A hurricane will hit Maine.
The economy will continue to grow, cautiously.
Pierre Dénys de Montfort will finally get some cred for his pioneering work proving the existence of giant octopi.
And Fargo, North Dakota? Well, just you wait.
You probably have your own plans and expectations for 2020, but be sure to leave some room for a host of other important events and developments in the new year.
That’s the word from 10 Mainers we recently reached out to — all well-versed in their fields — for their predictions on what 2020 is likely to bring — in the Twin Cities, Maine and the world. To kick the predictions off, consider this for 2020: Your kid’s next job could be playing video games.
WEIRD, WIDE WORLD
Loren Coleman, founder of the International Cryptozoology Museum, Portland
There will, with certainty, be more mermaids, mermen and Bigfoot in Maine, at least on the written page, in 2020, according to Coleman.
He’s also predicting the Kraken will see some love.
“1820 is the year of the death of Pierre Dénys de Montfort, who is credited with his remarkable findings and theories on the origins of the tales of the great Kraken,” said Coleman. “As Wikipedia notes, de Montfort is remembered for ‘his pioneering inquiries into the existence of the gigantic octopuses. He was inspired by a description from 1783 of an eight-meter-long tentacle found in the mouth of a sperm whale.’
Coleman continues, “De Montfort’s theory was disbelieved and ‘he died starving and poor in Paris around 1820. Many of his sources for the Kraken octopus probably described the very real giant squid, Architeuthis, proven to exist in 1857.’ In 2020, I feel, especially with a lead from French cryptozoology, there will be a re-celebration of de Montfort’s achievements and his history will be recalled with favor.”
Next year will see the publication of a new book by Coleman and late cryptozoologist Mark A. Hall, “Merbeings: The True Story of Mermaids, Mermen, and Earth’s Lizard People,” as well as the book “Bigfoot in Maine” by Michelle Souliere.
The International Cryptozoology Museum will also host “Sasquatch Revealed,” a traveling West Coast exhibition, for nine months, Coleman said.
One Washington State newspaper described it as “the largest collection of Bigfoot-related artifacts and artwork ever assembled.”
A POSITIVE REAL ESTATE OUTLOOK FOR THE TWIN CITIES
Kevin Fletcher, managing director of KW Commercial at Keller Williams Realty
Fletcher used a variation of the word “caution” five times in under seven minutes — “cautiously optimistic,” “cautiously bullish” — as he described the tentatively good vibes he has about the Twin Cities’ real estate scene next year.
“I think the wise person is going to be cautiously optimistic,” he said. “There’s a fair amount of housing going up in the communities and I think it warrants just a little bit of cautiousness as it relates to what that’s going to impact on the residential market.”
On the commercial front, “I’m fairly confident there won’t be a lot of speculation building — the cost of construction is still up there.”
Fletcher said he has, though, started to see increased occupancy across Maine over the last quarter in formerly vacant space and hopes to see that continue through 2020.
“I think we will remain in a steady growth pattern for the next decade,” he said. “We have affordable land, we have a great workforce, there’s a lot of great things that the community has to offer that will, I believe, continue to draw in organizations like (Procter & Gamble) and Modula. I don’t want to focus on that and forget about the retail storefronts on Lisbon Street or the storefronts on Main Street. The market is driven by those smaller things as much as it is the bigger things. Showing prospective tenants like Portland Pie, Coffee by Design or other regional, Maine-based companies that Lewiston-Auburn is thriving and vibrant, that will in-fill some of those vacancies that we have, (and) at the same time continue to drive more foot traffic in people getting out and doing things.”
MAINE POLITICS: LOOK TO A RANKED-CHOICE DECISION
Amy Fried, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Maine
The biggest political story in Maine in the coming year is unlikely to surprise anyone.
Fried, a professor who leads the University of Maine’s Political Science Department, said the U.S. Senate race is bound to be the focus of much attention as competitors try to capture a seat held by Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins since she won it in 1996.
“My prediction is that it will be a close race, possibly to be decided by ranked choice,” Fried said.
