AUBURN — During Mayor Jonathan LaBonte’s inaugural speech Wednesday night, he paid homage to his grandfather, who had a big influence on him.

 Normand Charpentier died at age 86 on Nov. 12, a few days after LaBonte was elected Nov. 8.

 His grandfather’s words of encouragement “led to my decision to seek this office,” LaBonte said. He remembered him as a man grounded in his faith, committed to family.

 His grandfather’s steady advice “helped to shape the man I am today,” LaBonte said on the stage, fighting back tears. “His absence tonight leaves a hole in my heart.”

In the procession to the stage, LaBonte escorted his grandmothers. Mary Charpentier walked beside him with a cane, as he pushed Yolande LaBonte in a wheelchair. Yolande lives at d’Youville Pavilion in Lewiston. Charpentier resides at Clover Assisted Living in Auburn.

LaBonte said he’s always been close to his grandparents, thanks to how his parents raised him. The family visited his grandparents often. His father made it clear young Jonathan was expected to help them with yard work or other chores.

As the election drew near, his grandfather, who had undergone heart surgeries, was getting weaker. “On Election Day they moved him to hospice care. I went in the day after. That was the last time I saw him alive.”

Normand Charpentier was weak, but he knew his grandson had been elected. “He said to me, ‘Mayor,’ reached out and grabbed my hand.”

— Bonnie Washuk

Fireworks to be legal in Maine, but no sellers sign up

Starting Jan. 1, Maine will allow fireworks to be sold within the state.

But so far, no one wants to.

 Although each town and city can set its own rules when it comes to buying, selling and using fireworks, all sellers are required to get approval from the State Fire Marshal’s Office. As of Thursday, no one had asked for a license to sell.

A representative for the state Fire Marshal’s Office said New Hampshire, where fireworks have been legal, told the Maine office there are two big times of year for fireworks: New Year’s Day and the Fourth of July. Because sellers could not sell in time for this New Year’s Day, he said, they may have decided to wait until the Fourth of July.

— Lindsay Tice

Michaud: No budget, no paychecks

 If members of Congress fail to pass a budget, they shouldn’t get paid, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, said. He’s co-sponsored the “No Budget, No Pay Act” that says if Congress doesn’t pass its budget by Oct. 1 every year, Congress doesn’t get paychecks. Retroactive pay isn’t an option.

In this era of dysfunction, it’s sad the bill is needed, Michaud said in a prepared statement. “But Congress shouldn’t get paid if they can’t do their work.”
— Bonnie Washuk

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