• Sanford Office
    (207) 324 4866
    (800) 974 4866
    (207) 324 4513

Portland Press Herald

Syndicate content
Updated: 3 hours 59 min ago

Expiring tax-cut provisions threaten to upend Republicans’ promised relief for middle class

6 hours 38 min ago

WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans have implanted nearly 50 expiring provisions in their tax-cut bills that, if left unaddressed, would transform what Republicans promised would be middle-class tax relief into a law that raises taxes for tens of millions of Americans.

More than 80 percent of the tax breaks set to go away would be taken from households. The perks for corporations are generally permanent, including the biggest single benefit in the bill: a permanent reduction of the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent.

Democrats have accused Republicans of offering only illusory benefits for families, but White House and Republican leaders in recent days have repeatedly insisted that lawmakers in future sessions of Congress would extend the cuts or make them permanent. Future lawmakers, they argue, would be unwilling to let large-scale tax increases targeting the middle class take effect.

“We have a lot of confidence that Congress will do the right thing,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox News. “And, again, the priority for the moment is middle-income tax cuts.”

But in Congress’s current polarized state, no congressional action can be guaranteed, even if both parties agree on its merits. And if Congress were to let the cuts expire, the total bills aimed at individuals would be massive.

The issue, since it came to light a week ago, is causing consternation with Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who thinks the party has designed the bill to get around Senate rules, but in a way that could add much more to nation’s debt in the future.

Because of these concerns, Flake told Fox News Radio on Wednesday that he is undecided on whether he will support the bill.

He said he is uncomfortable with the design of a five-year tax break on new investments for companies that will expire in 2022. The tax break saves companies between $10 billion and $40 billion a year, the Joint Committee on Taxation has found.

“It will likely be extended,” Flake told Fox News Radio. “We do that all the time. . . . And if we do extend that that’s a big expenditure that wouldn’t do well for our debt or deficit. So I’m looking for ways to be more honest, frankly, about that expensing provision.”

In the Republcan bill the Senate is considering, many of the tax breaks for families are set to expire in 2025. Over a decade, the phased-in tax increases would add up to nearly $700 billion. And by 2027, half of American households would pay higher taxes under the Senate tax bill than they would if the current tax code were left in place, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

In the House bill, a $300 per-person tax credit expires after 2022, a change that would drive up taxes on tens of millions of Americans.

Republicans set the individual cuts to expire to comply with procedural rules limiting how much a tax bill can add to the deficit and still pass in the Senate with 50 votes, rather than the 60 typically needed.

Republicans kept the corporate rates permanent, they say, to encourage companies to make the type of investments that create economic growth.

“If you are a business, you have a 10-year plan because you have to make business decisions and you want to be certain what your costs are,” said Rohit Kumar, a former top tax adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and now leader of the tax policy services practice at PwC. “If you are an individual, you aren’t going to say, ‘I’m not going to take this job, because in five years my taxes are going up.’ ”

Democrats argue it’s a ploy to game Senate rules that would leave future political leaders with vexing decisions about whether to allow sharp tax increases on Americans or continue adding hundreds of billions of dollars each year to the debt.

“It was a gimmick,” said Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., who has opposed the bill. “This is to try to keep within the budget constraints but what they have done in effect is set up a whole new set of ‘fiscal cliffs.’ ”

The perks set to expire are some of those Republicans touted as key to helping families. And their expiration would more acutely affect low- and middle-income families, who face drastic tax increases if political brinkmanship thwarts a compromise to extend them.

In the Senate bill, lower tax rates and the ability to double the standard deduction would expire for individuals and families at the end of 2025, eliminating more than $265 billion in annual tax breaks and driving up taxes on families.

Extending those benefits, however, would create a set of problems for the Republicans as they tries to keep their plan in line with Senate rules.

Republicans control only 52 seats in the chamber, and to move their measure with a simple majority, they can’t add more to the debt than they’d agreed to in a budget resolution. In this case, that’s $1.5 trillion over the next decade.

Another Senate restriction, known as the “Byrd rule,” also requires that the tax bills cannot add anything to the debt after 10 years unless 60 senators agree to bypass the rule.

The Penn Wharton Budget Model at the University of Pennsylvania found that the Senate Republican tax bill would add $1.3 trillion to the debt in the first decade, complying with the first Senate rule, and contains enough expiring provisions that it could avoid violating the Byrd rule as well.

“It’s politically brilliant, and that’s infuriated the left,” said Steve Moore, one of President Trump’s top economic advisers during the campaign, adding that it was the only way for Republicans to get all the tax cuts they wanted in one package.

“How else are you going to fit a $3 trillion tax cut into a $1.5 trillion box?” he said.

The expiring provisions would set up a series of future fiscal cliffs, Washington shorthand for an abrupt change in tax or spending policy that has the potential to disrupt economic growth.

Past cliffs have created high-tension negotiations over which perks to be extended and which would go away. Lawmakers often wait until the final days before tax benefits expire before deciding whether to extend them, waiting for a moment of maximum political leverage.

The last time Congress had a major showdown over expiring tax breaks came at the end of 2012, when President Barack Obama and Republicans in Congress clashed over what to do with expiring Bush-era tax cuts. Obama wanted to allow taxes to increase for upper-income Americans, and many Republicans tried to oppose him, worried that allowing taxes to rise on wealthy Americans would violate pledges many of them made not to support a tax increase.

They eventually reached an agreement, but not until Jan. 1, 2013, the day the higher taxes were set to go into effect for everyone.

White House officials and Republican leaders have mostly brushed off concerns about the expiring provisions, saying they are confident Congress will step in to ensure that the expiring tax cuts are extended in the future.

“One of the ways to game the system is to make things expire,” White House Office of Management and budget director Mick Mulvaney told NBC on Sunday.

He added that “What we tell folks is this: If it’s good policy, it will become permanent. If it’s bad policy, it will become temporary.”

There are examples of lawmakers allowing tax cuts to expire.

Obama successfully pushed for a payroll tax cut in 2011 and 2012 that lowered taxes, but it expired after that. But that package was more narrowly designed. The House and Senate Republican tax plans are broader, and they have described the temporary cuts as placeholders that they expect will be made permanent.

These expiring tax breaks are just some of the many elements of the Republican tax plans that would require future congressional action to stave off severe tax and spending changes that would affect the middle class, low-income people and the elderly.

