Maine Dems, GOP remain far apart on $40M savings
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - As Maine Democrats and Republicans struggle to agree on how to find $40 million in savings by cutting tax expenditures in the state budget, Maine's cities and towns are bracing for potential cuts to municipal revenue sharing.
A task force that sought to find the savings by reducing or eliminating tax cuts or breaks presented its recommendations to lawmakers today.
But they've already drawn criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike, signaling the difficulty the two parties face as they seek to reach an agreement in the coming months.
Maine Audubon attacked over report on wind farms
WELD, Maine (AP) - A group that has opposed wind power projects in Maine is attacking a report by Maine Audubon that concluded the state can develop wind power without harming wildlife.
Friends of Maine Mountains called on Maine Audubon today to retract its findings. It also accused the environmental organization of being biased because it receives corporate donations from the wind power industry.
Michelle Smith from Maine Audubon said the organization believes that wind turbines can be located in places that minimize impact on wildlife.
Rand Stowell, founder of Friends of Maine Mountains, said the Maine Audubon needs a higher standard of scientific review.
Police: 12-year-old Bath boy escapes abduction try
BATH, Maine (AP) - Police in Bath are warning residents to be on the lookout for the driver of a minivan who tried to abduct a 12-year-old boy.
Police say the boy was approached by a man driving a minivan on Middle Street at about 3 p.m. yesterday.
The driver of the van grabbed the boy, and attempted to pull him inside. The boy freed himself, fled home and called police.
The boy described the driver as about 40 years old, bald, approximately 5-feet, 9-inches tall, with a long beard. He was wearing ripped jeans and a gray shirt.
The van was described as greenish-gray in color, with a small antenna on the roof. The make and model are not known but the boy told police it appeared to be a newer model.
NH man pleads guilty to Maine bank robberies
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Prosecutors say a New Hampshire man pleaded guilty today in Maine to armed bank robbery charges.
The charges against 38-year-old Daniel Barry of Pembroke, N.H., stem from armed bank robberies of Kennebunk Savings in Eliot and Ocean Communities Federal Credit Union in Sanford in October.
Barry pleaded guilty today and court records say he vaulted over the teller counter and took nearly $8,000 in the Kennebunk robbery while someone else pointed a gun at tellers.
Authorities said Barry also was the source of a gun used to rob over $8,500 from the Sanford credit union. Both firearms were recovered during a search of Barry's residence.
Judge weighs competency of Bangor woman
BANGOR, Maine (AP) - A Bangor woman charged with killing her husband has mental and physical health issues that make her unable to assist in her own trial, experts for the defense have told a judge.
But prosecution experts told the judge at a two-day competency hearing that ended yesterday that 50-year-old Roxanne Jeskey is exaggerating her mental health symptoms and is competent enough to stand trial.
Authorities say she used pliers, a box cutter and a plastic baseball bat to kill her husband, Richard, in June 2011 after he spoke to an ex-girlfriend on the phone. He was found dead in the bathtub of the couple's apartment.
She has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
WABI-TV reports that the judge will rule on her competency tomorrow.
FEDERAL JUDGE NOMINATION-NH
Shaheen: NH fed judge nominee 'outstanding'
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The U.S. Senate has confirmed the first woman to serve on the federal bench in New Hampshire.
The Senate today approved Landya McCafferty by a vote of 79-19.
McCafferty has served as U.S. magistrate judge for New Hampshire for three years, and has clerked for two judges at the First Circuit Court of Appeals. She also prosecuted professional misconduct cases at the state Supreme Court and worked as a public defender and a civil litigator.
HEALTH OVERHAUL-INSURANCE COMPANIES
Another insurer to offer ACA plans in NH
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Another insurance company plans to offer health plans under the Affordable Care Act in New Hampshire.
For now, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the only health insurance company offering plans through the new online markets required under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law. But U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter announced today that nonprofit Minuteman Health of Massachusetts has been given federal approval to expand into New Hampshire and form a new program that will offer plans under the law. Those policies would be available next year for coverage starting in 2015.
Harvard Pilgrim also has indicated it will offer plans for coverage starting in 2015.
NH hospital denied formal hearing on ACA network
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The New Hampshire Insurance Department has denied Frisbie Memorial Hospital's request for a formal hearing on its exclusion from the provider network for those purchasing individual insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act.
Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester is fighting its exclusion from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Hampshire's net network.
The insurance department said today that it will hold an informational public hearing in January on how it evaluates network adequacy, but the hospital won't get a more formal adjudicative hearing.
Man sought in date robbery arrested in Mass.
KEENE, N.H. (AP) - A man accused of robbing someone he met on an online dating website in New Hampshire has been arrested in Massachusetts.
Keene police said 23-year-old Michael Bolio was arrested last night in Winchendon, Mass., after his photo was distributed to the public.
Police say Bolio used several online profiles to meet people online and pulled a gun and took the victim's wallet during one of those encounters.
