March 15, 2013

Local & State Dispatches

From staff and news services

AUGUSTA

LePage signs bill allowing earlier bar hours Sunday

Gov. Paul LePage on Friday signed into law a bill allowing bars to open three hours earlier this St. Patrick's Day.

The action lifts the state's ban on sales of alcohol between 6 and 9 a.m. on Sundays when St. Patrick's Day falls on a Sunday, as it does this year.

The St. Patrick's Day bill, L.D. 216, won unanimous approval in committee and preliminary votes in the House and Senate before it became ensnared in a political standoff over LePages's plan to repay Maine's hospitals $484 million in overdue Medicaid reimbursements.

Bar owners and the Maine Restaurant Association fought for its passage.

Passage of the bill was uncertain as recently as Tuesday, after it failed to get enough Republican support to pass as an emergency measure and Democratic House leaders tabled it.

On Thursday, the bill finally passed in the House of Representatives, by a vote of 105-32. The Senate passed the bill 29-6.

PORTLAND

City will host an open house at Riverside Golf Course

The city will host an open house at Riverside Municipal Golf Course from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday to explain its efforts to improve the course.

The city had contracted consultant National Golf Foundation Consulting to examine operations at the course, which has been losing money in recent years.

The consultant recommended the city either make investments into the course -- including $1.1 million in clubhouse upgrades -- as a public amenity, or lease operations to a private company.

On Thursday, City Manager Mark Rees told the City Council's Finance Committee the city will continue operating the course.

The city plans to better market the course; implement more youth programs; hire a professional golfer; and build a new clubhouse on the South Course. Renovations are already under way at the North Course clubhouse.

The city also plans to launch a mobile app so golfers can book tee times, view a flyover of the course; track scores and remotely order a snack in the course restaurant.

City spokeswoman Nicole Clegg said the new initiatives total $548,000.

 

Maine College of Art plans honor for local illustrator

The Maine College of Art will honor illustrator and adjunct instructor Daniel Minter on Monday to recognize his Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor for his work on the children's book "Ellen's Broom."

Illustrated by Minter and written by Kelly Starling Lyons, the book tells the story of a young girl who learns the meaning of freedom during the time of Reconstruction. The Coretta Scott King Award, named for the wife of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., brings national attention to Minter, who lives in Portland.

The reception begins at 6 p.m. Monday at MECA, 522 Congress St., Portland.

 

Maine poet Richard Blanco will appear as guest author

Maine poet Richard Blanco will appear as a guest author of The Telling Room, a Portland-based nonprofit, during its annual Glitterati fundraiser from 6 to 10 p.m. March 28 at Portland's Masonic Temple, 415 Congress St.

Blanco gained attention for his reading of "One Today" at President Obama's second inauguration in January. Since then, he has remained in the national spotlight, conducting interviews with NPR, The New York Times and CNN, among others. In February, he read at Merrill Auditorium in Portland.

Tickets for the event are available at tellingroom.org/glitterati. Prices are $75, or $50 for designated "starving artist" tickets. All proceeds from the event will support the organization's free writing programs for Maine youth.

FARMINGTON

Wilton woman, man cleared of most serious charges

A man and a woman charged with attacking another couple with an ax and meat cleaver have been acquitted by a Franklin County jury of the most serious charges.

Sherri Dupree of Wilton was found not guilty of felony aggravated assault and two misdemeanor charges of assault.

The Sun Journal reported that Brian Sweeney was cleared of aggravated assault, while the jury deadlocked on two lesser charges of misdemeanor assault.

Prosecutors alleged that an ax-wielding Sweeney and cleaver-wielding Dupree attacked Jeremiah Gattis and his girlfriend at Gattis's Farmington home last April.

The defense said the dispute stemmed from a disagreement over an unfinished tattoo Gattis gave Sweeney.

The defendants said they went to the home to pick up Sweeney's belongings, and Gattis was the aggressor.

 

Man convicted of assault after punching neighbor

A Wilton man has been convicted of punching his neighbor in the face because he was annoyed by the victim's car horn beeping.

Dean Martin Jr. was convicted this week of felony assault for the October attack on Hutch McPheters. The men lived across the street from each other.

According to testimony, Martin became angry because every morning when he left his home, McPheters gave his car horn three quick beeps as a way to say goodbye to his daughter and mother.

Prosecutors said one morning Martin threatened McPheters, and McPheters replied with a sarcastic comment about Martin only hitting women.

The Sun Journal reported that Martin's lawyer told the jury that McPheters taunted and provoked her client.

Martin is being held pending sentencing next week.

BRUNSWICK

Board OKs zoning change for more student housing

Brunswick's Planning Board has approved a zoning change that opens the door for Bowdoin College to convert a former assisted-living facility near campus to student housing.

The college agreed late last year to buy the building on Harpswell Road, but needed the town to change the zoning to turn it into a dormitory.

The board this week voted 4-1 to approve the change.

The Times Record reported that a Bowdoin official said acquisition and renovation of the building is part of the college's ongoing effort to consolidate students who are now scattered around town.

The college has assured neighbors that the dorm will be "chemical-free quiet" housing.

The zoning change now goes to the Town Council for a public hearing.

 

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