DOWN EAST NOTES
Rep. Melissa Walsh Innes, Yarmouth - I spent 9 hours straight today working on my responsible recycling bill, mostly from my couch and computer. I think if they worked out a Maine State legislator's pay rate, over the year, it would be about five cents an hour, so it's a good thing I enjoy this so much.
Village Soup - On Saturday, while many Belfast residents were hauling the week's corrugated cardboard to the transfer station, a dozen local youth, mostly members of local scout troops, were putting their repurposed boxes to use as sleds. The Belfast Parks and Recreation Department sponsored the Cardboard Sled Challenge in part to celebrate the recent reopening of the city ski area, located off City Point Road. . . Volunteers timed the runs with stopwatches and lined the course, ready to give a helping heave-ho to sleds that stuck in the snow, but beyond the trappings of competition - awards were given for fastest time and the most creative design - keeping score took a back seat to having fun.
Maine Public Broadcasting - The owners of more than 240 miles of rail line in northern Maine are planning to abandon the tracks this spring, citing losses of as much as $5 million a year. According to some observers, the last hope for the only rail service in northern Maine rests with the state. The Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway, formerly known as the Bangor and Aroostook, operates nearly 750 miles of rail line in Maine, Vermont, Quebec and New Brunswick. The problem, however, involves the 230 or so miles that operate from Millinocket up into Madawaska and Houlton. Robert Grindrod, President and CEO of MMA Railway, says the biggest problem has been a marked decline in demand for forest products. . .
Laurie Schreiber, Village Soup, Mt Desert - The state's attorney general was unable to get convictions in two trap-molestation cases that went to court last year, despite eyewitness accounts by Maine Marine Patrol officers who said they saw buoys being cut. As a result, the state Department of Marine Resources' Lobster Advisory Council is looking at alternative models to deal with trap molesting. . . It is unlawful for anyone except the gear's licensed owner or a Marine Patrol officer to raise or molest a lobster trap, warp, buoy or lobster car. Conviction for a violation carries a mandatory three-year loss of license. Some ideas that have come up for a different model include setting up a licensing review board, establishing a jury of peers, or giving the DMR's commissioner the discretion to impose a milder penalty for a first offense.
Maine Politics - Al Diamon has made his predictions for this year's gubernatorial race: "I think it'll come down to Abbott and Rowe in November, with the Republican taking the Blaine House by a narrow margin, thanks to Cutler and Williams siphoning votes from the Democrat." Diamon was spot on in 2006, but that wasn't exactly a hard race to forecast.