Activists, lawyers to urge Senate action on nominees

Four Mainers will travel to Washington on Monday to urge the Senate to act on pending federal judicial nominees.

The group from Maine is made up of Eliza Townsend, executive director of the Maine Women’s Lobby; Benjamin Gideon, a partner in the law firm of Berman & Simmons; George Royle V, a shareholder in the Drummond Woodsum law firm; and Kim Moody, executive director of the Disability Rights Center of Maine.

They will be part of a group of 150 people from 27 states who are meeting with White House staff about vacancies in the federal courts.

They are urging the Senate to hold a final up-or-down vote on all pending nominees. Among the nominees is William Kayatta Jr., a trial lawyer from Cape Elizabeth who has been nominated to the Maine seat on the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.


Maine marine rescue group joins NOAA regional network

Federal officials say a Maine-based marine rescue organization has been accepted as the newest member of a regional network that responds to reports of stranded marine mammals.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Friday that Marine Mammals of Maine, a nonprofit based in Portland, has been selected to be a member of NOAA’s Northeast Region Marine Mammal Stranding Response Network.

Marine Mammals of Maine is authorized to respond to reports of stranded seals, dolphins, porpoises and whales along the Maine coast from Kittery to Rockland.

The regional network is made up of 13 organizations that respond to strandings from Maine to Virginia.


Ground-breaking to kick off high school renovation work

A major renovation of South Portland High School will begin with a ground-breaking ceremony Monday evening.

School administrators and city officials will speak during the 5 p.m. ceremony in front of Beale Gymnasium. The South Portland High School Building Committee has invited parents, students, alumni and community members to attend.

Residents in November 2010 approved a $41.5 million bond to renovate and expand the school to address safety, health and security issues. Project plans include updating mechanical and security systems, resolving code issues and adding a learning commons, cafeteria and lecture hall.

PC Construction of Portland will lead the project, which will be done in two phases. Construction is expected to be complete by December 2014.


Onetime track champ gets two years in pot robbery

A former Maine high school track star has been sentenced to two years in jail for his role in the robbery of a Lewiston man’s medical marijuana.

Ricardo Hairston was also sentenced Thursday in Androscoggin County Superior Court to three years of probation upon release and barred from using alcohol, illegal drugs, firearms or dangerous weapons.

The Sun Journal reported the 20-year-old Hairston pleaded guilty last month to charges of robbery, burglary and theft.

Prosecutors say Hairston was one of three men who broke into a Lewiston couple’s home in September 2011. Two had guns. They took marijuana the victim was legally allowed to use for medical reasons, as well as electronics.

Hairston won a state championship in the triple jump at Edward Little High School.


Pipeline between Searsport, former base to be auctioned

Control of a 200-mile pipeline that once carried jet fuel to the former Loring Air Force Base in northern Maine is being auctioned off.

The 6-inch pipeline was built in the 1950s at the height of the Cold War to transport jet fuel from Searsport to the base in Limestone. It was decommissioned in 1994.

The mortgage holder to the pipeline is going to auction the pipeline, the 50-foot right of way around the pipeline and associated equipment on June 4. The auction was scheduled after Loring BioEnergy, which had previously leased the pipeline, defaulted on its payments.

The Bangor Daily News reported that corridors such as the one that holds the pipeline could be used for electric transmission lines, natural gas pipes, data lines or even a railroad.


Penobscot tower observatory opens to visitors for season

The only bridge observatory in the Western Hemisphere, the Penobscot Narrows Observatory in Maine, is open for the season.

The sightseeing tower that’s part of the cable-stay bridge between Prospect and Verona Island opened for its sixth season Thursday. It’s accessible from the grounds of Fort Knox in Prospect.

A one-minute elevator ride takes visitors to a platform with a 360-degree view from 437 feet above the Penobscot River, just a few miles from Penobscot Bay. The observatory offers views of mountains, lakes and portions of Penobscot Bay.

The 42-story observatory is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until June 30, and then until 6 p.m. through Aug. 31. It closes at the end of October.

– From staff and news services