• Maine should do more to stand up for survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence


    Editorial by Representative Lois Reckitt of South Portland.

    October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Acknowledging this time is important, but the fact that we even have to have a month reserved for this topic shows us how critical it is to respect and protect women’s equal rights every day in Maine and the nation.

    And, given recent events, it’s clear we still have a long way to go when it comes to understanding how domestic violence and sexual assault affect the lives of so many women.

    I have over four decades of experience working with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. As the former executive director of Family Crisis Services in Portland, I have witnessed more times than I care to remember the trauma and the lifelong damage that survivors experience.

    We need to ensure we adopt the kind of best practices that will help Maine better protect survivors and prevent further violence. 

    First, we should always start by believing people who say they’ve been or are being assaulted. It is extremely rare for victims to make false accusations. That makes perfect sense when you consider the kind of risks victims take by breaking their silence. And it explains why so many wait so long before coming forward.

    Second, the most dangerous time for those experiencing domestic violence is when they decide to leave. Abusers see this moment as a threat to their control and as potential trouble with the law, and they often react with rage and violence. Creating partnerships with law enforcement like I did with the Portland Police Department when I was at FCS can help prevent violence from escalating. 

    Third, the vast majority of domestic violence victims are also victims of sexual assault in those relationships. This fact underscores the trauma survivors have experienced, and it also tells us why it’s important to talk about domestic and sexual violence together – both come from one person violently imposing their will on someone else.

    Another lesson to consider is that domestic violence in the home may produce lifelong trauma for the children. It is a testimony to the strength of many survivors that so many are able to nonetheless raise resilient children. Adequate training and programs that serve the entire family should help break a cycle that all too often is repeated.

    Finally, the criminal justice system can’t solve domestic and sexual violence on its own. Communities and employers also have a role to play and need to be observant and engaged in new ways.

    Remember, it takes courage and strength for survivors to come forward. We owe it to each other to be strong allies. If you or someone you know has experienced domestic or sexual violence, call Maine’s Statewide Domestic Abuse Helpline at 1-866-834-HELP or the Sexual Assault Helpline at 1-800-871-7741.

  • Documentary on Forced Removal of Maine Native Children from Families

    Member of Penobscot Nation to introduce film & lead Q&A —

    “Dawnland,” a full-length documentary that follows the nation’s first government-sanctioned investigation into the removal of Native children from their families and culture, will be shown at the Lincoln Theater in Damariscotta on Wednesday, October 10, at 2 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. As recently as the 1970s one in four Native children nationwide were living in non-Native foster care, adoptive homes, or industrial boarding schools.
    The screenings will occur all accross the state this week. Preview HERE> 

    Penobscot Nation member Dawn Neptune Adams, one of those children, shares some of her personal story in the documentary, and she will be in attendance to introduce the film and facilitate audience questions and comments at the film’s conclusion. Joining Adams for the two shows will be Tom Reynolds and Erika Bjorum, representatives of Maine-Wabanaki REACH, the organization that established and supported the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission process. 

    Tickets for the program are $8 or adults, $6 for age 18 and under. The first 30 high school students who present a student ID at either performance will be admitted free.
  • State and Federal agencies provide guidance regarding Marine Mammals in Maine

    AUGUSTA, September 26, 2018 — This year, Maine has seen an unusual number of live and deceased seals wash up on Maine shores. Handling and disposing of these animals is challenging. To address these issues, a multi-agency work group developed guidance for coastal communities, waterfront property owners, and the public in dealing with stranded seals.

    First, and most importantly, report any live or dead stranded seals to the Maine Marine Animal Reporting Hotline at 800-532-9551 as soon as possible. Reports are necessary for scientists to document and take samples when possible. Reports will also help researchers determine when the unusual mortality event is over.

    The work group created two documents to assist coastal communities, waterfront property owners, and the public:

    • Marine Mammal Fact Sheet – A quick reference guide with information on what to do and who to call if you encounter a live or deceased marine mammal on Maine shores.
    • Marine Animal Disposal Guidance – A guidance document for municipalities dealing with mortalities, including information on reporting and disposal. .

    To report a stranded marine animal call the Maine Marine Animal Reporting Hotline at 800-532-9551. Please remember that marine mammals are protected under federal law, and it is illegal to approach, touch, or move marine mammals without authorization.

    The Marine Mammal Fact Sheet and Marine Animal Disposal Guidance document are available on Maine DEP’s website at

    The following agencies involved in the development of this guidance are: Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Marine Resources, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Marine Mammals of Maine (non-profit organization federally authorized to carry out rescue and data collection efforts in southern to mid-coast Maine).

