Pesticide used by Maine Potato Farmers labeled a likely human carcinogen and being banned around the world

Aroostook County potato farmers may need to rethink how they fend off late blight in the future.

Spraying for Late Blight

Chlorothalonil, the pesticide of choice among Aroostook County potato farmers to control late blight since the 1970s, has recently been labeled a “likely human carcinogen” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and has been banned in Europe. Farmers can make up to 20 applications of Chlorothalonil in a growing season.

University of Maine Cooperative Extension crop specialist Steven Johnson  says there are newer pesticides out there that would be a good replacement. “I’ve been working on this for the last 10 years,” Johnson said. “We have a lot better and newer chemicals that have better and longer efficacy. Newer fungicides are used at a much lower rate and generally speaking are less toxic to people, aquatic life and non-target organisms.”

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The Presque Isle Bus Loop to launch October 15 with fixed route connecting riders to services across Star City

The Presque Isle Bus Route Map

PRESQUE ISLE – A first-of-its-kind fixed route bus service in northern Maine will connect riders to housing, work, education, healthcare, social services and retail locations throughout Presque Isle when the service launches on October 15, 2019. At a press conference today, leaders with the Going Places Network announced details for The PI Loop, including the route, location of bus stops throughout the Star City, technology features and ridership fares.
To introduce the new service and encourage community members to use it, Going Places officials announced the first two weeks of the service will be offered at no charge to riders. The bus will run seven days a week, Monday through Saturday 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The initial bus scheduled released today will be effective October 15 through October 31, as officials assess ridership needs and make any adjustments for a schedule that will be released effective November 1.
The bus will travel around Presque Isle making stops at 16 locations that run from the University of Maine at Presque Isle on the south end of the city to the Aroostook Centre Mall on the north end. On the western side of the community, the bus will make three stops in the Skyway Industrial Park and include Northern Light A. R. Gould Memorial Hospital as a stop on the eastern side.
“The PI Loop will revolutionize access to resources in our community by giving riders a safe, affordable, convenient, Wi-Fi enabled bus system that will help people get where they need to be each day,” said LeRae Kinney of SAD 1, who along with Jamie Chandler of ACAP, co-chair the Going Places Transportation Network, which has spent the past several months getting the project off the ground.
In sharing the details of The PI Loop, both Kinney and Chandler noted that the new bus service is an economic development initiative with many benefits intended for the ridership, including customers of all ages and ability, and the community at large. The two group leaders shared that the work of the Going Places Network is focused on creating a positive impact on public transportation in the region, connecting community members in an inclusive way, and maximizing the collective impact, input and energy of numerous stakeholders.
“The PI Loop will provide several pathways and opportunities for residents, and visitors alike, who will have access to a dependable, reliable and affordable public transportation option that will change the face of our community and provide equal access and opportunity to everyone,” said Chandler.

Going Places Network members include more than a dozen non-profit organizations, government agencies and businesses. Engagement in getting The PI Loop off the ground has expanded to include a number of other community leaders and members of the Presque Isle Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs, which have adopted The PI Loop as their joint community project this year.
Aroostook Regional Transportation System (ARTS), a member of the Going Places Network, will provide the service beginning October 15 in a brand new 36-seat, fully accessible, metro style passenger bus recently purchased with a donation by philanthropist Mary Smith.
A regular fare for the bus, which consists of a one-on, one-off, will cost riders $1.75. A roundtrip fare is $3.50. Discounted fares are available based on eligibility criteria. The lower rates will be offered to individuals 18 years and under, 60 years and older, persons with mobility disabilities, and active military and veterans and spouses with military ID. Children five years of age and under will ride for free with a parent or guardian.
Regular and frequent users of the service will also have the opportunity to purchase either a Go Pass or Go Card. The Go Pass features two options: a 31-day and a seven-day. Both offer unlimited ridership for the designated period. The Go Card allows riders to load (and reload) funds with a declining balance when scanned each time the user boards the bus.
“These fares are comparable to other transit systems,” said John Duncan, interim executive director for ARTS. “We wanted to make it as convenient and accessible as possible for community members to ride The PI Loop. This service is available and open to everyone. We hope to see you on The PI Loop!”
Riders will be able to purchase fares using cash (exact change only), credit card or EBT on the bus. Go Passes and Go Cards can be purchased at kiosks at ARTS, ACAP or the Presque Isle Housing Authority office, and also from one’s own computer or mobile device. The kiosks were strategically placed to assist riders with creating their accounts, purchasing fares, Go Cards and Go Passes.
Access to the service is further enhanced electronically with a specially-designed mobile phone app and website that will allow community members to pay for The PI Loop fares on-line, to track the bus and see its location in real time using GPS technology, and receive any alerts. A County-based firm, Sweden Street of Caribou, is building the technology to support Presque Isle’s new public transportation initiative.

