County approves pay increases

by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

Washington County Commissioner Chairman Chris Gardner says union employees of the county will receive a 20 percent pay increase over the next three years, roughly broken out to 10 percent the first year, and five percent for each of the following two years.

Gardner says the pay increases were done in negotiation with the unions that represent different aspects of county government and in response to the county’s lagging pay rates, especially relative to wage inflation. For instance, an entry-level dispatcher can earn $17 per hour.

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State applies for windfarm permit, Maine lobstering union files lawsuit

by Nancy Beal

A non-commercial research windfarm in 15 square miles of the Gulf of Maine due south of Monhegan Island and east of Kennebunkport is the objective of an application that the Maine Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) submitted last week to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). It is the first step in one of Gov. Janet Mills’ signature policy initiatives: bringing Maine to a position to require 100 percent renewable energy use by the year 2050.

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Nursing homes follow the money in survival struggle

by Ruth Leubecker

Maine’s fast-moving aging demographic is now dealing with a nursing-home crisis moving mightily in the opposite direction.

“We’re working on this piece by piece,” explains Rep, Anne Perry, of current legislative action. “But the main problem is MaineCare pays for it. And MaineCare, paying 90 percent-plus, is not sustainable (with its present reimbursements).” 

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Board talks Machias dike, police chief, lack of veterinarians

by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

What goes on top of the future Machias dike was the first subject of discussion at the Sept. 29 meeting of the Machias Board of Selectmen. Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) Project Manager Martin Rooney traveled from Augusta to speak to the board and was introduced by town manager Bill Kitchen.

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Washington County COVID-19 update: Local cases surge, national cases decline

by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

Washington County last week nearly doubled its record for weekly cases since the beginning of the pandemic. The previous high of 88 cases was reported in the week ending Sept. 18, and the week ending Oct. 2 reported 170 new cases. Maine Center for Disease Control Director Nirav Shah attributes a statewide increase in cases to the highly contagious Delta variant.

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Federal funding puts Calais one step closer to new senior housing

by Jayna Smith

“It’s a win for Calais,” said Tom Michaud, executive director of Sunrise Opportunities, speaking of the plans for a complete overhaul and reimplementation of senior housing at the former St. Croix Apartments building. 

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Redistricting: The Gerry Meander

by Jonathan Reisman

 

We live (at least for now) in a republic- a representative democracy. By constitutional, statutory and judicial decree, representation should be apportioned fairly and equitably amongst and within the states, and citizens are guaranteed a republican (meaning representative democracy) form of government. Every ten years the census measures our population, and redistricting efforts commence thereafter in each state to supposedly assure a fair, equitable, compact, contiguous and reasonable reapportionment. 

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A trip down south

by Wayne Smith

I have so many fond memories when I visit my nieces and nephews down in Brunswick. It’s always a good time, sharing conversation, reflecting on the past and present times. Reflecting on life in general. The times of telling that funny joke. The times I went to their school functions. This article is dear to me and it sums up what good times that I want to share with the readers.

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Shortage of workers in the state results from COVID-19, plus an aging population

by Gordon L. Weil - Maine Monitor

Help wanted.

These words are usually a sign of prosperity and opportunity. Now they are a symbol of frustration as employers search in vain for workers. 

The conventional wisdom had been that when COVID-19 cases went down, so would unemployment. Some maintained that federal unemployment benefits were discouraging people from job seeking, but that would change once the benefits ended.

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Interview: LePage brings the campaign trail to Machias

by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

Former Governor Paul LePage spent last Thursday driving the campaign trail through Washington County, stopping at Wreaths Across America, Whitney Wreath, the Bluebird Family Ranch Restaurant, and Helen’s Restaurant, finally ending his day in an evening meet-and-greet at the Calais Motor Inn. 

LePage served as governor from 2011-2019 and in July formally announced his candidacy for a third term, last month hosting a kickoff event in Augusta. 

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UMM unveils new, blue branding

by Hailey Wood

Last Wednesday,  Oct. 6, the University of Maine at Machias held its first rebranding event, where it was announced UMM’s traditional green color will be changed to blue and the school will adopt the UMaine black bear as the Machias mascot.  

Faculty, staff, and students were invited to join each other on the UMM mall for a barbecue with food, free t-shirts with UMaine colors they’ll share starting next fall, and an opportunity to see a special visitor, UMaine mascot Bananas the Black Bear.

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Local cross country moment warms hearts nationwide

by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

A quiet gesture of respect between two high school runners has gone viral in the best possible way. After watching Orono high school athlete Ruth White present her 1st place medal to Washington Academy senior Noah Carver, Cindy Moore-Rossi says she wiped a tear from her eye. Then, she wrote a post that has been shared coast to coast more than 200 times, by individuals and by news agencies.

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Moosabec school boards consider workplace bullying policy

by Nancy Beal

At Jonesport and Beals Elementary School board meetings last week (Oct. 6), Superintendent Lewis Collins presented each three-person panel with a workplace bullying policy — separate and in addition to a previously approved student bullying protocol — made necessary, he explained, by a new state law. The nine-member board governing Jonesport-Beals High School will take up the matter at its meeting this week (5 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 13 in the high school library).

