State officials probe cause after local man found dead

Maine State Police are hoping an autopsy will show what killed a 46-year-old Augusta man found dead in his Green Street apartment before dawn Saturday.

An autopsy was being done Sunday on the body of David Cox.

“At this point, it’s a death which is under investigation,” said state police spokesman Steve McCausland. “We’ll be waiting to hear (whether the death is considered suspicious) from the medical examiner.”

Disease has needles falling from eastern white pines

The Maine Department of Conservation says residents are reporting increasing damage throughout the state to eastern white pine trees, particularly yellowing, browning and a loss of needles.

Officials said that homeowners, landowners and foresters should expect to see unusual and excessive shedding of infected, year-old tree needles over the next few weeks. Needle diseases, caused specifically by three fungi, have reached epidemic proportions around the state.

The needle loss has not yet caused any widespread mortality, but it does weaken pines, making them more vulnerable to other conditions, such as drought or insects.

Officials said not much can be done to halt the needle loss, though good forest management can protect the trees.

Maine receives $769,000 in greenhouse-gas auction

Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection says a Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative auction has gained $769,000 for the state to go toward energy-efficiency programs and job creation.

The 10-state cap-and-trade collaborative’s auction of carbon credits was held last week. A total of $25.5 million was made available through proceeds from its 12th auction of carbon credits. Maine is a member state of the collaborative.

The $769,092 earmarked for Maine will be managed by the Efficiency Maine Trust to fund programs to improve energy efficiency, accelerate the deployment of renewable energy technologies and provide direct assistance to energy consumers.

Since the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative’s start, Maine has earned nearly $27 million of the $886 million total.

New state law ensures study of civics and government

Gov. Paul LePage has signed into law a bill to ensure that Maine students pass a course in civics and government in order to receive a high school diploma.

LePage signed the bill Friday. He said that courses in history, economics, literature and other subjects enhance students’ understanding of government and politics, but they can’t replace sustained, specific attention to civic education.

Courses in civics and government were common in American high schools until the 1960s, according to the governor. He said the new law re-emphasizes the need to educate youth about the core values that America was built upon.

The bill was sponsored by Democratic Rep. Mary Nelson of Falmouth, who serves on the Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs.


Sheriff’s office postpones motorcycle checkpoint

Police in southern Maine postponed a checkpoint scheduled for Sunday in Arundel.

The checkpoint, planned for a location between Limerick and Campground roads, was aimed at making sure that motorcycles have been inspected and are in compliance with state laws. A new date will be announced in a few weeks, the York County Sheriff’s Office said.

The checkpoint was the first of three planned this summer. Others will be conducted in Kennebunk and Kennebunkport at times and dates to be announced.


Groundbreaking held for new port-of-entry building

When it’s done, the new port-of-entry building in northeastern Maine will feature solar hot water, geothermal heating and cooling, and LED lights.

A groundbreaking for the building was held Saturday in Van Buren. The port is being funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for $45 million.

The 43,500-square-foot project is expected to be done by July 2013.

The Z-shaped building will have skylights that will allow daylight in. A silkscreen with a forest camouflage pattern on the building will control glare.

Bob Zarnetske, regional administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration, said the agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection have worked toward producing a new port “that will use modern technology to enhance border security, speed the flow of commerce and reduce our reliance on foreign energy.”

The building will replace one built in 1964 that was damaged by flooding from the St. John River in May 2008.


Man wanted in connection with N.H. shooting arrested

Authorities in Sanford have arrested a 29-year-old man who they said is wanted in connection with a shooting in New Hampshire.

The U.S. Marshals New Hampshire Joint Fugitive Task Force said James McNeil was arrested Friday in Sanford.

Authorities said McNeil is wanted on charges of first-degree assault with a firearm in connection with a shooting in Laconia, N.H., that injured Tyler Twombly, 26, on April 8.

McNeil was charged as a fugitive from justice. He will be held at the York County Jail.


Forest firefighting training attracts over 140 people

More than 140 people in Maine have been undergoing training in fighting forest fires.

Put on by the Maine Forest Service, the annual Maine State Wildfire Training Academy provides instruction on how to battle fires in Maine’s vast forestlands. Topics include digging fire lines, deploying fire shelters, cutting down trees with chain saws and using water pumps.

Courses were held over two weekends and wrapped up Sunday at Thomas College in Waterville.

Most of the students are firefighters with fire departments and are trained in structural firefighting, but not in battling blazes in the wild.


Damaged by fire, church holds services at library

A devastating fire didn’t keep the Unitarian Universalist Church here from holding Sunday services.

Church representatives said services were being held inside the town’s Curtis Memorial Library, across the street from the heavily damaged church.

The fire started about 1 a.m. last Monday and has been blamed on old, faulty electrical wiring at the back of the 125-year-old church.

The building suffered extensive damages, but firefighters were able to save a Bible that was signed and passed on by 19th-century poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who was a member of a church that was the predecessor to the Unitarian Universalist Church.


Sporting goods chain plans $1 million fishing contest

Cabela’s sporting goods company is offering a big incentive for anglers to cast their lines.

The company has launched a national fishing competition in which the grand prize is $1 million.

The company has tagged more than 1,000 fish in lakes across the United States, including two in Maine — Cobbosseecontee Lake in the Manchester-Monmouth area and Long Lake in Naples and Harrison.

The competition — “Wanna Go Fishing for Millions?” — offers prizes for snagging one of the tagged fish, including a $10,000 Cabela’s shopping spree. Participants must be registered at to claim prizes.


Mount Washington road open only to bikers today

To coincide with New Hampshire’s annual Bike Week, the Mount Washington Auto Road is open just to motorcyclists today.

The event is called “Ride to the Sky.” Bikes rule the road the whole day.

There will be another “Ride to the Sky” on Thursday.