News – Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel Features news from the Kennebec Journal of Augusta, Maine and Morning Sentinel of Waterville, Maine. Sat, 24 Feb 2018 13:30:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Today in History: Saturday, Feb. 24 Sat, 24 Feb 2018 09:00:44 +0000 Today is Saturday, Feb. 24, the 55th day of 2018. There are 310 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Feb. 24, 1868, the U.S. House of Representatives impeached President Andrew Johnson by a vote of 126-47 following his attempted dismissal of Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton; Johnson was later acquitted by the Senate.

On this date:

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII issued an edict outlining his calendar reforms. (The Gregorian Calendar is the calendar in general use today.)

In 1761, Boston lawyer James Otis Jr. went to court to argue against “writs of assistance” that allowed British customs officers to arbitrarily search people’s premises, declaring: “A man’s house is his castle.” (Although Otis lost the case, his statement provided early inspiration for American independence.)

In 1918, Estonia issued its Declaration of Independence.

In 1920, the German Workers Party, which later became the Nazi Party, met in Munich to adopt its platform.

In 1937, Mexico observed the first holiday honoring its national flag.

In 1942, the SS Struma, a charter ship attempting to carry nearly 800 Jewish refugees from Romania to British-mandated Palestine, was torpedoed by a Soviet submarine in the Black Sea; all but one of the refugees perished.

In 1955, the Cole Porter musical “Silk Stockings” opened at the Imperial Theater on Broadway.

In 1968, “Fleetwood Mac,” the group’s debut album, was released in the United Kingdom on the Blue Horizon label.

In 1975, the Congressional Budget Office, charged with providing independent analyses of budgetary and economic issues, began operating under its first director, Alice Rivlin.

In 1983, a congressional commission released a report condemning the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II as a “grave injustice.”

In 1988, in a ruling that expanded legal protections for parody and satire, the Supreme Court unanimously overturned a $150,000 award that the Rev. Jerry Falwell had won against Hustler magazine and its publisher, Larry Flynt.

In 1996, Cuba downed two small American planes operated by the group Brothers to the Rescue that it claimed were violating Cuban airspace; all four pilots were killed.

Ten years ago: “No Country for Old Men” won Academy Awards for best picture, best director and best screenplay adaptation for Joel and Ethan Coen and best supporting actor for Javier Bardem; Daniel Day-Lewis won best actor for “There Will Be Blood,” while Marion Cotillard was named best actress for “La Vie en Rose.” Cuba’s parliament named Raul Castro president, ending nearly 50 years of rule by his brother Fidel.

Five years ago: Pope Benedict XVI bestowed the final Sunday blessing of his pontificate on a cheering crowd in St. Peter’s Square. At the Academy Awards, “Argo” won best picture while Ang Lee was named best director for “Life of Pi”; Daniel Day-Lewis won best actor for “Lincoln” while Jennifer Lawrence received the best actress award for “Silver Linings Playbook.” Jimmie Johnson won his second Daytona 500, beating his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., who made a late move to finish second. Danica Patrick, the first woman to win the pole, finished eighth.

One year ago: Vice President Mike Pence assured the Republican Jewish Coalition meeting in Las Vegas that he and President Donald Trump would work tirelessly on foreign and domestic issues important to the group, such as enacting business-friendly policies at home and supporting Israel abroad. President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski of Peru said he and President Donald Trump had a “cordial and constructive conversation” during their meeting at the White House.

]]> 0 first prisoners arrive in March of 1942 at the Japanese evacuee community established in Owens Valley in Manzanar, Calif., part of a vanguard of workers from Los Angeles.Fri, 23 Feb 2018 20:23:14 +0000
As overdose deaths soar, LePage says he’s adding treatment beds at Windham prison Sat, 24 Feb 2018 02:25:54 +0000 Maine Gov. Paul LePage said Friday that he’s adding a “significant” number of substance abuse treatment beds at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham – a statement that baffled and upset some Democratic lawmakers.

LePage, a Republican, also promised to continue to address the opioid crisis “on all fronts,” after the Maine Attorney General’s Office reported Thursday that 418 people died from overdoses in 2017 – an 11 percent increase over the 376 overdose deaths in 2016 and a continuation of the sharp climb in overdose deaths in the past five years.

“We are saddened to see an increase in overdose deaths due to opioids and we will continue to address this crisis on all fronts,” LePage said in a written statement. “We need more education, stronger enforcement and more available treatment, including faith-based programs.”

LePage also said, “We are adding hundreds of treatment beds in Windham with a significant portion dedicated to substance-abuse intervention.” The governor has blamed Democrats for blocking his efforts to expand drug treatment at the prison in the past.

In 2016, the Legislature approved a $150 million bond issue for a planned renovation and expansion of the state prison in Windham. At the time, the Maine Department of Corrections indicated that the project would expand inmate treatment for substance abuse, among other physical, behavioral and mental health issues.

However, Democratic lawmakers said Friday they’ve seen no plan for the prison expansion that includes a detailed proposal to increase access to substance abuse treatment. The department’s website shows only a feasibility study and concept proposal for the project dating back to 2014, when the cost estimate for the expansion was $173 million.

“I don’t know what he’s talking about,” said Rep. Charlotte Warren, D-Hallowell, House chairwoman of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

“There has been conversation about treatment beds, but he’s talking about incarcerating folks,” Warren said. “We’re talking about a public health crisis and again our chief executive turns to the criminal justice system. He’s pivoting away from the problem and he’s looking for someone to blame it on.”

Senate Democratic Leader Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, further questioned why such a significant part of the governor’s purported drug treatment strategy is linked to incarceration.

“We don’t need to wait for people to break a law before we start treating them,” Jackson said. “That shouldn’t be a priority. Let’s start treating people right now.”

In his statement, the governor also highlighted the need to stop fentanyl from coming into Maine.

“The increasing availability of fentanyl is fueling an increase in overdoses,” LePage said. “Fentanyl-related deaths surged 27 percent in 2017. When heroin users are led to believe they are taking their usual amount of heroin, but it is fentanyl, they overdose. We must stop the trafficking of fentanyl into our state.”

LePage noted that the Maine Bureau of Insurance released data last month showing a 21 percent decrease in prescriptions for opiates or opioid derivatives among people covered by insurance, from 51,253 in the first half of 2016 to 40,591 in the first half of 2017.

“We must also focus prevention efforts on our middle-school youth so that they never start using any addictive substance that can lead them down this tragic path,” LePage said.

LePage closed his statement by taking Attorney General Janet Mills to task for issuing Thursday’s overdose data with a newspaper opinion piece she wrote about the opioid crisis that didn’t say she’s a Democratic candidate for governor.

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

Twitter: KelleyBouchard

]]> 0, 23 Feb 2018 23:46:48 +0000
Gun bills may surface in Maine Legislature as national debate rages Sat, 24 Feb 2018 02:08:04 +0000 The Maine Legislature will take up a bump stock ban bill this session, a move supported by President Trump in the wake of the deadly Florida school shooting last week that left 17 dead.

In addition, two other proposals may be introduced, officials say: One would ban high-capacity magazines and the other would allow law enforcement to strip dangerous individuals of their gun rights under certain circumstances.

“There’s been a wave of realization that banning bump stocks is the least we can do in light of the horrific shootings,” said bill sponsor Rep. Scott Hamann, D-South Portland. “I don’t want to suggest banning bump stocks are going to stop mass shootings but it’s a first step in the conversation around gun safety.”

A bump stock, an accessory that turns a semiautomatic firearm into an automatic weapon, was used in a Las Vegas shooting in October that left 58 concert-goers dead. Hamann introduced his proposal after the Las Vegas shooting, but it was tabled by the Legislative Council, comprised of leaders from both parties, in December.

Now the Legislative Council has agreed to consider the bump stock ban Tuesday. Officials said the other two proposals may be taken up by the Legislative Council, but a final decision had not been made Friday.

House Speaker Sara Gideon, who sits on the council with other legislative leaders, said addressing gun violence and keeping children safe will be a priority “for the rest of the session and the rest of my time in the Legislature.”

“This is an issue that is always important to us and to me personally, but the events in Parkland, Florida, last week created a space where everyone was listening to children’s voices in a different way,” said Gideon, D-Freeport, a mother of three. “We want to make sure we are listening and responding.”

Gideon said gun violence restraining orders have proven effective in other states, and law enforcement officials have told her it is a “key piece” for them.

There is already a closely watched gun bill under consideration – L.D. 1761 – which would allow people picking up or dropping off students at schools to have an unloaded gun in their car if the weapon was locked and the owner didn’t leave the vehicle. The bill is under consideration in the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee.

It wasn’t clear if the bump stock bill would get the votes Tuesday to be presented to the full Legislature.

“It looks like the federal government is poised to take up the issue and I think that is more appropriate than doing it piecemeal” at the state level, said Senate President Michael Thibodeau, one of five Republicans on the council.

The council is made up of the 10 members of legislative leadership, including the Senate president and the House speaker. Its approval is needed for any bill that is filed after the deadline.

“I don’t know on any of these bills what will happen in the Legislative Council with the other nine members who will be voting besides me,” Gideon said. “But for me, I have thought about almost nothing other than this recently.”

Massachusetts banned bump stocks on Feb. 1 and several states, including California, New York, Michigan and Minnesota, have bans or restrictions on bump stocks or devices that enhance trigger ability.

If the Maine proposal gets the votes to become a bill, it will face opposition, according to a “legislative alert” sent out by Gun Owners of Maine. The email to members said they were prepared to fight the bill.

“Think about this for a minute,” read the email. “This silly plastic accessory that thousands of us have been using for competition, recreational shooting and just good solid range time for almost 15 years, without a single problem, is now facing a ban,” the email read.

Calls and emails to the group were not returned Friday.

The email warned that banning bump stocks would only be the beginning.

“So this isn’t “a bump stock issue” but our constant giving and NEVER receiving anything in return. EVER. We constantly have things taken away while they completely ignore our outcry to do something useful, like fix the mental health system and put armed guards in the schools,” read the message.

Over the last decade, the Legislature has passed several law changes around firearms, including bills sealing public access to concealed handgun permit information and allowing state residents to carry concealed weapons without a permit.

At the same time, attempts to increase restrictions or tighten gun control have largely failed.

Voters in 2014 rejected a citizen’s ballot question that would have required background checks for private gun sales and transfers. In 2017, a bill prohibiting the state from creating any kind of gun registry was also passed into law, as was a bill that protected gun sellers from having to provide the state with copies of federal gun records unless the request is part of a criminal investigation.

But also in 2017, the Legislature rejected a move to allow 18-year-olds to carry a concealed handgun without a permit. Current law is any 21-year-old who is not otherwise prohibited from owning a firearm may carry a concealed handgun without a permit, except where prohibited by other state and federal law.

“(The) bottom line is that we want to do something meaningful that we can actually pass into law, and if vetoed by the governor, has a chance of passing,” said Sen. Brownie Carson, D-Harpswell. “That can be a challenge.”

Camden resident Roy Hitchings, a retired hospital administrator and Vietnam veteran, said Friday that he supported a ban on bump stocks.

“We have to have reasonable progress on this issue,” said Hitchings, who sent a letter to Hamann urging him to keep pressing for a ban. “No one is trying to take away guns legitimately used for hunting and self defense. (Fully automatic) weapons are the kinds of weapons we used in Vietnam. They are weapons of war.”

Noel K. Gallagher can be reached at 791-6387 or at:

Twitter: noelinmaine

]]> 0 Paul LePage delivers the State of the State address in the House Chamber on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, at the State House in Augusta, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)Sat, 24 Feb 2018 07:33:58 +0000
Florida governor calls for age limit on gun sales, more armed officers at schools Sat, 24 Feb 2018 00:33:20 +0000 TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida’s governor announced plans Friday to put more armed guards in schools and to make it harder for young adults and some with mental illness to buy guns, responding to days of intense lobbying from survivors of last week’s shooting at a Florida high school.

Gov. Rick Scott unveiled his school safety proposals as teachers returned for the first time to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School since the shooting nine days ago that killed 17 people.

The shooting sparked an intense push to restrict access to assault rifles fueled by student activists who swarmed the state Capitol demanding concrete gun control measures.

President Donald Trump said repeatedly Friday that he favored arming teachers to protect students, an idea many educators rejected out of hand.

“I am totally against arming teachers,” Broward schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said. “They have a challenging job as it is.”

Scott, a Republican widely expected to run for the Senate, outlined his plan at a Tallahassee news conference. In addition to banning firearm sales to anyone under 21, the governor called for a trained law enforcement officer for every school — and one for every 1,000 students at larger schools — by the time the fall 2018 school year begins.

Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, which has more than 3,000 students, had one armed resource officer who never entered the building under attack while a gunman was shooting people inside, officials said.

That failure was compounded by confusion about what was being shown to police on school security cameras the day of the shooting and the lack of meaningful response to reports to the FBI and local police that 19-year-old suspect Nikolas Cruz might become violent, had guns and possibly would attack a school.

Florida’s House speaker called it an “abject breakdown at all levels.” Cruz is jailed on 17 counts of murder and has confessed to the shootings, investigators say.

A woman close to Cruz warned the FBI on Jan. 5 that he had rifles and said, “I know he is going to explode,” according to a transcript of the tip to the FBI’s call center, which was obtained Friday by The Associated Press. The FBI has acknowledged it failed to investigate the tip. The woman described Cruz’s short temper and said he had the “mental capacity of a 12 to 14 year old.” She said Cruz posted pictures of weapons on social media and he wrote, “I want to kill people.”

Among other things, the governor’s $500 million plan would create a “violent threat restraining order” that would let a court prohibit a violent or mentally ill person from purchasing or possessing a firearm or any other weapon under certain circumstances.

The proposal would also strengthen gun purchase and possession restrictions for mentally ill people under the state’s Baker Act, which allows someone to be involuntarily hospitalized for up to 72 hours. Scott is seeking $50 million for initiatives that include expanding mental health services by providing counseling, crisis management and other mental health services for youth and young adults.

“No one with mental issues should have access to a gun. It is common sense. It for their own best interest, much less the best interest of our communities,” Scott said.

The governor’s plan made no mention of arming teachers on school grounds

However, the Legislature’s Republican leadership proposed letting teachers carry a gun if they have had law enforcement training. The legislators’ plan also calls for a three-day waiting period for most gun purchases, with exceptions.

Democrats said neither plan goes far enough.

“Unfortunately, both plans omit a third, critically important piece of legislation Democrats have been and continue to push for: a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines,” said state Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon. He added that recent mass shootings show that “so long as these high powered weapons of war remain available for purchase these killings will continue.”

Talia Rumsky, a 16-year-old Stoneman Douglas High student who was at school during the shooting, was among those who travelled to Tallahassee Wednesday to lobby lawmakers about gun control.

She said Scott’s plan to make it illegal for anyone under 21 to purchase a gun is a start, but said she doesn’t think it goes far enough.

“This is a great first step and we appreciate it,” the sophomore said. “But it’s not enough and we’re going to make sure they know it’s not enough and is not solving our problems.”

Trump told reporters Friday that schools need some kind of “offensive” capability to deter and respond to attackers.

“If they’re not gun free, if there are guns inside, held by the right people, by highly trained professionals, you’re going to see this end. It won’t be happening again. Our schools are essentially gun-free zones and that makes them very dangerous places,” the president said.

On Friday evening, Marion P. Hammer, former president of the National Rifle Association and longtime Florida lobbyist, issued an appeal to gun enthusiasts titled, “EMERGENCY ALERT! Don’t Let Them Blame You For Parkland.” She mentioned several proposals they could support, such as “hardening our schools,” putting officers in schools and training volunteer teachers to use guns. But she said a three-day waiting period would not have stopped the Parkand shooter; bump stocks had nothing to do with it; and raising the age limit for gun purchases would be unfair.

After days of funerals for those killed in the attack, teachers began the emotionally fraught process of returning to the school Friday to collect belongings from classrooms that have been off-limits since the slayings. Following an orientation Sunday for teachers and students, classes resume Wednesday.

Broward teachers union president Anna Fusco met with the teachers as they returned to campus Friday hailing them as “incredibly brave and strong.”

“I met with one that was grazed with a bullet … she has a hole in her arm and a bruise from her shoulder to her elbow that looks like somebody whacked her with a bat and she’s like, ‘I’m here because we need to get things ready,” Fusco said.


Fineout and Farrington reported from Tallahassee, Florida; Anderson from Miami; Freida Frisaro and Jennifer Kay contributed from Miami; Kelli Kennedy from Parkland; and Jason Dearen from Gainesville.

]]> 0, 23 Feb 2018 19:37:08 +0000
Judge rejects Gray woman’s bid to retrieve dogs taken by state Sat, 24 Feb 2018 00:32:20 +0000 A Gray woman who sought to retrieve from state custody 80 dogs and two cats that lived in the small home she shared with her elderly mother won’t get the animals back, a judge ruled late Friday.

The dogs were seized from Anita McBride on Jan. 22 after state animal welfare officials determined she hadn’t made sufficient progress in providing enough space and proper care for the animals. The dogs were sent to shelters and will soon be available for adoption.

McBride is charged with cruelty to animals and endangering the welfare of a dependent person. She will face trial on those charges this spring, but in the meantime she sought to have the dogs released back to her.

State officials said the dogs, including puppies and pregnant dogs, were kept in cramped conditions, with multiple dogs in crates that were stacked on top of each other. They also said there were feces on the floor, the level of ammonium from dog urine in the house was nearly strong enough to require animal welfare workers to put on gas masks, and the overwhelming majority of the dogs had worms and other physical problems.

A dog-by-dog review by the assistant state veterinarian showed that all but a handful had some sort of ailment, from worms to skin conditions to severe dental problems.

McBride insisted that the dogs were well cared for and said that she knew how to handle dogs because of her background as a veterinary technician.

McBride also said she had made progress on cleaning the cluttered house after arriving in Maine from Oklahoma in November, returning to care for her 91-year-old mother.

At the time, she had 44 dogs with her, then some of the dogs had litters while in Maine.

McBride sold at least some of the puppies. Visits by state officials and a local animal control officer were prompted by buyers complaining that the puppies they bought had diseases.

Late Friday afternoon, District Court Judge Deborah Cashman ordered McBride’s ownership rights forfeited.

McBride “is well meaning and there is no doubt that she loves her animals,” Cashman wrote in her ruling. “However, it is clear that at present she is not able to care properly for these animals and her neglect, even if not intentional, constitutes cruel treatment of the animals.”

Cumberland County Assistant District Attorney Will Barry declined to comment on the ruling, but noted that McBride can appeal the decision. If she does, she will have to post money to cover the cost of caring for the animals while the appeal is pursued.

State officials testified Thursday that it costs $400 a day just for basic care of the dogs, and McBride, who is on Social Security disability, receives only $950 a month.

