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Disaster Unemployment Assistance benefits available

AUGUSTA, ME – On March 20, 2024, President Biden approved Governor Mills’ request for a major disaster declaration for Maine as it recovers from the storms on January 9 and 13, 2024. This declaration allows the Maine Department of Labor’s Bureau of Unemployment Compensation to provide temporary financial assistance to people whose employment or self-employment was impacted by the January 9 and 13 storms in the following counties:

Cumberland

Hancock

Knox

Lincoln

Sagadahoc

Waldo

Washington

York

Funding will be available for eligible applicants who apply within 30 days of the declaration of a major disaster, until April 22, 2024, to assist eligible workers, business owners, and self-employed individuals who lost their jobs, job offers, or businesses, or had their work hours reduced or interrupted due to impacts brought about by the January 9 and/or 13 storms.

The Maine Department of Labor will accept applications for 30 days, starting at 8 a.m. on March 25, 2024. Individuals may be eligible if they do not qualify for regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) and they live in, work in, were scheduled to work in, or were scheduled to travel through an area affected by the January 9 and/or 13 storms and lost their employment or self-employment directly due to the disaster. 

Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) applies to losses for eligible people impacted by the January 9 and/or 13 storms with the first payable week of Disaster Unemployment Assistance for the week starting on January 14, 2024, and ending on September 21, 2024. Unemployment benefits start the first full week after the disaster. Claims can be filed for the weeks beginning January 14, 2024.

Full-time workers, part-time workers, and self-employed part-time individuals can be eligible for benefits. The last payable week of this emergency benefit ends September 21, 2024 as long as their unemployment or self-employment continues as a result of the disaster. Eligibility for DUA benefits will be determined on a week-to-week basis for each week they file their claim.

Who might be eligible:

An individual might be eligible for DUA benefits if they are a business owner, a self-employed person, a regular worker, or a seasonal or migrant worker who lost their job, job offer, or had their work hours reduced due to the January 9 and/or 13 storms.

To be eligible for DUA, a person can’t be eligible for regular unemployment benefits in any state. When they apply, they must be able to work, ready and willing to accept work, and have the time and means to work, unless they suffered injuries directly linked to the disaster. Additionally, they must meet at least one of the following criteria: 

They can’t work or they are working reduced hours because the disaster damaged or destroyed their workplace

They can’t return, resume, or start their employment or self-employment because of the disaster

They can’t work due to injuries caused as a direct result of the disaster

They can’t get to their job due to the impact of the disaster in one of the affected areas. This also applies if they reside in a major disaster area but are unable to reach their place of employment or self-employment outside the disaster area

They became the primary support of their family because of the death of the head of the household as a result of the disaster

How to apply:

Beginning at 8 a.m. Monday, March 25, individuals can apply for DUA benefits at https://assist.reemployme.maine.gov/ or by phone at 1-800-593-7660. To be considered, they need to submit their application by April 22, 2024.

They will first have to complete the regular state unemployment form to determine eligibility for UI benefits or DUA benefits.

What information is needed:

To complete the application, an individual will need to provide their Social Security Number (SSN), and the name, address, and dates of employment of all their employers for the past two years, including out-of-state employers.

They will need to provide all supporting evidence no more than 21 days after the application has been filed. The documents they need to provide might vary depending on their circumstances and previous employers but could include proof of identity, their most recent federal income tax form, and other documents proving that they were working or self-employed when the disaster occurred. If they need to submit proof of income for the past year, they can submit those documents after the 21 days deadline but no later than the end of the disaster assistance period. However, delays in submitting their documents can impact their benefits and overall processing times.

Visit https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/dua/ for more information about Disaster Unemployment Assistance and how to apply. Individuals can also contact the Department at 1-800-593-7660.

To learn about all federal assistance programs, contact FEMA’s helpline at 1-800-621-3362.

