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This week’s edition!

Governor Mills: Supplemental budget balances

A year ago, I presented my Administration’s first biennial budget. That budget was based on HOPE – health, opportunity, prosperity, and education.

The Legislature then debated that proposal, negotiated some compromises and then they enacted – respectfully and in timely fashion – a balanced budget, with two-thirds bipartisan support, without raising any taxes.

Since that time, we’ve been very fortunate. Our economy has remained strong, with continued growth and record low unemployment. The economic forecast and the revenue projections are positive, with more than half of projected revenue being one-time funds, but a forecast that permits us now to identify specific needs to present to the Legislature in the form of a supplemental budget.

The supplemental budget I proposed this week reflects three bipartisan priorities: Setting aside money in the State’s Rainy Day Fund to protect us against an economic downturn; Strengthening those services that protect the health, safety and well-being of Maine families; Addressing our critical workforce needs and responding to the immediate needs of the educational and business communities.

In this budget I propose that we build on our state’s record-high Rainy Day Fund by setting aside another $20 million dollars of that projected surplus in savings. If that’s approved, the Budget Stabilization Fund will have grown by $50 million since I took office. That’s important savings for a Rainy Day.

Government is also about keeping people safe and protecting children and families so the supplemental requests 20 additional positions so we can respond to reports of child abuse or neglect, and it eliminates the current Section 29 waitlist for people with developmental disabilities while we work to improve services for all people with disabilities.

The budget also funds 14 new patrol officers and sergeants at the Maine State Police. The fact is, the number of state police patrol officers has not changed since the 1970’s, while traffic, technology and population have all grown. There are simply too few troopers to respond to car crashes, lost children and crime scenes.

The budget also invests in expanding Maine’s workforce to respond to the demands of the present and the needs of the future. So, it:

funds short-term training programs through Maine’s community colleges; the Maine Apprenticeship Program; and Adult Education;

invests in critical capital equipment like computers and forklifts for the career and technical education centers so that they can succeed in training our students in jobs that pay good wages. You know those CTEs haven’t had substantial funding for equipment since 1998. It’s time to get with the program;

and the budget raises the state’s share of public education to nearly 52 percent for pre-K through 12 — that’s a two percent increase since I took office. And it makes whole our higher education institutions in the second year of the biennium.

I am also presenting a bond package to the Legislature, and asking them to let you, the voters, decide on $100 million in borrowing for transportation to fix the potholes and $15 million to bring high-speed internet to your towns.

This supplemental budget is balanced. It does not create new programs. It takes care that one-time monies are used for one time needs and that we fulfill our obligation within existing programs to take care of our schools, child welfare and public safety needs.

As the Legislature puts their own fingerprints on this document, I hope that they do so with caution, balancing the health and safety of Maine families and our workforce needs with the long-term health of the state.

LA Metro Chamber Annual Award Dinner

The LA Metro Chamber held it’s Annual Awards dinner on December 20 at The Ramada in Lewiston. Award recipients pictured with (middle r.) Chamber President Shanna Cox  are (back l.) Maureen Andrew of Androscoggin Home Healthcare + Hospice, Neil Keily of Androscoggin Bank, John Emerson of Emerson Chevrolet-Buick. (middle l.) Nicole Lajoie of Champoux Insurance, Robin Robbins of Androscoggin Bank, (front l.) Mark Samson of Dirigo Federal Credit Union, Sandy Buchanan of Western Maine Transportation and Terry Samson of Hudson Bus Lines. Photo by Nathan Tsukroff, PortraitEFX of Maine.
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Winter Nature day camp

The Friends of the Cobbossee Watershed’s annual Winter Nature Day Camp will be held during February school vacation week at Camp Mechuwana on Lower Narrows Pond in Winthrop. Two (2)-day camp sessions will be offered—February 17 and 18 and February 19 and 20—with an inclement weather make-up day scheduled for February 21 just in case.  Both sessions, open to children in grades 3 through 5, will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day and will include a mixture of indoor and outdoor activities, including snowshoeing, winter tracking, and indoor and outdoor games. Our culminating activity will be learning to ice fish with Ryan Burton of the Cobbossee Watershed District!

Cost for each 2-day camp session is only $90 per person and includes the use of all equipment along with afternoon cocoa and snack. Early registration is highly recommended as space is limited to 20 campers per session!

Registration forms can be downloaded at www.watershedfriends.com. For more information, please contact Cami Wilbert, Education & Outreach Director at 395-5239 or cami@watershedfriends.com

Governor Mills: I urge Maine people to vote No on 1

A little more than a month ago, the residents of a city in central China began getting terribly sick with a virus that no one had seen before. As that virus spread, one of the first things that public health officials did was begin to work on a vaccine because vaccines save lives.

