March 23, 2013

Local & State Dispatches

From staff and news services

AUGUSTA

Legislative panel backs bill increasing minimum wage

A legislative committee voted along party lines Friday to support a bill that would raise Maine's minimum wage to $9 by 2016 and index it to inflation each year thereafter.

But the 8-5 vote engineered by Democrats on L.D. 611 will face a challenge on the floor of the Legislature and a potential veto from Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

The original bill would have raised the minimum wage to $8.50 by October 2013, then adjust it to the rate of inflation every October thereafter.

As amended in committee, the bill would raise Maine's minimum to $8 by July 2014, to $8.50 by July 2015 and $9 by July 2016, then adjust it annually to inflation, the Maine AFL-CIO, a federation of labor unions, said in a news release.

The measure is co-sponsored by the two highest-ranking Democratic leaders, Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, and Speaker of the House Mark Eves, D-North Berwick.

The Department of Economic and Community Development and the Department of Labor testified against the bill in a public hearing last week. 

Hunters kill 21,365 deer in 2012 as herd recovers

State officials say hunters took 13 percent more deer last year in Maine with bigger numbers reported across all of the state's wildlife management districts.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife reported Friday that hunters killed 21,365 deer, an increase from 18,839 the previous year.

Officials said the larger numbers provide further evidence that the state's deer herd is recovering following harsh winters in 2008 and 2009 that thinned the herd.

As recently as six years ago, the Maine deer harvest approached 30,000 animals a year.

Wildlife officials say the current winter hasn't significantly stressed the deer population, and that the herd is expected to continue to grow. 

Winning $1 million ticket sold at Kennebunk store

Maine Lottery officials say someone has won a $1 million instant lottery ticket.

The Maine Millionaire II ticket was claimed this week at the lottery headquarters.

Officials say the winning ticket was sold at Cumberland Farms in Kennebunk.

The store will get a $10,000 agent bonus for the selling the winning ticket.

It's the second win of four $1 million prizes in the Maine Millionaire II instant ticket game.

ROCKPORT

Local sex offender charged with assaulting teenage girl

A Rockport man who is a registered sex offender for life has been charged with gross sexual assault on a teenage girl.

Arthur "Ron" Dodge, 54, was arrested Thursday by Maine State Police on charges of gross sexual assault and unlawful sexual contact for an incident that allegedly happened last year at Dodge's home, police said.

He was arrested at his house at 66 Chickawaukie Pond Road and taken to Knox County Jail and is being held on $25,000 bail.

Dodge was convicted in 1990 of unlawful sexual contact and is required to be on the sex offender registry for the rest of his life, police said.

WESTBROOK

Rick Hautala, horror writer, dies of heart attack at 64

Rick Hautala, a Maine horror writer who wrote 30 books and won the Horrow Writer's Association Bram Stoker Award for lifetime achievement, died Thursday at 64.

Hautala died of a heart attack, his wife, writer Holly Newstein, said.

Hautala graduated from the University of Maine in 1974 with a master's degree in English literature.

He published more than 90 short stories and books, including the novel "Nightstone," which sold more than a million copies worldwide.

He won the Horror Writer's Association award in 2011.

Newstein said funerals "were not Rick's thing," so she will hold a celebration of Hautala's life in a few months.

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