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  • Pathways to Recovery: Resources for Maine’s Veterans and Families at Portland City Hall

    Join the Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative (RALI) of Maine and our partners for a Veterans Day community conversation hosted by Cumberland County District Attorney Jonathan Sahrbeck.

     Pathways for veterans and their families will be open for a productive conversation.

    The discussion will be November 12, 2019 from 5pm to 6:30pm at Portland City Hall in the State of Maine Room. That’s 289 Congress Street.

    Everyone is welcome, every concern will be addressed.

  • Gift Worthy Book Sale at the Camden Public Library

    For those who want to get their holiday shopping done early, or add to their own collection, the Camden Public Library will be holding the “Gift Worthy” Book Sale until the 30th of November. There will be an impressive selection of quality used books in great condition for sale on tables in the Rotunda. The book sale runs during regular library operating hours, and the tables will be regularly restocked with books for all ages and tastes.

    The book sales, which are held throughout the year, generate significant income for the Camden Public Library; during the most recent fiscal year they contributed more than $30,000 to the Library’s operating budget, and this year they are on track to do the same again. This success can only be achieved with support from the community through donations of books to the library as well as through purchases. To learn more, visit libraycamden.org.

  • Maine calls on USDA to finalize hemp guidance to support farmers

    Oct, 23, 2019

    The Mills Administration today called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to finalize guidance, required under the 2019 Farm Bill, to help states like Maine implement regulations relating to the production of commercial hemp. Governor Janet Mills and Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Amanda Beal noted in their letter to the department that until such guidelines are in place, states like Maine are unable to move forward with their own guidance for growers and are restricted by the outdated rules governed by the 2014 Farm Bill. They also raised concerns that the regulatory uncertainly has resulted in hemp farmers not receiving the necessary supports from financial and insurance institutions, thereby stifling “the growth and aspirations of hardworking farm businesses.” 

    “Given the growth and rate at which hemp production has accelerated in Maine and across the country, and the continued confusion around federal laws, we urge you to work swiftly with the Office of Management and Budget to finalize USDA’s guidance for state implementation plans,” wrote Governor Mills and Commissioner Beal.  “We believe this Federal guidance will not only help provide long-needed clarification to the states but will be valuable to the broader lending and insurance industries.”

     

  • Office of the State Treasurer will send $100 relief payments to all who qualified in 2019 for Homestead Exemption

    Oct, 22, 2019

    State Treasurer Henry E.M. Beck, Esq. today announced that he has officially notified Municipal Tax Assessors of a new law affecting Maine municipalities. "An Act to Return Funds to Maine Property Taxpayers" requires the Maine Office of the State Treasurer (OST) to provide tax relief payments of no less than $100 to qualifying homesteads, when the Property Tax Relief Fund reaches a threshold of funding to support the payments. In 2019, this threshold will be met based on available funds divided by the number of homesteads net of expenses to administer the program.

    The Treasurer has directed all of Maine's Municipal Tax Assessors and the State Tax Assessor to provide the names and addresses of all property tax payers who qualified for the homestead exemption as of April 1, 2019. OST expects that approximately 305,000 property tax payers will receive a payment.

    The State Treasurer is anticipating a payment of approximately $102 to be mailed to qualified Mainers in the months of January and February. Beck noted that "Maine people made clear they want property tax relief. Speaker Gideon's bipartisan legislation will provide over $30 million in direct relief to Maine homeowners. Combined with Governor Mills' budget to dramatically increase revenue sharing and also raise the homestead exemption, this meaningful program delivers on real property tax relief for Maine people."

    For more information on the program and how the payments will be sent, please visit https://www.maine.gov/treasurer/property_tax_relief/index.html.

    About OST: The Office of the State Treasurer provides state agencies with efficient banking and financial services, which include revenue collection, payment issuance, reconciliation, and trust management. The Office also manages state investments and debt payments and issuance, ensuring that bonds authorized by voters are efficiently sold in the marketplace to provide funding for capital projects statewide. Over $200 million in unclaimed funds for Maine residents are managed by the Office of the Treasurer. FMI, www.maine.gov/treasurer

    About the Homestead exemption program: This program provides a measure of property tax relief for certain individuals that have owned homestead property in Maine for at least 12 months and make the property they occupy on April 1 their permanent residence. Property owners would receive an exemption of $20,000. FMI, https://www.maine.gov/revenue/propertytax/sidebar/exemptions.htm

  • Golden stands up demanding transparency and a public hearing on the Army Corps’ of Engineers review of CMP Transmission Corridor

    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.

  • Powerful Nor'Easter Affects Maine

    Photo: the Inn on Pine Street in Portland
    10/17/2019 10:26 AM EDT
    Maine 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
  • A Woman's Extraordinary Gift to the Camden Public Library's Future

    “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. 

     

  • Maine Recognizes Indigenous Peoples’ Day

     A tradition Wabanaki birch bark canoe on display at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. Photo by Ramona du Houx

    Augusta, MAINE 

    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

  • Pumpkin Palooza carving and display at the Camden Public Library

    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.

  • Maine's anti-hunger groups applaud waiver to return SNAP benefits to those in need

    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.” 

  • Birding Adventures in Mexico with Doug Hitchcox at the Camden Public Library

    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.

  • 24 Attorneys General Oppose Purdue Pharma's Multi-Million Dollar Bonuses for Company Executives

    10/03/2019 

    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.
  • ig Fall Book Sale Under the Tents at the Camden Public Library

    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.

  • Fall Harbor Arts and Books Fair in Camden, Maine

     

    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.

  • Schooner Bowdoin in Rockland, ME sept 28-29

    The Sail, Power and Steam Museum of Rockland will host a visit by the schooner Bowdoin, the official vessel of the State of Maine and the flagship of the Maine Maritime Academy. Visitors will be able to take dockside tours of the recently renovated 98-year-old schooner the weekend of September 28 to 29.

    The weekend will include a dockside tour of the schooner on September 28 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Rockland public landing. The Sail, Power and Steam Museum, 75 Mechanic Street, will host a reception and panel discussion on Saturday, September 28, from 5 to 7 p.m. to celebrate the significance, past and future of the Bowdoin. The panel will include Captain Jim Sharp, the founder and director of the museum; Genevieve LeMoine, curator at the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum at Bowdoin College; and Captain Will McLean, Maine Maritime Academy’s current captain of the schooner.

    The Bowdoin has figured prominently in the sailing history of Captain Sharp. His and Admiral Donald Baxter MacMillan’s friendship began in the late 1960s, when Sharp rescued the Bowdoin from a decade of neglect and towed it to Camden for restoration. When the schooner was sail-worthy, in 1971, Sharp sailed it past MacMillan’s Cape Cod home so he could once again see the vessel that had carried researchers to the Arctic on multiple trips from 1921 to 1953. Historic artifacts donated by MacMillan to Sharp are a highlight of the collections at the museum.

    Recent renovations have prepared the historic vessel for new Arctic expeditions to be conducted by the Maine Maritime Academy.

    For more inormation, contact the Sail, Power and Steam Museum at 701-7627 or sailpowersteammuseum@gmail.com.

  • National Clean Energy Week in Maine and 22 states September 23-27

    Governor Mills Declares National Clean Energy Week in Maine

    Governor Janet Mills has declared September 23rd through September 27th, 2019 as National Clean Energy Week to encourage individuals, local governments, corporations, and other organizations in Maine to champion renewable energy solutions that create clean energy jobs and mitigate climate change.

    “Climate change threatens everything that is fundamental to us as a people and as a state,” said Governor Mills. “Tackling our overreliance on fossil fuels, reducing our carbon emissions, and transitioning our households, businesses and government agencies to renewable energy will create clean energy jobs, strengthen our economy, and mitigate the impacts of climate change. I encourage all Maine people to join with me in observing National Clean Energy Week and recommitting ourselves to a cleaner, greener future.”

    Maine is one of 23 states to formally recognize National Clean Energy Week 2019.

    Governor Mills’ proclamation follows the announcement that she will be the first sitting governor of Maine to deliver remarks before the United Nations (UN) about Maine’s effort to fight climate change during the UN Climate Action Summit 2019.

    Governor Mills has made tackling climate change and ushering in renewable energy a key priority of her Administration. She has signed legislation to increase Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 80 percent by 2030 and set a goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2050; set a goal of installing 100,000 new heat pumpsby 2025 and expanded availability of electric vehicles; and established mandates to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050 and created the bipartisan Maine Climate Council to provide recommendations to meet these targets.

    The full text of Governor Mills’ proclamation is below.


    WHEREAS, Maine is committed to a clean energy future and enjoys abundant forms of renewable energy that power homes and businesses across the State; and

    WHEREAS, the generation of power from renewable sources, including forms such as hydro, wood, wind, and solar, plays an important role in meeting the needs of our homes and businesses; and

    WHEREAS, Maine has increased its Renewable Portfolio Standard to 80 percent by 2030 and has a goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2050; and

    WHEREAS, Maine leads New England in wind-powered generation; and

    WHEREAS, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranked Maine 14th in its 2018 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard; and

    WHEREAS, Maine supports the strategic electrification of heating and transportation, establishing the goal of installing 100,000 new heat pumps by 2025 as well as announcing initiatives to expand availability of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure; and

    WHEREAS, Maine has established mandates to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050 and created the Maine Climate Council to provide recommendations to meet these targets; and

    WHEREAS, Maine’s clean energy jobs grow local economies and boost economic development; and

    WHEREAS, National Clean Energy Week provides an opportunity for individuals, local governments, corporations, and other organizations in Maine to champion common sense solutions that address the United States’ evolving economic and energy needs;

    NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved that I, Janet T. Mills, Governor of the State of Maine, do hereby proclaim September 23rd through September 27th, 2019 as

    NATIONAL CLEAN ENERGY WEEK

    throughout the State of Maine, and I urge all citizens to recognize this observance.

  • Steven Cochran of Bangor, Maine wins first in National physique bodybuilding competition

    Steven Cochran Jr. posing after winning first in the NPC national physique bodybuilding competition

    By Ramona du Houx

    Steven Cochran Jr. is a modest, amiable unassuming young man, a devoted Christian, and a dedicated worker at Darlings. Steven also has hidden life outside of work—one that Maine should be proud of. During his free time Steven is often found at the gym perfecting his physique with bodybuilding. It’s not just a hobby, it’s his lifestyle and he’s serious about competing in his chosen art. So serious that on August 3rd he won a National Physique Committee (NPC) competition in Indianapolis, Indiana.

    Steven says physique bodybuilding is a way of life.

    “It keeps the body healthy,” said Cochran. He has a routine choreographed to music of his choice where he presents his various poses required by the competitions. “I like to flow with the music, as if I’m the river moving around rocks.”

    Cochran came to bodybuilding via wrestling and the hand to hand combat training he received in the army. After six years of service, some of which was spent deployed to northern Afghanistan, he completed getting a degree in New York and came home to Bangor, Maine.

    NPC is the largest amateur bodybuilding organization in the United States and is recognized by the International Federation of BodyBuilders (IFBB), the bodybuilding's international organization.

    Athletes have to win in the overall NPC category to compete in the NPC North American National event in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. That means coming in first in your assigned class and then competing against all the others who also came in first in their classes. That’s exactly what Cochran did. Up against competitors throughout North America was challenging, especially when Steven’s category had the most contestants enrolled. Still, he managed to come in eighth out of 44 on August 30th.

    Cochran’s not slowing down and says he will continue to make Maine proud.

     

     

  • Mills first ME governor to address United Nations on Maine Combating Climate Change

    Mills on Monday just before her speach. Photo: courtesy ME state.

    On Monday, September 23rd, Governor Janet Mills will deliver remarks before the United Nations (UN) about Maine’s effort to fight climate change. Under Governor Mills’ leadership, the state has made significant progress in the effort to mitigate climate change, most notably signing into law the nation’s most aggressive Renewable Portfolio Standard and standing up the Maine Climate Council that is charged with developing Maine’s Climate Action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and at least 80 percent by 2050.

    Governor Mills was invited to speak by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. She will join many heads of state and international leaders before the General Assembly to deliver her remarks, which are expected to last two minutes. Governor Mills’ appearance will be the first time a sitting Governor of Maine has spoken before the UN, the world’s foremost international peacekeeping and dispute resolution body.

    Governor Mills’ remarks before the UN come as part of her participation in the UN Climate Action Summit 2019. According to the UN, the Summit will bring together governments, the private sector, civil society, local authorities and other international organizations to develop ambitious solutions in six areas: a global transition to renewable energy; sustainable and resilient infrastructures and cities; sustainable agriculture and management of forests and oceans; resilience and adaptation to climate impacts; and alignment of public and private finance with a net zero economy. 

    On Tuesday, September 24th, Governor Mills will also participate in a bilateral meeting with officials from the European Union to discuss how the United States and European nations can work together to combat climate change. 

    Later that day, she will also participate in a panel discussion convened by the U.S. Climate Alliance called, “America’s Governors: Delivering Our Commitment to Paris”. As part of the panel, Governor Mills will join other governors to discuss how states are taking action to deliver on America’s commitment to the Paris Climate Accord. Earlier this year, Governor Mills announced that Maine has joined the bipartisan U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of 25 states committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

    Finally, the Governor will join The Nature Conservancy to deliver opening remarks for the premier of the short documentary film “Shellfish Growers Changing the Game on Climate”. The film, focused on the Shellfish Growers Climate Coalition, currently comprised of more than 120 companies, is produced by The Nature Conservancy and features Bill Mook, owner of Mook Sea Farm in Walpole.

     

  • Maine part of multistate coalition challenging Trump's roll-backs on protections for Asylum Seekers fleeing persecution

    On August 2, 2019 Maine's Attorney General Aaron M. Frey today joined a group of 21 State Attorneys General to challenge the Trump administration's proposed changes to asylum standards. If implemented, these changes would allow the Executive branch to arbitrarily deny asylum claims to immigrants seeking haven from domestic or gang violence. In a friend-of-the-court brief filed in Grace v. Barr before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the AGs argue that these stringent revisions-which would effectively bar asylum claims based on domestic or gang-related violence-go against longstanding federal law and judicial precedent, undermining the rule of law itself.

    "It is our country's longstanding policy to protect individuals seeking refuge from persecution and violence. Our state has benefitted from the presence of asylum seekers who have chosen to make live, work, and raise families in Maine," said Frey. "The federal government's proposed changes to asylum standards not only run counter to our values, but also to federal law." The District of Columbia and partner states filed this amicus brief in Grace v. Barr, in support of the plaintiffs' challenge to the Trump administration's heightened asylum standards. The lawsuit was first filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, the ACLU of Texas, and the ACLU of D.C., in response to a policy former Attorney General Jeff Sessions implemented in June 2018.

    Sessions articulated this policy change in Matter of A-B-, while intervening in the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)'s decision to grant a Salvadoran woman asylum based on her claim of spousal abuse. In his ruling, Sessions broke sharply from existing precedent to argue that BIA should reject asylum claims regarding domestic or gang violence. Shortly after, the United States Customs and Immigration Service issued guidelines for implementing this policy, emphasizing denial of such claims.

    In December 2018, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia struck down the change, ruling it incompatible with existing law. The Department of Justice is now appealing the ruling in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. In this amicus brief, the states collectively argue that the District Court's decision to reject the administration's heightened standards should be upheld, on the basis that:

    The standards violate established federal law: A near categorical bar to asylum claims based on domestic or gang violence, as Matter of A-B- recommends, would illegally prevent victims of such violence from attaining asylum protection. The asylum process is rooted in the Immigration and Nationality Act. Among other things, that legislation makes it legal for anyone who arrives at the U.S. border to apply for asylum over a "well-founded fear of persecution" in one's home country. Subsequent court cases have validated the legitimacy of claims made based on gang or domestic violence.

    The standards are inconsistent with state, federal, and international policies protecting victims of violence: All 50 states have enacted provisions in their criminal and civil codes to protect victims of domestic violence, and the federal government has acknowledged the need to assist immigrant women who have been victimized by domestic violence. Both have dedicated programs and resources to gang violence prevention. Furthermore, in signing the 1967 United Nations Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, the United States vowed to protect individuals escaping persecution. The Trump administration's policy clashes with these commitments.

    The standards restrict states' abilities to grow their economies: Immigrants make significant contributions to the economy, and American society more broadly. This is borne out in study after study, and through recent experience nationwide. For example, nearly half of all new residents in the Great Lakes region between 2000-2015 were foreign-born, arriving at a moment when the region's population growth lagged the national average. This influx of foreign-born residents boosted jobs and wages in the region. Given that the majority of asylum grantees are of working age and can contribute to a state's economic activity, the Trump administrations standards would limit states' access to a valuable source of labor.

    The multistate coalition was led by District of Columbia Attorney General Karl A. Racine and was joined by the Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.
  • Owls of Maine at the Camden Public Library Sept 19

    Barred Owl named Varia 

     9/4/19

    On Thursday, September 19, at 7:00 pm, the Camden Public Library and Mid-Coast Audubon present: “Owls of Maine: Habitats and Adaptations of Maine’s Native Owls.” Three live owls are the highlights of this popular program. Beginning with slides and sounds, participants will learn the identifying characteristics and calls of each owl. Using talons, wings, and skulls, presenter Jessica Woodend will also explore the adaptations of these silent nocturnal hunters. The program ends with an intimate and detailed look at live owls, bringing these creatures of the night into the light!

    This program is being presented through a partnership with Mid-Coast Audubon and the Chewonki Foundation. To learn more, visit librarycamden.org.

    Eastern Screech Owl named Otis. Photo credits: Maine Imaging.

  • Gov. Mills calls legislature back to consider Transportation, Broadband, and LMF Bonds

     By Ramona du Houx

    Maine Governor Mills issued a proclamation on August 19, 2019 calling for a special legislative session to be held at 10:00 a.m. Monday, August 26, 2019 to consider transportation, infrastructure and economic development, environmental protection, and land conservation bonds.

    “With thousands of households and small businesses struggling with poor internet, with Mainers navigating aging roads and bridges, and with the future of Maine’s farm lands and working waterfronts at risk, I am calling a special session to consider bonds that address these issues head-on,” said Governor Janet Mills. “This revised proposal is a fair compromise that should garner bipartisan support in the Legislature. I am asking lawmakers to take advantage of low interest rates, pass these critical bonds and send them to Maine voters for their consideration this November.”

    The state has not enacted any bonds for Reserach and Development since Governor John Baldacci, which helped grow the state's economy with aquaculture, transportation and clean energy breakthroughs. Examples from Univesity of Maine are numerous, like off shore wind floating turbines and the bridge in a back pack. Hopefully, the legislature will consider R&D bonds next year.

    Following discussions with Democratic and Republican lawmakers over the past several months, Governor Janet Mills is presenting a revised $163 million bond proposal to the Legislature for their consideration. 

    “Market conditions suggest the Legislature is well-advised to give voters the option of approving bonds the State could then take to market at the right time,” said Maine State Treasurer Henry Beck. “Historically low interest rates and high demand for municipal bonds put our State as a seller in a strong position to finance projects at extremely low costs.” 

    The proposal will be submitted and voted on in the form of four Governor’s bills. 

    “Between making vital repairs to our roads and bridges to investing in Maine’s future, each of these bonds is important for Maine people and the state to thrive. It’s why I’m looking forward to returning to Augusta on Monday to approve these bond proposals and giving voters the final say on these critical investments,” said President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash. “To me, the question is simple: do you support giving Maine voters a voice or not? I will proudly be voting to approve each of these bonds and I hope my colleagues in the Legislature will join me.” 