  • Maine State Archives to host speakers, focus on industries during American Archives Month

    The Maine State Archives will celebrate American Archives Month this October with a focus on Maine industries, featuring presentations from Cathy Billings and Rachel Desgrosseilliers, as well as two public tours.

    The archivists will host tours at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 10 and Tuesday, Oct. 23, which will include access to areas that are not normally open to the public. To reserve your spot on the tour, please contact Communications Director Kristen Muszynski with your full name and phone number. The tour will be capped at 20 participants. (No large groups, please.) The Maine State Archives is located in the Cultural Building, 230 State St., across from the statehouse in Augusta.

    Following the public tours, the Maine State Archives, Maine State Library, and Maine State Museum will be co-hosting two Collaborative Encounters presentations at the Archives:

    • Cathy Billings, associate director of the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine, will speak about the lobster industry on Oct. 10 at 6 p.m., followed by a book signing with her book The Maine Lobster Industry: A History of Culture, Conservation & Commerce.
    • Rachel Desgrosseilliers, executive director of Museum L-A, will speak about the textile and shoe industries of Lewiston-Auburn on Oct. 23 at 6 p.m.

    In addition to taking in the tours and speakers, visitors to the Archives can view the current exhibit on Maine’s role in World War I and are encouraged to return in December for the unveiling of the new exhibit featuring items from the collection that relate to Maine’s industries, from fishing to textiles. The Maine Industries poster will be available for download and printing at along with past Archives Month posters.

    On Wednesday, Oct. 3, the Maine State Archives will also be participating in the #AskAnArchivist event on Twitter, in which people from around the world can submit questions for archivists to answer.  To take part in this outreach event, sponsored by the Society of American Archivists, simply include #AskAnArchivist in your tweet and participating archivists will respond.

    Visit our website, our Facebook page, Maine State Archives, or our Twitter account @MEArchives, for information and updates about our plans for celebrating Maine’s state archives this fall.

  • EOPA Veterans, who are elected officials, tell Congress make funding for Land Water Conservation permanent

    Vedio courtesy Elected Officials to Protect America's Lands

    Article and still photos by Ramona du Houx

    Veterans who are also lawmakers traveled to D.C. to urge Interior Sec. Zinke to help reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which brings millions to each state every year for the upkeep of our parks and other public lands.

    "We are committed to preserving and protecting America’s public lands — by doing so we are continuing our mission to preserve and protect our nation," said Former Maine State Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx, who served in the Marines in Iraq and is now a Lieutenant in the Navy Reserves.

    Before their visit to Capitol Hill, the Elected Officials to Protect America's Lands  had 80 veterans who are elected officials sign on to a letter they sent to Sec. Zinke insisting that he reauthorize the LWCF in full.

    A week after their D.C. visit - where they called on 7 U.S. Senators to educate them about the effort - the bill supporting the LWCF made it out of committee, where it had been stalled for a year.

    "The apparent Permanente resolution of the LWCF budget is a critical step in fostering both better stewardship of our natural spaces and an important symbol: Veterans can play a helpful role in facilitating good policy,” said State Representative Paul Evans (OR). “It’s our job to stand up, as veterans, and make sure government works for everyone. I went to D.C. because we have to make sure sustainability and stewardship are national priorities. Our natural spaces are at least as important, in terms of national security, as our oil.”

    Now the bill needs to be brought to the floor of Congress for a vote.

    "While having the bill come out of committee is an important milestone, there is more work to be done. I'm glad our delegation had the opportunity to met with our US. Senators. With 80 veterans who are lawmakers signing the letter to Sec. Zinke insisting on reauthorization of LWCF I feel we've played our part. Veterans understand the importance of our natural places that give solace to millions. They are a part of our cultural heritage, without them we wouldn't be the nation we are,” said State Representative Debra Maria Sarinana (NM). “LWCF needs permanent reauthorization as well as full and dedicated funding. As the Committee moves to advance legislation allocating energy revenues for other purposes, it is vital that Congress continues to provide guaranteed funding to LWCF."

    Since 1964, LWCF has touched every state, conserving national parks and forests, land by rivers, lakes and oceans, working forests, farms and ranches, fish and wildlife refuges, trails, and more than 41,000 state and local parks in every corner of the United States. All this has been done at no cost to taxpayers as the program is entirely funded through royalties collected on offshore drilling.

    "Congress needs to be reminded that our natural resources cannot be neglected. I was pleased to join with my state legislative colleagues to make the case to renew the Land and Water Conservation Fund in Washington," said Assistant Speaker of the House, Felix W. Ortiz (NY).

