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  • Misleading Flyer Regarding Vaccines Warns Maine CDC


    02/11/2019
     

    The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) is warning Mainers of a flyer appearing to come from the federal Center for Disease Control. The flyer claims to outline a list of "known vaccine side effects" without providing references or citing any sources. Additionally, the website listed as CDC.org is not an active website, nor is it supported by the federal CDC. The flyers are known to have been circulating through big box stores in Southern Maine. Be advised that these flyers were not issued or endorsed by the Maine CDC or federal CDC.

    "Misleading flyers such as these are concerning &emdash; especially when that information pertains to something as important to public health as vaccines," said Maine CDC Director Dr. Bruce Bates. "I encourage anyone who comes across one of these flyers to disregard it."

    Example">https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/images/misleading-flyer.jpg">Example of the flyer.

    In the United States, vaccines are thoroughly tested and then continuously monitored to ensure ongoing safety. Immunizing yourself and your children will help protect you, them, and your community from contracting vaccine-preventable diseases.

    For information regarding vaccine side effects, please visit: www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/side-effects.htm

    For information regarding Maine's Immunization Program, please visit:www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/immunization/

  • Network upgrades will cause half-day closures of Maine BMV offices

    02/11/2019 

    The 13 branch offices of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles will be closed for half days on various dates throughout February and March, to allow for computer and phone system upgrades. 

    The upgrades are part of the State of Maine Office of Information Technology "Maine Network Modernization Project," which will improve wireless security and networking equipment, as well as upgrade all telephones to VOIP. The entire State of Maine Wide Area Network is in the process of being upgraded by OIT and encompasses more than 390 sites. The work will result in infrastructure improvements that will allow for easier upgrades in the future, improved ability to bypass outage points, and better security overall.

    BMV branch closures are scheduled for 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., allowing customers an opportunity to conduct business at the branch on the same day, from 1 p.m. until it closes at 4:30 p.m.

    **Link to table of BMV Branch Closures Schedule**https://www.maine.gov/sos/news/2019/bmvhalfdayclosures.html The Department of the Secretary of State will post updates and reminders about the closure dates on its social media accounts, @MESecofState on Twitter and "Maine Department of the Secretary of State" on Facebook. Customers can also call the main office to check on the closure dates and times, at 207-626-8400. For more information about the Maine Network Modernization Project, please contact David Heidrich, OIT director of communications, in the Office of the Commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services via email
  • It is time for Maine to recover from the opioid epidemic and become whole again

    OpED by Governor Janet Mills

    When I took office, I gave my word to Mainers suffering from substance use disorder. I told them that they are not alone. I told them that, together, we will do everything in our power to bring them back, to make our communities, our families, and our state whole once again.

    Since I took office, the Director of Opioid Response Gordon Smith and my cabinet have identified immediate steps we will take to address the opioid epidemic.

    This last week, I directed my Administration to implement specific actions to address the crisis. I signed my second Executive Order: AN ORDER TO IMPLEMENT IMMEDIATE RESPONSES TO MAINE’S OPIOID EPIDEMIC.

    This Executive Order, effective immediately, defines a number of separate but related actions that will be taken by my Administration, right now.

    These actions will save lives, they will help protect our children and young adults from the appeal of dangerous drugs, they will ensure that Mainers suffering from substance use disorder in our emergency rooms, our jails, and on our streets will find the resources they need to recover and rebuild their lives and become productive citizens of Maine again.

    These actions will supplement the vigorous efforts of law enforcement at all levels who are stemming the tide of drug trafficking into Maine that is fueling this epidemic.

    And, as noted explicitly in this Executive Order, the actions undertaken by the Administration will be done with a view towards reducing the stigma associated with substance use disorders.

    You know, in the past five years, more than one thousand six hundred thirty people in Maine have died from drug overdose – more than the population of Chesterville, or Eastport or North Berwick. 418 people in 2017 alone – more than one a day.

