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Central Maine News: Police Say No Timetable to Wrap Up Investigation of Fatal Hayride

Scott Olson, Getty Images

These are some of the stories central Maine is talking about today.

A group of Maine health professionals is criticizing the state’s protocols for health care professionals who’ve treated Ebola patients. The group wrote in a letter Thursday that health officials have 40 years of experience with Ebola and should base health care decisions on established science. They say the science backs up nurse Kaci Hickox, who’s fighting the state’s attempt to impose a quarantine. And they also expressed fear that the treatment of Hickox could discourage other health care professionals from volunteering in West Africa. Two former state epidemiologists and two former state health directors are among those who signed onto the letter. They letter says “an epidemic of fear can be as dangerous as an epidemic with a virus.” (AP)

There was apparently no progress on Thursday between Maine health officials and lawyers for a nurse who returned from West Africa last week where she treated Ebola patients. Earlier in the day Kaci Hickox took a bike ride with her boyfriend. Hickox tested negative for Ebola when she was quarantined over the weekend against her will in New Jersey. She insists she is perfectly healthy. (AP/WMTW)

Maine officials say the price of heating oil in the state dropped 8 cents this week, continuing a downward trend in the price of fuel. Officials say the average statewide cash price for heating oil was $3.16 per gallon this week, according to an Oct. 27 survey. The average price of kerosene fell 6 cents from last week, to $3.73 per gallon. Propane prices dropped a penny to $2.83 per gallon. The state says heating oil prices have fallen 34 cents since July despite that heating fuel prices typically rise in the autumn. Southwest Maine had the highest average price for kerosene and western Maine had the highest average propane price. (AP)

With less than a week until Election Day, Democrats are hoping President Barack Obama’s visit to Maine will energize their base and get supporters to get out and vote to unseat Republican Gov. Paul LePage. Obama urged about 3,000 supporters of gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud at the Portland Expo Building on Thursday to get everyone they know to the polls on Tuesday, saying the election is “too important to stay home.” Obama criticized LePage for his opposition to raising the minimum wage and expanding Medicaid under the federal health care law. Polls show a tight race between Michaud and LePage with independent Eliot Cutler in a distant third. (AP)

Maine police say there is no timetable for wrapping up an investigation into a fatal Halloween-themed hayride accident. A state police spokesman says fire marshals are still investigating the Oct. 11 accident at Harvest Hills Farm in Mechanic Falls and will turn their findings over to a district attorney’s office. The accident killed 17-year-old Cassidy Charette from Oakland and injured more than 20 others. Charette died from head injuries as a result of the crash. Officials have said they believe mechanical failure played a role in the crash. (AP)

Wal-Mart is doing whatever it takes to rope in holiday shoppers. For the first time, Wal-Mart is offering free shipping on what it considers the season’s top 100 hottest gifts, from board games to items related to Disney’s hit film “Frozen.” The free shipping starts Saturday. Wal-Mart also is planning to offer discounts, or what it refers to as “rollbacks,” on more than 20,000 items ranging from groceries to TVs. (AP)

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