If you haven’t had one already, you should consider getting a flu shot.So say doctors, with Maine in the middle of a serious flu outbreak. They say it’s not just the numbers, but the severity of the cases they’re seeing that’s causing concern.(dr. august valenti/maine medical center epidemiologist) “It’s very bad I think. This is a pretty aggresive flu season.” Infectious disease specialist, Doctor August Valenti, in fact, says it’s one of the ‘most’ aggressive flu seasons in years. Statewide, he says, Maine’s reported 32 actual cases so far, compared to just ten all of last season, and this year’s predominate strain is different.”This flu is an H3N2, which is a circulatory strain. It’s not anything particularly uncommon but we just haven’t seen it as a predominate strain in a few years.””It’s a public safety issue, and a public health issue,” says Education Comissioner, Stephen Bowen.Such an important issue, he’s now urging schools to further offer and encourage all students to get flu shots, working with Maine’s CDC, the vaccinations are free.”You get through the holidays and as everybody gets back to school let’s remind everyone that this opportunity exists.” “We don’t want emergency rooms crowded with influenza.”Here at Maine Medical Center, doctors say too many people are showing up to the emergency room with flu or flu-like symptoms. Not only does that lead to overcrowding, but it can help spread the disease as well.”It’s best not to rush to the hospital, we can treat it many times over the phone.” Valenti says the flu season generally follows a bell-like curve, peaking around February: however this year he’s hoping we may’ve already seen the worst. “With the season starting a little early, my hope is it will peak a little early and disappear.”Again, if you have flu symptoms, either call your doctor or go to a clinic. Hospitals discourage people from showing up at the emergency room.
Livermore Falls is considering seceding from Androscoggin county and joining Franklin county.The select board in the community is looking into it.State Representative Gary Knight lives in the town of 3,500 people.He says the move makes financial sense because it’s closer to the Franklin county seat than to the Androscogging county seat, which would mean money saved in the transportation of criminals to jails and courts, but at least one Franklin county commissioner is against the move because it would increase that county’s costs.
State police are looking for a man who broke into a home in Lebanon and shot the homeowner.It happened Tuesday.Authorities say 41-year old Richard Patorski was shot in the shoulder and his injuries are listed as serious.Police say Potorski was home for lunch when he surprised the intruder. His wife called 911 when she returned home at about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. Potorski’s vehicle was found a few miles away across the state line in Rochester, N.H. The suspect is described only as a white man wearing a camouflage cap.
The Maine Charter School Commission has granted approval for a proposed Harpswell Coastal Academy to proceed with its application review. The next step will include an interview and public hearing to be held on Jan. 18 in Harpswell. Four other applications for charter schools – in Kennebunkport, the Bangor area and two statewide virtual schools – were denied on Tuesday. The commission said three applications failed to show that they’d met the governance requirements and the fourth failed to show that their financial structure could support the school. Harpswell Coastal Academy plans to open in September as a grade 6-12 school, but with an initial enrollment of 40 to 80 students in grades 6 and 9. Charter schools are funded with state dollars but operate independently of local school boards.
Home heating oil costs more this week in Maine.The governor’s energy office say it’s up four cents from last week to an average of $3.69 a gallon.The average price of propane went up two cents to $2.71: kerosene is also up two cents to $4.13 a gallon.
The Maine Legislature is back in session.Governor Lepage continues to avoid meeting with democratic leaders.He canceled a meeting with them in early December after asking the Democratic party to call off a cameraman hired to shadow the governor and record him at public events.Senate President Justin Alfond and House Speaker Mark Eves say they’re still seeking a sit-down with the governor.
