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AUGUSTA
2 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333
207-287-1440
800-423-2900
Email: Rep Strang Burgess

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155 Tuttle Road
Cumberland, ME 04021
207-829-6264

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 Breast Cancer Specialty License Plate Is  Available Statewide At Your Town Hall Or BMV Offices
June 29, 2010
Dear Residents of House District 108,

Thought you might like a list of all the wonderful Maine fairs and festivals, starting the with Houlton Fair on July 1 through Maine's Blue Ribbon Classic, the Fryeburg Fair the first week in October. Just click here for the entire list.

And like last month, I also would like to highlight some tidbits of information compiled by various state agencies that fall more in to the News You Can Use category. 

Thank you for the honor of representing you in Augusta and please be in touch anytime regarding State matters.

Have a happy 4th of July!

Cordially,

Rep. Meredith Strang Burgess
State House Representative District 108
Cumberland, Long Island, Chebeague
Island and part of North Yarmouth

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News You Can Use
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Find a Farmers' Market Online
The Maine Department of Agriculture offers a service to allow you to find a local farmers' market.  Farmers' markets offer foods and agricultural products, harvested fresh and sold direct to you by area farmers.  Markets are located throughout the state and each offers a variety of products.

The service is available online at getrealmaine.com  Just click on "Farmers' Markets" on the left. This site provides a number of other useful resources, including a database of Maine farms and agricultural fairs. 

Economic News

The Maine Department of Labor announced that the state's preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.0% in May, down from 8.1% and also down from 8.2% a year ago. The number of unemployed totaled 56,500, down 1,200 from a year ago.

The national unemployment rate remained 9.7% in April, unchanged for the third straight month. Maine's unemployment rate was also lower than the regional average for New England, which was 8.6%.

State revenues rise, retail sales slide
State revenues came in $15 million above estimates in May, pushing the revenue surplus to more than $50 million for the end of the budget year.

Finance Commissioner Ryan Low said earlier this month that preliminary estimates showed May revenues up as much as $10 million, according to Capitol News Service. Sales tax revenue in May was $5.5 million over estimates, a category that finally met projections in April after 18 months of falling short. Sales tax revenues were $11.8 million above projections for the budget year. Corporate income tax in May brought in $5.4 million, exceeding the $2 million projection, and hitting a surplus of $20 million for the year. June revenues are on target to meet projections, Low told the news service. The budget year ends this month.

In related news, total taxable retail sales in April dipped 1.2% compared with the same month in 2009. Most categories saw a drop, with general merchandise slipping the most, by 5.6%. Only "other retail" and auto and transportation saw increases, of 1.6% and 2%, respectively, according to the Maine State Planning Office. Year-to-date sales, however, are 1.3% higher than the same period in 2009. Go to the article from the Capital News service at bangordailynews.com/detail/146391.html

Mainers Cautioned Regarding Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
With many across the state opening their camps for the summer season, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently offered a reminder of the dangers surrounding carbon monoxide poisoning. Officials reminded the public that carbon monoxide, or CO, is an odorless and colorless gas created by any combustion engine or device. If a device in an enclosed space is improperly vented, maintained or operated, CO can build up. It is easy to confuse CO poisoning with other illnesses; symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness and confusion, but do not include fevers.

Maine law requires CO detectors to be installed in all rental units, new homes and existing homes whenever there is a transfer of ownership or an addition of one or more bedrooms.  The law covers camps and seasonal homes as well.  These detectors may be found at most places that sell smoke detectors and should be installed with a battery back-up near where people sleep.

Advance Notification of Pesticide Spraying Available for 2011
This service, administered by the Maine Board of Pesticides Control, provides notification when agricultural pesticides are applied by airplanes, helicopters, mist blowers, or air-blast sprayers to property within a quarter mile of one's residence. The open enrollment period for Maine's 2010 Pesticide Notification Registry is now closed.  But this is the time of year that you may be more in tune with this issue and want to sign up now for future notifications.
You may sign up for the registry online at thinkfirstspraylast.org
or receive a paper application by calling the Maine Board of Pesticides Control at 207-287-2731. 

Warning Issued Regarding Identity Scam
Officials warned Mainers regarding a recent identity scam in which individuals call and pretend to be a court official in order to receive personal information.  Usually, the caller says an arrest warrant has been issued because the recipient of the call did not show up for jury duty, then asks for their Social Security number, date of birth and other personal information so they can cancel the warrant.

