Reporters notebook: Hometown Energy donations pour in

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$160K and counting

Think the momentum has stopped? Not even close.

Ike Libby, owner of Hometown Energy in Dixfield, who was featured in a New York Times article last weekend about the struggle to heat homes in Maine, said he went from giggling to crying as donations poured in from around the country this past Saturday.

Libby and office staff have been too busy answering phones, opening mail, and occasionally answering questions from reporters to tally the amount given this week. On Friday, Libby called to say he had received $160,000 so far and checks were still flooding in.

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He said he plans to set up a program to assist those in the area who need help heating their homes. He has started the process of creating a solid program with a board of directors.

On Friday, Libby also received a $10,000 check from a woman in New York saying it was strictly for his personal use and not for his business. The woman said she spent two summers in Maine and thought highly of its residents, including Libby. Many around town agree, saying Libby has a heart beyond compare and has always been a giving man to those who are in need.

— Erin Cox

Wild turkey and Coke

Townspeople in Harrison were all aflutter when a local resident sent an email Monday purportedly showing a wild turkey that had crashed through the windshield of a Coca-Cola truck on Route 117.

Three photos showed the body of the turkey in the windshield, the head and neck inside the cab and more mess scattered over the driver’s seat and the floor.

At the C0ca-Cola distribution center in South Portland, District Manager Ken Dahms said he spent several days fielding 50 or more calls from residents and local media asking for the identity of the driver.

A quick look on the Internet revealed the picture was taken on a road in central Georgia last month, Dahms said.

“We don’t even use Freightliners in Vermont, Maine or New Hampshire,” he said.

Oh, by the way, why was there no snow on the ground? And gee, those trees look a little out of place.

Wild turkey and coke don’t always mix well!

— Leslie Dixon

Cheaper in Maine

Are you a car insurance consumer?

Yes, you are, unless you’re driving illegally or your parents are still buying it for you.

Well, happy anniversary! Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa sent out a press release Friday about the 115th anniversary of automobile insurance being offered in the United States. Not exactly front-page news, but who would have thought car insurance existed that far back?

Back to the history: Travelers became the first insurance company to offer automobile coverage in February 1897.

Along with the history were results of a National Association of Insurance Commissioners report that ranked Maine sixth-lowest for auto insurance cost.

Maine’s average yearly premium in 2009, the most recent year for nationwide data, was $682, the lowest in New England. The two most expensive were Louisiana, $1,270; and Washington, D.C., $1,265. The two lowest were Iowa, $631; and North Dakota, $650.

Insurance policies with similar collision and liability coverage were compared.

— Bonnie Washuk

Tough mothers

While helping to plant Atlantic salmon eggs under cobblestones in the Sandy River in Strong on Thursday, Ernie Hilton of Starks marveled at the excavating tenacity of spawning female salmon.

“When you see the gravel — it’s not 2-inch gravel, it’s cobble — and you think about how these fish are, like with their tails, scouring out some kind of hole, squirting their eggs into it, and then throwing rocks back on top of their eggs,” he said.

“And these fish actually survive! How the hell does that happen?”

— Terry Karkos

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