PORTLAND

Southbound ramps closed at night for I-295 repairs

Three southbound ramps to I-295 will be closed for construction work most nights for at least two weeks, the Maine Department of Transportation said Thursday morning.

The closings started Thursday night for the southbound on and off ramps at exit 6A (Forest Avenue) and the southbound on-ramp from the Fore River Parkway. Detour routes will be marked for drivers, MDOT said.

The ramps will be closed from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. Friday night, and then Sundays through Thursdays for at least two weeks, the department said. The duration of the closings depends on the pace of construction and the weather, MDOT said.

Workers will be repairing and replacing pavement on the Forest Avenue and Fore River Parkway overpasses, part of a substantial repair and improvment project on I-295 that will continue into the fall.

BANGOR

Voters give plans for arena, convention center thumbs up

Bangor voters say they’re eager to build a new municipal arena.

By a ratio of 3 to 1, voters Wednesday approved plans for the $65 million, 8,000-person arena with an adjoining convention center.

The money for the project will come from racino slot machine revenue and funds used for downtown projects.

The Bangor Daily News says unofficial results show 4,107 voters said “yes” to the proposal and 1,363 voted “no.”

City officials and members of the business community have been united in support of the arena, proposed as the linchpin for future economic development in the city. They hope the arena can make Bangor a regional entertainment destination.

 

Man sentenced to 20 years for pair of home invasions

A Bangor man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for two home invasions.

Dennis Wood, 46, was sentenced Thursday in the Penobsot County Judicial Center to 20 years for attempting to break into a home in Bangor in December, when he and another man knocked on a door and asked for help, telling the homeowner their car had broken down. He pleaded guilty to robbery and aggravated assault charges in December.

In another case, Wood was sentenced Tuesday in Somerset County Superior Court to 19 years in prison after pleading guilty to breaking into an elderly woman’s home in Palmyra, demanding money and stealing $5,000 in cash before tying her up and leaving.

The Bangor Daily News says the sentences will be served concurrently.

WESTBROOK

Shakespeare festival begins today at Riverbank Park

Starting this weekend, the Acorn Shakespeare Ensemble will present for the second year its Riverbank Shakespeare Festival at Riverbank Park on Main Street.

Centerpieces of the festival are two late-period romances, “Antony and Cleopatra” and “Cymbeline.”

The Young Actors Shakespeare Conservatory will present “The Comedy of Errors.”

The three shows have been abridged to various extents and will be offered free of charge with a suggested donation of $10. Performances take place Friday evenings, Saturday afternoons and evenings, and Sunday afternoons and evenings.

Audience members are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets and picnic during the performances. No reservations are necessary, and in case of inclement weather, audiences are encouraged to check Acorn’s website or call 854-0065.

This weekend’s schedule: “Cymbeline,” 6 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday; and “Comedy of Errors,” 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

WINTERPORT

Man’s body found outside burning Calvary church

Maine law enforcement officials say a body was found outside a burning church in Winterport on Thursday.

Steve McCausland of the Maine Department of Public Safety said the man’s body was found outside the Calvary Apostolic Church, which caught fire late Thursday morning.

He says officials aren’t speculating on how the man died, and a team of fire marshals was investigating.

AUGUSTA

Committee votes to deep-six bill to allow bigger signage

Members of the Transportation Committee voted unanimously to kill a bill opponents argued would have weakened Maine’s 34-year-old anti-billboard law on Thursday.

The vote was 12-0 against L.D. 1405, which was sponsored by state Rep. Dennis Keschl, R-Belgrade. Sen. Doug Thomas, R-Ripley, was absent for the vote and has until the end of the day on Monday to weigh in.

Keschl said his proposal would not result in billboards in Maine, but opponents said it would increase the size of signs currently allowed and permit them to be more visible on Maine’s highways.

 

Panel seeks to shorten terms on Turnpike Authority board

A legislative committee is suggesting cutting Maine Turnpike Authority board terms from seven years to four.

The Government Oversight Committee voted Thursday to send a letter to the Transportation Committee, which is due to take up a bill next week incorporating numerous changes in how the toll highway is administered. The authority is under scrutiny after an audit uncovered thousands of dollars in lavish expenses and gift cards.

Oversight committee member Donald Pilon, a Democratic state representative from Saco, suggested cutting the turnpike board terms. He says having seven-year terms has created “an old boy network.”

On Tuesday, the Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on a bill to make several changes in turnpike administration. Numerous reforms have already been implemented.

 

Nominee to head State Police endorsed by key committee

A 27-year Maine State Police veteran has won a legislative committee’s endorsement to head the force.

The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted unanimously Thursday to endorse the nomination of Robert Williams of Vassalboro, a lieutenant colonel with the state police. Thursday’s vote virtually locks a Senate vote for Williams’ confirmation.

Several state and police officials gave statements of strong support for Williams’ nomination before the vote. Attorney General William Schneider called him “a terrific, professional trooper.”

Williams currently serves as the deputy chief of the department. He would succeed Patrick Fleming, who is now executive director of the state’s Gambling Control Board.

Williams is a graduate of the University of Maine at Augusta and holds a master’s degree in administration from Husson University.

ROCKLAND

Matinicus Island lobstermen settle lawsuit over shooting

Two Maine lobstermen from remote Matinicus Island have settled a lawsuit stemming from a 2009 shooting in a feud over lobster traps.

Christopher Young initially asked for $4 million from Vance Bunker for potential lost income and other damages.

Bunker shot Young in the neck on July 20, 2009, on the town dock on Matinicus, about 20 miles off Rockland. A jury decided last year that Bunker was acting in self-defense and acquitted him of elevated aggravated assault.

Court documents filed in Knox County Superior Court this week do not include details of the settlement, according to the Bangor Daily News.

Attorneys for Young and Bunker were away from their offices Thursday and not available for comment.

SOUTH BERWICK

State to release beetles that will prey on hemlock killers

The Maine Forest Service says it will release 1,500 predator lady beetles at a state park so they can feast on insects that kill hemlock trees.

The tiny hungry beetles will be released Thursday at Vaughan Woods State Park in South Berwick as part of an effort to eradicate the hemlock woolly adelgid, an invasive insect that’s moving up the coast of Maine and has been found in at least 16 states.

Release of the black lady beetles isn’t expected to eradicate the infestation. But officials say it should reduce the adelgid population at the park.

The biological-control effort is called the state’s best management tool in the forest at this time.

ELIOT

Opponents of strip-club plan add website to their arsenal

A group of residents has created a website to fight a proposal to bring a strip club to town.

A half dozen residents created www.keepeliotsafe.com in opposition to a businessman’s plans to open a club with nude dancing on Route 236.

More than 100 people attended last week’s Board of Selectmen meeting in support of two proposed ordinances that would prevent the club from opening in town.

A lawyer representing businessman Donald Denunzio has vowed a legal battle if the town tries to block the club.