Crime/Public Safety/Drugs Waldo County Wood Bank Vandalized (Searsmont)  It seems no good deed goes unpunished, at least in the case of the Waldo County Wood Bank.  The Bangor Daily News reports vandals targeted the group’s woodshed, destroyed a gas tank in the nonprofit’s dump truck, and stole gas cans recently, leaving the volunteers struggling to […]

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Local News 01/31/23

Crime/Public Safety/Drugs

Waldo County Wood Bank Vandalized

(Searsmont)  It seems no good deed goes unpunished, at least in the case of the Waldo County Wood Bank.  The Bangor Daily News reports vandals targeted the group’s woodshed, destroyed a gas tank in the nonprofit’s dump truck, and stole gas cans recently, leaving the volunteers struggling to keep up with wood demand as temps drop.  The Wood Bank has seen a dramatic increase in the volume of wood it donates across the area.  If you’d like to help, you can donate at waldo county woodshed dot org.

(Searsmont)  Thieves have targeted the Waldo County Wood Bank in recent months, taking firewood without authorization, and now vandalizing the wood transport truck.  The Bangor Daily News reports in the latest incident, gas cans were stolen, and the vandals poked holes in the truck’s gas tank.  Volunteer Bob MacGregor says he’s hopeful the repairs will be covered by insurance, but that all the money that goes into repairs takes away from helping folks heat their homes.  The wood bank has seen a dramatic increase in the volume of wood donated this year.  You can donate if so inclined at waldo county woodshed dot org.

Charcuterie Board Meats Recalled

(KHN)  There’s a recall of some charcuterie board meats.  Daniele International is warning consumers not to eat several of its meat products after discovering a possible outbreak of listeria. Listeria can cause an infection that can lead to fever and flu-like symptoms, and can result in miscarriages or stillbirths in pregnant people, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Bottled Water Companies Not Testing for PFAS

(Maine)  Think that bottled water is better for you?  Maybe not say experts.  Under a new law, community drinking water systems must test their water supplies for PFAS, but water bottling companies are exempt.  The Bangor Daily News reports while the state has asked Maine  bottlers to test voluntarily, by August of last year, only three out of 11 had done so and submitted their results to the state.

(Maine)  Should manufacturers of bottled water be required to test for PFAS?  So far, no such mandate exists, although the state of Maine has asked bottlers to test voluntarily.  As of January 19th, the Bangor Daily News reports most had not done so.  Among those that have, Poland Springs detected “forever chemicals” in its spring in Fryeburg, but a statement from the company said the final product, the bottled water, does not contain PFAS because it filters the chemicals out through a granulated activated carbon system.

Local Politics

King Co-Sponsors Bill to Expand Homecare Services for Seniors

(Washington, DC)  Senator Angus King is co-sponsoring legislation to significantly expand home and community-based care for older and disabled Maine people. The Better Care, Better Jobs Act would increase Medicaid funding for homecare, including providing improved pay and benefits for caregivers.  The legislation would benefit more than 1,700 homecare workers in Maine.

(Washington, DC)  Homecare workers nationwide could get a boost in pay and benefits under a bill co-sponsored by Maine Independent Senator Angus King.  The Better Care, Better Jobs Act would increase Medicaid funding for homecare for older and disabled Mainers and help to address workforce shortages across the state and in rural areas.  King has been an outspoken supporter of building a stronger healthcare workforce and providing better care to Maine’s aging community and people in need.

Court Hearing Planned on Police Department Move

(Ellsworth)  A court hearing is planned for Wednesday, February 1st, in Ellsworth to put a temporary restraining order on the relocation of the police station.  Opponents claim the process of moving officers to a new, far-less cramped and efficient space is illegal as the public wasn’t given enough advance notice.  The hearing is scheduled for 8:15 tomorrow morning in Hancock County Superior Court.

Mills Nominates Director for New Office of Affordable Health Care

(Augusta)  Governor Janet Mills Monday nominated Meg Garratt-Reed as Director of the new Office of Affordable Health Care, an independent, nonpartisan agency intended to analyze drivers of healthcare costs and propose solutions to help Maine people.  Garratt-Reed currently serves as Director of DHHS’s Office of the Health Insurance Marketplace, which operates CoverME dot gov.

Mills Nominates CEO of FAME

(Augusta)   Governor Janet Mills Monday nominated Carlos R. Mellow of Camden to serve as CEO of the Finance Authority of Maine.  Mellow brings more than 35 years of experience in banking, lending, investment and finance to the position, and has served in the role in an acting capacity since February 2021.


Bangor Daily News to Go Digital-Only on Mondays

(Bangor)  Perhaps as a sign of the times, the Bangor Daily News announced Monday it will go digital-only on Mondays, beginning March 6th.  The BDN cited the growing expense of printing and delivering the newspaper six days a week.

(Bangor)  Social media is no doubt affecting the PRINT media.  Beginning March 5th, the Bangor Daily News reports it will go digital-only on Mondays.  The BDN says the change will help defray the growing cost of printing and delivering the newspaper six days a week.

First Winter Energy Relief Checks Mailed

(Augusta)  The first of the $450 Winter Energy Relief checks went in the mail Monday.  The Governor says 200,000 checks per week will be mailed moving forward.  In addition to the checks, Governor Mills’s Winter Energy Relief Plan includes additional monies for the LIHEAP program, Maine Community Action Programs, and the Emergency Housing Relief Fund.

(Augusta)  Check your mailbox this week – the first of those $450 Winter Energy Relief checks hit post offices Monday.  Moving forward, the Mills’ administration said 200,000 checks will be mailed per week to eligible Mainers to help provide relief from high energy costs crushing the state’s middle and low income earners.

