A.J. Higgins

Statewide News Reporter

A.J. came to Maine Public Radio in August 2007 after a stint as a staff writer for Blethen Maine Newspapers. His news coverage for the Kennebec Journal in Augusta also appeared in the Waterville Morning Sentinel, the Portland Press Herald and the Maine Sunday Telegram. Prior to joining the Kennebec Journal, A.J. served for 13 years as political editor and State House bureau chief for the Bangor Daily News.

He began working for the BDN in 1972 while still a senior at Bangor High School, when his first job was casting the lead plates for the printing presses in the paper’s stereotype department. In the ensuing 34 years, A.J. moved up to the editorial department, where he quickly immersed himself in nearly every facet of news reporting, editing and photography.

In addition to his extensive coverage in the greater Bangor area, he also worked in the paper’s Presque Isle bureau and was named bureau chief of the paper’s Hancock County operations in Ellsworth in 1988. He was assigned to the State House in 1993.

While A.J.’s reporting on Maine Public Radio has largely centered around coverage of events in Augusta, he has turned his reporting chops to issues and topics taking place across the entire state.

A.J. resides in Manchester with his wife, Diane.

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Maine.gov

Supporters of the Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport are wondering what happens next now that a superior court judge has issued a temporary injunction keeping the jail open until June. The judge sided with the Maine Attorney General, labor unions and the Washington County Commission, ruling that the LePage administration lacks the authority to unilaterally close the prison. 

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

Maine ski operators, particularly smaller ones, are enthusiastically embracing the back-to-back blizzards this month.

Even a short drought can leave some mountains struggling for the rest of the season to recoup their losses.

Only two weeks ago, parts of Maine were reporting temperatures in the upper 50s. That wasn’t making ski area operators like Bill Whitcomb at all happy. But this week’s snowstorm has put a smile on his face.

“Right now, snow in the month of March is frosting on the cake anyway, so anything you get is great,” he says.

AP Photo

Another week, another nor'easter, making the commute on slick snow-covered roads slower than molasses running uphill. And, if anyone happened to driving uphill in Bangor, they were actually traveling on top of molasses — or more accurately, molasses-treated road salt. The sticky liquid is used help salt adhere to the highway's surface.

Maine tourism spending continues to break records, according to the Maine Innkeepers and Maine Restaurant associations that monitor annual revenue receipts.

Steve Hewins, the associations’ CEO, says the restaurant and lodging sectors brought in a combined $3.8 billion in revenue last year, when about 36 million tourists visited Maine.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

For those who dream of living “off the grid,” the motivation might be to leave smaller carbon footprint or to avoid the prohibitive cost of running utility lines hundreds of feet to a home off-the-beaten path.

A 22-year-old Bangor man involved in an early morning altercation outside a Bangor nightclub remains missing after he fell into the Kenduskeag Stream while attempting to elude police.

Bangor Police Sgt. Wade Betters said Peter Manual took off running from a Harlow Street parking lot before officers could interview him and crossed the Kenduskeag Stream shortly after 1 a.m.

Betters said investigating officers were assisted by the Bangor Fire Department who attempted to convince Manual to grab a rescue rope as he sat on a cake of ice in the water.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

The parents of 10-year-old girl in Stockton Springs who died from Battered Child syndrome are each being held on $500,000 bail after appearing in Waldo County Superior Court Wednesday.

Sharon and Julio Carrillo have each been charged with depraved indifference murder in the death of Marissa Kennedy, and, if convicted, could face life in prison. A former neighbor said he and others also witnessed abuse and repeatedly called police.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

The site of the former Verso Paper Co. in Bucksport, which shut its doors four years ago, will be home to an entirely new business.

Whole Oceans has reached an agreement to acquire more than 120 acres of the site and build a $250 million land-based salmon farm. The company says it plans to use water from the Penobscot River, and has developed an advanced water filtering system to remove any contaminants left behind by industry.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

A murder case that went unsolved for nearly four decades came to a conclusion Thursday in a Bangor courtroom.

A judge found Phillip Scott Fournier guilty of the 1980 death of Joyce McLain of East Millinocket. McLain was just 16-years old when she went jogging near her high school one August evening and never returned. In delivering her verdict after the jury-waived trial, Superior Court Justice Ann Murray rejected defense arguments suggesting Fournier had sustained a brain injury that had damaged his recollection of the killing.

A.J. Higgins` / Maine Public

About 40 students and adults from coastal Maine and elsewhere gathered Wednesday in front of Bangor's Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building to stage a silent vigil against gun violence in the United States, and to let Maine's congressional delegation know that they want safe schools.

The demonstrators held signs calling for new firearms restrictions and outright bans on sales of assault weapons similar to the one used last week in the Parkland, Fla. where high school mass shooting that left 17 people dead.

Peter Duley / NEFSC/NOAA

The North Atlantic right whale is the most endangered large whale species on Earth. The principal cause of right whale fatalities is entanglement with fishing gear, including lobster trap lines. Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution say new technology could stop these ensnarements, but some lobstermen say the cost of adopting the new gear would be prohibitive.

Woods Hole Director Michael Moore says the right whale is really in trouble, and something has to be done to stop entanglements.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

The future of the Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport is now at the center of a political showdown at the State House.

The closure of the minimum security prison would mean more than the loss of state jobs Down East, it would also unravel a system that has supplied the region with labor from prison work release programs and from former inmates who decided to stay in Washington County to rebuild their lives.

Courtesy of Husson University

More than 100 new jobs will be coming to Millinocket if plans for a new laminated wood products manufacturing company stay on track in the coming year.

Maine.gov


Washington County residents and former employees at the Downeast Correctional Facility (DCF) in Machiasport say the early morning closure of the minimum-security prison is a betrayal by the governor that they can't accept.

The fate of an East Millinocket man charged in a murder that took place 37 years ago now lies with a Superior Court judge after closing arguments in the jury-waived trial were heard Monday at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor.

Representing Philip Scott Fournier, Bangor attorney Jeffrey Silverstein said the state had failed to produce the forensic evidence necessary to prove his client had killed 16-year-old Joyce McLain of East Millinocket in 1980.

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