Central Maine News: February 12, 2016
These are some of the stories central Maine is talking about today.
(AP) —Gov. Paul LePage plans to name himself as the state's education commissioner to avoid confirmation hearings for his choice to head the department. The move comes two days after the Republican governor withdrew his nomination of acting commissioner William Beardsley for the permanent job because he expected Democrats to reject him for political reasons. Democrats and LePage have been feuding over issues related to accommodating transgender students. LePage made the announcement Thursday at a Lewiston Auburn Chamber of Commerce breakfast. LePage said he will sign any legal documents required by a commissioner, but he has no intention of running the department. According to the governor’s office Maine law allows Beardsley to serve as acting commissioner for six months and then as deputy commissioner.
(AP) — A man who shot his fiancée in the head while showing a gun to a prospective buyer in a Bath parking lot is facing criminal charges. 23-year-old Dylan Grubbs of Thomaston was arrested Thursday after he was indicted on charges of manslaughter and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. Investigators say Grubbs and the victim, 22-year-old Chelsea Jones, had driven to Bath to meet a prospective buyer when she was shot in November. They say the gun discharged while Grubbs was outside the SUV. Jones was shot as she sat in the vehicle and died three days later.
(AP) —Garmin is buying DeLorme, the Yarmouth-based producer of maps and hand-held satellite communications devices. Garmin said that DeLorme will operate as a research and development facility and most of its 92 workers will be retained. Under the deal, DeLorme will continue producing its state-specific "Atlas and Gazetteer" series but will close its map store. The company's lobby, which features a 42-foot-tall rotating globe dubbed "Eartha," will remain open to the public. The deal is expected to close in 30 to 60 days.
(WGME) -- Early yesterday, a magnitude-2.5 quake was reported just west of Phillips. According to WGME it was the third small earthquake this month in Maine. Earlier this week, a swarm of micro earthquakes were reported in Washington County and a quake measuring at 3.3 was reported just north of Eastport on Feb. 2.
(WGME) -- People on food stamps say the governor and DHHS are trying to confuse, intimidate and humiliate them. Thousands of food stamp recipients got a letter that strongly implies they have to add their driver's license photos to their EBT cards. The card says "the state's electronic benefit transfer EBT card is now a photo card. Our records indicate that you do not have an EBT photo card." What the letter doesn't say is that adding a photo isn't a requirement. DHHS told WGME the letter isn't deceptive and that having more photos on EBT cards helps deter fraud.
(WABI) -- Local business groups are speaking out against a bill that would do away with a system to reimburse homeowners who produce solar energy. A policy called “net metering” allows producers of solar to receive credits on their electric bill for energy they send back to the grid. According to WABI, proposed legislation would suspend that, now solar advocates delivered nearly four-thousand petition signatures to the legislature opposing the bill. They say it would take away incentive for homeowners to use solar, putting nearly 400 solar jobs and 50 solar businesses at risk. Proponents of the bill say it would replace net metering with a new system that would benefit larger-scale solar farms as well as homeowners.
(AP) — Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have clashed at their second one-on-one debate over their support of President Barack Obama. Clinton charged that Sanders has been harshly critical of Obama, a charge Sanders called "a low blow." Sanders responded that he's been an active supporter and that only one person on the stage ran against Obama. The face-off was held in Milwaukee.
(AP) — Venezuela's president says at least three people have died in Venezuela due to complications related to the Zika virus. At least another 68 people have been hospitalized from complications from the mosquito-transmitted virus. Venezuela is reporting more than 5,000 suspected cases of Zika since November. It's spread across Latin America.