1. CDC reports 52 cases of COVID-19 in Maine, 0 in Washington County

    The Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announces its daily findings on COVID-19 every day at noon via their website, https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/airborne/coronavirus.shtml.

    Today's report announced 42 confirmed cases in Maine and 10 presumptive positive cases.

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  2. Major hurdles block reform for disabled public employees

    by Ruth Leubecker

    Many of Maine’s public workers have waited years for earned disability compensation; meantime many exist on limited resources, often from friends and churches.

    “It’s very, very sad. The system has totally let these people down,” says Jerry Conley, an attorney who has made such cases his specialty. “I’ve been doing these cases for 20 years. It’s awful, and has grown worse over the years.”

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  3. Jonesport approves $670k, some elected offices

    by Nancy Beal

    Jonesporters held their annual town meeting March 9, electing the people who will run the town for the next fiscal year (July 2020 through June 2021) and authorizing the money to do it with. In addition to the usual expenditures, approximately 80 persons raised $20,000 as the town’s share of a $66,000 stream crossing grant to rebuild the little overpass on the Kelley Point Road near Route 187 where Stillman’s Creek empties into Sawyer’s Cove, making the total raised $669,398.

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  4. UMM Clippers women’s basketball players receive national honors

    The University of Maine at Machias Clippers women’s basketball team ended a strong season with a bid to the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) Basketball National Championship, where they competed against the Villa Maria College Vikings in the quarterfinals on March 9. They were ultimately defeated by the Vikings in a game that ended 69–51.

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  5. Local doctors urge caution in ‘exponentially expanding epidemic’

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Local health care providers are modifying their practices to prepare for an outbreak of COVID-19 in Washington County.

    As of March 16, the Maine Centers for Disease Control reported 17 presumptive and positive cases in Maine, with none yet detected in Washington County.

    Dr. David Rioux, of Machias, said he is “very concerned” about the outbreak, and that his practice is working on a plan to test for the virus without bringing potentially-ill patients into his medical office.

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  6. East Machias canoe sled a work of art

    Hunter Bishop, a 10-year-old who lives in East Machias and attends Elm Street School, recently collaborated with his dad to create a “sled” for a downhill race that was planned as part of the Winter Festival in Machias. Cardboard and duct tape were the approved materials, with design and decoration left up to the builders.  A photo of a canoe seen on a postcard at the Wabanaki Cultural Center in Calais was Hunter’s inspiration.

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  7. Out and About in Columbia

    by Ronie Strout

     

    The Addison Town Meeting was held on Tuesday evening, March 10 at the D.W. Merritt Elementary School. Over 85 folks turned out for the meeting, with 83 voters registered to vote at the meeting.

    The moderator for the evening was Chris Chartrand. Roberta Pinkham and Ronie Strout registered the voters for the night.

    The Addison Town Meeting went well, with 26 articles voted on within 43 minutes. We elected one selectman, Joshua Stubbs, who won with 49 votes. Outgoing selectman Thomas Batson received 24.

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  8. The ultimate lottery

    by V. Paul Reynolds

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  9. The Nature of Phenology: Red-winged blackbirds

    by Hazel Stark

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  10. Maine CDC announces 23 confirmed, 9 presumptive COVID-19 cases

    During its daily update on Tuesday, March 17, Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the state now has 23 confirmed cases if the 2019 novel coronavirus, and nine presumptive positives, bringing the likely known total to 32. Maine discovered its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on Thursday, March 12.

    Tests for 1,303 people have come back negative.

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  11. Mills recommends indefinite classroom closures

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    On Maine’s 200th birthday, Sunday, March 15, Governor Janet Mills held a press conference to address the spread of COVID-19 in Maine and said she has declared a civil state of emergency to “unlock access to critical federal funds that will support [Maine’s] efforts.”

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  12. Machias couple emerges from self-quarantine after return from Italy

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    After 16 days in isolation, Ben and Allison Edwards were relieved to learn they tested negative for COVID-19. The couple, who manage Schoppee Farm in Machias, returned from a trip to Europe last month and were advised to self-quarantine for two weeks.

