SANFORD

Pool chlorine reaction sends three people to hospital

An explosive reaction with pool chlorine sent three people to the hospital Thursday.

Eugene Lebel was getting ready to open his swimming pool and poured chlorine granules from one container into a utility bucket, Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Rowe said. The granules apparently reacted with something in the other container, setting off a series of small explosions.

“Witnesses in the area said it sounded like firecrackers,” Rowe said, and Lebel was coated with powdery granules.

His grandson, Matthew Lebel, heard him yell for help and pulled his grandfather out of the garage, and got contaminated in doing so, Rowe said.

Firefighters arrived and did some basic decontamination before taking the men to the hospital.

Matthew Lebel was having trouble breathing, which is common after exposure to chlorine, Rowe said.

Eugene Lebel’s son was also there, and refused treatment at the scene but was seen by doctors at the hospital. All three men were treated and released.

The state Department of Environmental Protection, the York County Emergency Management Agency and members of the regional hazardous materials team worked to decontaminate the garage.

PORTLAND

New U.S. marshal for Maine sworn in, starts work today

Maine’s new U.S. marshal will begin his duties today.

Former University of Maine Public Safety Director Noel March was sworn into office Thursday at a ceremony in Arlington, Va. His nomination was confirmed last month by the U.S. Senate.

The U.S. Marshals Service is the nation’s oldest law enforcement agency. Its officers are charged with protecting federal judges and the security of the federal courts, investigating and apprehending federal fugitives, as well as managing forfeited assets and overseeing Maine’s Violent Crimes Task Force. 

Jehovah’s Witnesses arrive for three-day convention

Thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses from across the Northeast will converge on the city today for the first of two consecutive three-day weekend conventions.

The events, to be held at the Cumberland County Civic Center, will focus on the theme of remaining close to God. They will include baptism ceremonies for new ministers and sessions on enhancing family communication through a relationship with God.

Doug Edson, a spokesman for the church, said about 5,300 people from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts are expected to attend this weekend’s convention. A similar number is anticipated June 4-6. 

Turnpike Authority expects no increase in holiday traffic

The Maine Turnpike Authority projects that more than 635,000 vehicles will use the turnpike this holiday weekend. That wouldn’t be a major increase over last year.

Spokesman Dan Paradee said a good weather forecast, stable gas prices and signs of a slow economic recovery will be trumped to some degree by lingering effects of the recession.

Many people are reluctant to change their new spending patterns, said Charles Colgan of the Maine Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Southern Maine.

But roads will still be busy. Today alone, more than 210,000 vehicles will be on the turnpike, with more than 41,000 northbound vehicles entering at the York toll plaza. 

Maine high court upholds conviction of truck driver

Maine’s highest court has upheld the conviction of a Massachusetts man who was sentenced to 90 days in jail for leaving the scene of a fatal accident after a load of lumber fell from his trailer and killed another driver.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday unanimously upheld the conviction of Domingos Medeiros of Assonet, Mass.

Medeiros was driving a truck on Route 27 in New Vineyard in January 2008 when several large wooden beams fell from his trailer, killing Stephen McKenney, 55, of New Portland.

The justices rejected his argument that there was insufficient evidence to prove he knew he had been involved in an accident when he found that the beams had fallen from his trailer and retraced his path back toward the accident scene.

ROCKLAND

Rockland to be repaid festival overtime expenses

The city of Rockland will be repaid for its role in the Maine Lobster Festival in August.

The City Council said festival organizers will repay the $16,704 in overtime expenses for police and firefighters by June 2011.

The Bangor Daily News said Rockland officials didn’t feel the city could afford the cost at a time when it has cut jobs.

In years past, Rockland has paid expenses that include public safety and cleanup.

Festival organizers plan to save public money by replacing city employees with festival volunteers. This year’s festival is planned for Aug. 4-8.

KINGFIELD

Third shelter being built along western Maine trail

The third of a dozen shelters planned along a trail in western Maine is under construction.

The nonprofit Maine Huts and Trails said work is under way on Grand Falls Hut, above the banks of the Dead River about two miles below Grand Falls.

Twelve back-country huts are planned along 180 miles of trails in Maine’s western mountains. The third hut is due to be completed late this year.

While they’re called huts, the structures are actually much more. Each offers a main lodge, private rooms for group accommodations, soft mattresses and pillows on each bed, hot showers, toilets, gear-drying rooms and healthy home-cooked meals. A night’s lodging with dinner and breakfast costs less than $100 for adults and under $50 for children.

AUGUSTA

Energy secretary to visit state wind energy program

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has accepted an invitation from Sen. Susan Collins to visit the University of Maine’s deepwater offshore wind energy research program.

The Maine Republican said Chu’s visit on June 14 will let him learn more about plans to design and test floating deepwater wind turbine platforms.

Gov. John Baldacci, who met with Chu in February in Washington to discuss wind power, said Chu will get to see the aggressive steps Maine has taken to show what is possible.

It will be the second visit by a Cabinet member to the Advanced Engineered Wood Composites Center in the past year. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood visited in August.

FREEPORT

Home safe as nearby barn destroyed by accidental fire

Fire destroyed a barn and scorched a half-acre of forest Thursday, but firefighters prevented the blaze from spreading to a home about 15 feet from the barn.

The fire occurred around 2 p.m. at 152 South Freeport Road. It appears to have been accidental, said Deputy Fire Chief Paul Conley.

The barn was used for work on boats. Some boat equipment and a sail mast were damaged, but no boats were in the barn at the time of the fire, Conley said.

Firefighters from Yarmouth and Brunswick assisted Freeport firefighters. No one was injured.