October 22, 2013

Local & State Dispatches

From staff and news services

PORTLAND

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A bank surveillance camera shows the men who robbed a Kennebunk Savings Bank branch in Eliot on Saturday morning.

Courtesy Eliot Police Department

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This booking photo provided by the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department shows Dennis Lalime, arrested Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013, when returning from a Halloween party made up as "The Joker," and charged with drunken driving after crashing his car in Pittsfield, Maine. (AP Photo/ Somerset County Sheriff’s Department)

Three-vehicle crash injures woman, causes traffic jam

A crash involving three vehicles snarled rush-hour traffic Monday evening on Marginal Way and sent a Portland woman to the hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, Portland police said.

Lt. Gary Hutcheson said 23-year-old Jacob Gold of Portland was attempting to turn left into the parking lot of Planet Dog when a pickup truck driven by Christian Girard, 19, of Miami, Fla., crashed into the passenger side of his car. Police said Gold’s passenger, Katcrzyma Williams, 22, was taken by ambulance to Maine Medical Center.

Hutcheson said the impact of the collision forced Gold’s car to smash into a third car that was attempting to leave Planet Dog.

According to police, Gold made the turn after a second motorist stopped and waved at him to go ahead. Hutcheson said Girard, who was traveling on the inside lane closest to the curb, did not see Gold.

Nobody was cited.

Hutcheson said the crash, which took place around 4:45 p.m., caused traffic to back up near the intersection of Franklin Street and Marginal Way.

That intersection is busy around the evening commute because it provides northbound and southbound access to Interstate 295.

USM will get $1.6 million to improve retention rate

The University of Southern Maine is getting a $1.6 million federal grant aimed at helping students stay in school and complete their degrees.

“This is a game changer,” USM President Theo Kalikow said Monday. “It will help us plug more students into campus life and complement that with experiential and off-campus learning opportunities so they can find their passions and earn a degree.”

USM is one of 33 colleges and universities nationwide and the only one in Maine to receive the grant.

The five-year grant through the U.S. Department of Education’s Stengthening Institutions Program will pay for a four-step program focused on increasing the retention rate of first-year students and the four-year graduation rate. Among the new efforts: advising and working closely with first-year students, increasing fieldwork opportunities, creating faculty development programs and expanding online tools to improve academic scheduling and student services.

USM’s first-year, full-time retention rate in the fall of 2012 was 64 percent, which is slightly below similar institutions, according to university spokesman Bob Caswell. The goal is to lift that to the mid-70s, he said. By comparison, the University of Maine in Orono had a retention rate of 78 percent.

The four-year graduation rate at USM was 9.7 percent, while the UMaine rate was 37 percent.

Bankrupt railroad borrows $3 million to pay creditors

Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Inc. closed Friday on a $3 million loan that will keep the bankrupt railroad operating into 2014, the company’s government-appointed trustee said Monday.

The Maine-based railroad filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Aug. 7, one month after a 72-car train hauling crude oil derailed and then exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, destroying the downtown area and killing 47 people.

Robert Keach, a Portland attorney appointed as trustee to oversee the bankruptcy process, has said he is working to sell the company out of bankruptcy but needed the loan to pay creditors and legal fees.

With the loan in place, officials said Monday that all Montreal, Maine and Atlantic trains in the U.S. and Canada will be staffed by two-man crews, regardless of cargo, according to The Associated Press.

The Lac-Megantic disaster in July brought attention to the use of one-man crews. The train was left unattended by a solo crew member who was accused by the company of failing to set enough hand brakes.

Keach said Monday that there are 18 potential suitors who have expressed interest in buying the bankrupt railroad, the AP reported.

(Continued on page 2)

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