PORTLAND

Railroad upgrade projects get additional $3.4 million

The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority has been awarded an additional $3.4 million for improvements and upgrades on tracks from Portland to Brunswick, according to U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.

The authority will use the additional funding for new railroad ties, rehabilitating three bridges, building overnight holding tracks for trains in Brunswick and construction of a new passing siding along the line.

The money comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Snowe, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, and Collins, ranking member of the Senate Transportation Appropriations subcommittee, wrote to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in support of the grant application.

The Downeaster operates five daily round trips between Portland and Boston. Ridership has grown by 10 percent since October.

Turnpike traffic expected to dip 6 percent from 2010

High gas prices are expected to discourage travel on the Maine Turnpike this Memorial Day weekend, according to the Maine Turnpike Authority.

The Maine Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Southern Maine is projecting that overall traffic passing through the York toll plaza during the four day weekend will reach 292,000 vehicles – a reduction of about 6 percent from 2010.

The center said that average prices for regular gas in New England are more than 12 cents per gallon higher than the 2008 Memorial Day weekend – gas prices rose well above $4 a gallon that summer.

Local man found guilty of trafficking in cocaine

A 29-year-old Portland man faces up to 20 years in prison after being convicted on cocaine trafficking charges.

A federal jury Wednesday found Wolker Georges guilty of conspiring to distribute and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

When drug agents searched George’s apartment, they confiscated cocaine with an estimated street value of $25,000 along with two handguns, digital scales and more than $30,000 in cash.

SCARBOROUGH

Shoplifting suspect caught after fleeing store, police

Police arrested a suspected shoplifter who allegedly tried to commandeer two vehicles as he fled from a sporting goods store in Scarborough.

Travis Mullen, 32, of Sanford was taken into custody on charges of felony theft, refusing to submit to arrest, two counts of attempted kidnapping and criminal threatening.

Sgt. Mary E. Pearson said officers were called to Cabela’s to investigate a report of a shoplifter. When police arrived, Mullen allegedly ran through the parking lot onto the Maine Turnpike near Exit 42.

He attempted to jump into a moving truck and fell to the ground, police said. He then ran to another vehicle, opened the door and got in the passenger seat. The woman driver fled the vehicle.

Mullen left that vehicle and ran into woods. A few seconds later, he attempted to enter an RC Moore trailer-truck, but was confronted by an employee, causing him to flee again, police said.

Scarborough police, South Portland police and Maine State Police found Mullen hiding in the back of a truck at RC Moore’s corporate headquarters on Ginn Road, where he was taken into custody.

He was taken to Maine Medical Center for treatment of injuries he sustained when he fell from the moving truck.

CONCORD, N.H.

Woman waives hearing on evidence in son’s killing

Prosecutors say a woman charged with killing her 6-year-old son in New Hampshire and leaving his body on a Maine roadside has waived a court hearing on the evidence against her.

Julianne McCrery, 42, of Irving, Texas, was scheduled to be in Hampton District Court today to hear prosecutors outline their case against her.

The body of her son, Camden Hughes, was found under a blanket on a South Berwick road May 14.

McCrery was arrested May 17 at a Massachusetts truck stop and arraigned in New Hampshire on a second-degree murder charge.

STANDISH

Four teenagers charged with breaking into school

Cumberland County sheriff’s deputies have charged four Standish teenagers with burglary and theft for allegedly breaking into George E. Jack Elementary School in Standish and stealing laptop computers.

Sheriff’s deputies on Tuesday arrested three 14-year-olds, whose names are not being released because of their age, and Dylan C. Bullinger, 18.

The break-ins occurred May 9 and again Monday, the sheriff’s office said. All the stolen property was recovered.

The 14-year-olds were issued a court summons and released to their parents. Bullinger also was issued a summons.

YORK

Lightning blamed for fire that damaged horse stable

Fire officials are blaming lightning for a fire that damaged a stable in York.

Megan Mello, the owner of Riverwatch Stables, said a relative helped her get six horses and a litter of kittens out of the stable.

The fire was reported about 6 p.m. Tuesday.

AUBURN

Medical pot dispensary set to open Wednesday

Maine’s newest medical marijuana dispensary is opening in Auburn.

Starting Wednesday, the Remedy Compassion Center will sell medical marijuana to patients by appointment only.

WGME-TV reported that the Auburn dispensary will offer nonsmoking alternatives for patients, including foods.

AUGUSTA

Fourteen seniors namedNational Merit Scholars

Officials announced Wednesday that 14 Maine high school seniors have been named National Merit Scholars.

The students will receive financial awards of $500 to $2,000 toward their college education. The Mainers are among 2,900 nationwide to receive the awards.

The scholars are:

Biddeford High School: Hilary B. Lariviere, Nathan S. Proctor

Boothbay Regional High School: Nathaniel H. Schwehm

Cape Elizabeth High School: Benjamin L. Richardson

Cheverus High School: Rachel E. Hawkinson, William A. Lenk

Deering High School: Rebecca J. Silver

Lincoln Academy: Madeline L. Sherrill

The Maine School of Science and Mathematics: Martha L. Hamlin

Marshwood High School: David E. Blass, Ryan T. Fallon

Phillips Academy, Andover: Winfield S. Shambaugh

Wells High School: Bridget K. Boyle

York High School: Cassie E. Burns