    The LWCF runs out of funding Sept. 30, 2018.

    Members of the Elected Officials to Protect America's Lands met with Sen. Rob Wyden, and other U.S. Senators, on Sept 6th on Capitol Hill to urge the reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Sen Wyden, and all the Congressional members they met met with are supportive of the LWCF becoming fully funded. From left to right in the back: State Sen. Rick Kolowski (NE), Asm. Felix Ortiz (NY) US Senator Rob Wyden, State Rep. Paul Evans, Former State Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx, (ME) Delegate Pat Young (MD). In the front: State Rep. Debbie Sarinana,(NM) and Rep. Michael Sheehy (OH).

    The elected officials met with the following Members of Congress:

    • Sen. Ron Wyden (OR)
    • Sen. Jeff Merkley (OR)
    • Sen. Martin Heinrich (NM)
    • Sen. Tom Udall (NM)
    • Sen. Angus King (ME)
    • Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-4)
    • Sen. Chuck Schumer (NY)
    • Sen. Rob Portman (OH)
  • Eastern Maine Medical Center Nurses Reach Landmark Tentative Contract Agreement

    Registered nurses at Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC) have reached a tentative three-year contract agreement with the hospital, featuring breakthrough staffing language, the Maine State Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (MSNA/NNOC/NNU) announced on September 17, 2018.

    If approved, the deal, which covers 872 nurses at the hospital, would run through September, 2021.

    We are so proud that nurses stood together with the community, to achieve this major victory for our patients and our colleagues,” said Cokie Giles, RN, bargaining team member and President of MSNA/NNOC/NNU. “We did spend many days at the bargaining table, but the real work was done by nurses organizing in their departments and in our community: to raise awareness, to find consensus on our priorities and to press management to seriously address our issues in negotiations. We are confident the improvements in this new contract, once ratified by the nurses, will directly benefit our patients.”

    RNs say a recent candlelight vigil brought nurses and community members together, showing solidarity and setting the stage for winning the new tentative agreement, which features strong protections for patients and RNs, including language protecting the role of the “charge nurse.”

    “The charge nurse is responsible for coordinating the unit, so we are critical to patient safety,” said union bargaining team member and relief charge nurse Karen Greenlaw, RN.  “We must be available to lead our teams, mentor newer nurses and handle crises as they come up. Our new language ensures that we can protect our patients and be the vital resource that our teams need.”

    The tentative agreement also features economic gains to keep up with inflation, and protections for nurse benefits—all of which help strengthen the recruitment and retention of experienced nurses for the community. In addition, the tentative pact protects the “complement unit” system that EMMC nurses have fought for and won over several contract cycles.

    “The complement unit provision in our contract makes sure that our patients receive care from  nurses who are trained and experienced to meet their specialized needs,” said Dawn Caron, RN, bargaining team member and Chief Union Steward at EMMC. “This is one of the foundational principles of our union contract. We always have and always will fight to protect our patients by keeping this system in place.”

    The nurses, who have been in negotiations since May of this year, will vote on the agreement September 21.

    MSNA represents 2,000 nurses in the state of Maine. NNOC/NNU represents over 150,000 RNs nationwide, and is the largest and fastest growing union of RNs in the nation. NNU has won landmark health and safety protections for nurses and patients in the areas of staffing, safe patient handling, infectious disease and workplace violence protection.

  • RiverWalk in Waterville, Maine open to the public, made possible with Land and Water Conservation Funds

    The Two Cents Bridge in Watervile, Maine got it's name from the toll charged to workers who had to cross the river to work in the factories. It's construction is unique in wire bridges and give thrills to those who cross over as the wind sways the structure. Photo by Ramona du Houx

    By Ramone du Houx

    Colorful paths at the RiverWalk at the Head of Falls have transformed the disused waterfront near the Two Cents Bridge in Waterville, Maine.

    The pathways circle around connecting Waterville back to it's historic past of life along the riverfront. There is even a conduit for electricity to an outdoor amphitheater, which will host performances of locals as well as invited entertainers and speakers. The theme of the RiverWalk is “Waterville’s Return to the River.”

    The RiverWalk was designed by Mitchell & Associates of Portland, was funded with many differnt donations and grants. The Waterville Rotary Club in 2015 gave the lead gift of $150,000 for the RiverWalk project as a way of celebrating its centennial. City councilors accepted $50,000 from the Waterville Development Corp., and that funding was part of $300,000 the city raised locally to match a $300,000 grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Then other donations came in. 

