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Maine's County Jails Facing Shortfall as Funding System Changes

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine's county jail system will undergo yet another change in its state funding system. The new funding plan, approved by the Legislature this week, does away with the state Board of Corrections, and gives control over the state's share of jail funding to the Department of Corrections.
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Tom Porter / MPBN

Maine Bike Advocates Applaud Passage of Safety Bill

AUGUSTA, Maine - Advocates for Maine's bicyclists and pedestrians are celebrating one of the rare examples of political harmony in Augusta: passage of a bill designed to make Maine roads safer for those who are traveling on two wheels or by foot.
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PORTLAND, Maine - More than 1 million vehicles are expected to travel the Maine Turnpike during the four day Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Turnpike spokesperson Erin Courtney says that's an increase of 4.5 percent from last Independence Day. She says Fridsay is expected to be the busiest day of this holiday weekend.

"And we're expecting over 315,000 vehicles to be traveling the turnpike that day, with the next busiest day being Sunday," Courtney says.

ELLSWORTH, Maine - Prosecutors say a carpenter convicted of killing his employer and raiding the victim's bank accounts was sentenced to 60 years in jail.

William Morse was sentenced on Thursday in Ellsworth. A jury found him guilty of murder in the fatal shooting of 61-year-old Richard Bellittieri. He was also accused of taking nearly $180,000 from Bellittieri.

Bellittieri was an accountant in Trenton. Prosecutors believe he died in July 2012, about a year before Morse's arrest.

PARKMAN, Maine - Maine State Police say they believe the 38-year-old Parkman man wanted in connection with the killing of his ex-girlfriend in early June has been breaking into camps and taking clothing and food, as well as fishing and hunting supplies.

Robert Burton has eluded authorities for nearly a month since Stephanie Gebo was found dead in her Parkman home June 5. State Police Chief Col. Robert Williams is advising people coming to the area to open up their camps to look for signs the buildings have been broken into.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine voters will consider an $85 million bond proposal to fund improvements to the state's roads and bridges.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage signed the bill on Wednesday. It will be placed on the November ballot.

It was one of two bond proposals passed by the Legislature this week. LePage has not yet taken action on the other measure, which would put $15 million toward building more affordable housing for seniors.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Gov. Paul LePage has signed an $85 million bond issue for road and bridge repairs, sending the proposal to the voters for their approval, but he says he will veto a $15 million general obligation bond for senior housing.

LePage says it's a "feel good" bill that is not needed because the Maine State Housing Authority already can issue bonds for senior housing projects.

"They are putting GO (general obligation) money into housing and there is no method for payment," LePage says, "and it's a real dangerous precedent, and I am not going to let it happen."

AUGUSTA, Maine - Republican Gov. Paul LePage wants to have the final say on all state department hiring decisions.

LePage said in a memo to cabinet members on Wednesday that his office will review all vacant and newly created state positIons "regardless of the funding source.'' LePage says he will personally sign off on all hiring decisions until that review is completed.

The memo was first reported Thursday by WMTW-TV.

BANGOR, Maine - A union representing nurses at Eastern Maine Medical Center say their members are going on a two-day strike next week over staffing levels at the Bangor hospital.

The Maine State Nurses Association, National Nurses Organizing Committee and National Nurses United contract with Eastern Maine Medical Center expires Thursday. In a press release, union officials say there has been little movement over the staffing issue since April.  They maintain that current staffing levels at the facility put patient safety at risk.

BANGOR, Maine - A Maine hospital and nursing union are negotiating about a contract that is set to expire.

The Maine State Nurses Association, National Nurses Organizing Committee and National Nurses United contract with Eastern Maine Medical Center expires on Thursday. Bargaining teams representing the union and the hospital are resuming negotiations that have stalled in recent meetings.

The hospital says staffing ratios and compensation are the biggest issues remaining on the table.

PORTLAND, Maine — One of Maine's largest providers of personal care support for the elderly and disabled has announced that it is ending service in Maine.

The Portland Press Herald reports that MAS Home Care of Maine said Wednesday that as of July 29, it will be discontinuing the home care services it provides that receive all or part of their funding from MaineCare.

About 1,000 clients are affected.

The move could put personal support specialists out of work, while their clients would have to find other providers.

Updated at 12:27 p.m. ET

The Washington, D.C., Police Department has issued an "all clear" at the Washington Navy Yard, the scene of a 2013 mass shooting, where there was a report today of possible gunshots.

"At this time, there is no evidence of gunshots. There is no evidence of a shooter. And there's no evidence of any victims today," District Mayor Muriel Bowser said at a news conference.

The U.S. Navy also confirmed there was no sign of a shooting.