The House Republican tax bill would, as currently designed, trigger $136 billion in spending cuts in 2018 because the changes widen the deficit, according to the Congressional Budget Office. This is because the tax plan would violate a 2010 law that prohibits new tax cuts from adding to the debt without offsets.

Of those spending cuts, roughly $25 billion would come out of Medicare, the government-run health-care program for older Americans.

Democrats have used this CBO finding to say that the Republican plans would cut taxes for the wealthy in exchange for spending cuts that affect the elderly. Republicans have tried to dismiss these concerns, saying Congress will move to waive the spending-cut rules, as they have in the past. But waiving the automatic spending cuts would require support from Democrats, as 60 votes are needed.

If both parties become further entrenched, or a bill to waive the spending cuts is tacked onto a partisan bill, passage is not assured.

“If there is a deficit, and that happens, and it very well could, well, Congress will have to work its will. That’s what Congress is for, and we will,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said last week as his panel debated the bill.

Senate Republicans hope to pass their bill next week, and Republican lawmakers have said they plan to introduce an amendment that would make the temporary tax cuts permanent. That would require Democrats to vote along with Republicans to waive Senate rules, something they have not signaled they would do.

Warner, for his part, said he would not support waiving the spending-cut rules.

“They will have to own the results of this,” he said.

Maine retailers upbeat about holiday spending

7 hours 52 min ago

Maine retailers are staffing up, stocking up and decking out their showrooms with holiday cheer to prepare for the heavily hyped Black Friday, but the actual busiest shopping day of the season likely won’t come until a month later.

Of course, that will depend on various factors including the always unpredictable Maine winter weather and consumers’ continuing shift toward online shopping, retail analysts said. Overall, retailers in Maine said they are going into the season with a fair amount of optimism.

Contrary to popular belief, the Friday before Christmas – not Black Friday – was the busiest shopping day in Maine in 2016, according to a study of 450 retailers in the state. The study, by San Francisco-based merchant technology firm Womply Inc., found that Maine retailers had their highest sales on Dec. 23, followed by Black Friday (Nov. 25) and then Small Business Saturday (Nov. 26).

“This analysis suggests that the consumers are drawn to the rush of Black Friday and then tend to procrastinate shopping until the last minute,” said Womply spokesman Dan Lalli. “Local retailers in Maine can use this information to plan their promotions and staffing this holiday season.”

Another misconception is that Mainers shop primarily at big retail chains on Black Friday and then shift their focus to smaller, locally owned merchants the next day on Small Business Saturday. In fact, both types of retailer benefit from boosted sales on both days.

In 2016, Maine retailers took in an average of 176 percent of normal daily revenue on the Friday before Christmas, 174 percent on Black Friday and 159 percent on Small Business Saturday, according to Womply.

“Black Friday doesn’t just benefit big-box stores; it’s also a better sales day, by far, than Small Business Saturday for small, local retailers in Maine,” Lalli said.

CHASING HOLIDAY SPENDING

In Maine, all of the above will depend on what happens with the weather, said Curtis Picard, president and CEO of the Retail Association of Maine. So far, the forecast for Black Friday is looking good, ranging from a low of around 30 degrees to a high in the mid-40s with no rain or snow and partly cloudy skies.

Inclement weather in November and December isn’t necessarily a holiday-killer for Maine retailers. If it happens early enough, consumers can simply postpone their shopping until things clear up.

However, it can be devastating if a storm hits right before Christmas, because there’s no time left for retailers to make up the lost business, Picard said.

“If it’s that last weekend before Christmas, you’re going to lose those sales,” he said.

Another threat to Maine retailers this holiday season is the continued encroachment on their sales by e-commerce businesses. Picard said bricks-and-mortar merchants are making a variety of adjustments to better compete with online retailers, such as offering in-store pickup and same-day delivery of items ordered online or by phone, and adding entertainment, refreshments and other perks to make shopping in the store more enjoyable.

“I’ve seen a lot of retailers try to really improve the in-store experience for people,” he said.

Some of Maine’s biggest retail outlets are scaling back on their Black Friday business hours this year by opening at 6 a.m. Friday instead of midnight as they have done in recent years. Some retailers do so to allow employees to enjoy more time off, and to cut spending on overtime pay. Retailers that have 6 a.m. openings this year include Target, the shops at Kittery Premium Outlets and about half the stores inside The Maine Mall in South Portland.

“We’re doing a soft opening at midnight with 40 to 45 stores open (out of roughly 100), and then all stores will be open at 6 a.m.,” said Maine Mall Senior General Manager Craig Gorris.

Other retailers in Maine are planning to pull an all-nighter with midnight openings and late-night deals and activities on Black Friday. They include electronics retailer Best Buy, about a dozen stores in downtown Freeport and the retailers at Marketplace at Augusta.

Picard said he is “fairly optimistic” about the upcoming holiday shopping season, given that unemployment and gasoline prices are low and consumer confidence is relatively high. As for which items will be the biggest sellers, it’s difficult to predict, he said. Last year, furniture was a surprisingly hot holiday gift item, which Picard said could be related to adult children moving out of their parents’ homes as the economy continued to recover.

A holiday shopping survey of nearly 7,500 U.S. consumers by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics found that gift cards are likely to be the hottest item this year, with each holiday shopper planning to purchase an average of four gift cards with an average value of $45 per card. The survey found that the top toys this year are likely to be Barbie dolls and accessories for girls, and LEGO sets for boys.

Nationally, retailers are expecting a slight sales increase of 2.2 percent this year, according to a survey by professional services firm BDO. The firm polled a mix of 100 top retail executives asking for their holiday season forecasts.

Last November, more than $307 million went to the state in the form of sales tax from sale of general merchandise. That was a nearly 7 percent increase over November spending in 2015.

 

Trump replies ‘MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!’ to tweet about his attacks on blacks

8 hours 1 min ago

President Trump kicked off Thanksgiving Day by replying to a tweet that said his latest Twitter feud is part of a racist pattern of attacking prominent African-Americans.

Trump’s response, tweeted at about 6:30 a.m.: “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

The tweet that prompted the response from the president came from Greg Sargent, who writes about politics for The Washington Post. Sargent had shared his opinion article about Trump’s latest tweetstorm related to LaVar Ball, whom the president has repeatedly called out for not thanking him properly for his role in resolving a shoplifting charge in China against Ball’s son.

