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.


September 18

Maine Public Broadcasting - A proposed merger between a credit union and a bank in Augusta is causing a rift between some members of the KV Federal Credit Union who are fighting to preserve their small community lending institution. A vote on whether to authorize the credit union's acquisition by the Kennebec Savings Bank is expected next week. . . A little more than a year ago, Lucille Cloutier began to hear rumors that top officers at the Kennebec Valley Federal Credit Union, where she has done business for years, were talking about merging with the Kennebec Savings Bank. Soon the rumor was confirmed, but Cloutier says many of the credit union's 6,000 members never had a chance to weigh in. "Even if they had just a "How do you feel about this?" I don't think it every would have gone this far". . . At the state Bureau of Financial Institutions, the process is being watched with some curiousity. . . Donald Groves, the deputy superintendant at the bureau, says a credit union seeking to join with a bank has never happened before in Maine, and it's extremely rare nationally. "There's been no compelling reason to do so. Usually credit unions, if there's a merger necessary will merge with other credit unions, and banks with other banks and so forth. But as the number of banks and credit unions dwindle, the possiblilty that a bank/credit union merge may make sense increases."

Casco Bay Boaters -
Bath residents are keeping their eyes peeled for mountain lions after multiple late summer sightings were reported in the city, hundreds of miles away from the rare cats' closest known breeding grounds. Bath Police Lt. Stan Cielinski said one report came from a man who drives as a courier between the dialysis center on Congress Avenue in Bath and Mid-Coast Hospital in Brunswick. "He was saying that as he pulled out of the dialysis center, he saw something crossing the road with a long tail, maybe around 60 pounds," Cielinski said. "He thought it was a cougar or a mountain lion."

Maine Public Broadcasting - Maine's capital city has been named one of the nation's top "water wise" communities by a national environmental organization. American Rivers says Augusta was chosen for the distinction by what the organization says is the improvement of the health of the Kennebec River following the removal of the Edward's Dam ten years ago.

The Crossroads Landfill. . . will generate enough electricity from methane gas produced at the landfill to supply the equivalent energy needs of nearly 3,500 homes for two decades. The Norridgewock plant's been on line since March. The site is owned by Houston-based Waste Management, which operates 114 landfill gas projects. Maine's other landfill gas-to-energy plant is located at the Pine Tree Landfill in Hampden. Maine has several other potential landfill gas energy sites.

Maine Public Broadcasting - As the grayest state in the nation, Maine relies on its 22,000 direct care workers to provide all forms of assistance to older residents who may require home care or who are living in nursing homes, assisted living facilities or hospice centers. But at an average of nine dollars an hour, the wages don't always measure up to the work. . .
Helen Hanson, a direct care worker who also advocates for those in her industry, says the wages pose a particular hardship for single women trying to support their families. "The salary is really low. Folks working in homecare settings may be between eight and nine dollars an hour, so what happens is to make more money they leave a job they love and if there's no benefits and if you've got a family, you gotta leave a job you love because you've also gotta support your family."

Maine Public Broadcasting - A new survey of more than 500 Maine residents finds that high energy costs and interest in conservation are driving many people to purchase compact flourescent lights. But despite a ban on the disposal of CFLs, the availability of free recycling and concern about mercury entering the waste stream, recycling rates remain very low. Susan Sharon reports. . . Nearly half of all respondents have ten or more CFLs in use in their homes. . . But when it comes to recycling. only 23 percent said they did. About 30 percent said they threw the lightbulbs out, even though most people acknolwedged that CFLs contain small amounts of harmful mercury and even though Maine law prohibits their disposal. Another big problem: More than 60 percent of respondents said they did not know where to take the burned out bulbs.

Press Herald - At Evangeline, Erik Desjarlais has been taking a lot of calls from customers who fear they soon will be unable to get a reservation at his restaurant in Longfellow Square. Desjarlais was one of several chefs who were featured in a long article about the Portland food scene in the dining section of The New York . . . No, crowds of hungry diners have not appeared on Evangeline's doorstep overnight. But Desjarlais does expect an increase in reservations a few weeks down the road. . . In its October issue, Bon Appetit magazine named Portland the "Foodiest Small Town in America." This second course of national attention was the talk of Twitter on Wednesday. . . By Thursday, the story about Portland had become the most e-mailed story on The New York Times' Web site, surpassing columns by Thomas Friedman and Maureen Dowd, and even Mary Travers' obituary.

Morning Sentinel -
A Waldo County Sheriff's deputy was patrolling the [Unity] area Wednesday night when he received a call about suspicious activity on School Street. . . The deputy wound up arresting Jeffrey Cookson, 38, of Killdeer Drive on a charge of operating under the influence -- on a lawnmower. Chief Deputy Robert Keating said Thursday that he can recall only a few such charges in his 40-year career in law enforcement.
"We charged a woman in Searsport not too long ago," Keating said. "She was on her way to a store to buy more beer." Cookson also faces charges of operating after suspension, and violation of probation. His probation conditions, Keating said, stipulated that he not drink alcohol. Keating said that, following a charge of operating after suspension, people are not supposed to operate motorized vehicles on a roadway.

Morning Sentinel - A new poll released today puts the people's veto campaign to overturn Maine's new same-sex marriage law in a statistical dead heat. According to the Research 2000/Daily Kos poll, 48 percent of those polled said they'd vote to overturn the law, and 46 percent would vote not to. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Mainers will vote on the question on Nov. 3. The release called the demographics breakdown around the question "a mixed bag." "… Men oppose gay marriage, but women support it. Democrats are obviously a strong (demographic) for supporters of gay marriage, and with 9 percent of the undecided coming from their ranks, that could prove a factor. Independents narrowly support gay marriage, but not enough to help offset that massive wave of opposition coming from Republicans," the release said. POLL RESULTS

Kennebec Journal - Maine's 175-day school year could become even shorter under measures lawmakers are considering as they search for ways to bridge a $66 million budget gap this year. . . A single school shutdown day could save the state and local school districts $7 million statewide, Education Commissioner Susan Gendron said. Maine school superintendents were the first to suggest school shutdown days when they brought up the idea at a budget strategy session at the end of August. State government has begun a series of 20 shutdown days this fiscal year and next as part of a shrunken, $5.8 billion, two-year budget. Budget writers expect $13.8 million in savings from the move. On the municipal level, the city of Augusta began shutting down most city services for eight days this fiscal year in an effort to save $130,000.

Maine's teacher of the year


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