SOUTH PORTLAND

Council postpones decision on Willard Square proposal

The City Council has postponed action on a proposal to ban development in the Willard Square neighborhood for 180 days.

The proposal, which was discussed at Monday’s council session after a group of residents submitted a petition in support of the moratorium, will be reconsidered at a workshop on Monday night, said Tex Haeuser, the city’s director of planning and development.

The next time the council would take a formal vote on the moratorium is May 16, Haeuser said.

Willard Square residents say the city needs to develop stronger zoning and do more thorough parking studies before allowing additional commercial development in their neighborhood. The moratorium was requested following a proposal this week to build “Mr. Delicious,” a two-story, 2,400-square-foot grocery store in Willard Square.

Haeuser said the moratorium, which was proposed by Councilor Maxine Beecher, would be retroactive to May 2 if enacted. The Planning Board is expected to consider the grocery store proposal on May 24. 

Council votes 6-0 for school budget of $42.8 million

City Clerk Susan Mooney said the City Council voted 6-0 to adopt a $42.8 million school budget that would go into effect July 1. The budget would increase the tax rate for schools by one percent.

Before the education budget can take effect, it must be approved by voters at a referendum Tuesday, Mooney said.

WISCASSET

Three teens arrested in burglaries in Boothbay

Three teenagers from Lincoln County have been arrested in connection with string of burglaries that took place along Wiscasset Road in Boothbay last month.

Lt. Michael Murphy of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said an investigation resulted in the recovery of cash registers stolen from G&J Redemption, Lisa’s Lunch Box and MT Redemption. The total value of items and damages is estimated at $2,000.

Christopher Deniger, 19, of Boothbay, and Dylan Tedford, 18, and Daniel Chubbuck, 19, both of Edgecomb, have been arrested and charged with burglary. More charges could be filed against the men, who are being held at the Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset.

PORTLAND

Portland police chief now one of six for Cincinnati job

Police Chief James Craig is one of six candidates advancing to the next round in Cincinnati’s search for a new police chief.

Craig is competing against two Cincinnati assistant police chiefs, Vincent Demasi and James Whalen; Brian Jordan, a retired captain from the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia; John King, a law enforcement instructor who had been police chief in Gaithersburg, Md.; and Bruce Marquis, police chief in Norfolk, Va.

Craig, who has been Portland’s chief for two years, had retired as a captain from the Los Angeles Police Department. He began his law enforcement career in Detroit.

The six candidates will be interviewed in person by a screening committee in mid-May, according to Meg Olberding, a spokeswoman for the city. City Manager Milton Dohoney will interview the top two or three candidates in the next round. Dohoney could make an offer to a candidate, revisit the entire pool of candidates or reopen the search process.

Craig was among 10 candidates who cleared the first hurdle last month. Those 10 were selected following telephone interviews by the selection committee from a pool of 41 applicants.

CASTINE

Maritime Academy ship heading to Italy, Ireland

Maine Maritime Academy’s training ship has cast off for its annual two-month training voyage, which will take students to U.S. ports as well as Malta, Italy and Ireland.

The 500-foot State of Maine departed Castine on Tuesday morning with 230 students and 55 crew members aboard.

The ship’s first port call will be Norfolk, Va., followed by Valetta, Malta; Civitavecchia, Italy; and Cobh, Ireland. Upon returning to the U.S., the ship will stop in Portland before arriving back in its home port on June 26.

The ship this year has a new skipper, Capt. Leslie Eadie, who is taking command following the retirement of longtime master Capt. Larry Wade.

AUGUSTA

Panel backs bill allowing legal fireworks in Maine

A bill to allow the sale of fireworks in Maine is still alive in the Legislature.

Members of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted 8-5 Monday for a bill that would allow people 21 and older to buy fireworks from authorized stand-alone fireworks stores in Maine.

The bill now heads to the full Legislature for consideration.

Supporters say fireworks are already prevalent in Maine through people who buy them in New Hampshire around the Fourth of July, and that legalizing them would bring in tax revenue and give the state better control over what types of fireworks are allowed.

Critics say legalizing fireworks would result in more injuries and property damage.