Attempts to contact McBride and her attorney, Alison Thompson, were unsuccessful Friday.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

]]> 0 McBride said she moved from Oklahoma to Gray in November, accompanied by roughly 55 animals, to help her ailing 91-year-old mother clear out her home. She said the accusations against her are false, misleading or contain incomplete information. "I have been cleaning since ... I got here," she said.Fri, 23 Feb 2018 21:49:02 +0000
L.L. Bean and Thos. Moser collaborate – and the result is for fishermen Sat, 24 Feb 2018 00:12:48 +0000 AUBURN — On Friday, high-end furniture maker Thos. Moser and outdoor retailer L.L.Bean announced a collaboration: the creation of a limited-edition fly-tying desk. It’s handmade from American black cherry and features 20-plus dovetailed drawers.

The fly-tying desk that is the result of a collaboration between L.L. Bean and Thos. Moser sells for $12,500. Plus shipping. Photo courtesy of L.L. Bean and Thos. Moser

How much? $12,500, plus $750 shipping, making it the most expensive item on

And how limited? Just five, and two have already sold, according to an L.L.Bean spokesman.

Mac McKeever called it a thoughtful collaboration between two iconic Maine companies.

“Our expert fishing product designers and developers worked closely with Thos. Moser’s craftspeople to develop a one-of-a-kind desk that is functionally innovative, combined with a stunning and timeless visual appeal,” he said.

Noted features in its online description: six cedar-lined drawers, Marmoleum inlay to protect from dents and a “custom spool case specially designed by our fly-tying experts for intelligent spool management.” (Marmoleum is a lineoleum flooring material made from 97% natural raw materials, according to the manufacturer’s website.)

High-end furniture maker Thos. Moser in Auburn and L.L.Bean have partnered on a limited-edition fly-tying desk. They’re making only five, and two have sold already, according to L.L.Bean. Photo courtesy of L.L. Bean and Thos. Moser

Each desk is made in Thos. Moser’s Auburn workshop and comes with a numbered plaque and both companies’ logos.

A showroom model can be seen at L.L.Bean’s flagship store in Freeport.

A statement from Thos. Moser said that though this run is limited, the desk can be custom ordered directly from Thos. Moser as well.

]]> 0, 24 Feb 2018 00:15:29 +0000
Waterville planners to review Alfond Youth Center plans Fri, 23 Feb 2018 23:28:51 +0000 WATERVILLE — The Planning Board on Monday expects to consider revisions to a previously approved plan for the Alfond Youth Center on North Street that includes an expansion for a wellness center.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the council chamber on the third floor of The Center at 93 Main St. downtown.

The Harold Alfond Foundation in January pledged a $6.12 million grant to develop a whole family wellness project at the Alfond Youth Center, located at 126 North St.

The plan calls for an addition to be built on the northwest side of the current facility, and renovation of the existing building will create space for programs that promote family health and well-being.

The Planning Board will consider the revisions under the city’s subdivision and site plan review ordinance.

City Planner Ann Beverage said Friday that the board could vote on the revisions, expected to be minor, on Monday night.

“They can approve this revision to the plan without signing the site plan,” she said. “They could give conditional approval.”

Ken Walsh, president and chief executive officer of the Alfond Center, said last month that he expects construction to start in late spring or early summer, and officials hope it is completed by Thanksgiving. Harriman, of Portland, is the architect for the project; and Sheridan Corp., of Fairfield, is the contractor.

The Alfond Center is licensed to serve 250 children in its after-school program, and the wellness project will increase that number to 500, according to Walsh. The first floor of the Alfond Center will be renovated to include a youth wellness center, a teaching kitchen with a nutritionist and a chef, an indoor turf field, an additional gymnasium and family locker rooms. Teaching kitchen staff members will work with children and adults to teach them how to cook with ingredients they have in their homes.

The second floor will have an adult wellness center with fitness equipment, a child care center, a health care partner and an indoor running track. A welcome center, a teen space, a gathering area, community gardens and a greenhouse, plus 100 more parking spaces will be added as part of the project.

More than 15,000 square feet will be added to the building to create the wellness center, 60 parking spaces will be added on the northwest side of the building, and 65 spaces will be developed across North Street, according to center officials.

In other matters at Monday’s meeting, the board plans to consider revisions to a previously approved plan to expand Maine State Credit Union at 81 Grove St.

Members also are scheduled to consider a request by New Dimensions Federal Credit Union to rezone 19, 21 and 23 Summer St. from residential to a contract zone previously created for 94 Silver St.

Beverage said New Dimensions already received approval to rezone the former Amalfitano property on Silver Street, and now it wants to buy more property behind it that fronts on Summer Street. The credit union wants to build a new branch on the spot.

“They want to expand the project back to Summer Street, so they need rezoning to do that,” Beverage said.

The board also plans to consider an informal preapplication review for phase three of Holmes Farm North Estates off Stream View Drive, which is off County Road.

Kevin Violette is proposing to build a road off Stream View Drive that would cross Central Maine Power Co. property so he can access land he owns and expand the subdivision there. Spring View Drive got initial approval from the city in 1995 and the street was accepted in 1998, according to Beverage.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

]]> 0 second floor of the adult wellness center that the Alfond Youth Center is planning would include an indoor running track.Fri, 23 Feb 2018 19:20:08 +0000
Two arrested in Madison, Skowhegan on drug, evading arrest charges after chase Fri, 23 Feb 2018 23:16:33 +0000 Two men were arrested on charges relating to drug possession and evading arrest early Friday morning after leading police on a short chase from Madison to Skowhegan, police said.

Cpl. David Cole, of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office, first attempted to stop a 2010 Chevy Cobalt, which was heading north on East Madison Road, about 6:30 a.m. about 1 mile from the Somerset County jail, according to a statement from Sheriff Dale Lancaster.

The driver, later identified as Justin Morton, 30, of Canaan, refused to stop and continued driving until he reached the jail, according to Lancaster. The passenger, Mark Harris, then got out of the vehicle and Morton turned the Cobalt around and began heading south on East Madison Road, Lancaster said.

Officers detained Harris, 44, of Palmyra, for two active Penobscot County warrants relating to a domestic violence case.

Officers continued to pursue Morton until he reached the VIP Tires & Service store in Skowhegan, where he abandoned the vehicle behind the store and fled on foot, traveling through a stream behind Giffords Ice Cream Stand, according to Lancaster’s statement. A police dog, Kojo, tracked Morton to that location, where he was apprehended without incident. He was taken to Redington Fairview General Hospital and treated for exposure.

Morton then was taken to the county jail and charged with class D operating after being named a habitual offender, class E failure to stop for a police officer and class E refusing to submit to arrest. His bail was set at $500.

A search of Harris yielded needles, drug paraphernalia, heroin, fentanyl, pills and Suboxone. He was charged with two counts of class D possession of schedule W drugs and class E violating conditions of release. Harris may receive additional charges once his case is reviewed by the Somerset County District Attorney’s office. He is being held at the county jail without bail.

Morton and Harris are scheduled to appear May 9 before a judge at the Somerset County Unified Court.

]]> 0, 23 Feb 2018 19:35:43 +0000
Colby students launch startup business in former Hains building in Waterville Fri, 23 Feb 2018 23:14:20 +0000 WATERVILLE — Standing directly across the street from the bustling construction site where Colby College is building a massive new dormitory and student center, the former Hains building has been an eyesore in the downtown area, having been vacant for years. And while it might not be bustling itself just yet, on the inside, movement is happening.

The top floor of the building at 173 Main St. is an expansive area, with but a few walled rooms amid a lot of open space. The building, owned by Colby, is providing a laboratory for student innovation, and a fledgling student-run company is doing just that — innovating.

Theo Satloff, a junior at the college, is one of three students who founded a company called EuroPiste, which Satloff described as a marketplace where winter sport professionals can buy discounted gear. Funded in part by DavisConnects — a college initiative that provides funding and support for every student to spend time abroad, have access to internships and research opportunities, and become entrepreneurs — EuroPiste is the first such student tenant in the former Hains building. Satloff said more student ventures will come to the space, and EuroPiste will serve as something like a mentor when others do arrive.

“It’s nice to learn from fellow students,” he said, walking around the top floor.

Satloff came up with the idea for the company just over a year ago with fellow students Carl-Philip Majgaard and Walker Griggs. All active skiers, they saw an inefficiency in the market that spawned the idea. Winter sports professionals, such as ski instructors, mountain rescuers and others, are often given access to discounts on high-end gear, he said. However, a professional looking to buy gear has to go to each individual brand. With EuroPiste, Satloff said, buyers now can go to one place to find gear from a variety of brands with a universal checkout.

“We saw an opportunity to make it better,” Satloff said.

Satloff and Majgaard said they have a soft launch planned for sometime in July, when some certified professionals will be able to access deals from a handful of vendors. They plan to add more vendors by the end of the year.

The service won’t be available to the public. It will be available only to professionals who are certified by skiing organizations. Satloff said brands want to do this. When a professional, such as an instructor, uses a particular brand, it promotes the brand to others.

“It’s become this community of brands and pros that really help shape the company we are now,” Satloff said.

The half dozen employees with EuroPiste are making good use of the space. They work shoeless to keep the area clean, and they have free rein over the space. With few white boards to make notes on, they use the windows in an office.

Satloff and Majgaard said they hope to see the business continue to grow in the coming years, not just for Colby but for the Waterville area as well. Eventually, they want to be able to hire locals to staff the company.

Right now, none of the employees at EuroPiste are paid. They are all full-time students who spend up to 12 hours a day in the Hains building, making the business tick.

“The goal is to grow, grow, grow,” Majgaard said.

The trio of Satloff, Majgaard and Griggs were recently in Munich for a product fair. While there, they had nearly 50 meetings with vendors, Satloff said.

Much of their market is in Europe, Majgaard said, and they will help foster connections between vendors and consumers with better discounts and lower prices. Targeting Europe, they will help overseas companies brand themselves better in the United States. Likewise, the service will benefit European professionals seeking American gear.

“It’s a win-win-win,” Majgaard said.

EuroPiste is an incubator business in the Hains building, a sign of things to come from future Colby students. The founders and employees of EuroPiste plan to be around not just to grow their company, but to serve as a resource for those future students.

“We hope to build a good sense of community,” Satloff said, and not just be “isolated on the hill.”

“It’s very exciting to be the inaugural part of that.”

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

Twitter: @colinoellis

]]> 0 College junior Walker Griggs, right, writes code with other students Friday as they work at Europiste, an outdoor retail company created by students, as the college continues its commitment to revitalize downtown Waterville with new businesses in the Hains building.Fri, 23 Feb 2018 19:04:44 +0000
Defense-first Winslow girls face toughest test yet Fri, 23 Feb 2018 23:07:09 +0000 WINSLOW — In the quarterfinals and semis of the Class B North girls basketball tournament, Winslow allowed a combined 60 points. Presque Isle senior Emily Wheaton scored 71 points in the Wildcats’ wins in those two rounds. So something has to give when the immovable object that is the Black Raiders’ defense meets the unstoppable force wearing the No. 14 jersey for Presque Isle on Saturday afternoon in the regional championship.

No. 6 Winslow (16-5) will face No. 5 Presque Isle (15-5) for the regional crown Saturday at 2:05 p.m. at Bangor’s Cross Center. The winner will be back at the Cross Center next Friday night for the Class B state championship game. All season long, the Black Raiders have won by being a defense-first team, and if they’re going to advance Saturday, they know it will take their best effort of the season.

“We try to keep teams 40 or below. This sounds so crazy, but we’re trying to keep Wheaton to 20 or below,” Winslow coach Lindsey Withee said.

In the regular season, Winslow allowed an average of just 36 points per game. In three playoff games, including a preliminary round win over Orono, the Black Raiders have allowed just over 32 points per game against presumable stronger offensive teams. Off the top of her head, Withee couldn’t recall the last time her team allowed more than 50 points, but it happens so infrequently Withee’s memory lapse can be forgiven. The Black Raiders gave up at least 50 points just three times in the regular season, the last coming Jan. 30 in a 51-39 loss to Class A Skowhegan.

Defense is as much attitude as execution, and the Black Raiders have excelled at both parts.

“It’s a one v. one thing. Don’t let them score,” senior guard Sarah Guimond said after Friday morning’s practice.

Withee said it didn’t take long for the Black Raiders to take on the defense-first mindset, and the team’s tenacity is a strength.

“You can really see it in their eyes now. We really do work on it a lot in practice. It’s easy to have fun when you’re shooting, you’re scoring, but it’s just different. They really bought in and continue buying in, day in, day out,” Withee said. “With our fullcourt pressure, you could see it start developing. You know, we’ve been working on it for years. So veteran players, this is nothing new. For the newer players, there was something new, and they bought in. Bodhi Littlefield (a key freshman off the bench), always asking a lot of questions and trying to learn it from a different perspective.”

In Winslow’s 55-34 quarterfinal win over No. 2 Mt. Desert Island, the Black Raiders held the Trojans 17 points under their regular season average. Against No. 2 John Bapst in Wednesday’s 39-26 semifinal win, Winslow was even better. The Crusaders averaged 50 points in the regular season. Held to 10 points in the first half, Bapst barely managed to reach half its average. The key was containing the Crusaders double threat of Grace Phillipon in the low post and Crystal Bell on the perimeter. With Phillipon, the plan was to keep her outside the paint. The most part, Winslow was successful. Phillipon scored four points in the first quarter, made a pair of free throws in the third with Winslow ahead by 17 points, and added four more points late in the fourth when the game was well in hand.

With Bell, Winslow’s plan was simple. Stay on her. The Black Raiders played no help side defense with Bell. That meant even if Bell didn’t have the ball, the Black Raider whose job it was to defend her had to stay closer to Bell than her own shadow. This ran counter to everything Winslow did all season, and took some getting used to.

“That was one of the things we had to keep in mind, because we stressed all season we need to have help side,” Maeghan Bernard, one of the Winslow defenders assigned to guard Bell, said. “Once in a while I’d catch myself playing off her more than I was supposed to, and I was like, ‘Shoot!'”

Added Withee: “That was really hard. When we’d practice it, (Bernard) would get on help side, and we’d be like, ‘No, Maeghan. No help side. No help side.’ Again practice (for) Wheaton, we said there is definitely no hep side here. They’re very coachable, and they have an open mind.”

Bell scored just four points, all in the second half, and didn’t make a 3-pointer. Against Wheaton, who scored 36 points in Presque Isle’s 58-53 overtime win over Maine Central Institute and 35 in the Wildcats’ 55-52 upset of top-seed Hermon on Wednesday, Bernard, Guimond, and Bodhi Littlefield will likely rotate defending Wheaton.

“We’ve got to keep her in front of us,” Guimond said.

Winslow’s plan will be similar to how it defended Bell. A Miss Maine Basketball semifinalist, Wheaton’s speed off the dribble makes that difficult.

“The hesitation, changing speeds, changing direction. Just really having that eye contact with the hoop. When she changes that speed and direction, she really looks like she’s going to take a pull-up jumper, and she’ll explode right by you. She’s really fast. We’re fortunate we have some quick players that are great defenders as well,” Withee said. “I’d much rather make her prove herself behind the three than making layups. We talked about that. We need to take away layups.”

In two tournament wins, Wheaton accounted for 63 percent of Presque Isle’s offense. Stopping her might be impossible, but as Withee said, holding Wheaton to 20 points might be enough.

“Our goal is keep teams under 40. If we can keep Presque Isle under 40 (Saturday), I believe we can at least score 41,” Withee said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

]]> 0 Bapst's Abbey Legasse (23) drives to the basket as Winslow's Madison Roy (14) defends during a Class B North semifinal game Wednesday at the Cross Center in Bangor.Fri, 23 Feb 2018 18:07:09 +0000
Veterans who claimed mistreatment by doctor at Togus can proceed with lawsuits, judge rules Fri, 23 Feb 2018 22:27:46 +0000 A lawsuit alleging mistreatment of veterans’ ankle and foot problems at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Togus can go forward, a federal judge ruled Friday.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Jon Levy will allow lawsuits for five of the six vets to move ahead after he had dismissed the cases two years ago, ruling that a statute of limitations had expired before the lawsuits had been filed.

The vets claimed that the poor treatment they were given by a podiatrist at Togus left them with severe pain that limited their ability to walk. In one case, other VA doctors amputated one veteran’s leg, concluding that was the only way to relieve her pain after two surgeries were unsuccessful.

The VA eventually reviewed the cases handled by the podiatrist and called in dozens of veterans to tell them that their ailments had been handled badly and discuss how to move forward.

The six veterans filed their lawsuits against the VA shortly after that disclosure, but in the previous ruling, Levy said they had failed to file them within three years of the treatment that caused their problems. However, in that ruling, he allowed the veterans to pursue an argument that the mistreatment had been “fraudulently concealed” from them.

He held oral arguments on the concealment issue in October.

In his ruling Friday, Levy essentially found that the issue of fraudulent concealment and the basic complaints in the cases are “inextricably intertwined” so could not be decided separately, and that the six-year statute of limitations in cases of fraudulent concealment applied. All of the lawsuits were filed within a year or two of the meetings with VA officials in which the veterans learned of the alleged mistreatment.

“It’s very good news. I’m ecstatic to hear it,” said April Wood, the veteran whose leg was amputated after the failed surgeries.

Wood, who has moved from Maine to Missouri, shattered her ankle during a fall while in basic training in 2004. After the first surgery, in which a metal plate and eight screws were inserted in her ankle, the podiatrist, Dr. Thomas Franchini, told her she had “mushy bones.” He operated a second time, inserting more screws. Other VA doctors later removed Frachini’s hardware and inserted a piece of bone from a cadaver and more screws. Finally, in 2012, doctors determined the only way Wood would get relief from the pain was an amputation and, a year later, VA officials at Togus called her in to tell her that her care had been substandard.

The other vets had similar tales, although none of the others involved amputations.

One of the lawsuits, by Andy Korsiak of Troy, was essentially dismissed by Levy on Friday because Korsiak wasn’t treated by Franchini following his surgery in 2007.

Korsiak’s attorney, Celine Boyle, said she would review her options to see if there was some way to revive that case. Boyle also represents two other veterans whose suits will now go forward.

Franchini has sued the Portland Press Herald, three other publications and four reporters, alleging stories on the lawsuits and allegations against him and the VA libeled him.

Andrew Lizotte, the lead U.S. attorney defending the federal government in the case, declined to comment.

In a separate order issued Friday, a trial start date of May 8 was set, although that could be changed as the cases move forward.

David Lipman, Wood’s attorney, said he was happy with the ruling.

“It’s a good step forward because we can go to trial on the case and it’s a very complex case,” he said.

Boyle, too, said she was happy with the ruling, although disappointed that one of her clients might not get a day in court.

“I’m happy to be walking this road with these veterans,” she said.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

]]> 0 Veterans Affairs Maine Healthcare Systems-Togus is seen above in 2007. Of the roughly 30,000 Maine veterans who don't use VA health care services, it is estimated that over 10,000 are in need of mental health care.Sat, 24 Feb 2018 00:13:26 +0000
Male dance instructor from North Monmouth charged with sexual abuse of teenage student Fri, 23 Feb 2018 22:18:28 +0000 A male dance instructor from North Monmouth who has taught in communities across central Maine has been arrested on a charge of sexually abusing a teenage girl who was one of his students, according to police.

