Flames from a rail car that caught fire at a Topsham recycling facility shot 30 feet onto the air, but there were no reports of injuries. Firefighters from seven towns responded to the fire at Grimmel Industries reported by a security guard at about 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Fire Chief Brian Stockdale says because of the intense heat, he rotated crews in every 15 minutes. He says there were no hydrants in the area, so water had to be trucked in. The fire was contained to one car, but crews remained at the scene until 5 p.m. The car that caught fire contained recycled materials. Crews from Brunswick, Lisbon, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Freeport and West Bath also responded. The cause remains under investigation.
The Portland City Council is taking up a proposal that would ban panhandling from median strips, a measure sought by police and supported by many motorists. Police Chief Michael Sauschuck says there’s been a big increase in roadside panhandling since the City Council rejected a similar proposal a year ago. He says it’s only a matter of time before someone gets hurt or killed. The city already bans aggressive panhandling. Sauschuck says his concern is panhandling in close proximity to cars and trucks on busy streets, a practice that becomes even more dangerous when alcohol is involved.
George Zimmerman blinked and barely smiled as a jury found him not guilty of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. Supporters of Martin’s family who had gathered outside the courthouse yelled out “No! No!” The jury had been given the chance to convict Zimmerman of manslaughter but did not do so, despite asking for a clarification of the charge earlier in the evening. Zimmerman’s wife, Shellie Zimmerman, had tears in her eyes after the six-member, all-woman jury delivered its verdict Saturday night. After hearing the verdict, Judge Debra Nelson told Zimmerman he was free to go. Jurors heard two different portraits of Zimmerman and had to decide whether he was a wannabe cop who took the law into his own hands or a well-meaning neighborhood watch volunteer who shot the unarmed teenager in self-defense because he feared for his life.
Police say a woman died when a dump truck rolled onto the minivan she was driving in Gorham. Police say the dump truck was heading east on Route 25 at about 9 a.m. Thursday when it swerved into the westbound lane to avoid hitting a pickup truck that had stopped to make a turn. The truck collided with the minivan, then rolled on top of it. The minivan driver, 68-year-old Marjorie Mullett of Dayton, was killed. Her passenger and the driver of the truck were taken to a hospital with injuries that are not considered life threatening. The accident remains under investigation.
The impact of Superstorm Sandy and the lessons Maine can learn from the storm will be a focus of 2013 Maine Beaches Conference. Friday’s event at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland is expected to draw as many as 200 coastal property owners, recreational beach users, volunteer beach monitors, scientists, public officials and others. The daylong symposium features sessions on tourism, erosion control, pollution and other beach-related topics, with the opening session focusing on Sandy. Sandy’s biggest problem was the storm surge with waters flooding 90,000 structures and damaging some 25,000 vehicles beyond repair.
Two Lewiston men accused of setting a fire that destroyed or damaged three apartment buildings have been indicted on arson charges. Thirty-year-old Brian Morin and 23-year-old Bryan Wood were indicted Wednesday by an Androscoggin County grand jury. The men are charged with starting a May 6 fire that destroyed two vacant buildings and damaged a third. No one was hurt. It was the third major fire in Lewiston in less than two weeks and had the entire city on edge. About 200 people were left homeless. Two 12-year-old boys are charged with setting the other blazes. Wood’s attorney has said his client suffers from a mild mental disability. Morin’s attorney has said his client is not a danger to the public. Both men remain held on high bail.
Three osprey chicks knocked out of their nest at a Freeport park during a severe thunderstorm last week are being cared for by their parents and appear to be doing well. Wolfe’s Neck State Park Manager Andrew Hutchinson said Wednesday the 5-week-old chicks were knocked 50 feet to the ground by the July 5 storm. He tells the Sun Journal, one chick was found the next day. The others were not found until Sunday. Park staff built a platform on top of the tree and an arborist secured it. The chicks were placed on the platform. Park staffer Pete Elkins says birds sometimes reject chicks handled by humans. But on Wednesday, the parent ospreys were rebuilding their nest on the platform and feeding their chicks.
Lawyers for a man charged with killing his girlfriend and leaving her body in a snow-covered SUV in a hotel parking lot say their client should be released on bail because evidence in the case points to other suspects. Anthony Pratt Jr. is being held without bail after pleading not guilty to fatally shooting Marguerita Fisenko Scott last year. Her body was not discovered until January. The Portland Press Herald, reports that the 19-year-old Pratt’s lawyer argued at a hearing on Wednesday there is ample evidence pointing at others as more likely suspects than his client. But prosecutors countered that the evidence points to Pratt, and he had a motive, because he was jealous of Scott’s estranged husband. The judge did not immediately rule.
Former President George H.W. Bush can take heart that his idea of a “thousand points of light” is still going strong. Bush will travel to Washington to join President Barack Obama on Monday as he honors the 5,000th daily “Point of Light” award winner. Bush referred to his vision for people helping one another as a “thousand points of light” during his inaugural address in 1989. His administration began naming a daily “Point of Light.” The Points of Light Foundation was created in response to Bush’s call to volunteerism as an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization to encourage the spirit of service.