In his piece published Wednesday, Sargent argued that Trump “goes out of his way to attack prominent African-Americans,” including Ball and professional football athletes.

“Trump’s rage-tweets about LaVar Ball are part of a pattern. Trump regularly attacks high-profile African-Americans to feed his supporters’ belief that the system is rigged for minorities,” Sargent wrote on Twitter Wednesday.

To which the president responded the following day with his campaign slogan.

It’s unclear if Trump’s tweet was meant to agree with or acknowledge Sargent’s points that his behavior on social media fits a racist pattern against African-Americans. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The president has spent the last few days engaging in a war of words with Ball, who has accused Trump of inflating his role in freeing his son, UCLA basketball player LiAngelo Ball, and two other teammates. The three were arrested for shoplifting while in Hangzhou for a tournament earlier this month.

Trump said that during his 12-day trip to Asia, he personally asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help resolve the case of LiAngelo Ball and his two teammates.

After returning to the United States, Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to himself in the third person: “Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you to President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!”

Asked by ESPN later about Trump’s role in securing his son’s release, LaVar Ball said: “Who? What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”

During a testy interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo Monday night, Ball again questioned Trump’s role in his son’s freeing.

“It wasn’t like he was in the U.S. and said, ‘OK, there’s three kids in China, I need to go over there and get them,’ ” Ball said. “That wasn’t the thought process.”

In response, the president fumed, often in the form of predawn tweetstorms. At one point, he said he should’ve let LiAngelo Ball and his teammates stay in jail.

At about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, Trump called LaVar Ball an “ungrateful fool,” who, if not for his personal intervention, would have spent several Thanksgivings with his son locked up in China.

“It wasn’t the White House, it wasn’t the State Department, it wasn’t father LaVar’s so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long term prison sentence – IT WAS ME. Too bad! LaVar is just a poor man’s version of Don King, but without the hair,” Trump said.

Curiously, the president resurrected attacks on the NFL a few minutes later:

“The NFL is now thinking about a new idea – keeping teams in the Locker Room during the National Anthem next season. That’s almost as bad as kneeling! When will the highly paid Commissioner finally get tough and smart? This issue is killing your league!. . …”

Sargent wrote that the immediate segue to football players, whom Trump has repeatedly criticized for kneeling during the national anthem, shows a clear pattern of a public attack on prominent African-Americans.

“It is true that in some of these cases, Trump was attacked or at least criticized first. But it’s hard to avoid noticing a gratuitously ugly pattern in Trump’s responses, in which Trump vaguely suggests either that his targets are getting above their station, or that they’re asking for too much and are insufficiently thankful for all that has been done for them,” Sargent wrote.

The president has repeatedly said that kneeling during the national anthem, meant to protest racism and police brutality, is disrespectful to the flag and to the country.

Last month, Trump drew criticisms over his condolence call to the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed with three other soldiers during an ambush in Niger.

Myeshia Johnson said that during the call, the president told her that her husband “knew what he signed up for.” She also said that Trump couldn’t even remember her husband’s name.

Trump disputed the slain soldier’s widow’s account, saying in a tweet: “I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!”

Sound heard during submarine search was an explosion, Argentine navy says

9 hours 27 min ago

MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina — Argentina’s navy announced Thursday that a sound detected during the search for a missing submarine apparently came from an explosion – an ominous development that prompted relatives of the 44 crew members to burst into tears.

Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said the search will continue until there is full certainty about the fate of the ARA San Juan.

He said evidence showed “an anomalous event that was singular, short, violent and non-nuclear that was consistent with an explosion.”

“According to this report, there was an explosion,” Balbi told reporters. “We don’t know what caused an explosion of these characteristics at this site on this date.”

U.S. and specialist agencies said the “hydro-acoustic anomaly” was produced just hours after the navy lost contact with the submarine on Nov. 15.

The sub was originally scheduled to arrive Monday at the Mar del Plata Navy Base, about 250 miles southeast of Buenos Aires. Relatives of the crew who have gathered at the base to receive psychological counseling broke into tears and hugged each other after they received the news. Some lashed out in anger at the navy’s response.

“They sent a piece of crap to sail,” said Itati Leguizamon, wife of submarine crew member German Suarez. “They inaugurated a submarine with a coat of paint and a flag in 2014, but without any equipment inside. The navy is to blame for its 15 years of abandonment.”

The German-built diesel-electric TR-1700 class submarine was commissioned in 1985 and was most recently refit in 2014.

During the $12 million retrofitting, the vessel was cut in half and had its engines and batteries replaced. Experts say that refits can be difficult because they involve integrating systems produced by different manufacturers and even the smallest mistake during the cutting phase of the operation can put the safety of the ship and the crew at risk.

The Argentine navy and outside experts have said that even if the ARA San Juan is intact, its crew might have only enough oxygen to be submerged seven to 10 days.

Balbi said Wednesday that Argentine navy ships as well as a U.S. P-8 Poseidon aircraft and a Brazilian air force plane would return to the area to check out the sound, which originated about 30 miles north of the submarine’s last registered position.

U.S. Navy Lt. Lily Hinz later said the unusual sound detected underwater could not be attributed to marine life or naturally occurring noise in the ocean.

“It was not a whale, and it is not a regularly occurring sound,” Hinz said.

The San Juan went missing as it was sailing from the extreme southern port of Ushuaia to the city of Mar del Plata, about 250 miles southeast of Buenos Aires.

More than a dozen airplanes and ships are participating in the multinational search despite stormy weather that has caused waves of more than 20 feet (6 meters). Search teams are combing an area of some 185,000 square miles, which is roughly the size of Spain.

The U.S. government has sent two P-8 Poseidons, a naval research ship, a submarine rescue chamber and sonar-equipped underwater vehicles. U.S. Navy sailors from the San Diego-based Undersea Rescue Command are also helping with the search.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense sent a special airplane with emergency life support pods to join the hunt that includes planes and ships from a dozen nations.

Free Thanksgiving dinner serves close to 250 in Portland

9 hours 33 min ago

PORTLAND — By the end of the day Thursday Don Morrison was pretty sure he wouldn’t be eating any turkey for dinner.

“I’ll go home and eat a frozen pizza,” Morrison, the operations director for the Wayside Food Program, said as he wrapped up one of the largest free Thanksgiving Day meals in Maine at the Portland Club.