Police said the man, 31-year-old Ryan Morrill, taught the girl in Newcastle, but he also has worked at studios in Augusta, Winthrop, Lewiston, Auburn and Thomaston, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Friday afternoon.

The girl was 14 or 15 years old at the time of the alleged sexual abuse, which lasted about 10 months, said Lt. Michael Murphy in a news release. Authorities first learned of the accusations against Morrill on Wednesday.

Morrill has been charged with sexual abuse of a minor, a class C felony punishable by up to 5 years in jail. He was taken to Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset and his bail was set at $1,000 cash.

“It is possible there are other victims involved in this case,” Murphy said in the news release. “This investigation in on-going and further charges are expected.”

Murphy encouraged anyone with information about Morrill to contact either Detective Sgt. Ronald Rollins at 882-7332 or a local police department.

]]> MorrillFri, 23 Feb 2018 18:00:47 +0000
Augusta man indicted in attack in fellow inmate at Kennebec County jail Fri, 23 Feb 2018 22:08:55 +0000 AUGUSTA — A city man was indicted Thursday on charges of aggravated assault in an attack that left a fellow inmate at the Kennebec County jail severely wounded as well as a separate charge of threatening a woman in Augusta.

Those indictments and a number of others were handed up by a grand jury in Kennebec County.

One aggravated assault charge alleges that Elijah L. Ashley, 21, caused “serious, permanent disfigurement or loss or substantial impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ” and carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. The other says that Ashley caused injury that “created a substantial risk of death” or required an “extended convalescence” and carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Both charges list Paul G. Gagnon, 48, of Augusta, as the victim of the Nov. 18, 2017, of the attack. Gagnon had been jailed Nov. 14, 2017, to serve a sentence for contempt for failing to pay child support.

Gagnon was discovered at 5:20 a.m. that day on the bottom bunk of his jail cell “injured badly, non-responsive and bleeding from the head,” wrote Detective John Bourque, of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office, in an affidavit filed with the court.

Ashley had been arrested Nov. 12, 2017, on a charge of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon after allegedly pointing a gun at people on Littlefield Street in Augusta.

He had remained in jail in lieu of $750 cash bail. The separate indictment handed up Thursday charges Ashley with criminal threatening with a firearm on Nov. 12, 2017, in Augusta and lists one woman as the victim.

Bourque’s affidavit says corrections officers were in the cell with Ashley and Gagnon at 3:05 a.m. Nov. 18 to clear a clogged toilet, and that Gagnon was snoring loudly with a blanket over his head. Bourque said corrections officers indicated this was normal because of the bright night lights in the cellblocks.

Bourque said Ashley told officers he had been “sleeping on the floor when Gagnon asked him to kill him.”

Ashley said he refused and that Gagnon then repeatedly smashed his own head on the floor. Ashley told officers he cleaned up the blood with a T-shirt and washed it. Ashley was found wearing a T-shirt with Gagnon’s name on it.

Ashley remains held at the Kennebec County jail.

Gagnon has been released from the hospital and is home, according to his mother, Diane Gagnon, of Augusta. “We’ve been trying to get him brain injury rehabilitation,” Gagnon said Friday, adding that MaineCare has denied it, so the family is looking elsewhere for it.

Here is a list of other people indicted Thursday:

• Joshua M. Almeida, 32, of Waterville, receiving stolen property and misuse of identification Oct. 31, 2017, in Waterville.

• James L. Beaulieu II, 33, of Waterville, two counts of aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon (a piece of lumber) Oct. 29, 2017, each naming a separate victim. Beaulieu was arrested that night after allegedly assaulting a 14-year-old boy and his older brother after Beaulieu’s daughter apparently told him the two had pushed her into the Kennebec River.

• Karen M. Beaulieu, 44, of Oakland, theft by unauthorized taking Oct. 20, 2017, in Waterville.

• Joseph B. Berglund, 19, of West Gardiner, four counts of gross sexual assault, all Nov. 10-11, 2017, in West Gardiner. The charges list two female victims and say the women did not consent or were incapable of consenting.

• Kathy Cagle, 40, of Bronx, New York, aggravated trafficking in heroin Nov. 8, 2017, and unlawful trafficking of fentanyl Nov. 29, 2017, both in Waterville.

• Dolly Carpenter, 50, of Waterville, aggravated trafficking in cocaine base Aug. 8, 2017, aggravated trafficking in cocaine base Sept. 12, 2017, and unlawful possession of cocaine base Jan. 3, 2018, all in Waterville.

• Antoan Cross, 39, of Waterbury, Connecticut, aggravated trafficking in heroin/fentanyl and aggravated trafficking in cocaine base, both July 12, 2017; two counts of aggravated trafficking in heroin; and criminal forfeiture of $1,585, all Nov. 7, 2017, and all in Farmingdale.

• Joseph Tyrone Davis, 38, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon — a wine bottle, and criminal trespass, both Nov. 24, 2017, in Augusta.

• Andre F. Fields, also know as Coop and Pops, 51, of Bronx, New York, two counts of aggravated trafficking in cocaine base, aggravated trafficking in heroin/fentanyl, and criminal forfeiture of $2,750, all Dec. 6, 2017, in Vassalboro.

• Joseph Edward Gray, 30, of Winslow, operating after revocation and failure to give correct name Sept. 12, 2017, in Clinton, and operating after revocation Sept. 20, 2017, in Waterville.

• Philip Edward Howard II, 31, of Fairfield, unlawful possession of oxycodone, unlawful possession of suboxone, unlawful possession of cocaine/cocaine base, unlawful possession of clonazepam, unlawful possession of Xanax, and criminal forfeiture of $149 cash, all Dec. 19, 2017, in Waterville.

• Michael Wayne Jerrier, 47, of Waterville, arson Nov. 25, 2017, in Waterville. Investigators say he set fire to a mattress in his bedroom in a College Avenue apartment building.

• Patrick Edward LeBlanc Jr., 22, of Skowhegan, two counts of assault on an officer at the Kennebec County jail Sept. 9, 2017, in Augusta.

• Eddie P. Levigne, 29, of Vienna, reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon and domestic violence terrorizing, both Dec. 10, 2017 in Vienna. A separate indictment charged him with violation of a condition of release and violation of a protective order Dec. 18-20, 2017, in Augusta.

• James T. Lynch, 53, of Waterville, operating after revocation and theft by unauthorized taking Oct. 17, 2017, in Waterville.

• JP Moss, 37, of Waterville, domestic violence assault and criminal trespass Nov. 26, 2017, in Waterville.

• Kristina Torres, 36, of Manhattan, New York, aggravated trafficking in 112 grams or more of cocaine or 32 grams or more of cocaine base; aggravated trafficking of cocaine or cocaine base within $1,000 of a school or a safe zone; unlawful possession of more than 200 milligrams of heroin, and criminal forfeiture of $1,187 cash, all Nov. 26, 2017, in Winslow.

• Marie Rose Towners, 38, of Waterville, theft by unauthorized taking Oct. 4, 2017, and theft by unauthorized taking June 5, 2017, both in Waterville.

• Jenny R. Wickett, 37, of Fairfield, two counts of theft by deception Nov. 2, 2017, in Waterville.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

Twitter: @betadams

]]> 0 ASHLEYFri, 23 Feb 2018 18:17:27 +0000
Morning Sentinel Feb. 23 police log Fri, 23 Feb 2018 22:06:45 +0000 IN ANSON, Thursday at 5:10 p.m., a domestic disturbance was reported on Campground Road.

IN ATHENS, Thursday at 4:22 p.m., police made an arrest after receiving a complaint of harassment on North Road.

IN CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Thursday at 10:48 p.m., suspicious activity was reported on Clark Street.

IN CLINTON, Thursday at 11:15 a.m., police made an arrest on a warrant on Canaan Road.

IN DETROIT, Thursday at 10:34 p.m., a disturbance was investigated on Dogtown Road.

IN FAIRFIELD, Thursday at 11:34 a.m., a scam complaint was investigated on Island Avenue.

10:34 p.m., suspicious activity was reported on Main Street.

IN FARMINGTON, Thursday at 10:19 p.m., suspicious activity was reported on North Street.

10:40 p.m., a traffic accident involving an injury was reported on Main Street.

12:37 p.m., police made an arrest on a warrant on Wilton Road.

IN JAY, Thursday at 11:26 a.m., a theft was reported on Main Street.

4:40 p.m., a report of threatening was taken on Intervale Road.

6:24 p.m., a disturbance was reported on Old Jay Hill Road.

IN KINGFIELD, Thursday at 4:24 p.m., a theft was reported on Main Street.

IN MADISON, Thursday at 10:40 a.m., a scam complaint was taken on Main Street.

11:43 a.m., police made an arrest on East Madison Road.

IN NORRIDGEWOCK, Thursday at 2:58 p.m., a harassment complaint was taken on Freese Road.

IN OAKLAND, Thursday at 2:11 p.m., criminal trespassing was reported on Fairfield Street.

6:09 p.m., a report of harassment was taken on Fairfield Street.

Friday at 2:26 a.m., suspicious activity was investigated on Oxen Drive.

5:17 a.m., suspicious activity was investigated at One Steel Recycling on Ayer Street.

IN PITTSFIELD, Thursday at 11:09 a.m., a complaint was investigated on Waverly Street.

5:35 p.m., a harassment complaint was taken on F Street.

IN SKOWHEGAN, Thursday at 11:51 a.m., a theft was investigated on Walnut Street.

12:34 p.m., police made an arrest on Water Street.

1:43 p.m., a scam complaint was taken on Oak Pond Road.

1:54 p.m., a theft was investigated on Water Street.

2:08 p.m., suspicious activity was investigated on Madison Avenue.

2:34 p.m., a theft was investigated on North Avenue.

2:40 p.m., a harassment complaint was investigated on East Leavitt Street.

3:57 p.m., suspicious activity was reported on Waterville Road.

4:32 p.m. a disturbance was investigated on Mount Pleasant Avenue.

6:47 p.m., a report of threatening was taken on Water Street.

7:16 p.m., a disturbance was reported on Winter Street.

9:09 p.m., suspicious activity was reported on Mri Drive.

IN WATERVILLE, Thursday at 9:35 a.m., suspicious activity was investigated at the Maine Children’s Home on Silver Street.

11:49 a.m., criminal mischief was investigated on Kennedy Memorial Drive.

12:40 p.m., a report of harassment was taken on Colby Street.

3:41 p.m., criminal mischief was investigated at the Head of Falls on Front Street.

4:17 p.m., suspicious activity was investigated on Silver Street.

5:24 p.m., juvenile offenses were reported at the Waterville Public Library on Elm Street.

6:17 p.m., an unwanted subject was reported at the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter on Colby Street.

7:23 p.m., suspicious activity was investigated at Casey’s Redemption on College Avenue.

7:34 p.m., a suspicious vehicle was reported at Mount Merici Academy on Western Avenue.

11:19 p.m., a report of harassment was taken on Gold Street.

Friday at 12:05 a.m., a noise complaint was investigated on Wilson Street.

IN WILTON, Thursday at 2:57 p.m., suspicious activity was reported on U.S. Route 2.

IN WINSLOW, Thursday at 9:19 a.m., a report of threatening was taken on Cushman Road.

10:50 a.m., a disturbance was reported at Asian Cafe on Bay Street.

5:59 p.m., criminal mischief was investigated at Winslow Junior High on Danielson Street.

6:39 p.m., criminal mischief was investigated at Winslow High School on Danielson Street.


IN FRANKLIN COUNTY, Thursday at 12:18 a.m., Clover L. York, 51, of Jay, was arrested on a warrant for unpaid fines on a charge of unlawful possession of a scheduled drug.

12:50 p.m., Matthew R. Poulin, 27, of North New Portland, was arrested on a warrant for an unpaid fine on charges of disorderly conduct, offensive words and gestures.

6:30 p.m., Spencer C. Knox, 23, of Carthage, was arrested on warrants for tampering with a witness, informant, juror or victim and violating condition of release.

IN SOMERSET COUNTY, Thursday at 1:12 p.m., Todd T. Spencer, 28, of St. Albans, was arrested on a probation hold.

1:15 p.m., Michael A. McGregor, 24, of Canaan, was arrested on a probation violation.

1:18 p.m., Travis S. Barrett, 30, of Waterville, was arrested on warrants for probation revocation on a charge of burglary, four counts of failure to appear and unpaid restitution on several charges of burglary and theft by unauthorized taking or transfer charges.

2:39 p.m., Casey E. McDonald, 30, of Ellsworth, was arrested on a warrant for failure to appear.

5:44 p.m., Emily E. Morrill, 48, of Portland, was arrested on a warrant for violation of bail on three charges of unlawful possession of scheduled drug.

7:19 p.m., Tina M. Meng, 49, of Athens, was arrested on a warrant for failure to appear on two charges of theft by unauthorized taking or transfer.

9:55 p.m., Justin A. Beauchesne, 35, of Fairfield, was arrested on a charge of violating condition of release.

IN WATERVILLE, Thursday at 8 a.m., Paul A. Lyons, 35, of Cornville, was arrested on a charge of unlawful possession of heroin.

8:17 p.m., Avery R. Mills, 18, of Winslow, was arrested on a warrant.

11:19 p.m., Thomas J. Scott, 32, of Norridgewock, was arrested on charges of violating condition of release and two counts of possession of scheduled drug.

IN WINSLOW, Friday at 12:29 a.m., Michael K. Williams, 45, of Winslow, was arrested on a charge of aggravated assault.


IN WATERVILLE, Thursday at 2:34 p.m., Jesse A. Duarte, 35, of Bangor, was summoned on a charge of failure to register a vehicle.

1:47 a.m., Jason M. Stewart, 34, of Waterville, was summoned on a charge of operating with an expired license over 90 days.

]]> 0 Fri, 23 Feb 2018 17:53:37 +0000
Ex-Trump aide Rick Gates pleads guilty, will cooperate in Russia probe Fri, 23 Feb 2018 21:49:04 +0000 WASHINGTON — A former senior adviser to President Donald Trump’s election campaign pleaded guilty Friday to federal conspiracy and false-statements charges, saying he will now cooperate in the special counsel’s Russia investigation.

The plea by Rick Gates revealed that he will help special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation in “any and all matters” as prosecutors continue to probe the Trump campaign, Russian election interference and Gates’ longtime business associate, Paul Manafort.

With his cooperation, Gates gives Mueller a witness willing to provide information on Manafort about his finances and political consulting work in Ukraine, and also someone who had access at the highest levels of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Gates, 45, of Richmond, Virginia, made the plea at the federal courthouse in Washington. He admitted to charges accusing him of conspiring against the U.S. government related to fraud and unregistered foreign lobbying as well as lying to federal authorities in a recent interview.

The plea came a day after a federal grand jury in Virginia returned a 32-count indictment against Gates and Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, accusing them of tax evasion and bank fraud.

The indictment in Virginia was the second round of charges against Gates and against Manafort, who has denied any wrongdoing. The two men were initially charged last October with unregistered lobbying and conspiring to launder millions of dollars they earned while working on behalf of a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party.

Gates’ decision marks the fifth publicly known guilty plea in the special counsel probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin during the 2016 campaign.

The plea also comes quickly on the heels of a stunning indictment last week that laid out a broad operation of election meddling by Russia, which began in 2014, and employed fake social media accounts and on-the-ground politicking to promote Trump’s campaign, disparage Hillary Clinton and sow division and discord widely among the U.S. electorate.

The charges to which Gates is pleading guilty don’t involve any conduct connected to the Trump campaign. They largely relate to a conspiracy of unregistered lobbying, money laundering and fraud laid out in his indictments.

But his plea does newly reveal that Gates spoke with the FBI earlier this month and lied during the interview. That same day, his attorneys filed a motion to withdraw from representing him for “irreconcilable difference.”

The court papers accuse Gates of lying about a March 19, 2013, meeting involving Manafort, a lobbyist and a member of Congress. Gates said the meeting did not include discussion of Ukraine, when in fact prosecutors say it did.

The charges don’t name the lobbyist or the lawmaker but filings with the Justice Department show Manafort and lobbyist Vin Weber of Mercury Public Affairs met with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., on that date as part of a lobbying campaign on behalf of Ukrainian interests.

On Friday, Manafort said in a statement that he maintains his innocence.

“I had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence. For reasons yet to surface he chose to do otherwise,” Manafort said. “This does not alter my commitment to defend myself against the untrue piled-up charges contained in the indictments against me.”

In court filings over the past few months, Gates gradually began to show the strain the case was placing on him and his family.

As Gates was kept on house arrest, he frequently pleaded with U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson for leniency to attend sporting events with his four children. Even on Friday, ahead of his plea, Gates had asked the judge to let him take his children to Boston for spring break so they could “learn about American history in general, and the Revolutionary War in particular.”

On Thursday night, Gates emailed a brief letter to friends and family, telling them of his decision to plead guilty, Republican lobbyist Jack Burkman said.

“It’s sad,” said Burkman, who had hosted a fundraiser for Gates’ legal defense fund.

Under the terms of the plea, Gates is estimated to face between 57 and 71 months behind bars. Prosecutors may seek a shortened sentence depending on his cooperation.

Gates served on the Trump campaign at the same time that Manafort, Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner met with a team of Russians in Trump Tower in June 2016. He was also in the top ranks of the campaign when then-Sen. Jeff Sessions held a pair of undisclosed meetings with Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak.

For a few months in 2016, Gates was indispensable to Trump, leading the ground effort to help Trump win the Republican nomination and flying from state to state to secure Republican delegates in a scramble that lasted all the way until the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

But his power and influence waned once Trump fired Manafort in August 2016 after The Associated Press disclosed how Gates and Manafort covertly directed a Washington lobbying campaign on behalf of Ukrainian interests.

Gates survived his mentor’s ouster and worked through the election on Trump’s inaugural committee — but among Trump aides he earned the nickname “the walking dead.” Gates also worked briefly with the outside political groups supporting Trump’s agenda, America First Policies and America First Action, but was pushed out of that job last year.

Gates was working for Tom Barrack, a close friend of Trump’s, when he was indicted last October.

Associated Press writer Jeff Horwitz contributed.

]]> 0, 23 Feb 2018 16:50:24 +0000
Time-travel opportunities soon to be available at Farmington Underground Fri, 23 Feb 2018 21:45:54 +0000 FARMINGTON — Joe Musumeci has always loved puzzles and games, so after graduating from the University of Maine with a degree in education, he incorporated his love of games into the lessons he taught.

When “escape rooms” started becoming popular, Musumeci began visiting several around the state. He fell in love with them and decided to create his own escape room experience. Thus, Farmington Underground became reality.

Farmington Underground, at 109 Church St., seeks to create a unique experience for groups of three to six people. Musumeci said he hopes to have it fully operational by the third week of March.

The experience will begin with a short introduction from Musumeci, followed by an introductory puzzle — a small chest sitting on the table in the lobby that must be opened.

“It introduces the escape room concepts and gets the teams into themselves, figuring out within the first few minutes how they’re going to work together before they move to the big room and start attempting the puzzles,” Musumeci said.

To start, Farmington Underground will have just one room for groups to experience. Musumeci said he hopes to get to maybe three rooms.

