The Saco City Council has unanimously voted to sell the city’s historic fire station to a developer who plans on converting it into housing for the elderly and retail space. The decision, met by cheers at Monday’s meeting, means the building will be spared from the wrecking ball. Some people had advocated for tearing down the Works Progress Administration project built in 1938 to make way for parking space. The council accepted an offer of $100,000 for the property, which has been empty since the fire department moved to a new building in April 2011. Developer Cynthia Taylor says she will try to get the building on the National Register of Historic Places. She will invest $1.2 million in the building and hopes to begin construction in the spring.
Authorities say a 47-year-old man has died while trying to push an all-terrain vehicle of the mud in Waterboro. The Maine Warden Service would only say that the victim experienced some kind of “medical event” while he two other men tried to push the ATV free at about 2 p.m. Monday. He died at the scene. His name was not immediately made public. Authorities say the man was operating a two-person ATV through a wooded area of town. The death remains under investigation.
A new agreement between the University of Southern Maine and Southern Maine Community College is making it easier for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in hospitality and tourism. The two schools signed an agreement Monday that allows students who earn an associate’s degree in hospitality management at SMCC to transfer the credits seamlessly toward USM’s new tourism and hospitality program. The agreement goes into effect this fall and marks another step toward aligning programs between schools in Maine’s university system and those in the community college system. Tourism is Maine’s largest industry.
Authorities say a truck has smashed into a stone wall in southern Maine, killing two men who became trapped in the vehicle. Fire and Rescue Assistant Chief Jason Cole tells WMTW-TV, that the crash happened after midnight Sunday in Lebanon, a small town less than 10 miles northeast of Rochester, N.H. Emergency responders had to pry open the vehicle to free the two men. One man died at the scene. The other was flown to Maine Medical Center, where he died. Authorities aren’t releasing the victims’ names until their families can be notified. The crash is under investigation. The station reports that the crash shut down nearby roads for five hours, but all have since reopened.
The Biddeford City Council is scheduled to consider the fate of a convicted killer’s rundown home this week. The council is expected to vote Tuesday on whether to seize by eminent domain the dilapidated home of Rory Holland and demolish it. City Manager John Bubier tells The Portland Press Herald, the South Street home is in “terrible shape.” Authorities said the home was in poor shape even before Holland shot and killed Derek and Gage Greene in June 2009. They say it was cluttered and had no electricity or running water. In the three years since, things have only gotten worse as the house has been vandalized. Holland was convicted of two counts of murder and sentenced in February 2011 to concurrent life sentences in prison. He claimed self-defense.
A fire at a Portland elementary school has forced the cancellation of classes. The public school system says on its website that Fred P. Hall Elementary will be closed Monday due to an early morning fire and resulting water damage. The fire call came in around 1:30 a.m. Monday. Deputy Chief Scott Thomas tells WMTW-TV, that the fire started in a hallway connector between buildings. The fire was isolated between the roof and a suspended ceiling and was under control within 30 minutes. The cause remains under investigation.
A Waterford family has lost its home and most of its worldly possessions following a weekend fire. Nearly 60 firefighters from five western Maine towns battled the blaze first reported at about 1 a.m. Sunday. The three-story home was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived. Homeowner Patrick MacDonald tells the Sun Journal, that the house had fire detectors, but they did not alert the family to the fire. Instead, they smelled the smoke. MacDonald and his wife, Christina, got their children and another relative out before anyone was hurt. MacDonald says the family has lived in the home about six years and put everything they had into it. The cause remains under investigation.
York County sheriff’s deputies responded to two fatal accidents over the weekend. Authorities say two motorcycles traveling together collided on Route 109 east in Acton just before 5 p.m. Sunday. One of the motorcycles lost control and struck a guard rail. Police say the operator, 62-year-old Girard Blais of Hampton, N.H., died instantly. The rider of the other motorcycle is expected to survive. Deputies say neither motorcyclist was wearing a helmet. In an unrelated crash, a pickup truck struck an embankment and a tree just after midnight Sunday in Lebanon, killing the driver and passenger. The driver was identified as 54-year-old James Ham of Lebanon and the passenger as 44-year-old William Barker of Somersworth, N.H. Speed and alcohol are believed to be contributing factors in both accidents.
Officials say a California man is in stable condition after overturning his boat in the ocean off Maine. The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department says 25-year-old John Alexander Eckhouse of Sherman Oaks, Calif., flipped a 14-foot Boston Whaler in Middle Bay off Harpswell around 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Authorities say Eckhouse was near drowning when a fisherman in the area heard his screams for help, rescued him and brought him to shore. Officials say he was brought to Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick suffering from hypothermia.
Central Maine Power is moving forward with construction of a 345,000-volt substation in Kennebunk.The substation, which will cost roughly $30 million, is one of five 345,000-volt substations the company is building under the Maine Power Reliability Program.Construction began this month in Kennebunk. CMP’s Doug Herling says the project will “ensure long-term reliability and add capacity for the transmission system in one of the fastest growing areas of the state.”CMP and its parent company, Iberdrola USA, are spending more than $500 million upgrading the power grid.The project aims to double the capacity of the backbone of the state’s power grid by 2015. All told, there will be 440 miles of new transmission lines in addition to the new substations.
