FTS Q&A: Mike Michaud

2 terms in the Maine House of Representatives and 5 terms in the Maine Senate all while maintaining a full-time job at the Great Northern Paper in East Millinocket; work ethic has never been a question for Mike Michaud. After spening 6 terms in the US House of Representatives, Michaud has decided that the he could best continue to serve the people of Maine by running for the office of Governor which is no small task considering the big name field of candidates.

We are excited to be joined by Congressman Michaud on the Fill The Steins Podcast this Friday Evening at 7pm to talk a little bit about the man behind the politician. In advance of our radio show, Mike was kind enough to sit down and answer questions on life growing up in East Millinocket and his plans for reforming education in Maine.

Fill The Steins (FTS): Let's get straight to the hard hitting questions. Schenck High School, which you attended, has been the punch line of jokes for its name for several decades. Where do you weigh in on the talk of potentially changing the school name?

Mike Michaud (MM): Oh jeeze, I'm going to leave that one to the local voters in the area! But I’ll always consider myself a proud alumni.

FTS: With five other siblings I am sure you must have found plenty of ways to entertain each other while growing up. What's one talent that you've picked up through the years that most people don't know about?

MM: Well I didn’t learn it from my siblings but I’m pretty good at tying flies, which is something I picked up from my dad.

FTS: You spent most of your life before politics as a worker and supervisor at Great Northern Paper in East Millinocket. GNP has changed hands several times in the last few decades and now it appears state funding or incentives are again needed to get it back on track. In a town with a population now under 1,800 people, why should we keep bailing out the paper mills?

MM: I'm always going to fight for any job, whether it's in a paper mill or a high tech industry. There is no doubt that the past can't drive economic development. Our economy is changing and we need to adapt as a state but we also can't turn our backs on the jobs of today in hopes of the jobs of tomorrow. We need to and can fight for both. If you look at my career, you can see I've done that. I've fought hard to protect American manufacturing jobs from being shipped overseas just as I've fought for millions in funding to develop innovative new jobs in Maine for Tidal Power, offshore wind and, small business development and expansion of broadband internet. 
FTS: When you are back home in East Millinocket, on break from Congress, what can expect to find Mike Michaud doing to relax and unwind?

MM: I love the outdoors so when I get a day to relax I like to spend it either working in my wood lot cutting brush or mowing the lawn. I also like to garden but I don’t have a lot of time for a big garden these days since I’m hardly ever home. So I made a garden on wheels that I grow vegetables in. I just cart it out in the springtime and leave out in the sun all summer long.

FTS: You are running for Governor in what appears to be three man race with three well known and very different personalities. What made you decide that the time was now to run for Governor instead of continuing on as a representative in Washington?

MM: I love the work I do in Washington. Despite the dysfunction in Congress, I've actually been able to accomplish a lot. But, I love the state of Maine even more. When I see what's happened here the last three years, it's frustrating and it's not the “Maine way”. We are watching opportunity pass us by everyday and I know I have the vision, the commitment and the experience to move Maine forward in a positive direction. I’m also the ONLY candidate in the race with a proven track record of bringing Democrats, Republicans and independents together to get things done, which I’ve done both in the State Legislature and in Congress.

FTS: You proposed a plan that would provide free tuition at state colleges/universities to in-state students for their sophomore year. Can you expand upon your thinking with this proposal and discuss how it may be funded considering recent budget cuts to the UMaine System?

MM: As far as the plan goes, I wanted to figure out a way to make college more affordable. I remember reading a study a couple years ago that showed that Maine was second in the country for college debt. That's unacceptable. We need to make college an affordable option for everyone. The sophomore year plan is a practical and affordable way to reduce the cost of college education by 25% while also driving up graduation rates. When you look at the studies out there, most students drop out after freshman year and cost is the driving force. As far as paying for it, budgets are a reflection of our priorities. I'm going to make education a priority again. For years, the state has been cutting funding for education, be it k-12 education or funding for our colleges and universities. That's not okay. Education is an investment in our future. Obviously, making the sophomore year free isn't going to happen over night. The next governor is going to take over a huge mess because of years of fiscal irresponsibility from the LePage administration. I'm realistic about that, but unless we set goals and start working to find solutions to our problems, we're never going to move forward.

