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Rep. Roland Salsbury Jr. of Town Hill scans a draft 1985 Hancock County budget. Beside him is County Commissioner Eugene Churchill of Orland at a December 1984 meeting of the County Commissioners and the local legislative delegation. The proposed total to be raised through taxation was $954,048 that year. Of the 2020 county budget, more than $6 million was raised from taxes assessed to municipalities in the county.
Hello there Bulletinbees: it's Thursday, March 25. 

Recently, because we were renovating our house and needed haul away truckloads of wood and concrete and mouse poop and ceiling tiles, my partner decided to trade his wonderfully zippy Volkswagen Golf for a pickup truck. He wanted something small, like the little white Toyota he had years before, or one of those teeny Italian apo trucks with a single front wheel that you see in movies that weathered farmers wearing flat caps and saying "ciao" are filling with tomatoes.

Alas, it was not to be, because modern U.S. pickup trucks are HUGE, an observance that was validated for me in this article from CityLab: Between 1990 and today, U.S. pickup trucks grew by roughly 1,300 pounds, with some models weighing 7,000 pounds - three times the weight of a Honda Civic - with extended cabs that can fit up to five people. In case you were wondering.

In the weather: Okay, so spring isn't quite here yet. Temperatures in the 40s, with a bit of rain, and some sun on Saturday. More clouds Sunday with rain and a wintry mix.

High tide on the Union River is at 9:15 p.m.; low tide is at 3:04 p.m.

LONGTIME DETECTIVE TO RETIRE

Tenacious, diligent, conscientious, patient, excellent, caring, kind and respected, not to mention “a grown-up.” Those were a few of the phrases used to describe longtime Hancock County Sheriff’s Detective Stephen McFarland, who is retiring April 30. McFarland is leaving after 38 years on the job. “He always thought it was below him to base his case on a confession,” said former District Attorney Michael Povich. Instead, McFarland worked to get the evidence to prove a case. “He is a detective,” Povich said. “That is his specialty, and he is just absolutely conscientious to a fault. He’s highly respected.”


SOLAR PROJECTS ABOUND

The sun is out in Maine, and so is the enthusiasm from solar developers. Interest in projects that incorporate solar technology, whether it be individual homes or larger solar farms, has boomed lately, marked by the approval of applications for solar development projects by several local planning boards. Projects begin when a developer finds available land, applies to be part of the state’s incentive programs and gets added to the list of companies waiting to negotiate an interconnection agreement with the power company. Those negotiations will determine if projects can be added to the electric grid using existing infrastructure or if upgrades to substations need to happen first, Burgess said. Projects range from solar panels fixed to residential rooftops to solar farms spanning several acres, said Dan Burgess, director of the Maine Governor’s Energy Office. 


SALE OF HAMPDEN TRASH PLANT DELAYED

The sale of the shuttered Coastal Resources of Maine Inc. waste facility in Hampden to Delta Thermo Inc. is now delayed, the Municipal Review Committee (MRC) announced March 17, after negotiations have apparently stumbled. “There’s some fundamental differences,” MRC President Michael Carroll said, declining to name those differences while negotiations continue. Negotiations have been ongoing since late last year for the Pennsylvania-based energy company to purchase the $90 million waste-to-biofuel facility.

RENDERING COURTESY OF NORTHERN LIGHT HEALTH

NEW HOSPITAL BUILDING COMING TO BLUE HILL

Northern Light Blue Hill Hospital turns 100 years old in 2022 and is getting a new hospital building to better serve its patients. “People understand that it’s our desire to keep care local,” said John Ronan, president and chief executive officer of Northern Light’s Blue Hill and Ellsworth hospitals. “I think that’s an important part of this project for the people who depend on Blue Hill hospital to be there for them. This commitment from Northern Light is to keep health care as local as it can be.” The new hospital will have a full-service emergency department, laboratory, imaging, rehabilitation services and primary and select specialty care.


MILLIONS IN STIMULUS FUNDS PROJECTED LOCALLY

The recent $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress in the American Rescue Plan provides an influx of dollars to every municipality in Maine along with $10.664 million for Hancock County. The distribution to municipalities is based on population counts from the 2010 Census and will be made in two equal payments, one this year and one in 2022. Ellsworth, the largest municipality in Hancock County, is set to receive $815,530. The second largest, Bucksport, will receive $491,012. On the low end of the scale, Great Pond and Frenchboro will each receive $5,583.

PHIL WORDEN PHOTO

BODIES OF TWO HIKERS RECOVERED FROM DORR MOUNTAIN

The two hikers whose bodies were recovered late Saturday morning during a ground search at Acadia National Park have been identified as Wayne Beckford, 28, and Kassandra Caceres, 30, both of Rutland, Mass. The hikers appear to have fallen about 100 feet along ice-covered cliff bands on Dorr Mountain. According to the National Park Service, a search was initiated on Friday after family members reported the couple overdue. According to reports, the couple arrived in Bar Harbor on Tuesday and were last heard from Thursday around noon. The woman, in a phone conversation with a family member, expressed an interest in hiking Cadillac Mountain.


