July 17, 2013

Local & State Dispatches

From staff and news services

AUBURN

Man pleads not guilty to two counts of arson

A Lewiston man has pleaded not guilty to two counts of arson in connection with fires that destroyed two vacant apartment buildings in Lewiston.

Brian Morin, 30, entered his plea Tuesday in Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn.

Morin and Bryan Wood, 23, are charged in the May 6 fire, which was the third major fire in Lewiston in less than two weeks that left about 200 people homeless. Two 12-year-old boys are charged with setting the other blazes.

According to an affidavit cited by the Sun Journal, Morin and Wood used lighter fluid to start fires.

Morin is being held on $350,000 bail.

PORTLAND

NYC man will serve time for counterfeit credit cards

A New York City man who was caught with about 160 counterfeit credit cards has been sentenced in Maine to three years in prison.

Michael Barnes, 34, was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court. Judge George Singal also ordered him to pay $8,687 in restitution.

Barnes pleaded guilty to credit card fraud in April. Prosecutors say he and two other people were stopped in a vehicle in 2011 and found to have the counterfeit cards, some of which had been used to make purchases at stores in South Portland and Scarborough.

Barnes’ sentence will run on top of a seven-year sentence that he’s already serving in New York for burglary and weapons possession.

LEWISTON

Woman, 80, dies of injuries sustained in Saturday crash

Police say the 80-year-old passenger in a car that was involved in a head-on crash in Lewiston last weekend has died.

A police spokesman said Charlene McKeen of Sabattus died at a hospital Sunday of injuries she sustained in the crash on Route 196 about 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

McKeen was a passenger in a vehicle driven by Arlene Harris, 80, of Lisbon Falls.

Police say Harris was driving east when her car collided with a westbound vehicle driven by Spencer Emerson, 20, of Lewiston.

The crash remains under investigation and no charges have been filed.

BATH

Man charged with setting two fires, linked to more

Police say a 21-year-old Bath man who is charged with setting two trash bins on fire may be a serial arsonist.

Bath police and firefighters responded Sunday night to extinguish a fire in a trash bin at the YMCA. After determining the fire was probably set intentionally, police searched the area and Officer Ted Raedel found Allan Vigil in woods nearby.

A short time earlier, a fire had started in debris behind the Department of Public Works, police said.
State fire marshal’s Investigator Mary MacMaster joined the investigation and, after Vigil was interviewed at his home, he was charged with arson in connection with the fires.

Police say Vigil also has been linked to fires at the Family Focus day-care center July 4 and at the Bath landfill July 1, although he has not been charged with setting those fires.

At Family Focus, someone broke a window and spread an accelerant inside, said Fire Marshal Joe Thomas. He said the building had sprinklers that quickly put out the fire.

The fire at the landfill was worrisome because a propane cylinder was placed in the blaze, creating the risk of explosion, he said.

Vigil is being held at Two Bridges Regional Jail on $20,000 bail.

RANGELEY

Historic lakeside inn heads for auction block on July 25

A historic lakeside inn in western Maine is going on the auction block.

The Rangeley Inn will be sold at auction July 25.

The Sun Journal reported that the inn was built in the early 1900s and closed for a few months last year. It reopened in January under a new management firm, which will continue operating the property until a new owner takes over.

The property includes the 36-room inn, 15-room lodge, banquet room, tavern, dining room, 18-bed employee wing and an owner-manager apartment.

BOSTON

Two Maine entities will get EPA grants to clean up sites

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says 11 entities in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire will share about $3.6 million to clean up contaminated former industrial sites for redevelopment.

The agency’s brownfields revolving loan fund is providing loans and subgrants to help clean up the sites. The grants are between $200,000 and $400,000 with an average grant award of $300,000.
Nationally, there are an estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated sites.

Recipients include the Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission and Maine Department of Economic and Community Development.

AUGUSTA

State urges workers to use app to prevent ladder falls

Maine is encouraging workers to use a new cellphone app designed to prevent ladder falls.

Maine’s Department of Labor said Monday that the new app promotes the safe use of ladders by teaching proper use, ladder selection, inspection and positioning.

The Ladder Safety Tool was created by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The department said it can be useful for workers in construction, where falls are common, as well as health care and retail industries.

The state says there were 114 workers’ compensation claims in Maine last year from ladder fall injuries that caused people to miss at least a day of work.

The app is at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/falls.

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