A Maine man has joined the national movement of returning his Eagle Scout medal to the Boy Scouts of America to protest the organization’s exclusion of gays. Austin Smith of Portland says the silver eagle and the plaque signed by President Nixon he received in 1973 are “precious,” but he can no longer keep them in light of the Boy Scouts’ recent affirmation of its longstanding ban on openly gay scouts and leaders. The 54-year-old architect, who grew up in Columbus, Miss. and earned scouting’s highest honor there, tells The Portland Press Heral, he witnessed racism first hand in the deep South and wants to be “on the right side of history.” A spokesman for the national organization says it does not track how many medals have been returned.
A worker for a York paving company has been electrocuted after touching a dump truck that was in contact with live power wires. Authorities say 42-year-old Christopher Dixon was standing behind a gravel truck at about 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday when the truck touched the power lines. Rescue workers at first couldn’t get to Dixon because the wires were still live and had to wait until Central Maine Power shut off the electricity. Dixon was taken to York Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The driver of the truck jumped out when she realized what happened and was not injured. Central Maine Power says about 2,500 customers lost power.
Kittery, Maine, can boast something that no other New England community has: A life-sized Smokey Bear. A statue of the national icon created to remind people to prevent forest fires is being unveiled Thursday at the Kittery Visitors Center as Smokey the Bear celebrates his 68th birthday. The statue was installed by the Maine Department of Transportation and has a fire danger sign next to it to inform visitors about the current wildfire danger conditions. Agriculture Commissioner Walt Whitcomb, who is the commissioner designee of the new Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, will be attending along with representatives from the Maine Department of Transportation and the Maine Tourism Association.
Navy trucks, industrial generators and other items that went unclaimed after the closing of Brunswick Naval Air Station are now on the auction block. Steve Levesque, executive director of civilian agency charged with redevelopment the property, says an auction for the first round consisting of large items ended Wednesday evening. Those included a hydraulic man-lift. The Sun Journal newspaper, says other items including fire trucks, utility trucks, mowing equipment and wheel-mounted transformers expire later this month. Levesque says smaller items like furniture, filing cabinets, computers will be auctioned later. The base closed in May 2011. Levesque said the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority kept some airport maintenance and snow removal equipment.
A Maine man reported missing by his wife after he did not return from a sailing trip on Casco Bay has been located. The Coast Guard says 79-year-old Albert Kelsey was spotted early Wednesday morning. His 20-foot vessel had apparently run aground at low tide and got stuck in the mud. He appeared to be in good health. The Coast Guard said the South Freeport man was last seen departing from a local marina at about 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday and was scheduled to visit two Casco Bay islands. He was reported overdue by his wife at 10 p.m. A 25-foot response boat small from Station South Portland, a Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Cape Cod, and a boat from the Maine Marine Patrol took part in the search.
The Coast Guard is searching for a sailor who did not return home after a sailing trip on Casco Bay. The Coast Guard says 79-year-old Albert Kelsey departed from Strouds Point at about 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday and was headed to Mosiers Island and Bustins Island in Casco Bay. He was reported overdue by his wife at 10 p.m. A 25-foot response boat small from Station South Portland, a Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Cape Cod, and a boat from the Maine Marine Patrol are searching. Coast Guard says he may have run aground because he was on the water at low tide.
A Brunswick man has pleaded guilty to defrauding two well-known Maine companies out of nearly half a million dollars. Matthew LaForge pleaded guilty to mail fraud and tax evasion Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Portland. Court records show that while employed at South Portland-based Wright Express from 2006-2008, the 38-year-old LaForge fraudulently billed and collected $231,000 from the company for marketing services supposedly provided by a company that he made up. Prosecutors say LaForge used the same scheme to defraud Freeport-based L.L. Bean out of $220,000 while working there as a financial analyst from 2009-2011. He faces up to 20 years on the two mail fraud charges and up to five years for tax evasion. A sentencing date has not been scheduled.
A proposal to ban dogs from Saco’s public beaches is getting so much attention that city councilors have scheduled a public hearing on the matter . The council was scheduled to hold a first hearing on the ordinance Monday, but about 100 people showed up to the meeting. Under the proposal, dogs would barred from town beaches between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., from June 15 to Sept. 15. The measure was prosed after the Baywood Condominium Owner’s Association wrote a letter complaining about aggressive dogs and the amount of animal waste left behind. The letter said Saco has become a “mecca” for dog owners since many nearby communities already ban dogs from the beach. Dog owners say most dogs are well-behaved. The public hearing is Aug. 20.
Portland is reopening its search for a new fire chief after the favored candidate withdrew. The extended search is expected to add at least $8,500 to a process that has already cost the city more than $20,000. City human resources director Michael Miles says because the position is one of the most important in the city, officials want to do it right. The city is looking for a replacement for Fred LaMontagne, who retired in April. A nationwide search drew 55 applicants. Five male finalists were brought to Portland for interviews and assessment tests. Miles tells The Portland Press Herald, one emerged as a favorite, but he withdrew his application for personal reasons before the city could make him an offer. The new deadline for applications is Aug. 31.
