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Orchestra set to start in fall; Conn. virus rules up for a vote

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The Portland Symphony Orchestra isn’t playing at the Fourth of July extravaganza on the city’s East End beach, but it is gearing up to take the stage for the first time since the pandemic.

The symphony will begin its season on Oct. 19 with a homecoming performance at Merrill Auditorium.

The performance will include Daniel Sonenberg’s First Light: A Fanfare for Maine, which was commissioned by the PSO and was to premiere at the Maine Bicentennial Concert in March 2020.

The orchestra will perform thirty-nine concerts over the season, including a dozen Magic of Christmas concerts.



On Sunday, the state of Maine announced that a Winslow woman won $896,809 in a sweepstakes held to encourage Maine residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Kay Spofford, a dialysis dietitian in her early 60s, was vaccinated in January and February. In a statement released by the office of Maine Gov. Janet Mills, Spofford said winning felt “surreal.”

“My husband and I strive for a simple life, but this money will give us peace of mind in our retirement and allow us to make repairs to our house and travel to visit our children and our grandbaby on the way," she said. "I encourage everyone in Maine to get vaccinated to keep themselves and others safe and to help Maine continue leading the fight against COVID-19.”

The sweepstakes prize represented $1 for every person vaccinated in Maine. Residents age 12 and older who received at least one dose of a Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Maine since December 15, 2020, were eligible to enter.

Maine received nearly 350,260 entries.



Connecticut lawmakers are expected to return to the state Capitol in the coming weeks and decide whether to extend Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont’s public health emergency and his executive authority once again as the state continues to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic.

While the date has not yet been set, a spokesperson for the House Democrats said Saturday that lawmakers have been told to keep the week of July 12 open. The state Capitol complex will be open to the public for the first time since March 2020.

The General Assembly, which is controlled by Democrats, in May agreed to extend the governor’s civil preparedness and public declarations until July 20 even though most of the state’s remaining COVID-19 restrictions were lifted May 19. At the time, the legislative proponents said it was the prudent thing to do, noting how some federal COVID relief programs, including extra food benefits for struggling families, require that such emergency declarations remain in place. Republicans have questioned why Lamont still needs the authority.



Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger recognized 10 people or community organizations for their service to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a Saturday ceremony at Battery Park, Weinberger called the recipients “heroes.”

The recipients include the Association of Africans Living in Vermont, Age Well, Vermont Professionals of Color, ANEW Place, and Garnet Health.

The mayor gave each individual a “key to the city” for the work they’ve done throughout the past 16 months.

“I know there are heroes among us who helped push, pull and lead us in a new direction. Today, it is my and really our whole community’s tremendous honor to recognize some of the heroes of the past year,” he said. “Partners who went above and beyond for extended periods of time and demonstrated an incredible commitment to our community and partnership with the city.”

Weinberger also dedicated a planting and memorial stone to honor people from Burlington who died of COVID-19.



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