TOPSHAM

Traffic headaches follow accident at mall entrance

A dump truck that tore down a traffic light and pole at one of midcoast Maine’s largest shopping malls Thursday afternoon caused traffic delays and driving headaches lasting seven hours.

The accident, which occurred around 1:15 p.m. on the westbound side of Route 196, was especially disruptive because it took place at the main entrance to the Topsham Fair Mall, said Sgt. Mark Gilliam of the Tops- ham Police Department. The damaged traffic light is one of four that regulate traffic at the four-way intersection.

The mall entrance is on Route 196, a road used by drivers traveling to and from Lewiston as well as by those getting on and off Interstate 295 at exit ramps that are only a few hundred feet from the mall entrance.

“We had quite a traffic backup for most of the afternoon and during the evening commute,” Gilliam said. “It was a big mess. The motorists were getting pretty frustrated but we did the best we could.”

It was so cold that police officers had to take turns directing motorists through the intersection.

Gilliam said the dump truck, owned by Harry C. Crooker and Sons, was leaving the construction company’s plant on Route 196 when the truck bed, which was in a raised position, hit the traffic light, pulling the light and wires down into the intersection. Gilliam said the truck driver, 53-year-old Lee Ruona, was apparently unaware that the bed had not been lowered. Ruona was not cited by police but Gilliam said Crooker’s insurance company will have to pay for the damage.

Gilliam said traffic started moving again around 8:30 p.m. after crews installed a temporary traffic light.

ALFRED

New head named for York County Shelter Programs Inc.

The board of directors of York County Shelter Programs Inc. announced Thursday that Bob Dawber has been chosen as the Alfred-based organization’s next executive director.

Dawber will replace Don Gean, who is retiring this month after 30 years at the helm of York County’s only homeless shelter organization. Dawber is currently the program’s chief operating officer.

Dawber previously was the executive director of Serenity House in Portland.

Roger Prince, president of the board of directors, said in a prepared statement that Dawber “brings a wealth of nonprofit experience to the position along with a proven track record of social service success.”

Dawber will begin his new position April 1.

Gean said he is pleased with the board’s selection.

“The idea of leaving a job I have loved for nearly three decades has been scary, to say the least,” Gean said. “That fear has been replaced by a quiet sense of excitement knowing that all I have worked on and with will be under the care and guidance of Bob Dawber. I can hardly wait to see what comes next.”

York County Shelter Programs, based on Shaker Hill in Alfred, currently serves about 400 clients through its emergency homeless shelter, transitional and permanent housing programs, vocational training, substance abuse and mental health services.

BANGOR

Man faces manslaughter charges in death of baby

Bangor police on Thursday charged a man with manslaughter in the death of a 5-month-old baby he was hired to look after.

Police charged Samuel Moore, 25, of Bangor, in the death of Korbyn Antworth, who died at Eastern Maine Medical Center on Wednesday. The state medical examiner conducted an autopsy Thursday morning but did not release a cause of death.

The baby was brought to the hospital by ambulance Tuesday from a residence on Griffin Road in Bangor.

Moore is being held at the Penobscot County Jail in Bangor.

WASHINGTON

Collins qualifies for ballot in Maine’s U.S. Senate race

Sen. Susan Collins on Thursday became the first candidate in Maine’s upcoming U.S. Senate race to qualify for the ballot.

Collins, a Republican seeking a fourth 6-year term in the Senate, submitted 2,650 valid petition signatures from registered Maine voters to the Maine Secretary of State’s office. Senate candidates who are members of a major party must submit 2,000 to 3,000 valid signatures by March 17 to qualify for the ballot in their party’s upcoming primary elections.

Two other candidates have announced plans to run for the Senate seat: Republican Erick Bennett of Portland and Democrat Shenna Bellows of Manchester. Neither Bennett, who hopes to challenge Collins in the June 10th Republican primary, nor Bellows had filed their petition signatures as of Thursday.

Only one candidate in Maine’s two U.S. House races – Democrat Alden Smith of Sangerville – had been accepted for the primary ballot as of Thursday afternoon.