    All bonds passed during the special session day will appear on the ballot this November. The proposal tackles some of Maine’s most pressing issues, such as the state’s aging infrastructure, a lack of rural internet service, the need for improved pollution control, and land conservation through the Lands for Maine’s Future program. The proposal is as follows:

    1. Transportation: This proposal calls for $105 million to upgrade roads, bridges, ports, rail, and air transportation and to repair culverts and restore a commercial fishing wharf.Transportation bonding will draw an estimated $137 million in matching federal and other additional funds. 
    1. Infrastructure and Economic Development: This proposal calls for:
    • $15 million to expand high speed internet access in rural Maine. It is estimated that more than 83,000 households in Maine do not have access to high speed broadband. This bond will draw at least a 3/1 match in federal and private funding.
    • $4 million for capital equipment for career and technical education centers.
    • $4 million to restore and modernize Maine National Guard facilities across the state with an expected 50/50 match.
    1. Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency: This proposal calls for:
    • $5 million to improve wastewater infrastructure at the municipal level to prevent and control pollution, drawing down 150 percent or more in matching funds. 
    • $5 million to support remediation efforts through the Department of Environmental Protection at uncontrolled hazardous sites across the state. 
    • $5 million for the Heating Fuels Efficiency and Weatherization Fund to provide low-interest loans for energy efficiency projects, including heat pumps for residential homeowners.
    1. Land Conservation: This proposal calls for $20 million for the Land for Maine’s Future program to be dispersed over two years to preserve farm land, working waterfronts, and other natural resources. The program has not been funded in eight years but draws significant matching funds and historically has enjoyed overwhelming support at the polls.

    The Fiscal Year 20-21 budget passed along bipartisan lines by two thirds of the Legislature and signed into law earlier this year by Governor Mills anticipates as much as $300 million worth of bonding.

  • Maine Joins Multistate Coalition Against Trump's Rule Restricting Asylum Access

    08/15/2019 

     Attorney General Aaron M. Frey today joined a multistate coalition, led by California and Massachusetts, in filing a comment letter opposing the Trump Administration's attempt to illegally limit access to the asylum process. Under the rule, individuals entering the United States at the southern border, except in limited circumstances, are no longer able to seek asylum unless they applied for and were denied protection in at least one country they transited through prior to their arrival. In a comment letter, the coalition urges the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to rescind the policy.


    "This proposed rule is part of a series of attempts by the federal government to weaken the asylum process," said Frey. "The proposal violates two federal laws and is contrary to our values. Individuals fleeing dangerous circumstances, who want to live and work in our country, should be allowed to seek asylum here and not be arbitrarily blocked from doing so."

    In the comment letter, the coalition maintains that, among other things, the rule violates both the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and the Administrative Procedure Act. Under INA, any foreign national may apply for asylum upon their presence or arrival to the United States. These asylum protections were built on the principles of the 1951 Refugee Convention, which sought to mitigate some of the horrors visited upon refugees during and after World War II. INA sets forth very specific circumstances under which an individual can be barred from asylum and provides protections for particularly vulnerable groups. 

    In promulgating the rule, the Trump Administration failed to provide adequate notice or articulate a reasoned explanation for the rule, in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. In addition, the rule will have a particularly negative effect on unaccompanied children, LGBTQ applicants, and women asylum-seekers, for whom applying for asylum in a third country is extremely dangerous. In fact, recognizing the rule is likely contrary to law, a federal court has already halted its initial implementation. In submitting the comment letter, Attorney General Frey joins the Attorneys General of California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai'i, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
  • Two-day examination of the history and legacy of slavery in Maine

    Award-winning author and speaker Shay Stewart-Bouley will speak at the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine (HHRC) Wednesday, August 7 as part of a two-day examination of the history and legacy of slavery in Maine.  

    The HHRC is hosting teachers from across the state for a two-day training on teaching about slavery.  On Wednesday evening, the HHRC will host Shay Stewart-Bouley as a keynote speaker for lecture for teachers and the public titled “It’s Not Over: Slavery Then, Racism Now.”

    “White supremacy breeds violence as we have seen in the tragic shootings over the weekend. White supremacy and racism today is rooted in our past history of slavery,” said HHRC Executive Director Shenna Bellows.  “We all have a responsibility to educate ourselves and work to confront racist attitudes and rhetoric. This training and lecture are concrete ways to become educated and mobilized to confront white supremacy in our schools and communities.”

    The teacher training will be Wednesday, August 7 and Thursday, August 8 from 9 to 4.  It is the fourth training conducted by the HHRC for teachers this summer. Earlier trainings included Holocaust education, immigration and anti-bias. Guest lecturers at the training on teaching about slavery in Maine will include a national expert from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, Kate McMahon, and Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross (D-Portland) who is a long time civil rights leader in Maine.  “It’s Not Over: Slavery Then, Racism Now” featuring McMahon and Stewart-Bouley will take place at 6 pm on Wednesday, August 7.

    Shay Stewart-Bouley is a nationally recognized author and speaker on race relations, social justice and white supremacy and the Executive Director of Community Change, Inc., a Boston-based civil rights organization. Living in Maine since 2002, Shay runs the award-winning blog, Black Girl in Maine. Shay holds an undergraduate degree from DePaul University, where she self-designed a program to focus on African-American health and wellness and health disparities; she also holds a Master of Education degree from Antioch University New England.

    All programs are being held at the Michael Klahr Center on the campus of the University of Maine at Augusta, 46 University Drive, Augusta, Maine.  The Michael Klahr Center is open to the public Monday through Friday 8 to 4 and houses permanent exhibits dedicated to the history of Holocaust survivors who came to Maine after WWII.

    The Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine is a non-profit organization that promotes universal respect for human rights through outreach and education. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other events past and present, the HHRC encourages individuals and communities to reflect and act upon their moral responsibilities to confront prejudice, intolerance and discrimination.

    ###

  • Maine Animal Welfare Accepting Donations for Rescue Effort

    The 96 dogs, 6 cats, 3 chickens and 2 horses seized by Maine Animal Welfare last week are receiving needed medical care and behavioral evaluations. At present, all of the animals are considered evidence in the complaint and the legal process is expected to take several weeks. The urgent and immediate need is for public">https://www1.maine.gov/cgi-bin/online/dog_license/donation.pl?step=begin">public contributions to help finance the rescue effort.

    More than 70 adult collies and Dobermans are being cared for in an emergency shelter.

    "Everyone is doing a great job caring for the dogs and our next hurdle is to move to an emergency shelter that is larger and better equipped," said Liam Hayes, Maine Animal Welfare Director. We are trying to give the dogs the individual care they need, but this temporary shelter site is too small. We are working to move to a new location so we can focus on rehabilitation."

    Secure donations are being accepted on https://www.maine.gov/dacf/animals

    The emergency shelter location is and will remain undisclosed to provide security for the animals and the staff coordinating this effort.

    Anyone wanting to help should check with their local shelter. Shelters across Maine are sending supplies and trained staff to care for the animals.

  • Maine and 11 state AG's send letter to Trump Environmental Protection Agency to stop rollback of clean car rule

    Attorney General Aaron M. Frey, along with 11 other state Attorneys General, sent on July 24, 2019 to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requesting that they withdraw their rollback of federal Clean Car Rules.

    "Maine has been proactive in establishing stringent vehicle emission standards in order to protect the quality of the air we breathe," said Frey. "The Federal government is acting to weaken emission standards and failed to involve states in their decision-making."

    In their proposal to roll back federal Clean Car Rules (GHG standards and fuel economy standards), the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also propose to preempt states from maintaining their own more stringent standards. The agencies falsely asserted they had complied with state consultation requirements of a longstanding Executive Order requiring federal agencies proposing a rule that will preempt state law to consult with states early in the process of developing the proposal. 

    The EPA/NHTSA Clean Car rollback's proposed state preemption would have substantial impact on the preempted states both by: 

    1) revoking California's waiver under the federal Clean Air Act to adopt and enforce more stringent vehicle emission standards than those adopted nationally, which would thereby also preempt the 12 states that follow CA's lead; and 

    2) asserting that the states' separate clean car standards are preempted by the statute under which NHTSA sets fuel economy standards. 

    The EPA went further, proposing that states are preempted from adopting California's standards even if California's standards were to remain un-preempted. 

    At the time EPA/NHTSA proposed the rollback and asserted the compliance with the Executive Order, the states in the coalition had no knowledge of ever being consulted on the proposed preemption by EPA/NHTSA, so the states requested documents under the federal Freedom of Information Act for any records supporting such consultation. In its much-delayed FOIA response whereby the states sued to compel the agency to respond, the agencies provided no records of any consultation with any state of the rollback proposal's preemption. 

    The comments filed today request that EPA/NHSTA withdraw the rollback rule and comply with the Executive Order's consultation requirement before issuing another rule, and that EPA/NHSTA correct the public record to reflect that they, in fact, did not comply with the Executive Order. 

    The states that submitted the comments include Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington. 

  • Maine AG and AG's from 47 States, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico Reach a $600 Million Settlement with Equifax

    Maine Attorney General Aaron M. Frey announced on July 22, 2019 that he and Attorneys General from 47 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico have reached an historic $600 million settlement with Equifax Inc. following the largest data breach enforcement action in history. The settlement, which is part of a global settlement that Equifax reached with the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC"), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB") and the multi-district class actions, is the result of an investigation into a massive 2017 data breach.
    Equifax will pay $300 million dollars, and up to an additional $125 million dollars, into a single Consumer Restitution Fund for the benefit of consumers affected by the breach. In addition, Equifax will pay the Attorneys General a total of $175 million, of which Maine will receive $1,000,000. 

    "This settlement will enable Maine consumers to obtain relief in the event they experience identity theft resulting from Equifax's failure to protect personal information," said Frey. "Entities like Equifax who store our personal information have a duty to make every effort to ensure that information is secure from unlawful access."

    Equifax is the oldest and one of the three largest American consumer credit reporting agencies. The settlement resolves allegations by the Attorneys General that Equifax failed to adequately inform consumers about its data protection practices, and to take reasonable steps to protect consumers' personal information from the 2017 data breach. The breach affected more than half of the U.S. population - more than 147 million U.S. consumers - of which 542,268 are Maine residents. Breached information included social security numbers, names, dates of birth, addresses, credit card numbers and, in some cases, driver's license numbers.

    As part of the settlement with the Attorneys General, Equifax will offer consumers affected by the 2017 data breach free credit monitoring services for 10 years, and free Identity Theft Restoration services. Equifax will also take other steps to assist consumers in making it easier for consumers to freeze and thaw their credit and to dispute inaccurate information in credit reports; and requiring Equifax to maintain sufficient staff dedicated to assisting consumers who may be victims of identity theft. In addition, Equifax will strengthen its security practices, including by minimizing its collection of sensitive data and the use of consumers' Social Security numbers, performing regular security monitoring, logging and testing, and using new policies regarding the identification and deployment of critical security updates and patches. 

    The program to pay restitution to consumers will be conducted in connection with the settlements that Equifax reached with the FTC, the CFPB and the multi-district class actions. Consumers who are eligible for relief from the Consumer Restitution Fund will be required to submit claims online or by mail. Paper claim forms can also be requested over the phone. Consumers can obtain information about the settlement, check their eligibility to file a claim, and file a claim on the Equifax Settlement Breach online registry. To receive email updates regarding the launch of this online registry, consumers can sign up at www.ftc.gov/equifax-data-breach. Consumers can also call the settlement administrator at 1-888-759-2982 for more information. 
  • ConnectME Authority Awards Broadband Infrastructure Grants to Eight Maine Communities

    Infrastructure grants will bring universal service to the towns of Alna, Alton, Bowdoinham, and Cambridge

     By Ramona du Houx

    ConnectME Authority announced today that its board has approved $731,775 in grants to eight communities across Maine for broadband infrastructure and planning. ConnectME is providing infrastructure grants to the communities of Alna, Alton, Bowdoinham, and Cambridge, bringing fiber optic service to 867 locations in those four communities. The grants are matched by $1,473,130 from the communities being served and the ISP building out the broadband service.

    ConnectME is also providing $89,275 in grants to Argyle, Swans Island, Franklin County and the Western Lakes region of Kennebec County for community planning. These grants are designed to help engage communities, identifying needs and engage potential broadband service providers to expand the availability of broadband to their area. These grants are matched by $120,000 from the communities seeking funding.

    “Broadband is critical to spur innovation, create opportunity, and build a strong, diverse economy – especially in rural Maine,” said Governor Janet Mills. “One of the highest priorities of my Administration is to expand our state’s broadband infrastructure and these grants from ConnectME are a positive step in that direction by leveraging local and private investment to bring high-speed connectivity to these communities.”

    “High speed Internet is no longer a luxury, but a necessity,” said Rep. Berry, Bowdionham, House Chair of the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee added.  “ While my own constituents are now served, many Mainers still lack access to opportunities for business, healthcare, and education that require fast, reliable upload and download speeds.  This is the critical importance of the state’s Connect ME Authority to improve our prosperity and quality of life.” 

    Governor Mills’ budget, as proposed and passed, increases funding for ConnectME by $1.9 million, beginning in January of 2020. The Governor’s bond package, which still awaits Legislative approval, also includes $30 million dedicated to the expansion of broadband.

    The ConnectME Authority was created by the Governor Baldacci administration, with the legislature in 2006 to make a secure, reliable, competitive and forward-looking broadband infrastructure be broadband service universally available.  It is funding by a small assessment on land lines and broadband services to customers in Maine, with an annual budget of just over $1,000,000.

     

  • New Maine laws will help hungry children in Maine

    By Ramona du Houx

    Nutritious food helps develop babies’ brains and bodies, gives kids the energy to excel and reduces the risk of chronic diseases in adulthood. But 15.8 percent of Maine households, about 200,000 individuals, are food insecure. It’s estimated that about 1 in 5 children in Maine don’t know when or where they will get their next meal. Many rely on school meals. But when school lets out for summer they have to fend for themselves.

    That's why foundaitons like Full Plates/Full Potential of Portland, Maine are so important. Started in 2015 their mission is to end childhood hunger in Maine. Their advocacy helped hearld new legislation in Augusta to sucess.

    “Access to adequate nutrition is critical for children's academic and social emotional development,” said Heather Zimmerman, Advocacy Director of Preble Street. “However, right now nearly half of all Maine students qualify for free and reduced price meals. The child nutrition bills passed by the Maine legislature this year will increase access to school meals, helping to reduce hunger in Maine and ensure all students have access to the nutrition they need to thrive.”

    LD 701: includes two major child hunger policies: 

    • The state will now create an online application for federal child nutrition food programs. Today 81,838 students are enrolled in federal food programs for free and reduced-price meals. There are many more children, however, who qualify for these programs but don’t enroll because their families never turn in their paper applications. Because of this law, the state will provide an online application system, in addition to the paper form, that local school districts can use to make it easier for parents to apply.

    • For breakfast, schools will change their models to the national best practice known as Breakfast After the Bell. Serving breakfast after the first bell in the classroom or on a cart just outside of the classroom will increase participation and reduce the stigma for eligible children. The new law also includes funds to pay for infrastructure like food carts and point of sale systems to ease the burden on local school districts.

    LD 549: For lunch, students who qualify for reduced price lunch will now eat for free. For these 11,000 students, often the reduced cost of lunch can be too much for families to afford, causing children to accumulate lunch debt. Eliminating the reduced-price category ensures that these students caught in the middle can access nutritious school lunches while reducing the administrative burden on school nutrition directors. 

    LD 577: After-school programs, from sports to school clubs, are a hallmark of many students' educational experiences. Most students arrive at after-school programs hours after they’ve eaten lunch. This new law will give children the opportunity to eat nutritious meals with their peers so that they can learn, focus and complete after-school activities. Currently, only 28 of the 271 schools eligible actually participate in this federal food program.

    “These four childhood hunger bills will allow more Maine kids to grow up healthy, learn and  reach their full potential,” said Anna Korsen, Full Plates Full Potential’s Program Director. “The legislature passed a better service model for breakfast, supported an underutilized after-school meals program, created an online application system so that families can sign up for nutritious meals and eliminated a financial barrier for lunch.”   

  • Maine is now the 19th state to adopt an Automatic Voter Registration system

     

    By Ramona du Houx

    On June 20,2019 Governor Janet Mills signed a bill to create an Automatic Voter Registration system in Maine.  LD 1463, “An Act To Create An Automatic Voter Registration System,” creates a process that would automatically register eligible Mainers to vote when they interact with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles or another approved state agency where they already provide proof of eligibility for voter registration.

    “The foundation of America is built on every eligible citizen’s ability to participate in our democracy, and that starts with making the right to exercise our vote as easy and accessible as possible,” said Speaker Sara Gideon, sponser of the legislation. “We know that greater participation in our democracy will make our government more responsible and make elected officials more representative of the people we serve. Making that participation easier while improving the integrity and security of our elections is something we should all be able to support.

    Maine is now the 19th state to adopt an  Automatic Voter Registration system. Oregon became the first in 2015, and that effort is widely considered a success. Since then, 17 other states and the District of Columbia have passed similar laws.

    LD 1463 will allow eligible Mainers to be registered to vote when they interact with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles or another approved state agency where they provide proof of eligibility for voter registration—including name, address, citizenship status, and signature. For an eligible voter, this information would be automatically added to the Central Voter Registration file. Election officials will then make available an option for the voter to enroll with a party or to decline registration altogether. Outdated information, e.g. old addresses, of registered voters will also be automatically updated.

     

    Voters can still register with a voter registration card at their town hall if they prefer, and registration would not become mandatory. If an eligible Mainer does not wish to register and have their information on the voter rolls, they will be provided the opportunity to decline registration.

  • Seth Wescott - A thriving clean-power economy is key to a bright future for our state's outdoor recreation industry

    When you grow up romping through Maine’s snow-covered mountains, swimming in sun-warmed crystal lakes or hiking through an autumn forest at the peak of the season, it comes as no surprise that Maine’s outdoor recreation economy is a driving force, attracting and sustaining employers and families across the state. We know this, because this is our home.

    But it’s not just about a feeling of love we share for this place – it’s also about support for a thriving economy. Maine’s outdoor recreation industry generates $8.2 billion in consumer spending annually, provides 76,000 jobs and contributes $548 million in annual state tax revenue. To say that Maine and its great outdoors are deeply interwoven would almost be an understatement.

    But our way of life is under threat from climate change. Temperatures have already risen 3 degrees Fahrenheit in our state since the beginning of the 20th century, winter temperatures have increased twice as fast as summer temperatures and sea level is predicted to rise 1 to 4 feet along the Maine coast by 2100. This isn’t the way life should be. We have to act now.

    Fortunately, Mainers are ready for a clean-energy transition. In fact, according to an April poll by Moore Information, 70 percent of Maine residents support increasing the amount of renewable electricity sold in the state from 40 percent today to 100 percent by 2050.

    That’s why our Legislature has already taken action to remove unfair barriers to rooftop solar. L.D. 1711, An Act to Promote Solar Energy Projects and Distributed Generation in Maine, would expand solar access for towns, businesses and all Mainers, regardless of income or available roofs. These changes would not only benefit individual homeowners and businesses that install solar panels on their property, they also have the potential to lower energy costs for everyone by bringing more clean energy into the regional power grid.

    It’s also time for Maine to modernize its Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires electricity suppliers to obtain a certain amount of power from renewable sources each year. Our current RPS expired, which is why we’re proud to support L.D. 1494, An Act to Reform Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard.


    Already, RPS policies in Maine have created nearly 12,000 jobs and increased the state’s economy by more than $1 billion, with minimal costs to electricity consumers. L.D. 1494 would update our state’s RPS to reach 80 percent renewable energy by 2030 and put us on track to reach 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. It will prioritize new, made-in-Maine energy resources – including solar, wind and high-efficiency biomass heating – and preserve and grow our economy. Updating our RPS is an essential part of a clean-energy economy and a comprehensive climate change strategy. It’s about Maine power for Maine people.

    Our state motto is “Dirigo,” Latin for ‘I lead.’ ″ It’s time to do just that, and get Maine back on track to the way life should be. We can’t wait any longer. Let’s pass L.D. 1711 and L.D. 1494 and support a self-made, clean energy future.

  • Maine State Senate & House open with Hindu prayers

    Rajan Zed reading invocation in Maine House of Representatives.

    Both Maine House of Representatives and Senate in capital Augusta opened their June 3rd and fourth sessions respectively with Hindu mantras; containing verses from world’s oldest extant scripture. Hindu statesman Rajan Zed delivered these invocations from ancient Sanskrit scriptures before the Senate and House.

