University of Maine News
The Orono Comprehensive Plan Committee encourages members of the UMaine community to participate in a public workshop on the town’s comprehensive plan. The forum, 6–9 p.m., Nov. 12, Orono Municipal Building, will focus on policies and actions for housing, the economy and in-town land use. The committee seeks public input on such issues as zoning for more in-town housing for families; the need to preserve single-family neighborhoods; ways to encourage startups, food-related businesses, R&D and light manufacturing; and downtown improvements. Draft proposed policies are online.
WABI (Channel 5) and WVII (Channel 7) reported on a Maine National Guard emergency preparedness exercise held at the University of Maine. The event was one of several emergency scenarios occurring consecutively at venues around the state. Wayne Maines, director of safety and environmental management at the University of Maine, spoke about the mock laboratory in Holmes Hall where emergency response teams practiced investigating and eliminating risks that might arise in real-life settings. He said it’s important to build relationships and improve communication with emergency responders. The Bangor Daily News and WLBZ (Channel 2) also reported on the drills around the state.
The Bangor Daily News reported officials connected to the University of Maine’s offshore floating wind turbine will meet with residents of three coastal towns — Friendship, Bristol and Port Clyde — to outline early plans for a power transmission line that might pass through one of their communities in the future. Jake Ward, UMaine’s vice president for innovation and economic development, said UMaine representatives will present possible locations of where the line could come ashore and that research is continuing to determine a location. He added the line is a “fairly small transmission line, not too different from what you’d see on a utility pole.”
The Bangor Daily News editorial, “Maine has lots of businesses, and we can get them to grow,” stated research conducted at the University of Maine to help startups is one of the state’s most valuable resources related to economic growth.
The Kennebec Journal reported on Maine National Guard emergency preparedness exercises planned around the state. Maine National Guard soldiers, as well as local, state, federal and international agencies, will respond to several emergency scenarios occurring consecutively at venues around the state. The University of Maine is hosting an exercise Nov. 5–6 and is providing a mock laboratory in Holmes Hall where emergency response teams will practice investigating and eliminating risks that might arise in real-life settings.
Habib Dagher, director of the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center and leader of the DeepCwind Consortium, was featured in an episode of 207 on WLBZ (Channel 2). Dagher spoke about the consortium’s mission to establish Maine as a national leader in deepwater offshore wind technology. In May, the Advanced Structures and Composites Center launched VolturnUS 1:8, the first grid-connected offshore wind turbine to be deployed off the coast of North America.
The Portland Daily Sun reported on a study by Richard Powell, an associate professor of political science at the University of Maine, that found opposition to same-sex marriage is greater on Election Day than indicated in pre-election polls. Powell’s study states the reason for the discrepancy is that people being surveyed tend to say they’ll vote the way they think is socially desirable, regardless of their real position on the issue.
Paul Mayewski, a professor and director of the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute, and George Jacobson, state climatologist and professor emeritus of biology, ecology and climate change at UMaine, were quoted in a Morning Sentinel article about a climate change forum held at Kennebec Valley Community College. The pair spoke about the importance of climate change and the technical aspects of how climates have evolved in various parts of the world. The symposium was organized by the Mid-Maine Climate Adaptation Working Group and focused on the effects of climate disruption on our health, the economy, extreme weather events, the sea level and our water supply.
The Maine Public Broadcasting Network spoke with Mark Brewer, an associate professor of political science at the University of Maine, about the political effects of gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud announcing he is gay. Brewer said what remains to be seen is whether special interest groups opposed to gay rights might try to capitalize on Michaud’s sexual orientation by making independent expenditures to benefit one of his opponents. Brewer said any candidate would have to publicly condemn those attacks, but what they do behind the scenes would remain unseen.
The research of Daria Bednarczyk, a Connecticut native and University of Maine senior studying marine science, was featured in a New Britain Herald article. Last year, Bednarczyk and another student spent three months on the island of South Caicos interviewing almost 50 fishermen, marine officers, business owners and residents about their fishing practices. In two weeks, the pair was able to put a total economic value on the fishing industry. Bednarczyk’s work abroad was also featured at the 26th annual International Congress for Conservation Biology this past July.