    "Without the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) projects that are vital to communities around Maine might never be funded. The LWCF is often used to get matching funds. We, as veterans, owe it to our country to stand up and defend LWCF for future generations," said State Rep. Robert Alley who recently signed a letter with 80 lawmakers who are veterans to help reauthorize the LWCF. "Our lands are our cultural heritage. Maine's economy depends on our wonderful natural places, that have received funds from LWCF. I'm proud to stand with my fellow brothers and sisters to ensure the fund is reauthorized. Waterville's creative economy is growing, in part, because of LWCF funds."

    The city several years ago installed water, sewer, electricity and parking at Head of Falls, which is off Front Street. With the aide of community block grants, the Department of Economic and Community Development's help during the Baldacci administration, the city, and private donations in 2010 the city built a plaza west of the Two Cent Bridge that includes benches, an informational kiosk, a walkway and landscaping.

    Though the RiverWalk is open to the public, workers are still completing some work. A dedication ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. on October 6, 2018 featuring former U.S. Sen. George J. Mitchell, who lived in Waterville when he was a young, as he principle speaker at the ceremony.

    Waterville owns 14 acres at Head of Falls, and officials believe that the RiverWalk will be the catalyst for more development on the riverfront, which connects with Kennebec Messalonskee Trails. Features will include interpretive signs along the boardwalk for people to read about the river, native Americans and the log drive which ended in the late 1970s along the Kennebec.

    Mountians in Maine near Waterville, photo by Ramona du Houx

  • Parasitic flies to be released as biocontrol for winter moth

     Entomologists at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry's Maine Forest Service (MFS) are continuing their battle against winter moth. On Wednesday, September 12, they will be setting out parasitic flies (Cyzenis albicans) in Bath as part of a biocontrol project to control the invasive winter moth (Operophtera brumata). In several Massachusetts locations, the parasitoids have been successful in reducing winter moth populations to non-damaging levels.

    The flies are currently in cocoons for the winter and will be set out in a cage buried in the ground until spring. In early May when the flies start to emerge the cage will be opened to release them to go to work on the winter moth.

    Part of a larger release program

    The release was part of a larger release program, undertaken in conjunction with the University of Massachusetts, with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to control the winter moth across New England. Flies have been released in six other locations in south coastal Maine starting in 2013 and are starting to become established in Kittery, Cape Elizabeth and Vinalhaven. In several locations in Massachusetts, where the flies have been released since 2005, the parasitoids have been successful in reducing winter moth populations to non-damaging levels.

    Winter moth (Operophtera brumata) & parasitic flies (Cyzenis albicans)

    Both the winter moth and their parasites are originally from Europe. Winter moth defoliation was first recorded in Maine in 2012 and now the moths have been detected from Kittery to Mount Desert Island. The larvae (caterpillars) of winter moth feed on the leaves deciduous trees and shrubs such as oaks, maples, apples and blueberries, in early spring. Heavy defoliation for several consecutive years leads to branch dieback and tree mortality. Winter moth defoliation has contributed to tens of thousands of acres of oak mortality in Massachusetts and now there is oak mortality in Cape Elizabeth.

    The parasitic flies only attack winter moth and the adult flies are around for just a few weeks in May making it a good biocontrol agent. They have been successfully used as a control strategy in Nova Scotia, parts of western Canada and the US, as well in southern New England.

  • Bipartisan group of 35 tell Sen. Collins: Misleading answers should disqualify judge from Supreme Court


    By Ramona du Houx

    Thirty-five lawmakers signed onto the letter, an effort spearheaded by Rep. Maureen “Mo” Terry, D-Gorham.

    “Of course, Sen. Collins and I belong to different political parties, but I think we should all be able to agree that lying about whether or not he received stolen materials ought to disqualify someone from serving on the highest court in the country,” said Terry. “Supreme Court appointments are for life, and the job of a justice is to place the Constitution and respect for the rule of law above all else. How can we trust Kavanaugh to do that if he’s already been caught lying to the Senate in a public hearing?”

    A recent release of emails shows that Kavanaugh received stolen information from Manuel Miranda, who used his staff position in the Senate to steal confidential documents from Democratic Senators on the Judiciary Committee during confirmation proceedings for judicial nominees conducted during Pres. George W. Bush’s administration.

    These emails show that Judge Kavanaugh lied under oath on three separate occasions. In 2004, during his confirmation to the D.C. Circuit, he testified not just that he did not know the documents were stolen but that he never received any documents that appeared to have been written by Democratic staff. In 2006, he again denied having ever seen the documents in question.

