July 25, 2013

Local & State Dispatches

From staff and news services

PORTLAND

Downtown agency names interim executive director

A former travel agency owner and current vice president of AAA Northern New England has been appointed interim executive director of Portland's Downtown District.

Steve Hewins will assume the post in August and remain until the agency can hire a permanent replacement for Jan Beitzer, who retired this summer.

Hewins founded Hewins Travel out of his Munjoy Hill home in 1982 before relocating the agency to Commercial Street. It grew to become Maine's largest travel agency before he sold the agency to AAA in 2007.

"Steve Hewins is exceptionally qualified to lead Maine's largest Downtown organization as we work through a nationwide search process for a new Executive Director," Brad McCurtain, President of the district's Board of Directors, said in a statement.

McCurtain said Hewins is a candidate for the full-time executive director position.

Portland's Downtown District encompasses more than 600 properties and 400 businesses in an area that runs from Longfellow Square along Congress Street to Franklin Street and through the Old Port. 

Mentally ill offender accused in assault of hospital worker

A Maine man with a history of sex-related violations has been charged with assaulting a staff member at a Portland hospital where he was being treated.

Forty-nine-year-old Steven Ricci was charged Tuesday with unlawful sexual touching and violation of bail for an incident on Saturday.

Ricci has a history of mental illness and of exposing himself in public.

In February, a judge deemed him incompetent to be sentenced after pleading guilty to a public indecency charge and committed him for one year to a state-run psychiatric hospital.

BRUNSWICK

Bowdoin ranks 20th, Colby 49th on Forbes' annual list

Bowdoin College ranks 20th on Forbes' annual list of America's Top Colleges, based on factors such as student satisfaction, post-graduate success, amount of student debt, graduation rate and the number of awards won by students.

The list, which Forbes compiles with the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, based in Washington, D.C., ranks Stanford University at the top of the list, followed by Pomona College in California, Princeton, Yale and Columbia. Bowdoin and Colby College were the only schools in Maine ranked in the top 100, with Colby ranked 49th. Bates College was ranked 107th.

Forbes rated Bowdoin's financial health an A+, based on factors including its operational budget and endowment, and ranked the school 19th in private colleges and 14th in the Northeast. Colby's financial health was also rated A+, with the school ranked 40th in private colleges and 30th in the Northeast. 

Technology institute awards $1.66 million in loans, grants

The Maine Technology Institute said Wednesday it awarded grants and loans totaling more than $1.66 million to 27 companies during the second quarter.

MTl said the awards include $1.4 million in development loans, $214,936 in seed grants and $46,741 in TechStart grants.

The companies receiving funds included Ecoshel Inc., a company relocating to Maine from Georgia that manufactures an innovative, patented cedar shingle panel; AboGen, a biotechnology company in Portland; and Wentworth Technology in Saco, which provides innovative wireless communications solutions for the restaurant industry.

"We congratulate these entrepreneurs and businesses who are using innovative technologies to develop their products or services," said MTI President Bob Martin. "We look forward to helping them along the path to success to grow profitable enterprises."

TechStart grants are awarded in amounts up to $5,000 to companies that are investigating new technologies. Seed Grants of up to $25,000 are given to companies for advanced product design and development. Development Loans of up to $500,000 are awarded to companies to help them commercialize their products and bring them to market.

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