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Maine DEP issues over $400,000 for cleaning or closing landfills

Over $400,000 in reimbursement checks have been sent to 11 municipalities for landfill closure and cleanup costs bringing the total to $863,000 since January 2013, according to a state press release.
In 2012, Gov. Paul LePage signed legislation so the Maine Department of Environmental Protection could pay back its bills to towns and cities who closed or remediated their landfills which were causing environmental and public health risks, the the Maine Department of Environmental Protection reported in a press release.
"Towns and cities did the right thing for the environment by cleaning or closing their landfills and my Administration did the right thing by getting its fiscal house in order," said LePage. "These communities were promised reimbursement for their work but the funding ran out in 2000. Now other towns are seeing that by getting balancing our books, they too can clean up their landfill and receive a portion of that money back."
Since the reimbursement program was reinstated six towns — Hartland, Eastport, Pembroke, Tremont, Oakland and Belgrade — have signed up for the program and received checks for their work to address landfills that were posing environmental risks.
Starting in the 1980s, DEP began working with communities to close or clean-up unlined landfills that threatened public and environmental health. The department provided technical assistance and a legislatively-mandated partial match and between 1989-2000, $79 million was given out to assist with the closure of 397 facilities.
Money to support the program ran out in 2000 but since then, DEP incurred millions more in obligations.
The reimbursements are now being funded by a $2 per ton fee on construction and demolition debris — the only waste stream formerly exempt from any handling fee. That fee, which DEP led to have enacted in the 125th Legislature, went into effect on Jan. 1, 2013.
The department matches up to 90 percent of eligible expenses incurred by municipalities to mitigate risks posed by landfills.
DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho said, "I'm pleased that the program's popularity has spread and that towns recognize the economic benefit of protecting the environment. If other communities would like to take part in this program, the department stands ready to offer assistance."
Also this week, U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King lauded the Environmental Protection Agency for awarding the $800,000 in supplemental funding to help communities in Maine clean up contaminated Brownfield sites. The Piscataquis County Economic Development Council will receive $300,000 and the State of Maine Department of Economic and Community Development will receive $500,000, Collins and King noted in a press release.
"The Brownfields program is a win-win for the environment and local economies," said Senators Collins and King in a joint statement. "This funding will help make Maine communities safer while promoting economic development."
A brownfield site is a property that contains a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant, which impedes potential redevelopment or reuse of the site. The EPA's Brownfields Program supports states and local communities as they assess, safely clean up, and reuse brownfield sites for economic development projects.

Last Updated on Friday, 29 August 2014 01:47

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Foliage reports primed to begin

With the start of the Maine fall foliage season soon to begin, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry reports that conditions in the northernmost part of the state are prime for subtle color changes with very low leaf drop, according to a press release.8-29-14-foliage-freeport-free
Beginning Wednesday, Sept. 10, the Maine Office of Tourism and DACF will provide an update on the gradual change in leaf color from north to south culminating in peak conditions in late-October, the press release reported.
 The reporting of Maine’s fall foliage conditions statewide by the DACF first began in 1959.  Forest rangers submit their on-the-ground observations each week throughout the reporting season (Sept.10 through Oct. 25) at www.mainefoliage.com — Maine’s official fall foliage website.  A map indicating current foliage conditions with a foliage color key is updated weekly. Visitors to the site can also find information on Facebook.  
Generally, the northern region of Maine is at or near peak the last week of September into the first week of October, the state press release noted.  Central, Southern and Western mountains are nearing peak conditions Oct. 6 through Oct. 18.  Coastal Maine reaches peak conditions Oct. 13 through Oct. 25.