The Bangor Daily News spoke with Jeffrey Thaler, assistant university counsel and a visiting professor of energy policy, law and ethics at the University of Maine, for the article titled “Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners to acquire 9 Maine dams.” Thaler said this will be the first time in a long time that one company has owned as much of the hydropower in Maine as Brookfield will and it shows the company’s commitment.
The Portland Press Herald published a feature article on University of Maine graduate student Kyle Ravana, Maine’s newest deer biologist. Ravana is currently finishing a master’s degree in wildlife science at UMaine, where he also earned his undergraduate degree. He was hired by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife as head deer biologist seven months ago and is working to win over the trust of Maine’s hunters.
The University of Maine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation has been nominated for the Fusion Bangor Leadership and Vision Award. Jennifer Hooper, a UMaine graduate student and Foster Center tenant with her nonprofit Spark!, is also nominated for the award. The winner of the award will be announced at this year’s Fusion Bangor Extravaganza 7–10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9 at the Union Street Brick Church in Bangor. Ticket and event information are online. Fusion Bangor is the region’s networking group of young residents that works to connect the demographic to each other, engage with the community and transform the Bangor area into the preferred place to live, work and play in Maine.
The University of Maine Black Bear Mentors will host elementary- and middle-school students Wednesday Nov. 6 for the group’s annual scavenger hunt on the UMaine campus.
The program is offered through the Bodwell Center for Service and Volunteerism and is run by an AmeriCorps VISTA. More than 80 UMaine students are currently participating, making the program’s 11th year the largest.
Students will arrive at UMaine by bus from their respective schools at 2:30 p.m. and meet their mentors at the Wells Conference Center where they will be given scavenger hunt questions. The students and mentors will travel to buildings on campus to answer the questions before returning to Wells for ice cream sundaes and prizes.
The Black Bear Mentors meet with third- to eighth-grade students once a week after school and work on activities such as sports, arts and crafts, homework, board games and community service projects.
A scavenger hunt also took place Monday, Nov. 4.
Wayne Maines, University of Maine’s director of safety and environmental management, spoke with WVII (Channel 7) about the emergency preparedness training exercise with the Maine National Guard that will be held on campus Nov. 5–6. Maines said the best part of the exercise will be the chance to review and improve procedures. The Bangor Daily News also carried a report about the Vigilant Guard exercises scheduled around the state, including the UMaine exercise.
Janet Fairman, an associate professor of education at the University of Maine, spoke with the Maine Public Broadcasting Network for a report titled “School consolidation: 5 Maine communities to vote on leaving RSUs.” Fairman, who has researched the initial effects of consolidation on districts across the state, said most school districts in Maine did not want to be forced to consolidate. Changing from local control to a regional perspective on the welfare of students in other communities is a difficult shift, she says.
The Portland Press Herald interviewed James McConnon, an economics professor at the University of Maine, for an article about Maine’s economy showing strength. McConnon said there are signs of improvement, especially in automobiles and building supplies, which are important sectors for consumer and small-business spending. He also said September and October retail sales figures will be the crucial test of consumer confidence because they will indicate whether the partial government shutdown slowed spending.
WVII (Channel 7) reported on the 26th annual Culturefest held at the University of Maine. The UMaine Office of International Programs and International Students Association hosted the daylong celebration of cultures which featured exhibits, a food court, children’s activities, a style show and performances. International students said the best part of the event was watching others learn about their culture.
A University of Maine study on school district reorganization in Maine was cited in the Bangor Daily News article “Ellsworth, Hancock, Lamoine among communities to vote on withdrawal from regional school units.” The Maine Policy Review study by Janet Fairman and Christine Donis-Keller observed the consolidation process over the first two years in 15 regional school units across the state and found the overwhelming consensus was the forced approach for consolidation produced a negative reaction and led to efforts to repeal or revise the law. The article also quoted Gordon Donaldson, professor emeritus of education at UMaine, who said “the solution to poor achievement, particularly in poor neighborhoods, is to get parents involved” and that participation is taken away from neighborhoods when big districts are set up.
A study by University of Maine economics professor Philip Trostel was cited in the Bangor Daily News column “10 ideas to make Maine a better place to live, work.” Trostel’s study on the fiscal payoff of investing in early childhood development in Maine was cited under the listing “Invest in quality, early childhood education.” Trostel’s research found if the state invested an additional $26,200 per child over a five-year period, the cost would be fully recovered by the time those children turn 14.