Morning Sentinel from Waterville, Maine (2024)

Heloise Horoscope D4 Obituaries B3-4 Opinion A3 Sports C1-4 TV Crossword D2 Business D5 Classified D1, D3 Comics Puzzles D4 Community B5 Entertainment D2 INDEX Morning Sentinel smartphone desktop laptop tablet READ THE ePAPER A digital replica of the newspaper is available at CentralMaine.com SIGN UP NOW! Volume 121, Number 124 Maine Trust for Local News Messalonskee High School softball finds its way, secures another win C1 ISRAEL-HAMAS Isolated T-storms WEATHER, D6 Norway, Ireland and Spain say they will recognize a Palestinian state A2 Thursday May 23, 2024 Founded in 1904 Copyright 2024 $2.50 Morning Sentinel CentralMaine.com An edition of Central Maine Sunday Address: 31 Front Waterville, ME 04901 Phone: 207-877-7778 MAINE TURNPIKE AUTHORITY Report says ex-executive threatened employees Area residents and environmental groups urge removal of four Kennebec River dams Advocates insist dams are killing fish and harming environment Business group objects to proposed rules for new paid family leave law By AMY CALDER Morning Sentinel WATERVILLE Todd geon, shortnose sturgeon, Martin of Winslow urged alewife, blueback herring, federal officials Tuesday American shad, American night to seriously consid- eel and sea lamprey using er removing the four dams fish-passage measures. on the Kennebec River, be- tween Waterville and Skow- dam relicensing and, as part hegan, to restore a healthy of the process, has plans by river and ensure survival dam owners Brookfield Re- of endangered fish, such as Atlantic salmon. fish lift at Lockwood has been an abject CentralMaine.com Martin said of the dam. Waterville fish lifts on multi- nebec Dam in Waterville, ple river dams in a river sys- Shawmut Dam in Fairfield tem has failed everywhere and Weston Dam in Skow- else where it has been tried, hegan. Federal licenses are including the Merrimack, issued for terms of 30 to 50 Saco and Androscoggin riv- years.

ers. These species need nat- ural river flows to survive, ing up for his 5-year-old not concrete walls and ob- daughter, Stella, who is stacle Martin was speaking to of- ers and wildlife. He said he ficials from the Federal En- wants to instill in her a deep ergy Regulatory Commis- sense of place, belonging sion, which hosted a public and respect for the land and hearing Tuesday attended waters in central Maine. by about 80 people at Thom- as College in Waterville re- blocking access for Atlantic garding the draft environ- salmon, Atlantic sturgeon mental impact statement and shortnose sturgeon FERC released in March. The statement recom- grounds in the Sandy River, mends relicensing the dams Martin said.

and amending the licens- es to ensure upstream and downstream access for At- lantic salmon, Atlantic stur- FERC is responsible for newal Partners to protect the salmon and sturgeon, which are endangered species. The four dams are the Lockwood Dam and Hydro Ken- Martin said he was speak- learning about local riv- But dams are to get to critical spawning About 80 people turned out Tuesday night for a public hearing, with many sharing thoughts on a federal recommendation to relicense dams. Rich Sentinel file The Lockwood Dam in Waterville in 2022. VIEW SLIDESHOW Please see DAMS, Page A4 THE AGENCY: The Maine Turnpike Authority is a quasi-governmental agency that operates the 109-mile highway from Kittery to Gardiner. Its annual operating budget of about $133 million, most of which pays contract costs for various projects, is paid for entirely with revenue from tolls.

By JOE LAWLOR Portland Press Herald Nearly a year after Maine lawmakers and the Mills administration passed a paid family leave law, state regulators have proposed detailed rules to implement the new payroll tax and benefits. But the leader of the Maine State Chamber of Com- merce is objecting to parts of how the law would work under the proposed rules. Employers who want to eventually opt out of the pro- gram by offering their own paid leave benefit still would have to pay into the fund for the first 16 months, he said. The rules were released by the Maine Department of Labor this week, and the public has a chance to com- ment on them and suggest changes through July 8. The state plans to start collecting payroll taxes Jan.

1, 2025, to build up a fund that would be used to pay workers who qualify for paid leave. The program would not begin providing those benefits to workers until May 2026. is the most sig- nificant regulatory bill in decades for the business said Patrick Woodco*ck, president and CEO of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. The law imposes a payroll tax, split evenly be- tween workers and their employers, to provide a paid family leave benefit to qual- ified workers. The program would pay up to of regu- lar wages for up to 12 weeks for workers who are ill or need to take care of new- borns or other family mem- bers, among other reasons.

Employers with 15 or few- er workers would be exempt from paying into the pro- gram, but their employees still would qualify for ben- efits and pay 0.5% of their wages into the program. Larger employers also can opt out of the state-run system if they offer an equiv- alent private paid leave ben- efit, but the opt-out provi- sion is one part of the rules that should be improved, Woodco*ck said. Leader says employers who opt out would still have to pay into the fund for 16 months. This is the most significant regulatory bill in decades for the business PATRICK WOODco*ck President and CEO of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. By KEITH EDWARDS Kennebec Journal AUGUSTA Advocates said Wednesday that the local environment and economy would flourish if the upper Kennebec River watershed were given the same chance to recover that removal of a landmark dam nearly 25 years ago provided for downriver sections.

Testifying before feder- al officials at the Augusta Civic Center, the advocates said removing four dams be- tween Waterville and Skow- hegan like removal of the Edwards Dam in Augusta on July 1, 1999 would give the endangered Atlantic salmon their best chance to avoid extinction, and open access to outstanding spawning grounds in the Sandy River. And the power produced by those four hydroelectric dams, which makes up a combined of the annual electricity supply, is not worth the harm done to the environment, and the fish that are blocked from their historic spawn- ing grounds, according to some Maine residents and fisheries and environmental advocates. Joe Journal George Hofgren of Fairfield testifies Wednesday during a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission public hearing at the Augusta Civic Center on relicensing four Kennebec River dams. Please see HEARING, Page A4 Please see LEAVE, Page A4 By ERIC RUSSELL Portland Press Herald The former chief financial officer for the Maine Turnpike Authority threatened, intim- idated and humiliated employees for years and used his close relationship with board members and his institutional knowledge to insulate himself from accountability, accord- ing to a scathing internal report. The 17-page document report, which was presented to the board of trustees during an executive session this month and obtained by the Press Herald, also outlines several recommendations to the structural makeup and repair and improve employee Although the report did not include any names and used only titles, the subject of the allegations was the former chief financial of- ficer and treasurer.

Only one person had held that title prior to last year Doug Davidson. Reached by phone late Wednesday after- noon, Davidson said he knew nothing about the report and had no idea the agency was looking into his conduct. After he was provid- ed with a copy, Davidson said he was equally surprised by its contents. accusation here is that I was mean to people, I he said. had 500 employ- ees and many directors.

Not all of them are going to like Peter Mills, executive director for the turn- pike, confirmed Wednesday that the report was authentic, and that the investigation was initiated sometime after Davidson left the agency last summer. The report was prepared by John C. Alfano, a professional arbitrator and mediator based in Biddeford. Alfano said he could not discuss its contents and referred questions to turnpike officials. Mills appeared caught off guard when reached by a reporter on Wednesday and pro- vided only short answers to questions about the report.

report speaks for said Mills, who has led the agency since 2011. He said there been no mystery inter- nally about this but also ques- tioned how the Press Herald ended up with a copy. The former chief financial officer threatened, intimidated and humiliated employees for years, according to a new internal report. Please see REPORT, Page A4.

Morning Sentinel from Waterville, Maine (2024)

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