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April 20, 2017

Early burn, sudden breeze causes Enfield wildlands fire

ENFIELD – An early bonfire that was started before the permitted time got out of control in Enfield, causing the area’s first wildlands fire of the season Friday. Firefighters from three departments poured more than 3,000 gallons of water on a fire as it consumed more than an acre of grass and small trees adjacent to a Dodlin Road residence. “I couldn’t be happier with the joint efforts of Lincoln, Passadumkeag and our department,” Howland Fire Chief Josh McNally said. “The crews worked seamlessly together.” Howland and Lincoln share Enfield’s fire contract as the town does not have its own department. Howland and Lincoln also have a mutual aid agreement.

Cleanup agreement has  former LPT chief executive officer in charge

PORTLAND – The chief executive officer of bankrupt Lincoln Paper and Tissue LLC would oversee initial cleanup efforts at the former paper and tissue mill, according to an agreement outlined in recent court documents. According to the agreement, which still needs approval from federal and bankruptcy court approval, Keith Van Scotter would oversee efforts to remove dangerous chemicals and asbestos from the site, just the first step in what is expected to be an expensive cleanup effort. The plan was signed  by Van Scotter and representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, Maine Department of Environmental Protection and others involved in the mill's bankruptcy case. The latest signature on the agreement was made on April 13, according to court documents.

Enfield man sentenced to 26 months, restitution for fraud cases

BANGOR – An Enfield man who defrauded three area residents out of thousands of dollars will serve more than two years in prison for his crimes, as well as pay back $17,665. That was the decision made by Superior Court Justice William Anderson last week during the sentencing portion of Charles “Chuck” Simon’s trial, in which he was found guilty of three counts of Class C Theft by Unauthorized Taking and sentenced to five years in prison, with all but two years and two months suspended. The September conviction and this month’s sentencing are the end results of an investigation into Simon’s activities, which began in 2014 and ended with his 2015 Christmas Eve arrest. Assistant District Attorney Devon Demarco said in a September interview her office was focusing on three instances: a proposed bear hunt Simon sold in August of 2014, the selling of equipment from Ronita’s Restaurant in Enfield in violation of his lease agreement, and deposits he took to build a cabin.

Fate of fire department to be decided Saturday

PASSADUMKEAG – Residents will determine the immediate future of the town’s fire department, an organization that has been in place since 1984, during a special 9 a.m. town meeting Saturday morning, resolving a crisis that began to spiral after the departure of then Fire Chief Nick Rossignol on March 14. The first article on the agenda, after the one to choose a moderator, will ask voters to decide if they want to contract out the service “with a neighboring community at the discretion of the selectmen.” Howland has proposed a $10,000 coverage contract in exchange for a $1 lease on Passadumkeag’s tank truck. Howland and Greenbush are the only two communities within five miles of the town’s center that have a fire department. Howland’s department is staffed 24 hours a day. The five-mile radius is important, especially if Passadumkeag opts to contract the service, as insurance rates increase dramatically for towns that do not have a station within that established road mileage. Last month, selectmen did discuss reaching out to both Greenbush and Lowell to see if they would be interested in providing coverage as well as Howland.

Region III Board votes no on joining regional school project

LINCOLN - At a special meeting on April 6, the Board of Directors of Region III voted against joining the area's effort to pursue and enter the application process for the State's pilot project for a new, $80-100 million dollar regional school facility that, if chosen, would serve the Greater Lincoln area.  In a weighted vote, "no" votes prevailed with 578 points with "yes" votes garnering 249 votes.  Ten board members voted no and four members voted yes. With well over 50 people in attendance, the public was given the opportunity to speak and express their opinions to the board on the matter.  Chairwoman Patricia Saba read the guidelines for speaking, and requested that speakers remain courteous and on topic.  Many of those attending spoke, with the majority urging the board members to support the measure.

Split SAD 31 board votes to become part of regional school effort

HOWLAND – The School Administrative District 31 board narrowly approved joining three other high schools as part of a pilot project application for a new grades 9-16 school last week. The motion to join Regional School Unit 67 (Lincoln area), East Millinocket, Medway and Katahdin High School as part of the joint application passed by 464 points to 305 through the district's weighted vote following nearly an hour of discussion and debate at SAD 31's April 12 meeting, which was moved to the multipurpose room in Hichborn Middle School.