Morrison and the hunger prevention organization’s staff and a small army of volunteers were finishing up a week’s worth of turkey meals, including two lunches and two dinners with all the fixings. Thursday’s meal included 32, 20-pound turkeys prepared by DiMillo’s Restaurant along with 15 gallons of gravy, 200 pounds of mashed potatoes, 100 pounds of squash, piles of homemade stuffing, a mountain of green bean casserole and all the other trimmings and desserts one might expect for a Thanksgiving feast.

Joining the food program’s staff in prepping and serving all that food were between 45 to 50 volunteers. Some put in a day in the prep kitchen Wednesday while 30 more chipped in as bus people, waitresses, servers, dishwashers and hostesses on Thursday.

Morrison said the Thanksgiving Day meal is special for a lot of people in the community and while the food is good, it’s often the opportunity to eat in the company of other people that’s better for those coming to eat.

“To be with other people on the holiday, to me, it’s just as important,” said Morrison, who has worked for Wayside Food eight years. He helps coordinate and prepare some 14 meals a week that are served around the greater Portland area in churches and community centers. He said any leftovers from Thursday would be used in soups, pot pies and other dishes and that turkey would likely be on the menu for some time into the future.

“Just like at home,” Morrison said.

Mary Zwolinski, the executive director of Wayside Food Programs, said the meal, which has been served at the club for about 10 years, has changed a little with a more even mix of men and women – she also noted increasing numbers of elderly coming to the meal. She said even those who may be able to afford their own meal on Thanksgiving aren’t inclined to cook for just one or two and getting to be around other people is an important part of any good meal. Zwolinski estimated the about 225 to 240 meals were served and some in attendance took home leftovers as well as cookies for later.

Meal is a collaboration of between Wayside Food Programs and the United Way of Greater Portland.

Wayside Food Programs is in its 25th year of operation and its efforts include free community meals, including a weekly meal at the Parkside Neighborhood Center each Tuesday from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. for seniors and families with children. Through its Food Rescue Program, Wayside distributes food to more than 40 agencies throughout Cumberland County, including food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. This year the program has rescued nearly 1 million pounds of food that would have otherwise gone to waste, said Laura Hamilton, a development assistant with Wayside, who tracks all the numbers, among other duties.

Hamilton said the agency, while focused on hunger prevention, also helps people in other ways, including giving some volunteers a chance to gain job skills or just to be able to contribute to the community or be around other people. “Volunteering for a meal is a really great way for them to be able to contribute and feel like they have something useful to offer, but also just to practice being around other people and getting to know each other,” Hamilton said. “We write a lot of letters of recommendation because they gain job skills, so that’s great too.”

Barbara Bhutto, a Portland resident who works as a special education technician at the Oceanside School, was donating her time as a table host – helping find seats for the guests who came to eat. She delivered beverages, cleared plates and as time allowed she sat and chatted with those who came to eat, making sure they had enough. She served Brian Plourde, who was attending the meal for the first time, a cup of coffee after his meal and then helped him fix it with sugar and cream as he liked it.

Bhutto said she donates her time because those who come for the meal make it a rewarding experience for her.

“The atmosphere on Thanksgiving Day here is just one of incredible thankfulness,” Bhutto said. “Not everybody has a great home and a car and all the other accoutrements that most of us have, but it just doesn’t matter, it’s just such a thankful room, everybody is thankful and grateful. I get hugs and countless thank yous. It just makes me feel good to help.” Bhutto said she doesn’t think she could be a waitress in real life because she wouldn’t want to listen to customers complain. During Thanksgiving Day there’s very little complaining, she said.

Dozens of local businesses donate to the event and volunteers like Bhutto help make sure everybody gets a meal and some company too.

“It’s fulfilling to do this, it’s in the spirit of giving, in the spirit of the holidays and it just feels good to serve those who need it,” said Paul Ayoob, of Biddeford, a coffee roaster with Maine Coast Roast.

Plourde and others attending said the meal was good and they got plenty to eat.

Eric Sorensen and John Campbell said as members of Portland’s recovery community they attend the meal every year because it’s simply a good vibe and fun to be with a cast of downtown characters they’ve gotten to know over the years.

“It’s all about gratitude, for me to be able to eat in a beautiful place with beautiful music and beautiful company,” Sorensen said. “Just to feel the warmth and the beauty and everything.”

Campbell said the ambiance of the Portland Club is nice too.

“And I didn’t overeat,” Campbell said. “I feel good, I’m not ready for a nap.”

Maine man used gasoline in beer bottle to set house fire, investigators say

10 hours 3 min ago

The Maine State Fire Marshal’s Office has charged a Solon man in connection with an October house fire, according to a news release from the Maine Department of Public Safety.

Randy Ruest II, 26, was arrested by fire investigators Tuesday night and charged with arson, the release stated. Fire marshals say Ruest set fire to the outside of an occupied house on South Main Street in Solon on Oct. 5.

“Investigators say Ruest walked to the house with a beer bottle half full of gasoline, lit the fire and then ran back to his own home on Pleasant Street,” the release stated. “The fire was quickly extinguished by the Solon Fire Department with minor damage to the outside of the building.”

The house was inhabitated by Thomas Roderick, 31, and according to investigators Ruest and Roderick had a longstanding dispute including a fight at one point last summer.

Ruest was arrested at the Solon Fire Department where he was interviewed by fire investigators and then taken to the Somerset County Jail. Bail was set at $10,000.

Medical transport plane carrying 4 crashes short of runway in Presque Isle

10 hours 39 min ago

A medical transport plane carrying a patient, a paramedic, a nurse and the pilot crash landed at the Northern Maine Regional Airport in Presque Isle Wednesday.

Crown Critical Care Transport operates fixed-wing air transport for critical care patients to Aroostook Medical Center and to trauma and specialty care centers in central and southern Maine. It is the only service of its kind based in Aroostook County, according to the medical center’s website. Arroostook Medical Center website photo

The aircraft, owned by Fresh Air LLC, is leased by the Aroostook Medical Center to transport patients to higher levels of care at different hospitals.

According to a news release issued by the hospital, the aircraft’s engine caught fire on takeoff, and when the pilot attempted to return and land the plane it crashed short of the runway.

