December 20, 2012

Local & State Dispatches

From staff and news services

BANGOR

LePage cites energy costs for poor business climate

Gov. Paul LePage says he agrees with an assessment by Forbes Magazine that Maine has the worst business climate in the nation.

LePage told the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday that while he's been trying for the past two years to turn Maine into a more business-friendly state, a lot more work needs to be done.

The Republican governor cited several reasons for Maine's poor ranking -- it was the third year in a row that Forbes put the state at the bottom of its list -- but he singled out energy costs.

He said residents pay 24 percent above the national average for power, and energy costs for businesses are 14 percent higher than the U.S. as a whole.

LePage said hydroelectric power and natural gas are keys in reducing energy costs.

DAYTON

Police investigating death of off-duty worker at plant

Authorities are investigating the death of a man who fell about 80 feet from a lift at Dayton Sand and Gravel.

Shawn Hutchins, 41, was pronounced dead at the scene Wednesday night.

Maj. William King of the York County Sheriff's Office said in a prepared statement that Hutchins, a Dayton resident, was an employee at the facility but the plant was not operating at time and it's not known why Hutchins was in the lift.

King said one witness has been interviewed but no details were available. Maine state police are assisting in the investigation.

PHIPPSBURG

Knox man drove erratically while naked, deputy says

A Maine man is facing charges after allegedly leading police on a low-speed chase and ramming a police cruiser while driving without any clothes on.

The Sagadahoc County Sheriff's Department said Cary Furrow, 63, of Knox refused to stop for police Tuesday afternoon for driving erratically in Phippsburg.

Chief Deputy Brett Strout told The Times Record of Brunswick that Furrow drove as much as 20 mph under the speed limit and didn't stop even after running over a spike mat. When officers eventually took Furrow into custody, Strout said he "wasn't wearing any clothes, whatsoever."

Furrow faces charges of refusing to stop for police, driving to endanger and passing a road block. Strout said alcohol and drugs are not considered a factor in the case.

PORTLAND

Six Maine college presidents join call for stricter gun laws

The heads of six Maine colleges are among more than 160 college presidents nationwide calling for stricter gun control in the wake of the Connecticut shooting that killed 20 elementary school students.

A group called "College Presidents for Gun Safety" launched a website Wednesday with an open letter urging lawmakers to oppose legislation allowing guns on college campuses; to reinstate the ban on military-style, semi-automatic weapons; and to end a loophole allowing people to buy guns from unlicensed sellers at gun shows without criminal background checks.

The letter says it's time for Americans to live free from the threat of gun violence.

Signing the letter from Maine were the presidents of the University of New England, College of the Atlantic and Bates, Bowdoin, Colby and St. Joseph's colleges.

 

Brennan signs letter calling for 'sensible' gun legislation

Portland Mayor Michael Brennan added his voice to the calls for tighter gun laws in response to the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., last Friday.

Brennan, a former Democratic legislator and Portland's first popularly elected mayor in decades, announced Thursday that he has signed an open letter from dozens of American mayors "calling on President Obama and members of the U.S. Congress to pursue sensible gun laws."

Other signers include the mayors of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, he said. The letter calls for regulations such as a ban on assault weapons and other high-capacity magazines and a stronger national background check system.

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