Collins is seeking a fifth term as the state’s senior senator. There are at least four Democrats vying in a June primary for the chance to challenge her. There are likely to be minor party and independent contenders as well.
CONSUMER TECH? MORE VIDEO GAMES AND eSPORTS
Matthew Mocciola, owner of iSolution Pros of Auburn
Mocciola said that in 2020, he doesn’t envision “some next big thing” that will be released and leave people waiting in line to buy it.
Instead, he believes technology will continue to trend toward streaming, with a focus on video games and eSports.
“To be honest, I think video game streaming, something that seemed like it’d go away over time, will get more and more popular in 2020,” Mocciola said. “Right now, you have people watching people play video games on streaming platforms like Twitch. This past year, there was a tournament of the video game “Fortnite,” and a 16-year old kid won $3 million for first place.”
He continued, “Parents always told us that you can’t play video games for a job. Now, it’s turned into a whole different thing. Games are being streamed on Facebook and network TV.”
As for apps, Mocciola predicted that people may “lean more toward customer-to-customer apps, like Waze.”
“Waze basically allows drivers to communicate to each other — apps that allow consumers to interact with each other,” he said. “I think we’re likely to see more apps of that nature in 2020.”
WEIRD MAINE WEATHER
Peter Geiger, editor, Farmer’s Almanac of Lewiston
Maine residents and visitors may want to lay low near the middle of September for a rare weather event for the state.
Geiger, editor of the Lewiston-based Farmer’s Almanac, foresees the state’s first hurricane in 29 years to visit the coast and come ashore around Sept. 12 to 15.
The hurricane will travel up the East Coast, striking Virginia and Cape Cod, before arriving somewhere in eastern Maine, Geiger says.
Not since Hurricane Bob wreaked havoc in 1991 has a hurricane struck Maine with heavy rains and damaging winds. During Bob, Portland received more than 8 inches of rain and Wiscasset saw wind gusts of 92 mph. Bob was blamed for three deaths in Maine and caused more than $42 million in damages.
In other weather prognostication, the arrival of spring will be delayed due to a rough March filled with ceaseless precipitation. During March, storms will arrive non-stop. One after another, with no end in sight, according to the almanac.
“March will be a terrible month,” Geiger says. “It will feel like the storms are never going to end.”
The coldest part of the winter will be the last week of January and the first week of February, Geiger adds.
MAINE ECONOMY SHOULD CONTINUE TO GROW
Amanda Rector, state economist for Maine
Nationally, the economy should remain “relatively stable” in 2020, Rector predicts.
“There is some indication that, if recent maneuverings by the Federal Reserve Bank are successful, we might come out of a third ‘mini-cycle’ in 2020, with more robust economic growth to kick the year off,” she said.
“There is still a large amount of uncertainty at the federal level, including trade policies and the upcoming election cycle. Much of the recent economic growth has been driven by consumers and anything that causes consumers to pull back, such as increased impacts from tariffs, could lead to a slowdown at a larger scale,” she said.
In Maine, indicators are that the economy should continue to grow in 2020, Rector said, “dependent on the national and global economic picture. The current demographics in the state, led by the aging of the Baby Boomers who make up around 28% of Maine’s population, may put increased pressure on employment growth as labor force availability continues to be a challenge for businesses. However, if we continue to see improvements in the numbers of young people moving into Maine, employment growth could be stronger than currently expected.”
L-A MAYORS: ‘DRAMATIC’ GROWTH ON HORIZON
The Twin Cities are poised for big things in 2020. That’s the main prediction from the two mayors of Lewiston and Auburn heading into the New Year. There are few specifics to be had, but development is coming, they say.
Lewiston mayor-elect Mark Cayer:
Cayer, who won’t be sworn in until Jan. 6, said that since being elected in November he’s been meeting with local developers and health-care and education officials.
“I believe Lewiston will be well on its way by the first half of the next decade to have at least $100 million in new growth,” he said. “There are several big projects that have the potential to become reality in the near future.”
