Cushing Pleads Guilty to Arson and Murder.

Updated 6 years ago

An Old Orchard Beach man charged with killing his mother, stepfather, and brother has pleaded guilty to murder and arson.22-year-old Matthew Cushing previously pled not guilty to three counts of murder, as well as one count of arson.A prosecutor said Cushing acted out of concern that the marriage was breaking up, and that his mother would not be able to support herself.Court documents previously indicated he was angry because his parents declined to fund a backpacking trip in Europe.Cushing admitted to stabbing his mother and stepfather, Carol and Christopher Bolduc, and his 15-year-old half brother, then setting fire to their Old Orchard Beach home in February of 2008.Defense lawyer Joel Vincent says his client wanted to take responsibility his actions.He says there was no formal plea agreement.

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Monson Elementary School Closure Debated on Wednesday

Updated 6 years ago

On Wednesday night, folks in MSAD #68 got to say what they think about the possible closing of Monson Elementary school.The board of directors is considering closing the school and busing the three dozen students to Sedomocha Elementary School in Dover-Foxcroft.Superintendent Ann Bridge says she hates the thought of folks in Monson losing their school, but financial times are tough. And the district is having a hard time paying close to $300,000 a year to operate a school with less than 40 students. “We’ve never come to the financial straits we’re in: the state crisis, the federal crisis, how that’s affecting folks here.” Superintendent Bridge told TV5 on Wednesday. “We had to cut 650k last year and can’t do that again, so it’s time for that discussion to take place.”If the school board and state Department of Education approve the closure, folks in Monson could still opt to keep the school open. But that would mean they’d have to pay the school’s operating costs. Residents attended a public hearing Wednesday night and asked the MSAD #68 directors to hold off on any decisions for a year.Another meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 3rd.

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Bill Would Change Maine Pot Law

Updated 6 years ago

A committee in Augusta heard about a new bill Wednesday that would change limits and fines for marijuana possession. Rep. Patsy Crockett introduced the measure, which she says would streamline and clarify current law. The bill would raise the amount of what’s a non-criminal offense when it comes to marijuana possession, from one and a quarter ounces, to four ounces. It would also redefine criminal possession – and is already getting mixed reviews.Crockett says local prosecutors approached her to propose the bill last summer, to save the state money prosecuting people who they say they can’t prove are criminals intent on distributing.”Because if somebody is in possession of a small amount of marijuana for their own use,” says Crockett, “then they probably are not a criminal. So it saves the state money in court-appointed legal fees and the expense of a criminal trial.” The bill would make possession of up to four ounces of marijuana a civil violation.Those opposed to the bill as it stands now include the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.Director Roy McKinney says he agrees with better defining criminal marijuana possession, but says the new standard would be too much of a departure.”This bill’s proposal would give Maine the distinction of having the most extreme policy, if you will, with regard to simple possession of marijuana – by far,” he says. “Most states have settled on about one ounce as that threshold for decriminalized possession.”McKinney says given that Maine youth have one of the highest marijuana use rates in the country, he doesn’t want the state to appear to be loosening the rules.”I definitely don’t think they should lighten up on anything like that,” says Bangor resident Ryan Matthews. “I think they should crack down maybe harder on it.”The Maine Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Maine ACLU support the bill.”I think it’s an excellent idea,” says Christopher Ruhlin of Bangor. “I think Maine needs to take a mature, realistic assessment of the situation…to have a responsible person using cannabis is completely normal, millions of people do it everyday.”

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Coping with Job Loss

Updated 6 years ago

Research shows that as the economy takes a downturn, so does the mental health of many Americans. Folks who find it hard to cope can wind up doing a lot of damage to themselves and those around them.The stress of job loss can extend beyond the person directly effected, it can put a strain on entire families.”In kids you start to see they have, they may not understand specifically but they feel the change, they feel the cutbacks.” Says Dr. David Prescott, a psychologist.Prescott says that job loss can cause couples to argue more, forcing them to switch roles, and may even change the decision making processes in the family, changes that can really take a toll on the person who loses a job.”One of the things we worry about in an economic recession is that the incidents of certain mental health problems or psychological problems goes up.”There are a few things that people can do to better cope with the stress of job loss. Like expressing feelings in open discussions and creating an active plan to deal with it.”In any time when you hit a crisis or a difficult thing that active coping is way better than passive coping and not only does it help you get things done but it reduces the likelihood that you’re going to get a psychological or mental health problem.”Prescott suggests that when discussing things with kids, talk to them at their level, acknowledge the issue, but don’t overdo it, give simple and truthful explanations, and he says be ready to talk when they’re ready.He says dealing with job loss in a positive way – will often lead to a more positive outcome.”A lot of families are spending more time together. A lot of families feel kind of good that they figured out how to deal with it, that you feel like you’ve overcome something and that’s good for people and for families.”