All four people on board, including the patient, transport crew and the pilot, were injured and were being evaluated at the hospital, according to the release from medical center President Greg LaFrancois.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those involved,” LaFrancois said in a prepared statement. “I want to thank the first responders who were so quick to action to get these individuals to safety.”

Crews from Crown Ambulance and the Presque Isle Fire Department responded to the crash scene.

The crash is under investigation by federal aviation authorities.

A medical center spokeswoman said the hospital’s privacy protocol prevented it from releasing the names and conditions of those involved in the crash.

Presque Isle’s deputy fire chief told local television station WAGM that the plane involved was a twin engine Cessna and that those on board did not appear to be seriously injured.

 

Girlfriend charged with OUI after reporting boyfriend’s crash in Raymond

10 hours 55 min ago

A 47-year-old Poland man was injured early Thursday when his car left North Raymond Road and struck a tree, according to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.

Tom Hardy, who sustained serious, but non life-threatening injuries, was following his girlfriend Hilda Brackett, 40, also of Poland, home when his Ford Focus left the road.

Brackett returned to the accident scene and called 911. She was later charged by deputies with operating under the influence. Police said Hardy was not wearing a seat belt.

“Alcohol is believed to be a factor in the crash and test results are pending,” the release stated. “Both cases remain under investigation at this time.”

Mainers to be thankful for

16 hours 52 min ago
Mainers to be thankful for

As Mainers gather around loaded tables and greet family members who come from afar, we also take a moment to give thanks to those among us who give their time and their energy to the larger community, sharing their humanity and enriching the world around us. Here are 10 people who have worked diligently, often without recognition, to comfort, protect, nurture and inspire others who need a helping hand.

« Previous Next »

Jim Godbout

16 hours 52 min ago
« Previous Next »

Even on his most stressful days, Jim Godbout carves out moments to give back to his community because it brings joy to his life.

Godbout’s commitment to the communities that helped him when he needed it most has inspired hundreds of volunteers to come together to mentor teens, educate students about the dangers of substance abuse and band together to save and restore Biddeford’s beloved Waterhouse Field.

“It gives me a good feeling inside to help others. If someone hasn’t had that feeling before, it’s something they need to experience,” said Godbout, owner of a plumbing and heating business. “I always tell my guys this every day: ‘We’re only here a very short time. See what you can do to make a difference in someone else’s life.'”

Godbout, 55, says he grew up fairly poor in Saco. His family fell apart after his twin brother died of leukemia at age 5. After his father left, Godbout went to work to help support his younger brothers, relying on the generosity of his aunts and mentors in the trades to help him through his teens. By 17, he was coaching Little League and finding other ways to help people around him. Over the years, he has coached youth sports and became president of the Waterhouse Field Association, the nonprofit that owns and rents the field to the city of Biddeford for youth sports.

When Waterhouse Field was shut down because its bleachers were deemed unsafe, Godbout organized volunteers to take down 6,000 seats in one day and inspired a campaign to reopen the field in time for the fall sports season.

“People respond to him because he never asks people to do something that he wouldn’t do,” said Jeremy Ray, superintendent of Biddeford schools. “That’s what’s inspiring about him. He clearly does it for no other reason than to do good.”

Godbout, who lives in Saco, joined the Biddeford-Saco Rotary Club 15 years ago because he identified with its “tremendous mission to help others.” Rotary has the resources to help continue the work he loves, including programs to train teens to work in the trades and fill labor shortages. Godbout spearheaded an initiative with the Biddeford Regional Center of Technology for students torenovate and sell tax-acquired properties given to the program by the city.

Since the 1970s, 52 of Godbout’s friends, colleagues and students have died from substance use and abuse, he said. Motivated by those losses to help make a culture change, he challenged his Rotary Club to tackle the issue. The Red Ribbon Committee now develops and supports educational programming about substance abuse in Biddeford, Saco and Old Orchard Beach schools.

Even after years of volunteer work, Godbout said he still is sometimes moved to tears by the way people in the community will come together to help others.

“I hope what I do becomes a little infectious in the community and others give back a little too,” he said.

« Previous Next »

« Mainers to be thankful for

Brenda Viola

16 hours 52 min ago
« Previous Next »

It was in Maine that refugee Brenda Viola found her voice. Now she’s using it to uplift others in her community.

The 17-year-old Deering High School senior came to Maine five years ago after spending much of her young life in a Kenyan refugee camp after fleeing violence in her native South Sudan. Maine was strange and different, and she said she didn’t say much of anything to anyone.

“I was so isolated. I didn’t have anyone to talk to,” said Viola.

But as she studied and learned English, made friends and became enmeshed in Portland life, she got more and more involved in the community.

Today, she’s committed to making the immigrant experience easier for others, by telling her story and getting involved in a half-dozen activities to make connections and help others.

“A lot of kids come from other countries, they’re not connected, and when you come here it’s a different culture,” she said. “I’m trying to change that. I want everyone, when they come here, to feel connected.

“I lost my father, my grandparents. As an immigrant (in the refugee camp) I didn’t really go to school, I stayed home helping my mom,” she said. “For me, it’s hard. The memories are painful for me.”

But telling people about her own life, explaining what many immigrant children go through, is about connecting the listeners to the immigrants who are not yet able to tell their stories. And it’s about healing herself, too.

“By sharing something emotional about my life story, I can make them understand it,” Viola said. “It brings me relief too. I don’t have to hold that story any more. I’ve been holding it so long.”

In addition to speaking at conferences, she sings out her story about the immigrant experience with Pihcintu, a group of multilingual choral students who create original works and perform in Maine and Washington, D.C.

She also tutors students in reading one-on-one at Riverton Elementary School. In the wider community, she created her own project interviewing homeless people at the Portland soup kitchen about their lives, and she volunteers with Maine People’s Alliance on a civic engagement project about civil rights and voter registration.

As she looks to the future, she plans to go to college – somewhere in Maine, she hopes – and become a doctor. She’s already involved in Maine Medical Explorers, which introduces high school students to the health professions.

“When I came here to America, I had help to get here,” she said, explaining why she got involved with so many groups.

“I want to help everybody. It’s not about race. It’s all people who live in my community,” Viola said. “I’m passionate about making change.”

« Previous Next »

« Mainers to be thankful for

Dale Robin Goodman

16 hours 52 min ago
« Previous Next »

Dale Robin Goodman says she’ll do whatever she can to protect people’s rights to free speech.

