CAPE ELIZABETH

Boy, 14, accused of sexually assaulting a young girl

A 14-year-old Cape Elizabeth boy has been charged with sexually assaulting a young girl, said Police Chief Neil Williams.

The girl is younger than 12 and is in her family’s care, Williams said. The boy has been released into his father’s custody. He is expected to appear in court next month.

Police are providing no additional details about the alleged assault. Williams said the boy was charged last week and the charge was made public this week as part of the police log.

SOUTH PORTLAND

Family left homeless by fire likely started by cigarette

A family was displaced Wednesday night after a fire that likely was started by a discarded cigarette spread from the porch to the attic of their single-family house on Park Avenue.

Emergency workers were called to 35 Park Ave. after a neighbor reported the fire, and flames were climbing up the side of the two-story home when the first firefighters arrived shortly after 7:55 p.m., said fire Lt. Robb Couture.

“The entire front of the building was on fire,” Couture said.

All full-time South Portland firefighters were dispatched to fight the blaze, along with firefighters from neighboring communities, he said.

No one was home when the fire was reported, and no one was hurt. The exterior of the home had flame damage, as did an interior stairwell. Firefighters had to rip open the roof to ventilate the house, Couture said.

The family who rented the home found temporary shelter with friends or family, Couture said.

PORTLAND

Merry Madness event draws scores of shoppers to stores

Hundreds of shoppers poured into the Old Port and downtown shopping districts Thursday night as stores remained opened later than usual as part of the Merry Madness event.

Organized by Portland’s Downtown District, Merry Madness gives shoppers until 10 p.m. to finish their holiday shopping.

The event kicked off with free hors d’oeuvres, raffles and music at the Portland Regency Hotel and Spa. Free horse and wagon rides were offered in Monument Square.

PLYMOUTH

Residents say sludge plant doesn’t pass the smell test

There’s something rotten in this Penobscot County town, and residents want it taken care of.

About 40 residents attended a meeting Wednesday to discuss the odors from a sewage processing plant in town.

Linda Seavey says the smells from Soil Preparation Inc., a company that processes sludge, prevents her from doing anything outdoors in the summer.

Another resident called the stench “disgusting.”

The Bangor Daily News reports that the meeting was attended by representatives of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the company that owns the plant.

The state says it has no quantitative way to measure the smells.

The company representative says they are working on ways to cut down on the odors.

AUGUSTA

Democrats name appointees to redistricting committee

Maine Democrats have named their party’s representatives on the committee that will review and redraw legislative district lines.

The state law requires district maps to be updated every 10 years based on census changes.

The Democratic appointees announced Thursday by the presiding officers of the House and Senate include Sens. Troy Jackson of Allagash and Emily Cain of Orono, and Reps. Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan, Mark Dion of Portland and Joan Welsh of Rockport.

The public member appointed by the Democrats is Cathy Newell of Oxford County, who served on the congressional apportionment commission in 2011. Maine Democratic Chairman Ben Grant also will serve on the commission. A final member to be agreed to by both parties has yet to be named.

The Republicans appointed their members earlier this week.

State flag to fly at half-staff to honor Russell Libby

Gov. Paul LePage has ordered that the state flag be flown at half-staff Saturday in remembrance of Russell Libby, the tireless advocate of organic farming.

Libby, 56, died Sunday from cancer. He was executive director of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association for 17 years. The governor’s order directs flags to be flown at half-staff in Libby’s hometown of Mount Vernon from sunrise to sunset Saturday.

“Russell Libby has been Maine’s small farm and organic farming champion,” LePage said in a statement. “His vision has influenced virtually every aspect of our agricultural industry from farm to table. All of us who enjoy Maine’s bountiful harvests will remember his contributions and leadership.”

Libby was also an official with the Maine Department of Agriculture. His advocacy for organic farming was considered crucial to Congress changing the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 to make it easier for organic farmer to comply with food regulations.

Federal money to help fund drunken-driving crackdown

Maine law enforcement agencies are sharing more than $440,000 in federal funds to keep drunk drivers off the road this holiday season.

The Maine Bureau of Highway Safety distributed the money this month and launched a program that’s being called “DriveSober, Maine!”

The program provides money to 52 Maine law enforcement agencies to pay overtime for patrols at times and locations where drunken driving is most common.

The effort began Dec. 1 and runs through Labor Day, and a special holiday enforcement crackdown begins Friday and runs through New Year’s Day.

AUBURN

New terminal operating at Auburn-Lewiston airport

A new terminal is operating at the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport. The building opened to the public earlier this year, but work on it was only recently completed.

The terminal includes an upgraded passenger lounge, a conference room, a business meeting area, a pilot lounge, a planning area, a renovated restaurant, a new gate and office space for airport administration. The airport averages about 175 takeoffs and landings per day.

The new terminal is 7,000 square feet, about double the size of the previous terminal, built in 1958.

– From staff and news services