1. MSB brings $4M expansion to Machias Planning Board

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Josh Bragg unrolled a stack of architectural renderings in front of the Machias Planning Board at their monthly meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 7. 

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  2. Commissioners get creative, send county budget back to committee

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Nearing the close of a year-long, often heated debate over hiking taxes to add deputies to the sheriff’s office, the county commissioners have sent a revised budget proposal back to the Washington County Budget Committee with a new suggested county tax increase of 3.9 percent or $243,000. Previously the cost increase for the first year was more than 6 percent, or roughly $400,000. The first year increase is the highest because it includes the cost of cars and other gear.

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  3. King earmarks three issues for bipartisan action

    by Ruth Leubecker

    Sen. Angus King, in a decisive victory at the polls, will return to the U.S. Senate to serve a second six-year term. And he has ambitious plans.

    “I want to let everyone in Washington County know how excited I am to have carried Washington County,” he said in an exclusive interview with the Machias Valley News Observer on Friday. “I’m humbled, and I’m anxious for us all to be working together. Much remains to be done.”

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  4. Homicide, rape, robbery on rise in rural areas

    by Lura Jackson

    Overall crime in Maine is continuing to decrease, according to a report released by the Uniform Crime Reporting division of the Maine State Police that records crimes in various categories in both the urban and rural sectors of the state. Some crimes, however, have increased, with particularly sharp rises in rural areas – defined as areas without their own police departments.

    "Overall crime down by almost 50 percent in six years"

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  5. Local election results reveal independent mindset Downeast

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Ballots from one of the most hotly anticipated midterm elections in decades were mostly tabulated by Wednesday, Nov. 7, with voter turnout numbers predicted to break the previous record from 2014 (59 percent). As of press time only Congressional District 2 remained undecided (Poliquin v. Golden).

    From the center to the eastern edge of Washington County, voters elected a mix of Republicans and Democrats and often parted ways with the rest of Maine on statewide questions and candidates bound for Washington.

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  6. Scallop draggers license lottery winners announced

     

    The Maine Department of Marine Resources has announced the first new entrants into the scallop fishery since 2009.

    The winners of a recent department lottery to apply for a license include Matthew Alley from Beals Island who holds a lobster license, Chase Fitzsimmons from Lubec who has crewed on a scallop boat, Johnathon Oliver from Deer Isle who holds a lobster license, and Frank Gott from Bar Harbor, who also holds a lobster license.

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  7. ‘History lives here’

     

    by Sharon Mack

    Machias Bay Area Chamber of Commerce Director Sharon Mack opened last week’s DownEast Acadia Regional Tourism Symposium with this speech welcoming tourism industry stakeholders to Machias. We print it here with her permission.

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  8. The Lion and Tiger return home to Whitneyville

     

    In the early 1980's University of Maine at Machias Art Professor Frank Hamabe

    taught the children at the Whitneyville Public Library the art of puppetry.  A good friend to one of the library's founders, Dorothy (Dot) Bodger, Frank shared his love of art with the many children of  Whitneyville.

    It was during that time that the Whitneyville Public Library received a  grant for Frank Hamabe to do a pictorial history of the steam engines, The Lion and The Tiger, and their journey on the Whitneyville and Machiasport railroad.

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  9. Belanger takes the helm for UMM athletics

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Sports fans and fitness regulars are getting to know a friendly new face around the Reynolds Center. Mike Belanger assumed his role as the University of Maine at Machias Director of Athletics and Fitness in late September, and he can be found making the rounds of the fitess center morning, noon and night.

    Like any new director, Belanger is spending time reviewing the programs he has and hatching plans for improvements, too. Belanger has a background in analysis, even though it is no longer his chosen career.

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  10. Jonesport selectmen on storm drains, solid waste, holiday closures

    by Nancy Beal

    Jonesport selectmen began trying to get the Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) to fix several storm drains on Main Street well before the DOT paved Route 187 last August. Having no success and concerned that since the new tar was laid the holes are more treacherous than before the paving, they recently wrote directly to the DOT commissioner. Last week, they received a reply.

