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The Maine Public Stories You Read Most In 2019 — And Some You May Have Missed

Maine Public File Photos
Maine Public's top stories of the year include the inauguration of Gov. Janet Mills (clockwise from top left), Westbrook's ice disk, Deep Dive: Child Care, Power Struggle In The Maine Woods and the University of Maine's record-setting 3D printer.

New Year’s Eve is upon us and, with it, reflection on the year past. Here are some of our biggest stories of 2019, at least based on sheer traffic volume.

1 — VIDEO: UMaine Unveils World’s Largest 3D Printer — And The Patrol Boat It Printed

In October, the University of Maine in Orono unveiled a record-setting 3D printer and the 25-foot boat it printed. Mostly, we were mesmerized by time-lapse video researchers released of the printing process.


2 — Why Is Maine So White? And What It Means To Ask The Question

Census data show Maine is one of the whitest states in the country (behind only Vermont). We endeavored to find out why.

3 — Birds of a Feather — Why Crows Congregate in Winter

Some stories start with a good question, a bit of curiosity and conversation among coworkers. This one went something like, “Seriously, what is up with all the birds?! Have you seen all the birds?! They’re insane!”


4 — Here Are The Most And Least Affordable Places To Live In Maine

Each summer, Maine Public welcomes a new class of Jim Dowe public media interns. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention there’s still time to apply for 2020. Our 2019 interns worked on this one, including infographic!

5 — Documents: Old Town-Orono YMCA Staff Struck, Swore At Children

The last week in June, we unveiled Deep Dive: Child Care, a monthslong, all-hands initiative looking into the state’s child care system. In the course of working on that project, freedom of access requests with the state unveiled previously unreported violations at the Old Town-Orono YMCA.


6 — Mills Warms Up To CMP Transmission Project

Central Maine Power’s controversial proposed transmission project — and our governor’s relationship to it — made our top list a couple times (the other was here). We also explored the project’s environmental implications in a weeklong series, Power Struggle In The Maine Woods, in March.


7 — What You’re Allowed To Do Under Maine’s New Distracted Driving Law (Spoiler: Not Much)

Maine’s hands-free driving law went into effect in September, and it’s pretty restrictive. You get one tap, touch or swipe if it’s mounted — and none at all if it isn’t.

8 — Famed Maine Restaurant To Open For Season. But It’s Too Late To Win A Chance For A Seat At The Table

The Lost Kitchen in Freedom is one of Maine’s most talked-about restaurants, but getting a table requires a bit of luck. We spoke with Chef Erin French about what it’s like being in such high demand.

9 — VIDEO: Gov. Janet Mills Lays Out Policy Agenda In Inaugural Address

At the very start of the year, Maine made history by inaugurating its first woman governor. But in her inaugural address, Gov. Janet Mills didn’t dwell on the significance. “This year’s milestone will one day be commonplace, like drinking milk or eating toast. When future generations read of this day, they will wonder what the fuss was about,” she said.


10 — What’s The Deal With The Maine Ice Disk? Scientists Aren’t Really Sure Either

Last winter, ice disk mania swept the nation — and the world. Turns out they’re not so uncommon, but the mesmerizing, spinning, giant disk in Westbrook was certainly the most visible of the year.


Of course, just because these are the most read stories of the year doesn’t mean they’re the most important. And while this list captures a pretty broad cross-section of politics, business, culture and fun, there are plenty that didn’t make the cut that are well worth highlighting. So, here are a few selections for your year-end reading list, if you haven’t yet read all about them:

— In addition to the aforementioned Deep Dive: Child Care and Power Struggle In The Maine Woods, we published a weeklong series called “Finding A Way” examining some barriers to success for homeless students in Maine — and the resources and opportunities available to keep them on course.

— Reporter Susan Sharon and videographer Brian Bechard took a boat to Eastern Egg Rock to produce a story about the National Audubon Society’s Project Puffin, which included surprising physical encounters with wildlife.

— Maine Public’s State House bureau chief, Steve Mistler, has been dogged on a number of political stories this year, including money in the 2020 election, how the CMP project is unfolding in Augusta and … which chickadee is Maine’s official state bird.

— Maine Calling, our daily hourlong call-in show, covered a wide range of issues important to Mainers. Some of the most popular this year included conversations with Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! host Peter Sagal, Gov. Janet Mills and painter Jamie Wyeth; discussions about iconic Maine topics including the North Woods, moose, apples, loons and beekeeping; and closer looks at restraint in schools, opioid-affected babies, anxiety, menopause and kindness. And in preparation for warmer weather, be sure to check out perennial favorites on recommended reads, summer travel, birding and gardening.

Originally published 10:51 a.m. Dec. 31, 2019