by Ramona du Houx
October 16, 2019 (Augusta, ME)
As Central Maine Power’s (CMP) controversial transmission corridor proposal continues to face delays and growing public opposition, Congressman Jared Golden issued a strong letter of concern this morning to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The letter highlights the Army Corps’ lack of transparency in its permitting process for the CMP corridor and its failure to respond to numerous requests by Maine residents for a public hearing.
To address the Army Corps’ failure to respond to the public concerns, Congressman Golden asked Colonel William Conde, in the Corps’ New England District office, to: 1) provide all communications with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about the project, which the Army Corps has refused to release to the public without a formal Freedom of Information Act request; and 2) hold at least one public hearing on this project in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.
“I am concerned that your agency has denied repeated requests from my constituents for a public hearing. It is critical that Mainers are able to provide input and voice their opinions about the permitting of a project that will have significant environmental and economic consequences for their communities,” stated Congressman Golden.
"While the other CA-to-MA lines have had hearings, CMP’s has not. It is disturbing that presidential and Army Corps permits are even being considered under such circumstances," said Maine State Rep. Seth Berry, who serves as House chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Energy.
Congressman Golden highlighted an April 25, 2019 letter from the EPA to the Army Corps. This letter raised numerous environmental problems with the project and concerns regarding the Corps’ failure to provide Mainers with a complete permit application from CMP to allow for informed public comment. Since that letter was submitted, CMP has changed its project yet again, and the Army Corps still won’t provide access to an updated and complete application.
“As Congressman Golden noted in his letter, similar projects in Vermont and New Hampshire provided significantly greater levels of public engagement and Mainers deserve the same level of respect and participation,” said Sue Ely, Clean Energy Attorney for the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM). “The lack of transparency on the part of the Army Corps is both unacceptable and disrespectful of the strong concerns that Maine people have about this project. They are a public agency deliberating on a project that would harm Maine’s environment and economy for decades to come. The federal government should not be making decisions about the CMP corridor behind closed doors.”
More than 20 towns in Maine have voted to rescind support or oppose the CMP corridor, and residents have started a signature gathering process to place a citizen-initiated question about the CMP corridor on the ballot.
Photo: the Inn on Pine Street in Portland10/17/2019 10:26 AM EDTMaine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) partially activated the State EOC at 4 a.m. this morning in response to the strong nor'easter currently affecting the state. The heavy rain combined with 60 mph wind gusts has knocked down trees and power lines and this has caused thousands of outages.
As of Thursday morning, more than 179,000 CMP customers and 36,000 Emera customers are without power. A number of roads have been blocked by debris due to falling trees and branches. Peter Rogers, acting Director of MEMA urges those venturing out to be cautious. "Conditions continue to change, look for hazards and be careful as you head out." MEMA is monitoring the ongoing situation and coordinating with state partners and others in response to this storm.
Rogers asked that everyone check on friends and neighbors when safe to do so and made the following safety recommendations:
- Stay informed about weather conditions in your area - monitor National Weather Service forecasts and radio, along with broadcast weather reports
- Drive slowly, use your headlights and allow extra space between vehicles
- Yield to emergency vehicles and give them plenty of room to work
- Use your generator safely, always use outside with exhaust pointed away from any windows and doors
- Turn around, dont drown do not drive through flooded roadways
- Check our website for information on being prepared at Maine.gov/mema
“I have heard it said that if you wait long enough, people will surprise and impress you,” said Nikki Maounis, Executive Director of the Camden Public Library. That was certainly the case when the library received notice of the profoundly generous bequest of over $100,000 by Vera J. Hill. “Wow!” Maounis added, “I wish I had known her and could thank her in person.”
According to Maounis, “Bequests of this size are quite rare. It was very welcome and will make a notable impact.” In fact, in the eleven years that she has been the library’s director, Maounis can only remember one or two bequests that were even in the same ballpark.
The sweeping generosity of Vera Hill, who passed away at age 92, will resonate across the Midcoast as churches, libraries, schools, and even an animal shelter will benefit from her considerate gifts. Hill worked for National Sea Products in Rockland and was active in the Episcopal Church in Camden and Rockland. She is buried in Seaview Cemetery in Camden, and in her obituary, she is remembered for “her cleverness and quick wit, her natural ability to listen and engage others in conversation, and her great sense of humor.” Her legacy is truly an example of how one person’s thoughtful philanthropy can make a radical difference in a community.
The public is often not aware of how nonprofits, such as the Camden Public Library, sustain their operations. It is a misconception that, because Camden’s library is a beautiful historic building on a hill, it is endowed with bountiful funding that will keep it afloat in perpetuity. The reality is that the library is only partly funded by the town. The library must independently raise 52 percent of its operating budget, a daunting $500,000 every single year in order to keep the doors open.
