Walk to support Maine Down Syndrome Network

Maine Down Syndrome Network is hosting Maine’s 10th Annual Buddy Walk on Sunday, Sept. 26 at Payson Park in Portland, and at Capitol Park in Augusta. The Buddy Walk was created by the National Down Syndrome Society in 1995 to celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness Month in October and to promote acceptance and inclusion of
people with Down syndrome.

Those interested in walking, or in supporting our walkers may do so by visiting, www.dsmaine.org. Individuals can also register the day of the walk at either park, beginning at noon. Registration is $10 for adults, $25 for a family (2 adults, 2 children), $5 for each additional child, free for children under 1 years old and people with Down syndrome. The walk will step off at 1 p.m. and will be followed by lunch provided by Subway, as well as live entertainment, a bounce house, face painting, Balloon Zoo and many other family friendly activities.

140,000 Mainers live below poverty level

AUGUSTA — Based on 2009 poverty data released Sept. 16 by the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 148,000 Maine people lived below the federal poverty level last year. This resulted in a preliminary poverty rate of 11.4 percent in Maine, down slightly from the 2008 level of 12 percent, but the difference is statistically insignificant due to margins of error.

At the national level, the change was definitive with a U.S. poverty rate of 14.3 percent in 2009, up from 13.2 percent the previous year. Historically, Maine’s poverty rate is comparable to the economic downturn in early 2000s, but lower than observed levels during the recessions of the early 1980s and early 1990s.

“But for timely federal assistance that helped retain jobs and a strong safety net that has apparently helped prevent people from going into poverty, things could have been a lot worse in Maine,” said Christopher St. John, executive director of Maine Center for Economic Policy, in a press release. “We’re not out of the woods yet. Maine suffered tremendous job losses in this recession, and the Recovery Act provided many Mainers a lifeline through increased unemployment benefits, food stamps and tax credits, which together have helped many people feed their children, keep their homes, and take care of their families. The cessation of federal assistance combined with likely cuts to the state budget could have very detrimental long-term impacts on Maine’s people and economy.”

The Census Bureau will release more authoritative state-by-state estimates of poverty on Sept. 28, with additional results from the American Community Survey.

Chewonki raises wind turbine

WISCASSET — The Chewonki Foundation announced that after four years of effort, a 100-foot wind tower was raised on the nonprofit’s 400-acre campus. The tower raising was held Sept. 16 in a farm field at Chewonki.

The installation consisted of a 100-foot self-supporting tower carrying a 6.6-kilowatt wind turbine, providing power to Chewonki’s largest staff housing building and producing an estimated 6,000 kilowatt-hours per year.

“The building currently consumes about 5,500 kilowatt-hours of power per year,” said Chewonki Sustainability Coordinator Peter Arnold. “On balance, this turbine moves the energy needs of this building from the power grid and to local, sustainable wind.” Because the turbine is a grid-tied system, any electricity not used by the building will be metered and generate credits that can be used in the future, Arnold said.

Maine CDC awarded $8.8 million to improve public health systems

AUGUSTA — Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Department of Health and Human Services has received an award of $1.76 million per year for five years from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for improvements to Maine’s public health system.

Funded by the Affordable Care Act of 2010, the goal of this and similar awards that will be administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is to make programs and people in the public health system more efficient and effective.

The goal of these funds includes improving health departments’ performance management capacity and the ability to meet national public health standards. In Maine, these funds will: complete an electronic death certificate system; make necessary updates to an electronic birth certificate system; build systems to allow health care providers to more easily transfer information on immunizations to Maine CDC; apply public health performance management principles in Maine CDC and its work; improve capacity for health planning at the state and district level; and make public health data more accessible.