NH county attorney makes bid for reinstatement
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - A New Hampshire county attorney who was stripped of his power to prosecute amid an investigation into the operation of his office is returning to court seeking evidence of what he did wrong.
Veteran Rockingham County Attorney Jim Reams was stripped of his authority by the Attorney General last month - at the outset of a federal and state investigation.
Reams is due in Merrimack Superior Court today to argue that the Attorney General's office should provide evidence of any wrongdoing.
Reams and his lawyer will be back in court next week to argue that the Attorney General's action removing him from office was unconstitutional because no criminal charges have been filed against Reams.
Man wanted in NH bank robberies arrested in Mass.
CLAREMONT, N.H. (AP) - Police in Claremont, N.H., say a man wanted in connection with three bank robberies has been arrested in Massachusetts on drug charges.
Claremont Police Chief Alex Scott says police arrested 30-year-old James Oberfeldt of Claremont last week in Holyoke, Mass., as part of a drug case unrelated to the robberies.
The Eagle-Times reports police believe Oberfeldt robbed the One Credit Union branch on October 11; the Lake Sunapee Bank branch in Lebanon on November 20, and the Claremont Savings Bank branch on November 26.
Scott said in each case, the suspect brandished a weapon that is a BB gun replica of a .9mm Beretta pistol.
Oberfeldt had a warrant out for his arrest for alleged probation violations in another matter.
NH Speedway Children's Charities makes annual gift
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - More than 50 organizations that help children across New England are getting nearly $250,000 from the New Hampshire chapter of Speedway Children's Charities.
Officials from the New Hampshire Motor Speedway are joining Governor Maggie Hassan and others today to present $243,000 to 56 groups that serve 103,000 needy children.
Recipients include the Center for Grieving Children in Portland, Maine; the Children's Literacy Foundation in Waterbury Center, Vt.; and the Kismet Rock Foundation in North Conway, which offers rock climbing classes to low-income families.
Vt. gov. to talk Health Connect sign up numbers
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Governor Peter Shumlin is going to be talking about enrollment numbers in the Vermont Health Connect system at the Statehouse today.
Shumlin is also expected to discuss safeguards put in place to ensure there are no lapses in health insurance coverage when the new system takes effect on Jan. 1.
After troubles with the website designed for people to sign up for new health insurance coverage the state made a number of changes to the system to ensure people won't lose coverage, including pushing the signup date back to March 31.
Vt.'s largest school solar array coming online
DUXBURY, Vt. (AP) - Crossett Brook Middle School in Duxbury now has Vermont's largest school solar array.
Gov. Peter Shumlin and others threw the switch on the 157-kilowatt solar array today. It is the largest such system at a school in the state.
Shumlin was joined by state and local officials and representatives of the solar power company the installed the array, SunCommon, and Green Mountain Power, Vermont's largest electric utility.
The 480-panel array can produce enough electricity for about 30 homes and it's expected to save the school thousands of dollars in electricity costs.
FERDINAND WIND PROJECT
Property owner voting ending on Vt. wind project
FERDINAND, Vt. (AP) - The voting period is wrapping up on whether an industrial wind project should be built on Seneca Mountain in the Northeast Kingdom town of Ferdinand.
Nearly 400 people who own property in five unincorporated towns and gores have been asked to vote on the project.
Ballots were mailed to the property owners, including five in Canada, last month. They must be postmarked no later than today.
The ballots will be counted at the January meeting of the board of governors of the Unified Towns and Gores, the body that oversees the communities that have no separate municipal governments of their own.
The developer, Eolian Renewable Energy of Portsmouth, N.H., has proposed a 20-turbine wind project for Seneca Mountain capable of producing an estimated 60 megawatts of electricity.
Vt. armed standoff suspect released from jail
NEWPORT, Vt. (AP) - A Vermont man who was armed with a rifle on his roof and was charged with reckless endangerment has been released from jail on a lowered bail.
A judge recently reduced bail for Derrick Niles, of Newport, from $100,000 to $10,000. The Caledonian-Record reports he was released after his mother and aunt posted a $1,000 deposit.
Niles has pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges stemming from the September 25 incident.
Judge Howard VanBenthuysen noted that although Niles was found competent to stand trial, the issue of sanity remains after Dr. Paul Cotton found that he was insane at the time of the alleged offenses.
Vt. community hopes to set blood-drive record
RUTLAND, Vt. (AP) - Organizers of a blood drive in Rutland, Vt., hope to collect enough to surpass the current record set in Manchester, N.H.
More than 2,000 people have signed up to donate blood in the Gift-of-Life Marathon scheduled for Tuesday.
Organizers are aiming to collect at least 1,969 pints of blood. Manchester holds the current record of 1,968 pints collected in a single day.
The annual Gift-of-Life Marathon has become a holiday phenomenon over the last 10 years, inspiring a documentary, "The Blood in This Town," breaking New England records three times, and recording the second- and third-largest blood collections in American history.
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