Votes on MaineCare rides short of being veto-proof
The Maine House voted 86-56 on Tuesday to approve a bill that would make substantial changes to the troubled MaineCare rides program.
The House vote, mostly along party lines with Democrats in favor, would cancel the contracts for MaineCare rides broker Connecticut-based Coordinated Transportation Solutions, and make it more likely that local transportation providers would win contracts to arrange rides for MaineCare patients when the state awards new contracts this summer.
The Senate voted 21-14 in favor of the bill Monday, but the bill’s chances of becoming law are uncertain as it faces a likely veto by Republican Gov. Paul LePage, lawmakers have said.
Neither the House nor the Senate reached the two-thirds margins necessary to override a veto.
Thousands of low-income Mainers missed rides to medical appointments following the Aug. 1 launch of the new regional broker system.
Coordinated Transportation Solutions landed contracts for six of the state’s eight regions, with nonprofit Penquis winning the contract for the Bangor region and Atlanta-based Logisticare for the York County region. The state announced in January that Coordinated Transportation Solutions would not have its contracts renewed when they expire June 30, due to subpar performance.
Maine Department of Health and Human Services officials oppose the bill, arguing that changes being put in place will improve the system.
The bill will require votes for final passage before it lands on the governor’s desk for his signature or veto.
LePage signs off on bill to replenish rainy day fund
Gov. Paul LePage has signed a bill to replenish the state’s rainy day fund and is allowing infrastructure projects that were put on hold to move forward.
The Republican governor’s bill puts $21 million back into the fund, which was tapped to pay for revenue sharing.
LePage said drawing from the fund would hurt the state’s bond credit rating and ultimately cost taxpayers. He refused to sign off on new bonds until the fund was replenished to $60 million. Democrats criticized that action, saying it was stalling job-creating projects.
LePage’s office said Tuesday the governor has also signed a financial order that will allow projects for the Maine Maritime Academy, National Guard and others to move forward.
Man facing meth charges after police search house
A Hodgdon man was charged with trafficking in methamphetamine following a search of a house Tuesday, according to the Maine Department of Public Safety.
Marcus Toner, 24, was taken to the Aroostook County Jail. A 17-year-old girl who was with him at the home on Hodgdon Mills Road was released to her mother, according to a news release from Stephen McCausland, department spokesman.
The arrest came after the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency served a search warrant at the house, where they say they found evidence of a meth lab. More arrests are expected, police said.
State police said this is the seventh suspected meth lab uncovered by police this year. Last year, 20 meth labs were discovered in Maine, up from 13 in 2012.
Falmouth burglary suspect turns himself in to police
A 30-year-old man has turned himself in to Biddeford police to face burglary and theft charges after a bungled burglary attempt in Falmouth.
Police said Christopher Girard was engaged in a burglary Friday at a house on Merrill Road when the homeowner returned, confronting him and two accomplices. The burglars were trying to escape when their getaway car got stuck in the snow.
Girard allegedly jumped in the homeowner’s Lexus and drove off, while the other two ran away on foot. Police caught the two who were on foot.
The car was found Saturday in Biddeford and police distributed Girard’s picture in an effort to arrest him.
Girard turned himself in to Biddeford police Monday night. He was arrested on outstanding warrants from Scarborough charging him with burglary and theft there. He will also be charged with burglary, theft of a car and reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, after he bumped the Falmouth homeowner while driving off in the man’s car, police said.
City’s longtime fire chief stepping down on April 15
Bath’s longtime fire chief has announced that he plans to retire next month.
Stephen Hinds’ last day with the city will be April 15, according to a press release issued Tuesday by the city.
“The chief will be missed,” said City Manager Bill Giroux. “He has been a rock for this city for a long time. We’re grateful for his dedication to our community and we all wish him the best.”
Hinds has served as Bath’s fire chief for the past 12 years, but his career in the fire service began in 1976 with the Lewiston Fire Department. Hinds was hired as a Bath firefighter in 1981 and worked his way up through the local department, serving as deputy fire chief before being promoted to fire chief in 2002.
In February, Hinds was involved in the rescue of a 4-year-old boy and his father from a burning home on South Street.
Electrical problem blamed for Columbia Road fire
Fire investigators believe that a malfunctioning electrical circuit caused the three-alarm fire that destroyed a house at 38 Columbia Road on Monday morning.
The Portland Fire Department’s investigators determined the fire was accidental and may have been the result of improperly installed electrical components.
“Any improperly installed, maintained or overloaded electrical system could present fire hazards,” said Fire Chief Jerome LaMoria. “Any electrical work should always be performed by a qualified and licensed electrician to ensure safety.”
The fire was reported at 9 a.m. by someone who was passing by the house. The single occupant in the house was able to get out unharmed.
One firefighter suffered a leg injury but returned to work later in the day.
One engine from the Portland Fire Department was already deployed helping out at a fire in Falmouth, so LaMoria called for a third alarm, summoning all available firefighters working in the city at that time.
The interior of the building was destroyed in the fire.
Medical condition cited in death of truck driver
A truck driver whose body was found at a Kittery service station early Tuesday morning died as a result of a medical condition, police said.
The body was found about 5 a.m. at the Irving station on the Route 1 Bypass.
Police responded but determined the death was not suspicious, said Police Chief Ted Short.
Police say local man tried to choke girlfriend
Auburn police have charged a city man with attempted murder for allegedly using an electrical cord to choke his girlfriend.
Mack Williams Jr., 30, was held Monday at Androscoggin County Jail in lieu of $10,000 cash bail following a court appearance.
Police said they were called to the home at about 6:30 p.m. Saturday by a roommate who reported that Williams and his girlfriend had argued and the argument had turned physical, The Sun Journal reported.
The roommate said Williams also attacked him.
Williams’ girlfriend told police that the argument started because she thought he had cheated on her.
Williams told police that his girlfriend had swung her arms at him and he does not remember using the electrical cord.
BOSTONMovie set in rural Maine filmed in Devens, Mass.
A Massachusetts community is playing the role of a rural Maine town in a new film starring Jason Sudeikis, Rebecca Hall and Blythe Danner.
The movie “Tumbledown” is being filmed at New England Studios in Devens in north-central Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts Film Office said the film revolves around a young widow played by Hall struggling to cope with the death of her husband, an acclaimed folk singer. Her life is interrupted when an unwelcome writer from New York played by “Saturday Night Live” alumnus Sudeikis comes to her rural Maine town to research her husband and his music, changing her life in ways she never expected.
Sean Mewshaw will make his directorial debut. The script was written by Desi Van Til.