Four Things to know on this Thursday in Maine: Honor Flight Maine telethon today, FBI looking for fugitive, and more.

NEWS CENTER Maine can help you get your day started right with a quick look at the stories making headlines across the state.

1. HONOR FLIGHT MAINE TELETHON TODAY

Today is NEWS CENTER Maine’s annual Honor Flight Maine telethon, where Mainers can help raise money to help send our veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit the memorials built in their honor. The phone lines, manned by NEWS CENTER Maine staff and volunteers, will be open from 5 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. $700 is enough to send one veteran on the trip. If you are in the Portland area, you can call 855-875-4328 to donate, and if you are in the Bangor area, you can call 855-874-9529.

Take our PULSE poll today to express how you honor our veterans!2. RANKED CHOICE DECISIONS EXPECTED TODAY

Candidates and voters should learn today who won the Second Congressional District race: incumbent Republican Bruce Poliquin, or Democrat challenger Jared Golden. Secretary of State Matt Dunlap has spent the past five days processing ballots from the 375 towns and cities in CD2. That work continued yesterday, despite uncertainty created by a lawsuit filed earlier this week against ranked choice. That suit was filed by Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin and three others, claiming the RCV process violates the U.S. Constitution.

Ranked choice decisions expected Thursday

The FBI is looking for a man from Springvale, and is willing to pay for information leading to his arrest. The bureau is offering a $5,000 reward for anyone who can lead them to Joshua Weldon, who disappeared after posting bail on a drug charge. He was arrested in August and charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl. The FBI believes Weldon is with his girlfriend, and should be considered armed and dangerous.

FBI offers reward for information on ‘armed and dangerous’ man in Maine

4. MAINE CYCLIST RAISING MONEY FOR CHILDHOOD CANCER RESEARCH DIES

James Dobson, a man from Kittery who was cycling across the country to raise money for childhood cancer research, was killed yesterday. He was riding his recumbent cycle from New England to San Diego, California, and documenting his trip on social media. Dobson was on his bike in Lamar County, Mississippi when he was struck by a car. Police there say a storm affected visibility, and that the driver who hit Dobson probably didn’t see him until it was too late. Dobson was hoping to raise $10,000. After news of his death yesterday, thousands of dollars poured in to his GoFundMe page to surpass that goal.

Maine cyclist killed while on cross-country charity ride

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The Thinning Blue Line: A police shortage in Maine could soon get a lot worse (or is that better?)

Many departments have multiple positions open, but supervisors are struggling to find qualified candidates to fill them. So what happens when a large number of veteran officers retire?

Maine is no exception.

Many police departments, statewide, have multiple positions open, but supervisors are struggling to find qualified candidates to fill them.

Even more troubling, what those numbers look like moving forward, when a large number of veteran officers can retire.

Helping people. As cliche as it might sound it’s the No. 1 reason many police officers put on the badge.

A former high school English teacher, Tyler Plourde is now a trooper with the Maine State Police. “I wanted to have an impact on my community being able to help people”.

Officer Colin Gordan is a Falmouth police officer. “People ultimately get into to police work to help people, preserve order. As corny and cheesy as that sounds it’s true.”

What’s also true is there are fewer and fewer people willing to do the job. Many departments in Maine are down two, five, even 13 police officers.

Lt. John Kilbride, a 20-year veteran of the Falmouth Police Department, says that’s an incredible strain for a department. He says, “it’s nerve-wracking, you can’t just pluck a police officer off a tree.”

There are a lot of reasons for the police shortage.

  • Low pay, when compared to the high risks of the job
  • The negative attitude some people have toward police
  • A difficult and lengthy hiring process
  • Young people entering the workforce who are making a balance between work and life a top priority (something that any cop will tell you is not easy)

Maine State Police Lt. David Tripp says while his agency has been successful shoring up their vacancy rate, he admits being down troopers can cause a strain. “We are pushing some would say beyond our capacity with the services we’re providing.”

It’s a problem that could get a lot worse.

The Maine State Police currently has 341 officers. In two years, 15 percent will be eligible to retire. That’s 51 state troopers.

There are 161 Portland police officers. Over the course of the next five years, more than 25 percent are or will be eligible for retirement. That’s more than 44 officers.

The Maine Warden Service is facing similar issues. There are 125 game wardens. Today, 23 percent can retire. That’s more than 40.

