PORTLAND, Maine — More than a year of debate about the flow of heavy crude oil — commonly known as tar sands — through South Portland reaches its climax Monday night. The City Council is slated to take its final vote to enact an ordinance that would ban the bulk loading of crude oil — including the controversial, thicker bituminous oil — onto tanker vessels in the city’s port. During previous votes, the City Council and planning board supported the ban by 6-1 tallies. A previously proposed ordinance intended to block the bituminous oil — by restricting pier upgrades that would have been necessary to accommodate the thicker oil — lost in a close citywide vote last November. Since then, a city committee has drafted an alternative ordinance intended to essentially achieve the same goal, but by a different means. The debate has spilled far beyond the city limits, as supporters argue a ban is needed to protect Maine from what they believe are heightened environmental and safety risks associated with the bituminous oil, while opponents assert that it would place unreasonable limitations on waterfront businesses and worsen the region’s energy woes. (read more at Bangor Daily News)
CAPE ELIZABETH — The Zoning Board of Appeals next week will decide whether to uphold a decision denying building permits for cellular phone service antennas and communications equipment on and around the Portland Water District’s decommissioned water tower on Avon Road. “They’re saying a federal law allows them to put up these antennas without regard for our zoning ordinance or a site plan review,” Code Enforcement Officer Ben McDougal said. “I determined that wasn’t the case.” Priscilla Armstrong, who can see the tower from her home, was one of several Avon Road residents to receive a letter from Verizon Wireless last September inviting her to a meeting at Town Hall. She was told Verizon had approached the Portland Water District about placing an antenna atop the 80-foot-tall, nearly 70-year-old tower, which has been dry since 2007, but still supports an antenna to monitor water pressure and sewer pumping stations. Residents were annoyed. In emails to the town in the following months, they cited aesthetic qualms, concerns over the noise of the equipment’s generators and HVAC systems, the unwelcome traffic of service vehicles on their dead-end street, and an overall negative impact on the neighborhood’s quality of life. (read more at The Forecaster)
Despite millions of investment dollars and rapidly increasing sales, Maine’s Own Organic Milk, known as MOO Milk, has ceased production and no longer will sell milk directly to consumers, the company’s top executive said Friday. The decision, which is likely to put a dozen Maine dairy farms in jeopardy, highlights the challenges to the long-term viability of local food producers, said representatives of Maine’s food industry. MOO Milk CEO Bill Eldridge said the Falmouth-based company is shutting down because of problems with its packaging equipment, which pours the organic milk into cartons. “It’s been very, very dicey from the beginning. It started to get worse this year,” Eldridge said. “We were just starting to get poor (packaging) quality coming out.” The company explored the option of building a new packaging plant but decided against it because the construction timeline would have kept MOO Milk off store shelves for as long as 18 months, he said.
