January

One month after a trio of wind turbines began turning in Freedom, residents of Jackson enacted a six-month moratorium on wind-turbine construction permits. Three wind energy developers were eyeing sites along a ridge stretching from Thorndike to Dixmont, and several Jackson land owners had signed lease agreements for wind developments when the townspeople put on the brakes. The delay was intended to give town officials time to draft a wind-energy ordinance.

Belfast officials approved two high-profile building projects. McDonald’s announced plans to raze and rebuild its 35-year-old Belmont Avenue restaurant. On the other side of the river, modular homes entrepreneur King Bishop unveiled plans to construct a 30-unit residential congregate-care facility on Searsport Avenue. At year’s end neither project had broken ground.

Police found two starving pit bulls in an unheated camper off Swan Lake Avenue. Chief Jeffrey Trafton described one of the dogs – an adult female weighing 28 pounds — as “a walking bag of bones,” and speculated that the poor economy could be leading people to skimp on feeding their pets. “You hate to think that anybody’s in that position,” he said.

Randall Hofland, the man accused of pointing a gun at a police officer and taking elementary-school students hostage in 2008, entered a not-guilty plea to all 41 charges against him and exercised his right to represent himself in court.

In the beginning of a year of major belt-tightening at the state level, Gov. John Baldacci introduced a two-year budget plan that would decrease state spending for the first time in 35 years. The plan would, among other things, cut 219 state positions. Also in Augusta, State Sen. Dennis Damon (D-Trenton) introduced the bill that would grant same-sex couples the right to marry. The Legislature approved the bill and Baldacci signed it into law in May, making Maine the sixth state to allow gay couples to marry. Six months later, the law was repealed by a citizen-initiated referendum.

After 40 years of debate about the best use of Sears Island, the State Legislature’s transportation committee voted in a compromise that would allow 330 acres of the state-owned island to be marketed for a cargo and container port. The remaining 601 acres would be conserved as a recreational area. Searsport town officials deemed the decision “historic.”

In March Environmental activist Ron Huber of Rockland filed a civil suit against the Maine Department of Transportation, claiming that the conservation easement for Sears Island, executed Jan. 22 between the DOT and the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, violated state law as well as Maine’s Sensible Transportation Planning Act.

A Brooks resident bought a lotto ticket at Belfast Variety using numbers from a fortune cookie. A day later, she returned to claim her prize, $650,000, which she opted to take in the form of an annuity, paid over 25 years. Asked what she would do with the money, she said she had no big plans, but as a courtesy to her co-workers, she hoped to repair the exhaust system on her 1995 Subaru.