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.

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The Wells school superintendent is investigating whether players or fans engaged in racist behavior at a Friday night home football game. The probe was triggered by a complaint by a member of the Micmac Tribe whose son is a quarterback for Lisbon High.

Amelia Tuplin says it wasn’t the Wells High School’s painted logo of a Native American in a feathered headdress displayed on Memorial Field that offended her — the Wells team goes by the nickname “Warriors.” Instead, she says it was the reception her family received from Wells fans in the stands and on the sidelines.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press/file

Several hundred Midcoast Maine residents have signed a petition opposing the planned Maine Aqua Ventus wind power project off Monhegan Island.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

The Donald Trump presidency was scrutinized Friday by a trio of Washington insiders, including former Secretary of Defense William Cohen of Maine, former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Marc Grossman and Andrew Card, who served as chief of staff to President George W. Bush. Cohen said Trump’s sharp remarks about foreign and domestic leaders continue to violate the norm for American presidents.

After three years of large membership losses in the papermaking industry, Maine AFL-CIO President Cynthia Phinney says the future of collective bargaining is on the minds of union workers attending the organization’s biennial convention in Bangor on Thursday, particularly as some unions opt to abandon the fair share payment provision for workers who would prefer not to pay union dues.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

A group of veterans and veterans’ families gathered Wednesday outside the Bangor offices of 2nd District Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin to deliver more than 600 complaints from Mainers who say they are unhappy with Poliquin’s vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

Beginning next year, first-year Maine students who qualify for federal Pell grants can attend the University of Maine at Presque Isle, Fort Kent, Augusta and Machias without being on the hook for tuition or student fees.

University of Maine Presque Isle President Raymond Rice says his school, and others in the UMaine System, are already doing a lot to reduce student debt, but it's still significantly higher then they'd like.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

For a few hours Friday morning, offices at the Robbins Lumber Mill in Searsmont were transformed into a Senate hearing room, where independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine presided over an Energy Committee field hearing on how rural industries could be strengthened by developments in energy technologies.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

More than 200 private landowners from across the country gathered in Bangor Thursday to talk about conservation and how they can collaborate to protect wildlife while also expanding commercial forestry.

Finding a balance between conservation economic interests remains a big challenge, but stakeholders from both sides say there’s room for middle ground.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

State officials say fraud continues to plague the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, and that investigations into food stamp abuses will continue. But advocates for the poor are citing a recent study that they say supports their case that the program should be providing more assistance, not less.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

Two days after the largest mass shooting in modern American history, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Betsy Sweet challenged Maine candidates and elected officials to refuse gun lobby money as an option for funding their campaigns.

“Today I am calling on all Maine candidates and elected officials to join me in refusing to take one penny of gun money from the gun lobby, so that we can have a real conversation on gun violence,” she said.

Speaking in Bangor, Sweet said commonsense gun laws need to be enacted at both at the state and federal levels.

Nearly 500 Mainers engaged in workforce development met at the Bangor Cross Insurance Center Thursday as part of the recently formed Maine Workforce & Education Coalition.

Educate Maine Director Ed Cervone said his organization, the University of Maine System, the Maine Community College System the Finance Authority of Maine and more than 25 other coalition members have launched the coalition’s MaineSpark project to enroll more Mainers in programs that award postsecondary school degrees or professional credentials.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

Waterfront Concerts promoter Alex Gray has reached a 10-year agreement with the city of Bangor to continue to stage music events next to the Penobscot River.

After nearly a year of negotiations, the Bangor City Council unanimously approved the agreement, despite some concerns over the length of the contract and high volume levels.

Bangor businessman and council member Dan Tremble said he believes that the future of the city’s downtown is closely tied to the continued growth of the venue.

BANGOR, Maine -- Members of the Bangor City Council fast-tracked an order imposing an immediate six-month moratorium against the construction of any new psychiatric facilities in the area after a unanimous vote Monday night.

The action came in response to plans advanced by the LePage administration to build a 21-bed “step-down” forensic psychiatric facility on Hogan Road.

Creative Commons

Verizon Wireless says it intends to resolve customer concerns in the wake of recently announced plans to drop more than 200 subscribers Down East. But some affected customers say they still have lots of questions.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

Bangor residents turned out in force Tuesday evening to let their city councilors know that they strongly oppose a plan by Gov. Paul LePage to build a 21-bed “step-down” forensic psychiatric facility on Hogan Road.

Bangor Mayor Joe Baldacci said safety concerns, residents'  fears over potentially reduced property values and the administration's refusal to provide details about the plan are all the reasons he needs to seek a moratorium against the construction of any new forensic facility in the city.