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Month: January 2021

By John Holyoke, Bangor Daily News Outdoors Editor

It’s that time of year again: Lakes are freezing up (finally, we hope), anglers are gathering up their gear, and before long, the sound of power augers will be piercing the silence on our favorite lakes and ponds.

Yes, ice fishing derby season is nearly upon us. Sort of. In some places. In fact, this weekend tournament anglers will descend (carefully) onto Moosehead Lake for one such event, and on 10 different Aroostook County waters for another.

Yes, I’m all about the parentheticals and the disclaimers right now. Fact is, many of our lakes aren’t safe. I just received a message from a pal who lives on one of my favorite lakes, and he said Green Lake in Dedham and Ellsworth still has open water in the middle.

But derby season is coming. Really, it’s coming. And all it’ll take is a week or so of good Maine weather to button most of our lakes up for the winter.

Which brings us to the real order of business for today: Are you having an ice fishing tournament? Do you know of a civic organization that is? Great!

Now get on the horn to those organizers and give them our contact information, which you can find at the bottom of this column. Don’t call and ask if I’ve received any information from X Derby or Y Tournament.

I’ll save you the trouble: I haven’t heard a peep. From anyone. Anywhere.

Not since last winter, anyway.

Now, it’s entirely possible that some derbies won’t be staged this year due to COVID concerns. It’s also possible that folks are waiting for honest-to-goodness winter weather to arrive before they start publicizing their events.

Whatever the case, rest assured that we want to hear about your derby so that we can share that info with other readers who are looking for a way to have some fun (and support your organization) after nine months of pandemic-induced isolation.

But that’s not all we’re looking for. We also want you to pass along the results of your derby after it’s completed, so everyone who won a prize can bask in the afterglow and claim their hard-earned bragging rights. Photos, of course, are also important. Our readers love big fish photos, and sharing a few with us will make next year’s derby even more popular.

Of course, not every ice angler participates in derbies. If you’re one of those who’d rather just stay on your home lake and spend time with your relatives and a couple of (socially distant) friends, that’s understandable.

That doesn’t mean, however, that we’re not interested in your big fish photos. You don’t have to win an ice fishing contest for us to be interested in sharing your photos with our readers. Send ’em in, with some description (remember the who, what and where), and maybe we’ll include some in upcoming stories.

I look forward to hearing from you. Have fun out there, and be safe.

Holyoke can be reached at [email protected] or 207-990-8214. Follow him on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke. His first book, “Evergreens,” a collection of his favorite BDN columns and features, is published by Islandport Press and is available wherever books are sold.

By Judy Harrison, Bangor Daily News Staff

A superior court judge has dismissed a lawsuit objecting to the merger of the former Mayo Regional Hospital with Northern Light Health.

The Dover-Foxcroft facility is now called Northern Light Mayo Hospital after it became part of the 10-hospital health network in early 2020.

Justice Michaela Murphy in July dismissed all but one count in the lawsuit brought by the town of Cambridge and almost three dozen individuals from other communities over the merger. She dismissed the final count in November and declared that the lawsuit was moot since the merger was completed in early 2020.

Gerald Nessmann, the Dexter attorney who filed the lawsuit, said Jan. 25 that the parties decided not to appeal Murphy’s rulings to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

The plaintiffs argued in the complaint, filed in Somerset County Superior Court in December 2019, that the June 2019 special legislation that authorized the merger was unconstitutional. The lawsuit also maintained that leaders of the quasi-municipal entity that ran Mayo, Hospital Administrative District 4, violated that entity’s charter by pursuing the deal without first holding votes in all of its 13 member communities.

The boards of both merging organizations approved the deal, arguing that it would help the Dover-Foxcroft facility keep operating after suffering losses every year from 2010 until the merger, which was completed in early March 2020, shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic.

After those boards gave initial votes approving the merger in 2019, the Legislature passed the special legislation authorizing it at the end of the session. In January, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services gave the deal its final approval.

Murphy was the second judge to dismiss a challenge to the merger. Superior Court Justice William Anderson dismissed an earlier lawsuit in March 2019, before the merger had been completed. Anderson found that Nessmann, who was also a plaintiff in that lawsuit, did not have legal standing to file it. The judge also said that because the merger had not been finalized, Nessman couldn’t claim any harm had been done by it.

The residence belongs to two adults.

MILO, Maine (WABI) – Officials say two people are without a home Tuesday night after a fire in Milo.

