The mayor of Lewiston is under fire again, this time for suggesting the city’s schools are overcrowded because families from Massachusetts and New York move to Maine to take advantage of the state’s generous welfare system. Mayor Robert Macdonald said Wednesday at meeting with parents and school officials to discuss redistricting that there ought to be laws putting limits on how long families can collect welfare benefits. He says there are 1,000 children of welfare seekers in city schools “who could care less about going to school” because “they don’t feel like they’re going to work anyway.” The Sun Journal reports that School Committee member Sonia Taylor called the mayor’s comments “offensive.” Macdonald was criticized in October for suggesting that the city’s large Somali refugee population should abandon their culture.
A Massachusetts supermarket chain has announced its first expansion into Maine. Biddeford city officials say Tewksbury, Mass.-based Market Basket is scheduled to open a store next fall. Economic Development Director Daniel Stevenson tells The Journal Tribune the family-owned company plans to invest $11 million to redevelop the former Lowe’s store at The Shops at Biddeford Crossing. The building has been empty since Lowe’s closed in 2011. Stevenson says the store will bring up to 150 full-time jobs and hundreds of part time positions. Market Basket has 69 stores in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Sally Struthers has entered a not guilty plea on charges she drove drunk in Maine, where she was performing in a musical.The Portland Press Herald reports the 65-year-old Struthers did not appear in York District Court on Thursday, and entered the plea through her lawyer.Police arrested Struthers on Sept. 12 on U.S. Route 1 in the resort town Ogunquit (oh-GUHNG’-kwit). She was charged with criminal operating under the influence.Struthers is best known for her role as Gloria Stivic in the 1970s TV sitcom “All in the Family.” She had been performing at the Ogunquit Playhouse in the musical “9 to 5.”Struthers is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 13 for a bench trial.
A new terminal is being celebrated at the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport. The airport is holding a grand opening celebration Thursday of the terminal. The building opened to the public earlier this year, but work on it was only recently completed. The terminal’s features include an upgraded passenger lounge, a conference room, a business meeting area, a pilot lounge, a planning area, a renovated restaurant, a new gate and office space for airport administration. The airport averages about 175 takeoffs and landings per day. The new terminal is 7,000 square feet, which is about double the size of the previous terminal, built in 1958.
A judge has reaffirmed separate trials for two people charged in a prostitution scandal in Kennebunk, Maine, but is waiting to rule on a request to ban key evidence. Twenty-nine-year-old dance instructor Alexis Wright has pleaded not guilty to 106 counts including prostitution, invasion of privacy, tax evasion and other charges. Her accused business partner, Mark Strong of Thomaston, also has pleaded not guilty. On Wednesday, Strong’s attorney told the judge that evidence seized from Wright’s Zumba studio should not be allowed at trial because the search warrant was obtained based on rumors rather than factual evidence. Police used evidence from the studio to search Strong’s property. Lilley also contends prosecutors have been slow to turn over evidence. Justice Nancy Mills didn’t immediately rule on Lilley’s evidentiary motion.
A Buckfield man has been charged with multiple counts of gross sexual assault, unlawful sexual contact and domestic violence assault for alleged illegal contact with two young girls. The Oxford County Sheriff’s Department says 42-year-old Gary C. Noyes was arrested this week. According to an affidavit by a Maine State Police detective, one of the alleged victims reported in November that Noyes had sexually assaulted her and another girl between 2007 and 2011 when both were juveniles. The Sun Journal, reports that Noyes is being held at the Oxford County Jail in Paris and is expected to be arraigned in a Paris court Wednesday. If released, Noyes is barred from contacting the girls.
Police says three people are dead, including the gunman, after a shooting at a shopping mall in the Portland, Ore., area. Clackamas County sheriff’s Lt. James Rhodes says the gunman fatally shot two people, and another person was wounded, in the Tuesday afternoon shooting at the Clackamas Town Center. Rhodes says the gunman died of a self inflicted gunshot wound. Hundreds of holiday shoppers and store employees evacuated the mall after the shots rang out around 3:30 p.m. Many others hid in stores, and Rhodes says deputies are going through the mall to get them out.