Over the last decade, she’s worked toward that end by helping to organize record sales and fashion shows, making a lot of phone calls and putting together radio beg-a-thons. As development director for Portland community radio station WMPG, Goodman is a crucial part of all the various ways the small FM station raises its approximately $300,000 budget each year.

To her it’s not just about keeping the station on the air. She sees her job as a mission, a mission to guarantee people’s rights to the airwaves, at a time when most of the airwaves are controlled by corporate interests.

“I really see community radio as the last place in the broadcast world where there is a real mechanism for free speech,” says Goodman, 62, of South Portland. “I think it’s so important today to still have a platform to reach people with different languages, voices and ideas.”

WMPG, on the campus of the University of Southern Maine in Portland, has a few paid employees and an army of volunteers. Volunteer deejays play every kind of music from rockabilly to Jewish music to gospel, and put on community news and events programming.

Goodman had always been drawn to radio, growing up in Brooklyn, New York, volunteering at radio stations as a teen and in college. As a youngster, she’d stay up late at night to hear the offbeat sounds coming from New York radio stations.

She moved to Maine about 30 years ago, and has two grown children. When the job at WMPG became available 10 years ago, Goodman left a job she loved, as administrator of an early-childhood program in York County.

“That was the job I always loved doing, but I knew this was the job I was about to love,” she said of WMPG.

Goodman is also a performing musician, playing banjo and guitar, so she said just being in the WMPG studio with its vast collection of eclectic music makes “my heart beat faster.”

Besides organizing fundraising events, Goodman attends countless public functions, trying to raise awareness of what WMPG does and what opportunities it presents to the average person. Goodman thinks it’s a little ironic that she’s the development director, since she describes herself as “not a money person.” But in her job it’s not so much about managing money as it is asking for it.

“I have no trouble asking for money to support this place, because I think community radio is so valuable,” she said.

« Previous Next »

« Mainers to be thankful for

Merrie Allen

16 hours 52 min ago
« Previous Next »

Merrie Allen greets people by name when they enter the West End Neighborhood Resource Hub, a two-room trailer at 586 Westbrook St. in South Portland.

It may be the working single mom who picks out a few used children’s books and a hand-me-down winter coat for her daughter, or the older man in a wheelchair who stops by for the weekly distribution of free day-old baked goods.

Or the weary middle-age woman who slumps into a chair and shares the latest news about her aging father’s struggles back in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico.

Each person gets a warm but casual welcome, as if they’re stopping by Merrie Allen’s kitchen.

“It’s very natural for me,” said Allen, 67, a longtime social worker who runs the Hub. “It’s just being open to people and listening to people. Every day is a new connection.”

The Hub is a community outreach program hosted by the city of South Portland and staffed by the Opportunity Alliance that serves a growing and diverse neighborhood of low-income, senior and market-rate housing complexes near the Maine Mall. As the full-time community builder at the Hub, Allen provides a variety of services and referrals for everything from food insecurity and job counseling to language classes and legal assistance.

Since starting at the Hub five years ago, Allen has established herself as someone for whom helping others is more than just a job. Last month, Allen won the President’s Award, which the Opportunity Alliance gives each year to an outstanding employee. She was nominated by neighborhood residents.

“Merrie is amazing,” said Jennifer Lessard, a leader of the South Portland West End Neighborhood Association. “For her, it’s not a job – it’s a part of her life being here and bringing people together. She enjoys it so much, I sometimes forget it’s her job.”

A Portland resident and native of Worcester, Massachusetts, Allen came to Maine in 1969 for a job with a direct-mail company. Eventually, she got a social work degree from the University of Southern Maine and worked for more than two decades in residential youth programs.

She traces her concern for the welfare of others back to her Scottish great-grandfather, a man who was known as a “problem solver” for other coal miners when they had money troubles or family issues. She also credits the civil-rights-oriented pastor of the church she attended as a kid and her parents, who raised their four children in a loving, working-class home.

“They really cultivated caring about other people,” Allen said. “They taught us how to enjoy each other and tolerate our differences and that every person matters.”

« Previous Next »

« Mainers to be thankful for

Lucky Hollander

16 hours 52 min ago
« Previous Next »

When the call came about a child in need, Lucky Hollander figured she could help.

It was as simple as that.

That’s how the retired child welfare worker found herself not only stepping in to be the legal guardian of an unaccompanied minor from overseas, but launching an informal network of willing adults also ready to step in and help such children. Since 2013, Hopeful Links has helped more than 40 unaccompanied children, many from Central Africa, find stable housing and assistance in the Portland area. The children often come to the United States legally on student or visitor visas, but get cut off from their relatives and must fend for themselves without adult guardians.

Most of the children are fleeing war-torn areas. Sometimes they are the sole person in their family who can get a visa, or the family can only afford to send one person to escape violence in their home countries. Sometimes their planned housing falls apart – their host family moves to another town, or they lose their housing – and the young people wind up at the Teen Center, or a social worker at their school realizes they don’t have a stable place to live.

Under Maine law, minors need a legal guardian if they don’t have stable housing. School counselors tend to be the first ones to know a student needs help, but they’re so busy doing their jobs it can be hard to navigate the bureaucracy of getting a legal guardian, Hollander said.

“So I said, would it help if I did that?” and Hopeful Links was born. “I know how to connect the students to health care, get them to school, how to help host families. It’s not a big deal.”

For the students, however, it is a big deal, she said.

“They’ve lost everything. They’ve lost families, they’ve lost countries. There’s an overwhelming sense that they have no one and nothing.”

Hopeful Links mostly operates by word of mouth, with Hollander reaching out to friends and old professional contacts to help students in need. But the work has bound them to the students and to each other.

“People are really coming out and saying ‘I need to do something. I don’t know what I can do, but I can mentor one family.’ Or, ‘I don’t have money, but I can give someone a ride to a doctor appointment,’ or ‘I can get a food card,'” Hollander said.

“Tell me what I can do.”

Hollander said people wishing to donate or volunteer with Hopeful Links can contact her at luckyh@maine.rr.com.

« Previous Next »

« Mainers to be thankful for

Stephen Betters

16 hours 52 min ago
« Previous Next »

Stephen Betters might come across as a gruff biker guy with his black-and-red flannel, his gold earring and the military patches on his leather jacket.

