1. Revenue sharing, childhood hunger and DCF top Moore’s legislative agenda

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    State Senator Marianne Moore (R-Washington) won election to the Maine Senate in November and has come out of the gate sponsoring 13 bills for the 2019 legislative session.

    At the top of Moore’s list are two bills that would restore full revenue sharing to Maine municipalities. Under Governor LePage, revenue sharing was cut from 5 percent to 2 percent, creating a reduction in municipal revenues. 

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  2. Machias veterinarian receives $10,000 fine for negligence, practicing without a license

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    The Maine Board of Veterinary Medicine has issued a formal reprimand to Dr. Cynthia Teer for practicing veterinary medicine without a license and for “gross negligence, incompetence, misconduct or violation of an applicable code of ethics.” Dr. Teer practices at the Machias Animal Hospital.

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  3. Welcome, Baby New Year 2019!

    Matt and Molly Hall and their three daughters welcomed Ezra James Hall to their family on January 1, 2019 at Down East Community Hospital in Machias. Pictured left to right, with a basket full of gifts from DECH and local businesses, are Molly, Ezra, Gianna, Bella, Matt and Delia Hall. See story page 4. Submitted photo

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  4. Lane Construction Plants, Paving Division sold for $555 million

    by Lura Jackson

    One of the area’s most steady paving operations – that of Lane Construction – has been acquired by international paving giant Eurovia for $555 million. The sale and transfer of Lane’s plants and paving division were announced by Lane Construction Corporation – itself a part of Italy’s Salini Impregilo Group – in August of last year.

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  5. Jonesport Elementary students to take part in WinterKids

    by Nancy Beal

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  6. Hayward retires from RCC after 33 years of service

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Larry Hayward did not want a big fuss when he retired from the Washington County Regional Communications Center (RCC) last month, but Deputy Director Joshua Rolfe didn’t let the occasion go unmarked.

    “They had an awful lot of fun with my retirement,” said Hayward, who lives in Lubec. Hayward retired from the position of Emergency Communications Specialist but served as the Operational Supervisor for most of his 33 years at the RCC. 

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  7. UMM Lady Clippers play seven home games in January

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    The majority of the Lady Clippers’ games will be played in Machias for the month of January. Basketball fans will want to mark their calendars for six of their seven remaining home games.

    The University of Maine at Machias women’s basketball team defeated Green Mountain College in Machias 70-62 on Sunday, Jan. 6, bringing their season record to 7-5. 

    The Lady Clippers will play at home against Paul Smith’s College on Friday, Jan. 11 at noon. 

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  8. Nature of Phenology: Ice

     

    by Joe Horn

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  9. Leaving 2018: a bittersweet departure

    by Ruth Leubecker

    It was a year with record-breaking events and divisive issues -- issues that promise great tumult in 2019.

    But first, looking in the rearview mirror, the year 2018 began with a dramatic international incident when a brining shed collapsed in a storm and sailed to Campobello. Tempers flared and dialogue festered, but not for long after the battered shed -- such as it was -- came home to Lubec.

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  10. All charges dismissed after Crowley’s arrest, detention for marijuana trafficking

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Drug trafficking charges against Kristian Crowley of Jonesport have been dismissed by the state. Crowley was arrested and charged with unlawful trafficking of scheduled drugs, in this case marijuana, on Sept. 11, 2018.

    Bail was initially set at $25,000, then reduced to $3,000 on Tuesday, Sept. 12. Ultimately, Crowley was held in the Washington County Jail for 10 days.

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  11. Jonesport seeks volunteers for campground committee

     

    by Nancy Beal

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  12. Soil and water celebrates 70 years of service to Washington County

    The Washington County Soil and Water Conservation District is celebrating 70 years of voluntary conservation services to the people of Washington County. There are over 3,000 districts across the United States, dating back to the “ Dust Bowl” days. They were organized by local volunteers to provide access to federal and state agencies for local people. In Maine, the 16 soil and water districts are organized under Chapter 12 Maine Conservation Law.