“They’re all going to fall under this concept that there’s this secret society called the Farmington Underground,” he said, “and they are able to time-travel, so every room that will be brought here will follow that.”

The first room is an “initiation” into the society on its 100th anniversary, in the year 2118, and every additional room will add to the existing storyline.

The whole experience should take about 90 minutes, although the actual time depends on how well the group works together.

“Communication is huge,” Musumeci said. “Being able to point things out, and most importantly, listen to each other.”

For those concerned about the “escape” part, they need not fear. The door is never actually locked and anyone can leave at any time.

Another perk at Farmington Underground is that all parties will remain private, whereas some other escape rooms might split up groups and add more members to existing ones.

The experience will be available to all ages and abilities.

]]> 0 Musumeci, owner and operator of Farmington Underground, demonstrates the introductory puzzle chest, the first challenge for participants at his escape room business at 109 Church St. in Farmington.Fri, 23 Feb 2018 17:05:55 +0000
UNE hires new provost Fri, 23 Feb 2018 20:43:36 +0000 The University of New England, which has campuses in Portland and Biddeford, said Friday that it has hired a new provost following a national search.

Rhode Island College Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Joshua Hamilton will take over as provost and vice president and senior vice president for academic affairs at UNE on April 15, the university said Friday in a news release.

UNE President James Herbert said he is looking forward to Hamilton’s contributions to shaping and expanding the university’s academic programs.

“I have full confidence that incoming Provost Hamilton will be a tremendous asset to UNE through the pursuit of innovative ideas and strategies that will enhance the university’s stature as a national leader in higher education,” Herbert said in the release. “His impressive record of accomplishments as an administrator, researcher, mentor and teacher will serve the UNE community well.”

Hamilton received a bachelor of science degree in biology from Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts, and he earned both a master’s degree in genetics and a doctorate in toxicology from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He was awarded a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellowship to support his research training at Dartmouth, according to UNE.


]]> 0, 23 Feb 2018 18:15:46 +0000
Universal home care proposal gets enough signatures to appear on Maine ballot Fri, 23 Feb 2018 20:09:25 +0000 AUGUSTA — Supporters of a proposed tax on Maine high earners to pay for home care for elderly and disabled people collected enough signatures from voters to get the initiative on the November ballot if lawmakers don’t pass it first, Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said Friday.

The chance of lawmakers passing the proposal is unclear, however, with House Republicans and business groups already expressing strong opposition.

The proposal would increase taxes on high-earning Mainers to raise $310 million annually for so-called “universal home care” for the elderly and disabled.

If successful, Maine – the nation’s oldest state – could be among the first to pass universal home care.

Hawaii recently passed a law providing up to $70 a day worth of services for a caregiver who has a full-time job yet must assist a loved one who’s over age 60. The state of Washington is considering a law to increase payroll contributions to provide family caregivers with $100 a day for a year.

Maine People’s Alliance spokesman Mike Tipping has said there’s an appetite in Maine to make the wealthy contribute more as income inequality grows nationwide. The campaign has reported receiving a $350,000 boost from nonprofits linked to billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

Under the proposal, employers and employees would together face a new 3.8 percent tax on the portion of wages and income above the amount that’s subject to Social Security employment taxes. In-home care providers and other groups that receive funds from the universal home care program would have to spend at least 77 percent on “direct service worker costs,” according to the proposal.

Conservatives and business groups argue that the tax would be worse for small businesses than the voter-approved, 3 percent surtax for school funding that lawmakers ended up repealing last year.

“Here we go again with another proposal to slam small-business owners and self-employed people with even higher state taxes, making Maine one of the highest taxed states in the nation,” said David Clough, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business.

]]> 0, 23 Feb 2018 20:12:21 +0000
Democrat Jim Boyle withdraws from Maine governor’s race Fri, 23 Feb 2018 20:07:57 +0000 AUGUSTA – Jim Boyle, a former state senator from Gorham, announced Friday that he is dropping out of the Democratic race for governor.

Jim Boyle

Boyle had announced his campaign for the Democratic nomination in July but struggled to gain traction in a crowded field of candidates. There are currently 12 other candidates whose campaigns are still listed as “active” by the Maine Ethics Commission, However, additional candidates are expected to withdraw by the March 15 deadline to collect the minimum 2,000 petition signatures needed to qualify for the June primary ballots.

An environmental consultant, Boyle served one term in the Maine Senate representing Gorham and parts of Scarborough and Westbrook. Boyle had said he ran for governor because he was “fed up” with a system that he believes favors the wealthy and special interests.

“I ran a successful small business based on the idea that we don’t have to choose between protecting the environment and creating jobs,” Boyle said in a statement announcing his withdrawal from the race. “We can – we must – do both. Climate change threatens our state, our country and the world. We can’t wait any longer for policies that move us away from fossil fuels and toward a more sustainable future.”


]]> 0, 24 Feb 2018 00:26:26 +0000
A 2nd judge tells Trump administration to stop stalling clean-air rules Fri, 23 Feb 2018 19:51:08 +0000 WASHINGTON – A second judge has told the Trump administration it can’t keep stalling clean-air rules for oil and gas production on federal lands.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick of the Northern District of California ordered the Interior Department to reinstate the Obama-era regulation aimed at restricting harmful methane emissions. Orrick said late Thursday the administration’s delay is “untethered to evidence” and likely to cause “irreparable injury” to California, New Mexico and other states from increased air pollution and negative impacts on public health and the climate.

The ruling marked the second time a federal judge has rebuffed the Trump administration for failing to enforce the methane rule. U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Laporte rejected an earlier effort by Interior to postpone part of the rule and ordered the Obama rule reinstated in October. Laporte serves on the same court, which is based in San Francisco.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told The Associated Press Friday that officials will carefully review the judge’s 29-page ruling.

Federal rules “are not intended to be adversarial” to the industry, Zinke said, adding that the Obama-era rule “penalizes oil and gas,” while the Trump administration wants to encourage the industry to voluntarily find ways to capture and re-use methane.

The rule forced energy companies to capture methane that’s burned off or “flared” at drilling sites because it pollutes the environment. Many companies consider the rule unnecessary and overly intrusive, but environmental groups warn that methane emissions from oil and gas operations are the second largest industrial contributor to climate change in the United States. Methane is far more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide but does not stay in the air as long.

The Interior Department said earlier this month it is replacing the Obama-era rule with requirements similar to those in force before the Obama administration changed the regulation in 2016.

Interior had previously announced it was delaying the Obama-era rule until January 2019, arguing that it was overly burdensome to industry. Officials at the time said the delay would give the federal Bureau of Land Management time to review the earlier rule while avoiding tens of millions of dollars in compliance costs to industry.

Methane, the main component of natural gas, is frequently wasted through leaks or intentional releases during drilling operations. An estimated $330 million a year in methane is wasted on federal lands, enough to power about 5 million homes a year.

Methane pollution also poses a risk to public health, especially to those who suffer from asthma or other breathing difficulties.

Environmental groups praised the ruling and said Zinke and President Trump have lost two court fights and a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate as they attempt to delay or block the methane rule.

“This ruling shows the courts won’t allow the Trump administration to flout the law to reward the fossil fuel industry,” said Michael Saul, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Unchecked methane waste hurts our lungs, rips off taxpayers and cooks the planet.”

Associated Press writer Matthew Brown in Billings, Montana, contributed to this report.

]]> 0 Secretary Ryan Zinke has argued that an Obama-era rule limiting methane emissions "penalizes oil and gas."Fri, 23 Feb 2018 14:51:08 +0000
Coast Guard preparing for new Kennebec River Ice-breaking effort Fri, 23 Feb 2018 18:38:25 +0000 Sunday marks the end of the smelt season at Baker’s Smelt Camp in Pittston — just three days before the U.S. Coast Guard is expected to start its second ice-breaking mission on the Kennebec River this year.

But camp owner Richard Potter said Friday he’s not sure whether the cutters will be able to make much headway.

“We still have 32 inches down here,” Potter said. Out in the channel of the river, he said, the ice is about 22 inches thick.

With the ice breakers coming up the river again, Potter said he doubts the river will refreeze, and he’ll be pulling his 30 shacks from the river, as he did in mid-January when the ice jam moved through and at the end of the month when the ice breakers made their first trip up the river. This time, he’s be storing them for the season, which is ending a few weeks earlier than usual.

“We probably could have stayed out till the 5th or the 10th (of March), but it’s not worth taking the chance,” he said.

Even as Potter is making plans to end his season, the Coast Guard coordinated with federal, state and local agencies Friday via conference call to work out the logistics of its plan to break the ice next week on the Kennebec and Penobscot rivers.

The USCGC Shackle, deployed for assessment on the river, broke some ice on Thursday. The crew reported Friday that south of Chops Point in Woolwich the water was clearing well.

The tug progressed as far as Abagadasset Point in Bowdoinham before it lost the tide and had to turn back, but the crew noted signs that the river ice starting to degrade and rot and slabs of ice are starting to break free and flow downriver, as well as stretches of open water.

That’s a good sign, Kennebec County Emergency Management Director Sean Goodwin said Friday morning. Before sending the 140-foot ice breaker north of Richmond, the Coast Guard has asked the U.S. Geological Survey to make ice measurements just north of the Maine Kennebec Bridge, which connects Richmond and Dresden, and just south of Gardiner. The ice on that stretch of the river has been undisturbed this winter. That will help determine how long the ice-breaking operation might take.

An aerial survey by the Coast Guard shows where its larger ice-breaking ship reached in January before the operation was suspended. But north of Richmond the ice appears more solid.

Goodwin said Friday he plans to visit Worthing’s Smelt Camp in Randolph and Baker’s to let them know about the pending ice breaking operation so they can pull in their shacks. He said he also plans to contact Foggy Bottom, the campground and marina Farmingdale. While it is closed and has nothing in the water now, it has equipment near the riverbank, he said.

At Baker’s in Pittston, Potter said winters seem to run in cycles. In 2008, they had to pull the shacks off the ice a couple of times. Last year was great for smelt fishing, but the year before was the first time in 40 years they didn’t put out the camps.

“It’s quite bit of work to pull the camps,” he said. “It takes six or eight or 10 people to do it.”

Record-breaking warm weather Wednesday brought melting of ice and snow, but no new concerns about flooding in the Kennebec River.

Officials in communities along the river have been monitoring an ice jam between Hallowell and Farmingdale that formed about six weeks ago, when a brief warm-up and heavy rainfall loosened the river ice and sent chunks and slabs of it downstream, where it’s been lodged ever since.

The destructive jam flooded a stretch of downtown Hallowell, stranded cars in the rising water and prompted Augusta officials to close off Front Street in that city to parking until the flooding threat abated.

The ice jam also prompted the unprecedented request to the U.S. Coast Guard to launch an early ice-breaking operation at the end of January. That effort was called off at Richmond because the ice was too thick for the ships to break.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

]]> 0 open water is visible Thursday at Chops Point in Woolwich in a view from a Coast Guard airplane. The agency is preparing to send ice-breaking boats up the river next week.Fri, 23 Feb 2018 17:57:31 +0000
Maine’s pot legalization committee reaches agreement on rewrite of voter-approved law Fri, 23 Feb 2018 18:31:10 +0000 Maine consumers would pay a 10 percent retail sales tax on recreational marijuana under a committee bill approved on Friday.

The bill would set a 10 percent tax on marijuana at the point of sale, which is what consumers would see on their sales receipt, in addition to a 21.5 percent excise tax on wholesale marijuana that would be paid by processors and retailers. State officials say that would result in an effective tax rate of 20 percent, which would put Maine right alongside Oregon in having the lowest recreational marijuana tax rates in the nation.

The legislative committee whose bill will launch Maine’s recreational marijuana market – which state officials predict will hit $85 million in retail sales in its first full year of operation – approved the regulatory and licensing bill by a 16-1 vote. It calls for a three-year residency requirement for license applicants, a limit of three home-grow plants per adult, and an unlimited number of commercial licenses. Towns that host marijuana businesses would not get any of the state taxes.

This bill would replace the Marijuana Legalization Act approved by voters in a 2016 referendum. That law, which is in effect now even though the state is not issuing any commercial licenses, set a 20 percent retail sales tax but did not levy an excise tax, gave medical marijuana caregivers a licensing preference but not residents, allowed adults to grow up to six plants on their property or someone else’s with permission, and allowed social clubs, drive-up windows and home delivery.

“The spirit of the referendum is certainly represented in the bill, but it also honors how close the vote was,” said Rep. Teresa Pierce, D-Falmouth, the committee’s House chairman. “Government too often doesn’t get anything done because we are not able to come to the center. Our bill was all about compromise. People will hate some of it, and love other parts of it. But it protects our kids, our public safety and our communities while also giving adults the right and privilege of using marijuana.”

The compromise won over Rep. Patrick Corey, R-Windham, who voted against last year’s version of the bill but praised the “amazing give and take” of this version. That doesn’t necessarily mean the bill will win over the support of the House Republican caucus, which helped Gov. Paul LePage kill the committee’s first bill. House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, predicted that LePage will probably veto this committee bill, too.

“It’s a very different bill from the last one, a far better bill, but is it good enough?” Fredette asked Friday. “A lot of Republicans will never support a marijuana bill. Others I know will never override a veto. So even though it is a better bill, one the committee has worked very hard on, and even though they listened to our concerns, I believe it is still too early to say. I believe the fate of this bill remains uncertain.”

The proposed tax rate, which was unveiled Friday, includes a 21.5 percent excise tax levied on wholesale marijuana when a cultivator sells the unprocessed material to a processor or retailer, and a 10 percent retail tax. Because the value of unprocessed marijuana is so much lower than the retail product, state officials say the 21.5 percent excise tax is equivalent to the amount of money that would be raised from another 10 percent retail tax levied at the point of sale.

The state Department of Administration and Financial Services projects the state would collect $2.7 million in overall marijuana taxes in fiscal year 2020, the first year it expects to see any sales, and $16.3 million in fiscal year 2021, the first full year of market sales. That is based on a $335 excise tax levied on every pound of marijuana flower and mature plants sold by a cultivator. It predicts that Maine adults would spend $85 million on recreational marijuana in the first full year of the market.

State officials are projecting that sales will not begin until 2020, three years after voters had wanted, saying it will take nine months to write regulations, time for the next Legislature to approve those regulations, time to accept and award state licenses and then more time for those companies that win licenses to grow the cannabis for sale. The market could be ready to go earlier, officials say, but with a guaranteed change at Blaine House coming in the middle of that, it would be unlikely.

Officials say an excise tax would discourage diversion to the black market because it establishes a record of the plant when it is first produced, making it harder for that product to disappear along the way. It also is intended to protect the state from any price fluctuations that might occur as the market matures and more cannabis ends up hitting the adult use market, which often drives down price. An excise tax is based on weight rather than product value.

While the adopted rate might sound big, it doesn’t really add up to a 31.5 percent tax rate because of the difference in marijuana’s wholesale and retail value, said David Heidrich, a spokesman for the financial services department. The Senate chairman of the Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee, Roger Katz, R-Augusta, said the effective 20 percent tax rate still keeps the overall tax paid by the Maine consumer lower than any other state that allows recreational sales except for Oregon, which would be the same as Maine’s.

“It’s still low enough to encourage people who have been operating in the black market to come into the legal system,” Katz said. “That’s good for the consumer, too.”

The bill now undergoes a language review that is expected to take several weeks before it returns to the committee for a final look, but that isn’t expected to result in any substantial changes to the contents of the bill. A cleaned-up version will go to the House and Senate in late March, at the earliest. If approved by the Legislature, LePage has up to 10 days to take action on the bill.

The committee’s first bid to launch the market won legislative approval, but was vetoed by LePage. It fell 17 votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed to override.

In his veto letter last fall, LePage cited his concern that such a bill would put Maine in conflict with federal law, which deems marijuana illegal, putting the public and private investment in launching a new industry at risk of federal enforcement. That risk has only increased since January, when U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Obama-era protections for states that have legalized marijuana, Fredette said.

But even Fredette said the committee’s latest bill was more palatable than its first. The decision to remove social club licenses from the proposal was important to a House Republican lobby that worried they would increase the number of people driving high, Fredette said. He also praised the elimination of an earlier proposal to give towns a cut of marijuana tax revenues, which would have benefited the big cities at the expense of the small ones.

But some Republicans will still be unhappy with the committee’s failure to pursue a slower roll-out of the recreational marijuana market by limiting the number of grow and retail licenses issued in at least the first few years of this emerging industry. “We just don’t believe we ought to be moving at warp speed toward making it so easy for a lot of people to get high,” Fredette said. “We think we should take this as slow as possible.”

The lone “no” vote on the committee Friday was Rep. Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop, an organic farmer who criticized the proposed tax rate, especially the excise portion, which he said would hurt small farmers trying to break into the industry. He also criticized the bill for its lack of a local revenue sharing option for municipalities, and for failing to do enough to promote social justice.

Marijuana activists wanted to wait to read the final version of the bill before weighing in on the details, but expressed frustration that it was taking so long to implement a recreational market that Mainers had approved in 2016 when other states have managed to begin sales within a year. “It is frustrating and disappointing that it will likely be years before adults will have a legal way to purchase marijuana in Maine,” said David Boyer, spokesman of the Marijuana Policy Project’s state chapter.

]]> 0 pot cultivation and sales licenses could be issued as early as July under the plan discussed Tuesday.Sat, 24 Feb 2018 00:05:49 +0000
Kennebec Journal Feb. 23 police log Fri, 23 Feb 2018 18:23:08 +0000 IN AUGUSTA, Thursday at 8:15 a.m., suspicious activity was reported on Hospital Street.

8:33 a.m., city ordinance violations were reported on Northern Avenue.

9:28 a.m., a well-being check was performed on Northern Avenue.

11:26 a.m., a mental health and well-being check was performed on Stone Street.

11:59 a.m., fraud was reported on Murray Street.

12:12 p.m., a mental health and well-being check was performed on Stone Street.

12:54 p.m., criminal threatening was reported on Bennett Street.

1:02 p.m., a mental health and well-being check was performed on Eastern Avenue.

1:55 p.m., a mental health and well-being check was performed on Jefferson Street.

2:08 p.m., a well-being check was performed on Green and State streets.

4:01 p.m., suspicious activity was reported on Mud Mill Road.

4:02 p.m., a well-being check was performed on Glenridge Drive.

4:45 p.m., a disturbance was reported on Malta Street.

4:48 p.m., a well-being check was performed on Malta Street.

4:49 p.m., burglary from a motor vehicle was reported on St. Catherine and East Chestnut streets.

5:27 p.m., theft was reported on Riverside Drive.

5:32 p.m., suspicious activity was reported on Water Street.

5:42 p.m., a well-being check was performed on Sparrow Drive.

5:44 p.m., criminal threatening was reported on Drew Street.

7:40 p.m., a mental health and well-being check was performed on Noyes Court.

8:25 p.m., a well-being check was performed on Eastern Avenue.

8:35 p.m., a well-being check was performed on Winthrop Street.