Governor LePage got into the spirit of the holidays today, taking part in a Hanukkah tradition.He helped with the ceremonial lighting of the Menorah at the State House.A Portland rabbi and new Senate President Justin Alfond were there to share the honors.”I wish Maine’s Jewish community the best during Haunukkah. And our best wishes go out to all the people of Israel and all the Jewish communities around the world,” said the Governor.At the conclusion of the ceremony the governor was given an honorary menorah.
Byer of Maine is the largest supplier of emergency cots and folding furniture in the US, but following Hurricane Sandy, their inventory is gone.The outdoor living company had 10 thounsand emergency cots on hand when the storm hit the New York/New Jersey coast.Its 24-hour emergency response team distributed every single one of them the weekend the storm struck.Retailers like L.L. Bean and Cabellas will have to go without their products while they make more.Byer says the stores have been very understanding and are willing to wait considering the circumstances. “We are pleased to be a part of the emergency response system and our entire crew was here through the evening and late hours Saturday into Sunday, and late hours and so forth,” said Gerry Couture, Vice President of Byer of Maine.Byer says it will take between three and four months to replenish the retail stock, but the company says it’s happy it could help during the disaster.
A new shelter for homeless teenagers is scheduled to open in Portland next month. The $3 million, 24-bed Preble Street Resource Center’s Joe Kreisler Teen Shelter replaces the cramped, outdated and musty smelling Lighthouse Teen Shelter that had just 16 uncomfortable and pest-plagued beds. Chris Bicknell, Preble Street’s teen services coordinator, says teen homelessness is an increasing problem in Maine, spurred by abuse or addiction. The Portland Press Herald, reports that the new shelter is twice the size of the old shelter. It has a flexible floor plan with more common space as well as private space for studying and counseling. It also has twice the staff. Bicknell says the goal of the new shelter is either to get kids to return home or find them other permanent housing.
Three teenagers have been charged in connection with the burglary of $20,000 worth of jewelry and cash from a Bowdoin home. The burglary was reported Dec. 1. The Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Department has issued summonses for 19-year-old Eric Napoleon of Bowdoin, and two 17-year-old boys, one from Bowdoin and one from Bowdoinham. Chief Deputy Brett Strout tells The Times Record, that nearly $10,000 in cash and approximately $10,000 in jewelry was taken from the home, including a safe the money and jewelry was in. The cash was removed and the safe thrown in the Androscoggin River in Topsham. Strout says most of the money of and jewelry has been recovered. All three suspects face February court dates.
Kittery’s police chief and town manager have both resigned, citing town politics. Police Chief Paul Callaghan and Town Manager Robert Markel both resigned on Monday night. Callaghan’s resignation comes after less than a year on the job. In his letter of resignation, he cites a vote of no confidence in him taken by officers in the fall, and what he calls a department culture “not in step with modern police standards.” The Portsmouth Herald, reports that Markel’s letter says he resigned because of three town councilors “who have interfered with personnel administration and acted in direct violation of the town charter.” He said some councilors have relatives on, or close business relationships with, the police department. The council voted 4-3 to accept Markel’s resignation.
A woman who acted as the getaway driver for a series of robberies in Maine has been sentenced to more than four years in prison. Maria Mattson of Westbrook was also sentenced Monday in federal court to three years of probation. The 31-year-old Mattson pleaded guilty in August to charges of aiding and abetting bank robbery, conspiracy to commit bank robbery and aiding and abetting interference with commerce by robbery. Prosecutors say Mattson acted as the getaway driver for robberies of a convenience store and two credit unions in Portland, a credit union in Windham and a bank in Lewiston last January and February. Mattson’s co-defendant, 30-year-old Paul Sans of Westbrook, pleaded guilty in October to several counts of bank robbery and is scheduled to be sentenced in January.
