Entries Filed in 'Community Maine'

$50,000 Grant for Summer and Afterschool Meal Programs for Portland, ME

October 23rd, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine

Portland City Hall, photo by Ramona du Hxou

Portland City Hall, photo by Ramona du Hxou

Portland, Maine recently received a $50,000 grant from The National League of Cities to create programs providing children with after school and summer meals.

The $50,000 grant will support ongoing efforts to expand summer meal programs across the City and to break new ground by establishing programs that provide nutritious meals for kids afterschool as well.

“With over 50 percent of our students eligible for free or reduced lunch, it’s clear we need to do whatever we can to ensure every kid has access to a nutritious meal even when they’re not in school. This funding will significantly expand the impact of what has already been a successful collaboration over the past few years among our deeply committed partners. We’re grateful that we’ve been selected,” said Mayor Michael Brennan.

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The insights of Shenna Bellows from her 350 walk across Maine

October 10th, 2014 · No Comments · Civil Rights, Community Maine

Shenna Bellows walks into Waterville during her 350 mile walk across Maine to connect with people. Photo Ramona du Houx

Shenna Bellows walks into Waterville during her 350 mile walk across Maine to connect with people. Photo Ramona du Houx

Shenna Bellows represents the wave of the future, in young candidates, whom have concluded that the way to bring positive change to their communities for them is through public service. Many in her generation took part in “occupy” demonstrations around the country, and globe, voicing their dissatisfaction with how the corporate world and our government is working. But too many were without direction. Not Bellows, who wants to become an elected official and bring people together in coalitions to make change happen.

“I’m walking to lift up the voices of people in communities who have been left out and left behind by decisions in Washington that benefit the wealthiest corporations and individuals at the expense of our local communities,” said Bellows, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate for Maine.

 Bellows walks in Fairfield on her 350 mile trail with supporters for her Senate race. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Bellows walks in Fairfield on her 350 mile trail with supporters for her Senate race. Photo by Ramona du Houx

On July 20, Bellows took her first step on her 350-mile campaign trek. She made stops in more than 63 communities by the time she reached Kittery, on schedule Aug. 12.

“I think the Walk represents what grass-roots democracy should look like,” said Bellows. “Our elections should be about conversations in people’s living rooms and dooryards about issues that matter to our communities. Too often our elections have become about who has the most money wins.”

Bellows served as Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maine for the last eight years, where she built coalitions with Republicans and Democrats to pass groundbreaking privacy and civil rights laws.

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“Put the Middle Class First” bus campaign tour in Bangor, Maine

October 9th, 2014 · 1 Comment · Community Maine

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The “Put the Middle Class First” bus campaign tour held a press conference in front of the Paul Bunyan statue on Main Street in Bangor October 7th.

Speakers like Ohio’s former Governor Ted Strickland said Republicans are only looking out for themselves. One reason he cited was the fact that middle class wages are stagnant – staying the same as they were in the 1970′s as cost of living goes up. He said public servants like Mike Michaud for governor, and Shenna Bellows for U.S. Senate will help change this by increasing the minimum wage. President Barack Obama has called on Congress to raise the minimum wage to $10.10.

“I wanted to come to this city because I know Mike Michaud. I served with him when I was in the House of Representatives. I sat beside him in the Veteran’s Affairs Committee… I know his values. I know his commitment to public service and I know he’ll be a great governor for the state of Maine,” said Strickland, who is now President of CAP Action Fund.

Bangor Council member Joe Baldacci was there.

“The bus tour is focusing on how the current policies in Augusta and in Congress are hurting middle class families. And that we need to invest in people, in our fellow citizens- higher minimum wage, more affordable college opportunities and protecting Medicare and Social Security,” said Councilor Baldacci.

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President Clinton exposes Lepage’s ideology while extolling Michaud’s collition building skills

October 7th, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine

 “I believe this guy will be an unbelievable governor,” said former President William Jefferson Clinton holding Michaud's plan for Maine's future. photo by Ramona du Houx

“I believe this guy will be an unbelievable governor,” said former President William Jefferson Clinton holding Michaud’s plan for Maine’s future. photo by Ramona du Houx

“I believe this guy will be an unbelievable governor,” said former President William Jefferson Clinton. The most popular president of modern times didn’t hold back exposing Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s Tea Party extreme policies that have hurt Maine, while he championed the candidacy of Democratic challenger Congressman Mike Michaud during a steamy summer rally at the Portland Exposition Center. More than 1,600 Michaud supporters sandwiched together listening to the call to action.

“Here’s what I know,” said Clinton. “Everywhere in America where people are following inclusive visions and cooperative decision-making they’re making good things happen. Everywhere in the world where people are following a model of inclusive decision-making and good cooperation, good things are happening. Everywhere in the world where people favor division over inclusion, good things are not happening- bad things are. Ideology makes you do dumb things.” Clinton was directly referring to Page’s opposition to Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. LePage vetoed the measure the legislature approved.

