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“It took a man like Mandela to not only free the prisoner but to also free the jailer,” said President Barack Obama.
In a moving speech at Nelson Mandela’s services in South Africa President Barack Obama praised the leader who brought down the Apartide, raciest, regime and became the country’s first democratically elected President.
“You too can make his life’s work you’re own,” said Obama, reflecting on how Mandela inspired him. “He makes me want to be a better man. He speaks to what is inside all of us.”
Maine artist, Ramona du Houx, is in a current group exhibition with her Maine photos of seasons in Miami, Florida from December 3 – December 8th at the Red Dot Art Fair.
The opening reception on Tuesday, December 3rd, will benefit Million Trees Miami. Million Trees Miami Campaign is a Community-wide effort to plant 1 million trees by 2020 in order to achieve a 30 percent tree canopy cover for Miami-Dade county. Million Trees Miami has partnered with the Miami-Dade Parks Foundation, a nonprofit organization that aims to preserve parks and green space. Red Dot and all the exhibitors support the cause.
“It’s a wonderful chance to showcase Maine’s seasons the way I see and feel them,” said Ramona. “It should give folks in Florida a taste of Maine, some may miss. Plus its a great cause.”
Congressman Mike Michaud is now serving as the ranking member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. On the committee, Michaud has been able to work successfully with Republicans, cutting through the current partisan climate in the nation’s capital.
Mike Michaud comforts a Vietnam Veteran who finally was recognized for his service. Photo By Ramona du Houx
Over the years, Michaud has been on the front lines of the fight in Congress to fund the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) at a level that begins to meet the needs of veterans. He helped pass historic legislation that provided the largest budget increases for the VA, expanded access to VA health care, improved health services for all veterans, and modernized benefits earned by servicemembers.
In addition, Michaud successfully passed provisions into law that led to increased access to healthcare services for rural Maine veterans. The state has new veterans’ care facilities and a mobile care unit because of the congressman. He also authored legislation creating a new program that provides support to veteran caregivers by offering them training and access to mental health counseling. Last year, Michaud worked to pass a bill improving long-term care for elderly and severely disabled veterans that are at state veterans’ homes.
Governor John Baldacci serves Mika Boggins spaghetti. Over 400 people came to the Baldacci brother’s fundraiser to save a bus route in Bangor. Photo by Ramona du Houx
The brother’s Baldacci, Governor John Baldacci and City Councilman Joe Baldacci, hosted a spaghetti benefit dinner at the Spectacular Event Center in Bangor on October 30th. The line for the fundraiser to save the Community Connector’s Odlin Road bus route went out the front doors of the center far into the parking lot. Over 400 concerned community members turned out to help the cause.
“There are no words to describe this outpouring of support from the community. I could cry. They heard about the event, they want us, and the need us. It’s the greatest thing ever,” said interim bus superintendent, Laurie Linscott.
So far $12,000 has been raised to sustain the route, including $5,000 brought in from the spaghetti dinner. The cost of maintaining the service from September through June of 2014 is $20,000.
Here is the Congressman’s full statement on being gay:
Yes, I am gay. ‘But why should it matter?’ by Mike Michaud
When I entered the race for governor, I did so because I love the state of Maine and am tired of seeing it dragged in the wrong direction. There was never any question that it would be a tough race, but I know I have the vision, the experience and the commitment to lead Maine forward.
Once I jumped to an early lead in the polls, I knew it was only a matter of time before individuals and organizations intent on recreating the uncertainty that led to our current governor’s election three years ago would start their attacks. Already my opponents have tried to blatantly distort my support for a woman’s right to choose and my tireless commitment to our nation’s veterans.
So I wasn’t surprised to learn about the whisper campaigns, insinuations and push-polls some of the people opposed to my candidacy have been using to raise questions about my personal life. They want people to question whether I am gay.
Allow me to save them the trouble with a simple, honest answer: “Yes I am. But why should it matter?”
“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” — Thomas Jefferson, 1787
Maine Insights is a non-profit 501(c)4 corporation and an associate member of the Maine Press Association. Contributions to help support this publication — dedicated to growing Maine communities — are always needed and very appreciated.
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All photos in the above collage by Shannon Thibodeau
On a typical sunny afternoon, Monument Square is full of people enjoying local food and beverages, perusing work from local artists, and carrying bags full of artisan products from around the world, much of which is due to the Public Market House — a key ingredient to the economic revitalization of the square.
Upon entering Public Market House, you are immediately swept up into the buzz of conversation and laughter as patrons explore a wide variety of artisan foods and products, many of which are locally sourced from vendors proud to share their products. You will be greeted by the smell of fresh baked bread from Big Sky Bread Co., your mouth will water as your eyes take in the 150 varieties of cheese that K. Horton Specialty Foods has to offer, and if you are a craft brew fan, you will not be disappointed once you see Maine Beer & Beverage Co.’s selection of fine wines, beers, and drinks.