The hot pink beard, however, gives away his softer side.

Betters, 62, volunteers with childhood cancer patients at Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, visiting kids in treatment a couple times a week and often participating in fundraising events for the hospital.

“I can put smiles on their faces,” Betters said.

It all started with a bet.

In January 2014, the New England Patriots were set to play the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship. Betters, who lives in Standish, pledged his buddies in the Bangor chapter of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association he would dye his hair and beard if the Patriots lost. The Broncos won, 26-16, and Betters had to buy a tube of hot pink hair color.

“My dad used to say, ‘Turn lemons into lemonade,'” Betters said.

Betters took his dad’s advice to heart. He posed for a photo with his new hairdo, and made a sign promising to donate $1,000 to Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital if his picture got 1,000 likes on Facebook. He didn’t have a personal connection to the hospital, but liked its cause. Friends helped Betters launch a Facebook page called “Lemonade for Kids” and a website under lemonadeforkids.com. He was interviewed by local and national news organizations. He hit thousands of likes within days, and his fundraiser inspired others to donate to the hospital, too.

“I knew about social media, but I was blown away,” Betters said. “It humbles me.”

Betters cut his check to the hospital, but his advocacy didn’t end there.

The development team for the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital said Betters routinely supports fundraising campaigns and other projects, such as the campaign to make a specialty license plate to benefit the children’s hospital. They estimated his efforts have brought tens of thousands of dollars to the hospital.

“When I first met Steve, we all assumed this would be a temporary project until he had honored his bet,” said Matt Parks, director of philanthropy. “But I asked him, when is he going to retire his dye? He said, ‘Why would I stop when I’m making a difference?’ ”

They said Betters also forms special relationships with patients and their families.

“He’s not afraid to be silly with the kids,” said Kate Richardson, philanthropy manager. “That goes a really long way.”

Betters spent 20 years in the U.S. Army and then 23 years working for the U.S. Postal Service. He retired this year and now spends even more time working on Lemonade for Kids. The business makes T-shirts, bracelets, hats, pillowcases and other gifts for the kids. He uses the Facebook page to share inspirational stories, GoFundMe pages and updates on kids in the hospital. He writes personal notes to young patients and brings them “Junior Lemonader” certificates. He gets his hair treatment at a Portland salon, the same one his wife frequents.

Betters insisted he benefits from his experience as much or more than the kids do.

“They teach me what it means to have courage and resilience,” he said. “They’ve got all these machines hooked up to ’em. They’ve got all these medicines. And they still manage to put a smile on my face.”

« Previous Next »

« Mainers to be thankful for

Jamie Dorr

16 hours 52 min ago
« Previous Next »

It wasn’t the first youth suicide to hit the community of Bath, but Jamie Dorr had seen enough.

She knew the young man who took his life in the early summer of 2016. Not well, but she knew his face. He was a regular at the Bath Youth Meetinghouse and Skatepark, where Dorr serves as president.

Dorr decided at that point she couldn’t live in a community where something like that was shrugged off or forgotten in a week.

“I just felt compelled to do something,” she said. “I didn’t want to accept that feeling of helplessness.”

Days after the suicide she was making calls, trying to start a conversation. In a few short weeks, she had created the Midcoast Community Alliance, an organization committed to mental health awareness and suicide prevention. More than 25 members, from churches to schools to police agencies, have joined.

The alliance has conducted training for parents, gathered volunteers for “You Matter” events at Bath Middle School and planted yellow tulips, a symbol of hope, at Morse High School. More than anything, it has become a resource to bring the community together around a complex issue.

Dorr said the response was heartening and happened organically but others say different. They say it happened because of her.

“It was Jamie’s leadership, her demeanor and caring approach that really made this,” said Patrick Manuel, the superintendent of RSU 1.

“She brings the heart,” added Melissa Fochesato, director of community health promotion at Brunswick’s Mid Coast Hospital. “It’s rare to have the spark come from within the community.”

Dr. Deborah Hagler, a pediatrician in Brunswick, said she has been focusing on mental health and suicide prevention for years.

“To see someone on the ground, embedded in the community, talking about these things – that’s what can have an impact,” Hagler said.

This year, when officials were soliciting nominations for Bath’s annual citizen of the year award, nine people nominated Dorr. That’s unheard of, Assistant City Manager Marc Meyers said.

“I think we have a community spirit here in Bath but sometimes, when you’re addressing a particular issue, someone has to be at the head of the table,” Meyers said. “Jamie has taken that on.”

Dorr, a web designer and mother of two teenage boys, has lived in Bath her whole life. She’s proud of the work she’s done with the Midcoast Community Alliance but deflects praise.

“It’s so easy to say I’m too busy,” she said.

« Previous Next »

« Mainers to be thankful for

Patricia Stone

16 hours 52 min ago
« Previous Next »

For years, when Patricia Stone passed by the Center for Grieving Children on Forest Avenue, she would wonder about what happened there.

“I want to know about that place,” she said. “It percolated for years.”

Then about nine years ago, after Stone retired from teaching kindergartners and second-graders full time at Bridgton-based SAD 61, she called the Portland center.

Stone, 63, became a volunteer, joining a small group that leads hourlong sessions with people going through some of the darkest times in their lives. Stone focuses on people experiencing life-impacting illness, either personally or through a family member. All of her clients have a connection to a child, the main qualifying factor to receive help from the center.

With nearly 20 years of experience teaching youngsters, and because of the organization’s name, Stone assumed that volunteering would mean she would once again work with children. But she is glad her path led her to working with adults.

“Five-year-olds get old after a while,” she said.

Her role falls somewhere between friend and therapist; she is not a counselor. Although the center provides its volunteers with 30 hours of training, Stone does not dispense advice. Her job is to listen, and many times, to help absorb the sadness and pain. Her group is an outlet for the things her clients feel they cannot say out loud anywhere else, and often the stories flow as soon as her clients sit down.

“We’re not there to tell them what to do,” Stone said. “They know what to do.”

For Stone, seeing the pain and hurt of illness reminds her of her own battle more than 20 years ago with debilitating depression. She remembers the feelings of loss and despair, and she hopes to provide the kind of comfort for someone else that would have helped her years ago.

When Stone leaves each week, sometimes she is in stitches of laughter. Other times she cries herself home to Saco.

