Crime/Public Safety Missing Man’s Car Pulled from River (Naples)  Police Monday confirmed they pulled a missing Naples’ man’s car from the Little Androscoggin River.  Authorities were alerted after someone reported a damaged guardrail.  67 yo Mark Conley was last seen in the Lewiston area on Christmas Eve, and family became concerned when he didn’t arrive […]

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Local News 01/04/22

Crime/Public Safety

Missing Man’s Car Pulled from River

(Naples)  Police Monday confirmed they pulled a missing Naples’ man’s car from the Little Androscoggin River.  Authorities were alerted after someone reported a damaged guardrail.  67 yo Mark Conley was last seen in the Lewiston area on Christmas Eve, and family became concerned when he didn’t arrive for a Christmas gathering.  Investigators say the driver’s side window was broken, and Conley was not in the car.  A dive team will be out today to look for a body.  Anyone with information is asked to call the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.

Old Town Man Pleads Guilty to Making False Statements

(Bangor)  An Old Town man pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to making false statements to the government.  Court records show in January 2016, 51 yo Jeffrey Stout told agents from the U.S. Department of Labor his company never paid employees overtime in cash at regular time rates, and that overtime hours were paid by payroll check.  Stout reportedly knew the statements were false at the time he made them.  Stout faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Health

Mortality Rates Higher in Maine’s Unvaccinated Counties

(AP/Portland)  COVID-19 mortality rates in Maine are three times higher in the state’s less-vaccinated counties, compared to counties that are heavily vaccinated. The Portland Press Herald analysis compared highly vaccinated coastal counties — Cumberland, Lincoln and Sagadahoc — with three counties that are not — Somerset, Piscataquis and Franklin.

Emergency Meeting on Vaccine Mandates

(Augusta)  The federal government’s Emergency Temporary Standard, or ETS, requires all private employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or submit to regular COVID testing and wear a mask.  OSHA enforcement is set to take effect on January 10th.  The Maine Board of Occupational Safety and Health will hold a special virtual meeting at 9 a.m. on January 18th to discuss adoption of the policy.  Maine is one of 28 states required to adopt the standards, but the process has been temporarily paused due to ongoing federal litigation.  Pending court action could impact the schedule of the meeting.

Local Politics

Mills Celebrates Third Anniversary of Medicaid Expansion

(Augusta)  Governor Janet Mills Monday celebrated the third anniversary of voter-approved Medicaid expansion in Maine.  Mills issued a statement saying as a result of the expansion, nearly 90,000 people across Maine are able to see a doctor, receive preventative care, afford medications, and take care of themselves when they become sick.

Island Connections Names New Executive Director

(Bar Harbor)  A nationwide search for a new Executive Director for Island Connections has come full circle.  Bar Harbor resident Sharon Linscott began her new duties this week..  Island Connections is a non-profit founded in 1997, that provides transportation for seniors and persons with disabilities on MDI and the surrounding areas.

Proposal to Expand Tax Deduction to Include Early Childhood Educators

(Washington, DC)  A bipartisan bill that would allow early childhood educators to claim the existing above-the-line $250 tax deduction for K-12 teachers will soon go before Congress.  The bill was introduced by Republican Senator Susan Collins and Democratic Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado.  The deduction would help early childhood educators cover the cost of supplies, books, and other materials for their classrooms.

Appeals Court to Decide on Case Involving Inmates

(Augusta)  A Boston appeals court will decide if Governor Janet Mills violated an inmate’s constitutional right to due process when she seized his unemployment benefits without a hearing during the pandemic.  The court heard arguments in the case on Monday – a first as to whether the 14th Amendment’s due process protections apply to unemployment benefits in Maine.  36 yo Marc Sparks of Bucksport was one of 53 prisoners who received nearly $200 thousand dollars in unemployment benefits because they had been laid off from work release programs.

Business/Economy

Bangor Hosts Successful Cities Lectures

(Bangor)  Pedestrian malls in downtown Burlington.  Productive community gardens in Boston.  Affordable housing communities in Indianapolis.  The City of Bangor wants citizen input on these and other potential ideas for its Comprehensive Plan.  Bangor will host a series of Zoom lectures to spur discussion on planning projects and policies that are working in other cities, with guest lecturers from those cities.  The first meeting is planned for January 12th.  Registration is not required.  Visit the City of Bangor website to learn more.