Reemployment services are available at www.mainecareercenter.gov

Healing Hearts presents Lewiston Relief Gala

LEWISTON, ME — A dedicated team of Maine-based event professionals has organized the Lewiston Relief Gala, in collaboration with the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, with the shared goal of raising significant funds to be donated to the OneLewiston Resilience Fund to support long-term economic and community healing events related to the impacts of October 25, 2023 mass shooting in Lewiston.

On October 25, 2023, a somber event unfolded, shaking not only the City of Lewiston but the entire State of Maine. The unfortunate incident claimed the lives of 18 individuals, leaving dozens more injured. Many families have been profoundly affected, prompting a compassionate group of Mainers to unite in support. Let’s come together on March 29th to make a positive impact and assist those in need.

In addition to the event, Healing Hearts is hosting an online silent auction at https://givebutter.com/c/HealingHeartsLA/auction. Online auction items include: 1880’s Saratoga Dome Trunk Restored by Maine Steamer Trunk Company; Four tickets to Portland Symphony Orchestra Magic of Christmas!; four tickets to experience one of the PSO’s Classical or POPS! performances at Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine; One Night Stay & $50 Pub Certificate at Oxford Casino; Oxbow Beer Garden Gift Basket; and White Glove Detailing Package: Bill Dodge Auto. The auction ends at 9pm on March 29, 2024.

Net proceeds from the Healing Hearts Gala will be donated to L/A Metro Chamber of Commerce Foundation to support the long-term economic and community healing related to the impacts of October 25, 2023.

WHO: Healing Harts

WHAT: The Lewiston Relief Gala

WHEN: Fri., March 29 from 6 PM to 10 PM

WHERE: Hilton Garden Inn, Auburn Riverwatch

14 Great Falls Plaza, Auburn

TICKETS: https://givebutter.com/c/HealingHeartsLA

Auburn Art Club to host guest author

AUBURN, ME — The Auburn Art Club will present author Mark Alan Leslie at 2:00 on Monday, April 1 at the Park Avenue Methodist Church. Mr. Leslie will give a presentation on the underground railroad.

Mr. Leslie wrote in a recent press release: “Mainers were crucial  to helping runaway slaves escape to Canada in the 1800’s, defying federal Fugitive Slave Act as they operated as “station managers,” “conductors” and “financiers” in the famous Underground Railroad. Among those who put themselves and their fortunes at risk were a number of Androscoggin County families”.

Mr. Leslie has written 13 books, including True North Tice’s Story about one slave’s escape over the Underground Railroad, which was named  a Publishers Weekly Featured Book.

The Auburn Art Club  invites the public to hear Mr. Leslie weave  the tale of the brave families who housed and fed slaves in hidden rooms, attics, and  elsewhere helping them on their way to freedom.

Brush Pick-Up Assistance Week begins earlier

LEWISTON, ME – Lewiston Public Works (LPW) announced that the department will start its annual Brush Pick-Up Assistance Week three weeks early this year and that residents must place brush curbside with cut ends facing the street by Sun., Apr. 7. The service is free for Lewiston residents.

Lewiston Public Works will collect brush debris from the City’s residential properties, which is three units or less, owner occupied during Brush Pick-Up Assistance Week which runs from Mon., Apr. 8, through Fri., Apr. 12. 

Residents must place their brush curbside with cut ends facing the street by Sun., Apr. 7. There are no exceptions. Curbside collection is restricted to wood/tree waste and brush only and limited to one standard pick-up truck load or three yards, per residence.

“Don’t wait until Monday or when you see LPW crews to put out your debris,” said Reggie Poussard, LPW Highway Operations Manager. “LPW crews will pick up brush starting Mon., Apr. 8, and once an LPW truck is in a neighborhood, we can’t wait or go back. We must follow a strict schedule in order to complete citywide pick-up efficiently and effectively.”

