– Local/State Dispatches

PORTLAND

New Web site relays news on Veterans bridge project

The Maine Department of Transportation has launched a new Web site to communicate with the public during the construction phase of the Veterans Memorial Bridge replacement project.

Anyone interested in getting updates about detours or construction progress on the $63 million project, which begins in June, can go to www.VeteransMemorialBridge.org.

The new bridge will open to traffic in the summer of 2012, when the old bridge will be removed.

The existing bridge will be open during construction, so traffic disruption is expected to be minimal.

Reed & Reed, a Woolwich-based contractor, has been hired by the state to replace the bridge.

 

Northern New England begin geography bee

Students in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and other states are participating in state-level competitions today in the Geographic Bee, which tests their knowledge about the world’s countries, oceans and other geographic features.

Winners will go to the national competition in Washington, D.C., in May. The competition is open to students in fourth through eighth grades. It is organized by the National Geographic Society.

Maine’s bee is being held at the University of Southern Maine in Portland; New Hampshire’s is at Keene State College; and Vermont’s will take place at Middlebury College.

 

Fla. man behind drug ring begins 12-year sentence

A Florida man who acknowledged being the mastermind behind a drug distribution ring in northern Maine is headed to federal prison for more than 12 years.

Federal prosecutors say 56-year-old Michael Mayer of Jupiter, Fla., and Costa Rica is one of 21 people who have admitted being a part of a ring that sought to distribute more than 10 pounds of cocaine and prescription painkillers.

He was sentenced Wednesday.

Mayer pleaded guilty last June to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances.

 

ARUNDEL

Maryland man, 65, dies after car drifts off turnpike

A 65-year-old man from Maryland was killed Thursday night when his Toyota Prius drifted off the Maine Turnpike and hit a tree.

Sgt. Andrew Donovan of the Maine State Police said Denis Bryant of Bowie, Md., and his wife, Patricia Bryant, were heading southbound around 6:30 p.m. when their car left the highway.

Donovan said a truck driver, who was following the couple, said the car’s brake lights never went on. There was also no evidence that the Toyota accelerated suddenly.

“He could have had a medical emergency or fallen asleep. We don’t know,” Donovan said.

The car slammed into a tree about 40 feet off the highway. Rescue crews from the city of Biddeford said the man died instantly. His wife had to be extricated and was flown by helicopter to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where she was listed in critical condition.

Donovan said police had to shut the turnpike down for about 20 minutes to allow the helicopter to airlift the patient out of the area.

 

ROCKLAND

Vandals target lobsterman acquitted in shooting case

The skirmishes that erupted in gunfire last summer on a Maine island appear to be continuing following the acquittal of a lobsterman in the shooting.

Knox County Sheriff Donna Dennison said someone used spray paint to vandalize Vance Bunker’s pickup truck while it was parked at the airstrip on Matinicus Island.

Bunker, 68, was acquitted last month of elevated aggravated assault, criminal threatening and reckless conduct. The shooting of a fellow lobsterman followed an escalating territorial feud involving two groups of lobstermen who accused each other of cutting trap lines.

 

FREEPORT

Former trooper charged with theft in gas card tiff

A man who identified himself to Freeport police as a former Maine State Police lieutenant has been charged with theft by unauthorized taking for allegedly taking gas money from L.L. Bean.

Marcel Drouin, who retired from the state police in 1993, was employed as security by L.L. Bean for four years when he was fired for disciplinary reasons in March, police said. Drouin had been issued a company gas card but it was only to be used for company vehicles, police said.

Drouin returned the gas card about 30 minutes after he was let go and the company found he used the gas card for his personal vehicle in that time, police said. A review found that the card also had been used three times in February for personal vehicles, police said.

The total amount of the theft was $100, police said.

 

BATH

Voters to decide question of installing turf field

Voters will decide whether the city should borrow $300,000 to help pay for the installation of artificial turf on McMann Field.

City Clerk Mary White said the City Council voted unanimously Wednesday night to put the question out to a citywide referendum on June 8.

Councilors could have rescinded their Feb. 3 vote, which authorized the borrowing measure, but White said it became clear during the discussion that councilors felt the controversial issue should be resolved by voters.

Fields For Our Future raised about $270,000 for the project, but asked the city for help after its organizers said they hit a fundraising wall on the $600,000 project. Opponents gathered more than 1,000 signatures, which forced the City Council to schedule the referendum.

 

Man on probation charged with drug trafficking

A Bath man who was already on probation for a drug conviction has been arrested again — this time for aggravated trafficking in marijuana.

Bath Police Chief Michael Field said Bath officers went to the Oak Street home of 30-year-old Richard J. Johnson on Wednesday to serve an outstanding arrest warrant for violating terms of his probation.

A condition of Johnson’s probation is that he submit to random searches. Bath police found a half pound of marijuana and drug paraphernalia in his home. Johnson was arrested and taken to the Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset.

 

Police enlist public’s help to locate burglary suspect

Bath police are seeking the public’s help in locating a burglary suspect with a long criminal history.

Lt. Stan Cielinski said authorities are looking for 29-year-old Christopher Barter, who they allege burglarized two Washington Street businesses last month, including breaking into a locked safe.

DNA recovered at least one burglary scene was tested at the Maine State Police Crime Laboratory, which provided police with match to Barter. Barter has outstanding warrants for burglary, theft and criminal mischief.

Cielinski said Barter has a lengthy criminal history that includes numerous convictions for burglary and theft. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is urged to call Bath police at 443-8367.

 

BAR HARBOR

About 400 traps recovered in group’s two-day effort

The Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation’s two-day effort to recover lost lobster traps has yielded about 400 traps from Frenchman Bay.

Project Manager Laura Ludwig says a similar number of traps were recovered off Jonesport.

Next week, the group plans to spend two days dragging and grappling for traps off Stonington.

The foundation is using a $200,000 grant to address the issue of so-called ghost traps. Those traps are lost on the ocean floor but continue to trap lobsters. It’s estimated that hundreds of thousands of traps have been lost on the ocean floor.

Ludwig told the Bangor Daily News that the goal is to give industry regulators a better sense of what effects the lost traps may have on the ocean environment.

 

— From staff and news services