They are one of the best tools to safeguard our health, protect the health of those around us, friends and loved ones and children.

You know a century ago, as Maine celebrated its 100th birthday, influenza – the flu – posed a serious threat to our people and took thousands of lives. Globally, between 50 million and 100 million people (3 percent to 5 percent of the entire population) died from the flu between 1918 and 1920.

I don’t want that to happen again.

A hundred years later, the flu is still a public health concern, but thanks to vaccines, we are much safer than we used to be – if you get vaccinated.

Decades of scientific research prove that vaccines not only work but that they are safe.

Unfortunately, our state has had a vaccination opt-out rate that is three times higher than the national average for kids entering kindergarten. Our state ranks seventh in the country for the rate of non-medical opt-outs among school age children.

So last year alone, schools in Lincoln, York, and Cumberland counties experienced dangerous whooping cough outbreaks.

I supported Maine’s vaccination laws and, like every other Mainer, I also highly value personal choice. But, as your Governor, I am charged with protecting the health and safety of all Maine people, and amidst these outbreaks it has become painfully clear that Maine laws have not adequately protected the health of Maine people.

Last year I signed a bill to remove the non-medical exemptions from vaccination laws in order to better protect the health and welfare of people, especially young children, across our state – and this is something that four other states, including Mississippi, have done.

People opposed to this new law, however, have succeed in putting a referendum question on the ballot in March in the hopes of overturning the law.

Their campaign is masquerading itself as opposition to “Big Pharma,” but, really, pharmaceutical companies hardly benefit at all from producing vaccines, as the Bangor Daily News recently reported. And in trying to target so-called Big Pharma, whom nobody really likes, their campaign is purposefully trying to conflate vaccinations with other issues like the opioid epidemic when these issues are distinctly different.

Don’t buy it.

Vaccines work, but to make them more effective, people need to be vaccinated, especially children.

As the American Academy of Pediatrics notes, ensuring that everyone who can get vaccinated does get vaccinated “is important because it uniquely protects the most vulnerable members of our communities, including infants, pregnant women and other individuals whose immune systems cannot combat certain harmful or deadly infections or who aren’t eligible to receive certain vaccines.”

Let’s not go back to a time when viruses like pertussis, the measles, mumps, or rubella were commonplace. 

Let’s protect our children. Let’s protect the future.

I urge Maine people to vote No on 1 March 3rd.

Northeastern partners with entrepreneur David Roux

Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern talks with David and Barbara Roux in Portland, Maine. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Building upon a decade of expansion through a network of campuses in the U.S. and beyond, Northeastern University, joined by technology entrepreneur David Roux, is launching a graduate education and research campus in Portland, Maine. 

The Roux Institute at Northeastern University is designed to educate generations of talent for the digital and life sciences sectors, and drive sustained economic growth in Portland, the state of Maine, and northern New England.  

The venture was envisioned by David and his wife Barbara Roux to benefit his native state. Inspired by Northeastern’s leadership in preparing citizens for the societal challenges posed by rapid advances in technology, the couple has invested $100 million in the university to support the Roux Institute’s future activities. 

The Roux Institute, scheduled to open in the spring, will partner with leading employers in Maine and across the United States. Its graduate degree and certificate programs will focus on the practical application of artificial intelligence and machine learning in the digital and life sciences to prepare people for high-demand jobs and drive research that meets industry needs—goals that the Rouxs have been pursuing for years. The Roux Institute will not offer undergraduate degrees.

“The entire Northeastern community is grateful to Dave and Barb Roux for their vision and for this transformational investment in the future of Maine,” said Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern. “Their vision is in perfect alignment with Northeastern’s distinctive approach to education and research. The impact of the Roux Institute will reverberate across the region for generations to come. It will serve as a national model for expanding growth and innovation, and reducing inequality.”

Ten leading companies have signed on to become founding partners, which will enable the Roux Institute to quickly help people in the workforce adapt to changes created by the evolving economy.

“In this country, ambition and ability are broadly distributed, but opportunity is not,” said Roux, a native of Lewiston, Maine, who is chairman of BayPine, a private investment company, and co-founder, former chairman and co-chief executive officer of Silver Lake, the world’s largest technology-focused private equity firm. “This new institute will address that stark disparity. It will be an opportunity machine for Maine’s people and businesses at precisely the right time. And Northeastern is the ideal academic partner to make that happen. We could not be happier that the university is joining us in this mission.”

The mission of the Roux Institute is at the heart of the university’s strategic plan, Northeastern 2025—a blueprint for lifelong and experiential learning that liberates students from outdated career models and gives them the opportunity to prosper over the course of their lives. 

The Roux Institute will make use of Northeastern’s collaborative strengths across the board—a combination of online and in-person learning for students, with a research program that creates new ideas that allow companies to thrive and grow. 