President Clinton listens to mike Michaud's speech about how he will bring positive change to Maine. photo by Ramona du Houx

President Clinton listens to mike Michaud’s speech about how he will bring positive change to Maine. photo by Ramona du Houx

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$600,000 to help develop and improve Maine’s local food economy

October 4th, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine, Creative Economy

Congresswomen Chellie Pingree helped increase USDA funding for Maine agriculture.

Congresswomen Chellie Pingree helped increase USDA funding for Maine agriculture.

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree announced that Maine will be getting over $600,000 in federal Specialty Crop Block Grants to fund a number of efforts that will strengthen and grow the local food economy. Pingree authored a provision of the recently passed Farm Bill that provides substantially increased funding for this program.

The grants cover a range of projects, from research into pest management for potatoes to a study of the effects of pesticides on honeybees to a joint project with the University of Maine to develop a hop industry in Maine.

“Maine has a great variety of small farmers and producers who are already contributing to our economy,” Pingree said. “These types of investments were are announcing today will help them grow their operations and get involved in new crops, strengthening the local farm economy.”

Pingree was the driving force behind a number of local food provisions in the Farm Bill signed by President Obama earlier this year, include a substantial increase in funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grant program.

The $602,678 grant will go to the Maine Department of Agriculture, which will distribute it to 11 projects around the state:

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Hon. George Mitchell endorses Michaud for Maine governor

September 22nd, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Community Maine

Sen. George Mitchell at a groundbreaking for an environmentally friendly village development. photo by Ramona du Houx

Sen. George Mitchell at a groundbreaking for an environmentally friendly village development. photo by Ramona du Houx

U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, the frontrunner in the race for governor, today announced the endorsement of one of Maine’s most senior statesmen, former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell.

“Maine’s next governor will face serious challenges,” said Sen. Mitchell. “I’m confident that Mike’s experience at both the state level – where he chaired the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee and presided over an evenly divided Senate – and at the federal level as a ranking member in Congress, make him ideally suited to bring stability to the state budget, tackle the problems facing Maine businesses and restore a spirit of bipartisan cooperation in Augusta.”

Sen. Mitchell served as U.S. Senator from Maine from 1980-1995 and as Senate majority leader from 1989-1995. He played a lead role in negotiations for peace in Northern Ireland and the Middle East, serving as U.S. Special Envoy for Northern Ireland under President William Jefferson Clinton and as U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace under President Barack Obama. He began his political career serving as executive assistant to Maine Senator Edmond S. Muskie from 1962-1965.

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Maine small businesses to create over 20 new jobs with federal Value Added Producer Grants

August 20th, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine

Five Maine small businesses would receive a total of $471,571 in federal Value Added Producer Grants from the USDA. Funding for the program has risen dramatically—from $15 million to $63 million over five years—thanks to Pingree’s successful efforts to have an increase included in the 2014 Farm Bill.

“Value Added Producer Grants are critical investments to help small food producers like the ones we have in Maine take their businesses to the next level. These funds allow them to expand their operations, find new markets, and develop new products,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. “I couldn’t be happier that the increased funding will allow more Maine producers to take this opportunity, creating and saving dozens of jobs in the process. It’s exciting to see the new innovations this diverse set of recipients will create with this investment.”

The 2014 Farm Bill, which sets the nation’s agriculture policy every five years, was signed into law by President Obama earlier this year. Pingree wrote and advocated for numerous provisions that will promote local agriculture, sustainable farming, and help young farmers.

The funding is being provided through USDA Rural Development’s Value-Added Producer Grant program.

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178,000 people in Maine rely on food banks every month- LePage policies hurt

August 19th, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine

Maine State Capitol. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine State Capitol. Photo by Ramona du Houx

One in seven Americans relies on food pantries and meal service programs, according to a new study from the Feeding America Food Bank Network. Nationwide, that amounts to more than 46 million people, which includes 12 million children, out of a country of 316 million. Hunger has become an epidemic in the U.S.A.

For Maine that means more than 178,000 citizens use food banks to keep alive. The study showed Maine food banks receive an average of 11 visits per year from families. Having to go to a food bank every month, on average, is a significant hardship.

“People are coming back, they’re needing to come back to their local pantry month after month,” said Clara Whitney who is with Maine’s Good Shepherd Food Bank, which is part of Feeding America’s network of food pantries. “Our pantry network has become a huge part of how Maine families are accessing food on a monthly basis.”

About 15 percent of Mainers experience hunger, and that number’s been increasing since Governor Paul LePage was elected four years ago along with significant food stamp cut backs from Congress.

