Christmas Carol Hymn Sing

Submitted by Seth Barden on December 1, 2019 - 6:01pm

What the sale of almost 400 miles of train track will mean for Maine

Submitted by Seth Barden on November 30, 2019 - 12:22pm

Eesha Pendharkar, Bangor Daily News Staff • November 26, 2019


For more than six months, the Maine Department of Transportation’s director of freight knew that a large portion of train track that runs through Maine was going to change hands.

Recently news broke that one of the largest rail operators in North America would buy the 481 miles of track in Maine and Quebec run by Bangor-based Central Maine and Quebec Railway. The sale to Calgary, Alberta-based Canadian Pacific Railway is expected to close by the end of the year.

The sale will mark the return of a Class 1 railroad to Maine for the first time since the 1980s, said Nate Moulton, director of freight at the Maine Department of Transportation. Now, a railroad that runs from Jackman in the west to Searsport in the east and Millinocket in the north will be part of a coast-to-coast rail network run by a company focused on running railroads, rather than an investment firm.

That could bring improved infrastructure and better connectivity to Maine, Moulton said.

Canadian Pacific “is not a private equity firm that’s just buying this as some sort of infrastructure investment,” Moulton said. “You hope for better equipment, better condition of the lines, more opportunity to connect with the national system. These are the kinds of things you get with a Class 1.”

Railroads are broken into classes based on the size of their operations. Class 1 railroads are the largest in North America, with operations worth more than $250 million. Central Maine and Quebec is currently a Class 3, or a short-line, railroad, according to Moulton. This means it has operating revenue of less than $20 million each year.

The last time Maine had a Class 1 railroad was in the 1980s, when Canadian Pacific owned a section of track in the state.

Central Maine and Quebec’s parent company, New York-based Fortress Transportation and Infrastructure Investors LLC, has been telling its investors of its plans to sell the Maine and Quebec railroad for several months, Moulton said.

It bought the railroad out of bankruptcy from Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway in early 2014, months after a train carrying crude oil went off the tracks in Lac Megantic, Quebec, exploded into a ball of fire and killed 47 people.

One of the most important advantages of having a large railroad operation such as Canadian Pacific in Maine will be the connectivity, according to Moulton. Any cargo loaded in Maine on a Central Maine and Quebec Railway train would have to be unloaded where the line ended and transferred to another railroad.

“Now, it can go anywhere in the system without ever having to be interchanged with another railroad,” he said.

Canadian Pacific’s operation stretches across the entire length of Canada and from Kansas City to Maine in the U.S. with the addition of Central Maine and Quebec to its network.

Another advantage the sale brings to...

Read More

Lunch with Santa

Submitted by Seth Barden on November 30, 2019 - 12:18pm

Brownville Library Christmas Events

Brownville Library News
Submitted by Seth Barden on November 30, 2019 - 12:15pm

County officials eye $4.8M budget for 2020

Submitted by Seth Barden on November 30, 2019 - 12:14pm

Stuart Hedstrom, Piscataquis Observer • November 26, 2019


DOVER-FOXCROFT — A proposed $4.8 million-plus Piscataquis County budget for 2020, along with a $1,804,670 Unorganized Territory budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year, was presented at a public hearing on Nov. 25 as part of the process by county officials for developing the pair of spending plans.

“The proposed 2020 county budget totals $4,832,433, which is an increase of $296,475 (6.5 percent) over the current budget year total of $4,535,958,” County Manager Michael Williams said.

After revenues, the amount to be raised by taxes is $4,169,806 or $349,265 (7 percent) more than the $3.8 million-plus in 2019. This amount is split with $2,774,124 to be spread across the 19 county towns and plantations and the other near $1.4 million coming from the Unorganized Territories — an approximate respective two thirds to one third split.

Every town but Willimantic would see an increase in county taxes with this amount ranging from nearly $2,000 more for Wellington to $35,600 total, $31,450 more for Dover-Foxcroft’s $497,846 and a figure of just under $144,000 for Kingsbury Plantation’s $183,370 share of the county tax which is attributed to a windmill project more than quadrupling the community valuation from the previous budget year.

Williams said the budget increase is due in part to a payscale adjustment for employees of the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Office who are represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, with the group and county having reached an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement. Non-union county employees will see a 3 percent wage increase in 2020.

He said the county has budgeted for a projected 10 percent increase ($66,000) in providing employee health insurance coverage through Harvard Pilgrim for all departments and $36,000 for health reimbursement arrangement payments.

The proposed budget for the sheriff’s patrol division is $1,133,500, nearly $180,000 (17.5 percent) more than 2019. Williams said in addition to the payscale change, the increase is largely accounted for by the need to budget $60,000 (a $5,000 increase) to replace patrol cruisers in the vehicle fleet to maintain the rotation.

Williams said the county budget committee recommend $5,000 to place a radio repeater on a Spencer Mountain tower, and he and Piscataquis County Emergency Management Agency Director Tom Capraro are working to have this project approved by the state.

The current sheriff’s department budget includes the addition of a sixth patrol deputy, a position that began halfway through 2019. “It’s like a half increase over last year,” Williams said.

A deputy also returned from his active duty military assignment midway through this year to bring the department bakc to a full staffing level. Williams said another deputy has...

Read More

Canadian rail giant will buy Bangor-based Central Maine and Quebec Railway

Submitted by Seth Barden on November 21, 2019 - 7:30pm

Eesha Pendharkar, Bangor Daily News Staff • November 21, 2019

A railway company that owns tracks stretching through much of Canada and parts of the northern U.S. will buy Bangor-based Central Maine and Quebec Railway by the end of the year, adding 481 miles of track in Quebec and Maine to its network.

Canadian Pacific Railway, based in Calgary, Alberta, will buy Central Maine and Quebec Railway from its parent company, New York-based Fortress Transportation and Infrastructure Investors LLC.

The companies expect the sale to close by the end of the year. They did not disclose a sale price.

Central Maine and Quebec Railway’s parent company will keep Katahdin Railcar Services, a 110-acre railcar repair and cleaning facility in Milo.

Canadian Pacific’s president and CEO said the transaction will give its customers access to shipping ports in Searsport and Saint John, New Brunswick.

“This strategic acquisition gives CP a true coast-to-coast network across Canada and an increased presence in the eastern U.S.,” said Keith Creel, the president and CEO.

Central Maine and Quebec Railway owns the section of track that goes through Lac-Megantic, Quebec, where in 2013 a train carrying crude oil went off the tracks, exploded into a ball of file and killed 47 people.

A few months later, Fortress bought the railroad from Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway, which went bankrupt after the derailment.

Town of Milo Accepting Bids

Submitted by Seth Barden on November 21, 2019 - 7:29pm

Curbside Pickup Notice

Brownville Town Office News
Submitted by Seth Barden on November 21, 2019 - 7:28pm