A $17.3 million U.S. Department of Defense contract with New Balance to provide U.S.-made athletic shoes to service members is getting cheers from lawmakers in Maine, where the company employs hundreds of people. 

The cutting, stitching, assembly and sole laying for the shoe will be done at New Balance’s manufacturing facility in Norridgewock, Me and 100 percent of the midsole production and stock fitting will be conducted at New Balance’s manufacturing facility in Boston, Ma.

Toby Talbot / AP Photo

Governor Paul LePage is proposing to significantly reduce the area in which wind-turbine projects can get a streamlined permit review. Maine lawmakers, residents, businesses and environmental groups are divided on the issue.

The federal government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics is out with the latest unemployment data for Maine's three largest urban areas.

The jobless figures for Bangor, Lewiston-Auburn and Portland-South Portland were so low in December there was virtually nowhere for them to go but up – and they did. Bangor from 2.6 percent to 3.3 percent in January, Lewiston Auburn from 2.3 percent to 3 percent, and Portland-South Portland from 2 to 2.5 percent.

Those figures, along with state unemployment numbers, continue to point to a very tight labor market.

L.L. Bean says sales declined slightly over the past year and that there will be no bonus for workers for the first time since 2008.

The Maine-based outdoors retailer announced Friday annual revenue of $1.6 billion, which was nearly flat, for its fiscal year.

CEO Steve Smith said nearly 500 workers took advantage of a voluntary early-retirement program and that another 100 jobs will be eliminated next month. There will be a net loss of 400 jobs after some jobs are refilled. The company employees 6,000 people.

Tom Porter / Maine Public/file

Maine's highest court has thrown out a Sydney man's guilty plea and 50-year-sentence for child sexual assault because of improper communications between a judge and a prosecutor. That means the defendant, who's been incarcerated for several years, gets a shot at a new trial.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

Thousands of students across the country walked out of their schools Wednesday in remembrance of the 17 victims of last month's school shooting in Parkland, Fla. and to protest for stricter gun laws. A major snowstorm delayed many school walkouts in Maine until Thursday. Some students were punished for their protests, but said they still felt empowered to take action.

Ed Morin / Maine Public

Among those speaking out in Maine Thursday about gun violence and proposals to arm school teachers were several hundred teachers, administrators, parents and students who gathered in the cold and wind in front of Portland City Hall.

Several were members of a group called Maine Educators United Against Gun Violence, formed in the wake of the Parkland, Florida shooting. 

Teachers at Waynflete School in Portland played a key role in forming the group. Lindsay Kaplan teaches French at the private school.  She told rally-goers that the time to talk about guns is now.

LePage Says He’ll Submit Orders To Change Maine’s Child Welfare System

Mar 16, 2018
Caitlin Troutman / Maine Public/file

AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage suggested on Thursday that Maine’s child welfare system may leave too many vulnerable kids with their families and said he will unveil executive orders aimed at shoring up the system after the recent deaths of two girls.

Supporters of the Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport are wondering what happens next now that a superior court judge has issued a temporary injunction keeping the jail open until June. The judge sided with the Maine Attorney General, labor unions and the Washington County Commission, ruling that the LePage administration lacks the authority to unilaterally close the prison. 

Maine Democratic Party

Maine Democrats have announced that a party member from Greene will run against a Republican Maine State House candidate from Sabattus, Leslie Gibson, who has been criticized for calling one Florida school shooting survivor a "skinhead lesbian" and another "a bald faced liar."

Democrat Eryn Gilchrist is a political newcomer who works for a medical device company in Bowdoin.

WATERBORO, Maine - Jesus Christ, who lives in Maine, says she didn't know Oprah Winfrey was asking for a sign from God about running for president when she sent a letter to the television magnate.
WGME-TV reports 83-year-old Jesus Christ in northern Waterboro says she began a letter writing campaign 50 years ago to spread a message of faith and peace after legally changing her name. Christ says she sent the letter to Oprah because she likes her but had no idea it would get so much attention.

PORTLAND, Maine - Portland police are holding a pair of meetings with the public to talk about a pilot project involving the use of body cameras.
The meetings are scheduled for March 21 at Deering High School and March 22 at the Portland Public Library. The police department says it expects the pilot program to begin in the spring, followed by selection of a vendor in the summer and full implementation by the fall.

It’s Thursday, and time again for Across the Aisle, our weekly foray into Maine Politics. This week, Cynthia Dill, an attorney and former state lawmaker, Meredith Strang Burgess of Burgess Advertising and Marketing, who served in a Augusta as a republican, and former independent legislator Dick Woodbury, who is an economist. They spoke with Keith Shortall.

Gov. Paul LePage is pushing for the passage of a $50 million bond to subsidize student loans.

LePage says the goal of the measure is to keep young Mainers in the state after they complete college and also to attract young adults from other states to work in Maine.

“And this should not be and is not a partisan issue,” the governor says. “We are requesting a $50 million bond to help lower the debt load for Maine students as well as refinance the student debt for graduates who move to Maine from other parts of the country.”

Gov. Paul LePage's nominee to lead the Maine State Housing Authority has failed to clear the Maine Senate.

George Gervais is the governor's economic development commissioner. He was tapped by LePage to lead the housing agency that provides low interest loans to first time homebuyers and which also administers heating assistance programs.

But Democrats on the Legislature's labor committee voted to block Gervais, citing his lack of credentials and lack of cooperation with the committee as a member of the governor's cabinet.