Sep 182017
 

The following article is reprinted with permission from an e-newsletter published by Paul Stearns, State Representative for District 119.

Maine’s Secretary of State has finalized the wording of the two citizens’ initiative questions that will appear on the Tuesday, November 7, 2017 referendum election ballot.  Below is the title of each initiative and the final question that will appear on the ballot.

QUESTION 1:  An Act To Allow Slot Machines or a Casino in York County.  “Do you want to allow a certain company to operate table games and/or slot machines in York County, subject to State and local approval, with part of the profits going to the specific programs described in the initiative?”

QUESTION 2:  An Act To Enhance Access to Affordable Health Care.  “Do you want Maine to expand Medicaid to provide healthcare coverage for qualified adults under age 65 with incomes at or below 138% of the federal poverty level, which in 2017 means $16,643 for a single person and $22,412 for a family of two?”

The full text of each proposed bill is available for viewing on the Bureau of Corporations, Elections, and Commissions’ Upcoming Elections Web page.

The Secretary of State received more than 150 comments on the wording of these initiatives during the 30-day public comment period, which was open Wednesday, August 2, 2017, through Friday, September 1, 2017.  He reviewed and considered these comments, which were submitted from individuals and organizations throughout the State during the drafting of the final ballot question language.

The Bureau of Corporations, Elections, and Commissions will create a Citizens’ Guide to the 2017 Election this fall, which will be available on the Web site and at public libraries across the State.  All voters are encouraged to read it to inform themselves of the details of each bill, including the fiscal impact statements.

In addition to the citizens’ initiative questions, the November referendum election ballot will also include one bond question and one constitutional amendment, both of which will appear below the citizens’ initiative questions on the ballot.  The legislation titles are listed below, along with the questions that will appear on the ballot:

QUESTION 3:  An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue to Improve Highways, Bridges and Multimodal Facilities and Upgrade Municipal Culverts – Legislation found online here.

“Do you favor a $105,000,000 bond issue for construction, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of highways and bridges and for facilities or equipment related to ports, harbors, marine transportation, freight and passenger railroads, aviation, transit, and bicycle and pedestrian trails to be used to match an estimated $137,000,000 in federal and other funds, and for the upgrade of municipal culverts at stream crossings?”

QUESTION 4:  Resolution, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Reduce Volatility in State Pension Funding Requirements Caused by the Financial Markets – Legislation found online here.

“Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to reduce volatility in State pension funding requirements caused by the financial markets by increasing the length of time over which experience losses are amortized from 10 years to 20 years, in line with pension industry standards?”

For more information about the November 2017 referendum election, click here.  Information on voter registration and locating your polling place is also available on the Corporations, Elections, and Commissions Web site here.

Sep 082017
 

Each October, the Maine Board of Pesticides Control conducts a program to collect and properly dispose of banned and unusable pesticides from homeowners and farms. Pre-registration is required and collections are held at four sites across the state. More information about the program may be found below.

Next collection will be in October 2017, one day each in Presque Isle, Bangor, Augusta, and Portland. Registration by September 22 is required, no drop-ins will be accepted. Use the forms below to register.

The Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) and the Department of Environmental Protection provide citizens with a responsible, free solution to their obsolete pesticide problem. Once a year, these agencies collect obsolete pesticides brought to sites across Maine. The materials are then shipped to out-of-state disposal facilities. Banned pesticides and pesticides that have become caked, frozen or otherwise rendered unusable can be accepted. The program is available to homeowners as well as non-corporate farmers and greenhouse operators

How to participate

  1. Registration Form Instructions
    • Option 1: fillable PDF fileOpen the file, fill in the information, print it out, and mail it to the BPC (mailing address on the form).
    • Option 2: Word fileOpen the file, fill in the information, and
      • either save it to your hard drive, attach it to an e-mail, and send it to pesticidesatmainedotgov  (pesticidesatmainedotgov)  or
      • if your e-mail program allows it, send it directly from the open file to the BPC at the address above.
    • Option 3 Request paper copy: Contact the BPC (207-287-2731, or the e-mail address above) to have a copy of the form mailed to you.
  2. On the registration form, identify the common name of the pesticide active ingredients shown on each product’s label. Common names are often listed on the front of the label followed by the chemical name. If the active ingredient is not listed, or is unreadable, please describe the product using the brand name, EPA registration number, or any other identifying information you can find on the label. Unidentified products without labels or markings should also be described in as much detail as possible.
  3. Store obsolete pesticides properly until the next annual collection drive. The BPC will contact you several weeks prior to that drive to inform you of your local collection date and location. Can’t make an upcoming drive? No problem…the BPC will keep your name on file for the next collection.
  4. After your inventory form is received, the BPC will mail a map and instructions 10 days before your collection date.
  5. Bring your obsolete pesticides to the assigned site. Once there, stay in your vehicle and present shipping papers to officials. They will direct you to place obsoletes in an appropriate receptacle.
Sep 032017
 

The American Red Cross is encouraging people to donate money on its Web site, or text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10.  Apple is also accepting Red Cross donations via iTunes and the Apple App Store.

