Saturday and Sunday weather for all your weekend plans

Clouds and some rain, but not a washout even if we need one.

A weather system will slowly move through New England this weekend brining a period of rain, especially south of Portland.  Sunshine will be hard to find both days.

Today brings some sunshine mixed with the clouds.  Clouds will tend to thicken this evening.   A low pressure system to our south will be close enough to allow its rain shield to move into southern New England.  We will be on the northern fridge of this area tonight through Sunday morning.

 

Temperatures will average below normal this weekend with highs only around 60 Saturday and perhaps a few degrees warmer for Sunday.

If you’re going to view the foliage.

Cloudy skies can make the colors pop.  Head north and west for the best color.  The highest chance of rain is south and east so the best color areas should be driest this weekend.

If you’re playing soccer, softball, baseball, or golf…

Fields no doubt have the potential to be wet this weekend. I have a flag football game on Saturday which won’t be canceled if we do see showery. conditions.  Dress for a raw cold day with periodic showers and even a downpour over southern York County is possible.

Sunday will bring clouds and a chance of showers, but some dry weather as well.  I would plan on this being a better day to at least try to get a round of golf in, just prepare for that ever present chance of showers.

If you’re going to Fenway for the final two regular games.

The rain Saturday will likely taper off enough to get the game in during the evening.  These things are always difficult to predict of course.  Sunday is a drier day and the afternoon game is likely to be unaffected by any rain showers.

If you’re going to a local farm for apple picking, pony rides and cider donuts.

There will be some showers Saturday, but don’t let that deter you from bundling the kids up and heading out to gather apples. It’s not a picture perfect day for sure, but you can avoid the crowds.  Sunday is a drier day, but watch for scattered showers.  Bring a dry pair of socks just in case.

Highs on Saturday will be chilly with lots of clouds and little or no sunshine

Highs on Saturday will be chilly with lots of clouds and little or no sunshine

If you’re gardening…

The drought continues to be firmly entrenched and will likely remain this way for several months at least.  Although some rain is expected it will do little to help the situation and I recommend continuing to water shrubs and trees where it’s possible.  Plants should not go into winter with dry soil as that promotes damage, especially with evergreens.

If you’re running errands…

Either day is going to be sunless so it won’t matter when to do your errands.  If you want to avoid the rain and wettest part of the weekend stay away from being outside Saturday morning.  I think rain tapers in the afternoon and Sunday, while not 100% rain free has less of a chance of showers.

If you’re going to a concert, outdoor party, or wedding…

Saturday events may need to be delayed or moved inside.  It won’t be a dry day.  Sunday isn’t great, but you could manage to get lucky and dodge the rain showers.

If you’re going beaching and boating…

A persistent onshore flow of air has built up seas enough so the surf is quite rough.  Additionally, a gusty wind will make boating more difficult.  A walk on the beach in the rain is possible, but certainly not something most of you will be doing Saturday.  Sunday provides less of a chance of showers, but this is still far from a beach weekend.

 

I will be updating the forecast on Twitter @growingwisdom throughout the weekend.

 

72 Fairway Drive, Auburn

An Open House will be held from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2, at the immaculate home overlooking the 10th hole at Martindale CC.

AUBURN – Sitting well back from the quiet street behind a sweep of professionally landscaped lawn and gardens, here is an immaculate executive home that comes with the added bonus of abutting the 10th hole at Martindale Country Club.

That “green” view can be enjoyed from the home’s two-level deck, which is part of a outdoor haven that also includes a heated pool with spa; a gas fire pit; patios with all the entertaining areas one could want, and a screened porch, too.

The 13-room home’s interior is beautifully bright, thanks in part to lofty ceilings and its abundance of light-enhancing French doors, and every bit as pleasing, with two many amenities to list, and a choice of “favorite room.” The music room, though not the largest, is a delight. The office/library/den could become a formal dining room.

The family room and the living room are back-to-back; the former has a fireplace, and opens to the screened porch. And then there’s the gourmet’s kitchen, with granite surfaces and stainless appliances including gas range, double ovens and built-in wine fridge, and textured stone backsplashes.

Upstairs, two good-sized bedrooms share one wing, and are served by an updated full bath. On the opposite side of the balcony hall, the master suite enjoys great privacy, and features newer hardwood throughout, a little deck accessed by French doors, a fireplace, and a dressing room as well as a walk-in closet with built-ins. The gorgeous, tiled bath has radiant heat, a bidet enclosure, and an oversized, walk-in shower with a full-body system.

The lower level adds 1,000 square feet of living space (for a total of 4,686) and includes a daylight, walkout (to the pool) family room; the fourth bedroom; and a carpeted, multipurpose bonus room.