Simulated tragedy educates students on the consequences of drinking and driving

LINCOLN – It was an overcast day, gray and gloomy, with low-hanging clouds threatening rain. Meagan O’Connor was riding with her friend. Maybe she was coming home from school. Maybe she was going to a party, or the game, or any of a hundred things teenagers do to pass their time. Maybe she was listening to her favorite song on the radio, singing along. Or perhaps she was laughing and gossiping with others in the vehicle. It is a question that will never be answered, as in an instant, her young life was cut short, her body thrown through the windshield as a drunk driver struck the car head on, killing her instantly. Later, her mother would be brought to the scene to identify her broken body. She would be overcome with grief at the sight of her little girl, whose life was ended too soon. It is a scenario that no parent should ever have to live through, and no child should ever have to suffer. It is the goal of the Every 15 Minute Program to prevent tragedies like this, in which a happy and healthy O’Connor participated in last week.

Juvenile charged for allegedly assaulting fellow student with lunch tray

MILLINOCKET—A 12-year old Millinocket boy is facing a juvenile assault charge after allegedly hitting another child over the head with a lunch tray during an altercation last week at a Millinocket school. The boy, whose name was not released because he is a minor, was summonsed to appear June 7 in Millinocket District Court to answer to the juvenile assault charge in connection with the alleged April 10 incident that left a 12-year old male victim with a concussion and broken orthodontic brace bracket. According to information provided by Deputy Chief Janet Theriault of the Millinocket Police Department, the incident was reported to police through the Penobscot Regional Communications Center by the mother of the alleged victim who indicated her child had been assaulted with a meal tray in the lunch room of the school. She was en route to Millinocket Regional Hospital with her child, who complained of pain in the area of his left ear as well as immediate hearing loss that subsequently returned by the time the boy was interviewed that afternoon by investigating officer David Cram.

Patten woman arrested in Tuesday stabbing

PATTEN – A local women was jailed Tuesday after allegedly assaulting her live-in boyfriend, first with her fists before ultimately stabbing him with a steak knife. Beth Grant, 36, has been charged with Felony Aggravated Assault with a Dangerous Weapon as well as Violation of Conditions of Release and Operating after Suspension following the incident, which took place 7:30 a.m. at a residence on Main Street.

Selectmen approve public safety, EMS budgets

EAST MILLINOCKET – The East Millinocket Board of Selectmen approved public safety and emergency services budgets and praised the department heads for their leadership during some difficult times. Selectmen approved the Medway Police Budget, which is a contract with Medway, for $122,000. Police Chief Cameron McDunnah reported that the contract has no changes.

Public works, solid waste budgets approved

EAST MILLINOCKET - The East Millinocket Board of Selectmen finished its first round of budget review last week (minus the water and waste budget which is a revenue driven budget and will be reviewed at the next meeting April 25). Public Works Leadman Steve Campbell met with selectmen to review his proposed budgets. The hot top account was approved at $45,864 as that is what is needed in order for the town to get $14,136 back in state reimbursement making a total hot top budget of $60,000. This has been the standard budget the last few years with all the budget cuts. Even though the request was up $148, selectmen agreed to it because it is what is needed in order to get the reimbursement.

Comp plan committee to ask citizens for financial help

MEDWAY – The Medway Comprehensive Planning Committee continues to move forward with work assignments while waiting for the board of selectmen to appoint a planning board. Committee Chairman Bruce Cox encouraged anyone who isn’t chosen for the planning board (there are reportedly over a dozen names on the list) to join the planning committee because they can use all the help they can get. Cox has admitted that when he initially suggested and recommended that the town pursue a comprehensive plan last year he didn’t know the amount of work that would be needed to complete it. It is time consuming and labor intensive and citizen help is a must. Committee members talked about the need for professional help in getting the plan moving and done in a timely manner – and that involves committing money towards the plan. All agreed that hiring a professional to work with citizens is the most efficient and effective way to get it done.

Comp plan committee asks for money, board donates to health project

MEDWAY – Comprehensive Plan Committee Chairman Bruce Cox briefed selectmen on the group’s last meeting. He reported that Lucy Van Hook of Our Katahdin attended and offered her services to the group. She is going to look into available grants and create a template that committee members can use when compiling data needed for the plan. The 1992 plan that was put together but never accepted by residents is a very useful document but not in electronic form so it can’t be edited. Van Hook will create a “live” document that will be much more efficient and easy for the various members to use.

Area police departments to take part in Maine Drug Take Back Initiative

KATAHDIN REGION—Multiple law enforcement agencies will be out in force in the Katahdin Region next weekend aiming to promote safe disposal of unused, unneeded and unwanted medication. Officers from the Millinocket Police Department and East Millinocket Police Department will take part April 29 in the Maine Drug Take Back Initiative put on by the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency. East Millinocket police officers will be stationed at the town’s public safety building on Main Street in East Millinocket while the Millinocket Police Department will hold its collection effort at the Millinocket Regional Hospital Health Fair at Stearns Junior-Senior High School where Officer Roy Bickford will be joined by Deputy Don Bolduc of the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office. Both collection periods will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.