September 14, 2013

Local & State Dispatches

From staff and news services

PORTLAND

Judge dismisses charges in incident outside school

A disorderly-conduct charge against a Portland man once accused of threatening children at the Reiche Community School was discharged Friday and more serious charges were dismissed.

Derek Weeks, 33, had pleaded guilty in May to disorderly conduct as part of a plea agreement under which charges of criminal threatening and interfering with constitutional rights were dismissed.

Judge E. Mary Kelly discharged the disorderly conduct charge without conditions.

The charges against Weeks stemmed from a Feb. 13 incident outside the 166 Brackett St. school while he was picking up his daughter.

Weeks was accused of making a gun gesture with his hand, and telling children on the playground they shouldn't be playing there because they are black.

Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie Anderson said previously that as part of the plea agreement in May, sentencing was delayed to allow Weeks' daughter to finish the school year and for him to enroll her in another school. Weeks wrote a letter to the children apologizing for his actions. 

Three women in hijabs are possible hate-crime victims

Portland police are investigating an incident that occurred on Sept. 11 as a possible hate crime.

Three women who were wearing hijabs parked in the lot of the Town & Country Federal Credit Union at 426 Forest Ave. about noon Wednesday, Capt. Vern Malloch said Friday. They went across the street to eat, and when they returned, there was spray paint on their car, he said.

One message appeared to refer to their head covering, customary in some Muslim cultures. It said "nice towel heads," Malloch said. Another part of the graffiti, "learn to reed" and "customer parking only" seemed to indicate it was related to the car being in the credit union's parking lot.

Police are reviewing the credit union's security video to try to identify a suspect or vehicle. The case has been forwarded to the Maine Attorney General's Office to determine whether the crime was motivated by bias. 

Restaurant fish promotion features whiting for 10 days

A lesser-known fish called whiting is being featured at a number of Maine restaurants for the next 10 days as part of an initiative to promote underutilized seafood species from the Gulf of Maine.

About 20 restaurants are taking part in the promotion, which runs through Sept. 22.

The promotion is part of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute's Out of the Blue campaign, which aims to raise public awareness and demand for lesser-known and underutilized species.

This year's campaign has already showcased redfish, Atlantic mackerel and dogfish. Atlantic pollock will be the featured fish in November.

Whiting is also known as silver hake and is harvested in the Gulf of Maine from July through November.

A list of participating restaurants is available at www.gmri.org.

YARMOUTH

I-295 Exit 15 northbound will close Sunday for work

Northbound Exit 15 on Interstate 295 in Yarmouth will be closed Sunday, the Maine Department of Transportation said Friday.

Road crews will be laying down a special friction surface on the new exit designed to help vehicles grip the road and slow down more quickly.

The exit, which was built this year, follows a tight radius. The roadway will reopen Monday, after the work is complete.

BANGOR

Ex-ed tech denies having sexual relations with teen

A former education technician at a Maine public school has pleaded not guilty to charges of having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old student.

Tammy Larlee entered her plea in a Penobscot County court Thursday to charges of gross sexual assault and sexual abuse of a minor.

Larlee, 45, of Lincoln, appeared in court alone and had no comment. The judge ruled that she qualified for a public defender.

She was released on personal recognizance under certain conditions, including that she stay off school property and have no contact with the alleged victim or anyone under the age of 17.

Authorities say the relationship occurred this summer and was uncovered during an unrelated investigation. Larlee was a technician for special education students at Mattanawcook Academy in Lincoln.

ROCKLAND

Award-winning architect to design new arts center

The Center for Maine Contemporary Art has chosen Toshiko Mori to design its new building in Rockland.

The arts center, which has made its home in Rockport since its inception in 1952, plans to move to Rockland in 2015. The arts center plans to renovate an existing building at 21 Winter St. and has begun a $4 million fundraising campaign.

Mori is an award-winning architect with ties to Maine. She is the Robert P. Hubbard Professor at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design. She has been active internationally since the early 1980s through her firm Toshiko Mori Architect, based in New York City.

She has won two International Art Critics Association Awards. She and her husband, the artist James Carpenter, have a home in the midcoast, and she supervised the redesign of the interior spaces of the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland.

AUGUSTA

Maine getting $300,000 for veterans' health care

Maine is getting $300,000 to boost mental health and other health care services for veterans who live in rural areas.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud announced the grant in a statement on Thursday.

Michaud said the grants will be used to enhance systems that allow Maine health care providers to electronically communicate with veterans who live far away in rural areas of the state. That allows providers to remotely detect issues like post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries.

OLD ORCHARD BEACH

Ballpark will host weekend to honor veterans, families

The Maine Heroes Fund will hold its annual POW/MIA Recognition Weekend Sept. 20-21 at the Ballpark.

The event honors military veterans and their families and raises money to benefit the Wounded Heroes of Maine Fund.

Festivities start Sept. 20 with a POW/MIA Escort Ride, inviting motorcyclists to join the procession to bring the Schneider National "Ride of Pride" and the Indiana Air Search and Rescue Command Vehicle to the Ballpark.

The event will continue Sept. 21, with the Ballpark gates opening at 7 a.m. Food concessions will be available. A ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. with Gov. Paul LePage reading a proclamation.

That ceremony will be followed by the dedication of the Missing Man chair in the stadium at 1 p.m. The first of its kind in Maine, the seat is dedicated to the more than 92,000 American soldiers who fought overseas and are unaccounted for since World War I.

For more information, go to www.maineheroesfund.org.

 

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