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November 23, 2017

Former LP&T employee charged with arson

LINCOLN - A former employee of Lincoln Paper and Tissue has been charged with two counts of Class A Arson and remains incarcerated at Penobscot County Jail after allegedly setting three fires on the shuttered mill’s site Wednesday afternoon and evening. David Parsons, 59, is being held on $20,000 cash bail with conditions to not be at the former mill site and not possess any incendiary devices following his Thursday arrest, just one day after he allegedly started the fires. Firefighters from 11 communities, including the Maine Forest Service, spent much of Wednesday night battling the second of the three fires, which was set in a large building near the Katahdin Avenue gate. Flames as high as two-stories rose into the night, and was visible from Main Street, turning the sky bright hues of red and orange.

Area school districts continue regional organizational efforts

LINCOLN – A group of area school superintendents continue to seek ways to provide regional services to meet a new state mandate, Regional School Unit 67 Superintendent Dr. Keith Laser noted last week. Laser updated the RSU 67 board on the group's progress during their Nov. 15 meeting in the Mattanawcook Academy library. RSU 67, School Administrative District 30 (Lee area), Millinocket, East Millinocket and Medway have continued to express an interest in working together, Laser told the board, having attended two meetings and expected to attend a third in the coming days. Laser noted that the group planned to finalize and submit applications regarding their efforts to the Department of Education by a Nov. 30 deadline.

Howland board votes to start dangerous building process on 3 Main Street property

HOWLAND – Selectmen voted Monday night to begin the process of whether to declare 3 Main Street as a dangerous building under Maine law. The vote, which followed an 18 minute executive session, sets the stage for a public hearing on the property, purchased by Diamond Kelaher from the town last year after its previous owner failed to pay property taxes. The building's condition came into sharper view earlier this year when Howland firefighters were called to handle a fire call at the former apartment building.

Burlington fire remains under investigation

BURLINGTON - The cause of an early Monday morning fire that destroyed a mobile home and secondary shed remained under investigation by the state Fire Marshal’s office as of press time Tuesday. Firefighters from five communities: Lincoln, Howland, Passadumkeag, Lowell and Burlington converged on the scene at 51 Sibley Road at 4:45 a.m. Monday, days after multiple communities were called on to fight an arson fire at the former Lincoln Paper and Tissue Mill in Lincoln. “It was very much fully involved when we first arrived,” Burlington Fire Chief John Smith said, stating that the fire, which is suspected to have started in the single-wide mobile home with a wooden addition, had also radiated over to a stand-alone shed and wood pile. “The trailer was a loss when we got there,” Smith said.

Enfield selectmen opt to stay with current ambulance service, table pot ordinance

ENFIELD – Town residents will continue to be served by the Lincoln-East Millinocket ambulance for now. Selectmen opted at their Nov. 13 meeting against seeking ambulance coverage from another concern, Town Manager Theresa Thurlow noted in a Nov. 16 telephone interview. "They decided, at the time being, that the ambulance service would stay the same," Thurlow noted. "They decided not to revisit (the issue) at this time," she added. In late April, the board voted 2-0, with Selectman Rick Smart abstaining, tabled action on a potential long-term contract for ambulance service, leaving in place an agreement to have Lincoln-East Millinocket provide ambulance coverage.

Howland selectman offers to pay personal property taxes to move issue forward

HOWLAND – The assessment and collection of personal property taxes has been a vexing one for town officials over the years. The issue cropped up again at Monday's selectmen's meeting. as resident Bill Bowie continued to express his frustration on the matter. At least one board member, at the end of the meeting, offered to pay his personal property taxes "so I can be back on board" trying to solve the matter. Bowie again noted that the town has not collected thousands of dollars in personal property taxes during the past five  years and also noted that three selectmen have what Bowie described as "a conflict of interest" on the matter.

Danforth woman lies in critical condition following crash

LINCOLN - A woman who was struck as she attempted to walk across West Broadway Friday remains in ICU at Eastern Maine Medical Center. Bonita Whiting, 69, of Danforth was first stabilized at Penobscot Valley Hospital before being taken by Lifeflight ambulance to EMMC after she was stuck by a car being driven by Amy Fullerton, 41, of Winn as Fullerton pulled out of the Walmart parking lot at 4:22:53 p.m.

RSU 67 finances remain strong, according to auditor

LINCOLN – Regional School Unit 67's finances remain in good shape, its auditor told the board at its Nov. 15 meeting. Certified public accountant James Wadman, who has audited RSU 67's finances for years, presented findings from the district's fiscal year 2017 audit at the meeting. "You are in a very strong financial position again this year," Wadman told the board. RSU 67 ended fiscal year 2017 on June 30 with $2.9 million in unassigned funds, Wadman explained. This amount used to be called undesignated fund balance and has been referred to by some as surplus in the past. Helping the district's bottom line was $342,814 in additional revenue not included as part of the proposed budget and by not spending $770,000 of its 2016-2017 budget, both Wadman and Superintendent Dr. Keith Laser noted at the meeting.

Relocation of cemetery fence, forest service contract discussed at 'Keag selectmen's meeting

MATTAWAMKEAG - Selectmen here Monday night voted to have Superior Fence Company of Brewer move the fence around the cemetery in 12 feet toward the interior to facilitate easier travel by snowmobilers.  This move would also protect the grave sites by establishing a wider perimeter around the property. First selectman John Whitehouse said that he had spoken to a representative of Superior Fence, and they said the cost for the project would be $2800, which the town would pay and then be reimbursed by the snowmobile club.

