These are some of the stories central Maine is talking about today.

Three hundred Verso Paper workers who learned in August that they were losing their jobs have been told their last day of work will be in mid-December. The company sent the letters last week to the Androscoggin Mill workers giving them a 60-day notice that they'll be losing their jobs. Over the weekend, Verso shut down its No. 2 paper machine, which will be mothballed in the coming weeks. The company, which will retain more than 500 jobs in Jay, said a drop in demand for coated paper, along with Maine's high energy costs and property taxes, forced the layoffs. (AP)

Gas prices in Maine have dropped 2.3 cents in the last week, averaging $2.20 a gallon. The result is from, which surveyed 1,228 gas stations in the state. The national average has fallen 5.2 cents, to $2.20 a gallon. The price in Maine was 95.4 cents less per gallon than a year ago, and 6.9 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average decreased 8.5 cents per gallon during the last month and is 83.9 cents lower than a year ago. (AP)

More than 60 people attended a hearing in Waterville to offer suggestions about how Head Of Falls should be developed. According to the KJ, residents told an architecture and engineering expert Monday night they want to see a mix of commercial, residential and recreational uses on the waterfront at Head of Falls, with a heavy emphasis on recreation. (

Members of the Land for Maine’s Future board will continue Tuesday to push the LePage administration to release funding for the conservation program stuck in a months-long policy dispute between the governor and lawmakers. According to the KJ, the board members publicly spoke out against Gov. Paul LePage over his refusal to release money already budgeted to the program or issue voter-approved bonds to complete several dozen land conservation deals. On Tuesday, the board will once again convene in Augusta and is expected to have a quorum. Several members said they are unsure what actions, if any, will be taken. (

The World Health Organization is sending a warning about processed meats. Its cancer agency says meats such as ham and sausage can lead to colon and other cancers, and it says red meat is probably cancer-causing as well. Researchers from the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon (lee-OHN'), France, have released an evaluation of more than 800 studies from several continents about meat and cancer. They've classified processed meat as "carcinogenic to humans" — in the same category as cigarettes — and red meat as "probably carcinogenic to humans."  (AP)

The U.S. House may just give outgoing Speaker John Boehner what he's wishing for — a vote on a budget deal Wednesday, before Congressman Paul Ryan takes his place on Thursday. House GOP leaders have just struck a budget deal with the White House in an effort to avert a government shutdown and forestall a debt crisis. Congress must raise the federal borrowing limit by Nov. 3 or risk a first-ever default, while money to pay for government operations runs out Dec. 11 unless Congress acts. (AP)

The death toll from Monday's earthquake in Pakistan and Afghanistan is now past 300. Officials say at least 237 people died in Pakistan and about 74 in Afghanistan in the 7.5-magnitude quake. In Pakistan, rescue crews are still trying to reach remote mountainous areas. The army is using helicopters to take supplies to victims. (AP)

Seismologists say a catastrophe like the earthquake and tsunami that devastated parts of Japan in 2011 is inevitable in the Pacific Northwest, and could happen any time. Coastal communities from Northern California to British Columbia are working on a number of projects intended to protect lives during a similar disaster. The building the nation's first vertical tsunami refuge. It'll be on the roof of a gym of an elementary school being built in Westport, Washington, and it's designed to withstand a strong earthquake. (AP)

Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused a whale watching boat with 27 people on board to capsize off Vancouver Island Sunday afternoon in seemingly calm weather. Five British nationals were killed and an Australian man is still missing. A fisherman who was one of the first rescuers at the scene says a survivor told him a sudden wave capsized the boat. Canada's Transportation Safety Board says investigators will review the weather, wreckage and the boat's maintenance history. (AP)