Breakthrough Cases (Augusta)  Maine is reporting a jump in breakthrough cases of COVID-19 – cases in people who are fully vaccinated.  The Bangor Daily News reports between August 6 and September 10, just over 1,500 new breakthrough cases were reported, accounting for roughly 16 percent of cases. That is a huge jump, since Maine recorded […]

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Local News 09/16/21

Breakthrough Cases

(Augusta)  Maine is reporting a jump in breakthrough cases of COVID-19 – cases in people who are fully vaccinated.  The Bangor Daily News reports between August 6 and September 10, just over 1,500 new breakthrough cases were reported, accounting for roughly 16 percent of cases. That is a huge jump, since Maine recorded only 712 total cases in fully vaccinated people before Aug. 6.  Experts contend more should be expected, since overall cases in Maine are as high as they have been since the spring, and greater transmission of the virus leads to more exposure among vaccinated people, too.  But the data supports the effectiveness of the vaccines at preventing both infections and severe cases, as well, with unvaccinated people more than 8 times more likely to be infected, and doctors say cases are generally less severe  in those who have been vaccinated.

Vaccination Rates in Schools Vary Widely

(Augusta)  Vaccination rates among teachers and school staff varies widely in local schools.  As of August 31st, the Department of Health and Human Services reports 46.5% of teachers and staff at Ellsworth High School were fully vaccinated, while Lamoine Consolidated School had 100% vaccinated.  Ranging between the two were Ellsworth Elementary Middle School with 60.9%, Surry Elementary 78.9%, Sumner High School at just over 85%, Cave Hill School in Eastbrook just under 82%, Hancock Grammar School at 90%, and Trenton Elementary at 96%. You can access a complete list at maine dot gov.

(Augusta)  The Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday released vaccination rates among teachers and school staff – and those percentages vary widely in local schools.  As of August 31st, 46.5% of teachers and staff at Ellsworth High School were fully vaccinated, while much-smaller Lamoine Consolidated School had 100% vaccinated.  Ranging between the two were George Stevens Academy with 76%, Cherryfield Elementary at just under 83%, MDI High School at 88.3%, Sumner High School at just over 85%, Blue Hill Consolidated at 89.5%, and Conners Emerson with 96.4%. You can access a complete list at maine dot gov.

Timber Industry Encouraged to Apply for COVID Relief Funds

(AP/Bangor)  Members of Maine’s congressional delegation are urging Maine’s timber industry to take advantage of federal COVID-19 relief. Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Democratic Rep. Jared Golden said Thursday timber harvesters and haulers who have been impacted by the pandemic can apply for $200 million in relief. They said Maine is leading the country in the number of applicants, and more than $250,000 has been sent to loggers in the state so far.  Deadline to apply is October 15th.

Ellsworth Historical Society Votes to Give Up Old Jail

(Ellsworth)  Members of the Ellsworth Historical Society were apparently feeling “trapped” with a crumbling building and insufficient funds for upkeep and repair.  The Society recently voted unanimously to let the historic Old Jail revert to county responsibility.  The Ellsworth American reports the building, which is greatly in need of rehabilitation, could now be in the hands of the County Commissioners.  A 1998 quitclaim deed from the county granted the 1886 building to the Historical Society on condition it use the structure for the Historical Society and keep and maintain the premises in good repair, which is no longer feasible for the group, which has lost members and assistance from different organizations within the city.  The commissioners received the Society’s letter on September 13th, but say they have not yet had time to discuss it.

Arrest Made for Anti-Semitic Threats

(AP/Buxton)  A Buxton man has been charged with threatening interstate communication in connection to anti-Semitic death threats posted on social media through an anonymous Twitter account. The Portland Press Herald reports 24-year-old Brian Dennison triggered an FBI investigation into his tweets when he posted a death threat aimed at Jewish people on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Investigators traced his email address, cell phone and an IP address through his anonymous account. Authorities arrested Dennison on Sept. 11 and confiscated three guns and large amounts of ammunition in his possession. Dennison’s parents said he owns an AR-15 but they didn’t know where it was. Dennison did not answer investigators’ questions.

Plan to Spend American Rescue Plan Funds Causes Friction

(Ellsworth)  Hancock County has more than $10 million dollars in American Rescue Plan Funds to spend, and the county wants to use some of that for hazard pay for first responders who worked during the pandemic.  According to The Ellsworth American, the commissioners initially proposed designating funds for the Sheriff’s Office, including corrections officers at the jail, and the Hancock County Regional Communications Center staff.  But others countered that would be unfair to other municipalities that couldn’t provide the same level of pay.  After much debate, the board voted 2 to 1 to award hazard pay, but to reduce the original amounts proposed per person.

Ellsworth Wal-Mart Seeks to Reduce Property Taxes

(Ellsworth)  The Ellsworth Wal-Mart wants to cut its $20M in 2021 property taxes in half.  But the Board of Appeals tabled the motion at the September 13th meeting after Wal-Mart refused to hand over three years of sales information.  According to The Ellsworth American, City Assessor Larry Gardner requested the information to help determine his assessment.  A Wal-Mart representative claimed gross sales figures were confidential business information and not necessary in order to determine value.  Wal-Mart currently is appealing the city’s denial of a similar 2017 abatement request with the State Board of Property Tax Review, using the same “dark store” approach.

King Proposes “Made in America” Legislation

(AP/Portland)  The U.S. Senate has passed a proposal from Maine’s Independent Senator Angus King to create a standard for products that carry a “Made in America” label. King and Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah made the proposal, which unanimously passed this week. The senators said the patchwork of state laws about the subject caused heavy compliance costs for businesses. The proposal would create a uniform federal standard for products that have labels that state the item is “Made in the USA” or “Made in America.”

