It’s going to cost more to illuminate a bridge connecting New Hampshire and Maine than planned. The new Memorial Bridge is under construction and due to open this summer. Lighting estimates have increased from $80,000 to as much as $200,000. Peter Somssich, who heads a committee on the lighting, tells the Portsmouth Herald, the increase stems in part from the cost of bringing wiring and lighting to the top of the towers to allow downward lighting. The lighting also includes the center-span deck, which would only turn on when the bridge is raised and lowered. The New Hampshire Department of Transportation says it is not paying for the lights. Residents say they can raise the money by the end of March.
A judge in Maine has refused to dismiss charges against the business partner of a Zumba instructor charged with running a prostitution ring from her dance studio. The judge Wednesday rejected Mark Strong Sr.’s motion to dismiss. The Portland Press Herald, reports Strong is now scheduled to go on trial Jan. 22 on charges of promotion of prostitution, violation of privacy and conspiracy to commit those crimes. The 57-year-old Thomaston businessman is accused of conspiring with Alexis Wright, whom authorities say ran a prostitution operation out of her Zumba studio in Kennebunk. Strong’s attorney filed the motion to dismiss on the grounds that authorities failed to turn over evidence to the defense as legally required: and investigators did not provide proper evidence in seeking warrants to search the studio. Neither the defense attorney nor prosecutors commented on the decision. Neither the defense attorney nor prosecutors commented on the decision.
Maine’s largest city is getting a new chief of a fire department that has 234 professional and civilian firefighters. Jerome LaMoria will be sworn in Thursday as the 14th fire chief for the city of Portland. LaMoria was unanimously confirmed by the Portland City Council Dec. 17. LaMoria’s father, Norman LaMoria, will pin on the new chief’s badge at the City Hall ceremony following his taking the oath of office. Norman LaMoria served Newfane, Vt., for 50 years as a firefighter and fire chief. Prior to joining the Portland Fire Department, Jerome LaMoria was training and exercise coordinator for the Prince George’s County Office of Homeland Security in Maryland.
Today is “Olympia Snowe” day in Auburn, as proclaimed by the city’s mayor.That’s where she grew up, and she once represented Auburn as a state lawmaker.She went on to serve thirty-four years in Congress, both the US House and Senate.She decided not to run for re-election to the Senate in November because of all the partisan bickering in Washington.Wednesday is Snowe’s final full day in office.
There are some bright spots in Maine’s economy, but experts say some things need to be changed for real recovery to take place.On the plus side, home sales are improving and unemployment is shrinking, but Forbes has ranked Maine last in its annual “Best States for Business” report. Forbes gave Maine bad grades for its high corporate taxes and energy costs, and for having the nation’s oldest population.
A new law in Russia is being felt here in Maine.Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law banning Americans from adopting Russian children.Unicef estimates there are about 740 thousand orphans in Russia.The law also blocks dozens of Russian children now in the process of being adopted by American families from leaving Russia.The US is the top destination for adopted Russian children. The boyles are getting their Freeport home ready to welcome a child, even two children, from Russia, but, for now, their dreams will have to wait.”It’s frustrating because we were so close and we saw the light at the end of the tunnel and, to have that taken away, it’s heart-breaking and it’s heart-breaking to think of all of the kids that are over there that won’t have as good of a shot of being in loving homes,” commented Cristina Boyle.Cristina and Matt are high school sweethearts who married in 2006.They spent more than a year and a half trying to adopt domestically, but switched their focus to Russian adoption because they say there is no chance of a parent changing his or her mind at the last minute.”The one thing that we thought was a sure thing, now is completely the opposite. We were this close and now they’re saying, no, you can’t have a child,” said Matt.Anne and Dave Wilson understand the emotional ups and downs of adopting from Russia.”We bonded with Zach the moment we saw his video,” said Anne. “We bonded with Anneka the moment we met her. We knew these are our children.”The wilsons adopted 13-year-old Zach in 2000.They adopted 11-year-old Anneka in 2002.The wilsons are disturbed by Vladimir Putin’s push to stop Russian adoptions.”Personally, I think he’s using all these orphans as pawns in a political game,” said Anne. “He wants to show his clout, show he’s in control and it’s the children who are going to suffer.””It’s just an issue of: if the kids were really important, we wouldn’t be here,” Dave added.The Wilsons run a not-for-profit to help families who want to adopt from Russia.They hope international politics won’t stop other American couples from sharing in the joy they’ve experienced.Folks at Saint Andre Home in Biddeford facilitate domestic and international adoptions and say they have one person who is even further along in the adoption process than the Boyles are, but it’s too early to say how things will play out.
