April 6, 2013

Local & State Dispatches

From staff and news services


Strong released from jail after 20-day term reduced

The insurance agent who was convicted of being the business partner of a Zumba instructor who engaged in prostitution has been released from the York County Jail.

A jail official said Mark Strong Sr. completed his sentence Friday after serving 15 days for conspiracy and promotion of prostitution. His 20-day sentence was reduced for good behavior. A message left at his Thomaston office wasn't returned.

Defense lawyer Tina Nadeau said Strong has decided against pursuing legal appeals and wants to go about getting on with his life and reconciling with his family.

His release from jail comes in time to see his son get married.

Zumba instructor Alexis Wright has pleaded guilty under an agreement in which she'll serve 10 months. She's due to be sentenced on May 31.


Mayors Coalition to unveil $85 million bond proposal

A bipartisan coalition of mayors will introduce an $85 million bond proposal to fund economic development initiatives, the group said Friday.

The Mayors Coalition, along with Sen. Roger Katz, the bill sponsor, will unveil its proposal at a news conference Monday at Augusta City Hall.

Most of the bond package -- $55 million -- would support education, research and development.

Another $20 million would fund transportation projects, including $10 million for railroad infrastructure.

The remaining $10 million would fund water and wastewater improvements.

The bond proposal would need legislative approval before going before voters.

The Mayors Coalition is made up 12 communities -- from Bangor to Sanford, including Portland.

The bipartisan group was established to support state policies that grow the economy and oppose policies that would shift costs to municipalities.


New law makes programs for abusers gender neutral

Maine's batterer-intervention programs will be gender-neutral under an emergency law signed by Gov. Paul LePage on Friday.

It will establish new standards for the programs, which are state-certified education programs available now only to men who have been abusive to their intimate partner.

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Emily Cain, D-Orono, directs the Maine Department of Corrections to establish new standards for batterer-intervention programs. The department's website says there are 12 statewide.

It was motivated by a December ruling by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to remand the sentence of Christopher Mosher of Litchfield, who was convicted of domestic violence, because part of his original sentence -- participation in a batterer-intervention program -- didn't apply to female offenders. The court said it likely wouldn't withstand constitutional scrutiny.

When Deputy Chief Judge Robert Mullen resentenced Mosher, Mullen said state policy "clearly punishes the male more severely than the female for the same offense."

The bill signed by LePage, a survivor of child abuse, goes into effect immediately.


Portland teacher honored with 5 other semifinalists

The candidates for Maine Teacher of the Year have been narrowed to six semifinalists, including a teacher in Portland.

Gov. Paul LePage and Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen honored the group at a State House ceremony Thursday.

The six include fifth-grade teacher Susan Carpenter O'Brien from George B. Weatherbee School in Hampden; fourth-grade teacher Mary Graziano from Hartland Consolidated School; and kindergarten teacher Suzen Polk-Hoffses from Milbridge Elementary School.

The other three are Christiane Cullens, who teaches grades 10-12 at Mount Desert Island High School; Karen MacDonald, a sixth- and seventh-grade teacher at King Middle School in Portland; and Cynthia Raymond, a seventh-grade teacher at Hall-Dale Middle School in Farmingdale.

Fourteen teachers were nominated.


Jail administrators combat smoking of dried fruit peels

Jail administrators have ordered their kitchen staff to peel bananas before they're served to inmates, and the jail has stopped serving oranges because prisoners have been drying and smoking the peels.

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