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

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

What is believed to be Maine's first tiny homes subdivision moved closer to reality Tuesday night after the Swanville Planning Board gave its final approval to a proposal to build a half-dozen of the 440-square foot structures on a 50-acre parcel on Oak Hill Road.

Derek Davis, of Thorndike, and Chad Tozier, of Unity, have formed a partnership to market the homes which are being constructed by the Amish-owned Backyard Buildings of Unity. Davis says the next challenge for the project will be connecting the tiny homes with renters or buyers.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

Second District Republican Congressperson Bruce Poliquin says GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan's decision not to seek reelection in November is the latest development in what he termed the nonstop news coverage of the "comings and goings" of people in various positions.

Poliquin said it really won't matter who the next speaker is.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

The chief operating officer for the National Science Foundation has been tapped to lead the University of Maine’s flagship campus in Orono. Joan Ferrini-Mundy will become UMaine’s next president on July 1, when current President Susan Hunter steps down from the post she has held for the last four years.

Ferrini-Mundy made her public debut before an audience of students, faculty and the UMaine board of trustees, who gathered at a morning press conference in Orono.

“I can barely wait for July when I will join you full time and when presumably it will be warmer,” she said.

Maine.gov

A Superior Court judge has declined to weigh in on how a Washington County prison should be operated, after Gov. Paul LePage emptied the facility in February. 

David Webbert, an Augusta attorney representing laid-off workers at the Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport, filed the request for clarification with Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy.

The search for a new seasonal carrier at Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport in Trenton may be nearly over. Bradley Madeira the airport’s manager, said Friday that two airlines have submitted bids to the U.S. Department of Transportation to provide federally subsidized service during the summer when the airport accommodates nearly half of its annual passenger volume.

"We've received one proposal from Boutique Air and one from Silver Airways and both are great carriers, both have a lot to offer," Madeira said.

sherryvsmith / AP Photo

President Trump's proclamation directing the deployment of the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border has prompted pushback from some members of Maine's congressional delegation. These representatives want to know more about how many troops would be called and for how long.

Ed Damm

Building a vacation home on an artificial lake can have pitfalls, as water levels rise and fall within certain limits, at the whim of whoever owns the dam. Waterfront property owners in Ellsworth are hoping to take some control over their summer shoreline, as the owner of two dams on the union river seeks a renewal of its federal licenses.

A test of several cookies removed more than a month ago from a Bangor day care facility after staff there complained of intoxicating effects has failed to reveal the presence of any controlled substances.

Bangor police said Monday they have no idea what it was that prompted several staff members at the Watch Me Shine Day Care Center to complain of feeling disoriented after eating some Valentine’s Day cookies that were dropped off by a parent.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

Bangor police have made an arrest in connection with Wednesday night’s double homicide near the city’s waterfront.

Sgt. Wade Betters said 25-year-old John De St. Croix of Bangor has been charged in the deaths of Michael Bridges and Desiree York, described by police as members of the area’s transient community.

He said police believe De St. Croix is believed to have lived on Ohio Street in Bangor, but that he was friendly with members of the city’s homeless population.

Maine.gov

Time is running out for the Downeast Correctional Facility:  It will close for good June 30, unless lawmakers authorize additional funding for another year. 

Right now, lawmakers can't agree on whether a planned pre-release center should move forward in Washington County or whether the governor's decision to abruptly shut down DCF should be carefully reviewed. And with the legislative session nearing its end, hopes for either option are dimming.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

A four-year-old program that allows veterans to receive health care services closer to home is working well in Maine for the veterans, but not as well for hospitals.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

For more than 100 years, Louis Sockalexis has been the pride of the Penobscot Nation on Indian Island. As the first known Native American to play professional baseball, Sockalexis distinguished himself as a gifted batter on the 1890s roster of the Cleveland Spiders. At a time when efforts are underway to prohibit the use of tribal references in naming sports teams and mascots, the Friends of Sockalexis say Maine deserves its own statue of the player who tribal members still refer to as “Sock.”

The owner of a newspaper group that dominates Maine media says he will expand his publishing footprint by acquiring two more daily papers and a weekly group.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

Law enforcement advocacy groups estimate there are currently more than 100 vacant officer positions throughout the state of Maine, and that the pool of new applicants is small. The problem is even worse in small, rural departments where a job posting may only illicit a single response. Local departments are doing what they can to recruit, and retain, qualified officers.

A lawyer for laid-off workers is demanding that Republican Gov. Paul LePage reopen the Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport immediately, but no action is expected before the first part of next week. Justice Michaela Murphy ordered the facility be reopened Wednesday, but she left it up to the Department of Corrections to determine staffing and the number of inmates.

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