March 28, 2013

Dispatches

ALFRED

Strong withdraws appeal, ending his prostitution case

Mark Strong Sr., who has served one week of a 20-day sentence for promoting a prostitution business from a Zumba studio in Kennebunk, has withdrawn his appeal of his conviction on 13 counts.

Strong, 57, of Thomaston, filed an appeal on March 21, the day he was sentenced, seeking to overturn his convictions in York County Superior Court of 12 counts of promotion of prostitution and one count of conspiracy to promote prostitution. In addition to the jail sentence, Strong received a $3,000 fine.

Prosecutors said Strong and Alexis Wright worked together to operate a prostitution business. The withdrawal of the appeal effectively ends his case.

Prosecutors are scheduled to meet with Wright's attorney, Sarah Churchill, on Friday to discuss a plea deal in her case.

Wright, 30, of Wells, has pleaded not guilty to 106 counts, including promotion of prostitution, engaging in prostitution, violation of privacy, conspiracy, tax offenses and receiving welfare benefits when ineligible.

BOSTON

Man found guilty of murder in Lewiston woman's death

A Boston man has been convicted of fatally shooting a Maine woman as retribution for missing heroin.

A Suffolk Superior Court jury on Tuesday found Amos "Ace" Don, 27, guilty of charges including first-degree murder for the August 2009 slaying of Erica Field, 29, of Lewiston.

Prosecutors say Don was a heroin dealer who enlisted Field's boyfriend to help him sell drugs in the Lewiston area. When some heroin went missing, Don suspected Field's boyfriend. The three drove to Boston under the guise of obtaining more drugs. Authorities say Don made them drive to an isolated area where he shot both. The boyfriend survived.

Don, who is already serving a 6 1/2-year sentence on a federal gun conviction, faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.

PARIS

Father of teen killed in crash suing driver, three others

The father of a 16-year-old West Paris girl who was killed in a car crash last year has sued the driver and three others.

Rebecca Mason's father this week filed a lawsuit in Oxford County Superior Court against Kristina Lowe, 19, the driver of the car in which his daughter was a passenger. Mason and a 19-year-old man died in the crash in January 2012.

Jerrold Mason is also suing three people he alleges provided Lowe with alcohol and a place to drink.

The Sun Journal reported that the lawsuit alleges "negligence and recklessness" on the part of the defendants.

Lowe has pleaded not guilty to two counts of manslaughter. Police say she was drunk and texting at the time of the crash. Her lawyer has denied that, saying she hit a patch of ice.

AUGUSTA

Scarborough River dredging qualifies for federal funding

Federal money is being allocated for a dredging project in the Scarborough River as early as this fall.

The project qualified for federal funding because of the sustained excessive shoaling that resulted from Hurricane Sandy. Members of Maine's congressional delegation say $3.5 million has been allocated for the for the Army Corps of Engineers' work.

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King said in a written statement Tuesday that proper maintenance of Maine's small ports, harbors and rivers is critically important because they play an important role in local economies.

Scarborough Town Manager Thomas Hall says the grant will ensure safe passage for the commercial fishing fleet and recreational boat traffic.

 

Education panel rejects bill to allow gender-segregation

A legislative committee has rejected a bill that would have changed state law to allow gender-segregated classrooms amid concerns that it's unconstitutional.

The Education Committee voted down the bill, submitted by Sen. John Tuttle, D-Sanford, in a 13-1 vote on Tuesday. It would establish single-gender classrooms as an option for schools in state education guidelines. The bill will go to the Legislature for consideration.

In a public hearing this month, Sanford students and administrators lauded their single-sex classrooms, which ran for three years until 2012 at the Willard School. Sixth-grade classes were in effect for the full three years, while the program expanded to fifth grade in the last year.

Sanford ended those classes after the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine threatened legal action if they weren't shut down, saying they violated the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection Clause.

The ACLU of Maine said that while the federal government allows certain single-gender classrooms, they're highly regulated.

 

Bill would address shortage of dentists, lack of oral care

A bill sponsored by House Speaker Mark Eves would address an impending shortage of dentists and lack of dental care in the state.

The bill from the North Berwick Democrat would establish a license for midlevel dental hygiene therapists to provide limited oral care focused on prevention.

Maine has a shortage of dental care in 15 counties, resulting in high-cost emergency room visits. Eves says Maine's dental shortage is a crisis that can't be ignored because it has far-reaching effects for children and adults.