    And just last year, 908 babies were born in Maine affected by drugs.

    The time for action is now.

    We will put the full force of this Administration behind those families who have lost loved ones, businesses who have lost valued employees, and all communities diminished by this public health crisis.

    In addition to the Executive Order, I’m signing a financial order authorizing the purchase of 35,000 doses of Naloxone for distribution to locations determined by our Department of Health and Human Services.

    This life-saving drug will go to hospital emergency rooms, needle exchange programs, public health units, peer recovery centers, emergency responders and many other appropriate locations.

    Federal funds to pay for this purchase are already available in the office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services.

    Mainers with substance use disorder, their families and friends, should have access to the training to safely administer this life-saving drug while we work to address the opioid epidemic. 

    Now, it is not enough to prevent Mainers from dying of a drug overdose. We also have to help people turn their lives arounds after they’ve been saved.

    So across the country and in Maine, the use of recovery coaches has had a positive impact on addressing the opioid epidemic and helping in long-term recovery.

    I have directed the DHHS staff to recruit and train two hundred and fifty qualified recovery coaches.

    I’ve also directed them to fund a full-time recovery coach in up to ten emergency departments in the state.

    And these initiatives will be paid for with existing funds-federal funds- available through the Department.

    We will also reinforce programs for Medication Assisted Treatment in the jails. Commissioner Randy Liberty is committed to piloting a Medication Assisted Treatment project in the prisons.

    Mainers working to rebuild their lives after incarceration should not have to face the additional battle of combating addiction alone. 

    So this Executive Order I have signed is just the start of a series of actions that my Administration – in partnership with the Legislature, with public health community members, with law enforcement and many others – will take in the coming months.

    It is time for our state to recover and become whole once again.

  • Beaver Lodge, Sodexo at University of Maine at Farmington won Taste of Farmington

    The Franklin County Chamber of Commerce  announced the winner of the “Taste of Farmington” event that was held as part of our Chester Greenwood Day celebration. The Beaver Lodge, Sodexo at University of Maine at Farmington won.

    The Beaver Lodge offered a sample of butternut squash soup, an avocado and crispy chicken wrap, along with a smoothie sample. Passport holders, voted during the Festival of Trees. 

    Businesses that participated and offered a taste of what they serve include: Sodexo at UMF, Tuck’s Ale House, The Roost Wingery, The Homestead Kitchen, Farmington House of Pizza, Determined Nutrition, Dunkin’ Donuts, Java Joe’s (Carrabassett Coffee) and Thai Smile.

  • Maine Youth Environmental Leaders Scholarship for Maine Coast Semester —

    Chewonki will offer a Maine Youth Environmental Leaders Scholarship, a $15,000 award to support eligible Maine students who would like to attend Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki during their junior year. The scholarship opportunity is available to two qualifying applicants each year. Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki, located in Wiscasset, offers an immersive learning experience, with a strong focus on transformative growth, stewardship and appreciation for the natural world, and creating sustainable communities. The scholarship covers approximately half of the tuition and fees for the semester-long program. Successful applicants will be in the top 20 percent of their class, have the support of a school or community leader, have demonstrated an appreciation for the natural world, and imagine a future creating positive change in their Maine community. Applications for the first round of scholarship consideration must be received by February 15. Additional details about the scholarship may be found at mainecoastsemester.org/admissions/scholarship.

  • Stacey Abrams delivered a high impact 2019 response to the State of the Union-of hope


    Ramona du Houx

    Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee for Georgia’s 2018 gubernatorial race, gave this year’s response to the State of the Union. Her personal stories gave the nation hope.

    The contrast from Trump being dictortatorial and Abrams standing with members of her community behind her was obvious. Trump actually threatened congress with inaction if the investagations into his nafarious activities don't stop. Abrams spoke of unity, compassion and who we are as a nation working together to progress our lives, and livelyhoods.

    Read her remarks, written by her, as prepared below, or watch here.

