. “It wasn’t done with intent. I let things go drastically for a while and this is where I ended up.”

During those years, Brown said she devoted much of her time to caring for her sick husband, Lester Brown, and not enough time attending to her business affairs. He died in 2013 after a battle with cancer.

“My husband’s death brought me out of my fog,” Brown said.

Brown took it upon herself to repay her debts, an effort she credits her employees for helping her accomplish.

“The business has been doing so well. I’ve been able to pay a lot of the money back,” Brown said.

J’s Oyster was established in 1977. Brown took over the business in 1989 after the death of her mother, Janice Noyes.

The case was investigated by the Maine Revenue Services’ Criminal Investigations Unit. Hallett, Brown’s attorney, said that the matter only involved violations affecting state taxes. The Internal Revenue Service was not involved, Hallett said.


https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/owner-of-js-oyster-bar-in-portland-to-serve-4-months-for-failing-to-pay-taxes/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/1350517_516282-20180320_JsOyster_2.jpgCynthia Brown, owner of J's Oyster will serve four months in jail for failure to pay state sales and income taxes. (Staff photo by Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer)Wed, 21 Mar 2018 08:55:34 +0000
Bill would tighten rules for Maine’s ballot-question process https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/bill-would-place-new-constraints-on-maines-citizen-initiative-process/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/bill-would-place-new-constraints-on-maines-citizen-initiative-process/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 22:00:47 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/20/bill-would-place-new-constraints-on-maines-citizen-initiative-process/ AUGUSTA — Maine lawmakers are considering a bill to tighten regulations on those who gather voters’ signatures under the state’s citizen initiative process, including more disclosure of where their funding is coming from.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Louis Luchini, D-Ellsworth, among other things would require those giving more than $100,000 to a ballot question committee to disclose their top five donors. The measure, which was heard before the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee on Tuesday, would also require petitioners to disclose if they were being paid and prohibit a notary public who is working with a campaign from notarizing voter signatures before they are turned in.

Supporters of the bill say it would bring more transparency to a ballot-question process that, in their view, has been hijacked by well-heeled, special-interest groups from outside of Maine as a way of getting their policy preferences enacted.

“Because these measures can go straight to the ballot, these disclosures will provide critical information to Maine voters,” Luchini said. He noted that the committee had dealt extensively with a campaign in 2017, financed largely by international gambling entrepreneur Shawn Scott, to bring a casino to York County.

Scott, his sister Lisa Scott and various business partners spent over $10 million on the failed effort, but the source of those funds was not always clearly defined and the various ballot question and political action committees behind the effort are facing record-level fines of $500,000 for violations of state finance disclosure laws.

“There was a lot of attempts to disguise the true source of that money,” said Luchini, the House chairman of the committee. “What this bill is trying to do is get at that situation where you can prevent dark money from flowing in and being hidden by those who wish to put a law on the ballot.”

Since 2016, voters have been asked to decide seven different ballot questions, including the York County casino, background checks for private gun sales, raising Maine’s minimum wage, expanding Medicaid and tacking a 3 percent surcharge on household income over $200,000 to help fund public education. Some of the measures were approved, some were rejected and some were altered after the fact by the Legislature.

Opponents of the bill included the left-leaning nonprofit Maine People’s Alliance. It has successfully backed four ballot initiatives in the last five years, including the minimum wage hike and the expansion of Medicaid.

Taryn Hallweaver, the legislative director for the MPA, said there were a number of legal, technical and practical issues with the bill. Hallweaver said requiring petitioners who gather signatures to disclose whether they were being paid to do so may be in violation of the First Amendment right to free speech.

“The deputy secretary of state has already weighed in on this that there are constitutionality issues with this,” she said.

Hallweaver also said MPA used “unionized salaried canvass members,” many of whom lived in Maine or grew up in Maine, and that the canvassers and volunteers were trained to explain issues thoroughly to those who were signing petitions.

But others, including Peter Gore, the vice president of government relations for the Maine Chamber of Commerce, said many petitioners were professionals who were brought to Maine by a campaign to work for the money and not for the cause. He said the bill would add transparency to Maine’s ballot question process.

“We believe it will help Maine people understand who is behind these efforts and decide for themselves whether those promoting their passage represents a true grassroots effort or outside well-funded special interests who may put their policy goals above the ordinary Maine person,” Gore said. “And ordinary Maine people are not always those gathering signatures or working on the question.”

Gore accused the MPA of hiring people from Las Vegas to gather signatures for a ballot question in November on taxing high-wage earners to raise $310 million to fund home health services for Maine’s elderly and disabled. That effort was largely bankrolled with a $350,000 infusion of cash from the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Community Change Action and the Open Society Policy Center, also based in D.C., a nonprofit funded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

Hallweaver denied that the MPA hired people from Las Vegas to work on the campaign.

“We don’t really condone that practice,” she said.

Rep. Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop, said the ballot measure process was there as an outlet for citizens to move popular policies forward when the Legislature was unable to do so because of political gridlock.

But questions over who is truly funding ballot question efforts in Maine should be answered for voters, said David Trahan, executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine. He supports Luchini’s effort.

“The reason this is unfair to Maine residents is small special interests based in Maine can pull money from all 49 states and thousands of like-minded state and national groups and then buy our media outlets,” Trahan said. “Small groups of citizens in the state are then tasked with raising money from a relatively small in-state population.”

The committee will hold a future work session on the bill before voting on whether to recommend it for approval by the full Legislature in the weeks ahead.


https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/bill-would-place-new-constraints-on-maines-citizen-initiative-process/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/02/1123272_88221-20161213_MaineCare.jpgTina Kartika, 24, of Portland signs a petition to put Medicare expansion on the Maine ballot. George Frangoulis of Portland, working for the Maine Peoples Alliance, was gathering signatures Tuesday in Monument Square.Tue, 20 Mar 2018 23:52:59 +0000
Susan Collins to be Colby’s commencement speaker May 27 https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/u-s-sen-susan-collins-will-be-colby-college-commencement-speaker-may-27/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/u-s-sen-susan-collins-will-be-colby-college-commencement-speaker-may-27/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 22:00:19 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/u-s-sen-susan-collins-will-be-colby-college-commencement-speaker-may-27/ WATERVILLE — U.S. Sen. Susan Collins will be commencement speaker May 27 as Colby College’s class of 2018 takes part in its graduation exercise on the Mayflower Hill campus.

Renowned artist Theaster Gates will deliver the baccalaureate address May 26 and receive an honorary degree, according to a Colby news release. At commencement, Colby will confer honorary degrees on alumna Rebecca Corbett, assistant managing editor of The New York Times, and Harold Alfond Foundation’s executive chairman, Gregory W. Powell.

A 1974 Colby graduate, Corbett led the team of reporters who broke the story that launched the #metoo and #timesup movements, according to the release. Powell’s vision and leadership have transformed the lives of thousands of Maine people and play a critical role in the revitalization of downtown Waterville, it says.

The degrees will be given for the recipients’ important contributions to society and culture.

“We are delighted to welcome and honor these remarkable individuals on campus this spring,” Colby President David A. Greene said in the release. “They have shown us the power of principled leadership, the potential for strengthening communities by revealing possibilities where others see constraint, and the promise of creative, persistent action to bring about positive change.”

Collins, a Republican who received an honorary degree from Colby in 2014, has earned a national reputation as an effective legislator who works across party lines to seek consensus on the nation’s most important issues, the release says. “She is 15th in Senate seniority, is the most senior Republican woman, and is widely considered one of the most powerful members of the Senate. For the past four consecutive years, she has ranked as the most bipartisan senator. Senator Collins chairs the Senate Aging Committee and the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, and she serves on the Intelligence Committee as well as the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.”

Corbett was senior enterprise editor at The New York Times before being appointed assistant managing editor in 2013.

“She is known for editing some of the paper’s hardest-hitting stories, most recently demonstrated through breaking the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment story,” the release says. “Corbett is a former trustee of Colby College and a former member of the selection committee for Colby’s Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award for courageous journalism. Prior to joining the Times, she was an editor at the Baltimore Sun.”

In the 1970s, Corbett was state editor for the Morning Sentinel in Waterville.

Theaster Gates is an internationally acclaimed artist whose work has been shown at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Whitney Biennial, and the National Gallery of Art. He is founder and director of the Rebuild Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on culturally driven redevelopment and affordable space initiatives in under-resourced communities. A member of the faculty at the University of Chicago, Gates works with the Harris School of Public Policy on issues related to creative development. He was the first artist in residence at Colby’s Lunder Institute for American Art in fall 2017.

A Waterville native, Powell is chief executive officer and president of Dexter Enterprises, Inc., a wealth management firm, in addition to being executive chairman of the Harold Alfond Foundation, the largest charitable foundation in Maine. Under Powell’s strategic leadership, the Harold Alfond Foundation has funded many initiatives to ensure the strength of Maine’s families, communities, and institutions, including programs to support higher education savings for all Maine children, loan forgiveness for graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs working in the state, and access to high-quality health care for Maine’s people. The approximately 480 students in Colby’s class of 2018 are from 29 states and 43 countries, according to the release. The majority of graduates have studied abroad and completed internships and significant scholarly research. They will go on to a broad range of careers and to graduate or professional schools to study law, education, finance, medicine, nonprofit leadership, and much more.

Commencement begins at 10 a.m. May 27 on the lawn of Miller Library, weather permitting. It is open to the public, and attendees who are not family members of graduates are asked to bring their own chairs. Any notice of weather-related location change will be posted at colby.edu, as will the link to a live webcast for those unable to attend.

Founded in 1813, Colby is one of America’s most selective colleges, according to the release. Serving only undergraduates, Colby offers a rigorous academic program rooted in deep exploration of ideas and close interaction with world-class faculty scholars. Students pursue intellectual passions, choosing among 58 majors or developing their own. Colby’s innovative and ambitious campaign, Dare Northward, will support deeper connections between the College and the world and a fully inclusive experience for all Colby students. Colby is home to a community of 2,000 dedicated and diverse students from more than 80 countries. Its Waterville location provides unique access to world-class research institutions and civic engagement experiences.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/u-s-sen-susan-collins-will-be-colby-college-commencement-speaker-may-27/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/817388_880470_collins.jpgSusan CollinsTue, 20 Mar 2018 18:22:08 +0000
Kennebec County to join opiate lawsuit against drug companies in nationwide effort https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/kennebec-county-to-join-opiate-lawsuit-against-drug-companies-in-nationwide-effort/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/kennebec-county-to-join-opiate-lawsuit-against-drug-companies-in-nationwide-effort/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 21:34:27 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/kennebec-county-to-join-opiate-lawsuit-against-drug-companies-in-nationwide-effort/ AUGUSTA — Kennebec county commissioners voted Tuesday to sign on to a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies that make and distribute opiates, a decision already made by several town, city and county governments in Maine that’s also part of a nationwide effort.

Roger Katz, an attorney with the Augusta law firm Lipman & Katz and a Republican state senator, said in a presentation to the commissioners the lawsuit alleges the companies withheld critical information about the drugs.

“There’s a pretty significant body of evidence that the manufacturers were aware of the addictive quality of the drugs,” Katz said, “and they did not disclose it.”

Katz likened this lawsuit to the suit against the four largest U.S. tobacco companies, which for years denied that nicotine was addictive and that smoking cigarettes caused cancer.

Two decades ago, those suits were settled in the Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement. As part of those settlements, the companies were required to pay states for the medical costs of residents with smoking-related illnesses.

In this case, Katz said the allegations in the suit being brought by Napoli Shkolnik PLLC, of New York City, and Trafton, Matzen, Belleau & Frenette LLP, of Auburn, are that the companies suppressed the knowledge of the risks of the drugs, and public entities have suffered.

“As a result of the misrepresentations of the drug companies, many people have become addicted, many have turned to illicit drugs and many have become a burden to the county — i.e., jails — because of crimes committed to support their addictions,” he said.

In addition to dealing with medical problems that surface among inmates who have been using opioids, the county pays other costs associated with addiction.

Kennebec County Administrator Robert Devlin said one of the county’s costs is holding the Crimonogenic Addiction & Recovery Academy at the jail. The goal of the CARA program is addressing inmates’ substance abuse and criminal thinking patterns.

While the county receives a subsidy from the state of Maine, Kennebec County government funds the balance of the program’s cost, he said.

Costs are also tallied at the county’s Probate Court.

Register of Probate Kathleen Ayers said the county pays for indigent legal fees and for guardians ad litem, a person appointed by the court to advocate for a child’s best interests in certain cases.

“There are a lot of kids who have lost a parent,” Ayers said.

In his presentation to the commissioners, Katz said Kennebec County government would bear no cost for taking part, and forensic experts would be brought in to assess the actual costs of opioid addiction to Kennebec County.

Katz said the lawsuit would be filed in state court.

“We hope the judge would find the companies liable and assess damages,” Katz said.

