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Legislature's Watchdog Panel to Probe Blackmail Allegations Against LePage

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine Legislature's government watchdog panel has authorized investigators to begin a probe into allegations that Gov. Paul lePage abused his power in pressuring a Maine charter school to take a job away from a political adversary.
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Tom Porter / MPBN

LePage Endorses Christie in GOP Presidential Race

PORTLAND, Maine - Gov. Paul LePage Wednesday became the first Republican governor to announce a pick in the 2016 presidential race. Maine's outspoken chief executive is backing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who this week became the fourteenth major candidate to join the GOP presidential primary, and who made a brief visit to southern Maine.
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AUGUSTA, Maine - Republican Gov. Paul LePage wants to have the final say on all state department hiring decisions.

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

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.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A Maine man has been sentenced to seven years behind bars for his ninth drunken driving conviction, a longer prison term than prosecutors sought.

Peter Dubord of Augusta was sentenced Wednesday by a judge who said he "represented significant danger to himself and others on the road" when he drove a motorcycle drunk in South China last September.

PORTLAND, Maine — The new dean of the University of Maine School of Law is on the job.

A spokesman for the Portland law school says Danielle Conway took over as dean on Wednesday after serving as dean-designate since February. Conway is coming from the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She is the seventh dean in the law school's history.

Conway says she wants the law school to be more engaged with private industry, nonprofit groups and public agencies. She took the job in January. School officials say her salary is $212,000.

If you were about to talk to President Obama and suggest that he try adding fresh peas to guacamole, don't. The Twitterverse learned this when someone asked Obama what he thought about a recipe The New York Times published that suggested adding fresh peas. The recipe drew a lot of rotten tomatoes from average folks, and someone asked Obama what he thought.

PORTLAND, Maine - Visitors to Maine over the next couple of days could see some Maine Forest Service rangers at key locations. The rangers will be on the lookout for firewood visitors might attempt to bring in to the state because it could carry some destructive invasive insects.

For several years, the Forest Service switched out visitors' imported firewood for homegrown wood, and embarked on an education campaign about the dangers posed by invasive insects. This year, rangers will simply take the illegal firewood and dispose of it properly.

BINGHAM, Maine - Construction has begun on a wind farm in Bingham that is anticipated to be the state's largest wind energy project.

SunEdison announced Wednesday it had secured $360 million in financing for the wind farm that is expected to produce 185 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 65,000 homes. The total cost of the project is estimated at $420 million.

When it's finished in late 2016, the 56-turbine farm will bring SunEdison's total wind-generation capacity in Maine to 552 megawatts.

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