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Shah: COVID shots ‘biggest bang for the public buck’

by Ruth Leubecker

Reporting 29 deaths and 836 new cases, Dr. Nirav Shah also announced that Maine had reached the milestone of one million people now at least with one COVID shot.

The occasion was his weekly Wednesday briefing. The message was “get the shot.” And a footnote: as of October 1, Maine had had 4,167 breakthrough cases.

“It’s very different from a year ago, explained Shah, Maine’s CDC director. “We could call it COVID-21. It’s much more contagious than COVID-19, more transmissible, and there are fewer outbreaks.”

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Washington County COVID-19 update: cases decline, schools adapting to outbreaks

by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

Following a nationwide trend, new case counts Downeast declined last week, down to 126 from 170 the week prior, making last week the second-highest case count since the beginning of the pandemic. There are no new hospitalizations or deaths reported, leaving those totals at 51 and 20 respectively. 

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention still considers all of Maine to be in a state of high transmission, and advises universal indoor masking regardless of vaccination status. 

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This week’s outrages

by Jonathan Reisman

 

There are usually a couple of stories every week that raise my blood pressure and result in dark thoughts and angry mumbles. Here is a recent sampling:

Angus King votes to confirm eco-terrorist and tree spiking apologist Tracy Stone-Manning as the director of the Bureau of Land Management, charged with the stewardship of millions of acres of public land. Ms. Manning was approved 50-45, with nary a Republican vote, including Senator Collins, who can usually be counted on to support the environmental left.

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Stage East performs 30 plays in 60 minutes

Stage East opens their 30th anniversary season on Oct. 15 with 30 plays—or rather, with 30 Neo-futurist Plays from Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind (30 Plays in 60 Minutes) by Greg Allen. This show originally ran in Chicago for 30 years and has been chosen by Mark Macey as the first play of his inaugural season as Artistic Director. “The interminable title aside, it’s a fun, funky, fast-paced show. If you’re looking for something entertaining and lively, this is it,” says Macey.

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LifeFlight helicopter grounded after incident with Machias ambulance

A Maine LifeFlight helicopter is on the ground in East Machias after an early morning incident involving the Machias Ambulance Service. After midnight on Monday, Oct. 18, LifeFlight landed at Washington Academy in order to collect a patient. 

According to LifeFlight Executive Director Thomas Judge, their helicopter was then damaged due to “simple human error.”

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Machias hospital speaks to recent diversions: 'Ambulances are not turned away."

by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

Down East Community hospital today provided clarification on recent ambulance diversions from its Machias emergency department, which took place over the weekend and ended midday Monday. There is a lot of confusion around the diversion status, said the hospital.

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Mercier hired to lead Machias PD

by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

The town of Machias has hired veteran police officer Keith Mercier to be the new chief of the Machias Police Department, a post that has been vacant since July 18. Mercier will assume his new position on Nov. 1.

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Local man saves cat shot by arrow

by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

For weeks, Troy Quimby noticed an orange cat hanging around his property in East Machias. The cat seemed at ease and knew when Quimby’s dogs were kenneled so he could move safely around the yard. Then one Sunday morning, Quimby spotted the cat just lying in his garden.

“It looked like it was trying to get warm, I walked over and wondered what was sticking out from his arm,” said Quimby. “Then I realized the cat had something impaled in it.”

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149:3 Studios gears up for grand opening in East Machias

by Natalie Boomer

A woman from northern Maine has recently moved Downeast and has noticed there is something missing in the area. 

Hannah Toothaker is opening a dance studio for children in East Machias!

“It will be small, privately hosted dance classes owned and operated by myself and I will rent space from a local church,” she said. 

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As deadline nears, health care vaccination rates rise Downeast

by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

COVID-19 vaccination rates among Maine health care workers rose rapidly in September according to data released last week by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. Statewide, hospital vaccination rates climbed to an average of 91.6 percent. Rates also rose by more than 10 percent for assisted housing facilities and intermediate care facilities. 

Workers have until Oct. 29 to comply with the mandate.

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Question one: none of the above please, and a pox on all your houses

by Jonathan Reisman

 

“Do you want to ban the construction of high-impact electric transmission lines in the Upper Kennebec Region and to require the Legislature to approve all other such projects anywhere in Maine, both retroactively to 2020, and to require the Legislature, retroactively to 2014, to approve by a two-thirds vote such projects using public land?”- Question one on the November Ballot.

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Workshop to explore acrylic paints and mediums

Artist Anne Black will lead a workshop, Joy of Acrylics, from 1-4 pm, Saturday, October 30, at Eastport Arts Center. Black will take attendees on an exhilarating journey into the magic world of acrylic paints and mediums. “We will explore the incredible versatility of these materials with quick, playful warm-up pieces,” notes Black, who will then guide participants in creating a series of three small paintings using different techniques and combinations of acrylics and mixed media materials.

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Downeast first responders praised after ambulance mishap

 

by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

One of LifeFlight Maine’s three helicopters departed East Machias yesterday, Thursday, Oct. 21, after spending four days on the grounds of Washington Academy. LifeFlight helicopter N901EM was damaged in a minor mishap with a Machias ambulance early Monday morning when the emergency air transport service came to collect a patient after a serious car accident in Whiting.

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