“We are working to make it easy for riders to plan their trips on the new bus. We aim to create an online user experience that is intuitive and easy to use. Expect the PI Loop application to be on par with or better than apps you may be accustomed to when travelling around the country or internationally,” said Steve Wimmer of Sweden Street Software and Consulting. “The project has provided an incredible opportunity to take advantage of modern technologies and the cloud to create a web site and mobile app for Aroostook County residents, and visitors to the area, to use to ride the bus.”

Presque Isle City officials, including City Manager Martin Puckett and members of the City Council, have been involved in the Going Places Network meetings and planning for the coming launch of The PI Loop. Improving access to public transportation options in the Star City has been among Puckett’s goals since he first became city manager.

“I am very excited to see the PI Loop service start in the Star City. The collaboration has led to an innovative transit service that is not only a first in Aroostook County but in the State of Maine. The new service will meet the transportation needs of a wide range of the population,” said Puckett.
In the coming weeks, the Going Places Network will announce two additional significant sponsors, who along with recently announced presenting sponsor Katahdin Trust, will be among the three major initial supporters recognized with signage on the bus exterior. The PI Loop bus will also be rolling into Presque Isle with its newly designed wrap prior to an inaugural special run of the bus for media and community supporters on October 1.

Advertising opportunities for local businesses and organizations in the bus interior will be made available to interested entities in the coming month.

The first four months of service for The PI Loop are considered the pilot phase. Any adjustments will be made moving forward based on ridership and feedback from consumers during this period. In addition, an area-wide transportation feasibility study will be conducted by a private consulting firm working with the Going Places Network and ARTS during this initial period.

The pilot phase and feasibility study will provide Going Places members valuable data to make any future adjustments to the route, bus stop locations and operating hours of the service. That information will help assess where best to place bus shelter structures, which will be installed in 2020. The shelters will shield people waiting for the bus from the elements and serve as an income source with advertising options available on the units.

Aroostook Photos – 9/18/2019

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Ice in the water dishes this morning. Northern Maine had temps in the 20s last night in some of the colder spots.

Photo Credit: Brian Philbrook
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Leaves turning in Presque Isle yesterday
Photo Credit: Lee Cheek
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Bright reds in the Caribou area
Photo Credit: Anna Lightbown
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Traveling on Willard Road in Caswell this morning, the colors were so beautiful.
Photo Credit: Anna Lightbown
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Madawaska Stream
Photo Credit: Amanda Sherman
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Peeking through the branches
Photo Credit: Stephen Cyr
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Early a.m. in Bridgewater
Photo Credit: Daryl Friedman
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Sunset on the Aroostook River
Photo Credit: Amanda Sherman
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The Full Harvest Moon rises behind the Hampton Inn in Presque Isle last Friday evening
 
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Aroostook Photos – 9/6/2019

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Katahdin sunset from the scenic turnout on I95
Photo Credit: Adam Farnsworth
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Amish cutting the grain , and bundling it into a bunch, tied with a twine is called sheaves. Then the sheave bundles are placed by hand in a pyramid style called Stooks, or Shocks , as well as a few other names depending on what area you are from, for drying.
A week or so later depending on the weather, the piles are gathered up and taken into the barn for trashing of the grain, sometimes thrashed outside.
Photo Credit: Lovena West
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Today’s sunrise on Portage Lake
Photo Credit: Stephen Cyr
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The Potato Harvest has begun in Aroostook County at Leavitt Farms
Photo Credit: Mike Fitzherbert

Aroostook Photos – 9/2/2019

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Sunset on the Madawaska River in Connor
Photo Credit: Devon Cote
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Rainbow at the Aroostook Valley Country Club in Fort Fairfield
Photo Credit: Lonney Steeves
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Blazing Milky Way in Island Falls
Photo Credit: ‎Adam Farnsworth
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Sunflower Sunset in Mapleton
Photo Credit: Vonda Lavway
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Northern Light Show in Limestone
Photo Credit: Bespoke Photographer
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Aroostook County Harvest
For many years in Aroostook County, school would recess in the Fall and kids would spend long hard days working in the potato fields. Pick up potatoes, fill a basket, dump the basket in a barrel and repeat. When the barrel was full you earned $0.25. Repeat until sunset or longer. Many kids would use the money to buy school clothes or other necessities. Were you part of this tradition?
Order Here:  http://bit.ly/pickpotatoes
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Northern Light over Portage Lake
Photo Credit: Stephen Cyr
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Today’s Sunrise behind Mars Hill Mt.
Photo Credit: Amanda Sherman

