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

Nearly 30 men, women and children braved sub-zero wind chills in Bangor Saturday morning to oppose bus inspections by federal agents looking for undocumented immigrants.

A coalition of Maine communities spent most of last year trying to break free from contractual agreements with the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. in Orrington. But now those same 100 communities want to sign an interim agreement with the trash-to-energy plant.

Cold weather, heavy snow and high winds over the past several weeks have pushed back the planned April 1 opening date for the new Fiberight biogas solid waste facility in Hampden. That has forced members of the Municipal Review Committee to look for other places to send their trash.

Bangor's Board of Ethics sided unanimously Tuesday night with Bangor City Councilor Cary Weston, who had become the target of an ethics probe after he came forward to disclose his public relations firm's business dealings with the city-funded Greater Bangor Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB).

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

A Norwegian company  plans to construct one of world's largest aquaculture farms in Belfast within the next two years. State and community leaders gathered in Belfast Tuesday to welcome Nordic Aquafarms.

Nordic Aquafarms CEO Erik Heim says his company plans to raise Atlantic Salmon for global distribution. The budget for the facility's first phase, says Heim, is $150 million, which he expects to grow to $450 to $500 million.

Maine Department of Corrections

The fate of the embattled Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport was front and center at a public hearing in Augusta on Monday.

For more than a year, prison guards, local employers and town administrators have joined forces in an uphill battle to keep the doors open at the minimum-security prison. Gov. Paul LePage has vowed to close it, arguing that it’s not worth the $5 million a year to keep it operating.

Bill Dickinson / Flickr

A year-long effort to remove obstacles in the state's building code for Mainers interested in pursuing a so-called "tiny home lifestyle" has been deemed a success by a Maine lawmaker who originally sponsored a bill to address the issue.

"The Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code has in fact been amended and as of yesterday, it went live and we now have specific definitions and allowances for tiny homes here in Maine," said State Rep. Seth Berry, a Bowdoinham Democrat.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public/file

In its first-ever meeting Tuesday night, the city of Bangor's Board of Ethics began a review of a nondisclosure incident involving City Councilor Cary Weston.

Panelists assigned a work schedule to guide their review of the incident involving Weston, who is the co-owner of a Bangor public relations firm that does business with the city-funded Greater Bangor Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Thirty-eight years have passed since Joyce McLain’s body was discovered in East Millinocket. On Monday, state prosecutors told a jury that there is no doubt that it was Philip Scott Fournier who killed the 16-year-old Schenck High School student.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press/file

Maine is one of 39 states that permit the dispensing of the anti-overdose drug naloxone to opioid addicts without a doctor's prescription. But while state regulators issued rules last August to provide guidance to pharmacists selling the drug, they have yet to be approved by Gov. Paul LePage.

The Board of Pharmacy says it will wait for a response from LePage before instructing pharmacists on the new policy  - even though it's not legally obligated to do so. 

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

To get more than 260,000-plus followers on Facebook is no small feat — especially when you’re in a small Maine city with a population of just over 30,000, and you are the police department.

Ajay Higgins

EASTPORT, Maine -- If you've been wondering how democracy is faring in today's highly-charged partisan political environment, the mayor of New York City says, in his opinion,  activism and public protests are a sure sign that the system is working well.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

For the first time in 20 years, the Bangor city council has voted to launch an ethics investigation against one if its own, for failing to disclose that his public relations firm was doing business with an agency that received money from the city.

Bangor City Councilor Cary Weston said he was simply unaware of the arrangement, but that response didn’t satisfy the majority of his colleagues.

It was, according to one city hall watcher, one of the most contentious Bangor City Council meetings in years.

Concerns over the viability of the Bangor Mall heightened after Sears Holdings announced Thursday that it will close its store there as the company continues to respond to dynamic changes within the national retail industry.

Sears Holdings says it is continuing its strategic assessment of the productivity of its Kmart and Sears store base.

While residents of Maine's three major service center communities awoke to significant new snowfalls Friday, Bangor's 18.3 inches of new flakes surpassed levels in either Portland or Lewiston.

Bangor City Manager Cathy Conlow says the recent cold temperatures have done little to melt snow accumulations from the last storm. Like other communities, Bangor uses a deicing agent to clear its streets and sidewalks, but Conlow says it’s only effective to about five degrees above zero.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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