“Sometimes, I think I go there because I want to give, and on my way home I think of how much I get,” she said.

After each session, volunteers gather to debrief and support each other. It is an essential, nourishing process, she said.

“I think I’ve learned that I was stronger than I realized I was,” she said. “It sounds corny, but my heart is bigger the more I listen and the more I make space for. It feels bigger, and that’s a good thing.”

« Previous Next »

« Mainers to be thankful for

Evelyn King

16 hours 52 min ago
« Previous Next »

Three years ago when the Sebago chapter of Trout Unlimited asked Evelyn King to serve on its board, King wasted no time figuring out how to use her new position to give back.

She founded and became the director of Maine Women Fly Fishers, the women-only group that teaches women to fly fish. It is one of only a handful of women-only fly fishing groups in the country.

“I feel we’re reaching a lot of people,” said King, 58, of Cundy’s Harbor. “There are no dues. Nobody takes a head count. This is an available resource.”

A native Mainer who fishes often with her husband, Bruce, King makes the outdoor sport as accessible as she can for women who may never have held a rod.

She brings them to rivers around Portland and remote ponds to teach them how to cast, select a fly, row a boat and land a fish. She organizes fishing weekends at sporting lodges in western Maine. Then she encourages them to go on fishing trips out West, in Canada, even Iceland.

“For me, I like sharing the passion of being on the water. I want other people to get on the water and be successful,” said King, who works full time in Portland as a corporate paralegal. “You have to be in the moment when you’re fishing. You think of nothing else. And if we get more women fishing, more will be involved in conservation.”

Today, there are more than 300 women learning to fish with King, with 271 on the group’s Facebook page and 190 on the email list. There are 15 to 25 who attend the monthly events – rarely the same women from month to month.

King continues to find ways to help the group grow. In 2015, after a stringent apprenticeship with a professional instructor, she became a certified casting instructor with the International Fly Fishing Federation.

And through her encouragement, now five of the 12 board members in the Sebago Trout Unlimited chapter are women.

But King envisions even more.

“My goal would be to open up (the sporting camp weekend) to women from around the country. I think the camps would fill,” King said. “I don’t get paid for this. It is my way to give back. So many people have helped teach me about fly fishing. I want to pass it on.”

« Previous Next »

« Mainers to be thankful for

Ayumi Horie

16 hours 52 min ago
« Previous Next »

Ayumi Horie believes every pot, every cup and every bowl she makes represents an opportunity to connect with someone and be a positive force for social change.

“What drives me to make functional objects is that they’re integral to people’s lives,” she said.

Horie, 48, lives in Portland’s Stroudwater neighborhood in a handsome 1830s brick house and works in a modern attached studio, complete with a disco ball that hangs from the ceiling and sparkles in the late-afternoon sunlight. She is among Maine’s most celebrated contemporary artists, best known for making mugs and bowls decorated with her quirky drawings of animals. These days, Horie is busily working to meet the holiday-related orders that she receives mostly through online sales.

Increasingly, Horie is focusing her work on improving her community, locally and globally. In her hands, a pot made with thoughtful intention can inspire friendships, conversations and deeper connections.

She specializes in creative, arts-oriented community projects, and has co-hosted and co-organized several online pottery fundraisers. Obamaware raised nearly $11,000 for former President Obama’s election in 2008, and Handmade for Japan raised more than $100,000 in 2011 for disaster relief following an earthquake and tsunami in Japan, her ancestral home.

During the last presidential election cycle, she collaborated with a colleague in North Carolina to create The Democratic Cup, a fundraising campaign for progressive causes funded by the sale of handmade cups designed by illustrators and inspired by leading progressive thinkers.

Their mission was simply to raise the level of conversation in America.

“We were dismayed about the incivility and the political rhetoric,” Horie said. “We were looking for a way to promote current events and issues we wanted to have conversations about.”

Horie has been one of the artists behind Portland Brick, a collaborative public art project that began in 2015 to replace broken sidewalk bricks with bricks made from local clay and stamped with the city’s histories, memories and wishes for the future. She is also the curator of the Instagram feed Pots in Action, a crowd-sourced ceramics project that features contributions from around the world, and in 2015 received a $50,000 fellowship from United States Artists.

She grew up in Maine, moved away for college and her career, and came back in 2012, skilled in her craft and eager to improve her community. Pottery has a long history of being apolitical, but Horie finds it to be an effective medium for her message.

“People don’t expect it, but it feels very natural,” she said.

« Previous Next »

« Mainers to be thankful for

Mother of El Faro crewman organizing donation drive to benefit Puerto Rico

November 22, 2017 - 10:13pm

The mother of a crewman who perished when the container ship El Faro sank two years ago has organized a donation drive to benefit the victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

Deb Roberts’ son, Michael Holland, was among the 33 crewmen, including four from Maine, who died when the 790-foot ship sank off the Bahamas on Oct. 1, 2015, after encountering intense weather and engine trouble on its trip from Jacksonville, Florida, to Puerto Rico.

Roberts, of Wilton, announced on her Facebook page that she will be at the Scarborough Walmart from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday collecting donations of supplies. Walmart has loaned her a tractor trailer to store the donations in.

Walmart will transport the supplies to Jacksonville, where they will be loaded onto a boat and shipped to Puerto Rico by TOTE, the company that owned and operated El Faro. The El Faro frequently traveled between Florida and Puerto Rico, and Roberts said her son loved to visit the island, which sustained billions of dollars in damage from the recent hurricane.

“Please consider making a donation in memory of Mike to help the people of Puerto Rico as they are still trying to recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria back in September,” Roberts said in a Facebook post.

From Monday through Dec. 1, donations will be accepted from noon to 7 p.m. People can drop off donations at the customer service desk if the trailer is not manned.

Roberts is looking for a wide array of supplies that may include: bottled water, stand up flashlights, fans, generators, gas cans, deodorant, lotion, batteries, battery operated lanterns, toilet paper, adult diapers, toothbrushes, toothpaste, mosquito repellent, red, black or white beans, and canned fruit or rice.

“These are the types of things that keep me going,” she told WCSH-TV. “My main focus and my main goal for this always starts with finding ways to honor Mike’s legacy. For me as a grieving mom, that’s the way that I’ve found the healing process. To help others helps my heart heal.”

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

dhoey@pressherald.com