The recent toll increase on the Maine Turnpike, is leaving daily commuters with a large bill.That’s because the flat-rate commuter pass is being replaced with a volume-based discount system. Turnpike spokesman Dan Morin says the program is expected to hurt about 2,000 customers.Some daily commuters will see about a $100 increase. Morin says the goal is to make a fair rate for all drivers. The new volume discount is for motorists who use the turnpike more than 70 times a month.
Maine Attorney General William Schneider says he’s disappointed by a federal appeals court’s rejection of Maine’s lawsuit to speed up the implementation of Medicaid cuts.The court ruled on Thursday that Maine’s request to wipe out Medicaid for more than 20 thousand residents is premature because the federal government has until November to consider it.Schneider says the court didn’t address Maine’s legal arguments but focused on the administrative process.Maine lawmakers voted to cut coverage to thousands of Mainers effective October first.
Maine’s highest court listened to arguments yesterday seeking to remove certain names from Maine’s sex offender registry.Attorney Jim Mitchell represents thirteen people on the list who served their sentenced before the registry was created in 1999.Maine’s Supreme Court also heard from Deputy Attorney General Paul Stern yesterday.He says it’s important to keep the names on the list because it’s not fair to guardians who might be moving next door or working with someone who could still be a danger to their children, but Mitchell says the convicted sex offenders he represents are being punished retroactively.”If something wasn’t criminal when you did it, you can’t come back a year later and say ‘Now we’re making it criminal, so we’re gonna prosecute you.’ No we don’t treat people that way.””There’s no reason to believe somebody who was convicted of a serious sex offense or multiple sex offenses in the 1980s is any more safe than someone who was convicted of a sex offense today.”Mitchell says there’s a chance this matter could go back to trial again, but he’s hoping the court will make a decision.
Two Milbridge men are charged with selling heroin in Washington county.Undercover drug agents say they bought drugs from 44 year-old Jose Ramon Quinones Natal and 23 year-old Henry Yadiel Hernandez Quinones.They were arrested Wednesday at a home on Water Street.Drug agents say they seized more than 300 retail bags of heroin and more than 8 grams of bulk heroin, with a total value of 18 thousand dollars.Police say more arrests are likely.
Maine environmental officials say a Wilton building that was once described as the worst asbestos hazard in the state has been largely cleaned up. The former Forster Mill building on Depot Street is scheduled for an inspection by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection on Friday. Department spokeswoman Samantha Depoy-Warren tells the Morning Sentinel, that enforcement team members were jubilant after seeing photos of the cleanup site. The man who owns the building and the contractor that created the safety hazard face fines from state and federal enforcement agencies. Asbestos fibers are known to cause cancer when inhaled. The volume of the material, some of which had been ground into dust, led Bob Rickett of Abatement Professionals to call it the worst he’d seen in 30 years of asbestos remediation.
State health officials say West Nile virus has been found in mosquitoes trapped in Biddeford and Scarborough. State Epidemiologist Dr. Stephen Sears said Thursday the confirmed positive results came from routine surveillance of monitoring pools in northern York County and southern Cumberland County. The terrain at the two new sites is similar to where West Nile was found earlier in Gorham and Standish. The Portland Press Herald, reports there have been no instances of West Nile or the more dangerous mosquito-borne disease Eastern equine encephalitis infecting humans in Maine this summer. Sears urged residents to prevent mosquito bites by avoiding the outdoors from dusk until dawn, if possible: wear loose-fitting long-sleeved shirts and pants: and use insect repellants. People infected with West Nile often experience flu-like symptoms.
Some southern Maine commuters might see a lot of activity involving emergency vehicles for the next couple of days. On Friday and Saturday, a hazardous materials drill will be conducted at Monson Chemical Co. on Runway Road in South Portland. Officials say the drill will run from 8 a.m. until about 2 p.m. each day. A lot of equipment and personnel will be on the scene each day. Many mutual aid companies from other towns will be there as well as part of the drill.
A federal appeals court has rejected Maine’s lawsuit demanding swift action from the federal government on the state’s request to wipe out Medicaid for more than 20 thousand residents.The court today ruled the lawsuit premature because the federal centers for Medicare and Medicaid has until November 1st to consider Maine’s request.Maine lawmakers voted to cut coverage to parents with incomes between 100 and 133 percent of the federal poverty level, 19 and 20 year-olds, and seniors and disabled people in the Medicare savings program.
There’s a measure in congress that, if passed, would ensure Maine gets as much federal home heating help as it got last year.US Senator Olympia Snowe says a resolution to fund the federal government for six months includes language that would give states low income home enrgy assistance, or li-heap, funding at last year’s levels.Last year, Maine received 38.6 million dollars in li-heap money.The resolution is expected to be voted on by the house and senate over the next several days.
The US Commerce Department has declared a national fishery disaster in New England.That opens the door for a hundred million dollars in federal relief funds for fishermen and their industry.Senator John Kerry says the industry has been devastated by federal regulations.He says fishermen have followed rules designed to stop overfishing but have been dealing with ruinous catch limits.