December 1, 2012

Dispatches

YARMOUTH

Student faces discipline for bringing pellet gun to school

A student will face academic discipline for bringing a pellet gun to Yarmouth High School on Thursday, the principal said.

Principal Ted Hall notified students and parents in an email message detailing the 10 a.m. incident. The gun contained no pellets or propellant.

"I feel it is very important for parents and students to know the facts concerning any issue that involves weapons in our school," Hall wrote. "This is one way we can continue to maintain a safe school."

The student was pulled from a class, searched and found to have a pellet gun that looked like a handgun, Hall wrote.

Hall said a second pupil had notified an assistant principal of the possible presence of a weapon. Students and staff were not in any danger, Hall said in a telephone interview Friday.

Police were notified and confiscated the weapon, Hall said. Hall said federal privacy law prohibited him from disclosing details about the student.

School policy allows Hall to suspend the student or recommend expulsion.

STATEWIDE

16 hospitals given 'A' rating, three a 'B' and one a 'C'

Sixteen Maine hospitals received an "A" rating for hospital safety from The Leapfrog Group, an independent national nonprofit run by employers and other large purchasers of health benefits.

Another three Maine hospitals received a "B" rating, while York Hospital got a "C," according to the Leapfrog Group website. The results for the Hospital Safety Score were announced this week.

The study by the Leapfrog Group found that out of 49 states, Massachusetts and Maine have the most "A" grade hospitals at 83 and 80 percent, respectively. New Mexico fell to the bottom of the list with only 7 percent of its hospitals getting an "A."

The scores were awarded based on publicly available safety data on a hospital's ability to keep patients free from infections, injuries, and medical and medication errors. At least 180,000 patients are killed every year from errors, accidents, injuries and infections in American hospitals, Leapfrog Group said.

To see the full list of Maine hospitals and their ratings, click here.

HOULTON

Man charged for using lit cigarette to burn two kids

A Houlton man has been charged with using a lit cigarette to burn two children he was teaching to meditate.

Police on Thursday said Adam Maguire, 28, was charged with two counts of domestic violence assault, two counts of endangering the welfare of a child and violating conditions of release.

Chief Butch Asselin tells the Bangor Daily News that Maguire burned the children at his home last Sunday in their upper back and neck areas "in an attempt to show them pain compliance while meditating."

Maguire's girlfriend told police she and Maguire were showing the children meditation techniques to help with their ADHD. The children were told that when you clear your mind, you are no longer susceptible to pain.

The children are now in the care of relatives.

AUGUSTA

Vendor mistake knocks out state's computer network

Much of the Maine state government's computer network was down for about three hours Friday because of a mistake by the vendor that provides system maintenance, a state spokeswoman said.

Jennifer Smith, spokeswoman for the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, said FairPoint Communications was doing maintenance on the system when "human error" caused the system to go down. Initially, there were reports of sporadic outages at 11 a.m.

The problem was rectified by 2 p.m., she said.

The widespread outage affected several branches of state government, including the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and state websites accessed by the public.

"There were multiple sites on the wide area network," Smith said. "I know we had some external websites that were down. The Department of Labor was there, and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles," but she could not say specifically how widespread the computer outage was or gauge its impact.

A FairPoint spokesman said he was researching the situation.

Guilty conviction of man in husband-wife slaying upheld

Maine's highest court has upheld the conviction of a Burlington man found guilty of killing a husband and wife in rural eastern Maine in 2009.

The Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday ruled that the taped confession of Nathaneal Nightingale and some physical evidence were appropriately allowed at his trial.

The Bangor Daily News reports that Nightingale's attorney argued in the appeal that his client's confession was inadmissible. But the court said he voluntarily submitted to questioning and was twice read his Miranda rights.

Nightingale was convicted in March, 2011 of manslaughter in the death of Michael Miller Sr. and murder in the death of Miller's wife Valerie. Both were 47.

Prosecutors say the Millers were slain in their Webster Plantation pawn shop in a botched robbery attempt.

RANGELEY

Residents OK settlement in lawsuit over termination

Residents of Rangeley have authorized the Board of Selectmen to pay $145,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the town's former highway foreman.

The money is to be taken from the town's unreserved fund.

Town Clerk Ethna Thompson told the Sun Journal the vote was taken Wednesday and 20 to 25 residents voted at a half-hour meeting.

Former highway foreman Everett Quimby was fired in 2010 after 14 years. He responded with a lawsuit, saying he was terminated without due process, in violation of town policy and in violation of the Maine Whistleblowers' Protection Act and the Maine Human Rights Act.

The lawsuit was settled for $175,000. The town's share was $145,000 while former Town Manager Perry Ellsworth must pay $30,000.

PORTSMOUTH, N.H.

New Hampshire won't pay for lighting on new bridge

Some Portsmouth residents want to add lighting to a new bridge being built between the seacoast community and the state of Maine, but the state of New Hampshire says it's not going to pay for the lights.

The new Memorial Bridge is under construction and due to open this summer.

Peter Somssich, chairman of the Portsmouth's Illumination Subcommittee, says it will cost between $60,000 and $80,000 to illuminate a memorial plaque for veterans, the footing of the bridge, the two piers and the towers.

Department of Transportation Project Manager Keith Cota says the lights aren't essential for transportation needs so the project should be a community initiative.

WMUR-TV says the Portsmouth City Council is expected to discuss ways to pay for the lighting at a meeting on Monday.

FRAMINGTON

Man who held mill official hostage given five years

A man who held a paper mill manager hostage during a nine-hour armed standoff in Jay is going to prison for five years.

Francis Smith III of Norridgewock pleaded guilty Friday to kidnapping, criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, terrorizing, and assault. The Sun Journal says he was ordered to serve five years of a 12-year sentence.

Smith was reportedly angry at losing his job and upset over the treatment of workers at the Verso Paper Androscoggin Mill in Jay.

Prosecutors say he had a shotgun and a handgun when he went to the paper mill on March 14 and kept the manager hostage. He eventually surrendered.

-- From staff and news services

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