IN FARMINGDALE, Thursday at 3:56 p.m., theft was reported on Bowman Street.

IN WINTHROP, Wednesday at 6:21 p.m., mail tampering was reported on U.S. Route 202.

Thursday at 7:47 a.m., a suspicious person was reported on Town Hall Lane.

5:39 p.m., a well-being check was performed on Turkey Lane.

Friday at 1:01 a.m., a suspicious person was reported on U.S. Route 202.


IN AUGUSTA, Thursday at 6:33 p.m., Jennifer Susan Ring, 48, of Augusta, was arrested on a charge of domestic violence assault, after a domestic disturbance was reported on Water Street.

6:48 p.m., a 17-year-old juvenile was arrested on a charge of theft by unauthorized taking or transfer (less than $500), after shoplifting was reported on Crossing Way.

11:37 p.m., Keith Allen Tardiff, 27, of Augusta, was arrested on two warrants, on Union Street.

11:41 p.m., Kevin M. Swift Jr., 26, of Augusta, was arrested on charges of operating under the influence (alcohol), failing to stop for an officer and criminal mischief, as well as on a probation hold, after a traffic complaint was made on Civic Center Drive.

IN WEST GARDINER, Thursday at 9:54 p.m., Kevin Tait Moore, 41, of West Gardiner, was arrested on a charge of domestic violence assault, after a 911 call was made on Lewiston Road.

]]> 0 Fri, 23 Feb 2018 15:19:02 +0000
More companies are cutting ties with NRA as boycott movement gains steam Fri, 23 Feb 2018 17:43:16 +0000 NEW YORK — U.S. companies are taking a closer look at investments, co-branding deals and other ties to the gun industry and its public face, the National Rifle Association, after the latest school massacre.

Petitions are circulating online targeting companies that offer discounts to NRA members on its website. #BoycottNRA is trending on Twitter.

Members of the NRA have access to special offers from partner companies on its website, ranging from life insurance to wine clubs. For a second consecutive day companies listed on the site have cut ties to the NRA as it aggressively resists calls for stricter gun control in the wake of the mass shooting last week at a Florida high school that left 17 dead.

The insurance company MetLife Inc. discontinued its discount program with the NRA on Friday. The software company Symantec Corp., which makes Norton Antivirus technology, did the same.

Insurer Chubb Ltd. said Friday it is ending participation in the NRA’s gun-owner insurance program, but it provided notice three months ago. The program that provided coverage for people involved in gun-related incidents or accidents had been under scrutiny by regulators over marketing issues.

Those defections arrived a day after the car rental company Enterprise Holdings, which also owns Alamo and National, said it was cutting off discounts for NRA members. First National Bank of Omaha, one of the nation’s largest privately held banks, announced that it would not renew a co-branded Visa credit-card with the NRA.

NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference, that those advocating for stricter gun control are exploiting the Florida shooting which killed 17 people, mostly high-school students.

“Evil walks among us and God help us if we don’t harden our schools and protect our kids,” LaPierre said Thursday. “The whole idea from some of our opponents that armed security makes us less safe is completely ridiculous.”

President Donald Trump has aligned himself with the NRA, suggesting some teachers could be armed so that they could fire on any attacker.

U.S. corporations are moving in the other direction.

On Friday, a large Wall Street money management firm said that it wanted to engage with major weapons manufacturers about what comes next.

Blackrock Inc., which manages $6 trillion in assets, has become one of the largest stakeholders gun manufacturers like Sturm Ruger & Co., American Outdoor Brands Corp. and Vista Outdoor Inc. through indirect investments. The money is placed in index funds, so Blackrock cannot sell shares of individual companies within the index. Its fund clients invest in indexes that might contain companies like Ruger.

On Friday, spokesman Ed Sweeney said Blackrock will be “engaging with weapons manufacturers and distributors to understand their response to recent events.”

Blackrock, through indirect investments, holds a 16.18 percent stake in Sturm Ruger, an 11.91 percent stake in Vista, and a 10.5 percent stake in American Outdoor, according to the data firm Factset.

Shares of gun companies mostly fell in trading Friday.

]]> 0, 23 Feb 2018 16:41:01 +0000
Maine Medical Center, ambulance provider to pay $1.4 million to settle claims of improper Medicare billing Fri, 23 Feb 2018 17:41:32 +0000 Maine Medical Center in Portland and the state’s largest ambulance provider have agreed to pay $1.4 million to the federal government to settle allegations that the ambulance provider submitted reimbursement claims for ambulance rides that were not medically necessary, a violation of the federal False Claims Act.

North East Mobile Health Services of Scarborough will pay $825,000 to resolve allegations that between 2007 and 2015, it improperly billed Medicare for transporting an unspecified number of patients who it claimed were “bed-confined” or who were otherwise medically required to be transported by ambulance, the office of U.S. Attorney Halsey B. Frank said Friday.

Maine Medical Center, which has contracted with North East since 2007 as its favored provider for medical transport services, agreed to pay $600,000 to resolve allegations that hospital personnel provided North East with paperwork containing incomplete or inaccurate information about the medical necessity of an ambulance ride, Frank’s office said.

That paperwork was then used by North East to bill Medicare, according to federal prosecutors.

Both groups cooperated with the investigation, and because of the settlement, neither admits wrongdoing, according to court records. Prosecutors did not specify in their complaint the number of ambulance rides that may have been affected. North East is also accused of keeping money that Medicare had overpaid to the company – an allegation it also denies. North East’s alleged improper conduct spanned from October 2007 to December 2017, according to a settlement agreement with Frank’s office. Maine Medical Center’s alleged improper conduct occurred between October 2007 and March 2015, the agreement said.


A call to Butch Russell, the CEO at North East, was not returned Friday, but the company released a statement through a public relations firm reasserting that North East did nothing wrong. The ambulance company also contended that all transports it provided were requested by medical professionals who were “acting in the best medical interest of the patient.”

Both groups said repaying the claims is less costly than defending a lawsuit.

“At the request of medical personnel, North East Mobile Health Services transported Maine Medical Center patients via ambulance to hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and other locations,” the North East statement said. “In all instances, all providers were acting in the best medical interest of the patient and the required documentation from medical personnel certified the ambulance transports were medically necessary. As such, reimbursement claims were submitted to Medicare and processed. However, the medical necessity of some of these ambulance transports was subsequently contested.”

Maine Medical Center, in a statement, also reiterated that it admitted no fault or liability, and called the settlement “an unfortunate result of a legal process that at times penalizes hospitals for prioritizing patient care,” and said the settlement heads off protracted and costly litigation.

The hospital said an “independent reviewer” found that Maine Medical Center saw no financial gain or incentive from the result of the disputed Medicare charges, but the statement did not identify the reviewer.

“Each case examined was based on medical necessity determined by a qualified medical provider,” the hospital said. “At all times, MMC acted with the best interests of patients in mind, making sure they had safe and reliable transportation following their treatment. We will continue to prioritize safe patient care and ensure that patients who have medical necessity receive access to ambulance services in a way that fully complies with legal and regulatory standards.”

The allegations by the government include details about the ambulance company’s relationship with the hospital. Since 2007, North East has held a “preferred provider” contract with Maine Medical Center to transport routine and critical care patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week. North East would often transport patients being discharged from the hospital to a skilled nursing facility or other rehabilitation center.


For Medicare to pay a portion of the ambulance cost, the patient must be bed-confined or otherwise medically required to be transported by ambulance. Medicare will not cover the cost of an ambulance if a patient is able to walk around or sit in a wheelchair, meaning he or she could be transported by car or wheelchair van – modes of transport that Medicare does not pay for.

For North East to be reimbursed, the company is required to submit paperwork to Medicare showing that the ride was medically necessary. That documentation included a template certification form that North East provided and that hospital staff filled out.

Although North East’s own records showed that numerous patients could sit upright, move around and were not confined to a hospital bed or otherwise required to be transported by ambulance, the paperwork that Maine Medical staffers signed off on showed the ambulance ride as medically necessary, prosecutors alleged.

“These certifications are contradicted not only by the contemporaneous narratives of (North East Mobile Health Services) personnel, but also by (Maine Medical Center’s) medical records,” prosecutors alleged in a complaint.

According to Maine Medical Center’s settlement agreement, the hospital began conducting an internal audit in March 2015 of every nonemergency ambulance transport to ensure the information it submitted was accurate and complete.

As part of the agreement, Maine Medical Center agreed to continue conducting the self-audit for 18 months after the agreement was signed, until August 2019, and that it would notify North East of any suspected error in the paperwork within a reasonable time frame.

Although there is no specific number of allegedly improper ambulance rides, prosecutors allege that the vast majority of 949 patients who underwent total knee replacement surgery between 2010 and 2012 did not meet the requirements for ambulance rides, and could have been taken by car or wheelchair van.


In one case from July 2010, a woman who had a knee replaced at Maine Medical Center was able to walk the roughly 10 feet from her hospital chair to a stretcher.

A Maine Medical Center nurse said the patient was fine to walk, but she was nonetheless transferred by stretcher to an ambulance that took her to St. Joseph’s Manor in Portland, according to prosecutors. The certification offered by Maine Medical Center for her transport showed she was “bed-confined,” according to prosecutors, and North East was paid $201.56 by Medicare on a $424 claim.

A week later, North East was dispatched to pick up the same woman to transport her to Maine Medical Center to have her other knee replaced. When EMTs arrived, the woman was sitting on the edge of her bed and denied having any pain or discomfort. She was able to walk with a walker to the ambulance stretcher and then to her hospital bed, prosecutors alleged.

The woman was listed again as “bed-confined” when North East billed Medicare for the $389 trip, of which it was paid $185.06.

But North East had indicated in the forms that the service was “medically indicated and necessary for the health of the patient,” prosecutors wrote.

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

Twitter: MattByrnePPH

]]> 0 North East Mobile Health Services ambulance leaves Maine Medical Center in Portland on Friday. North East and the hospital have agreed to settle a complaint.Fri, 23 Feb 2018 23:45:27 +0000
Squire Tarbox Inn in Westport Island is sold Fri, 23 Feb 2018 16:54:36 +0000 The new owners of the Squire Tarbox Inn on Westport Island say they will be keeping the inn’s restaurant open, but are not sure if it will be ready for the upcoming tourist season.

“I think the opportunity is here for a really good farm-to-table restaurant,” said Lisa Dalton, a designer and contractor from Houston who just bought the inn with one of her clients, Michelle Adams. “That’s what we want.”

Dalton and Adams purchased the 12-acre property, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, from Veronica and Mario DePietro for $658,500. It includes frontage on Squam Creek and a small working farm with chickens and vegetable gardens. Food & Wine magazine has named the Squire Tarbox dining room the coziest restaurant in Maine, calling it “as much of a getaway as they come.”

The DePietros had owned the inn, which dates from 1763 and 1820, for 16 years.

Dalton said she and Adams are already looking for a new chef (Mario DePietro did the cooking when he and his wife owned it), and whether or not they find one will largely determine if they open this summer.

“We don’t want just anybody,” she said. “We want it to be the right person.”

If she’s unable to find a chef for the approaching season, Dalton said she may ask DePietro, who is staying in the area, to cook dinner a couple of nights a week, or continue his “pizza nights,” which he had been offering every Monday.

“We may do a Mexican night because we’re from Texas,” Dalton said, suggesting that smoked fajitas and fish tacos could be on the menu.

Dalton and Adams both live in Houston, but Dalton and her husband own a home in Boothbay, as well as several vacation rentals in the area. She found the Squire Tarbox Inn while searching online for another property to buy.

Dalton’s son and his girlfriend will move to Maine for a year to work on design updates to the inn, including updating all the bathrooms.

Dalton said she wants to turn the inn into a wedding venue because “I’ve got a great old barn on the property.” She hopes to start hosting weddings regularly in 2019.

The interior of the inn should be ready for guests by June 1, she said.

Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:

Twitter: MeredithGoad

]]> 0 Squire Tarbox Inn on Westport Island has been sold, and its new owners say they plan to keep the restaurant – named "the coziest" in Maine – open.Sat, 24 Feb 2018 07:32:56 +0000
Backlash follows Cape Elizabeth decision not to retain special education director Fri, 23 Feb 2018 15:53:08 +0000 CAPE ELIZABETH — A decision not to renew the contract of the School Department’s special education director is being criticized by parents and school staff.

Jessica Clark was hired in July 2016 as the fourth special education director in the district since 2007. Clark replaced Jane Golding, who retired in 2015. Steve Floyd served as interim director in 2015-2016.

Clark signed a two-year probationary contract, which allows the School Department to evaluate whether an employee is a suitable fit before being granted permanent employment.

The School Board on Feb. 13 unanimously approved interim Superintendent Howard Colter’s recommendations for administrator probationary contract renewals for the 2018-2019 school year. Clark’s name was not on the list.

In a Feb. 16 email, Colter said he is responsible for making decisions about contract extensions for probationary employees and that, while the board can either approve or reject his nomination, it cannot select someone to hire independent of a nomination.

Colter said he could not discuss personnel matters and therefore could not say why Clark’s contract would not be renewed – a response that has people in the community puzzled and upset.

Clark’s husband, Richard, wrote an email to the School Board saying “recent events put into place by the leadership of Howard Colter” have not only come as a surprise to many in the district, but have also had a “very personal impact here at home.”

“My wife has not been given reason for her non-renewal status other than her not being the right fit,” Richard Clark wrote. “Jessica is the only one not being renewed. It appears as though she is being treated differently and she has no idea why.”

Richard Clark said his wife would not be speaking publicly on the matter. Instead, parents and faculty spoke on her behalf at the Feb. 13 School Board meeting that drew what Colter called a “full house.”

Jon Delisle, a special education teacher at Pond Cove Elementary School who has worked in the district since 2009, asked the board to reconsider Clark’s contract.

“She is not only a good fit for Cape Elizabeth, but rather a perfect fit,” Delisle said.

He noted the district’s mission statement: “Open Minds and Open Doors.”

“Recently the one word that sticks out to me in that phrase is ‘doors,’” Delisle said. “When it comes to special education leadership over the years, it does not feel like an open door here in Cape. It feels like a revolving door.”

Before Clark joined the department, Delisle said, “staff morale plummeted and trust was broken on many levels” because of frequent turnover in leadership.

“I can wholeheartedly agree that if Jessica Clark is not offered a contract for next year, we will be doing a disservice to students, parents, and staff,” Delisle said. “I can think of no other person in this district who has put more effort in and done more over the past year than Jessica Clark.”

Delisle was one of six speakers who addressed the board in support of Clark. No one spoke to urge not renewing her contract.

Jennifer Brooking said she has three students attending Cape schools, two of whom receive special education services.

“Our children have attended Cape schools for the past nine years. In that time, we have worked with four different special education directors. Jessica Clark has been the best by far,” Brooking said, calling Clark “respectful,” “helpful,” and “educated.”

Clark has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut, a master’s degree from Simmons College, a certificate of advanced studies degree from the University of New Hampshire, and is a board-certified behavior analyst.

Before joining the Cape Elizabeth schools, she was a consulting specialist at the New England Center for Children, where she provided behavioral and educational consultation for 12 school districts throughout New Hampshire since 2014.

She also served as NECC coordinator for teacher training and professional development for Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont and as a special education teacher, educational coordinator and education department specialist for the center from 2005 to 2009.

Before that, she was lead teacher, coordinator and behavioral consultant at Northwood Elementary School in Northwood, New Hampshire, and has two years of experience teaching special education in Maine at John F. Kennedy School in Biddeford.

“Jessica has been the intrinsic factor in productive, affirmative changes (in the special education department),” Brooking said. “Jessica has been understanding and responsive to our children’s needs, much more so than we have seen in other directors the district has employed over the years.”

The School Department’s clinical psychologist, Alina Perez, and occupational therapist, Maureen Cahill, echoed Delisle’s and Brooking’s remarks.

“This decision (to not renew Clark’s contract) will negatively impact Cape Elizabeth schools as well as the view neighboring communities will have on us if this is not reconsidered,” Cahill said.

Board Chairwoman Susana Measelle Hubbs did not respond to questions about whether the board is considering looking into the renewal of Clark’s contract.

According to Brooking, parents and faculty have asked for an explanation, but are being told it is a personnel issue.

“The decision was made very quietly,” Brooking said in a Feb. 16 email. “With Ms. Clark’s level of education and understanding of special ed law, policies and procedures, I cannot imagine that anything has been done to warrant a non-renewal.”

Jocelyn Van Saun can be contacted at 781-3661, ext. 183, or at:

Twitter: JocelynVanSaun

]]> 0, 23 Feb 2018 23:29:18 +0000
Higher demand, lower technology costs drive plans for indoor salmon farms Fri, 23 Feb 2018 15:39:11 +0000 Increased demand for sustainable seafood and reduced technology costs are stimulating growth in indoor aquaculture, including two Atlantic salmon farms planned for midcoast Maine.

Portland-based Whole Oceans announced plans Thursday for a $250 million indoor farm at the site of the former Verso paper mill in Bucksport. The news came less than a month after Nordic Aquafarms, a Norwegian company, released plans for a $150 million indoor salmon farm in nearby Belfast.

The timing of Whole Oceans’ announcement was coincidental, said corporate development director Ben Willauer. Whole Oceans’ project has been under development for six years and the company has been discussing a Bucksport location with town officials for 18 months.

Considering Americans’ rising appetite for sustainable fish, Willauer said he isn’t surprised that other companies are developing land-based fish farms in Maine. Roughly 95 percent of the 500,000 metric tons of Atlantic salmon consumed in the U.S. every year is imported from traditional offshore net and pen farms. That leaves a lucrative opening in the marketplace. As proof, Whole Oceans says it already has pre-sold its entire production output for the next decade.

“If you are a domestic producer of salmon, you have a real leg up in the overall space,” Willauer said. “There is a huge amount of opportunity for expansion in this space – I think that is why you are seeing new entrants into the market.”

Both farms plan to grow salmon in indoor tanks with recirculating aquaculture systems, known as RAS. The closed-loop technique filters and recycles about 99 percent of the water fish use through a continuous cycle. The technique has earned a “best choice” rating from the Monterey Aquarium Seafood Watch program.

The benefit of the systems is that they have almost no environmental impact, said Michael Timmons, a professor of biological and environmental engineering at Cornell University with 30 years of RAS experience.

“All of the water is recycled, very little of it is discharged and thrown into the environment,” Timmons said.

Indoor farms also eliminate concerns about pollution, disease or escape associated with offshore farms, although many of those concerns are overblown, he added.

“It is much more environmentally benign, typically considered sustainable because you can control the waste,” Timmons said.

The technology has been around since the 1960s, but costs have come down and equipment has become more efficient, making commercial-scale indoor fish farms economically viable, Timmons said. In the last 10 years, the electricity cost per kilogram of production has come down 70 percent, and future finfish aquaculture growth will be dominated by RAS systems, Timmons predicted. Last year, Norwegian producer Atlantic Sapphire announced construction of a $350 million indoor farm in Miami, Florida.

“All of those things have improved over the years; now it can be put together in a package that is economically competitive with net and pen,” he said. “We can produce fish with less capital investment and lower operating costs.”