    Good evening, my fellow Americans. I’m Stacey Abrams, and I am honored to join the conversation about the state of our union. Growing up, my family went back and forth between lower middle class and working poor.

    Yet, even when they came home weary and bone-tired, my parents found a way to show us all who we could be. My librarian mother taught us to love learning. My father, a shipyard worker, put in overtime and extra shifts; and they made sure we volunteered to help others. Later, they both became United Methodist ministers, an expression of the faith that guides us.

    These were our family values – faith, service, education and responsibility.

    Now, we only had one car, so sometimes my dad had to hitchhike and walk long stretches during the 30 mile trip home from the shipyards. One rainy night, Mom got worried. We piled in the car and went out looking for him – and eventually found Dad making his way along the road, soaked and shivering in his shirtsleeves. When he got in the car, Mom asked if he’d left his coat at work. He explained he’d given it to a homeless man he’d met on the highway. When we asked why he’d given away his only jacket, Dad turned to us and said, “I knew when I left that man, he’d still be alone. But I could give him my coat, because I knew you were coming for me.”

    Our power and strength as Americans lives in our hard work and our belief in more. My family understood firsthand that while success is not guaranteed, we live in a nation where opportunity is possible. But we do not succeed alone – in these United States, when times are tough, we can persevere because our friends and neighbors will come for us. Our first responders will come for us.

    It is this mantra – this uncommon grace of community – that has driven me to become an attorney, a small business owner, a writer, and most recently, the Democratic nominee for Governor of Georgia. My reason for running for governor was simple: I love our country and its promise of opportunity for all, and I stand here tonight because I hold fast to my father’s credo – together, we are coming for America, for a better America.

    Just a few weeks ago, I joined volunteers to distribute meals to furloughed federal workers. They waited in line for a box of food and a sliver of hope since they hadn’t received a paycheck in weeks. Making their livelihoods a pawn for political games is a disgrace. The shutdown was a stunt engineered by the President of the United States, one that defied every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people – but our values.

    For seven years, I led the Democratic Party in the Georgia House of Representatives. I didn’t always agree with the Republican Speaker or Governor, but I understood that our constituents didn’t care about our political parties – they cared about their lives. So, when we had to negotiate criminal justice reform or transportation or foster care improvements, the leaders of our state didn’t shut down – we came together. And we kept our word.

    It should be no different in our nation’s capital. We may come from different sides of the political aisle; but, our joint commitment to the ideals of this nation cannot be negotiable.
    Our most urgent work is to realize Americans’ dreams of today and tomorrow. To carve a path to independence and prosperity that can last a lifetime. Children deserve an excellent education from cradle to career. We owe them safe schools and the highest standards, regardless of zip code.

    Yet this White House responds timidly while first graders practice active shooter drills and the price of higher education grows ever steeper. From now on, our leaders must be willing to tackle gun safety measures and the crippling effect of educational loans; to support educators and invest what is necessary to unleash the power of America’s greatest minds.

    In Georgia and around the country, people are striving for a middle class where a salary truly equals economic security. But instead, families’ hopes are being crushed by Republican leadership that ignores real life or just doesn’t understand it. Under the current administration, far too many hard-working Americans are falling behind, living paycheck to paycheck, most without labor unions to protect them from even worse harm.

    The Republican tax bill rigged the system against working people. Rather than bringing back jobs, plants are closing, layoffs are looming and wages struggle to keep pace with the actual cost of living.

    We owe more to the millions of everyday folks who keep our economy running: like truck drivers forced to buy their own rigs, farmers caught in a trade war, small business owners in search of capital, and domestic workers serving without labor protections. Women and men who could thrive if only they had the support and freedom to do so.

    We know bi-partisanship could craft a 21st century immigration plan, but this administration chooses to cage children and tear families apart. Compassionate treatment at the border is not the same as open borders. President Reagan understood this. President Obama understood this. Americans understand this. And Democrats stand ready to effectively secure our ports and borders. But we must all embrace that from agriculture to healthcare to entrepreneurship, America is made stronger by the presence of immigrants – not walls.