Americares, an emergency response organization based in Connecticut, is delivering emergency medicine and relief supplies and is working with a local clinic in Houston.  Make a donation at americares.org.

United Way Worldwide has a relief fund to provide shelter and basic needs, as well as long-term recovery efforts.

The Salvation Army is accepting donations for hurricane relief at give.salvationarmyusa.org.

To help pets stranded by Hurricane Harvey, donations are being accepted by the Humane Society of the United States.

For volunteer opportunities or other places to donate, check with National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.

Sep 012017
 

 

This article is reprinted with permission from an e-newsletter published by Paul Stearns, State Representative for District 119.

The Maine Emergency Management Agency released the following statement to assist those who are interested in contributing to disaster relief in the wake of Hurricane Harvey:

Most often, the best way you can help others during a disaster is to donate money or goods. Here are some helpful tips to make sure your generosity helps the most.

Giving cash is always the best way to help disaster recovery because of its flexibility and ability to boost the local economy’s recovery.

If you’d rather donate goods, make sure you are only donating items that have been specifically requested by an organization directly involved in the recovery effort and that you have made contact with someone at that organization who will receive the items from you.

Here are some websites that can help you determine how charitable organizations rank. Most reputable organizations will allow you to designate your donation for a specific disaster or program:

  • Charity Navigator rates charities based on their financial health, accountability and transparency, and results reporting. They also list some best practices for savvy donors.
  • The Better Business Bureau also rates charitable organizations and allows you to check out specific charities and donor reviews.
  • GuideStar is another place to find reliable information on trusted non-profits, as well as tips on choosing the right charity to give to.
  • The Federal Trade Commission offers this advice for giving wisely after a disaster.
  • The Maine Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division also has excellent tips for donating to charities.

Check out our fact sheet on Volunteering in a Disaster for more information on helping out personally in disaster situations.


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Aug 282017
 

Please provide proper attribution when using material.

Webmaster’s Note:  The following article is reprinted with permission from an e-newsletter published by Paul Stearns, State Representative for District 119. We thought it might be of interest to those Grangers who are heading to the Big E to volunteer at the Grange Building.


The Eastern States Exposition (Big E) is an annual event that takes place in West Springfield, MA.  This event is held each September and attracts over one million visitors yearly during the seventeen days of the fair.  The State of Maine has participated in this exciting display of New England traditions since 1925.

A unique feature of this annual fall classic is the Avenue of States, which is comprised of six exhibition halls that are replicas of architecturally significant buildings from each of the New England states.  The State of Maine building, which was built in 1925, was designed by John Calvin Stevens — Maine’s premier architect.  The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry is pleased to have the responsibility of managing this program for the State of Maine.

The purpose of the program at the Big E is to exhibit, publicize, and advertise Maine’s products and resources in agriculture, industry, fisheries, wildlife, and recreation.  The State of Maine has had an excellent reputation for providing a quality representation of Maine and its resources to the visitors that come to its building each year.  More than 850,000 of the fairgoers visit the state buildings, affording a tremendous opportunity to promote Maine and Maine products.

For more information on the Big-E festivities, click here.

Aug 222017
 

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The following article appeared in today’s “Word of the Day” email from the Dictionary Project:

During 2016, the Arkansas Corrections Department and the Arkansas Literacy Councils partnered together to send dictionaries to fourteen prisons in the area. Heather Powell, the Training Director at the Arkansas Literacy Councils, reached out to share their story with us.

“Last year we [the Arkansas Literacy Councils] piloted a joint program with ADC to train literacy and ESL tutors within the prisons. To date, we have trained over 200 literate inmates as tutors. The tutors work with other inmates who have low or no literacy skills, tutoring from the Laubach Way to Reading/English programs. These student dictionaries are just the right level for introducing students in how to use a dictionary.”

Often times, we at the Dictionary Project are asked by organizations what they should do with dictionaries that are left over after their distributions are complete. We would ask you to please consider donating them to prisons in your area. Statistics show that literacy rates in the American prison system are at only 40% for adult inmates, and 15% for juveniles (literacyprojectfoundation.org). A vital skill that many of us take for granted, the ability to read could greatly impact the lives of inmates who would otherwise not have access to the basic level of education that every human being should have.

Thank you, Heather Powell at the Arkansas Literacy Councils for this story.

As a big fan of the Dictionary Project, this is interesting on several points. First, the question about left over dictionaries may include something that can easily be overlooked. In our Valley Grange Program, we have learned there is one hazard with keeping leftover dictionaries and mixing them with new ones the following year. Some teachers have the students keep their dictionaries at school for use in the classroom–both to learn dictionary skills and to use as a resource. If there is a change in the dictionary, mixing last year’s edition with this year’s can create confusion. This is easy to manage as long as you aware and pay attention to edition numbers. But it is possible to have “left over” dictionaries even though you are repeating the program every year.

