A Year in Review: 2018


first_imgFireworks drew a large crowd and lit up the sky over Prescott Field in Farmington Tuesday night. (Photo by Don Waterhouse)Members of the Maine State Police tactical team on the Temple Road. (Photo by Amber Kapiloff)Another year has come to an end in Franklin County. Here’s hoping that everyone has a fun (and safe!) new year.In what has become an annual tradition, the Daily Bulldog takes a look back at some of the stories that drew the highest traffic over the past 12 months. Each story, ranging from important to trivial, heart-breaking to heart-warming, drew the most visits over a month-long period through either one or multiple appearances in Bulldog articles.January – Murder-suicide kills two in TempleThe new year began with tragedy in Temple, after the bodies of a husband and wife were discovered inside their home on the Temple Road on Jan. 9. According to police, dispatchers were contacted early that morning by a male caller who threatened to shoot himself. Local police and, later, the state police tactical team and negotiators arrived at the Temple Road address that morning and attempted to communicate with the couple inside the house. After receiving no response, tactical team members entered the house at roughly 12:30 p.m.The deceased husband and wife were identified as Thomas Masse, 60, and Michelle Masse, 59. A handgun was found beside Thomas Masse. The State Medical Examiner’s Office later declared the deaths the result of a murder-suicide.Verso Paper Corporation’s Androscoggin Mill in Jay.February – Verso announces plan to upgrade, restart No. 3 machineVerso Corporation announced in February that it intended to upgrade and reopen the No. 3 paper machine and an associated pulp line at the Androscoggin Mill, enabling the manufacture of packaging products.The No. 3 machine and its associated equipment was idled in January 2017 following a November 2016 announcement, with 190 employees laid off in early 2017. Verso announced that the machine had been shut down in July 2017, eliminating those positions. That reduction in workforce cut roughly one-third of the mill’s 560 employees, just two years after another 300 positions were eliminated following the shutdown of two other machines.State and local officials lauded the announcement, which represented the creation of approximately 120 jobs.The upgrade of the No. 3 machine and pulp line took the form of a $17 million project. Of that money, $4 million was provided by a Maine Technology Asset Fund 2.0 challenge grant administered by the Maine Technology Institute.In July, Verso announced further investment in the Androscoggin Mill, focusing on the production of release liner paper at its No. 4 machine.Then-Attorney General Janet Mills spoke to the audience prior to the march.March – Hundreds gather for March For Our Lives in FarmingtonFollowing the deaths of 17 Stoneman Douglas High School students and staff members in February, people around the country gathered on March 24 in an effort to end gun violence in classrooms.The youth-led event brought hundreds to Main Street to join in the movement. Students from elementary grades to college level were joined by teachers, principals, family members and community members for the march, followed by a line up of speakers in Meetinghouse Park. Mt. Blue High School students shared poems, songs and thoughts on the issue, calling for a change in policies.“Students should not fear school. They shouldn’t have to memorize lock down protocol. Enough is enough. We need to be heard,” student speaker Kayla Kayla LeGrand said. “Congress, the ball is in your court. And we will be voting in the midterm election.”April – Fatal shooting of Somerset County deputy sparks manhuntWhile occurring in neighboring Somerset County, the shooting death of Cpl. Eugene Cole and ensuing manhunt for suspect John Williams drew significant attention across western Maine. Williams is alleged to have shot and killed Cole in the early morning hours of April 25, then stolen his marked cruiser and driven it to a convenience store. Cole, a 13-year veteran of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office, was the first law enforcement officer to die on duty in Maine in nearly 30 years.A manhunt of local, state and federal law enforcement officers was launched throughout the area, eventually locating Williams at a camp in Fairfield three days later. Williams, who has been charged with murder, is scheduled to be tried in 2019.May – RSU 9 budget passesVoters in the 10 towns that comprise the Regional School Unit 9 school district