– SOUTH PORTLAND

Three N.Y. men accused of using fraudulent checks

Police have arrested three New York men on charges of passing $2,500 in fraudulent travelers checks.

Officers were called to the Target store on Running Hill Road at 4:30 p.m. Thursday for a report of suspected travelers check fraud. In the parking lot, they found a white Cadillac Escalade with New York license plates that was believed to be involved.

Four people soon returned to the car, which police stopped on the Maine Turnpike spur just before the Exit 45 tollbooth. Three of the men were charged with aggravated forgery and felony theft and were taken to the Cumberland County Jail.

Paris Way, 28, Jahiya Qualis, 21, and Jamal Linton, 21, all of Brooklyn, N.Y., are accused of using fraudulent American Express Travelers Cheques to buy gift cards and electronics. Police said officers recovered $2,200 in cash and $5,200 in travelers checks.

STANDISH

Stretch of Route 35 closes after collapse at bridge

Route 35 was closed from Route 237 to Route 114 on Friday afternoon because bankings on the construction site for a new bridge collapsed.

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office said the bridge on Route 35 reopened about 6 p.m., after being shut down in the early afternoon.

Officers redirected traffic during the shutdown.

PORTLAND

Public hearing on project to replace old gas lines

A public hearing on the schedule for replacing old natural-gas lines in Portland and Westbrook will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Portland City Hall.

The hearing will center on plans by Unitil — formerly Northern Utilities — for its replacement program for cast iron and bare steel gas pipelines.

Unitil inherited about 65 miles of cast iron and 10 miles of bare steel natural gas pipes in Portland and Westbrook. The systems were installed from the late 1800s to the early 1900s to carry manufactured coal gas; most of the remaining cast iron pipes are more than 70 years old.

The removal of the cast iron and bare steel and replacement with plastic or protected steel pipe have been a focus of efforts to improve public safety since the late 1990s.

Unitil has proposed a replacement program of 15 to 20 years; the Public Utilities Commission staff has recommended a 12-year replacement program.

Under the shorter-term program, the cost to an average residential customer could range from $5 to $20 per year more over the next several years than under the longer-term program.

FREEPORT

Merriconeag Waldorf School to graduate first seniors

The Merriconeag Waldorf School will graduate its first 12th-grade class today, marking 25 years as a Waldorf School in southern Maine.

In keeping with the school’s ideal of honoring the unfolding individual in every student, each of the five graduating seniors is expected to give a brief address, followed by the commencement address by Douglas Gerwin, a longtime mentor to the high school and founder of the Waldorf High School Teacher Education Program in Wilton, N.H.

The graduates are Norajean Ferris of Cumberland, Zakary Konstantino of Freeport, James Lyscars of Portland, William Morse of Yarmouth and Lily O’Brien of Pownal.

The school is part of a worldwide Waldorf school movement that encompasses more than 1,000 schools and 1,600 early childhood programs on five continents.

ROCKPORT

Governor’s trade mission heading to Paris in October

Paris is the destination of the next gubernatorial trade mission.

Gov. John Baldacci said Friday that business executives, state officials and others will visit the French capital Oct. 2-6. He made the announcement at the 30th annual Maine International Trade Day at the Samoset Resort.

The mission will seek to promote Maine’s food, tourism, renewable energy and advanced-materials industries by providing a chance for Maine companies to meet with French importers and distributors, tour operators and other potential business partners.

France is the state’s sixth-largest export market, buying more than $64 million of products from Maine last year, said Maine International Trade Center President Janine Bisaillon-Cary.

BATH

Aegis destroyer Spruance to be christened today

Bath Iron Works is gearing up for the christening of its next Aegis destroyer, the Spruance.

The warship is named for Raymond Ames Spruance, who commanded U.S. forces that sank four Japanese aircraft carriers in the Battle of Midway.

Today, his granddaughter will do the honor of christening the ship with a bottle of champagne.

This is the second destroyer to bear Spruance’s name. The first one was the lead class of the Spruance-class of destroyers, which went into service in the 1970s.

VINALHAVEN

Investigators seek cause after ferry runs aground

Coast Guard investigators and the Maine State Ferry Service are working to determine why a ferry with 30 people aboard ran aground after leaving Vinalhaven on the way to Rockland.

Officials say there were no injuries on the ferry Everett Liberty and no pollution was released into the ocean.

The ferry terminal manager called the Coast Guard about 9:25 a.m. Thursday to say the ferry had run aground in The Reach, near Norton’s Point. A Coast Guard motor lifeboat escorted the ferry to Rockland, where investigators met the vessel. The Coast Guard said visibility at the time of the grounding was less than a quarter mile.

AUGUSTA

Owners urged to get EEE vaccinations for horses

The state veterinarian is warning horse owners as mosquito season arrives: Make sure your animals have their shots for eastern equine encephalitis.

Dr. Don Hoenig said Maine had an unprecedented and widespread outbreak of that highly fatal, but very preventable, disease last year. In the late summer and fall of 2009, 15 horses and one llama died in central and southern Maine from EEE. Also, three pheasant flocks in southern Maine were euthanized because of infection with the virus.

The state veterinarian said EEE is a preventable, but usually fatal, viral disease in horses. It can also affect humans if they are bitten by mosquitoes that carry the virus.

— From staff and news services