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MARCH 7, 2019

Family pet saves woman’s life from house fire

LINCOLN - A Friday evening fire destroyed the home of a Lincoln family, however further tragedy was avoided thanks to the family’s dog. Captain Kenneth Goslin of the Lincoln Fire Department said Dawna England was taking a nap at her 563 West Broadway residence when her dog woke her up, barking, shortly before 5:22 p.m. “The smoke alarms were going off, but she could not hear them,” Goslin said, stating that smoke was “pushing down” from a second story across the ceiling of the first floor. He said England crawled under the smoke and to safety before calling 911.

Howland selectmen vote to purchase new ambulance, repay loan

HOWLAND – A new ambulance should be on its way soon to replace one damaged in an Interstate 95 crash after selectmen approved a plan to pay for the new rig Monday night. Selectmen opted to finance the purchase of a new ambulance from Masschusetts-based Greenwood Emergency Vehicles through a five-year loan from Machias Savings Bank at a 3.49 percent interest rate. In the same motion, the board also opted to pay off the remaining balance of another loan, or about $110,000, from the Penobscot County Federal Credit Union used to finance the purchase of another ambulance. The town will make five annual payments of $41,357 to Machias starting in March 2020, Town Manager David Wilson explained at Monday's meeting.

Boothbay rallies past Howler girls for class "C" state basketball crown

BANGOR – In a championship game, sm all things can make a big difference. For the Penobscot Valley girls basketball team, rebounding and foul shooting helped turned the tide in their March 2 "C" state final against Boothbay Region, who overcame a 13-5 deficit after one quarter to notch a 33-25 victory. The win capped an undefeated season for the Seahawks, who won their first girls basketball state title since 1984. Penobscot Valley (18-5), which won its first regional title since 1986 the week before, saw its eight game winning streak ended. The eight point margin was the closest one for PVHS in its three girls basketball state championship appearances.                                                                                                                                    

New school renovation bill gets ought not to pass vote from committee

AUGUSTA – A bill requested by Alternative Organizational Structure 90 Superintendent William Braun asking to create a new school maintenance fund faces a grim immediate future. The bill, LD 557, was noted ought not to pass by the Maine Legislature's education and cultural affairs committee following a Feb. 28 work session on the bill, according to information posted on the state's legislative website. The bill was sponsored by State Sen. Marianne Moore of Calais and State Rep. William Tuell of East Machias.

Multiple area bridges and roads to receive needed repairs

AUGUSTA - While area travelers continue to have their vehicles menaced by potholes, an Old Town senator announced late last week some of those trails will receive much needed attention. On Friday, the office of Senator Jim Dill (D-Old Town) announced a list of state roads and bridges that are targeted for repairs in a more than $2.44 billion plan to improve the transportation infrastructure. “I am glad to see the Department of Transportation prioritizing much-needed road and bridge improvements in Penobscot County,” Dill said about the proposed three-year project. MDOT estimates that 199 miles of highway will be constructed and rehabilitated, 1,142 miles of pavement preservation, 1,800 miles of light capital paving for roads and highways, 203 spot safety improvements and 203 bridge projects.

Director looks to creative recruiting as police staffing crisis looms

LINCOLN - With two full time positions opening, and few applicants to fill them, Public Safety Director Dan Summers is looking for new ways to draw police prospects to his small town department. Officer Sean Pfahler will be leaving by the end of March, while Officer Seth Burnes has stepped into his role as sergeant for East Millinocket. The departure of the two will leave just four full time officers, including the town’s detective, to patrol the town. Summers estimates he is also short at least six reserve positions. “One of the issues we are facing is all of the police departments around us are paying more,” Summers said during an interview late last month. On Tuesday, he said he may have a plan, if it makes it through the budget process, that could aid the town in filling, and maintaining, it’s ranks.

Public Works warns of potential budget shortfall

LINCOLN - The early arrival of a winter season that has been marked with frequent storms has left the Public Works overtime and vehicle maintenance budget all but depleted. That was one of the topics of discussion before the council during Tuesday night’s workshop, held at its future home in the mini-mall facility on Main Street. “As you know, winter came very early and very often this year,” Public Works Director David Lloyd said. Year to date, his department has spent 95 percent of its overtime budget and 99 percent of its vehicle maintenance budget, leaving almost no wiggle room to last until the fiscal year ends in April.

Continued loss of students impacting state aid to area school districts

While Gov. Janet Mills has included more money for state education funding in her proposed two-year budget, a continued loss of students will negate that increase for at least two local school districts. School Administrative District 30 and Regional School Unit 67 recently talked about first drafts of their respective budgets in recent days.