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  13. Washington County Coronavirus updates

    The Machias Valley News Observer will be regularly updating this page with information relating to coronavirus in Washington County, including closures, cancellations, and postponements. If you have any updates to include here, please email them to editor@machiasnews.com.

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  14. Machiasport’s bicentennial fundraiser will support park, tricentennial forest

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

     

    A day of fundraiser festivities planned for Saturday, March 21 will support Machiasport’s plans for several 2020-themed projects, including a park with walking paths, a tricentennial forest, and a playground, among other things. 

     

    On Sunday, March 15, Maine will celebrate its bicentennial, having entered the union as the 23rd state in 1820.

     

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  15. A walk through Machias before statehood

    by Valdine Atwood

    Editor’s note: Follow along on this walk through historic Machias using the maps found on p. 21.

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  16. Bill grapples with drug law reform

    by Ruth Leubecker

    Medical experts and public health advocates convened last week to address upcoming legislation that would relax sentencing guidelines for those possessing drugs.

    LD 1492, An Act to Reform Drug Sentencing Laws, seeks to require prosecutors to prove someone is trafficking or intends to traffick drugs before they can be convicted of it; and it would end some felony charges by raising the threshold for misdemeanor possession charges.

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  17. One year after SJC ruling, enforcement issues plague rockweed industry

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Questions about enforcement of the Ross v. Acadian Seaplants' decision surround Maine’s rockweed industry, one year after the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled rockweed is the exclusive property of Maine’s intertidal landowners.

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  18. Will fish farm propel $12M power line upgrade for Jonesport?

    by Nancy Beal

    In an unusual reversal in the practice of awarding grants, the town of Jonesport has been invited to apply for a $1,000,000 infrastructure grant. That was the word that Bill MacDonald, the new executive director of the Washington County Council of Governments (WCCOG) brought to Jonesport selectmen recently — first via email on the last day of January, then in person on Feb. 5.

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  19. Coronavirus: schools, hospital prepare to respond

    by Jayna Smith

    Concerns about the new coronavirus outbreak have risen in the U.S., even more so since 21 U.S. deaths have been reported. Stocks have plummeted as the virus has disrupted logistics networks, driven down tourism and air traffic, and canceled major events across the globe. Prices of commodities like oil and industrial metals have also taken a major plunge. Because China is a major supplier of ingredients for medicines, if the epidemic persists, prescription drugs could face shortages, according to the World Health Organization.  

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  20. New book details history of Steuben’s National Wildlife Refuge

    Today, everyone is familiar with Bar Harbor’s success as a thriving community and popular tourist destination. Less well known is the fact that, in 1896, the Petit Manan Land Company tried to create the same kind of successful community across the bay in Steuben.

    The company invested money into building roads, a clubhouse, casino, steamboat dock, icehouse, lumber shed, a boarding house and cottages. Over the next 60 years, plans were filed by numerous individuals and companies who tried unsuccessfully to sell the nearly 1,300 cottage lots and build hotels and other amenities.

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  21. Memories from Cherryfield

    by Wayne Smith

    I would like to share with you some memories about the town of Cherryfield, a town that once was a logging town, a town that once had more than one store, a town that once had a fair with all the laughter and excitement like the Blue Hill Fair. Cherryfield also had stock car racing. Pull up a chair and let's go for a ride into some of my memories of Cherryfield.

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  22. Richard Olivares to Coach WA Varsity Baseball

    Washington Academy announces Assistant Head of School Richard Olivares will coach varsity baseball for the 2020 season. Mr. Olivares states, “My goals at Washington Academy are to put a baseball team on the field that will compete with integrity and be a team the school and its community are proud of. I encourage all Washington Academy students interested in playing baseball to sign up in the WA main office.”

