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

Susan Sharon / Maine Public

Seasonal passes to Maine’s state parks will increase this year, prompting hikers and swimmers to dig a little deeper for their outdoor experiences.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public/file

BANGOR, Maine - The death of Maine's pulp and paper industry is highly exaggerated.  That's the conclusion of a new preliminary report by Mindy Crandall, an assistant professor of Forest Management and Economics at the University of Maine.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

A tight job market is making it harder for the Maine Department of Transportation to attract and retain snowplow operators in the midst of the state’s harsh winter season.

It may take more than a week to obtain estimates for repairs to a 38,000-square-foot inflatable sports dome at the University of Maine.

The Mahaney Dome collapsed early Friday morning under the weight of several inches of heavy, wet snow. Will Biberstein, UMaine’s senior associate athletic director for internal operations, says university officials are surveying the repair site, which bears little resemblance to the formerly inflated dome.

Four years ago, Unity College became the first U.S. college to eliminate fossil fuels from its international investment portfolio. Now, Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury says the central Maine school is redoubling its efforts to create a “net-zero” campus and spread its message of energy sustainability to other higher education institutions.

“I think what Unity College allowed many institutions to do is realize that it was possible — until then there were many conversations, but no institution actually took the plunge,” he says.

A Bangor area waste-to-energy facility and an organization of communities it serves have resolved their differences over a separation agreement that triggered competing Superior Court lawsuits.

In a prepared statement, representatives of the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. and the Municipal Review Committee said they had reached an agreement leading to the withdrawal of the lawsuits and a clearer path toward the dissolution of their business relationship over the next 16 months.

Courtesy of Nancy Galland

BANGOR, Maine - A Maine group opposed to transporting fracked oil across land deeded by treaty to the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota renewed its call Thursday for the TD Bank to divest its interest in a company that's building an oil pipeline for the project.

Nancy Galland says the Maine chapter of Citizens in Solidarity with Standing Rock's protest in front of the bank's Camden branch today is a sign of her group's growth.

A panel of scientists say Maine could greatly increase private-sector investment in clean energy by creating a so-called green bank that would improve access to capital needed to finance energy upgrades.

Steve Clemmer, energy research director at the Union of Concerned Scientists and lead author of the analysis, says the banks are public or quasi-public finance authorities that use limited public dollars to leverage greater private investment in clean energy through innovative financing techniques and market development tools.

A citywide minimum wage increase that was supposed to go into effect Jan. 1, has been delayed for six months in Bangor while legislative efforts are underway to implement a citizen initiative for a statewide hourly wage hike.

Members of the Bangor City Council, such as Joe Perry, say they had originally been prepared to repeal the local minimum wage entirely in the event the citizen initiative on a higher minimum wage was approved by the voters.

Citing a need to preserve “the public peace, health and safety,” the Bangor City Council voted Monday night to repeal the local ordinance that was crafted to regulate the expansion of methadone facilities in the city.

The action effectively clears the way for Penobscot County Metro Center to increase its caseload from 300 to 500 patients. The council’s decision followed last month’s ruling by a federal judge that the city’s ordinance was discriminatory.

A major southern Maine utility district is continuing its year-to-year capital plan with an $8.7 million investment in infrastructure upgrades.

The Maine Water Co. has earmarked $2 million of that amount for the design and permitting of new water treatment facility in Biddeford.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

The Penobscot Nation is cheering a new final ruling on state water quality standards from the federal government as a major step forward in protecting the tribe’s fishing rights on the the river that bears its name.

Though locked in a federal lawsuit over water quality in Penobscot River, the state of Maine and the tribe do agree on one thing: that under the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act of 1980, the Penobscots have sustenance fishing rights. But the state has argued that it cannot guarantee the quality of the fish in those ancestral waters.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

Ceremonies were held around the state today to mark the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Among those gathered at Fort Allen Park in Portland was Marine veteran John McLeod, who was 18 years old and serving in the Civilian Conservation Corps in Bar Harbor at the time of the attack in 1941.

He says he tries to commemorate Pearl Harbor Day every year.

"I doubt if I'll be around next year — I'm 93 right now. I've been trying to come here every year if I could, and of course every year it gets colder," he jokes.

About 600 foreclosure notices from the city of Bangor went into the mail Tuesday to alert residents with outstanding balances that time is running out to make good on their debts to the city.

The outstanding balances on past due property tax payments and sewer or stormwater fees stretch back two years, when the city initiated property tax lien attachments. Bangor Mayor Joe Baldacci says the city just wants its residents to pay their fair share.

Maine tourism officials say the state is poised to match and likely surpass last year’s record-breaking tourist season, which produced more than $5.5 billion in revenue. This, following a summer that was short on rain and long on savings at the gas pump.

As the LePage administration prepares a new two-year budget, tourism groups are releasing a series of new ads detailing the industry’s broad effect on Maine’s economy.