Source of UFO materializes into restaurant’s spotlight
A spotlight to mark the reopening of a Mexican restaurant Wednesday was briefly mistaken for a visitor from outer space.
Augusta and state police responded to a report of a UFO hovering over Augusta around 8:30 p.m., said Deputy Chief Jared Mills of the Augusta police.
Augusta police got two complaints. Two people also reported the sighting to the Kennebec Journal. One of the callers was near the Kennebec River and another near the Shaw’s Plaza on Western Avenue.
Mills said the source of the UFO turned out to be a spotlight being used by Margaritas Mexican Restaurant to celebrate its reopening.
“I was at Margaritas eating dinner with my family and can verify it was a light and not a UFO,” said Augusta police dispatcher Aaron Farrell.
The restaurant recently completed renovations and was shut down for about two weeks, said Rob Michaud, the kitchen manager.
Police asked the restaurant to shut off the light due to the complaints, Mills said. But Michaud said the restaurant may use the light in the future.
“The police officer just told us we had a complaint,” he said. “He didn’t say we had to shut it off.”
Conservation group grades lawmakers based on votes
A Maine conservation group has graded state lawmakers based on their votes on key environmental bills this session.
Maine Conservation Voters released their 27th annual scorecard on Thursday.
Lawmakers were graded on seven issues including wind power, paint recycling and genetically modified food labeling.
Sixty-nine representatives and 13 senators received a perfect score from the group with seven pro-environment votes. No lawmakers voted against conservation on all seven issues.
Lawmakers are also given a lifetime rating and the group said that several Republican lawmakers improved their overall scores this year.
Maine Conservation Voters is sending the report card to more than 13,000 Maine homes so residents can see how their representatives voted this session.
Officials warning of scams as Obamacare takes effect
Maine officials are warning residents about possible scams in the coming months as the federal health care law goes into effect.
Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa and Republican Gov. Paul LePage said in a statement Wednesday that several incidents have been reported nationwide of scammers trying to take advantage of consumers.
Officials said that scammers will pose as insurance agents or government representatives and ask for bank account and Social Security numbers or try to sell fraudulent insurance policies.
LePage is encouraging residents to call the insurance bureau if they get calls or messages from people selling insurance policies or claiming to be government officials.
Foliage reaching its peak in northern, western Maine
Conservation officials say the fall foliage colors are approaching their peak in northern and western Maine.
In its weekly fall foliage report, the Maine Forest Service said rangers are reporting color change of 50 percent to 75 percent toward peak in much of the northern and western areas of the state.
The rest of the state has had low to moderate color change so far.
Foliage reports are updated weekly through mid-October on www.mainefoliage.com.
Old Port, downtown to get more parking pay stations
Portland will install 36 more parking pay stations in the Old Port and downtown next month as it moves to replace single-space parking meters.
The new solar-powered pay stations allow motorists to pay for parking within a larger area, rather than having a meter for each spot. Motorists park their vehicles, walk to the nearest pay stations, insert money and get a receipt, which they place on the front dashboard to show that they have paid for a certain period of time.
The city installed 18 pay stations last year along Commercial Street and near Maine Medical Center. A news release said Thursday that the city plans to replace most single-space meters downtown over the next several years.
The pay stations accept coins, debit and credit cards. They are intended to improve ease and efficiency, create neater streetscapes and improve sidewalk snow removal during the winter.
Instructive signs will be installed alongside the pay stations. Parking receipts purchased at the stations can be used at metered spots as well.
From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, parking costs $1 per hour and is limited to two hours at the parking stations. The new pay stations will be installed and activated throughout the month.
Outer Congress Street work expected to cause delays
An ongoing paving project is expected to cause delays along outer Congress Street on Friday.
Paving will continue Friday along Congress Street from the Westbrook city line to Blueberry Road from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., according to city officials.
As a result, traffic will be reduced to one way with alternating flow. Motorists may want to seek alternate routes to avoid traffic and delays.
The city asks that motorists watch out for bicyclists and pedestrians in the work zone.
Brawl follows guilty plea in Lamoine fatal shooting
Police are investigating a brawl that erupted outside the Penobscot Judicial Center after a man pleaded guilty to a fatal shooting.
Friends and family of Lawrence “Randy” Sinclair Jr., 32, got into a fight Wednesday with friends of Michael Carter after Carter pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Sinclair’s March 2012 death. He was sentenced to 16 years.
WABI-TV reported that Sinclair’s family and friends said during sentencing that they’ll never forgive Carter for what some characterized as an execution-style shooting.
Police said Carter shot Sinclair in the head and injured two other men with gunshots outside Carter’s home in Lamoine. Officials said the shooting was precipitated by a dispute between Carter and one of the injured men over a paint job on Carter’s truck.
Acadia Night Sky Festival continues through Sunday
The star-filled night skies at Acadia National Park are being celebrated.
The fifth annual Acadia Night Sky Festival runs through Sunday.
The festival is a community celebration to promote and protect Acadia’s dark night skies.
The event features nearly 40 programs and events, including hikes, workshops, lectures, films, art exhibits and stargazing opportunities, including what’s being billed as a “star party” on top of Cadillac Mountain on Saturday night.
The festival is organized by the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce and is a collaboration among a number of organizations, including the National Park Service.
More information is available at www.acadianightskyfestival.org.
Suspect in couple’s killing ordered held without bail
A Houlton man charged with killing a couple in their Oakfield home then setting their house on fire has been ordered held without bail.
WABI-TV reported that Matthew Davis was in court via video conference on Wednesday to face two murder counts and other charges.
He was not required to enter a plea and his court-appointed attorney did not address the charges.
Authorities said Davis, 32, killed Michael Kitchen and Heidi Pratt, whose bodies were pulled from their burning home on Monday.
Kitchen, 51, had been shot multiple times. The 49-year-old Pratt’s cause of death remains under investigation.