Wilton police have arrested a man they say fired a semiautomatic handgun during a dispute at a mobile home park. Timothy Koehler was arrested shortly before 1 a.m. Tuesday at the Arkay Trailer Park. Police Chief Heidi Wilcox tells the Sun Journal, the 30-year-old Koehler was charged with aggravated reckless conduct and domestic violence criminal threatening. Wilcox said officers responded to the mobile home park in response to a 911 hang-up. Two officers investigated and said they learned that a .25-caliber semiautomatic handgun had been fired during a dispute, endangering those in the mobile home. No one was hurt. Koehler was taken first to Franklin Memorial Hospital and later to the Franklin County Detention Center, where he is being held without bail.
Police say two men have been taken into custody after a nearly three-hour standoff in Mexico ended peacefully. Mexico Police Chief James Theriault says a domestic dispute sparked the standoff at about 7:45 p.m. Tuesday. He says one of the men arrested, 23-year-old Troy Blanchard, contacted someone he was not supposed to because of existing bail conditions. Theriault says Blanchard had been drinking, which was also in violation of his bail conditions. Blanchard and a co-defendant, 22-year-old Damen Korhonen, ran into another home with three people inside. Those people emerged about 45 minutes later. The standoff ended at about 10:30 p.m. when both suspects surrendered. They are charged with terrorizing and trespassing. No weapons were found.
A series of forums seeking public input into the state of the Maine lobster industry are getting under way. Maine fishery officials are holding 16 public meetings through January in coastal towns from York to Machias. The first meeting is Wednesday in Boothbay Harbor. Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher says he’s seeking ideas from people in the lobster industry about the harvest, prices, Maine’s relationship with Canada, the state’s marketing strategy and the lobster licensing system. The industry was thrown into turmoil last summer when a lobster glut caused prices to fall, and Canadian lobstermen blocked truckloads of Maine lobsters from being delivered to Canadian processors. The schedule of all the forums is posted on the department’s website Click Here
It was a frigid final day of the year in Maine, but that didn’t stop dozens of people from plunging into the ocean at Portland’s East End Beach.The state’s largest environmental group, the “Natural Resource Council of Maine” organized the “Polar Bear Plunge.”It was to raise money in the group’s effort to raise awareness about global warming.It was the fifth year for the plunge.”Awe, its freezing, it’s awesome.””It was soooo fun, so fun, I’m so glad I did it. It was cold, I lost my sunglasses so I got to go back in again. Just the exercise, get out, go for a run and just say you did it. It was great.”Folks who didn’t feel like swimming helped raise money by taking part in a 5K walk or run.By the way, the water temperature yesterday off Portland: 37 degrees.
Ice fishing season is here and wildlife officials urge you to be careful out there. Some lakes and ponds in northern Maine opened to winter fishing in December, but most opened on Tuesday. Wardens remind us that ice conditions remain highly hazardous, so double check on thickness before going out to fish.
A brand new building now stands in the Catholic Charities parking lot in Presque Isle, but it isn’t for people: it’s for horses.”I’ve been working closely with the Amish community in trying to get someplace for their horses when they bring their horses to town, to park them, so they’re in a safe controlled environment.”And Shaw has been successful! The building, which was designed and built by the Amish, will now accommodate up to two horses at a time, keeping them safe, fed and watered through the cold of winter, heat of summer or any rain, thunder or snow storm, and Shaw says they are hoping this is only the beginning.”We’re hoping to replicate this throughout town. We’re hoping other businesses will see that it’s a worthwhile cause to have these available because the Amish are here and they come to town and they spend money in our community and as tight as this economy is, we need all the help we can get. I think this welcomes them and says come on in and be comfortable. You’re horse can be comfortable and you can be comfortable while you’re doing your errands around town.”Overall, Shaw says, although there may be a few bugs to work out over the next few months, this is a win-win situation for everyone involved and both Shaw and the Amish community are looking forward to seeing more horse shelters going up throughout the city.”They are so thankful and so grateful to have this opportunity and they are more than willing to work with other businesses and areas throughout town to do the same thing again.”The shelter will be available year-round and you do not have to be Amish to use it. It is open to the community to use as a temporary horse shelter also.Should you encounter an Amish horse tied up, you should leave it alone. They are work horses, and are very different from pet horses.
Now a look at crime this past year in Maine.State police say there were fifty-six pharmacy robberies, more than double the amount the year before.Maine had twenty-two homicides last year, slightly below the 10-year average. There were nineteen fire deaths, down from twenty-three in 2011, and there were 164 highway deaths in 2012, which is up from 136 the year before.
A train and bus station in Portland is open again after being shut down for four hours following a bomb threat.Police say 44-year-old Rodney Jewell of Portland entered the Portland Transportation Center around 6:30 Tuesday morning and said he had a bomb in his backpack.The station was evacuated.Police convinced the man to leave the building and put the backpack down in a parking lot. The bag was searched. Police say it contained household items.Jewell was arrested.The facility is a station for the Downeaster Amtrak Train and Concord Trailway buses.It re-opened around ten Tuesday morning.