“In a town the size of Camden, a library is truly the center for public life,” said Maounis. “In our community, it’s the place you come to get something to read, meet a friend, learn about local history. It’s a hub and an anchor. So much happens here.” Vera Hill’s bequest came in the midst of the library’s Campaign for the Future — the library’s planful effort create a fund that will ensure that the lantern on the hill will remain lit, in lean times as well as in times of abundance. While Hill’s bequested gift of more than $100,000 made a big impact on the campaign, just over $600,000 is still left to be raised to meet the goal.
The library will be honoring Vera Hill with a dedication engraved on one of the stones in the pathway leading to the library’s entrance. The engraving will read: Vera Hill - Your Gift is Our Future.
A tradition Wabanaki birch bark canoe on display at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. Photo by Ramona du Houx
Governor Janet Mills signed LD 179, An Act to Replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day, into law on April 26, 2019. Alabama, Alaska, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin – in addition to more than 130 cities and towns – have also adopted Indigenous Peoples’ Day or Native American Day.
Celebrations took place throughout Maine, and the nation. From the first sun in Maine to CA.
“Maine is home to people from many lands, like those with Italian, French and other ancestries, whose contributions we recognize and cherish. Today, our state takes another step forward in building a brighter, more inclusive future by honoring Maine’s tribal communities. On Maine’s first indigenous Peoples’ Day, let us pay tribute to those who were the first stewards of this land we call Maine, celebrate their many contributions to our great state and recommit ourselves to fostering a relationship anchored in mutual trust and respect,” said Governor Mills.
Penobscot Native Tim Shay's sulpture on display at Colby College. Photo by Ramona du Houx
Traditional carving of Maine Indians on display at the Colby College exhibition. Photo by Ramona du Houx
Share your creative carving genius and bring your pumpkin to the Camden Public Library on Friday, October 25 between noon and 6:00 pm.
Bring a carved pumpkin, or carve on-site in the Amphitheatre between 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm.
All ages and carving talents welcome and encouraged to participate! You can enter your carved pumpkin into the contest to win prizes in one of the age categories: Family, Teen, and Adult!
The pumpkin lighting will happen at 7:00 pm in the Amphitheatre, and the library is hoping for a record number of pumpkins to be illuminated.
Pumpkins should be taken home afterward. Thanks to the West Bay Satellite Rotary Club for sponsoring this event. Call Miss Amy with any questions at 236-3440.
By Ramona du Houx
October 4, 2019
Anti-hunger advocates, including Maine Equal Justice, Preble Street, the Maine Center for Economic Policy, and Food AND Medicine, cheered a move by the Mills administration to bring millions in additional federal food assistance funds to Maine Friday. Maine has received a waiver for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that will help thousands of low-income people put food on the table.
The “geographic waiver” will allow Maine to take advantage of a federal option to provide food assistance to households in high-unemployment areas whose benefits would otherwise be limited to three months in a 36-month period unless they meet certain requirements for an exemption. The Dept. of Health and Human Services posted a list of more than 200 towns that fall under the new waiver online.
“Geographic waivers were a key tool Maine used to reduce food insecurity for nearly 20 years until the previous administration rejected the option in 2015,” said Kathy Kilrain del Rio, a policy analyst with Maine Equal Justice. “At that time nearly 10,000 people lost their food assistance, with thousands more losing help since then. A year later, two-thirds of those Mainers losing food assistance remained unemployed, undermining claims that these policies would get people to work.”
Today 36 states, including all the New England states apart from Maine, have adopted this option to tackle hunger in regions where people face the greatest barriers to work.
“Bringing these federal food dollars back will provide targeted resources for Maine, especially our rural areas, to fight our hunger crisis,” said James Myall, Policy Analyst at the Maine Center for Economic Policy. “Maine has high rates of food insecurity, with 568,000 households experiencing food insecurity, and 5.9 percent of Maine households experiencing very low food security—these are Mainers struggling with chronic hunger.”
“The areas eligible for a waiver to the three-month time limit are largely in rural parts of the state where jobs are most scarce and the economy could most benefit from the stimulus effect of SNAP benefits,” said Josh Kauppila of Food AND Medicine.
More than 1,500 Maine retailers statewide participate in the program, and SNAP injects more than $215 million dollars into Maine’s economy annually. Every five dollars in SNAP spending generates around $9 in economic activity, according to the USDA.
Mark Swann, Executive Director of Preble Street concluded, “The waiver will help Mainers who are searching for stable jobs put food on their tables during a difficult time in their lives. We’re encouraged that the Mills administration is taking advantage of this common-sense option to address our high hunger rates in Maine.”
