OLD ORCHARD BEACH

Town looking to cash in on all those cruise ship visits

Town officials want to make the community a destination for cruise ship passengers headed to Portland.

Town Planner Jeffrey Hinderliter and Chamber of Commerce Director Bud Harmon met with state officials and cruise industry representatives last week to discuss the possibility of getting cruise ships into town.

It was decided that for now, the best way to tap into the industry was to bus cruise passengers from Portland to Old Orchard Beach as an optional side trip.

Hinderliter told the Journal Tribune of Biddeford that he hopes to have an arrangement in place next year. Harmon said that before moving forward, officials have to make sure local businesses are on board.

State Rep. George Hogan said the plan would help the local economy.

AUBURN

Jury rules landlord not liable for lead poisoning of child

A jury has ruled that a Lewiston landlord was not responsible for a child tenant’s lead poisoning.

Jurors determined after three-plus hours of deliberation that Double Eagle Properties LLC shouldn’t be held liable for the elevated lead levels in the blood of the now-7-year-old boy. According to the lawyer for the boy’s parents, the child has behavioral problems, a lowered IQ and learning disabilities.

The parents argued that the building’s owners should have replaced windows in the apartment that produced dust containing lead. They were asking for $11 million.

A lawyer for the defendants said the owners complied with all local, state and federal legal requirements regarding lead paint.

AUGUSTA

Democrats call off challenge of Raye’s primary petitions

The Maine Democratic Party has dropped its challenge of petitions submitted by Republican Kevin Raye to appear on the primary ballot for the 2nd Congressional District on June 12.

The party said last week that it had found fault with 15 petitions, including the master petition filled out by a town official, potentially invalidating all of the 1,000-plus signatures submitted by Raye. The circulator’s oaths were filled out incorrectly, with the circulator failing to note party affiliation, the party said then.

Kathleen Summers-Grice, Raye’s spokeswoman, described the challenge as “frivolous.” She said Democrats dropped it “to spare themselves the public humiliation of having no case to present” at a hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

 

Bill to fund highway study sent to LePage for signature

The state Senate approved legislation Wednesday seeking $300,000 for an east-west highway feasibility study and sent the bill to Gov. Paul LePage, who has said he supports it.

Supporters said $300,000 for the study is already available in state highway funds. The $300,000 must be paid back by the developer if the highway gets the go-ahead.

The idea of a highway across Maine connecting New Brunswick with Quebec has been discussed for decades. The latest plan calls for a privately funded road maintained with tolls. Supporters estimate it would cost $2 billion.

 

Six months added to term of man who killed mother

A Waterville man who spent nearly 20 years behind bars for killing his mother has been sent back to prison for approaching a worker at an adult book store wearing just sneakers and socks.

Scott Thompson was sentenced Tuesday to six months on an indecent conduct charge and ordered to serve the time after finishing a three-year sentence on an earlier burglary conviction. He was free on probation for the burglary when he exposed himself in September at the First Amendment Adult Store in Waterville. Prosecutors say Thompson, 41, is dangerous.

Thompson was convicted in April 1991 of killing his mother, Edith Thompson, 59, in 1989 when he was 17. He was released in December 2008.

PORTLAND

Mass is said as penance for harm done to abuse victims

The leader of Maine’s Roman Catholics held a day of prayer and penance Wednesday for harm done to the victims of clergy sexual abuse.

Diocese of Portland Bishop Richard Malone celebrated the annual Mass of prayer and penance, first held in 2002, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

Malone said he hopes through prayer and reflection that Catholics can become even more committed to healing the wounds of the past and preventing sexual abuse in the future.

The bishop is also re-emphasizing his policy of encouraging victims and survivors of priest sexual abuse to contact the diocese’s Office of Professional Responsibility or police.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests commended the bishop for holding the Mass and stressed continued vigilance.

 

Pingree to speak, receive degree at UNE graduation

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree will be the speaker at the University of New England’s graduation ceremony.

Pingree will also be awarded an honorary degree at the ceremony May 19 at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland.

The university, which has campuses in Biddeford and Portland, plans to award about 1,250 associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at the ceremony.

It will also award a doctoral degree to Theodora Kalikow, president of the University of Maine at Farmington. Kalikow will retire in June after 18 years at the school.

Pingree is married to S. Donald Sussman, majority share owner of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.

 

Ex-Portland Trails director hired by island trail group

Nan Cumming, former longtime executive director of Portland Trails, has joined the Maine Island Trail Association as its campaign director.

Doug Welch, the association’s executive director, said in a prepared statement that “(Cumming) has transformed recreational opportunities in the city of Portland and contributed materially to its recognition as one of the nation’s most livable cities.”

Cumming announced in November that she would leave Portland Trails after 12 years to become executive director of the Maine Crafts Association. Her new job did not work out, Welch said, which led to her hiring.

The Maine Island Trail has grown since it was established in 1988. Most of the trail is now composed of privately owned islands, including many land trust properties. The trail is popular among sea kayakers.

DOVER-FOXCROFT

Authorities searching for missing motorcyclist

The Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department and Maine Warden Service are searching for an Austrian tourist who disappeared on an extended motorcycle trip.

Officials say 25-year-old Johannes Stummer was last seen on March 22 in Big Moose Township, north of Moosehead Lake. He was reported missing Friday after he failed to return to the Moose Mountain Inn in Greenville.

Investigator Allen Emerson of the sheriff’s department told the Bangor Daily News Wednesday that Stummer rode his motorcycle throughout Europe last year and planned to tour the U.S. this year. He arrived on March 1 and traveled through Vermont and part of Canada.

He has been traveling on a black Suzuki motorcycle bearing an Austrian license plate. He’s described as 5-foot-9 and 120 pounds, with short blond hair.

CONCORD, N.H.

Medical marijuana bill gets approval but faces a veto

The New Hampshire Senate has passed a bill that would allow a home cultivation approach to medical marijuana, but Gov. John Lynch’s promised veto may be insurmountable.

The Senate passed legislation 13-11 Wednesday night to allow a patient with a “debilitating medical condition” or that patient’s designated caretaker to cultivate and possess as much as six ounces of marijuana, four mature plants and 12 seedlings at a registered “cultivation location.”

It would allow the patient or caregiver to possess two ounces elsewhere.

Despite vocal support from several traditional opponents including Senate Republican Leader Jeb Bradley, the bill failed to gather the two-thirds majority needed for a veto override.