FairPoint Communications is ready to move forward with a five-year contract worth $32 million to provide the next-generation 911 system in Maine. Following two appeals, the Public Utilities Commission awarded the contract for a third time to FairPoint on the day before Thanksgiving, and the window for filing further appeals passed on Wednesday. FairPoint will provide the system and support for Maine’s 26 Public Safety Answering Points, which answer 911 calls in their coverage area. The Emergency Services Communication Bureau oversees implementation and operation of the statewide Enhanced 9-1-1 service that FairPoint currently provides. The process for the new contract was contentious, with Colorado-based Intrado and Maine-based Oxford Networks two appealing the PUC’s decision in favor of FairPoint.
They’re calling it “the future of firefighting,” and it’s made right here in Maine.Two brothers have developed a tool which allows firefighters to battle the most dangerous fires from a safe and secure distance.Their latest design is called “The Thermite.” It’s the latest twist on technology first built for the battlefield.”What it does, it takes away the firefighter from the real hazardous situation,” said Geoff Howe, co-founder of Howe & Howe Technologies.Unveiled this past summer, the Howe’s began developing The Thermite 18 months earlier.Launching the project only days after witnessing one of the world’s “worst” hazardous situations, the catastrophic nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Japan.”We turn on the news, couldn’t believe it. Two or three days later you have Japanese guys running into dangerous situations,” Howe said.”We were upset because we had the technology here. If it was in place at the time, it could have been used, we could have saved lives,” said Mike Howe, co-founder of the same company.Working now to save lives in the future, this latest design basically retrofits the Howe’s well proven remote controlled war tank, with a high powered water gun and high definition camera. Imagine this small demonstration fire as some highly explosive or other potentially deadly situation. “We’re able to send a robot in, address it, literally recon, send information back to the fire and rescue but also address it as in put the fire out,” said Geoff.”Not only is it a reduction in risk and you’re managing your risk a lot better, but it’s also a reduction in cost because insurance premiums will be a lot lower and less people will be hurt and injured,” Mike added.On the market only since August, already, the company has orders for four Thermites, made in Maine by Mainers, this project helping to keep more than two dozen workers employed here full time, and the materials, 90% manufactured by Maine companies.”This is a dream come true for us. Not only are we living in Maine, employing in Maine: we’re employed in Maine and we’re building things in Maine,” Geoff commented.And they’ll keep building they say, as long as there’s still the question:”What do we need in society that we don’t have that nobody else has thought of that we can build?”Over the past decade the Howe brothers have developed an array of rugged, remote controlled vehicles, mostly for the military.
The human remains found Tuesday in Lisbon still have not been positively identified, but family members of murder victim Christiana Fesmire have been told by police that investigators are all but certain the remains are hers.A forensic anthropologist from the State Medical Examiner’s office was on the scene as the human remains were removed. Fesmire’s former co-worker and neighbor Buddy Robinson was convicted a few weeks ago of her murder.In court, prosecutors say Robinson beat and drowned Fesmire in her own bathtub.”It’s a horrible thing for somebody to be murdered,” said Kayla Leet, a friend of Fesmire, “but to not have somebody to have closure with it is a horrible thing for parents, friends. She was well-known, well-liked so it would just make me feel better if there was somebody to put to rest.”>Lewiston police received a tip in connection to the Fesmire case, which led them to the scene where the remains were found.Buddy Robinson has not yet been sentenced.
A Jay logger could be on the hook for more than $100,000 for cutting down about 1,250 trees on Livermore town land without permission. The select board is waiting on one more estimate before making a decision on how much to ask John Korhonen to reimburse the town. Town administrative assistant Kurt Schaub tells the Sun Journal, the town is seeking fair compensation for the trees cut down in Memorial Forest. Officials say Korhonen cut down trees on his own land then harvested timber on about 10 acres of town land that does not abut his land. Scahub says it is a logger’s responsibility to know where property lines are. Korhonen has not responded to two letters from the town and has not responded to media requests for comment.
A medical clinic that provides free care to Portland-area residents without health insurance is expected to run out of money at the end of February and may have to close unless it finds a partner to help pay the bills. The Portland Community Free Clinic has been funded by Mercy Hospital and the city. But Mercy last year stopped its annual contribution of $210,000, citing shifting priorities and its belief that Portland had other resources to serve the uninsured. Clinic officials tell The Portland Press Herald, the clinic, which relies on doctors and nurses volunteering time, is operating on an annual budget of $100,000 and its cash reserves are running out. The clinic serves about 600 people who earn too much to qualify for government health care, but can’t afford insurance.