In December, the Waterville City Council voted to authorize city officials to engage the services of Napoli Shkolnik, and Trafton, Matzen, Belleau & Frenette, of Auburn, for prosecuting legal claims against manufacturers and distributors of opioids arising out of the manufacturers’ and distributors’ fraudulent and negligent marketing and distribution of the drugs.

Augusta City Manager William Bridgeo said Tuesday that Augusta elected officials also are considering joining the lawsuit.

“I am expecting it to come up within the next couple of weeks,” Bridgeo said. “As part of our consideration, the mayor has asked a couple of councilors who are attorneys to look over the engagement letter, and we’re still in that part of the process.”

Auburn, Bangor, Biddeford, Lewiston and Portland are among the Maine cities that have agreed to be part of the lawsuit so far. Katz said most other counties also have signed on.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632


Twitter: @JLowellKJ

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/kennebec-county-to-join-opiate-lawsuit-against-drug-companies-in-nationwide-effort/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/817379_574738_20170105_riverview_3.jpgRoger Katz, an attorney with the Augusta law firm Lipman & Katz and a Republican state senator, said in a presentation Tuesday to Kennebec County commissioners that a state lawsuit alleges pharmaceutical makers and distributors withheld critical information about the addictive properties of their opioid painkillers. Commissioners voted to join the lawsuit.Tue, 20 Mar 2018 17:52:59 +0000
Riverview social worker’s lawsuit over retaliation, unsafe conditions heads to trial https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/riverview-social-workers-lawsuit-over-retaliation-unsafe-conditions-heads-to-trial/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/riverview-social-workers-lawsuit-over-retaliation-unsafe-conditions-heads-to-trial/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 21:10:26 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/riverview-social-workers-lawsuit-over-retaliation-unsafe-conditions-heads-to-trial/ A federal judge’s recent ruling allows a lawsuit by a Riverview Psychiatric Center social worker to go to trial in May on a claim of whistleblower retaliation after she sounded alarms over unsafe conditions for staff and patients.

Jennifer Taghavidinani, of Oakland, says she was locked out of the state hospital in Augusta, spent two months without work, and was denied a merit raise because she complained about unsafe working conditions.

Taghavidinani’s lawsuit, filed in April 2016 against Riverview and former Superintendent Jay Harper, alleged years of harassment and negligence at the 92-bed state psychiatric center in Augusta, saying the staff and patients were in danger.

Taghavidinani said some staff members at the hospital were acting unprofessionally and that both she and patients there were suffering as a result.

Starting in 2011, Taghavidinani complained of harassment and mistreatment to her supervisor, then to the hospital’s human resources director. She filed a grievance through her union; filed a formal complaint with a government oversight office; described her experiences at Riverview to Daniel Wathen, who serves as court master for a consent decree governing how the state is to treat people who have severe and persistent mental illness; and spoke to the press.

“We feel strongly that the jury will find that Jennifer was retaliated against for engaging in protective activity,” said Taghavidinani’s attorney, Cynthia Dill. “We plan to put on evidence that as a result of her reporting these safety concerns and what she believed, she was locked out of the hospital for a couple months without a stitch to do. She was essentially banished and told not to talk to anybody. She had nothing to do and she was threatened with job termination.”

Taghavidinani is working at Riverview Psychiatric Center now, Dill said.

The lawsuit alleged that Riverview allowed harassment, retaliation and threatening against Taghavidinani and gave unwarranted privileges to violent forensic patients who had been deemed not criminally responsible or incompetent to stand trial because of mental illness. It also says she was transferred to a workplace outside the facility and given no work.

In an order issued earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge Jon D. Levy ruled out a number of claims by Taghavidinani, granting summary judgment in favor of the defendants — Riverview Psychiatric Center and Harper. However, Levy said the case could proceed on Taghavidinani’s claim of retaliation under the state’s Whistleblower Protection Act.

Harper, who resigned his post in March 2016, is no longer a defendant in the lawsuit.

“We are pleased with the court’s ruling, which granted summary judgment to the defendants on all but one of the claims in the case,” Assistant Attorney General Valerie Wright said in a statement Tuesday. “We look forward to trying the remaining claim.”

She also added, “The claim in this case does not pertain to (the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) certification of Riverview.”

The federal agency, which oversees Riverview funding, found numerous problems during an audit, including the use of stun guns, pepper spray and handcuffs on patients, improper record-keeping, medication errors and failure to report progress made by patients. As a result, the hospital lost eligibility in 2014 for federal reimbursement of about $20 million annually.

The Taghavidinani v. Riverview case is set for jury selection May 8 in federal court in Bangor.

In his most recent order, Levy wrote, “It is undisputed that during the time Taghavidinani worked at Anthony Avenue, she did not have any job responsibilities related to social work, and the record indicates that she may not have been assigned any work whatsoever.”

Levy wrote that Taghavidinani was denied a merit pay increase to which she was entitled.

He added, “By Riverview’s own admission, Taghavidinani was provided no opportunity to apply her social work skills while at Anthony Avenue.”

Among the excerpts from a log kept by Taghavidinani at that time:

• 6/19/14: Reported to 41 Anthony Ave.; nobody knew what we were doing as far as jobs.

• 6/23/14: Sat in cubicle all day.

• 6/24/14: Sat in cubicle all day. Not a word from anyone.

• 6/25/14: Came in this morning and had a cutout of a silhouette of a nude woman (4 ft.) hanging on the sliding glass door to my cubicle. I took it down and put it on the file cabinet in the cubicle. … Don’t know who supervisor is or what job it (sic). Sitting in silence in my cubicle. Wendy, office assistant, stopped by and said hello. Said there was not work for me and not sure why I was there.”

The last entry — July 3, 2014 — in one copy of the log, says, “Sitting in cubicle.”

“She in good faith made complaints to Riverview and to OPEGA, talked to newspapers and as a result of that activity was locked out of the hospital,” Dill said. “Job responsibilities were taken away; she was threatened with job termination and denied merit pay.

“What she complained about was unsafe working conditions. There were patients running amok and all kinds of problems, and also a hostile work environment created by bullying by coworkers.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631


Twitter: @betadams

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/riverview-social-workers-lawsuit-over-retaliation-unsafe-conditions-heads-to-trial/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/817359_406958_20140808_riverviewsi.jpgJennifer Taghavidinani, of Oakland, says she was locked out of the Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta, spent two months without work, and was denied a merit raise because she complained about unsafe working conditions at the state hospital for people with mental illness.Wed, 21 Mar 2018 12:16:04 +0000
LePage accuses lawmakers of ‘witch hunt’ over diversion of state-owned timber https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/lepage-accuses-committee-of-witch-hunt-over-lumber-issue/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/lepage-accuses-committee-of-witch-hunt-over-lumber-issue/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 20:58:41 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/lepage-accuses-committee-of-witch-hunt-over-lumber-issue/ AUGUSTA — A fired-up Gov. Paul Le-Page said Tuesday that political tensions over U.S. tariffs on Canadian lumber had no role in a decision to divert state-owned logs away from mills owned by a family critical of his position.

LePage told lawmakers they owed him and Maine Forest Service Director Doug Denico apologies for what he said were “totally fictional and outrageous” allegations about potential retribution against the owners of several Maine mills. Responding to a legislative committee’s detailed request for information, LePage accused some lawmakers of waging “an inquisition” against his administration for wood-flow issues that he said were made to address an emergency situation in one mill, not to hurt another.

“Your letter is nothing more than a political witch hunt,” LePage told members of the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee. “You are making outrageous accusations demanding that members of the executive branch come before you to answer them.”

Lawmakers are seeking clarity on the Maine Bureau of Public Lands’ decision last month to stop shipping timber from state-owned lands to mills owned by the Brochu family. Jason and Chris Brochu publicly criticized the governor last fall for pushing to end trade tariffs on lumber imports from New Brunswick and Quebec – tariffs that LePage says harm the region’s closely entwined forest products industry but that supporters say help level the playing field against Canadian subsidies.

Sen. Tom Saviello, a Wilton Republican who has often clashed with LePage, said it was “a terrible juxtaposition” that the shipments stopped following the Brochus’ criticism and after the governor met with Canadian and Trump administration officials on the tariffs.

“We have not accused anybody of breaking the law,” Saviello said in opening Tuesday’s tension-filled meeting. “We just want the information so we can make a better decision about whether we need to reform legislation or not.”

LePage refuted any connection. Wood was shifted from the Brochus’ Moose River Lumber and Pleasant River Lumber mills, LePage said, because the Stratton Lumber mill – which is owned by a Canadian company – was facing a supply emergency after a piece of logging equipment was damaged by a fire.

“Folks, I have had zero involvement,” LePage said. “I have bigger fish to fry than to worry about what wood goes to any one mill.”

Instead, LePage said “wood is routed where it is needed” and that his administration would work with the Moose River and Pleasant River mills before the stoppage had long-term effects.


It’s no secret that LePage has close ties to the forest products industry in neighboring Canadian provinces, and some say the relationship is too cozy.

The governor lived in New Brunswick and worked for lumber companies north of the border after college. He has strongly criticized the Trump administration’s decision to impose tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber because of those ties – and two-directional commerce – between Maine and neighboring provinces. Canadian companies such as New Brunswick-based Irving Woodlands own land as well as mills in this state, and Maine mills purchase Canadian wood even as some other Maine landowners ship raw wood to mills across the border.

The dispute between LePage and the Brochus has been brewing for months.

Last September, LePage said in his weekly radio address that “corporate greed from a coalition of big lumber companies” had sent wood prices “skyrocketing” at a time when families affected by hurricanes Irma and Harvey needed to rebuild. LePage used the radio address to once again call for an end to tariffs on softwood imports from neighboring New Brunswick, noting that Maine’s “cross-border commerce is intertwined with our Canadian neighbors.”

“Our lumber trade flows back and forth between Maine, Quebec and New Brunswick,” LePage said. “Some Maine companies own mills and forestland on both sides of the border. We are already seeing job losses as companies try to avoid the tariffs.”


Those comments – and, in particular, his assertion of “corporate greed” within the U.S. lumber industry – prompted the Brochus to write in response that LePage was pushing “a Canada-first trade policy, risking the jobs of hundreds of thousands of American workers.”

“The U.S. government has been working to protect the industry from Canada’s abuses and level the playing field,” Jason and Chris Brochu wrote in an op-ed published in the Bangor Daily News. “Unfortunately, the governor is not on the same page and appears unconcerned with the sawmills in Maine and the good American jobs that are impacted by unfair trade practices.”

LePage then responded by accusing the Brochus of “hiding behind a national coalition of corporations,” while adding that the brothers “are free to act out of personal greed and self-interest.”

So when shipments of state-owned logs to the Moose River and Pleasant River mills were halted in February, some people questioned whether the stoppage was tied to the tariffs dispute. Those questions further inflamed the long-standing tensions between the Legislature and the governor – tensions that were on full display Tuesday as LePage repeatedly interrupted lawmakers’ questions and bluntly told the committee that some members were dishonest.

The committee had sent the LePage administration 26 questions about the handling of wood cut on state-owned lands, the decision to stop shipments to the Brochu mills, and exports of state-owned wood to Canadian mills. LePage said he was reviewing the answers to those questions and would deliver them to the committee at a later date.


Committee co-chairman Sen. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville, read a March 9 email from a LePage senior policy adviser that the administration would have answers by Tuesday’s meeting. But the governor, in turn, accused lawmakers of violating his administration’s “protocol” that all requests for information flow through his office. That prompted another terse exchange between LePage and Rep. Roland “Danny” Martin, D-Sinclair, who served as Gov. John Baldacci’s commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Martin, who also served three terms in the Legislature before joining the Baldacci administration, said LePage is the only governor he is aware of “that does not allow your commissioners or your directors to cooperate with oversight committees.”

“We could have avoided your appearance here and the discussion this afternoon had you simply allowed or authorized either the commissioner or director to respond to our simple questions,” Martin said.

Tuesday’s hearing won’t be the end of the matter.

The committee voted to request that the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability review the questions raised by the decision to stop supplying wood to the Moose River and Pleasant River mills. As the Legislature’s watchdog agency, OPEGA has the authority to subpoena administration officials and staffers to answer questions.

LePage said that unlike traditional legislative committees, those testifying before OPEGA will be doing so under oath.

“I don’t trust you,” he told lawmakers.

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


Twitter: KevinMillerPPH

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/lepage-accuses-committee-of-witch-hunt-over-lumber-issue/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/1350489_267330-Gov.PaulLePage.jpg"You are making outrageous accusations demanding that members of the executive branch come before you to answer them."Wed, 21 Mar 2018 00:36:00 +0000
Sap’s on the run! Maine sugar houses open doors for Maine Maple Sunday https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/a-tale-of-two-seasons-for-maine-maple-sunday/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/a-tale-of-two-seasons-for-maine-maple-sunday/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 20:54:27 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/a-tale-of-two-seasons-for-maine-maple-sunday/ It’s been the best of weather, it’s been the worst of weather for maple syrup.

Spring sprang on Tuesday and some snow is predicted for Wednesday night into Thursday, but that’s not going to spoil festivities for the 35th annual Maine Maple Sunday all across the state this weekend.

