Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Tonight Maine’s ‘blue law’ endures; a police officer is cleared in a suit over arresting a former officer; and there have been two more cases of a tick-borne disease.
What we’re talking about
No shopping on Christmas — The legislature has failed to override Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a bill that would chip away at Maine’s “blue law” barring small grocery stores from opening on Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter, BDN’s Michael Shepherd reports. The bill would have made an exception to legislation lingering from Maine’s puritan past, something that LePage says he supports. However, the governor didn’t feel that the small grocery exemption went far enough, writing in his veto that lawmakers should “allow all Maine businesses the opportunity to decide whether to be open when and how they see fit based on market demand.”
Police officer cleared on arresting former officer — A jury ruled that a Portland police officer did not violate the rights of a New Hampshire man who was arrested after refusing to give identification, the Press Herald’s Edward Murphy reports. In 2014, officer Brent Abbott arrested Arthur Long, who has served on various Maine police forces, after a report of public drinking on Preble Street. When police found Long on the street and he refused to provide identification, he was arrested. Long later brought a civil suit against Abbott saying the officer had violated his rights. On Wednesday, a jury found otherwise.
Tick-borne disease found — Two midcoasters are recovering from the Powassan virus, a life-threatening but rare illness spread by a tick bite, BDN’s Jackie Farwell reports. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that it was notified of the two cases last week. The adults became ill in late April and were hospitalized with encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, caused by the virus. Both have since been discharged, the CDC said. Including these two infections, there have been nine cases of Powassan in Maine since 2000.
Maine gives Fairpoint sale green light— State regulators have approved FairPoint Communications’ sale to the Illinois-based Consolidated Communications, in a deal that requires the new owner to invest $52.2 million in the company’s networks over three years, BDN’s Darren Fishell reports. The approval gives the company one of a series of required approvals to complete Consolidated’s $1.5 billion purchase of the North Carolina-based company. As of 2015, FairPoint was Portland’s fourth largest non-governmental employer, with 617 workers, according to the city bond filing.
‘Making Paper, Making Maine’ — Paper shaped Maine’s economy, molded individual and community identities, and impacted the environment throughout the state for more than 100 years. “Making Paper, Making Maine” is a new exhibit opening Friday at the Maine Historical Society. It recognizes the history and modern transition taking place in Maine’s paper industry and asks, what’s next for Maine’s economy? — Troy R. Bennett
Struggle for the city’s soul — Portland filmmaker Reginald Groff released a trailer this week for a new film about the history and current (re)development in Portland. “I’ve put this together on spec but will start the fundraising next. I’ve put an all star team together to make a very powerful film about the direction of our city,” Groff said on Facebook. The trailer features familiar faces like Jay York and Mayor Ethan Strimling. — Troy R. Bennett
Tweet of the day
From the President of the United States:
The Big Idea
Every Maine lighthouse in one map — Looking for a place to go when the weather (finally) turns nice? BDN’s Darren Fishell has mapped every Maine lighthouse, even the dinky ones.
Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Jake Bleiberg at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet @JZBleiberg.