Sullivan Man Convicted of Kidnapping and Assault
(Sullivan) A Sullivan man will serve seven years for kidnapping and domestic violence assault. 38 yo Matthew Wycoff allegedly threatened a woman who, fearing Wycoff would harm her if she didn’t comply, got into his truck at the White Birches Motel in Ellsworth last April. Wycoff reportedly forced the woman to take money from her bank account, then struck and strangled her as he drove to Sullivan on Route 1, stopping at a business where she was able to finally escape and contact authorities.
(Sullivan) A Sullivan man will spend seven years in prison for kidnapping a woman at the White Birches Motel in Ellsworth last April. 38 yo Matthew Wycoff allegedly forced a woman into his truck, then repeatedly assaulted and strangled her as he drove toward Sullivan on Route 1. The woman was able to escape when Wycoff stopped his truck at a business. Wycoff was sentenced for kidnapping, domestic violence assault, and other crimes related to the incident.
Crews Remove Toppled Truck
(Etna) Crews will work this morning to remove a tractor trailer whose driver lost control and overturned Thursday while southbound on I-95 near Etna. State Police are asking people not to stop or report the accident, as they are aware of the crash. Authorities say it should take about four hours to remove the truck this morning. The driver was uninjured in the crash.
(Etna) If you’re southbound on I-95 near Etna this morning and see an overturned tractor trailer, State Police say please don’t stop and don’t report it – they are aware of the incident which occurred yesterday morning. Crews will be on the scene this morning to remove the truck. They say it should take about four hours. The driver was uninjured in the crash.
Snow and Ice Collapses Domes
(Orono) The weight of all that snow and ice has collapsed two sports facility domes in Maine. On Thursday, the Mahaney Dome at the University of Maine in Orono caved in under the weight. And the Times Record reports The Dome, an inflatable indoor sports facility in Topsham was totally crushed by the weight of the frozen precip. That facility likely irreparable, according to a FB post. No injuries reported in either collapse.
(Orono) All that snow and ice caused some weighty problems yesterday. The Bangor Daily News reports the Mahaney Dome at the University of Maine in Orono collapsed Thursday. It was at least the fourth time that facility has collapsed since being installed at the University. And in Topsham, The Dome, an inflatable indoor sports facility, was crushed under the weight and is likely irreparable. No injuries in either incident.
Maine Man Gets 33 Months for Misusing PPP Funds
(Levant) 40 yo Craig Franck of Levant admitted to using more than $300,000 in PPP loans to post bail, purchase exercise equipment, a telescope, a big screen TV, a drone, two trucks and more. The Bangor Daily News reports Franck has been sentenced to 33 months in federal prison on charges of wire fraud and money laundering. He’s the second Maine man to admit defrauding a pandemic business loan program.
(Levant) A second Maine man has been sentenced to federal prison for allegedly misusing PPP loan funds. The Bangor Daily News reports 40 yo Craig Franck of Levant admitted to using more than $300,000 in PPP loans to post bail, and to purchase exercise equipment, two trucks, a drone, and other expensive items. Franck was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison on charges of wire fraud and money laundering.
Maine’s Lead Public Defender Resigns
(Augusta) Less than two months after taking the job, Maine’s new lead public defender has resigned. The Portland Press Herald reports Seth Levy had experience defending indigent clients, even before Maine launched its rural defenders unit last year. The resignation is another setback as the state struggles to find enough private attorneys willing to represent poor Mainers in rural parts of the state.
(Augusta) Another setback for the state’s poor who find themselves in need of legal representation in rural parts of the state in particular. The Portland Press Herald reports Maine’s new lead public defender, Seth Levy, resigned this week, less than two months after taking the job. Until last year, Maine was the only state that didn’t employ traditional public defenders. Levy had been hired as one of the first five on the state’s payroll.
(Maine) First it was Trump, then Biden, and now Mike Pence has been found to have classified records in his Indiana home. The Bangor Daily News reports seeing classified documents is part of the job for Maine’s U.S. Senators, but they’re viewed only by specified staffers at a secure complex. Of course, every case is different. While Trump faces a criminal investigation in connection with the roughly 300 docs found at his Florida home, Biden and Pence appear to have had fewer documents, and there’s no indication either knew of the records before they were turned over.
(Maine) Classified documents – they’ve become the meme of the moment, as some have been found in the homes of high profile politicians. The Bangor Daily News reports Senators Susan Collins and Angus King both sit on the Senate Intelligence Committee. They say each member is designated one staffer with top-secret security who can access classified information only on a need-to-know-basis. Committee members can only view such docs at a secure complex, where no copying or removal is allowed, with rare exceptions. King said he finds the discoveries puzzling, as members are always required to return classified documents before leaving the secure facilities.
Housing Crisis Top on List in Augusta
(Augusta) Democrats in the current legislative session have said addressing the state’s housing crisis is their top priority. The Portland Press Herald reports the group is looking to ensure funding is available for any recommendations. Cape Elizabeth Representative Rebecca Millett is proposing a $200 million dollar investment to increase affordable housing in Maine. Millett’s bill would make a one-time general fund allocation of $100 million dollars to MaineHousing in each of the next two fiscal years. MaineHousing is an independent state agency that oversees subsidized and affordable housing projects.
(Augusta) $20 million is not enough, $50 million is not enough. That’s the word from Democratic Representative Rebecca Millett who is proposing a $200 million investment to increase the availability of affordable housing in Maine. Millett is proposing a one-time general fund allocation of $100 million in each of the next two fiscal years. The funding would support MaineHousing, an independent state agency that oversees subsidized and affordable housing projects. Democrats have said addressing the state’s affordable housing crisis is a top priority of the current legislative session.