“It’s kind of turning into a tale of two seasons,” said Kathy Hopkins, a maple syrup educator with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Skowhegan. “From here south in the state, people have already made syrup. I talked to a couple this morning who said they’ve already made two-thirds of a crop, so that’s pretty good.

“When we got all that snow and the cold, cold weather, everything came to a stop, but today is just about perfect for the sap to run.”

Ideal conditions for the sap to run, be collected and boiled down to make syrup happens when it’s below freezing at night and into the 40s during the day.

Sugarbushes north of Skowhegan in Somerset County have not really started to produce sap yet, said Hopkins, who joined Gov. Paul LePage to tap trees at the Blaine House Tuesday morning.

“I think Sunday will be great. It’s the 35th anniversary of Maine Maple Sunday, and I think a lot of sugar makers are planning a few extra events to commemorate that,” she said. “I think the next few days will be perfect, and I’m imagining that everybody will be boiling.”

Shelley Bacon, at Bacon Farm Maple Products on Pond Road in Sidney, predicted a bountiful harvest of sap this season.

“Everything started up again here today,” Bacon said Tuesday. “It’s been shut down for a few days because it’s been so cold. Nothing’s been running. It was running in February as well. To date we have made more this year than we had all last year. It started and then we’ve had some snowstorms and it’s been really cold, so it shut the trees down; but it looks like we’ve got a good 10 to 15 day forecast of warm-cold cycles, which is what we need.”

Like many other sugar houses across the region, the Bacon Farm will be open to visitors from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday for maple treats and tours of the evaporator. It will have ice cream with maple syrup drizzled over the top, maple candy, popcorn, whoopie pies and jams.

For a list of producers participating in Maine Maple Sunday activities, go to the Maine Maple Producers website.

Maine Maple Sunday is always the fourth Sunday in March, although some sugar houses are offering events for both Saturday and Sunday.

The idea for a yearly event was hatched 35 years ago by Jack Steeves and other sugar makers at Steeves’ Strawberry Hill Farms on Rowe Road in Skowhegan. In February 1983, eight Maine maple syrup producers gathered in the Steeveses’ living room to designate one day for maple syrup lovers to visit the state’s many sugar houses, smell the vapor of the evaporators and see how sap is transformed into sweet, golden syrup and maple candy.

The group decided that Maine Maple Sunday, to be celebrated this Sunday, would be the fourth Sunday in March.

Elsewhere in Somerset County, Sarah MacMichael, of Athens, continued the tale of two seasons theme, saying the sap has been running off and on.

“We have had a few days we didn’t have to collect. First it wasn’t cold enough at night and then it wasn’t warm enough during the day,” she said. “Gotta love Mother Nature.”

Conditions were reported being much the same in Franklin County as they have been in Kennebec and Somerset counties.

Brandon Plaisted, at Plaisted Farm Maple Products on Borough Road in Jay, said the sap run has been up and down.

“It was running really good, then we got quite a bit of snow and it slowed down some, but now it’s already starting to run again,” Plaisted said. “All the snow will help prolong the season — as long as the temperatures cooperate.”

He said their farm will be open to the public Sunday for boiling demonstrations and free samples of ice cream with syrup, coffee, donuts and hot chocolate.

The Skowhegan Maple Festival, now in its 12th year, begins Friday with free tours at art teacher Iver Lofving’s Chez Lonndorf, a sugarhouse in the woods on Burrill Hill in Skowhegan, built in 2002 by vocational and technical students at Skowhegan Area High School. Lofving said the sugarhouse’s name is a mix of French, Swedish and German — all family links — meaning “at maple village.”

Celebrating Somerset County’s status as the top maple producing county in the United States, the festival continues Saturday and Sunday, said Mary Haley, project coordinator at Main Street Skowhegan.

A staple of the festival is the Saturday morning pancake breakfast on tap for 7 to 10 a.m. at Tewksbury Hall behind the Federated Church on Island Avenue, featuring locally sourced foods, including Somerset County maple syrup.

Saturday will include many activities downtown after breakfast, including seedling planting and a maple leaf scavenger hunt, with leaves colored and decorated by students at North Elementary School in Skowhegan.

New to the Maple Festival this year is a live chain saw carving demonstration by Josh Landry, a meet-and-greet with local law enforcement — including a State Police dog unit — and the free Sap and Syrup Shuttle provided by Poland’s Bus Service.

“We’re really excited to be able to provide the Sap and Syrup Shuttle this year,” Haley said. “It’ll loop from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from downtown, to Tessiers Farm, and up to Smith Brothers. Now anyone can visit Skowhegan’s sap houses and see what makes Somerset County really special.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367



https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/a-tale-of-two-seasons-for-maine-maple-sunday/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/817348_616553-20180320_LePageMap6.jpgMaine maple products are on display Tuesday at the tree tapping event at the Blaine House in Augusta. Lone Pine Brewing Co. will release a Maple Sunday Breakfast Brown on Sunday that was among the maple products Tuesday.Wed, 21 Mar 2018 09:26:01 +0000
One way or two: Augusta councilors to discuss downtown traffic flow https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/one-way-or-two-augusta-councilors-to-discuss-downtown-traffic-flow/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/one-way-or-two-augusta-councilors-to-discuss-downtown-traffic-flow/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 20:37:04 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/one-way-or-two-augusta-councilors-to-discuss-downtown-traffic-flow/ AUGUSTA — Whether downtown Water Street should be changed from one-way to two-way traffic and whether people should be allowed to drink beer or wine occasionally at special events at Lithgow Public Library are both up for debate by city councilors Thursday.

A traffic study by a consultant hired by the city determined it is possible to convert the one-way section of downtown Water Street, between Bridge and Winthrop streets, to two-way traffic, though doing so would cost about $75,000 and eliminate 12 to 16 parking spaces.

Considering changing the flow of traffic was recommended by a team of downtown experts who visited Augusta in 2013, as a way to help spur vitality and slow traffic.

City Manager William Bridgeo said the Maine Traffic Resources consultant who conducted the study will be on hand Thursday to discuss the study with councilors and the city staff. He said it would be an initial discussion of the report and there will be meetings between city officials and leaders of the Augusta Downtown Alliance, and the public, before a decision is made on whether to change to two-way traffic flow downtown.

Another question going to councilors for discussion Thursday is whether to adopt a policy to allow the city manager to, for special occasions, allow the consumption of beer and wine in the community room of the city’s public library, which underwent a major renovation and expansion in 2016.

Bridgeo said in the past library trustees have hosted social events to thank donors to fundraising campaigns, but he didn’t approve those previously because the city didn’t have a policy on whether to allow the consumption of alcohol at events at the library.

“It’d be once or twice a year,” Bridgeo said of how often events with beer and wine might take place in the library’s community room, which is just inside the main entrance. “On rare occasion there are events and functions where it’s not inappropriate to serve beverages with a light alcohol content in them.”

He said prompting the current consideration of the issue is the planned April visit to Augusta of Boston-based Consul General of Germany, Dr. Ralf Horlemann, who is coming to honor Cony High School’s German language program, one of only 13 schools in the United States selected to be part of the global network of “Schools: Partners for the Future,” a German program that recognizes partner schools with strong German programs. Horlemann expressed a desire to bring a case of German beer to share with adults at a social event planned at the library.

Councilors are also scheduled, at their 6:30 p.m. Thursday meeting in the council chamber at Augusta City Center, to discuss:

• whether to allow beer to be served during events to be held this summer on city property, including a food truck festival at Mill Park, Augusta Trails Treadfest at the Bond Brook Recreation Area, Kennebec River Day at Mill Park, and a fundraiser for the Colonial Theatre on Front Street;

• an Age Friendly Augusta Advisory Committee request to apply for $14,000 in grant funding to buy lock-boxes for senior citizens or disabled residents, which could be used by firefighters to enter their locked buildings during emergencies; and

• proposed changes to the city charter.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647


Twitter: @kedwardskj

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/one-way-or-two-augusta-councilors-to-discuss-downtown-traffic-flow/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/813832_403808-20180309_TwoWay_773.jpgTraffic in the one-way section of Water Street heads north on Friday in downtown Augusta. A city-commissioned study recommends a change to a two-traffic traffic pattern downtown.Tue, 20 Mar 2018 18:28:02 +0000
Emily Higginbotham: Our elders show us how we ought to live https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/our-elders-show-us-how-we-ought-to-live/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/our-elders-show-us-how-we-ought-to-live/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 20:26:33 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/our-elders-show-us-how-we-ought-to-live/ It has been well reported that I enjoy the World Wide Web. I like to share the occasional GIF or dank meme on Twitter.com. I love taking a break in my day to double tap some Insta G’s and catch up with Mindy Kaling’s story to see whatever she’s up to on the set of her new show. I also don’t hate falling so far down a YouTube rabbit hole that I end up watching an hour’s worth of Seinfeld blooper reels. And, as my colleague Amy Calder noted in her column this week, I am (somewhat) tech-savvy.

And yet, you may be surprised to hear that I do share some interests with older generations.

For example, I spend a lot of my down time reading the newspaper, listening to public radio and putting together 1,000-piece puzzles of breezy countrysides and the twinkling Parisian cityscape.

I know what you’re thinking, Boomers.

“Millennials, they’re just like us!”

We are! I am!

Even if I don’t own any darn clocks.

And as much as my elders love to tell stories about their life and experiences, I love to hear ’em. Interviews with people who’ve lived into their 90s or beyond 100 are always so interesting, especially when they cite their secret to a long life as something random like eating two raw eggs a day and never marrying.

My veteran colleagues are kind of like my own personal time travelers. Their stories can take me to the decades that predate me and give me an authentic picture of “the way things used to be.”

I recently went to see the documentary “Lives Well Lived,” which featured 40 people aged 75 to 103, with a collective life experience of 3,000 years, sharing their life stories and giving tidbits of wisdom on how the rest of us ought to live our own lives.

The documentary showed many tales of triumph over hard times and secrets to success in love, but what I found most worthwhile was the depiction of all of the different things one could do and be in a lifetime.

Shifting interests and newfound passions prompted many of the subjects to change their professions or pick up a hobby, from political activism to teaching dance. One woman decided at age 50 to change course and move to France to study the language of her mother.

Holding a laundry list of jobs and talents is a common trait I’ve found in many of the most interesting people in my life.

A former professor of mine, who is undoubtedly the most interesting person I know, held so many odd jobs even before he taught journalism for 40 years. Throughout his life he’s been a bouncer, a factory worker, the Santa Claus at the mall. He owned an ice cream parlor. He worked in advertising and then as a copy editor for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He’s also managed to have a family and travel the world.

Such people are inspirational to me because not only is it scary to have to pick one thing and stick with it, it is also stifling.

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be so many things. For a while, I wanted to be — and not just be like, but be — Mia Hamm and score goals in the World Cup. When I was learning about the Revolutionary War, with which I was weirdly obsessed, I wanted to be a historian and be a talking head in one of those documentaries about whether the 10 plagues of Egypt really happened. The aspiration of being a historian fizzled around the time I started watching Emeril Lagasse’s show, Emeril Live, and asked for a chef’s coat for Christmas. I think I was the only 10-year-old conceptualizing menus for my future restaurant. In high school, I quietly wanted to be an author but ripped up everything I wrote out of embarrassment and fear.

Most likely I will always work in journalism, but maybe I’ll also coach my kid’s soccer team, or at the very least hand out orange slices at halftime. I certainly won’t ever be included in any Revolutionary War documentaries, but in a way, newspapers are the first draft of history. It’s likely that I won’t own a restaurant that earns any Michelin stars, but maybe I’ll open a cafe that’s also a bookstore and has regulars who come every weekend because I make great omelettes and the place kind of feels like home. Maybe some day I’ll write a piece of fiction, and instead of crumpling up the pages, I’ll send it to a publisher.

The subjects of the documentary, and the people who’ve lived rich, full lives whom I speak with everyday, are a good reminder to follow passions to wherever they lead. And also, despite growing up with an internet culture that’s set expectations for instant gratification, they’ve shown me that I don’t need to race to do and be all the things that I want — I’ve still got time.

Emily Higginbotham, originally from Illinois, is a reporter at the Morning Sentinel. You can follow her on Twitter: @EmilyHigg. Or reach her by email: ehigginbotham@centralmaine.com.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/our-elders-show-us-how-we-ought-to-live/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2017/05/Higginbotham-Emily-Color-no-words4.jpgTue, 20 Mar 2018 16:56:50 +0000
Waterville police, firefighters search Messalonskee Stream for man reported in water https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/waterville-police-firefighters-search-messalonskee-stream-for-man-reported-in-water/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/waterville-police-firefighters-search-messalonskee-stream-for-man-reported-in-water/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 20:20:21 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/waterville-police-firefighters-search-messalonskee-stream-for-man-reported-in-water/ WATERVILLE — Police and firefighters on Tuesday afternoon scoured the banks of the Messalonskee Stream off West River Road after it was reported that a man might have gone into the water there.