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  11. BREAKING NEWS - MACHIAS SAVINGS BANK PROPOSES NEW $4M FACILITY ON MAIN STREET

     

    On Wednesday, Nov. 7 Machias Savings Bank presented its next wave of investment in its hometown to the Machias Planning Board.

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  12. Election results reveal independent voter mindset Downeast

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Ballots cast in one of the most anticipated midterm elections in recent decades are still being counted around Maine, but local races are now safe to call with 75 percent of Washington County’s votes tabulated. From the central to eastern Washington County, voters elected a mix of Republicans and Democrats and often parted ways with the rest of Maine on statewide questions and candidates bound for Washington.

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  13. Deputy debate heats up, committee kicks budget back to county commissioners

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Less than two weeks before state law requires them to submit their recommendations, the county budget committee voted 9-1 to halt their work and send an unfinished budget back to the commissioners, cutting a scheduled three-hour meeting on Oct. 31 down to 32 minutes. Rep. Will Tuell (R - E. Machias) was the lone dissenting vote. 

    Machias Finance Director Megan Dennison made the motion that shortened the meeting, saying the budget should go back to the commissioners for their recommendations for cuts. 

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  14. ‘When I think of leaving, I don’t want to leave these people’

     

    by Ruth Leubecker

    Jan Rhenow, not one to age in place, nonetheless has mixed feelings about leaving her parishioners at Jacksonville United Methodist Church.  

    “This church and these people are just wonderful,” reflects Rhenow. “But I’m leaving. Finally retiring at the end of June. I want to play a little bit while I can.”

    Rhenow, who has ministered at the Jacksonville church for three years, has been a spirited, somewhat unconventional presence in the church community. She admits to “a  very colorful past.”

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  15. Jonesport to explore policing with neighboring Addison, Beals

    by Nancy Beal

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  16. Boggia doc reveals murder plans, intended victim

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    A former Machias and Calais business owner arrested after a three-day manhunt in February has been charged with two new crimes in addition to the 12 already levied against him. Robert Boggia, owner of Downeast Smoke and Vape shop in Machias, was charged on Tuesday, Oct. 30 with conspiracy to commit murder. 

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  17. School bus, three cars involved in Columbia Falls accident

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    The Maine State Police confirmed that an accident involving multiple passenger cars and a school bus took place on the afternoon of Thursday, Nov. 1 on Route 1 in Columbia Falls. The bus was transporting students from M.S.A.D 37 and no one was seriously injured, neither on the bus nor in the other cars involved.

    Trooper Austin said that three vehicles were damaged, but the car that started the accident left the scene of the accident and was never found.

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  18. Machias Community Christmas extravaganza around the corner

     

    On Saturday, Nov. 17 the holiday spirit will take over Machias with the much-anticipated 2018 Community Christmas celebration.

    A full day of fun will kick off when Santa Claus comes to town. He’ll be taking wishes at the Lee Pellon Center from noon to 5 p.m. and after chatting with St. Nick children can enjoy snacks, crafts and toys!

    Porter Memorial Library will host its annual Holiday Open House from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. including hot cider, cookies, music and a chance to shop for early holiday gifts at a used and glossy book sale.

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  19. The Editor's Desk

     

    By Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Ahhhh, November. The holidays are just around the corner, and yet November seems like an oasis of calm after the flurry of activity that accompanies the election cycle, the fall sports season and pre-winter outdoor chores.

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  20. Plurality punch of LePage could be a tough act to follow for next governor

    by Ruth Leubecker

    After eight years of bombastic bluster and overwhelming crudeness, Gov. Paul LePage termed out and relinquishing the helm, is leaving Maine with his promises kept.