The home at 72 Fairway Drive, Auburn, is listed for sale at $475,000 by Tanya Busch of the Maine Real Estate Network (Auburn office). For more information or to arrange a private viewing, please contact Tanya at 212-6161 or at homes@tanyab.com.

The Friday feature home is produced by the Marketing Department of the Portland Press Herald.

Send feature home suggestions to jrolfe@pressherald.com.

Can 2017 Chevy Bolt EV go 200-plus miles, no recharge?

Chevrolet has not set an official MSRP, but has said the Bolt EV would retail for about $37,500.

LOS ANGELES – Chevrolet has announced an EPA-approved range of 238 miles for its all-new, all-electric Bolt EV.

But is that 238 test miles, or real miles?

To find out, I got into a prototype of the 2017 Bolt EV and attempted to drive from Monterey to Santa Barbara without stopping to recharge – or running out of juice.

Along the route required by Chevy, that was a drive of 229 miles, including a mixed bag of two-lane highway, stretches of high-speed freeway, and some substantial ups and downs in elevation.

Monterey was cool and foggy as I hit Highway 1 and headed south. The Bolt EV was instantly likable. It’s quiet, comfortable and very easy to drive.

Building the 288-cell battery into the chassis of the Bolt made it possible for the designers to create lots of space inside the four-door, five-passenger hatchback.

There is ample leg and head room in the front and back seats, and a surfeit of storage space in the cabin. That’s due in part to the new “thin seat” design Chevy has incorporated.

Unlike traditional car seats, the Bolt EV’s get their shape and support from internal springs, not padding. Though I found the fitting a little narrow, the thinner seats create more than an inch of rear compartment leg room, the company says.

Unlike earlier hybrids and battery electric vehicles, it also has a full-size trunk and back seats that fold flat to accommodate larger loads.

The Bolt sits high and is shaped like an SUV. The generous use of glass allows extremely good visibility, made better by the inclusion of a back-up camera borrowed from Chevy’s fellow General Motors brand Cadillac.

On city streets, the 60-KwH Bolt EV is peppy, applying ready torque to stop-and-go driving. On the highway, it settles into a calm purr.

Dashboard read-outs showed me how I was driving, and how I was braking, and the degree to which my driving style was saving or wasting electricity. At any given time, I was shown numbers for maximum range, minimum range and the range I could expect if I continued driving in the same manner.

Leaving Monterey, I was told those numbers were 266 maximum, 174 minimum and 225 average – four miles short of the entire journey.

So I had a slight flutter of “range anxiety,” that unhappy suspicion that I would run the battery empty before arriving at my destination.

A mandatory lunch stop was planned for Cambria, about 110 miles to the south along Highway 1. As I tooled along, I found my confidence rising. The gauges didn’t show the battery rate going down as fast as I’d feared.

Granted, I wasn’t traveling much above 50 mph most of the way, and was often going much slower. But when I got to Cambria, my max number was 204, my minimum 141 and my average 173.

It wasn’t just smart driving on my part. Other cars taking the same route had averages of 158 to 171 when they arrived at the lunch stop.

That number meant that if I drove the rest of the route more or less the same way, I’d probably be OK.

But after Cambria, the driving changed. Highway 1 flattened and straightened, through Harmony, Cayucos and Morro Bay. When I hit San Luis Obispo, I was instructed to hop onto the 101, where speeds were moving close to 70 mph. (The Bolt EV is electronically limited to a top speed of 92 mph.)

Going fast takes more juice. So does using the air conditioner, and below Cambria the sun had come out and the temperature was rising. So the battery level began to drop.

Following the Chevy route, I left the 101 below Pismo Beach and drove through the farming communities of Guadelupe and Orcutt, where speeds were closer to 55 mph. I tucked back onto the 101 at Los Alamos but left it again around Los Olivos.

Ahead was the San Marcos Pass, the shorter route to Santa Barbara, but also the steeper one.

Chevy’s people had said that when I reached the roundabout intersection of Highways 154 and 246, I must stop if I had less than 30 miles of driving range remaining – because I probably wouldn’t make it over the pass.

But I was good to go, with an average range number of 74 shown on the dashboard.

The pass took a lot out of the Bolt. At the crest, I was down to only 43 miles remaining. But elevation gives back much of what it removes. The Bolt’s regenerative braking system, which captures energy on downhill stretches, gave back another 10 miles of range before I hit the 101 again north of Santa Barbara.

I finished the drive with 240.5 miles on the trip meter, just above the EPA number of 238.

But the onboard computer said I could continue driving, perhaps for another 50 miles, bringing my total to more than 290 miles.