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  13. DMR approves Machias Bay aquaculture leases

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Department of Marine Resources (DMR) Commissioner Patrick Keliher signed an experimental lease approval on Dec. 18 for a 3.7-acre sugar kelp operation to be located west of Hog Island in Machiasport. The site will be used for the cultivation of sugar kelp using suspended culture techniques and will be one of many already approved in the Machias Bay.  

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  14. What can we learn from the midterms? Discussion to take place Jan. 5

    Join us for this lecture and discussion presented by Dr. Robert B. Arseneau as we take a look back at the 2018 midterm election and forward to what it may portend. This event will be held on Saturday, January 5 in Science 102 at the University of Maine at Machias Campus beginning at 1:30 p.m.

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  15. New state law eases restrictions on medical marijuana

    by Lura Jackson

    On Dec. 12, Maine patients’ ability to access medical marijuana became significantly easier as a new law, L.D. 1539, went into effect. The new law makes it easier for patients to receive medical certification by removing the list of qualifying conditions and leaving medical providers with more freedom to prescribe medical marijuana themselves.

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  16. Transaction fees add up for small businesses

    by Lura Jackson

    With the holiday shopping season well underway and a bounty of opportunities to shop local among the many fine small businesses of Washington County, it’s a prime time to consider one simple method of supporting those small businesses even more: by using cash. Every credit and debit card transaction comes with an additional fee that small businesses have to absorb – a fee that, while relatively small, still affects their bottom line.

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  17. In the year ahead, it’s time to pick up the pieces

    by Ruth Leubecker

    Everyone loves Will’s newsletter, and most could guess what he led off with recently. “2018 was a tough year for everyone associated with the Downeast Correctional Facility,” said the East Machias legislator. “2019 is our chance to pick up the pieces, start over again, and turn heartache into joy. Trials and challenges turn around with good people fighting to turn them around. Each of us is up to the task, our community is up for the task, and the rest of the state will see that again in 2019.”

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  18. Redeemed

    Editor’s note: During the long, dark months of winter we will feature the work of local artists and writers here in the Arts & Entertainment section. Snow, ice and chilly temps can make it harder to go out in a Downeast winter, so please enjoy a bit of our local arts scene here, from the warmth of your own home.

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    by Steve Parrott

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  19. 26 local homes receive free insulating window inserts, just in time for winter

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    The carpeted floor of Machias Savings Bank’s training center was covered with protective plastic while busy volunteers moved around half a dozen tables set with tools. Working in shifts over three days, volunteers assembled 183 insulating window inserts last week. Those window inserts will go into 26 local homes for a collective savings of roughly 1,900 gallons of oil. 

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  20. Downeast Lobstah Drop offers full day of free New Year’s fun for families

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    The Fourth Annual Downeast Lobstah Drop lineup is set and volunteers are ready to greet New Year’s revelers on Monday, Dec. 31 in Machias. Activities will run from 9 a.m. to midnight, and all are free of charge to attend.

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  21. A defining reality Downeast could be rural broadband

    by Ruth Leubecker

    Closing the digital service gap just became significantly more likely with Sen. Angus King’s latest move to make affordable broadband more accessible.

    King, a founder and co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus, has long touted the vital necessity of bringing high-speed, affordable broadband to Washington County. Many thousands of Internet users remain deprived of such a connection, viewed increasingly as an economic imperative.

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  22. Wild blueberry growers, processors prepare legislation remaking WBC

     

    by Nancy Beal

    A dozen small wild blueberry growers beat their way through a snowstorm to the Blueberry Hill Farm research station in Jonesboro December 18 to discuss legislation revamping the Wild Blueberry Commission (WBC). Also present were two members of that commission, two WBC staffers and half a dozen observers, including the area’s state representatives and individuals from Washington County Indivisible, a grassroots political action committee interested in local issues.

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  23. Meeting Mencken just wasn’t destined to happen

    by Ruth Leubecker

    Everyone has someone they wish they might’ve met -- but he died before they could get there. In my case it was H.L. Mencken who died in his sleep five years before I moved to the hometown he never left. Baltimore. 