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University of Maine Looking for Ways to Save Money

Updated 6 years ago

The University of Maine is looking for ways to save money and would like your help.The “new challenges, new directions* task force, was put together recently by chancellor Richard Pattenaude. Task force members have set up a series of public meetings, to take place on each campus in the system. The first was held at Wells Commons in Orono, Wednesday afternoon.Those who attend are being asked to suggest ways to lower operating costs and develop ways to stay financially sustainable. They’re also being asked for input on the future structure and function of the entire U-Maine system.Anthroplogy archivist Pamela Dean says closing some campuses is an unpopular option but is one that would prevent the duplication of services throughout the university system. Other speakers asked the task force to preserve funding for research, sighting that as a key part of what the university offers.Similar meetings are scheduled for Augusta on Thursday and Farmington on Friday. There will be meetings held on the other campuses next week.

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A new home for an old engine….

Updated 6 years ago

Its not so much the little engine that could, but the little engine that still can.Folks in Veazie are trying to find a new home for an old fire engine.And as Cori Skall explains, they’re hoping to help a community in need, along the way.”It’s just a fantastic little truck, its a great drafting truck, so whether its a large community, or a rural community, it would serve the purpose of anyone, even an island, it would be fantastic.”This fire engine has been in service in Veazie, since before Gerry Martin joined the fire department, 27 years ago.”Its an original Mac, so that means the engine and all the parts are original Mac…our service maintenance program…we did 2 major service runs a year, so its well kept….rust down is, there’s hardly any rust to speak of…running truck, its in great shape.”Recently, the department acquired two new trucks, but with no room to store the old Mac, the town is looking to find it a new home.”Its a great truck, I’d like to keep it, but I really think it would serve the community, we want to keep it in the state of Maine, so I think it’ll serve somebody great.””They wanted to preserve the truck, and hopefully help another community.”Veazie Town Manager, Bill Reed, says the town will be taking requests from any community in the state, that’s looking for a good truck.”We’d be willing to give the truck away to a community that was in need, understanding that at the present time, a lot of communities are cutting back on their capital programs to avoid tax increases.”The town will take requests for a brief period of time, before the council decides where the truck will go.”We can give out good fortune to somebody else, and, as tough as things are, economically, and with the federal mandate, it would give some communities that couldn’t get anything, or only have one piece, a back up, or a lead engine.”The town is asking that interested communities, contact either the Town Manager, or the Fire Chief, at the town office.The number there is 947-2781, that’s 947-2781.The Veazie Town Council hopes to pick a community, by the end of March.

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Atwood Sentence

Updated 6 years ago

A Canaan man has been sentenced to 55 years in prison for the murder of his girlfriend, Cheryl Murdoch.The Superior Court Judge who found Shannon Atwood guilty of killing his girlfriend won’t be handing down his sentence.Justice Nancy Mills found Atwood guilty last summer in the bludgeoning death of 38-year old Murdoch.After the verdict, Atwood’s lawyer claimed Mills’ decision was tainted because the judge knew a woman Atwood had been convicted of assaulting years earlier.Mills decided to recuse herself from sentencing. Atwood was sentenced by Justice Thomas Delahanty II. We’ll have more on the sentencing in tonights news.