The Bucksport project has been in the works for the last year and a half, as Whole Oceans discussed plans with town officials and state and federal regulators.

Whole Oceans wanted to make sure it had everything in place before announcing its decision, said Town Manager Susan Lessard. The company signed a purchase and sale agreement for 120 acres at the site of the former Verso paper mill on Thursday. The mill closed in 2014, putting 500 people out of work. It was demolished and sold for scrap a year later.

Whole Oceans’ plans fit into the town’s vision for an industrial property that is valuable but environmentally responsible, Lessard said.

“Their entire philosophy and commitment ties in very well in terms of what the community’s goals are,” she said. “Our attitude fits with Whole Oceans’ in terms of how they see their company and how they want a long-term relationship with the community.”

Whole Oceans plans to break ground on the development in August, with an initial $70 million investment. The final $250 million build out will consist of a building covering eight acres filled of 30-foot-tall by 60-foot-diameter fish tanks. Initial construction should be finished within a year and the first harvest ready in 2021, Willauer said. At full capacity, Whole Ocean wants to produce 50,000 tons of salmon a year and employ 200 workers.

Nearby Nordic Aquafarms has said it plans to create up to 140 jobs and harvest 33,000 tons of salmon a year at full capacity. The company has purchased 40 acres on the outskirts of Belfast and has purchase and sale agreements to increase its holdings to 80 acres.

Willauer said Whole Oceans expects to be able to hire locally and has reached out to Maine colleges and universities about workforce development opportunities.

“Globally, there is no university that has established a land-based aquaculture degree,” he said. “We are in a position right now to lead a multibillion-dollar industry coming into the U.S.”

Maine is the leading producer of farmed Atlantic salmon in the U.S., although its harvest is dwarfed by operations in Canada, Norway and Chile. Maine hosts about 29 Atlantic salmon leases, most located in Cobscook Bay, near Eastport in Washington County. Almost all of Maine’s salmon farms are owned by New Brunswick-based Cooke Aquaculture, which also operates in Canada, Washington state, Chile, Scotland and Spain.

Maine harvested about 24.5 million pounds – roughly 11,000 metric tons – of salmon worth $73.5 million in 2010, the last year in which state records were kept. Maine does not currently publish salmon aquaculture landings because fewer than three companies report them, and the numbers are therefore considered confidential, proprietary information.

Nationally, about 47.5 million pounds – or 21,545 metric tons – of salmon worth $87.7 million were harvested in the U.S. in 2015, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Whole Oceans is betting on growing demand for domestic salmon, especially from consumers who are becoming more environmentally conscious. A 2016 survey from the Marine Stewardship Council found that 72 percent of seafood consumers across 21 countries valued sustainability over price or brand.

“The high-end consumer is almost going to demand this level of quality in their fish when they find out about it,” Willauer said.

Maine’s branding as a place for world-class seafood is likely part of what attracted new, cutting-edge companies to invest in the state, said Sebastian Belle, executive director of the Maine Aquaculture Association.

“I think the market for Atlantic salmon is very strong, irrespective of where it comes from,” Belle said. “The market for Maine salmon is particularly strong because of its brand.”

Only time will tell if the two midcoast projects will work out, or if indoor salmon farming becomes a new industry for Maine, Belle added.

“I think it is a little early to tell – they are both large, very capital-intensive projects. I think investors will wait to see how they do before putting more money in,” he said. “But who knows? There are already two projects now.”

Peter McGuire can be reached at 791-6325 or at:

Twitter: PeteL_McGuire

]]> 0, 23 Feb 2018 23:55:56 +0000
Towed tugboat sinks after collision off southern Maine coast Fri, 23 Feb 2018 15:04:21 +0000 A tugboat carrying several fuel containers that was being towed to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, sank early Thursday after colliding with the tug that was towing it, Coast Guard officials said.

The collision occurred as fuel was being transferred from the Capt. Mackintire to the Helen Louise, the boat towing it, the Coast Guard said. The Capt. Mackintire was carrying diesel fuel in several drums and a fuel bladder, officials said.

The Capt. Mackintire had no crew on board and no one was injured, the Coast Guard said. It’s not yet clear how much diesel fuel spilled, and Coast Guard officials said they are “evaluating pollution potential” where the tug sank.

There were reports of a fuel sheen on the water in the area about three miles south of Kennebunk, but Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Cynthia Oldham said Coast Guard aircraft had not spotted any sheens and another flight was scheduled for Friday. A Coast Guard spokeswoman said the agency is hoping to set up a dive in the next few days to assess the condition of the sunken tug and determine if it and any remaining fuel can be recovered.

There were two crew members aboard the Helen Louise, according to the Coast Guard, one of whom reported the collision late Wednesday.

A Coast Guard vessel, the 87-foot Reef Shark, began towing the 74-year-old Capt. Mackintire to Portland after the collision, but the damaged tug started taking on water and the Coast Guard crew cut the towline. The Capt. Mackintire sank around 2 a.m. Thursday in about 158 feet of water, Coast Guard officials said.

At the time of the collision, Oldham said, the vessels were traveling through 6-foot swells with winds of about 12 knots and visibility of 10 miles.

The Helen Louise was escorted to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, early Thursday by a second Coast Guard vessel without incident.

Kevin Battle, Portland’s harbor master, said Coast Guard officials told him the Capt. Mackintire had several 55-gallon drums of fuel and a fuel bladder aboard.

Both the Capt. Mackintire and the Helen Louise are owned by Tim Whitney of Annapolis, Maryland, and the vessels were being transferred to him from Bar Harbor, Battle said. Whitney buys boats and fixes them up for use in movies and television, Battle said. A message left for Whitney at his boat repair yard in Annapolis was not immediately returned Friday.

Battle said he was told that the Mackintire’s engines had seized up at some point. As the Helen Louise was attempting to tow the Capt. Mackintire to Portsmouth, it developed fuel problems near Casco Bay and came into the harbor for repairs. The Mackintire was temporarily moored off Portland’s East End before the two vessels continued toward Portsmouth on Wednesday.

There was no sign that the tug was taking on water while it was moored off the eastern waterfront in Portland, Battle said. He said it broke loose from its mooring once, but was corralled by another tug in the harbor and remoored.

Battle said the two vessels had been reclassified as personal watercraft, making them subject to less restrictive safety requirements than those that apply to working tugboats.

The Mackintire’s fuel-tank capacity is 12,000 gallons, Coast Guard officials said, but their reports indicate it had about 4,400 gallons aboard at the time of the collision.

Jim Black, the harbormaster for Kennebunkport, said he alerted fishermen and other boaters in his town about the sinking and told them to watch for fuel sheens or floating barrels. He said none had been reported by late Friday morning.

The Capt. Mackintire was built in 1944 and operated originally in Florida. In 1969, it was bought by a tug company in Rhode Island and then sold in 1977 to a tugboat company in New London, Connecticut. That same year, it was sold to Winslow Marine in Southport and renamed the Marjorie J. Winslow. It was sold to the Eastport Port Authority in 2012 and renamed the Capt. Mackintire.

The Eastport Port Authority sold it in 2014 to a buyer from Queensland, Australia, port executive director Chris Gardner said. He said he had no information on the tugboat after that sale.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at:

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U.S. blacklists virtually all North Korean ships as part of new sanctions Fri, 23 Feb 2018 14:33:22 +0000 WASHINGTON – The Trump administration escalated pressure on North Korea on Friday by slapping sanctions on scores of companies and ships accused of illicit trading with the pariah nation. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the U.S. has now blacklisted virtually all ships being used by the North.

The administration billed it as the largest installment of North Korean economic restrictions to date as it intensifies its campaign of “maximum pressure” to get the North to give up its nuclear weapons. President Trump went further, declaring in a speech Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference that it was “the heaviest sanctions ever imposed on a country before.”

While that claim was questionable – previous U.S. measures have targeted bigger players in the North Korean economy, including Chinese and Russian banks and business networks – it significantly tightens the noose on North Korean trading. Mnuchin told reporters that the U.S. has now imposed more than 450 sanctions against the North, about half of them in the last year – including “virtually all their ships that they’re using at this moment in time.”

The United Nations Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions on North Korea in the past year. The restrictions are intended to deprive it of revenue and resources for its nuclear and ballistic missile development that pose an emerging threat to the U.S. mainland. Washington is particularly concerned about exports of North Korean coal that are prohibited by the U.N. sanctions and ship-to-ship transfers of imported oil and petroleum products.

The Treasury Department said it was barring U.S. business transactions with nine international shipping companies from China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Panama, and nine of their vessels. It also blacklisted 16 North shipping companies and 19 of their North Korean-flagged vessels.

Additionally, the department designated a Taiwanese citizen, Tsang Yung Yuan, and two companies he owns or controls. Tsang was said to have coordinated North Korean coal exports with a Russia-based North Korean broker, and attempted $1 million oil deal with a Russian company sanctioned for dealing with the North.

Mnuchin said the actions will significantly hinder North Korea’s ability to conduct evasive maritime activities that facilitate illicit coal and fuel transports, and “erode its abilities to ship goods through international waters.” He vowed the U.S. would “do everything” to stop the ship-to-ship transfers.

“We are putting companies and countries across the world on notice that this administration views compliance with U.S. and U.N. sanctions as a national security imperative. Those who trade with North Korea do so at their own peril,” Mnuchin said.

In his speech, Trump said “hopefully something positive can happen” from the sanctions pressure.

The announcement comes as South Korea hosts the Winter Olympics, an occasion the two Koreas have used as an opportunity to ease tensions and restart talks. Although South Korea is a close U.S. ally, animosity between Washington and Pyongyang still runs high.

Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and adviser, arrived in South Korea on Friday to attend the closing ceremony this weekend. At a dinner with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, she reaffirmed “our commitment to our maximum pressure campaign to ensure that the Korean Peninsula is denuclearized.” Mnuchin said Ivanka Trump had spoken to Moon about the new sanctions before the announcement.

The U.S. government also issued Friday a global shipping advisory highlighting the sanctions risk to those who enable shipments of goods to and from North Korea. It alerted industries to North Korea’s “deceptive shipping practices,” which includes falsifying the identity of vessels and disabling transponders that track ships’ movements.

The Treasury Department published photos of a U.S.-designated North Korean vessel, Kum Un San 3, which it said used false identifying information and conducted an illicit ship-to-ship transfer, possibly of oil, with a Panama-flagged vessel that was among the ships sanctioned Friday.

]]> 0, 23 Feb 2018 14:01:58 +0000
Friday Olympic highlights: Cross-country gold winner to carry U.S. flag in closing ceremony, and more . . . Fri, 23 Feb 2018 13:11:25 +0000 PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — The latest from the 2018 Winter Olympics:

Cross-country gold medalistJessie Diggins to carry U.S. flag

Gold medalist Jessie Diggins has been chosen to carry the flag for the U.S. into the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang Olympics.

She’s the first cross-country skier to carry the U.S. flag into any Olympic ceremony since Bill Koch at Albertville in 1992.

Kikkan Randall, left, and Jessica Diggins, gold medalists in the women’s team sprint freestyle cross-country skiing, pose during the medals ceremony Thursday in Pyeongchang. Associated Press/Patrick Semansky

This year, she memorably thrust herself across the finish line to give the Americans gold in the cross-country team sprint.

Retiring luge star and 2014 Olympic bronze medalist Erin Hamlin carried the U.S. flag into the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Games two weeks ago.

This becomes the first time women have been picked as U.S. flagbearers for both the opening and closing of an Olympics since 2004, when basketball’s Dawn Staley led the Americans into the Athens Games and soccer’s Mia Hamm carried the flag out.

Sweden routs Norway, Germany to win gold in men’s biathlon relay

Sweden routed powerhouses Norway and Germany to capture the gold medal in the men’s 4×7.5-kilometer relay in front of their king, Carl XVI Gustaf, to close out the biathlon competition at the Pyeongchang Games.

The team of Peppe Femling, Jesper Nelin, Sebastian Samuelsson and Fredrik Lindstroem teamed up to win by 55.5 seconds Friday over Norway, which took home the silver medal.

Johannes Thingnes Boe, of Norway, skis ahead Sebastian Samuelsson, of Sweden, during the men’s 4×7.5-kilometer biathlon relay Friday in Pyeongchang. Associated Press/Felipe Dana

The Germans won the bronze, marking the seventh time they have medaled in this event in the last eight Olympics.

Norway and Germany entered the race tied in the overall gold medal lead at the Pyeongchang Games at 13 and both desperately wanted to win.

Germany was in front until the final leg when Simon Schempp missed four of eight shots and had to do a penalty lap.

Speed skater Nuis of Netherlands wins 2nd gold medal

Kjeld Nuis of the Netherlands has become a double Olympic champion after adding gold in the 1,000-meters to the 1,500 title he won last week.

Nuis crossed in 1 minute, 7.95 seconds, and held an edge of 0.04 seconds over Havard Lorentzen of Norway, the 500-meter champion.

Kim Tae-yun had the support of the crowd at the Olympic oval and finished in 1.08.22 for bronze.

Russians shut out Czech Republic in men’s hockey semifinals

Veteran goaltender Vasily Koshechkin stopped all 31 shots he faced to put the Russians into the men’s gold medal hockey game with a 3-0 shutout against the Czech Republic in the semifinals at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Russian athlete Sergei Andronov (11) and Jan Kolar (29), of the Czech Republic, battle for the puck during the third period of the semifinal round of the men’s hockey game in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday. Associated Press/Frank Franklin II

With teammates mostly clearing the way in front of him to let him see the puck, Koshechkin made save after save look routine in eliminating the Czech Republic. Koshechkin will almost certainly start the final Sunday.

Kontinental Hockey League star Nikita Gusev and Vladislav Gavrikov scored goals 27 seconds apart in the second period on plays Czech goaltender Pavel Francouz had little chance of stopping. Ilya Kovalchuk added an empty-netter with 20.9 seconds left to seal the Russians’ first trip to the gold medal game since 1998.

Canada and Germany’s semifinal is later Friday.

Swiss men top Canada for curling bronze

The Swiss men have won curling’s bronze medal, sending Canada to its worst finish ever in the sport.

Switzerland’s team of Peter de Cruz, Benoit Schwarz, Claudio Paetz and Valentin Tanner beat Canada 7-5 on Friday. Schwarz took out two Canadian stones with his last throw of the 10th and final end. With one throw left, Canada could not score the two points it needed to force an extra end.

Canada won the last three gold medals in Olympic men’s curling and had never even failed to reach the gold medal match since the sport was restored to the Olympics in 1998. The Canadian women also failed to medal – the first time they’d missed the podium.

“I know that after results like this, people are going to reflect on what went wrong,” Canadian third Marc Kennedy said. “But at the end of the day, it just comes down to individual performance.”

Canada did win a gold medal in mixed curling, which was added to the Winter Games this year.

Team USA falling far short of medal predictions

Leaders at the U.S. Olympic Committee projected Team USA to win 37 medals at the Pyeongchang Games – a goal the U.S. will not come close to reaching when the Olympics close on Sunday.

The Associated Press obtained a slide that was presented to the USOC board in meetings last year, and used to set expectations and funding levels for the Winter Games.

Heading into the final 48 hours of action, the United States had 21 medals. Even if things were to go well over the handful of remaining events, the team will fall more than 10 medals short of the goal.

Alan Ashley, the USOC’s chief of sport performance, tells AP the team is doing fine. He says another way to view it is the number of close calls America has had at these games. The U.S. has placed fourth or fifth in 21 events.

Russians take gold, silver in women’s figure skating

The Russians have come to dominate women’s figure skating and they showed it by sweeping the top two medals at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Even their closest rivals acknowledge how much ground they have to make up. But what’s much more difficult to pin down is whether it’s possible to close the gap and what it will take for someone to rise to the Russians’ level.

Alina Zagitova won individual gold with 239.57 points Friday, beating her training partner and close friend Evgenia Medvedeva by less than two points. Zagitova became the first Russian gold medalist at the games.

That she and Medvedeva would stand on the top two steps of the podium at Gangneung Ice Arena was about as predictable as the sun rising over the nearby Sea of Japan, the only question left being what order they would finish.

Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond put together two clean programs for what she claimed was the first time ever, and she still only managed 231.02 points, leaving her a distant – but quite happy – third.

South Korean curling team winning world’s affection

South Korea’s women’s curling team has become a global sensation. And they don’t even know it.

The team known as the “Garlic Girls” came into the Pyeongchang Games as the underdog who few believed would medal. Now they’re number one in the rankings.

They have earned worldwide attention for their fierce talent and funny personality.

But their coach has shielded them from publicity and the women agreed to turn off their phones before the Games. So they have no idea they’re superstars.

They got their name from their hometown of Uiseong, known for its prolific garlic production.

Canadian hockey player regrets not wearing her silver medal

Canadian defenseman Jocelyne Larocque says she wishes she hadn’t taken off her silver medal almost immediately after it was placed around her neck at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Larocque issued a statement through Team Canada apologizing to the IOC, International Ice Hockey Federation, the Pyeongchang Olympic Organizing Committee, the Canadian Olympic Committee, Hockey Canada and her teammates and fans.

She says her emotions got the best of her Thursday after a 3-2 shootout loss to the United States and she meant no disrespect. Larocque says she takes being a role model and representing Canada seriously and is truly sorry that her actions did not represent her values or those of her family and team.

The general manager of Canada’s national team programs says they expect professionalism and sportsmanship from their players.

]]> 0, 23 Feb 2018 08:41:00 +0000
Another Russian tests positive for a banned substance Fri, 23 Feb 2018 11:43:29 +0000 The Russian delegation at the Pyeongchang Olympics says a bobsledder tested positive for a banned substance called trimetazdine.

Russian Bobsled Federation President Alexander Zubkov told The Associated Press on Friday that a drug-test sample that pilot Nadezhda Sergeeva gave was positive.

The Russian delegation said in a statement that the substance found was trimetazdine, a medication used for angina sufferers. It is listed by the World Anti-Doping Agency as a banned substance affecting the metabolism.

Zubkov says Sergeeva confirms she took no such medication.

Sergeeva’s crew finished 12th in the women’s bobsled competition Wednesday after she had given the sample that later came back positive.

The Russian team was barred from the Pyeongchang Olympics for doping in Sochi, but the International Olympic Committee invited 168 athletes from the country to compete under the Olympic flag.

Meanwhile, the olympic committee said a ceremony has been scheduled to give Norway’s mixed doubles curlers the bronze medal stripped from the Russian team over another incidence of doping.

The IOC said on Twitter that Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten’s medals will be presented at the medals plaza Saturday – a rare quick turnaround for such a case.

The tweet included a photo of olympic committee President Thomas Bach welcoming Skaslien and Nedregotten back to Pyeongchang.

Russian curler Alexander Krushelnitsky was stripped of his medal after admitting to a doping violation. He tested positive for the banned substance meldonium after winning bronze in mixed doubles with his wife, Anastasia Bryzgalova.