The Roux Institute’s curriculum will be developed in close collaboration with the corporate partners. Research teams will be supported by world-class facilities and technology, fulfilling the Rouxs’ dream of creating an innovation and life-sciences corridor that stretches from Boston to Portland and beyond.  

Founding corporate partners include: Bangor Savings Bank, the second-largest bank in Maine; IDEXX, a leader in pet healthcare innovation that provides veterinary products and services around the world; The Jackson Laboratory, an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution based in Maine that has facilities in Connecticut, California, and Shanghai, China; L.L. Bean, an internationally recognized outdoor retailer; MaineHealth, the largest healthcare organization in Maine; PTC, a global software company with 6,000 employees in 30 countries; Thornton Tomasetti, a New York-based engineering consulting firm that has designed several of the world’s tallest buildings; Tilson, an international provider of network deployment and professional services to telecom, construction, utility, and government clients; Unum, a Fortune 500 company that provides benefits to employees of 193,000 businesses internationally; WEX, a global leader in financial technology that serves millions of companies.

The corporate partners have agreed to collaborate with the Roux Institute on educational and research offerings; sponsor and fund participation by employees who demonstrate high potential for advanced educational offerings; fund applied research projects and innovation initiatives; and establish innovation labs at the institute where faculty and industry experts can work together on projects. 

The initial program portfolio will cover two broad disciplines: In digital technology, curricula will include applied analytics, computer science, data science, data visualization, and machine learning; in advanced life sciences, subjects will cover bioinformatics, biotechnology, genomics, health data analytics, and precision medicine. 

Portland, the largest city in Maine with a metropolitan population of more than 500,000, features a growing tech economy, affordable real estate, and ready access to transportation. 

“The Roux Institute represents a significant expansion of our model,” Aoun said. “In the past, we have founded campuses initially focused on lifelong learning, such as Seattle, and other campuses initially focused on research, such as Burlington. This is the first campus that integrates these two models from day one.”

For media inquiries, please contact Shannon Nargi at s.nargi@northeastern.eduor 617-373-5718.

Maine’s Alzheimer’s and Dementia Advocacy Day

The Alzheimer’s Association is hosting Maine’s Alzheimer’s & Dementia Advocacy Day on Thursday, January 30 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at the Hall of Flags on the second floor of the State House in Augusta. All Maine residents are welcome to attend. This day of state advocacy is designed to enable those affected by Alzheimer’s or other dementias to share their experiences face-to-face with state elected officials and influence them to address the economic impact of the Alzheimer’s epidemic and the care and support needs of Maine families. New data about cognitive decline in Maine from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) will be presented at a press conference at 11:30 a.m.

Alzheimer’s Association volunteer advocate Denise Kinney of Biddeford is living in the early stages of dementia. She explains, “This isn’t just happening to me, there are many Mainers walking around like this. These statistics are frightening. I am part of that number and I will be facing much greater challenges.” Kinney continues, “When I went public with my diagnosis, it was largely to increase awareness and to stamp out the stigma attached to the disease. I worry about my future, not for myself, but for my sons. Let’s do the right thing for all the people of Maine living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.”

In Maine there are 28,000 people living with Alzheimer’s and 69,000 friends and family providing more than 79 million hours of unpaid care valued at $998 million. In addition, more than half of all adults providing unpaid care to loved ones with dementia have been doing so for at least two years. MaineCare’s costs of caring for people with Alzheimer’s in 2019 was $205 million and is projected to increase by more than 36% by 2025. Nationwide, Alzheimer’s care is the country’s most expensive condition.

“We encourage Mainers who want to show their support of Maine families affected by dementia to join us,” explains Adam Lacher, Director of Advocacy at the Alzheimer’s Association, Maine Chapter. “Personal stories carry the power to motivate our state officials to combat the Alzheimer’s crisis and effect positive change.”

Featured speakers include: Laurie Bowie, Executive Director, Alzheimer’s Association, Maine Chapter will serve as the emcee; Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D., Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) will give an update on the state’s Healthy Brain Initiative work and the latest results from the 2018 Cognitive Decline BRFSS analysis; Rep. Margaret Craven and Rep. Kristen Cloutier will discuss why they are Alzheimer’s and dementia legislative champions; Dr. Gareth Howell, Associate Professor, The Jackson Laboratory will give an Alzheimer’s research update related to risk reduction; Denise Kinney, Advocate, Alzheimer’s Association, Maine Chapter will share her experience living in the early stages of dementia.

Several community partners will join the Alzheimer’s Association including: Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, The Jackson Laboratory, Legal Services for the Elderly, Long Term Care Ombudsman, MaineHealth, Northern Light Acadia Hospital, and University of New England.

The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. Visit alz.org or call 800.272.3900.