The VolturnUS offshore wind turbine in Castine Bay, Maine, started producing electricity to the grid on May 13, 2013. VolturnUS is the first offshore floating wind turbine in the Americas. It was designed and manufactured at the University of Maine.
“At 12:00pm on June 13, 2013, the first offshore wind electrons flowed into the US electricity grid,” said Dr. Habib Dagher, P.E., Director of the Advanced Structure and Composites Center at the University of Maine and leader of the DeepCwind Consortium. The grid received the electricity from the University of Maine’s patented offshore wind turbine, the VolturnUS, which is the first of its kind in the world.
The VolturnUS, was towed nearly 30 miles from the Cianbro facility, where it was assembled in Brewer, to Castine by Maine Maritime Academy professionals. The floating trimarine unit is now anchored off the coast of Castine, Maine in 80 ft of water.
The biggest test for VolturnUS so far happened while the unit was being towed to Castine. A storm brought 4- to 6-foot waves which is the equivalent of the full-size turbine, of over 600 feet, standing up to 32- to 48-foot waves.
“That’s a hurricane-type wave,” said Dagher. “This unit saw its equivalent, and while the trailing tugboat was swaying back and forth, it was barely moving.”
That stability is due to the VolturnUS unique tri-marine concrete/composite platform which took countless tests, calibrations and engineering puzzles to perfect.
Dr. Dagher was joined by Peter Vigue, President and CEO of the Cianbro Corporation, Jake Ward, UMaine Vice President for Innovation and Economic Development, and Dr. William J. Brennan, President of Maine Maritime Academy, off the coast of Castine, aboard an MMA vessel to watch history in the making as the turbine began sending electricity to Central Maine Power by way of an undersea cable. The vessel was anchored alongside the VolturnUS 1:8, a 65-foot-tall prototype floating turbine that is 1:8th the scale of a 6-megawatt (MW), 423-foot rotor diameter design.
Support for wind power in Maine is consistently high across every region of the state and is highest in regions where successful wind energy projects are already operating, according to a newly released poll taken of Maine voters last summer.
“This poll confirms what we’ve long known: The people of Maine are optimistic and enthusiastic about wind power,” said Jeremy Payne, executive director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association. “People of all political parties and ages, in towns across the state, agree that wind energy is good for Maine.”
The Wind for ME coalition released the results of the poll today.
“Maine people believe in a wind-powered future; we see that this is a safe, clean way to increase our energy independence and protect our environment,” said Paul Williamson, director of the Maine Ocean & Wind Industry Initiative. “Wind energy is a growing sector of Maine’s economy, creating good jobs and it can help lower and stabilize energy costs, no wonder the people of Maine are so enthusiastic about it.”
Maine’s economy is showing signs of progress with Ntension Corporation’s plan for expansion.
Ntension, a wholesale manufacturer of tension-fabric structures, based in Hermon, plans to expand in the spring with a new 40,000 square-foot facility, which will allow the growth of 20 new jobs over a two-year period.
“Ntension is bursting at the seams,” said the Governor’s Account Executive Jaimie Logan. “They’ve chosen not to advertise recently because they did not wish to recruit more business than they can adequately serve produce in a timely manner. This is not only a huge tribute to their success and growth potential, but also their dedication to providing exceptional client service.”
Ntension has been working with Logan and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) to obtain the resources necessary to make the expansion possible.
The DECD incentive programs reduce or even almost eliminate state taxes for up to 10 years for eligible businesses in order to promote job growth.
The business aims to finish the manufacturing facility by May 2014 with a projected workforce of 80 to 90 people by 2017.
A recent report named Maine one of 10 best states in the nation for future economic growth, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
The report was released after the Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data revealed that Maine’s last three years in private-sector job growth were the best in over 10 years.
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A new public relations company Insights, can help. The actual concept of having a media relations firm focusing on artists and writers is unique in Maine.
Money from outside groups seeking to sway legislative elections in Maine has increased 563 percent from 2008 to 2012 according to a new report released today by Maine Citizens for Clean Elections (MCCE). The Shell Game: How Independent Expenditures Have Invaded Maine Since Citizens United is the 11th in a series of reports published by MCCE’s Money and Politics Project.
“Recent court rulings that have weakened our Clean Elections and campaign finance laws are allowing unaccountable outside groups to unleash a flood of money to sway our elections and government,” said BJ McCollister, Program Director for MCCE. “Voters are being left in the dark. A lack of strong disclosure laws make it possible for wealthy special interests to hide their identity when they spend to influence our elections.”