    After Sanskrit delivery, he then read the English interpretation of the prayers. Sanskrit is considered a sacred language in Hinduism and root language of Indo-European languages. Zed, who is the President of Universal Society of Hinduism, recited from Rig-Veda, the oldest scripture of the world still in common use; besides lines from Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord), both ancient Hindu scriptures. He started and ended the prayer with “Om”, the mystical syllable containing the universe, which in Hinduism is used to introduce and conclude religious work. 

    Reciting from Brahadaranyakopanishad, Rajan Zed said “Asato ma sad gamaya, Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya, Mrtyor mamrtam gamaya”, which he then interpreted as “Lead us from the unreal to the real, Lead us from darkness to light, and Lead us from death to immortality.”

    Reading from Bhagavad-Gita, he urged Senators and Representatives to keep the welfare of others always in mind. Senate President Troy D. Jackson and Speaker Sara Gideon introduced Zed and Senate gave him standing ovation after the prayer.

    Zed was wearing saffron colored attire, a ruddraksh mala (rosary), and traditional sandalpaste tilak (religious mark) on the forehead. Senators, representatives, employees, public and others present were seen standing in prayer mode with their heads bowed down during the invocations.

    Zed also met Maine Governor Janet T. Mills on June fourth. 

    Rajan Zed is a global Hindu and interfaith leader. Bestowed with World Interfaith Leader Award; Zed is Senior Fellow and Religious Advisor to Foundation for Religious Diplomacy, on the Advisory Board of The Interfaith Peace Project, etc.

    He has been panelist for “On Faith”, a prestigious interactive conversation on religion produced by The Washington Post; and produces a weekly interfaith panel “Faith Forum” in a Gannett publication for over eight years. Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about 1.1 billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.

  • Gov. Mills Signs Bill to Prohibit Native American Mascots in Maine

    Flanked by Maine tribal leaders and ambassadors, lawmakers, and education officials, Governor Janet Mills signed into law a bill passed unanimously by the Legislature to prohibit Native American mascots in all Maine public schools May 16, 2019..

    “While Indian mascots were often originally chosen to recognize and honor a school’s unique connection to Native American communities in Maine, we have heard clearly and unequivocally from Maine tribes that they are a source of pain and anguish,” said Governor Mills. “A mascot is a symbol of pride, but it is not the source of pride. Our people, communities, and understanding and respect for one another are Maine’s source of pride and it is time our symbols reflect that.”

    “I am deeply proud of the steps our Legislature has taken this session to finally honor Maine’s tribes in the way they should be honored. Our tribal communities laid the foundation of our state. They are people, not mascots. I am grateful Gov. Mills continues to support laws that recognize the rightful place of indigenous people in our state,” said Representative Benjamin Collings, D-Portland. 

    "The argument has always been that 'we are honoring you,' by passing this legislation the State of Maine is truly honoring Native Americans,” said James Francis, Penobscot Nation's Tribal Historian.

    “After many years of work by both Native and non-Native people in Maine, the signing of LD 944 marks a significant step in showing respect for the humanity of every Mainer.  None of us are mascots anymore.  It also shows great leadership by Governor Mills and the legislature in protecting the children of Maine—overwhelming research shows how harmful Naive mascots are to children, especially to Native children, and LD 944 ensures that our children will not be harmed by the kind of disrespectful representations of Native people that always come with these mascots,” said Darren Ranco, PhD, Chair of Native American Programs, University of Maine.

    “We recognize this day as the start of a higher trust of promoting cultural diversity and awareness in place of any continuous social injustices towards one another. Today and for now on, it is our collective responsibility to the next generations to promote each other as equals, as individuals, and most importantly as neighbors,” said Representative Rena Newell, Passamaquoddy Tribe.

    “On behalf of the Penobscot Nation and the Wabanaki Nations of Maine, I want to thank Governor Mills and Representative Collings for this huge step toward honor and respect for Indigenous people. This is a very personal issue for me. I have been educating and advocating for change of these mascots since I was a teenager and it is very meaningful to have my daughter here at this signing ceremony along with our tribal leaders, allies and friends,” said Ambassador Maulian Dana, Penobscot Nation.

    LD 944 "An Act To Ban Native American Mascots in All Public Schools" sponsored by Representative Benjamin Collings of Portland prohibits all Maine public schools from adopting a name, symbol or image that depicts or refers to a Native American tribe, individual, custom or tradition and that is used as a mascot, nickname, logo, letterhead or team name of the school.

    A 2005 study by the American Psychological Association called for the immediate retirement of all American Indian mascots, symbols, images and personalities stating “The use of American Indian mascots as symbols in schools and university athletic programs is particularly troubling because schools are places of learning. These mascots are teaching stereotypical, misleading and too often, insulting images of American Indians. These negative lessons are not just affecting American Indian students; they are sending the wrong message to all students."

    California, Oregon and Wisconsin have enacted similar bans or restrictions on the use of Native American Mascots and Michigan, New York and South Dakota are among states nationwide that have enacted resolutions calling on the end of their use.

    Upon Governor Mills’ signature, the law will take effect 90 days after the adjournment of the Legislature.

     

  • Rockland's Apprenticeshop Talk: Maine’s Working Waterfront: Personal and Professional Reflections

    Thursday, May 10,
    The public is invited to the Apprenticeshop, 655 Main Street, Rockland, on Wednesday, May 15, at 6 p.m., for “Maine’s Working Waterfront: Personal and Professional Reflections,” a discussion with Merritt Carey (pictured) about the working waterfront, its importance to Maine’s economy, and what it means to work on the waterfront in Maine today.
    There is a suggested donation of $10 for admission to the talk. From Portland’s proposed referendum to conflict over aquaculture lease sites to the Land for Maine’s Future Fund and the oft-cited statistic that of Maine’s 3,500 miles of coast only 20 are protected as working waterfront, there is constant conversation about what Maine’s coastline should look like.
    Carey will share personal reflections and observations about the changing culture along the coast, as well as professional insights from her work as a board member of the Tenants Harbor Fisherman’s Co-op, the Maine Aquaculture Co-op and Luke’s Lobster.
  • Maine CDC Promotes Awareness of Tickborne Diseases

    05/07/2019 

    The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reminds Mainers to get in the habit of taking precautions against ticks and tickborne diseases during May, Lyme Disease Awareness Month in Maine. Most Mainers are at risk every day, since deer ticks that can carry pathogens that cause tickborne diseases such as Lyme, anaplasmosis, and babesiosis are most commonly found in wooded, leafy, and shrubby areas.

    As warmer weather ushers in the beginning of tick season, individuals are advised to take the proper steps to limit exposure to ticks. Using the following four strategies will help you to be Tick Aware and Tick Alert, to prevent exposure to ticks and the pathogens they can carry:

    1. Use an EPA-approved repellant
    2. Wear protective clothing
    3. Perform daily tick checks
    4. Use caution in tick-infested areas

    Providers reported over 1,400 confirmed and probable Lyme disease cases to Maine CDC in 2018. The most commonly reported symptom was an erythema migrans or "bullseye" rash. Other common symptoms include arthritis, fatigue, chills, fever, headache, and swollen lymph nodes.

    Maine CDC continues its efforts to help educate Mainers on ticks and tickborne diseases. Some of our activities include:

    In addition to these events and resources, Maine CDC offers a variety of tickborne disease data on the Maine Tracking Network Portal:

    • View Lyme disease data at the town level from 2008-2017
    • Identify trends in tick submission data from 1989-2013, through a collaboration with the Maine Medical Center Research Institute's Vectorborne Disease Laboratory
    • Follow Lyme disease data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey
    • View updated Lyme disease data through 2018
    • View anaplasmosis and babesiosis data by county, gender, and age for 2001-2018.

    This data can be reached by visiting www.maine.gov/lyme and clicking on the Maine Tracking Network on the left navigation pane.

  • Mills signs Executive Order creating ATV task force

     

    By Ramona du Houx

    For thousands of Mainers who love to take peaceful walks, hikes, bike or ride horses along paths the Excutive Order Governor Mills signed creating a Task Force to investage the growing number of incidents where ATV riders break laws is long overdue, but very welcome.

    ATV riders are creating dangerous climates and pose a threat to others who wish to enjoy the outdoors, as well as to themselves. Preventable deaths have increased because of careless and negligent riding.

    On May 1, 2019 Gov. Janet Mills signed an Executive Order to create the All-Terrain Vehicle Initiatives Task Force. Although there are many ATV users who are operating on public and private lands responsibly, the Task Force comes at a time when there are other ATV operators who are disobeying state laws and trespassing on and damaging private lands, causing private landowners to consider posting their land which would jeopardize Maine’s long-held tradition of open access and threaten the state’s recreational economy. Governor Mills’ Executive Order establishes the Task Force to evaluate and recommend policy changes that will protect private lands and help preserve outdoor recreation opportunities, like ATV use, and their economic benefits.

    “Maine’s many responsible ATV users should not have to pay the price for the actions of a few irresponsible actors. But that may be the case unless we act,” said Governor Mills. “Maine has a proud history of outdoor recreational activity, and I want to ensure it stays that way. This Task Force will help preserve our traditions and their substantial economic contributions while also protecting public and private lands.”

    “Maine is well known for its network of ATV trails and the tradition of landowners allowing recreational access for offroad vehicles,” said Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Judy Camuso. “The ATV task force is designed to ensure that the concerns of private landowners are addressed, in order to continue Maine’s tradition of landowners and land users working together to enjoy Maine’s outdoor recreational opportunities.” 

    ATV Maine, Maine Woodland Owners, and the Maine Forest Products Council expressed support for the Task Force, “ATV Maine commends Governor Mills for her Executive Order creating the Task Force. ATVs are an economic boost for Maine’s rural economy and another avenue for folks to enjoy Maine’s great outdoors,” said Ed Pineau of ATV Maine. “We appreciate and look forward to working with Maine’s landowners, large and small who generously allow trails on their properties. We look forward to serving on and working with the Governor to promote our industry for the benefit of Maine’s Environment and her citizens.”

     “We support a complete review of the ATV trail system in Maine,” said Tom Doak, Executive Director of the Maine Woodland Owners. “That system relies largely on the willingness of private landowners to allow access.  The growth in ATV use, size and weight of machines, and expansion of the trail network requires a fresh look.”

    “The large landowner representatives of the Maine Forest Products Council appreciate Governor Mills' leadership in creating the ATV Task Force,”said Patrick Strauch, Executive Director of the Maine Forest Products Council.  “The expansion of trails and increased size of ATVs is leading to serious concerns about property damage, environmental harm and safety in Maine's working forests. We look forward to working with the Task Force on these challenging issues.” 

    The Task Force is charged with:

    • Discussing creating an ATV trail system with consideration to ATV size, weight, environmental impact and other relevant factors;
    • Discussing construction and maintenance standards for Maine’s ATV trail system;
    • Creating a plan to enforce compliance of trail construction and maintenance by the State, including discussion of third-party inspections;
    • Creating a communication and outreach plan for the Maine ATV trial system to include a focus on landowner considerations designed to educate the public on responsible ATV operation
    • Discuss ATV registration requirements based on size, width, weight and/or value; and
    • Discuss the adequacy of funding for the oversight, construction and maintenance of the ATV trail network.

     

    The fourteen-member Task Force will be appointed by the governor and will represent large forest landowners, a statewide forest products organization, a statewide small family woodlot organization, large farmland owner, statewide farming organization, utility corridor right-away owner, land trust organization, statewide ATV organization, combination ATV/snowmobile club, Maine ATV dealer, statewide snowmobile organization, the Department of Agriculture Conservation and Forestry ATV program, and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW) Landowner Relations Program. It will be chaired jointly by the Commissioner of IFW and a member representing a large-forest or farmland owner. The specific members of the Task Force have not yet been appointed.

    The Task Force will submit its recommendations to Governor Mills on or before January 1, 2020, after which the Task Force will dissolve.

  • Maine Governor Mills signs Law to establish Indigenous Peoples’ Day

     

    By Ramona du Houx

    On April 26, 2019 Maine tribal leaders and representatives, joined Governor Janet Mills while she signed the law establishing Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Maine.

    LD 179 An Act To Change the Name of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day,  sponsored by Representative Benjamin Collings of Portland, passed with bipartisan support in the Legislature.

    “Our history is by no means perfect. But, for too long, it has been written and presented in a way that fails to acknowledge our shortcomings,” said Governor Janet Mills. “There is power in a name and in who we choose to honor. Today, we take another step in healing the divisions of the past, in fostering inclusiveness, in telling a fuller, deeper history, and in bringing the State and Maine’s tribal communities together to build a future shaped by mutual trust and respect.”

    "On behalf of the Penobscot Nation and with all the Wabanaki and Indigenous People of Maine in our hearts we thank the Maine State Legislature, especially Representative Benjamin Collings and the bill's cosponsors and supporters, and Governor Mills for this significant act,” said Ambassador Maulian Dana of the Penobscot Nation. 

    “It shows a true intent to honor the Indigenous Nations of our State and brings all citizens to an elevated understanding and reconciliation of our shared history.  I also want to thank all those involved in the efforts over the past few years to make these changes in towns and municipalities, they brought these important discussions to light and the conversations had a ripple effect all the way to the honorable law makers of Maine. We are graciously appreciative of this measure that reflects a state that feels more welcoming and inclusive.  As the original stewards of these lands and waters we are happy that our ancestral ties and contributions are validated and celebrated instead of silenced and ignored by the previous holiday that glorified the attempted genocide of our Nations. Our past can be painful but our present and future can be brighter with acts of unity and honesty."  

    “I was privileged to bring this bill forward on behalf of Maine’s tribal community,” said Representative Collings, D-Portland. “Maine’s tribes have played a vital role in building our state and will continue to influence our future. I am grateful to Gov. Mills for signing this bill today and paying tribute to those who truly deserve it.”

    Governor Mills was joined at the signing ceremony by Representative Collings, Representative Rachel Talbot Ross, Chief Clarissa Sabattus of the Houlton Band of Maliseets, Chief Marla Dana and Vice Chief Maggie Dana of Pleasant Point, Chief William Nicholas and Representative Rena Newell of the Passamaquoddy Nation, Ambassador Maulian Dana and former Chief Barry Dana of the Penobscot Nation, and former state Representative and Senior Advisor on Tribal Affairs to the Governor, Donna Loring. 

    Maine now joins Vermont, New Mexico, Alaska, South Dakota, Oregon, Minnesota and Hawaii in replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. More than 130 cities and towns, including Starks, Orono, Bangor, Portland, Gouldsboro, Belfast and Brunswick in Maine, have also made the change.

    LD 179 was cosponsored by Senator Carpenter of Aroostook, Representative Cardone of Bangor, Representative Maxmin of Nobleboro, Representative Newell of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, Representative O’Connor of Berwick, Representative Perry of Calais, Representative Reckitt of South Portland, Representative Rykerson of Kittery and Representative Talbot Ross of Portland.

  • Law to provide internet access in rural Maine via libraries signed by Gov. Mills

    Photo Caption: left to right, Gov. Janet Mills, Rep. Robert Alley, D-Beals, and Brooke Johnson of the ConnectME Authority attend the signing of LD 147.

     

     By Ramona du Houx

    A bill sponsored by Rep. Robert Alley, D-Beals, to allow rural Mainers to check out mobile wi-fi devices from their local libraries was signed into law on April 23, 2019,  by Governor Janet Mills. The bill was enacted unanimously in both the House and the Senate.

    “We had a grant a couple of years ago that paid for devices people could check out of the local library and have wireless internet service in their homes,” Rep. Alley said. “This was a great benefit to people, especially students who don’t have regular access to the internet at home. Then the grant ran out.”

    The Maine State Library had partnered with the New York City Public Library to provide 80 of the devices to libraries in Maine to see how they would work in rural areas, including Washington County. The program was very popular, with waiting lists for the devices. The grant funding ran out in January, 2017. Alley’s bill makes the devices available again for another two years.

    The ConnectME Authority was established under the Baldacci administration with the intent on expanding acess to internet services across the state. While some of its efforts have been a great sucess, there is much more to do. Part of the problem is the lack of population in rural areas doesn't give companies incentives for expansion in those areas.

    Rep. Alley sponsored a similar bill in the last legislative session. The bill passed, but was vetoed by then-Governor Paul LePage. The House failed to override the veto.

    “It is still hard to access high speed internet in Washington County and elsewhere in rural Maine,” said Rep. Alley. “Hopefully local availability of internet service will be better here in two years, but if not, then maybe we can extend the program again.” 

    The measure, LD 147, “An Act To Extend Internet Availability in Rural Maine,” was an emergency measure and goes into effect immediately. It is not known when the devices will be available.

    Rep. Alley is serving his third term in the Maine House and represents Addison, Beals, Cherryfield, Columbia, Columbia Falls, Harrington, Jonesboro, Jonesport, Marshfield, Milbridge and Whitneyville. He's a Navy Veteran and member of the Elected Officials to Protect America's Lands.

  • Holding up the Sky, a Maine Historical Society exhibit honoring the State's First Peoples


    At Maine Historical Society in Portland —

    April 17, 2019 
    By Ramona du Houx
    Maine Historical Society's (MHS)  new exhibition, Holding up the Sky, at their Portland gallery runs from April 12 to February 1, 2020. It honors and explores the experiences of the First People of Maine — the Wabanaki, which includes the Abenaki, Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot people. 
    Holding up the Sky explores Wabanaki philosophies of leadership and obligation relating to humans and non-humans by highlighting 13,000 years of Wabanaki residence in what is now known as Maine.
    Wabanaki advisors guided the exhibition, interpreting 17th century colonial treaties, photographs, heritage items, and contemporary artworks—everything from ash baskets to haute couture fashion. Wabanaki voices provide context for the present-day relevance and repercussions of 400 years of shared histories between Wabanaki people and immigrants to their region.

    “We believe that it is essential to explore, honor, and help all Mainers better understand the 13,000-year experience of the Wabanaki and their strong continued presence in Maine as the state prepares to commemorate its Bicentennial in 2020,” said Steve Bromage, MHS executive director. “Their story and our shared history provide the foundation for understanding Maine statehood, the context for key issues that shape Maine today, and perspective that will help us plan a future that draws on the strength of all Maine people.” 

    The exhibition is built around the voices and perspectives of Wabanaki people and is being developed in collaboration with a team of advisors, including:
    • Lisa Brooks (Abenaki),
    • James Francis (Penobscot),
    • Suzanne Greenlaw (Maliseet),
    • Darren Ranco (Penobscot),
    • Theresa Secord (Penobscot),
    • Ashley Smith (Wabanaki descent), and
    • Donald Soctomah (Passamaquoddy).

    The exhibit explores Wabanaki philosophies of leadership and obligation and will consider thousands of years of life in “Maine” places prior to the arrival of Europeans, and the complex relationships that have evolved since Europeans settled here.

    In addition to items from Maine Historical Society collections and newly commissioned pieces by Wabanaki artists, the exhibition will feature artifacts loaned by many individuals and organizations, including: Abbe Museum, Hudson Museum, Passamaquoddy Cultural Heritage Museum, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Maine State Museum, Nova Scotia Museum, and Bangor Historical Society.
  • HOPE: A Benefit Concert for Through These Doors & Preble Street, homeless shelter

    4/1/2019 Portland, Maine. 

    benefit concert for Through These Doors and Preble Street will take place on Thursday, May 02 at seven o’clock in the evening at Woodfords Church.

    This concert, comprised of volunteers and professionals, aims to raise awareness and money for these two charities that serve the least-favored population in Maine.

    The conductor and organizer of the concert, Chris Pelonzi, said he hopes to bring high-quality music to the Portland community for a good cause. Mr. Pelonzi is currently a student of Dr. Nicolas Dosman in the Graduate Choral Conducting program at the University of Southern Maine, and must give a conducting recital to complete his degree.

    However, rather than produce a small concert specifically for the auspices of a degree program, Mr. Pelonzi has organized a concert for a greater one.

