AUGUSTA

Legislative panel endorses Portland man for PUC post

David Littell, the Baldacci administration’s top environmental enforcer for the last five years, won a legislative panel’s solid endorsement Thursday to become a member of the Public Utilities Commission.

The Utilities and Energy Committee voted 12-0 to endorse Littell’s nomination to the three-member board, which regulates water, electricity, gas and telephone utilities. The vote virtually ensured Littell’s confirmation by the Senate when it meets next week.

The Senate will vote on that and dozens of other nominations by Gov. John Baldacci during a session on Wednesday.

Littell, a Portland resident, would complete the term of former PUC Chairwoman Sharon Reishus, who stepped down in July. Littell, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection for the last five years, would serve on the PUC through March 2015. He told lawmakers Thursday that he intends to fill out that term if he wins confirmation.

Littell is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Princeton University. He was in private law practice specializing in environmental regulation before joining the state. During a three-hour committee meeting, he answered a range of questions on issues ranging from landfill gas energy and nuclear waste to fiber optics and wind and tidal power.

Calling himself “a frugal Yankee,” Littell pledged to work to lower the cost of utility services “and in so doing create a climate that will help Maine’s economy to grow.”

“People want to live and work in Maine. But in order for industries to flourish and compete in the global marketplace they need the lowest possible electrical rates and access to world-class telecommunications,” Littell told the committee.

Asked whether Maine’s goal of having 3,000 megawatts of installed wind power capacity by 2020 is realistic, Littell said, “I know it’s achievable.”

He said the state has sufficient space for it and that form of energy has proven so far to be cost effective. He said lawmakers also are sensitive to public sentiment, and that could cool the pace of development.

TOPSHAM

Man, 21, charged with arson after fire at Brunswick base

Topsham police have arrested a 21-year-old man and charged him with arson in connection with a fire Tuesday night at the Brunswick Naval Air Station Annex.

Robi Saputra of Topsham was arrested Wednesday night in the parking lot of Merrymeeting Condos, where he lives.

The fire destroyed an abandoned apartment house at the annex. Investigators said the fire started when a recliner was set on fire in an outside storage building. The fire spread to a carport and then to the four-unit apartment house.

Authorities said Saputra and three friends were at the annex Tuesday night, but the others were not involved in the fire.

Saputra was being held at the Two Bridges Jail in Wiscasset. He was also charged with violating his bail conditions in a prior drug case. Saputra is not eligible for bail until he has a court hearing, scheduled for today.

ROCKLAND

Methadone clinic shut down following arrest of owner

State and federal officials have shut down a methadone clinic whose owner was arrested last month on drug charges.

The Turning Tide clinic in Rockland provided methadone to about 280 drug-addicted clients before it closed abruptly on Thursday. The Bangor Daily News said the clinic opened in 2008.

On July 13, Maine drug enforcement agents, sheriff’s deputies and state police arrested Angel Fuller-McMahan of Owls Head after authorities say they caught her selling cocaine in a parking lot.

Three days later, clinic counselor Carol Gardiner of Thorndike was arrested on a charge of attempted possession of cocaine.

FALMOUTH

Johnny’s Bistro & Bar sold; new owner plans Italian fare

Johnny’s Bistro & Bar has been sold to a restaurateur from the Sugarloaf area who plans to open an Italian restaurant in the space.

Beth McKenney, who owns Hugs and Black Diamond Burrito in Carrabassett Valley, said she plans to open a new Hugs at 204 U.S. Route 1.

McKenney said she hopes to have the new place open by Nov. 1, and plans to serve dinner only to start.

“I was very pleased to be given the opportunity to sell,” said Johnny Robinson, who operated Johnny’s for the past seven years. “It was bittersweet, of course, because I love what I do.”

Robinson renovated the restaurant in recent years, but the new look didn’t help bring in diners. “People thought it was more expensive and fancier than it actually was,” he said.

Robinson said running Johnny’s on his own was overwhelming at times.

SOUTH PORTLAND

High school borrowing plan goes to councilors Monday

A $44.2 million borrowing plan for the renovation of South Portland High School will go before the City Council for preliminary approval Monday.

Councilors have not reached consensus on the figure for the proposal and the amount could be reduced, said Mayor Tom Coward. Some councilors argue that $44.2 million is too much.

The council must vote on the borrowing plan twice before Sept. 9 to meet the printing deadline for the November ballot. The second vote is scheduled for Sept. 8.

The current school proposal is scaled back from a larger plan that voters soundly rejected in 2007. That proposal would have required the city to borrow $56 million.

PORTLAND

Red Sox give fans a chance to sound off at library Q&A

Representatives from the Boston Red Sox will hold a question-and-answer session from 11 a.m. to noon on Aug. 31 at the Portland Public Library.