    We would have almost certainly met otherwise, because we would’ve been working in the same newspaper circles. Bill Zorzi, a fellow reporter friend of mine, could recall him covering the police beat at the News American.

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  24. Life in Milbridge

    by Wayne Smith

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  25. 4th Annual Downeast Lobstah Drop

    Check out the digital version of the December 26 issue of the Machias Valley News Observer for the schedule of events for the 4th Annual Downeast Lobstah Drop happening on New Year's Eve!

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  26. Last holdout joins PVC

    by Phil Stuart

    Jonesport-Beals High School recently became the last Washington County School to be a dual conference member. The Royals were forced to give up their independent status when a couple of their opponents were unable to field either varsity boys' or girls' squads.

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  27. Ice: Is it safe?

    by V. Paul Reynolds

    Each year about this time, the Maine Warden Service urges us to use extreme caution before venturing out onto any ice that may be covering Maine’s waterways.

    This is timely advice. Two winters ago, three night-time snow sledders all perished in one night on Rangeley Lake when they and their machines broke through thin ice.

    Many of Maine’s lakes and ponds may appear to be frozen, however safe ice conditions cannot be assumed. 

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  28. ‘Frostfish’ spawning season peaks in the dark days of winter

     

    by  Joseph Horn

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  29. ‘Helen’s Elves’ draw community into Christmas giving

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Walk into the Holy Name Parish Hall in early December and you might think you’ve walked into Santa’s workshop. Volunteers bustle between tables stacked with piles of baby dolls, books and snow boots filling orders that will be delivered around the county. This year the Community Christmas Giving Tree will create Christmas for more than 500 children, senior citizens and special-needs adults in towns from Lubec to Jonesboro and everywhere in between, and they’ll do it with the help of more than 50 volunteers.

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  30. Clamming on ‘Middle Ground’: Jonesport, Addison dispute town line

     

    by Nancy Beal

    For over a month, Jonesport selectmen have been talking about clamming in an area in Indian River between the northeast end of Addison’s Crowley Island and Jonesport’s Parker Point that has informally come to be called the “Middle Ground.” Six years ago, the two towns entered into an agreement on harvesting the muddy bottom that is exposed on low-drain tides and has been known to yield four to five bushels a tide during the winter when other flats are inaccessible.

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  31. Commissioners adopt 2019 budget, cooperative extension speaks against cuts

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Washington County Cooperative Extension (WCE) employees and supporters filled the seats of the probate court room at the county commissioners’ meeting held Thursday, Dec. 13. The meeting agenda included a vote on the proposed 2019 county budget, which contains a 50 percent cut to governmental third party funding. 

    The WCE, Soil and Water Conservation District and the Resource Conservation & Development Program are all affected by the cut. The WCE requested $40,000 from the county and was approved for $20,000.

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  32. Caregiving advocacy gears up for change in 2019 legislative session

    by Ruth Leubecker

    Many thousands of unpaid Maine caregivers save the state a staggering $2.2 billion annually yet remain financially uncompensated.

    Juggling multiple roles and a myriad of daily demands, as they grow in number they now have come to be known as the “sandwich generation.” The title refers to their unique occupation among generations so far that spans caring for their children while also caring for their elders, usually parents but not always. Past generations housed extended families and mobility and miles were not as relevant.

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  33. Machias warns of grandparent scam

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    The Machias Police Department has received numerous complaints of a telephone scam where the caller says they are the grandson or granddaughter of the person they’re calling, then asks for money.

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  34. The Editor’s Desk

    “There's a lot of bad ‘isms’ floating around this world, but one of the worst is commercialism.”

    -Alfred, Miracle on 34th Street

     

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  35. Federal judge rules against Poliquin in anti-RCV suit

    by Lura Jackson

    After Maine’s historic adoption of the Ranked Choice Voting [RCV] system earlier this year, its constitutionality has been formally put to the test in the federal courts. A lawsuit by Republican Bruce Poliquin was issued following his loss in the race for Maine’s 2nd seat in the United States House of Representatives to Democrat Jared Golden. U.S. District Court Judge Lance Walker struck down Poliquin’s complaints and upheld RCV in Maine.

