Crime/Public Safety Storm is Friday’s Big Story (Downeast Maine)  The big story today is the snow.  A Winter Storm Warning has been issued for today, with snowfall totals highest over Downeast – 4-8 inches expected along the coast by day’s end, and up to 10 inches possible in Washington County.  Stay tuned.  Steve McKay will […]

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Local News 01/07/22

Crime/Public Safety

Storm is Friday’s Big Story

(Downeast Maine)  The big story today is the snow.  A Winter Storm Warning has been issued for today, with snowfall totals highest over Downeast – 4-8 inches expected along the coast by day’s end, and up to 10 inches possible in Washington County.  Stay tuned.  Steve McKay will have all the details and we’ll have closings and updates throughout the morning.

Former Texas Man Sentenced

(Bangor)  A former Texas man was sentenced Thursday in Bangor for failing to register as a sex offender.  35 yo Antonio Cardenas was sentenced to 15 months in prison and five years of supervised release.  Cardenas was convicted in Texas in 2007 for aggravated assault of a child under the age of 14.  Court records show Cardenas moved to Mars Hill and Caribou, Maine in August 2020, but failed to notify Texas authorities of the move and made no attempt to register on the Maine Sex Offender registry.

South Carolina Man Sentenced for Interstate Stalking

(Portland)  A South Carolina man was sentenced Thursday after he drove a female victim from South Carolina to Maine in July 2019, threatening and physically assaulting her with his hands and other objects, including a hammer and a metal chain, along the way.  A judge sentenced 27 yo Dustin Beach to 10 years in prison and three years of supervised release, saying he found Beach’s conduct “sadistic” and calling him “a danger to society”.   Beach pleaded guilty in June 2021.

New Trenton Volunteer Fire Chief

(Trenton)  Steve Heckman has been with the Trenton Volunteer Fire Department for 15 years; but he started a new job this week, taking on the role of Chief.  Heckman most recently served as Deputy Chief under Steve Corson, who has decided to step down after seven years as chief.  Heckman will finish Corson’s term through the end of the fiscal year when the town’s Select Board will appoint a chief for the full one-year term.

HCEMA Prepares for Winter Storm

(Ellsworth)  As today’s winter storm approaches, followed by bitter cold, the Hancock County Emergency Management Agency is prepared with support and advice.  Director Andrew Sankey advises towns that warming center facilities are municipally established and managed, but EMA is standing by with support.  If the region experiences extended utility outages, Sankey reminds Mainers to ensure everyone is safe and provided for, along with pets and livestock.  Sankey says towns can reach out if the need arises and HCEMA will do their best to see resources are addressed.

Watchdog Report Details Issues at DHHS

(AP/Portland)  Lawmakers have officially received a report from an oversight body for Maine’s child services that includes summaries of the “substantial issues” the office found in half the cases it investigated in 2021. The Portland Press Herald reports Maine Child Welfare Ombudsman Christine Alberi’s office opened 84 cases in response to complaints. She briefed lawmakers on many of the findings about the state’s Office of Child and Family Services in November. The child welfare office has been under scrutiny for years. That was renewed when five children died over the course of a month this summer.

 Drugs

Skowhegan Pair Arrested on Drug Charges

(Augusta)  A Skowhegan pair was arrested this week following the discovery of quantities of fentanyl and cocaine in their vehicle.  Public Safety Information Spokesperson Shannon Moss tells Star 97.7, acting on an anonymous tip, MDEA investigators had been watching 42 yo Christopher Park and his girlfriend, 36 yo Stacy Bowman, who were believed to be transporting drugs from Massachusetts for distribution in Maine.  The pair’s vehicle was stopped on I-95 in the Gardiner area on Wednesday, and officers found the drugs and made the arrest.

Local Politics

Bar Harbor Marijuana Hearing

(Bar Harbor)  Bar Harbor residents will have an opportunity to express their views on marijuana later this month.  The Mount Desert Islander reports a citizens’ petition, complete with drafted regulations, was presented to the Town Council.  The petition will be the subject of a hearing January 18th.  If adopted, the ordinance would allow two adult use marijuana stores to operate in the zones where retail is already allowed.

Collins Leading Push for Election Reform

(Washington, DC)  Maine’s Senator Susan Collins is leading a bipartisan group of fellow senators in advancing election law reforms.  WMTW reports a Wednesday night Zoom meeting organized by Collins included a wide-ranging discussion of election issues; among them –  modernizing the 1887 Electoral Count Act to ensure the will of voters is protected.

Education

RSU to Start Pre-K Program

(Sullivan)  RSU 24 earns an A-plus when it comes to growing its educational facilities and opportunities.  The Charles M. Sumner Learning Campus will replace the old high school this Fall, and that will make room at several elementary schools for the district’s own pre-K programs.  Curriculum Director Nikki Chan told the Board of Directors this week, the district received a $246,000 dollar grant to start Pre-K programs at Cave Hill, Ella Lewis, Mountain View, and Peninsula Schools.

Health

Jackson Labs to Require Vaccines

(Bar Harbor/Ellsworth)  Add Hancock County’s largest employer to the list of companies getting a jump on a federal vaccine mandate.  The Jackson Lab says all U.S. based employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by February 21st.  Although the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the legality of the requirement for companies with 100 or more employees, the Ellsworth American reports JAX is making the requirement now to help protect its workplace and stay ahead of the pandemic.