Mark Turcotte to record debut comedy album at Craft Brew Underground

Mark Turcotte

Maine Event Comedy presents Lewiston’s Mark Turcotte in his debut album recording “Live in L-A” at Craft Brew Underground, Friday, January 31 at 8 p.m. The show will also feature Nic Dufault, Leonard Kimble, and Dee Turcotte-Caouette.

Turcotte began performing stand-up in 2012 and founded Maine Event Comedy in 2015. He was a finalist in the Funniest Comic on the East Coast Contest at Mohegan Sun and a semi-finalist at the World Series of Comedy in Sarasota, Florida. He was also part of the Gotham All-Stars Show in New York City and selected for the Boston, Cleveland, and North Carolina comedy festivals. Most of his material is mined from his family life, an adult-like curiosity, and a series of misfortunes.

The show is for ages 21-and-older; admission is pay-what-you-can. Craft Brew Underground is located at 34 Court Street in Auburn. It was voted the No. 1 Craft Beer Bar in Maine and offers more than 200 choices of craft beer, cider, and wine.

For more information, call/text (207) 513-0742 or email maineeventcomedy@gmail.com.

Governor Mills: High-speed internet is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity.

In my first State of the State address as Governor this week, I told the people of Maine, you watching in homes, businesses and shops across the state and listening this morning, that our economy is on a solid footing and it is growing.

Revenues are up, our gross domestic product is up, housing starts, construction, auto sales are all up and the state budget continues to have a healthy surplus. The private sector created 5,300 new jobs this past year. My Administration helped 800 people with disabilities find and keep jobs. Our unemployment rate went down, we paid off the $80 million debt for the Riverview Psychiatric Center and we stopped the bleeding of interest payments to the federal

My Administration added $30 million to the Budget Stabilization Fund, for a total of $237 million – and I am proposing to add another $20 million more.

And, on a bipartisan basis, we provided $75 million in property tax relief for Maine people — just look in your mailbox, about 300,000 of you should receive a $104 check.

While all this is progress, it is also important to address the challenges that still loom large over our economy. We are not taking anything for granted and we look at the future with cautious optimism.

Our State’s ten-year economic development plan says if we want to strengthen our economy, we have to enhance critical infrastructure, including broadband, particularly in rural Maine.

We all know the problems with internet – slow internet and no internet. This company, DesignLab, for instance, a marketing and design firm in Millinocket, used to upload their video files on a hard drive, drive to the Medway gas station, and ask a bus driver to deliver the files to a video editor in Presque.

Internet speeds were dismal for them, and it severely limited their productivity. But now, with broadband in Millinocket, they are succeeding.

You know, as one small businessperson put it to me the other day, “You want to grow the economy?” she said, “Give us better internet.”

It is time for us to listen. High-speed internet is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity.

Increasing access to high speed internet will allow our businesses to expand and allow people across the state to connect with schools, with health care providers and with markets around the country and around the world.

I am proposing that the Legislature fund $15 million this year to expand broadband for Maine people and Maine businesses. We just can’t afford to wait any longer.

More than 100 communities across Maine have worked with their local hospitals, schools, businesses and providers to identify how they can bring better internet to their towns. They are ready to go for broadband – the only thing they are waiting for now is funding.

Some state funding, along with private and federal investments, can bring internet to the most rural communities Maine, and this initial investment of state funds is long-overdue and very important.

Please join me in asking your state representatives and your state senators in the Legislature to support investments in broadband.

It’s an investment in our economy and in your success.

Auburn Winter Festival 2020

Auburn’s Annual Winter Festival will begin on Friday, January 24 and will run all weekend long, through the 26! A full list of events can be found at www.auburnmaine.gov or by calling 333-6611. This event is Auburn’s celebration of all things winter! Highlights include: 

Friday/Saturday/Sunday: The Auburn PAL Center at 24 Chestnut Street will have a snow playground, which will be available during daylight hours for children to climb & enjoy! 

Friday Night: During “Family Fun Night at the Mountain,” Lost Valley will host various activities for the whole family. The ever-popular Torchlight Parade and Fireworks will take place at 9 p.m. 

Saturday Night: The Twin City Thunder will have back-to back hockey games (NCDC & Premiere) at 4 & 7 p.m. For tickets, visit www.twincitythunder.com. 

Sunday: United New Auburn Association will host a family sledding/skating/showshoesing event at Sherwood Heights School from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Baxter Outdoor’s Packed Powder Series at Lost Valley will feature a solo 5km snowshoe, solo and team 10km duathlons starting at 9 a.m. East Auburn Baptist Church will offer snow shoeing and dog sled rides, with 100 beautiful acres to explore, plus a warming hut with hot chocolate and coffee! 

These are just a few highlights for WinterFest 2020! Visit www.auburnmaine.gov for more. 

Side By Each Brewing Resolution Breakers Ball


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