A Missouri man federal authorities say drove to Maine with a car full of guns intending to kill his estranged wife has been ordered held without bail. Benjamin Lee was ordered held pending a detention hearing at his initial appearance Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Portland on a charge of interstate stalking. The 52-year-old Lee was arrested in September. Authorities say Lee was stopped after his estranged wife called police to say she saw him drive past her home in Limerick. Police say they found five guns and more than 200 rounds of ammunition, a machete, a bayonet, a folding knife, handcuffs, duct tape, rubber gloves, camouflage face paint, a map of Maine with Limerick circled, and other items in his car. Lee’s lawyer could not be reached.
Bragging rights and a trip to the national water tasting championships are at stake as water utilities square off at Maine’s 26th annual drinking water taste test competition. The Maine Rural Water Association is holding the taste tests Thursday at its yearly conference and trade show in Freeport. For the testing, water districts compete in chlorinated and non-chlorinated categories. The winners in each category then compete in a “taste-off” to determine the winner, which represents the state in the National Rural Water Association’s Great American Water Taste Test in Washington, D.C., in February. The Kingfield Water District was the winner in last year’s contest in Maine.
The first of dozens of men charged with paying for sex with a woman who allegedly used her Zumba dance studio in Kennebunk as a front for prostitution are scheduled to appear in court. Just three of the 21 men summoned to appear in Biddeford District Court on Wednesday are expected to show up. The Portland Press Herald, reports that lawyers for 18 other men facing one count each of engaging a prostitute have already filed not guilty pleas for their clients. A total of 62 men have been charged in the case, which has drawn international attention. Twenty-nine-year-old Alexis Wright of Wells has pleaded not guilty to 106 counts including prostitution, invasion of privacy and tax evasion. Her alleged business partner also has pleaded not guilty.
A Bath husband and wife ordered out of their home by city officials say they have nowhere to go. Alan and Yvonne Orchard were issued an eviction notice last week because their home of 19 years has a two-foot diameter hole in the roof. A city engineer says the home is structurally unsound and a heavy snow storm could cause the roof to collapse. The Orchards say the tarpaulin-covered hole has been there several years and is not a problem. Yvonne Orchard tells The Times Record, they can’t afford to move. Her hours at a local supermarket have been cut to fewer than 20 per week. Her 81-year-old husband has diabetes. Joanne Marco, executive director of Bath Housing Authority, says she’ll work with the Orchards to find them a place.
A Maine foot doctor has pleaded guilty to writing prescriptions for painkillers in exchange for cash and cocaine. Dr. John Perry of Bridgton pleaded guilty on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Portland to multiple charges including conspiracy to distribute drugs, health care fraud and illegal distribution of oxycodone. The plea was part of a deal in which prosecutors agreed to seek a 10-year prison sentence. The judge is not obligated to follow that recommendation. Authorities say between June 2009 and October 2010, the podiatrist with offices in Portland wrote numerous prescriptions for oxycodone pills for a group of drug traffickers from Connecticut. The traffickers paid Perry for the prescriptions with cash and cocaine. The Bangor Daily News, reports that Perry blamed his crimes on addiction and mental illness.
A six-hour standoff with an armed man inside a Lewiston hotel has ended peacefully. Police arrested Jeff Sewell at about 1 a.m. Wednesday and charged him with criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and causing a police standoff. Police responded to the Morning Star Inn at about 7 p.m. Tuesday following a dispute between Sewell and another man. That other man, Richard Lamothe, said he notified motel management when Sewell loaded a gun. Lamothe said Sewell appeared intoxicated. City officers as well as state police surrounded and evacuated the motel and closed the road to traffic as Sewell barricaded himself inside a room. Sewell eventually gave himself up and was taken to the Androscoggin County Jail.
They say no man is an island, but Michael Richard Smith has been creating his own floating homes in Boston Harbor. The Coast Guard and Boston police are keeping an eye on the unconventional camper who’s recently been tying his canoe to small offshore docks in the harbor and pitching his tent to sleep at night. They say he’s sticking to recreational zones and isn’t breaking any laws. Smith, a 49-year-old Maine native, says he’s been paddling metro Boston waters and bunking up in his 14-foot aluminum canoe since October. Smith detests the term “homeless” and says he’s just another “fellow citizen.” Police gave him a life vest and told him not to operate his canoe at night, since it has no lights. Authorities say they’ll continue to check on Smith’s safety.
