AUGUSTA

Public comment sought for Anthem’s proposed rate hike

Maine’s Bureau of Insurance will hold public comment sessions next month on proposed 10 percent premium increases for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s individual policy holders.

Anthem submitted a filing last week proposing an average 9.7 percent increase in premiums for the more than 11,000 policyholders. The increase affects Mainers who buy their own individual coverage instead of getting health insurance through work or a government-sponsored program such as Medicare.

The increases would take effect in July and vary somewhat among the different Anthem plans, including  HealthChoice, HealthChoice Standard & Basic, Lumenos, HMO and HealthChoice HDHP.

The first session will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. March 14 at the University of Maine in Orono. The second session will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Wishcamper Center at the University of Southern Maine in Portland.

A formal public hearing will be held in early April before the state’s insurance superintendent rules on the rate increase.

 

Senate confirms Ponte as new Corrections commissioner

The Maine Senate today voted 34-0 to confirm Joseph Ponte to become the new commissioner of the Department of Corrections.

Ponte, 64, has spent more than 40 years in corrections, including 21 years with the Massachusetts Department of Corrections and the last eight with the privately owned Corrections Corp. of America.

Ponte is the 11th nominee confirmed to Gov. Paul LePage’s Cabinet.

WASHINGTON

Border Patrol seeking new measurement standard

The head of the Border Patrol says the tool used to measure whether his agency has operational control of the border is not necessarily a good way to assess border security.

A report recently released by the Government Accountability Office says the Border Patrol can detect illegal activity and make arrests on just 32 of the 4,000-mile U.S-Canada border. But Border patrol chief Michael Fisher says border security is not necessarily synonymous or equal with the number of miles of border under control.

Fisher says the Border Patrol is trying to come up with a new measure for assessing border security.

BIDDEFORD

Fire severely damages interior of Duffy’s Way home

A fire of undetermined origin destroyed the interior of a home at 25 Duffy’s Way this afternoon.

Lt. David Dutremble said that when firefighters arrived – around 3:15 p.m. – the fire had begun to spread from the first floor to the second floor of the two-story wood-frame home.

No one was home at the time, Dutremble said. The homeowner’s name was not available.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

 

PORTLAND

Man pleads guilty to growing marijuana in national forest

Federal prosecutors say an Oxford man has pleaded guilty to cultivating marijuana last year in the White Mountain National Forest.

Todd Clukey, 38, pleaded guilty Monday before U.S. District Judge D. Brock Hornby in Portland.

Court records say that from May to September, Clukey grew marijuana in the national forest in an unorganized portion of Oxford County. Officials say Clukey also admitted that he had grown marijuana on national forest land the previous two years.

Clukey, who remains free pending sentencing, faces a maximum possible sentence of five years imprisonment, a $500,000 fine, or both.

Jewelry store hackers steal card numbers

Maine State Police are investigating a security breach of a jewelry store company’s computer system that compromised an undetermined number of credit and debit cards.

Day’s Jewelers said today the suspected breach involved hackers outside the company. The Waterville-based company, which has five stores in Maine and one in New Hampshire, said it hasn’t determined how customers were affected.

The Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit declined comment because the investigation is ongoing. Day’s has hired a computer forensics company to determine how the breach happened and identify the information that was compromised.

The Maine Credit Union League said more than 1,000 of its members who made purchases at Day’s stores in November and December have reported fraudulent activity on their cards.

RAYMOND

Movie fan to be contestant on ‘Millionaire’ game show

Gregory Charette, a loan consultant from Raymond, will be a contestant on the syndicated game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” next week.

Charette is scheduled to appear Tuesday, during the show’s “Netflix Million Dollar Movie Week.” The show can be seen locally on Portland station WCSH (Channel 6) at 7:30 p.m.

Because of the upcoming Academy Awards, “Millionaire” will be focusing on movie questions and movie trivia all week long.

Charette, 44, is a big movie fan and has been an extra in several films, including: “Pet Semetary”; “Message in a Bottle”; “Man without a Face” and “In the Bedroom.”

LINCOLN

Police probe suspicious death of man found in driveway

Police are investigating an untimely death that they consider suspicious.

Police say the body of Robert Arthurs, 36, was found about 1 p.m. Sunday in a neighbor’s driveway.

Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said two State Police detectives are helping Lincoln police in the investigation.

A Monday autopsy on Arthurs’ body was inconclusive, according to the Bangor Daily News.

SCARBOROUGH

Satisfaction survey gives town some high marks

Town services won generally high marks from residents participating in a survey, although some areas – including pedestrian safety and neighborhood street lighting – were seen as needing attention.