]]> 0, 23 Feb 2018 06:58:20 +0000
Ivanka Trump arrives in South Korea for Olympics closing Fri, 23 Feb 2018 11:28:10 +0000 SEOUL, South Korea — Ivanka Trump received a red-carpet welcome in South Korea on Friday as head of the U.S. delegation to this weekend’s closing ceremony for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

The daughter of President Trump made a brief statement, broadcast live on TV, at the airport before heading to a dinner with President Moon Jae-in in the presidential compound in Seoul.

A high-level North Korean delegation will also attend the closing ceremony, but the South Korean government said it’s unlikely that Ivanka Trump will meet the North Koreans or defectors from North Korea. Speculation is high in South Korea that she might deliver a message from President Trump on North Korea.

She said at Incheon airport that “we are very, very excited to attend the 2018 Olympic Winter Games to cheer for Team USA and to reaffirm our strong and enduring commitment with the people of the Republic of Korea.”

South Korean media said Moon would emphasize the importance of holding U.S.-North Korea talks in the dinner with Ivanka Trump and other members of the U.S. delegation.

Moon hopes to make the Olympics an avenue for peace on the divided Korean Peninsula.

While the games appear to have paved a way for possible rapprochement between the two Koreas, U.S. and North Korean officials have yet to make direct contact. Earlier this week, the U.S. government said Vice President Mike Pence had been set to meet North Korean officials during his visit to South Korea for the opening ceremony, but that the North Korean side canceled at the last minute.

Moon met Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and Kim Yong Nam, North Korea’s nominal head of state, a day after the opening ceremony and urged North Korea to do more to engage in a dialogue with the United States.

For now, there are no signs that Ivanka Trump will meet Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee, who is to attend the closing ceremony.

The White House has emphasized that the purpose of her visit is to celebrate the achievements of the athletes, noting that she is a winter sports enthusiast herself. She is expected to attend the games on Saturday before Sunday’s closing ceremony.

]]> 0, 23 Feb 2018 09:36:08 +0000
Ellsworth student charged with threatening high school Fri, 23 Feb 2018 02:40:20 +0000 A high school student in Maine accused of threatening a school shooting in posts on an online gaming site has been arrested.

Ellsworth schools Superintendent Daniel Higgins says the threat did not reference a specific school, but the website’s host provided the FBI with an IP address that led to an Ellsworth High School student.

Nineteen-year-old Michael Allen was arrested and charged with terrorizing.

Police Chief Glenn Moshier tells WCSH-TV the threat did not mention any specific time or date but was determined to be credible. He says the author of the messages estimated he could kill as many as 30 people and become “the most notorious person.”

Moshier says Allen was supposed to graduate from the school last year but has yet to meet a few non-academic requirements.

]]> 0 Thu, 22 Feb 2018 23:28:45 +0000
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]]> 0, 22 Feb 2018 21:37:37 +0000
Evangelist Billy Graham’s body to lie in honor at U.S. Capitol Fri, 23 Feb 2018 02:09:47 +0000 MONTREAT, N.C. — The Rev. Billy Graham’s body will lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda next week, the first time a private citizen has been accorded such recognition since civil rights hero Rosa Parks in 2005.

The two-day viewing in Washington on Feb. 28 and March 1 will be part of nine days of mourning for postwar America’s most famous evangelist, who died Wednesday at his home in North Carolina’s mountains at age 99.

“America’s Pastor” will be laid to rest March 2 at the foot of a cross-shaped walkway at the worldwide headquarters of his evangelical empire in Charlotte, buried in a simple prison-made plywood coffin next to his wife, Ruth, who died in 2007.

His tombstone will read “Preacher of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday announced the plans to honor Graham at the Capitol, a rite usually accorded presidents and other statesmen. A viewing will also be held at Graham’s Charlotte library on Monday and Tuesday.

The North Carolina-born farm boy reached hundreds of millions of listeners around with the world with his rallies – or what he called “crusades” – and his pioneering use of television.

More than anyone else, Graham built evangelicalism into a force that rivaled liberal Protestantism and Roman Catholicism in the U.S., and he became a confidant of presidents and other leaders.

His coffin was built by inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana, who typically construct caskets for fellow prisoners who cannot afford one.

Graham’s son the Rev. Franklin Graham toured the prison in 2005 and said he was so moved by the simple boxes lined with a mattress pad with a wooden cross nailed to the top that he asked for ones for his mother and father.

The funeral at Graham’s Charlotte headquarters will be held in a tent in the main parking lot of the library in tribute to the tent revivals in Los Angeles in 1949 that propelled him to international fame, family spokesman Mark Demoss said.

About 2,000 people are expected at the private, invitation-only funeral, and invitations are being sent to President Trump and the five living ex-presidents, DeMoss said.

Around Montreat, where Graham lived, he was a humble presence known to slip quietly into a local church for Sunday services.

Shelby Crump of Starr, South Carolina, was visiting the town when she heard the news of the evangelist’s death.

“A lot of people were saved through his preaching,” she said.

]]> 0 Billy Graham gestures as several hundred persons bow heads as they answer the call to have their souls “Cleansed of sin” at rally in City Hall Auditorium in Portland, Maine March 28, 1950. The 31 year old preacher spoke to 6,000 persons as he launcher his New England tour. (AP Photo)Thu, 22 Feb 2018 21:55:45 +0000
Grant funds could finish off visitors’ center, other Bond Brook Recreation Area amenities in Augusta Fri, 23 Feb 2018 01:27:26 +0000 AUGUSTA — The first phase of improvements to Bond Brook Recreation Area could be completed using $50,000 in grant funding.

The money is expected to help finish off projects begun at the city-owned area located roughly between the Augusta State Airport, Mount Vernon Avenue, Bond Brook and the urban area of the city, including the visitors’ center building, trail signs and trail development.

Last year the city received a $50,000 grant from Friends of Maine’s Mountains to be used for capital improvements to the 300-acre recreation area featuring trails for hiking, mountain biking, skiing, snowshoeing, birding and other nonmotorized recreational uses.

The specifics of what the money will be used for were determined by city officials and Augusta Trails, the city’s partner for the past eight years in the development of trails at Bond Brook Recreation Area.

Bill Rogers, president of Augusta Trails, said the $50,000 would be used to complete the already-existing visitors center building by adding solar electricity and heat so it can be used year-round, and start development of trails that ultimately could link to other trail networks, including the Kennebec River Rail Trail and trails at the University of Maine at Augusta, among other projects.

“We’ve got a number of good things going on at Bond Brook that need some funds to help finish them off,” Leif Dahlin, community services director, told city councilors Thursday.

The Augusta Trails board of directors met twice and recommended the city use the money as follows:

• Trail development and maintenance, $16,000;

• Installation of solar panels and electrical equipment for a visitors’ shelter, $12,000;

• Repairs and maintenance of equipment used to maintain the recreation area, $10,000;

• Finishing the visitors’ shelter with painted trim, painted interior and stained exterior, $5,000;

• Updating social media and websites, $3,000;

• Setting up kiosks where information can be posted in the recreation area, $2,000; and

• Posting signs to mark trails and post other information for area users, $2,000.

In general, the money, part of a number of recent grant awards from Friends of Maine’s Mountains totaling $1 million, is meant to help projects that help conserve natural resources.

The grant requires no matching local funds.

Augusta Trails is a local nonprofit group that led efforts, in a partnership with the city as well as the Central Maine Chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association, to create more than 13 miles of trails in the recreation area.

The recreation area is accessed primarily via Tall Pines Way, a dirt road into the site built with help from the Maine Army National Guard off Bond Brook Road. There’s another entrance in the cemetery next to Augusta State Airport.

Rogers told city councilors the influx of money will help improve the wooded recreation area to make it an even better four-season attraction. Rogers said it has been 10 years since the city authorized acquiring additional land to create the recreation area and eight years since councilors authorized trail development there.

In the meantime, about $600,000 in donated money and in-kind contributions of labor have been put into the recreation area.

City councilors are expected to vote on the proposed use of the $50,000 at their meeting next week. On Thursday, officials expressed support for the plan and the work done at the area already.

“I think it’s a gem in the city. I think we all do,” Mayor David Rollins said.

The source of the grant money is a settlement reached between Friends of Maine’s Mountains and Blue Sky West LLC in 2015, when the Friends group, which formed to oppose wind energy projects in Maine, agreed to drop a lawsuit against SunEdison. The company developed the Bingham Wind Project in Piscataquis and Somerset counties in 2016.

The settlement between the two parties specified the wind project developer would provide $2.5 million for conservation projects across Maine, to be distributed through Friends of Maine’s Mountains.

The recreation area hosts the annual Treadfest, featuring mountain bike races, which drew more than 300 people to participate over two days, June 24 and 25.

Rogers and Dahlin said the area’s professionally designed trails one day could host international ski races.

Rogers said long-term possibilities at the area include a tubing and sledding hill with a lift, snowmaking, and, if the funding and interest are there, a biathlon range.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

Twitter: @kedwardskj

]]> 0 Rogers, president of Augusta Trails, rides his mountain bike down a trail at the Bond Brook Recreation Area in Augusta on June 29.Fri, 23 Feb 2018 09:36:48 +0000
Airports having fun with ‘Black Panther’ futurist nation Fri, 23 Feb 2018 01:21:00 +0000 Some airports had fun this week on Twitter with the futuristic African country in the hit movie “Black Panther.”

Orlando International Airport tweeted a photo of an airplane bearing the words “Wakanda Air” and a black panther logo.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport tweeted a photo of a sign listing a 7:30 p.m. departure to Wakanda. with the words, “The bags are packed. #Wakanda forever.”

Lupita Nyong’o tweeted back, “Apart from La Femme Nakia, what else is on the in-flight entertainment? T’Challa’s Angels, M’Baku To The Future, Shuri’s Gotta Have It, Killmonger Bill, W’Kabi In The Woods…?”

]]> 0, 23 Feb 2018 07:50:59 +0000
Authorities warn of telephone scam by police impersonator Fri, 23 Feb 2018 01:15:34 +0000 The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office is warning that an individual posing as a police captain has been threatening people with arrest unless they pay a “fine.”

The individual represents himself on the telephone as a sheriff’s office captain and accuses the person of missing federal jury duty. He then tells the person that a warrant has been issued for their arrest, said Sheriff Kevin J. Joyce in a release.

The scammer asks the person to obtain a gift card to pay a fine or contact the Cumberland County Jail. Joyce said if a person misses jury duty, the sheriff’s office will not be calling. The courts handle all jury duty matters.

Anyone who receives such a call should contact local police or the Cumberland County Regional Communications Center at 893-2810.

]]> 0 South Portland Police Department began using dashboard-mounted cameras in city cruisers in the 1990s; later this month or in early February, officers will be equipped with body cameras.Fri, 23 Feb 2018 08:42:53 +0000
Did European 
art scene begin 
with ancient Neanderthals? Fri, 23 Feb 2018 01:14:30 +0000 NEW YORK — From the murky depths of Spanish caves comes a surprising insight: Neanderthals created art.

That’s been proposed before, but experts say two new studies finally give convincing evidence that our evolutionary cousins had the brainpower to make artistic works and use symbols.

The key finding: New age estimates that show paintings on cave walls and decorated seashells in Spain were created long before our species entered Europe. So there’s no way Homo sapiens could have made them or influenced Neanderthals to merely copy their artwork.

Until now, most scientists thought all cave paintings were the work of our species. But the new work concludes that some previously known paintings – an array of lines, some disks and the outline of a hand – were rendered about 20,000 years before H. sapiens moved into Europe.

That’s a surprise that “constitutes a major breakthrough in the field of human evolution studies,” said Wil Roebroeks of Leiden University in the Netherlands, an expert on Neanderthals who didn’t participate in the new work.

The second study provided evidence that Neanderthals used pigments and piercings to modify shells some 115,000 years ago, which is far earlier than similar artifacts are associated with H. sapiens anywhere. That shows Neanderthals “were quite capable of inventing the ornaments themselves,” said Paola Villa of the University of Colorado Museum in Boulder, who also didn’t participate in the new work.

Neanderthals lived in Europe and Asia before disappearing about 40,000 years ago, around the time H. sapiens moved into Europe from Africa.

]]> 0 shells found in sediment near Cartagena, Spain. The artifacts date to between 115,000 and 120,000 years ago.Thu, 22 Feb 2018 21:46:52 +0000
Vassalboro applying for grant to fund sewer project Fri, 23 Feb 2018 00:50:44 +0000 VASSALBORO — The Vassalboro Sanitary District has just one more hurdle to clear before it can begin work on overhauling much of its 30-year-old wastewater system.

After a three-year effort to secure the money to fund the project, the town of Vassalboro is applying for a public infrastructure grant of about $1 million through the state’s community development block grant program on behalf of the district, which, upon approval, would shore up the $7.1 million needed for the district’s construction of new wastewater pumping stations and a force main transition pipeline to move Vassalboro’s wastewater to Winslow’s sewer system. Federal and state grants and loans make up most of the $6.1 million the district already has secured to fund the project.

The district’s board of trustees discussed the need for the grant and the purpose of the project at a public hearing Thursday evening at the Town Office.

The need for the overhaul stems from the fact that the district’s equipment is nearly obsolete. The system that the town currently uses is over 30 years old and has come to the end of its life, according to Ray Breton, the chairman of the district’s trustees. The three pumping stations, which are located in East and North Vassalboro, were constructed in the 1980s and haven’t had any major upgrades since then.

“It’s time to revamp everything,” Breton said during an interview before the hearing. “It’s maxed out and barely meeting the requirements of the state.”

The district currently uses open sand filters to treat the water, which is creating a health hazard and an odorous nuisance for residents. Additionally, the sand filters can’t remove phosphorous from the water that’s discharged into Outlet Stream, which will be required under new state restrictions.

Another problem, the board said, is that the equipment’s frequent failure can result in high-cost emergency operation and sewage overflow.

The board said the project also could benefit the alewife fishery restoration effort.

Once the project is complete, the sand filters would be removed and grass will be planted in that location.

The original projection of the cost of the project was $6.1 million, but that estimate has increased by $1 million because of several factors, the board said. One of them is that a lot of time has passed since they got the original projection, and during that time construction prices have risen.

The project’s annual cost is expected to be $280,000, which probably would be paid for through charges to the district’s 196 customers.

“We have to do it, and we don’t have much of a choice,” Breton said. “What it costs is what it costs.”

The district expects to be notified by June 1 about whether its grant application has been approved. If it is approved, the district hopes to begin construction by September and complete the work in September 2019.

Emily Higginbotham — 861-9239

Twitter: @EmilyHigg

]]> 0 Fri, 23 Feb 2018 09:47:42 +0000
Armed resource officer stayed outside Florida school while massacre took place Fri, 23 Feb 2018 00:45:40 +0000 TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The armed officer on duty at the Florida school where a shooter killed 17 people never went inside to engage the gunman and has been placed under investigation, officials announced Thursday.

The Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School by a gunman armed with an AR-15 style assault rifle has reignited national debate over gun laws and school safety, including proposals by President Donald Trump and others to designate more people — including trained teachers — to carry arms on school grounds. Gun-control advocates, meanwhile, have redoubled their push to ban assault rifles.

The school resource officer at the high school took up a position viewing the western entrance of the building that was under attack for more than four minutes, but “he never went in,” Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said at a Thursday news conference. The shooting lasted about six minutes.

The officer, Scot Peterson, was suspended without pay and placed under investigation, then chose to resign, Israel said. When asked what Peterson should have done, Israel said the deputy should have “went in, addressed the killer, killed the killer.”

The sheriff said he was “devastated, sick to my stomach. There are no words. I mean these families lost their children. We lost coaches. I’ve been to the funerals. I’ve been to the homes where they sit and shiver. I’ve been to the vigils. It’s just, ah, there are no words.”

There was also a communication issue between the person reviewing the school’s security system footage and officers who responded to the school.

Coral Springs Police Chief Tony Pustizzi said during a Thursday news conference that the footage being reviewed was 20 minutes old, so the responding officers were hearing that the shooter was in a certain place while officers already in that location were saying that wasn’t the case.

“There was nothing wrong with their equipment. Their equipment works,” Pustizzi said. “It’s just that when the person was reviewing the tape from 20 minutes earlier, somehow that wasn’t communicated to the officers that it was a 20-minute delay.”

Pustizzi said the confusion didn’t put anyone in danger.

The shooting suspect, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, has been jailed on 17 counts of murder and has admitted the attack. He owned a collection of weapons. Defense attorneys, state records and people who knew him indicate that he displayed behavioral troubles for years.

Broward County incident reports show that unidentified callers contacted authorities with concerns about Cruz in February 2016 and November 2017. The first caller said they had third-hand information that Cruz planned to shoot up the school. The information was forwarded to the Stoneman Douglas resource officer. The second caller said Cruz was collecting guns and knives and believed “he could be a school shooter in the making.”

Politicians under pressure to tighten gun laws in response to the mass shooting floated various plans Thursday, but most fell short of reforms demanded by student activists who converged Wednesday on Florida’s Capitol.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said a visit to Stoneman Douglas prompted him to change his stance on large capacity magazines. The Republican insisted he is willing to rethink his past opposition on gun proposals if there is information the policies would prevent mass shootings.

“If we are going to infringe on the Second Amendment, it has to be a policy that will work,” Rubio said in an interview Thursday with The Associated Press.

State Sen. Bill Galvano, who is helping craft a bill in response to the shooting deaths, said an idea gaining traction is a program that would allow local sheriffs to deputize someone at a school to carry a gun on campus.

Galvano insisted the idea is not the same as arming teachers. He said the program would be optional and the deputized person would have to be trained by local law-enforcement agencies.

Florida Senate President Joe Negron said both chambers are working on the legislation in response to the Parkland shootings. He said a final draft should be available “early next week at the latest.”

Republican legislative leaders in Florida say they will consider legislation that will likely call for raising the age limit to purchase a rifle from 18 to 21 and increasing funding for mental health programs and school resource officers, the police assigned to specific schools. Legislators may also enact a waiting period for rifle purchases. What won’t be considered is a ban on assault-style rifles.

A day after an emotional meeting with survivors and their families, Trump tweeted his strongest stance yet on gun control. He said he would endorse strengthening background checks, banning “bump stock” style devices and raising the minimum age to 21 for buying certain rifles.

At a conference of conservative activists Thursday near Washington, Vice President Mike Pence said the administration would make school safety “our top national priority” after the shooting at the school in Parkland, Florida.

Calling school shootings “evil in our time,” Pence exhorted those in positions of authority “to find a way to come together with American solutions.”

It was a markedly different tone than that deployed on stage minutes earlier by NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre, who delivered an unbowed defense of gun ownership and lashed out at Democrats — saying they are using the tragedy for “political gain.”

On Thursday, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson gave Rubio credit for being the only Republican to attend a televised town hall Wednesday night held in the aftermath of the school shooting and criticized Republican Gov. Rick Scott for not showing up.

“I commended (Rubio) for being there. He had the guts to be there when Governor Scott did not,” Nelson told a group of Democratic state senators.

Scott is likely to challenge Nelson as he seeks a fourth term in the Senate this November. Nelson questioned Scott’s commitment to make meaningful change after the shooting.