Aspasia Marina, a longtime eyesore on the South Portland waterfront that has also been a sore sport for its Ferry Village neighbors, may finally get an overhaul this summer. “It looks like there’s a party that’s quite interested in taking on what is a rather distressed property,” said Mayor Jerry Jalbert. “We might have something pretty spectacular coming along fairly soon. Something could be inked as early as this summer.” That will come as welcome news to members of the Ferry Village Neighborhood Conservation Association. The association was founded in 1985 to beat back an 85-unit condominium project proposed for a new wharf jutting out into the Fore River next to the U.S. Coast Guard base. Thanks to the neighborhood association, the proposal was whittled down to 15 shoreside units. Although active for many years after that first big battle, the association grew dormant in the last few years, until reinvigorated by recent talk of a concert venue to be built on land owned by developer John Cacoulidis adjacent to Bug Light Park. Although Assistant City Manager Jon Jennings, who hatched the idea, has said Cacoulidis simply decided to pursue other long-term ideas for the site, Ferry Village residents at a March 13 meeting, the first held by the group in more than 18 months, credited themselves with killing the project, with vocal outcry online and in emails to the city.At that March 13 meeting, about 40 association members then turned their eyes to Aspasia, said to be the second-oldest shipyard in America, dating to its founding in as the Portland Ship Yard Co. “It’s a dump,” said Joseph Capelluti of High Street. “It has rats all around it. I’m sure if my house looked like that I’d have to do something. Why is the city doing nothing about that site that looks like it’s buildings are about to fall in?” (read more at South Portland Sentry)
WATERVILLE — Doreen Brown loves people. She exudes enthusiasm when she talks about customers she meets at Hampton Inn on Kennedy Memorial Drive, where she is a guest services representative. They include senators, congressmen, writers and government officials from countries all over the world. “Colby College attracts a lot of dignitaries,” she said. “It’s amazing how incredibly kind those people are.” What Brown has learned about people from all walks of life is that they all just really want to be treated the way she likes people to treat her. She takes the extra time to get to know hotel guests and what their needs and wants are, is compassionate and tries to make them feel welcome and important. “It’s easy to be nice when so many people are nice in return,” she said. It is Brown’s penchant for exceptional customer service and pride in her job that has netted her the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 Customer Service Stardom Award. She will receive it April 29 at the chamber’s annual awards dinner at Waterville Elks Banquet & Conference Center. (read more at the Morning Sentinel)
AUGUSTA, Maine — A bill designed to keep call centers in Maine from exporting jobs overseas is working its way through the Legislature amid concerns from opponents who say the bill would do the opposite. LD 1710, An Act to Retain Call Centers in Maine, would require the Department of Labor to keep track of call centers that have relocated from Maine to a foreign country. Employers on that list would be ineligible for state grants, loans or tax benefits for a period of five years. It would require employers who have received state aid for the call centers and moved employees overseas to repay a portion of the benefits. It also authorizes a fine of $10,000 be assessed for call center owners who don’t notify the state of a relocation within four months and requires that all call center work contracted by state agencies be done within the state. Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, who sponsored the bill, said his intent is to keep Maine jobs in Maine while protecting taxpayer investments in economic development. ”I don’t understand the opposition to this bill,” said Jackson on Tuesday. “This is about protecting taxpayer dollars. I think this makes sure we’re using companies that want to stay in Maine for a number of years.” (read more at the Bangor Daily News)
The Damariscotta-Newcastle Rotary was in the Twin Villages before Route 1. It has been around for 16 presidents of the United States and 22 governors of Maine; its first, Percival Proctor Baxter, lent his name to one of the state’s most famous parks. In other words: The Damariscotta-Newcastle Rotary has been around a while. The group celebrated starting at 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 5 at St. Patrick’s Church social hall with a dinner. The dinner was free to Rotary members and $15 to guests. (read more at the Boothbay Register)
AUGUSTA—Maine’s Job Bank, at www.mainecareercenter.com, has posted about 6,900 open positions, up around 1,000 positions since the beginning of March. The job bank, a service of the Maine Department of Labor, is an online job board that is free for both employers and jobseekers.
“In addition to the openings on Maine’s Job Bank, employers are hiring at job fairs all over the state,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “The Department of Labor is coordinating or participating in 13 job fairs between now and June, and more are in development. Now is a great time to get a job in Maine.”
Three jobs fairs will be held the week of March 24 in Portland, Springvale and Machias. Hundreds of employers will be hiring for both permanent and seasonal positions.
“The Department of Labor’s network of 12 CareerCenters provide free, expert assistance to job seekers who are looking for a job or need advice about their career choices,” said Commissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette. “They also host free networking events, workshops about financial aid for education and how to start a business. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff can help people learn how to use a computer, create a free email address, apply for jobs online and register with Maine’s Job Bank.”
“Maine’s economy is growing, and we can make sure that you are part of that growth,” she stated. “You do not have to look for work on your own, and if your job search has hit a rut, our staff can get you back on track. Sometimes all it takes is a fresh approach and some encouragement.”
