PORTLAND

Inn developers say they’ll start Jordan’s demolition April 1

The developers who plan to build a Hampton Inn on the former Jordan’s Meats site say they will start demolishing the old building April 1, before the Planning Board public hearing tentatively scheduled for April 13.

Gregory Kirsch, vice president of Opechee Construction Corp., said the demolition could take two months. Construction of the 122-room hotel, 12 condominiums and a 7,000 square-foot Sebago Brewing Co. restaurant would be finished by Memorial Day 2011 to take advantage of the summer tourist season, he said.

Residents attending a neighborhood meeting on the project Thursday said they were excited something would finally be built on the vacant space, though they worried about disruptions to Middle Street businesses during construction.

 

Task force: Graduation is key to keeping kids out of prison

A report authored in part by Maine’s chief justice finds that completing school is a key to keeping young people out of the prison system.

The preliminary report, released Wednesday by the Maine Juvenile Justice Task Force, notes that dropouts are eight times more likely to go to prison, and stresses the need to increase Maine’s graduation rate.

Maine Supreme Court Chief Justice Leigh Saufley, one of the three task force co-chairmen, says the report is the work of 70 task force members who heard from 300 people at a statewide summit last December.

 

Principal of King Middle School is 2010 honoree

King Middle School Principal Mike McCarthy has been named Maine’s 2010 Middle Level Principal of the Year by the Maine Principals’ Association.

The award recognizes McCarthy’s accomplishments as head of the middle school for 22 years in areas such as personal excellence, collaborative leadership, curriculum, instruction and assessment.

McCarthy is an expert on school reform who has written and presented widely; an adjunct professor of educational leadership at the University of Southern Maine; and a national faculty member for Expeditionary Learning, the teaching model followed at King Middle.

McCarthy will be honored at the MPA’s spring conference on April 29. He also will attend the national Principals’ Institute honoring all 2010 state principals of the year this fall in Washington, D.C., and is in the running for 2011 National Middle School Principal of the Year.

 

Birders needed to monitor effect of cemetery tree work

Local birders are invited to monitor bird communities at Portland’s Evergreen Cemetery during a new forest management program at the cemetery’s woodlands.

Using a $2,574 Maine Forest Service grant, the city will thin out invasive trees, such as Norway maples, starting next winter. Volunteers are needed to monitor how the changes affect the bird population.

Those interested are invited to walk the area with project coordinators at 5 p.m. March 29 and April 1.

For more information, contact Laura Minich Zitske at 623-2371 or [email protected]

 

SCARBOROUGH

Council OKs deal to acquire Higgins Beach parking lot

The town is a step closer to having a parking lot at Higgins Beach.

The Town Council on Wednesday approved a purchase and sale agreement for the 1.3-acre parking lot area and about 10.1 acres on Mussey Road along the Nonesuch River. Councilors also authorized issuing $637,855 in general obligation bonds for the purchase.

Voters in 2003 provided authorization for land acquisition, according to Town Manager Tom Hall.

Hall expects the town to close on the properties at the end of the month. They are being purchased from the Vasile family, with the Trust for Public Land acting as an intermediary. The Land for Maine Future’s Fund is providing roughly half the money for the purchase.

The parking lot is under lease to the Higgins Beach Inn through April 2011, so the town will not operate the public lot until after then, Hall said.

 

Proposed town budget cuts spending by 1.4%

Scarborough Town Manager Thomas Hall delivered a $64.1 million proposal for school and municipal spending in 2011 to the Town Council on Wednesday.

The spending plan is 1.4 percent less than the $65 million budget for the current year.

The 2011 proposal calls for cutting only one position. Hall said departments cut expenses in expectation of a possible $5 million drop in state aid next year.

The proposal would require raising an additional $2.3 million through property taxes next year, increasing the tax rate 4.53 percent.

The finance committee and Town Council will make adjustments to the proposal in the weeks ahead.

The proposal will be available at the town’s Web site within the next several days, Hall said.

 

CAPE ELIZABETH

Meeting to discuss school budget options rescheduled

An informal meeting about the proposed school budget has been rescheduled for March 31 at 7 p.m. in the Cape Elizabeth High School cafeteria.

Superintendent Alan Hawkins, members of the School Board and other school officials will be available to answer questions about the budget.

Hawkins has prepared three budget scenarios for the School Board. One keeps the property tax rate steady and cuts almost 13 positions, another maintains the current level of programming and increases the tax rate 5 percent to $13.17 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, and the third represents the midpoint.

The School Board is scheduled to adopt a budget April 13.

AUGUSTA

Senate votes against calling all-out gun ban at Acadia

The Maine Senate has stopped short of voting to ban all guns in Acadia National Park.

Instead, senators on Thursday gave initial approval to allowing concealed weapons permit holders, off-duty police and retired law enforcement officers to carry loaded weapons in the park.

The Maine Legislature has been trying to decide whether to override a new federal law that allows guns in national parks and wildlife refuges. The Maine House is next to weigh in.

The Maine bill originally would have outlawed all guns in Acadia National Park and the St. Croix Island International Historic Site. But it was later amended to apply only to Acadia.

 

State to receive $41 million for school construction

Maine’s congressional delegation says the state will receive $41 million in federal stimulus money for school construction.

The funding is from bonds issued by the U.S. Treasury and Education departments. State and local governments can use the bonds to finance public school improvements and construction.

The bond program was authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The bonds allow state and local governments to obtain financing for public school improvements and construction without incurring interest costs.

BOSTON

NOAA makes changes in policing of fishermen

The federal oceans chief has announced reforms of the way the nation’s fishermen are policed.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration head Jane Lubchenco requested a federal review of fisheries law enforcement last year after complaints by fishermen.

That review found poor management of funds and a perception of arbitrary penalties. It also found Northeast fishermen were fined at double the rate of other regions.

On Thursday, Lubchenco said major penalties against fishermen were now subject to “high level” review.

She said the use of fines collected from fishermen would be tracked by NOAA’s comptroller.

OLD ORCHARD BEACH

Bay State woman injured after car crashes into house

Police have not yet determined what caused a 43-year-old woman to drive her car off the road and into a house Wednesday night.

Olga Mikhaleva, 43, of Watertown, Mass., lost control of the 2001 Audi she was driving around 10:30 p.m. She veered off Saco Avenue, crossed over Goodwin Avenue, and struck a home at 193 Saco Ave., said Deputy Chief Keith Babin of the Old Orchard Beach Police Department.

No one in the home was injured.

Mikhaleva was transported by ambulance to Southern Maine Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries. The Old Orchard Beach Fire Department used heavy equipment to haul the Audi out of the house.

Babin said his department is still investigating the crash.

DOVER-FOXCROFT

Michael Toby found guilty of murdering older sister

A 54-year-old Maine man has been found guilty of murdering his older sister.

Piscataquis County Superior Court Justice William Anderson on Thursday found Michael Toby guilty of killing 70-year-old Rosalie Shedd at her Dover-Foxcroft apartment in 2008. Prosecutors said Toby beat his sister with a piece of wood, strangled her with a vacuum cleaner cord and put a plastic bag over her head during a fight.

Toby had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but Anderson said the evidence showed that Toby’s actions were intentional.

Toby faces a sentence of 25 years to life in prison. A sentencing date has not been scheduled.