Ellsworth Dollar Tree Reopens
(Ellsworth) The Dollar Tree on Route 3 in Ellsworth reopened this week. The store, located next to Marden’s, had been closed since December 5th when a truck crashed through the front doors causing extensive damage.
Loaves and Fishes Joins with FFCC for “Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation”
(Ellsworth) It’s a stark reality that hunger doesn’t take a vacation … especially during school breaks like the upcoming one in February. Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry has teamed with Families First Community Center for a joint program to purchase food to provide clients with the makings of a holiday meal before schools close for winter vacation. The program is made possible through a grant received by FFCC. Shoppers will be able to choose an entrée and sides at Loaves and Fishes new facility at 137 Downeast Highway in Ellsworth, beginning February 13th, while supplies last. To donate and help provide even more meals – visit loaves and fishes ellsworth dot org forward slash donate.
(Ellsworth) School vacation is coming up February 20-24th. But there will be no vacation from hunger for hundreds of area school children. Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry is teaming with Families First Community Center to provide for families during the break. Rather than receiving a holiday box, beginning February 13th, shoppers will be able to CHOOSE an entrée and sides at Loaves & Fishes new facility in Ellsworth, while supplies last. The “Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation” program is made possible through a grant received by FFCC. If you’d like to donate and make sure a maximum number of families are fed, visit loaves and fishes ellsworth dot org forward slash donate.
Cistern Delays at Sumner
(Sullivan) The installation and use of water cisterns for both the fire sprinkler and domestic water systems at the new Charles M. Sumner Learning campus in Sullivan could face more delays. The Ellsworth American reports the holdup is due to the lack of a signed agreement between RSU 24 and its general contractor Nickerson and O’Day. The water source in the original plans was insufficient to meet the building’s needs, and public access is restricted, as is full use of some portions of the building, due to fire safety concerns.
(Sullivan) Students, staff, and the general public could face further delays in having access to some portions of the new Charles M. Sumner Learning facility. The Ellsworth American reports because RSU 24 does not have a signed agreement with general contractor Nickerson and O’Day, the installation and use of water cisterns for the fire sprinkler and domestic water systems is in limbo. Superintendent Michael Eastman said he hopes to have the project completed by April 11th, in time for end of the year festivities.
Ellsworth’s Last Preschool Classroom Closing
(Ellsworth) Ellsworth’s last preschool classroom will close its doors on February 17th. Downeast Community Partners reports a lack of a qualified workforce is the main cause of the educational resource going dark. When it comes to a childcare crisis, Ellsworth is far from alone. Low wages and difficulty finding passionate, qualified teachers is at the heart of the crisis, which was only worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Ellsworth) In a little over two weeks, Ellsworth’s last preschool classroom will usher children through its halls for the last time. Downeast Community Partners in Ellsworth serves mostly low to moderate income families, but the Ellsworth American reports DCP has been unable to find qualified staff willing to work for the low wages they’re only able to offer. Even though the non-profit has increased its wages twice in the past year, DCP says it’s been unable to match the cost of living. The last day for the preschool classroom will be February 17th.
More Mainers Covered by Health Insurance
(Maine) More Mainers are being covered by health insurance, either through the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, Medicare, or an employer-based plan. The Portland Press Herald reports Maine’s uninsured rate decreased from 8% in 2019 to 5.7% in 2021, according to the latest Census data. Nationally, a record 16.3 million people joined ACA plans for 2023 after the Biden administration eliminated may of the programs disincentives that deterred some from signing up.
(Maine) Rest INsured – more Mainers are being covered by health insurance. The Portland Press Herald reports the state’s uninsured rate decreased from 8% in 2029 to 5.7% in 2021 – that’s according to the latest Census figures. While the number of Mainers enrolled for health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act declined slightly this year, overall, the state is trending toward more people being covered … either through the ACA, Medicaid, Medicare, or an employer-based plan.
AI Art Generates Interesting Results
(Bangor) What do you get when you ask artificial intelligence, or AI art programs to generate pictures of your favorite Maine delights? Turns out, some pretty strange results. The Bangor Daily News reports staffers asked AI generator DALL-E to create a lobster roll. The program painted a whole lobster in its shell sitting on a piece of bread. A request for a moose eating a red hot dog turned out to look more like a kangaroo eating a salami. A loon practicing candlepin bowling looks eerily like a cross between a duck and a penguin. And a request for a pic of Janet Mills and Stephen King riding Babe the Blue Ox is just disturbing – as they appear to glide through the air on a legless cerulean cow. When it comes to art, perhaps we should stick with Monet and Van Gogh.
Asteroid “Narrowly Misses” Earth
(AP) And, whew, it missed us! A recently discovered asteroid the size of a truck passed just 2600 miles from earth about 7:30 last night. NASA says it’s one of the closest near misses ever recorded, but that had the asteroid entered the earth’s atmosphere, it likely would have broken into smaller meteorites that might have fallen to earth.
Celtics lose to the NY Knicks 120-117. Celtics host the Lakers tomorrow night in Boston.
In Tampa Bay, Lightning strikes the Bruins with a 3-2 win over Boston. Bruins tackle the Panthers tomorrow in Florida
Local high school basketball last night, the Calais girls defeated Machias, and it was the Searsport girls over George Stevens.
These local high school matchups this evening between both the boys’ and girls’ teams: Ellsworth takes on Presque Isle, MDI vs. Caribou, Sumner shoots hoops with Deer Isle/Stonington, and Narraguagus puts up baskets against Shead. And the Machias girls take on Schenck, while the GSA BOYS run the court against Mattanawcook.