That’s almost the range promised by the top-of-the-line Tesla Model S, the one that at $110,000-plus sells for approximately four times more than the Bolt EV is likely to cost.

Chevrolet has not set an official MSRP, but the company has said since first announcing the Bolt EV that it would retail for around $37,500. Since many buyers will qualify for state and federal tax credits or rebates, that cost could drop to $30,000 before tax, license and destination charges.

There will also be more-expensive versions. The Bolt EV will come in two trim lines, the LT and the Premium. The more-expensive version will come with slightly different exterior packaging and will include leather interior, wireless phone charging and some additional safety features as standard items.

The EPA, in announcing the 238-mile range number, said the Bolt EV gets the equivalent of 128 mpg in the city, 110 on the highway and 119 combined. The agency set the recharge time at 9.3 hours – on a Level 2 fast charger.

Charging at home, which Chevy has said is the preferred method for about half of the owners of its current Volt plug-in hybrid, will take substantially longer. On a regular household 110-volt system, the Bolt EV charges at the rate of 4 miles of range per hour.

Doing the math, that suggests it would take roughly 59 hours to bring an empty Bolt EV back to full charge on a household plug.

On a Level 2 fast charger, that rate rises quickly, with the Bolt EV charging at the rate of 25 miles of range per hour. On a Level 3 fast charger, on the other hand, the battery can collect 90 miles worth of range in only 30 minutes.

Unlike Model S and Model X owners, Bolt EV drivers will not be able to take advantage of the Tesla supercharger network, which is proprietary to cars made by the Silicon Valley-based carmaker.

But Chevrolet has what Tesla does not _ decades of experience, a massive national dealer network and more robust sales, service and warranty systems.

And the GM subsidiary has already sold more than 100,000 plug-in hybrid Volts. Some analysts believe the company could sell that many Bolt EVs in the first year.

Chevy executives stress that the Bolt EV can only succeed if it is seen as more than an electric car that’s good for the environment and will eliminate visits to the gas station.

“We knew it has to be a high-function, high-utility vehicle,” the company’s marketing director, Steve Majaros, said. “It really mattered that this car be a normal car, not a zippy-zappy electric vehicle.”

In other words, it had to be a good car on its own terms. At first glance, after about 10 hours’ drive time in a pre-production Bolt EV, I think Chevy may have succeeded.

Small Westbrook lab in race to help speed up testing for Zika

ViroStat hopes its antibodies will be chosen by diagnostic companies and lead to results in minutes rather than weeks, and benefit people in Third World countries.

WESTBROOK — A test that soon could be available to help millions of people worldwide determine whether they have the Zika virus could rely on research done at a small lab in a Westbrook industrial park. Unlike current tests that take weeks to process, the new tests would give patients quick results, potentially within 20 minutes.

ViroStat Inc., a private company on Spiller Drive, is in a race with at least one other company to develop an antibody that could be used in diagnostic tests kits, company officials said. The Zika virus has become a worldwide public health hazard because scientists have concluded that the virus can cause birth defects.

ViroStat doesn’t make the tests, but sells the antibodies to diagnostic testing companies.

The lab, which has six employees including president and founder Doug McAllister, has spent a year researching and testing and is close to the point where the antibodies could be sold to makers of the diagnostic tests. Three U.S. test-making companies are evaluating the antibodies produced in the ViroStat lab, McAllister said, and if all goes well, the Zika tests could be put on the market in 2017.

ViroStat's president and founder Doug McAllister said the tests would be a boon to combating the Zika virus, especially in developing countries.

ViroStat’s president and founder Doug McAllister said the tests would be a boon to combating the Zika virus, especially in developing countries.

“It’s a race to be first and a race to see who has the best-quality test,” McAllister said.

The price for the antibodies is $50,000 per 4-ounce bottle. McAllister estimates that 4 ounces of antibodies could be used in millions of Zika tests, probably a blood test from a finger prick in a doctor’s office or by medical workers in the field.

“This is like selling the razor blades to the razor companies,” said McAllister, 69, who founded the company in 1985.

McAllister said the tests would be a boon to combating the virus, especially in developing countries where many have suffered from the Zika virus, which is known to cause microcephaly, a condition where babies are born with small heads. The mosquito-born Zika virus has spread throughout much of South America and the Carribbean, and cases have started appearing in the United States, especially Florida.

CURRENT ZIKA TEST HAS FLAWS

Zika virus symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes, muscle pain and headaches, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There is no cure or vaccine for Zika, and treatment would be rest, rehydration and pain relievers while waiting for symptoms to pass.

The mosquito that carries the Zika virus cannot live in Maine because of its cold climate, but there have been 11 cases of Zika in Maine involving people who traveled to tropical areas, contracted the virus and returned to Maine, according to the CDC. Because the mosquitoes that live in Maine can’t transmit the Zika virus, the virus can’t be spread here, scientists have said. However, a person with Zika can spread it to a sex partner.