The session is part of the Red Sox “Listening Tour.” The event, hosted by the Portland Regional Chamber, is designed to give fans a chance to ask questions about the team and offer suggestions or criticism.

The Red Sox ownership group — led by John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino — decided to initiate the tour as a way to hear directly from fans and bring their ideas and suggestions back to Fenway Park.

City seeks comments on use of community block grants

The city is seeking comments on how to use federal Community Development Block Grants.

Public meetings will be held next month in Portland Districts 1, 2 and 3. City staff members and the city councilor for each district are requesting feedback on how grant funds are working in the community.

Portland receives about $2.1 million a year in CDBG funds for urban planning, development and social services for the three districts.

The meeting for District 1, which covers Bayside, East Bayside, Munjoy Hill and Cliff Island, will be held at 7 p.m. Sept. 15 at the Merrill Rehearsal Hall on Myrtle Street.

The meeting for District 2, comprising the West End, Parkside and St. John and Valley streets area, will be held at 7 p.m. Sept. 9 at the Parkside Neighborhood Center at 85 Grant St.

The meeting for District 3, Libbytown, will be held at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 22 at the West School at 57 Douglass St.

For more information, call Amy Grommes Pulaski at 874-8731 or e-mail [email protected]

BRUNSWICK

Instrument landing system to stay at naval air station

The agency in charge of redeveloping the Brunswick Naval Air Station has been boosted by a decision to keep an advanced instrument landing system in place.

The U.S. Navy considered moving the $1.5 million system to a base in Texas.

The system is a “key component” of a proposed civilian airport on the site, said Arthur Mayo, chairman of the trustees for the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority.

The system allows larger aircraft to take off and land in all weather conditions, which will be vital to efforts to use the base’s twin runways in the future. Redevelopers envision the airfield serving pilots and airplane manufacturing and repair firms. 

Resident kills rabid raccoon that attacked him by pool

It sounds like a scene from a bad horror movie: Richard Rush and his ex-wife sat on his deck watching their two grandchildren splash in a pool before the idyllic scene was shattered — by a raccoon.

Rush said he was attacked Monday by a raccoon that climbed the stairs to get at him, biting his leg and his hand as the startled 8- and 10-year-olds watched from the pool.

After killing the animal with his hands, Rush told The Times Record he was sore from his wounds and from the shots he’s receiving because the animal tested positive for rabies.

Brunswick Animal Control Officer Heidi Nelson warned neighbors that if one animal is rabid, then there are probably other rabid animals in the area.

YORK

N.H. man charged after crash injures four on U.S. Route 1

Police charged a New Hampshire man with drunken driving after four people were injured in a four-car crash on U.S. Route 1 on Wednesday night.

York police say a 2005 Dodge Caravan driven by Kenneth Ross, 30, of Bristol, N.H., hit the rear of a 2005 Saab driven by Jeremy Mirick, 33, of York. Both cars were going south on Route 1 near the entrance to York’s Wild Kingdom.

The impact caused Ross to lose control of his van, which crossed into the northbound lanes and hit a 2001 Saab driven by Christopher Cawley, 19, of Ogunquit. The van continued on and hit a 2002 Chevrolet driven by Kenneth M. Stitt, 21, of York.

Cawley suffered a broken leg and head and neck injuries. He was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland. Keisi L. Eames, 19, of North Berwick, a passenger in Cawley’s car, sustained cuts and bruises and was treated and released from York Hospital. Stitt was treated for minor injuries at York Hospital and released. Ross suffered a broken foot and was treated and released from York Hospital.

Ross was charged with drunken driving and was taken to York County Jail, where he was being held on $500 cash bail.

DRESDEN

Massachusetts man hurt after striking tree on ATV

A 42-year-old Massachusetts man was critically injured when he rode off a private road on a four-wheel ATV and hit a tree, the Maine Warden Service said.

Michael Murphy of Mashpee, Mass., was taken by LifeFlight helicopter to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, where he remained in critical condition Thursday.

The accident happened Wednesday on a private road off Route 197 in Dresden. Murphy wasn’t wearing a helmet.

BAR HARBOR

Jackson Lab to help study genetics of athletic injuries

Jackson Laboratory says it’s teaming up with the company Athleticode Inc. to study the genetic basis of athletic injuries.

The agreement between Jackson Lab, which has facilities in Maine, and Athleticode was announced Thursday. Athleticode will be the first for-profit company to join the proposed Jackson Laboratory and Florida Biomedical Village in Collier County, Fla.

Jackson Lab’s vice president, Charles Hewett, said Athleticode is a startup company that’s enthusiastic about establishing a business in the biomedical village. The University of South Florida and Edison State College have also announced plans to locate there.

Athleticode offers genetic testing to identify risks for certain athletic injuries.