FTS: We always like to finish our interviews by asking, when the time is appropriate, what beverage do you use to fill your stein? 

MM: Usually it's Miller Lite, but these days I'm on the go so much with Congress and the campaign that I find myself drinking a lot more coffee.

Many thanks to Congressman Michaud for taking the time to speak with us and additional thanks to Lizzy Reinholt for helping setup the interview.

Apply Now: UMaine MBB Head Coach

Let the search for the University of Maine's next men's basketball head coach begin, as the school has officially posted the opening on their jobs website. It may seem a little silly to have a job opening for a Division I coaching position listed alongside listings for cooks and administrative assistance, but UMaine isn't alone in that regard. Our friends over at HoopDirt.com have a list of dozens of other coaching positions listed in much the same way as UMaine's.

Names being discussed for UMaine's head coaching position include C.B. McGrath, Tom Ostrom, and T.J. Sorrentine while the BDN's Pete Warner reported that current assistant coach Doug Leichner and Vermont assistant coach Chris Markwood were also considerations.

All we know for now is that UMaine athletic director Karlton Creech will be looking beyond Maine's borders for potential candidates to fill the job. But that doesn't mean you can't apply, maybe even beat out all those mentioned above and turn the Black Bears around next season.

Some of the highlights from the position include:
  • Due to the nature of the position work beyond regular hours (to include evening and weekends) will be necessary
  • This is considered "an exceptional opportunity" which would be argued by many in the college coaching world
  • Only a bacehlor's degree is required, looks like I still have a chance
  • The job opening will close on April 23rd (1 week) so act fast!
So what do you think about the head coaching position? Planning on applying? Who is your top pick to take over the Black Bears next season? Let us know in the comments below.

Classic UMaine Restaurants - Governor's

For anyone who has been lucky enough to attend the College of Our Hearts Always for any period of time in the last 55 years, Governor's Restaurant & Bakery has been a staple of sustenance. The legendary Big Breakfast Combo has aided many a recovery after a night of stein filling and the allure of a giant slice of homemade pie has kept both students and local Mainahs coming back year after year. With a menu that is truly Maine friendly and a wry caricature based off Boss Tweed waiting at the door, Gov's truly is UMaine's flagship restaurant.
Profiled recently by our good friends at the Bangor Daily News, Governor's has a long history of satisfying customers that began with an ice cream stand opened by Leith and Donna Wadleigh in Old Town in 1959. When they realized that selling "creemees" (i.e. soft serve ice cream) in the central Maine winters wasn't exactly paying the bills, the idea for a full service restaurant was born. The name came from Mr. Wadleigh's standard greeting of "Hi Ya, Governor" to patrons with names he failed to remember...coincidentally, this is also one of my top five best responses to a "What's up, Chief"...
Governor's, like our other favorite UMaine restaurants Pat's and Margaritas, is now located throughout the state, even as far north as Presque Isle (UMPI students are still rejoicing even today) but the original still remains where it was first built on Marsh Island. The menu is loaded with Maine favorites from fresh dinner rolls, Lobster Rolls, Haddock Chowder, Yankee Pot Roast (no affiliation with the Bronx), Beans and Franks (yes, the weird red ones only found in Maine), the legendary Moose Burger (not literally moose but an awful lot of beef), and a whole lot of pie. They've also expanded to some interesting cultural dishes like Chicken Marsala or the Huevos Chorizo Breakfast Wrap (though maybe it's better to leave the Mexican to Margaritas). Even with all the variety, Gov's still manages to get all the classics right and that is what has kept it busy since the Eisenhower years.
Of all the fine establishments that have made their mark feeding the UMaine affiliated population, Governor's is by far the best representation of fine Maine cuisine. Simple, hearty, and full of calories. And for out of state Freshmen making their first trip to the University, heading to Governor's for a meal with the folks can be a daunting experience... What to choose? Should I save room for a Chocolate Cream Pie? Am I going to get made fun of when I can't scale the Hot Meatloaf Mountain? And just what the hell is in those hot dogs that make them so radioactive red??...my advice is to fear not and order away...the best thing about Gov's is the leftovers...and the fact that your parents are picking up the tab. Enjoy.   

