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Central Maine News: Series of Bills to Support Maine’s Aging Population Being Introduced Next Session

Scott Olson, Getty Images

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

Advocates for the poor are urging Gov. Paul LePage’s administration to scrap a plan that would require people to have a job to receive food stamps. LePage’s administration announced last month that it will no longer seek a federal waiver that has allowed jobless people to continue receiving benefits in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. At a public hearing Wednesday, Clara Whitney of the Good Shepherd Food Bank said the decision will force more Mainers to seek food from places like her organization, which are already low on money and resources. LePage’s administration says that the goal is to ensure recipients become economically independent. Officials say they will work to help recipients meet the requirement by providing things like job-search training. (AP)

The North Pond Hermit, who lived nearly three decades in the Maine woods has a job and is adjusting to life back in society. Christopher Knight could complete his time in a special court program this fall. Knight stole food and other things from homes while he lived in the woods for 27 years. He was admitted last fall into the program, where participants receive treatment and counseling, after serving about seven months in jail. In the new September issue of GQ magazine, Knight says he didn’t believe he would fit in society, saying it was “too loud” and “too colorful.” He didn’t explain why he disappeared into the woods. (AP)

The Maine House Speaker is promoting a series of proposals aimed at making life easier for Maine’s aging population. He announced the package of bills. He plans to formally introduce the proposals when the Legislature returns in December. Among the ideas is a $65 million bond to help create 1,000 apartments for seniors across the state. Another bill would increase a property tax credit for low-and-middle income families. The third measure would boost Medicaid reimbursement rates for workers that care for seniors in their homes. He called the measures the first step in facing the “critical need to transform how people age” in Maine. Officials estimate that one in four Maine residents will be older than 65 by 2030. (AP)

New federal statistics show economic growth in New England has been slowest in Connecticut and Maine since the end of the Great Recession. The Commerce Department released statistics of quarterly gross domestic product, the measure of all goods and services, from 2005 to 2013. From the second quarter of 2009 until the end of 2013, the economies of Connecticut and Maine grew by 3 percent. In contrast, growth in the region’s largest economy, Massachusetts, was 11 percent. Growth was greatest in Vermont, at 12 percent, though the state’s $27.9 million
economy last year was the smallest in New England. The U.S. economy expanded by 10 percent. (AP)

Four active-duty Navy SEALs are swimming more than 13 miles for Camp Sunshine.  The SEALs plan to swim the entire length of Sebago Lake to raise money to send dozens of military families to Camp Sunshine, a retreat for children with life-threatening illnesses. Today’s endurance swim is part of an effort to raise at least $100,000. That would be enough to bring 40 or more military families for a Camp Sunshine session next year. (AP)

Despite threats by militants to kill more American hostages in Syria, the U.S. on Wednesday launched a new round of airstrikes in Iraq against the militant group Islamic State. Militants have said that they beheaded American journalist James Foley in retaliation for recent U.S. airstrikes on militants. And they’re threatening to kill another journalist. (AP)

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri say yesterday’s crowds of protesters were much smaller than they’ve been, since the fatal shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old by a police officer. There were no fires and no shootings, and officers used no tear gas or mace. Attorney General Eric Holder visited Ferguson and met with federal officials investigating the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Holder also met with Brown’s parents. (AP)

Lewiston Middle School students are getting an extra week of summer vacation because of a construction delays at their school. According to WMTW the first day of school in Lewiston is set for Aug. 27, but middle school students will not return until after Labor Day. Contractors need more time to finish renovations. The $9 million renovation includes a new entrance, ventilation system and fire sprinklers throughout the building. (WMTW)

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