Central Maine News: Dec 4, 2015
These are some of the stories central Maine is talking about today.
(AP) — The Governor's Energy Office says the average statewide cash price for heating oil is down two cents from two weeks ago and is now at its lowest point of the season. The statewide average is $1.98 per gallon. Kerosene was also down slightly at $2.57 per gallon and propane rose one cent to $2.20 per gallon. State officials say they expect the low prices to continue into the heating season. The highest average price for heating oil in Maine was $2.17 per gallon in northern Maine. The lowest average price was $1.91 per gallon in western Maine. The highest heating oil price found in Maine was $2.36 per gallon in the eastern part of the state.
(AP) — A legislative committee is threatening to issue subpoenas to Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew and another official if they don't attend an upcoming session to discuss treatment of patients at Riverview Psychiatric Center. Mayhew responded with a withering statement Thursday, saying it's "ludicrous" to think a commissioner can drop everything "to answer the beck and call of the Government Oversight Committee." Mayhew and Riverview Superintendent Jay Harper missed a meeting Thursday in which special court master Daniel Wathen discussed ongoing deficiencies at the 98-bed hospital. Riverview lost its federal certification after an inspection uncovered problems including overcrowding and the use of correctional officers to oversee patients. Other problems found in the inspection and subsequent reviews related to the use of stun guns and handcuffs, medication errors, and paperwork.
(AP) — A project that would build cabins for homeless veterans on the grounds of a federal veterans' hospital will receive nearly $400,000 in low-income tax credits. The Cabin in the Woods project is a proposed development by the nonprofit organization Volunteers of America. It would be located on the grounds of the veterans' hospital at Togus about six miles from Maine's state capital. The Kennebec Journal reports the $4 million project is meant to serve homeless veterans who need to be close to services at the hospital. It would be on 11 wooded acres of federal property and include a community center and 21 private, energy-efficient cabins. The project still needs more money to move forward.
(AP) — Two Maine legislators say they will bring to the full House of Representatives options including impeaching or formally investigating Gov. Paul LePage after a government committee accepted a report about the governor's role in the firing of a political foe. The Government Oversight Committee voted Thursday to accept the findings of the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability, which investigated on the committee's behalf. Independent Jeffrey Evangelos and Democrat Ben Chipman say they will formally propose options to the House in the coming weeks. Representatives for the Republican governor didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. The investigating panel found that the acting education commissioner withheld a quarterly payment from Good Will-Hinckley as LePage's administration pressured the school about hiring Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves.
(AP) -- The construction of an interchange on Interstate 95 in Waterville at the Trafton Road will be the first in a new state initiative that advances the priority of proposed road work if developers help with funding. Maine is considering the use of both public and private money for transportation projects because of the limited federal grant money made available. The $4.8 million interchange had been discussed by city officials and the Department of Transportation for years. It was never approved because of the lack of funding. Trafton Properties Inc. has pledged $1.8 million to help fund the road work, matching the DOT's contribution. The federal Economic Development Administration awarded a grant of nearly $1 million for the project.
(WGME) -- An 11-year-old boy is accused of burglary in Skowhegan. Skowhegan Police investigated a burglary complaint on Nov. 24 at 14 Cedar Street, and learned from witnesses that an 11-year-old boy was seen inside the residence. According to WGME when officers executed a search warrant at the apartment of the 11-year-old boy they found some of the items. Police recovered a large amount of items reported stolen in the burglary. After conducting follow up interviews police learned that more stolen property was in an upstairs apartment. The occupants, both young adults, consented to a search where more stolen property and marijuana were located. The two were charged with burglary, theft, and cultivation of marijuana.
(AP) — Investigators are still working to find out whether the shooting rampage in San Bernardino, California, was the result of terrorism, a workplace grudge or possibly both. Police say the husband and wife behind the shootings had enough bullets and bombs to slaughter hundreds. Fourteen victims died, as did the couple.
(AP) — In the aftermath of last month's terror attacks in Paris, New York City officials have bolstered security and quietly stepped up outreach efforts to the Muslim community. The goal is to calm fears of possible hate-filled retaliation.
(AP) — A polarized Senate has voted against expanding background checks for more gun purchases. Thursday's mostly party-line 50-48 vote followed the defeat of other firearms curbs.
(AP) — Republicans have pushed a bill through the Senate aimed at unraveling President Barack Obama's health care law and defunding Planned Parenthood. The House is expected to pass the measure, and the president is expected to veto it once it reaches his desk.
(AP) — Negotiators outside Paris have produced a new draft of a climate agreement that's supposed to set the world on a path toward cleaner energy, while also reducing the carbon pollution blamed for global warming. The new draft is 50 pages long. It leaves the main crunch issues unresolved, including how to spell out the obligations of countries in different stages of development. Environmental activists are urging negotiators to step up the pace before environment and foreign ministers join the talks next week.