This scam has been reported in other states as well, and warnings have also been issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the federal court system.  No employee of the Maine Judicial Branch would ever ask for personal information over the telephone.  If you receive one of these calls, please report it to your local law enforcement.

Officials Remind Mainers Of Programs Available To Help Seniors
In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, state officials would like to remind Maine seniors and those who care for them that elder abuse can take many forms, including financial, physical and mental. There are a number of scams that specifically target seniors; and according to the Attorney General's office, they have been on the rise lately.

More information is available online at the Attorney General's website. The "Elder Issues" section contains a wide variety of information related to elder exploitation and abuse, while more information about common scams is available under the "Consumer Protection" section.

Efficiency Maine Announces New Incentives

Efficiency Maine has announced that they are able to expand their current cash incentive program for home energy improvements.  Since January, a $3,000 cash incentive has been in effect as well as up to $1,500 in federal tax credits for homeowners who implement improvements suggested by an energy auditor certified by Efficiency Maine.

In addition to the $3,000 incentive, Efficiency Maine will offer a $1,000 cash bonus for home energy improvements completed before August 31. Eligible improvements include insulation and air sealing, high-efficiency heating systems, water heaters and more.  More information may be found  at efficiencymaine.com or by calling 866-376-2463.

Project Canopy Grants Available to Support Community Forestry Projects
Project Canopy will award $125,000 in grants to local municipalities, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations that support efforts to develop and maintain long-term community forestry programs.  Project Canopy is a cooperative partnership amongst the Maine Forest Service, the Maine Department of Conservation and the Pine Tree State Arboretum.

The Maine Forest Service anticipates that $125,000 will be available from the U.S. Forest Service to support community forestry projects in 2010. Project Canopy has two grant categories for applicants to choose from:
  • planning and education grants, and;
  • tree planting and maintenance grants.
Project Canopy grants are competitive and require a 50 percent match from the grant recipient in cash or in-kind services.  To be eligible to apply for 2010 Project Canopy Assistance grants, all applicants must attend a grant workshop prior to submitting an application. Grant workshops are scheduled for June and July. They will be held in various locations throughout the state and will cover topics including grant writing, project development, sustainable community forestry management and grant administration.

Applications must be submitted to the Maine Forest Service by 5 p.m., August 9. To learn more about the Project Canopy Assistance program and to sign up for a workshop in your area, contact Project Canopy at 207-287-4987 or visit their website at projectcanopy.maine.gov.

State Veterinarian Urges Caution For Horse Owners
Dr. Don Hoenig, the Maine State Veterinarian, recently warned horse owners to make sure their animals have up-to-date vaccinations for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).  With the warmer weather and the beginning of mosquito season, the risk of EEE is increasing.

Last year Maine had a widespread outbreak of EEE, with fifteen horses and one llama dying of the disease.  Although EEE is usually fatal, it is also a very preventable disease, as a routine vaccination can keep horses safe.  EEE vaccinations are usually carried out annually, but horse owners should consult with their veterinarian to decide if a booster is needed due to the increased risk.

More information on EEE and other diseases may be found on the Department of Agriculture's website at maine.gov/agriculture/ahi/diseases/index.html. You may also contact the Division of Animal Health and Industry by phone at 207-287-3701.

Foreclosure Prevention Program Expands
Maine's Foreclosure Prevention Program expanded recently by signing a contract with the Washington Hancock Community Agency.  This adds a ninth certified housing counseling service to the eight non-profit agencies already under contract around the state.

The Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection may refer homeowners to counselors thanks to these contracts.  These counselors provide their services for free and are trained to gather financial information and negotiate on behalf of homeowners.  They may also develop payment deferral plans, loan modifications or restructurings, or other remedies.

For more information, you may visit the Bureau's website at maine.gov/pfr/consumercredit/foreclosure_resources.html or call the Foreclosure Prevention Hotline at 1-888-664-2569.

Relief May Be Available To Consumers Bilked In Insurance Scam
Officials with the Maine Bureau of Insurance recently announced that relief may be available to consumers who have been cheated by the American Trade Association or its affiliates. These entities claimed to sell insurance coverage to consumers in Maine and other states, but instead collected payments for medical bills and premiums without providing any coverage. Consumers who have unpaid medical bills or have paid premiums to American Trade Association or its affiliates can fill out a proof of claim form to recover all or some of the funds owed to them. The filing deadline for claims is August 31 at 5:30 PM Eastern Time.