Tuesday, December 10, 2013
From staff and news services
Former janitor sentenced for child pornography
A former school janitor from Bath who was caught collecting child pornography last year was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Portland to serve 21 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release.
Joseph Finocchiaro, 62, had pleaded guilty before Judge Nancy Torresen to a single count of possession of child pornography.
Prosecutors said that in October, investigators searched Finocchiaro’s home and seized several collages made from printed photographs of child pornography. Finocchiaro printed the images from a website and assembled them into the collages.
Finocchiaro previously worked as a school janitor in Massachusetts and told investigators that he had been allowed to retire early because of concerns about him using a municipally owned computer to print similar images of young children, according to court papers.
Suspected killer’s trial delayed on mental grounds
A man who is charged with throwing a man out a window to his death in 2011 is not competent to stand trial, a judge has ruled.
William Hall, 31, of Bangor, was committed to Riverview Psychiatric Hospital in Augusta.
Stephen Smith, Hall’s attorney, told WLBZ-TV that his client is due to be tried on Aug. 26,go but the trial will be postponed unless a judge deems Hall to be competent by Aug. 2.
Court documents indicate Hall told police he strangled Melvin Abreau, 28, before tossing him out the window after an argument on June 9, 2011. Hall, who has a criminal record, is charged with escaping another psychiatric facility after his arrest.
Ex-Husson athlete doesn’t contest child-porn charge
A former college basketball star has been found guilty of a child pornography charge.
Dana Wilson pleaded no contest Thursday. The plea means while not admitting guilt, he is not contesting the charges. The judge then found him guilty.
Authorities say Wilson, 62, who works as a disc jockey, had videos of young girls engaged in sexual behavior on his computer.
Wilson’s lawyer says his client wanted to avoid putting family members through a trial.
He is scheduled to be sentenced July 16. Prosecutors say they will likely recommend a six-month sentence.
Wilson, who averaged an NCAA Division III leading 35 points per game during his senior season at Husson College in 1973-74, was inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.
BIW lays keel of vessel that honors late Navy SEAL
Bath Iron Works this week celebrated the laying of the keel of the second ship in the Zumwalt class of guided-missile destroyers.
The keel is a 4,400-ton backbone of the ship that provides structural support to the hull.
The ship, the Michael Monsoor, is named for Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Monsoor, a Navy SEAL who was killed in Iraq in 2006. Monsoor posthumously received the Medal of Honor from President George W. Bush in 2008. He also was awarded the Bronze Star and the Silver Star for his service in Iraq.
“This is a special day, as it marks a milestone in the construction of a ship, a tradition that goes back to the earliest days of shipbuilding – an event that’s been done for hundreds of years in this region, and for more than 120 years here at Bath Iron Works,” said Brent West, the DDG-1000 program manager for BIW. “Over the next two years, we will continue to build the Michael Monsoor with knowledge and expertise honed over the decades.”
Mass General aids services for Maine cancer patients
A Maine hospital group and one of Boston’s most prestigious hospitals have announced a collaboration aimed at streamlining services for Maine cancer patients who need care in Boston.
Officials at Lewiston-based Central Maine Healthcare said Thursday that the partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital will provide “fast, seamless care.”
The hospitals’ doctors are talking more, sharing more information and meeting face to face. For patients, the goal is smoother care if they go to Boston for treatments such as bone-marrow transplants that are not offered in Maine.
The Sun Journal reports the relationship includes Central Maine Medical Center, Bridgton Hospital, Rumford Hospital and Parkview Adventist Medical Center in Brunswick.
Town’s finances acclaimed by Standard & Poor’s
Kennebunk has received the highest possible rating from Standard & Poor’s, town officials said Friday.
The AAA rating reflects an unbiased assessment of the credit worthiness of debt obligation in the public financial market. Town Manager Barry Tibbetts said Kennebunk is the only town in Maine and one of 213 municipalities in the country to receive that rating.
“We have a great management and financial team, which is an incredible asset for the community,” Tibbetts said. “The big win from this AAA rating allows the town to borrow money at a lower interest rate, which in turns saves taxpayers’ money on much needed capital improvements.”
Community colleges raise tuition slightly for fall
Tuition will increase slightly this fall at the state’s seven community colleges, officials announced Friday. The increase of $2 per credit hour will result in an additional $60 for a full-time in-state student, with tuition rising from $2,580 to $2,640 per year.
“Our challenge is to continue to maintain a high-quality education that is affordable for Maine people. It is an increasingly difficult balancing act, and we regret even this modest increase,” said Kris Doody, chairwoman of the board of trustees of the Maine Community College System. She noted that enrollment at the schools has increased 25 percent in the past five years, while the state appropriation has increased 2.4 percent.
More than 18,500 students are enrolled in the community colleges.