Spencer reported from Parkland, Florida. Associated Press writers Freida Frisaro and Curt Anderson in Miami, Kelli Kennedy in Coral Springs, Florida, Joe Reedy in Tallahassee, Tamara Lush in St. Petersburg and Alex Sanz in Atlanta contributed to this report.

]]> 0, 23 Feb 2018 08:43:22 +0000
Gray woman charged with animal cruelty asks court for return of her 80 dogs Fri, 23 Feb 2018 00:36:20 +0000 A Gray woman facing an animal cruelty charge is seeking to have the 80 dogs seized from her last month returned to the small home she shares with her 91-year-old mother.

Anita McBride’s lawyer asked for a show cause hearing, which gave her a chance to argue Thursday that McBride should get the dogs back. At one point, lawyers for the state went dog-by-dog, asking an assistant state veterinarian who examined the canines as they were removed from the house to describe each dog’s health.

The veterinarian said only a handful were judged to be ailment-free, and that dozens had worms and many had skin or dental problems.

McBride and her lawyer spent more than eight hours trying to convince a judge at Maine District Court in Portland that the dogs should be returned. They were taken from her Jan. 22 after state officials determined McBride had failed to care for them properly since she moved in with her mother in November. The judge said she will rule in the next few days.

McBride is expected to be prosecuted on the animal cruelty charge, a misdemeanor, in the spring.

She has admitted that her mother’s house was a mess when she traveled to Maine from Oklahoma in November, bringing roughly 55 dogs with her. She said the rooms were so filled with totes and bags of belongings, including her mother’s collection of Beanie Babies, that only a narrow corridor existed for walking between most rooms – primarily from the front door to her mother’s recliner, and from there to the bathroom.

But McBride insisted at the hearing that she has made progress in cleaning the small Cape-style house, showing pictures to the judge of several decluttered rooms.

Not enough, state officials said, countering with pictures of the mess that existed while the dogs were there.

State officials visited the Gray house twice in December after a local animal control officer reported that the animals weren’t being properly cared for. They said they found animal feces and urine on the floor, and dogs stored in crates stacked on top of each other. One dog crate held four dogs, state officials said, and there were signs that the animals weren’t given water regularly and that some didn’t go outside often into an 80-foot-by-60-foot enclosure.

Dogs that had recently given birth were housed in rooms that other dogs could access, in violation of a state law that requires mother dogs and their pups a place of solitude.

Once they determined that McBride wasn’t making sufficient progress in improving the situation, officials said, they seized the dogs and cats. The animals have been placed in shelters around the state at a total cost of $400 a day.

Dr. Rachael Fisk, the assistant state veterinarian, told the judge that the smell of ammonia from the dog urine in the house was so strong that she took a meter with her to record the concentration when officials seized the dogs. It read 22 parts per million, she said, just shy of the threshold that would have required workers to don gas masks.

Danielle Jersey, a humane agent for the state Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, said the stairway to the second floor was so cluttered with trash that the dogs couldn’t go up there. The cats made that their domain, she said, leaving all 80 dogs in the small confines of the first floor. Even the cats seemed to lack proper care, she said, their litter boxes overflowing with feces.

The house’s well is contaminated, so McBride said she obtained water for the animals by filling jugs from a spigot near the town fire house.

State officials said the water bowls were either dry – or, if outside, frozen solid – when they checked.

Will Barry, an assistant district attorney for Cumberland County, said that whatever her intent, McBride doesn’t have the means to properly care for the animals.

She takes in about $950 a month in Social Security disability payments and gets financial help from her husband, who works as a trucking dispatcher in California. She also makes money selling puppies, but she isn’t licensed to run a breeding operation.

McBride said she filed a license application a couple of weeks ago, but she finds the state’s requirements confusing. She also argued that she was trained as a veterinary technician years ago and understands how to care for the dogs, which she called her “babies.”

But properly feeding the dogs and providing them with deworming medicine and regular vet checks would exceed McBride’s ability to pay, Barry said.

Asked Thursday if there were any animals she would part with to help make it easier for her to feed and care for the others, McBride said she would “reluctantly” let her mother’s two cats go and then listed about 11 dogs she would part with, primarily dachshunds.

She did not explain the reasoning behind her choices, but did reject an accusation that the older dogs were the ones she was willing to surrender.

State officials said they also offered to take some of the dogs off McBride’s hands before they were seized, but she repeatedly refused. Jersey, the state humane agent, suggested greed might have played a part.

As the puppies were taken out of the house, Jersey said, McBride sat on the steps and made comments about the lost opportunity to sell the dogs.

McBride said, “There’s $1,000 going out the door. That dog’s worth at least that much,” Jersey recounted.

But Fisk was reluctant to draw a totally negative conclusion from comments like that.

“I don’t think Ms. McBride intended to treat them cruelly,” she said. “But they were treated cruelly.”

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

]]> 0 McBride said she moved from Oklahoma to Gray in November, accompanied by roughly 55 animals, to help her ailing 91-year-old mother clear out her home. She said the accusations against her are false, misleading or contain incomplete information. "I have been cleaning since ... I got here," she said.Thu, 22 Feb 2018 22:16:54 +0000
Airbnb will use inspectors to certify that rentals are up to snuff Fri, 23 Feb 2018 00:17:08 +0000 SAN FRANCISCO — Airbnb is dispatching inspectors to rate some of the properties listed on its home-rental service in an effort to reassure travelers they’re booking nice places to stay.

The Plus program, unveiled Thursday, is aimed at winning over travelers who aren’t sure they can trust the current, computer-driven analysis of reviews posted by past guests. The misleading pictures drawn by Airbnb’s rating system have become a big enough problem to spawn a website devoted to horror stories spanning from an overcrowded, dirty “hippy commune ” in Pasadena, California, to a Paris vacation ruined in a moldy, bug-infested apartment.

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky says the company’s internal surveys have found travelers willing to pay more for inspector-certified properties, allowing homeowners and apartment dwellers to recoup a $149 fee to participate in Plus.

Human inspectors will review properties based on a 100-point checklist covering everything from the speed of the Wi-Fi to the bedding. Properties that fail can still be part of Airbnb’s regular listings; the company will also offer advice on improvements to qualify.

The program will initially cover about 2,000 properties in 13 cities – Austin, Texas; Barcelona, Spain; Cape Town, South Africa; Chicago; Los Angeles; London; Melbourne, Australia; Milan; Rome; San Francisco; Shanghai, Sydney and Toronto. That’s a small fraction of the roughly 4.5 million properties listed on Airbnb in 81,000 cities worldwide. By the end of the year, Chesky foresees verifying 75,000 homes in 50 cities.

Airbnb is shaking things up at a time its growth has been slowing, a trend the company would like to reverse before it sells its stock in an initial public offering expected within the next two years. Despite its popularity, Airbnb remains unprofitable, with a loss of $75 million on revenue of nearly $2.6 billion last year, according to financial statements reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

At an event in San Francisco, Airbnb announced other steps to become more like a traditional hospitality company instead of an industry renegade that has siphoned business away from major hotels. Frequent travelers will quality for discounts and other perks. The company also is adding other rental categories, including bed-and-breakfast inns and boutique hotels.

A major hotel industry group slammed Airbnb’s expansion as a sham. “Airbnb’s latest scheme is just further proof the company is trying to play in the hoteling space while evading industry regulations,” said Troy Flanagan of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. “If Airbnb wants to enter the hoteling business, then it needs to be regulated, taxed and subject to the same safety compliances.”

Airbnb’s success has drawn fire from city officials upset about lost revenue from hotel taxes. It has also stirred protests from long-time renters of homes that are being converted into short-term places to stay instead. Airbnb’s critics contend the latter trend has been making it even more difficult to find a place to live in cities such as San Francisco, where housing is already scarce and expensive.

Airbnb argues it is enabling more people to stay in their current homes by helping them bring in more money.

]]> 0, ME - OCTOBER 8: Gary Wagner vaccums the half of his home he rents out on Airbnb after guests had left Thursday, October 8, 2015. (Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer)Thu, 22 Feb 2018 23:24:14 +0000
Trump Jr. does brisk business in India Fri, 23 Feb 2018 00:17:06 +0000 NEW DELHI — Want an evening out in India with Donald Trump Jr.? Sorry, even if you have an extra $39,000 it’s probably too late to buy a “conversation and dinner” with the eldest son of the American president.

For over a week, full-page newspaper ads promised a Friday night dinner with Trump Jr. to buyers who put down a $39,000 deposit for an apartment in a new Trump project in a New Delhi suburb.

But the money had to be paid, the ads said, before Thursday.

Officials at M3M, the Indian company that will build the new Trump complex, did not immediately respond when asked whether late-comers would be allowed for dinner.

Trump Jr., who has run the Trump Organization with his brother Eric since his father took office, arrived in India on Tuesday to promote Trump-brand real estate projects across the country. He is also slated to make a speech about Indo-Pacific relations at a business summit in New Delhi, along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

More than 85 apartments worth $108 million have been sold in the yet-to-be-built Trump Towers in Gurgaon, on the outskirts of the Indian capital, said Kalpesh Mehta of Tribeca Developers, Trump Organization’s Indian partner. Apartments in the complex, which is scheduled to be completed by 2023, cost from $775,000 to $1.5 million.

On Monday alone, the day before Trump Jr. landed in India, buyers scooped up $15 million in apartments, Mehta told ET-Now television earlier this week. The station is owned by the Times Group, a sponsor of the Global Business Summit where Trump Jr. will speak.

Media access to Trump Jr. has been limited, with only hand-picked journalists allowed access to events that he attends.

The Trump Organization charges a licensing fee to Indian partners who build the properties under the Trump name. One complex is already open in the central city of Pune, while four others are in varying stages of construction, one each in Mumbai and Kolkata and two in Gurgaon.

All the deals were signed before President Trump took office, but Trump Jr.’s promotional trip has raised ethics concerns.

Trump Jr. has made several visits to India over the years and has repeatedly talked of the country’s business opportunities, dismissing criticism that his family-owned business is profiting from his father’s presidency.

“It really discounts the work that my father and myself and my siblings did to build up the business as an international brand,” he told ET-Now.

]]> 0 Trump Jr., President Trump's eldest son, attends an event at the Trump Tower in Mumbai, India, Thursday.Thu, 22 Feb 2018 19:17:06 +0000
Police seek person who shot and killed Ava, a pregnant goat, at Smiling Hill Farm Fri, 23 Feb 2018 00:01:28 +0000 Scarborough police are investigating the shooting of a pregnant goat at a local family-owned dairy farm that has welcomed the public onto its property for decades.

In a message posted Thursday afternoon on its Facebook page, the police department said someone trespassed onto the property of Smiling Hill Farm and Hillside Lumber last weekend and killed a pregnant goat that was in a fenced-in pen.

“The killing of this goat was not an accident,” police said in the post.

Investigators said the goat, a 5-year-old Toggenburg doe named Ava, was last seen alive Saturday. Staff at Smiling Hill Farm found Ava dead during the Sunday morning feeding.

The shooting is believed to have taken place during the snowstorm that began Saturday and lasted through the night.

A member of the family that owns and operates Smiling Hill Farm issued a statement Thursday.

“Smiling Hill Farm is concerned about this type of brazen, abhorrent activity in the area,” Warren R. Knight said in the statement. “The disturbing circumstances surrounding this crime dictate that the perpetrator be identified for the safety of the greater community. The person or persons responsible may repeat or escalate similar behavior in another venue.”

Knight said the shooting occurred on the Scarborough side of the 500-acre property. He said Smiling Hill Farm is offering a $1,000 reward for tips leading to the identification and apprehension of the shooter.

Information regarding any suspicious sightings at the farm property during the early morning hours Sunday may be reported to Scarborough police Detective Sgt. Rick Rouse at 730-4310 or to animal control officer Chris Creps at 730-4318.

Smiling Hill Farm is located off Route 22, also known as County Road. It raises dairy cows and offers a wide selection of dairy products to consumers, including milk, ice cream, cheese and yogurt. During the winter, the farm offers more than 25 kilometers of groomed cross-country ski trails. It also operates a seasonal barnyard animal exhibit.

The farm is so large that parts of it lie in Scarborough, Westbrook and Gorham. It was founded in 1720 by the Knight family and was known for years as the Knight Farm before being renamed Smiling Hill Farm in 1974.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

]]> 0, 22 Feb 2018 21:54:47 +0000
Education secretary DeVos backs school choice for military children Thu, 22 Feb 2018 23:59:40 +0000 WASHINGTON — Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Thursday backed a proposal to allow military families to use $1.3 billion in public funds to send their children to private school or pay for other education services.

The plan is in line with the Trump administration’s focus on promoting charter and private school programs and other alternatives to traditional public schools across the nation. But it stops short of the $20 billion school choice program that President Trump promised on the campaign trail.

DeVos said that many active duty military families living in bases were dissatisfied with their neighborhood schools and that they deserved to have options. Under the proposal, the government would set up education savings accounts for these parents and send them the money earmarked for them in the public school system. The money can then be used to pay for private school, private instruction, therapy for special needs students, textbooks and other services.

“We have an opportunity in that regard to empower them with some more of those choices,” DeVos said at the Conservative Political Action Conference at Oxon Hill, outside Washington. “An education savings account would afford them a much different dynamic and approach to be able to get their education in the way that best works for them.”

“The support for education freedom and choice in education is broad and wide,” DeVos added.

The proposal, backed by the conservative Heritage Foundation, would make the funds eligible to an estimated 126,000 military-connected children across the nation if they are not happy with their neighborhood schools. Currently, there about 400,000 students in various private school choice programs nationwide, so the reform could potentially increase that number by nearly 25 percent.

Heritage has been working on this idea with Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., and a bill is expected to be introduced in the near future.

Public school advocates are highly critical of DeVos and her school choice agenda, saying that it drains money and resources from public schools.

]]> 0 DeVos at a Conservative Political Action Conference at National Harbor, Md., ThursdayThu, 22 Feb 2018 19:10:47 +0000
Veteran Lincoln exec to take over Ford Motor Thu, 22 Feb 2018 23:55:44 +0000 DETROIT — A veteran executive who has led Ford’s Lincoln luxury brand will now head American operations, replacing an executive who was ousted this week over allegations of inappropriate behavior.

Kumar Galhotra, 52, will replace Raj Nair starting March 1, the company said Thursday. Ford Motor Co. said in a printed release that Galhotra will lead all aspects of the North American business, the company’s primary source of revenue and profits.

Galhotra has been with Ford for 29 years in a number of senior engineering and product strategy positions. He has led the Lincoln brand since 2014 and has also led the company’s marketing efforts since last year.

Ford announced Wednesday that Nair was leaving the company immediately. The automaker would not discuss the behavior that led to his ouster. Nair expressed regret in a company statement and declined comment when reached Wednesday by The Associated Press.

From the end of 2014 through December of last year, Lincoln brand sales in the U.S. grew nearly 18 percent under Galhotra as the brand introduced new vehicles. He also expanded the brand into China, where it has seen big growth. Lincoln’s global sales were up 13 percent last year to more than 188,000, an 18-year high. One-third of those sales were in China.

Jim Farley, the company’s president for global markets, said in the release that Galhotra is a “seasoned leader who knows how to drive a business transformation.”

Nair was forced out after the company investigated a recent anonymous complaint made to the company’s 24-hour hotline.

In a company statement, Nair said “there have been instances where I have not exhibited leadership behaviors consistent with the principles that the company and I have always espoused.”

Nair will keep his retirement benefits and health care, Ford said. But the company canceled Nair’s 2017 and 2018 bonuses and his unexercised stock options. He will forfeit a retention bonus he received last spring because the shares won’t vest until 2020; the bonus was worth $4.85 million at Thursday’s closing stock price of $10.63 per share.

Nair also signed a two-year non-compete agreement before leaving the company.

Nair became Ford’s executive vice president and head of North America last June. Prior to that, he was Ford’s head of global product development and chief technical officer.

Joy Falotico, 50, will succeed Galhotra as group vice president of Lincoln and chief marketing officer, also effective March 1.

]]> 0, 22 Feb 2018 18:58:04 +0000
Urgent cease-fire sought as fighting in Syria worsens Thu, 22 Feb 2018 23:50:10 +0000 BEIRUT — World leaders called Thursday for an urgent cease-fire in Syria as government forces pounded the opposition-controlled eastern suburbs of the capital in a crushing campaign that has left hundreds of people dead in recent days.

The U.N. Security Council heard a briefing from U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock on what he called “the humanitarian disaster unfolding before our eyes” in the rebel-held suburbs known as eastern Ghouta.

Sweden and Kuwait were seeking a vote on a resolution ordering a 30-day cease-fire to allow relief agencies to deliver aid and evacuate the critically sick and wounded from besieged areas to receive medical care.

But Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, who called Thursday’s meeting, put forward last-minute amendments, saying the proposed resolution was “simply unrealistic.”

He also accused global media outlets of a massive disinformation campaign that ignored what he claimed were thousands of fighters, including al-Qaida-linked militants, that were shelling Damascus from eastern Ghouta and taking refuge in hospitals and schools.

Council members said they needed to study the Russian proposals.

“We will try and find a way forward that works for everyone,” Sweden’s U.N. Ambassador Olof Skoog told reporters, adding that a vote was likely on Friday.

In eastern Ghouta, medical workers said they hadn’t been able to see their families for days as they worked round the clock at hospitals that have been moved underground to protect them from bombing, while their spouses and children stay in shelters.

“You can’t be above ground for even 15 minutes,” said a nurse in the town of Kafr Batna, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect the identity of family members still living in government areas. “At any moment I expect to have to treat my relatives for wounds,” he said.

In the background the deep boom of a bomb could be heard exploding as the nurse spoke by Skype to The Associated Press. He said a barrel bomb had fallen less than one-third mile away.

A spokesman for the Syrian Civil Defense search-and-rescue group said eastern Ghouta was being targeted for “extermination.”

]]> 0 Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar al-Ja'afari speaks Thursday during a Security Council meeting at United Nations on the situation in Syria.Thu, 22 Feb 2018 19:12:16 +0000
Gardiner Lions Club launches new winter market Thu, 22 Feb 2018 23:40:04 +0000 GARDINER — In a bid to extend the season for crafters, farmers market vendors and flea markets, the Gardiner Lions Club is hosting a new monthly winter market on the last Saturday of the month.

“For both the customers and the people selling things, there’s a gap in the winter,” Lions Club member Kala Ladenheim said.

Club members had been considering holding a regular flea market in addition to the annual December craft fair, Ladenheim said. What resulted was the idea for a monthly winter market at which vendors ranging from those selling food, crafts and flea market items to those offering services such as knife sharpening, mending and simple jewelry repair can set up tables.

The second monthly market — called the Lions Pride Community Market — is scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Lions Club at 25 Lions St., just off Brunswick Avenue.

Ladenheim said 25 vendors will fill the 40 available tables. In a nod to the range of Asian New Year’s celebrations taking place, the monthly activity will be making origami.

“The markets will run through May and start up again next year,” she said.

Proceeds from the table rentals and sales from the lunch counter will support the club’s mission to help people with visual and hearing impairments.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

]]> 0, 22 Feb 2018 19:25:50 +0000