    Rather than suing to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, as Republican Attorneys General have, our leaders must protect the progress we’ve made and commit to expanding health care and lowering costs for everyone.

    My father has battled prostate cancer for years. To help cover the costs, I found myself sinking deeper into debt — because while you can defer some payments, you can’t defer cancer treatment. In this great nation, Americans are skipping blood pressure pills, forced to choose between buying medicine or paying rent. Maternal mortality rates show that mothers, especially black mothers, risk death to give birth. And in 14 states, including my home state where a majority want it, our leaders refuse to expand Medicaid, which could save rural hospitals, economies, and lives.

    We can do so much more: Take action on climate change. Defend individual liberties with fair-minded judges. But none of these ambitions are possible without the bedrock guarantee of our right to vote. Let’s be clear: voter suppression is real. From making it harder to register and stay on the rolls to moving and closing polling places to rejecting lawful ballots, we can no longer ignore these threats to democracy.

    While I acknowledged the results of the 2018 election here in Georgia – I did not and we cannot accept efforts to undermine our right to vote. That’s why I started a nonpartisan organization called Fair Fight to advocate for voting rights.

    This is the next battle for our democracy, one where all eligible citizens can have their say about the vision we want for our country. We must reject the cynicism that says allowing every eligible vote to be cast and counted is a “power grab.” Americans understand that these are the values our brave men and women in uniform and our veterans risk their lives to defend. The foundation of our moral leadership around the globe is free and fair elections, where voters pick their leaders – not where politicians pick their voters.

    In this time of division and crisis, we must come together and stand for, and with, one another. America has stumbled time and again on its quest towards justice and equality; but with each generation, we have revisited our fundamental truths, and where we falter, we make amends.

    We fought Jim Crow with the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, yet we continue to confront racism from our past and in our present – which is why we must hold everyone from the very highest offices to our own families accountable for racist words and deeds – and call racism what it is. Wrong.

    America achieved a measure of reproductive justice in Roe v. Wade, but we must never forget it is immoral to allow politicians to harm women and families to advance a political agenda. We affirmed marriage equality, and yet, the LGBTQ community remains under attack.

    So even as I am very disappointed by the President’s approach to our problems – I still don’t want him to fail. But we need him to tell the truth, and to respect his duties and the extraordinary diversity that defines America.

    Our progress has always found refuge in the basic instinct of the American experiment – to do right by our people. And with a renewed commitment to social and economic justice, we will create a stronger America, together. Because America wins by fighting for our shared values against all enemies: foreign and domestic. That is who we are – and when we do so, never wavering – the state of our union will always be strong.

    Thank you, and may God bless the United States of America.

  • Send Applications for Aquaculture Business Development Program to Island Institute

    The Island Institute is accepting applications for its 2019 Aquaculture Business Development (ABD) program. Now in its fourth year, the free program helps fishermen and those from fishing communities gain the tools they need to diversify and launch small-scale aquaculture businesses. The institute is looking to work with coastal and island residents who are motivated to start a shellfish or seaweed aquaculture businesses within the next two years. Applications are being accepted through March 14.

    “Maine’s emerging aquaculture industry has a lot of opportunity and growth potential. The ABD program provides both the academic and experiential learning tools to enter that growing arena,” said Peter Piconi, marine business specialist with the Island Institute. “More importantly, fishermen can diversify their income, which, in turn, helps island and coastal economies thrive.”

    The program concentrates on business planning and provides prolonged one-on-one support services to help participants get started in the water. Features of the program include training for growing oysters, mussels, and seaweed; knowledge of the state leasing process and site selection; assistance with developing business and marketing plans; and access to financing and continued business support for the first three years of business operation.

    Applications and information are available at www.islandinstitute.org/aquaculture or by calling 594-9209, extension 159. Questions regarding the Aquaculture Business Development program should be directed to Peter Piconi at ppiconi@islandinstitute.org or Sam Belknap at sbelknap@islandinstitute.org.

