Maine Focus

Maine Focus is a journalism and community engagement initiative of the Bangor Daily News.

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.
Megan Stover sits at the kitchen table after dinner with her three daughters (from left) Andie, 5, Madison, 10, and Nellie, 7, at their home in Scarborough.

How Maine is failing working parents by leaving millions unspent on child care

on March 20, 2017, at 6:08 a.m.
The typical cost of care for infants at a child care center, almost $9,700 annually, is more than in-state tuition at the University of Maine. Yet in each of the past four years, the state has simply not spent at least $4 million in federal funds meant to help working moms and dads.
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.
Maine Focus
Safi Paulo (center) is surrounded by her children shortly after returning home from work, checking Facebook on her smartphone while chatting with her sister-in-law Yalla Kaluta (not shown) and relaxing in the kitchen in the family's home in Thomaston.

When these refugees shared their loneliness, Maine overwhelmed them with kindness

By Rosie Hughes on Feb. 18, 2017, at 7:39 a.m.
More than 75 people said they would help the first refugee family to be resettled in small-town Maine, offering everything from land to farm, to rowing lessons, to help with babysitting.
Garrett Brown is pictured at Mountain View Youth Development Center in Charleston on June 28, 2013. He died after overdosing on heroin in Augusta in November 2015.

What’s killing my classmates

By Chris Michaud on Feb. 13, 2017, at 12:30 p.m.
Out of the 23.5 million Americans suffering from drug addiction, 2 million are adolescents, ranging from ages 12 to 17.
Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew is pictured in October 2014.

How $13M in unlawful spending took shape in Mary Mayhew’s DHHS

By Matthew Stone on Feb. 07, 2017, at 6:12 a.m.
Internal emails and other communications show that state finance staff questioned the Department of Health and Human Services’ plans to spend more than $13 million in ways that ran afoul of a federal law.
Maine Focus
Steve Sherman, first assessor of Oxbow Plantation, hangs the American flag outside the community center, where residents came Nov. 8, 2016, to vote in favor of dissolving their local government.

Maine’s efforts to help rural towns didn’t work. Here’s what it can learn from Vermont

By Corlyn Voorhees on Feb. 02, 2017, at 11:56 a.m.
“We don’t come in with our own agenda. It’s about helping communities become collective teams for action.”
Maine Focus
A children's toy in the waiting room at Bangor Public Health and Community Services.

Group charged with understanding Maine infant deaths to meet after 3-year hiatus

By Matthew Stone on Feb. 01, 2017, at 6:07 a.m.
Lawmakers aim to give the panel more authority, especially after a rise in the state’s infant mortality rate that no one can fully explain.
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.
Greenville Consolidated School student Anthony Mason led an effort to build a 31-foot, cross-country ski bridge for Friends of Squaw Mountain.  Mason organized all volunteers and contractors for this project while earning his Eagle Scout ranking.

My rural school’s future depends on the wilderness surrounding it

By Jim Chasse on Jan. 28, 2017, at 7:45 a.m.
We want students from around the world who seek an education bridging liberal arts and environmental science.
Refugees take an oath of allegiance on June 17, 2016, at City Hall in Portland as they become naturalized U.S. citizens.

LePage takes final steps to end the state’s role in helping refugees

By Rosie Hughes on Jan. 26, 2017, at 6:08 a.m.
The Maine office meant to help minorities and prevent discrimination will be stripped of its main duty March 4.
An empty logging truck drives through Oxbow Plantation in this November 2016 file photo.

Why Maine needs to train the next generation of loggers

By Dana Doran on Jan. 25, 2017, at 6:15 a.m.
“At some point there’s going to be this huge drop-off of experienced and trained loggers that are very cost-effective for the industry.”
While Maine's infant mortality rate climbs, the group tasked with understanding those deaths has not met or reviewed deaths.

1 way to address rising infant mortality in Maine

By Brad Bohon on Jan. 21, 2017, at 7:52 a.m.
Maine is the only state to see a higher infant mortality rate in this decade than the previous decade.
Safi Paulo (center) is surrounded by her children shortly after returning home to Thomaston from work, checking Facebook on her smartphone while chatting with her sister-in-law Yalla Kaluta (not shown) and relaxing in the kitchen.

What rural Maine can learn from Iowa’s efforts to draw new people

By Linda Silka on Jan. 20, 2017, at 6:12 a.m.
Years of hard times have led Iowans to discover new industries and new approaches.
Kelley Strout is pictured at the One Life Project event at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on May 4, 2016.

Here’s my contribution to help end the stigma of addiction

By Kelley Strout on Jan. 19, 2017, at 6:34 a.m.
I was overcome with emotion when I opened the class by asking this question: “Please stand if someone you love has died from a heroin overdose.” Half of my students stood up.
Josephine Jordan, 3, peers out from the doorway leading to her family's front hall after coming down from the upstairs to investigate the sound of visitors on Dec. 9, 2016.

Inside the isolation of the first refugee family to be resettled in small-town Maine

on Jan. 12, 2017, at 6:30 a.m.
We chronicled one child’s yearning to be understood.
A WIC recipient and her son sit for an appointment at Bangor Public Health & Community Services on Jan. 12.

Mary Mayhew insists on photo IDs for infant nutrition program and loses $1.4M

By Matthew Stone on Jan. 11, 2017, at 8:10 a.m.
The demand by Maine’s top health official has stalled an upgrade required by federal law to a program that helps new moms buy healthy food.