    “Every day we see those without a home, and we hear about those who lost their family because of abuse…all I want to do is help make a change in our community so that these people can get the help they need. This is just one way to make a graduate degree most relevant to our local community," said Pelonzi.

    The concert will have a choir of over fifty voices, and an orchestra of more than thirty, all performing works by Hildegard, Arvo Part, Mozart, Beethoven, and Karl Jenkins. Featuring Soprano Susanna Moliski, Counter-tenor Chris Garrepy, Tenor Martin Lescault, Mezzo Andrea Graichen, Baritone Scott Wheatley, and Bass John Adams alongside with the choir and orchestra.

    The concert is intended to inspire hope and social change with pieces from all ages and in multiple languages. A brief talk about Preble Street and Through These Doors will be given at intermission along with an inspiring story.

    Thanks to the generosity of Woodfords Church, the University of Southern Maine, and many others, the concert will be held in Portland on May second at Woodfords Church.

    It is open to the public and tickets are available online from brownpapertickets. For more information, please follow the event on facebook.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Maine State Library to Host Music Program - Outside Looking In

    04/04/2019 09:32 AM EDT

     The Maine State Library will host an afternoon program with songwriter, guitarist and poet Mike Rogers on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 from 1:00 - 2:30 PM. The event is free and open to the public. 

    The 78 year-old, blind entertainer has been performing for over 45 years and has recorded on more than 40 albums. He has opened for Emmy Lou Harris, Tom Rush, The Eagles, James Montgomery and others. He and his wife, Beverly, represented Maine and Georgia at the 1999 International Very Special Arts Conference in Los Angeles and his folk group, Salt River. He also represented Maine at the New England Artists Conference in 2000. For this show, Mike will be joined by his wife to add poems and some vocal harmony, and his friend and band mate, Dan MacLellan on bass and vocal back-up.

    Rogers' performances are laced with his wry humor, painting portraits of people "outside the circle" in song, story-telling and poetry. Sometimes edgy, sometimes gentle, his characters are all real people from his journey through life and he places emphasis on understanding and accepting others. Mike accompanies himself on his guitar and his signature harmonica. His comfort with his audience comes from 15 years of teaching high school as well as the music business. 

    "The Maine State Library is thrilled to host this event as part of our month-long celebration of libraries across Maine," said James Ritter, State Librarian. Mike's unique performance captures the essence of storytelling and poetic inspiration. We are pleased to have him."

    For more information, call the Maine State Library at 207-287-5600.
  • Maine Children’s Alliance 2019 Maine KIDS COUNT findings

    Maine has seen improvements for kids in key areas over the past 25 years, but this year’s data indicates we should be concerned about how our youngest children are faring

    MARCH 28, 2019 – The Maine Children’s Alliance released the latest edition of the Maine KIDS COUNT® Data Book, marking 25 years of producing this compilation of the most comprehensive data on the status and well-being of children in Maine. KIDS COUNT® is a project of the Maine Children’s Alliance (MCA), a nonpartisan, data-focused advocate for public policies that improve the lives of Maine’s children, youth and families.

    “Since the publication of the first Maine KIDS COUNT® Data Book in 1994, we have followed trends over time in children’s health and well-being,” said Claire Berkowitz, executive director of the Maine Children’s Alliance. “One thing is certain: when parents, providers, and policymakers use data to make informed decisions and prioritize investments in Maine kids, the lives of those children and their families are improved, both in the present and in their future success.”

    Over the course of the last 25 years, Maine has seen significant improvement in some key indicators of health and well-being for children. The number of teen births in 1992 was 834, compared to 186 in 2017 – a reduction of 78 percent. In another gain, the percent of people over age 25 who have at least a high school degree went from 84.3 in 1994 to 93.2 percent in 2017. For juvenile arrests, the rate in 2017 was 25.5 per 1,000 youth ages 12-17, down significantly from 81.1 per 1,000 youth in 1997. For every three youth arrested in 1994, only one would be arrested in 2017. And in Maine, the percent of children without health care coverage in 1993 was 8.7, while today, thanks in part to the Children’s Health Insurance Program, those rates have fallen to 4.8 percent.

    While we have made progress in some areas of children’s health, there are concerning trends in how our youngest children are faring.

    • In each of the last 5 years, approximately one in twelve babies in Maine was born substance exposed/affected.
    • And while Maine used to lead the country with low rates of infant mortality, recently that number had risen to a high of 6.7 deaths per 1,000 births before decreasing slightly to 6.3 - still above the national average.

    Access to early intervention services for infants with developmental delays is essential to improving outcomes and preventing delays later on, but Maine currently ranks 50th in the nation for the rate of infants provided with these services before the age of one. These data all point to larger problems with access to prenatal care, evidence-based programs that support new parents in the home, and early services for infants with special needs.

    • In 2018, there were 1,791 children in state custody, a rate of 7.6 per 1,000 children ages 0-17.
    • That rate is up from 6.5 in the previous year. In addition, there were 576 children in foster care waiting to be adopted, up from 480 in 2012 – a 20 percent increase. 

    It is critical for favorable outcomes for children in state custody that, when reunification is not safe or possible, a stable, permanent family situation must be created as quickly as possible.

    Access to quality, affordable health care is critical for child health and overall well-being. Maine has seen improvements in its rates of uninsured children, down to 4.8 percent in 2016, from 5.5 percent the prior year. And as Maine implements Medicaid expansion, we expect to see that rate continue to improve, as parents of low-income children gain coverage.

    “To build a brighter future for our kids, it is imperative that we use data to inform our policy decisions and to track our progress over time,” said Helen Hemminger, research and KIDS COUNT associate at the Maine Children’s Alliance. “KIDS COUNT is a treasure trove of data related to education, poverty, health and youth risk factors.”

    • There is cause for concern related to mental health indicators for children. In 2017, Maine held the highest rate in the nation of children diagnosed with anxiety disorders, the third highest rate of children with diagnosed depression, and the highest rate for the percentage of youth accessing mental health counseling.
    • In addition, Maine has experienced an alarming rate of teen suicides. While the rate varies by year, at 8.1 suicide deaths per 100,000 youth ages 10-19, Maine’s five-year average has risen by 50 percent and is well above the national average of 5.5 suicide deaths per 100,000 youth.

    In other ways, Maine adolescents are leading healthier and safer lives. The percentage of high school students reporting alcohol and cigarette use has decreased steadily since 2001. The percentage of students reporting smoking cigarettes has decreased by 65 percent, and the percentage of students reporting drinking alcohol has decreased by just over 50 percent. Despite these reductions, there is an increase in overall tobacco use and cause for concern in the increasing risks associated with the use of e-cigarettes. Arrests for juveniles in Maine and in the nation are significantly down. In addition, the number of youths incarcerated in Maine has dropped from 318 in 1997 to 39 detained or committed as of December 2018.

    There is good news this year in terms of child poverty, in which Maine saw the deepest decline in the country between 2016 and 2017 and has fallen from 19.8 percent in 2012 to 14.2 percent in 2017. Despite this gain, Maine’s child poverty rate is still higher than all the other New England states, except Rhode Island, with 35,000 children still living in poverty.

    Anti-poverty programs like TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) can alleviate the negative effects of poverty on children.

    • But, TANF serves significantly fewer Maine children and families than before the 2012 implementation of a 60-month lifetime limit on the program and stricter sanction policy covering the entire family.
    • As of December 2018, there were just 7,014 children receiving TANF – down from 15,293 children in 2012 – even while there are more than 14,000 children living in deep poverty.

    Reading and math skills are foundational tools for future learning success for children. Despite this, based on Maine Educational Assessment (MEA) test scores, just over half of Maine students are proficient in reading at the end of 4th grade and only two out of five 8th graders are proficient in math. And wide disparities exist across income levels for both reading and math, for both 4th graders and 8th graders.

    Maine currently has the 9th highest rate of identifying and serving children ages 3-5 with disabilities, and the highest rate in the nation for students ages 6-20 receiving special education services. However, Maine lags behind all other states in its rate for serving infants under age one with a disability, in 2018 serving only 249 Maine children, at a rate of less than 2 percent.

    In an aging state like Maine with workforce issues, it is important to reduce the rate of disconnected youth – those neither attending school nor working. In Maine, we are seeing improvements in these rates, with a current rate of 4.9 percent of teens ages 16-19 not attending school or working, down from 5.9 percent the previous year, and better than the national rate of 6.8 percent. More students in Maine are also graduating from college, at 53 percent in 2017, up from 48 percent the previous year. While this shows improvement for our youth, Maine continues to have the lowest rate of young adults having enrolled in or completed college in New England.

    “When all Maine children have the resources, support and opportunity to thrive, we all benefit,” said Claire Berkowitz, executive director of the Maine Children’s Alliance. “The 2019 report provides us the opportunity to make sure the policies and practices seek to improve the lives of all our children, especially children in immigrant families and children of color.”

    This year, several indicators illustrate racial and ethnic disparities that exist as a result of historic racism and systemic inequalities. Early prenatal care can provide critical information about physical and behavioral risk factors affecting both mother and child. Yet African American women in Maine are less likely to receive prenatal care in the first trimester compared to white women: 75 percent vs. 91 percent. In rates of children identified with a disability and placed in special education services, data shows significant disproportionality particularly for American Indian students in Maine, with 30% having any disability. In Maine and in the nation, children of color continue to experience higher rates of poverty. In Maine, the African American child poverty rate of 53 percent was well above the national average of 36 percent.

    “When confronted with such a wide variety and amount of data, it can be difficult to remember that these numbers represent real children,” said Helen Hemminger. “But by understanding the data, decision makers, business leaders, elected officials and community members can make informed decisions that will help Maine’s children reach their full potential.”

    Digital downloads of the 2019 Maine KIDS COUNT® Data Book are available online at www.mekids.org. National, state and county-level data can be found on the KIDS COUNT Data Center atdatacenter.kidscount.org. To obtain a copy of the data book, email mhackett@mekids.org.

  • Belfast area creative coalition seeking input from Waldo County for arts and cultural plan

    The Belfast waterfront. Photo by Ramona du Houx

    The Belfast Area Creative Coalition, a Waldo County-based nonprofit organization formed in 2012 whose mission is to create cohesion and coordination for Waldo County’s vibrant arts and cultural sector, is leading an effort to develop a Waldo County Arts and Cultural Plan.  The Coalition intends to create a comprehensive, data-driven, community-designed plan, one when completed will utilize resources strategically and thoughtfully, identify community priorities, enhance the quality of life for residents, provide strategies to enhance and develop arts and cultural opportunities for residents, and recommend policies to expand the area’s creative economy.

    The planning effort was launched in late 2018, and the Coalition is now entering its next phase - the collection of input through surveys.  The Coalition strongly feels that feedback from the community is essential to ensure that this plan accurately reflects their values, priorities, and concerns.  The Coalition is interested in receiving input from those who live, work, and/or spend time in Waldo County, including residents, artists, and cultural organizations.  These surveys were designed based on feedback obtained from a series of community forums that were held throughout Waldo County in late 2018.  The data that will be collected through the surveys will be used to identify the goals for the Waldo County Arts and Cultural Plan.   

    According to the Belfast Area Creative Coalition’s Executive Director, Larraine Brown, "Waldo County is brimming with rich arts and cultural activity in the form of historic, traditional, contemporary, and original visual art and performance.  The Waldo County Arts and Cultural Plan and the surveys are set to benefit all corners of the county in a myriad of ways - to point the way to the future as Waldo County citizens imagine what they want it to be, to reveal opportunities for increased support of the arts and our artists, and to serve as a mirror to see what is already happening in all parts of the county.  I hope that people take a few minutes to fill out these surveys, it's a great way for you to have your say and to make a difference."

    There are three versions of surveys that can be completed: 1) a Public Opinion Survey; 2) an Artist & Performer Survey; and 3) a Cultural Organization Survey.  The Coalition is asking respondents to complete the survey or surveys that best apply to them.  Each survey takes approximately 5 to 10 minutes to complete.  As an incentive, anyone who completes a Public Opinion Survey will be entered into a prize drawing, with winners to be announced in June.  All three surveys are available online at http://reinholtconsulting.com/projects/waldo-county/.  

    The Belfast Area Creative Coalition is being assisted in this planning effort by the Maine-based firm Reinholt Consulting.  Individuals with questions regarding these surveys or the planning effort itself, or who wish to request paper copies of the surveys, are encouraged to contact either Larraine Brown, Executive Director for the Belfast Area Creative Coalition, at (207) 218-1144 or belfastcreativecoalition@gmail.com, or Saskia Reinholt of Reinholt Consulting, at (207) 218-2072 or saskia@reinholtconsulting.com.

  • Maine's proposed budget falls short of funding promised funding for local services by $160 million

    March 20, 2019
    Op-ed by  of the Maine Center for Economic Polciy

    Proposed budget falls $160 million short of full funding for local services

    This year, the state was scheduled to fully fund critical local services for the first time in more than a decade. That funding would help pay for things that support our economy and make our communities better places to live — services such as public safety, road maintenance, parks, public works, and libraries.

    However, Governor Janet Mills’ budget proposes another round of cuts to funding for local services, creating a $160 million shortfall in critical funding that helps communities thrive and reduces pressure on local property taxes.

    Maine’s towns and cities provide valuable public services that support families and small businesses. To pay for those critical services, the state is supposed to send 5 percent of revenue from the income and sales taxes back to communities. This disbursement, known as Municipal Revenue Sharing, helps cover the cost of the things that make our towns and cities strong and helps limit property tax increases.

    Unfortunately, the Legislature has not fully funded Municipal Revenue Sharing for more than a decade. It has used a series of purportedly temporary cuts to plug holes in the state budget and pay for tax cuts that primarily benefited the wealthiest Mainers.

    Cuts to Municipal Revenue Sharing have squeezed local communities hard. To make up the shortfall, they have had to increase property taxes, cut services, or both.

    The temporary cuts to Municipal Revenue Sharing were scheduled to expire this year, with towns and cities receiving full funding from the state for the first time since 2008. Rather than full funding, the governor’s budget proposal includes a new round of cuts. 

    Continued shortfalls that put our students, teachers, and communities further behind are not inevitable. This budget cycle lawmakers have a choice: They can continue funding wasteful LePage-era tax cuts that benefit the wealthiest or they can fix our tax code so we can invest that money in things that support thriving communities and a strong economy.

    Mainers who want their communities to receive complete state funding for the first time in a decade should reach out to their state legislators. Tell them: Our local services are worth paying for.

  • Professor Dunlap to speak about live experiences in Peace Corps, April I in Farmington, ME

    The impact of service as a Peace Corps Volunteer upon career choice and personal life, will be the focus of a presentation by Doug Dunlap, University of Maine at Farmington retired professor, on Monday April 1, 2019.

    The program will be held from 6-7:30 p.m., at the Fusion Center,117 South Street, on the UMF Campus. The event is co-sponsored by the UMF Center for Global Education and the UMF Career Center. The event is free and open to the public.

    First established in 1961, the Peace Corps was signed into legislation by President Kennedy as a permanent program that would promote world peace and friendship through help and mutual understanding.

    “If you’re looking for a life changing experience, serving in the Peace Corps is at the top of the list,” said Dunlap. “It allowed me to immerse myself in a totally new culture where I found friendship, service and new meaning to my life. I went from a career interest in international politics to a passion for serving vulnerable children as a teacher and counselor.”

    Dunlap served in the Pacific Islands of Micronesia in the 1960s. He taught English as a second language in a remote island school and engaged in community development projects related to public health, economic development, adult education and youth recreation. In the process he gained fluency in the Kosraen language—spoken by only 4000 people in the world at that time—and helped to write a textbook on Kosrae Island history.

    Following that experience, he joined the Rough Rock Navajo Demonstration School on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, an innovative K-8 project developed by Navajo educational leaders.

    Over a five-year period, he worked with Navajo colleagues to design a culturally appropriate counseling and special education program, consulted on the development of a new Rough Rock High School, and taught on-Reservation teacher-training courses for Arizona State University and the University of New Mexico. He also developed a research project to identify children with special needs and educate parents and community leaders about the learning potential of these children.

    Before coming to UMF in 1981 as a faculty member in the Rehabilitation Services program, he served as a school psychologist in Aroostook County and a Family Counselor in Hancock County.

    At UMF he promoted cultural learning opportunities for students, leading mobile courses to Quebec, New Brunswick, Finland and Russia; taught courses on multiculturalism; and led efforts to help nontraditional students from Franklin County gain access to higher education. A long-distance hiker and canoeist, and author of outdoor books about Maine, he is also a Registered Maine Guide.

  • Earned Paid Sick Days Vital for Maine Women


    Women workers, leaders of organizations representing Maine women and several female Democratic senators spoke at a press conference today on the importance to Maine women of passing LD 369, legislation guaranteeing workers the ability to earn paid sick days.
    “There’s nothing more heart-breaking than staying home from work at the doctor’s orders, only to return to work to find that I didn’t have a job anymore,” said Lynnea Hawkins, a single mother from Lewiston, who lost her job at a call center two years ago after falling ill. “We all get sick and we all need to be able to earn paid sick days. It's that simple.”
    Currently, almost 200,000 Maine workers aren’t able to earn even a single paid sick day to care for themselves or a loved one. Women make up a majority of the workers in low-paid jobs that are least likely to allow workers to earn paid time off, even as they also shoulder a disproportionate share of family caregiving responsibilities. 
    "The ability to earn paid sick time and to apply that time in instances of illness, as well as domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, is an issue of the highest priority,” said Whitney Parrish, Director of Policy and Program at the Maine Women's Lobby. “The low wage occupations where workers are least likely to be able to take time off with pay when they or a loved one are ill are those most commonly held by women and people of color, and we need to make sure that workplace policies support these individuals and reflect our values."
    LD 369 ensures that all workers employed by businesses with more than five employees will have the right to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours a year.
    “Guaranteeing earned paid sick days means that no mother is penalized for choosing to stay home to care for their sick child, that no child is punished for taking the time necessary to care for a sick parent,” said Sen. Rebecca Millett, the bill’s sponsor. “As Mainers, looking out for each other is a fundamental part of who we are. The lack of earned paid sick time in this state goes against everything we stand for.”
    11 other states, including most New England states, already have similar legislation guaranteeing paid sick days.
    "As a health care provider, we do our best to make it as easy as possible to get care because no woman should have to choose between taking care of  her health and  the well-being of her family and keeping her job,” said Nicole Clegg, Vice President of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. “Not having paid sick days remains a significant barrier to health care access, and we believe that policies like LD 369 are key to supporting women, families and community health."
    LD 369 would also guarantee earned time off for survivors of domestic violence, a vital protection according to advocates for women.
    "Paid sick days can let a survivor pursue healthcare and counseling, attend court hearings, be home to have the locks changed on their doors, meet with teachers about how best to support scared and struggling children - without impacting the household budget and better enabling them to remain in the workforce,” said Francine Garland Stark, Executive Director of the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence. “Accommodating the short- term needs of survivors in this way is to the benefit the State's economy while mitigating the impact of domestic abuse and violence on some of its most vulnerable residents."
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • State Federal Judge Strikes Down Maine Law for Violating First Amendment Consumer-Rights

    In a precedent-setting decision with nationwide implications, on January 8, 2019, Judge Lance E. Walker of the United States District Court for the District of Maine ruled that Maine’s 36-hour ban on public adjusters’ solicitation of customers is an unconstitutional restriction on free speech.

    National Fire Adjustment Company, Inc. (NFA) filed this lawsuit challenging Maine’s longstanding ban as a violation of the First Amendment. NFA has licensed, expert public adjusters who level the playing field for consumers by representing victims of fires and other property losses to ensure they receive fair value from their insurance companies.

    Attorney Valerie Z. Wicks and the law firm of Johnson, Webbert & Young, LLP, represent NFA in this lawsuit. JWY has offices in Portland and Augusta, Maine. For over twenty years, public adjusters in Maine have been required—under threat of financial penalties and loss of their license—to wait 36 hours after a fire or other loss to communicate with potential customers who may want help dealing with their insurance company.

    During that government-imposed and one-sided waiting period, important evidence may be destroyed and insureds may settle their claims too quickly for less than full value.