went to the polls in May to cast their ballots on a $35.5 million budget. They ended up supporting the budget by a vote of 1,552 in favor to 1,174 opposed.That budget, approved on May 7 at the district-wide budget meeting, represented an increase of $1.9 million over the current fiscal year or 5.68 percent. New items in the budget included teaching and support positions, staff and support for the Pathways for All Learners program and funds donated by Richard Bjorn to benefit the Foster Career & Technical Education Center.In total, not including Bjorn’s donation and some other miscellaneous funds, the budget was funded by roughly $13.3 million from local town assessments and $21 million from the state allocation, an increase of $750,000. It resulted in a 6.25 percent increase in local assessments.June – Sheriff sounds alarm after three overdoses reported in one weekThe Franklin County Sheriff’s Office responded to apparent overdoses in three towns in a single week in June, leading to Sheriff Scott Nichols issuing a warning and request for help from the community regarding fentanyl, a potent opioid blamed for overdose deaths across the country.FCSO detectives and deputies, along with local fire department and NorthStar EMS personnel, responded to New Sharon and Chesterville on June 5 and Strong on June 7 after receiving reports of drug overdoses. In every case, Nichols said, the drug NARCAN was administered to help revive all three individuals. All three cases are under investigation.“Heroin is a dangerous, illicit narcotic in and of itself,” Nichols said in a public safety announcement released in June, “but we are finding that most of these overdoses are actually as a result of the ingestion of fentanyl.”A synthesized form of heroin dating back to the 1960s, the legal, pharmaceutical version of fentanyl is prescribed by medical providers as a pain medication. The fentanyl sold illicitly for recreational use is instead manufactured in clandestine laboratories, frequently outside of the United States, and may be marketed as heroin. The drug, which is often many times more potent than street-level heroin, has been linked to roughly 60 percent of last year’s fatal overdoses in Maine.Anyone who may have information relevant to the trafficking or source of fentanyl is asked to contact the FCSO through its Facebook page or by calling (207)778-2680.July – Fatal crash kills Freeman Township manA motorcycle accident ended in a fatality on July 21 on the West Freeman Road, after the operator failed to navigate a corner and ran off the road. The motorist, 56-year-old Flint York of Freeman Township, died at the scene.The Wilton Blueberry Festival.August – Blueberry Festival brings a summertime Christmas to WiltonThe town’s iconic August festival is a consistent top story, bringing an eclectic mix of shopping, activities and its iconic parade to downtown Wilton. The festival’s roots go back to 1982, when it started as the Blueberry Church Bazaar at the First Congregational Church on Main Street. In 1989, head organizer Shannon Smith took over and turned the small, mostly locally-attended event to one of the bigger summer draws in western Maine.Event winners can be found here.Cordelia Murphy was the winner of the costume contest by unanimous decision. To the left is her mother, Sara Murphy, and behind her is Judy Smith, who organized the inaugural event.September – The Farmington Fair comes to townAnother common candidate to this list, the Farmington Fair schedule and various updates were among the articles with the highest traffic for September. The 178th annual Farmington Fair featured the traditional livestock shows and contests, pari-mutuel racing, exhibitions, midway games, rides and food, as well as new events such as a pie-eating contest, bike drawings and a costume contest that drew a single, adorable contestant.Officer Michael LymanOfficer Jesse ClementOctober – Farmington police officers recognized for saving woman’s lifeOfficer Jesse Clement and Officer Michael Lyman were given the Lifesaving Award for their actions in July.At approximately 8 a.m. on July 6, a woman was reported missing from her house in Strong. The woman, who had recently lost a family member and was depressed, had reportedly taken an unknown quantity of prescription medication. A number of agencies began searching, including the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, the Maine Warden Service, firefighters from the Strong and Farmington departments and three FPD officers: Lyman, Clement and Sgt. Edward Hastings IV.Lyman and Clement began searching the woods and fields near the missing woman’s home. After approximately two hours, they discovered her stuck in a stream, face down in the water. They immediately retrieved her, Peck said, saving her life.