Unions: FairPoint not playing fair in labor talks
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - FairPoint Communications workers in northern New England say they knew concessions were in the offing going into labor negotiations with two unions. But they say the telecommunications company isn't playing fair.
The more than 1,700 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Communication Workers of America are now on standby for a possible strike after FairPoint announced an impasse.
Effective Thursday morning, FairPoint imposed its final offer. The plan freezes the existing pension plan, allows the company to hire contractors, eliminates retiree health care benefits and requires workers to share health care costs.
The old contract has been in place since the days before FairPoint bought Verizon's land-based telephone operations in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.
Maine telecom boosting Internet speed
UNITY, Maine (AP) - The ConnectME Authority is awarding a grant to help a small Maine telecom expand its broadband network.
UniTel plans to match the $360,000 grant from ConnectME as part of its strategic plan to expand availability of its fiber network by bringing Fiber To The Home to its customers.
UniTel's CEO Laurie Osgood says the company will have one of the fastest fiber optic networks in Maine and the nation once the work is completed next year.
UniTel, which was established in 1902, provides phone and Internet service to the towns of Albion, Dixmont, Knox, Newburgh, Thorndike, Troy, Unity and surrounding areas.
Maine ready for colorful fall foliage season
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - As summer winds down, Maine conservation officials say they're expecting a vibrant fall foliage season.
The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the Maine Office of Tourism will begin releasing their weekly fall foliage report on Sept. 10. They will last through Oct. 25.
Officials say that conditions in northern Maine meant that residents and visitors will likely see subtle color changes and low leaf drop.
The last week of September and the first week of October are usually when colors are the brightest in northern Maine. In the central, southern and western mountains, peak times range from Oct. 6 through 18. Along the coast, the best time to view the leaves is Oct. 13 through 25.
APPALACHIAN TRAIL-FAMILY HIKE
Maine family's hike of Appalachian Trail a rarity
BOWDOIN COLLEGE GRANT EAST TOWNSHIP, Maine (AP) - A Maine family with two young children may make the record books with its 2,160-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail.
David, Emily, Nathan and Maddy Kallin are expected to complete the end-to-end hike of the trail on Monday, becoming just the 16th family with young children to do so. The Kallins began their journey in Georgia at the end of March.
The Portland Press Herald reports that 9-year-old Nathan and 8-year-old Maddy were taken out of school early and home-schooled during the hike. Their parents said they completed essays, studied plants and learned a lot from the people they met along the way.
The Kallins were also joined on the journey by their dog, Orion.
LABOR DAY BREAKFAST
Sanders to be special guest at Labor Day breakfast
MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) - U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is a special guest at this year's New Hampshire AFL-CIO Labor Day breakfast.
The event is scheduled for Monday at the Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Manchester.
The event is highlighting workers who are fighting to raise wages for working families across the state and to celebrate the vital contributions they make.
New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter also are scheduled to attend the breakfast.
Havenstein says teamwork key to government success
ALTON, N.H. (AP) - Walt Havenstein (HA'-vehn-styne) uses "we" a lot: when he's talking about the partnership with his wife, Judy; when he recalls the "gang of 16" leaders at defense contractor BAE Systems, where he was CEO; and when he talks about his 28-year Marine Corps career.
At his Lake Winnipesaukee (wihn-ah-pah-SAH'-kee) home recently, he said if he's successful in September's Republican primary and is elected governor in November, the word "we" will be heard a lot around the halls of the statehouse.
He believes his experience as a CEO when he worked with teams will be a successful approach, particularly in New Hampshire. The state has 400 representatives, 24 senators, five executive councilors and thousands of state employees.
The 65-year-old Havenstein faces entrepreneur Andrew Hemingway in the Sept. 9 primary.
Marine Patrol urges caution after crashes
LACONIA, N.H. (AP) - New Hampshire Marine Patrol officials have been busy responding to crashes this weekend, and they're reminding boaters to be careful.
Marine Patrol, state police and local authorities all responded Saturday night when two boats collided on Lake Winnipesaukee in Alton. Officials say one person was hurt when two powerboats crashed around 9:30 p.m.
Alcohol was not a factor in that crash, but officials say it was in a second crash that happened a few hours later on Lake Winnisquam in Laconia. Marine Patrol says a Massachusetts man was charged with boating with intoxicated after he crashed a boat going 20 mph into a tree on shore. Two passengers received minor injuries.
2 town buildings added to historic register
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Two buildings that have played a major role in town life in New Hampshire have been named to the state Register of Historic Places.
Old Town Hall in Columbia, built in 1899, served a community space for town meetings, offices, and a library. Today, the town's library and offices are located elsewhere in Columbia, but the building still hosts town meeting, selectboard meetings and voting.
The Orange Town House in Orange, built in 1895, served as the local school until 1949 and the town library from the early 1950s to 1992. It functioned as the seat of town government for nearly 120 years. A 1980s addition to the building accommodated Orange's growing needs.
VERMONT GAS PROTEST
Group claims responsibility for Vermont Gas visit
HINESBURG, Vt. (AP) - An activist group is claiming responsibility for a protest at the Hinesburg home of the president of Vermont Gas Systems.
In an email sent Saturday to some Vermont media outlets, the group Green Mountain EarthFirst claimed they "temporarily seized" the property of Vermont Gas President Don Gilbert on Friday night.
Hinesburg police Chief Frank Koss says the protesters left Gilbert's property after police arrived.
Plans by Vermont Gas to extend a natural gas line from Burlington south to Middlebury and eventually to Rutland has sparked impassioned protests by some.
The protesters declined to identify themselves. They were allowed to leave the property after police recorded the license numbers of their vehicles.
Koss says he feels the incident "crossed the line" from freedom of speech and was an invasion of privacy.
MIGRATORY BIRD HUNTING
Canada geese, duck hunting seasons set
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Board has approved dates for the fall migratory bird hunting season.
The statewide open hunting season for Canada geese will take place Sept. 2-25, with a daily bag limit of five birds. Officials say the purpose of the September season is to help control Vermont's Canada goose population before the arrival of migrating geese.
A second season will occur from Oct. 10 to Nov. 28 with the focus on both resident and migrating birds. The daily bag limit for that season is three birds in the Lake Champlain and interior Vermont zones.
Duck season opens on Oct. 8 in the Lake Champlain and interior Vermont zones and Oct. 2 in the Connecticut River zone, which also will have a Canada goose season.
Vermont seeks bear teeth from successful hunters
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife is asking the state's successful bear hunters to submit a tooth to biologists so they can collect information about the bear population.
Vermont's early bear hunting season starts on Monday.
Teeth are used to determine the age of the bear.
Biologists use age and sex data to get an estimate of the number of bears in the state and to determine the status and health of the bear population.
Instructions for removing the tooth can be found on the back of an envelope that will be provided by big-game check stations.
State bear project leader Forrest Hammond says conditions should be good this year for bear hunting.
Vermont history group buys home for museum
ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. (AP) - A group working to build a museum and history center in the northeastern Vermont town of St. Johnsbury has a home.
On Friday, the St. Johnsbury History and Heritage Center purchased a Victorian house on Summer Street for $185,000.
The Caledonian Record reports the property's carriage barn will be updated and a handicap ramp constructed leading to the house.
The museum will display local artifacts. Some that are now being stored at the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium may be installed this year.
It's expected the museum's opening will be phased in. The first is planned for December.
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