Meghan May, an associate professor of biomedical sciences at the University of New England who has studied the effectiveness of Zika diagnostic tests for the CDC, said that if an antibody test is developed, it would be superior to the tests currently in use.

At ViroStat's lab in Westbrook, Amber McAllister fills vials holding antibodies that could be used in new diagnostic tests for Zika to get faster results.

At ViroStat’s lab in Westbrook, Amber McAllister fills vials holding antibodies that could be used in new diagnostic tests for Zika to get faster results.

Antibodies – blood proteins – bind to the virus, signaling its presence.

Aside from the length of time to get results, an antibody test would be better than the current tests that use ribonucleic acid, or RNA, to detect the Zika virus in blood, May said. She said the RNA tests for Zika result in too many false negatives, in which the test came back negative when the patient actually had the virus. That’s partly because the Zika virus is constantly evolving, making it difficult to detect with the RNA tests, she said.

“With an antibody, it’s much less likely the virus is going to escape detection,” said May, who wrote a research paper on the topic that was published in September.

Obtaining immediate test results is always preferable for the patient, she said. For example, a pregnant woman who suspects she has the Zika virus could have a “terrifying” two to three weeks of waiting for test results.

Also, she said being able to administer the tests in the field would be beneficial in third world countries, where access to clinics and communication with patients can be difficult.

“It can be quite an ordeal to get to some of these clinics, and many people don’t have a phone,” May said. “It can become impractical to administer these tests.”

TEN MICE AND A ZIKA VACCINE

The potential new tests cost less – about $10 for a field or doctor’s office test versus $100 per test for those that have to be sent away to get the results, McAllister said.

He said ViroStat has developed antibodies used in tests for many common infectious diseases, including RSV, influenza and rotavirus. There are only a few companies in the world that do this type of research, he said.

May agreed that it’s a narrow, “very specialized” research field, and that not many labs have the expertise to do it.

Researching an antibody is a long and arduous process. Near the beginning of the research a year ago, 10 mice at a lab in Wisconsin were given a Zika vaccine. Although there is no human vaccine for Zika, there is one for mice.

In its Westbrook lab, ViroStat developed cells taken from the vaccinated mice that secrete an antibody that binds to the Zika virus. Researchers at a California lab then took those cells and injected them into other mice where they could grow more rapidly. The cells are then extracted from those mice and returned to ViroStat to be purified and packaged in 4-ounce containers.

“The work we do has to be very specific so you don’t end up with false positives or false negatives,” McAllister said. He said it’s nice to know the tests could potentially help millions of people, especially if one day a cure or better treatment for the Zika virus is discovered.

“The quicker the results can come back from these tests, the quicker medical action can be taken,” he said.

 

Tragedy at sea: Sinking of El Faro recalled one year later

This weekend, many of the families of the 33 victims will gather in Jacksonville, Florida, to mark the anniversary.

One year ago, the crew of the container ship El Faro, with five Maine Maritime Academy graduates on board, got caught in a powerful Category 4 hurricane and sank off the coast of the Bahamas in 15,000 feet of water.

All 33 crew members, including the ship’s captain, 53-year-old Michael Davidson of Windham, were lost at sea in one of the worst maritime tragedies in U.S. history.

This weekend, many of the families of the victims will gather in Jacksonville, Florida, to mark the one-year anniversary of the El Faro tragedy. The ship sank on the morning of Oct. 1, 2015.

Several events to remember the victims are scheduled this weekend in Jacksonville, which was the El Faro’s home port.

Maine Maritime Academy President William J. Brennan said Thursday evening that the school will not commemorate the El Faro incident out of respect for the families of all the graduates who have died at sea.

“At Maine Maritime Academy we work on the sea, and we train hard for extremely complex and even perilous situations, so our purpose here at MMA is all the more critical in the face of an incident such as the sinking of the El Faro,” Brennan said in a statement. “Out of respect for the families of all of our alumni who have been lost since the founding of the Academy, we will not commemorate the one-year mark of the incident in a public way.”

Brennan said scholarships have been established in the names of the El Faro crew.

“We are honoring the legacy of our alumni who are forever the officers and crew of the El Faro through the establishment of scholarships in their names,” Brennan said.

Brennan said the names of all MMA alumni lost at sea will be read at the Regimental Induction Ceremony during the school’s 2020 Regimental Induction Weekend on Saturday, Oct. 8.

“The names of all of our alumni lost in the line of duty or at sea will be read at the ceremony, recognizing their service, their contributions, and their influence on us,” Brennan said.

