Congress Street to be closed to traffic for Dec. 6 art walk

Next month, a half-mile stretch of Congress Street will be closed to traffic for the First Friday Art Walk – a monthly event that organizers say draws more then 3,000 people downtown.

On Dec. 6, Congress Street, from Brown Street to State Street, will be closed from 6 to 8 p.m. However, vehicles will not be allowed to park along that stretch from 4 to 8 p.m. Any vehicles parked on the road during those times will be towed.

The closure is designed to allow pedestrians to “walk freely and enjoy art and the splendor of the evening,” according to a news release from Portland’s Downtown District, a group that advocates for downtown businesses.

The new Circus Conservatory of America, which is looking to establish the nation’s first accredited circus school at Thompson’s Point, will perform at the intersection of Congress and Park streets. Two 45-minute shows will begin at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.

If next month’s closure goes smoothly, Congress Street could be closed again in the future, said Jennifer Hutchins, executive director of Creative Portland.

Portland’s First Friday Art Walk – in its 12th year – is a free, self-guided tour of art galleries, studios, museums and art venues on the first Friday of every month.


Man accused of biting stranger’s nose held on bail

A former Maine man charged with nearly biting off the nose of a stranger dancing at a Lewiston bar has been held on $10,000 bail.

Todd Lyons, formerly of Mechanic Falls, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Androscoggin County Superior Court to assault.

The Sun Journal reported that prosecutors say the 33-year-old Lyons bit the nose of Ryan Zinninger of Greene in November 2011 while Zinninger was dancing with friends.

Police say the tip of Zinninger’s nose was bitten almost completely off. He was taken to a hospital and received 12 stitches.

The men didn’t know each other.

Authorities located Lyons in Mississippi recently, working at a carnival.

His attorney argued for lower bail, saying her client did not know there was a warrant out for his arrest.


Defendant’s ex-wife says he told sons to keep quiet

The ex-wife of a Maine man charged with killing his girlfriend 15 years ago says he warned his sons to keep quiet. But the defendant denied having anything to do with it in an intercepted phone call.

George Jaime Sr. of Presque Isle said during a phone call from jail that was recorded that he’d done bad things in his life “but I didn’t do it this time.” The 76-year-old is charged in the death of Starlett “Star” Vining, who went missing in 1998 and whose body hasn’t been found. Jaime wasn’t arrested until last year.

WAGM-TV reported that Jaime’s ex-wife told jurors Thursday that Jaime warned his three sons, including one who previously testified to have helped clean up after the killing, “to keep their mouths shut.”


Number of Mainers earning GEDs in 2013 already at 2,699

The number of Mainers earning high school equivalency credentials has jumped this year.

Through early November, 2,699 Mainers had earned their equivalency credentials so far this year. That’s up from 1,878 who earned credentials for all of last year and 2,258 who did so in 2011.

The Department of Education credits the increase to an aggressive awareness campaign before the state switches to a new exam administrator starting next year. The state is replacing GED Testing Service with a nonprofit called Educational Testing Service.

People in a number of states are required to take their GED tests by the end of the year before GED Testing Service rolls out a new version of its exams, but that’s not the case in Maine because Maine is switching test providers. 

Governor urges Mainers to put money in red kettles

Gov. Paul LePage is urging Maine residents to contribute to the Salvation Army’s annual red kettle campaign.

LePage said during the kick-off event Thursday at the State House that it’s very important that Maine people put a few dollars in the red kettle or volunteer their time to ring the bell during the holiday season.

The charitable organization expects to have more than 100 red kettles on street corners and shopping areas in Maine through Christmas Eve.

Salvation Army says its goal is to raise at least $800,000 this year to beat last year’s collection of more than $700,000.

The organization says last year’s donations contributed to services and programs for more than 55,000 men, women and children statewide during the holidays and throughout the year.