    The letter was sent to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins on Friday.

    Terry is serving her first term in the Maine House of Representatives and serves on the Legislature’s Taxation Committee. She represents part of Gorham.


  • Horse in York County Tests Positive for West Nile Virus (WNV)

    The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (Maine DACF) announced today that a horse showing neurological signs last week in York County tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV).

    The horse is currently undergoing supportive veterinary care and does not pose a threat of infection to any other animals or humans. The horse was unvaccinated against the disease.

    WNV is a virus that is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. One pool of mosquitoes has tested positive for WNV in York County this year. This is the first confirmed case of WNV in horses in Maine on record. WNV has been diagnosed in horses this year in nearby states such as New York.

    “WNV and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), which are carried by mosquitoes, are viral diseases that cause similar signs, and are often fatal in unvaccinated horses. Both viruses can affect human beings if they are bitten by mosquitoes that carry the viruses,” said Dr. Michele Walsh, Maine state veterinarian. “People cannot acquire WNV or EEE infection from sick animals, only from the bite of an infected mosquito.”

    The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) and Maine DACF suggest Mainers take the following steps to protect themselves and their animals from EEE and WNV:

    • Wear long sleeves and long pants
    • Use an EPA approved repellent on skin and clothes
    • Take extra precautions at dusk and dawn
    • Use screens on your windows and doors
    • Drain artificial sources of standing water where you and your animals live, work, and play
    • Vaccinate horses against WNV and EEE

    Both WNV and EEE viruses are carried by mosquitoes, which pick them up from infected wild birds.

    The viruses replicate in birds, which act as natural reservoirs for the diseases. Signs of the diseases in horses may include: stumbling or poor balance, unusual behavior and lethargy. Other symptoms include head pressing, circling, tremors, seizures and eventual coma.

    “WNV and EEE are preventable in horses through vaccination,” Walsh advised. “If more than six months has elapsed since a horse has been vaccinated, a booster vaccination may be needed.”

    While EEE has not been detected in Maine so far in 2018, it has been detected here in recent years, and has been detected in neighboring states and provinces this year. Horse owners should contact their own veterinarians to decide if booster shots are needed. Revaccination is recommended if more than six months have passed since the last vaccination when exposure to infected mosquitoes is likely. Vaccinating horses regularly is the best way to protect them against these dangerous diseases, and is safe, effective and essential.

    “This WNV activity in mosquitoes and horses should serve as a reminder to the public that humans are at risk from this disease as well, and should take the appropriate steps to protect themselves,” said Dr. Siiri Bennett, State Epidemiologist for the Maine CDC.

    Although many persons infected with WNV have no apparent illness, those who develop symptoms do so usually three to 10 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. One in five people infected develop a fever with symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash, and most recover completely.

    Less than 1% of people develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis, and approximately 10% of those may die. Maine’s Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory performs arboviral testing for mosquitoes, large animals and humans. Submission information can be found at

  • Eastern Maine Medical Center nurses hold candlelight vigil on critical safe staffing concern in Bangor

    Bangor, MAINE Registered nurses with the Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC) held a candlelight vigil August 30, 2018 in the evening to shine a light on a critical safe staffing concern at the medical facility in Bangor, Maine.

    The vigil was sponsored by the Maine State Nurses Association (MSNA), the union that represents the 850 EMMC nurses.

    The nurses gathered with concerned community members and former EMMC patients to highlight the importance of a key safe staffing proposal currently under negotiation with EMMC management. Registered nurses are demanding that charge nurses no longer be assigned patients so they can devote their attention to their specific and critical assignment: mentoring newer nurses, addressing emergencies as they arise and assisting other nurses.

    “It is critical that charge nurses be focused on their own duties, their expertise and input are vitally important to maintain the highest level of care,” said MSNA President and EMMC nurse, Cokie Giles. “This is a critical safe staffing issue. Charge nurses must be available to assist other nurses on the floor, mentor newer nurses and handle emergencies as they come up. When our charge nurses have to take patient assignments, they are not available to do the job they’re assigned to do, and that can potentially compromise the safety of our patients.”   

    EMMC forces charge nurses to take patient assignments regularly, when it is convenient for management, and in a manner that is not consistent with safe staffing, say nurses. 

    “Safe patient staffing, with the mentoring of an experienced charge nurse is best for patient care,” said Lisa Oliver, co-chair of the union’s professional practice committee and member of the union bargaining team. “The hospital administration must adequately staff the hospital so we can better protect our patients and give them the care they deserve.”

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