In addition to Davidson, the other crew members with a connection to Maine were 25-year-old Michael L. Holland of Wilton, 23-year-old Dylan O. Meklin of Rockland and 34-year-old Danielle L. Randolph of Rockland. A fifth crew member, 26-year-old Mitchell T. Kuflik of Brooklyn, New York, graduated from Maine Maritime Academy.

Holland’s mother, Deb Roberts of Wilton, traveled to Jacksonville to participate in the ceremonies. Roberts said she was looking forward to meeting some of the families that she has only been able to correspond with on social media.

She met a close friend when her flight landed in Atlanta. Laurie Bobillott’s daughter, Danielle Randolph, was on the El Faro when it sank. Roberts and Bobillott were booked on the same flight from Atlanta to Jacksonville.

“I’m feeling good, but it has been a mix of emotions,” Roberts said Thursday evening in a telephone interview from Florida. “It’s hard coming back here. It brings back a lot of emotions and memories from when I came here last year with the hope that Michael was still alive.”

Roberts and other El Faro family members have been invited to attend a Friday night dinner hosted by the American Maritime Officers union in Jacksonville.

The Seafarers International Union will hold a remembrance Saturday at 11 a.m. in Jacksonville. Seventeen of the El Faro crew members lived in the Jacksonville area. A monument will be unveiled at the union hall, featuring a miniature lighthouse with 33 stars.

Earlier this week, the Florida Times Union reported that the Jacksonville City Council voted to pass a resolution changing the name of Dames Point Park to El Faro Memorial at Dames Point Park. The newspaper said El Faro’s owner – Tote Services Inc. – will pay for improvements to the blighted park and erect a permanent 10-foot statue in the crew’s memory.

That statue will be unveiled at 4 p.m. Saturday, according to Roberts.

“We don’t have a grave. No body was buried, but at least we will have a place we can return to,” Roberts said, referring to the memorials.

The El Faro made its final departure from Jacksonville on Sept. 30. At the time, the cargo ship was carrying 391 shipping containers and 294 cars and trailers. Davidson was aware of the storm, which had been named Joaquin, and was trying to travel under the weather system. Instead, he sailed directly into the hurricane’s path.

El Faro lost propulsion and started to take on water during the storm, which battered the 790-foot ship with waves as tall as 30 feet.

Davidson ordered the crew to abandon ship, according to El Faro’s voyage data recorder, which the National Transportation Safety Board and the Navy recovered in August. It contains 26 hours of conversations that took place on the bridge, as well as navigational data, onboard radar images and wind data.

In addition to 28 American crew members, there were five Polish mariners on board the cargo ship. Tote Services has settled 23 of the 33 wrongful death claims filed by the families, according to the Florida Times Union.

The NTSB and the Coast Guard continue to investigate the circumstances that caused the El Faro to sink. Two hearings have been held this year by the Coast Guard’s Marine Board of Investigation, with a third hearing expected to be held once the NTSB has developed a transcript of the sounds and discernible words captured on the El Faro’s bridge audio.

“The vessel’s loss of propulsion was mentioned on the bridge audio about 6:13 a.m. (Oct. 1). Also captured was the master speaking on the telephone, notifying shoreside personnel of the vessel’s critical situation. He also informed them he was going to send out an emergency distress signal,” the NTSB said in a news release issued after the data recorder had been found. “The master sounded the abandon ship alarm about 7:30 a.m., Oct. 1.”

The recording of conversations on the bridge ends about 10 minutes later.

 

UMaine linebacker wound up in the right spot

Christophe Mulumba Tshimanga has taken a winding path to football and Orono.

ORONO — To say that Christophe Mulumba Tshimanga took an unusual route to both the University of Maine and his favorite sport would be an understatement.

He was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and then lived in Belgium as a very young child. His family moved to Canada when he was 5, settling near Montreal.

There, like any Canadian kid, Mulumba Tshimanga played hockey.

“I was a defenseman, I was pretty good,” he said with a chuckle. “Yeah, I was pretty good.”

At 16, he was persuaded by his friends to give football a try. Good thing for the Black Bears. Mulumba Tshimanga, a 6-foot-1, 245-pound senior middle linebacker, enters Saturday’s game against Bryant University as Maine’s leading tackler, with 36 tackles in three games. He had a season-high 14 in a 31-20 loss to James Madison last week.

“Christophe is a different beast,” said sophomore rover linebacker Sterling Sheffield, who is second on the team with 22 tackles. “Mentally, but especially physically.”

And Mulumba Tshimanga is still learning. Now 23, he has been playing football for only seven years.