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  21. Veterans Day - Honoring all who served

    In celebration of Veterans day, check out the November 7th issue of the Machias Valley News Observer for our tribute to all of the brave men and women who have served or are currently serving in our military

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  22. Stevenson pleads not guilty

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  23. Boggia doc reveals detailed plan to commit murder, intended victim

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    A former Machias and Calais business owner arrested after a three-day manhunt in February has been charged with two new crimes in addition to the 12 already levied against him. Robert Boggia, owner of Downeast Smoke and Vape shop in Machias, was charged on Tuesday, Oct. 30 with conspiracy to commit murder.

    Read More
  24. School bus, three cars involved in Columbia Falls accident

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    The Maine State Police confirmed that an accident involving multiple passenger cars and a school bus took place on the afternoon of Thursday, Nov. 1 on Route 1 in Columbia Falls. The bus was transporting students from M.S.A.D 37 and no one was seriously injured, either on the bus or in the other cars involved.

    Trooper Austin said that three vehicles were damaged, but the car that started the accident left the scene of the accident and was not found.

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  25. Washington Academy Raiders bring home the state title!

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  26. Selectboard talks school-zone speeding, selling the telebusiness center, and marijuana

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    During their bi-weekly meeting held Wednesday, Oct. 24, the Machias Board of Selectmen resolved to ask the Machias Police Department to enforce the speed limit on Court Street with regular patrols.

    In recent weeks a speed-measuring sign was placed in two different locations in Machias. Over a 12-day period on Court Street, the sign counted 15,253 cars with 10,833 of them breaking the speed limit. 

    “That’s two-thirds of the people speeding, coming into a school zone,” said Machias Town Manager Christina Therrien.

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  27. Maine Lobster Union honors drowned fisherman, talks fishing politics

     

    by Nancy Beal

    The local branch of the Maine Lobstermen’s Union (MLU) opened their monthly meeting in the library of Jonesport-Beals High School October 26 with a moment of silence in memory of Scott Chandler, the 51-year-old Jonesport fisherman who had drowned out of his 20-foot lobster boat in Moosabec Reach two days earlier. Afterward, the hat was passed around and the two dozen fishermen present donated a total of $527 for his family.

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  28. Local candidates share views, common ground at UMM forum

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    A congenial tone permeated the two-hour local candidate forum hosted by the University of Maine at Machias on Thursday, Oct. 25. Nine of ten local House and Senate candidates attended the event, representing Senate District 6 and House Districts 138-140. The event was also live-streamed on www.machias.edu. 

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  29. Machias Valley News Observer Voter's Guide

    A look at the candidates’ contests

    by Lura Jackson

    Upon opening your ballot this year you’ll see a bit of the familiar – and a bit of the new. Along with the customary dance of the incumbents and their challengers, this year’s midterm election is the first in which Mainers will be utilizing the Ranked Choice Voting system.

    The local races

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  30. Raider teams enjoy banner weekend

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    On Saturday, Oct. 27 the Washington Academy volleyball, football and track teams all took their games to the next level. In the case of volleyball, they took it all the way to the pinnacle, bringing home the state championship title for the second time in four years.

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  31. Trick or Treat Main Street

    This chilling sight was seen standing like this up and down Main Street

    The town of Machias joined in the festivities with the Machias Bay Area Chamber of Commerce’s scarecrow contest, this year featuring a band of mischievous minions, characters from the popular “Despicable Me” movie series. Photos by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

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  32. Washington Academy Raiders are playoff bound!

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  33. Donation gives Machias’ Nash building new life on Main Street

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    The historic Nash building will soon pivot from a symbol of Main Street decline to an agent of change for the wider Washington County business community. Last week Machias Savings Bank announced it has partnered with the Sunrise County Economic Council (SCEC), and that the Nash Building, located at the end of Centre Street and Main Street in Machias, will be given new life as the Machias Valley Center for Entrepreneurship. The bank purchased the building in June, 2017.

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  34. Library a crowning achievement in Whitneyville

     

    by Ruth Leubecker

    Years of struggle, letter-writing and slow-but-steady progress have paid great dividends in the tiny community of Whitneyville and its ever-evolving library.