The report shows that some nonprofit organizations, namely those classified under the 501(c) laws, are able to shield the identity of corporate or individual donors behind independent expenditures in Maine legislative and gubernatorial races. Entities are making as many as four to five transfers before making the actual expenditure in Maine races. The campaign finance shell game makes tracking the money a never ending, and at times, impossible process. With increased cover for contributors and the ability to make unlimited independent expenditures, groups are spending up to eleven times the amount of the average campaign budget in highly contested races.
“Voters are hearing more from outside groups than from the candidates themselves,” said McCollister. “It is nearly impossible for voters to find out who is ultimately paying for the political ads in our elections. These large, untraceable expenditures pose a serious risk to our democracy.”
“The governor’s obstructionism is outrageous,” said Rep. Bruce MacDonald, the House Chair of the Education Committee. “This is a gag order that forbid state employees who work for the people from doing their jobs. It hurts Maine citizens who need government to work for them.”
The LePage administration’s obstructionism and interference with public accountability continued on Tuesday when administration appointees failed to appear before the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee and the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee as the panels took up issues of critical importance to Maine people and businesses.
When lawmakers can’t ask questions to heads of departments or their commissioners directly it slows the progress of solving problems. One question often leads to another and a discussion wherein solutions are found and issues solved thus helping move Maine’s economy forward. However with the LePage doctrine of having to put all questions in writing and then wait for written responses critical issues are being bogged down.
Prime examples of this disorder have occurred with the Health and Human Services Committee agenda which included an evaluation of the failed MaineCare rides contract, the loss of federal funding at the Riverview Psychiatric Center and concerns over patient treatment at the facility, as well as the LePage administration’s no-bid contract with the Alexander group to study the state’s anti-poverty programs and health care expansion.
“The administration must be held accountable to the public for its mismanagement,” said Rep. Dick Farnsworth, the House Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. “Could you imagine if Secretary Sebelius did not report to Congress because she didn’t want to answer hard questions? The people of Maine deserve answers not political obstruction.”
Maine Audubon, a wildlife advocacy group based in Falmouth Maine, issued a report stating that there is enough room to develop wind energy in the state without major damage to the wildlife population.
Maine has 1.1 million windy acres that could be used for wind energy development, 933,000 of which does not contain sensitive habitats, according to the report released Dec. 4 by wildlife biologist Susan Gallo.
The areas designated for wind projects that have both enough wind and low impact on the wildlife comes to 418,000 acres, which is 45 percent of the total acreage being looked at for potential development.
The special committee that serves as the key link between Maine people, state government and the health insurance marketplace will finalize its recommendation at its last meeting of the year today, Monday, Dec. 9.
The Health Exchange Advisory Committee will consider a number of proposals that aim to make the health insurance marketplace perform well for Maine people. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. in Room 228 (Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee). Live audio is available at: http://www.maine.gov/legis/ofpr/appropriations_committee/audio/.
“The committee brought together diverse stakeholders who have worked on a consensus basis to do everything we can to make sure the marketplace works for Maine consumers,” said Rep. Sharon Anglin Treat, House chair of the committee. “We know it’s been challenging for many Mainers anxious to sign up for affordable health insurance to use the clunky federal website. Although without a state-based exchange our ability to make changes is limited, nonetheless we will be voting on a number of recommendations that, if followed through, will help Maine families and businesses get the insurance they want and need.”
The proposals before the committee address consumer outreach, transparency on rating factors, the effectiveness of the federal marketplace for the state, the coverage gap, state information on health coverage options and data collection and reporting. The panel will present its report to the Legislature’s Insurance and Financial Services Committee by Dec. 15.
The recommendations that the committee will review include:
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of nearly $10.5 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grants to help agricultural producers enter into value-added activities designed to give them a competitive business edge.
“This important program supports ingenuity among Maine’s rural agricultural producers, assisting them to create and market value-added products. This innovation by Maine businesses creates economic growth and helps sustain this vital Maine sector,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel.
The funding is being made available through the Value-Added Producer Grant program. Grants are available to help agricultural producers create new products, expand marketing opportunities, support further processing of existing products or goods, or to develop specialty and niche products. They may be used for working capital and planning activities (business plan, marketing plan, feasibility study). The maximum working capital grant is $200,000; the maximum planning grant is $75,000.
Examples of recent recipients include Peter Bragdon, located in Vassalboro, which is utilizing a Value-Added Producer Grant in the amount of $300,000 to add value to the hay he produces by turning it into hay fire logs. In addition, Tide Mill Organics, in Edmunds Township received a Grant in the amount of $49,770 to increase production and expand sales of their packaged organic poultry from roughly 11,500 to 20,000 birds per year.
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Maine Insights is a non-profit 501(c)4 corporation and an associate member of the Maine Press Association. Contributions to help support this publication — dedicated to growing Maine communities — are very appreciated. Please click here for a Paypal link. We look forward to continuing to serve you as we have for the past seven years! Thank you for your insights and support.
“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” — Thomas Jefferson, 1787