Deer Isle Valuation Doubles

(Deer Isle)  It had been 40 years since Deer Isle had undergone a property revaluation.  A 2021  assessment resulted in a total value of buildings and land in town of just over $600 million dollars – a figure 2.5 times higher than the 2020 assessed value.  But surprisingly, that wasn’t bad news for property owners.  The Ellsworth American reports, because the town only needs to raise so much money to support its budget, the 2021 tax rate dropped to $7.65 per one thousand dollars of assessed value – down from 2020’s $20.75 per thousand.  .

Eastport Dead River Building donated to Museum

(Eastport)  The former Dead River building in Eastport has been gifted to Raye’s Mustard Mill Museum as part of a major capital campaign set to be launched in the coming weeks.  The property was donated by heirs of the Hutchins family, longtime owners of Dead River Company.  Dead River was recently purchased by an out-of-state corporation after 114 years of family ownership.

Mill Redevelopment

(AP/Madison)  Belfast-based GO Lab has secured the $85 million in financing needed to begin transforming the former Madison Paper Industries mill. GO Lab intends to produce three types of wood-fiber insulation, employing 120 people at the Madison mill. The building products manufacturer bought the mill in 2019 in a $1.9 million deal.

Stonington Considers Regulating Short-Term Rentals

(Stonington)  Add the town of Stonington to the list of municipalities considering whether and how to regulate short term rentals.  The Bangor Daily News reports between 2017 and 2020, the area lost 73 year-round housing units, while the number of seasonal units grew by 223, making up 46 percent of the housing stock.  That’s a higher share than all of Hancock County at 35%, Maine at 17 percent.  The town has formed a task force to look into the effects of short term rentals and ways to regulate them.

Technology

Maine Broadband Coalition Offers Speed Test

(Maine)  Want to know how your broadband speed compares with other locations?  The Maine Broadband Coalition invites you to take a quick and easy speed test and allows you to view an interactive map and compare test results throughout the rest of the state.  The more people that take the test, the better able state officials will be in determining where service is lacking and may help your community be ready for grant funding.  The test is available at maine broadband coalition dot org.

Human Interest/Entertainment

Twins Celebrate Birthdays in Different Years

(California)  Alfredo Antonio Trujillo and his sister, Aylin Yolanda Trujillo, are one of many sets of twins born over the holidays.  But unlike most, from now on, they’ll celebrate their birthdays on separate days, months and years.  Yahoo! News reports Alfredo was delivered at 11:45 p.m. on New Year’s Eve 2021.  Fifteen minutes later at midnight January 1, 2022, Aylin arrived at Natividad Medical Center in Monterey County, California.  The hospital issued a news release noting twins with different birthdays are rare; and the chances of twins being born in different years?  Just one in two million.

Auntie Em had Roots in Maine

(Maine)   You’re a long way from Kansas, Auntie Em.  The actress who played Auntie Em in “The Wizard of Oz” actually had deep roots in Maine, according to the Bangor Daily News.  Born on a three-masted sailing ship in 1876, Clara Blanchard Dickey’s father was a sea-captain whose wives often accompanied them on long voyages.  At least 60 children from the town of Searsport alone were born at sea in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  Dickey had good company on the set of “Wizard”.  The actress who played the Wicked Witch of the West spent summers on an island near Boothbay between 1961 and 1985.

Coastal Botanical Gardens Named to Top 10

(Boothbay Harbor)  Boothbay Harbor’s Gardens Aglow display was ranked number four on USA Today’s Top 10 List of Best Botanical Garden Holiday Lights in America for 2021.  The display draws thousands of visitors each year; the rankings are determined by USA Today readers.

Environment

Warren Carpet Clean-Up

(Warren)  An abandoned rifle range in Warren is home to nearly 27.000 tons of carpet-like material that was left on the site.  The Bangor Daily News reports the mountains of material arrived around 1998, when the Department of Environmental Protection allowed the rifle range to bring in the materials claiming they would be used as berms to stop bullets from leaving the property.  Not only is the material highly flammable, it’s an eyesore that no one seems in a hurry to remedy.  The DEP has sent out requests for proposals for cleanup with little success.  The town has resisted foreclosing on the property for fear it would then be responsible for disposing of the carpet.

Loon Rescue

(AP/Monmouth)  The Monmouth fire department came to the rescue of a loon that was unable to take flight from a frozen pond Sunday. The Kennebec Journal reports firefighters worked about two hours to free the bird, which was stranded about a quarter-mile from shore from Sand Pond in Tacoma Lakes.

 

Sports

  • The Bruins will try to keep their winning streak going tonight as they take on the New Jersey Devils in Boston.
  • The Celtics have another night off – they’ll host the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday.