Regional News

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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Two Hurt and Three Vehicles Totaled in Gorham Crash

Updated 2 years ago

Police say proper use of seat belts prevented more serious injuries in a pileup in Gorham that destroyed three vehicles. Two people were taken to the hospital with injuries not considered life threatening after the crash just before 5 p.m. Sunday at Main Street and Libby Avenue. Police say a vehicle driven by 42-year-old Ronnie Willey of Gorham failed to yield and was broadsided by an SUV driven by 20-year-old Garrett Beesley. Willey’s vehicle rolled over and came to rest on the hood of a car driven by 31-year-old Nikki Sproul of South Portland. At least two of the vehicles had child passengers. Police say “seat belts and properly installed child safety seats played a vital role” in preventing more serious injuries. The accident remains under investigation.

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LePage Signs Concealed Weapons Permit Bill into Law

Updated 2 years ago

Governor LePage has signed into law a bill to keep confidential names and other information about gun owners who obtain concealed handgun permits.The bill was approved Thursday by lopsided votes in the House and Senate.The issue was pushed to the forefront in February after the Bangor Daily News made a Freedom of Access request for information on concealed weapons permits issued by the state.Republican Representative Corey Wilson of Augusta, the bill’s sponsor, says the bill would shield legitimate gun owners from having sensitive information about them open to the public.

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State Budget Faces $60-Million Shortfall by July

Updated 2 years ago

A new revenue estimate finds a shortfall of about $60-million in the state budget come July.Sharp drops in sales and corporate income taxes are the biggest reasons for the shortfall.It would be worse if not for increases in individual income taxes and other sources of revenue.The governor has asked department heads for ideas on ways to cut spending.

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Maine Prescription Drug Take-Back Day this Saturday

Updated 2 years ago

It’s prescription drug take-back day in maine this Saturday.Police departments across the state will be open from 10:00AM to noon to collect unused drugs.A large drop box will be at each site.Anyone can safely drop prescription drugs off with no questions asked.

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Angus King Gives First Floor Speech as US Senator

Updated 2 years ago

Senator Angus King gave his first floor speech on Wednesday. He talked about the nature of conflict and the need for lawmakers to rise above it. King told fellow senators that the great accomplishments of government have rarely been victories for one party or the other, but instead have been base on “hard-fought battles and grudging compromise.”

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Elver Dealers No Longer Able to Pay for Eels in Cash

Updated 2 years ago

Elver dealers can no longer pay for the baby eels with cash.That law went into effect Monday.The goal is to prevent people from buying or selling them without a record of the transacton, and should help catch people who fish illegally.Some fishermen and dealers are concerned with the new law, saying many dealers don’t have the funds in a checking account to cover the costs of buying from fishermen and then selling to customers.

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New York Man Returned to Maine to Face Murder Charge

Updated 2 years ago

A New York City man charged with killing a Maine woman and leaving her body in a vehicle in a Portland motel parking lot is back in Maine. Authorities say 19-year-old Anthony Pratt was brought to the Cumberland County jail on Wednesday. The Queens, N.Y., man is scheduled to appear in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court on Friday for his initial appearance on a murder charge. Police say Pratt fatally shot 29-year-old Westbrook resident Margarita Fisenko Scott, whose body was discovered Jan. 17 in an SUV in a Motel 6 parking lot. Authorities allege Pratt shot Scott elsewhere in November and brought her body to the parking lot, where it had been for “an extended time” before it was discovered. Police say the couple had been dating.

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Mechanic Falls Woman Gets Six Months in Jail

Updated 2 years ago

The former manager of an Auburn-based group home for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities has been sentenced to six months in jail for stealing from the nonprofit and at least one client. Terri Arsenault of Mechanic Falls was sentenced Wednesday after pleading guilty last month to two felony theft charges. Prosecutors say she used the John F. Murphy group home’s credit card to buy gas, groceries and other household goods, and to take her daughters on an outing to Boston. She also hired her husband’s construction company to do work that was never done. The Sun Journal, reports that a tearful 41-year-old Arsenault apologized in court and said she was “ashamed” of her actions. She was sentenced to two years of probation and has paid $15,000 in restitution.

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Pilots Family and Homeowners Sue Over 2001 Biddeford Crash

Updated 2 years ago

The family of a North Yarmouth man who died when his plane crashed into a Biddeford home, as well as the owners of the house that was destroyed, are jointly suing the companies that maintained and inspected the aircraft. Retired Air Force pilot Edward L’Hommedieu (LA’-muh-doo) was flying the twin-engine Cessna on April 10, 2011. As he approached Biddeford Municipal Airport, the plane lost partial or total power in its right engine, and crashed into the home of Stephen and Kim Myers. The Portland Press Herald (http://bit.ly/10eMTY0 ) reports that the lawsuit filed this month in Cumberland County Superior Court names as defendants nine companies that manufactured parts or maintained or inspected the 71-year-old L’Hommedieu’s plane. The National Transportation Safety Board determined that engine trouble and pilot error caused the crash.

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Stonyfield Farm Co-Founder to Speak at Bates College

Updated 2 years ago

Bates Colleges says the co-founder and chairman of the Stonyfield Farm organic yogurt company will deliver the school’s commencement address at next month’s graduation ceremonies. The Lewiston college says Gary Hirshberg also will receive an honorary degree at the May 26 event. Hirshberg co-founded New Hampshire-based Stonyfield Farm in 1983, helping grow it from a seven-cow operation into a $400 million company. Bates also is conferring honorary degrees on scholar William Cronon, former Bates College president Elaine Tuttle Hansen and prominent physician Dr. Vivian Pinn.

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Man Deported to Italy after Illegally Entering US

Updated 2 years ago

A man who entered Maine illegally over the weekend has pleaded guilty and will be deported to Italy.Leandro Bettiol, 26, has dual citizenship from Brazil and Italy.Authorities say he was arrested after he walked around the Coburn Gore border crossing to enter Maine.On Monday, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to time served.

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Former CEO Accused of Misappropriating Funds

Updated 2 years ago

The parent company of the Portland Press Herald and two other Maine newspapers are accusing its former CEO of misappropriating more than $500,000 of company money.In a letter to employees Wednesday, MaineToday Media publisher Lisa DeSisto said the company had received a $488,000 check from its insurance company under its employee theft policy for funds that former CEO Richard Connor allegedly took for personal use from June 2009 to October 2011.DeSisto said the unauthorized spending totaled $538,000, including $287,000 in salary increases and bonuses, $90,000 in personal expenses charged to company credit cards, and $36,000 for a vehicle.Connor, who’s now CEO of Foster’s Daily Democrat in Dover, N.H. , told the Portland Press Herald the allegations are wrong and that most of the expenses were legitimate.

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