    The Whitneyville Library and Whatnot Shop, 52 years old and still counting, officially opened its 4,000-square-foot new building on October 20. “We’re completely handicapped-accessible, and we have two bathrooms,” says longtime librarian Pat Brightly, obviously and rightfully proud. 

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  35. Wesley horse takes national title in Oklahoma

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Janine Hawkins and her daughter Emily have always had big dreams for their family horse farm in Wesley. Janine dreamed of breeding a horse to compete at the Morgan Grand Nationals in Oklahoma, and Emily dreamed of training a horse she would ride in the grand nationals, a contest considered the pinnacle of achievement in the Morgan horse world. 

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  36. New cancer treatments described at WaCo Cancer Conference

     

    by Nancy Beal

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  37. Shed permit kicks off town planning dialogue

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    A permit request for a storage shed spurred a lively conversation about town planning at a special meeting of the Machias Planning Board meeting held Thursday, Oct. 11.

    Nancy Manchester, owner of Smoke Solutions LLC, requested the addition of a storage shed to her property, which contains a retail medical marijuana business as well as a greenhouse. 

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  38. The Editor’s Desk

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Every year the Maine Press Association holds a day-long conference somewhere in Maine, this year at the Sunday River Resort in Bethel. It’s widely attended by journalists from papers in cities and small towns, and I attended the event last weekend together with a small group that included the editor of the Calais Advertiser and our publisher, Pierre Little. 

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  39. Machias Valley Christian School celebrates autumn with apples

    Wyatt Fritz works on his lace-up apple craft.

    Students and teachers visited Antill’s Orchard in Wesley for an apple-picking field trip. Submitted photos

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  40. Historic Nash building, grandfather to Main Street

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Long before Machias’ Nash Building became a local symbol of Main Street decline and revitalization, it held a fruit and confectionary store operated by Italian immigrants. 

    Joseph Toschi came to Machias in the late 1800s with his children and son-in-law, Ernest Mugnai. According to Mugnai’s great-grandson, Michael Hoyt, Mugnai imported fruit and candy by train from Boston to sell in his Machias fruit store.

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  41. Public invited to discuss new deputies at countywide meeting Oct. 30

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    The Washington County Commissioners have scheduled another public discussion to gather feedback on the proposed addition of three new deputies to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

    Early this year the commissioners held a series of public conversations about the possibility of adding three new deputies to the county law enforcement branch. The addition would increase the countywide tax by approximately $400,000 in 2019 when all of the necessary equipment must also be purchased, then go down in 2020 and 2021.

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  42. What would it cost you to add three more deputies?

    County taxes are calculated based on a town’s valuation, which is determined annually by the state. Though the valuations for 2019 are not yet finalized, the county worked up this spreadsheet to show towns what their share of the new deputies would be based on the 2018 numbers.  

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  43. Debating more deputies: County commissioners ask for feedback

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    A months-long debate weighing the rise in crime against a proposed increase in county taxes continued at last week’s budget meeting. The nine-member committee met in Machias on Thursday, Oct. 11 and breezed through the office of deeds budget, then devoted two hours to discussing three proposed deputy positions for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office (SO). 

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  44. Porter Memorial embraces expansion toward new future

     

    by Ruth Leubecker

    Launching an ambitious capital expansion focused on accessibility and enhanced community involvement, Porter Memorial Library may be an aging Machias dowager, but her sights are set on the future.

    “This is long overdue. Many boards have struggled over the past 20 years (with the issues of expanding the library),” says Sarah Dedmon, in her third year as library board president.

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  45. Jonesport clammers seek path, not road, to shore

     

    by Nancy Beal

    On and on for months, Jonesport selectmen have talked about providing access to the shore and clam flats off the Jewett Road in Masons Bay on behalf of the town’s clam harvesters. They have reached out to a landowner in the area, exploring the acquisition of land for a road that would allow them to drive to the shore. Early last month, after sensing confusion about what the diggers wanted, they penned a letter to the town shellfish committee, asking what was actually sought.

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