LePage made part of his platform out of cutting back “social services” to those in need while he gave Maine’s 1 percent a hefty tax break. For average homeowners LePage’s policies have led to property tax increases as local towns have had to make up for funds they used to get from former state revenue sharing policies.

Since LePage took office, Maine has experienced a job creation record among the worst in the U.S., ranking 46th out of 50 states in the latest report (July 2014). Additionally, Maine has the 6th highest rate in the country of people who work only part-time because they can’t find full-time jobs.

Under his predecessor, Governor John Bladacci over 310 companies recieved Pine Tree Development Zone Status, a tax incentive program which grew thousands of jobs in the state. The jobless rate was under 7 percent, and the state had a surplus.

Now, with LePage, the state has had the second worst personal income growth record in the U.S., ranking 49th from 2009 through 2013. Plus, median household income is down $1,600 and $4,600 below the U.S. median.

Business Insider and CNBC recently ranked the state among the worst in the nation for business climate.

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Congressman Mike Michaud: His passion to help people and his economic policies

July 25th, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine, Creative Economy, Economy, Exclusive Interviews, Issue 41

Mike Michaud helped secure funds for UMaine's first in the Americas floating wind turbine project, VoltunUS. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Mike Michaud helped secure funds for UMaine’s first in the Americas floating wind turbine project, VoltunUS. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Back in 2005 the Federal Government’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission announced that there would be closures of military bases across the country. Maine was targeted at three major facilities: Kittery-Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Brunswick Naval Air Station (BNAS) and Defense Finance and Accounting Services Center (DFAS) in Limestone.

The State’s Congressional Delegation swung into action along with Gov. John Baldacci, and the communities effected. Press conferences and meetings were held at each threatened facility, sometimes one a day at each location, and Congressman Mike Michaud was at the majority of them, from promoting the attributes of workers in Limestone to rallying shipyard employees in Portsmouth. He fought for the workers and their communities in Portsmouth and BNAS in Maine and D.C., even though those bases were not in his congressional district.

After ten years of reporting on the Congressman’s activities, I’ve learned that there is nothing more important to him that making sure the people of Maine are treated fairly and have good paying jobs with healthcare benefits.

Congressman Mike Michaud gives a shipyard union leader a congratulatory hug for helping to Save the Shipyard from BRAC closure in 2003. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Congressman Mike Michaud gives a shipyard union leader a congratulatory hug for helping to Save the Shipyard from BRAC closure in 2003. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Recently we talked about his economic development plans for Maine.

Q: What is your highest priority?

A:

My biggest priority is building a Maine economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthiest among us. That starts with job creation, but it also means an intense focus on education, starting with early childhood, and continuing through college; it means a higher minimum wage and expanded access to health care for nearly 70,000 Mainers, and 3,000 veterans; and it means empowering business to grow and expand.

Under Gov. LePage and his failed policies, Maine has lagged behind the rest of New England in private-sector job growth. His “open for business” policy is nothing but rhetoric. He’s actually driven hundreds of millions of dollars of private-sector investment out of the state.

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Waterville’s potential as Maine’s art hub grows with Common Street Arts

July 25th, 2014 · No Comments · Arts & Entertainment, Community Maine, Creative Economy, Issue 41

Rachel McDonald,  Common Street Arts program manager, explains CSA workshops. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Rachel McDonald, Common Street Arts program manager, explains CSA workshops. Photo by Ramona du Houx

In the heart of downtown Waterville, 16 Common Street, there is a relatively new non-profit arts organization that is helping to build the city’s creative economy with exhibits and arts education. This summer the line up of workshops offered by Common Street Arts (CSA) is truly impressive, and so are it’s shows.

“At the core we are a cooperative arts and education venue that is divided into two spaces. The gallery presents excellent art of all sorts from a wide range of emerging artists to more established artists and people in between. The studio side provides educational programs,” said Rachel McDonald, who has been Common Street Arts program manager since August after leaving a position at the Portland Museum of Art.

“I jumped at this opportunity— to build up the organization. That’s what I’m passionate about,” said McDonald.

Art on exhibit at CSA, Waterville. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Art on exhibit at CSA, Waterville. Photo by Ramona du Houx

The Maine non-profit 501-c-4 gallery has around eight juried and curated exhibitions per year and the community responds. The openings, with local foods and wine, always have tremendous turnouts.

“Creating a space for people to view art is essential for any downtown to help grow it’s creative economy,” said McDonald. “The Waterville community has been great coming out for our openings. We sometimes have a film events where we collaborate with Colby cinema studies. Other times we’ve had musicians play and artists talk about their work and give lectures.”

CSA has become a community center for arts in Waterville.

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