Second, there are additional community service opportunities where we, as Granges and Grangers, can make an impact. As this article suggests, we can offer dictionaries to prisons. Most areas also have volunteer adult literacy programs. I occasionally hear the comment that the schools are already getting dictionaries from another organization. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a dictionary project–it just means it won’t be “Words for Thirds.” It’ll be words for others! Just think Literacy! (We have given our leftover dictionaries to local libraries and keep a few at the Hall to give to any children that visit.)

And it is that time of year to start thinking about your program with your schools. By providing dictionaries in the fall, kids get more use from them! In the twelve years Valley Grange has been providing dictionaries, we’ve learned a lot! You can read the history of our program and, more importantly, if you have any questions or I can help you with your program, please let me know  (webmasteratmainestategrangedotorg)  !

 

Aug 182017
 

Webmaster’s Note:  The following article is reprinted with permission from an e-newsletter published by Paul Stearns, State Representative for District 119. Looks like some potentially good resources for a timely Lecturer’s Program or Family Health and Hearing Report!

As summer draws to a close, back-to-school season is in full effect.  Remember to safely share the roads with school buses, pedestrians, and bicyclists, and provide children with the necessary knowledge to stay safe at school.

The National Safety Council has a number of helpful resources that promote safety, including Pedestrian Safety, Safe Riding in a Car, Distracted Walking, First-Time Rider School Bus Tips, and more.

Also available on this site are video PSAs on Back to School:  Driving Safely with School Buses and Stop Bullying:  What Parents Can Do.

There are also bullying and suicide prevention resources available on my website. For a slightly different perspective on the issue of bullying, read Where you fly makes a difference.

Aug 182017
 

Webmaster’s Note:  The following article is reprinted with permission from an e-newsletter published by Paul Davis, State Senator for District 4. 

Absentee Ballots for Referendum Election Now Available Online

If you would like to request an absentee ballot for this November’s General Election, they are now available through the Online Absentee Ballot Request Service. Absentee voting is an option for all Maine residents currently registered to vote. Absentee ballots may be requested either through this online service or by going to your town office to fill out a form.

This November’s ballot will include two citizen’s initiative questions including a question to allow a certain developer to open a casino in York County and the seventh attempt to expand Medicaid to more able-bodied adults in Maine. Also on the ballot will be Question 3: “An Act To Authorize Multiple General Fund Bond Issues To Improve Highways, Bridges and Multimodal Facilities,” and Question 4: “Resolution: Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Reduce Volatility in State Pension Funding Requirements Caused by the Financial Markets.”

To apply for an absentee ballot online, go to click here.

Jul 232017
 

This article is reprinted with permission from an e-newsletter published by Paul Stearns, State Representative for District 119.

Maine has some of the best agricultural fairs in New England.  If you want to know more about Maine’s great agricultural fairs, go to the Maine Association of Agricultural Fairs Web site for the latest news and information.

For a listing of upcoming fairs, or if you wish to receive State fair news, click here.


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Jul 152017
 

Please provide proper attribution when using material.

Webmaster’s Note:  The following article is reprinted with permission from an e-newsletter published by Paul Stearns, State Representative for District 119.

One of the many challenges adults face as they return to college is financing their education. The University of Maine System (UMS) has an Adult Degree Completion Scholarship Fund helping Maine residents return to school and complete their academic studies. For many, these may have begun years ago and were not completed for a variety of reasons.

These funds are dedicated to support adult students returning to college after an absence of at least three years or more and who are completing their very first baccalaureate degree. Applicants may qualify for up to $4,000 per academic year for up to eight consecutive semesters.

Students returning to school have two opportunities to apply for the Adult Degree Completion Scholarship. Each year the deadlines for new applicants are:

  • August 1 – to be considered for a full academic year award beginning in the fall semester;
  • December 1 – to be considered for a spring semester award; and
  • all renewal applications are due no later than June 1 of each year.

The electronic application takes approximately 15 minutes to complete and may be found online here. Prior to completing this application, we recommend contacting your campus navigator to review your eligibility and discuss your plan for completing your bachelor’s degree. Applicants must meet the following criteria in order to be eligible for consideration:

  • must be a resident of the State of Maine;
  • must be a matriculated student at a UMS institution seeking a first baccalaureate degree;
  • must be an undergraduate reentry student who has experienced a gap (three years or more) in the pursuit of postsecondary education;
  • must have a minimum of 30 credits earned from any institution toward your degree;
  • must demonstrate financial need as determined by a completed FAFSA; and
  • must be registered at least part time: 6‐8 credits per semester.

Adult Degree Completion Scholarship Brochure