    Judge Walker upheld the important consumer-advocate role of public adjusters in ruling that “the ban on all solicitation activity, temporary as it may be, is an excessively paternalistic prior restraint on speech.”

    Ronald J. Papa, President of the Plaintiff National Fire Adjustment Company, called the ruling a major victory for consumers: “The first 36 hours after a fire or other loss is the most important time for protecting the rights of the victims. To deprive the insured of appropriate counsel during that critical time-period is anti-consumer, government overreach. We are pleased that our adjusters will now be able to advise clients on equal footing with adjusters who represent insurance companies," said Ronald J. Papa, President of the Plaintiff National Fire Adjustment Company.

    NFA has an office in Alfred, Maine and its adjusters perform work throughout Maine and the United States.

    “Judge Walker’s First Amendment ruling protects Maine consumers who want and deserve help recovering from an unexpected tragedy like a fire or a wind storm. Judge Walker hit the nail on the head when he ruled that the government should not be standing in the way of the public’s right to the expert services of public adjusters," said NFA’s attorney Valerie Z. Wicks.

    Wicks added that this ruling in Maine may lead the way for similar anti-consumer bans in other states to be struck down under the First Amendment.

  • Restore the State Planning Office to help ONE MAINE grow

    While we're thinking about the next economy, we might be missing something else.

    Driving home to Winthrop from holiday shopping in Farmington this weekend, I was again awed by how much Maine is out there north of Brunswick and 10 minutes in any direction off Interstate 95. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in my work or in seeking news and connection on social media that it’s easy to forget how much beauty, life and community one can find on the roads running deeper into the state.

    Most of my friends and associates — developers, planners, professors, municipal employees, and artists — and I live and work in Maine’s urban areas, and on most days my head is full of things like 5G broadband, “Search Engine Optimization,” and “Block Chain” — technology miracles that are supposed to boost our economy, even if we’re not sure how. I wonder if I’m thinking too little about the places and people and ways of living that have traditionally defined Maine.

    We’re often reminded that Maine is a proudly rural state. But talking rural and walking rural are two different things. Our drive up to Farmington through Livermore Falls and back down through Mount Vernon surprised me — a self-proclaimed rural economy advocate and ex-patriated southern Appalachian person living here in what my wife and I call Appalachia North.

    Most of what I saw on Route 41 has not changed since before the road was paved: buildings both solid and characteristic, but some maybe leaning a little bit on their foundations, and sitting too close to the road to feel like home anymore.

    But there are clear signs of struggle — blue tarps on the roof, coarse plywood airlocks built on the doorways of mobile homes in the yard where grandma’s victory garden used to grow, and a row of failed vehicles in various states of rust.

    I’ve worked alongside Maine business people and government representatives on indoor agriculture, new technology expansion, old technology business revitalization, and knowledge-worker attraction initiatives. These initiatives are great for “Highway Maine” but don’t leave much for rural communities other than entry-level and service jobs that still require people to drive hundreds of miles a week on cracking roads to workplaces with different measures of success than rural residents might otherwise prioritize.

    Should we measure success solely in terms of transactions, dollars, inventory turnover, resolution times and bonus checks? Or should we look closer at how Maine families feed and support themselves and their neighbors when we measure the state’s economic health?

    And how much are we flatlanders who come to Maine for “new economy” jobs willing to recognize and incorporate the value of traditional products made in Maine’s rural places into our sense of connection and belonging? If we don’t know and never interact with rural people, how can we know the value of personal connections made at high school choir concerts, sports events, hunting lodges, ice fishing shacks, and the county fair? Do we know how much those activities weave into people’s cash-and-barter relationships?

    Recent news reports about traditional craft businesses like a Christmas wreath maker that’s struggling from flat prices and increasing shipping costs, and the increasing costs and flat pay for independent plowing businesses, concern me. These seasonal jobs — driven by weather, nature and culture — are being replaced by Amazon gift boxes offering similar wreaths, maybe even cut from our same trees. It seems time-stressed folks are more attracted to convenience, packaging, and price than engaging a potentially awkward face-to-face conversation with an unfamiliar person.

    We have a lot to learn about resiliency from rural communities. Perhaps the new gubernatorial administration will better understand than the last how Maine’s communities and their economies are inseparable. I hope that the state’s development agencies will refocus on communities and the desperate need for jobs and sector development to save our traditional lifestyles and places.

    And maybe Gov.-elect Janet Mills will restore the State Planning Office that was eliminated in the last administration, and focus it on sustainable development and infrastructure.

    I hope that as we rethink the role of the state government in preserving Maine’s rural character and economies, we also ask ourselves what we can do with our buying power to support our friends and neighbors, weave connection in our communities, and build stronger places by keeping our money local.

  • Maine's Gov. Mills encourages Statewide Day of Service January 5, 2019

    Augusta, MAINE – As a capstone to her inaugural week in office, Governor Janet Mills is encouraging the people of Maine to participate in a statewide “Day of Service” this coming Saturday, January 5, 2019.

    The Day of Service is intended to be a call to action to foster community and civic engagement as part of leading Maine in a new, better direction -- the promise of the Governor-elect’s campaign. As part of this effort, the Mills Transition Team has partnered with the Maine Commission of Community Service and various agencies and non-profits to identify specific projects and activities that volunteers can participate in across all sixteen counties.

    “Services comes in many forms – whether running for office, stepping up to volunteer, or working for the public good,” said Governor-elect Mills. “This Saturday, I hope people across Maine will join me in coming together to demonstrate that we are willing to roll up sleeves and get to work in leading Maine in a new, better direction by engaging in community service projects that will make us a happier, healthier, more prosperous state for today and tomorrow.”

    The Governor-elect will participate in a project that will be announced this coming Friday, January 4th. Mainers can visit www.janetmills.com/dayofservice to search for and sign up for community service projects and activities near them. Projects range from serving meals, to supporting food drives, to coaching youth basketball, to clearing snow, and installing fire detectors, among many other worthy activities. Events are being hosted in all sixteen counties.

  • Maine's sardine/maple leaf New Year's Eve drop

    Eastport, Maine, the country's easternmost city, can be a cold, dark place to spend the New Year. Hoping to bring life to its downtown during the holiday, the city decided to try something new for New Year's in 2004—a wacky New Year's drop including a sardine and a maple leaf, the first as a nod to the town's fishing industry, the second as a celebration of their neighbor across the bay, with whom they share both a political border and a time zone border.

    The maple leaf is dropped at midnight Canadian time—11 p.m. in Eastport—and the sardine is dropped at midnight in Eastport. The sardine, which measures eight feet long, even gets some New Year's kisses after it descends from the third story of the Tides Institute & Museum of Art (a local tradition). This year marks the drop's 14th anniversary. 

  • Bipartisan Elected Officials, Veterans and Conservation Champions Rally to Save LWCF by end of year

     By Ramona du Houx

    Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) champions in the House and Senate rallied on the steps of the U.S. Capitol with conservation leaders on November 29,2018 calling on Congress to reauthorize and fully fund America’s most important conservation and recreation program before the end of the year.

    "Two months ago, America lost one of its best conservation tools,” said Lynn Scarlett, Former Deputy Secretary of the Department of Interior and head of External Affairs at The Nature Conservancy. "It’s too important to continue leaving its future in doubt. Now more than ever, we have the bipartisan momentum to get LWCF the permanent reauthorization and full funding it deserves. For the protection of our lands, waters and the benefits their conservation bring to communities and our economy, now is the time to save LWCF.”

    The Land and Water Conservation Fund helps protect national parks, expand outdoor recreation opportunities and bolster local economies, all at no cost to the American taxpayer.

    "Since it was enacted 54 years ago, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped protect many of the nation’s most popular national parks, forests, and public lands,” said Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA). “LWCF has pumped billions of dollars into the outdoor economy and provided millions of good jobs."

     “The Land and Water Conservation Fund remains the single most successful conservation program in American history,” said Senator Richard Burr (R-NC). “Nearly every congressional district in the country benefits from its funding – at no cost to the taxpayer – and millions enjoy the parks, ballfields, and landscapes it maintains every day. My colleagues and I will continue to push for a permanent reauthorization of this important program.

    A national poll released in September showed that 74 percent of Americans support reauthorization and funding of the LWCF. The historically bipartisan program has received widespread support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

    The Elected Officials to Protect America's Lands also weighed into the effort to get LWCF permanently funded by the end of the year.

    “As veterans who are elected officials, the freedom to recreate in our public lands is something we continue to fight for—for all Americans. Failure to permanently reauthorize the bipartisan Land and Water Conservation Fund will be a self-inflicted wound that jeopardizes livelihoods connected to the multi-billion dollar outdoor recreation industry it generates, and more importantly, for our children who rely on these funds to protect the outdoor spaces we all love.” said Alex Cornell du Houx, President of the Elected Officials to Protect America’s Lands,  Marine veteran and former state representative. 

     

  • Solstice by the Sea at Sears Island, Maine on December 21

    Shown here, Sears Island sunset at last year’s winter solstice. 
     
    Friends of Sears Island will host a winter solstice celebration of light on Friday, December 21, from 6 to 7 p.m. Attendees will walk a path lit with hundreds of luminarias. The walk will culminate in music, readings, cocoa and cookies on the beach. The nondenominational celebration is free and open to all.
    Sears Island is located at the end of Sears Island Road off Route 1, just east of Searsport. Participants can park along the causeway at the end of the road and should gather at the island gate just beyond the parking area by 6 p.m. Bring a flashlight or lantern that uses a battery-operated light. No flames or pets will be permitted. In the event of inclement weather, the celebration will be cancelled. 

    For updates, check www.friendsofsearsisland.org, www.facebook.com/friendsofsearsisland, or email outreach@friendsofsearsisland.org
  • After December 15, Mainers who need coverage will only be able to purchase major medical insurance for 2019

    “I am concerned that people in Maine who want to purchase major medical health insurance on the ACA’s Individual Marketplace may not act in time to have coverage in 2019.”  said Maine Insurance Commissioner Eric Cioppa. 
    His concern is based on reports from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid indicating that enrollment in Maine is down significantly compared to this time last year.
    “Several theories exist as to why that is,” he said. “For instance, more people may be enrolled in their employers’ plans. Others may be choosing to go without coverage due to cost; I urge these individuals to at least consider the options available.… Mainers have more options for 2019 and I hope they take advantage of them.” 

    After December 15, Mainers who need coverage will only be able to purchase major medical insurance for 2019 if they have a change in life circumstance that qualifies them for a Special Enrollment Period.

    Anyone who is eligible for a subsidy must go through www.healthcare.gov to purchase insurance and to have the subsidy applied. Those who don’t qualify for subsidies can use the bureau’s rate calculator at maine.gov/insurance, which includes both Marketplace and off-Marketplace plans. Mainers who need help getting started, or who have health insurance related questions, are invited to call the bureau’s Consumer Health Care Division Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 800-300-5000 (in state) or 207-624-8475 (for TTY, call Maine Relay 711). Questions can also be emailed to insurance.pfr@maine.gov.
  • Maine’s Wreath Across America places close to 10 thousand wreaths at graves in France

     

     By Ramona du Houx

    On December 1st 9,387 Maine-made, balsam veterans' wreaths were placed on the headstones of all U.S. service members laid to rest at Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, located in Colleville-sur-Mer, France.

    The cemetery is one of 14 permanent American World War II military cemeteries abroad. This is the first time WAA has sent U.S.-made balsam wreaths to be placed in France.

    The December 1st wreath-laying event was a joint collaboration between the Normandy American Cemetery and American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) and included ceremonial wreath placements on each of the five D-Day invasion beaches, at Pointe Du Hoc, along with a Canadian Wreath presentation.

    The veterans' wreaths were a donation from its WAA Founder, Morrill Worcester, whose dream has been to one day place a wreath in honor of every U.S. veteran laid to rest, worldwide.

    Worchester meet Charles Norman Shay at the ceremony. Shay, of Maine, is a Penobscot Indian Elder who served on D-day as a medic. He came ashore in the first wave on Omaha Beach as a medic, saving countless lives. “I’ve always been honored to serve my country. I only did my duty,” said Shay, who gave a speech at the ceremony.

    "The mission of the American Battle Monuments Commission is to honor the service, achievements and sacrifices of our U.S armed forces in two World Wars. It closely parallels the mission of the Wreaths Across America organization — to Remember, Honor and Teach," said Scott Desjardins, Superintendent, Normandy American Cemetery. "The Normandy American Cemetery is proud and pleased to be the first ABMC cemetery to have been chosen to attempt this important endeavor.”

    "When I began placing wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery in 1992, I could never have imagined that this idea would impact people around the world the way it has," said Worcester. "To know that WAA will be able to place a wreath for each of those veterans and say their names out loud is truly incredible, and I am so honored to be able to help this effort however I can."

    The transportation of nearly 9,500 fresh balsam veterans' wreaths from Maine to Normandy required a massive coordinated effort. 

    In 1992 in Harrington, Maine, wreath maker Morrill Worcester sought to turn a surplus of 5,000 holiday wreaths into an opportunity to pay tribute to our country's veterans. With the help of then Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, Worcester arranged for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington National Cemetery.

    Maine's Penobscot Elder who served as a medic during D-Day was at the ceramony.

    “The annual tribute went on quietly for several years, until 2005, when a photo of the stones at Arlington, adorned with wreaths and covered in snow, circulated around the internet,” said Worcester.

    The national attention spurred the start of the 501c3 Wreaths Across America in 2007. Since then, the program has grown in scope, touching the lives of thousands of veterans' families and volunteers in every state across the country. In 2017 alone, Wreaths Across America and its national network of volunteers laid over 1.5 million veterans' wreaths at 1,433 locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea, and abroad.

    This year, National Wreaths Across America Day is Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018 – at least 1,500 participating locations across the country will host wreath-laying ceremonies, all run by dedicated volunteers.

     

     

     

     

  • Jackman, Maine residents vote to oppose CMP transmission line

    Jackman may join Caratunk, West Forks, The Forks, in opposition

    Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and the Town of Alna rescinded prior support too

    Tonight, November 18, 2018at a special town meeting in the MSAD#12 School Gymnasium, Jackman residents voted 78-11, with one abstention, to oppose CMP’s proposal to build a massive 145-mile-long transmission line from the Quebec border through the State of Maine.

    Jackman residents said they oppose NECEC because it would damage Maine’s environment, wildlife habitat, water quality, scenic views, and tourism economy; and permanently harm their way of life.

    “The more people learn about this ill-conceived transmission line, the more they realize it is a bad deal for Maine,” says Sue Ely, Clean Energy Attorney, Natural Resources Council of Maine.

    At its October 17 hearing, the Public Utilities Commission heard blistering opposition to CMP’s plan and 95% of those who spoke or submitted testimony opposed the proposal.

    “More and more towns are retracting their support and voicing opposition to the transmission line,” says Ely. “As each new town, business or political leader announces their opposition, it becomes clearer that Maine does not want this project.”

    In addition to Jackman, the Towns of West Forks and The Forks have also voted to oppose the line and the Towns of Alna andCaratunk   have rescinded their earlier letter of support for the Central Maine Power / Hydro-Quebec project, calling it harmful and saying it is not financially beneficial to the Maine economy or its residents.

    “This powerline is good for CMP and Hydro-Quebec profits, but a very bad deal for Maine,” says Ely. “The CMP transmission line would do nothing to reduce harmful climate pollution while it would harm wildlife, habitat, and recreational resources.”

  • Toxic algae in Florida offer valuable lessons for protecting Maine waters

    Consistent, sound science is needed to manage harmful algal blooms, and monitoring, prediction and education efforts are critical but sorely underfunded.

    Microscopic algae in our oceans do much of the hard work that makes life on Earth possible. These tiny plants feed our oceans, clean our atmosphere and provide half of the oxygen we breathe. We simply wouldn’t be here without them.

    Yet, hundreds of species of algae also produce toxins that are harmful to people and the environment. When large numbers of these species grow, or bloom, toxins can move up the food web and have costly effects on wildlife, human health, seafood industries and tourism. I spent a decade studying harmful algae in Florida and saw firsthand the devastation that blooms can cause to the environment, the economy and the psyche of a region.

    The water conditions and physics of the Gulf of Mexico make it naturally prone to harmful algal blooms. Human activities, however, have arguably made these blooms much worse over time. Nitrogen-rich runoff from the land can act as fertilizer in the ocean and cause toxic algae to multiply. When ocean currents concentrate these cells, the algae can start killing fish. This releases more of the normally scarce nitrogen into the ocean, further fertilizing the blooms and creating a self-perpetuating cycle.

    The current “red tide” in Florida illustrates the need for consistent, sound science to manage harmful algal blooms. Monitoring, prediction and education are critical, yet the funds for these activities are scarce. Only about half of the years in the past decade saw federal funding for new research into the ecology and oceanography of harmful algal blooms. This is not enough, especially considering the major changes and challenges affecting our oceans.

    The combined effects of climate change, wastewater treatment, fertilizer runoff and coastal development have compromised the resiliency of the Gulf of Mexico. While much of the Maine coast sharply contrasts the highly developed coast of Florida, climate change is causing the Gulf of Maine to rapidly warm and acidify. This has introduced a lot of uncertainty about what the future looks like and made it clear that the past is no longer a useful guide. While we don’t yet know what the long-term impact of climate change will be on Gulf of Maine algae, we do know it is already changing the species, frequency, timing and magnitude of harmful blooms.

    Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences helps the Maine Department of Marine Resources monitor shellfish for the toxins created by harmful algal species, informing decisions on how to manage fisheries. This careful monitoring ensures that the seafood you buy at the store or order at a restaurant is safe to eat, but temporary fishery closures can have significant economic impacts on shellfish farmers and harvesters.

    We must continue to protect people’s health and the environment while developing new methods that better protect our coastal economy and the livelihoods of the many Mainers who rely on it. There is great potential in expanding use of the data from Maine’s monitoring programs to forecast blooms. Genetic surveys of seawater could help reveal what is happening with these harmful algae, and there are effective autonomous monitoring solutions that could be deployed throughout the Gulf of Maine to provide an early warning system. Bigelow scientists are also helping develop easy-to-use genetic testing methods for harmful species and contributing to citizen science efforts for monitoring and public education.

    Moving these efforts forward at the pace required to keep up with the rate of environmental change will require federal agencies to increase funding, and voters to elect representatives who understand the importance of scientific research. We have an opportunity in Maine to mitigate the threat of increased harmful algal blooms before it grows to be the size of the problem facing Florida.

  • Maine's Cape Neddick Center for Wildlife Education and Outreach 2018 Holiday Bazaar

     

    The Center for Wildlife is excited to be presenting their annual Holiday Bazaar. 

    "Bring family and friends up to the place that you love, or visit for the first time and spend some time connecting with your community and wildlife. One of our favorite events of the year...we invite you to step through the doors of our magical gift shop in the forest. Participants can browse nature-inspired gifts like wild-crafted hemlock wreaths, wildlife holiday cards, wildlife baby blankets, Ambassador Series books, photographs of nature, goats milk soap from Jenness Farm, crafts from local artisans and so much more. Participants will also get the chance to meet our owls, hawks, falcons, and other ambassadors up-close, tour their outdoor enclosures, and support the Center while doing their holiday shopping," said Sarah Kern.

    In November – December the Holiday Bazaar will be held on Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm at the Center for Wildlife at 385 Mountain Road, Cape Neddick, ME 03902. 

    We will also have a soft opening on Friday, November 23rd or “Green Friday” as we call it. 

    Skip the crowds and hustle and bustle and spend your time in the woods instead with your family and community," added Kern. "Each weekend we will have fun activities for the whole family including local authors, crafts, and even a visit from some special individuals from the North Pole! "

    For more information on the Holiday Bazaar - website at www.thecenterforwildlife.org or call 207-361-1400.

    About Center for Wildlife

    Center for Wildlife is a local 501C3 out of Cape Neddick, ME.  Since 1986 the Center for Wildlife has been providing medical treatment for wild animals in need. We currently admit over 2,000 wild animals a year and are regional leaders in conservation medicine. For the last 20 years we have been proud to offer high quality environmental education programs to our community.  We currently present over 375 programs a year and reach over 12,500 individuals in schools, nursing homes, community centers, libraries and universities.