As a freshman, he was the Colonial Athletic Association and ECAC defensive rookie of the year, finishing with a team-high 118 tackles. The next year, he was an all-CAA first-team selection, again leading Maine with 95 tackles. Last season, injuries limited him to just eight games. He made 37 tackles with an interception.

Corey Hetherman, Maine’s defensive coordinator, said Mulumba Tshimanga can get better.

“He understands formations. He understands leverage,” Hetherman said. “And then his natural instincts take over. And he’s got that nose for the football.”

Hetherman said there is another reason Mulumba Tshimanga is so good – he knows how to use his hands. (Sheffield said they are “the biggest on the team. His forearms too.”)

“When guys get to him, he’s so physical, so violent, with his hands that he sheds blockers with ease,” said Hetherman. “Whereas a lot of younger linebackers, when guys get up on them, they struggle to get off, or they just try to go make the play rather than shedding the block. He’s so good at using his hands and defeating the block. That’s where he excels.”

Mulumba Tshimanga said football has come easily to him.

“It’s all based on being athletic,” he said. “And there’s the mental part. If you’re athletic enough and know how to move well and are mentally tough, I think that helps.”

In addition to hockey, Mulumba Tshimanga played soccer and tennis growing up. But he was no stranger to football.

“When I came to Canada, I was pretty young, but I started watching the CFL, the Montreal Alouettes,” he said. “That’s what my family did. We were watching hockey, every other sport that was on television. So I was watching the CFL when I was 6 or 7 and thought I knew everything about football.”

His friends kept telling him he would be a perfect linebacker. So when he finally tried out, and his coach asked what position he wanted to try, it was linebacker.

He played hockey for one more year, then gave it up when he saw how good he was at football.

“I loved hitting people,” he said. “Hockey was the same, but football was more physical.”

After high school, Mulumba Tshimanga attended the Kent School in Connecticut. That’s where Joe Harasymiak, now Maine’s first-year head coach, discovered him while working as an assistant coach under Jack Cosgrove.

“He was my first signed recruit,” he said. “He was a physically bigger kid who could run. And you could tell from meeting him that he had a passion for football.”

Maine was the only school that offered him a scholarship. But Mulumba Tshimanga didn’t need much convincing to come to Orono.

“I felt home, to be honest,” he said of his visit. “I was like, this is where I want to be. I didn’t have to wait on any other offers.”

Hetherman said Mulumba Tshimanga is a much better player this year because of better conditioning.

“He was a little heavier last year. He did a good job of eating right and taking care of his body,” Hetherman said. “He’s faster. He covers more ground. You can see it on film. He’s a different player.”

Mulumba Tshimanga has become a mentor to younger linebackers like Sheffield, whom he calls “a little brother.” The two spent the summer in Orono, watching film and pushing each other physically.

“It helped tremendously,” said Sheffield. “I wish he had a couple more years with me, with the team.”

But Mulumba Tshimanga has big goals. He wants to play professionally and it doesn’t matter if it’s in the NFL or CFL. “Wherever I can play, I’ll play,” he said.

He still loves hockey, rooting for the Montreal Canadiens – he was devastated by the team’s trade of P.K. Subban – and sometimes skating at Alfond Arena.

For now, he hopes to help the 0-3 Black Bears get on track.

“I think we can turn it around,” he said. “We have a lot of potential. Even though the results haven’t been there, we know how good we can be. It’s the little things. And we have to finish the game.”

Letter to the editor: Democrat Caterina has skills to serve Senate District 30

I encourage voters in Maine Senate District 30 to select Democrat Jean-Marie Caterina.
I have researched the voting record of her opponent as well as Jean-Marie’s positions on the issues important to me and had the opportunity to speak directly w…

I encourage voters in Maine Senate District 30 to select Democrat Jean-Marie Caterina.

I have researched the voting record of her opponent as well as Jean-Marie’s positions on the issues important to me and had the opportunity to speak directly with Jean-Marie.

I was already impressed with Jean-Marie’s service on the Scarborough Town Council. She was always well prepared for the meetings and could be counted on to raise probing questions that helped clarify issues for residents and her council colleagues.

Her strong organizational skills and ability to forge consensus will be strong assets in the Maine Senate. She will work hard for our local interests and will be fully engaged in tackling the tough problems facing all Mainers.

Emily Ward

Scarborough

Owners of Scarborough campground and farm dispute EPA charges

An attorney for Bayley Camping Resort says no wetlands were filled, and the family settled the charges rather than fight the ‘Goliath’ federal bureaucracy.

An attorney for the owners of a popular Scarborough campground and farm disputed the federal government’s claims that they “filled wetlands” on their property, saying the family only settled to avoid a costlier legal battle.