Last Updated on Friday, 29 August 2014 02:23

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Rape Aggression Defense program at Portland PD now open to applications

The Portland Police Department announced that it is taking applications for the September session of the Basic R.A.D. program (Rape Aggression Defense). A press release explained that RAD "is a comprehensive international self defense program for woman and girls, in which participants will learn personal safety tips as well as physical skills."
The first four sessions of the September class will be held Sept. 16, 18, 23 and 25 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and the fifth session will be held Sept. 27 from 8 a.m. to noon. All sessions must be attended to complete the class. Cost of the class is $25, and all proceeds benefit the Amy St. Laurent Foundation.
The foundation website explains, "The Amy St. Laurent Foundations was established as the legacy of Amy St. Laurent who lost her life in 2001, a homicide victim during a sexual assault. It is the mission of the Foundation to help educate women and children of all ages in awareness, prevention and in the event it becomes necessary, techniques to protect themselves in dangerous or life threatening situations."
For more information about the class or to obtain a registration form, call 874-8643, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or go to the Amy St. Laurent Foundation website at http://www.amystlaurentfoundation.com/safety-classes.

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 August 2014 23:27

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Art event in Yarmouth to highlight artists, home health care

VNA Home Health Hospice, an affiliate of Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems and Mercy Hospital, is presenting “Driven” — an art event to showcase Maine artists while raising awareness for VNA and the importance of home health care, VNA Home Health and Hospice reported.
“Understanding that home health care and home hospice care is an integral part keeping our aging population healthy and comfortable is important,” said Colleen Hilton, CEO of VNA Home Health and Hospice, in a press release. “We help families though difficult journeys by hiring the best leaders in their field who believe in our mission: to provide clinically excellent, compassionate home health and hospice care to individuals and families. This necessary care can create a financial burden for some families, and our goal is to alleviate some of that stress with the community’s support of ‘Driven.’”
“Driven” will be held at East Coast Yacht Sales, Lower Falls Landing, 106 Lafayette St., Yarmouth, on Thursday, Sept. 18, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Honorary chair and celebrated portraitist Jean Pilk will showcase her works and will be joined by featured artists Annette Brown, Guy Corriero, Anne Ireland, ML Norton and Gill Page. Artist Dennis Rafferty will also be in attendance showcasing work by his students at Huntington Common, an Assisted Living community.
“VNA Home Health and Hospice has served Maine’s aging population with respect and dignity for over 90 years,” a press release reported. “In 2013, over 47 percent of patients were between the ages of 65 and 85, while 25 percent were above 85.  Clinicians — including nurses; physicians; occupational, speech and physical therapists; medical social workers and more — make an excess of 75,000 in-home visits each year and see another 3,000 patients during health and wellness clinics. The proceeds from ‘Driven’ will support patients who are uninsured or under-insured and those that are alone and isolated.”
Guests are invited to enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. For more information, or to RSVP for the event, call 879-3605 or visit http://www.vnahomehealth.org.

Last Updated on Friday, 29 August 2014 00:37

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Turnpike: Expect 1.8 percent jump in traffic from last Labor Day weekend

More than 988,000 vehicles are anticipated to travel the Maine Turnpike over the Labor Day weekend, the Maine Turnpike Authority reported.
Friday is expected to be the busiest day, with more than 310,000 vehicles; and about 240,000 vehicles are expected to travel the turnpike on Saturday. The busiest hours are likely to be between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. On Monday between the hours of noon and 7 p.m., more than 215,000 vehicles are expected to travel on the turnpike, with the heaviest traffic in the southbound lanes. The increase in traffic is expected to be up approximately 1.8 percent from the 2013 Labor Day weekend. From January through July 2014, the turnpike has seen a 3 percent growth in traffic compared to the same period in 2013.
Beginning at 10 a.m. on Labor Day, "Miles" the Maine Turnpike Moose will appear at the York Toll Plaza to wave goodbye to Maine visitors and help Turnpike employees distribute 25,000 special edition Farmers' Almanacs, the Maine Turnpike Authority reported.
The Turnpike Authority has made a tradition of handing out a memento to visitors on Labor Day, with this being the 16th consecutive year. In years past, giveaways have included calendars, refrigerator magnets, and mouse pads, all designed to remind tourists of everything Maine has to offer.
"It is a great way to show that Maine appreciates its visitors and provides an opportunity to bring additional exposure to the state," said Turnpike Authority Executive Director Peter Mills.

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 August 2014 23:30

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