It happened on Park Street.

Milo’s fire chief says there were two people inside at the time, but they made it out ok.

However, two pets didn’t make it.

We’re told the house and a barn were badly damaged.

Investigators will now try to figure out a cause.

The Penquis Community Playground Committee is excited to announce its latest donation from Bill and Joan Alfond Foundation- $28, 734.00! Paul Bradeen was instrumental in communicating our needs to the Alfond Family.  This generous donation completes our goal to bring a playground to Penquis Valley Middle School. The Alfond Family has been generous supporters of many efforts to benefit the citizens of this area. Years ago their Dexter Shoe Company supported hundreds of area families who worked for them.

Although the committee had many fundraising activities planned, COVID-19 changed all of them. We have had to rely on the support of area citizens through direct donations and raffles.  One special senior citizen donated $50,000 anonymously. It was this donation that helped our members realize that our goal was achievable.

Since then we have received many large and small donations. We wish to thank all of the citizens of our community for their encouragement and support, but especially to the following large contributors:

Milo Fire Department-$3,500; Tradewinds Market-$5,000; Al Belanger-$2,000; Jean Bishop-$1,000; Kiwanis-$3,000; Paul Foulkes Family-$500.; Class of 2019-$1,043; Maine Community Foundation Grant-$6,500; In-Kind Donations: William London & Son, Bishop Concrete, Earl Gerrish and Sons, and Wildwoods.

We have ordered the equipment and plan to install it this spring, as well as resurface the basketball court and prepare a new regulation-size soccer field. There will be a picnic pavilion, along with an adventure trail and learning center that is already being utilized. Surveillance equipment will be installed by Michael Russell and his ProTech Solutions, who gave us a very generous quote.



By Danna Eddy, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard public affairs officer

PORTSMOUTH NAVAL SHIPYARD, Maine — A 2009 Penquis Valley High School graduate and native of Brownville Junction is serving at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine, as part of the largest mobilization of reservists in Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) history. The mobilization is tied directly to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Bruce Benoit is one of the reserve sailors deployed to the Navy’s four public shipyards as part of the Surge Maintenance (SurgeMain) program. Established in 2005 to augment the Navy’s organic civilian shipyard workforce in times of need, SurgeMain has 2,200 enlisted reserve sailors and 240 reserve officers across 75 units.

“Serving my country through SurgeMain and during the time of COVID-19 is rewarding for me,” Benoit said. “I know I am needed here at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and am capable to do the job set before me.”

Between mid-March and late June, up to 25 percent of the naval shipyards’ production workforce had been on administrative leave due to being at high risk for severe complications tied to the COVID-19 virus. As a result, the four shipyards collectively experienced schedule impacts for most of the ships and submarines undergoing maintenance. This delayed maintenance work could result in delays to ship and submarine maintenance which could cause disruptions to the Navy’s deployment schedules and require ships and sailors to remain forward-deployed for longer periods of time.

NAVSEA, the largest command within the Navy, oversees the construction, delivery and maintenance of all the Navy’s commissioned ships and operates four naval shipyards — Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Bremerton, Washington and Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Honolulu, Hawaii. Workers at each of these shipyards perform a vital role in national defense by performing maintenance on ships, submarines and aircraft carriers required for combat-ready fleet forces.

“The four naval shipyards are critical to providing deployable, combat-ready warships for our Sailors and Marines,” said NAVSEA’s Commander Vice Adm. Bill Galinis. “Augmenting our organic civilian workforce with SurgeMain Reservists allows us to address the maintenance challenges generated by the pandemic so we can return ships back to the Fleet.”

Benoit is an electrician’s mate responsible for building and repairing fiber optic hull fittings for the boats out of the electronics shop in the Antenna Restoration Facility.

“I enjoy getting to put my hands on something not many people would be able to see,” Benoit said.

According to Benoit, the values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Brownville Junction.

“I grew up working for what I wanted,” Benoit said. “I’ve developed a good work ethic from family and friends in my hometown. ‘Never say you can’t do something’ are words instilled in me.”

As a member of the U.S. Navy, Benoit, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a service tradition providing unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance. Their efforts will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who will follow.

“To be mobilized right now tells me our workforce is being met by ready hands and minds, not just my own, but also those of my fellow sailors,” Benoit added. “I’m proud to know our fleet will stay ready in even the hardest of times.”

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