AUGUSTA

Former chairman of PUC cleared of ethics violations

The state Attorney General’s Office says former Maine Public Utilities Commission Chairman Kurt Adams didn’t violate state ethics laws by accepting a job with a wind power company.

Prosecutors concluded Wednesday that Adams complied with state law by disqualifying himself from proceedings in which he had a “direct and substantial financial interest.”

The office interviewed PUC staff and commissioners and Adams as part of its inquiry. The probe was launched after members of the Citizens Task Force on Wind Power, who oppose a wind-energy project in Roxbury, requested it.

A published report had questioned whether Adams acted improperly when he took a job with First Wind of Massachusetts in April 2008.

 Maine DEP mapping expert to help with Gulf oil cleanup

A mapping expert with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection is using her expertise to help track and contain the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Ginger McMullin left Tuesday for Louisiana, where she will be working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

McMullin is an oil spill modeling expert and a geographic information system planner for the DEP. In her position, she is in charge of mapping sensitive marine areas for oil spill response planning purposes and for developing strategies on how best to use oil booms in case of a spill.

Officials said she will be in the Gulf region for about three weeks.

 Eight Maine students to get Youth Who Rock Awards

Eight students from Maine will be honored today for their dedication to completing their educations in the face of adversity.

First Lady Karen Baldacci will present the 2010 Youth Who Rock Awards at the Blaine House starting at 2 p.m.

This year’s award winners are: Victoria Forbis of Deering High School in Portland; Bryan Cartwright of Greely High School in Cumberland; Kevin Merrill of Massabesic High School in Waterboro; Kayla Anthony of Washington Academy in East Machias; Samantha Howe of Maranacook High School in Readfield; Gustavo Ortiz of Washington County Community College; Dustin Ratcliff of Skowhegan Area High School; and Jason Willey of Ashland High School.

The students maintained their commitment to education despite various challenges, such as homelessness, foster care placement, correctional facility placement, in-patient psychiatric care or high mobility.

 Maine DEP begins tweeting its daily air-quality forecasts

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection is now using Twitter to send out its daily air-quality forecasts.

The DEP said Twitter accounts have been created for the four regions where air-quality alerts warning people about unhealthy air conditions have been issued in recent years.

People can sign up on the DEP website to receive the alerts.

PORTLAND

Group gathering signatures for non-citizen voting rights

Organizers who are petitioning to give non-citizens the right to vote in Portland elections said they have gathered about 2,000 signatures and plan to collect at least 3,000 more at polling places around the city Tuesday.

The group needs to collect 4,495 valid signatures by July 14 to put a question on the ballot in November.

The League of Young Voters is leading the petition drive.

At a press conference at City Hall today, several politicians showed their support, including former state representatives Mike Brennan and John Eder, Rep. Peter Stuckey, D-Portland, City Councilors David Marshall and Dan Skolnik, School Committee member Jenna Vendil, and Charter Commission members Lorie Davis, Ben Chipman and Anna Trevorrow.

About 30 volunteers are gathering the signatures. Jack Woods, who is coordinating the drive, said petitioners have run into people who strongly oppose the proposal but at the same time have been respectful of the petitioners.

“Nobody has gotten angry or mad about it,” he said. “It’s been very civil.”

 South Portland filmmaker freed, taken to Israeli airport

A Maine filmmaker has been released from an Israeli detention center where he was being held for his participation in a flotilla that was defying Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Scott Hamman’s girlfriend, Charlotte Stuart, said the State Department informed his father Wednesday that he had been released and taken to an airport for a flight home.

Hamman, who is 29 and lives in South Portland, was hired to document an aid flotilla that aimed to deliver supplies to Gaza in defiance of an Israeli blockade. The flotilla was attacked by Israeli commandos on Monday, with the confrontation leaving nine pro-Palestinian activists dead.

Israel said Wednesday it was deporting the last of the nearly 700 foreigners who were detained following the deadly raid.

 Bike for Equality’s ride will benefit Preble Street

A group of bicyclists is planning a three-day, 135-mile ride to raise money for the Preble Street Resource Center and promote marriage equality.

Bike for Equality chose to support Preble Street to help replace funds pulled by Maine’s Roman Catholic Diocese after an organization affiliated with Preble Street supported the 2009 same-sex marriage campaign.

The ride will kick off at 8 a.m. June 16 at the Charlie Howard Memorial in Bangor and make stopovers in Winslow and Brunswick before arriving in Portland on June 18.

Those interested in contributing can call 775-0026, ext. 110, or go to www.preblestreet.org/donate.php and dedicate the contribution to B4E. Those interested in volunteering can call Kris Colford at 735-4009.

COLUMBIA

Three-car crash injures nine in Washington County town

Nine people are recovering from injuries suffered in a three-car accident at a dangerous Route 1 intersection in the Maine town of Columbia.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Department said the Tuesday crash happened when a vehicle tried to turn off Route 1 onto a local road and was rear ended. The force of the collision pushed the vehicle that had been hit into a car coming from the other direction.

Sheriff Sgt. Timothy Tabbutt said all the victims were either wearing their seat belts or secured in child safety seats. They were taken to Down East Community Hospital in Machias.

The Bangor Daily News said the crash happened at the bottom of a steep hill known as an area where there are frequent collisions.