We now know more about two teens killed in Biddeford Saturday night. Kari Henderson says her younger brother, Derrick Thompson, was full of life. Police say Thompson and his girlfriend, Alivia Welch were shot and killed by their landlord. It’s believed an argument about rent and winter parking led to the shootings. Thompson’s relatives say they don’t understand why the two were killed about something “so senseless.” “He is 74 years old, he did not have to take two lives that were just beginning,” said Katelyn Grant, Thompson’s cousin. “They had so much to live for. Why? That is what i ask myself. why?.””I do not know how to put it all together,” Henderson remarked. “It is just so hard to accept.”There was a vigil Monday night in Biddeford for friends and families of the victims.
With a new year come new restrictions on University of Maine campuses.Wiping out tobacco is the ultimate goal.A new tobacco free policy will be enforced on the University of Maine system campuses. Collectively the universities have been working on this policy for the past 6 months or so. This means they will no longer allow cigarettes or any form of tobacco on campus in order to promote health and wellness and reduce the harm from first, second and third hand smoke. Ray Phinney, Associate Dean of Student Life & Development commented, saying, “the policy starts on January 1st, but doesn’t actually start to be enforced until April 1st, so the first four months are actually leeway so education, providing signage for students staff and faculty and getting the word out.”Six out of the seven University of Maine system campuses will adopt the policy starting on the new year which will apply to every student, staff member, contractor and visitor. After April 1st, the enforcement would mean that students caught smoking would go to the student conduct code, and for staff and faculty it will be part of their reviews, but Phinney says their goal is not to punish but rather to help.”We’re actually offering counceling to the employees, we are working very closely with our rise up program at the system office so there’s actually a calling number where people can actually work with Cigna Insurance to get information about quitting, but we also have people on campus who are trained to help students and staff members.” Phinney says health insurance is one of the largest expenses of the University of Maine system. So by decreasing the amount of smokers it would increase the overall health of the individuals which would reduce the expense of health insurance. Normally when someone wants to light one up they would have to go to a designated smoking area, but with the effort to promote a healthier campus and with respect to the new tobacco free policy, the only place somebody will be able to smoke is in their own vehicle.The Maine Tobacco Hotline, the Healthy Maine Partnership and the Rise Up program will be available, and certain staff and faculty members at UMFK are actually doing training as well to help people on campus.UMaine adopted a tobacco-free campus policy one year ago today.
More than 400 people are expected to take a noon-time plunge into the cold ocean waters at Old Orchard Beach for the annual Lobster Dip fundraiser for Special Olympics Maine. The New Year’s Day ocean plunge was Maine’s original cold-water fundraiser when it began in 1988 with about 15 participants. It has grown to become the largest such fundraiser in the state, with last year’s Lobster Dip raising nearly $100,000. Tuesday’s event will be followed by a post-dip party at The Brunswick restaurant in Old Orchard Beach.
Portland Water District officials say an aging infrastructure could mean more massive water main breaks like one in mid-December. The Dec. 19 break on Somerset Street spilled 20,000 gallons of water per minute for 45 minutes, and caused street flooding, damage to property and a 24-hour boil order. The district provides water from Sebago Lake to about 190,000 people in 11 Portland-area communities through a 975-mile network of pipes, ranging in age from 1870 to 2012. Christopher Crovo, executive director of asset management and planning for the district, tells The Portland Press Herald, the biggest concern is pipes laid between the world wars, when there was a scarcity of metal and lower craftsmanship. Annually, the district replaces about 3.5 miles of pipe, at a cost of $3 million.
Maine’s largest environmental advocacy organization is holding its fifth annual cold-water ocean plunge to raise money in the name of global warming. The Natural Resources Council of Maine is expecting about 200 people for its Polar Bear Plunge, held at noon Monday at Portland’s East End Beach. The event raises money and awareness for the group’s work on climate change issues. For those who aren’t up for a bone-numbing dip into the ocean, they can still raise money and take part in a 5-kilometer walk or run. Last year nearly 200 people took part, raising $18,000.
The family of a 23-year-old Massachusetts man who disappeared 10 days ago in Maine has posted his obituary in a Cape Cod newspaper. The family of Prescott Wright of Barnstable wrote in the obituary in the Cape Cod Times on Sunday, that he is “a lover of people” and a boat builder who lived for the water. Wright and 21-year-old Zachary Wells of Burlington, Vt., disappeared on Dec. 20 from a gathering at Wells’ home in the Kennebunkport, Maine, village of Cape Porpoise. On Christmas Eve, Maine Marine Patrol found clothing on Goat Island, a mile from Wells’ home. Both have been students at The Landing School, a boat building and yacht design school in Arundel, Maine. The search was suspended on Thursday and a police spokeswoman said Saturday that there was no new information.