Friday, June 24, 2011

Governor LePage Signs Budget

Monday afternoon, June 20, after a careful, businesslike approach examining the details; Governor Paul LePage put his signature on the biennial budget that reduces taxes for Mainers and businesses, reforms the State pension system and makes changes to welfare programs.
“In February legislators were given a plan which was very different from previous budgets with a focus on creating jobs, lowering taxes, reforming welfare and realigning spending to better reflect today’s realities. The budget I signed today reflects a step toward fiscal responsibility and a change in the way we must operate as a State,” said Governor LePage.
“I am encouraged by some of the work done and the thoughtful debates that were involved during this budgetary process. The State will now move toward a more sustainable pension system that Maine can afford and current and future retirees will benefit from.”
The two-year budget includes tax reform which provides $150 million in tax relief – including new tax code changes which conform to federal guidelines and a reduction in Maine’s top income tax rate from 8.5 percent to 7.95 percent that is expected eliminate tax payments for 70,000 low-income Mainers. This represents the largest tax cut in Maine history.
Welfare reform is also a part of the 2012-2013 budget which emphasizes Maine will no longer be considered a welfare destination state. A new 5-year limit on welfare benefits, which aligns Maine with other states and conforms to federal law, will go into effect. The limit does allow for certain exemptions for hardship cases – including those involving the elderly and disabled.
Drug testing will also be implemented for welfare recipients convicted of drug crimes and those who violate welfare rules will face stricter sanctions. A first offense will result in the loss of adult benefits and a second offense may lead to termination of full family benefits.
In addition, Dirigo Health will be phased out with an end date of January 1, 2014 and legal noncitizens will no longer be eligible for MaineCare benefits as of July 1, 2011. However, the Governor has made it clear that more work needs to be done. “We must continue to make these types of changes to the system, not only to achieve significant savings, but to encourage Mainers to become self-sufficient. This is a down payment on welfare reform and, after implementing these changes and gauging the results, I look forward to doing more,” added the Governor.
Both leadership in the House and Senate lauded Governor LePage for endorsing the budget Monday.
House Speaker Robert Nutting offered, “I am delighted that Governor Paul LePage today signed the biennial budget. This plan mirrors the reforms the Governor called for shortly after taking office. Among the highlights are $150 million in tax cuts, the largest in Maine history, and pension reform that will save taxpayers billions in the years to come. This budget also includes no cuts to education or programs that protect Maine’s most vulnerable. It’s also free of gimmicks like state shutdown days.”
“It is a validation of the outstanding work done by the Appropriations Committee and of the decision by Republican legislative leaders to pursue a bipartisan two-thirds budget,” said Senate President Kevin Raye. “By affording the minority party the respect of inclusion in the budget process we were able to work through our differences and secure a thoughtful budget that honors the core principles advanced by Governor LePage,” Raye added.
Senate Majority Leader Jonathan Courtney echoed his colleagues’ sentiments. “In just 40 days the Governor gave us a document that included substantial reforms to taxes, pension and our welfare system, and this vision survived the legislative process. It helps us take a major step in moving Maine forward,” Courtney said.

FBC Kittery Point Celebrates 200th Anniversary

On Sunday, June 26, 2011, First Baptist Church of Kittery Point will host a memorial service at 10:30 a.m. commemorating its 200th anniversary.
Though the church is hosting its 200th anniversary, FBC Kittery Point is actually quite a bit older than 200 years. On September 25, 1682, a Reverend Isaac Hull and William Screven of Boston organized a Baptist church in Kittery before it was Maine. At that time, the state church was the Church of England because Maine was a part of colonial Massachusetts and was governed by the crown of England. Hull and Screven found themselves facing numerous persecutions due to their promoting a church apart from the Church of England, and their endorsement of baptism by full immersion as opposed to infant baptism. Eventually, Screven and a handful of others decided to leave Kittery with a handful of members remaining and went to Charleston, South Carolina.
There, Screven organized a church and eventually the beginnings of the Southern Baptist Convention. Though FBC Kittery Point was established earlier, it wasn’t until 1811 that it was incorporated as a church with the original name The First Baptist Society in Kittery.
In 1827, the church met in the old Brave Boat Harbor Schoolhouse. One of the Frisbee family, who were prominent members of Kittery and the church, Darius Frisbee, gave land and money for a meeting house to be built on Hutchins Corner (Lewis Square). The new church was built and dedicated in 1875 and the bell was placed in the belfry in 1885. This is the present building and location of FBC Kittery Point.
In 1961, the name was changed to First Baptist Church of Kittery Point, Maine, and an educational annex was added to the building in the ’69. The Victorian sanctuary was restored in 1973 and can be seen today. Baptist Church of Kittery Point welcomes all for it’s 200th anniversary on Sunday, June 26, 2011, at 10:30 a.m. There will be a small reception to follow the service. All are welcome to attend.
Photo caption: The First Baptist Church of Kittery Point will celebrate its 200th anniversary on June 26. (Photo by Pastor Matt Gladd)

Hot Summer Nights Concerts Return

Slaid Cleaves will return to Maine again this summer to open the annual Hot Summer Nights concert series in his hometown of South Berwick at 7 p.m., Wednesday, June 29, in the Marshwood High School Auditorium. Cleaves, who is poised to release his latest album, has appeared in South Berwick every year since 2001.
Slaid’s concert is the first in a lineup of free shows offered throughout the summer by SoBo Central, a community non-profit group. He will be performing on the eve of releasing his new CD, “Sorrow and Smoke: Live at the Horseshoe Lounge.” Five other concerts will be at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday nights, beginning July 14, on the lawn of Central School. Residents are invited to come downtown with picnics, blankets and babies and enjoy the open-air concerts with friends and neighbors. Food and beverages will also be sold. The shows go on rain or shine, but outdoor shows will move across the street to the Town Hall in the case of rain.
The Hot Summer Nights line-up includes local favorites like Joyce Anderson’s one-woman-band show and Chronic Jazz Syndrome’s horn band tunes as well as Mudhook, Dan Walker and New England Blue Grass. The concerts feature local teens as the opening acts. A hoot night on August 4 will include a variety of local talents. Anyone interested in performing can contact Chip Harding, who plans the opening acts, at (207) 384-5846.
The concert series will close with the first-ever LanternFest, featuring the classic and contemporary covers of PB&J, a community-wide festival of lights and a lantern stroll. The LanternFest, scheduled for Thursday, August 25 at Spring Hill, will involve artists, children, schools, families, fire-lovers and all other community members who want to join in lantern-making, a parade around Knights Pond, music, food, a bonfire, and the launching of boat lanterns. Grounds will open at 5:30 p.m. and the concert will begin at 6.
The summer concert series, organized and staffed by a small group of volunteers, raises funds to pay the professional musicians and other expenses associated with the concerts. Hot Summer Nights is a program of the local non-profit group, SoBo Central, which was incorporated in Maine in July 2009.
SoBo Central is an umbrella for six local organizations dedicated to the community of South Berwick: Green Up, Smart Growth South Berwick, the Food Pantry, Keep South Berwick Warm, and Powderhouse Hill, as well as Hot Summer Nights.
Although the concerts are all free, Hot Summer Nights welcomes donations, which are now tax-deductible.
More information on shows, musicians and rain announcements is available on the web at This includes the schedule, the history, and even a taste of the music. For more information email
Photo caption: Slaid Cleaves will return to his hometown of South Berwick to kick off the annual Hot Summer Nights concert series on June 29. (Courtesy photo)