The curbside brush piles must be neatly placed in a convenient curbside location that Public Works crews can easily access from the street, and the location must be free of overhead obstructions or parked vehicles. Pick-up will follow the same routes and days used for waste and recycling collection.                                       

Items that will not be picked up include tree stumps regardless of size, tree limbs greater than 12 inches diameter, demolition wood – fencing, decking, and/or wood from construction/demolition projects.

“As residents prepare for Brush Pick-Up Assistance Week, we also encourage them to sterilize pruning tools between tree cuttings to avoid spreading any diseases from one tree to another,” said Poussard.

One way to sterilize pruning tools is to pour a half cup of rubbing alcohol into a bowl or shallow dish. Dip the pruning sheers in the rubbing alcohol for one to two minutes. Pull the shears out of the solution and rinse them with water and then dry with a towel.

Also during pick-up week only, residents may bring one standard size pick-up truck load of brush to the Solid Waste Facility, 420 River Road, Lewiston, at no charge.

Questions about Brush Pick-Up Assistance Week may be directed to (207) 513-3003

Healing Hearts presents Lewiston Relief Gala

LEWISTON, ME — A dedicated team of Maine-based event professionals has organized the Lewiston Relief Gala, in collaboration with the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, with the shared goal of raising significant funds to be donated to the OneLewiston Resilience Fund to support long-term economic and community healing events related to the impacts of October 25, 2023 mass shooting in Lewiston.

On October 25, 2023, a somber event unfolded, shaking not only the City of Lewiston but the entire State of Maine. The unfortunate incident claimed the lives of 18 individuals, leaving dozens more injured. Many families have been profoundly affected, prompting a compassionate group of Mainers to unite in support. Let’s come together on March 29th to make a positive impact and assist those in need.

In addition to the event, Healing Hearts is hosting an online silent auction at https://givebutter.com/c/HealingHeartsLA/auction. Online auction items include: 1880’s Saratoga Dome Trunk Restored by Maine Steamer Trunk Company; Four tickets to Portland Symphony Orchestra Magic of Christmas!; four tickets to experience one of the PSO’s Classical or POPS! performances at Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine; One Night Stay & $50 Pub Certificate at Oxford Casino; Oxbow Beer Garden Gift Basket; and White Glove Detailing Package: Bill Dodge Auto. The auction ends at 9pm on March 29, 2024.

Net proceeds from the Healing Hearts Gala will be donated to L/A Metro Chamber of Commerce Foundation to support the long-term economic and community healing related to the impacts of October 25, 2023.

WHO: Healing Harts

WHAT: The Lewiston Relief Gala

WHEN: Fri., March 29 from 6 PM to 10 PM

WHERE: Hilton Garden Inn, Auburn Riverwatch

14 Great Falls Plaza, Auburn

TICKETS: https://givebutter.com/c/HealingHeartsLA

New pediatric providers at CMMC now accepting patients

 LEWISTON, ME — Three new pediatric providers at Central Maine Medical Center (CMMC), which is part of Central Maine Healthcare (CMH), are now accepting new patients.

 The addition of these new providers significantly addresses the recent shortage of pediatric services in the central Maine region.

 Molly Skog is a nurse practitioner (NP) who received her undergraduate degree from Saint Joseph’s College in Standish and completed her pediatric nurse practitioner training at Boston College.  

Zachary Newton, MD, also received his undergraduate degree in Maine, at Colby College. He attended medical school at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Georgia and completed his residency at Dartmouth Health Children’s in New Hampshire.  

Claire Watson is a nurse practitioner who attended the University of Utah. She worked in Las Vegas before coming to Maine. Watson says providing strong preventative and mental health care for children are the keys to building healthy adults. 

“The people of central Maine are very fortunate to have all three of these exceptional medical professionals here in our community, “said Rebecca Brakeley, MD, chief of women’s and children’s health at Central Maine Healthcare. “They join an all-star cast of providers, including Jared Morin, NP, David Baker, DO,  Erin Van Wagenen, MD, and a kind, thoughtful office staff. We encourage any parent who is looking for a pediatrician to call Central Maine Pediatrics for an appointment.”