Earlier this year, a report by the New England Board of Higher Education that calculated tuition and fees found that Maine’s community colleges had the lowest average rates among two-year schools in the region, coming in at $3,287 this year.
In-state rates at Maine’s two-year schools have risen 7 percent in the last five years, compared with a 29 percent increase at the state’s four-year universities, according to the report.
Legislation seeks to protect jobs of American loggers
A bill that would protect some American loggers’ jobs from being taken by workers employed by foreign companies has cleared a hurdle in the Maine Senate.
Assistant Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson’s bill won preliminary approval Thursday. It would bar the state from contracting for timber harvesting on land under its management if the contractor employs foreign workers.
Jackson, a logger and Democrat from Allagash, says his bill promotes the hiring of U.S. loggers who have been underemployed as a result of contractors hiring Canadians instead.
Jackson’s bill faces additional House and the Senate votes.
Bill would further restrict sex offenders’ residency
A bill to protect children in certain parks and fields from sex offenders has won final legislative approval and was sent to Gov. Paul LePage for his signature.
The proposal, which was approved Thursday by the Senate, would allow a municipality to prohibit a sex offender from living within 750 feet of state-owned property that’s leased to a nonprofit for use as a park, athletic field or recreational facility that’s open to the public.
The original bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Matthew Pouliot of Augusta, applied the restriction to privately owned property used for youth recreation.
LePage signs bill for uniform grading of syrup
Maine is one of the nation’s top maple syrup-producing states, and Gov. Paul LePage has signed a bill to change the way syrup is graded.
LePage on Thursday put his name on a bill that replaces Maine’s existing maple syrup grading system with one proposed by the International Maple Syrup Institute. That change will create a uniform grade of maple syrup worldwide. The law takes effect when the new grading system is OK’d by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Canadian government.
Republican Rep. Russell Black of Wilton sponsored the bill for the Maine Maple Syrup Producers.
Maine last year produced 360,000 gallons of syrup, tying it with New York as the No. 2 syrup-producing state behind Vermont.
Drivers to be asked to fund state’s organ donar program
A bill to bolster awareness of organ donations was signed into law Thursday by Gov. Paul LePage.
The bill will require the secretary of state to place a $2 donation checkoff on driver’s license application and renewal forms to fund a new Maine Organ and Tissue Donation Fund. The purpose is to promote education about organ donations and increase registration of donors.
The sponsor, Democratic Rep. Megan Rochelo of Biddeford, says more than 113,000 people in the United States are on a waiting list for a transplant, and every 12 minutes one more person gets added to that list. She says organ donations saved more than 28,000 lives last year.
Senate gives initial OK to school recess requirement
A bill requiring Maine public schools to provide at least 30 minutes of physical activity each school day for kindergarten through fifth grade students has won an initial round in the state Senate.
By a 24-10 vote, senators gave initial approval to the bill sponsored by Democratic Sen. Rebecca Millett of Cape Elizabeth.
Under the present law, teachers and school administrators may take away recess as a disciplinary action. The bill would require a teacher to provide students with a substitute option for physical activity if the student’s recess is taken away.
Millett’s bill faces further House and Senate votes.
Farm workers warned of risk of parasitic infections
More than a dozen farm workers in Maine have been infected in the past three years with a parasitic worm that lays eggs in the intestines of pigs and humans, according to a federal report issued Friday.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 patients from seven farms in six Maine counties were found to have ascaris infections from 2010 to 2013 – eight confirmed, four probable and two suspected cases. All patients were prescribed medication.
Ascaris, a roundworm that is contracted by eating infected soil or fecal matter, is the world’s most common human parasite, according to the CDC. But the infections, also known as ascariasis, are relatively uncommon in the U.S., the CDC said.
All of the infected workers in Maine had recent contact with pigs, leading investigators to believe pig feces was the initial vector for spreading the parasite.
Ascariasis victims rarely experience noticeable symptoms, the CDC said, and most patients live their entire lives without knowing they have been infected.
State may seek federal relief for flood damage
Flash flooding from record-tying rainfall in parts of northern Vermont washed out roads, damaged bridges and clogged culverts after a string of overnight thunderstorms across the region that left some residents Friday slogging through mud and debris.
Gov. Peter Shumlin described the flooding as “devastating.”
“Jericho and Underhill have 30 different closures right now,” Shumlin said. “We got over four inches of rain in a short period of time. We’re working together ... to try and see if whether the towns will qualify for federal funding.”
Late Friday afternoon, the state formally asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to send a preliminary damage assessment team to determine if parts of the state might qualify for federal disaster aid. If approved, a FEMA team could be in Vermont next week.
At least one homeowner said his house appeared damaged beyond repair.
Andrew Fletcher said his garage was swept into a culvert on Route 15 in Jericho and destroyed.