HANCOCK COUNTY’S RESTORATIVE JUSTICE PROGRAM EXPANDING

The Hancock County restorative justice program for youths is expanding to include adults who have been charged with thefts, according to Leslie Ross, Hancock County case coordinator, and District Attorney Matt Foster. The program brings victims, offenders and affected community members together. “There are so many benefits to these programs in that they allow victims to take an active part in a process that allows them to give voice to how this has harmed them and allows them to have a say in how to repair the harm done,” Ross said. “As an alternative to jail, it offers the offender the opportunity to take ownership and responsibility for their actions, a chance to follow through on repairing the harm while staying connected to their community.”

What is a good place to eat birthday cake? For Sarah Gilfillan, whose birthday was March 23, right in front of City Hall marks the spot. Her daughter, Layla, brought her mother cake, flowers and a card, so they sat down at one of their favorite outdoor locations to dig in. “How fun it is to eat a cake straight through [from] the center,” Sarah said, and Layla nodded, unable to speak with her mouth full of cake.
GOULDSBORO TOWN MANAGER SUBMITS HER RESIGNATION

Town Manager Andrea Sirois informed the Board of Selectmen Tuesday night that she plans to step down when her contract expires this June. After an executive session, during which she made her plans known, selectmen unanimously voted to advertise for a new town manager through the Maine Municipal Association. Dana Rice, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, confirmed the 5-0 vote, saying Sirois cited the strain of the coronavirus pandemic and wanting to be closer to her family on the West Coast as reasons for her departure. “She has done a great job and we hate to lose her, but it’s a process we are going to have to go through,” Rice said Wednesday.
MMA ATHLETICS PHOTO

MAINE MARITIME SAILORS WRAP UP SHORTENED SEASON

The harbor that stretches from the Maine Maritime Academy waterfront out into Penobscot Bay, with the Brooksville shoreline beckoning, is training ground for the MMA dinghy sailing team. The team competes in races and regattas throughout New England and beyond — in a normal season, that is. In 2021, the spring sailing season was curtailed by the need for two summer training cruises on board the training ship State of Maine and a shortened semester that ends on April 9, coach Taylor Martin said. The previous fall and spring seasons were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “[This] made it challenging for some programs to find opponents,” he said.

GSA VOLLEYBALL TEAM ROLLS PAST MDI, ELLSWORTH TO REACH 5-0

What should have been a glorious fall sports season for Sophia Biggie-Jennings was instead a major gut punch. Biggie-Jennings, a junior at George Stevens Academy, had long pictured this past fall as a golden opportunity for the GSA volleyball team. With all but one player back from a squad that went 13-3 a season earlier, the Eagles had lofty goals as the season came closer into view. Yet with the novel coronavirus maintaining its iron grasp, a season that was expected to be a strong one for GSA was turned on its head. Instead of playing to put themselves at the top of the Class C standings and compete for championships, the Eagles found themselves competing in modified matches outdoors on just a few occasions. “It really sucked,” Biggie-Jennings said. “We have a talented group of girls who really want it, and it was hard not to get that chance to show it.”

Heard Around Town:  Tim Burch works as a server at Governor’s Restaurant & Bakery in Ellsworth. He also works seasonally at the Crocker House Country Inn in Hancock. He is one of Ellsworth resident Kelly Cochrane’s favorite people.

The two have known each other for 25 years. All these years — especially during the coronavirus pandemic — “Timmy,” as The Ellsworth American’s advertising and marketing manager calls her friend, “brightens up any day and makes you feel like a VIP. He has made me feel like a princess since the day I met him.”
 

Who is your “Frontline Hero”? That nurse, caregiver, car mechanic, bank teller, snowplow driver, mom-and-pop store clerk who cheerfully attends to your everyday needs and (spirits) during the COVID-19 pandemic in these unprecedented times. Snap a photo of them and send their name, job title, hometown and a paragraph or two about the person and why they have made a difference to you during the pandemic to lbaldwin@ellsworthamerican.com or to The Ellsworth American, Attn: Heard Around Town/ Frontline Hero, 30 Water St., Ellsworth, ME 04605.

Going out? Wear your mask, wash your hands, keep your distance. 

This afternoon, learn about "Microplastic Pollution in Aquatic Environments" at 4 p.m. with marine research scientist Abby Barrows, then check out the online talk "Toward Climate Justice" at 5:30 p.m.

Tomorrow, Friday, hear adventurer Carey Kish talk about "Appalachian Trail Magic" at noon, then, at 1:30 p.m., hear speaker Gayle Durnbaugh, who founded The Weekly Packet with her late husband, Jerry, talk as part of the "A Touch of Maine" online series.

Saturday the 27th, get to know your legislator at a virtual "Coffee with Constituents" event with Rep. Nicole Grohoski from 9-10:30 a.m., then learn about "Caring for the Wild Blueberries Around Us" from 10 a.m.-noon at Caterpillar Hill (registration required). Fill your belly up after a long day with take-out comfort food from the Halcyon Grange, served from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

As of Wednesday, each citizen’s share of the outstanding public debt was $85,054, up $100 from $84,954 last week. Students who attend school in Maine leave with an average student loan debt of $32,521.

Dad joke of the day: Living with my friend Cole can be tough sometimes. He's got all these really weird rules you have to follow, like whenever you eat cabbage, he insists you have to eat it with mayonnaise. It's just Cole's law.
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