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  23. Wash. Co. Democrats vote with the state, mostly

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Though the Maine Department of the Secretary of State is still validating election results, it appears Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden won last week’s state primary with 34.3 percent of the statewide vote, narrowly edging out Bernie Sanders who received 32.8 percent. Both candidates took home nine Maine delegates, and both held the same positions with Downeast voters. Biden also won in Washington County — 1,054 votes to Sanders’ 851.

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  24. The Nature of Phenology: Chipmunks

    by Hazel Stark

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  25. Jonesport to consider appointed assessors, treasurer/clerk/tax collector

    by Nancy Beal

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  26. Runner-up Bulldogs ‘upbeat’ after loss, setting sights on next year

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    It wasn’t the outcome they’d hoped for, but coach Jim Getchell said the Machias Memorial High School boys’ varsity basketball team is looking ahead after losing the Class D state championship game in Augusta on Saturday, Feb. 29.

    “They love to win, and everyone loves to win, but when you think about the fact that you’re second place in the whole state of Maine, a lot of teams would like to be there,” said Getchell.

    Machias lost 69-53 to defending state champions Forest Hills High School, located in Jackman.

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  27. Storm claims two Moosabec boats: fishermen, bridge crew raise them

    by Nancy Beal

    The storm that blew into Downeast Maine last Thursday brought enough southeast wind to cause two boats to founder near the Beals-Jonesport Co-op. Alan Crowley’s Amanda May filled and sank on the hook, while Preston Alley’s dragger, Bossy Lady, dragged her mooring onto the east side of the granite approach to the Beals-Jonesport bridge.

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  28. 3 brothers and the story that brought them together

    by Ruth Leubecker

    Few stories contain as much far-reaching emotion and interaction as the brothers Eaton of Lubec.

    Richard Eaton, more well-known as Dickie, is 68. He taught school in Lubec for 16 years, then accounting and business management in Camden for many more years. Today he runs Eaton Enterprises and does income taxes at home in Lubec. However, he splits his time between Maine and California, living part-time in Lubec.

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  29. Machias selectboard talks police department move

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    The Machias Board of Selectmen last week took up the question of what to do with the telebusiness center, a semi-vacant property owned by the town.

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  30. New Machias cell tower will host first responder network

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    A nationwide network proposed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will soon be operational Downeast.  

    Last week, Rising Tide Towers completed the construction of a Machias cell tower which will provide first responder communications coverage via FirstNet, a network proposed by the federal 9/11 Commission and endorsed by Congress in 2012.

    FirstNet Principal Consultant Bruce Fitzgerald said the network is designed to give communications from first responders “priority and preemption.”

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  31. Rep. Tuell’s First Responders Day signed into law

    by Jayna Smith

    On Tuesday, Feb. 25, Gov. Mills signed into law LD 1908, An Act to Establish First Responders Day on September 11.  First Responders Day will recognize the daily contributions made by all first responders.  

    Gov. Mills said, “First responders demonstrated remarkable courage and saved countless lives on September 11th.  It is only fitting that we pay tribute to their service and sacrifice in this way as we honor the anniversary of September 11th.”

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  32. Out and About in Columbia

    I had to make a trip to my eye doctor on Monday the 24th for my sixth-month checkup. That entailed a couple of eye scans and everything is okay for now. Just praying that it will continue to be alright.

    Debra Burris joined me on Monday in Ellsworth. We did some browsing and picked up a couple of items while we were there. We had brunch at the Riverside Cafe before we returned home. It definitely was a good day out and about.

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  33. Irish group Realta to perform in Calais

    Just in time to help celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, Calais Celtic Concerts will present the award-winning group from the Ulster city of Belfast Ireland, Realta, at the Calais High School this Sunday, March 8 at 6 p.m. U.S./ 7 p.m. Canadian time. The doors will open at 5 p.m.

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  34. The last berry of winter: sumac

    by Joseph Horn

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  35. MDEA arrests four in Wash. Co. heroin bust

    The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency says four people have been charged with selling heroin in Washington County.

