Maine Things Considered

4 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. Monday - Friday

Weekdays at 4 p.m. join host Nora Flaherty and hear Maine’s only daily statewide radio news program. Maine Public Radio's award-winning news staff brings you the latest news from across Maine and the region, as well as in-depth reports on the most important issues.

Jay Field

Walker School in Liberty made impressive gains over the past year. The school's grade on it's 2014 state report card jumped from a D to a B. Thanks to budget cuts, Walker now shares its principal with another elementary school in the district, Regional School Unit 3. Troy Central School moved from an F to a D this year. According to the state, it's still struggling. But a visit to Troy revealed the same kind of energy and programs in place that eventually allowed Walker School to become more successful.

MOO Milk CEO: 'I Feel Like I've Let Them Down'

May 19, 2014

MOO chief executive Bill Eldridge says the problem is not demand for the milk - which has quadruped in the last two years - but the poor state of a key piece of machinery.

A bold experiment launched by ten Maine organic dairy farmers has come to an end. The company known as Maine's Own Organic Milk, or MOO Milk, has announced it will end operations tomorrow.

  After being dropped by a national dairy, the farmers joined together five years ago to process and market their milk to consumers.

Later this summer, the state will terminate its contract with an embattled Connecticut-based transportation vendor that frequently failed to get MaineCare clients to their medical appointments. But this week lawmakers learned that despite the company's poor performance, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services has paid millions more for service. Now the Legislature's Appropriations Committee has scheduled a meeting next month to probe the issue with the LePage administration.

Running a business wasn't a completely foreign idea to ten-year-old Maiya Koloski. She has the kind of entrepreneurial aspirations a lot of kids don't realize they have.

This weekend hundreds of kids across Maine will launch businesses they've created themselves. Sunday is Build-A-Biz Day, and from downtowns to variety stores to front yards, kids will offer products for the public to peruse and purchase. It's part of a program to teach kids to become entrepreneurs, and even pint-size kids can turn adult-sized ideas into reality.

The latest round of school report cards, released today by the Maine Department of Education, show a majority of schools still struggling to meet the LePage administration's standards for improvement. More than 150 Maine schools received lower grades from the state this year versus last, while nearly 100 schools boosted their scores at least one letter grade.

Overall this year, there were fewer As and Bs and more Ds and Fs, while the majority of schools got a C.

When last year's grades came out, educators across the state railed at Gov. Paul LePage. The governor, they complained, was labeling schools as failing - without offering enough context on the challenges, socio-economic and otherwise, that can get in the way of learning and contribute to low test scores.

Patty Wight / MPBN

The Portland Water District wants you to think before you flush - that is, if you plan on throwing something other than toilet paper down the toilet. Flushed baby wipes are clogging pipes and pumps across the state and the country, creating a mess and costing cities and towns tens of thousands of dollars to fix.

  What gets flushed down the toilet eventually makes its way to a pumping station like this one in Westbrook. It's a small, cylindrical brick building.

Maine House of Representatives

Democratic state Sen. Troy Jackson says money is the reason that a major environmental group has endorsed his opponent in the 2nd District congressional primary, and is targeting him. The League of Conservation Voters is supporting state Sen. Emily Cain, and criticizing Jackson's environmental voting record, in a series of mailers to voters in the district. Jackson says one of Cain's financial backers in Maine, R. Donald Sussman, gave a big contribution to the League to help fund the $150,000 campaign. But an official with the organization says Sussman had nothing to do with the mailers, and that the real issue is Jackson's record.

Maine House of Representatives

Within Republican circles, it is simply known as "the pledge" - a  commitment by a candidate to oppose all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and businesses. And taking the pledge has become a big deal in the spirited GOP 2nd Congressional District race that pits conservative Bruce Poliquin against the more moderate Kevin Raye.  A.J. Higgins reports.

Confronting the 'Boogie Man' of Ocean Point

May 14, 2014

Every community in America seems to have its own legends, its own eccentric personalities - the outcasts, the weirdos. Sometimes we integrate these people into our communities. Sometimes, we isolate them. But what happens when the outcast is considered dangerous? Even the well-to-do seaside community of Ocean Point, near Boothbay, has its own boogie man. His name is Bobby Moore. Galen Koch produced this profile for the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland.

Wikimedia Commns

One-hundred-fifty years ago this week, soldiers from Maine were among those taking part in one of the bloodiest clashes of the Civil War: the battle of Spotsylvania Court House. For one Vermont resident, it's an historical event bought to life by a recently-discovered cache of letters written by her great-great-grandfather who was there - and captured an enemy flag before being wounded. Tom Porter has more.

Tasha Wallis says her interest in this historic event began a few months ago when a family gathering took an unexpected turn.

There was a time when the Maine State Police would see thousands of applicants for state trooper openings. These days, they might see a hundred. Those close to the ranks of the state police say pay might be one reason for the change. But they also point to societal factors, and to the stricter screens used to weed out the applicant pool.

Earlier this year, Jon Brown, a trooper from Piscataquis County, told members of the Legislature's Appropriations Committee that he sometimes takes road kill home to feed his family.

Susan Sharon / MPBN

More than 30 local food activists took their support of Maine farmer Dan Brown from the barnyard to the courtyard this morning. Brown is a Blue Hill farmer who was fined $1,000 by the state for selling raw milk at his farm stand without a license. Blue Hill is one of 11 towns in Maine that have declared independence from state and federal regulations on locally-produced food. And Brown issued a legal challenge of the state's action against him. Today the Maine Supreme Court took up his case.

Tom Porter / MPBN

A published news report is linking a Maine street gang to the gun that was used last year by one of the Boston Marathon bombers. According to the L.A. Times, the 9-millimeter semi-automatic pistol used to kill a Massachusetts Institute of Technology security officer, and seriously wound another officer, was purchased at Cabela's in Scarborough, and passed along to a Portland drug dealer, who is believed to have given it to the alleged bomber.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services is now blocking public benefits cards from being used at ATMs in liquor stores, casinos, and strip clubs. A law banning public benefit cards in these locations was signed two years ago by Gov. Paul LePage, with bipartisan support. But some Democrats and policy advocates say the LePage administration dug in its heels in implementing the law. And as Patty Wight reports, they suggest that future efforts should focus on combating poverty.