A lot of June brides, and grooms, got busy in January at the Portland Wedding Show.It takes a lot of planning to set up the big day.The show has everything from gowns, to honeymoon spots, and no detail is overlooked…. This show is just as important to vendors, because even though some weddings are still months awasy, they know now is the time to plan.”In the bridal aspect you have to start planning now because it takes a long time for the dresses to come in to plan for the wedding,” said Sandy Bisson, of Bridal’s by Sandy, and now some of those vendors are starting to see a greater increase in their business, as same-sex couples are now legally getting married here in Maine.”It actually increased our business,” said Dannielle Frick of David’s Bridal. “They have been coming in. tTey are extremely excited. We welcome them all.” Ann Schwartz and Sarah Holmes are already planning their big day for New Year’s Eve 2013. The two say they were thrilled to be at the wedding show, and are now making the most of the state’s newly passed law. “This is not something I thought was going to happen,” said Schwartz. “I never thought I would be at a wedding expo.””No, never in a million years did I think this would happen,” Holmes added. “I am so excited that it did. I was so grateful that it did.”
A couple of cars were destroyed along with a garage that burned in Lewiston.Authorities say it started around noon Saturday.The homeowner says he was jump-starting a Porsche in his garage when it backfired.Authorities believe that’s what sparked it.The fire spread to the house, melting some of the siding.A fire investigator says there’s about $80,000 worth of damage.
Opening statements were heard on Monday in the trial of a Massachusetts man accused of a double murder in Maine.32-year-old Joel Hayden is charged in the deaths of 27-year-old Renee Sandora of New Gloucester, and 28-year-old Trevor Mills of Massachusetts.Police say Hayden shot the pair outside Sandora’s home in July of 2011. Authorities say Sandora and Hayden’s 7-year-old son watched the shootings, while the couple’s three other children were in a car parked nearby.The boy told the jury on Monday he was shocked by what he saw.He said his father was inside his mother’s house when he saw Trevor Mills fall through a glass door. He said Hayden then came outside and shot his mother.
South Portland Police are offering to take unwanted guns.They say they’ll take possession of any firearm and make sure it’s destroyed, with no questions asked.”Any firearm that’s in the house that people don’t feel comfortable with.” South Portland Police Leutenant Frank Clark says people often find guns in their homes or simply make a social decision to no longer own one. If they’re not looking to make money, police will take it.”They’re just simply trying to get rid of the weapon. They don’t want it: they don’t want to give it to someone else. They just want to make sure it’s disposed of properly and safely.”Police say this is not an effort to eraticate guns from the city. They’re the first to recognize the many responsible gun owners, but if nothing else, they hope by better publicizing their effort it sparks conversation.”Even if they decided not to turn their guns over to the police department, if they’re at least talking about it in their own home saying, ‘what guns do I have here? Who are they accessable to?’”Since 9-11, nearly 12 years ago, most pawn shops will no longer deal with firearms. Shop owners in Southern Maine tell us there’s just too much federal paperwork involved, but, here at police headquarters, it’s as simple as turning the gun in, any gun, even if illegal, no questions asked.. “Quite honestly if we take in one gun or 101 guns in this effort, it’ll be a success because the bottom line it’s about gun safety not gun control.”
Governor LePage has taken to YouTube to talk taxes.In a five-minute video, he’s interviewed by his communications director, Adrienne Bennett, about tax cuts passed last session. He says it will remove 70-thousand Mainers from the tax rolls, and he puts in a plug for giving businesses tax breaks, saying it could lead to investments in business, new jobs and higher wages.In the video, he also asks democrats to support more tax cuts in the next legislative session.
A former Maine prosecutor waiting to be sentenced for having child porn faces a retrial on six other charges.Prosecutors say 50-year-old James Cameron cut off his monitoring device on November 15th and took off to New Mexico, where he was captured on December 2nd.He fled just after an appeals court upheld his conviction on seven of thirteen charges filed against him.The appeals court dismissed six charges.Now, Cameron will be re-tried on those charges.He’s due in federal court in Portland next week.
President Obama has renominated a lawyer from Cape Elizabeth for a federal judgeship. The president originally nominated William Kayatta early last year for a seat on the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, but his Senate confirmation was stalled by election-year politics despite an endorsement from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Obama on Thursday included Kayatta in a list of more than 30 renominations. Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Sen. Susan Collins had pressed their Republican colleagues to confirm Kayatta before the election. Collins on Thursday urged the Senate to move quickly on his renomination. Kayatta, a partner at Pierce Atwood in Portland, would replace Judge Kermit Lipez of Maine, who had been on the court since 1998. Kayatta is a graduate of Amherst College and Harvard Law School.