After Ted Woodward

Now that University of Maine Director of Athletics Karlton Creech (left) correctly decided to relieve Ted Woodward of his head coaching duties on Monday, it is officially time to turn the page on the Maine men's basketball program.  The natural question now becomes, who's next?

Candidly, Fill The Steins has no insider information regarding who Creech and his deputies are looking at, nor do we know if the university will look for a candidate in the same (low) price range as Woodward.  Although, based on recent results, we'd advise against that.

What we do believe, however, is that there is a formula for success in building the men's basketball program in Orono.  That formula involves hiring a young, hungry, motivated coach who's looking to make his mark on a Division I program before moving on to greener pastures.

That's right...we're suggesting that Mr. Creech look at candidates who will want to move away from the university after 5-6 years and a successful turnaround.  Why?  Because, given the external factors, that's the best we can do.

To be clear, that's not to say "the best we can do" is bad.  It's just a reality.  The University of Maine is not a "destination job" for most men's basketball coaches.  Ours is the type of program where a first-time D1 head coach can build a resume, win a conference championship, and then move on to a more prominent mid-major school on his way to what he ultimately hopes is a power conference job.

So, what happens if that's the route Mr. Creech takes?  Won't we be in the exact same head-scratching situation five years down the road, searching for the next stop-gap head coach?  Not if this selection is made correctly.  By hiring a coach who can turn the program around and compete for a conference championship, Creech will show other young, aspiring coaches that they can be successful here.  So, while Maine will never be that "destination job" for an already-established head coach, it can be a destination for exactly the type of coach described above.

With that in mind, Fill The Steins has assembled a hypothetical list of candidates we believe fit the mold we've outlined.  Again, we must qualify this list by saying we have exactly zero idea how much Mr. Creech is willing to pay, if these candidates are in Maine's price range, and if they have any interest in spending their winters in Orono.  Having said that, predicting the next coach is way more fun than predicting the next player to transfer out of the program, so let's have at it!

C.B. McGrath, UNC Assistant Coach: As everyone in Fill The Steins Nation knows, Karlton Creech came to Orono from the University of North Carolina, a school with one of the proudest, richest basketball traditions in the country.  We can't help but think Mr. Creech will look to leverage some of those connections and try to bring a member of Roy Williams' staff to Orono.  From that staff, McGrath seems like the best fit for Maine.  He played for Williams at Kansas, almost immediately transitioned into an assistant coach after graduating, and followed Williams to UNC 11 years ago, where he has functioned as an assistant ever since.  What better place (in our eyes, at least) for McGrath to begin his head coaching career than under former UNC administrator Creech at the University of Maine?

Tom Ostrom, Dayton Assistant Coach: Whenever a school makes an unexpectedly deep run in the NCAA tournament, as the Dayton Flyers did this year, it seems their entire coaching staff becomes up for grabs.  The head coach is seen as a leading candidate for the same job at bigger schools, while his assistants' names get tossed in other head coach vacancy discussions.  Such is the case with Ostrom, who gained national attention during the Flyers' Elite Eight run last month.  Ostrom is best known for being a superior recruiter while on staff at Arkansas and Florida prior to joining the Dayton coaching staff in 2011.  We also know he's not averse to the cold weather nor the idea of being at a hockey school, as Ostrom is a graduate of the University of Minnesota.

T.J. Sorrentine, Brown Associate Head Coach: Does that name ring a bell?  Well, it should, particularly in America East circles.  Sorrentine, along with Taylor Coppenrath, led the University of Vermont to an NCAA tournament victory over national power Syracuse in 2005.  Since his playing days, Sorrentine has established himself as a top-level assistant at Brown, where he joined the coaching staff in 2008 and was named Associate Head Coach in 2011.  With ties to both New England and America East as well as interim head coaching experience after his former boss, Jesse Agel, was fired, Sorrentine would likely assimilate quite nicely in Orono.

Who do you think should succeed Ted Woodward as head coach of the University of Maine men's basketball team?  Leave your recommendations in the comments section below and join the conversation on Twitter using #FillTheSteins!