  • Lincoln Street Center in Rockland, Maine asks city to house artists

    An art foundation is asking the Rockland City Council to amend the zoning of the Lincoln Street Center to allow artists to live there.

    The building was constructed in 1866, but had major additions and renovations in the early 1900s. The structure has 35,000 square feet of space and sits on 1.65 acres. It was formaly Rockland High School, then Rockland District Junior High School.

    Donna McNeil, executive director of the Ellis-Beauregard Foundation, told Rockland City councilors that the proposed zone change would allow combined living/work spaces related to educational and cultural purposes. Thereby benefiting artists who can't currently aford to live in Rockland.

    The goal is to renovate the section of the building that the Foundation rents from the Lincoln Street Center with a full kitchen and full bathroom. The Foundation is the largest tenant, paying $32,000 annually in rent.

    The Lincoln Street Center will also nvest in the building with its own in-kind renovations, according to McNeil. There are currently 22 studios and nearly all are rented. The zone change would allow for affordable housing for the artists.

    The Foundation provides grants to artists and is named after the late artists John David Ellis and Joan Marie Beauregard. The Council is scheduled to take a preliminary vote on the zone change at its Feb. 11, 2019 meeting. If approved, a formal public hearing and final vote could be held in March.

    The Lincoln Street Center is owned by Orchid LLC. Orchid bought the Lilncoln Street Center in 2012 for $125,000 after Camden National Bank took ownership of the property from the nonprofit organization Lincoln Street Center for Arts. The city had sold the property,  after the school district moved out in 1996 because of air quality concerns.

    Orchid LLC consists of Oded Ashe of Las Vegas; local resident Mario Abaldo; and Erez Ram of Agoura, Calif.

  • Governor Mills Welcomes Maine People Home with New Border Sign

    The Maine Turnpike Authority has installed a new “Welcome Home” sign on the Maine state border near the Kittery line.

    In her Inaugural Address, Governor Mills announced that she would install the new sign in an effort to welcome people, including the young, immigrants, entrepreneurs, business owners, innovators and new employers to the state. 

    “This sign is a simple, inclusive, and powerful message which our state will send to every family, business owner, and young person coming into our state - you are welcome here,” said Governor Mills. “It is also a reminder of the love we all share for this great state as we ensure that Maine is a place of opportunity for all those hoping to create a better future for themselves and their family. To all of them I say, welcome home.” 

    The new Welcome Home sign was installed on Febuary 1, 2019 by the Maine Turnpike Authority as a part of a normal replacement schedule. It is made of recycled aluminum from signs previously taken down. According to the Maine Turnpike Authority, installation costs were minimal and primarily involved traffic control.

  • Maine Senate Overwhelmingly Confirms Governor Mills’ Cabinet Nominees


     

    On January 31,2019 the Maine Senate overwhelmingly confirmed nine of Governor Janet Mills’ cabinet nominees, including the Commissioners of the Departments of Administrative and Financial Services, Transportation, Labor, Economic and Community Development, Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Marine Resources, Environmental Protection, and Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management, as well as the head of the Workers’ Compensation Board.

    “I am pleased the Senate has confirmed these highly qualified, respected, and experienced individuals so they can begin their work immediately on behalf of the people of Maine. I look forward to working with the Legislature to confirm the rest of my cabinet so we can continue charting a new, and better path forward for our state," said Governor Mills.

