Sales of existing single-family homes in Maine increased by more than 6 percent in August compared to the year before.

The Maine Association of Realtors says the median sales price for the homes also increased by more than 4.5 percent, to $206,000.

Association Vice President Kim Gleason says the inventory of houses up for sale is still extremely tight across the entire state.

“We’ve had active phone calls with presidents of local boards and everybody’s reporting basically the same thing, which is low inventory,” she says.

Flu Arrives Early in Maine

7 hours ago
Evan Vucci / Associated Press/file

The flu has arrived earlier than usual in Maine this season, prompting health officials to ramp up their annual push for vaccination against the illness.

Multiple hospitals in the state have reported positive lab tests for influenza, according to a Sept. 13 alert issued to health providers by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gabor Degre / Bangor Daily News

Maine’s universities are trying to figure out how to pump out more graduates — nurses, engineers, computer scientists and more — that the state will need desperately in coming years.

Maine is predicting a dramatic shortage of skilled workers in the next decade, including a projected shortfall of 3,200 nurses by 2025, according to a recent study.

BANGOR, Maine - Industry analysts say the primary owner of the Bangor Mall in Maine is at risk of defaulting on an $80 million loan that uses the mall as collateral.
The Bangor Daily News reports that Simon Property Group of Indianapolis took out the loan in 2007 and has made only interest payments. The paper reports that lender Morgan Stanley Capital turned the loan over to a special servicer that handles troubled debts in late August.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public/file

JAY, Maine - Shareholders frustrated with returns from a Maine paper mill are considering selling the operation.
The Portland Press Herald reports that investors are considering selling the Androscoggin Mill in Jay. According to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, shareholders with Verso Corp. are frustrated with the mill's financial performance and are evaluating all options to protect their investments.

New figures are out on the economic health of Maine's three urban areas, based on the change last year in the gross domestic product. 

The Bureau of Economic Analysis figures show that Bangor's output grew by 1.4 percent, Portland-South Portland by 1.6 percent, and Lewiston-Auburn by 1.8 percent. 

That was a big turnaround for Lewiston-Auburn, which actually saw its economic output shrink in 2015. 

But the latest numbers reflect a slowing of economic output growth in greater Portland, which posted a 2.4 percent increase in the GDP in 2015.

Tropical storm Jose remains stuck off the coast of Cape Cod, and according to weather experts, doesn’t appear to be in a hurry to move.

While it’s far enough away for Maine to avoid lots of rainfall, the coast will still feel its effects with unusually high surf.

“These are what we call long period swells,” says Meteorologist Tom Hawley with the National Weather Service. “They’re 5-10 footers, probably 12-15 seconds between waves.”

Hawley says as tempting as it may be to go stand at the shore to watch the waves, doing so could be very dangerous.

The Department of Marine Resources says that a shellfish recall implemented last week has resulted in about 98 percent of the product in being surrendered.

According to the department, about 57,000 out of 58,000 pounds of mussels harvested from Frenchman Bay were destroyed this week. The shellfish tested positive for higher than allowable levels of the neurotoxin that causes amnesic shellfish poisoning.

Some 1,100 pounds of the mussels are unaccounted for.

FALMOUTH, Maine - Maine State Police say hundreds of motorists were stranded after a fatal collision on Interstate 295.
Troopers say the delay was caused Tuesday evening when a teenage motorist rear-ended a car, killing the driver, after traffic slowed because of another crash ahead.
The victim's name wasn't immediately released.

PORTLAND, Maine -Maine is among seven states where the federal government is funding a research project to try to better understand harmful algal blooms.
Harmful algal blooms can contaminate drinking water and have negative effects on the environment, wildlife and tourism. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is providing nearly $1.7 million for research projects about the blooms in Alaska, California, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Ohio and Virginia.

BANGOR, Maine - A retired Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer accused of smuggling narwhal tusks across the border is due to be sentenced for money laundering.
Prosecutors say Gregory Logan, of St. John, New Brunswick, smuggled 250 tusks valued at $1.5 million to $3 million into Maine in false compartments in his vehicle.
Narwhals are medium-sized whales known for spiral tusks that can grow longer than 8 feet. They are protected by the U.S. and Canada.

AUGUSTA, Maine - A $15,000 grant from a Maine historic preservation group will help renovate Augusta's Colonial Theatre, a historic building that fell into disrepair over recent decades.
The Belvedere Historic Preservation Fund gift was approved recently by the Maine Community Foundation. The Kennebec Journal reports that the gift will be used to complete work on the theater's subfloor.

Maine Public/file

YARMOUTH, Maine - A Maine brewery is paying tribute to a centuries-old American Elm tree named Herbie with a new pale ale named in the tree's honor.
"Herbie'' is a low-alcohol pale ale with citrus notes that will be released Thursday at the Yarmouth Farmers Market. The Portland Press Herald reports that the beer was brewed by Portland-area brewery Liquid Riot.
Herbie stood in Yarmouth from 1793 until the 110-foot tree died in 2010 at age 217.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

Bangor residents turned out in force Tuesday evening to let their city councilors know that they strongly oppose a plan by Gov. Paul LePage to build a 21-bed “step-down” forensic psychiatric facility on Hogan Road.

Bangor Mayor Joe Baldacci said safety concerns, residents'  fears over potentially reduced property values and the administration's refusal to provide details about the plan are all the reasons he needs to seek a moratorium against the construction of any new forensic facility in the city. 

Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

On Tuesday, Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine introduced a bill to create a federal reinsurance program that she says will help stabilize the individual health insurance market.

Speaking on the Senate floor, Collins cited recent health committee hearings in which insurance commissioners from several states suggested that Congress consider reinsurance as an option. Her bill would allocate federal money for states to establish the programs that help cover high-cost claims.