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Maine National Guard Unit's Deployment Canceled Amid Mission Uncertainty

AUGUSTA, Maine - The 136th Engineering Company of the Maine Army National Guard was scheduled to be deployed to Kuwait next year, but that deployment has now been canceled amid questions from the Pentagon about the structure of the Maine National Guard.
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Jennifer Mitchell / MPBN

Floating Mission Brings Ray of Sun to Maine's Island Communities

ISLE AU HAUT, Maine - It's been a doozy of a winter, with record snows and weeks of temperatures dipping well below zero. As challenging as it's been for inland Mainers, for island residents the dark days of winter can make for a deeper sort of isolation. That's where a ship known as the "Sunbeam" comes in.
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Maine Calling Book Club - 'Death of a Salesman' by Arthur Miller

The Maine Calling Book Club re-convenes to discuss Arthur Miller's classic "Death of a Salesman."

BRUNSWICK, Maine - An American who lost relatives in the EgyptAir disaster has reached out to Germanwings families to give them support.

Jim Brokaw founded the Families of EgyptAir 990 as a support group after losing his father and stepmother in the 1999 crash, caused by a co-pilot who is believed to have intentionally flown the jet into the ocean.

The Brunswick, Maine, resident said he has reached out to Germanwings families over Facebook, offering to provide them any help he can based upon his experience dealing with such a tragedy.

The official dictionary of the Swedish language is getting a fresh infusion of 13,000 new words, editors of the Swedish Academy have announced.

Among the additions is a gender-neutral pronoun. Instead of just he (han) and she (hon), there will now be hen as well.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Senate President Michael Thibodeau, a Republican from Winterport, has introduced legislation that would allow local fire departments and other first responders to bill those convicted of drunk driving for cleaning up after the accidents they have caused.

"If you are convicted of a crime, if you are drunk driving, you probably ought to be paying to clean up the mess yourself," Thibodeau says, "and not be asking the taxpayer to pay for it."

PORTLAND, Maine - A third effort is afoot to get marijuana legalization on Maine's ballot.

Democratic state Rep. Mark Dion of Portland says he is talking to other legislators about co-sponsoring his bill. The bill proposes to ask residents about creation, regulation and taxation of a structure for recreational use of marijuana. It includes a proposed 10 percent tax rate for recreational marijuana.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Officials say Maine's unemployment rate ticked down to 5 percent last month.

The Maine Department of Labor said Friday that the state's jobless rate declined slightly from 5.2 percent in January and 5.9 percent a year ago. The number of residents who were unemployed was down by more than 7,000 over the year to 34,400 last month.

The national unemployment rate was 5.5 percent in February, down from 5.7 percent in January.

By David Sharp, The Associated Press
PORTLAND, Maine - U.S. ski resorts are being warned to check more than 100 chairlifts after engineers identified a design flaw believed to have contributed to an accident that injured seven people at Sugarloaf in Maine.
Partek Ski Lifts, based in Pine Island, New York, issued a bulletin Thursday warning operators using Borvig and Partek lifts to check safety components and to pay attention to a particular electrical switch.

The crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 into the French Alps earlier this week appears to have been a deliberate act carried out by a co-pilot.

It is too soon to put the label "suicide" on the co-pilot's actions. Not enough is known yet about his state of mind or what his motivation might have been. But as investigations continue, the incident raises questions about whether better mental health screening can prevent a person with suicidal tendencies from taking charge in the cockpit in the first place.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine lawmakers are considering a bill that would require people to clear their vehicles of snow before driving or face a fine. Sen. James Dill, a Democrat from Old Town, says a spate of accidents caused by snow and ice flying off vehicles triggered the legislation.

"What led me to do this one is, I think it was the first week of February, there were several different automobiles down in southern Maine - it was in the newspapers and on the news - where ice and snow had flown off cars and broken windshields," Dill says.

WHITEFIELD, Maine - Fire departments quickly put out a fire in the gym of an elementary school in a small Maine town.

The Kennebec Journal  says firefighters from several departments responded to the fire at Whitefield Elementary School on Friday morning. Students were evacuated from the school.

Town Clerk Aaron Miller says there was no smoke visible. He says firefighters arrived on the scene before 10:15 a.m. The report of a fire initially began with a report of smoke in the school's gym.

AUGUSTA, Maine - A bill that proposes to add two bat species that have been severely reduced by white nose syndrome to Maine's endangered species list will be the subject of a public hearing in April.
The state Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife wants to add the northern long-eared bat and little brown bat to the list. Wildlife officials said last year that cave counts of the species showed nearly 90 percent declines. The eastern small-footed bat is also being proposed for the state's threatened species list.