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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.

8/31/09

Monday, August 31

THE MAINE STREAM

Maine Public Broadcasting
- Maine's Education Commissioner says the decline in the state's student population is a trend that's expected to continue. Maine's high school and elementary school population is dropping. That's according to Maine Education Commissioner Susan Gendron, who estimates that there will be 3,000 to 3,500 fewer students in grades K-12 this year. She says it's a trend she expects to continue for a few more years. "If you go back to, roughly, ten years ago, in that period of time -- in ten years -- we've lost 25,000 students, so that has major implications for us as an educational system," Gendron told Capitol News Service. "It's also one of the reasons we said we need to look at reorganizing our districts."

Betty Jespersen, Morning Sentinel -
Rural school districts that haven't consolidated with their neighbors are waiting to see if voters dump the whole idea in November through a statewide referendum. Dozens of towns and their districts are still without a state-mandated consolidation plan. . . . More than 100 school systems have so far rejected merging, according to the Maine Department of Education. They could be punished for it. The consolidation law has financial penalties that would cut state funding to those districts that still have no plan by July 2010. In November, a citizen's referendum spearheaded by the Maine Coalition to Save Schools will be on the ballot that, if approved, would toss out the mandate altogether. . . "I think it is a reflection of American society that we sense a loss of control of the things we used to be able to control," said Lyman Beverage, interim superintendent of RSU 59, in Madison. . . "The only place people feel they still have control is the schools."

News Times, CT - To help conserve the species, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission last week raised the threshold for legal-sized lobsters in the waters from Connecticut to southern Massachusetts, commission official Toni Kearns said. Effective January 1, the gauge size -- the distance from behind a lobster's eye to the base of its tail -- for a legal lobster will increase . . . After lobster catches reached a record low last year, longtime southern Connecticut lobstermen said they are not seeing an increase in healthy young lobsters and egg-bearing females that might portend a resurgence for their industry. Lobster catches in Maine and northern Massachusetts remain high, according to the ASMFC. . . An assessment conducted by the ASMFC and released in May found that lobster stocks in southern New England remain unhealthy as a result of overfishing and other factors, such as higher than average water temperatures. . . Connecticut lobstermen caught 387,306 pounds of lobster last year, a 31 percent drop from 2007 and less than one-tenth of the 3.7 million pounds hauled in during the industry's recorded peak in 1998.

Recent storms have damaged some of the buildings on Mount Desert Rock, use by the College of the Atlantic.

Digital City - Restaurants across the country are taking of advantage of falling lobster prices . . . At the posh downtown eatery O'Asian in Seattle, not only can you score sesame beef and wasabi-infused prawns at $5 per plate during happy hour, but you can also enjoy one free lobster per table on Sunday nights. . . Lobster Fest at Philadelphia's Bistro Romano is taking place on Tuesday nights. A whole Maine lobster plus a garden salad and a bowl of linguine is only $14.95. . . . The lobster deals are sizzling in South Florida, too. At Miami's Tobacco Road, you can get a pound and a quarter of Maine lobster with garlic mashed potatoes and slaw for only $12.49 with a two drink minimum purchase.

Terry Karkos, Sun Journal - Being an emergency responder in the age of cell phones is often frustrating, because Maine's E-911 system doesn't always work the way the state claims it does for cell phones. Just ask Carthage fire Capt. Larry Blodgett. The 30-year firefighter and son of a fire chief said recently that fear entered his mind on the night of July 4 after suddenly realizing he was the only firefighter to arrive at a fully-involved structure fire at 711 Weld St. in Dixfield. Everyone else was sent the wrong way on Route 142 toward Weld. Dixfield Fire Co. -- the closest department at 3.3 miles away -- wasn't dispatched until 20 minutes after the call was initially reported to a dispatch center, according to Dixfield fire Chief Scott Dennett.

Scott Monroe, Morning Sentinel - A Skowhegan man convicted of stealing timber from wood lot owners has been ordered to pay $94,558 in restitution to the victims. Gerald Nelson Jr., 42, has been in jail since Aug. 7, 2008, when he was sentenced by Justice Andrew M. Horton to five years in prison and two years probation after he's released. A Kennebec County jury in June 2008 convicted him of theft from woodlots owners in six Maine counties, including 10 private landowners and Sappi Paper Co., and in New Hampshire.

INDICATORS

Maine Public Broadcating - A group that keeps track of broadband speeds across the nation says Maine continues to have one of the lowest rankings in the country. According to a study by the group Speed Matters, Maine's ranking this year is the same as last: 42nd in the nation.

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