  • Maine's Tabulation of CD2 ranked-choice election scheduled at noon today

    Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, Maine’s top election official, has confirmed that election results from all the municipalities in the Congressional District 2 race in the Nov. 6, 2018 General Election are now uploaded and the verification process is complete. The Elections staff will now proceed to run the ranked-choice voting tabulation to determine the winner of the election.

    The tabulation is scheduled for noon today, Thursday, Nov. 15 at the centralized tabulation site in the Elkins Building (on the former AMHI campus), 19 Elkins Lane, Augusta. The results will be made public at that time. The tabulation is expected to take only a few minutes to process and the results grid will be displayed for public viewing.

    Following the verbal results announcement, the results data will be posted as an Excel file on the Election Results page, and marked as “unofficial.” As always, official results for all races will be available and posted 20 days after the election when the final tabulation is submitted to the Governor.

    General Courier of South Portland began collecting ballots and memory devices from all of Maine’s municipalities beginning Thursday, Nov. 8. (Hand-count towns submitted their ballots; municipalities that use tabulators submitted their memory devices). Secretary of State Department staff members began the public processing of that material on Friday, Nov. 9 and continued Saturday, Nov. 10 and Monday, Nov. 12 through today. The process includes unlocking and unsealing each ballot box to scan those ballots; unsealing and uploading all the memory devices; and then verifying the results to ensure accuracy before all the votes can be loaded into the tabulation program.

     

  • Speaker of Maine's House says, ready to get to work for all Mainers

    Maine State Capitol, photo by Ramona du Houx

    Novemeber 10, 2018

    OP-ed by Maine Speaker of the House Sara Gideon 

    This week, hundreds of thousands of Mainers turned out to help shape the future of our state by exercising their right to vote. Now, with the election behind us, we can truly get to work improving the lives of Maine people.

    Our incoming House Democrats are teachers and entrepreneurs, tradespeople, parents and volunteers in their communities. I’m also incredibly proud to announce that 49 of them – more than half of the incoming Democratic caucus – are women.

    These individuals stepped forward because they care deeply about the wellbeing of their neighbors and about our shared future. For months, they have worked tirelessly to run positive, grassroots campaigns and personally connect with those they aspired to represent.

    Now, Maine House Democrats turn our focus to an agenda that prioritizes what we heard on the campaign trail, again and again, from voters all across our state. An agenda that recognizes the choices working families make every day and an agenda that moves those families closer to prosperity.

    Conversation after conversation, we heard from our neighbors about the issues that make an impact on their lives each and every day. Now it’s time to take the message we heard from you with us to the State House.

    We pledged to increase access to affordable and quality health care, to alleviate the crippling burden of student debt and to finally make the critical investments that will build the high-paying, sustainable jobs of both today and tomorrow. 

    And we’ve promised to make state government more transparent, more accountable and more responsive to you, the people we serve. 

    We are excited to work in partnership with Governor-elect Janet Mills and all our newly elected colleagues to chart a path for Maine that grows our economy, capitalizes on our greatest resources and moves every family closer to prosperity.  

    There is a great deal of work to do to ensure the bright future I know, in my heart, Maine has ahead of us. The extraordinary women and men of the incoming House Democratic majority are ready to get to work to deliver the results Mainers have long deserved.

    Their dedication, enthusiasm and optimism are truly inspiring. I’m eager to serve alongside them.

  • Advocates of new program to protect kids from lead poisoning hail Maine State Rep. Golden's leadership

    Initiative will make hundreds more Maine homes lead-safe

    Assistant House Majority Leader Jared Golden joined housing advocates and community leaders Thursday to mark the rollout of a new program to protect young Mainers from lead poisoning.

    “Lead poisoning costs Maine communities millions of dollars each year,” said Golden, D-Lewiston, who championed bipartisan legislation to create the new program. “And that doesn’t even begin to account for the human toll, costs that cannot truly be measured. Its effects are long-term and often irreversible. The best and most cost-effective way to address the problem is to prevent it in the first place. That’s why this initiative is so important.” 

    The new $4 million program will help homeowners perform expensive lead abatement to protect their own families or families renting from them. The initiative, which is overseen by the Maine State Housing Authority, aims to encourage homeowners to address the presence of lead proactively before children are exposed.

    Advocates say there is a critical need for the program in Maine, citing newly released data from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Those figures show 322 cases of lead poisoning identified among Maine kids between September 2017 and September 2018.

    “This new lead abatement initiative is going to make hundreds of Maine homes safe for kids at a time when we’re clearly still struggling to prevent lead poisoning statewide,” said Greg Payne, director of the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition. “We’re grateful to Rep. Golden and the bipartisan coalition of legislators who stepped up and provided the leadership to make it happen. Both our kids and our state’s finances will be healthier for it.”

    Homes built prior to 1978 are at risk of containing lead paint. Lead is a known neurotoxin that can cause developmental delays, learning disabilities, behavioral issues and, in severe cases, convulsions, coma or death. Research has determined there is no safe blood lead level for children.

    For more information and to seek program funds, homeowners and landlords should contact MaineHousing directly at 626-4600 or visit www.mainehousing.org.

    Golden is running for the 2nd District U.S. Congressional Seat.

  • Thursday, Nov. 1 is deadline to request absentee ballots for General Election in Maine

    Absentee ballots for the Nov. 6, 2018 General and Referendum Election are available to request through this Thursday, Nov. 1, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap reminded voters today.

    Any registered Maine voter may choose to vote absentee, either via mail or in person at their town hall prior to Election Day. Voters do not need to provide a reason to vote absentee. Voters can request an absentee ballot by completing and submitting their request form online athttps://www1.maine.gov/cgi-bin/online/AbsenteeBallot/index.pl Alternatively, the form can be printed out and mailed or hand-delivered to the municipal clerk. Absentee ballots can also be requested by phone or in person at the clerk's office.

    The November 2018 ballot will include one citizens' initiative question and four bond issues. Additionally, Maine voters will elect one of Maineâs two United States Senators, Maineâs Governor, two Representatives to Congress, members of the Maine Legislature, and certain county officers. More information is available on the Upcoming Elections page athttps://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/upcoming/index.html of the Department of the Secretary of State website.

    The online absentee ballot request service provides an email notification with a confirmation number. When the request is processed and accepted by the municipal clerk, the voter will be sent an additional notification and the ballot will arrive by mail. All Maine municipalities are required to accept electronic requests for absentee ballots.

    All ballots must be returned to the clerk no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day to be cast, so voters are advised to account for mail delivery delays. In-person absentee voting is available through Thursday, Nov. 1. After Thursday, any voter who has not yet requested an absentee ballot would only be able to vote on Election Day, Nov. 6, unless they submit a qualifying special circumstances application to the clerk.

    If you have questions about the absentee voting process, visit the Absentee Voting page athttps://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/voter-info/absenteeguide.html or call the Division of Elections at 624-7650.

  • Maine Lewiston Law Firm and Attorney Honored by Pine Tree Legal Assistance for Pro Bono Work

     

    Hardy Wolf & Downing 1967 Commitment to Justice Award 2018 - L-R: William C. Herbert III, Michael Welch, Cailley Bonti, Sheldon Tepler, Christian Lewis, Leana Amaez, Stacy Stitham, Nan Heald. Photo by Nicole Pelonzi 

     Pine Tree Legal Assistance honored Lewiston-based law firm Hardy, Wolf, and Downing and one of its partners, Sheldon Tepler, Esq., at an event in Lewiston, Maine. 

    When Pine Tree Legal Assistance first opened its doors in 1967, it was a result of hard work by many private attorneys in Maine who had recognized that poor people in Maine were being excluded from the American promise of “justice for all.” For the past 51 years, Pine Tree has operated in partnership with Maine law firms and lawyers around the state to level the playing field for low-income individuals and to help move Maine closer to the promise of justice for all.

    On the evening of October 23, 2018, at a reception in Lewiston, Pine Tree presented two awards to local heroes: Board President Stacy Stitham presented the “1967 Commitment to Justice Award” to Hardy, Wolf, and Downing and Executive Director Nan Heald presented Pine Tree’s individual “Pro Bono Award” to firm partner Sheldon Tepler, Esq. 

    The “1967 Commitment to Justice Award” was created to recognize a law firm, agency or organization that has made an extraordinary contribution to the legal needs of a specific client community or to address a particular legal challenge. 

    This year’s award celebrates an historic milestone in pro bono service: the 2017 decision of the firm to create a new full-time associate position with the understanding that the attorney will spend 50 percent of their time on pro bono work in partnership with the Lewiston office of Pine Tree Legal Assistance. 

    The attorney’s salary and benefits will be paid by the firm, but half of their time will be spent at Pine Tree. Attorney Cailley Bonti, a 2017 graduate of Maine Law, has been hired to serve in this unique role. At Hardy, Wolf & Downing, she will be learning the ropes of personal injury litigation from an amazing team of attorneys. At Pine Tree, she will be initially focused on a wide range of complex public benefits cases, many requiring administrative hearings to secure or retain a needed benefit.

    “To our knowledge, this is the first such program to launch in a Maine law firm and may also be unique on a national level,” said Nan Heald, executive Director of Pine Tree Legal Assistance. “We can’t imagine a more worthy recipient of our 1967 Commitment to Justice Award than the law firm of Hardy, Wolf & Downing.”

    Sheldon Tepler Pro Bono Award and 2018 10 24.jpg L-R: Cailley Bonti, Sheldon Tepler. Photo by Nicole Pelonzi 

    Pine Tree Legal Assistance also recognized attorney Sheldon Tepler, a partner at Hardy, Wolf & Downing, with its annual award to an individual for exceptional pro bono service.  This year’s award recognizes his career-long dedication to pro bono work and advocacy to expand justice for all low-income Mainers. 

    In the 1990’s, Sheldon helped Pine Tree establish its credentials as a community partner agency with United Way of Androscoggin County; in the early 2000’s, his experience at New Beginnings helped inform Pine Tree’s development of Kids Legal as a statewide legal resource for low-income children and youth. 

    For more than a decade, Sheldon has also volunteered as a ‘lawyer of the day’ for low-income individuals facing eviction during the bimonthly docket calls at the Lewiston District Court, working on their behalf to enforce legal protections and prevent homelessness.

    This work is especially important given the high rate of eviction in Lewiston. According to the Eviction Lab Project at Princeton University, Lewiston Maine has an eviction rate of 4.79 percent, significantly higher than Maine’s overall eviction rate of 2.26 percent.

    A study in Massachusetts by the Boston Bar Association demonstrates that “extensive assistance from lawyers is essential to helping tenants preserve their housing and avoid the potential for homelessness, including all of the far-reaching tangible and intangible costs to tenants and society generally that are associated with homelessness.”

    Research shows that tenants facing eviction are more likely to avoid homelessness as a result of legal assistance, saving thousands or tens of thousands of public dollars in shelter costs for each eviction averted.

    In addition to his own pro bono work throughout his career, Sheldon is the architect of the firm’s new experiment in pro bono.

    “There are few opportunities for public recognition of the essential support provided to Pine Tree Legal Assistance’s clients by other groups and individuals, but the American Bar Association has designated this week as a National Celebration of Pro Bono.  We had to showcase the incredible contributions of Hardy, Wolf & Downing and its partner Sheldon Tepler as part of that national effort, knowing that this Maine law firm and its staff stand out on both a statewide and national level,” said Ms. Heald.

    Pine Tree Legal Assistance is non-profit law firm whose mission is to ensure that state and federal laws affecting poor people are upheld, while also addressing the systemic barriers to justice faced by Mainers with low incomes. Last year, Pine Tree Legal celebrated its 50th anniversary as Maine’s oldest and largest civil legal aid provider. 

     

  • $50,000 to combat child hunger donated to Full Plates - Full Potential

    On October 24, 2018, Hannaford Supermarkets announced their contribution of $50,000 to Full Plates Full Potential to support their work to combat child hunger. 

    “When children have the nutritious food they need, they learn more effectively and can meet their full potential,” said Maile Buker, vice president of Marketing for Hannaford Supermarkets.  “Hannaford is committed to partnering with schools and community organizations to make sure our children can access healthy food. By supporting Full Plates Full Potential in this work, we are investing in our community.”

    Full Plates Full Potential is Maine’s only statewide non-profit working to end childhood hunger. The work is accomplished, in schools and nonprofits, by fully utilizing the reimbursable USDA child nutrition programs; breakfast, lunch, afterschool and summer meals. Additionally, Full Plates works with a statewide network to ensure best practices are being implemented and awards grants directly to schools and nonprofits.

    “Hannaford Supermarkets has been an incredible partner in our work to end child hunger in Maine,” said Former State Senator Justin Alfond, co-founder of FPFP. “We are thrilled with Hannaford’s ongoing support. We’re going to be able to feed a lot more children.”

    The $50,000 will support Full Plates Full Potential grant work, directly investing in critical infrastructure upgrades that enable schools to use best practices and feed more students. In 2018, Full Plates Full Potential invested in more than 30 schools and nonprofits, helping students access thousands of additional meals.

    Today’s donation is part of the Hannaford Chef’s Table program. The Chef's Table is a partnership between Hannaford and four local chefs who maintain the same passion for building community and helping home cooks make fresh, affordable meals. The program features affordable recipes using quality and fresh ingredients created by the participating chefs in local Hannaford stores. Hannaford has played a critical role supporting child nutrition programs across Maine, New England and upstate New York.

    The event was held at Westbrook Middle School, a Full Plate Full Potential grantee. Westbrook has fully embraced making food access a priority for their students. “Last year, 57 percent of our students qualified for free and reduced lunch,” said Mary Emerson, Westbrook’s Nutritional Food Director. “Food security is a definite issue for families in our community.”

    About Full Plates Full Potential

    Started in 2015, Full Plates Full Potential is Maine’s only statewide child hunger organization. Full Plates Full Potential does its work by partnering with other hunger relief organizations, granting funds and providing technical support to schools and nonprofits and working with chefs, businesses and others to end child hunger. Learn more at www.fullplates.org.

     

  • 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.
  • 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

  • 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 www.mainepublichealth.gov/lab.

  • 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.”

  • Rockland Receives $830,000 Federal Grant to Repair and Update Its Fish Pier

    Rockland Harbor, photo by Ramona du Houx

    The City of Rockland would receive an $830,000 federal grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA), enough funding to move forward with plans to repair and update its aging Fish Pier.

    “The Rockland Fish Pier is a critical piece of working waterfront infrastructure that’s in great need of repair and updating. I’m grateful that Rockland will receive this federal grant so it can move forward with this long-awaited project,”Congresswoman Chellie Pingree . “The EDA is an important source of investment for Maine, which is why I have been proud to work with Appropriations colleagues from both sides of the aisle to protect its funding from being eliminated as the Trump Administration has proposed the last two years. The jobs this project preserves and creates shows why it’s so important to keep defending it and other programs.”  

    EDA estimates that the project will allow the retention and creation of 86 jobs.

    The $830,000 EDA grant is matched by a $350,000 federal grant from the Northern Border Regional Commission as well as funding from the Maine Department of Transportation and City of Rockland.

    Project Summary Provided by the EDA: 
    This EDA investment supports the construction of components, repairs and upgrades to the City of Rockland's commercial fish pier, to ensure that it remains available as a key resource to the Mid-Coast fishing and lobstering community.  The project includes repairing and resurfacing the pier, replacing fendering piles and camels, stabilizing the storage area, upgrading the electrical system and adjacent dredging to an approximate depth of eight feet at all tides.  The investment will support retention and creation of jobs in the region.

  • John Willey brings a boatyard to life in a memoir unique to Maine’s boat building history - booksignings

     

    John Willey brings a craftsman’s day to life in A Winter’s Apprentice as he shares insights into a Maine boatyard, where he worked and kept a journal from 1978 to ’79 in his book, A Winter’s Apprentice. John's perspectives are unique coming from being a scholar and private investigator. He knew he was working among a group of outstanding craftsmen and involved in a dying art that he has now preserved in his writings.

    “Before it ever leaves its building shed, a yacht will take its makers on unimagined journeys. This one only begins in East Boothbay, Maine,” said Willey.

    As the historian John Gardner confirms, until relatively recently boatbuilding was not recorded—the life of the yard crew even less so. Here is a rare and vibrant narrative from a winter apprentice.

    “It’s great, it really is great. I can see it, and see it all—smell it, taste it, and feel it. The shop and crew and Paul came through life size. I was there with you, every blessed, excruciating, wonderful minute…“Last night after supper, I sat down with it and didn’t get up until I had finished, about 2 a.m,” endorses John Gardner on the book’s back, historian, designer and builder of wooden boats, author of books including Building Classic Small Craft.

    John Willey enthusiastically recommends others to become apprentices of the trade.

    “The practice has worked well for more centuries than we can count. In every one of the great scholarly traditions, including but not limited to law and medicine and teaching, the best of us get that way by first attaching ourselves to the principles of what we want to know, and to the men and women who use and exemplify those principles to grow beyond them.”

    He has a special affinity to crafting wood. As a teen growing up at Good Will-Hinckley in central Maine, he made his first boat with a friend, in his free time when he wasn’t avidly reading. Working in a boat yard seemed to be a natural course to take.

    “As soon as I began work at Paul's yard I was dazzled, smitten, and wanted to preserve what I learned as completely as I could. After about four or five weeks it dawned on me I had something close to chapters for a book, along with detailed letters I’d written to my dad,” said John.

    Willey sought advise from professionals before completing his book.

    “John Gardner answered my first letter to him, and was so enthusiastic and reassuring I thought I actually had a book under way. He was always there, encouraging, and I knew he knew what he was talking about, even when I did not.” 

    Willey’s stories and sage insights will resonate with any reader who has had to leave one career and transition into another.

    Sherman’s Bookstores of Maine will host booksignings with John Willey the following dates:

    1. Sat. Aug. 11th –1:00: Sherman's of Boothbay Harbor, 5 Commercial St., Boothbay Harbor, ME 04538
    1. Sat. Aug. 18th – 1:00: Sherman's of Portland, 49 Exchange St., Portland, ME 04101
    1. Sat. Aug. 25th –1:00: Sherman's of Damariscotta, 158 Main St., Damariscotta, ME 04543
    1. Tues. Sept. 10th – 1:00: Sherman's of Bar Harbor, 56 Main St., Bar Harbor, ME 04609

    More about the author:

    John had been an independent private investigator in San Francisco when he was told by his doctor to find less hectic work in a more peaceful setting if he wanted to live longer. So, at midlife, he and his wife returned to Maine.

    John has been a farmhand, janitor, jackhammer operator, U.S. Marine, choir member (bass), sailor, private investigator, electrician, boat builder, cabinetmaker, mason, and long served on the board of his beloved Good Will-Hinckley. In the summertime, he paddles an eighteen-foot sea kayak he built and launched in 1997.

    Published by Polar Bear & Company, of Maine, an imprint of the non-profit Solon Center for Research and Publishing – head office: PO Box 311, Solon, ME  04979. In town location: 20 Main Street, Rockland, ME  04841.

    Available online including Barnes&Noble.com, Amazon.com, and at local bookstores by request, or directly from the publisher.

    $14.95

    ISBN 978-1-882190-45-4882190812

  • John Willey brings a boatyard to life in a memoir unique to Maine’s boat building history - booksignings

     

    John Willey brings a craftsman’s day to life in A Winter’s Apprentice as he shares insights into a Maine boatyard, where he worked and kept a journal from 1978 to ’79 in his book, A Winter’s Apprentice. John's perspectives are unique coming from being a scholar and private investigator. He knew he was working among a group of outstanding craftsmen and involved in a dying art that he has now preserved in his writings.

    “Before it ever leaves its building shed, a yacht will take its makers on unimagined journeys. This one only begins in East Boothbay, Maine,” said Willey.

    As the historian John Gardner confirms, until relatively recently boatbuilding was not recorded—the life of the yard crew even less so. Here is a rare and vibrant narrative from a winter apprentice.

