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Another town in Massachusetts has banned the sale of small, single-use bottles of water.

Town meeting voters in Great Barrington approved the ban of bottles 1-liter or smaller this week. The Berkshire County community joins Concord and Sudbury.

PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Public Utilities Commission says it won’t elevate the investigation into Central Maine Power’s problems with its billing system.

The Portland Press Herald reports the PUC disagreed with Public Advocate Barry Hobbins’ call to pursue a "full investigation."

PUC spokesman Harry Lanphear says the commission’s summary investigation will be "thorough and comprehensive." Lanphear says the commission will decide whether further action is needed.

Toby Talbot / AP Photo

Maine's Public Advocate is calling for a more comprehensive investigation of whether Central Maine Power (CMP) overbilled customers in the early months of this year – and whether it covered up ongoing problems it knew were an issue.

Utility crews continue to repair power lines brought down by strong wind across northern New England.

In Vermont, Green Mountain Power had about 7,800 customers without power around noon Saturday, down from about 40,000 overnight.

Central Maine Power estimates that nearly 48,000 customers lost power at some point between Friday night and late Saturday morning, with a peak of about 33,700 just before 8 a.m. By noon Saturday, the number had dropped to about 19,000.

In New Hampshire, Eversource was working to restore power to about 10,000 customers.

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A bipartisan group of influential Maine lawmakers is telling Massachusetts regulators to reject Central Maine Power's (CMP) proposal to build a big transmission line through western Maine.

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After a period of uncertainty over who would provide roundtrip air service for Bar Harbor's busy summer season, the Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport in Trenton says the contract has gone to Silver Airways.

The Florida based carrier was one of two airlines to bid on the contract to replace PenAir.

"I think it's going to be great for the community,” says airport manager Brad Madeira. “I think the fares are going to be good, I think the connecting options in Boston are going to be good. So yeah we're real excited about it.”

Maine's economic output grew at a 2.6 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2017, which spans from October to December. Economic growth actually cooled from a blistering third quarter, when output surged 6.8 percent, according to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Affairs.

Still, Maine ranked 21 among the states (and the District of Columbia) in its fourth quarter Gross Domestic Product growth rate.

COLIN PERKEL / AP Photo

Most of the time, environmental advocates and the owners of fossil-fuel power plants battle over how much pollution is acceptable, given the need to keep the lights on. But in Maine, they are now aligning against a common enemy – Central Maine Power (CMP).

Willis Ryder Arnold / Maine Public

A collapse in the global recycling market is having reverberations in Maine.

An Illinois packaging company has pledged $1 million to help build a new engineering center for the University of Maine.

Packaging Corporation of America, one of the largest makers of packaging products in the country, made the pledge to encourage students to consider paper-related technical careers. The Portland Press Herald reports up to $15 million remains to be raised toward construction of the Engineering Education and Design Center, proposed to cost up to $80 million.

Robert F. Bukaty / AP Photo

The Legislature has finally agreed on a bill that will allow for the retail sale and cultivation of recreational marijuana. The House and Senate both voted Wednesday to override a veto of the bill by Gov. Paul LePage, which means the bill is now law.

Sale of commercial marijuana was approved by voters back in 2016, but implementation has been slow.

The bill eliminates marijuana social clubs, reduces the number of plants that people can have and prohibits sale near schools.

Under the bill, Maine could allow retail pot sales to adults as early as next year.

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Tuition and room and board at Maine's public universities could be going up by almost 3 percent next fall. That's according to proposed budget numbers reviewed by the University of Maine System's finance committee on Tuesday.

Under the new budget, in-state students would pay almost $18,000 in tuition, fees, room and board, about $500 more per student than last year. University spokesperson Dan Demeritt says the proposed increase is needed to maintain programs and keep up with inflation across the university system's seven campuses.

This fall, Maine voters will be asked to vote on a new tax for those with incomes over $128,000. Money from the tax is intended to pay for a variety of home-based care programs for seniors and others. More than two dozen various business groups are opposing the ballot initiative.

All of Maine's metro areas had unemployment rates last month below the national and state averages. The unemployment rate in Bangor was just 3.1 percent in March, in Lewiston Auburn, the figure was 2.8 percent and in Portland-South Portland, the jobless rate was just 2.4 percent.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that in all three metro areas, the unemployment rates are lower than the national average, 4.1 percent. Bangor matched the state's 3.1 percent rate; Lewiston-Auburn and Portland-South Portland were lower.

GLOUCESTER, Mass. - Federal regulators are closing a key scallop fishing area off of New England for nearly 11 months.
 
The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration says it is closing the northern Gulf of Maine to a class of fishermen who fish under a federal permit starting Wednesday at 12:01 a.m. The closure will last until March 31, 2019.
 

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