 Those wishing to schedule an appointment with Central Maine Pediatrics should call 207-795-5730.

The unaccounted for circles of hell: A poetry reading, discussion

AUBURN, ME — In Dante’s Inferno, he easily descends into Hell and explores circles reserved for traitors & betrayers, liars & thieves.

The Unaccounted for Circles of Hell wrestles with the terrifying notion that we are currently there, that the things we suffer on a daily basis — Violence Against Women, Body Image, Death and Dying, and Grief — are a part of some larger punishment.

Join Lynne Schmidt for a reading of their work, and a discussion of how this collection came into being. This program will take place on Friday, March 15, starting at 4 p.m., and will take place in the Androscoggin Community Room. No registration is required.

Lynne Schmidt is the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor and a mental health professional with a focus on trauma and healing. They are the winner of the 2020 New Women’s Voices Contest and author of the chapbooks, Dead Dog Poems (Finishing Line Press), and Gravity (Nightingale and Sparrow Press) which was listed as one of the 17 Best Breakup Books to Read in 2020, and On Becoming a Role Model (Thirty West), which was featured on The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed for PTSD Awareness Week. Their work has received the Maine Nonfiction Award, Editor’s Choice Award, and was a 2018 and 2019 PNWA finalist for memoir and poetry respectively.

For more information on this or other upcoming programs offered by the Auburn Public Library, visit www.auburnpubliclibrary.org.

When: Friday, March 15, 2024; 4:00-5:00 p.m.

Where: Androscoggin Community Room

Bill supports St. Mary’s Hospital, Tri-County Mental Health

AUGUSTA, ME —The Legislature’s Committee on Health and Human Services approved a bill from Sen. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, to provide $10.8 million to support behavioral health services in Lewiston. The bill includes $8.9 million for St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston for the purpose of allowing the hospital to continue to provide critical behavioral and mental health treatment and $1.9 million to help Spurwink acquire Tri-County Mental Health Services. The vote was unanimous of members present.

“In the aftermath of the tragic Lewiston shooting, we are searching for policy solutions to keep us safer and better identify those who may be ill enough to do others harm,” said Sen. Rotundo. “At the same time, we are still dealing with the fallout from years of isolation during the pandemic, resulting in a skyrocketing need for all kinds of mental health services. I believe an important component of our response to these challenges should be to reinforce the existing mental health resources in our state. St. Mary’s Hospital and Tri-County Mental Health Services are staffed with dedicated professionals who do excellent work. I believe we should prioritize keeping St. Mary’s funded so it can continue to work on the front lines of this crisis, and we should do all we can to prevent Tri-County from permanently closing its doors.”

The bill — LD 2105, “Resolve, to Protect and Enhance Access to Behavioral Health Services in Androscoggin County and Surrounding Communities” — originally sought to appropriate $10.4 million in Fiscal Year 2025 to St. Mary’s. The hospital is now expected to save $1.5 million in revenues in Fiscal Year 2024 as a result  of changes to MaineCare hospital rate increases proposed in the Governor’s supplemental budget. The amount needed by St. Mary’s is now projected to be $8.9 million. The Committee also approved $1.9 million to allow Spurwink to acquire Tri-County Mental Health Services, in order to further reinforce the continuum of care in the Lewiston area. The bill’s new total is $10.8 million.

Representatives from St. Mary’s hospital attended the work session. LD 2105 will be the subject of votes by the full Legislature in the coming weeks.

Entertaining, thought-provoking new play at TPT

LEWISTON, ME — The Public Theatre, Lewiston/Auburn’s professional theatre is proud to produce the compelling new play Secret Hour, March 15 – 24. This will be the play’s second production after its world premiere last year in New York. Entertaining, humorous, poignant, and thought-provoking, if you’ve ever been in a relationship, you’ll be discussing this provocative new play all the way home.