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Pharmacy teller thwarts robbery

Joy Hollowell

Updated 6 years ago

A quick thinking store employee helped thwart a robbery at Goggins IGA in Randolph.Kennebec County Sheriff Randall Libery says a woman approached the drive-in window at the pharmacy Tuesday afternoon and handed a note to the teller.It said she was unable to speak.A second note then demanded as many Oxycontin pills as possible, at the highest dose possible, be turned over to her. The note instructed the teller not to call police until five minutes after she left. The woman claimed she had someone in the store and that quote “there would be a blood bath.”The teller told police they did not see a weapon, and therefore chose to close up the drive up window and dial 9-1-1 instead.The woman remained at the window for a few more minutes, then took off.Police say they have several leads in the case.The female suspect is described as being between 40 and 50 years old. She’s approximately five foot two inches tall, and heavy set.She was wearing blue jeans, a jean jacket with a blue hooded sweatshirt and sun glasses at the time of the attempted robbery.Anyone with information is asked to call the Kennebec County Sheriff’s office at 623-3591.

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Missing Sledder Found, Says He Was Visiting Friends…

Updated 6 years ago

There was a happy ending in the search for a missing snow-mobiler from New Hampshire.Kevin O’Neal, 44, planned to ride from Pittston farm to Millinocket on Saturday to meet friends, but he never showed up.10-wardens and a plane were used to search for him Tuesday.Then, late Tuesday afternoon, O’Neal called from a snowmobile repair shop in Greenville to say he was okay.He has apparently been snow-mobiling the whole time, and staying with friends along the way.

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Keeping Pedestrians Safe

Updated 6 years ago

This winter several pedestrians have been hit by cars and trucks in the Bangor area. In some cases, those accidents proved fatal. City leaders say that’s just not acceptable. Bangor Mayor Gerry Palmer hopes to shed some light on the situation. “For children going to school, and high snow banks and long hours of darkness, this can be helpful,” says Palmer, pointing to a safety light on his lapel.City leaders OK’ed a program Tuesday they hope will make pedestrians easier to see at night. A blinking light, worn on a collar or cap, could help prevent another tragedy.”We had the misfortune of losing a member of our community, Maureen Waltz, in January as a pedestrian fatality.”The new program will be called “Maureen’s Way” in her honor. She worked for Bangor’s Convention and Visitors Bureau.”To lose her in the way that we did has been very tragic,” says Kerrie Tripp, director of the Greater Bangor Convention and Visitors Bureau. “And I think that a very fitting way to remember Maureen is by helping others. Because so much of what she did every day at the CVB was centered around people.”The safety lights will be free to the public and come at no charge to the city.”Cigna, our health care provider, provided some of these to our employees earlier,” says Palmer. “We approached them to make some more available and they’ve been more than willing to do that.”Bangor Fire Chief Jeff Cammack says, “It gives motorists, and most importantly, pedestrians, a chance so that motorists can see them at night when they’re crossing or walking in the road because the sidewalks haven’t been plowed.”The program will run on a test basis to start. In two weeks you can pick up a light at the Central Fire Station on Main Street. And, city leaders say to remember, even if you are wearing a light, you still need to be careful out there.”Let’s hope,” says Cammack, “We don’t have any more of those tragic incidents from here on.”

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Maine’s 6th Snowmobile Fatality

Updated 6 years ago

Maine has recorded it’s 6th snowmobile fatality of the season.Wardens say 68-year old Paul Tibbets died Tuesday from injuries he received during a snowmobile crash on Sunday.Tibbets had been sledding with his five nephews on groomed trails near Kojadjo, when he missed a turn and struck a snow bank.He suffered very severe injuries when he landed on his back after being thrown from the sled.

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Pittsfield Gas Station Owner Shares Prize with Employees

Updated 6 years ago

A gas station in Pittsfield is now known as one of the cleanest and friendliest in the country.The Dysarts Travel Stop on Somerset Avenue was evaluated by some secret shoppers sent by Citgo. They evaluated things like service, and cleanliness. Dysarts was one of 2,000 stations across the country to get a perfect store. All of them were placed into a lottery, and the Pittsfield store was selected to win the grand prize, a Cadillac Escalade.Instead of keeping the vehicle for himself, store owner Tim Dysart decided to split the prize.”We ended up, we sold it and split the proceeds with the crew at the location.” said Tim Dysart.Co-manager, Stephanie Valente added, “It was more than what they even needed to do. They didn’t even need to do that, it was great that they did it.””Especially at a time like this, we all were so thrilled to get the money, it was not even expected.”, said co-manager Gail Ross.Citgo evaluates their 9,000 stations across the country each year.Now that they have this new honor, the Dysarts store is getting a new look. They’re in the middle of renovations.