Council to form committee to discuss money owed to Masons

LINCOLN - As town officials begin the process of relocating the municipal offices to their new home at 29 Main Street, a committee will be formed to discuss what money is owed to its former landlords. “In my view, as we leave 63 Main Street, we do owe the Masonic group some amount of money,” Town Manger Rick Bronson said during a council workshop Tuesday. “I don’t think it’s an enormous amount of money, but in fairness we do owe them something.” The town has rented the first and second floor from the Horeb Lodge #93 since at least the 1950s. Late last year, first an engineering study, and then a state fire marshal safety inspection and state electrical inspection, identified multiple safety and code violations present in the aging structure. Last month, the council voted 6-1, with Councilor and Mason Jeff Gifford providing the sole nay vote, to relocate to the mini-mall building, at least on a temporary basis due to the safety concerns.

Suspect arrested in Millinocket church arson

MILLINOCKET—A 21-year old Millinocket man is facing multiple charges after he allegedly broke into and set fire to a Millinocket church last summer. Adam Turner was taken into custody Thursday afternoon by the Millinocket Police Department one day after he was indicted by the Penobscot County grand jury on felony charges of burglary and arson in connection with the June 20, 2018 fire that damaged Millinocket Church of the Nazarene on Forest Avenue. According to information from Maine State Police Spokesperson Steve McCausland, investigators from the State Fire Marshal’s Office allege Turner set three separate fires inside the church that caused an estimated $60,000 worth of damage. DNA evidence collected at the scene was processed at the Maine State Police lab in Augusta and led investigators to Turner. McCausland stated there is no clear motive to the fire and Turner was not affiliated with the church.

East board to begin budget discussions

EAST MILLINOCKET—The East Millinocket school board will begin budget deliberations shortly. Until then, the school board was briefed on some of what the administration is expecting for revenues and expenses for the upcoming school year. Superintendent of schools Eric Steeves stated to the board at the regular meeting on Monday, March 4 that overall the budget looks to be in good shape. However, there are variables and details yet to work out.

Subsidy numbers look good for Millinocket schools

MILLINOCKET—While it is still too early to tell the subsidies from the state of Maine going back to the Millinocket school system looks favorable at this time, according to Superintendent Francis “Frank” Boynton. Boynton informed the school board at the warrant meeting on Tuesday, February 26 about the subsidy and briefly commenting that the numbers are promising at this time; although, with any funding from the state it could be subject to change. “We have received the ED 279 funding report from the state,” Boynton stated. “The numbers look very favorable at this time, but I caution the board that the numbers could change significantly with legislation.”

Board discusses budget expectations; approved projects

MEDWAY – Medway department heads met with selectmen Monday to talk about budget expectations and approved project requests. Assistant Recreation Director Traci Waite said her regular operation budget is expected to be similar to last year with the exception of the increase in the minimum wage. Given that the rec department employs a fair number of seasonal employees at minimum wage, that increase will have a significant impact.

Millinocket police arrest Rumford felon for alleged firearm possession

MILLINOCKET—A 27-year old Rumford man was arrested last week in Millinocket for allegedly being in possession of a firearm as a convicted felon. Rodney Bridges was taken into custody Feb. 27 after he was located at an Aroostook Avenue residence by Officer Roy Bickford of the Millinocket Police Department. Bridges was transported to the Penobscot County Jail following his arrest and was summonsed to appear April 11 in superior court at the Penobscot Judicial Center to answer to the felony charge of possession of a firearm by a felon.

Admin budgets okayed by board, cemetery survey, building improvements listed

EAST MILLINOCKET – Selectmen approved a proposed $21,235 cemetery budget, with the amount to be raised through taxation at $16,735 that includes an increase of $5,480. Administrative Assistant Angela Cote said the increases are due to a $1 raise for the superintendent and one employee as well as the cost of individual flags for the graves. Cote explained that with the minimum wage increase she felt the need to increase those employees’ wages as well. The cost of the flags has previously come out of her budget and she told board members that she moved to cost to better reflect where the money should actually be spent from.

Town to get LED street lights

MILLINOCKET—Street lights have been a somewhat costly piece of the budgetary puzzle for the town council for many years. Lights were dimmed at various times and some were taken out in past cost saving measures. Now, the town will be getting new LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights installed in all of the street lights throughout the Magic City. And there is even more good news with that: it will cost the town nothing.