Crime/Public Safety MFS to Reimburse Fire Departments for Wildland Fire Fighting Equipment (Old Town) This winter, the Maine Forest Service will award nearly $190,000 to rural Maine fire departments as reimbursements for wildland firefighting equipment purchases.  One hundred three fire departments have been approved for the reimbursements, with monies going for personal protective equipment such […]

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Local News 01/14/22

Crime/Public Safety

MFS to Reimburse Fire Departments for Wildland Fire Fighting Equipment

(Old Town) This winter, the Maine Forest Service will award nearly $190,000 to rural Maine fire departments as reimbursements for wildland firefighting equipment purchases.  One hundred three fire departments have been approved for the reimbursements, with monies going for personal protective equipment such as protective clothing, portable pumps, fire hoses, and hand tools.

Jonesport Man Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

(Bangor)  A Jonesport man pleaded guilty in federal court in Bangor Thursday to charges of wire fraud.  The U.S. Attorney’s office reports between April and October 2020, 34 yo Donald McMahon embezzled approximately $95,000 from a bank account owned by an estate being probated in Washington County.  McMahon faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

New Mariaville Fire Chief

(Mariaville)  There’s a new girl in charge at the Mariaville Volunteer Fire Department.  Karen Murray has been with the department for 23 years, serving as deputy fire chief the past five.  Murray replaces Chief Scott Baron, who stepped down last week.

One Person Injured When Truck Falls Off I-95 Overpass

(Howland)  One person was taken to the hospital Thursday after a truck hauling a trailer filled with snowmobiles hit a patch of ice and went flying off an overpass on I-95 in Howland.  WABI-TV reports the vehicle dropped about 20-25 feet.  One man was taken to the hospital with a deep laceration, while two others were uninjured and remained with the vehicle.  The road was closed for about two hours while crews also dealt with downed wires

Milbridge Man Sentenced for Trenton Double Shooting and Robbery

(Milbridge)  A Milbridge man has been sentenced to prison time for a double shooting and robbery at a home in Trenton in December 2020.  Court records show Larry Smith entered the home with a 22 caliber handgun, shot one victim in both knees, and another in the back, abdomen and face.  As part of a plea hearing, Smith was sentenced to twenty years with all but eight years suspended.

Student Loan Company Settles in Alleged Abusive Lending Practices Suit

(Boston)  A major student loan servicing company has settled allegations of abusive lending practices.  The 1.85 billion dollar settlement, which involves a company called Navient, was announced Thursday by the Office of Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey and could cancel student loans of tens of thousands of borrowers.  Navient denied acting illegally and did not admit to fault in the settlement, which involved 39 state attorneys general. 

Local Politics

Collins Convenes Bipartisan Group on Election Reform

(Washington, DC)  Senator Susan Collins has convened a bipartisan group of senators to discuss changes on how Congress certifies presidential elections.  Among other things, the Senators will look at how to protect election officials from harassment.  In addition to Collins, the group includes Democrats Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Republican Mitt Romney of Utah.

Harsher Penalties for Those Who Threaten Election Workers Sought

(Augusta)  Municipal clerks who administer elections say they are seeing an increase in anger among voters, and at least two threats to election workers have been reported since the 2020 election.  The Portland Press Herald reports Maine lawmakers this week were asked by those workers to make it a felony to harass, threaten or intimidate election workers.  The measure is being opposed by those who say incarcerating more people is not the answer.


MeHAF Report on Washington County Healthcare

(Augusta)  A study conducted in Washington County identifying clinical strengths and gaps in healthcare is now available through the Maine Health Access Foundation.  The report identifies a number of compelling findings that could allow patients, providers, civic leaders, and policymakers to join in improving healthcare services in Washington County and is available at m e h a f dot org.

Ellsworth Fire Department Sees Staggering Increase in Medical Calls

(Ellsworth)  The Ellsworth Fire Department has seen a staggering increase in medical calls in the past 6 years.  In 2016, they responded to 27 calls; last year that number rose to 1,251.  The Bangor Daily News reports Ellsworth hopes to get the federal government to pay for three new professional firefighter/EMT positions so it can reliably respond to both fires and emergency medical calls.  Northern Light Ambulance service is the only medical response agency in Ellsworth licensed to transport patients, although the city has considered establishing its own ambulance service.  That move would generate revenue through insurance reimbursements.

MDOT Bangor Office Reopens After COVID-19 Event

(Bangor)  A worker who tested positive for COVID-19 forced closure of the Maine Department of Transportation office in Bangor on Thursday.  The office was cleaned and is expected to reopen to the public and employees today.

Deadline for Healthcare Signup Approaching

(Augusta)  The deadline for anyone wishing to choose a 2022 healthcare plan on CoverME dot gov is tomorrow.  CoverME is the new state-run Health Insurance Marketplace.  The Maine Department of Health and Human Services encourages anyone looking to get coverage, change their plan, or take advantage of additional financial assistance to select a plan by the Saturday deadline for open enrollment.

Record Numbers Sign Up for ACA

(Undated)   A record number of Americans have enrolled in Affordable Care Act marketplace health plans for 2022.  The nearly 14 million who signed up is a record since the law’s coverage expansion took effect in 2014.


Gulf of Maine Records Record Surface Temperatures

(Maine)  Average sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Maine were more than 4 degrees above the long term average this Fall.  The Portland Press Herald reports the Gulf has been warming faster than 96% of the world’s ocean areas; that’s according to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.  The body of water off the coast of Maine experienced its warmest fall surface water temperatures on record last year, in what scientists tracking it call a “distinct regime shift” for the ecosystem. 

