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 / MPBN

A Bangor methadone clinic’s plan to expand treatment is meeting resistance from some members of the city council and local residents.

Critics say Bangor is doing more than its fair share by offering treatment to 1,500 patients at three methadone clinics in the city, but substance abuse counselors say Bangor should be doing more to address addiction — not less.

Sappi North America is moving ahead with its plans for a $25 million capital project to update its Somerset Mill woodyard in Skowhegan.

The global paper and packing products manufacturer will be modernizing its wood debarking, chipping and chip distribution systems.

Tony Ouellette, managing director at the Skowhegan mill, says it will be the first upgrade in that aspect of the operation in 40 years.

Courtesy of the Balduf family

Criticism from Republicans, veterans and their families continues to mount against GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump for his remarks about a Muslim Gold Star mother who appeared at the Democratic convention.

Looking more like the set of a science fiction movie than a north shore New Brunswick community, the Campbellton-Dalhousie area was invaded by millions of spruce budworm moths over the weekend.

Businesses in both towns were forced to hired vacuum trucks to to clear piles of moths from parking lots and streets after the insects fell to the ground and died.

Forestry officials are hoping the swarms stay out of Maine.

Maine’s unemployment rate has crept upward to 3.7 percent in June. That’s two-tenths of a percent higher than the previous month, but lower than the national average.

Still, some economic analysts say Maine’s job creation effort still has a long way to go.

The news of the slight uptick in unemployment was not a surprise to Mark Sullivan at the progressive Maine Center for Economic Policy, who said Maine was one of only six states where unemployment increased in a month of strong national job growth.

After a decade as a spectator, former Republican 1st District U.S. Rep. David Emery is back in the political spotlight as he seeks a seat in the Maine State Senate.

Emery was recruited to enter the race after another GOP candidate dropped out, but with a political resume that stretches back to the Reagan era, Emery is more than just a fill-in candidate.


Emboldened by approved state licenses and support from the Hampden Planning Board, the chief executive of a trash-to-energy company now says the Bangor area isn’t big enough for two major waste disposal operations.

The developers of a proposed $69 million biofuel, trash-to-energy plant have been given the go-ahead for construction from the Hampden Planning Board and are now moving to secure financing for the facility.

After lengthy deliberations Tuesday night, the planning board granted site-plan and conditional-use approval for the plant to Fiberight LLC and its partner in the venture, the Municipal Review Committee, which represents nearly 200 communities concerned about waste disposal.

Recommendations for implementing a new unified budget system for all of the campuses of the University of Maine were presented Monday to the University of Maine System Board of Trustees.

The proposal places an emphasis on collaboration among the campuses to reduce costs by creating a systemwide budget to replace the system in which each campus proposed its own budget to the trustees.

Board Chairman Sam Collins said the so-called One University initiative is predicated on collaboration among the seven campuses.

Mainers are being asked to volunteer to become foster families for dozens of children who have been placed in state custody.

Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew says that while existing foster homes and families are expected to fill the needs of about 600 children in the coming year, there is still a need for 66 new foster families. She says children are the first-line causalities in Maine’s ongoing opioid crisis when the state is forced to place them into state custody after their drug-addicted parents are incapable of caring for them.

A.J. Higgins / MPBN

A young restaurateur from Maine and a group of forward-thinking lobstermen have joined forces in Tenants Harbor to form an unusual partnership that is attracting attention in the fishing industry.

Luke Holden, of the Luke’s Lobster restaurant chain, is buying nearly every single lobster that the newly formed Tenants Harbor Fisherman’s Co-op can land. He has also built a wharf-side lobster shack at the co-op and has pledged to reinvest half of its profits back into the fisherman’s organization.

BANGOR, Maine - Officials at Acadia National Park say attendance during the park's centennial celebrations in Bar Harbor is poised to break all records, with visitation up by about 20 percent over last year at this point in the season.

Visitors this month have at times arrived in such large numbers that traffic has been impeded along popular destinations such as the park's Ocean Drive. During the July 4th weekend, motor vehicle access to the Cadillac Mountain summit was closed briefly to alleviate congestion.

FairPoint Communications sign

Exactly what will happen when FairPoint Communications launches new changes next month to its basic landline phone service is not yet clear. But the state’s public advocate and consumer groups hope a series of statewide hearings on the so-called provider of last resort, or POLR, service will lay some concerns to rest. Several questions were raised during the first of those hearings Thursday night.

Usually a Maine lobsterman can choose to either fish or cut bait, but as the result of a herring shortage, neither may be an option for awhile. Local lobster co-op managers say fishermen may have to pay more for imported frozen bait from New Brunswick until the herring spawning season ends and stocks return to normal levels off the Georges Bank. In the meantime, new state harvest restrictions for herring fishermen may also be implemented.

A federally funded grant is helping Maine’s four Indian tribes implement a new drug program to confront opioid abuse.

Five tribal clinics are now offering take-home naloxone programs to provide abusers with access to the drug, which reverses the effects of an overdose caused by prescription opioids and heroin.

Clare Desrosiers, executive director of Diversion Alert and a partner in the tribal drug program, says all four Maine tribes see a critical need for access to naloxone, also known as Narcan.