Even smaller agencies are not immune.

The South Portland Police Department has 55 officers. Right now, 26 percent can retire. That’s 14 police officers.

Lt. Tripp says, “so when we look at that number that could be fairly high, 51 potentially retiring, that does cause us some concern”.

Those numbers are forcing departments to be more flexible and take a closer look at how they’re recruiting. Some are using social media and incentives or signing bonuses to attract candidates.

But finding interested candidates isn’t the only challenge, so is finding qualified ones.

Lt. John Kilbride says, “I will go without before I put forth someone I’m not comfortable with.”

When a department is down officers, it’s forced to play defense—prioritizing calls as well as cases.

That can not only impact communities, it can place a bigger burden on the rank and file.

“You start putting stressors on really good people and they start evaluating whether they want to stick around, it’s a sinking ship. You’ve hit the iceberg,” says Lt. Kilbride.

NEWS CENTER Maine spoke with officers from agencies across the state, who did not want to go on camera. They told us “a lot of times it’s like swimming upstream” … “investigations don’t get the attention they deserve, because they’re not enough officers” … “everyone loves to take video of you hoping you screw up” and “a lot of people don’t understand our training or why we do the things we do.”

Joe Loughlin, former deputy chief of the Portland Police Department and a national law enforcement consultant, says the stress on law enforcement officers today is enormous.

Loughlin says, “for years we’ve been saying we can do less with more, well that doesn’t work anymore, you need people”.

“These are tough days for this profession and tough days for the citizens because in the end, it’s the good citizens who suffer,” says Loughlin.

Loughlin, as well as those still in law enforcement, says they’re confident that, while it won’t happen right away, this shortage will pass and ultimately enough people will answer the call to protect and serve.

Lt. Tripp says, “I’ve had citizens say to me why would you do this job? Why would you want to do a job with everything going on today? Police officers being shot at or shot. Why would you do it? For me personally, if it’s not us, then who is it?”

Two New England things to know this morning.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE MORNING REPORT LIVE FROM 4:30 TO 7 A.M.

1. NEW HAMPSHIRE GUNMAN IN CUSTODY AFTER 24-HOUR MANHUNT

Christopher Thomas is in custody this morning after being found by police on Farmington Road in Rochester, New Hampshire. The search began on noon Sunday when someone reported seeing a man with a rifle in the Walmart parking lot, and then disappeared into the woods. Thomas reportedly fired several shots at officers, but no one was injured. He now faces charges of reckless conduct.

Armed and dangerous man in custody after eluding police in Rochester, NH

2. SHRIMP SEASON NEWS EXPECTED THIS WEEK

Maine fisherman will find out later this week if the shrimp season will be canceled again. An advisory panel that reports to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is meeting on Thursday to make a recommendation about having a season in 2019. Seasons have been canceled the past 5 years, due to concerns about warming waters in the Gulf of Maine.

Missing hunter found deceased in Maine woods by wardens

Babula was found deceased this afternoon at 3:00pm. Babula was located by a team of game wardens, searching wooded areas for known tree stands that Babula would use.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has been notified.

According to the Maine Warden Service, wardens are searching for Todd Babula, 59, from Portsmouth, New Hampshire in New Portland.

Babula is said to have a camp in the area and has been a deer hunter for many years.

On Friday November 9, 2018, Babula’s truck became stuck on a backwoods road, where Babula had local neighbors help him get his truck unstuck later that afternoon.

Babula’s uncle dropped him off to hunt near his truck on Friday afternoon at approximately 1:00 pm, and has not been seen or heard from since.

Babula’s uncle reported him missing Saturday evening around 5pm, where game wardens responded and found Babula’s vehicle, and used several different resources and techniques to try and find Babula on Saturday night.

Another search was conducted on Sunday morning, but there were no signs of Babula.

If anyone has any information regarding Todd Babula’s whereabouts, you are asked to call the Augusta State Regional Communication Center at (207)-624-7076.

Protests in 18 Maine towns calling for protection of Mueller investigation

18 towns and cities in Maine joined more than 900 protests across the nation calling for protection of the Mueller investigation just a day after Attorney General Jeff Sessions was forced to resign.

(NEWS CENTER Maine) — Protests took place across Maine rallying to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

18 towns and cities in Maine joined more than 900 protests across the nation calling for protection of the Mueller investigation just a day after Attorney General Jeff Sessions was forced to resign.

