A recent train derailment has environmentalists and government officials concerned about the possibility of more accidents.13 cars carrying crude oil tipped over along the Penobscot river earlier this month between Mattawamkeag and Winn. The train was headed for a refinery in Canada.Very little oil spilled, but officials are worried because trains carrying oil are crossing Maine in record numbers.5.3 million barrels of crude oil on trains crossed Maine into New Brunswick last year and we’re told the volume is growing.
A Harrison church severely damaged by a fire during Labor Day weekend is scheduled to reopen for worship just in time for Easter. The Easter Sunday service this week will be the first in the United Parish Church of Harrison and North Bridgton since fire heavily damaged the basement kitchen early on Sept. 1. The congregation has been holding services in the Harrison Fire Station community room since. The Sun Journal, reports that the fire caused heavy damage to the kitchen and smoke damage throughout the building. The cleanup included removing all the ceiling tiles and insulation in the vestry, gutting the kitchen, and cleaning the ceiling in the sanctuary. The pews were washed multiple times to remove soot, and the sanctuary’s stained glass windows and chandeliers were cleaned.
U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter is heading to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to discuss how workers will be affected by federal budget cuts.If the cuts are enacted, about 6,000 shipyard workers from Maine and New Hampshire will be furloughed one day a week for 22 weeks starting next month. The Defense Department said last week it will delay furlough notices for civilian employees, but the long-term impact of the budget cuts remains a concern.Shea-Porter is touring the shipyard on Monday and will hold a press conference afterward to urge Congress to stop the cuts. She’ll be joined by Paul O’Connor, president of the Metal Trades Council at the shipyard.
Maine Revenue Services is warning taxpayers to protect their personal information.The agency says it’s received fraudulent state income tax returns involving identity theft.Those returns have not been processed, and people who have had bogus returns filed under their names have been notified.For tips on how to protect yourself from identity theft, go to the the Maine Attorney General’s website.
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is getting more than $9 million for conservation and recreation projects.Maine’s US Senators say the money is from excise tax revenues distributed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.Senators Collins and King say the money is critical to sustaining healthy fish and wildlife populations.
A bill connected to a proposed East-West highway project is now before the legislature’s transportation committee.It’s sponsored by Representative Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan who says little information about the highway has been made public. He wants to change that.He says informed public input depends on disclosure of written records and other materials about the project.Among the bill’s supporters are civil libertarians, environmental groups and area residents.The state transportation department opposes the bill.Deputy Commissioner Bruce Van Note says the East-West corridor is a private project, so what the bill is asking for doesn’t apply.
A bill that would shield the private information of concealed weapon permit holders has been tabled by state lawmakers.Members on the judicial committee voted to do that.The panel’s chair says it’s to give them more time to consider an amendment to the bill that would keep the information public for most people, but limit the amount of requests to one permit per day. The amendment would keep private information on retired and active police, as well as people with protection-from-abuse orders.
Eel season is under way in Maine.Elvers, which are small eels, brought in nearly $40 million for Maine fishermen last year. They sold for more than $2,000 a pound. There are only 400 elver fishing licenses issued in Maine.Some fishermen have been camped out along the Medomak river in Waldoboro for more than a week.Get caught fishing without a license and it’s a $2,000 fine.Maine and South Carolina are the only two states where elver fishing is allowed. The season runs through May.
Maine State Police said they have arrested a convicted sex offender accused of sexually assaulting a teen.State Police charged 54 year old Arthur “Ron” Dodge of Rockport, with gross sexual assault and unlawful contact.The lifetime registrant on Maine’s sex offender list was arrested on Thursday at his home.Police said the victim is a teenage girl from the area and investigators said he assaulted the girl at his home last year.Dodge was convicted in 1990 of unlawful sexual contact and is required to be on the sex offender list for the rest of his life.He is being held on $25,000 bail at the Knox County Jail.
