AUGUSTA

Bill would give Dechaine a shot at new murder trial

A Maine lawmaker is proposing a bill that could give Dennis Dechaine a chance for a new trial in his bid to overturn his murder conviction nearly 22 years ago.

Rep. John Martin of Eagle Lake says the bill crafted on Dechaine’s behalf would require the state to consider DNA evidence collected after Dechaine was convicted of the 1988 murder of 12-year-old Sarah Cherry in Bowdoin. Dechaine, who is serving a life sentence, hasn’t wavered in maintaining his innocence.

Martin told Maine Public Broadcasting Network that if given the chance, his bill could resolve the Dechaine case once and for all.

Former Attorney General Janet Mills said the bill seems “problematic” because it’s aimed at one case in particular and appears to “step on the toes” of the courts.

Paper company veteran to oversee forest service

A former paper company official has been appointed Maine’s new state forester.

In his new position, Douglas Denico of Madison will oversee the Maine Forest Service within the Department of Conservation.

According to the department, Denico is a licensed professional forester whose career includes forest management positions with International Paper, Scott Paper, S.D. Warren, Plum Creek and Sappi. He owns and manages 1,300 acres of working forest in central Maine, and is the immediate past president of the Maine Forest Products Council.

Conservation Commissioner Bill Beardsley said Denico believes in Maine’s working forest and the jobs that come with it.

Nominations solicited for downtown renewal awards

A nonprofit group devoted to advancing Maine’s downtowns is taking nominations for its annual achievement awards.

The Maine Development Foundation’s Downtown Center is accepting submissions in 16 categories for projects that were completed in the past year. The awards aim to recognize projects that demonstrate excellence in downtown renewal and the people who have played leadership roles in downtown revitalization.

Awards will be presented at the 2011 Maine Vital Communities Conference in Skowhegan.

The Downtown Center was established in 1999 to advance preservation-based economic development in Maine downtowns.

SOUTH PORTLAND

Repair of burst water pipe closes lanes, ties up traffic

Water and traffic are both flowing again on Westbrook Street after the repair of an underground pipe that burst near the intersection of Western Avenue.

Water came out “like a geyser” starting around 2:30 a.m. Sunday near the Irving gas station, a South Portland official said.

Two lanes of southbound traffic on Western Avenue had to be closed and traffic was reduced to a single lane each way while crews dug a hole to access and fix the broken pipe. Traffic backups occurred until repairs to the pipe and road were completed in the afternoon.

BOSTON

Local groups plan vigil for victims of quake in Japan

The Japan Society of Boston and the Old South Church in Boston have scheduled a vigil today for the victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami.

The event is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. at the Old South Church. Takeshi Hikihara, consul general of Japan in Boston, is scheduled to attend the vigil.

According to the Japan Society, the gathering is for the Boston community to acknowledge the solidarity of Japan and Boston’s ties to the island nation, and to express sympathy for those affected by the disaster.

Japan’s officials say at least 8,600 people died and more than 12,800 are missing after the earthquake and tsunami struck earlier this month.