Deputy Chief Bill Bonney, of the Waterville police, said later that emergency workers thoroughly searched along the stream and took all steps to try to find the man. He said a person also reported seeing a man fitting the description originally reported later on Kennedy Memorial Drive.

Bonney was on West River Road with firefighters and Delta Ambulance crews around 3:45 p.m., where, he said, children on a school bus told their bus driver that they had seen a man in his 40s near the stream and he was wearing a camouflage jacket and glasses. The bus driver called the bus garage to report the incident and officials there called police.

Just before 4 p.m., traffic was moving slowly on West River Road where emergency crews were searching from Kennedy Memorial Drive south to about Franklin Street, about a quarter-mile stretch.

Bonney said the initial report was that a man was in the water.

“We responded and requested the Fire Department because they have a boat,” he said. “As things developed, it … looked like somebody ready to get in the water.”

He said ice shelves on the edge of the stream appeared undisturbed.

“We’re not seeing any signs that anyone went in on this side,” Bonney said.

Messalonskee Stream converges with the Kennebec River just south of Carter Memorial Drive, which is south of where the search took place.

Amy Calder — 861-9247


Twitter: @AmyCalder17

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/waterville-police-firefighters-search-messalonskee-stream-for-man-reported-in-water/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/817328_811468-20180320-drown-22.jpgWaterville fire Capt. Drew Corey uses binoculars Tuesday to search for a person reportedly in Messalonskee Stream off the West River Road in Waterville.Tue, 20 Mar 2018 17:27:16 +0000
Cleanup of 1,800 gallons of spilled fuel underway at Belgrade store https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/cleanup-underway-of-1800-gallons-of-spilled-fuel-at-belgrade-store/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/cleanup-underway-of-1800-gallons-of-spilled-fuel-at-belgrade-store/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 20:19:16 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/cleanup-underway-of-1800-gallons-of-spilled-fuel-at-belgrade-store/ State-led cleanup efforts continued this week in the wake of the estimated 1,800 gallons of super-unleaded fuel that spilled when a vehicle struck a gasoline pump at Christy’s Country Store in Belgrade during a recent snowstorm.

About 200 cubic yards of contaminated snow and 200 cubic yards of contaminated soil have been removed from the area, David Madore, director of communications for the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, said Tuesday.

He also said three wells in the area — none of them residential wells — are being tested or will be tested for contaminants, and that results of those tests take about two weeks.

“If the wells were impacted, then they would be monitored quarterly for a one-year period,” he said.

Those wells belong to Christy’s store; the former Town Office, which is across the street; and a small business about 500 feet away from the store.

Madore also said that the company doing the cleanup found “significant cracking” in the paved parking lot. “We will do a geo-probe of the parking lot to determine the extent of contamination beneath the parking lot as well,” he said.

He said that the department’s Maine Ground and Surface Waters Clean-up and Respond Fund is covering the costs of cleanup and remediation work.

“Our first priority is to get the site cleaned-up, then we normally seek reimbursement once a responsible party has been determined,” Madore said in an email. “A DEP responder has been on site every day during clean-up operations and will remain until work is completed. We will continue to monitor the site until we are certain the entire site is safe for residents, consumers and the environment.”

The DEP was notified of the spill early March 14 and the incident was investigated by the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office.

“The guy who hit the pumps was plowing up there,” Chief Deputy Al Morin said. “He backed into the gas pump. It pushed it over.”

Morin said Travis Willett, 35, of Vassalboro, was plowing for Mow by Joe, Inc., a local landscaping and snow removal company, and that he was issued a summons charging him with leaving the scene of a property damage accident.

Morin said Deputy William Kulakowski, who was called to the scene at 4:07 a.m. Wednesday, estimated $12,000 in damage plus $5,152 worth of lost gasoline.

Morin said the Belgrade Fire Department and the responders from the DEP were already at the scene.

Betty Adams — 621-5631


Twitter: @betadams

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/cleanup-underway-of-1800-gallons-of-spilled-fuel-at-belgrade-store/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/817323_983639-damaged-pumps.jpgThis fuel pump in front of Christy's Country Store in Belgrade was struck by a plow truck last week during a snowstorm. Efforts to clean up the estimated 1,800 gallons of spilled fuel are underway.Tue, 20 Mar 2018 16:43:08 +0000
State seeking restitution for Camden woman, 87, recovering from near-fatal dog attack https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/woman-87-recovering-at-home-from-near-fatal-dog-attack-and-restitution-will-be-sought/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/woman-87-recovering-at-home-from-near-fatal-dog-attack-and-restitution-will-be-sought/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 20:08:42 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/woman-87-recovering-at-home-from-near-fatal-dog-attack-and-restitution-will-be-sought/ CAMDEN — The state is seeking restitution for an 87-year-old Camden woman who was nearly killed in December by a dog that her family says should be euthanized.

A pit bull charged and mauled Mary Dearborn while she was walking on Cobb Road in Camden on Dec. 1, police said.

Dearborn was taken to Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport and then flown by a LifeFlight helicopter to a trauma center. She spent nearly a month in a medically induced coma and the doctors initially told the family that she was not expected to survive. She is now recovering at home.

The pit bull, Ollie, came from a residence on nearby Sweetbrier Road. Camden police issued summonses to the dog’s owner, Beth Kwiatkowski, 54, for keeping a dangerous dog, and having a dog at large.

Kwiatkowski’s attorney, Elizabeth Noble of Camden, filed denials to the pair of civil violations on her client’s behalf. Noble was granted a continuance from a March 15 hearing, saying that Kwiatkowski’s insurance company had not yet completed its investigation.

The next court hearing is scheduled for April 12 in Knox County Unified Court.

Camden police Detective Curt Andrick said the dog was placed in a state-mandated 10-day quarantine and now is confined to a run on the owner’s property. He said no complaints about the dog had been filed with the police department before the attack.

The District Attorney’s Office, which is seeking restitution for Dearborn, has not filed a motion with the court to have the dog euthanized.

However, attorney Sarah Gilbert of Camden said Dearborn’s family believes the dog is extremely dangerous and should be euthanized.

“It’s the family’s understanding that the defendant has already previously offered to euthanize the dog, and that the dog has a known history of aggression and needing to be muzzled at all times,” Gilbert said.

The attorney said the physicians in the emergency department at Pen Bay first reported the dog attack to police. Dearborn suffered an extensive temporal artery injury to her head, resulting in intense bleeding. There were two long nail or bite wounds to her head that required stapling, Gilbert said.

“The family expects this attack to be taken very seriously, in light of Ms. Dearborn’s life-threatening injuries. There is no place for a dog like this in a residential neighborhood, surrounded by vulnerable people like Ms. Dearborn and neighborhood children,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert said the family had not yet decided whether to file a civil suit seeking damages for the attack.

Noble did not respond to an email seeking comment on Tuesday.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/woman-87-recovering-at-home-from-near-fatal-dog-attack-and-restitution-will-be-sought/feed/ 0 Tue, 20 Mar 2018 22:58:36 +0000
Maine will be among hardest-hit states if EU retaliates against Trump’s tariffs https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/maine-could-be-hit-hard-if-europe-retaliates-with-tariffs/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/maine-could-be-hit-hard-if-europe-retaliates-with-tariffs/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 19:46:32 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/maine-could-be-hit-hard-if-europe-retaliates-with-tariffs/ A new Brookings Institution report found that Maine would be one of the hardest-hit states if the European Union takes retaliatory measures in response to President Trump’s new tariffs on aluminum and steel imports.

The report found that 9.5 percent of Maine’s exports to Europe would be slapped with retaliatory tariffs if the Trump administration declines to grant an exemption to EU countries exporting metal to the U.S. The state average was roughly 3 percent of exports.

The proposed new tariffs against American products would affect about $39 million worth of Maine exports to the EU, Brookings found, out of a total of $405 million last year.

The Europeans are considering possible tariffs on everything from cranberries to T-shirts. It’s not clear from the report exactly what Maine industries might take a hit.

It also isn’t certain whether the administration will offer exemptions for European steel and aluminum. If it refuses, the EU has said it will impose new tariffs on American products in response, a first step in what could become a trade war.

The impact of higher prices on American products might be fewer export sales of targeted U.S. goods such as rear-view mirrors, sweet corn and whiskey.

The only states that would get hit harder by the EU’s retaliatory proposals are Hawaii, Michigan and Missouri. Maine is the only New England state that would see a greater impact than the national average.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, is skeptical about the tariffs sought by Trump.

“I share the president’s belief that there have been many poorly negotiated trade agreements that have harmed manufacturing jobs in Maine and across our country,” she said in a prepared statement recently. “In the northern half of our state in particular, we have seen many pulp and paper mills close within the last five years, putting thousands of Mainers out of work through no fault of their own.”

“Addressing unfair trade practices, however, requires a careful approach in order to avoid triggering retaliation from other countries,” Collins said. “These tariffs could very well produce the opposite effect of what the president is trying to achieve, inadvertently causing further harm to American jobs and increasing the prices of consumer goods.”

She urged Trump “to work with Congress and our allies to address anti-competitive behaviors in order to protect our manufacturing industry and promote economic growth.”

Brookings is a century-old policy research think tank in the nation’s capital that issues studies on many issues facing the nation.


https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/maine-could-be-hit-hard-if-europe-retaliates-with-tariffs/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2017/02/1156278_345342_eimskip3.jpgEimskip loads containers Thursday on a ship at the International Marine Terminal in Portland.Wed, 21 Mar 2018 00:14:36 +0000
Marginal profits mean it’s closing time for Tempo Dulu and Opium, restaurant and bar at Danforth Inn https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/tempo-dulu-and-opium-to-close-at-the-end-of-the-month/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/tempo-dulu-and-opium-to-close-at-the-end-of-the-month/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 18:52:22 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/tempo-dulu-and-opium-to-close-at-the-end-of-the-month/

Tempo Dulu at the Danforth serves Southeast Asian cuisine and was featured in national publications. Guests have been pampered from the moment they sit down, starting with warm, perfumed hand towels. Staff photo by Gregory Rec

The owners of the Danforth Inn in Portland are closing Tempo Dulu and Opium, the inn’s swanky restaurant and bar. They say the decision to close the businesses after March 31 is not connected to the inn’s impending foreclosure auction.

Raymond Brunyanszki, co-owner of the inn, said the businesses were not profitable enough and that a “disconnect” existed between the guests staying at the inn and people dining at the restaurant. He also cited the difficulty of finding qualified staff familiar with Southeast Asian cuisine.

The Danforth Inn and its sister property, the Camden Harbour Inn, are scheduled for foreclosure auctions March 29, but Brunyanszki said in an interview Tuesday that the businesses will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the end of this week, which will take those auctions off the table. He said Tempo Dulu and Opium would have closed regardless of difficulties with Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, which financed the inns.

Brunyanszki called the foreclosure auctions an “unnecessary step” and a “very aggressive” move by the bank. “I think we, from both sides, lost trust in each other,” he said.

The bank’s corporate office in Bar Harbor did not respond to a message left there Tuesday.

Brunyanszki said he and his partner, Oscar Verest, have total assets that are, conservatively, worth more than $12 million and their loan was for $5.4 million, “so it’s not even 50 percent of all our assets.” He said they plan to be out of bankruptcy by July at the latest.

Tempo Dulu opened in 2015. Guests were pampered from the moment they sat down, getting warm hand towels perfumed with jasmine and frangipani, then dining on dishes such as Beef Rendang and Bumbu Bali Halibut Steamed in Banana Leaf. Eating there could take a big bite out of some people’s budget, with dinner for two and drinks easily costing as much as $200 to $250.

The Danforth Inn, which has nine rooms, will continue to operate as a luxury inn, and Opium will still serve cocktails to inn guests, although it may not continue under that controversial name. Staff photo by Joel Page

Opium followed in 2017, inciting much controversy over its name, which caused an uproar on social media. Some people believed the name was inappropriate given the state’s opioid crisis; others thought the concept of mimicking “a Shanghai opium den of the ’20s” was culturally insensitive.

Brunyanszki said the bar also had its supporters, but at the end of the day “some business might not have come to us because of the name.” He said the bar’s limited space and the small number of cocktails it served made it more of an amenity in the inn than a big part of the business.

“The restaurant is the biggest unit of the two, and even if it is successful it still doesn’t really add up,” he said.

The biggest challenge confronting the restaurant and bar, Brunyanszki said, was that the market for high-end Southeast Asian cuisine is “just too niche” for Portland. Many restaurants in Maine struggle during the slow winter months, but he said Tempo Dulu actually fared better at that time; in the summer, the inn’s guests wanted to dine outside, visit breweries or eat at other hot restaurants in town. Visitors to Maine weren’t looking for Southeast Asian food, he said.

Brunyanszki said that although 99 percent of the guests who stay at the Camden Harbour Inn (which holds a prestigious Relais & Châteaux designation) dine at Natalie’s, the inn’s restaurant, only 30 percent of the guests at the Danforth Inn ate at Tempo Dulu. Ultimately, the Portland businesses were “so marginal it doesn’t make sense to continue,” he said.