Some residents of the small western Maine town of Byron want to recall the local official who supported a headline-grabbing proposal requiring that every home have a gun. Town Clerk Allison Freeman confirmed yesterday that 17 people had signed the petition asking for the recall of Anne Simmons-Edmunds, the head of Byron’s select board. The Sun Journal reports that the petition initiated by resident Robert Bourassa says among other things that Simmons-Edmunds subjected “residents of the town to ridicule, embarrassment and disrepute” with her support of the gun measure. Simmons-Edmunds said she was aware of the petition. Bourassa could not be reached. Voters in the town of about 140 residents unanimously rejected the measure at the town meeting this month.
Some residents of a small western Maine town that made national news when voters were asked whether every home should be required to have a gun have launched an effort to recall a town official who supported the proposal. Town Clerk Allison Freeman confirmed Thursday that 17 people had signed the petition asking for the recall of Anne Simmons-Edmunds, head of Byron’s select board. The Sun Journal, reports that the petition initiated by resident Robert Bourassa says among other things that Simmons-Edmunds subjected “residents of the town to ridicule, embarrassment and disrepute” with her support of the gun measure. Simmons-Edmunds said she was aware of the petition. Bourassa could not be reached. Voters in the town of about 140 residents unanimously rejected the measure at town meeting this month.
Caribou or Limestone is on the radar of the US Department of Defense. Northern Maine is being targeted as a potential location for a missile defense base.The Loring Commerce Center could see a lot more activity in the not so distant future. It could be the hub of a new missile base, boosting the the U.S. Defense system and homeland security efforts protecting American soil from foreign nuke threats. Caribou Town Manager Austin Bleess says the sound of a missile base project is welcome news, especially if it means more jobs. “200-250 new jobs, a few years out, but that’s great to the economy. New jobs is always good with this type of stimulus that we could have in the area. I think we could see a bunch of new development in the Caribou-Limestone area.””I think it would be a great boost, and then the other spinoff support organizations around it. The multiplier effect would be tremendous.”The project could bring up to 250 new jobs to the Caribou/Limestone area, but the plan is just in the prelim talking stages by the Department of Defense. The two communities are in tough competition with another site in the Northeast, Rome, NY. What Northern Maine DOES having going for it though, is its past longstanding track record with the military. “Given the fact that we have a history of military bases here with Loring Air Force Base, a lot of other federal properties such as the Coast Guard, which would be easily accessible for the Dept. Of Defense, we feel that Caribou is a great location for this strategically.”The other feather in Northern Maine’s cap: Maine Senator Susan Collins, who serves on the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. She was the driving force behind a study that spot-lighted major vulnerabilities in the U.S. Defense system shield against foreign enemies.”This has a number of upsides were Aroostook County chosen for this site, including the creation of new jobs. Not only permanent jobs, but construction jobs in the short term, but I think what we most need to remember is this is about our national security. This is about ensuring the protection of our country.”This does beg the question, would putting a missile base put Northern Maine and its citizens at great risk?”You have to weigh out the pros and cons of that. That’s something Pentagon’s gonna have to do. From the city’s standpoint, it’s about the economic development.”Senator Collins says she and other lawmakers have asked the Obama administration to begin an 18-month review to identify which site would work best.
The Department of Defense is holding off on furloughs for civilian workers at its installations.It’s delaying that for at least two weeks because a resolution in congress that would fully fund defense for a full-year.The measure’s been sent to the President for his signature.Earlier Thursday workers from Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine held a rally to protest the potential furloughs.The shipyard has about 4,700 workers.The workers are expecting to be told they’ll have to take three weeks off without pay if automatic budget cuts kick in.
Police say a Portland cab driver has been shot with a pellet during a robbery. Lt. Robert Ridge says the driver picked up a fare at the Portland Transportation Center at about 11 p.m. Wednesday and drove the man to Cumberland Avenue where the man said he was meeting his brother. When the alleged brother approached the cab, he pulled out a pellet gun, demanded money and shot the driver in the face and neck. The men fled with an undisclosed amount of cash. Ridge tells The Portland Press Herald, that the driver, who was hit by two or three pellets, did not appear to be seriously injured and did not need to be hospitalized. The suspects are still at large.
