New England Snapshot

Kevin Burgio remembered the first time he saw monk parakeets. He was out bird watching "and I ran across this puddle that had like five or six monk parakeets drinking from it," he said. "I'm like, what the hell is that? Did someone lose, like, five parrots? I didn't know there were parrots here."

All this week we’re taking a close look at the Narragansett Bay, for a series we call One Square Mile.  Today we look at the heavy industry that relies on the Providence waterfront.  Specifically, where those big piles of coal, scrap metal and salt,  sit along the Providence River.

Tuesday, independent Providence mayoral candidate Vincent “Buddy” Cianci, Jr. details his plan to turn the industrial waterfront to mixed use development, with things like hotels and marinas.   As Rhode Island Public Radio’s John Bender reports, that's been the subject of a decades-long battle.

Fred Thys/WBUR

  Wesleyan University is asking its residential fraternities not to pledge freshmen and to turn over the rolls of all their members as the school issued an order to end its all-male fraternities and make residential fraternities co-ed.

It’s a decision that has received mixed reaction on campus.

The decision is felt hardest at the three residential fraternities. No one agreed to recorded interviews at any of the fraternities, but men did agree to speak to WBUR on background.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage is defending his support of legislation that could make it easier for private businesses to use eminent domain to seize property for natural gas pipeline expansion. The governor says the legislation is necessary to alleviate what he calls the New England energy crisis. But the governor's two opponents oppose the move.

At issue is federal legislation known as H.R.1900, The Natural Gas Permitting Reform Act, which aims to streamline the permitting process for the development of natural gas pipeline projects.

Over the past five years, law enforcement agencies in Vermont have invested more than $1 million in technology that gathers millions of data points every year about the whereabouts of vehicles across the state.

The Automated Plate Recognition Systems, or ALPRs, use high-speed cameras mounted on police cruisers that take photos of passing cars and relay them to an in-car computer for analysis. The technology keeps track of every license plate the cruiser passes and checks each against a “hot list” of vehicles, all in real time.

Patty Wright, MPBN

It's being billed as the first-ever public-private sponsorship of a race car. Today Gov. Paul LePage announced that the state of Maine will use Fort Kent NASCAR driver Austin Theriault's car as a billboard for the slogan, "Maine is open for business." The sponsorship cost the state $50,000. Some are celebrating the move, while others question whether it will drive business to the state.

J Holt for WNPR

The slow death of the textile industry in the U.S. was underscored last December by the closure of the last operating mill in Connecticut, the historic Warren Mills in Stafford Springs. That same mill is celebrating its re-opening under new owners. 

How does the American Woolen Company expect to buck the trend?

In early 2013, investment banker Jacob Harrison Long bought the American Woolen Company. Once one of the nation’s most recognized textile companies, when Long arrived, it was little more than a trademark.

The Portland Public School Department plans to launch an online program this year. The district is trying to get a slice of the virtual school pie as it faces competition for students — and funding. But some educators remain skeptical of yet another online option. Portland officials say it's an important — and innovative — option for students.

The first day of school is a busy one for Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk. He rides his bike to district schools to personally welcome students back.

Angela Evancie for VPR

The Beacon 10 Stirling – black, with a glowing blue light, and about the size of a large chest freezer – emits a constant low hum. And this one, in the basement of the Essex Resort & Spa, converts natural gas into electricity, enough electricity to power an average-sized home.

It’s just one of the technological innovations on offer at NRG Energy, a national company that is about to use Vermont as a testing ground for its products and services.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nn-vmO63PhQ&feature=youtu.be

Scientists at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland are trying to better understand how the ecosystem of Casco Bay is changing. This summer, they launched a comprehensive survey of marine life in the bay that will unfold over the next 10 years. MPBN's Jennifer Rooks caught up with some of the researchers.

 

Karen Brown for NEPR

One in 68 children are thought to have autism spectrum disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The disorder varies widely in severity, but one common trait is the tendency to get over-stimulated by noise, lights, and other trappings of modern life. A recent effort tried to bring down the sensory stimulation — just in time for back-to-school shopping.

The Holyoke Mall is one of the most obvious places to do back-to-school shopping, but one of the last places you’d take a child who has problems with sensory overload. That describes both of Mary Ellen Demaris’s sons.

For the second time in three years, the Brattleboro Retreat faces a potential loss in federal funding because of a failed inspection. Despite the warnings, the state’s commissioner of mental health says he’s still confident that the retreat can provide quality care.

The federal warning comes after a suicide attempt at the Brattleboro Retreat in June which, after retreat staff notified the state, prompted a site visit of the facility.

Michael Webber via Flickr CC

Supporters of a referendum to ban the use of bait, hounds and traps in Maine's annual bear hunt began canvassing neighborhoods in Portland over the weekend. Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting say they don't oppose hunting in general, just the use of what they consider cruel and inhumane practices. They plan to contact tens of thousands of voters across the state over the next few weeks to make their case. Opponents are also gearing up.  And both sides are feeling confident as the election draws closer.

Green Mountain Power broke ground in Rutland Tuesday on a new $10 million solar project that the utility says will not only generate clean energy, but also provide emergency back up power to parts of the city when needed.