“Tempo Dulu did well,” Brunyanszki said. “We just don’t see any growth, and we do need growth with the rising cost of labor and products.”

Although some of the restaurant’s staff found other positions within the company, three people – two in the kitchen and one front-of-the-house staffer – will lose their jobs, Brunyanszki said.

The Danforth, which has nine rooms, will continue to operate as a luxury inn, and Opium will still serve cocktails to inn guests, although it may not continue under that name.

Brunyanszki said the company has not yet decided whether it will open a different restaurant at the Danforth, lease out the space or continue to operate the inn without a restaurant. He said the company will focus on Natalie’s this summer, then re-evaluate its options for the Danforth next winter.

Both Tempo Dulu and Opium have been featured in such national publications as Bon Appetit, Food & Wine and Conde Nast Traveler. Opium was well known for a particular smoky cocktail called the Jakarta, which was named best cocktail in the country by Starchefs in 2015.

Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:


Twitter: MeredithGoad

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/tempo-dulu-and-opium-to-close-at-the-end-of-the-month/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/1108621_177626-20161028_tempo-dul3.jpgPORTLAND, ME - OCTOBER 28: One of the dining rooms at Tempo Dulu in Portland, photographed on Friday, October 28, 2016. (Photo by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer)Wed, 21 Mar 2018 00:24:39 +0000
Police fill 2 U-Hauls with items believed stolen by Thomaston man https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/police-fill-2-u-hauls-with-items-believed-stolen-by-thomaston-man/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/police-fill-2-u-hauls-with-items-believed-stolen-by-thomaston-man/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 18:40:11 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/police-fill-2-u-hauls-with-items-believed-stolen-by-thomaston-man/ THOMASTON — A Thomaston man is a suspect in numerous break-ins and thefts from storage lockers in the midcoast during the last two years, police say.

Joshua Vandine, 37, was arrested by Maine State Police troopers in Rockland on Monday and charged with burglary and possessing a stolen gun, according to police spokesman Stephen McCausland.

Troopers seized enough items from Vandine’s home, vehicle and his storage locker to load up two U-Haul trucks. The items include chainsaws, tools, hunting and fishing equipment, coins, antiques, toys and clothing, according to McCausland.

Police are asking residents of Knox, Waldo, Lincoln and Sagadahoc counties to check their storage units to see if they are missing any items.

Vandine is suspected of cutting the padlocks from the storage units and then replacing the locks with his own to avoid immediate detection.

Owners who have not checked their storage units in months could be victims, police said. Storage unit owners and renters who have discovered they are victims should call the state police in Augusta at 624-7076.

Sheriffs’ offices from the four counties have been working with state police on the cases.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/police-fill-2-u-hauls-with-items-believed-stolen-by-thomaston-man/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/UHAUL-1024x582.jpgTue, 20 Mar 2018 15:04:37 +0000
Bill to allow guns in cars on school grounds is unanimously rejected by Maine House https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/bill-to-allow-guns-in-cars-on-school-grounds-is-unanimously-rejected-by-maine-house/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/bill-to-allow-guns-in-cars-on-school-grounds-is-unanimously-rejected-by-maine-house/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 17:52:15 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/bill-to-allow-guns-in-cars-on-school-grounds-is-unanimously-rejected-by-maine-house/ AUGUSTA — Legislation that would have allowed firearms onto school grounds in Maine, provided they were locked in an occupied vehicle and unloaded, was unanimously rejected by the Maine House on Tuesday.

The bill, offered by Rep. John Martin, D-Eagle Lake, was introduced prior to a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that claimed 17 lives, and was originally meant to allow parents who hunt to be able to pick up or drop off their children at school without having to remove their weapons from their vehicles.

But Martin, in the wake of the Parkland tragedy, asked that the bill be rejected, saying the measure was being politicized and the timing for relaxing gun laws on school grounds was not right.

The measure would have allowed the owner of a firearm to bring the weapon on to school grounds provided it was locked in a gun rack or case and was unloaded, while the firearm’s owner remained in the vehicle with the weapon.

The legislation was opposed by the Maine School Boards Association, Maine School Superintendents Association, the Maine Principals’ Association, and the Maine Gun Safety Coalition, among others.

“This legislation left school officials with the potentially fatal responsibility of identifying whether or not a gun is unloaded and locked during school drop-off time with the lives of countless parents and children hanging in the balance,” House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, said in a prepared statement. “As we begin the difficult and critical work of improving school safety and working to prevent gun violence, this bill would have taken us a step backwards.”

The bill faces additional votes in the Maine Senate, but without House support is unlikely to move forward.

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


Twitter: thisdog

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/bill-to-allow-guns-in-cars-on-school-grounds-is-unanimously-rejected-by-maine-house/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/Screen-Shot-2018-03-20-at-2.02.20-PM.pngTue, 20 Mar 2018 21:37:30 +0000
Watch: A Maine farm family takes us maple sugaring https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/watch-a-maine-farm-family-takes-us-maple-sugaring/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/watch-a-maine-farm-family-takes-us-maple-sugaring/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 17:16:25 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/watch-a-maine-farm-family-takes-us-maple-sugaring/ Videographer Roger McCord documents the making of maple syrup by the Parsons family in Gorham. Multiple generations of the family take us into the woods, introduce us to “The Bombadier” and share their history.

Maine Maple Sunday is March 25, when the Parsons will welcome the public to see their sugaring operation, as do many farmers in Maine. To get the full list of farms and their schedules, click here.

Find other fun spring activities at MaineToday.com.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/watch-a-maine-farm-family-takes-us-maple-sugaring/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/Parsons-family.jpgTue, 20 Mar 2018 13:18:03 +0000
Gray-New Gloucester Middle School declared safe after bomb threat evacuation https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/gray-new-gloucester-middle-school-evacuated-for-bomb-threat/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/gray-new-gloucester-middle-school-evacuated-for-bomb-threat/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 15:58:30 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/gray-new-gloucester-middle-school-evacuated-for-bomb-threat/ Students evacuated Gray-New Gloucester Middle School on Tuesday in response to a bomb threat.

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and Maine State Police responded to the school on Libby Hill Road in Gray shortly after 11 a.m. Tuesday. Several students reported finding a bomb threat written in the boy’s bathroom of the eighth-grade wing of the school.

SAD 15 Superintendent Craig King said in an email early Tuesday afternoon that all 600 middle school students evacuated to the high school while the threat was investigated. Deputies from the sheriff’s office and two K-9 teams from the Maine State Police searched the building. They did not find any explosives. The building was declared safe and students returned to the middle school by 1:20 p.m.

“We had a viable threat,” King wrote in the email. He did not respond to an email with follow-up questions.

Capt. Scott Stewart said the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident.

Since the Valentine’s Day school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 students and teachers, there have been more than a dozen threats against Maine schools. More than 10 teenagers have been charged in connection with those threats.

A 13-year-old Gray-New Gloucester Middle School student was charged with terrorizing earlier this month after allegedly writing a bomb threat in a school bathroom. A threat about the school “getting bombed” was found written on a bathroom stall March 7, prompting an evacuation of all students and staff to the high school. The sheriff’s office and state police searched the school with two explosive-detecting dogs. No explosives were found. The teenager who was charged was not identified.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/gray-new-gloucester-middle-school-evacuated-for-bomb-threat/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/gray-new-gloucester-middle-school.jpgTue, 20 Mar 2018 18:03:57 +0000
State police stop tractor-trailer driver twice in three days https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/state-police-stop-tractor-trailer-driver-twice-in-three-days/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/state-police-stop-tractor-trailer-driver-twice-in-three-days/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 15:39:00 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/state-police-stop-tractor-trailer-driver-twice-in-three-days/ Maine State Police arrested a truck driver who was previously barred from operating in all 50 states.

Ralph Toro

A state trooper stopped a tractor-trailer truck for inspection on Friday on Route 1 in Yarmouth. The driver was Ralph Toro, 48, of Orange Park, Florida, according to a post on the Maine State Police Facebook page. The truck was being operated by Cloud Accounting LLC of Schooleys Mountain, N.J.

During the inspection, Cpl. Chris Rogers determined Toro’s right to operate a motor vehicle was under 10 active suspensions in New York. He was also suspended in North Carolna, barring him from operating a commercial vehicle in any state.

The trooper also determined Toro had been driving beyond his allowed hours, and he had falsified his hours in his log book on multiple days. State police placed Toro out of service until he was able to clear his license suspensions, and his truck was towed from the scene. He was issued criminal summonses for driving after being disqualified and operating a false logbook.

On Monday, three days later, another trooper was conducting routine inspections in Auburn. He stopped Toro driving a different truck. His license suspensions were not resolved, and he had again falsified his logbook.

Toro was arrested and taken to Androscoggin County Jail. Bail was set at $1,500 cash. He was again charged with operating after being disqualified, falsifying his logbook and operating after being placed out of service.


https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/state-police-stop-tractor-trailer-driver-twice-in-three-days/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/toro3.jpgTue, 20 Mar 2018 11:58:14 +0000
Maine regulators will investigate shocking increase in some CMP customers’ bills https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/maine-regulators-vote-to-open-full-investigation-of-high-cmp-bills/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/maine-regulators-vote-to-open-full-investigation-of-high-cmp-bills/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 14:55:01 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/maine-regulators-vote-to-open-full-investigation-of-high-cmp-bills/ The Maine Public Utilities Commission voted Tuesday to launch a full investigation into Central Maine Power’s billing system after a preliminary, three-week inquiry failed to reveal why more than 1,000 CMP customers received inexplicably high utility bills this winter.

The broader probe will be conducted in tandem with an inquiry by the PUC’s staff, which has been requesting and studying aspects of CMP’s billing, meter and customer service data.

That ongoing discovery effort will be combined with what’s known as a management audit, which will involve hiring at least one outside consultant to conduct a technical review of meter and billing operations.

No precise timeline was given to conclude the investigation. But the need to issue a request for proposals, hire an expert and conduct the audit means that the process is likely to take several months.

In the meantime, the PUC advised customers with disputed bills to pay their utility bills by their due date. However, consumers with an active payment dispute at the PUC’s consumer assistance division are encouraged to pay any portion of their bills that isn’t in dispute, a calculus that’s being made on a case-by-case basis.

“We always encourage customers to make some payments toward their bills, as they have used at least some electricity,” said Harry Lanphear, the PUC’s spokesman. “This way, they don’t get too far behind once the dispute concludes. If they dispute their entire bill, then they don’t have to pay any of it during their dispute. Of course, when the dispute is resolved, they will owe whatever is determined in their individual case.”

Maine law also bars electric companies from shutting off customers between Nov. 15 and April 15, as long as they make arrangements to pay their bills. During this period, commission rules prohibit utilities from disconnecting a residential customer for non-payment without first receiving permission from the consumer division.


The Office of the Public Advocate is asking the commission to order CMP not to disconnect any customers after the so-called winter disconnect period expires. It also requested a stay on issuing new disconnection notices, pending the outcome of the initial investigation. Those requests are under review, with a ruling likely by April 4.

Barry Hobbins, the public advocate, said he’s worried that some people will just ignore their bills in the interim, or aren’t financially able to make outsized payments.

“I think they need a safety net until we figure this out,” he said.

Hobbins also said that by launching a full investigation, the PUC has taken pressure off customers and placed it on CMP to help find an explanation.

“I think CMP had shifted the burden to consumers,” Hobbins said, “making them think, ‘Maybe I’ve done something wrong.’ Now the burden has shifted to the utility.”

After the PUC action, CMP issued a statement saying it welcomed the agency’s help in auditing its systems as it searches for an underlying cause of the billing spikes. The company also said it has trained a new team of experts to work on customer issues, and that the team was working through CMP’s full list of complaints to resolve outstanding inquiries as quickly as possible.

“Over the past several months,” the company said, “Central Maine Power customers have submitted a larger than normal number of complaints relative to high electric bills. We take these complaints seriously and are taking steps to address each and every one.”

Complaints over high bills spiked in December and January and are still being filed at the PUC, but getting to the bottom of issue is complicated by several factors. The standard offer – the per kilowatt-hour price that most customers pay for their electricity supply – increased by 18 percent in January. Three weeks of brutally cold weather that coincided with the Christmas holiday season also caused electricity use to jump, a pattern seen across much of the country.


Some customers who receive their electric supply from competitive providers also saw unexpectedly high rate hikes.

But hundreds of customers were shocked by bills that increased far beyond what could easily be explained by those factors. Some bills were double, triple or greater over the same period last year. The PUC alone received more than 1,000 complaints.

Seeking answers, the agency last month began an initial inquiry, called a summary audit. It filed a data request with CMP for information on about two dozen aspects of its electricity-delivery operation, including meters and the company’s new billing system, which was installed last year.

But that process apparently hasn’t come up with a full explanation, prompting the commission to take a deeper dive.

