February

Having recently survived an acquisition by VillageSoup, The Republican Journal turned 180 years old, retaining the title of Maine’s oldest weekly.

A leaked FBI document indicated that materials for a “dirty bomb” were found at the home of James Cummings after his death Dec. 7. Cummings was shot to death by his wife, Amber Cummings, at their High Street, Belfast, home.

The FBI report said containers of hydrogen peroxide, lithium metal, thermite, aluminum powder, beryllium, boron, black iron oxide and magnesium ribbon were discovered at the Cummings’ home after the shooting, along with jars labeled “uranium metal.”
The bombshell, first reported by the Bangor Daily News, indicated that Amber Cummings said her husband had been in contact with white supremacist groups and that he was upset about the election of Barack Obama as president of the U.S. She also allegedly told investigators she had been subjected to years of mental, physical and sexual abuse by her husband.

Around the same time, a hedge fund manager named Nicolas Cosmo was being marched out of the Hauppauge, N.Y., offices of Agape World Inc. for allegedly masterminding a Ponzi scheme that took investors for $380 million. Several of Agape World’s offerings bore the names of active and defunct construction projects in Belfast. Federal investigators said that Cosmo provided small loans to real construction projects but misrepresented the investments as being substantially larger than they were. A local developer who took such a loan from Agape World saw his project – a small housing development – grind to a halt as bankruptcy lawyers tried to recoup investors’ losses.

East Side landmark Jed’s Restaurant was among a dozen mostly residential tax foreclosures in Belfast. The restaurant had been closed for four years when it succumbed to back taxes, dating to 2006. Before it could reach the auction block, however, the owner reclaimed the restaurant and sold it. At year’s end, the restaurant remained closed.

Brooks residents saw the end of an era when long time Paul’s Hardware owners Paul and Audrey Muir retired after 24 years of operating the business. At a ribbon-cutting ceremony, The Muirs were honored with a community celebration, at which time they were presented a plaque from Tru-Value retail consultant Mary Warner. The ceremony was also intended to welcome the new owners — Robert L’Etoile and Susan and Philip Hickey.

The day after Valentine’s Day, Searsport police picked up a 5-year-old boy on Route 1; he had apparently wandered away from his home in Stockton Springs. The boy was fully clothed, minus a pair of mittens. Police investigated the incident but released no further details.

A mix of snow and ice knocked out power to 130,000 Maine homes, prompting the governor to declare a state of emergency. At the peak of the power outage, 6,400 homes in an area that includes Belfast and Rockland were without power.

The 200-year-old home housing the interior decorating business Interiors by Janis Stone was badly damaged by a fire. The gut renovation that was required to repair the building afforded the owners an unplanned view of how homes were constructed 200 years ago, including a sheathing of wide wooden planks over the entire structure and a pair of fireplaces feeding into a central chimney.

“We both like the house and we’re interested in history,” said Janis Stone’s husband and business partner Jim O’Connor, “so we couldn’t bear to tear it down, even though everyone told us to tear it down.”