According to the Bangor Daily news, Gov. Paul LePage supports loosening Maine’s prohibition on fireworks. 

Earthquake ‘swarm’ shakes Belfast, Bucksport, Searsport

A series of small earthquakes, known as a swarm in geological terms, has been rippling under the towns of Belfast, Bucksport and Searsport region over the past few days.

About 30 small earthquakes, which have measured less than two on the Richter magnitude scale, have been recorded since April 30, according to Dr. Robert Marvinney. Marvinney is the state geologist as well as director of the Maine Geological Survey.

The swarm is not an indicator that a larger, potentially more damaging earthquake is coming, Marvinney said.

“This swarm may continue for several days, but there is no need for alarm,” Marvinney said in a statement released today. “This type of swarm has occurred before in Maine. While local residents may feel these earthquakes, because they occur only a few miles below the surface, they are well below the magnitude 5 threshold at which damage might occur.”

Marvinney said about three dozen earthquakes took place in the Bar Harbor area in 2006, including one magnitude 4.2 event and two magnitude 3 events. In 1967, Augusta experienced at least 12 earthquakes, with the largest being 3.9 on the Richter scale.

Marvinney said the earthquakes are the result of the movement of large, rock plates that make up the Earth’s crust. The crust in Maine is still adjusting to the loss of thick ice at the end of the last ice age.

The Maine Geological Survey, the Maine Emergency Management Agency, and the New England Seismic Network will continue to monitor the situation. The swarm that has affected the coastal region in Maine was detected by seismologists at the New England Seismic Network, which is based at the Weston Observatory at Boston College.

AUBURN

Hypnotist gets six years for sex encounters with teen

A hypnotist convicted of using his craft to keep a teenage girl quiet about their sexual encounters is going to prison for six years.

The Sun Journal of Lewiston said Aaron Patton, 38, of Jay was sentenced Monday by Superior Court Justice Donald Marden.

Patton began treating the girl, now 17, with hypnotism when she was 12 to break her of a nail-biting habit. Prosecutors said Patton would hypnotize her after their sexual encounters to make her feel more comfortable about their trysts, which began when she was 14.

Patton was sentenced to six years in prison for each of four counts of gross sexual assault, four years for unlawful sexual contact and counts of sexual abuse of a minor. All but the initial six years were suspended.

LEWISTON

Alabama dogs displaced by storms coming to Maine

Dozens of dogs from Alabama are getting a new home in Maine so an Alabama shelter can make room for other canines left homeless by last week’s devastating storms that ripped across the South.

The Greater Androscoggin Humane Society in Lewiston plans to take 50 dogs from the Shelby Humane Society in Columbiana, Ala. Shelter manager Zachary Black told the Sun Journal of Lewiston that the canines are expected to arrive Saturday after making the 20-hour drive from Alabama.

Once in Maine, the dogs will be put up for adoption. Black says they range from 2 months to 4 years old and from 4 pounds to 80 pounds.

BANGOR

Jury finds man guilty in state health insurance scam

Sentencing is pending for a Maine man convicted of falsely stating his income to receive subsidized health insurance.

The Bangor Daily News reported that a federal jury found Rodney Russell, 47, of South Thomaston guilty on four counts of lying about his cash income in 2008 and 2009 so he could receive subsidized coverage through the state-run Dirigo Health Agency. He was indicted in September on six counts of making a false statement in connection with a health care benefit program.

The jury acquitted Russell on two counts, but found that Russell failed to declare as much as $30,000 in cash income to Dirigo.

A sentencing date has not been set. Russell faces up to five years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

STATEWIDE

Libraries to take food pantry items instead of book fines

Many libraries around the state will be participating in Food Not Fines Week this month.

From May 9 to 14, participating public libraries will excuse fines for overdue items in exchange for donations of nonperishable food. The food will be given to local food pantries.

The effort is being coordinated by the Maine State Library at a time of strong demand for food pantries. Organizers are encouraging library patrons who don’t owe fines to donate food pantry items as well.

For a list of participating libraries, go to: www.maine.gov/msl/fines.shtml