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Consumers in the U.S. are buying more organic products than ever before — organic food sales now make up more than 5 percent of the total market, and the industry continues to see record growth.

But Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine’s 1st District is worried about what she said are inadequate standards and inspections by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for organic imports.

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Verizon Wireless says it intends to resolve customer concerns in the wake of recently announced plans to drop more than 200 subscribers Down East. But some affected customers say they still have lots of questions.

Jim Mone / Associated Press

The International Trade Commission ruled Friday that inexpensive, imported solar panels have harmed U.S.-based panel manufacturers. In New England, solar installers say they started stockpiling the panels even before the decision.

The ITC supported a complaint by bankrupt U.S. solar panel maker Suniva and another company, calling for tariff charges on imported solar panels. Cheap panels, made mostly in China, have helped to fuel a surge in solar installations at all levels in the U.S.

As contract talks continue this weekend between the Bath Marine Draftsmen’s Association and Bath Iron Works, unions across the state are making plans to show support should a strike be called next week.

Should the talks fail this weekend and more than 700 members of the draftsmen’s union go on strike, the Maine AFL-CIO and BIW’s largest union, Local 6, are working on plans to stand in support.

As a GOP-crafted bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act heads toward a vote in the U.S. Senate, those who are fighting the opioid epidemic are urging lawmakers to reject the proposal.

A Biddeford lawmaker is leaving the Democratic Party. Rep. Martin Grohman says he will finish out his term as an independent.

Grohman, who manages a roofing company, says he's felt too restricted by Democratic leaders' efforts to get the caucus to vote as a bloc.

"Our state needs to fix, not fight. We've got serious issues to resolve. We need legislators who can cross the partisan divide who are beholden first and foremost to the Maine people, and not to a particular political party," he says.

Ten years ago, Maine Gov. John Baldacci signed a law changing the structure of education across Maine, forcing districts to consolidate with schools in nearby towns as a way of saving money. But a decade later, the consolidation experiment has led to more conflict than success in many districts.

Pete Webster’s Spanish class at Whittier Middle School in Poland begins quietly enough. Webster introduces a few vocab words to his students, and they repeat them back. But about five minutes in, Webster picks up a guitar and, soon, the classroom becomes a whirlwind of sound.

Kevin Bennett / For Maine Public

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is moving to acquire a $1.2 million conservation easement to protect a remote plantation of sugar maples — meaning it could soon become a stakeholder in Maine’s maple syrup industry.

NEW YORK - If you want to see L.L. Bean's new ad, you're going to have to step outdoors.
 
The company took its mission to get people outside to a new level Friday by publishing an ad in The New York Times in ink that can only be seen when the newspaper is taken outside and exposed to sunlight.
 
The advertising insert features L.L. Bean's new "manifesto'' that reiterates its commitment to the outdoors and underscores the Freeport, Maine-based company's willingness to try new things to get shoppers' attention.
 

PORTLAND, Maine - An Air National Guard unit from Maine is deploying to the U.S. Virgin Islands to provide critical communications to support the recovery efforts.
 
Seven Air National Guard members from the 265th Combat Communications Squadron mobilized late Thursday.
 
The 265th is tasked with establishing communications links for military, and if necessary, for civilian response authorities.
 
The U.S. Virgin Islands are reeling after back-to-back hurricanes. President Donald Trump said Friday that the islands were "flattened.''
 

WESTBROOK, Maine - Thirty cats and dogs evacuated from the U.S. Virgin Islands have arrived in Maine for medical care and eventually will be up for adoption by residents.
 
Twenty-three cats and seven dogs were taken in by a shelter in Westbrook from the islands after shelters were badly damaged by Hurricane Irma earlier this month. The Portland Press Herald reports that the animals arrived Thursday and are currently under two-week quarantine, as required by state law.
 

Patty Wight / Maine Public

Maine's early child care system is failing families, children, and providers, according to a new report by the Maine Women's Policy Center and the Maine Children's Alliance. 

The report, called "Investing in Our Future," concludes there's a lack of availability and high costs for infant care. 

Claire Berkowitz of the Maine Children's Alliance says increasing state funding for Head Start is one important step that would improve the situation.

Lewiston residents had their say Thursday night on whether their city should merge with neighboring Auburn.

It’s Thursday and time for Across the Aisle, our weekly roundtable on politics. This week, Cynthia Dill, an attorney who served in the Legislature as a Democrat; Dick Woodbury, and economist and former independent lawmaker; and Meredith Strang-Burgess of Burgess Advertising and Marketing, who served at the State House as a Republican.

The debate over who’s responsible for abandoned and discontinued roads continued before the Legislature’s State and Local Government Committee Thursday.

“We’ve decided to have MMA (Maine Municipal Association), a group of managers and other parties and our legal staff come up with something they can reach consensus on,” says Rep. Danny Martin, a Democrat from Sinclair who co-chairs the committee.

The issue has been around for years. Homeowners on roads that have been abandoned or discontinued by the town or county are facing lawsuits over who should maintain those roads.

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