ANP Crash Appeal

(AP/Boston)  A federal appeals court has reversed a judge’s decision to bar a blood-test from being used as evidence in a crash in which three people were killed in Acadia National Park. The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled a park ranger and police acted appropriately in ordering a hospital to draw blood from the driver, the only survivor of the crash. Praneeth Manubolu, who’s awaiting trial for manslaughter, and his three passengers had spent the evening at a tavern and dance club before the crash on the Park Loop Road early on Aug. 31, 2019. His attorney said he’ll ask the full panel of judges to reconsider.

COA Purchases Student Housing

(Bar Harbor)  College of the Atlantic has purchased two residential complexes in the downtown Bar Harbor area to be used to house nearly 40 students.  The two complexes are at the intersection of Glen Mary Road and Norris Avenue, and on Bloomfield Avenue.  The nine properties, with a total of 31 bedrooms, have been rented to COA students for many years, so the purchase does not increase the amount of housing available to students. The properties were purchased at a cost of about $4.6M and will remain on the tax rolls.  Students had often had to wait until mid September to move in, as the properties were used as seasonal short term rentals.

Camden Man Allegedly Holds Woman Against Her Will

(Camden)  A Camden man is under arrest after he allegedly held a woman against her will for more than a week, during which he repeatedly assaulted her.  Camden police tell Star 97.7, 34 yo Richard Ellis reportedly took the woman’s cell phone, car keys and glasses and held her in a home on Park Street for several days.  Officers went to the home shortly before 7 a.m. Wednesday, where they met with the woman, who was then taken by ambulance to Pen Bay Medical Center for treatment.  Ellis faces numerous charges, including kidnapping, gross sexual assault, and violation of condition of release.

Maine Welcomes Afghan Refugees

(Bangor)  Maine is getting ready to open its arms to up to 100 Afghan refugees.  NewsCenter Maine reports Catholic Charities Maine is working with the Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, which is meeting with Afghans already living here and helping them prepare to help the incoming evacuees.  Catholic Charities and other resettlement groups will help the newcomers find housing, navigate cultural differences, enroll children in school, and overcome language barriers.

MDI Marathon Cancelled

(Mount Desert Island)  For the second straight year, the MDI Marathon has been cancelled due to a rise in COVID cases.  Run MDI made the announcement about the race this week, saying the cancellation was for the health and safety of runners and volunteers.  The race, which was scheduled for October 17th, would have been the marathon’s 19th running.  Runners who had registered were advised to watch their email for options regarding race fees.  The 2022 MDI Marathon is scheduled for October 16th.

MDI Teacher’s Union Files Complaint

(Bar Harbor)  The Mount Desert Island Education Association has filed a complaint with the Maine Labor Relations Board, claiming the school system has made “numerous unilateral changes to working conditions” and accusing the school system’s teacher contract negotiators of “leveling many false accusations” against the teacher’s union.  The Mount Desert Islander reports the same day the complaint was filed, Kristi Losquadro, the school system’s board chair and lead contract negotiator resigned citing “malicious” accusations against her.  Among the teachers’ union’s concerns, according to a representative, was a shifting of release time for students that triggered an additional 30 minutes during which teachers are responsible for students.

Wyman’s Represents State at Big E

(Milbridge)  Who better to represent Maine at New England’s premier festival than a business that’s been family owned and bringing good health and harvest to the state since 1874?  Brand Ambassador Erin Sastre (SAS-tree) tells Star 97.7, Wyman’s Bee Wild Mobile is headed to Springfield, Massachusetts this weekend to share the goodness!  (((Wymans 1  “…that we’ll be handing out every day.”  :18)))  But don’t worry – the Bee Wild Mobile will be back in Maine after the event.  Find a complete schedule at wymans dot com.

(Milbridge)  Wild blueberries have twice the antioxidants of regular blueberries, so how could we contain all that goodness in Maine?  Brand Ambassador and Social Media Coordinator Amanda Boyd tells Star 97.7, Wyman’s Wild Blueberries and the iconic Bee Wild Mobile will be headed to  a special event in Springfield, Massachusetts this weekend to share all that healthy goodness!  (((Wymans 2  “…and we’ll just be another one of those attractions.”  :18)))  Boyd says each state in New England has a pavilion, and Wyman’s will be in the Maine pavilion, representing the state’s “berry” finest industry.

(Milbridge)  How do you improve on a family-owned business that’s been spreading good health since 1874?  You don’t – you just spread the word, and the wild blueberries and wild blueberry products with Wyman’s Bee Wild Mobile.  This weekend, the Bee Wild Mobile will represent Maine at the Big E in Springfield, Massachusetts.  Brand Ambassador Erin Sastre (SAS-tree)  tells Star 97.7, that’s just one of the places they’ve traveled this year.  (((Wymans 3  “…about what wild blueberries are and why they’re so special.”  :22))).  The Bee Wild Mobile will be back in Maine after The Big E.  In the meantime, you can find their fruit cups in the frozen section and at wymans dot com.

(Milbridge) This weekend, Maine will get a healthy dose of representation at the Big E in Springfield, Massachusetts with Wyman’s of Maine’s Bee Wild Mobile. Brand Ambassador and Social Media Coordinator Amada Boyd tells Star 97.7, they’ll be handing out their delicious frozen fruit cups, touting the benefits of wild blueberries, and then heading back to the Pine Tree State.  (((Wymans 4  “…and having a great time.”  :20))) Find a complete schedule for Wyman’s Bee Wild Mobile at wymans dot com.

Sports

The Red Sox pulled off a 10-inning win last night over the Seattle Mariners, 9-4.  They’ll  host the Orioles on Friday.  And in NFL action, the New York Giants tackle a game with the Washington Football Team.