SOUTH PORTLAND

Councilors unanimously OK budget that boosts tax rate

An $81.8 million budget that will raise the city’s property tax rate about 1 percent won final approval from the City Council on Monday night.

Councilors approved the budget 6-0. Mayor Tom Coward was absent.

The 2010-11 budget, which includes municipal and school spending and county taxes, is 2.2 percent more than the current budget of $79.9 million. The total that must be raised from taxes will increase slightly more than 1 percent from this year.

The tax rate is expected to increase 16 cents, to $14.86 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

The budget eliminates fewer municipal positions than had been proposed by City Manager James Gailey. The equivalent of six vacant positions will be cut rather than 7.75.

The council restored a police officer position and a firefighter position, put money toward hiring a deputy human resources director and provided a 1 percent cost-of-living adjustment to nonunion employees.

The $41.4 million school budget, which eliminates 25 positions, has already won approval from the City Council and voters.

 

Robinson Street man, 29, arrested in domestic incident

A 29-year-old man has been charged with domestic violence assault, threatening and obstructing the report of a crime after a dispute Monday night on Robinson Street.

Patrick Barry was arrested shortly after midnight, police said.

The alleged victim, a 42-year-old woman, went to police headquarters to make a complaint. Three officers went to the address on Robinson Street.

Police say Barry was agitated and took a fighting stance when the officers arrived, but submitted to arrest when one of the officers aimed a Taser stun gun at him.

GRAY

Driver in chase crashes car, flees scene, gets caught

A man who led police on a car chase Tuesday through Windham and Gray crashed his car in Gray, damaging another car and knocking over a utility pole.

State police said they received a report around 2 p.m. of power lines being down near the Good Shepherd United Methodist Church.

After the crash, the driver ran off, but was tracked down and arrested, according to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. His name was not available.

Windham police said the chase began in their town, but they decided to call it off when the car entered Gray.

REGIONAL SCHOOL UNIT 21

Residents in three towns approve $29.1 million budget

Voters in Arundel, Kennebunk and Kennebunkport overwhelmingly approved a $29.1 million budget for the 2010-11 school year on Tuesday.

Voters in Regional School Unit 21 also said they want to continue the school budget validation process for another three years.

Kennebunk Town Clerk Joanna Moran said 574 people voted to support the spending package, while 398 were opposed.

STANDISH

Chase leads to two arrests; driver faces an OUI charge

A Hollis man was arrested late Monday night after leading police on a car chase through Standish.

Sean Latham, 24, was charged with eluding a police officer, drunken driving, driving after license revocation and violating a condition of release on a previous theft arrest.

Chief Deputy Kevin Joyce said a Cumberland County sheriff’s deputy tried to pull over Latham’s car, which was being driven erratically on Route 35. When the deputy put on his emergency lights, Latham slowed down before speeding off.

Latham’s car hit a 2000 Jeep Cherokee at the intersection of routes 25 and 35, Joyce said. The driver of the Jeep was not injured.

Latham then drove into a field on Plains Road in Hollis before running away, Joyce said. He was tracked down by a Windham police K-9 team and arrested. A passenger, Kyle Goding, 22, of Bangor was arrested on an outstanding warrant.

Both men were being held Tuesday night in the Cumberland County Jail.

NEWCASTLE

Elderly man mowing lawn dies when tractor falls on him

An 89-year-old Newcastle man died Monday after his lawn tractor landed on top of him.

The Lincoln County 911 Center got a report around 2:28 p.m. that an elderly man was trapped under his lawn mower.

Edward Lincoln of Bunker Hill Road was using a large riding mower when he accidentally drove off the edge of a retaining wall, said Lt. Michael Murphy of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department. Lincoln fell about 5 feet and the tractor landed upside down on top of him.

Rescue crews had to extricate Lincoln, who was taken to Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta. He died a short time later.

Murphy said it was the second fatal accident involving a lawn mower this month in Lincoln County. A 92-year-old Bristol man was killed when he lost control of his mower, which rolled on top of him.

MILLINOCKET

Some Baxter park trails are still covered by foot of snow

Officials at Baxter State Park say winter is lingering on Mount Katahdin.

Park rangers who have been checking trails on Maine’s tallest mountain say that, as of Monday, there was still a foot of snow or more on parts of the treeless alpine tundra below Baxter Peak known as the Tableland.

Park Director Jensen Bissell said the alpine tundra is very soft and wet while the snow melts, and hikers can cause damage to that fragile area.

There are still several feet of snow on the Saddle and Cathedral trails on the north side of Katahdin. Bissell says he hopes conditions will allow Katahdin’s trails to be open before Memorial Day weekend.

JEFFERSON

DEP may use a herbicide on invasive plant in lake

The Department of Environmental Protection is considering using herbicides to stop an invasion of the aquatic plant hydrilla in Damariscotta Lake.

The DEP says the problem is in a densely infested lagoon. Workers pulled weeds by hand and put barriers on the bottom of the lake to stop the spread of the invasive plant.

Now, the DEP is considering spot applications of herbicides in the lagoon, which is three-tenths of an acre.

The hydrilla infestation in Damariscotta Lake is one of two in Maine. The other is in Pickerel Pond in Limerick.

AUGUSTA

State tells Mainers to avoid discount insurance company

Insurance Superintendent Mila Kofman is warning consumers not to do business with a company that sells discount health insurance and doesn’t pay claims.

Kofman also is asking any past customers of the American Trade Association and its operators who have outstanding or unpaid claims to contact her office so the state can seek repayment for them.

Kofman issued a final cease-and-desist order Friday prohibiting the company from continuing activity in Maine and ordering it to pay outstanding medical bills, premium refunds and civil penalties. It’s unknown how many Mainers bought the company’s insurance or may be owed refunds.

ATA and its other Tennessee-based operations have collected over $22 million in premiums nationwide, according to Kofman’s office. On April 27, a Tennessee state court found that about $7 million in medical claims are owed and only $2.1 million in assets exist.

Consumers with questions or concerns about their insurance can contact the bureau’s Consumer Health Care Division by calling (800) 300-5000, e-mailing [email protected], or visiting the bureau’s website at www.maine.gov/insurance.

 

Controlled hunt to target moose eating farm crops

State officials have approved a controlled moose hunt in northern Maine to give farmers relief from moose that are eating their broccoli and cauliflower crops.

The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will hold the hunt from Aug. 16 to Sept. 25 in eastern Aroostook County.

The special hunt is separate from Maine’s regular November moose hunt.

Besides giving farmers relief, the special hunt aims to address the high number of moose-vehicle collisions on Route 1 and Route 161. In all, 100 permits will be issued.

Officials say the hunt will be open only to certain landowners and hunting guides.

 

Libertarians hope tea party helps earn official status

Maine Libertarians, who gained and lost official party status in the 1990s, hope to regain party recognition with help from tea partiers.

The Libertarians’ executive committee voted last weekend to move forward with the effort to become an official political party in Maine. State Chairman Shawn Levasseur told MPBN that the tea party is a “good marketplace” for Libertarians to shop for support.

Libertarians share some philosophies, like small government, with Republicans. And many of those values are shared by the tea party movement.

To regain party status, Libertarians would need a total number of petition signatures equal to 5 percent of the votes cast in the November election.