Regional News

Buckfield Man Pleads Guilty to Assault Charges

Updated 2 years ago

A Buckfield man charged with sexually assaulting two young girls has pleaded not guilty. The Sun Journal, reports that Gary Noyes was freed on $25,000 cash bail and ordered to have no contact with the alleged victims or any children under 16 years of age at an appearance Tuesday in Oxford County Superior Court. 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 43-year-old Noyes was arrested last month on charges including gross sexual assault, unlawful sexual contact and domestic violence assault.

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Windham Man Arrested After Fleeing Traffic Stop

Updated 2 years ago

A Windham man is facing charges after police say he fled a traffic stop and led officers on a high-speed chase that reached speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour. Police say it started at about 10:30 p.m. Monday when police tried to pull over a car for having a rear plate light out. The car instead sped away. The car eventually got boxed in on a dead end, and the driver ran into the woods. Police using dogs eventually flushed the man out of the woods and arrested him at about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday. The man, identified as 33-year-old Matthew Higgins, was charged with eluding an officer, criminal speeding and driving to endanger. He is being held without bail at the Cumberland County jail.

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Portland Teen Sentenced to 8 Years in Prison for Sexual Assault

Updated 2 years ago

A judge who sentenced a Somali refugee to eight years in prison for sexually assaulting a 50-year-old Portland woman had some harsh words for the defendant. District Court Judge Richard Mulhern said Tuesday that 18-year-old Mohammed Mukhtar has shown no remorse, displayed a pattern of antisocial behavior, and has “no prospect for rehabilitation.” The Portland Press Herald, reports that Mukhtar also faces deportation. Under a deal with prosecutors, Mukhtar pleaded guilty to gross sexual assault, burglary and trespassing. Prosecutors say he broke into the victim’s apartment last May while she was sleeping and raped her. He was connected to the attack through DNA. The case went from juvenile court to adult court because of confusion over Mukhtar’s age. His lawyer said he was 17 at the time of the attack.

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World’s Largest Cruise Ship to Visit Portland in 2015

Updated 2 years ago

The world’s largest cruise ship will be paying a visit to Portland, but residents will have to wait two years to catch a glimpse. Portland officials say the city will welcome Royal Caribbean’s newest cruise ship, Quantum of the Seas, for the 2015 season. It’ll be about 10 feet longer than the Queen Mary and will have passenger capacity for 4,180 people when it sets sail in the winter of 2014. This year’s cruise season already has kicked off in Bar Harbor, and Portland’s first cruise ship will visit on June 1. The Portland Press Herald says more than 200,000 people visited Maine on cruise ships. Bar Harbor was the biggest draw with 108 stops, while Portland had 59.

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Murder Suspect to be Evaluated

Updated 2 years ago

A judge has ordered a mental health evaluation for a man charged with shooting his mother after she tried to have him committed for psychiatric care. A police affidavit says 46-year-old Andrew Leighton shot his mother, 68-year-old Shirley Leighton, as she tried to call Spring Harbor Hospital for help. The affidavit says he’d bought the .40-caliber handgun the day before. The victim’s husband, Thomas Leighton, discovered the body Friday night after taking the dog for a walk, and Andrew Leighton was arrested after a standoff. Police say Andrew Leighton had moved in with his parents after a divorce. His lawyer told a judge Monday that his client may be hearing voices. Prosecutors say a competency evaluation will take about 30 days.

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Portland Man’s Leg Severed by Train

Updated 2 years ago

Authorities say a 19-year-old Portland man’s leg was severed when he was struck by a train. Police say it appears the man was trying to hop onto the freight train in the city at about 6:30 p.m. Sunday when he fell off and his leg was severed. Residents of nearby homes heard the man’s cries for help and called police. The first officer on the scene applied a tourniquet which Lt. Gary Hutcheson says likely saved the man’s life. He was taken to Maine Medical Center and is expected to survive. His name was not immediately made public. The Boston and Maine Railroad Police are investigating, but police noted that walking along the tracks is considered trespassing.

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Navy Intends to Award Contract for 10 Destroyers

Updated 2 years ago

Shipbuilders at Maine’s Bath Iron Works will soon learn whether they’re getting a critical contract. The Navy has told Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King of Maine that it intends to issue a contract for 10 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers by June 4, with work to be completed over five years from fiscal 2013 through 2017. The fact that the Navy is moving forward is considered a positive sign. Collins says the contract would have been in jeopardy under a long-term continuing resolution on the budget and that a Bath win would mean job security for shipyard workers. King says Bath is a strong competitor on the project.