Cayer said he’s “convinced” there will be “major activity” in Lewiston’s downtown business district, which he said will be aided by the Downtown Lewiston Association and new leadership at the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque:
Levesque, who began a second term on Dec. 16, has similar predictions for Auburn.
“I think we’re going to see dramatic and escalating growth in 2020,” he said. “You feel momentum.”
Levesque said there should be two to three large development projects in store for Auburn’s downtown this coming year. He said he also believes there will be an increase in market-rate single-family homes, as well as “brand recognition” tied to efforts to market Auburn within the state and New England.
He said as the housing crunch continues in greater Portland, more professionals and young families are looking to places like Auburn, given its services and location.
Also on the horizon, he said, are further additions to Auburn’s dining scene. He pointed to relatively new businesses like Side By Each and the popularity of Minot Avenue, which he expects will see more new activity.
MAINE HEALTH CARE COSTS: DON’T COUNT ON SAVINGS
Mitchell Stein, independent health care consultant
Stein, a Brunswick-based independent health-care consultant who helps organizations and the public understand and deal with the changing health-care environment, says the future hangs a lot on the 2020 election. Will the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) be strengthened or further weakened? What health-care reforms will we see?
But health care in 2020 won’t be all politics all the time, he predicts.
“We can also be sure there will be lots of other health care stories,” he said. “For example, we’ll have many stories reporting significant medical breakthroughs — of which about 10% will report on actual breakthroughs. There will also be many stories about foods that are good or bad for us, a few of which may also be true.
“On the positive side, I do expect more successes than failures in the continuing opioid battle, although that will not diminish the tragedy of the failures,” he added.
What won’t we see changing in health care 2020? One word: Cost.
“The biggest health care story we won’t hear about in 2020 will be the implementation of hospital and provider price regulations,” he said. “While experts agree that is an efficient way to bring costs under control quickly, and it is one of the few reforms fully within a state’s authority, the fact that every dollar of savings would come out of a very powerful industries’ pocket means those changes are not on the horizon.”
In Maine, 2019 was already a pretty big year for health care, with the state’s expansion of MaineCare and an increased focus on substance use issues. What else could be coming, then?
“Although the (Maine) Legislature will once again have a large slate of health care legislation before it, I expect 2020 will see only incremental changes as Maine joins the rest of the nation focusing on the upcoming elections,” Stein said.
PSYCHIC ENERGY AROUND THE GLOBE . . . and FARGO
Eddita Felt, Durham psychic
Felt, a psychic, medium and longtime paranormal investigator who lives in Durham and teaches classes in Brunswick, said she asked her spirit guides what countries had the most energy going on and poked around from there.
It was a motley trot around the globe, ending in, of all places, Fargo, North Dakota.
“The first one they (the spirit guides) made me hear was wars and rumors of wars,” Felt said. “They made me feel England and Northern Ireland were ehhh!, like their shoulders were up around their ears and they were really stressed out. It made me feel that there might be a renewal of hostilities between the sides as a result of the whole Brexit thing. Whatever’s going on, Norway is going to have some connection with it, which I thought was interesting.”
Portugal and the Azores popped out, as did Kazakhstan, Japan and India, though she can’t say why.
“They made me feel like Turkey was in danger of imploding from within — those were the words they used, ‘imploding,’” Felt said. “Saudi Arabia continues to go down the road toward extremism. … I also felt a lot of unrest in Chile and Argentina.”
She said guides showed her a cartoonish take on Russian President Vladimir Putin sticking “a finger into everybody else’s Christmas pie, messing it up so that it screws it up for other people.”
“When I turned the attention to Washington, D.C., I heard something really weird,” Felt said. “I heard a line from a movie a long time ago, ‘You dirty rat, you took out my brother and now I’m going to take out you!’ I was like, ‘Oh my god.’ At the very least, that suggests criminality to me. It made me wonder if maybe there was some mafia connection with D.C. in the next year.”
Last stop: Fargo.
“I was like, ‘Fargo, North Dakota? What can happen in Fargo, North Dakota?’” Felt said, but her guides were mum.
Only 2020 will tell.