If the agency ultimately finds that CMP is at fault, Lanphear said, it could take steps that include issuing an administrative penalty or directing the utility to take specific actions to remedy inadequate service. The commission also can order customer refunds.

As the examination moves to its next step, customers are continuing to file complaints at the PUC about their winter bills.

Pamela Morgan of Minot wrote:

“Can you please look into my bills? My usage has (more than) doubled in the last three months. I have attached my bills for the last three years showing monthly usages for the year. I do not see how this could have happened. These bills are for over $600/month for a mobile and a garage. We have not done anything different. These costs are not in my budget and I do not know how I can pay these.”

Tux Turkel can be contacted at 791-6462 or at:


Twitter: TuxTurkel

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/maine-regulators-vote-to-open-full-investigation-of-high-cmp-bills/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2017/08/CMPbilling.jpgWed, 21 Mar 2018 00:32:35 +0000
Bath wins federal funds for wastewater plant upgrades https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/bath-wins-federal-funds-for-wastewater-plant-upgrades/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/bath-wins-federal-funds-for-wastewater-plant-upgrades/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 14:22:28 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/bath-wins-federal-funds-for-wastewater-plant-upgrades/ The city of Bath will receive a $2.3 million federal grant and a $6.5 million government loan to upgrade its wastewater management system.

Maine’s U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King announced the financing Tuesday. Bath’s wastewater treatment facility was constructed in 1971 and is overdue for routine repairs, upgrades and maintenance, they said.

“These funds will allow the City of Bath to update critical infrastructure and improve the quality of life for the city’s residents,” Collins and King said in a joint written statement. “The upgrades for Bath’s wastewater system will reduce individual maintenance costs for more than 3,000 residents and increase overall system efficiency, ensuring that the people of Bath have infrastructure they can rely on for years to come.”

The rural development grant comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, while the loan comes from a water and waste disposal direct loan program.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/bath-wins-federal-funds-for-wastewater-plant-upgrades/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/Bath-Sewage-Treatment-Plant-photo-1024x683.jpgTue, 20 Mar 2018 14:17:47 +0000
Auburn man charged with sexually abusing boy over 3-year period https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/auburn-man-charged-with-sexually-abusing-boy-over-3-years/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/auburn-man-charged-with-sexually-abusing-boy-over-3-years/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 12:33:35 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/auburn-man-charged-with-sexually-abusing-boy-over-3-years/

Joseph Poulin Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office photo

LEWISTON — An Auburn man is accused of sexually abusing a boy for more than three years starting when the boy was younger than 12.

On several occasions, Joseph Poulin, 48, of Riverside Drive, Auburn, touched the boy’s genitals over and under his pants, according to a detective’s affidavit filed in 8th District Court. The affidavit was submitted in support of a warrant for Poulin’s arrest last week.

Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Detective Thomas Slivinski wrote in his affidavit that Poulin sexually abused the boy, sometimes while the boy was in bed.

The boy met with a specially trained forensic interviewer at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties where he disclosed the abuse after notifying his parents. He first told a 12-year-old friend at school, who had encouraged him to tell his parents about the abuse, according to Slivinski’s affidavit.

Poulin was freed from Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn on $5,000 cash bail Sunday. Conditions of his release include no contact with the boy or any minor.

Joseph Poulin (Androscoggin County Jail)

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/auburn-man-charged-with-sexually-abusing-boy-over-3-years/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/Screen-Shot-2018-03-20-at-11.47.58-AM.pngTue, 20 Mar 2018 11:51:07 +0000
Saco schools will get EPA grant to reduce bus emissions https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/epa-gives-saco-schools-180000-to-reduce-bus-emissions/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/epa-gives-saco-schools-180000-to-reduce-bus-emissions/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 12:21:37 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/epa-gives-saco-schools-180000-to-reduce-bus-emissions/ The Saco School Department will receive $180,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce school bus emissions.

The money will be used to retrofit seven school buses with engines that emit fewer pollutants that are linked to health problems like asthma and lung damage, according to the EPA. Saco is among four school districts and bus companies in New England and 141 in 32 states to receive a portion of $8.7 million in rebates through the EPA’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act.

“The City of Saco is committed to sustainability and environmental stewardship,” said City Administrator Kevin Sutherland. “Opportunities like the clean diesel rebate program from the EPA help municipalities and school systems pursue these much needed improvements to provide energy efficient transportation.”

Districts and bus companies replacing buses with engine model years of 2006 and older receive between $15,000 and $20,000 per bus depending on the size of the bus, according to the EPA. Fleet operators also had the option of retrofitting buses with a diesel oxidation catalyst, closed cranked ventilation system and fuel-operated heater to reduce harmful emissions. The EPA funds the cost of those devices up to $6,000.

“These EPA funds to replace older bus engines with cleaner unites will mean healthier rides for kids in Saco who ride a school bus every day to get to their school,” Alexandra Dunn, regional administrator for the EPA New England office, said in a statement. “Parents rely on school buses to safely bring their children to and from school, and we’re proud to help ensure lower emissions and cleaner air for this community.”

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/epa-gives-saco-schools-180000-to-reduce-bus-emissions/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/school-bus.jpgTue, 20 Mar 2018 18:42:50 +0000
Maine candle company sees bright future across the Atlantic https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/maine-candle-company-sees-bright-future-across-atlantic/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/maine-candle-company-sees-bright-future-across-atlantic/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1350146 A Maine company plans to set the world alight with its brand of high-end scented candles.

Village Candle in Wells has started a major export push, building on a toehold in the United Kingdom and continental Europe.

“The international market is huge. We think it can be equivalent to the U.S. market for us in three to five years,” Village Candle President Jeanne Hulit said during a tour of the candle factory and warehouse Monday.

The company recently attended a major trade show in England, has hired a president of international sales, and brokered a deal with Icelandic shipping company Eimskip to take candles to Europe through the Port of Portland.

The U.S. market is saturated with high-end candle companies and cheap imports, but there is still plenty of room to grow sales volume and new product lines in Europe, Hulit said.

“In many ways, they are kind of where the candle consumer in the U.S. was 15 years ago,” she said. “It is such an untapped market.”


It’s impossible to escape the mixed aroma of dozens of candle varieties in the company’s cavernous warehouse and production space. Huge shelves are packed floor-to-ceiling with cases of brightly colored candles in glass jars or plastic-wrapped votive candles.

On the production floor, melted wax from large vats is drained through a machine into a line of glass jars. Workers steady dual wicks in liquid wax with small metal plates as vivid blue, yellow and purple candles cool during a seven-hour turn on a slow-moving conveyor belt.

Quality testers light candles in a darkened room to make sure they burn without too much soot and emit the optimum fragrance. Across the production floor, the product development department tries out new candles, testing scents and making sure colors don’t dull on the shelf.

Village Candle employs about 60 people full-time, and another 20 temporary workers when it needs to boost production.

The factory can turn out 35,000 candles a day, Hulit said. She would not discuss total production or annual revenue, citing proprietary information that could disadvantage the company in a small, competitive industry.

She knows a thing or two about competitive business practices. A longtime manager with the Small Business Administration, she was appointed the acting chief of the SBA in 2013, sitting in the Obama Cabinet after Karen Mills, another Mainer, decided to step down.

To one side of the warehouse is a separate room where the company keeps its candles destined to go overseas. International sales are currently about 25 percent of the company’s revenues, but Hulit expects that to double in two years.

The company started selling in Europe through distributors about five years ago, and is now starting to direct-market its products instead of working solely through distributors.

“That puts us two levels behind knowing what the consumer wants,” Hulit said.


The company is researching ways to better understand European customers. For instance, she said, there’s a decided preference for garden-fragrance candles in the U.K., with scents such as lavender proving really popular.

That contrasts with American preferences, which trend toward the aroma of baked goods and desserts, she said.

The overseas expansion includes a booth at the 2018 Spring Fair in Birmingham, England, the largest gift and home trade show in the U.K.; a presence at a recent Japanese trade show; and hiring Clive Harper, a candle industry veteran, as president of international sales. Harper previously helped set up a European branch of Massachusetts-based Yankee Candle.

Village Candle also arranged for distributors to use trans-Atlantic shipping routes with Eimskip, which leases some of its warehouse space.

That makes it easy to load candles into empty shipping containers that depart from Portland, less than 40 miles from Wells, Hulit said. Before, the company exported from New York and New Jersey, leading to product risk and transportation delays.

“This is a whole new level of commitment” to international expansion, Hulit said. “We are really looking at how we launch ourselves as a brand, not just as a supplier.”


In 2017, $12.9 million worth of candles were exported from the International Marine Terminal in Portland, the third-biggest export item at the bustling port that year. It is unclear how many of those candles were made in Maine.

Last year, Maine exported about $2.27 million worth of candles, according to U.S. trade statistics. About a third of that went to the U.K., but hundreds of thousands of dollars worth were sent to Germany, France, Poland, the Czech Republic and Italy.

Although Village Candle is one of a number of Maine-based candlemakers, those countries are the company’s biggest markets, Hulit said.

Between 1996 and 2011, Maine candle exports averaged about $252,300 a year. But in the past six years, exports have averaged $2.8 million, with a high point of $4.1 million in 2015.

That’s about 10 percent of the total U.S. candle exports. Last year, $278.4 million worth of U.S. candles were exported, with the U.K., Canada and the Netherlands making up two-thirds of all imports.

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


Twitter: PeteL_McGuire

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/20/maine-candle-company-sees-bright-future-across-atlantic/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/295110-20180319_village_c8.jpgWELLS, ME - MARCH 19: Irma Folsom prepares Summer Slice scented votives for shrink wrapping at Village Candle. The Maine company is announcing a major push into the European market. (Staff photo by Jill Brady/Staff Photographer)Mon, 19 Mar 2018 22:57:35 +0000
Man, 82, indicted in crash that caused woman to lose both legs https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/man-82-indicted-in-crash-that-caused-woman-to-lose-both-legs/ Tue, 20 Mar 2018 02:48:20 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/19/man-82-indicted-in-crash-that-caused-woman-to-lose-both-legs/ An elderly Portland driver who police say struck a woman with his SUV in the parking lot of a dry cleaning business last December, causing her to lose both legs, has been indicted by the Cumberland County grand jury.

Robert Carson, 82, was charged with driving to endanger and operating after his license had been revoked, both Class C felonies that note there was serious bodily injury.

Mary “Terri” Anthoine, 60, of Portland lost both of her legs below the thigh after she was hit on Dec. 13, but she survived.

Anthoine was hit by Carson’s 2011 Toyota Highlander in the parking lot of Pratt-Abbott on Forest Avenue, police said. They said Carson’s SUV was unregistered and uninspected at the time.

https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2017/07/574998_shutterstock_160872065.jpgpolice siren lights genericMon, 19 Mar 2018 23:56:18 +0000
Shelter dog brought into Lewiston apartment injures 2 people, kills Yorkie https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/dog-brought-into-lewiston-apartment-kills-familys-yorkie-injures-two-teenagers/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/dog-brought-into-lewiston-apartment-kills-familys-yorkie-injures-two-teenagers/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 02:35:43 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/19/dog-brought-into-lewiston-apartment-kills-familys-yorkie-injures-two-teenagers/ LEWISTON — Two people were injured Monday afternoon when they tried to separate two dogs at an apartment, and one of the dogs died of its injuries.

“We’re just devastated,” said Diraida Santos, owner of the 5-year-old Yorkie that was killed.

Santos said the attack occurred after a friend of her 17-year-old daughter stopped at the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society shelter on Strawberry Avenue, saw a dog he was interested in adopting, took it for a walk with the shelter’s permission, and brought it to her apartment on Strawberry Avenue.

Steve Dostie, executive director of the shelter, said a man came in with a possible interest in adopting a “bully mix” and took it for a walk outside to get acquainted. Taking it inside another building or near another dog violated the shelter’s rules, he said.

Santos’ two sons, who witnessed the attack, said when the shelter dog entered the apartment it immediately bit the family’s Yorkie, named Rocco Armani, and clutched it in its jaws.

Santos’ daughter and her friend tried to yank the dogs apart, Santos said, but couldn’t do it. The dog just bit the Yorkie harder, she said.

The man received lacerations on his face and Santos’ daughter’s hands were cut and they were taken to a hospital, according to Santos and Dostie.

“We feel absolutely horrible that this has happened,” Dostie said. “It’s very traumatic for everyone.”

The shelter dog will be held for 10 days to make sure no medical issues arise, Dostie said, and then it will be euthanized.

Dostie said he hasn’t talked with the owner of the Yorkie, but promised to do whatever he can to help.

The man interested in the dog followed the normal protocol for potential adoptions, leaving an identification card at the front desk and receiving instructions not to let it interact with other dogs. Dostie did not identify the man.

Dostie said the shelter’s instructions for the dog also included a warning that it shouldn’t be around cats or young children. But, he said, the dog had not been a problem since it arrived at the shelter in February. It was merely “a little rambunctious,” he said.

Dostie said they’ve had dogs out for a walk slip off their leash and other minor problems in the past, but they’ve always been able to round up the dog without much trouble.

