GRAY

School district: Bomb threat targeted bus empty of kids

Officials with the Gray-New Gloucester School District say that contrary to early reports, there were no students on the bus that was the target of a bomb threat Friday morning.

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office responded after a student made a remark about a bomb being on the bus. Initially, the sheriff’s office believed there were children on the bus and that it was evacuated. But the school later corrected that.

Cumberland County Sheriff’s deputies and a bomb-sniffing dog from the Portland Police Department were called to Route 202 and Lawrence Road in Gray at 7:30 a.m.

A middle school student not on the bus at the time made reference to a bomb being placed on the bus, the sheriff’s office said. The driver was notified and immediately pulled over.

Sheriff’s deputies stopped traffic while the bus and surrounding area were searched. Nothing was found.

The student who made the threat was given a summons to appear in court on charges of creating a false public alarm and was released to a guardian.

SOUTH PORTLAND

New local program provides subsidy for buying home

A new affordable homeownership program is under way in the city.

The local program is part of the federally funded Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The local program is open to residents and nonresidents of South Portland. It is run through the South Portland Housing Development Corp., which is affiliated with the South Portland Housing Authority.

Participants must meet income requirements. The limit for an individual is $61,152 and $87,360 for a family of four. The program provides a subsidy of up to 25 percent of the purchase price interest-free.

Three properties — two single-family homes and one two-family residence — have been purchased for rehabilitation. Program participants must enroll in order to receive notification of other properties as they become available.

For more information about the program, call Karen Dunfey at 773-4140 or download a preliminary application at spha.net.

SACO

Rite Aid robbery prompts lockdown at high school

Thornton Academy was locked down briefly Friday morning after a robbery at a nearby drugstore.

The school was told of the Rite Aid robbery, which did not involve a weapon, at about 8:30 a.m., and police asked the school to lock down as a precaution.

About 25 minutes later, Thornton Academy was told that there was no danger, the school said in a statement. Teachers went back to normal classroom instruction at that time, school officials said.

Information about the robbery had not yet been released by Saco police.

PORTLAND

Minority health fair offers screenings, referrals today

The city’s fifth annual minority health fair, the Multicultural Exercise for Health and Love, will offer health screenings and referrals for racial and ethnic minority communities in the Greater Portland area

Today’s event includes multicultural food, dance and festivities, as well as diabetes and heart health screenings, risk assessments and counseling.

The health fair will take place from noon to 6 p.m. at the Portland Exposition Building. Admission is free.

The event is organized by the Minority Health Program of Portland’s Public Health Division in partnership with Mercy Hospital.

Screenings will be conducted by the Maine Heart Center, and interpreters for more than 12 different languages will be available.

Those who participate will also receive follow-up referral services and improved access to primary care providers.

PARIS

Former Gov. King will speak at Oxford Hills graduation

Eight years ago, a group of fourth-graders took a field trip to Augusta, where they posed on the Blaine House steps with then-Maine Gov. Angus King.

Now seniors at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in Paris, the students want a new date with King — as speaker at their graduation.

The former independent governor told the Sun Journal of Lewiston that their invitation was a no-brainer once he got a picture of the class taken in 2003. King’s reaction: “How could you say no to that?”

Oxford high senior class president Justin St. John, one of the former Harrison Elementary School students who met King on the 2003 field trip, said, “It’s a thrill” to have King as commencement speaker June 12.

AUGUSTA

Injured Washburn biker flown to Lewiston hospital

An Aroostook County man was flown to a Lewiston hospital Friday after his motorcycle struck a guardrail on Interstate 95.

Delmer Maxwell, 60, of Washburn, was flown by a LifeFlight of Maine helicopter to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston with serious injuries, said Maine State Police Trooper Samuel Tlumac.

Hospital staff expected Maxwell to survive, Tlumac said, noting that he suffered no internal or head injuries.

Maxwell was wearing a helmet.

“It probably saved his life,” Tlumac said.

The accident occurred shortly before 1 p.m., as Maxwell was driving his 2001 Suzuki touring bike south on Interstate 95.

“He just drifted across the road and crashed into the (passing lane) guardrail,” Tlumac said.

Both southbound lanes were closed for about 45 minutes as emergency responders from Augusta Fire and Rescue tended to Maxwell and the LifeFlight helicopter landed on the highway.

Police are still trying to determine what caused Maxwell to lose control of his motorcycle. “Speed does not appear to be a factor, nor does alcohol,” Tlumac said.

Energy secretary praises home weatherization effort

Maine’s recent effort to insulate homes is drawing praise from the federal government.

Assistant U.S. Energy Secretary Cathy Zoi says Maine is one of the country’s weatherization leaders, and has now weatherized more than 30 percent of its total targeted homes. The announcement came during a conference call Thursday with Gov. John Baldacci.

With federal stimulus funds, Maine weatherized 1,582 homes of low-income residents by the end of April. Officials say that saves families occupying those homes an average of $437 per year on their energy bills.

Baldacci says the weatherization assistance program has also created more than 160 jobs throughout the state.

Forest service sending team to battle Quebec wildfires

The Maine Forest Service is sending a team of 21 firefighters to neighboring Quebec to battle wildfires in the Canadian province.

The crew of six forest rangers and 15 civilian firefighters is being sent in support of a compact that covers the seven New England states and four Canadian provinces.

The crew departed on Friday morning.

Most of the fires in Quebec have been caused by lightning from thunderstorms that accompanied the record-breaking high temperatures and windy conditions. Officials say more Maine forest rangers would have been sent but they’re needed for their expertise on fires within the Maine.

State offices will close Monday for holiday

Maine state government offices were closed Friday as part of the cost-saving measures in the state budget.

Government offices also will be closed for Monday’s Memorial Day holiday.

Ten more shutdown days are scheduled through May 2011 as part of the law to balance the state budget.

Gov. John Baldacci says every effort was made to reduce the impact of the shutdown.

Some state workers will remain on duty during the holiday weekend. Maine state parks and historic sites will be open. That includes all campgrounds all weekend and Monday.

Maine Forest Service rangers also will remain on duty to provide law enforcement and forest protection in the Maine woods.

ELIOT

CenterPoint closes, putting 120 employees out of work

A York County business that took telephone calls for companies selling things labeled “as seen on TV” has closed its doors, putting 120 people out of work.

Before CenterPoint officials broke the news to their employees on Thursday, they called police to be on hand, but no problems were reported.

CenterPoint CEO Michael McNaboe told WGME-TV the company was faced with a “very tough” choice and had to end operations immediately.

The company laid off 60 people in December.

The company says it didn’t have enough money to make payroll. Workers will be mailed their paychecks.

BANGOR

Pan Am Railways is fined $12,000 for trackside fires

A Maine judge has approved a $12,000 fine for a railroad in connection with hundreds of trackside fires over three years.

The Bangor Daily News said Pan Am Railways parent company pleaded no contest earlier this month to three civil violations that it failed to maintain a railroad right of way.

The Maine Forest Service says that from 2004 through 2008 there were 213 fires along tracks attributed to debris, such as brush, grass and dead vegetation. Of those, 177 were beside tracks owned by Pan Am.

The forest service says Pan Am operates 564.6 miles of track or 34 percent of Maine’s rail lines.

State law requires railroads to keep rights of way clear of flammable material.