    “It’s great, it really is great. I can see it, and see it all—smell it, taste it, and feel it. The shop and crew and Paul came through life size. I was there with you, every blessed, excruciating, wonderful minute…“Last night after supper, I sat down with it and didn’t get up until I had finished, about 2 a.m,” endorses John Gardner on the book’s back, historian, designer and builder of wooden boats, author of books including Building Classic Small Craft.

    John Willey enthusiastically recommends others to become apprentices of the trade.

    “The practice has worked well for more centuries than we can count. In every one of the great scholarly traditions, including but not limited to law and medicine and teaching, the best of us get that way by first attaching ourselves to the principles of what we want to know, and to the men and women who use and exemplify those principles to grow beyond them.”

    He has a special affinity to crafting wood. As a teen growing up at Good Will-Hinckley in central Maine, he made his first boat with a friend, in his free time when he wasn’t avidly reading. Working in a boat yard seemed to be a natural course to take.

    “As soon as I began work at Paul's yard I was dazzled, smitten, and wanted to preserve what I learned as completely as I could. After about four or five weeks it dawned on me I had something close to chapters for a book, along with detailed letters I’d written to my dad,” said John.

    Willey sought advise from professionals before completing his book.

    “John Gardner answered my first letter to him, and was so enthusiastic and reassuring I thought I actually had a book under way. He was always there, encouraging, and I knew he knew what he was talking about, even when I did not.” 

    Willey’s stories and sage insights will resonate with any reader who has had to leave one career and transition into another.

    Sherman’s Bookstores of Maine will host booksignings with John Willey the following dates:

    1. Sat. Aug. 11th –1:00: Sherman's of Boothbay Harbor, 5 Commercial St., Boothbay Harbor, ME 04538
    1. Sat. Aug. 18th – 1:00: Sherman's of Portland, 49 Exchange St., Portland, ME 04101
    1. Sat. Aug. 25th –1:00: Sherman's of Damariscotta, 158 Main St., Damariscotta, ME 04543
    1. Tues. Sept. 10th – 1:00: Sherman's of Bar Harbor, 56 Main St., Bar Harbor, ME 04609

    More about the author:

    John had been an independent private investigator in San Francisco when he was told by his doctor to find less hectic work in a more peaceful setting if he wanted to live longer. So, at midlife, he and his wife returned to Maine.

    John has been a farmhand, janitor, jackhammer operator, U.S. Marine, choir member (bass), sailor, private investigator, electrician, boat builder, cabinetmaker, mason, and long served on the board of his beloved Good Will-Hinckley. In the summertime, he paddles an eighteen-foot sea kayak he built and launched in 1997.

    Published by Polar Bear & Company, of Maine, an imprint of the non-profit Solon Center for Research and Publishing – head office: PO Box 311, Solon, ME  04979. In town location: 20 Main Street, Rockland, ME  04841.

    Available online including Barnes&Noble.com, Amazon.com, and at local bookstores by request, or directly from the publisher.

    $14.95

    ISBN 978-1-882190-45-4882190812

  • Former DOC Commissioner Patrick McGowan's modern day Robin Hood page-turner, One Good Thing — booksigning schedule

     

    Patrick McGowan weaves the spirit of adventure and social justice into his first novel in a twenty-first century Robin Hood story—with a twist. Our avengers take to the skies over the wilds of northern Maine and remote Canada risking everything in a mad-caped scheme to kidnap a couple of crooked, greedy billionaires.

    McGowan was on Bill Green's Maine, TV show, June 23rd. Green traveled to Rangeley, Maine to interview the author. Patrick entertained Maine audiences with unique stories about Maine and personalities he has known.

    Sherman’s Bookstores of Maine will host booksignings with Patrick McGowan the following dates:

     Sat. Aug. 11th –1:00: 158 Main St., Damariscotta, ME 04543

     Sat. Aug. 25th –1:00: Sherman's of Boothbay Harbor, Commercial St., Boothbay Harbor, ME 04538

     Sat. Sept 15th – 1:00: Sherman's of Portland, 49 Exchange St., Portland, ME 04101

     Sun Sept. 16th: Sherman's of Bar Harbor, 56 Main St., Bar Harbor, ME 04609

     Sat. Sept. 22nd – 1:00: Sherman's of Camden, 14 Main St., Camden, ME 04843

    Patrick McGowan’s descriptions of flying over the northern woods and fishing are awe-inspiring. His gripping novel is hard to put down. A great summer read. 

    One Good Thing brings Patrick McGowan’s public service, floatplane adventures, and love of storytelling to the public. McGowan campaigned for single-payer health coverage in a congressional race in 1990 and has never given up on this bold idea for America.

    “During the winter of 2014-15 we lost power over the entire Christmas holiday. Luckily I had this story in my head for a book. I started writing," said McGowan. “It’s an adventure story with purpose.”

    More about the book:

    Mac McCabe, the owner of Allagash Air, flies wealthy customers into the wilderness to unforgettable and often life-changing experiences, camping, fishing, and hunting. When the man behind the deal to close the local paper mill forces Mac’s airplane into a deadly spin with his jet, Mac dreams up a plan to get even. He recruits the military discipline of his brother-in-law, the skills of a journalist and a beautiful computer expert to form his band of thieves.

    The personal motives of Mac McCabe’s merry band often put them at odds, raising the tension level with nail biting situations. But McCabe never wavers from his goal to do one good thing—correct an injustice to a Maine community and create a universal health care system for America.

    More about the author:

    Patrick K. McGowan was born in Bangor, Maine, and raised in Somerset County. He learned to fly at the age of sixteen and began a lifetime of adventure and backcountry bush flying. Inspired by his home state, a place of magnificent beauty, he began a public service career, which included being a legislator, presidential appointee, and member of a governor’s cabinet as the Commissioner of the Department of Conservation. 

    He has owned and operated many small businesses over four decades.

    His drive for continued adventure included ten years as a skydiver, forty years as a floatplane and backcountry airplane pilot and multiple Maine canoe trips. McGowan is an accomplished conservationist.

    Published by Polar Bear & Company, of Maine, an imprint of the non-profit Solon Center for Research and Publishing – head office: PO Box 311, Solon, ME  04979. In town location: 20 Main Street, Rockland, ME  04841.

    Available online including Barnes&Noble.com, Amazon.com, and at local bookstores by request, or directly from the publisher.

     $17.95/Pages: 260 .  ISBN-13: 978-1882190812

  • Owner of an established bookstore in Waterville asks Sen. Snow if she will vote for Kavanaugh and she respond

    Owner of an established book store in Waterville asks Sen. Snow if she will vote for Kavanaugh and she responds.
    The letter written by Robert Sezak:

    I cannot in good conscience support, let alone consider, Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be appointed to the United States Supreme Court.  Kavanaugh has espoused a severely misguided belief that the president is essentially above the law.
    In his article in the 2009 Minnesota Law Review, Kavanaugh expresses the belief that a president should be immune from “civil suits, criminal investigations, or criminal prosecutions” during their time in office. And in 1998, Kavanaugh wrote, “Congress should give back to the President the full power to act when he believes that a particular independent counsel is ‘out to get him:
    The result the Supreme Court reached in Clinton v. Jones27 — that presidents are not constitutionally entitled to deferral of civil suits — may well have been entirely correct; that is beyond the scope of this inquiry. But the Court in Jones stated that Congress is free to provide a temporary deferral of civil suits while the President is in office.28 Congress may be wise to do so, just as it has done for certain members of the military.29 Deferral would allow the President to focus on the vital duties he was elected to perform.
    Congress should consider doing the same, moreover, with respect to criminal investigations and prosecutions of the President.30 In particular, Congress might consider a law exempting a President — while in office — from criminal prosecution and investigation, including from questioning by criminal prosecutors or defense counsel. Criminal investigations targeted at or revolving around a President are inevitably politicized by both their supporters and critics. As I have written before, “no Attorney General or special counsel will have the necessary credibility to avoid the inevitable charges that he is politically motivated — whether in favor of the President or against him, depending on the individual leading the investigation and its results.”31  The indictment and trial of a sitting President, moreover, would cripple the federal government, rendering it unable to function with credibility in either the international or domestic arenas. Such an outcome would ill serve the public interest, especially in times of financial or national security crisis.
    Even the lesser burdens of a criminal investigation— including preparing for questioning by criminal investigators— are time-consuming and distracting. Like civil suits, criminal investigations take the President’s focus away from his or her responsibilities to the people. And a President who is concerned about an ongoing criminal investigation is almost inevitably going to do a worse job as President.
    This appeal may sound good and be well intentioned but is in fact more of an emotional appeal than one founded in law.   "A President who is concerned about an ongoing criminal investigation is almost inevitably going to do a worse job as President” states Kavanaugh. Yet to delay justice will surely increase any persons concern and cause one to do a worse job as the inevitable is put off and put off.  The legal maxim "Justice delayed is justice denied” means that if legal redress is available for a party that has suffered some injury, but is not forthcoming in a timely fashion, it is effectively the same as having no redress at all.  If there is to be a plaintiff and a defendant and the President is to be the defendant, does not denial of the right of trail to the plaintiff  harm the plaintiff as much if not more than the defendant?  Should the President bring suit upon another party than may that party have the right to postpone legal actions until such time as the President is out of office?   This is not jurisprudence.
    That Kavanaugh has  encouraged such an dire and hazardous opinion and such an alarming notion that the president is essentially above the law leads me to the conclusion that Kavanaugh has no place on the United States Supreme Court.  
    To place any person above the law, for any reason, strikes at all laws to be null and void.
    Sincerely,
    Robert Sezak
    18 Bunker Ave
    Fairfield, ME 04937
    Sen. Collin's letter to Sezak:

    Dear Mr. Sezak,

              Thank you for contacting me regarding the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the United States Supreme Court. I appreciate your taking the time to do so.

              Over the past thirty years, the handling of Supreme Court vacancies has become increasingly contentious, and this time is no exception. It is the constitutional duty of senators to give our advice and either give or withhold our consent for judicial nominations. As with all judicial nominees, but especially for a Supreme Court Justice, I will consider carefully Judge Kavanaugh’s intellect, integrity, qualifications, experience, temperament, and respect for precedent, the rule of law, and the Constitution. This is the approach I have taken with every judicial nominee who has come before me, including Supreme Court Justices nominated by Presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump.  

              I do not, however, disqualify or approve judges because of their personal beliefs. As a result, the nominees I have voted to confirm span the ideological spectrum. For example, I supported the nominations of both Justice Sotomayor, the Court’s most liberal member, and Justice Alito, who is among the Court’s most conservative justices.  

              I look forward to Judge Kavanaugh’s public hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee and to questioning him in a meeting in my office.

              Again, thank you for contacting me.

    Sincerely,

    Susan M. Collins
    United States Senator

    P.S.  If you would like to receive weekly updates about my work on behalf of Maine in the United States Senate, you can subscribe to my e-newsletter by clicking here.

  • Maine's Oxford Water District to receive a USDA Water and Waste Disposal Loan

    By Ramona du Houx

    Maine's Oxford Water District will receive a Water and Waste Disposal Loan in the amount of $500,000, adding a 15-horsepower well pump and an aeration system. The District also will modify the well pump and interior/exterior piping, make electrical upgrades, and add integration controls to reduce acidity levels. These upgrades will help reduce corrosiveness, decrease lead and copper levels, and provide for redundancy in the event of extended power outages. This funding will help the District to provide safe clean drinking water to its 398 users.

    USDA Rural Development State Director Timothy P. Hobbs said, “USDA Rural Development is a major partner in ensuring that Maine’s rural communities have access to clean drinking water and properly working wastewater infrastructure. I am pleased that we could assist Oxford Water District with key upgrades to its infrastructure, helping it to continue to provide reliable quality drinking water for the community.”

    Eligible rural communities and water districts can apply online for funding to maintain, modernize or build water and wastewater systems. They can visit the interactive RD Apply tool, or they can apply through one of USDA Rural Development’s state or field offices.

    USDA is providing the funding through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program. It can be used to finance drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems for rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.

    Meanwhile cities like Flint, MI are still suffering from lead posioning that could have been avoided. But Flint doesn't have funds for loans.

  • Maine's Merrymeeting Bay Rare Mud Plant Walk

    Join Friends of Merrymeeting Bay (FOMB) on Saturday afternoon August 18th from 1:30-3:30 pm for walk amongst the rare mud plants of Merrymeeting Bay at Choice View Farm in Dresden.

    The walk will be led by Justin Schlawin, ecologist with the Maine Natural Areas Program. Merrymeeting Bay is home to a dozen rare mud plants, some like Eaton’s bur-marigold (Bidens eatonii) and Parker’s pipewort (Eriocaulon parkeri) considered globally rare.

    This spectacular site, near the mouth of the Eastern River was protected by FOMB in 2001 from development of a five-home subdivision. It was purchased with funds from Land for Maine’s Future, Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, the North American Waterfowl Conservation Act, The Nature Conservancy and a variety of other grantors along with individual donations.

    Choice View Farm offers one of two excellent Bay views from a numbered state road (the other from Rte. 24 in Bowdoinham) and ownership was transferred from FOMB to the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Shortnose sturgeon, an endangered species have been known to winter in the lower Eastern River just off the Farm and when doing a phase 1 archaeology survey (a condition of LMF grants) of the property, an important prehistoric camping site was found. This triggered a substantial archaeological dig, in a joint venture between Maine Historic Preservation Commission and FOMB. Choice View turned out to be quite a hot spot for rare mud plants.

    Along with the globally rare species cited above, the following rare plants have also been found in the 9 acres of wetland below Choice View’s 16 acres of upland: mudwort (Limosella autralis), pygmyweed (Crassula aquatic), estuary bur-marigold (Bidens hyperborean), horned pondweed (Zanichellia palustris]) spongy arrowhead (Sagittaria calycina), and stiff arrowhead (Sagittaria rigida).

    Event:             Merrymeeting Bay Rare Mud Plant Walk
    When:             Saturday August 18th, 1:30-3:30 pm
    Where:           Choice View Farm, Dresden
    Registration:  Ed Friedman, 666-3372

    Leading this walk is Justin Schlawin, ecologist with the Maine Natural Areas Program, now part of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. FOMB’s Summer Outside! Series is the warm weather counterpart to their popular Winter Speaker Series.

    This event is free and open to the public. Pre-registration with Ed Friedman at 666-3372 is required. The next FOMB Outside 2018! event will be the ever-popular Swan Island outing, September 7th from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm with Friends of Swan Island president, Jay Robbins. Pre-register with Jay at 737-2239. This outing requires an $8 Island fee.

  • Democrats in Maine stood up for electricity customers-Rep Seth Berry

    Op-ed by Rep. Seth Berry, House chair of the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee. Rep. Berry represents House District 55: Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Swan Island and most of Richmond. He previously served from 2006-2014, the final two years as House majority leader.   

    When it comes to our electricity bills, Mainers deserve to be treated with fairness and honesty. It’s a matter of basic trust.  And when that trust was broken several months ago, the Legislature fought back on your behalf.

    I’m Representative Seth Berry of Bowdoinham, and I’m the co-chair of the Energy Committee, which oversees all the utilities in our state.

    Shortly after the big windstorm last October, Central Maine Power customers began to complain about unusually large bills. Many people’s bills doubled or tripled – even the bills of some people who were without power for over a week because of the storm.

    As my colleagues and I began to investigate, hold hearings and ask questions, it became clear that something had gone very wrong. State regulators backed up our conclusion when they opened a formal investigation, and now there is a class action lawsuit alleging that nearly 300,000 homes and businesses may have been overcharged.

    We also discovered something else strange and disturbing – the law on the books said that you, the electricity customer, had to pay for regulators to investigate the electric companies, even if that investigation found the company at fault.

    To understand how unfair that is, imagine someone robs your house, and then you get a bill in the mail from the police after they catch the suspect.   

    That’s why my committee got to work on changing the law. Democrats worked hard to convince our Republican colleagues that this was the right thing to do.

    And I’m proud to say that – after a long negotiation – we were successful. The new law – called “the Riley Amendment” after Representative Tina Riley of Jay – allows Maine’s Public Utilities Commission to start charging power company shareholders – and not customers – for investigations when the company is at fault.

    It also allows the PUC to establish independent audits, so that we can keep a close eye on the power companies’ meters and billing systems to make sure you’re not being overcharged. 

    When it comes to consumer protection, there’s still a long way to go. But I’m proud of the steps we took, and I’m looking forward to doing more. 

    Maine families and small businesses watch every penny, whether we’re trying to cool down our homes in the summer or keep the furnace going in the winter. Those efforts to save money should be respected – not wiped away by a computer glitch.

    As we look ahead to a new legislature and a new governor next year, we need to make sure our incoming leaders are people who will stand up for you when a large corporation treats you unfairly. Democrats will be there fighting to make sure all utilities put their customers first.

  • LePage veto puts 70,000 at risk - healthcare advocates encourage sign up despite LePage actions

      By Ramona du Houx

    Maine Equal Justice Partners today encouraged Mainers who believe that they are eligible for health care coverage under the state’s Medicaid expansion law to file an application with the Department of Health and Human Services.

    “Medicaid expansion – and coverage for more than 70,000 Mainers – is the law,” said Kathy Kilrain del Rio, policy analyst for MEJP. “People who believe that they might be eligible for health care coverage should file an application, which will help to protect their rights to coverage.”

    Under the Medicaid expansion law, newly eligible Mainers can begin to apply for coverage beginning July 2, 2018. 

    Despite court orders to the contrary and funding from the Legislature, Gov. Paul LePage and his administration have not taken steps necessary to implement Medicaid expansion. 

    LePage’s willingness to ignore the law means that it is unlikely that newly eligible applicants will receive health care coverage immediately, but by filing an application they may become eligible for retroactive coverage.

    Maine Equal Justice Partners has developed an online tool available at www.mejp.org to help people determine if they are eligible for coverage through expansion.

    Mainers who believe they might be eligible can also call Maine Equal Justice’s hotline at 1-866-626-7059 for help with applying and to understand their rights.

    “Today, by law, more than 70,000 Mainers should have new access to health insurance and to the promise of a longer and healthier life that goes with it. My job, with each patient, is to help them achieve health. Health insurance saves lives,”Dr. Renee Fay-LeBlanc, chief medical officer at Greater Portland Health said.

    Here’s where the process stands.

    In November, voters overwhelmingly approved Medicaid expansion, but LePage refused to implement it. In April, a group of advocates and impacted individuals sued to force the LePage administration to implement the law.

    On June 4, the Maine Superior Court agreed with the people and ordered the LePage administration to begin the process of implementation by filing a State Plan Amendment, which allows the state to draw down federal funding, 90 percent of the total cost, to support expansion.

    On June 20, The Maine Supreme Judicial Court put that order on hold until July 18, when it will hear oral arguments on the administration’s request to hold off on submitting the state plan until the appeal is decided. That order does not impact the July 2 date in the Medicaid expansion law. 

    Also on June 20, the Legislature passed legislation to fund the full cost of expansion based on the cost estimated by the governor, taking away his last excuse for blocking access to health care. 

    Despite LePage’s promised veto of the funding bill, the funds are available to provide health coverage to people who are eligible until at least May 2019. The law the voters passed is still binding.

    Importantly, the Legislature will have an opportunity to override LePage’s veto.

    For more information about the Maine Equal Justice Partners, visit: www.mejp.org.

  • N.C. Wyeth: Poems of American Patriotism at Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine

    Photos and Article by Ramona du Houx

    The Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland presented an opening lecture the museum’s Curator Michael Komanecky by for the exhibition “N.C. Wyeth: Poems of American Patriotism.”

     Wyeth’s illustrations in two anthologies were inspired by Americans’ long-standing familiarity with and appreciation for poetry, and in particular its love of works by the so-called “Schoolroom Poets” — Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Walt Whitman, and John Greenleaf Whittier, among others.

    Komanecky’s presentation focused on the context in which the two anthologies of poems were created, including Wyeth’s role as illustrator.