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  36. This Time Might Be Different: Stories of Maine by Elaine Ford, Islandport Press, 2017, Softcover $16.95

    Book Reviews by RJ Heller

    “When you read a short story, you come out a little more aware and a little more in love with the world around you.” – George Saunders

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  37. Burke receives Boston Post Cane

     

    The Boston Post Cane tradition began in 1909 when Boston Post publisher Edwin A. Grozier sent ebony canes with 14-carat gold tops to 700 towns in New England, asking they be given to the oldest male resident in the town with his compliments, and then passed down in succession. In 1930 the tradition expanded to include women. Today, East Machias holds a ceremony presenting the cane, then stores it for safekeeping. Photos courtesy Rep. Will Tuell (R-E. Machias)

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  38. Bald eagles feeding below dams

    by Joseph Horn

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  39. Wesley’s Tree Festival draws thousands, raises thousands at weekend event

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    The Lee Pellon Center was quiet on Monday morning, with sunlight streaming in on 55 empty tree boxes and dozens of undecorated Christmas trees waiting to be packed away by volunteers. But Friday, Saturday and Sunday were a different story altogether. 

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  40. Machias votes in favor of medical marijuana storefronts

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Unusually long lines of voters delayed the start of a town meeting held in Machias on Wednesday, Dec. 5. More than 100 Machias residents and 30 non-residents attended the meeting, held to discuss and vote on the town’s proposed medical marijuana ordinance. As is customary, the non-residents lined the bleachers of the Machias Memorial High School gymnasium, leaving a clear view to the Machias voters seated in rows of chairs down the middle of the room.

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  41. Tackling infrastructure gap a tough and growing challenge

    by Ruth Leubecker

    Many millions have been allotted to bring Maine’s transportation infrastructure up to par, but most of those voter-approved bonds have yet to be sold.

    Meanwhile, although Maine may have a debt obligation that’s low compared to other states, it can no longer ignore infrastructure goal lists that have barely moved over the last six years. As of 2017, the state was 70 percent toward its goal of making 1,400 miles of priority highway miles serviceable by 2022. 

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  42. EPA makes progress with Meddybemps Superfund site

     

    by Lura Jackson

    The EPA has issued an update on N’tolonapemk, also known as the Eastern Surplus Superfund site in Meddybemps. The site was used for a storage and salvage yard for decades before being declared an environmental Superfund site, meaning it had high levels of toxicity and was thus a high priority for the governmental organization to remediate. The process of environmental remediation has been successful and its end is in sight, depending on how well the most recent efforts are received by the land.

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  43. County committee approves budget with three deputies, cuts to governmental third parties

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    The final meeting of the Washington County Budget Committee took place in Machias on Tuesday, Dec. 4 and the 10-member committee spent two hours in negotiations. Led by committee chairman Lewis Pinkham of Milbridge, the committee ultimately passed a budget that includes a near-zero increase of .1306 percent, but still includes the addition of three sheriff’s deputies. The budget will now return to the three county commissioners for their approval.

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  44. ‘Deck the Falls’ contest, telebusiness center dominate selectboard discussion

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Local businessman Bill Burke presented to the Machias Board of Selectmen at their bi-weekly meeting held Wednesday, Nov. 28. Burke is the owner of Pat’s Pizza and the founder of the Downeast Lobstah Drop, which will take place on New Year’s Eve for the fourth time.

    Burke said that this year the indoor kids’ activities will be held in the gymnasium of the Rose M. Gaffney Elementary School. Burke is also talking to law enforcement and hopes to bring a demonstration of drug dogs to the event.  

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  45. Jonesport has interim CEO, talks marijuana, allots charitable donations

    by Nancy Beal

    In addition to having been a founder and president of the Jonesport Historical Society, past-president of the Greenwood Cemetery Society, retired merchant mariner and local historian, Donald Woodward was Jonesport’s code enforcement officer before his tragic passing last month after a battle with cancer. Last week, Jonesport selectmen struck a deal with a long term fill-in for the code officer position.

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