Sanford police are investigating a robbery at the York County Credit Union. Police say a man entered the credit union on Main Street shortly before 2 p.m. Thursday and demanded money from a teller. He did not show a weapon, and fled on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash. Surveillance cameras showed the man wearing sunglasses, a black hat, and a brown hooded sweat shirt with a distinctive diamond pattern. He is described as heavy set, about six feet tall, in his early 20s with some facial hair. Police are asking for the public’s help in finding the thief.
An up-and-coming professional boxer from Maine who’s also the son of a former world champion has pleaded not guilty to drug charges. Steven Gamache pleaded not guilty Thursday in Androscoggin County Superior Court to a charge of unlawful possession of a scheduled drug. Authorities say during a routine traffic stop in Auburn in November, an officer found the 29-year-old Gamache in possession of two hydrocodone pills for which he did not have a prescription. The Sun Journal, reports that police said Gamache told them a co-worker gave him the pills to treat an unspecified medical condition. Gamache was allowed to remain free on $300 bail. Gamache is 4-0. His father is Joey Gamache, a former World Boxing Association lightweight and super featherweight world champion.
Jury selection is getting under way in Maine in the murder trial of a Massachusetts man charged with fatally shooting the mother of his four children and his longtime friend. Thirty-year-old Joel Hayden of New Bedford is charged in the deaths of 27-year-old Renee Sandora of New Gloucester, Maine, and 28-year-old Trevor Mills, also of New Bedford. Police say Hayden shot the pair outside Sandora’s home on July 26, 2011, with Sandora and Hayden’s 7-year-old son witnessing the shootings. An affidavit says Sandora’s parents told investigators that Sandora had recently kicked Hayden out of their home, and that he had accused her of having a relationship with Mills. Jury selection begins Friday in Cumberland County Superior Court. Testimony is expected to start Monday.
A 6-month-old boy was seriously hurt but survived after he was ejected from his mother’s car during a crash and tossed 25 feet into the snow. The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office says the boy’s mother, 19-year-old Chynna Blaney, drove through a stop sign in Raymond just before 5 p.m. Thursday and was struck by a pickup truck. The boy was thrown from his safety seat in the back of the car and hurled into the snow. The driver of the truck, 35-year-old Angie Horler of New Gloucester, told police she saw something flying from the other vehicle, went to investigate, and found the boy. Blaney and her son were hospitalized with serious injuries. Horler required treatment for minor injuries, while her two children, ages 2 and 5, were unhurt.
Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection is recommending a state board reject a petition to remove the chemical BPA from packaging for baby and toddler foods sold in the state. The DEP supports another part of the proposal though, banning BPA in infant formula cans.Maine’s environmental regulators must decide if BPA exposure is harmful to children and other vulnerable groups like seniors.They also have to decide if there are safer alternatives available at a comparable cost.The Board of Environmental Protection will make a final decision on January 24th.
A former Maine prosecutor awaiting sentencing for child porn faces a new federal charge.The US Attorney’s Office has charged James Cameron with criminal contempt.Prosecutors say he cut off his monitoring device on November 15th and fled to New Mexico.He was captured there on December 2nd.Cameron is due in federal court next week.
A Standish vacuum cleaner salesman has pleaded not guilty to charges alleging he failed to pay $47,000 in taxes. Nathaniel Dupuis was arrested Saturday and arraigned Monday in Kennebec County Superior Court via video from jail. He told the judge he works for a business selling vacuum cleaners and he drives to New Hampshire each day to sell them because he’s been told he cannot collect taxes in Maine. The Kennebec Journal, reports that the 40-year-old Dupuis was freed on $5,000 bail. Dupuis is charged with theft by misapplication involving sales tax and withholding tax: intentional evasion of sales tax: and failure to collect, account for or pay over sales tax. The alleged offenses occurred between February 2006 and June 2008, according to court records.