Santos, who was at work at the time, said she came home to find her sons in tears and her daughter in the hospital.

“I’m sitting here and crying,” she said as she showed pictures of Rocco at her kitchen table. “I can’t believe I lost my dog today.”

She said she got Rocco, who weighed 4 pounds, from a breeder five years ago. He made himself part of the family, she said.

“We spoiled him big time,” Santos said. “He was like another son for me. He was such a good dog. He was a doll. He was all love.”

Steve Collins can be contacted at:


https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/dog-brought-into-lewiston-apartment-kills-familys-yorkie-injures-two-teenagers/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/1350142_322030-1-Dog_1200x675.jpgRocco Armani was a 5-year-old Yorkie killed Monday when a man brought a pit bull into a Lewiston apartment.Tue, 20 Mar 2018 22:10:23 +0000
Winslow School Board presents $15.8M draft budget to Town Council https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/winslow-school-board-presents-15-8m-draft-budget-to-town-council/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/winslow-school-board-presents-15-8m-draft-budget-to-town-council/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 00:40:54 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/winslow-school-board-presents-15-8m-draft-budget-to-town-council/ WINSLOW — The School Board presented a draft budget Monday that is up over $1 million from the current fiscal year — and will likely be largely scaled back — to the Town Council at a joint meeting at the Town Office.

Superintendent Eric Haley presented the $15,795,186 budget to the council, noting that the sum is an increase of $1.265 million or 8.71 percent. With that increase, Haley said the school department would have to ask the town of Winslow for $768,802 of new local taxpayer money to support the budget. He said no one on the board was happy with that hefty number.

A week after a tense discussion between board members and councilors over the school renovation proposal, the council and board expressed interest in working together to cut down that number. However, as many of the representatives from both governing groups noted, the bulk of the increases come from areas in the budget that would be a challenge to alter.

Two of those bumps in the budget come from salary increases for teachers, education technicians and other personnel such as bus drivers and administrative aids, as well as a group insurance increase that could jump as high as 10 percent.

The teacher salary increase, which totals $407,727, reflects the outcome of contracts negotiated over the summer which granted some teachers raises ranging from $1,000 to $4,000, depending on seniority and expertise, over a 3-year period.

Haley said the board and administration knew in years past that this expense would be coming, but the issue was put off and now the time has arrived for the teachers to receive a competitive salary.

The ed techs received a 3 percent raise, and administrative staff and bus drivers received a 2 percent raise. Those contracts were negotiated at separate times.

Those salaries cannot be changed now that they’ve been approved.

The administration does not yet know what health insurance costs will be, but the state has capped the increase at 10 percent, which is the increase reflected in the drafted budget. If there is a 10 percent increase, the difference from the current fiscal year will be an increase of $389,105. However, Paula Pooler, the district’s finance director, said it could be less than that, but there is no way to know until the state comes out with an official number.

The budget as it is currently drafted also does not reflect any new personnel, for which Haley said he had about 15 requests from his staff. Money to pay Stephen Blatt, the architect employed by Winslow to design whichever school renovation proposal is eventually approved by the town, also is not reflected in the budget.

“I don’t want to overreact but that’s a pretty big number,” Councilor Ken Fletcher said of the draft budget. “I don’t know how many things that you’ll be able to alter to reduce that number.”

“The only way is to decrease personnel,” Haley said.

At a special school board meeting early Monday morning, board chairman Joel Selwood said a possibility to get the cost down would be to push some larger expenses to the next year, such as one of the two new buses the school system planned to purchase.

Board member John Ferry expressed concern over cutting personnel before the incoming superintendent of Winslow schools, Peter Thiboutot, who currently serves at the assistant superintendent of AOS 92, had time to get a feel for his office and the programming.

With the amount of work that needs to be done to get to a budget that the board and council can confidently send to taxpayers, Haley said he was not confident that a final budget would be ready by March 28, which is the date designated in the town charter for the school budget to be ready.

“We have a lot of work to do and we know it,” Haley said.

Emily Higginbotham — 861-9239


Twitter: @EmilyHigg

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/winslow-school-board-presents-15-8m-draft-budget-to-town-council/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/817050_540453-20180319-budget-1.jpgAOS 92 Superintendent Eric Haley, left, confers over budget figures with finance director Paula Pooler during a meeting Monday with the Winslow Town Council.Mon, 19 Mar 2018 20:55:12 +0000
Southern Maine bus services consider cleaning up their act with electric vehicles https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/southern-maine-bus-services-consider-electric-vehicles/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/southern-maine-bus-services-consider-electric-vehicles/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 00:24:21 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/19/southern-maine-bus-services-consider-electric-vehicles/ Greater Portland Metro and ShuttleBus-Zoom may come together to bring the first electric-powered buses to Maine.

The two bus systems are considering whether to jointly apply for state and federal grants to replace up to a half-dozen aging diesel buses in their fleets with electric ones. Electric buses are more expensive to buy than diesel but run cheaper, cleaner and more quietly, according to Metro manager Greg Jordan and Al Schutz, the director of ShuttleBus-Zoom (also called SH-Zoom), the regional transit service that serves Biddeford, Saco and Old Orchard Beach.

“The future of public transit is electric, not diesel,” said Schutz, who also serves as the head of the Maine Transit Association. “We need to be smarter with our resources, stop polluting the planet. Battery technology has advanced so far and so fast that what would have been impractical and much too expensive just a few years ago is not only possible, but it’s becoming quite practical. With the grants available to us, the time to do this is now.”

An electric bus manufacturer that wants to partner with Metro and SH-Zoom will be in Portland on Tuesday showing off one of its vehicles and giving free rides around the Old Port, the Arts District and other locations at noon, beginning at the Metro office at 114 Valley St.

Passengers who try it out will notice the bus is 5 feet longer, holds twice as many people as Metro’s biggest in-service vehicles and runs much quieter, Jordan said.

That manufacturer, Proterra, is one of several that Metro and SH-Zoom are considering. The California company has sold electric buses that are in operation now in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York City. But New Flyer, a Winnipeg-based bus manufacturer, is entering into the Northeast electric bus market, too, leasing five vehicles to the Metropolitan Transit Authority for a three-year review in its busy Manhattan corridor.

The two local bus services must decide if they want to join with a particular manufacturer to apply for a Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grant to fund no-emissions vehicles, and seek a share of Maine’s $21 million piece of the federal legal settlement with Volkswagen, the carmaker that cheated in its emissions testing.

The FTA allows bus services and manufacturers to pair up to seek the grants, a way to streamline the procurement process. The bus systems and the host communities that fund them will have to make up their minds soon. The application for the federal program, which handed out $55 million in grants in 2017, is due in June.

The managers say going electric would have no impact on rider fees, but might allow the services to expand, and eventually lead to on-demand bus stops.

A 2016 Columbia University study of New York City’s public bus fleet, which includes a mix of vehicles powered by diesel, hybrid and compressed natural gas, found that switching its fleet over to electric buses would save the city nearly 500,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year.

Unexpectedly, that same study showed buses powered by natural gas, like Greater Portland Metro’s, produced more emissions than regular diesel buses because they were 25 percent less fuel-efficient.

That study also looked at the financial impact of converting to electric. It found that electric buses costs about $300,000 more per bus to buy than diesel buses, which in New York City run about $450,000 to $750,000.

Jordan said gas-powered buses like the ones that Metro has mixed into its fleet cost slightly more than diesel, but not by much, calling them basically comparable.

The study concluded that, given the favorable difference between electricity and fuel costs, and the lower maintenance costs for electric buses, the overall lifetime cost of an electric bus is about 12 percent less than the cost of a diesel bus.

It concluded, however, that it would take about 7½ years for an investor funding a new electric bus purchase to recover the money, which might make it harder for municipalities to raise capital for them.

The 37-vehicle Metro fleet is now a half-and-half mix of diesel buses and some newer buses that run on compressed natural gas, Jordan said.

The buses that operate on the peninsula are bigger, seating around 35 people, and more likely powered by natural gas, while the buses that serve Freeport are smaller, seating 20 passengers, and are more likely to be diesel.

If Metro goes electric, it would likely replace four diesel buses manufactured in 2004, Jordan said.

At one time, Metro had planned to replace all of its diesel buses with ones powered by compressed natural gas, but Jordan has pulled back from that plan, worried that a problem with the natural gas pipeline capacity could leave the Portland system without a power source and its buses parked.

The buses it has purchased most recently, as part of its regular replacement cycle and a planned expansion to Gorham and Westbrook, have been a mix of diesel and gas buses, he said.

SH-Zoom operates an all-diesel 22-vehicle fleet of buses and trolleys that carry about 400,000 single-trip passengers a year, Schutz said.

The age of his fleet is a critical problem, Schutz said – its oldest bus was put into service in 1999, and its newest is already eight years old.

If SH-Zoom goes electric, he would replace as many of his diesel buses as he could.

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


Twitter: PLOvertonPPH

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/southern-maine-bus-services-consider-electric-vehicles/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/1350036_961569-Proterra.jpgA rendering shows an electric bus made by Proterra, one of the manufacturers under consideration by Greater Portland Metro and ShuttleBus-Zoom to possibly replace aging diesel buses. Metro will offer free rides on an electric bus, leaving from 114 Valley St. in Portland, starting at noon Tuesday.Mon, 19 Mar 2018 23:08:57 +0000
Foundation that tried to buy Saddleback is still meeting in case deal crumbles https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/foundation-that-tried-to-buy-saddleback-is-still-meeting-in-case-deal-crumbles/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/foundation-that-tried-to-buy-saddleback-is-still-meeting-in-case-deal-crumbles/#respond Mon, 19 Mar 2018 23:48:44 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/foundation-that-tried-to-buy-saddleback-is-still-meeting-in-case-deal-crumbles/ RANGELEY — The foundation that once raised money to buy the idle Saddleback ski area is working to position itself in the event a deal with the current purchaser falls through.

The Saddleback Mountain Foundation’s board said Monday that Wolfe Tone has replaced Peter Stein, who stepped down recently.

The announcement comes after WCSH-TV revealed an audiotape in which an Australian businessman who plans to buy the mountain is heard saying he “wouldn’t lose any sleep” if it remains closed.

Sebastian Monsour, group CEO for the Majella Group, has refuted the report, which suggested he was more focused on using the mountain as a pathway to permanent residency through the EB-5 visa program.

The Saddleback Mountain Foundation is not actively engaged in negotiations with the mountain’s owner. But the foundation continues to meet regularly.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/foundation-that-tried-to-buy-saddleback-is-still-meeting-in-case-deal-crumbles/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2017/11/810530_354065_saddle4.jpgSaddleback Mountain announced Feb. 8 it would not reopen in time for the upcoming February vacation week and resort officials Monday declined to provide any further updates on the future of the ski area.Mon, 19 Mar 2018 20:28:30 +0000
Maine Democrats defend Mueller’s investigation https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/maine-democrats-defend-muellers-investigation/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/maine-democrats-defend-muellers-investigation/#respond Mon, 19 Mar 2018 23:45:14 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/19/maine-democrats-defend-muellers-investigation/ Although President Trump called a special prosecutor’s probe “a total WITCH HUNT with massive conflicts of interest” in a tweet Monday morning, Maine Democrats vying for a seat in Congress this year uniformly back Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

“Mueller must be allowed to finish the investigation for the sake of our democracy,” said Jonathan Fulford, a Monroe builder who is among the Democrats who hope to unseat two-term U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican from Maine’s 2nd District.

If necessary, Congress “needs to step in and protect the integrity of the investigation,” said state Rep. Jared Golden of Lewiston, who also is vying for the chance to take on Poliquin in the general election. He said the probe “needs to be taken very, very seriously” by everyone and not turned into something partisan.

Poliquin said last fall it is important that people have faith in the investigation and to let it play out, an assertion his office reiterated Monday.

After several days of strongly worded statements by Trump on Twitter attacking Mueller and his prosecutorial team, there is growing speculation in political circles that the president might act to have the special counsel fired. He has fired others after first castigating them online.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Zak Ringelstein, a Portland educator, said that “firing Robert Mueller would be an abuse of presidential power and would set off a constitutional crisis that should trigger immediate impeachment proceedings.”

The incumbent whom Ringelstein hopes to replace, first-term independent U.S. Sen. Angus King, also said that if the president tries to terminate the investigation prematurely, “it will be a true constitutional crisis.”

King told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that Mueller is “as straight an arrow as there is in America. He’s a former Marine. He’s a prosecutor. I think he’s a Republican. He was – when he was appointed, everybody said, hooray, this is the right guy.”

Now that he is doing his job – already bringing in several guilty pleas and levying 19 felony charges – the administration keeps “trying to undercut” the probe, King said. “This is a serious investigation,” he said, and should not be cut short.

Craig Olson, an Islesboro bookstore owner who is in the race for Poliquin’s seat, said that if Trump “truly believes the elections were free of interference he has nothing to lose by allowing Special Counsel Mueller to complete his investigation.”

