Various boats cross Portland harbor on Tuesday June 1, 2021 in a view seen from the top of the Portland Observatory on Munjoy Hill. The observatory, built in 1807, is the only remaining maritime signal tower in the United States. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Today is Wednesday. It will cool down across the state today, with highs in the mid to high 80s for most of Maine. There may be rain and thunderstorms. Here’s what we’re talking about in Maine today.

Here’s the latest on the coronavirus in Maine

Another Mainer has died and 69 coronavirus cases were reported across the state on Tuesday, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The statewide death toll now stands at 840. Check out our COVID-19 Tracker for more information.

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs voiced encouragement that Mainers who have been fully vaccinated will be able to travel to New Brunswick, without need of quarantine, on Canada Day, July 1.

Schools send kids home for ‘heat days’ using remote learning developed during pandemic

A group of children frolic in the spraying water at the splash pad in Old Town on June 8, 2021. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / The Penobscot Times

While an early heat wave caused a number of eastern Maine schools to let out students early on Monday and Tuesday, others used an approach they’ve become familiar with during the COVID-19 pandemic to let the school day go on: remote learning.

The decision by three Bangor-area school districts to have students learn remotely could be a precursor for how administrators deal with extreme weather days even after the pandemic is over. Remote learning is now a viable option for district leaders faced with deciding whether to close school buildings, multiple superintendents said.

PLUS: As communities across the state battle intense heat and a high humidity index, three places in northern Maine saw record breaking temperatures on Tuesday, the National Weather Service in Caribou reported.

Wardens urge use of life jackets following 4 deaths on Maine waters

In this July 2019 file photo, kids and adults congregate at an old bridge abutment on the Saco River in Buxton. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

The state agencies tasked with responding to drownings on Maine waters are urging people to wear life jackets and use caution while swimming following four water-related deaths that have occurred since Sunday.

Agencies say the deaths and near drowning demonstrate the need for people to wear life vests when working or recreating on Maine waters.

Portland’s hot dog man bids farewell after 36 years

Long-time Portland hotdog vendor Mark Gatti stands in his old spot at Tommy’s Park on Tuesday June 8, 2021 where he ran his business for 36 years. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

After 36 years of slinging steamed chilidogs, sauerkraut-slathered frankfurters and celery salt-sprinkled snappers, he’s hung up his tongs for good.

Mainers are breaking out in painful rashes caused by the browntail moth caterpillar

Browntail moth caterpillars, like those seen here, are coming from the trees and bringing with them health risks, according to the Maine Centers for Disease Control. Credit: Courtesy of Maine CDC

Browntail moth caterpillars have poisonous, irritating hairs that can cause a blistery rash similar to poison ivy when people come into contact with them. 

Bill to rein in vulgar vanity plates easily passes the Maine Senate

Sal Bartolotta of Bremen poses with his 2007 Toyota Tundra given to him by his father with the vanity plate “KISMYAS” on May 7, 2021. Credit: Caitlin Andrews / BDN

An effort to allow Maine to rescind or bar vanity license plates with swear words and other profane references sailed through the state Senate in an initial Tuesday vote, setting up an easy road to passage for a bill that may be challenged in court.

Council backs homeowners’ push for moratorium on Portland homeless shelters

Bayside Portland file photo. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

In a 6-3 vote capping off a five-hour meeting, Portland’s city council passed a moratorium that prohibits new shelters from being built in the Bayside neighborhood for six months.

Bangor city manager stepping down after 11 years to lead Maine Municipal Association

Bangor City Manager Cathy Conlow is pictured in 2018. Conlow will leave her position in early August, becoming the new executive director of the Maine Municipal Association. Credit: Gabor Degre / BDN

Cathy Conlow has been chief executive since 2010, when she took on the role after previously serving as Orono town manager.

Watch 2 loud black bear cubs play by Pushaw Lake

Two black bear cubs play, loudly, in a tree by the shore of Pushaw Lake in Glenburn, Maine. Credit: Courtesy of Rich and Marian Dressler

Rich and Marian Dressler were rousted from bed Monday morning by an unfamiliar sound outside their home on Pushaw Lake in Glenburn.

“At first I thought that it might have been a fox, but then it just kept going on,” Rich Dressler said. “Pretty soon, we saw these two [black bear] cubs walk across from our neighbors’ lot.”

Strawberry season will be starting early this year

In this June 2015 file photo, Alex Fogg, 21, of Bucksport picks strawberries at Adams Strawberry Acres in Corinth. Credit: Gabor Degre / BDN

It’s likely a result of a mild May and recent warm weather. 

Freshman distance runners crush competition at state championship debuts

Bucksport High School freshman William Hileman , left, challenges Orono’s Liam Farrell for the lead in the boy’s 1600 meter run, and Orono High School freshman Ruth White, right, takes the lead during the girl’s 1600 meter run, at the 2021 Class C track state championship meet held at the Brewer Community School. Credit: Ernie Clark / BDN

Ruth White began running when she was 5 years old in Orono’s summer track program, while William Hileman didn’t take up competitive running until two years ago as an eighth-grader in Bucksport.

Neither youth nor different running backgrounds prevented the high school freshmen from capturing their first Class C outdoor track and field state championships Saturday at the Brewer Community School.

In other Maine news …

Walmart stores across Maine are going bagless

Deputy saves 13-year-old girl from drowning on Androscoggin River

Man to plead guilty to putting razor blades in pizza dough

Mystery bug carcasses wash ashore at Wells Beach

Bangor childhood development program receives $5.5M in federal funding

Man killed and woman critically injured after motorcycle collision in South Portland

6-year-old takes babysitter’s SUV on joyride in Livermore Falls

Senate passes Susan Collins bill to aid energy attack victims