In December, the town invited 1,318 randomly selected residents to participate in the Citizen Satisfaction Survey sponsored by the New England States Performance Measurement Project. A total of 246 residents completed the online survey.

Ninety-seven percent were pleased with the overall quality of life in Scarborough and with the town as a place to raise children. Eighty-nine percent were satisfied with police, fire and emergency medical services. Eighty-three percent who used town services rated them as satisfactory.

In addition to the lighting and pedestrian issues, residents gave lower rankings to cost of living and economic development.

Town officials plan to conduct additional surveys to help identify priorities for limited resources.

Detailed survey results are available at www.scarborough.me.us.

OLD TOWN

Woman faces charges for excessive calls to 911

A Maine woman is facing charges after allegedly calling 911 ten times in just over an hour when she did not have an emergency to report.

Old Town police say Shirely Isacson, 66, made the calls on Friday and made other calls to police agencies on Sunday.

On Friday, the calls started at around 4:15 p.m. After being warned several times to stop calling for help if she did not need it, Isacson was given a ticket.

On Sunday, Belfast police and the State Police barracks in Orono told Old Town police they had received calls from Isacson’s number.

Old Town Police Sgt. Scott Casey told the Bangor Daily News that when police arrived on Monday, Isacson called 911 to say police were at the door harassing her.

ALBION

93-year-old woman killed in head-on collision

A 93-year-old woman died in a head-on collision on Main Street Monday afternoon.

Elsie McDonald, of Albion, suffered internal injuries and died at the scene, said Kennebec County Sheriff Randall Liberty.

McDonald was the passenger in a Mazda driven by her granddaughter Eliza Henderson, 47, of Albion, who was uninjured.

Henderson was driving north on Main Street about 3 p.m. when a Chrysler minivan traveling southbound drifted into the opposite lane and hit the Mazda head on, Liberty said.

He said a “chemical analysis” showed the driver of the minivan, 28-year-old Heather Truman of Albion, was impaired. A blood test would indicate the level of her impairment and whether she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The results would probably be available in three days, Liberty said.

He said Truman was “incoherent” and couldn’t explain why she drifted into oncoming traffic. He said she was taken to Inland Hospital in Waterville. He expected her to be released later Monday.

Also in the minivan were passengers Alva Donnell, 33, of Albion and his 1-year-old son. Neither of them were injured in the accident.

BAR HARBOR

College commissions construction of new ship

College of the Atlantic has commissioned construction of a new research vessel.

College officials in Bar Harbor say the 46-foot vessel, dubbed Five Friends, is under construction at Wesmac boat yard in Surry.

Officials say the vessel will be able to accommodate up to 40 people, enough for classes to be held onboard. It’ll also have a shallow draft, so it can maneuver in harbors and around islands. It will be capable of 18 knots.

The boat was named by the late Edward McCormick Blair, a former college trustee who asked four friends to join him in financing construction costs as well as to create a fund for maintaining and operating the boat.

CUSHING

Photographer Caponigro to get Maine in America Award

Paul Caponigro, a photographer from Cushing, will receive the 2011 Maine in America Award, given annually by the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland.

The award honors an individual or group who has contributed to Maine’s role in American art. This year’s presentation will occur June 25 during the Farnsworth’s Summer Gala on the museum grounds.

Previous winners were John Wilmerding (2006), Andrew Wyeth (2007), Will Barnet (2008), Robert Indiana (2009) and Alex Katz (2010).

HOUSTON

Pilot pleads not guilty for role in immigrant’s drowning

A Department of Homeland Security helicopter pilot has pleaded not guilty to allegations that he lied to investigators over his role in the 2005 drowning of a would-be illegal immigrant in South Texas, a plea his attorney said Tuesday would speak for itself.

James Peters, 41, is facing four counts of making false statements to investigators looking into the drowning death of Carlos Delgadillo Martinez.

Prosecutors say Peters lied about a Dec. 14, 2005, incident near a border bridge in Laredo, Texas, accusing him of flying his helicopter low in an attempt to force Delgadillo and another person back to Mexico.

Investigators say the force of the air turbulence from the low flying helicopter’s rotor made Delgadillo lose his grip on the inner tube.

Peters’ attorney, Thomas Berg, appeared at a court hearing Tuesday on behalf of the pilot, who stayed in Maine, where he is stationed. Berg said Peters, 41, had entered his pleas via court filing last week and did not have to be at the hearing.

If convicted, Peters faces up to five years in prison. He has worked for Homeland Security since 1997, becoming a helicopter pilot in 2003.