BIDDEFORD

As need grows, food pantry short on funds to keep going

A 30-year-old food pantry in Biddeford is having a difficult time staying open.

The Friends of Community Action Food Pantry was started in 1981. It was the first of its kind in the state, according to Susan Riley, the vice president of the organization, whose mother, Rita, founded the food pantry.

She told WCSH-TV that the need is still great, but now donations are spread thin. She also said the pantry is having a hard time getting the funds to stay open.

Food costs about $3,000 a month, plus the food pantry pays rent and maintenance on its vehicles.

Riley said the pantry can stay open for about six more months.

A donation fund has been established.

MADISON, N.H.

Police charge man in fire that damaged own home

A New Hampshire man has been charged with arson, accused of setting a fire at his own home.

At the time of the fire Friday, Francis Fortin was the only one home at the single-wide trailer, which also housed four tenants.

Madison Police Sgt. Ted Colby told WMWV radio that Fortin was arrested after being interviewed.

Fortin also has been charged with falsifying physical evidence and reckless conduct. He is being held in the Carroll County Jail in Ossipee on $10,000 bail and is expected in court Monday.

No one was hurt, but the home sustained significant smoke damage.

The state Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating.

PORTSMOUTH, N.H.

Counterfeit bills turn up in at least four communities

At least four communities along New Hampshire’s Seacoast are reporting a rash of counterfeit $20 bills.

Portsmouth police said the fake bills started appearing nearly a month ago. Most have been used in Portsmouth, but investigators told WMUR-TV they have turned up in Exeter, Farmington and Rochester, too.

Police said the fake bills have mostly been used at small, locally owned businesses, such as gas stations.

BOSTON

Cross from late pope lost in break-in at ex-mayor’s

Police say that a cross and rosary beads blessed by the late Pope John Paul II were among items taken during a break-in at the South Boston home of Raymond Flynn, the city’s former mayor and a former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.

Flynn told The Boston Globe that the break-in happened Thursday after he and his wife, Catherine, left for a funeral.

He said other stolen items include letters from Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Mother Teresa, South African President Nelson Mandela and baseball great Ted Williams. Jewelry, coins, a computer and an iPod also were taken.

Police said the burglar or burglars may have pried open the front door.

Flynn was Boston’s mayor from 1984 to 1993, and was a U.S. ambassador to the Vatican from 1993 to 1997.

MIDDLEBURY, Vt.

Student missing in Syria safe and well, father says

The Vermont father of a Middlebury College student who had been missing in Syria said Saturday that his son has been found and is safe and well.

Pathik “Tik” Root, 21, had been missing in Syria since March 18.

His father, Tom Root of Ripton, said in a message posted on the college’s website that he got “great news” from the Syrian Embassy, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and others that his son has been found and is all right.

Tom Root said his son remains in the hands of the Syrian authorities, who are currently responsible for him.

“We very much appreciate the efforts of Ambassador Imad Moustapha and Senator Leahy in continuing to work to bring this complex situation to a resolution,” Root wrote, adding, “please know how much we value everyone’s good wishes and hopes.”

Tik Root, a U.S. citizen, had been studying Arabic in Damascus as part of a program through Damascus University. His father said he had been detained at a demonstration by Syrian security forces. He believes his son was watching the demonstration, not participating in it.