It’s been six months since the residents of Mount Desert Island launched a grassroots initiative to become energy independent in 15 years.

The effort was highlighted in January as part of our ongoing series Beyond 350: Confronting Climate Change. This Sunday residents are getting together again for an update on the project, and they’ve already gotten a clearer picture of how to reach their goal.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett says the state's Democrats are fired up after the Philadelphia convention, and are already campaigning hard for the fall.

Bartlett  acknowledges that there are still some hardcore Bernie Sanders supporters that are not behind Hillary Clinton's candidacy, but he hopes they will stay active in the party working on other campaigns.  

LEWISTON, Maine - Mercy hospital in Portland is offering early retirement to 99 employees. Spokesman Wayne Clark says the goal is to improve the hospital's financial position and reduce its workforce as it prepares to consolidate operations at its Fore River campus.

"That's our vision for a strong community hospital with a focus on primary care and preventive care," Clark says.

Clark says the shift to one campus will likely take two to three years. Mercy currently has more than 1,500 employees.

AUGUSTA, Maine - A new law just taking effect today will help in addressing the state's drug crisis, says Maine Attorney General Janet Mills. She says it won't solve the drug crisis, but it will help.

"There aren't a lot of things I agree with the governor on, but this is one of them," Mills says. "That bill that he put in to crack down on prescribing practices for opiates and for benzodiazepines is a very important bill."

BAR HARBOR, Maine - The National Park Service says it has reopened areas of Acadia National Park that had been closed for months to protect peregrine falcons from disturbance while they were nesting.

The service says it has reopened Precipice, Valley Cove and Jordan cliffs and the trails associated with them. Those areas had been closed since March 17.

A mile-long stretch of Valley Cove Trail between Flying Mountain Trail and Man O'War Brook Trail will be closed to all public entry starting on Friday.

By Marina Villeneuve, The Associated Press
AUGUSTA, Maine - Groups working to influence Maine voters on hot-button November ballot initiatives have brought in about $1 million since June.

In November, Mainers will face five ballot questions: marijuana legalization, a new tax to support public schools, universal background checks for gun sales, a gradual minimum wage hike and ranked-choice voting.

PORTLAND, Maine - The head of the Republican Party in York County will be permitted to keep his position after he apologized for making comments that degraded an openly gay lawmaker in a private email.

The Portland Press Herald reports that the executive committee of the York County Republicans voted Wednesday to not take disciplinary action against county GOP chairman Jim Booth.

Bangor Daily News

By John Holyoke, Bangor Daily News

BANGOR, Maine — University of Maine researchers went to the Penobscot River with new optimism this spring, as they hoped to find evidence that endangered shortnose sturgeon had spawned in the river. Documentation of that would be the first since two dams were removed from the river in recent years.

Ida Mae Astute/ABC News / Flickr/Creative Commons

Thursday night, Hillary Clinton accepts the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Much has been said already about the speeches, the Sanders supporters walking out, the musical acts, but not much has been said about climate change — one of the many issues in the 51-page Democratic Party platform. Some say it is the No. 1 priority for the next president of the United States.

Earlier this month at a Democratic delegate committee meeting in Orlando, a proposed amendment to the party platform called Global Climate Leadership was read aloud.

The state ended the budget year with a surplus of about $93 million, but Gov. Paul LePage complains it was all spent as soon as it was counted.

The state surplus is made up of revenues in excess of estimates, unspent balances and unallocated funds carried forward. It totals about $93 million for the budget year that just ended.

At his town meeting in South Paris Wednesday, the governor expressed his frustration that the surplus is now gone.

Friday is the deadline for the Maine Public Utilities Commission to receive bids for a controversial contract to bail out the state’s ailing biomass energy plants.

The contract could tap over $13 million in taxpayer funds to assist an industry that some worry can no longer compete on a level playing field. And the potential beneficiaries of the bailout continue to reward the legislators who backed it.

It's Thursday and time for Across the Aisle, our weekly look at Maine politics.

This week, Democratic state Rep. John Martin of Eagle Lake, UMaine political science professor Amy Fried and Meredith Strang Burgess of Burgess Advertising and Marketing, a former Republican lawmaker.

Tom Porter / MPBN file

Maine’s two largest hospitals have received two out of five stars under Medicare’s new rating system for quality.

LEWISTON, Maine - The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is warning of a new scam that dupes people into paying for a fishing license without actually providing one.

Bonnie Holding of IF&W says the scam includes a third-party website that makes it look as though you can purchase a fishing or hunting license for any of the 50 states; but after paying the fee, people are simply given more information about how to apply.

By Marina Villeneuve, The Associated Press
AUGUSTA, Maine - A new welfare law aiming to restore credibility in Maine's administration of federal benefits comes into effect Friday.

The law, which passed with bipartisan support, sets penalties for individuals who spend cash welfare benefits on alcohol, tobacco, lottery tickets, bail, firearms, vacations, adult entertainment and tattoos.