Northern Lights May be Visible This Weekend over Maine

Northern Lights dance over the PT Farms barn on US Rt. 1 in Presque Isle in June 2015

The Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights may be visible in parts of Maine this weekend, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Assuming a cloud-free night, the atmospheric phenomenon may be visible along the northern border of the U.S. from Washington to Maine on Saturday and Sunday. The peak is expected on Sunday with 6kp possible, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

Northern Lights are the result of electrons colliding with the Earth’s atmosphere, propelling the atoms to higher energy states. When they fall back to lower states, the energy is released in the form of light, similar to the way a neon light works, according to the NOAA. The storm aligns with the new moon, making for a darker night sky and better viewing conditions.

Check out this aurora map from the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute to see if you are in for some northern lights viewing this weekend!

Hot Air Ballons and Stunning Sunsets

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Tranquility at Portage Lake
Photo Credit: Pam Martin

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On the evening of August 26, Aroostook County experience one of the most beautiful sunsets in recent memory. Taken in Presque Isle
Photo Credit: Rebecca Bowers
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Another sunset shot from August 26 on Flat.Mt St. Agatha
Photo Credit: Kristal Larrabee
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Leaves are starting to turn in the St. John Valley.
Photo Credit: Chris Michaud
A beautiful tribute video to the Crown of Maine Balloon Festival by The Timber Cross
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Fire on the water at Long Lake
Photo Credit: Lisa Arnoldy
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A B-52 from Minot AFB performed a couple passes over the runway at the recent Loring Open House. The original flyby was cancelled due to an in-flight emergency with the aircraft but we are told they landed safely. Our Maine Senators helped get the Air Force to schedule another fly over the next day!
Photo Credit: Jeremy Dugal
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A balloon from the Crown of Maine Balloon Festival sinks into the fog at the Aroostook River last Sunday morning.
Photo Credit: Loretta Schmitz-Coty
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The 2020 Crown of Maine Balloon Calendar is available for order and makes a great gift!
Order Here: http://bit.ly/combfcal

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Sunday morning mass ascension at the Northern Maine Fairgrounds
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A powered-parachute flys by and hot air balloon on Saturday night on the Higgins Rd. in Presque Isle
A parade of loons on a local lake
Video Credit: Joanne Long
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Blue Sky and Water in Washburn, Maine
Photo Credit: Jon Cole
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Moose in the fog at the Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge in Limestone
Photo Credit: Sharon Wallace
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Sunflowers in Mapleton
Photo credit: Nan Greindl
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Sunflowers in Mapleton
Photo credit: Nan Greindl

Aroostook Photos – 8/21/2019

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Sunrise at Portage Lake
Photo Credit: Stephen Cyr

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Early dawn on the Saint John River
Photo Credit: Chris Michaud
Spellbound Spirit II about to touch the Aroostook River this morning
Photo Credit: Loretta Schmitz-Coty
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A peaceful scene at Merritt Brook in Presque Isle
Photo Credit: Amanda Sherman
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Hot Air Balloon hanging behind Wilder’s Jewelry Store in Presque Isle early Tuesday morning. Many COMBF pilots come to the area early and fly before the official start of the balloon festival
Photo Credit: Aron
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A couple moose relaxing in a field on the West Chapman road.
Photo Credit: Eric Huoppi
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A rainbow hangs over the Aroostook House of Comfort in Presque Isle Monday evening

Aroostook Photos

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Wildfire Sunrise on Portage Lake today
Photo Credit: Stephen Cyr
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Fog burning off of Long Lake today at sunrise
Photo Credit: Richard Marston
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Last night’s Full Sturgeon Moon
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Aroostook River Reflections
Photo Credit: Amanda Sherman
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Caribou Sunset
Photo Credit: Emily Knowles
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Canada Geese at Sunrise in Josephine Reservoir – Easton
Photo Credit: Earlene Dyer Lawrence
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Wildfire Sunrise on Portage Lake
Photo Credit: Stephen Cyr

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