    Arrested and charged with Class B, Unlawful Trafficking in Heroin were; Ashley Doten (32) of Indian Township - Bail set at $25,000.00; Ralph Francis (27) of Indian Township - Bail set at $25,000.00; Marcus Horry (35) of Logan, West Virginia. Bail set at $50,000.00; and Raymond Neptune (29) of Indian Township - Bail set at $25,000.00.

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  36. Hometown rolls out heroes welcome for Machias Bulldog basketball champions

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Wailing sirens and bellowing horns could be heard for miles when a motorcade escorted the Machias Memorial High School boys’ varsity basketball team into town as the newly-crowned 2020 Class D North Champions. The parade route proceeded down Main Street to East Machias before turning to deliver the team to campus, where a reception had been prepared in their honor.

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  37. Democratic presidential primary March 3; caucuses March 8

    by Nancy Beal

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  38. Opioid crisis climbs following recent decline

    by Ruth Leubecker

    After years of inching upward, Maine’s overdose deaths slipped downward in 2018, and positive thoughts emerged, intent on implementing a plan to keep the numbers down.

    But the pendulum appears to have reversed to an upward direction, with the state reporting that 277 people lost their lives to drug overdose fatalities in the first nine months of 2019.  

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  39. Fire claims Machiasport’s Superior Shellfish

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    No cause has been determined for the fire that burned Superior Shellfish on the evening of Thursday, Feb. 20. The seafood wholesale business is located on the Kennebec Road. According to Machiasport firefighter Mike Hinerman, the building was fully engulfed in flames by the time the first fire truck arrived.

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  40. Jonesport, Columbia Falls reject PRSWDD withdrawal offer

    by Nancy Beal

    At their February 19 meeting, Jonesport selectmen agreed to a draft email proposed by their Bangor attorney, Kate Grossman, to be sent to Portland attorney, Robert Stevens, who represents the Pleasant River Solid Waste Disposal District (PRSWDD). The draft was the response that Jonesport and Columbia Falls would send to the district following the district’s response to the towns’ withdrawal proposal. For nearly a year, Jonesport and Columbia Falls have been in the process of leaving PRSWDD and Grossman has been representing them together.

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  41. Out and About in Columbia

    by Ronie Strout

     

    This past week during February school vacation I was in Boston visiting with my daughter and her family. The temperature there was a lot warmer than back in Addison but it still was cold.

    During the vacation week, my grandson Asa got to go to Camp Sayre Boy Scout Day Camp in Milton, Massachusetts. After we picked him up in the afternoons, he and Mabel enjoyed doing other activities before we went to bed.

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  42. Irish HighTime to play Calais Celtic Concerts Feb. 29

    Calais Celtic Concerts is very excited to bring back the multi-award-winning new group, from Connemara Ireland, HighTime, at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 2 Park St., Calais, on Saturday, Feb. 29, at 6 p.m. US/ 7 p.m. Canadian time. The doors will open at 5 p.m. EST.

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  43. WA players to compete at Maine One-Act Drama Festival

    Spring and the Arts. Once again Washington Academy theater students are in rehearsal. Following their highly successful fall production of Peter & Hans Bloedel’s adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the players are now preparing a one-act play for competition in the Maine Principals’ Association sponsored Maine One-Act Drama Festival which will be held on March 6-7. The WA Players will be among nine schools participating in the Downeast Regional site which is hosted by Mount Desert Island High School.

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  44. A year with Sam

    by Phil Stuart

    I first met Sam Lewis when we were freshmen at Southern New Hampshire University. Sam played on the varsity basketball team while I was a member of the freshman team. A year later we stayed in the same dormitory and played intramural softball on opposing teams.

    Sam was a native of Cromwell, Connecticut and was a better than average ballplayer for the Penmen of SNHU.

    After graduating in 1970 we went our separate ways, and although we weren't really close, it was assumed that probably our chances of meeting again were slim and none.

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  45. The Nature of Phenology: Partridges in winter

    by Joseph Horn

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