But Bayley’s Camping Resort also faces more potential sanctions from Maine environmental regulators for allegedly filling in additional freshwater wetlands without first receiving state permits.

The owners of Bayley’s Camping Resort, Bayley Hill Deer and Trout Farm have agreed to restore nearly 65 acres of wetlands and pay a $227,500 civil penalty over alleged federal Clean Water Act violations dating back decades.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s case against Fred, Kathleen and Thomas Bayley and their related companies – FKT Resort Management LLC and FKT Bayley Family Limited Partnership – stems from work the Bayley family did on their farm and campground near the Pine Point area of Scarborough and Old Orchard Beach. That work was sometimes carried out in cooperation with state agencies.

Attorney Gene Libby pointed out that the Bayleys settled “without any admission of liability” and said the family never “filled in” wetlands but, instead, redeposited soil previously moved from the site. Libby also portrayed the EPA and U.S. Department of Justice as Goliath taking on David, in this case private property owners.

“We have two individuals who are both 77 (years old), and at this stage in their lives they simply do not have the stamina to engage in this sort of fight,” Libby said. “So clearly this is a compromise.”

COMPLEX LAWS TO NAVIGATE

The case of Bayley Camping Resort and Bayley Hill Deer and Trout Farm in many ways highlights the complexities for landowners trying to navigate the maze of state and federal environmental regulations, as well as the challenge of enforcing those laws.

The EPA alleges that the Bayleys placed fill and other materials in wetlands that are part of Scarborough Marsh at their Ross Road farm and at the campground. The agency contends the actions were done without first obtaining the necessary permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and constitute illegal discharges into the waterways.

At the campground, the EPA claims the Bayleys had discharged dredge or fill into 18 acres of designated wetlands since 1984 without first obtaining permits. As part of the settlement, the Bayleys agreed to restore a roughly 7-acre area known as the “goose pasture” that attracts waterfowl but that the campground has used for farming and other activities in the past.

But Libby suggested the EPA targeted the Bayley family for activities it undertook as part of a 450-acre waterfowl habitat restoration project in Scarborough Marsh. The Bayleys provided equipment, labor and $5,000 to rebuild an impoundment on state-owned land to create the wetlands, working with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife as well as Ducks Unlimited.

As part of the project, Fred Bayley created the “goose pasture” for migratory birds with help and advice from the state. The Scarborough Marsh wetlands and pasture restoration even received a lengthy write-up in the Maine department’s magazine as an example of the state’s work to improve wildlife habitat.

While Libby said the EPA dropped initial charges for the dam work because it was on state-owned land, he said the Bayley family agreed to restore 7 acres of the pasture land “because it was the least expensive way to resolve the controversy.”

The family, however, is under additional scrutiny from the state for allegedly filling in other wetlands and improving areas of the property without permits.

FINE PAID, ALLEGATIONS DISPUTED

During a January 2015 inspection, DEP staff noted that up to 35,281 square feet of freshwater wetlands had been filled by the campground owners without a permit. Additionally, DEP staff noted 5.4 acres of newly developed campsites, an excavation area and a new road, all done without prior DEP approval.

The DEP issued a “notice of violation” to FKT Bayley Family Limited Partnership in March 2015. A department spokesman declined to comment because the case is still pending.

In the case of the farm property, the settlement with the EPA alleges that the Bayleys or their employees discharged materials into about 77 acres of wetlands and along about 3,773 feet of tributaries.

Libby countered that some of the work was done “with the advice and consent of” the Cumberland County Conservation District, which was formerly a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Also, land clearing in 2007 was done under a provision of Maine law that allows farmers to convert freshwater wetlands into farm fields as long as the topography is not affected, Libby said.

“We don’t have a dredge-and-fill operation here,” he said. “We have a farmer creating farmland who ran into some restrictive regulations.”

But Bayley Hill Deer and Trout Farm paid a fine of more than $19,500 to the state three years ago for some of the same site work.

In May 2012, a Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry official inspected the farmland in response to the complaint about wetlands disturbance.

“It appeared as though the character of the land wasn’t significantly altered other than some smoothing,” inspector Matthew Randall wrote in his report.

EPA CONFIDENT IN SETTLEMENT

Ultimately, however, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection determined that the farm violated the state’s Natural Resources Protection Act by “removing or displacing” soil or vegetation and then filling a freshwater wetland without obtaining a permit. The Bayleys also built a culvert, a stream crossing and a road adjacent to the stream without a permit.

While the DEP’s May 2013 consent agreement with the Bayleys acknowledged Maine law allows wetland alterations for farming purposes, the settlement noted that “when the agricultural fields were created, some land topography was altered in the wetland areas.”

The Bayleys subsequently filed for “after-the-fact” permits from the DEP and restored some of the wetlands.