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Men in Costumes Assaulted Outside Portland Comic Book Store

Updated 2 years ago

A Maine man is behind bars for allegedly attacking two men dressed as comic book characters outside a Portland comic book store where people were dressed in costume. Portland police say 31-year-old Adam Barnes of Westbrook threw a man in a stormtrooper costume to the ground and punched another man dressed as a ghostbuster character in a random assault Saturday afternoon outside Coast City Comics on Congress Street. Lt. Gary Hutcheson told the Portland Press Herald, that police had to use a stun gun on Barnes. He said Barnes, who is 6 feet 4 inches tall and 300 pounds, was drunk. Barnes was charged with two counts of assault, disorderly conduct and five counts of criminal threatening of five police officers who responded.

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Portland Police See Rise in Heroin Overdoses

Updated 2 years ago

Maine officials say they are seeing a rise in heroin overdoses, and a dramatic increase in the use of the drug in Portland. Authorities have responded to 14 reports of overdoses and there have been three deaths from possible overdoses in the past month. Police say on Wednesday alone the Portland Fire Department provided emergency life-saving medical treatment to four people who had overdosed on the drug. A fifth person was found dead in an apartment from a possible drug overdose. Police say it’s believed that addicts are seeking heroin as a replacement for the prescription painkiller oxycontin.

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Ugandan Man from Saco Convicted of Marriage Fraud

Updated 2 years ago

A Ugandan man who lives in Saco has been convicted of helping arrange a scam marriage so another man could become a legal permanent resident of the United States. Federal prosecutors say 35-year-old Ronald Serunjogi was convicted this week of helping another Ugandan man who had overstayed his tourist visa pay a Lewiston woman who agreed to marry the other man so he could became a lawful permanent resident. Serunjogi assisted that man, Sampson Sengoonzi, in preparing documents to immigration authorities in support of Sengoonzi’s application. Immigration authorities detected the fraud, denied Sengoonzi’s application and referred the matter for criminal investigation. Sengoonzi was previously convicted and sentenced for his role in the scheme and has been ordered deported. Serunjogi faces up to five years in prison at sentencing.

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Portland’s Mayor Planting Disease-Resistant American Chestnut Trees in the City

Updated 2 years ago

Portland’s mayor is planting two disease-resistant American chestnut trees in the city. Michael Brennan is planting the new varietal of chestnuts in the Mayor Baxter Woods forested park on Friday as part of an effort by the Maine chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation to reintroduce the trees to Maine and Portland. Once known as the redwood of the East, the American chestnut was one of the most dominant trees in the eastern United States, growing as tall as 100 feet. But a blight overtook the trees during the first half of the 1900s, wiping out the population by the 1950s. The North Carolina-based American Chestnut Foundation now has developed a potentially blight-resistant tree, with plans to plant millions of them in the 19 states of the tree’s original range.

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12-Year Old Allegedly Responsible for Disastrous Apartment Fire

Updated 2 years ago

A 12-year-old has been charged with setting a fire that destroyed three buildings and left 75 people homeless in Lewiston.The city’s police chief says the youngster will be arraigned Monday in juvenile court.The fire broke out late Monday afternoon in a condemned apartment house and spread to two other buildings. No people were hurt but several pets died.Lewiston’s chief says the child set a fire behind the first building that caught fire.

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Education Commissioner to Visit Western Maine Towns

Updated 2 years ago

Maine’s education commissioner is visiting schools in western Maine as part of his cross-state tour to observe innovative school practices. Commissioner Stephen Bowen starts Thursday at the Roberts Farm Preserve to see Oxford Hills Middle School seventh and eighth graders enrolled in the experiential learning program. More than 740 students receive ongoing life science and leadership development training at the farm. In Dixfield, the commissioner will visit Mountain Valley Middle School to see classrooms that are implementing customized learning models. He will also meet with a few Dirigo Middle School teachers and local principals to learn more about the Western Maine Education Collaborative. Bowen’s Promising Practices tour will take him to all nine superintendent regions in the state before the end of the school year.

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Jay Detective Honored for Work in Gun Case

Updated 2 years ago

A Jay police detective has been recognized by federal authorities for keeping 19 stolen guns off the streets with few clues to go on. The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Maine awarded Richard Caton IV the National Crime Victims Rights Week 2013 Law Enforcement Award at a ceremony recently in Bangor. The firearms, plus a muzzleloader and a crossbow, were stolen from a home in Jay on Jan. 26, 2012. The 32-year-old Caton recovered the stolen guns within 24 hours. Two people were arrested. He tells the Sun Journal, that while pleased with the award, he was “just doing my job.” Special Agent Christopher Durkin of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also received the award for his work on the Jay case.

