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The Coastal Packet

The longtime national journal, Progressive Review, has moved its headquarters from Washington DC to Freeport, Maine, where its editor, Sam Smith, has long ties. This is a local edition dealing with Maine news and progressive politics.

7/12/09

Sunday July 12

FAIR POINT UPDATE

Bangor Daily News - Fair Point officials notified bondholders and federal regulators that due to financial troubles, the company essentially was seeking to delay interest payments due Oct. 1 on more than $500 million in debts. If Fair Point fails to secure agreements to delay payments on 95 percent of that debt, the company said it would be forced to consider other restructuring options, including bankruptcy. But Jeff Nevins, spokesman for Fair Point in Maine, stressed that it has not come to that point. "We want to make sure people understand that we have not filed for bankruptcy," Nevins said. "But regardless of what our financial situation is, we will continue to serve our customers. For most customers, they won't really notice a difference." Representatives of Maine's Public Advocate's Office agreed. Because Fair Point is a regulated public utility, its customers will continue to receive service regardless of financial problems. "There is no way the company is going to go out of business," said Wayne Jortner, a senior counsel at the advocate's office, which is charged with representing the interests of ratepayers in dealing with utilities. "The company is going to continue to operate."

In a report to the state, Fair Point claims to be making some progress on billing and service problems. . . Waiting time on calls has dropped from 8 minutes in March to under two minutes now and the backlog in pending orders has been cut from about 14,000 in April to 4,000 now.

Sun Journal editorial - It has been a messy, mishandled transition - but not yet a mistake. Northern New England knew what it had with Verizon, if the sale to Fair Point wasn't approved: a disinterested behemoth, unresponsive to the telecommunications needs of the region while it pursued more fertile ground elsewhere. The risk with Fair Point was always that the company was too ambitious and leveraged to make this deal work, as it vowed it could. Now that these fears are being realized, the course of action shouldn't be kicking Fair Point when it is down, but acting judiciously in helping it up. . . A good deal of the state's economic development potential is contingent upon Fair Point's ability to string broadband to the farthest-flung reaches of Maine, potential that would have been unrealized under Verizon's laissez-faire attitude toward this region. . .

MAINE NOTES

Village Soup - Late May through early July in southern Maine is a critical period when female turtles undertake risky overland forays to reach nesting areas. During this time, turtles often cross roads, sometimes with fatal consequences. In response, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and The Nature Conservancy are cooperating to install new road signs warning motorists of endangered turtle road crossing locations in the towns of Wells, South Berwick and York . . . Spotted and Blanding's turtles, both protected under Maine's Endangered Species Act, . . . are extremely long-lived animals that take a minimum of 7 (Spotted) to 14 (Blanding's) years to reach reproductive age. This, coupled with low hatchling success, places a premium on adult survivorship. . . Simply put, there is probably no group of organisms in Maine for which roads represent a more serious threat to long-term population viability than turtles. . .

The Maine Children's Alliance has done a study of the Bath-West Bath-Phiippsburg - Arrowsic - Woolwich school reorganization. Douglas Rooks, who wrote the study "told The Times Record that RSU 1 benefited from being a locally initiated merger with its own customized legislation. Many other school consolidation efforts around Maine, in comparison, have been forced by the state and guided by a general regionalization law that works well for some and poorly for others. . . The details of that reorganization were in the works for years, and the particulars of the local school governance model were largely ironed out before the merger law was passed. . . 'It's not impossible to do these plans, but they present a lot of issues that are probably local in nature,' said Rooks. 'One of the things we were hoping to show is how the process goes when you do have local impetus, as opposed to when the state says, 'We think you should do this.'"

Bangor Daily News
reports that the Maine Department of Marine Resources estimates 160,000 lobster traps were lost in 2007 alone. In addition to cluttering up the coast, this costs lobstermen a lot of money. That's over a million dollars worth of traps. . . "This spring, dozens of volunteers from across Maine joined lobstermen in the removal of more than 200 derelict traps from the shore of Bar Island in Muscongus Bay near Damariscotta. . . State law restricts removal of the gear so fishermen have a chance to recover their lost property."

Students at the University of New Hampshire
have done a study on how to make use of the historic Wood Island Lifesaving Station in Kittery. This is another example of a program that uses students to deal with local issues. Among the students are environmental engineers, civil engineers and business students. Past projects included a business model for the Center for Wildlife in Cape Neddick.

Susan Morse, Seacoast Online - The York Public Library is in Overdrive, a new program that allows users to download audio books at home. . . York launched the state's Download Library in March, in a soft start not widely publicized so as to give staff time to work out any potential kinks in the system, said Director Robert Waldman. . . So far, the audio program appears to be working well, said Waldman, who does not yet have figures on how many library patrons are downloading audio books. It requires a library card number, a little technical savvy to set up the system on the computer, and an MP3 player or iPod on which to download the books.

A film about the public's right to water premiers tonight at the Watervile Opera House. . . Kennebec Journal: "Tapped," directed by Stephanie Soechtig and Jason Lindsey, examines the role of the bottled-water industry and its effect on health, climate change, pollution and our reliance on oil. Not coincidentally, much of the film was shot in Fryeburg, where the state's industry leader, Poland Spring, runs a spring water station.. . . Before the showing, producers of "Tapped" made their point in a most intriguing way. On a flatbed trailer, they trucked to Waterville 7,000 empty Poland Spring bottles loaned to them by recycling companies. That, they say, represents a quarter of what Mainers consume in a week.

Kimberly Spencer is one of two recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. She teaches at Yarmouth Elementary School. . . Portland Press Herald: "Spencer said a math lesson based on the amount of carrots that could be grown in the garden outside her classroom served as the basis for her award. She said her second- and third-grade students used multiplication tables to figure out how many carrots could be grown in several triangle-shaped plots. . . The Maine winners each will receive a citation signed by President Obama; a paid trip for two to Washington, D.C". . . There are no indications, however, that she will meet with Education Secretary Arne Duncan to explain how one can teach without obsessive testing.

Bill Trotter, Bangor Daily News - According to park officials, no one seems to try to stick a pine tree or a gull into a pocket to take home as a souvenir. Rocks are a different matter - especially the large smooth kind that centuries ago were carried from Maine's beaches for use as city cobblestones. . . For that reason, it is illegal to remove rocks and other items from Acadia. Even the removal of small rocks one by one as individual hiking mementos can have a significant cumulative effect, park officials said. The displacement of rocks, such as by piling them up in cairns as social trail markers, is also discouraged because it disturbs the park's natural setting.

The ships Eagle, Kalmar Nyckel, Spirit of Carolina and Spirit of Massachusetts will be in Portsmouth starting Auguast 7 for the Tall Ships Festival.



150 year old church to close in Oakland

Small scale short term plan for Maine State pier

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