An EPA spokesman declined to comment Thursday when asked for a response to Libby’s statements.

“EPA and DOJ do not comment on our negotiations when reaching a settlement,” the statement from the EPA states. “However, the United States is confident that we have reached a fair and appropriate settlement in this matter.”

The EPA consent agreement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval.

 

Ranked-choice voting: Costly, complicated, undemocratic

Voters today know the consequences of their votes. Ranked-choice voting is a shot in the dark.

HARPSWELL — Supporters of ranked-choice voting (Question 5 on the statewide ballot Nov. 8) have revealed two important facts about the proposal.

First, they believe that using it will change voter behavior and make us get along better politically with one another.

Second, they implicitly acknowledge that it is complicated and unprecedented by running a series of mock elections to select people’s favorite beer.

But they have missed two important facts.

Ranked-choice voting is more expensive than either the current election system or any accepted alternative to plurality elections in which the candidate with the most votes wins.

And the proposed system is undemocratic and far more vulnerable to tampering than the current system.

Let’s take a closer look.

In order to win a ranked-choice election, a candidate might need the second- and third-place votes from supporters of other candidates. Supporters think that candidates will go easy on one another to pick up those votes. That would bring a change in the political atmosphere, they say.

But today’s deep partisan divisions are not likely so easily to give way to political peace. It may prove difficult for ideological candidates to gain backup support. Portland’s nonpartisan mayoral race is a poor predictor of party politics.

In fact, if candidates line up deeply divided on the issues, it is far from sure that in critical elections, voters will cast even second-choice votes.

The state needs a system that will produce compromises, but that won’t happen because of what is essentially a vote-counting gimmick. Forging compromises is a question of leadership.

The complexity of ranked-choice voting is obvious. Instead of simply voting for the candidate you prefer, each voter must have an election strategy. They have to guess at what will happen to their backup votes.

For example, in a four-way race, a voter who had supported only the first two candidates eliminated would then be stripped of any role in the ultimate election. To have their votes count in the last round, they would have had to vote for their first- and third-favorite choices, skipping the second. Confusing? Absolutely.

Proponents forecast a change in human behavior because of their system. But using such forecasts as the main argument in favor of a proposal is risky.

Then there’s the higher cost of ranked-choice voting. According to the Maine Secretary of State’s Office, the cost to the state of such an election would be about $910,000 in the first year, compared with $248,000 under the current system.

If Maine allowed a runoff election between the two highest vote getters, the cost would be only twice the current amount.

Another solution would be to have all candidates run in a single primary with the top two running in the general election. Used in California, that system would cost a bit less than today.

Though the focus is on the governor’s race, at any one election there could be as many as 190 ranked-choice races to count: the governor, a U.S. senator, two U.S. House members and 186 members of the Maine Legislature. Any single voter could face a ballot with five ranked-choice votes.

One of the reasons for the higher cost of ranked-choice elections is the need to transport all ballots to a single counting location. They would then be run through a computer. Contrast that with more than 450 voting locations today, where the votes can be checked by direct viewing and the results easily totaled.

A single computer would be far more vulnerable to tampering. And any foul play would be invisible and might not be discovered for months or years after the election.

Finally, there’s the matter of democracy itself. In the current system, a runoff or a top-two primary, voters can understand the consequences of their choices. In ranked-choice voting, voters cannot foresee the effect of their second- and third-choice votes.

Ranked-choice voting is not used in any federal or state election. Plurality voting, as in Maine, is used in 39 states. The rest use some form of runoff.

The reason is simple. In any currently used system, voters know the consequences of their votes. By contrast, ranked-choice voting is a costly shot in the dark.

Letter to the editor: Changes to USM campus will be nightmare for part of neighborhood

The University of Southern Maine is planning on eliminating Bedford Street in order to create more parking garages, while it also intends to build student housing where its student center now exists.
What that means is that the 11,000 cars that now use…

The University of Southern Maine is planning on eliminating Bedford Street in order to create more parking garages, while it also intends to build student housing where its student center now exists.

What that means is that the 11,000 cars that now use Bedford Street every day to get from the highway or Forest Avenue to Brighton Avenue will then have to use Falmouth Street, half of which is residential. I see a nightmare in the making.

Students complain that walking from the current parking garage to classes is too far to walk. (A block is too long for students, apparently.)

They also want on-campus housing. I sympathize with this, but putting a dorm smack in the middle of the campus will mean that the homes on Falmouth Street will have their only view of the morning sun blocked.

It would make more sense for the university to buy one of the many unused or underused buildings on Forest Avenue and transform them into dorms and have a shuttle bus.

Elizabeth Burke

Portland