A Maine man involved in a feud with another family over access to a dirt road has been charged with threatening a neighbor with a medieval-style ax. Benjamin Stewart of Sumner, a member of a Renaissance and Middle Ages re-enactment group, was held on $1,000 bail after being charged Wednesday with criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon. Police say the 26-year-old Stewart threatened Richard Pothier. The Sun Journal, reports Pothier said he reached for his gun and Stewart backed off. Both men called police. Stewart’s mother and stepfather, Nicole and Richard Lutz, have been feuding with the Pothier family over the road in the western Maine town. The Lutzes say the road is theirs, and closed to the public. The Pothiers say the public has the right to use the road.
An organization that distributes food to 47 pantries and soup kitchens across York County could close unless it finds new warehouse space. York County Food Rescue is being evicted from its current space in Sanford and will shut down unless it finds 4,000-square feet of new space. Executive Director Tom Vacca tells the Journal Tribune, there’s no money for rent, so the organization is hoping someone with space will be generous enough to help, or someone will step forward to donate money to lease space. The program supplies government surplus food and donated food, and if forced to close, will make it more difficult to feed the poor and hungry. Pantry managers say if the food rescue closes, it will be a hardship for families across the county.
An insurance agent accused of managing a Zumba fitness instructor’s prostitution operation in Maine is due to be sentenced. Mark Strong was convicted earlier this month of 12 counts of promoting prostitution and one count of conspiracy. Prosecutors are seeking a 364-day jail term while the defense is asking for no more than 14 days in jail. His sentencing is Thursday. Prosecutors say they’re seeking a sentence that warns that “this type of criminal enterprise is not tolerated in Maine.” But the defense has stressed that Strong is a community leader, husband and father who poses no risk. The 57-year-old Strong has acknowledged helping 30-year-old Alexis Wright open her Kennebunk dance studio. He says he loaned her money that was repaid with interest, and that he didn’t profit from prostitution.
Two conservation groups want a federal judge to shut down power turbines on the Kennebec and Androscoggin rivers. The groups say it’s to protect thousands of tiny Atlantic salmon as they migrate this spring. They claim not shutting them down is a violation of the Endangered Species Act. The shutdown would be from mid-April to early-June.
It was just about a year ago when the Saint John River spilled over its banks. It led to the worst flooding in the history of Perth-Andover, New Brunswick.Perth-Andover Fire Chief Phillip Walker says the flood conditions began the day before – an ice jam formed above the village and moved down throughout the day. He remembers the river being low before 7:00AM, and by 7:45, the roads were already flooded. “You could watch it rise on a stick, that’s how quick it came up.”By 10:30AM, town officials called for a voluntary evacuation of homes and businesses and by 11:00, that became mandatory. According to Dan Dionne, around 100 homes, 15 apartment building, and 35 businesses, were holding water. The Village Offices, where he works, had about 3 and a half feet. “It was shocking that the water elevation would get that high in the community and to come back in and see the files and just everything destroyed, just like some sort of bomb exploded inside the office, so to speak. It was terrible.””This is what people had to face, it was in their homes,” said Terry Ritchie, mayor of Perth-Andover. “It was like 4-5 feet and even higher.”Ritchie says it was two days before the water went down, and three days before people could even think about reentering their homes. Easily the worst flood in this small village’s history, affecting over three hundred people.”It was very depressing for a lot of people and very stressful for people that had their homes flooded and their businesses flooded,” said Dionne. “People had a whole lot of emotions at the time.”Many residents remain in homes that need to be relocated to safer ground.
Lawyers for a Thomaston man convicted in a prostitution case are asking that he be sentenced to no more than two weeks in jail.Mark Strong, Senior, 57, previously rejected a plea deal that would have resulted in a two-week jail sentence, but with the plea deal rejected, prosecutors have asked the judge to send the now “convicted” Strong to about a year in jail.Strong acknowledged helping Zumba instructor Alexis Wright open her Kennebunk dance studio but says he didn’t profit from the prostitution that prosecutors claim took place there.