AUGUSTA

Rier gains support of Maine State Board of Education

The Maine State Board of Education said Wednesday it supports Jim Rier for Education Commissioner, and will send a letter of support to the governor next week, clearing the way for a formal nomination.

Rier has been the acting head of the Education Department since October, after former Commissioner Stephen Bowen left to take a position at a national organization that formulates education policy.

State law requires that the board weigh in on the governor’s choice for education commissioner before the nomination is announced. A nominee must be approved by the Legislature.

Rier served two terms on the State Board of Education, and was chairman from 1997 to 2000. He joined the Department of Education in 2003 as director of finance and operations, and was named deputy commissioner in 2011.

FREEPORT

Family of five escapes, cat dies in early morning fire

A family of five was displaced Wednesday morning by a fire at 17 Griffin Road in Freeport.

The fire started at about 4:35 a.m. in a basement bedroom where a 14-year-old girl was sleeping. She and two other children and two adults made it out safely after they were woken by smoke, Freeport fire officials said.

A family cat died in the fire.

The fire was brought under control by 5:15 a.m with help from Yarmouth, Pownal, Durham and Brunswick fire departments.

The fire started near a space heater but it’s not clear whether it malfunctioned or if it was too close to combustible materials, according to Freeport Fire Chief Darrel Fournier, who said the fire caused about $125,000 in damage to the ranch-style home and its contents.

The Red Cross is helping the family find accommodations.

One firefighter was treated at a hospital for what appeared to be a medical-related issue and released.

PORTSMOUTH, N.H.

Repair work on Long bridge to cause periodic delays

Some repair work is getting under way at the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge connecting New Hampshire to Maine.

Crews are installing supports under steel floor beams on piers of the New Hampshire approach spans.

Transportation officials say the work is needed to retain the current 20-ton load restriction on the bridge.

All work is being done during daytime hours and is expected to take six to eight weeks to complete.

Daytime lane closures with alternating one-way traffic on the bridge will be necessary periodically in order to complete the work.

The bridge carries the U.S. Route 1 Bypass over the Piscataqua River between Portsmouth and Kittery, Maine.

The replacement of the bridge is currently scheduled to begin in 2015. It is the No. 1 red-listed bridge in New Hampshire.