Irwin Gratz

Morning Edition Producer

Irwin was born and reared in New York City and, while he never hiked miles to school, he did walk up six flights of stairs every day to the apartment his family lived in until he was nearly 19. Irwin remains a lover of subway rides, egg creams, and the New York Mets.

He moved to Maine in 1978 and worked a dozen years in commercial radio in Sanford, then Portland, before beginning to freelance for Maine Public Radio in 1990. He has been the local anchor of Morning Edition since September 1992.

Irwin served as chairman of the Maine Association of Broadcasters in 2015. From September 2004 to October 2005, Irwin served as national president of the Society of Professional Journalists, the nation’s largest and most broad-based journalism organization. He holds a master’s in journalism from New York University. Irwin won a Yankee Quill Award in 2011 from the New England Newspaper and Press Association for his “broad influence for good, both inside and outside the newsroom.”

Irwin also has an interest in astronomy, which he indulges to this day as an occasional show presenter at the Southworth Planetarium in Portland. And he swims, a lot. Irwin has completed seven Peaks Island-to-Portland swims. Irwin is married and has a teenage son.

Ways to Connect

Maine is slipping in the cost and availability of so-called "long-term" health care. That according to the seniors group AARP.

It says Maine's ranking went from 8th in 2011 to 10th in its latest survey. AARP's Susan Reinhardt says the survey is meant to spur action on what will be a growing need in a nation with a growing percentage of older residents.

Maine's passenger rail authority has won the go-ahead from federal officials to build its train layover facility in Brunswick. The Federal Railroad Administration has said it doesn't see any environmental threats that would require the authority to conduct a full, environmental impact statement.

A spokesman for neighbors, who've opposed the project, says their battle isn't over. The neighbors could try to go to court to block the project.

The Portland City Council last night adopted two measures designed to cut down on waste that are believed to be threats to the environment.

On identical, 6-3 votes, the council enacted a ban on single-use foam packaging. In the other measure, it imposed a nickel-a-bag fee on grocery bags.

The idea is to encourage people to use, and reuse, cloth and other bags that won't go into the waste stream.

Backers of the new restrictions say much of that plastic and foam winds up littering the landscape and finding its way into the ocean where it poses a risk to wildlife.

Maine and New Hampshire transportation officials have put out notices to construction sites to be careful what's done with soil piles.

Officials say a large mound of dirt dumped next to an Interstate 495 bridge near Wilmington, Delaware, shifted the ground underneath the span and caused the columns to tilt. Some of the dirt spilled into the state right of way.

Baxter State Park has closed the Abol trail for at least the rest of this year.

Park Director Jensen Bissell blames a rock slide in late winter.

Some southern Maine lobstermen are upset that a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research vessel is inadvertently cutting their fishing lines and traps.

The Portsmouth Herald reports on Thursday that NOAA's ship is working off the York coast to map the depths for new nautical charts. Mike Sinclair, president of the York Lobstermen's Association, told the paper he estimates NOAA vessels have caused $25,000 in gear losses since 2009. The ships have worked off the York coast four times since then.

Irwin Gratz / MPBN

Astronaut Eugene Cernan flew three space missions, including Apollo 10, the dress rehearsal for the moon landing, and Apollo 17, which he commanded and which made the final, manned landing on the moon in December, 1972. Cernan and astronaut-geologist Harrison Schmidt spent three days on the lunar surface, the longest stay of any of the Apollo landing missions. Cernan, who's retired now, was in Portland Thursday for a Salvation Army "Champion for Kids" fundraising event. He spoke with MPBN Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz.

Christie Stumps for LePage in Maine

May 8, 2014

Two tough-talking GOP governors are appearing together in Maine after struggling through largely self-inflicted controversies that now jeopardize their political futures.

At an appearance outside Becky's Diner in Portland Wednesday afternoon, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took questions from out-of-state reporters for the first time in months, during a northern New England swing to raise money for Maine Gov. Paul LePage.

 Maine environmentalists celebrated Tuesday's Supreme Court ruling that upheld an Environmental Protection Agency rule aimed at protecting states from the air pollution generated in neighboring states. Dylan Voorhees of the Natural Resources Council of Maine says the rule promises "staggeringly large benefits to our air quality."    Voorhees says the E-P-A estimates the rule will translate to 280-billion-dollars worth of health benefits per year.  It also predicts 34,000 premature deaths could be avoided by this rule.

Governor LePage vetoed 16 more bills Tuesday.  They included two attempts by Democrats to expand Medicaid under the federal health care law.   The governor also rejected bills to overhaul the state's concealed handgun permit system and to allow forest rangers to carry firearms.The latest vetoes bring LePage's total to 179 since he took office.   That's far above the record of 118 vetoes issued by Independent Governor James Longley during his one term in office.   Legislators will re-convene tomorrow to take override votes on the latest vetoes.

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There have been no large-scale shipments of oil by rail in Maine since last October. But, in a story published by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, such shipments could resume at any time, and that much of the state remains unprepared for a rail oil disaster like the one with struck Lac Megantic, Quebec last July.

Marina Villeneuve, who researched and wrote the story for the center, sat down for a conversation.

Marina Villeneuve's story was published online, and in several Maine newspapers.

(Yarmouth, Nova Scotia)    The Nova Star cruise-ferry is due in Portland at lunchtime Thursday.   Yesterday, Nova Scotians got a look at the ferry in Yarmouth.  They've been pining for a resumption of ferry service since the operators of "The Cat" shut it down in December, 2009.    The Nova Star is to begin regular service in mid-May.   

(Portland)  Church leaders in Maine will wash the feet of individuals as part of a ritual imitating a biblical scene symbolic of humility.  The ceremony Thursday is being held outdoors at noon in Monument Square in Portland. Church leaders will pour water over people's feet and dry them with a towel, mimicking a biblical scene where Jesus Christ washes the feet of his disciples.  Personal stories of some of the participants, including immigrants and homeless individuals, will be read aloud during the service in several languages including Spanish, French and Arabic.

 (Portland)  The latest poll on this year's gubernatorial race bears an eerie resemblance to the 2010 election result.  Ther's Republican Paul LePage in first place with 38 percent support, just barely ahead of the second candidate with 37 percent and just 20 percent for the person in third place. The difference:  It's Democrat Mike Michaud who's second in the Pan Atlantic SMS poll, Independent Eliot Cutler a distant third.

Governor LePage appears largely alone in opposing legislation to expanded the availabiliy of Narcan.  Narcan, or naloxone, is a drug that can revive people who've overdosed on opiates.  Democratic State Rep Sara Gideon of Freeport says it must be given within one-to-three hours of an overdose.   If it is, Gideon says the drug can combat the effects of the opitate in a person's bloodstream.  The governor initially opposed expanded availability, then relented and supported allowing one family member  access to the drug.

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