Millinocket officer gets reprieve from charges

MILLINOCKET - A police officer for the town’s department will not be prosecuted by the Lincoln County District Attorney’s Office as his case was declined for further investigation last week. Roy Bickford had been charged by state police based in Augusta with Harassment and Disorderly Conduct for an undisclosed incident. Though the case was declined by the DA, it was not dismissed.

Millinocket residence destroyed in mid week fire

MILLINOCKET—A suspected electrical fire destroyed a single family house in the Little Italy neighborhood of Millinocket last week. Nobody was injured and the fire that broke out during the morning of Nov. 15 at 17 York St. does not appear to be suspicious, according to Chief Steve Kenyon of the Millinocket Fire Department. The State Fire Marshal’s Office has been called in to investigate in an attempt to pinpoint the cause of the blaze, which appeared to start in the basement of the house and is initially believed to be electrical in nature. The property’s owner, a single woman, left the residence earlier that morning to travel cross country to attend to family matters. The fire was reported around 8:10 a.m. as a structure fire with show smoking.

Public input sought for Medway comp plan

MEDWAY – With each meeting the Medway Comprehensive Planning Committee becomes a little more focused and a little better in capturing useful information for the first draft of a proposed plan. The one thing the committee is missing however is public participation. Committee members are at a loss at how to get more people involved in the process. Public announcement of meetings, newspaper articles and talk at selectmen’s meetings have failed to generate any public participation outside of committee members and public officials. Without public input beforehand, Committee Chairman Bruce Cox said he feared getting a document to town meeting where citizens will then have the debate and discussions they should be having now. The comprehensive plan could potentially be voted down and a lot of time and hard work will be for naught.

Medway school board to up sub pay

MEDWAY—The Medway school board reviewed it pay scale for substitute teachers and a part time custodian in its regular business meeting following a joint session with Woodville and East  Millinocket school boards. After the joint meeting on Tuesday, November 14, Woodville adjourned while East Millinocket met separately. With the increasing demands of hiring qualified substitute teachers and there being a shortage when regular teachers are out, the Medway school board addressed the issue of raising sub pay in order to attract more substitute teachers. The board is also aware that rates may not be in compliance with state minimum wage standards come January 1, 2018 when minimum wage is raised to $10 an hour. “The main reason is the minimum wage increases on January 1 to $10 an hour,” Superintendent Dawn Pray informed. “It goes in effect with two readings. East Millinocket has done this as well.”

Shorthanded Millinocket PD contending with officer injuries

MILLINOCKET—For the last month, the Millinocket Police Department has been contending with a significantly reduced roster of officers with injuries sidelining three members of the force although help is on the horizon for the shorthanded department. Officers Marty Legassey and Shawn Smith have been out of duty since last month while Sgt. Gary Lakeman has been out since the end of June, all because of medical reasons. That has left Officer David Cram and Deputy Chief Janet Theriault as the department’s lone patrol officers with Chief Steve Kenyon, who also oversees the town’s fire department, joining the patrol rotation. Kenyon has taken over a daytime shift with the shuffling of the department’s staffing schedule following the loss of Legassey and Smith. Kenyon said Lakeman is expected back Dec. 11 while Legassey and Smith are both still likely out for extended periods of time.

Monetary relief available to Western Union scam victims

KATAHDIN REGION—Individuals who were bilked out of money by wiring it to scammers via Western Union may be able to recoup their monetary losses through a $586 million settlement between the company and federal authorities. The settlement resolves charges brought against Western Union by the Federal Trade Commission and United States Department of Justice alleging that scammers were able to use Western Union’s money transfer system to get payments from their victims even though the company was aware of such practices and received thousands of complaints about fraud-induced money transfers made for deceptive purposes, such as lotteries, purported family emergencies, advance-fee loans, online dating and other scams, according to a press release from the Federal Trade Commission. Western Union also allegedly failed to promptly discipline problem agents as well as failed to have effective anti-fraud policies and procedures. Consumers who lost money to scammers who told them to pay via Western Union’s money transfer system between Jan. 1, 2004 and Jan. 19, 2017 can file a claim to get their money back by going to www.ftc.gov/WU before Feb. 12, 2018.

Woman charged after allegedly violating no trespass order

MILLINOCKET—A 45-year old Millinocket woman was charged with criminal trespassing after she allegedly violated terms of a no trespass order barring her from the property of Kelley’s Mobile Home Park. Tammy McLain was summonsed to appear Dec. 6 in Millinocket District Court to answer to the charge stemming from an incident last week when she is accused of being at the property in violation of the no trespass order that was served in July at the request of the mobile home park’s owner, according to information provided by Deputy Chief Janet Theriault of the Millinocket Police Department.

Alleged threatening texts, calls net probation violation for Millinocket resident

MILLINOCKET—A 38-year old Millinocket man was taken into custody last week for allegedly violating his probation by making telephone calls and sending text messages to a Millinocket woman. Jeremy Sawyer was arrested Friday in Hancock County where he was working by his probation officer with the assistance of local law enforcement officers based on alleged conduct the prior day that was investigated by the Millinocket Police Department. Sawyer was transported to the Hancock County Jail in Ellsworth, where he was being held as of late last week on a probation hold. According to information from Deputy Chief Janet Theriault of the Millinocket Police Department, Officer Roy Bickford investigated a complaint that was received around 8 p.m. Thursday alleging that Sawyer was contacting a female by telephone calls and text messages in violation of his probation. The communication was described as being threatening in nature.