January 28, 2013

Local & State Dispatches

From staff and news services

PORTLAND

Man accused of biting off parts of friend's face in fight

Police have charged a man with aggravated assault, saying he bit off the tip of his drinking buddy's nose and a substantial part of his lower lip.

Officers were called to the Travel Lodge at 1200 Brighton Ave. at 1:40 a.m. Saturday and found Brian Oliver, 36, covered with blood.

Oliver told them that he and Michael Nickles, 35, both transient and longtime acquaintances, rented a room at the motel and were drinking when they got into a fight. Nickles, he said, climbed on top of him and started biting.

Officers looked in the window of the first-floor room and saw Nickles lying on the floor, also covered in blood. He was charged with felony assault and held in the Cumberland County Jail.

WESTBROOK

Voc-tech teacher charged with gross sexual assault

A teacher at the Westbrook Regional Vocational Center was arrested Monday on charges of gross sexual assault and unlawful sexual contact.

Westbrook police said that Derek Hanscom, 32, of Gorham was charged at 11:45 a.m. in connection with incidents over the past two weeks, according to a release from Capt. Tom Roth.

Roth said the victim was a juvenile, but would not say whether the victim is a student.

Hanscom is being held on $500 bail pending a court hearing.

Westbrook Regional Vocational Center offers career and technical education to students from Gorham, Bonny Eagle, Windham/Raymond, Scarborough and Westbrook high schools. Hanscom teaches automotive technology.

AUGUSTA

Right-to-work, fair share bills back before legislators

Two labor bills that have been rejected in past sessions, so-called right-to-work and fair share, are being introduced again this session.

Republican Rep. Lawrence Lockman of Amherst acknowledges that his bills will face an uphill battle in a Legislature with Democratic majorities in both chambers. But he also notes that other states -- notably Indiana and Michigan -- last year passed right-to-work laws.

In Maine, Lockman's bill would allow workers at unionized private businesses to opt not to join or financially support a union as a condition of employment. Lockman says it's good for jobs and good for business.

The second bill takes away a requirement that state employees pay fees to the Maine State Employees Association whether they join the union or not.

 

Democratic State Committee re-elects Ben Grant chairman

The Maine Democratic State Committee has re-elected Ben Grant as chair of the state party.

Grant, who ran unopposed, led the party in November when Democrats regained control of both chambers in the state Legislature. Elections for party officers were held Sunday.

Pam Fenrich of Falmouth was elected to replace Janet Mills as the party's vice chair. Mills resigned from her position after being elected state attorney general. Fenrich will focus on fundraising for the party as it gears up for the 2014 election.

Heidi Brooks of Lewiston was elected secretary, Betty Johnson of Lincolnville was elected treasurer, and Roy Gedat of Norway was elected vice treasurer.

 

New bill will seek to take BPA protections further

Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall, D-Richmond, plans to introduce a bill to create guidance and an expanded action plan for protecting children from the most dangerous chemicals in the marketplace. The bill will be announced Tuesday.

Goodall is trying to seal some of the cracks left from Thursday's unanimous vote of the Maine Board of Environmental Protection to replace bisphenol-A -- used in plastics for packaging of infant formula, baby food and toddler food -- with safer alternatives, said Steve Taylor, program manager at the Environmental Health Strategy Center in Portland.

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