Extra SNAP Benefits Ending

(KHN)  The extra food assistance benefits put into place during the COVID-19 pandemic will end nationwide in February, per the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service. The emergency allotments allowed SNAP households to receive an additional $95 or more in monthly benefits.  Local food pantries across the U.S. say they are bracing for an increase in demand.


Friends in Action Working to Provide Social Engagement

(Ellsworth)  Research shows those living with loneliness and in social isolation are at increased risk of poor health, depression and anxiety.  In Ellsworth, Friends in Action is working to address the issue.  FIA offers senior fitness classes at all levels, a lunch café, writing and art groups, and morning coffee and connection at various times throughout the week.  Other suggestions for overcoming isolation include volunteering, using technology to connect with family and friends, and seeking employment or developing entrepreneurial skills.

(Ellsworth)  Especially during these long winter months, social isolation can be a real problem for seniors and retirees.  In Ellsworth, Friends in Action is working to remedy loneliness among that group by offering fitness classes, mah jongg and bridge groups, art and writing groups, and coffee and lunch cafes.  They also offer rides through their newly upgraded Rider Portal.  For more information, or to donate to Friends in Action, visit friends in action ellsworth dot org.


Proposed Elver Quotas Meeting Set

(Augusta)  The Maine Department of Marine Resources has issued proposed rulemaking to establish elver quota allocations for 2023.  Those who hold licenses outside the Passamaquoddy Tribe will have the same quotas as in 2022, plus any quotas associated with licenses not renewed in 2022 or licenses suspended for the 2023 season.  Those will be divided equally among existing license holders.  A public hearing is scheduled at the DMR office in Augusta on February 8th at 5 p.m.  To attend virtually, visit maine dot gov.


Surgeon General Speaks Out on Social Media and Young Teens

(KHN)  Surgeon General Vivek Murthy speaking on “CNN Newsroom” this week said he believes 13-year-olds are too young to join social media and that being on those platforms is an injustice to children. Murthy said pre-teens’ relationships and the skewed and often distorted environment of social media does children a disservice. Scientists have warned of a connection between heavy social media use and mental health issues in children, saying that the negatives outweigh the positives.


Woodlawn Barn to Be Completed by July

(Ellsworth)  There will be more to celebrate this July than the 4th – Woodlawn Museum Director Kathy Young anticipates construction on the barn to be completed in July.  The Ellsworth American reports the barn will act as a multipurpose, year-round event space.   Schools will be able to send classes to see and use the space and the museum, and the facility will be available to book for weddings, private events, clubs and more.

(Ellsworth)  If all goes well, Ellsworth will have an exciting new event space come July.  Director Kathy Young says construction of the Woodlawn Museum barn is scheduled for completion mid-summer.  The barn has been under construction since mid-2022 and will be capable of seating 118 people, house a commercial kitchen and two floors that will be used as exhibition space.  The Ellsworth American reports it will also feature a research library where people can use computers to access various archives that were previously kept in storage at the museum.

Ellsworth Public Works 

(Ellsworth)  A Monday morning water main break left residents of Surry Road in Ellsworth without water.  The break affected customers starting at Laurel Street, and included Westwood, Mountain View, and Hillside Drives and Edaco Court. The Ellsworth Public Works Department is well aware of the aging infrastructure – and they’re working diligently to fix the problem.  Public Works Director Lisa Sekulich tells Star 97.7, they have received a $157,000 grant from the DHHS Drinking Water Program and are currently designing a redo.  They plan to put that out for bid in late spring or early summer with construction planned for Spring 2024.

(Ellsworth)  A Monday morning water main break on the Surry Road in Ellsworth left customers in the vicinity without water. The City is well aware of the aging infrastructure and has been working diligently to secure funding to fix the issue.  Public Works Director Lisa Sekulich tells Star 97.7, the Bucksport Road/Edaco Court area fix is a $2.9 million dollar project for which the city was just approved for some state funding.  Currently, through a DHHS grant, Public Works is designing a re-do for the Surry Road area and plans to put that out to bid as early as this spring, with construction planned for Spring 2024.

Human Interest

Zeppa’s Steps Up to Help Fellow Pizza Parlor

(Ellsworth)  Here’s a slice of pure goodness.  The Bangor Daily News reports when employees of Dragonfire Pizza at the Mill Mall found themselves without a working mixer for making dough Sunday morning, they turned to Zeppa’s Pizza on Water Street for help.  Though they may seem rivals, Hugh Palcic and his wife, Lisa, said the decision was a no-brainer – especially on a busy Sunday with football playoffs.  Dragonfire employees brought their ingredients to Zeppa’s and were able to return to their shop after mixing it up, ready to serve customers.  Zeppa’s said not only were they happy to help out, it saved them from a crush of customers that might have held up orders on those delicious pies.


Celtics and Bruins both have the night off (Wednesday – Celtics host Brooklyn Nets, Bruins in Toronto to skate against Maple Leafs).

Local High School basketball yesterday, the Calais girls beat Jonesport-Beals, while Narraguagus got the win over Sumner.  On the boys’ side, Sumner beats Narraguagus, and Jonesport-Beals pulled off an amazing one-point win over Woodland, 54-53.

Local HS basketball this evening:  On the boys’ side, Ellsworth takes on Hermon, MDI vs. Bucksport.  These girls’ teams have matchups:  GSA vs. Dexter, Machias up against Narraguagus, and WA takes on Calais.  And on both the boys’ and girls’ courts, it’s Deer Isle/Stonington vs. Bangor Christian, and Searsport taking on Central.