Maine Hospitals Seeing Surge in Quarantined Employees

(Bangor)  Hospitals throughout the state are reporting a surge of employees calling off work because they have COVID-19 or are in quarantine.  Northern Light Health officials report as of Wednesday, a record 493 workers were out, representing about 4% of Northern Light’s staff.  Officials say the surge is almost certainly due to the spread of the highly contagious omicron variant.

Parents of Young Children Face Tough Decisions

(AP/Maine) Parents of children too young to be vaccinated are facing difficult choices as COVID cases fueled by the omicron variant rise to record levels and every encounter seems risky. Families are rethinking visits with grandparents, playtime with other toddlers and trips to the park or library. A setback last month in Pfizer studies of a vaccine for kids under 5 dimmed hopes that shots for tots might come soon. Public health authorities say surrounding young kids with people who are vaccinated and masking those can help keep them and others safe. 

Environment

Eradicating Browntail Moths’ Winter Webs

(Maine)  Browntail Moth winter webs were recently discovered in Lamoine and were quickly disposed of.  Tom Schmeelk is a Forest Entomologist with the Maine Forest Service and the State’s Browntail Moth expert.  He tells Star 97.7 it’s important to destroy those webs now and not wait until the weather warms.  (((WinterWebs 1   “…trying to enjoy the outdoors.”  :13)))  Schmeelk says if you see a web, it’s important to destroy it before early April when the caterpillars emerge.  You’ll find a video on the Maine Forest website that details just how to do that.

(Maine)  Last summer, Downeast Maine felt the full, itchy, blotchy effects of the browntail moth.  Forest Entomologist Tom Schmeelk is the state’s browntail moth expert, and he tells Star 97.7 why NOW is the time to eradicate the rash-inducing insects.  (((WinterWebs 2   “…before they’ve emerged and done any damage.”  :23)))  Schmeelk says you want to clip the webs out before mid April, because that’s when the caterpillars emerge and become active again.

(Maine)  You may not be thinking about the browntail moth this time of year, but Tom Schmeelk, the state’s browntail moth expert, tells Star 97.7 this is the perfect time to eradicate them.  Schmeelk talks about what you should look for …and what to do if you do find a web.  (((WinterWebs 3  “…will help inform your management decisions.”  :24)))  Schmeelk says pay special attention to fruit trees – crabapple, oaks, elm, and poplar, as those are the most common hosts.

(Maine)  Forest Entomologist Tom Schmeelk tells Star 97.7, now is the time to rid your woods of those browntail moth winter webs.  But the state’s browntail moth expert also says we won’t get them all.  So what can you do next spring to protect yourself from that dreadful itchy rash caused by the moths’ hairs?  (((WinterWebs 4  “…those hairs coming into contact with your skin.”  :20)))  If you’re unsure what to look for as far as winter webs … or what to do if you spot one … you’ll find an informative video on the Maine Forest website.

Infrastructure

Frank J. Wood Bridge Likely to be Replaced

(Topsham)  For years, a group of citizens has rallied in support of saving the Frank J. Wood Bridge, which connects the towns of Brunswick and Topsham, while the Maine Department of Transportation contends the 90 yo bridge is unsafe and must be replaced.  The case went before the U.S. Court of Appeals, with a judge this week ruling against trying to salvage the structure.  MDOT says the court’s decision makes clear the cost of rehabilitating the bridge is greater than that of replacing it.

Business/Economy           

Momo’s Cheesecakes are Back!

(Ellsworth)  Cream cheese is back, and that means so is Momo’s Cheesecakes in Ellsworth!  A shortage of the main ingredient had halted sales of the creamy confection for nearly two weeks.  Owner Brenda Ledesma said they were told by distributors the shortage was caused by a lack of workers.  Finally, with a midweek delivery of the soft, white staple,  Momo’s is back to baking their approximately 100 cheesecakes a day, with the to-die-for desserts expected to be ready for sale again tomorrow.  Let’s hope the roads are cleared …

Human Interest/Entertainment

Two Portland Women Bring Coats for Kids

(Cherryfield)  Being from the Portland area didn’t stop two women from holding a coat drive for the children of Washington County.  Maine Seacoast Mission tells Star 97.7 Lorraine Martin and Diane Bennekamper rallied a winter coat donation drive for the Mission last month.  Fifty southern Maine donors collected 233 coats for Downeast youth, who very often lack the winter outerwear needed to stay warm.  The Mission said used winter coats are in very short supply and are still needed if you’d like to contribute.

Scientific Study Shows KIndness Gets You Ahead

(Inc.)  Mark Cuban, Jeff Bezos, and science agree.  Kind, generous, and thoughtful people are just as likely to succeed as assertive jerks.  According to a report in INC Magazine, a decade-long study published by the National Academy of Sciences shows people with selfish, combative, and manipulative personalities are no more likely to get ahead than people who are fundamentally nice.  The report goes on to say that while being dominant and aggressive can help jerks (their word, by the way, not ours) attain power, that advantage is offset by their inability to get along with others and leverage the power of people around them.  And, you can still have high expectations and be focused on results.  Cuban said being nice is one of the most underrated skills in business right now.  Bezos commented, “Cleverness is a gift.  Kindness is a choice.”

Sports 

The Minnesota Wild snapped the Bruins’ New Year’s winning streak with last night’s 3-2 win.  Bruins take on the Lightning tomorrow in Tampa Bay.  Not a good night for the Celtics, either.  They lose to the Knicks 108-105.  The teams meet again Saturday in NY.  And NFL Sunday action, Patriots at Dolphins and the Buccaneers home against the Carolina Panthers.