Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Happy November. Here’s your soundtrack.
What we’re talking about
This morning marked the second anniversary of the Noyes Street fire — which came less than two weeks after the landlord charged in the deaths of the six people inside the building was acquitted of manslaughter.
After weeks of following the trial and its legal ramifications, Jake Bleiberg spoke with Ashley Summers, the widow of Steven Summers, 29, who told him that she only recently told her daughters the details of how their father died.
The events that led up to his and and five other young adults’ deaths in a 2014 fire at 20 Noyes St. have been investigated by police officers and medical examiners. They’ve been pored over by teams of lawyers, judges and journalists, replayed through computer models and recalled during dozens of hours of sworn testimony in the manslaughter trial of landlord Gregory Nisbet.
But for Audryn and Maliyah, the details of their father’s death remained largely a mystery until the day that the man charged with killing him was acquitted.
“The day we found out the verdict, that morning, I heard them scream, ‘Daddy!’ And I jumped up like he walked in the house, because the way they said it, it was as if someone was there,” said Ashley Summers. “And then they came in and just had the newspaper, and tears, and were saying, like adults, ‘We want details. What happened?’”
It’s not that the Summers girls were kept in the dark.
“They knew that their dad died from an accident, which it true,” Ashley said. But in the wake of the fire, with her daughters still too young to read, Summers did what many parents do in the face of tragedy: She tried to shelter her children until they could build the skills to cope.
In other news
If Question 2 passes, Cumberland County residents would bear the brunt of the tax hikes — Darren Fishell dug through federal tax data to build this interactive map showing where in the state the most people make more than $200,000 a year. That’s important because, if Question 2 passes, they would pay an additional 3 percent in income taxes slotted for education funding.
Based on those data, he estimated more than half of the new revenue would come from tax filers in Cumberland County.
Portland’s police chief is giving a TED talk on the opioid crisis — This weekend Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck will take the stage at TEDx Dirigo, a local spinoff of the popular TED talks series. He told BDN Portland that his talk will address “the opioid epidemic and how it impacts our community.” You can catch it at the State Theatre on Nov. 5. — Jake Bleiberg
One of the city’s best cocktail joints is opening a restaurant on the West End — Kathleen Pierce breaks the news of Portland Hunt and Alpine Club’s planned expansion to the West End — in the former home of Vespucci’s Market: “Andrew and Briana Volk, along with partners Ian and Kate Malin, plan to open a full restaurant, bar and general store in the building. The shop is scheduled to open in late 2016 and the restaurant/bar in early 2017.”
Question of the day — If you weren’t born in Portland, Erin Rhoda of the BDN’s Maine Focus team has a question for you: How did your small Maine town shape you?
Rural Maine is changing and, with it, a way of life. We’d like to capture people’s memories of the place where they grew up. We’re particularly interested in your stories if you lived in small-town Franklin, Somerset, Piscataquis, upper Penobscot, Aroostook, Washington or Hancock counties.
What did you like or dislike about where you were raised? What are your strongest memories? Did living in a small town ever save your life? Did it connect you to the love of your life? How? What buildings or structures were in town when you were a kid — and what happened to them? What happened to the people you knew? Did they stay or leave? Why?
The Big Idea
‘How the Concept of Deep Time Is Changing’ — Perhaps the biggest of all Big Ideas (it made my head hurt): “[T]he need to imagine deep time in light of our present-day concerns is more vital than ever. Deep time is not an abstract, distant prospect, but a spectral presence in the everyday. The irony of the Anthropocene is that we are conjuring ourselves as ghosts that will haunt the very deep future.”
UPDATE: A previous version of this newsletter misstated Steven Summers’s age. He was 29 when he died.
Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet @dsmacleod.
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