Central Maine News: February 2, 2016
These are some of the stories central Maine is talking about today.
(AP) — It's really close between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in the Iowa Democratic caucuses. Sanders describes it as a "virtual tie." But the Clinton campaign team is casting her performance as a win. Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon told reporters, "we believe strongly that we won tonight." He's pointing to Clinton's capture of at least 22 delegates to the party's national convention to Sanders' 21, with one left to be decided.
(AP) — Ted Cruz is the winner of the Iowa Republican caucuses, Donald Trump was second and Marco Rubio was a close third. Cruz's Iowa victory was propelled by Republican caucus-goers who said they want a candidate who shares their values.
(AP) -- Tollbooths along the Maine Turnpike saw more traffic in 2015 than any other year in the roadway's 69-year history. 79.5 million motorists paid tolls in 2015 for a net gain of $128.2 million in revenue for the Maine Turnpike Authority. The previous record for most traffic along the turnpike was in 2007 when there were just over 76 million transactions recorded. Traffic levels along the turnpike are generally seen as an early indicator for the state's overall economic health. Studies conducted by the Maine Turnpike Authority have shown that approximately 80 percent of Maine's tourists travel to the state by car.
(AP) — Dixfield and a group of cat caretakers have sued estate trustees in a long-running dispute over a woman's wishes that her life savings go to care for abandoned cats.Barbara Thorpe died in 2002 and left most of her $200,000 estate to give food, shelter and veterinary care to the stray cats of Dixfield. Reports are that only a few thousand dollars have been given for the cats' care. Lawyers have taken more than $16,000, and the estate's trustees received over $22,000. Dixfield and five women who care for the town's strays sued the trustees last week. The suit says the trustees excessively billed fees to the trust and have failed to carry out Thorpe's wishes.
(AP) — Gas prices are still falling across northern New England. GasBuddy.com says gasoline prices are lowest in New Hampshire, where the average price fell 5 cents per gallon last week to $1.80. The average price per gallon in Maine was $1.88, down 3.3 cents from last week. In Vermont, the average price was $1.97, down 2.3 cents from the week before. The national average is $1.80, dropping 2.5 cents in the last week. The national average has dropped nearly 20 cents per gallon in the last month and is 25.3 cents per gallon lower than one year ago.
(AP) -- Two groups are handing in petition signatures to the state, one to legalize marijuana and the other to boost school funding. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol says it delivered 103,000 signatures Monday in its quest to make Maine the first state in the East to legalize pot for recreational use. Another group, "Stand Up for Students," says it delivered nearly 75,000 valid signatures. About 20 protesters who oppose legalization demonstrated as the petition gatherers carried boxes into the Secretary of State's Office.The school funding measure would raise $157 million for schools from a 3 percent income tax surcharge on the top 2 percent of wage earners in the state.
(WGME) -- Governor Paul LePage wants to move some mental health patients from a secure hospital to prison. The governor's bill would place violent patients in the intensive mental health unit of the Maine State Prison. DHHS leaders say that would only happen when "absolutely necessary.” Opponents say the bill is morally and legally inappropriate for them to go there. DHHS says the plan is also about keeping patients and staff safe.
(KJ) – Taking a look at current and future traffic and parking issues in light of a big effort to revitalize downtown Waterville was the focus of a meeting held Monday. It was to kick off the Waterville Downtown Transportation Study. According to the KJ, a group of city, Colby College and state Department of Transportation officials, as well as city councilors, economic development specialists and business leaders met at to discuss the stud. The city hired a firm for $102,000 to do the study, which is funded equally by the city, the transportation department and Colby and is due to be complete by the end of June.