For fun, a married couple invents a game where they confess unflattering truths about themselves and promise to love each other anyway. But is unconditional love really possible? Is being truthful the same thing as being true to oneself? Thankfully, they have a wise and hilarious handyman with a life coach certificate to help them answer these and other compelling questions.

Secret Hour is also a powerful play for women as its female character must face the decision of pursuing a career path or a family. The play cleverly asks if committed relationships brings out the best in us,  or make us compromise our true selves in consideration of the people we love.  Couples of all ages will find this play relevant to their lives and appreciate its intelligence, humor and fascinating questions.

Playwright Jenny Stafford will be joining The Public Theatre in the rehearsal process and participating in two free post-show discussions with the cast and director directly following the Saturday, March 16 and Sunday March 17th matinees. This is the second production this season where the playwright has attended their show at The Public Theatre and shared their thoughts and insights with our audience.

Playing the role of Kate, a successful college Ethics professor will be Katharine McLeod. Katharine previously appeared at The Public Theatre in Last Gas and regularly performs in professional theatres across the US and Canada. Playing her husband Ben is Jason Cadieux. Jason has been seen at The Public Theatre in Wait Until Dark and Wrong for Each Other. For the last 5 seasons, Jason has been a company member of the acclaimed Shaw Festival Theatre in Canada and has also appeared in Blue Bloods, FBI and Law & Order: SVU. Playing this couple’s wise and hilarious handyman Leaf is Josh Adams. Although based in NY, Josh has performed to acclaim at multiple well-known theatres in the D.C. area including The Folger and The Woolly Mammoth. At the directorial helm of this production will be Chris Clavelli. Chris last directed A Doll’s House Part 2 for The Public Theatre. He is currently a resident Director at Florida Repertory Theatre, and a recipient of a Carbonell Award for Best Actor and a Barrymore Award. His direction earned him an Alan Schneider directing nomination through Theatre Communications Group. The Set Design for Secret Hour will be by Chez Cherry, lights by Matt Cost, costumes by Kevin Hutchins and sound by John Morrison.

Secret Hour will be performed at The Public Theatre, Lewiston’s Professional Theatre March 15 – 24. Showtimes are Thurs and Fri at 7:30pm, Sat at 3pm, Sun at 2pm with an added Sat evening on March 23 at 7:30pm.  Tickets are $30 Adults, $25 Groups 10+, $20 Student 19+ with ID. For tickets call 782-3200 or visit thepublictheatre.org.  The Public Theatre is located at 31 Maple St., Lewiston.

Sponsored by IBEW Local 567 Portland and Warp and Weft

Season Underwriters: Sun Journal, Platz Associates, and Bennett Radio Group

Katharine McLeod as Kate and Jason Cadieux as Ben

Glow Dance Party coming to Franco Center March 15 

LEWISTON, ME—The Franco Center will host a Glow Dance Party at Heritage Hall Bar, from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, March 15. DJ Jake Hodgkin, production manager at the Franco Center, will lead line dancing occasionally during the evening. 

“Wear as much white and neon-colored clothing as you can because blacklights will be in use throughout most of the building,” said Hodgkin. “The effect will be stunning! Glow sticks will be available for extra fun.” 

A cash bar will be available in Heritage Hall. “For people wondering if the Franco Center has a bar, yes, we do, and our bartenders are the best! This dance glow party is a good time to check us out,” said Hodgkin. 

Cover charge is $10 at the door or pay what you can. 

The Franco Center is at 46 Cedar St., Lewiston. Parking is in the mill lot on Oxford Street. Handicap access is via an elevator on the Lincoln St. Alley side of the building. Membership is not required to attend this event. 

 Jake Hodgkin, production manager at the Franco Center. Photo credit: Franco Center. 


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