The unemployment rate in New England didn’t change in October.The Bureau of Labor puts the jobless rate for the six-state region at 7.4%, the same as September, and slightly lower than a year ago. Rhode Island has the highest rate in the region, 10.4%, Vermont the lowest at 5.5%.Maine’s jobless rate dropped from 7.6% in September to 7.4% in October.
Police say a Scarborough woman is facing charges for allegedly firing a gun at her husband while holding a baby in her arms. Angela Haddad was charged with aggravated reckless conduct and endangering the welfare of a child after she allegedly fired the .357 revolver at her husband shortly before midnight Saturday. The bullet struck a wall in their apartment and the 6-month-old baby was unhurt. Police say the 34-year-old Haddad had been in a verbal argument with her husband and told police that she wanted to kill him. Haddad was also charged with violation of bail conditions. She remains in custody at Cumberland County Jail.
Some members of the National Federation of the Blind of Maine are upset over a judge’s leniency on a Rumford man who took $11,000 worth of items from his neighbor’s home. Charles Hamilton, who’s legally blind, pleaded guilty last month under an agreement in which a felony burglary charge was dismissed. Justice Robert Clifford gave Hamilton a two-year deferred disposition, meaning the charges will be removed from his record if he pays restitution of $1,200 and stays out of trouble. Several current and former members of the National Federation of the Blind of Maine believe the man’s disability played into the handling of the case. Patricia Estes of Auburn told the Sun Journal, that the man’s blindness should not have been a factor in getting a lenient sentence.
The National Weather Service says last month’s monthly temperature was below normal in northern Maine, breaking an 18-month streak of above-normal temperatures. The weather service says November’s average temperature in Caribou, where official records are recorded for the region, came in at 31.5 degrees, or 0.2 degrees below normal. The last time Caribou’s monthly temperature came in below normal was in April 2011. November’s temperatures for all of northern and eastern Maine ranged from about one-half to 2 degrees below normal across the region.
The list of candidates for four of Maine’s top state offices will get shorter when newly-elected lawmakers nominate their choices.Democrats have recaptured majorities in the House and Senate, so their nominees are virtually assured of becoming Maine’s next Attorney General, Secretary of State, Treasurer and Auditor. For Attorney General among Democrats, trial lawyer Timothy Shannon of Yarmouth faces Janet Mills, who previously held the post.Republican Incumbent, William Schneider, is seeking another term.Former Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap is seeking his old job in a race against fellow Democrat Brian Bolduc of Auburn.State Auditor Neria Douglass is now running for Treasurer against former lawmaker Jeremy Fischer. the auditor’s post is also open.
A Jay man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for sexually abusing two teenage girls. Joshua Welch was also sentenced last week to six years of probation after pleading guilty in October to 10 counts of unlawful sexual contact with the girls, who were under age 16. The state dismissed a gross sexual assault charge as part of a plea agreement. Prosecutors say the abuse occurred between Jan. 1, 2007, and Aug. 15, 2011. The Sun Journal, reports that one victim told the court she doesn’t think she will recover from what was done to her. A lawyer for the 32-year-old Welch says his client took responsibility so the victims would not have to testify in court. Welch apologized in court.
Police are looking for the second vehicle involved in a weekend crash in Lebanon that injured a woman and three children. Rescue officials who arrived at the scene of the crash on Saturday night found a Jeep SUV with severe front end damage. Investigators say the driver told them she was involved in a head-on crash and the other vehicle immediately drove away from the scene. The Jeep’s driver, a 31-year-old Farmington woman, was taken to the hospital with injuries not considered life threatening. Three children in the car were treated at the scene for minor injuries. Police are looking for the other vehicle involved.
The first of dozens of men charged with paying for sex with a woman who allegedly used her Kennebunk Zumba dance studio as a front for prostitution are scheduled to appear in court this week. The names of the 21 men scheduled to face a charge of engaging a prostitute on Wednesday were released in mid-October. Since then police have released dozens of other names bringing the total to 58. The Portland Press Herald, reports that four other men have pleaded guilty before police could issue a criminal complaint, avoiding being named in the police’s bi-weekly blotter that has drawn national attention. Alexis Wright of Wells has pleaded not guilty to 106 counts including prostitution, invasion of privacy and tax evasion. Her alleged business partner also has pleaded not guilty.