Articles by Erin Rhoda

Maine Focus
Members of the Maine Senate listen to Gov. Paul LePage speak during the first session of the 128th Legislature on Dec. 7, 2016, at the State House in Augusta.

LePage signs bill to probe Maine infant deaths 

By Erin Rhoda on June 19, 2017, at 11:25 a.m.
It follows reporting last summer by the BDN’s Maine Focus team that found Maine was the only state to see a long-term increase in its infant mortality rate over the past two decades.
Delores Hainer, a U.S. Army veteran during the Korean War who grew up in Brewer, was stationed at the Fort Sam base in San Antonio, Texas, between 1949 and 1950.

See 5 Mainers tell their strongest memories of war

By Erin Rhoda on May 28, 2017, at 7:11 a.m.
They’re rarely about actual combat.
Maine Focus
Judy Gopaul worked at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention within the Maine Department of Health and Human Services for six years, most of them as the local health officer coordinator. She became the Freedom of Access Act coordinator February 1, 2016, and was responsible for reviewing requests for public information from members of the public, determining how to respond and following through. She was fired in December 2016 for releasing a public report to the Bangor Daily News, that had already been published, without first running it by her superiors.

DHHS fired a public records coordinator — for releasing a public record

By Erin Rhoda on May 16, 2017, at 8:28 p.m.
A BDN review of DHHS documents related to Judy Gopaul’s termination reveals an excessively complicated process, occasionally verging on farcical, for making decisions about how to respond to even the most minor questions from the public.
BANGOR, MAINE -- 03/20/2017 -- Rebecca Grant at the office where she currently works at St. Joseph Healthcare. She said it was a struggle to get by after she was laid off from FairPoint Communications in July 2015. 
Gabor Degre | BDN

5 lessons from a look at Maine’s workforce challenges

By Erin Rhoda on April 20, 2017, at 6:46 a.m.
The BDN’s Maine Focus team looked at what it would take for thousands more people to work. Here are five specific things we learned.
Rebecca Grant walks to the office where she currently works at St. Joseph Healthcare on March 20, 2017. She said it was a struggle to get by after she was laid off from FairPoint Communications in July 2015.

Politicans say they want people to work, but they ignore this fast route to a job

on April 17, 2017, at 6:28 a.m.
There’s a way to get more people out of poverty, but it’s a “bewildering maze.”
Maine Focus
A worker at Robbins Lumber in Searsmont monitors equipment on a recent rainy winter day.

Why we decided to look into the future of Maine’s workforce

By Erin Rhoda on March 20, 2017, at 6:11 a.m.
If nothing changes, experts expect to see limited business expansion and economic growth.
Maine Focus
Telstar High School's front office is pictured Feb. 27, 2017.

A way rural Maine students can better understand their communities

By Erin Rhoda on March 03, 2017, at 10:10 a.m.
Here’s a way for high school students to think deeply about where they come from and their role in their community.
Maine Focus
Children's shoes are strewn on the floor of a home in Thomaston in this November 2016 file photo.

12,198 calls to Maine’s child abuse hotline went unanswered last year

By Erin Rhoda on March 02, 2017, at 7:06 a.m.
About 22 percent of calls — 12,198 out of 54,904 calls — weren’t answered on the first try in 2016.
Maine Focus
Sophomores at Telstar High School in Bethel on Monday brainstorm questions they'll ask community members about how they define community. From left, Selina Creelman, 15, of Bethel; Stephanie Geyer, 17, of Bethel; Georgia Piawlock, 15, of Bryant Pond; and Alexis Sing, 16, of Bryant Pond.

These students from Bethel are trying to define their place in rural Maine

By Erin Rhoda on Feb. 27, 2017, at 4:55 p.m.
“I feel like the future of rural communities is the kids who are in the classroom right now.”
Maine Focus
A young girl runs happy, laughing through lines of people participating in Hands Around Back Cove in Portland on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016.

We want your ideas for how to draw young people to Maine

By Erin Rhoda on Feb. 22, 2017, at 6:16 a.m.
People at the Magnetize Maine Summit will brainstorm ways to attract and keep more young people in Maine.
Steve Sherman, the first assessor in Oxbow Plantation, led his community through the process of deorganizing, culminating in a final town vote Nov. 8. He’s pictured on his Christmas tree farm in Oxbow on Nov. 7, 2016.

6 takeaways from an examination of rural Maine’s future

By Erin Rhoda on Jan. 29, 2017, at 7:57 a.m.
We looked at the choices communities are making — or not making — about their future as part of a series called Rural Edges.
Donna Pickard of Far Point Farm in Steuben may have to stretch her own meals, but she will give away her food to someone who needs it.

A simple change could give Maine’s hungry, rural people more food

on Dec. 23, 2016, at 6:38 a.m.
The first in-depth look of its kind shows that 59 percent of people are using food pantries more this year than last.
Steve Sherman, the first assessor in Oxbow Plantation, led his community through the process of deorganizing, culminating in a final town vote Nov. 8. He’s pictured on his Christmas tree farm in Oxbow on Nov. 7.

How the decline of Maine’s rural places changes the people left behind

on Nov. 29, 2016, at 6:01 a.m.
Three people grapple with the decline of the communities that made them.
Left: Lines of potato barrels, families and old cars in the fields were commons sights back in the middle of the 20th Century. Fort Kent photographer Velma Daigle captured it all with her camera on 35mm color slides. The photo is courtesy of the Fort Kent Historical Society. Right, Terry Theriault exits his delimber while working off the Golden Road in this July 2015 file photo by Ashley L. Conti.

How did your small Maine town shape you?

By Erin Rhoda on Nov. 01, 2016, at 2:48 p.m.
We’d like to hear from you about your experience growing up in small-town Franklin, Somerset, Piscataquis, upper Penobscot, Aroostook, Washington or Hancock counties. How did your hometown shape who you are today, and what has changed in your hometown throughout the years?
Matthew Braun leads the Biddeford chapter of Young People in Recovery.

As a teen this man felt so alone. How his school could have helped.

on Sept. 29, 2016, at 6:12 a.m.
Principals want to better support students’ mental health, but they need the tools — and guidance themselves.

Before addiction there’s a child

on Sept. 23, 2016, at 12:31 p.m.
A look at preventing one of the largest public health problems of this time.

I survived swimming with Wessie, the giant missing snake

on Sept. 11, 2016, at 11:01 a.m.
It turned out my dog, Ernest, had concerns of his own.

When Maine wasn’t looking, more babies began to die

By Adanya Lustig and Erin Rhoda on Aug. 17, 2016, at 6:18 a.m.
This state is the only one to see a higher infant mortality rate in this decade than the last. A panel charged with tracking the deaths is unable to do its work.
Maine Families served 2,393 families with 2,644 children in all counties in state fiscal year 2014.

How Maine quietly handed off financial oversight of a $23M program for infants

By Erin Rhoda on Aug. 11, 2016, at 6:16 a.m.
The circumstances raise questions about transparency and accountability.

Website lists the ‘most famous historic houses’ in each state. Here’s Maine’s

on June 26, 2016, at 7:55 a.m.
It’s probably not just one of this state’s, but the nation’s, most well-known historic homes.