    The exhibition “N.C. Wyeth: Poems of American Patriotism” opened to the public on June 16, 2018. At the members’ preview the evening before local children dressed up in the traditional Revolutionary War Blue Coat uniforms.

  • Maine’s University and Community College Systems need a big investment to compete

    Editorial by Representative Erik Jorgensen.

     If we want to give young people the best chance earn a good living right here in Maine, then we need to make a meaningful investment in our state’s University and Community College systems right away.

    Here in the Maine Legislature, we are pushing hard to make that happen.

    I’m proud to sponsor LD 836, a bond proposal that could upgrade all Maine public higher education campuses and will benefit every town. The bond will pay for improvements to bring both the University and Community College systems into the 21st century, where they can provide an even bigger benefit to Maine’s economy.

    Last year we provided critical support for science facilities at the University of Maine. This new bond extends that work, providing carefully targeted investments at the other university campuses and in our community colleges.

    The UMaine system has emerged from a period of hard choices, staff reductions, and belt tightening, and is now seeing higher enrollments due to increased out-of-state recruitment.  This is very good news for our state.

    The story of our community colleges is equally impressive. They are serving more students across the state while keeping costs in check.

    Both systems ensure Maine provides a quality education at a very good price. But keeping tuition flat, while critical for students, has made it harder to pay for major improvements.

    The bond would be matched at least 1 to 1 with other funds – both private and federal – multiplying our buying power and ensuring our campuses teach the skills that Maine businesses say they need most in the workforce.

    For the University part of the bond, highlights include doubling engineering teaching capacity at USM, as well as cybersecurity and computer science labs. U Maine Farmington will get a new child development and education center in Farmington. There will be a four-year nursing education program in Central and Southern Aroostook County through a UMaine Fort Kent and UMaine Presque Isle partnership. There will be educational support centers for new and nontraditional students at UMaine Augusta’s Augusta and Bangor campuses. It will purchase desperately needed marine science classrooms in Machias. University of Southern Maine will get a new student and career services center, which will transform the Portland campus.

    To keep our kids in Maine and attract those from out of state, our college and university facilities must be competitive. Maine’s public higher education system draws nearly six-thousand young people from elsewhere to Maine each year - those are future workers and taxpayers. But while out-of-state recruitment adds considerably to the bottom line of these campuses, in-state students also have expectations for facilities that are up to date.

    This bond is an investment that will cost less than a single new high school, but it’s one that will surely bring more students, jobs, investment and opportunities to our public university and community college campuses.  Economic development requires a well-trained workforce, and these campuses are our primary tool for creating that workforce. By passing this bond, we would be investing in Maine's future economic success.

  • Maine lawmakers enact Gatttine’s bill to treat opioid addiction for homeless

    Bill sets up pilot treatment program for the homeless

    By Ramona du Houx

    The Maine State Legislature enacted Rep. Drew Gattine’s proposal June 21, 2018 to help homeless gain access to addiction therapy. The vote was unanimous in the House and 16-15 in the Senate.

    This is a civil rights issue.

    “Opioid addiction has unique and particularly devastating impacts on Mainers who are already vulnerable and at risk, like the homeless,” said Gattine, D-Westbrook. “In spite of the important things we’ve tried over the past few years, things are getting worse for homeless Mainers.”

     This bill, LD 1711, directs the Department of Health and Human Services to create programs to provide a bundle of services specifically designed to meet the challenges faced by people who are of extremely low income and homeless. It recognizes that people in this vulnerable situation need more than just medical treatment but also social supports, including housing assistance and intensive case management.  As a pilot program, enrollment will be limited to 25 individuals.

    “These are people who struggle every day to meet their most basic needs of food and shelter, and simply offering traditional treatment in traditional settings is an inadequate approach to helping them manage and maintain recovery,” Gattine said. “We need to meet them where they are to have a chance to really help them.” 

    The bill now goes to the governor, who has 10 days to sign the bill into law, veto it or allow it to become law without his signature.

    Gattine represents part of Westbrook and is in his third term in the Legislature. He serves as the House chair of the Appropriations Committee.

     

  • Maine lawmakers give final approval to “fair chance” hiring measure

     

    The Maine Senate gave final approval June 21, 2018 to a measure that would change the way state government employers ask job applicants about their criminal records. The vote was 30-2.

    “Allowing for a real conversation around an applicant’s qualifications as well as his or her past not only benefits those with an arrest or conviction record but also their kids and families, our economy and our state as a whole,” said Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross,  the bill’s sponsor. “An arrest or conviction record has devastating consequences for employment. This is a step toward making the process fairer for qualified job seekers who want to work.”

    The measure will delay questions about a job applicant’s criminal record until later in the hiring process. State government employers will still be allowed to ask about past convictions, but applicants will have the chance to first present their qualifications as well as the opportunity to give additional contextual information about any conviction.

    Thirty states already have statewide laws or policies to “ban the box,” and 10 of these forbid the inclusion of conviction history questions on job applications for private as well as public employers. More than 150 cities and counties nationwide have adopted similar policies.

     At a public hearing on the bill, Kenney Miller, executive director of the Health Equity Alliance, testified that changing the hiring process will help individuals recovering from addiction.

    “Employment is key to giving people the sense of purpose, a reason to struggle on. It gives them a livelihood that can sustain their recovery, and support their independence,” Miller told lawmakers. “However, many people in recovery struggle with the dual stigma of the label of drug user or addict and that of felon. This permanent label is incredibly disruptive. It prevents them from being able to truly leave their past behind, from rebuilding their lives in the wake of drugs.”

    LD 1566 now heads to the governor’s desk. He has 10 days to sign, veto or allow the measure to become law without his signature.

    Talbot Ross is serving her first term in the Maine House. A member of the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, she represents part of Portland, including the neighborhoods of Parkside, Bayside, East Bayside, Oakdale and the University of Southern Maine campus.

     

  • Full Plates Full Potential awards summer grants to feed hungry Maine children

    Twenty-one programs and over $53,000 invested

    By Ramona du Houx

    During the school year too many children from low income families rely on school meals being their one meal of the day. Federal and state cuts to programs have made states like Maine food insecure. What do these kids do during the summer months for food?

    In 2014, Full Plates Full Potential got underway. It is Maine’s only statewide child hunger organization. FPFP does it’s work by partnering with other hunger relief organizations, granting funds to schools and nonprofits  providing technical support to grantees and working with chefs, businesses and others to end child hunger. 

    Full Plates Full Potential (FPFP) has just awarded twenty-one statewide summer food service program grants totaling over $53,000. Summer sites will run from the end of June until the end of August and serve free meals to anyone 18 years old and younger. Summer grants range from $500 to over $6,300 and fund critical investments to feed more kids such as: equipment for sites, transportation, enrichment activities, outreach, staffing and food costs.    

    This summer an unprecedented amount of applications and funding requests were received. Thirty one applications were reviewed, requesting over $100,000. There are over 400 summer food service program across the state that served just over 750,000 meals last year.  

    “Summer time is a frightening period for a hungry child,” said Anna Korsen, Program Director for Full Plates Full Potential “these summer sites will potentially serve 43,893 additional meals to children whose bodies and minds need nutritious meals. Additionally, many of our summer sites will pilot best practices that could help many more children in 2019.”

    FPFP collaborated for the third year in a row with Good Shepherd Food Bank to run the summer grant program. Additionally, FPFP partnered with the Horizon Foundation and many FPFP Feed Kids Vendors like Bissell Brothers, IDEXX Laboratories, Big Tree Hospitality, and the Brew Bus to raise critical additional funding.

    “Full Plates Full Potential is so grateful to our partners. Their generosity means we can reach so many more kids and families this summer” said Justin Alfond, a director at Full Plates Full Potential. “Summer sites are playing bigger and bigger roles in our communities. They serve great nutritious meals, and offer fun programing for children allowing kids to have fun.”

    "The grant funding will allow us to take the next step in our summer program, said Wendy Collins, School Nutrition Director at Kittery School Department.. “We purchased a hot oven with the grant -- the oven will allow our program to offer a larger variety of food, kids will be happier and it will increase our participation. I can’t thank Full Plates Full Potential enough for supporting communities address food insecurity."

    Website: www.fullplates.org;

  • Senate Farm Bill the Right Approach For Tackling Maine’s Growing Hunger Issues

    During the markup of the Senate Farm Bill, introduced as the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, on June 13th, anti-hunger advocacy groups including Good Shepherd Food Bank, Preble Street and Maine Equal Justice Partners praised the bill’s bipartisan effort to strengthen the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program, which is critical for hungry Mainers.

     Unlike the highly partisan House Farm Bill, H.R. 2, which failed to pass in the House in early June, the Senate’s bill could help stem Maine’s growing hunger problem. More than 16 percent of Maine households are food insecure, placing the state 7thin the nation overall, and the trend is worsening.

    “Maine should insist on a Farm Bill that strengthens and protects SNAP because it’s the single most effective tool we have for feeding hungry Maine families,” said Clara McConnell, director of public affairs at Good Shepherd Food Bank. “Food banks like ours offer essential food assistance, but cannot substitute for SNAP, which provides a regular source of nutritious food at a scale far greater than what charities do, and in a more accessible way. This is about families being able to put enough food on the table, and kids having enough breakfast in their bellies to learn and grow.”

    The Senate bill strengthens SNAP by testing new tools to further improve program integrity, supporting states like Maine that want to try innovative solutions to helping SNAP participants get and keep a job, and enhancing access and reducing burdensome paperwork for older Mainers and people with disabilities. 

    Advocates expressed support for the bill as drafted by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow and urged US Sen. Susan Collins and US Sen. King to support the bill without any harmful amendments that could weaken SNAP.

    Preble Street’s executive director Mark Swann added, “We encourage Maine’s senators to follow the committee’s lead in protecting SNAP by opposing any amendments that would cut SNAP or make harmful changes that would take away food assistance from struggling families in Maine.”  

    While the Senate bill provides adequate funding and promotes program integrity in SNAP, the advocates expressed a desire to work with Maine’s Senate delegation to improve funding levels for the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), a critical source of food for millions of individuals and families across the country. 

    The organizations applauded the Senate for not following the House’s lead on harsh and unworkable time limits and work requirements for SNAP recipients, a policy which Maine has tested unsuccessfully since 2014. In Maine’s experimentwith work requirements, thousands have lost benefits without finding work, leaving them hungrier and with few or no places to turn.  

    Chris Hastedt from Maine Equal Justice Partners cautioned, “Partisan changes to the SNAP program along the lines of Maine’s failed model wouldn’t alleviate hunger or help people find work. They would only make it harder for parents, people with disabilities, older workers, low-wage workers and people temporarily in between jobs to get enough to eat. The Senate is taking the right approach by providing more work-supporting policies and maintaining benefits for people in need.”

  • ‘Forlorn Hope,’ story of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery in Civil War, to premiere June 18 in Bucksport

    The Maine State Archives, producer Dan Lambert, and the Alamo Theatre are co-hosting the premiere showing of “Forlorn Hope,” Lambert’s documentary film recounting the charge of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment at Petersburg, Virginia, on June 18, 1864. 

    The half-hour documentary will be shown at 2 p.m. at the Alamo, home of Northeast Historic Film, 85 Main Street, Bucksport, on the 154th anniversary of the Regiment’s charge, Monday, June 18, 2018.

    “Dan Lambert’s documentary captures the story of the 1st Maine Heavy’s ‘Forlorn Hope,’” said State Archivist David Cheever. “Matching the care he took in his earlier documentary about the sacrifice of the 16th Maine Regiment at the Battle of Gettysburg, he has added a skilled narrative to one of the bravest, and most tragic, attacks in the Civil War.” 

    The 1st Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment is recognized as having suffered the greatest loss of men in a single battle of any Union unit in the war: The regiment arrived on the outskirts of Petersburg on June 16, 1864, and were told to wait there to allow the Army of the Potomac to assemble more fully. The two days the Union force spent waiting allowed the Confederate Army to reinforce its defensive position at Petersburg such that when the order came for the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery to make a full-frontal charge upon the entrenched Confederates, the Maine men were greeted with concentrated weapons fire.

    More than 850 soldiers undertook the charge. In fewer than 10 minutes, more than 630 men had fallen, either killed or wounded, and the Confederates would not allow the wounded to be recovered or the dead retrieved. Afterwards, General George Gordon Meade announced that there would never be another full-frontal assault conducted on an entrenched enemy position.

    The make-up of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery included hundreds of men from the Penobscot River area, extending through Hancock and Penobscot counties.

     

    “The Alamo Theatre is an appropriate choice for the premiere because towns such as Bucksport, Orland, Orrington and Bangor suffered the loss of many men in that charge,” Cheever said.

     

    There is no admission fee for the premiere. A second showing immediately following the first will be held, should the need arise. Producer/director Dan Lambert will be present to discuss the film with attendees.

  • Free park entry day, June 17, 2018 for all Maine Residents

    Free park entry day, June 17, 2018 for all Maine Residents! All vehicles bearing Maine license plates will be allowed free entry to Maine State Parks and Historic Sites; From 9:00 A.M. until Closing.

    No rain date will be available.

    Learn more about Maine State Parks at: www.parksandlands.com

    Free park entry includes: Androscoggin Riverlands, Aroostook, Birch Point, Bradbury Mountain, Camden Hills, Cobscook Bay, Colburn House, Colonial Pemaquid, Crescent Beach, Damariscotta Lake, Eagle Island, Ferry Beach, Fort Edgecomb, Fort Kent, Fort Knox, Fort McClary, Fort Point, Fort Popham, Fort Pownall, Fort O'Brien, Grafton Notch, Holbrook Island, Lamoine, Lake St George, Lily Bay, Moose Point, Mt Blue, Owls Head Light, Peaks-Kenny, Popham Beach, Quoddy Head, Range Pond, Rangeley Lake, Reid, Roque Bluffs, Two Lights, Sebago Lake, Shackford Head, Swan Lake, Vaughan Woods, Warren Island, Wolfe's Neck Woods

    *The open admission does not apply to Acadia National Park, the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, Baxter State Park, Peacock Beach, Scarborough Beach State Park, Swan Island, the ME Wildlife Park, the Penobscot River Corridor, or the Penobscot Narrows Observatory in Prospect, though admission to Fort Knox State Historic Site will be free that day.

  • Court Rules LePage Administration Has To Follow Medicaid Expansion Law


    By Ramona du Houx

    The Maine Superior Court today ruled that the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the LePage administration must follow the voter-passed Medicaid expansion law and submit a State Plan Amendment. 

    The court set a deadline of June 11, 2018 for DHHS to comply.

    “Today is a victory for the 70,000 Mainers who stand to gain coverage from Medicaid expansion and for everyone who believes that health care should be a right for all, not just a privilege for a wealthy few. Thanks to today’s ruling, Governor Paul LePage will finally be forced to respect the will of Maine’s voters who voted overwhelmingly to expand Medicaid last November,” said the Democratic National Chairman Tom Perez. “It’s time for Republicans like LePage to stop playing political games with the health care of their own constituents and start getting serious about joining Democratic efforts to make it easier, not harder, for every family to access the care they deserve.”

    Maine Equal Justice Partners, (MEJP) Consumers for Affordable Health Care, Maine Primary Care Association, Penobscot Community Health Care and five individuals sued the Maine Department of Health and Human Services on April 30, 2018.

    “The governor cannot ignore the law,” said Robyn Merrill, executive director for MEJP. “Maine voters did not make a request at the ballot, they passed a law, and laws are not optional. Today’s ruling is good news for more than 70,000 Mainers who the law says can sign up for health care on July 2, 2018.” 

    The law Maine voters passed in November of 2017 required the state to file paperwork – a State Plan Amendment – with the federal government on April 3, 2018 so that Maine can draw down federal matching funds that will cover most of the costs for Medicaid expansion.  

    The LePage administration refused to file the State Plan Amendment. 

    The pro bono legal team in the expansion case is led by James Kilbreth and David Kallin of Drummond Woodsum, and includes Jack Comart of Maine Equal Justice and Charlie Dingman of PretiFlaherty.

    Maine Equal Justice Partners is a civil legal aid organization that represents Maine people with low income in areas of economic security, including access to health care. 

    Photo: Concerned citizens protested outside the Maine State Capitol when Governor LePage was giving his State of the State address. Their message: obey the law Governor and implement the healthcare we the people voted for.

  • Maine's Brooklin Boat Yard launches custom 91-foot Sloop

    By Ramona du Houx

    The Brooklin Boat Yard of Brooklin, Maine, has completed construction and launched a 91-foot custom cold-molded sloop. Built for a repeat customer, SONNY III is a high-performance cruising yacht designed for daysailing and blue-water passages. Construction on SONNY III took 18 months; the finished yacht launched last month and was christened in May 2018. She is just completed sea trials.
    "We're proud to provide SONNY's owner with a yacht that performs to his high expectations and accommodates his unique needs," said Steve White, president of Brooklin Boat Yard. "He's been a great collaborator on every boat we've built for him. This was a true challenge that required a lot of teamwork - a highly customized, 91-foot yacht built in only a year and a half."
     
    Designed by Bruce Johnson and the Brooklin Boat Yard design office, SONNY III is a larger replacement for the owner's current 70-foot yacht, also built by Brooklin Boat Yard. The owner is a retired senior with limited mobility who requested a yacht with more accessibility. SONNY III provides numerous solutions to the owner's mobility concerns, including chair lifts at each companionway, a power reclining chair in the master cabin, a side-boarding ladder and a transom-boarding platform.
     
    SONNY III has classic styling, including a completely flush deck. The yacht has an aggressively raked bow and reverse transom, a teak deck and a varnished teak toe rail. Her twin cockpit configuration keeps guests safe in the center cockpit while all sail handling is in the aft working cockpit. Low, varnished-teak cockpit coamings and canvas dodgers protect each companionway opening.
     
    "I consider SONNY III a great accomplishment," said designer Bruce Johnson. "I would expect a design process of six months for a yacht of this size and complexity before the yard could even begin to cut wood. Due to the aggressive build schedule we began construction six weeks after we started working with the owner. This project could not have been possible without Brooklin Boat Yard's in-house designers who were invaluable, producing exceptional construction drawings."
     
    SONNY III has a double headsail rig operated by hydraulic furlers that were built by Harken. The non-overlapping headsail configuration with chainplates pushed outboard greatly reduces loads and allows for a smaller mast section, winches and hardware. The mainsail has hydraulic in-boom furling. The carbon mast is from Offshore Spars with 3Di sails by North Sails.
     
    The interior layout includes a crew cabin forward with private head and stall shower, two guest staterooms forward of the mast, one with ensuite head and stall shower and the other with a day head, also with separate shower. The interior is finished in Herreshoff style with white and cream paintwork offset by American cherry joinery, leather upholstery and a teak and maple cabin sole.
     
    SONNY III's hull and deck have carbon reinforcements in specific high-load areas. The ballast keel is a steel foil with integral tanks and a lead bulb. The rudder is a carbon spade design.
     
    Due to the tight build schedule and other construction commitments, Brooklin Boat Yard subcontracted the hull and deck construction to Rockport Marine of Rockport, Maine. Brooklin Boat Yard has had similar arrangements in the past, including the construction of the composite deck for SONNY II by Front Street Shipyard and the construction of the hull for the 76-foot sloop GOSHAWK by Rockport Marine.
     
    "This project wouldn't have been possible without the collaboration and support of many partners," said White. "We achieved our high standard of craftsmanship within a consolidated time frame through teamwork and a shared vision."
  • Maine School of Masonry has 12 businesses ready to give grads jobs, open house is the 25th

     

    By Ramona du Houx

    Masonry is a lost art but in high demand. The Maine School of Masonry has twelve businesses ready to give MSM graduates jobs once they’ve completed the courses. The school helps line up the positions if students so desire.

    The Maine School of Masonry will hold an open house on May 25th from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. There will be information about the school’s Masonry certificate program and the Historic Restoration & Preservation courses. MSM offers an unique opportunity to work on historic sites like Fort Knox during the course.

    The MSM open house welcomes everyone who has an interest in the school or attending classes. Personal at the school look forward to answering any questions

    The following are the busines