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As Public Hearings Approach, Marijuana Legalization Brings Debates

Updated 2 years ago

Maine sheriffs are speaking out against a proposal that would legalize marijuana.A bill that’s about to be considered by lawmakers would legalize, tax and regulate pot like alcohol in Maine.The Maine Sheriff’s Association says marijuana is more potent now than ever and legalizing it to generate revenue is a bad idea.Kennebec County Sheriff Randall Liberty says bills to legalize pot for recreational use send the wrong message to kids. “They began using marijuana because it was fun. Then, 5 or 10 years later they have a long history of drug use, breaking the law, time in jail and now are focusing every ounce of their being trying to stay clean sober and on the right side of the law.”The sponsor of the bill, Portland Democratic Representative, Diane Russel disagrees. She says the way to keep marijuana away from kids is by taking the power away from drug dealers. “When was the last time you heard of a drug dealer carding a kid? That’s the question that needs to be asked. The issue of a gateway drug, it’s not the gateway drug. Marijuana is not the gateway. It’s the drug dealer. Let’s break the chain between the drug dealer and our children and I think that’s an effective way to reduce access to marijuana for our young folks.”Public hearings on the proposal to legalize marijuana are scheduled for Friday.

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As Public Hearings Approach, Marijuana Legalization Brings Debates

Updated 2 years ago

Maine sheriffs are speaking out against a proposal that would legalize marijuana.A bill that’s about to be considered by lawmakers would legalize, tax and regulate pot like alcohol in Maine.The Maine Sheriff’s Association says marijuana is more potent now than ever and legalizing it to generate revenue is a bad idea.Kennebec County Sheriff Randall Liberty says bills to legalize pot for recreational use send the wrong message to kids. “They began using marijuana because it was fun. Then, 5 or 10 years later they have a long history of drug use, breaking the law, time in jail and now are focusing every ounce of their being trying to stay clean sober and on the right side of the law.”The sponsor of the bill, Portland Democratic Representative, Diane Russel disagrees. She says the way to keep marijuana away from kids is by taking the power away from drug dealers. “When was the last time you heard of a drug dealer carding a kid? That’s the question that needs to be asked. The issue of a gateway drug, it’s not the gateway drug. Marijuana is not the gateway. It’s the drug dealer. Let’s break the chain between the drug dealer and our children and I think that’s an effective way to reduce access to marijuana for our young folks.”Public hearings on the proposal to legalize marijuana are scheduled for Friday.

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Maine and New Hampshire to Apply for Grant to Replace the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge

Updated 2 years ago

Maine and New Hampshire are planning to apply for a $25 million federal grant to replace a bridge that’s been damaged by an oil tanker. The Portsmouth Herald reports, the states will apply for a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recover grant for the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge. It’s the same grant they successfully received for the Memorial Bridge, which is under construction and is expected to open this summer. Officials say both states anticipate paying about $12.5 million each toward the Long Bridge replacement. That’s expected to begin next year and be complete by 2017. The bridge, which connects Portsmouth and Kittery, Maine, has been closed for repairs since it was struck by a tanker on April 1. The bridge is expected to reopen by May 25.

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Man Arrested Following Standoff in Portland

Updated 2 years ago

Portland police have arrested a man following a 4 ½ hour standoff. Kyle Upton was taken into custody Monday night after a standoff at an apartment building on Alder Street. Police say the 28-year-old was in possession of a firearm and refused to come out of the building. He was wanted in connection with a domestic violence incident earlier in the day. Officials say crisis negotiators talked with Upton for several hours before convincing him to surrender. Nearby buildings were evacuated and surrounding streets were closed during the standoff. Upton is homeless and was staying with acquaintances at the apartment. He was alone at the time. Upton is charged with the domestic violence crimes of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, terrorizing, assault and causing a police standoff.

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Portland’s Rental Market Tightens Up

Updated 2 years ago

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find an affordable apartment in Portland. Landlord surveys have found that vacancy rates have dropped from 7.5 percent to roughly 2 percent over the last five years and the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment has risen from $850 to $1,050 over the last four years. Harper Lee Collins, a Re/Max Realtor, tells The Portland Press Herald, demand for rental units increased as the housing market crashed in 2008, when people lost homes to foreclosures and lending for new buyers was tight. Rental agents report multiple qualified tenants interested in a single unit. The city has about 17,000 rental units and has made increasing housing options a priority. The plan for one development is 675 units over a 10-year period.

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Baxter Academy for Technology and Science Names Executive Director

Updated 2 years ago

A Portland charter school that’s been roiled in controversy before it has even opened its doors to students has named a veteran Maine educator as its executive director. Carl Stasio, who spent 26 years as headmaster of Thornton Academy in Saco, has been selected to lead Baxter Academy for Technology and Science. Baxter plans to open this fall with about 160 high school-age students. Stasio tells The Portland Press Herald, he’s “excited” about the potential of a small charter school. The school’s founder and original executive director was fired over allegations of financial mismanagement. The firing led to lawsuits, which have since been resolved. Charter schools receive public funding but are largely exempt from the regulations that public school districts must follow.

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