Rural Maine Reporting Project

The Rural Maine Reporting Project is made possible through the generous support of the Betterment Fund.

As a part of its strategic efforts in local journalism, Maine Public presents a year-long series of news reports on Maine Public Radio and digitally that highlight the benefits, challenges, and opportunities of life in today’s rural and western Maine.

Reporting on rural and western Maine is decreasing. Most local media outlets have diminished in size, capacity, and reach, to only cover the higher profile stories from Augusta, Portland, Lewiston and Bangor. This shrinking level of coverage widens the gap in what listeners, viewers, and readers know about their fellow Mainers. And the need to connect with our neighbors and understand people everywhere in our state is entirely evident now, more than ever.

This series will showcase the best that rural Maine has to offer, while also featuring the stories that show how these communities have challenges unique to each.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden of Maine’s 2nd District has introduced a bill designed to help rural schools fill teacher shortages through a partnership program.

Hilton Hafford / Courtesy Photo

A bill that would ban the aerial spraying of glyphosate and other toxic herbicides used by the forest products industry is getting strong support from environmental and health groups, organic farmers and guides familiar with the North Woods.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press file

Republican state Sen. Marianne Moore of Calais is calling for a legislative probe of how the Maine Wild Blueberry Commission is spending its marketing money.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

The Maine secretary of state’s office says that a citizens’ initiative seeking to require legislative approval for large power line projects has more than enough signatures to move forward.

Down East Community Hospital in Machias has filed paperwork to purchase Calais Regional Hospital.

Charlie Eichacker / Maine Public

A pair of private investment firms will soon buy Poland Spring and several other North American bottled water companies in a $4.3 billion deal with Swiss food giant Nestlé, the companies announced this week. The transfer is expected to happen this spring. 

Charlie Eichacker / Maine Public

Maine water rights activists are concerned about the potential sale of the Poland Spring bottled water company to a private equity firm.

Toby Talbot / Associated Press file

With so much economic upheaval caused by the pandemic, some community organizations in Maine are reporting that they’ve received far more applications for heating assistance this winter. And barriers raised by the pandemic have made it harder for some applicants.

John Locher / Associated Press

Independent physicians in Maine say they’ve so far been left out of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, as have their patients. Some say older patients are either unwilling or unable to go to larger vaccination sites.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press file

A new state task force will convene for the first time on Friday to look for ways that the state’s 86,000 woodland owners can help the state meet its goal of carbon neutrality by 2045.

Police are investigating a crash last night that killed two teens and injured three others in the Franklin County town of Sandy River Plantation.

Gregory Bull / Associated Press file

Enrollment in Maine’s public schools fell by about 4% this fall, leaving many districts worried about how that could affect their state funding levels. Initial projections released from the state this week have eased some of those concerns, but local officials say they’ll still be forced to make some tough budget decisions in the months ahead.

Androscoggin, Oxford and York counties remain a cautionary yellow in the Mills administration’s color-coded health advisory system. They are now joined in that status by Franklin County.

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Groups working to prevent domestic violence in Maine hope that the recent murder-suicide of a couple in the Franklin County town of New Sharon — and two other similar killings that happened in the couple’s family over the last 11 years — will serve as a reminder for residents to look out for signs of abusive behavior, particularly amid a pandemic that has only made it harder for victims to seek help. 

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Since the pandemic began, and job losses have continued to mount, the numbers of those dealing with food insecurity in Maine has risen by 25 percent—and Maine has the highest rate of hunger in New England. We discuss the repercussions of food insecurity, and ways that people are helping to supply food to those who need it, all across the state.   

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