“If he fires Special Counsel Mueller, then one must wonder what information or whom he is trying to protect,” Olson said.

Olson said if the president fires Mueller, “then Congress must order another investigation of the Trump administration bringing the administration that much closer to impeachment proceedings.”

Another 2nd District hopeful, Democrat Lucas St. Clair, said Mueller “should be allowed to finish his work and to follow the evidence where it may lead without political interference.”

He said it is critical that Congress “fulfill its responsibility to hold the president accountable as a co-equal branch of government. If the president takes action to stop the investigation, including firing Mueller, Congress must act. Our country is based on the rule of law, and no person – not even the president – is above the law.”

“If the president attempts to fire Mueller, than it will be up to Congress to ensure that his investigation continues and that he can continue his work,” St. Clair said, adding that history will judge the House poorly if it allows Trump “to circumvent the law and end Mueller’s investigation.”

Ringelstein said that Trump “is a clear and present danger to the rule of law in America and we must not take the praise he heaps on dictators lightly.”

“If I were in office today,” he said, “I would socialize with enough senators – both Democratic and Republican – to guarantee we have the two-thirds requirement to remove this aspiring tyrant from the presidency and ensure a peaceful transition.”

Last fall, Poliquin said it “is important this work remains bipartisan to ensure the American people have confidence in any conclusion.”

“Any indictments could be concerning, but we must let the court process work as it relates to their specific findings,” Poliquin said at the time.

Brendan Conley, his spokesman, said Monday that Poliquin’s position hasn’t changed. “He will thoroughly review any findings and conclusions from the independent investigations,” Conley said.

Golden said he does not fault Poliquin for largely steering clear of the issue. He said the Republican does not serve on the Intelligence Committee and is not privy to some of the information that King, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and others may have seen.

He said he understands why people want their congressman to speak out, but sometimes it is important to show “responsible leadership” that avoids contributing to the partisanship surrounding difficult issues.

Independent congressional candidate Tiffany Bond said that “investigations should have party-neutral treatment.”

“I do not think it is appropriate for the subject of any investigation to be making public comments related to the matters under review until there is a natural conclusion driven by case facts, and free from any outside influence,” Bond said. “It is appropriate to have special counsel provisions codified in law that protect our democracy. It appears our Congress has lost its way on their duties and responsibility to constituents.”

Steve Collins can be contacted at:


https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/maine-democrats-defend-muellers-investigation/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/1313586_587420-Mueller.jpgXXx Robert Mueller .... asdf;hksdf as;d asfhl sdaf;lhasdf sd safaflh; sdaf;lhsad sadfl skay;h.Tue, 20 Mar 2018 00:10:14 +0000
Clary Lake residents await enforcement of water level order following years of dispute https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/clary-lake-residents-await-enforcement-of-water-level-order-following-years-of-dispute/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/clary-lake-residents-await-enforcement-of-water-level-order-following-years-of-dispute/#respond Mon, 19 Mar 2018 23:15:41 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/clary-lake-residents-await-enforcement-of-water-level-order-following-years-of-dispute/ Property owners along Clary Lake have been waiting for years hoping a water level order imposed by a state agency would be enforced on the northern Lincoln County lake.

On Monday, they were closer than they have ever been.

That was the deadline by which a decision and order affirming the water level order that was issued in late February could be appealed. It did not appear an appeal had been filed.

“The Clary Lake Association is very pleased with the outcome, and we’re not surprised there will be no appeal,” George Fergusson, secretary of the Clary Lake Association, said.

While the decision clears the way for the state Department of Environmental Protection to take action to enforce the water level order, the way forward is not immediately clear. The latest owner of the dam in North Whitefield that impounds Clary Lake has filed for bankruptcy.

For the last several years, the water level in the lake, which straddles the Whitefield-Jefferson town line, has been so low that access to the lake has been limited, and about 40 acres of wetland have been eliminated.

Now, Fergusson said, the water level in the lake is 33 inches below the top of the dam. That’s not bad considering the gate in the dam is open, but it is lower than the lake level should be at this time of year, he said.

“We look forward to the DEP taking some sort of affirmative action,” Fergusson said. “It’s been a long time coming.”

David Madore, the DEP’s director of communications, said Monday via email that the agency “continues to work with the Attorney General’s Office while we await some resolution in the bankruptcy proceedings.”

The decision and order by Justice Daniel Billings came as a result of an appeal filed in 2014 by the owners of the Clary Lake dam — Paul Kelley, the manager of the Pleasant Pond Mill — and associated property — AquaFortis Associates LLC, and its manager, Richard Smith — to the DEP’s water level order issued earlier that year.

Although problems between owners of the dam along Route 218 and landowners on the lake go back decades, those involved have said the issue worsened about seven years ago. Shortly after, more than 100 property owners near the lake filed their petition with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection asking the department to set a water management plan for the lake.

In 2015, the DEP issued a notice of violation on Kelley, Pleasant Pond Mill, Smith and AquaFortis Associates, citing a lack of action in meeting the requirements of the water level order.

During the appeal process, the issue went to mediation, which ended in May 2015 without resolution. In September 2015, two state lawmakers urged the DEP to take action on the water level order, and the DEP issued a notice of violation against the parties for failing to meet the water level order and failing to obtain DEP approval for a final water level management plan, among other things.

Not long after, Kelley and Pleasant Pond Mill LLC were dismissed from the appeal in Superior Court in Lincoln County, and in 2017 Kelley filed for bankruptcy protection on behalf of Pleasant Pond Mill and also on his own behalf.

On Monday, Timothy Connolly, an attorney with Preti Flaherty who had represented AquaFortis Associates, said he’s no longer representing the limited liability company.

Attempts to reach Kelley and Smith on Monday were not successful.

On Feb. 8, in oral arguments before Billings, Connolly argued the department has overstepped its authority in imposing the order.

“This water level order must be vacated or remanded because the (DEP) has no authority to order repairs of the dam, or coerce repairs through the threat of fines,” Connolly said. The reason is the dam falls under the authority of the Mill Act, he said, and the DEP failed to consider that in taking the action it did.

Connolly also argued the water level order is a regulatory taking without compensation because it deprives the dam owner of its right to use the dam for its own benefit.

Scott Boak, an assistant attorney general appearing for the Department of Environmental Protection, said the AquaFortis Associates argument is without merit because the Mill Act is not at issue.

“Once the DEP receives the right petition that requires it to hold a hearing (on a water level), that triggered jurisdiction. End of story,” Boak said. “The DEP’s jurisdiction is over the water body.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632


Twitter: @JLowellKJ

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/clary-lake-residents-await-enforcement-of-water-level-order-following-years-of-dispute/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/817026_616553_20150812_clary_lake_.jpgStan Whittier walks on the shore of Clary Lake in Jefferson Aug. 12, 2015, while his daughter, Jane Roy, stands on the family's dock.Mon, 19 Mar 2018 21:31:09 +0000
Central Maine is becoming craft beer central https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/central-maine-is-becoming-craft-beer-central/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/central-maine-is-becoming-craft-beer-central/#respond Mon, 19 Mar 2018 23:01:21 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/?p=817020 https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/central-maine-is-becoming-craft-beer-central/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/TwoGramps.jpgMon, 19 Mar 2018 19:01:21 +0000 Outgoing Winthrop superintendent being investigated for ethnic, sexual comments https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/winthrop-school-board-leader-acknowledges-investigation-of-outgoing-superintendent/ https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/winthrop-school-board-leader-acknowledges-investigation-of-outgoing-superintendent/#respond Mon, 19 Mar 2018 22:43:19 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/winthrop-school-board-leader-acknowledges-investigation-of-outgoing-superintendent/ An official with the Winthrop School Department has acknowledged for the first time that the district is investigating complaints against Superintendent Gary Rosenthal, who announced Friday he would resign at the end of the school year.

Virginia Geyer, chairwoman of the School Board, didn’t respond to a request for comment on Friday, when Rosenthal announced that he would resign. Later in the day, staff of the Winthrop schools held an overwhelming vote of no confidence in him.

But Geyer has now sent a letter to the Kennebec Journal confirming that the School Board has been reviewing the findings from a recent investigation into Rosenthal, for which more than 20 people have been interviewed.

Geyer didn’t describe those findings or say whether the School Board will be taking any action in response to them, but she said the group takes such allegations seriously.

The School Board is planning to discuss Rosenthal’s resignation at a public meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

Geyer also attacked a memo that was circulated among school staff last week that detailed some of those accusations, describing it as a violation of Rosenthal’s due process rights.

In that memo, Joan Morin, a regional director for the Maine Education Association, said she’s received more than 40 complaints about Rosenthal and described a sampling of them. According to the memo, Rosenthal allegedly made inappropriate comments about the ethnicity and sexual orientation of staff, and the burden pregnant employees place on the School Department.

In the memo, Morin also outlined steps she’s taken to communicate those concerns to the School Board.

Geyer, in her letter, said that the School Board “is extremely disappointed in Ms. Morin’s decision to take this matter public in such a manner.” The memo, she continued, “was unprofessional, inflammatory and extremely disrespectful of the due process rights accorded to Mr. Rosenthal. In this case, Ms. Morin was well aware that the School Committee was in receipt of her allegations and had initiated an investigation into them.”

On Friday, an attorney for Rosenthal, Maria Fox, similarly argued that it was inappropriate for the Maine Education Association to release the memo when confidentiality laws prevented the superintendent from publicly responding to its allegations. She also questioned the veracity of some statements in Morin’s memo, but declined to elaborate.

In an interview this week, Morin said that she sent the memo to the district’s employees after they requested that she do so. The Kennebec Journal published a copy of the memo on its website on Friday after obtaining it from another source.

The memo also raises the question: “At what point and what does it take for the School Board to see what is really happening in Winthrop(?)”

Principals and other administrators in the district are in the middle of forming a union, but until they do, Morin said, they don’t feel comfortable speaking publicly about the complaints and hope that the School Board will take their concerns seriously.

“Whether the board wants to admit it or not, the administrators decided to form a union because nobody was listening,” Morin said. “… The employees requested (the memo) because we hadn’t told them what all the various complaints were. When people feel alone, that’s a problem.”

When school administrators have been reached for comment about Rosenthal, they have referred all questions to Morin.

On Monday, Morin also pointed to the results of the vote last week as a measure of the frustration with Rosenthal. In that vote, 125 staff members indicated they have lost confidence in him, while just five indicated they have confidence and five abstained.

That demonstration came one year after the Winthrop Town Council — which has clashed with Rosenthal ever since a massive, $1.5 million deficit was discovered in the School Budget more than a year ago — also voted that it had no confidence in Rosenthal

On Friday, Rosenthal, who has been superintendent since 2011, announced that he’ll resign on June 30.

In a letter to staff, Rosenthal cited “irreconcilable differences with members of the administration” as the reason for his decision. In an interview, he said that he’d been “looking at this for a while.”

But some school employees hope the School Board will end Rosenthal’s employment sooner, and they may attend Wednesday night’s meeting, according to Morin. Last week, the chairwoman of the Town Council, Sarah Fuller, also said she hopes that Rosenthal’s tenure ends sooner than June 30.

“Just look at the vote,” Morin said. “People are so upset. It’s like, why do you want to keep this going one more day?”

The School Board has remained supportive of Rosenthal over the last year-and-a-half, frequently mentioning his contributions and extending his contract even as he and the Town Council have sharply disagreed.

In her letter, Geyer, the School Board chairwoman, declined to say what might happen at the meeting on Wednesday night and noted that all the group’s decisions must be made in public session.

Geyer also said that an investigator has met with Morin to discuss the complaints against Rosenthal, and that the School Board has spent “significant time reviewing the investigation findings and determining the best course of action for the district.”

Geyer’s letter didn’t indicate whom the School Board had hired to run its investigation, and she didn’t respond to a request Monday for more information about the process.

In recent weeks, an attorney for the School Department, Campbell Badger, has declined to confirm whether there was an investigation of Rosenthal, citing a law that allows employment matters to be discussed in private. On March 5, the School Board did meet for more than three hours behind closed doors to discuss a personnel matter, and Rosenthal sat in on the first part of it.

“While I am not at liberty to discuss the detailed allegations and findings, I can assure the Winthrop school community that the School Committee takes these types of allegations very seriously, will investigate such allegations thoroughly, and, if substantiated, would take swift and effective remedial action to ensure that we have a safe and respectful work environment for every employee,” Geyer wrote in her letter.

She also highlighted steps the Winthrop School Department takes to prevent discrimination, including annual trainings in affirmative action policy.

The purpose of that policy, Geyer wrote, “is to provide employees who believe they have been subject to discrimination access to immediate relief, without fear of retribution, through an investigation” by an officer appointed by the district.

“The School Committee has never wavered from these principles, regardless of the status of those involved,” she said.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642


Twitter: @ceichacker

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/03/19/winthrop-school-board-leader-acknowledges-investigation-of-outgoing-superintendent/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/817013_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.Tue, 20 Mar 2018 11:56:47 +0000