February 21, 2013

Local & State Dispatches

From staff and news services

(Continued from page 1)

"Arrests for small amounts of marijuana funnel people into the criminal justice system unnecessarily, fill our jails and prisons with nonviolent people and tear Maine families apart for no good reason," said Shenna Belllows, the ACLU's executive director.

"There are far more important things to focus our limited resources on than locking up people who pose no threat to society."


Snowe will become fellow of Bipartisan Policy Center

Former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe is joining a national organization that highlights the adverse effects of America's political divide and suggests ways to promote unity, the organization announced Wednesday.

Snowe, a Republican, is joining the Bipartisan Policy Center as a senior fellow.

She will co-chair its new Commission on Political Reform, the center said.

The commission's diverse group of 30 leaders will conduct a series of "National Conversations on American Unity" to discuss the effects of political polarization and to develop recommendations to help Americans achieve shared national goals.

The Bipartisan Policy Center was founded in 2007 by former Senate majority leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole and George Mitchell.

It is the only Washington-based think tank that actively promotes bipartisanship.

Snowe, long known as a moderate who bucked the Republican line on some issues, surprised Maine's political establishment in February 2012 when she announced she would not seek a fourth Senate term.

She has been critical of polarization and partisanship that she says have made it harder for Congress to make decisions on important issues.

Her departure led to crowded primaries and finally the election of her independent successor, Angus King, whose campaign theme was restoring a cooperative spirit in Washington.

Bipartisan Policy Commission President Jason Grumet said the organization welcomes Snowe's "independent voice, passionate ideals, collaborative instinct and wise counsel."

Voting-rights supporters back Maine amendment

Civil libertarians, the League of Women Voters and other voting-rights advocates are supporting a bill to establish a statewide system of early voting.

The bill sponsored by Democratic Rep. Mike Shaw of Standish proposes to amend the Maine Constitution to require the Legislature to authorize a process allowing a qualified voter to vote at a polling place in or outside of the city, town or plantation where that voter's residence has been established during a period immediately preceding an election.

It also would allow for voting by absentee ballot by citizens for reasons deemed sufficient without requiring in the Constitution that the voter be absent or physically incapacitated.


Man shooting targets puts bullet holes in nearby home

Police are investigating after a Hampden family returned home to find two bullet holes in the walls.

Chief Joe Rogers said the homeowner's son pointed out the bullet holes high on a living room wall on Tuesday afternoon, then the family heard gunfire outside.

It turns out a man was target shooting at a nearby golf course and a stray bullet had struck the home.

WABI-TV reported that the man told police he had permission from the golf course owner and he thought he'd taken all the proper precautions before firing the weapon.

The man's gun was confiscated but his name was not released because he was not charged.

No one was injured and the incident remains under investigation.


Police blame fatal accident on white-out conditions

Police say a four-vehicle crash that killed one man and seriously injured another was likely caused by white-out conditions during a period of high winds and snow.

It started when a pickup truck and a city-owned snow plow collided head-on late Monday morning.

An SUV pulled up behind the plow and was struck from behind by a logging truck.

Police told WABI-TV that a passenger in the SUV, identified as Roman Yoder, 22, of Fort Fairfield, was pronounced dead.

The driver of the SUV was hospitalized with critical injuries. No one else was hurt.

The crash remains under investigation.


Public Service Co. donating $40,000 to help light span

New Hampshire's largest utility is contributing $40,000 to help light up the new Memorial Bridge.

Public Service Co. of New Hampshire announced the contribution Tuesday.

More than $100,000 had been raised toward the $200,000 goal of installing energy-efficient lighting on towers and along the deck of the new bridge, which will connect Portsmouth and Kittery.

The bridge is under construction. It is replacing a nearly 90-year-old span and is expected to open to traffic this summer.


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