Statesman: George Mitchell and the Art of the Possible by Douglas Rooks

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 We all know that George Mitchell had an amazing career with major accomplishments for Maine and our country, but I still learned a lot in Doug Rooks’ wonderful biography, Statesman: George Mitchell and the Art of the Possible, published by Down East Books. Years of research went into this book, and I especially enjoyed the level of detail Doug was able to include, from Mitchell’s key staff members to projects and programs I had no idea he’d led and/or influenced.

For example, I’ll bet you didn’t know that Mitchell led the successful effort to return passenger rail service to Maine or that he secured, through tough negotiations, the funding for many improvements in our interstate highway system. I certainly didn’t know Mitchell saved the higher standards for maple syrup maintained by Maine and Vermont, after lower standards were adopted at the federal level for all other states.

Will Mainers have to shoot bears in their homes?

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                 Let’s hope every Maine bear hunter this fall gets his or her bear. We’ve got way too many bears. It’s a very good thing that Maine voters defeated proposals to prohibit the use of traps, bait, and dogs for bear hunting. If that had happened, we’d probably be shooting bears in our homes, as recently happened in California. I’ll tell you more about that story at the end of this column

Historic Camden inn includes great restaurant

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                The Whitehall is one of the oldest inns in Camden located on High Street within walking distance of the downtown area. Two years ago it was refurbished by Lark Hotels. They kept all the beautiful architectural features of the building and added bright bold colors and modern furniture to update the style of this inn.

                I loved the main lobby, a sprawling open space with many sitting areas. The bright artwork and design of this room is very well done. I enjoyed the variety of seating as each piece was extremely different in its design. While enjoying my early morning coffee I sat in several of the chairs and was pleased to find an ultra-modern one that was extremely comfortable.

Keep Maine Clean kicks off on Wildfire today

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The Maine Resource Recovery Association launches a new statewide program called Keep Maine Clean on the new edition of Wildlife, airing for the first time tonight. Shelby Wright, Director of Communications and Development for the MRRA, is our guest on this edition of the TV talk show that I host with James Cote.

Wildfire airs on Time Warner cable station 9 on Tuesdays at 7 pm, Thursdays at 6:30 pm, and Sundays at 9:30 am. You can also access the new show, and previous shows, online at

Maine needs stronger rules to control exotic animals and protect native wildlife

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 If you read the comments that followed my two outdoor news columns last week about exotic animals, you may have noticed that some of these people have a great disdain for those of us who champion Maine’s native wildlife.

Some wrote that I should not be against possession of python snakes, because they are friendly and can’t survive a Maine winter if they get loose. Really? That’s just what they said about Red-Eared Sliders, a species of turtles that is now established in Maine after being released by owners into the wild.

And even if their pythons can’t last through a winter, what are they doing out there for months on end until winter arrives?

Maxi’s Secrets by Lynn Plourde

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 I’m at a loss for words, having just finished Lynn Plourde’s heart-warming and very thoughtful new novel, Maxi’s Secrets (subtitled: What You Can Learn From a Dog). Should I begin by telling you about the 51 “Secrets” that Lynn divulges, things that you can learn from a dog, each one listed at the end of a chapter? Perhaps I should start with Maxi, the deaf dog, or Timminy the very short 5th grader, or Abby, the blind sixth grader next door?

Lynn is a fabulous and imaginative writer of more than 30 children’s books, including my favorite, Merry Moosey Christmas, in which the reindeer take the night off and Santa’s sleigh is led by moose. That story and Russ Cox’s amazing illustrations are really wonderful.

The Rebel’s Wrath by Christopher W. Morin

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 I enjoy historical novels, so it was particularly pleasing to discover Maine resident Christopher Morin’s books. He’s written two novels and one short story, and I decided to begin with his new novel, The Rebel’s Wrath.

The Civil War has just ended, and Christopher neatly blends the history of that era with a compelling fictional story where tension builds throughout the book, culminating in an astonishing bunch of murder and mayhem in the small town of North Scarborough.

Having visited Gettysburg, I particularly enjoyed the fact that Christopher began his novel there, where his main character, Private Sherman Jackson, served in the famous 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment, led by General Joshua Chamberlain.

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