Solar arrays are sprouting up all over Rutland County and some of the larger ones have generated a fair amount of controversy and criticism.

Via US Department of Defense

Pentagon officials are coming to western Maine this week to gather public input regarding a possible missile defense site in Redington Township.

The Franklin County site - which already operates as a survival training facility for the Navy - is one of four locations being considered in the eastern half of the United States. The others are Camp Ravenna in Ohio, Fort Custer in Michigan and Fort Drum in New York state.

The Department of Public Safety has launched a multipronged effort to beef up enforcement of the state’s distracted driving laws and increase public awareness about the dangers of risky behavior behind the wheel. In Maine, over the last three years, 41 highway deaths have been attributed to distracted driving. And state troopers are seeing widespread violations of distracted driving laws.

Visitors to the Justin Smith Morrill Homestead in Strafford are getting a rare chance to see American icons normally found only in the National Capitol. Morrill was the U.S. Senator famous for the legislation launching land grant colleges. He’s less well-known for another accomplishment: creating Statuary Hall, where each state is represented by two statues.

When South Portland Mayor Jerry Jalbert announced the 6-1 vote to approve a measure that will block the loading of raw crude, including Canadian tar sands oil, onto tanker ships in the southern Maine city, residents and supporters, who had filled the community center, rose to their feet and gave the City Council a standing ovation.

Courtesy Michael Devaney via WBUR

When the Market Basket situation blew up this weekend, so did Michael Devaney’s inbox.

“I knew something was up when I had 37,000 e-mails,” he said.

Many messages are short and angry, demanding the return of ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas. Others are as long as book chapters. But 29-year-old Devaney said he hardly has time to read more than a handful.

Because he does not work for Market Basket.

Imagine you’re fresh out of law school. Instead of going to work in a place where there are people to learn from and turn to for support, you’re a one-person firm on your own. 

A new program is helping young lawyers establish solo practices in hopes of helping both law school graduates and those who need legal services.

Gov. Peter Shumlin has agreed to a request from the White House to investigate whether the state could house some of the undocumented children now being detained in the southwestern part of the country.

The request from the White House is the first step in a very long process. 

The initial goal is to determine how much capacity each state has to house some of the nearly 60,000 children who have streamed across the border in the last few weeks.

Arsons accounted for more than 150 fires last year in Maine. They killed three people, injured more than a dozen and caused more than $4 million worth of property damage. The state Fire Marshal's Office investigates thousands of fires a year to determine which are crimes, and increasingly relies on arson dogs to help with the investigations.

Jeremy Goodwin for NEPR

This story originally published by NEPR.

Toby Talbot AP/File

The lessons of Tropical Storm Irene in Vermont have been incorporated into a new report designed to assist communities across the nation. 

The federal Environmental Protection Agency says the report offers a more comprehensive approach to mitigating the effects of flooding.

This summer, we're taking a road tour, looking at some of the museums, attractions, and hidden gems around the state.  Today we travel to Ellsworth, where an historic house stands virtually untouched since its last occupant passed away in the 1920s. 

George Nixon Black left no descendants, but he worked all his life to preserve his family's Woodlawn Estate - the gardens, the home and its top-notch furnishings. Here, you can see a nearly 200-year-old home frozen in time through three generations of an Ellsworth lumber family. 

Last year at this time farm fields were soggy from rain. The bad weather hit dairy farms at a time when expenses outstripped income and it caused vegetable farmers to lose entire crops.  

It’s a different story this year: Milk prices are high and the weather is good.

In her job as Agronomy Outreach Professional with the University of Vermont Extension Service, Kirsten Workman visits farms throughout Addison and Chittenden counties. She remembers well the rains of last year.  

At 7:00 tonight, five seals will emerge from kennels and flop across a Biddeford beach into the ocean. It will be the final release of rehabilitated seals from the University of New England's Marine Animal Rehabilitation and Conservation Center. UNE announced last month the center would close due to financial constraints and a shift in programming. Those who rescue stranded marine animals say they're scrambling to figure out how to continue helping animals in distress.

New England governors are promising to develop a regional strategy by this fall to better address opioid addiction and overdoses.

Five governors met at Brandeis University Tuesday. They all say that opioid addiction and overdose rates in their states are rising and affecting the quality of life of all residents.

But by working together, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said the states may be able to develop an effective way to deal with what he says is a public health emergency.

Angela Evancie VPR

The grocery market is changing in northern New England. Whole Foods and Trader Joe's are each expanding their presence in the region.

What do those moves mean for the local food networks here? Well, recently Whole Foods put out a call for local growers in New Hampshire for the store it's opening in Nashua. But, can you find local food at the new Trader Joe's in South Burlington, Vermont? As Angela Evancie of Vermont Public Radio explains, the answer is maybe - maybe not.

via VPR, credit Toby Talbot

In the past several decades, farmers markets have developed into a significant source of sales of Vermont agricultural products, driven by increasing demand for local food.

Winter markets and even virtual farmers markets are one sign of success.

In recent years, though, the number of summer and winter markets has leveled out.

In fact, there are fewer farmers markets opening this spring.

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