Photo courtesy www.goblackbears.com 

Black Bear Nation FTS: Friday to Sunday

Wait a second.  You mean to tell us that the UMaine spring sports teams were actually able to play all their games this weekend?!?  May wonders never cease!

That's right...after a slew of weather-induced challenges, Black Bear Nation was actually treated to a full slate of action this weekend.  Not only that, but the weekend was largely a success for our heroes.

As always (read: most of the time), Fill The Steins is here with our weekend round-up in the "Friday to Sunday".  Let's get to all the action!!!

Baseball: The Black Bear baseball squad traveled to Lowell this weekend for a three game set against UMass-Lowell at LeLacheur Park, and it turned out to be a trip well worth making.  The Black Bears came away with all three games of the series to run their winning streak to four.

Maine started off the weekend on a positive note by sweeping Saturday's doubleheader by scores of 5-4 and 3-2, respectively.  In game 1, Maine's offense was led by Alex Calbick, Scott Heath, and Shane Bussey, each of whom went 2-4 with an RBI.  Tommy Lawrence picked up the win on the mound, as he gave up 3 ER over 7.2 innings while striking out 9 and walking just 2.

In game 2 of Saturday's twin bill, Shane Bussey was once again the hero, capping another 2-4 performance at the plate with the game-winning RBI in the top of the ninth, driving in Colin Gay.  After Bussey put the Bears ahead, Charlie Butler pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 5th save of year and preserve the win for Burk FitzPatrick, who pitched a scoreless eighth.

In Sunday's series finale, Maine overcame three errors to earn the weekend sweep with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the River Hawks.  All the scoring came in the second inning, with Bussey once again providing what proved to the be the game-winning RBI.  From there, it was a nervy 7 innings of scoreless ball dominated by the pitchers from both teams.  In the end, Maine's Jeff Gelinas (W) and Scott Heath (S) combined to hold UMass-Lowell at bay and preserve the sweep for the Black Bears.

With the three victories in Lowell this weekend, Maine runs its record to 13-19 overall and 4-5 in America East play.  The Black Bears will look to keep the momentum going when they take on Colby at Mahaney Diamond on Tuesday at 4pm. 

Softball: The softball team was finally able to have a proper home opener this weekend and, while it didn't all go Maine's way, the Black Bears were able to win one of three games from UMBC over the weekend.

Things got off to a bad start for the ladies on Friday when they were shut out 3-0 by the Retreivers.  UMBC's Jessica Holte pitched a complete game, four hit shutout and never allowed Maine to string any hits together.  Senior Hannah Hill was the hard luck loser for Maine.  She also went the distance, giving up only four hits in her own right.

The Black Bears returned the favor in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader, however, as they took the Retreivers DOWNTOWN TO POUND TOWN by a mercy rule final score of 8-0.  Dagmar Ralphs led the charge at the plate for the Black Bears, going 4-8 (EIGHT at-bats...how's that for turning over the lineup???) with 4 RBI, while Alexis Bogdanovich picked up the win in the circle with her complete game shutout.

Maine lost a heartbreaker to close out the weekend, falling by a final score of 7-6 in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader.  After allowing 5 runs in the top of the first, Maine couldn't quite make it all the way back.  Their just-short comeback was led by Jessica Burk, who went 3-4 with a HR and 3 RBI at the plate.

With the weekend series loss, Maine now sits at 14-13 overall and 6-5 in conference.  Coach Coutts' squad will look to get back to their winning ways when they host Husson at Kessock Field on Tuesday at 4pm.

Track & Field: Overall, it was a weekend of mixed results for the men's and women's track & field teams in Durham, NH this weekend.  The men picked up their second consecutive meet win, earning 152 points to host UNH's 123 and Dartmouth's 113.

On the women's side, the Black Bears finished in 3rd place with 71 points, distantly behind UNH's 165 point tally and Dartmouth's 139 point haul.

Both teams return to action for a two-day meet in Worcester on April 16-17, hosted by Holy Cross.

Don't forget that Fill The Steins will welcome UMaine women's basketball coach Richard Barron on this week's FTS Podcast.  Join us LIVE Sunday night at 7pm for what's sure to be an entertaining conversation.  If you can't listen live, remember you can always check out the archives here!  GO BLUE!!!

Photo courtesy: www.goblackbears.com

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