    The Maine Senate confirmed the following nominees on January 31,2019, who all had earned unanimous committee votes earlier this week:

    • Kirsten Figueroa, Department of Administrative and Financial Services
    • Bruce Van Note, Department of Transportation
    • Laura Fortman, Department of Labor
    • Heather Johnson, Department of Economic and Community Development
    • Judith Camuso, Department of Inland, Fisheries and Wildlife
    • Gerald Reid, Department of Environmental Protection
    • Patrick Keliher, Department of Marine Resources
    • Major Douglas Farnham, Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management
    • John Rohde, Workers’ Compensation Board

    Five of Governor Mills’ remaining nominees, including Jeanne Lambrew, Department of Health and Human Services; Pender Makin, Department of Education; Anne Head, Department of Professional and Financial Regulation; Randall Liberty, Department of Corrections, and Mike Sauschuck, Department of Public Safety will appear before the relevant committees for their confirmation hearings today and tomorrow.

    The committee confirmation hearing for Amanda Beal, Governor Mills’ nominee for the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry will be held February 14th at 1:00 PM before the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Joint Standing Committee in Cross Building, Room 214.

  • Call your ME lawmakers to vote yes on L.D. 91 to make gross metering explicitly illegal

     Op-ed by Tobey Williamson, of Warren who runs two small businesses in the midcoast. From 2003 to 2012, he was a consultant on environmental, community and economic development issues across Maine, with a focus on the development of renewable energy. 

    Imagine that, on the way into the supermarket in the spring, you noticed a shiny, new scale by the door. It was rumored that the owner of the market had been allowed to require that we weigh the fruits and vegetables we grew ourselves. No one knew why exactly, but unbelievably, further rumors suggested that the grocery chain meant to charge us for them. 

    By the end of the summer, the rumors were proven true. Maine people were actually now required to pay for the fruits of their own labor planting, weeding, watering and harvesting their dooryard gardens.

    Sound farfetched? This is analogous to what the Public Utilities Commission has allowed Central Maine Power and Emera Maine to do to our state’s newest small generators of clean, renewable electricity.

    Early in 2018, the new “gross metering” rules went into effect, requiring new solar power projects to measure exactly how much power they generate. Previously, only the difference between electrons generated and used on site was tracked. This was called “net metering,” and it allowed people to harvest some sunlight for their own use entirely separate from their utility bills. Under the new rules, the utilities now claim ownership of the portion of harvested sunlight we use immediately to power our homes – energy that never touches the utility distribution lines.

    The “gross meter” and its associated complex equations developed by the utilities and blessed by the PUC result in the need to buy power from the grid to replace some subtracted sun-generated kilowatt-hour credits. So far, these lost credits amount to at least a 10 percent tax on the output of my panels. Other solar projects are likely facing similar, impossible-to-have-foreseen charges that completely change the calculations used to secure financing.

    The old net metering rules were working just fine. Now those of us who took a risk on the new rules are struggling not only with unanticipated electric bills on top of our loan payments, but also with pages of poorly developed and confusing spreadsheets that are often riddled with mistakes. As the recent CMP billing controversies have proven, electric bills were already hard to understand and customer service was already lacking when customers call to sort out problems. Gross metering makes it exponentially worse for those of us stepping up to slow climate change and support the Maine economy by generating clean electricity.

    It is also important to note that gross metering was implemented despite strong public opposition. The new rule was enforced only by Gov. LePage’s veto of bipartisan legislation that would have negated it. The veto came within just three votes of being overridden.

    This corporate giveaway of citizen-generated electricity is not popular. But it could continue for the 25-year life span of all of the newest solar projects unless the law is changed. Worse, it could spread to other states, slowing hard-won progress against climate change and energy independence.

    Rep. Seth Berry, who co-chairs the Energy and Utilities Committee, understands these issues. In fact, he was the first to mention the supermarket analogy I used above. He has introduced L.D. 91, An Act To Eliminate Gross Metering, to stop this practice, which is taking away the right of Maine people to collect and use renewable energy freely on their own land while saddling us with unjust costs and unnecessary billing complications.

    Please join this effort to support renewable-energy development by resolving the injustice of gross metering. Call your state senator and representative and encourage them to vote “yes” on L.D. 91 to make gross metering explicitly illegal. Our children, our economy and our climate will be better off if investment in renewable energy is encouraged rather than taxed.