People who need to update their resume or practice their interviewing skills should contact a CareerCenter for free help. To find more information about how to prepare for a job fair, update a resume, and other job-search programs and to locate the closest CareerCenter, visit the CareerCenter website, http://www.mainecareercenter.com .
Businesses interested in participating in these events and taking advantage of other free hiring services the department provides, such as the job bank, interviewing space, and referrals, should contact their local CareerCenter.
The following job fairs have been scheduled to date around the state:
- Portland: March 25, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Maine Sunday Telegram/Monster Spring Career Fair at the Italian Heritage Center in Portland.
- Machias: March 27, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at the Lee-Pellon Event Center.
- Springvale: March 28, 4th Annual York County Regional Job Fair, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Nasson Community Center, 457 Main Street.
- Lewiston/Auburn: April 4,11th Annual Androscoggin County Job Fair, Friday, 9 a.m. to noon at Central Maine Community College, 1250 Turner Street, Auburn.
- Presque Isle: April 9, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Northeastland Hotel.
- Calais: April 17, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Washington County Community College Gymnasium.
- Lincoln: April 24, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Mattanawcook Academy, 33 Reed Drive, Lincoln.
- South Paris: April 24, 9 a.m. to noon at the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in the cafeteria.
- Augusta: April 24, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Hiring Maine’s Heroes (general public welcome) at the Augusta Armory, 179 Western Ave.
- Pittsfield: May 14, Pittsfield Area Regional Job Fair, 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Warsaw Middle School Gym and Cafeteria, 167 School Street.
- Farmington: May 22, Western Maine Community Job and Resource Fair, 9 a.m. to noon at the Fitness and Recreation Center at UMF, 152 Quebec St.
- Bangor: May 28, 9 a.m. to noon at the Spectacular Event Center, 395 Griffin Rd.
- Augusta: June 17, First Annual State of Maine Government and Maine Municipal Government Job Fair for Veterans at the Augusta Armory.
CareerCenters offer a variety of workshops and services to help people find employment or upgrade skills. Each center provides several public-access computer workstations with Microsoft Office software, resume writing and cover letter software, Internet access and O’Net software for skills assessment. All CareerCenter services are free of charge.
Maine CareerCenters are an equal opportunity provider. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.
March 24, 2014
Many college-bound high school students look forward to leaving Maine and living in a big city, where it seems there’s more to offer. Tyson LaRochelle, a 2006 graduate of Lewiston High School, was no exception. “I wanted to get out of my own element and try new things. I wanted more diversity in not only the landscape, but the people too. I figured if I went to (the University of Maine in Orono) with all my friends, it would just be an extension of high school. I would just settle into the same routine, doing the same things, hanging around with the same people.” “I wanted new, fresh challenges,” he said. And like many Maine high school graduates who head out of state to college, LaRochelle developed career prospects near his college. He had internships and summer jobs with a number of large corporations while attending Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, including at Lockheed Martin, where he was involved with robotics and had the opportunity to work on high-tech missiles and firing control systems on the forefront of technology. (read more at Lewiston Sun Journal)
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) – RadioShack plans to close up to 1,100 of its underperforming stores in the U.S. and reported a wider loss for its fourth quarter as customer traffic slowed during the critical holiday season. Its stock tumbled almost 21 percent in premarket trading Tuesday. CEO Joseph Magnacca said in statement that the planned store closings would leave RadioShack with more than 4,000 U.S. stores, including more than 900 dealer franchise locations. The company didn’t immediately identify what stores are being closed. The electronics retailer said that the stores to be closed are being selected based on location, area demographics, lease duration and financial performance. Magnacca said the latest quarter’s performance was also hurt by increased promotional activity – particularly in consumer electronics; a very soft mobility marketplace and a few operational issues. (read more at Kennebec Journal)