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More in News
The Year in Review
MaineCare cuts would cost 115 local jobs
COUNTY — Proposed cuts to MaineCare would cost Oxford County 115 jobs, just a small portion of 4,500 jobs that could be lost statewide, according to an analysis from the Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP).
The analysis was generated as healthcare professionals and patients anxiously await the outcome of Governor Paul Lepage's proposal to cut $220 million from the Department of Health and Human Services.
The figure includes direct job losses, such as nursing staff at residential care facilities and social workers that are providing mental health services, as well as jobs lost because of a ripple effect.
Casino defends hiring, drops 'resort' in name
OXFORD — Online job listings asking for casino workers to come to Maine have rankled some, who say The Oxford Casino is putting out-of-state people ahead of Mainers.
The Oxford Casino says experienced casino workers will be needed to train people who haven't worked in gambling houses before.
“This is a great opportunity for people who moved away from Maine seeking employment, to return to their native state,” casino General Manager Jack Sours is quoted as saying.
The Oxford casino has a logo and a name – The Oxford Casino, a scaled-down version of the earlier "four season resort and casino" phrase that was consistently used by investors in the early planning stages of the development. Black Bear Development released literature shortly after the casino's approval with the name "Black Bear Four Season Resort and Casino."
Fickett pleads guilty to arson in boarding house fire
PARIS — A Norway man pleaded guilty Tuesday in Oxford County Superior court to burning down a Norway boarding house last summer.
Todd Fickett, 19, had pleaded not guilty to arson in November 2011.
His sentence has been stayed until he receives a mental health evaluation, but the District Attorney's office has recommended 20 years with all but 10 years suspended.
Sheehan, Hongoltz-Hetling 2012 Pulitzer finalists
NORWAY — Editor A.M. Sheehan and former Assistant Editor Matt Hongoltz-Hetling were named 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalists for local reporting, Monday, for their series of articles on the health and safety violations in federally-subsidized Section 8 housing in Oxford County.
"It's truly outstanding, particularly for a smaller, weekly paper to be recognized," said Ed Snook, publisher, Advertiser Democrat. "The work that Anne and Matt did, is almost a once in a lifetime type event. Everyone should be very happy about it, and very proud if it; not only is Sun Media proud of it, but the whole surrounding Oxford Hills area should be proud of it."
The series led to a state and federal investigation of substandard housing conditions, and an overhaul of the practices used by the Maine State Housing Authority and HUD to ensure tenant safety.
According to the Pulitzer Jury, the Advertiser Democrat was chosen for its "tenacious exposure of disgraceful conditions in federally-supported housing in a small rural community that, within hours, triggered a state investigation."
Paris board to fire town manager
PARIS — Within 24 hours of his return to work after burying his wife, Paris Town Manager Phil Tarr says he was paid a visit by selectboard Chairman Bob Kirchherr and Vice-Chair Jean Smart to tell him he might be out of a job.
Tarr, who was hired as the Paris town manager in 2009, is in the third year of his three-year contract. The contract is set to automatically renew for a two-year period in late December.
According to the contract, the board of selectmen must give six months written notice of its intention not to renew or enter into a new employment agreement with the town manager. This means that if it wishes to proceed with his termination it must do so before June 30.
Norway voters favor merger
NORWAY — Voters during Tuesday's referendum said they would favor Norway sharing police services with Paris; 430 voted "yes" and 117 voted "no."
A total of 571 voted.
Despite Paris' decision to delay the merger, Norway kept the proposal on Tuesday's ballot to generate feedback from citizens.
Paris removed the question from its town meeting warrant, following a unanimous vote by Paris selectmen in May.
Governor puts Opera House at risk
NORWAY — The Maine Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) is considering alternate ways to fund some of the projects stalled by Governor Paul Lepage's refusal to issue any bonds until 2014, according to Doug Ray, a spokesperson of DECD.
Two days into owning the historic Norway Opera House, members of the group attempting to restore the building were given the bad news – because of the move by LePage, a $400,000 grant from the state to pay for first-floor renovations to the building will not be available.
Members of the Norway Opera House Corporation (NOHC) and town officials are stunned by the move.
End of the ride ... on to a 'new life'
OXFORD COUNTY — Otisfield, Harrison, Waterford, Bethel, Andover, Mexico, Peru, Hartford, Sumner, West Paris, Woodstock and the list goes on – all towns Chief Deputy Dane Tripp, of the Oxford County Sheriff's Office, has served and protected over the past 32 years.
On Sunday he said farewell to them all. Tripp is retiring after serving first as a 12-year member of the Paris Police Department and then as a deputy for the past 20.
Mass-resignation from Sumner Planning Board
SUMNER — Five of the seven planning board members abruptly tendered their resignations September 18, citing irreconcilable personal differences with Jeff Pfeifer, another board member.
During the selectmen's meeting Tuesday, James Gammon, planning board chair, stated his reasoning.
"For the past couple months the atmosphere of the planning board has been pretty volatile," Gammon said.
The problem he refers to is 18 months of disagreements between five planning board members and Pfeifer.
Student story effects sex offender arrest
OXFORD HILLS — A simple, "feel-good" story by a group of high school journalism students has resulted in the arrest and revocation of parole for an area sex offender.
Thinking that a recent river cleanup involving area students would be good story material, two Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School students – Chelsea Rugg and Julie Difazio – armed with notepad and camera, signed on with Oxford Hills SkillsUSA members, technical program staff and high school staff and headed to Lovewell Pond in Fryeburg.
Little did they know that two weeks later, a lifetime registered sex offender who had no business being anywhere near the group, would be arrested and charged with Prohibited Contact With a Minor.
But that is just what happened Thursday night. Rodney Alan Heath, 38, of Gore Road in Otisfield, was picked up by Oxford County Sheriff's Lt./Det. Brian Landis after a two-week investigation.
Opera House appeals to community for funds
NORWAY — The Norway Maine Opera House Corporation is looking for community support to raise nearly $300,000 for the renovation project currently underway.
NMOHC members hope to raise the funds by January 1.
According to NMOHC member Bruce Cook, the amount the group needs to raise is around $140,000 higher than anticipated.
He explains that the bids for renovation were higher than expected, but NMOHC was committed to completing the work properly.
School board members walk out of ad hoc budget 'meeting'
PARIS — A heated exchange between Paris Selectboard Chair Sam Elliot and members of the SAD 17 Board of Directors resulted in board members walking out of a December 20 workshop.
Elliot organized the workshop to discuss next year's possible school budget increase, which may result in an 11 percent tax increase district-wide.
Tempers flared mid-way during the discussion, when Elliot refused attempts by audience members to speak to the group.
"This is not a public hearing," Elliot said.