A.J. Higgins

Statewide News Reporter

A.J. came to Maine Public Radio in August 2007 after a stint as a staff writer for Blethen Maine Newspapers. His news coverage for the Kennebec Journal in Augusta also appeared in the Waterville Morning Sentinel, the Portland Press Herald and the Maine Sunday Telegram. Prior to joining the Kennebec Journal, A.J. served for 13 years as political editor and State House bureau chief for the Bangor Daily News.

He began working for the BDN in 1972 while still a senior at Bangor High School, when his first job was casting the lead plates for the printing presses in the paper’s stereotype department. In the ensuing 34 years, A.J. moved up to the editorial department, where he quickly immersed himself in nearly every facet of news reporting, editing and photography.

In addition to his extensive coverage in the greater Bangor area, he also worked in the paper’s Presque Isle bureau and was named bureau chief of the paper’s Hancock County operations in Ellsworth in 1988. He was assigned to the State House in 1993.

While A.J.’s reporting on Maine Public Radio has largely centered around coverage of events in Augusta, he has turned his reporting chops to issues and topics taking place across the entire state.

A.J. resides in Manchester with his wife, Diane.

Ways to Connect

BANGOR, Maine - Maine restaurants and inns are reporting a banner year for 2016, with more than $3.6 billion in total sales.

Steve Hewins, president and CEO of the Maine Restaurant Association and the Maine Innkeepers Association, said lodging and restaurant sales rose 7 percent over 2015, with total sales generating $300 million in state tax revenue.

Hewins says the industry hopes that the two past highly successful tourist seasons are the beginning of a trend.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

Several investigations are underway into what prompted American Airlines to remove a blind Maine woman from a plane in Washington, D.C., and leave her in the terminal with her seeing eye dog.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press file

Some Maine fishermen say that they’ve always been at a disadvantage when trying to compete with their Canadian counterparts. Now, the Maine lobster industry is weighing a pending trade agreement between Canada and the European Union that could adversely affect lobster prices in Maine.

Andrew Catalina / Maine Public

A new report released by the Maine Brewers’ Guild is projecting growth of nearly 40 percent next year as the number of Maine’s craft brewers continues to grow.

Maine Warden Service

A tip to the Maine Warden’s Service resulted in charges for five hunters from Massachusetts and one from Maine after the group allegedly killed nearly 90 snowshoe hares during an illegal weekend hunting trip to Great Duck Island.

Cpl. John MacDonald of the Maine Wardens Service said the men were apprehended Saturday on Great Duck, about 10 miles off Mount Desert Island.

The president of the world’s largest seaweed processing company said Friday that his firm will appeal Thursday’s Washington County Superior Court order that bars the harvest of rockweed, a form of seaweed, without the consent of shorefront property owners.

J.P. Deveau, president of the Nova Scotia-based Acadian Seaplants Ltd., says his company will continue harvesting operations in Maine pending the outcome of the appeal.

A Superior Court judge has found in favor of a Maryland-based trash-to energy company that wants to build a $69 million dollar biogas, organic trash disposal facility in Hampden, just south of Bangor.

Plans are for Fiberright to take over the disposal contract for a group of 187 municipalities in the region currently doing business with the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. in Orrington. Last August, PERC filed an appeal of a decision by the Maine Department of Environment Protection to grant permits for Fiberight’s Hampden project.

Sarah Redmond / University of Maine Sea Grant

A Washington County Superior Court judge has ruled in favor of several shorefront property owners who maintain that rockweed, a form of seaweed, is not a resource that falls under the public trust.

In his ruling, Justice Harold Stewart II concluded that rockweed growing in the intertidal zone is the property of the shorefront owner and should not be construed to be included under exemptions that include fishing.

More than $1 million in forfeited drug money was divided Thursday among several Maine law enforcement agencies that participated in one of the state’s largest marijuana growing busts.

Jennifer Mitchell / Maine Public

Tuesday’s storm left Maine with an additional 20 inches of snow in some areas and widespread power outages in others.

At Central Maine Power, spokeswoman Gail Rice says the combination of heavy, wet snow and powerful winds took its toll on the company’s power lines. She says outages peaked Tuesday night when 32,000 CMP customers reported power losses.

Maine Public/file

Described by his colleagues as a passionate defense attorney who was fearless in the courtroom, Daniel Lilley died Saturday at a Maine hospital, according to his Portland law firm.

The 79-year-old Aroostook County native was remembered by his peers as a brilliant trial lawyer who never forgot the value of the common touch.

BANGOR, Maine - Some teenagers could be allowed to work in the Maine forestry industry if a bill co-sponsored by Maine 2nd District Rep. Bruce Poliquin gains traction.

Poliquin and Idaho Congressman Raúl Labrador have reintroduced the "Future Logging Careers Act" to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to work in mechanized logging operations under parental supervision.

That's an option available to farming families that Dana Doran, executive director of the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine, says should also be available to families engaged in the forest products industry.

Rockweed coats the shoreline on the Maine coast.
Sarah Redmond / University of Maine Sea Grant

For 15 years, shore-front property owners, rockweed cutters and Maine Department of Marine Resources regulators have attempted to balance the competing interests that have tended to define the state’s rockweed industry. 

While many Maine communities have passed or are weighing moratoriums or bans on retail recreational marijuana businesses, the town of Houlton is enthusiastically encouraging recreational growers and retailers to make the move to Aroostook County.

Last month, the Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to designate a portion of its industrial park for use by retail recreational marijuana retailers. Council member Sue Waite-York says the town views Maine’s historic vote to legalize recreational pot as an opportunity.

Environmentalists and conservation advocates are lending their support to a number of bills that would promote the expansion of freight and passenger rail service to more areas of the state.

During a State House press conference Thursday, Tony Donovan of the Sierra Club said support is building for approval of a $50 million bond package to fund rail infrastructure improvement along with a number of other bills, including one tied to Maine’s recreational marijuana law.