Scarborough police are looking for a man they say attached a small camera to his shoe and used it to take pictures up the skirts of women at a local department store. Police say several women customers at a Walmart store reported the behavior on July 16. Police on Monday released surveillance images of the suspect. The man is described as white, bald, with a clean shaven face. He was wearing a green polo shirt and dark shorts on the day his activities were reported to police. Anyone who recognizes the suspect is asked to call Scarborough police.
New Hampshire and Maine this week are hosting two dog detectives specially trained to sniff out sewage leaks, bacteria and other contaminants in water. Logan and Sable were specially trained by Michigan-based Environmental Canine Services as rapid responders to storm water and pollution emergencies that could pose health risks. FB Environmental, based in Portland, Maine and Portsmouth, N.H., is hosting the dogs. There will be public demonstrations of the dogs’ tracking abilities Tuesday in Kittery, Maine and Wednesday in Portsmouth. The dogs identify human sources of bacteria, pinpointing contaminated areas so local officials can address the problem fast and minimize inconvenience. Their handlers say the dogs can investigate 50 or more storm water structures in six hours. Call 603-363-6311 for more information on the demonstrations.
A 25-year old man from Massachusetts is dead after he dove into the ocean off Kennebunk, and never resurfaced.Coast Guard authorities, say they were notified Thursday night.According to friends, the victim was out on a boat. He apparently jumped from a buoy nearly a mile off shore and hit his head.The Coast Guard, Maine Marine Patrol, and State Police Dive Team all took part in the search.The man’s body was recovered a short time later.He was reportedly staying with family and friends in Maine.
The University of Southern Maine’s President is leaving that post to take a new job within the UMaine system.Chancellor James Page announced Thursday that Selma Botman will be replaced by Theo Kalikow as USM President.He spent 18 years as President of UMaine Farmington.Botman has come under fire this year from faculty and staff unhappy with her leadership.She will fill a newly-created position as a special assistant to the chancellor.
A man died Thursday morning while trying to put out a fire on his property in Casco.Investigators say the man had a heart attack after reporting that his garage was on fire.Crews were able to prevent the flames from spreading to the house but a vehicle parked near the garage was destroyed.Two firefighters suffered minor injuries and were treated at the scene.The State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating.
Children playing with sparklers sparked an apartment fire in Portland Monday morning.City officials say everyone made it out safely.The fire department says two children lit sparklers using a toaster, and that caught a bed on fire.At least nine people were left homeless.
The Red Cross is on the scene to help people chased from their homes by fire in downtown Lewiston.Three buildings caught fire around 11 a.m. Tuesday morning. Fire burned a 12-unit, four-story apartment building as well as a single-family structure next door.An adjacent 4-unit apartment building that was vacant and had been condemned by the city also burned down.Authorities say thirteen families have been displaced.No injuries have been reported.No word yet on what caused it.
The grandfather of a man convicted of killing three other men during a botched robbery five years ago at a New Hampshire Army surplus store is facing a lawsuit by one victim’s mother.The lawsuit alleges that Lawrence Secord should have taken extra precautions to secure his gun after his grandson was released from prison two months before the robbery in Conway, N.H. Authorities say the defendant had stolen the gun.Gail Jones, of Halifax, Mass., the mother of 23-year-old victim Gary Jones, is suing Secord.Secord’s lawyer says he kept his handgun in a locked hunting cabin and is not responsible for his grandson’s actions.Michael Woodbury, of Windham, Maine, pleaded guilty in the July 2, 2007, killings and is serving life in prison.
Firefighters in Maine’s largest city arebattling an apartment house fire that a neighbor says was startedby children playing with sparklers. City officials say everyone made it out of the building tosafety late Monday morning, but thick plumes of smoke could be seenfrom downtown as firefighters battled the blaze. The Portland Press Herald quotes aneighbor, Melissa Trott, as saying kids caused the fire by tryingto light fireworks using a toaster oven. A city spokeswoman declined to discuss the cause of the fire.Congress Street was closed as firefighters doused the blaze in thebuilding across the street from the Eastern Cemetery
The Navy says it’ll be more than a month before it has new details about a fire that severely damaged a submarine in dry dock at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.The Naval Sea Systems Command said Thursday that additional details on repair costs and investigations into the USS Miami fire won’t be available until mid to late August.Early estimates put the damage at $400 million after a fire that started in a vacuum cleaner got out of control May 23 while the Miami was undergoing a 20-month overhaul.The fire damaged the torpedo room, crew quarters, and command and control areas of the nuclear-powered sub. The Navy is conducting multiple investigations and hasn’t yet said for sure whether the Los Angeles-class attack sub will be repaired or scrapped.
A Portland man accused of threatening Maine Gov. Paul LePage and members of Congress has pleaded guilty to eight charges.U.S. Attorney Thomas Delahanty II said Wednesday that 52-year-old Michael R. Thomas pleaded guilty in federal court to threatening members of Congress, mailing threatening communications, interstate stalking, and possessing a firearm after being convicted of a felony.Police identified Thomas through DNA from letters he sent to LePage. He was also charged with making death threats against Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Rep. Steve King of Iowa and mailing harassing and threatening letters to someone in Massachusetts.Thomas, who was arrested in March, faces up to 45 years in prison on the charges.