Naturalist Doug Hitchcox will talk about his March 2019 birding adventure to Oaxaca, Mexico on Thursday, October 17, at 7:00 pm as part of a fall series of presentations by Mid-Coast Audubon at the Camden Public Library.
Maine Audubon made a trip to south-western Mexico in search of rare endemic species in the Sierra Madre Mountains. Based in the beautiful colonial city of Oaxaca, known for great birds, authentic food, and amazing human history, the group explored many habitats in the area, including the deserts near Teotitlán and the pine forests of La Cumbre at altitudes of up to almost 10,000 feet.
The presentation will include a description of the city of Oaxaca and the surrounding area, home of the ancient pre-Columbian Zapotec culture. The group had a chance to explore the imposing ruins of Monte Albán and Mitla, learning about early indigenous people and their impressive engineering and architectural skills. They also had ample opportunity to watch local artisans weaving traditional tapestries and sample the world-famous cuisine. Where else can one watch Blue-throated Mountain-gem while enjoying a lunch of Aztec stew? For more information, visit librarycamden.org.
A coalition of 24 Attorneys General formally opposed Purdue Pharma's $38 million dollar bonuses for company executives. The Attorneys General filed a joinder to the United States Trustee's objection to Purdue's authorization request for their multi-million dollar incentive, bonus, and severance plans. Purdue made this request just two weeks after declaring bankruptcy in the face of multi-billion dollar liabilities for their role in engineering the opioid epidemic.
"These bonuses are yet another example of how Purdue's executives, including the Sackler family, continue to seek to profit the opioid crisis," said Attorney General Aaron M. Frey. "We strongly object to these bonuses and will continue our efforts in Maines courts to hold them accountable for their actions."
In June, the Maine Office of the Attorney General filed suit in Kennebec County Superior Court against Purdue Pharma L.P., Purdue Pharma, Inc. and members of the Sackler family, who own and control Purdue, alleging that they committed unfair and deceptive business practices in violation of the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act. The complaint describes Purdues successful efforts to deceptively market opioid drugs in Maine from 2007 through 2017, as Maines opioid crisis reached epidemic levels.
As the complaint alleges, the Sackler defendants increased the companies' sales force nationally and in Maine which enabled them to increase their visits to Maine health care providers. As a consequence of the increased sales visits, sales of Purdues opioids rose in Maine and in 2012 Maine health care prescribers wrote prescriptions for long- acting/extended-release opioid pain relievers - the type Purdue sells - at the highest rate in the nation: 21.8 prescriptions for every 100 Mainers.
The Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin joined the opposition filed by the US Trustee.
Bibliophiles rejoice! The Big Fall Book Sale Under the Tents is back on the front lawn of the Camden Public Library. Thousands of books, CDs, and DVDs divided into over 25 categories will be on sale beginning Thursday, October 3, and running through Sunday, October 6, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm each day except Sunday, when the sale will close at 4pm.
The Big Book Sales are held twice a year, run entirely by devoted volunteers, and are one of the most important and successful fundraisers for the Camden Public Library. Shoppers will find amazingly affordable prices on books of every imaginable subject matter — including bestsellers, classics, local interest, history, children’s books, cookbooks, rare finds, and so much more. Clear some space on your bookshelves at home, and come discover some new favorite books at this sale! For more information, visit librarycamden.org.
The trees aren’t the only place you’ll find gorgeous color this season! The Fall Harbor Arts & Books Fair is back with booths displaying over 50 juried artists and craftspeople during the first weekend of October. Vendors will fill Atlantic Avenue, Harbor Park, and the Amphitheatre with items for every taste and pocketbook.
Shoppers and browsers will see paintings, photography, greeting cards, jewelry, leatherwork, sculptures, baskets, scrimshaw, and more from some of Maine’s most exciting and talented artisans. Whether you are doing early holiday shopping, searching for home décor, or just want to treat yourself to a cozy new scarf, this fair is a perennial favorite with a reputation for quality.
The Camden Public Library hosts the Harbor Arts & Books Fair, and concurrently holds a giant used book sale outside under the tents.
The event is free and family-friendly, making it a perfect day trip during the most beautiful time of the year! Coastal panoramic views from nearby Mount Battie are not to be missed — and area inns, restaurants, stores, and schooners all welcome our Harbor Arts guests. The fair will be open 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on Saturday, October 5, and 9:00 am to 4:00 pm on Sunday, October 6.
Harbor Arts & Books is hosted and produced to benefit the Camden Public Library. Generous support for the fair is provided by lead sponsor The Reny Charitable Foundation with support from TREEKEEPERS LLC-Johnson’s Aboriculture. For more information, visit librarycamden.org.