PORTLAND, Maine — U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud are calling on President Barack Obama to release oil from the strategic petroleum reserve as a way to help slow the skyrocketing prices of oil products.
Pingree says rising gas and oil prices are creating a crisis for Maine families and slowing economic growth.
Michaud says the country needs to develop clean energy alternatives to reduce its dependence on oil but says in the short term releasing oil from the reserve could help prevent oil prices from escalating.
The two Democrats have joined colleagues in signing a letter to Obama.
Pingree says the last three presidents have all released oil from the reserve and prices went down.
• • •
Maine, Vermont plants get weapons contract
SACO, Maine — Defense contractor General Dynamics has been awarded a $7.8 million contract to produce Gatling gun systems for the U.S. Navy.
U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine say the 22 lightweight Gatling gun systems used on fighter jets will be produced at General Dynamics’ plant in Saco.
Officials say the contract management and final testing will be handled by General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products in Burlington, Vt.
The Navy says work will be completed by April 2013 on the weapon systems, which will be mounted on F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets.
• • •
WHCA awarded $187,500 for small businesses
ELLSWORTH, Maine — The Washington Hancock Community Agency has been awarded a $150,000 loan and $37,500 grant from USDA Rural Development’s Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program. Under the program, funds are provided to an intermediary who “re-lends” it to entrepreneurs and offers technical assistance. WHCA was one of eight organizations in seven states that was selected for the funding.
“Often times a small business or start up needs capital to purchase computers or help with the leasing of office space to get off the ground,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud in a statement announcing the award. “This program not only provides funding for those types of needs, but it also comes with technical assistance that many budding entrepreneurs find extremely helpful as they make decisions important to their success.”
According to USDA, assistance to rural areas under this program includes loans and grants to microenterprises and microentrepreneurs, and business-based training and technical assistance grants to rural microborrowers and potential microborrowers.
For more information, contact WHCA at 664-2424 or 546-7544.
• • •
Free workshops offered in Belfast for farmers
BELFAST, Maine — On Saturday, March 26, the Knowledge Transfer Alliance at the University of Maine in collaboration with the Hutchinson Center in Belfast will be assisting area farmers and natural resource based business owners to better manage their businesses.
Free workshops will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hutchinson Center. Presentations will include vision setting, time management, and two sessions on Quickbooks. In a separate room, business owners can work directly on 18 computers to better understand traditional and Internet marketing and to develop their own budget and keep better records.
Contact Aaron Hoshide at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 659-4808 if you are interested.