Democrats: DEP’s proposal falls short on carcinogens

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection is seeking to require companies to report whether children’s products contain certain chemicals, but Democrats said Monday that the proposal wouldn’t do enough to protect kids and adults.

The proposed rules would require companies to report to the DEP the presence of mercury, arsenic, cadmium or formaldehyde in products intended for children younger than 12.

Jessamine Logan, spokeswoman for the DEP, said the chemicals are known carcinogens. Without the rules, she said, the state has no way of knowing what products are potentially dangerous to children.

But Democratic lawmakers echoed concerns that were raised recently by the Environmental Health Strategy Center, that the proposal fails to address the problem.

Mercury was banned from most products in Maine more than a decade ago, and the other chemicals have been banned from many products, so the rules would have little impact, the environmental group says. Democrats said not applying the rules to all home products leaves pregnant women and others at risk.

The department will hold a public hearing on the proposal Dec. 17.


Sierra Club backs Michaud for environmental priorities

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud won the endorsement of the Sierra Club on Monday.

The endorsement was announced at the Portland chapter of the national environmental organization. Independent Eliot Cutler also sought the endorsement. Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who has been criticized by the Sierra Club and other environmental groups for his natural resources policies, did not seek the endorsement.

While Democratic candidates have typically won the Sierra Club’s backing, Monday’s announcement was significant because Michaud is trying to build a broad coalition of progressive voters and donors. Cutler has also sought that bloc of support.

“Mike Michaud shares Mainers’ conservation values, and he understands that protecting our precious environment and public health is critical to Maine’s economic vitality,” said Melissa Walsh Inness, Sierra Club Maine’s political team chairwoman. “With his valuable experience as a state and federal legislator, and his deeply felt desire to serve the public interest, Mike will be a great governor to lead Maine.”

Michaud, in a statement, outlined his environmental policy priorities, including cutting Maine’s dependence on home heating oil from 70 percent to 35 percent by 2030.

The Sierra Club said it reviewed Michaud’s and Cutler’s environmental records and did in-person interviews.

Auburn man pleads guilty to possession of child porn

An Auburn man who amassed a collection of more than 400 child pornography videos pleaded guilty on Monday in U.S. District Court in Portland.

Stephen Pennington, 41, told federal agents who went to his apartment in Auburn on May 17, 2012, that he liked to “look at, and download pictures of, young girls on the computer,” according to court records.

Federal authorities began investigating Pennington, who moved to Auburn from Las Vegas in 2010, after an agent found that child pornography was being made available for sharing online from an Internet connection at Pennington’s home. They seized two of Pennington’s computers and discovered more than 400 videos and 100 still images of child pornography, including at least one video of an 8-year-old girl being sexually abused by her biological father, court records say.

Pennington is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 24. Possession of child pornography is punishable by as much as 10 years in federal prison.


Philanthropist donates $1 million for Hospice house

A North Haven businessman and philanthropist has donated $1 million to help Pen Bay Healthcare fund construction of a freestanding hospice house.

The Hospice house, which will open next summer on Pen Bay Medical Center’s campus in Rockport, will be named after S. Donald Sussman’s grandmother Ida Sussman.

Sussman and his wife, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, toured the project Monday morning.

Sussman is majority share owner of MaineToday Media, which publishes the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel newspapers.

“My grandmother Ida Sussman was a thoughtful and forward-thinking person who was always concerned about helping those in need,” Sussman said in a prepared statement. “She would strongly approve of what’s being created here at Pen Bay. I am honored to be able to keep her spirit alive while supporting families during some of their most difficult times. Thanks to everyone who has helped make this important community resource a reality.”

Hospice care seeks to provide comfort to those who are in the final days of their life. Pen Bay Healthcare spokeswoman Megan Williams said the newly named Sussman House will offer families a tranquil, private atmosphere with the look and feel of a New England farmhouse. Williams said Sussman’s donation will cover the construction costs associated with the Hospice house, a $6.6 million project.


Wife dies of injuries in crash that killed her husband, 80

A Winthrop woman died Monday, four days after she was injured in a crash on Route 202 that killed her husband.

Patricia St. Laurent, 74, died at Central Maine Medical Center, where she had been in critical condition since Thursday’s crash.

St. Laurent was flown to the hospital Thursday morning after the van she was riding in was hit from behind by a box truck shortly before 9 a.m.. Napoleon Richard St. Laurent, 80, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the box truck, Jeffrey Ray, 44, of Scarborough, was flown to the hospital in Lewiston. He was no longer at the hospital Friday.

St. Laurents were stopped in the eastbound lane, waiting to make a left turn, when Ray hit the van from behind, police said.


Teen missing from Sweetser since Oct. 9 found by police

Saco police said Monday that they found Elaina Dorsey, 16, who was reported missing by Sweetser Children’s Services, where she is a resident. She was in the custody of the Portland Police Department, officials said.

Dorsey, who is in the custody of the state Department of Health and Human Services, had been staying at the Preble Street Lighthouse shelter in Portland. Investigators have determined that she was in the North Deering section of Portland.

Dorsey was first reported missing on Oct. 9, but she was in contact with the DHHS and Saco police through phone calls, emails and text messages.

She refused to tell authorities where she was or meet with them.

Saco police requested assistance from the public and released information on the department’s Facebook page Friday.

Eight more state police dogs get $950 protective vests

Eight dogs in the Maine State Police Canine Unit are now outfitted with protective vests.

The vests, which cost about $950 each, are designed to be bullet-proof and stab-proof. They were purchased with donations from Vested Interest in K9, a Massachusetts-based organization, by the Petco Foundation and through a former New York City police officer, Madeleine Hamersley, who now lives in Maine.

State police Sgt. Blaine Bronson, who runs the department’s canine program, said all of the state’s 18 police dogs are now outfitted with the protective vests.

State canine units respond to about 1,200 calls a year across Maine, he said.

Earlier this month, South Portland’s police dog, Trigger, received a vest as part of the $15,000 donation from the contributors to help law enforcements agencies across Maine buy vests.

Since it was founded in 2009, Vested Interest in K9s has provided more than 443 protective vests to police dogs in 37 states.


Police looking for local man, 46, reported missing Friday

Police are looking a Bangor man who has been missing for several days.

Police said the family of Cecil Worster, 46, hasn’t seen or heard from him since Thursday, and reported him missing Friday. They said this is not normal behavior for him.

Worster lives on Main Street in Bangor, near the Hampden town line, and is believed to have left home on foot. Police say he is 5-foot-8, 180 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes.

Anyone with knowledge of Worster’s location is encouraged to call Bangor police at 947-7384.