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Maine’s forests in good shape…..

Updated 6 years ago

Forest products are a vital part of Maine’s ecomony, traditions and character.There’s been a lot done to ensure the viability of Maine’s forests, while at the same time making sure they’re protected.That’s why a group of maine lawmakers, representatives from the pulp and paper industry, and land conservationists, gathered at a conference on *forest legacy* in Orono today.Govenor Baldacci says forest products and forest based recreation contribute more than 11-billion dollars to Maine’s economy, while employing mor than 30-thousand people.Department of Conservation commissioner Patrick McGowan says there’s been a lot of progress in protecting Maine’s woods, since the Maine Woods Legacy program was established.”The forest legacy program, as I mentioned….we receive more money than any other state, and we want to thank you for that….45 million dollars for 650-thousand acres since the program began, in 1994, with Senator Lahey and former Senator Mitchell as sponsors.”>McGowan says while there’s been a lot of progress, there’s still a long way to go.He says there are still several conservation projects in the works for this year.He credits the success thus far, to the cooperation of both government and private organizations.

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The former Red Shield plant is set to open, with a new future and a new name….

Updated 6 years ago

Close to two-hundred displaced workers from the Red Shield plant in old town will soon be back to work.Some are already on the job.As Cori Skall explains, the folks involved hope that a new name, new financial backing, and new technology will bring new opportunities to people throughout the area.”Well, I’ve lived in Old Town my whole life,.a lot of families depend on it, the city depends on it, its just a wonderful opportunity.”For many in the Old Town area, the years have been tough, since the closure of the Red Shield paper plant last year.”These people have been on a roller coaster not only financially but emotionally…its been so difficult during these past two years, for all of them.”But there’s a new sense of optimism , as news of the plant’s reopening was made public at a conference on forest legacy this week.”We’ll be starting up a plant, next week, that’s probably uniquely configured to use Maine derived technology….in a facility that’s dependant on Maine woods, and dependent on highly skilled people from Maine to make a product that’s never been made any place else in the world.”Red Shield President, Dick Arnold, says the plant will incorporating cutting-edge technology, developed by the University of Maine, to venture in to the bio-fuel arena.And along with this new technology, a new name.Mill owner, Lynn Tilton, says the plant will be renamed, old town fuel and fiber, a nod to the town’s history with the plant.90 workers have already returned to the plant.And management says they hope to have 170 employees, within a few weeks.Cashman, who’s already returned to work, says she’s excited for the future.”I think we have a good future with the bio fuels, I think the mill’s here to stay, this time.”

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The Journey House

Updated 6 years ago

A new safe haven is opening in Dexter. Penquis held the ribbon cutting today for their Journey House. The goal of the home is to provide a safe environment for unwed mothers between the ages of 16 and 21, who either already have children or are pregnant.”It’s really important that these girls that are in crisis or in transition like this to have a safe home and for them to also have a good support system.” Says a house mother.The Journey House in Dexter will provide temporary housing and a nurturing environment for young, unwed mothers. Four girls at a time will be able to live at the house and learn life skills in a family focused atmosphere.”The mealtime specifically is something we make a big priority. We’re really gonna all try to eat together as much as we can and get that good family feeling and that sharing and that openness going.”There will be a house mother there to guide the girls, and a major goal is to help them become self sufficient through education.”Their life has been interrupted but they very much want to get on track and be able to complete their education and provide for their family.”One reason Penquis chose Dexter as a location is the school system, but the main reason was the perfect house they were able to purchase – it’s the right size and meets all of the childcare requirements.”The size of your windows, the way your stairs rise and the distance between them… That you have the ability to put in a sprinkler system, those are just mandatory and this house worked.”They’re still moving in and setting up. But they say the home should be ready for the first girl in about three weeks.The organiziation is still looking for donations to furnish the house. You can contact Penquis at 973-3500.

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Ballot Issues Finalized

Updated 6 years ago

It looks like Mainers will have a number of initiatives to consider the next time they head to the polls.The Secretary of State’s office says it has validated the signatures needed to bring those issues to the ballot box.The proposals include a new version of the taxpayers bill of rights which seeks to require voter approval of all new tax increases.Also approved are proposals to reduce the automobile excise tax, and another that would revamp Maine’s medical Marijuana law.There’s also measures that would restrict the growth of municipal spending and repeal the school consolidation law.

