PORTLAND

Many questions remainfollowing Grant Street fire

The cause of a fire that destroyed a third-floor apartment on Grant Street on Wednesday remains under investigation.

Deputy Fire Chief Bill Flynn said a motorist called 911 at 12:54 p.m. to report heavy smoke and flames shooting out of the top floor of the apartment building at 33 Grant St. It took firefighters about 30 minutes to knock down the fire, which was contained to the third floor.

Flynn said there were furnishings in the apartment but it was unclear whether anyone lived there. The first- and second-floor apartments were not occupied. Those units sustained water damage.

Flynn said Wednesday night that city officials were still trying to find the building’s owner.

November election ballotsavailable beginning today

Voters can begin casting ballots today in this year’s election.

Absentee ballots will be available beginning at 9 a.m. Ballots can be requested by phone (874-8610), fax (874-8612) or by going to the Absentee Ballot Request Service at the www.maine.gov website.
Voters will get both the state ballot, with referendum questions, and the city ballot, which includes the ranked-choice ballot for Portland’s mayoral race.

Absentee ballots sent back by mail must be received by the city clerk’s office by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 8, to be counted.

CASCO

Man working under carinjured when jacks give way

A 65-year-old Casco man who became trapped under a car he was working on was in critical condition Wednesday night at Maine Medical Center.

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department said Blaine Small of 35 Tenney Hill Road in Casco was working underneath a 1997 Ford Taurus when it rolled forward, fell off the jacks that had been deployed to lift the car off the ground, and landed on him.

The victim’s adult son and a friend were able to jack up the car, call 911, and start CPR until the ambulance crew arrived.

Small was taken by a Life Flight Helicopter to Maine Medical Center. The accident was reported at 4:43 p.m.

SANFORD

Driver, 25, in fatal crashfaces manslaughter charge

A Sanford man was indicted Wednesday on manslaughter and other charges in connection with a fatal crash last year.

A York County grand jury indicted Zachary Bubar, 25, on one count of manslaughter, four counts of aggravated assault and four counts of aggravated driving to endanger.

On July 15, 2010, Bubar was trying to pass a vehicle when he hit another one in the oncoming lane of traffic, said Deputy Police Chief Timothy Strout.

A passenger in Bubar’s vehicle, Shawn Beaulieu, 25, of Sanford, was killed. Four others, including Bubar, were injured.

FREEPORT

Council to hire replacementbefore Olmstead steps down

Town Manager Dale Olmstead plans to retire in April from the position he has held for 30 years, he said Wednesday.

The Town Council discussed plans to replace Olmstead during a closed-door meeting on Tuesday.

The council will meet privately with executive “headhunters” later this month and map out a search process by mid-November, Olmstead said.

The search likely will include input from residents and will require the council to revise the town manager’s job description, which hasn’t changed since the town charter was updated in 1976.

“A lot has changed since then,” said Olmstead, who will turn 62 on April 26. “When I started, there wasn’t a computer in Town Hall. Now, there’s a computer on every desk.”

Councilors indicated that they would like to have Olmstead’s replacement on the job about a month before he leaves, to promote a seamless transition, Olmstead said.

WESTBROOK

Emergency bridge repairs to disrupt morning drive

Officials say Cumberland Street between Harnois Avenue and Brown Street will be closed through this morning’s commute because of emergency repair work on the Cumberland Mills Bridge that started Wednesday morning.

Cumberland Street between Bridge and Brown streets, and Park Road between East Bridge Street and Cumberland Street, will be open only to local traffic.

Transportation workers will assess the repairs this morning to determine when the roads can reopen, said police Lt. Mike Nugent.

Police are urging commuters to take alternative routes and to expect delays in the area.

LEWISTON

Council backs resolution urging voters to OK casino

The City Council has thrown its support behind a proposal on Maine’s Nov. 8 ballot calling for a casino in Lewiston.

On Tuesday, the council voted 5-1 to endorse a resolution calling on Maine voters to support Question 3 on the ballot, to allow a casino to be built at a former textile mill.

Backers say they want to build a casino, hotel and conference center in the old Bates Mill No. 5 building, which now stands empty.

City Administrator Edward Barrett told councilors the city could anticipate about $900,000 to $1.8 million in annual revenue from the casino.

ELLSWORTH

LURC gives go aheadto $70 million wind farm

State regulators have approved plans to build a wind farm in eastern Maine.

The Land Use Regulation Commission voted Wednesday to approve the $70 million energy project on 100 acres owned by a forestry firm, Lakeville Shores.

Blue Sky East LLC of Portland, an affiliate of Massachusetts-based First Wind, plans to build 19 windmills on Bull Hill and Heifer Hill near Eastbrook in central Hancock County. The turbines would be atop 312-foot towers. With the blades fully extended, the total height would be 476 feet.

The Maine Renewable Energy Association says the 34.2-megawatt project would have the capacity to meet the electricity needs of 12,000 to 15,000 homes.

THOMASTON

Heroin stash seizedfrom prison showroom

Officials say $30,000 worth of heroin headed for the Maine State Prison was seized at a store where goods made at the prison are sold to the public.

The heroin was found Monday in the bathroom of the Maine State Prison Showroom.

Knox County sheriff’s deputies say a woman dropped off the drugs at the store in downtown Thomaston, which sells goods such as wooden toys and furniture made by inmates, who staff the store.

Chief Deputy Tim Carroll said one of the store’s inmate employees planned to take the heroin back to the prison in nearby Warren. The Bangor Daily News said charges are pending against the woman who left the heroin in the store.

Prison officials say inmates are searched for contraband when they return to the prison.

BANGOR

Pharmacist for defunct firm denies soliciting kickbacks

The former head pharmacist for the Penobscot Indian Nation’s defunct mail-order pharmacy in Maine has pleaded not guilty to taking kickbacks from Internet drug companies.

Reginald Gracie Jr., 40, of Bowdoin appeared Tuesday in federal court in Bangor.

Gracie was indicted last month on 19 counts of soliciting and receiving kickbacks, and two counts of filing false tax returns for failing to report the kickbacks as income on his taxes.

Prosecutors say Gracie received more than $120,000 from six online companies in return for making sure the tribe’s mail-order pharmacy, known as PIN Rx, filled the prescriptions of the companies’ customers. The tribe has not been charged.

The Bangor Daily News said Gracie was released on personal recognizance bail. Gracie’s pharmacist license was revoked by the state in 2007.