Fairfield power outage caused by insulator

WATERVILLE — About 600 customers were without electrical power for about an hour Thursday on upper Main Street and part of Fairfield because of a bad insulator, according to Central Maine Power Co. spokesman John Carroll.

The insulator was replaced and power was restored at 2:39 p.m., Carroll said. The outage was reported around 1:30 p.m., he said.

Whooping cough cases rise in 2011

PORTLAND — Maine health officials say the state had nearly four times more cases of whooping cough last year than in 2010.

State epidemiologist Stephen Sears said 204 cases of the illness, also known as pertussis, were reported last year. That’s up from the 53 cases a year earlier.

Sears tells Maine Public Broadcasting Network that whooping cough is a cyclical disease and that cases tend to go up every three to five years.

He said many of the cases were concentrated in the period from September through November and that activity has since died down.

Maine smart meter critics file appeal

PORTLAND — A group of Central Maine Power ratepayers has filed an appeal with the state’s highest court in its fight against the utility’s use of smart meters.

Lead plaintiff Ed Friedman and other CMP customers are appealing the Public Utilities Commission’s dismissal of their complaint challenging CMP’s program to replace 600,000 traditional electric meters with wireless digital devices known as smart meters.

The appeal filed with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court claims smart meters can create health problems and are an invasion of privacy because information they collect can be used for personal profiling.

CMP said smart meters are safe, cut energy use and allow utilities to pinpoint problems during power outages more quickly.

The PUC allows CMP customers to opt out of using the meters for $12 a month.

Students cheer marriage proposal at assembly

LEWISTON — About 300 students cheered as they watched their school secretary accept a marriage proposal during an assembly at the Lewiston school.

Martel Elementary School secretary Rebecca Lussier had no idea what was going on when she was called into the assembly Monday afternoon.

But her boyfriend, Bill Hensley, had done his homework with help from school Principal Steve Whitfield, who helped to arrange the surprise event.

The Sun Journal said Lussier seemed baffled when asked to sit in a balloon-decorated chair facing the audience before Hensley popped the question and produced a ring.

She said yes as 300 students cheered.

From staff and wire reports