Eves cites studies that show that 55 percent of Maine children lack access to dental care.

A co-sponsor of the bill is Rep. Anne-Marie Mastraccio, a retired dental hygienist.

A public hearing on the bill will be held in the weeks ahead.

PORTLAND

Library will celebrate arrival of new Book Mobile Tuesday

The Portland Public Library will celebrate the arrival of its new Book Mobile on Tuesday.

The 24-foot-long vehicle will carry 1,500 books and other library items at any one time and is intended to provide outreach to children and families in neighborhoods that are not served by a branch library. It will be equipped with solar panels, wireless Internet capabilities and sides that open up for additional book and material storage and programming.

A ribbon-cutting and open house will be held at noon Tuesday in Monument Square.

The Book Mobile also will reach people who lack transportation or the time to travel, have health problems, are intimidated by the prospect of going to the library or may not yet be readers.

It also will be in Monument Square during the First Friday Art Walk on April 5, from 5 to 8 p.m. A summer schedule will be available soon at www.portlandlibrary.com.

The Book Mobile was purchased through library funds and a major gift by KeyBank.

 

Court upholds conviction in redemption-fraud trial

Maine's highest court has upheld a former redemption center operator's conviction for illegally redeeming cans and bottles from out of state.

Thomas Woodard, who ran Green Bee Redemption in Kittery, was convicted in 2011 in the state's first criminal trial over redemption fraud for passing off no-deposit containers from New Hampshire and Massachusetts as if they were purchased in Maine. He was sentenced to 21 days in jail.

In his appeal, Woodard argued there was insufficient evidence for a conviction and that the lower court judge erred in allowing certain evidence at trial and failing to give requested jury instructions. He further said the prosecutor engaged in misconduct by asking the jury to "send a message."

In a unanimous decision Tuesday, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the conviction stands.

 

Children's Film Festival will show 28 local movies

Twenty-eight films made by local students have been selected to be shown at this year's Portland Children's Film Festival, organizers announced Wednesday.

In all, 49 films produced by 160 Portland-area students were submitted to the festival for consideration. Ten winning films were selected in three age categories, along with 18 honorable mentions. The films will be shown as part of the festival, at the Nickelodeon theater in Portland at 10 a.m. April 7.

The festival, created and organized by East End Community School parents and teachers, is scheduled for April 3-7 at venues throughout Portland. All winning films have been nominated for "The Golden Lighthouse Award," which will be announced during the festival's Red Carpet Night scheduled for April 3 at the Portland Public Library.

Among the contest winners is 6-year-old Georgia Lobozzo of Cape Elizabeth, who won the K-2 category for her original short film titled "Barney and Quackers," a claymation film about a friendship between a duck and a bear. The winners were selected by a panel of independent artists and filmmakers along with media studies professors from the University of Southern Maine, Southern Maine Community College and Bates College.

To see a complete list of the winning films and for more information on the festival and tickets, go to www.portlandchildrensfilmfestival.com.

 

Groups ask for moratorium on tar sands oil pipelines

Several environmental groups in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont are asking federal regulators for a moratorium on new tar sands oil pipelines until new standards are created.

The groups contend current safety rules aren't adequate in addressing "dirty" sands oil from Alberta, Canada.

So far, none of that oil is flowing through the region. But the Portland Montreal Pipeline Co. said it would welcome the opportunity to use the pipeline that crosses Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine to transport the oil from Montreal to Portland.

Critics say pipelines carrying sands oil through Midwestern states have spilled nearly three times the national average of crude oil per mile of pipeline. But the industry cites data that show pipelines carrying sands oil aren't more prone to failure than those carrying conventional crude.

OLD TOWN

EPA says pulp mill will pay $126,000 to settle claims

The Environmental Protection Agency says a Maine pulp mill has agreed to pay $126,000 to settle claims it violated the terms and conditions of its discharge permits.

The EPA said Red Shield Acquisition LLC discharged processed wastewater and storm water from its Old Town mill in violation of the terms of permits issued by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. Red Shield does business under the name Old Town Fuel and Fiber.

The EPA said Red Shield also failed to adequately maintain control measures to reduce pollutants in the storm water discharges.

The agency said the company cooperated throughout the investigation and has completed some of the work needed to fix the problems.

 

-- From staff and news services

 

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