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March 15, 2018

Area high schools taking different approaches to planned student walkout

Two area school systems have taken different approaches to Wednesday's scheduled National School Walkout event. Students, teachers and staff will be encouraged to walk out of classes on Wednesday at 10 a.m. local time for 17 minutes, one month after 17 students and staff were killed in a shooting at Marjory Stoneham Douglass High School in Parkland, Fla. The idea originated with a EMPOWER, the youth branch of the Women's March, first held in 2017 on the day after President Donald Trump was inaugurated to bring attention to a variety of issues.

Citizens, council debate dump "take or leave it pile" decision

LINCOLN - The removal of the Take or Leave Pile at the Transfer Station last month has many residents up in arms, likely forcing a policy decision by the Town Council during next month’s regular meeting. Transfer Station Director Dennis Bullen told the NEWS at the beginning of February he was removing the site due to abuses of the program and near-physical altercations that occurred over useable items left free for the taking. Some of the abuses were broken items, such as air conditioners and other appliances requiring a disposal fee, being dumped as well as tires and broken items.

PVH to reduce positions, services as challenges persist

LINCOLN – Penobscot Valley Hospital is not immune to continuing local and national pressures facing rural hospitals, prompting the Lincoln hospital to reduce staff and services, officials announced this week. A total of 17 staff positions will not be filled or was reduced, according to the hospital, while other services will be reduced and costs trimmed to help PVH "achieve financial and operational sustainability," according to the statement.

Lincoln council passes moratorium amidst public debate

LINCOLN - The town of Lincoln will have a six month moratorium on recreational marijuana, despite opposition from residents attending Monday’s meeting and some debate among the Town Council itself. That was the final decision reached following a public hearing during the March regular meeting, which had to be moved from the council chambers at the Town Office to the Region III building due to an anticipated large turnout for the measure as well as the hotly contested closure of the Take or Leave Pile at the Transfer Station. The moratorium passed 4-2, with Council Chair George Edwards and Councilor Steve Clay opposing the measure. Councilor Jeff Gifford was absent. Those that voted in favor cited the absence of a decision by the state legislature governing the retail growth and sale of marijuana.

Lincoln man pleads guilty to child porn charges

LINCOLN - A local man has pled guilty in federal court to possessing child pornography, wrapping up an investigation begun by Lincoln police nearly two years ago. Derrick Coffin, 36, changed his plea to guilty Monday at Bangor Superior Court after entering a not guilty plea last year. In 2016, officials found illegal images of young children on his computer.

Woman charged after crashing twice in two hours

CHESTER - A Millinocket woman has been tentatively charged with Operating Under the Influence, dependent upon a urine test, after being involved in a pair of crashes on the interstate Saturday. State Trooper Toral Nelson summonsed Casey Lavoie, 37, after Lavoie crashed into the median near mile marker 233 off the northbound lane around 8:30 p.m., just two hours after she had gone off the road near mile marker 184.

Wardens seek help in illegal dumping incident

CHESTER - The Maine Warden Service is turning to the community for help after an illegal dumping incident threatens to end access to an outdoor sporting area here. Warden Mike Boyer is reaching out for possible witnesses after construction materials, specifically roofing shingles, were left on property owned by the Gardners off the Woodville Road last October in two separate incidents. As a result, the land, which had been open to the public for hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities, has been rocked off. “They’ve (WT Gardner and Sons Inc.) have been so generous to sportsmen for many years,” Boyer said. “We’ve got to find out who did this.”

Contractor pay advance underscores need for town policy

PASSADUMKEAG - A debate on the legal process for issuing a town contractor a pay advance led selectmen to question the town’s policy for any pay advance to employees, or if there was a policy at all. On Wednesday, March 7, Selectman Todd Rogers brought up his concerns about a $3,000 advance on Lee “Buzzy” Dudley’s contract to plow the town roads, money that was needed to purchase more salt. Rogers said he was concerned because the advance, which was outside of the contracted payment plan, was approved outside of a public meeting by Selectman Robbie Arnold, a process the Maine Municipal Association deemed not acceptable under Maine law. “I asked…what business could be done in and out of session,” Rogers said.

New state high school record set by MA's Spencer-Thompson

NEW YORK – Cayden Spencer-Thompson continues his assault on the Maine track and field record books. Spencer-Thompson, a Mattanawcook Academy junior, not only extended his triple jump record at the New Balance Indoor Nationals last weekend in New York, but also established a new state high school long jump mark. Spencer-Thompson won the emerging elite long jump event on March 9 with a top jump of 7.27 meters (or 23 feet, 10-1/4 inches) to establish the new Maine standard in the event.

Howland to continue work on TIF, other policies at workshop

HOWLAND – While Howland officials continue to explore the potential use of tax increment financing to help spur development in town, two residents continue to argue against the idea. The development of a TIF policy is one of several items to be discussed at a workshop suggested by Town Manager David Wilson as the town prepares for its June town meeting referendum. In addition to the TIF policy, selectmen are also working on a draft planning board ordinance and potential changes to the town's charter, issues that will need to be finalized before facing voters at the June ballot, Wilson said at Monday's meeting. Board members felt that a separate workshop would be better to tackle those matters instead of taking time during a regular selectmen's meeting. A date for the workshop had not been set as of press time.

