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

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Activities across Maine nearly ground to a halt Thursday in the face of an intense nor’easter.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press File

A nor’easter bringing more than a foot of snow, high winds and even colder temperatures to many parts of Maine is posing serious challenges for community agencies trying to connect fuel suppliers with low-income clients.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

It’s been two years since the Maine Legislature appropriated money for a 10-bed detox center in the Bangor area. On Wednesday, Wellspring Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services will open the doors to its new facility in Hampden.

It only has 10 beds, but the new center could care for as many as 100 clients per month, according to Suzanne Farley, Wellspring’s executive director in Bangor. Farley says the facility will offer a residential social setting for people who are trying to make opiates, alcohol and anti-anxiety drugs part of their past.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

Like most people, Jensen Bissell arrives for work each day hoping he can keep his boss happy. That’s not always easy, given that his boss has been dead for almost 50 years.

Bissell plans to retire this week as director of Baxter State Park, named for the former Maine governor who was the moving force behind it and who ordered that it be kept “forever wild.” He says there are fewer and fewer people who actually knew Percival Baxter, one of the state’s greatest benefactors.

Cianbro workers

PITTSFIELD, Maine – The Cianbro Corp. is actively seeking 300 new workers for assignments at all levels of its operations. Peter Vigue, Cianbro’s chief executive office, said today that in addition to major construction projects underway in Bangor for the Bangor Savings Bank and at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, there are a number of other projects that will be announced soon.

CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine – Skiers at the Sugarloaf Ski Resort were left hanging for a few minutes when a power outage halted the ski lifts at the state’s premier and left more than 4,000 Franklin County residents without electricity. Ethan Austin, director of marketing for the resort, said the skiers on the lift were forced to wait several minutes until auxiliary power units got the lifts moving again shortly after 3:00 pm.

The Maine Association of Realtors says sales of single-family existing homes increased 11.5 percent in November 2017 compared to a year earlier. 

According to an association report, 1,576 homes were sold in Maine in November. The median home sales price also increased in Maine over the past year by 4.2 percent, to $200,000.

In Bangor, Jon Dawson, designated broker for ERA Dawson-Bradford Company Realtors, says the numbers are pointing to a banner year for Maine home sales. 

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

Maine State Police say an attack on two people in Millinocket that caused life-threatening injuries preceded a lockdown at the local hospital.

Lt. Troy Gardner said Wednesday that both assault victims, a man and a woman, were taken Tuesday night to Millinocket Regional Hospital before being taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.

Courtesy Maine State

Maine State Police say the death of a 2-year-old girl in October in her home in Bucksport has been ruled a homicide.

Lt. Troy Gardner said Kloe Hawksley was found unresponsive at her home on Oct. 18 and pronounced dead at a hospital later that day.

"Because of the information learned during the autopsy, as well as the information learned through our investigative efforts, we have determined that this death is a homicide," Gardner said. "This investigation will continue to be active, we are asking for anyone who has any information about this death to contact us."

J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine took to the Senate floor late Monday afternoon in praise of the $1.4 trillion GOP tax plan.

Courtesy Francesca Gundrum

Even as Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate ironed out details in the party’s $1.5 trillion tax cut package on Thursday, demonstrators continued their national assault against the measure they say is nothing more than a giveaway to the super-wealthy.

In Bangor, more than a dozen UMaine grad students occupied U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ office to protest a House component of the bill that would eliminate some tax benefits for graduate students.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

Prospects for wormers and clammers digging in the intertidal zone of Acadia National Park improved today after a U.S. House panel voted for the Acadia National Park Boundary Clarification Act.

Sponsored by U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Maine’s 2nd District and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine’s 1st District, the measure was unanimously approved by the House Committee on Natural Resources, a result that Poliquin described as a credit to the Mainers who spoke out in favor of clarifying protocols at Acadia.

The group, Alliance Defending Freedom, has filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that state noise restrictions under the Maine Civil Rights Act should not be used against Lewiston Pastor Andrew March. 

March was prohibited from shouting anti-abortion remarks in front of Portland's Planned Parenthood center two years ago by Portland police, who said he was disrupting activities inside.

National Transportation Safety Board / via Associated Press/file

The National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday wrapped up its review of the many factors that played a role in the sinking of the cargo ship El Faro two years ago and the deaths of 33 crew members, including 4 from Maine. NTSB investigators cited a series of poor decisions by the ship’s owner, Tote Maritime Inc., and her captain, Michael Davidson of Windham.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

Five protesters who were arrested last week at U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ Bangor office on criminal trespass charges will collectively donate $500 to a Brewer food distribution group.

As part of a negotiated agreement with Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy, in exchange for a dismissal of all charges, Old Town demonstrator Erin Oberson told reporters Monday that the activists will make their cash donation to Food and Medicine, a social justice group at the Solidarity Center in Brewer.