Want to get a close-up look at some of Maine’s tallest ships?You can head to the Rockland breakwater this Friday to catch a glimpse.The entire windjammer fleet will participate in the parade of sail.The parade starts at 2 pm on James Road.For more information, visit www.sailmainecoast.com.
Senator Troy Jackson of Allagash will serve as Maine’s senate majority leader now that the man who held the job has resigned. Seth Goodall has been appointed by President Obama to serve as the New England Regional Administrator for the small business administration.Goodall was first elected to the senate in 2008. He says leaving the legislature is bittersweet.
Efforts by the town of Livermore Falls to leave Androscoggin County and join Franklin County have taken a step forward. The Sun Journal, reports that after a late vote in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, lawmakers agreed to allow town residents to vote on the issue. If the measure passes, it would then go to voters in both counties. Supporters say a move makes financial sense. Livermore Falls is on the border between the counties and closer to the Franklin County seat than to the Androscoggin County seat. The town would save money transporting criminal defendants to and from jails and courts. Opponents, including Lewiston Democratic state Rep. Mike Carey, say Livermore Falls leaving Androscoggin County would hurt the county’s tax base and add to Franklin County’s costs.
Portland’s Planning Board has approved a $40 million expansion at Maine Medical Center that would add four operating rooms. The board unanimously approved the project on Tuesday. The 40,000-square-foot addition will be built on top of the Lower Bean Building, near the emergency room. The project will also allow the hospital to expand its existing operating rooms from an average of 400 square feet to 650 square feet. Hospital officials tell The Portland Press Herald, that larger operating rooms will allow more space for advanced procedures – some of which require surgical teams of 15 to 18 people. Construction could start this winter and be finished by spring 2015
The contractor working on the new Memorial Bridge connecting New Hampshire and Maine says it hopes to have more information next week on a timetable for opening it. Archer Western Contractors is making adjustments to the balancing of the span and counterweights. Work on paving the bridge decks and approaches is expected to take place this week. Work also is continuing on the installation of platforms and railings. Archer Western says an opening date cannot be set until shortly before it actually occurs. The bridge will connect Portsmouth to Kittery, Maine.
Federal prosecutors say a Maine man has been sentenced to 20 months in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Thirty-five-year-old Daniel Fowler of Lewiston had pleaded guilty to the charges in March. Lewiston Police say they spotted Fowler running and carrying what looked like a bag with a barrel of a gun sticking out it last July. Police say they ordered him to stop but he refused. Police chased him and after a short struggle he was arrest for carrying a stolen shotgun and several rounds of ammunition as a convicted felon.
Members of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will be in Portland this week to discuss debt collection with residents. The agency is hosting a public event on Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the Merrill Auditorium. CFPB Director Richard Codray and Maine Attorney General Janet Mills will provide remarks. The event will also feature a panel discussion with attorneys, financial experts, academics and consumer groups. The public will have an opportunity to speak after the panel has concluded. The federal agency was formed in 2010 and works to make consumer finance rules more effective by enforcing those rules and educating the public.
Police are crediting the quick thinking of a 14-year-old Lewiston youth with saving the life of a 7-year-old boy who had fallen into the Androscoggin River. Andrew Bilodeau admits he was scared last Wednesday when he waded into the river behind his family’s apartment after hearing cries of the boy’s friends. He tells the Sun Journal, that at first he couldn’t see the boy, but then he spotted bluish lips and a nose poking through the surface. Andrew wrapped his arms around the boy’s midsection and dragged the limp body up the bank, fearing the child was dead. The boy coughed up about a quarter of river water. He was taken to a hospital and released. Deputy Chief James Minkowsky says Andrew’s actions saved the boy’s life.
Portland police have arrested four men in a crackdown on prostitution in the city. City officials say the men were arrested Sunday night after each offered an undercover police officer money for sex in the Parkside neighborhood. They are charged with engaging a prostitute. Those arrested were a 61-year-old man from Westbrook: a 29-year-old man from Portland: a 55-year-old man from Portland: and a 32-year-old man from Naples. City spokeswoman Nicole Clegg says police are cracking down in response to the neighborhood association’s request for “stepped-up enforcement due to the negative impact of prostitution on their community.” Clegg says woman who live in the neighborhood are followed and propositioned by men seeking sex.
Police say a body has been recovered from the Presumpscot River in Westbrook. Capt. Michael Nugent says the police and fire departments responded to the Cumberland Street Bridge around 3:45 p.m. Monday and removed the body from the water. The death remains under investigation. No additional details were immediately released.
There are now more locations in Hancock County to get rid of unused prescription drugsBucksport, Southwest Harbor and Bar Harbor police stations now have secure drug drop-boxes in their lobbies. You can get rid of unused meds 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. For information on how to safely throw away prescriptions you can call Elizabeth at 667-7171 or e-mail her: firstname.lastname@example.org.