Millinocket man arrested for OUI, fleeing from officer in Chester

MILLINOCKET—A Millinocket man was arrested recently on multiple charges accused of driving while intoxicated and fleeing from authorities on foot during an incident in Chester. Chad Bernier was taken into custody following the Feb. 28 incident investigated by the Maine State Police. He is facing charges of operating under the influence, refusing to submit to arrest or detention and operating after habitual offender revocation. According to information from Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy, Sgt. Ted Millett of Maine State Police was on patrol travelling on Bridge Road in Chester approaching Route 116 and North Chester Road when an oncoming vehicle swerved a few feet into his lane nearly colliding with his police cruiser. Millett pursued the vehicle and attempted to complete a traffic stop. The vehicle pulled into a nearby driveway where it hit a snowbank. The driver, later identified as Bernier, exited the vehicle and fled on foot stumbling while doing so. Millett gave chase and apprehended Bernier near a grove of trees. After being apprehended, Bernier was slurring his speech and told Millett, “I [expletive] up.”

Voters approve borrowing plan for ambulance purchase

EAST MILLINOCKET – After much discussion at last week’s special town meeting, citizens agreed to borrow $100,000 from the town’s $2 million surplus to purchase a new ambulance for the East Millinocket service. This ambulance will replace one that was totaled after hitting a moose. The money will be paid back to the town by the ambulance service interest free in four annual payments of $25,000. The remaining $40,000 needed to complete the purchase will come from the ambulance reserve account. That leaves $50,000 in that reserve account for the remaining of the fiscal year. Ambulance Supervisor Les Brown said if the town is going to stay in the ambulance business – it contracts with Medway, Penobscot County and Lincoln as well as provides coverage both north and south on I-95, then it needs to commit to providing essential equipment. The ambulance he intends to purchase from Autotronics is a full-size, diesel engine model that is a “demo” so its price tag has been reduced to $140,000. He had told the board it was a great deal for the town.

Medway special town meeting March 27

MEDWAY – Medway Selectmen will meet again on Thursday to officially sign the special town meeting warrant they approved at the regular board meeting Monday. The board agreed to conduct the meeting on March 27 at 6 p.m. at the Medway Middle School at which voters will be asked to decide on money for mold clean up at the public works garage; covering an overrun in the sand/salt budget line and whether or not to enter into a contract for fire services with East Millinocket.

East voters approve comp plan update

EAST MILLINOCKET – The need for a town to have a relevant comprehensive plan has spurred much discussion in the region over the last couple of years. In fact, the town of Medway formed a comprehensive planning committee a year-and-half ago to create a plan so as not to miss out on future grants and to have a plan for growth and development for the future. Last week voters in East Millinocket were asked to take $12,500 from surplus to use to update the town’s 1994 comprehensive plan. They agreed to do so. Comprehensive plans are full of different data, maps, community input and statistics on a specific community or region. That information is used to help leaders plan for growth and development in the future and is it a requirement for many grant applications. Recently, East Millinocket Selectman Kyle Leathers told his board that he was approached by a Millinocket Town Councilor to gauge interest in having both towns’ plans updated by Eastern Maine Development Corp (EMDC) and sharing the cost – $12,500 from each community. (Medway could have its plan created for $17,000 if they chose to participate).

Registered sex offender relocates to Millinocket from Medway

MILLINOCKET—The Millinocket Police Department is alerting area residents of a registered sex offender who recently relocated to the community from Medway. Michael W. Morrison, 38, is now residing at 28 Katahdin Ave. in Millinocket after previously residing on the Grindstone Road in Medway. Morrison updated his registration last week with the Millinocket Police Department as required by law after registering last month with the East Millinocket Police Department upon relocating to Medway. Morrison is a tier II registrant on the Maine Sex Offender Registry who is required to register for 25 years after being convicted last year in Penobscot County Superior Court on one count of sexual abuse of a minor, a Class C felony offense.

Millinocket man cited for improper passing racing to pick up child at school

MILLINOCKET—A Millinocket man was cited for improper passing accused of operating erratically on Route 157 en route to pick up his child at school. Daniel Harper, 57, was issued a state motor vehicle violations bureau citation in connection with the March 6 incident when multiple motorists accused him of erratic operation and making unsafe passes. According to information provided by Millinocket Deputy Police Chief Janet Theriault, she received a call around 3:15 p.m. that day through Penobscot Regional Communications Center when another motorist reported a commercial van driving erratically and making bad passes on Route 157 between Dolby and Millinocket.

As field work begins; committee seeking more support

MEDWAY – The good news continues for the Katahdin Region as the project to rebuild the Medway Middle School ball fields and the movement to make that area a “community center” really gets underway. Recently tree cutting and other prep work on the outskirts of the new field complex have begun, said Renovation Project Committee Member/Leader George McLaughlin. He added that “as soon as weather permits work on the field will begin.” McLaughlin said “seed money” was received; $100,000 in a grant from the Next Gen Foundation, and that, along with about $30,000 worth of “in-kind” services is making the work possible.

LD 1629 remains concern for manager, councilors

MILLINOCKET—It remains a concern of the Town Council: LD 1629. The proposed bill, LD 1629 is of grave concern to Manager John Davis as he continues to update the Town Council on its progress through the Maine State Legislature. LD 1629, also known as the “Governor’s Bill” has been at the forethought of Davis and the Council and how it will affect the town’s income revenue and the elderly population as finances can be difficult for both the town and its older residents. The Joint Standing Committee voted recently on the bill giving it an “ought to pass” nod with a 7-3-1 vote of the Committee, according to Davis. Information on the status and updates of the bill was provided by David W. Little, Tax Collector/Deputy Treasurer for the City of Bangor.

Millinocket police seek residents wanted on warrants

MILLINOCKET—The Millinocket Police Department is seeking assistance from the public locating individuals who are wanted on warrants. Police are searching for Jordan Davis, George Fillios, Jeremy Sawyer and Karen Woodbury.