“Without hesitation you entered the stream and pulled her to safety,” Peck wrote in a letter of commendation for the officers. “Your prompt and alert action saved her life.”November – Election results for Franklin CountyElection results tend to draw eyeballs, particularly for a gubernatorial race. Franklin County residents chose Farmington native and Democratic candidate Janet Mills to be the state’s next governor, mirroring Mills’ success across the entire state. Franklin County voters also chose Democratic candidate Jared Golden to replace Republican candidate and incumbent Congressman Bruce Poliquin; that outcome was later confirmed statewide following implementation of the ranked choice voting system, a legal challenge and an aborted recount.Locally, residents selected now-Sen. Russell Black (R – Wilton) to serve as the county’s senator and backed a number of incumbents for house seats. Newcomers include Scott Landry (D – Farmington) and Randy Hall (R – Wilton).December – Farmington man repeatedly rams ex-girlfriend’s vehicleJoshua Norton (Photo courtesy of Franklin County Detention Center)A local man was arrested on Dec. 16 after Farmington police say he returned to the scene of a crime to once again ram a woman’s vehicle with his minivan.Joshua Norton, 39 of Farmington, has been charged with five, Class C felonies: two counts of domestic violence reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, domestic violence stalking with prior convictions, aggravated criminal mischief and violating a protection from abuse order. He has also bee charged with misdemeanor driving to endanger and failing to stop for an officer. The charges all relate to Norton’s alleged actions near Walmart.It is alleged that Norton had been at Walmart and had a verbal confrontation with the woman, Norton’s ex-girlfriend, prior to the incident. As their vehicles left the store and proceeded to the intersection with the Wilton Road, Norton allegedly pulled up beside the woman’s vehicle, a Honda Pilot, and began ramming the Dodge minivan he was operating into its side. The woman was able to leave the intersection and called police. Norton reportedly fled the scene.Later that evening, Norton’s vehicle was located on Franklin Avenue. He reportedly ignored commands to stop and instead returned to the Walmart lot. The woman was still at the scene with officers, police say, and Norton once again tried to ram her vehicle.“The victim drove around the parking lot trying to avoid being hit by Mr. Norton,” Deputy Chief Shane Cote said in the statement, “all while the police officers were actively trying to get him to stop.”Officers described following Norton around the parking lot at least three times, while pedestrians walked through the lot and people watched from the entrance. Finally, Norton allegedly was able to ram the Honda Pilot with his minivan. At this point, he lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a snowbank. Norton immediately surrendered to police and was taken into custody without further incident.Top opinion stories (by traffic)EP Rock as Elvis1. Al Diamon – “Your vote doesn’t count” – link here2. William Gilliland – “Another bloody day” – link here3. John Frary – “Time to poke a hole in the Bill of Rights” – link hereTop art stories (by traffic)1. Local quilter’s work on display in Carrabassett Valley – link here2. RSU 9 students selected to attend All-State Music Festival – link here3. Elvis impersonation in Phillips – link hereTop happenings stories (by traffic)1. American Pickers to film in Maine – link here2. Wilton teen heads to Miss Teen International – link here3. 104-year-old honored as Farmington’s oldest resident – link hereAnne Marie Veilleux, center with flowers, was honored at Pinewood Terrace as Farmington’s oldest resident at 104.Top business stories (by traffic)1. Worthley appointed lead pharmacy technician at hospital – link here2. HVAC introductory class being offered this spring – link here3. Beaudoin welcomed as new FSB lender – link hereGraduates of the 2017 Spruce Mountain & Franklin County Adult Ed HVAC collaborative. (Photo by Mike Burd)Most commented story (-ies!)Actually a tie – 105 comments apiece – for John Frary’s “Time to poke a hole in the Bill of Rights” (see above, under Opinions) and the story on the Farmington march (see above, under March)last_img

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