The group Nobody Is Above The Law’s website says protests are planned for 5 p.m. Thursday in these Maine locations:

  • Augusta
  • Bangor
  • Bar Harbor
  • Belfast
  • Brunswick
  • Eastport
  • Ellsworth
  • Farmington
  • Houlton
  • Kittery
  • Lewiston
  • Newcastle
  • Norway
  • Portland
  • Prospect Harbor
  • Rockland
  • South Paris
  • Waterville

Critics worry that the newly appointed Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker may be unlikely to defend the investigation given the comments he has made about the probe which is investigating if Donald Trump colluded with Russians during his 2016 Presidential campaign.

Whitaker wrote an op-ed for CNN in 2017 arguing that Mueller was “dangerously close to crossing” a red line following reports he was looking into Trump’s finances.

Protesters believe that Whitaker who will now be overseeing the investigation should recuse himself from the investigation just as his predecessor and former boss, Jeff Sessions did.

How many people will show up to the protests remains to be seen.

5 Things Maine needs to know Thursday

5 Things Maine needs to know Thursday: Governor-elect Mills returns to hometown, human remains found, and more.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE MORNING REPORT LIVE FROM 4:30 TO 7 A.M.

1. JANET MILLS RETURNS TO HOMETOWN AS GOVERNOR-ELECT

People in Governor-elect’s Janet Mills hometown of Farmington gathered for a celebration of her win. Nearly 200 people packed the Homestead Kitchen Bar and Bakery as Mills thanked her supporters while pointing out that she won by more than 50 percent of the vote. Before the celebration, she talked with reporters about her intention to fund Medicaid expansion and tackle the opioid crisis.

Gov.-elect Mills welcomed back to Farmington, shows off spoons skills

2. CD2 TO BE DECIDED BY RANKED CHOICE VOTING

Maine’s second district congressional race between Republican representative Bruce Poliquin and Democrat Jared Golden will be decided by ranked-choice. It’s clear now that neither of them will reach a 50-percent majority on the first count. Starting this morning, all ballots in the second District will be collected and brought to Augusta for a ranked choice count. In that process, the last place finisher’s second choice will be counted and reallocated. If that doesn’t result in a 50 percent majority for someone, the ballots for the candidate who finished third will also be reallocated. Secretary of State Matt Dunlap says he doesn’t want to promise a timeline, but he estimates it could be at least a week.

Ranked-choice voting to decide 2nd District US House race

3. HUMAN REMAINS FOUND IN BLUE HILL

A hunter in Blue Hill discovered human remains near Grindleville Road. While the medical examiner still has yet to identify the remains, police have been looking for 37-year-old Jessica Grindle in that same area since she went missing in August.

Police: Hunter finds human remains in Blue Hill

4. ATTORNEY GENERAL JEFF SESSIONS DEPARTS WHITE HOUSE

President Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions just a day after the midterm elections. The forced resignation capped months of the president’s trashing the Alabama Republican for recusing himself from the Justice Department’s investigation of Russian election meddling. Trump has named Matthew Whitaker, Sessions’ chief of staff and an outspoken critic of the Russia investigation, as acting AG, thus putting him in charge of the probe.

Read Jeff Sessions’ resignation letter: ‘Thank you for the opportunity, Mr. President’

5. WHITE HOUSE REMOVES PRESS PASS FOR CNN’S JIM ACOSTA

CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta is now banned from the White House after a testy exchange with President Trump during a press conference yesterday. The White House says Acosta’s pass was removed as a result of his attempt to keep control of the microphone during the conference, and in doing so he is accused of “putting his hands” on the White House intern who was trying to get the microphone. CNN released a statement saying the incident as described by the White House is false and that it “never happened.”

Notable times CNN’s Jim Acosta and the White House have clashed

Nigerian Military Tweets Trump Video to Justify Shooting Protesters

H8 nigerian army tweet

Nigeria’s military has pointed to Donald Trump’s words to justify its deadly shootings of protesters last week in the capital Abuja. Amnesty International reports that more than 40 members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria were killed last Monday during a peaceful demonstration demanding the release of their jailed leader. The Nigerian military’s official Twitter account initially posted—then later deleted—a tweet reading, “Please Watch and Make Your Deductions.” It was accompanied by video of Trump warning that soldiers should shoot migrants who throw rocks.