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Two Stabbed in Deer Isle over the Weekend

Updated 6 years ago

The investigation continues into a double stabbing in Deer Isle over the weekend.Authorities were called to an apartment house around 2 o’clock Sunday morning.They say they found 21-year-old Carlos Garcia of Stonington and 42-year-old Jeffrey Jones of Florida both suffering from stab wounds.Witnesses told police the two men stabbed each other after getting into an altercation outside the apartment building.Jones was taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center, where he remained as of Tuesday morning.Garcia was treated at Blue Hill Memorial Hospital and released.No charges have yet been filed.

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Mass Outages in Wake of Snowstorm

Updated 6 years ago

Monday’s snowstorm has left thousands of Mainers without power.Most of those outages are in Central Maine Power territory.At last report they were still trying to restore power to about 79,000 customers.Bangor Hydro’s peak outage was about 17,000, but as of 7 o’clock Tuesday morning, that number was down to 5731.Governor Baldacci declared a state of emergency that will allow the power crews to extend their hours to get everyone back online.Additional line crews will also be on the job Tuesday, including some that will travel from throughout New England to repair the lines.

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Orono Teens Help Out

Updated 6 years ago

There were smiles tonight at the Church of Universal Fellowship, where Old Town and Orono High School students and chaperones returned home after a week helping rebuild homes in New Orleans. The youth group – called YAWP, for Young Adults With Pizzazz – brought back with them lessons learned.”It’s no longer something you see on the news,” says YAWP leader Sam Kunz. “When you walk by, a lot of the homes are still in the same shape as when Katrina struck.””Four years later nothing had been done there,” says group member Emily Bottie, of some of the hardest-hit areas they visited. “That was very hard to see.”The students were full of stories about the people they met who had lost their homes.”They had the mentality, ‘Well, we still have our family, but we lost a lot, but we can still get back on our feet if we just work hard for it,’ and so many people had that mentality, it was just amazing to see,” says group member Alyssa Bates.The group raised more than eight thousand dollars to travel to St. Bernard Parish and help rebuilding efforts, after an idea proposed by one of their youth group leaders.”They did it. The kids did it and that just blew my mind,” says YAWP leader Cami Carter.Matt Gilman’s son Chris went on the trip. “There’s a ton of energy and enthusiasm and drive within that group, so I’m not surprised it took place that way,” he says.The students say they want to take what they’re learned, and next, help people in their own community.”The days were really long. We got up really early and we stayed up really late,” says Chris Gilman. “But it was well worth it.”

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Accident Safety

Updated 6 years ago

Winter weather and slick roads often lead to accidents. When utility poles are hit and power lines are down, sparks can fly. Bangor Hydro says there are about 80 accidents a year involving cars and poles, and drivers could put themselves in more danger if they’re not sure what to do.”Due to road conditions, single vehicle came around the corner, apparently lost control, hitting a telephone pole.” Says Larry Lilley of the Hudson Fire Dept. “I clipped the pole off and I noticed snow dust everywhere and that pole came across the hood and I just braced up for it, I mean what can you do. I didn’t dare to get out. I saw sparks and stuff.” Says Sean Sabine, The driver in this accident in Hudson.He knew enough to stay put – and stay out of danger. Bangor Hydro safety officer John Greaves says there are a few precautions drivers should take if they see sparks fly after an accident. “If the wires are down they should always stay in the car. They should not leave unless the situation forces them to leave. Safest place would be the car because the shuttle of the car kind of protects you while you’re in it.”If you do leave the vehicle, Greaves says you run the risk of electrocution.”Electricity is always looking for the quickest path to ground, so if you step out of your car there’s a really good chance you could complete that path.”He says to be on the safe side, drivers should avoid touching the interior of the car as much as possible. He has some advice for onlookers as well.”Keep your distance. Minimum of 30 feet for distribution wire, like you see around town, that gives you a safe zone. The problem is if you approach the problem, you can actually get voltage between the feet that’s in the ground.”He says the safest thing for everyone to do, is to sit tight and wait for crews to clear the scene.”I’m alright and I’m thankful I’m alright, and that’s all that really matters.”

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