A Missouri man prosecutors say drove to Maine with a car full of guns intending to kill his estranged wife has waived his right to a detention hearing and will be held until trial. Benjamin Lee appeared in U.S. District Court in Portland on Monday to face two counts of interstate stalking. The Portland Press Herald, reports that when the judge asked him whether he was sure he wanted to waive a right to a detention hearing, Lee replied “that’s fine” and said he came to Maine to “re-establish” himself. The 52-year-old Lee was ordered to undergo a competency evaluation. Lee’s attorney says his client is disabled. Lee was arrested in September after driving past his wife’s home. Police say he had five guns and other weapons in his car.
Marijuana-laced cookies taken by a student to a Maine high school on a day ethics and values were being discussed have sickened some classmates. Nine students have been suspended, and police are investigating. Cape Elizabeth schools superintendent Meredith Nadeau says it’s unclear if all the students who ate the cookies were aware they contained marijuana. Some of them felt ill and went to the nurse’s office. The Portland Press Herald, reported Monday the episode unfolded Friday during a daylong event featuring speakers addressing the school district’s guiding values of “Community, Academics, Passion and Ethics.” School policy calls for a student who distributes or sells drugs to be suspended for 10 days and face possible expulsion, an action requiring a hearing before the School Board. The names of the students aren’t being released.
An 89-year-old man has been killed after his pickup truck ran off the road and struck a utility pole. The York County Sheriff’s Office says Jack Shangraw of Kennebunkport was dead on arrival at Southern Maine Medical Center on Sunday. The accident happened at about 8:40 a.m. Authorities say speed was among the factors in the accident.
An invasive moth that can damage hardwood and fruit trees has been spreading in Maine. State officials are asking residents to be on the lookout for winter moths, which have spread into Maine from southern New England, where they have caused widespread damage. The moth was first detected along the Maine coast in 2006 and has been spotted in the past year in Harpswell and Vinalhaven. The Maine Sunday Telegram, says state officials have reported 13 sightings of moths in Cape Elizabeth, as well as scattered reports from Scarborough, South Portland, Portland, Falmouth, Woolwich, Westport Island and Brunswick. Residents are being asked to keep an eye out for the moths, which are likely to be flying in swarms this time of year, and capture some specimens if they can.
Six endangered and very rare “loggerhead” turtles are getting a second chance, thanks to the University of New England in Biddeford.The turtles were rescued after being found freezing in Cape Cod Bay.They’ve been recovering at UNE’s marine animal rehabilititation center.Folks there are thrilled to help.”Having these guys up here and being able to help out is just a whole new experience for the staff here for the students you know how to handle them. They’re much different than the marine mammals we deal with most of the time. It’s very rewarding to be able to help out an endangered species and make a difference.”Their stop in Maine is just the first phase of their recovery. Friday the Coast Guard is flying the turtles to a recovery center in Florida.
A New Hampshire man was arrested after calling police to report that a prostitute had ripped him off.Police say 34-year-old Scott Pipher told them a prostitute cut him short by ten minutes and he wanted his money back. We’re told Pipher responded to an ad on Craigslist. He’s charged with engaging in prostitution.Police also arrested 28-year-old Krystal Harmon of Old Orchard Beach. She’s also charged with engaging in prostitution. Old Orchard Beach police say the incident sparked an investigation leading to more arrests.”We made another arrest that was completely separate from this particular situation and we’re continuing an ongoing investigation into any prostitution that may be taking place in the town of Old Orchard Beach,” said Lt. Timothy Deluca of the Old Orchard Beach Police Department.Police have created a special enforcement team to continue the investigation.
Two York County men charged with stealing an arsenal of 10 guns from a Waterboro home are headed to court. Authorities say 22-year-old Travis Wakefield of Lyman, and 22-year-old Nathan Desfosses of Shapleigh, are scheduled to be arraigned in Biddeford District Court on Friday. Police tell The Portland Press Herald, the homeowner returned Wednesday afternoon to find the men fleeing from his house. The homeowner notified authorities, who used a state police dog to track the suspects. Trooper Matt Williams and his dog found the 10 handguns hidden in woods near the home. The dog then flushed out the suspects. Both men are charged with burglary and are being held on $10,000 bail.