Salmon Farm Applications Stalled

(Gouldsboro)  American Aquafarms, which proposes to build an eight-pen salmon farm in Frenchman Bay, has a key to the closed Maine Fair Trade plant in Prospect Harbor, and the power, heat, and internet are on – but the facility has not yet changed hands.  The Mount Desert Islander reports the Norwegian-backed company plans to launch a series of online “Community Conversations.”  The proposed aquaculture project has faced strong opposition from surrounding towns, as well as from nearby Acadia National Park.

ALA Report Shows High Levels of Radon in Maine

(Augusta)  Levels of radon in Maine equaled or exceeded the EPA’s recommendation for safe levels in more than a third of homes tested.  A report released Thursday by the American Lung Association says 1 in 15 homes in the U.S. has elevated levels of the colorless, odorless gas, which is the second leading cause of lung cancer.  ALA recommends always testing for radon when you buy or build a new home.  If high levels are detected, professional radon mitigation should be a priority. 


Program Will Connect Underserved Mainers with Employment and Other Opportunities

(Augusta)  A new program in Maine will help connect underserved people to well-paying jobs.  A two-year workforce development pilot program launched by the Mills Administration is backed by a million dollars in ARPA funds and will engage with organizations that work closely with low-income and homeless people, immigrants, individuals who have been out of the workforce for an extended time, and others, to connect them to employment, skills development, and resources, such as child care and transportation.  The Maine Department of Labor is seeking applications from non-profits with close ties to underserved and underrepresented communities.

Human Interest/Entertainment

Winter Ice Safety Tips

(Augusta)  Whether you’re ice fishing, skating, or thinking of cross country skiing across that beautiful frozen lake, you want to make sure that ice is safe before you go.  Mark Latti, Communications Director with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, tells Star 97.7 how to check for thickness.  (((Ice 1 “…and make sure it’s safe.”  :16)))  And Latti says you ALWAYS want to check.  (((Ice  2  “…can change within a water body.”  :09))) Latti says it’s good to avoid inlets, outlets, and beneath cliff overhangs where the ice is often thinner.

(Augusta)  Winter sports and recreation enthusiasts relish in these cold days and look forward to ice fishing, skating and other activities on the ice.  Mark Latti, Communications Director with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife tells Star 97.7, it’s important to be safe and know that conditions can change from place to place on the same body of water.  (((Ice 3  “…or drill a hole to see how thick the ice is.” :24))).  Latti says it’s also a good idea to always go with a friend, because hypothermia and frostbite can set in with little warning.

(Augusta)  Ice fishing season is here, and Mark Latti, Communications Director with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife tells Star 97.7, they’re seeing an interesting trend when it comes to ice shacks.  (((Ice 4  “…so you can use them a lot more frequently.”  :17))).  Latti says you’ll want that protection if you go out this weekend.  (((Ice 5  “…because it gets you out of the elements.”  :10)))   Always drill a hole to determine ice thickness and safety; and If you have a permanent ice shack or one that remains overnight, you need to label it with your name, address and contact information.  Structures must be removed within three days after the season ends, usually around March 31st.

(Augusta)  A day of fun, cross country skiing, skating, or ice fishing, can quickly turn tragic on a bitter cold day.  Mark Latti, Communications Director with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has some important safety tips.  (((Ice 6  “…on any exposed skin.”  :28))).  Latti says you also always want to check ice thickness by drilling a hole – you can’t tell by looking.  And if you get sweaty while exercising, make sure to take a break and dry off  – getting wet can be a deadly enemy on a cold, windy day.

VIP Tires Donates to Make-A-Wish 

(Auburn)  More than a dozen critically ill kids in Maine will see their wishes realized, thanks to VIP Tires’ “Season of Wishes” Campaign.  WABI-TV reports Maine’s 35 VIP stores raised more than $51,000, which was matched by owner John Kirk.

EHS Grad Wins Netflix Competition

(Ellsworth)  Ellsworth High School graduate Tom Patsis created a unique metal art piece, posted it on Instagram, and Netflix came calling.  The Ellsworth American reports the end result was Patsis took home the top prize in Metal Shop Masters – $50,000!  Netflix aired the challenge last September.

Blue Hill to Debut Stamp

(Blue Hill)  Where else would a 4-cent stamp with a blueberry design debut, but the town of Blue Hill, Maine?  The Ellsworth American reports the new stamp came out this month, and the Blue Hill post office was selected as the “first day of issue site”.  The stamp was first released on Monday.

Maine Craft Association Weekend Returns

(Gardiner)  The Maine Craft Association’s Weekend Workshop at Haystack returns this May!  2022 workshops include blacksmithing, ceramics, writing a memoir, coffin making and green burials, and more.  Online registration is now open, with workshops and accommodations filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Beth C. Wright “Self-Reflection for the New Year” Workshop

(Ellsworth)  If you’re interested in creating a clear vision for your life in 2022, the Beth Wright Center in Ellsworth is offering the perfect opportunity.  A free workshop held via Zoom will feature “Self-Reflection for the New Year with Jen Harry” on Thursday, February 3rd, from 4:30 to 6.  To find out more or to register, call the Center at 664-0339.


Referendum on Public Power May Not Make 2022 Ballot

(AP/Augusta)  A referendum to change Maine’s primary utility company into a quasi-public agency is potentially tabled until 2023.  Organizers indicate they may not have the necessary signatures before the deadline to make the November ballot. The Bangor Daily News reported on Thursday the pandemic has made it difficult for groups to garner signatures from registered Maine voters.  More than 63,000 signatures would have to be submitted to the Secretary of State’s office by January 31st


Bruins 3  Flyers. 2   Bruins host the Nashville Predators on Saturday at 1:00

Celtics in Philadelphia to take on the 76ers.