Tuesday, March 11, 2014
From staff and news services
Woman stole a pickup truck to move furniture, police say
A Portland woman charged with stealing a pickup truck from a construction site guarded by two officers said she needed the truck to move some furniture, police said.
Mary Nyembo, 21, of Cumberland Avenue, was walking past a road construction site at Washington Avenue and Presumpscot Street at 9 a.m. Tuesday when she climbed into the black 2010 Ford F-150 pickup and drove off, police said.
The owner ran up to the two officers on a safety detail at the construction site, whose cruisers' blue emergency lights were flashing, and reported that someone had just driven off with his truck. He pointed it out heading west on Washington Avenue, and said he had left the keys in the center console.
The officers stopped the truck at Ocean Avenue and arrested Nyembo on charges that included unauthorized use of property, driving after being declared a habitual motor vehicle offender and violating bail conditions. Nyembo told the officer she had to move furniture and the truck looked like it would serve the purpose, police said.
She is being held without bail pending a court appearance.
Paving of Tukey's Bridge expected to cause delays
Maine Department of Transportation crews will begin working Monday to resurface the section of Interstate 295 southbound on Tukey's Bridge.
The heavily traveled bridge over Washington Avenue will be reduced from three lanes to two and a concrete barrier will be erected to protect workers. The work is expected to continue through July.
Because much of the work will be done during the day, the MDOT says drivers might experience delays, particularly during high-traffic times.
Arizona man is selected as new Metro general manager
The Greater Portland Transit District has hired an Arizona man as the new general manager of the Metro bus service.
Gregory Jordan has more than 20 years of experience in the transportation industry and currently is the deputy public works director for the city of Tempe, Ariz., where he oversees its multi-modal transit program.
"Greg has an extensive background dealing with issues facing Metro today -- improving rider services, dealing with financial constraints and working with other agencies to regionalize transit operations," said Bonny Rodden, president of the transit district's board.
Originally from Connecticut, Jordan got his start in transportation when he was a student bus driver at the University of Connecticut. He will begin work in Portland Sept. 3.
Jordan takes over for Don Gerrish, the former Brunswick town manager, who has served as Metro's interim manager for the past year.
Metro serves Portland Westbrook, Falmouth and South Portland. With an average of 1.4 million riders ever year, it is Maine's largest public transportation carrier.
Legislators to vote on bonds in fall rather than in January
Lawmakers plan to return to the Capitol this fall to consider bond proposals.
The Democratic-led Legislature is set to adjourn this month. But the Democratic leadership said Tuesday that legislators will return early to take up bond proposals, instead of waiting until January.
Democrats also are calling on Gov. Paul LePage to release more than $100 million in bonds that have been approved by the Legislature and voters. LePage said he would release the bonds when the hospital debt payment plan passed, which happened last month.
LePage's administration said Tuesday that officials are moving forward with the bonds release and have met with the state treasurer to review the final list of funding requests.
Governor provides $50,000 to drug treatment center
Gov. Paul LePage is directing $50,000 from his emergency contingency fund to a drug treatment center in Ellsworth.
LePage said Tuesday he made the donation to the Open Door Recovery Center, which provides treatment for clients and their families in Hancock, Washington and Penobscot counties.
Open Door provides treatment regardless of the clients' ability to pay.
LePage met last month with Barbara Royal, executive director, and two graduates of the program. Royal said the goal is to get additional donations to match the governor's contribution.
Wildlife officials doing count of gull, cormorant populations
Wildlife officials are surveying gull and cormorant populations on Maine's coastal islands.
The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is monitoring population and breeding distribution changes of great black-backed gulls, herring gulls and double-crested cormorants. They're also surveying common eiders on selected islands.
The survey is using a combination of aerial photographs, aerial counting and ground surveys in which crews walk the islands and count the number of nests that contain eggs.
Officials said that from 1996 to 2008, the number of nesting black-backed gulls declined 42 percent, nesting herring gulls declined by 30 percent and nesting cormorants dropped 45 percent. Biologists believe the decline is due to fewer fish to feed on and increased predation from a growing eagle population.
Police charge three men with trafficking in cocaine
A Maine man and two New York City residents were arrested on drug charges this week at an apartment in Augusta.
Matthew Jepsen, 29, of Augusta, and Kenneth Floyd, 21, and Robert Lonnie Dixon, 34, of Bronx, N.Y., were all charged with trafficking in cocaine.
Authorities said Dixon and Floyd were being held in Kennebec County jail in lieu of $50,000 bail, and Jepsen on $25,000 bail. It was not clear if they had lawyers.
Agents seized about 17 grams of crack cocaine, valued at $1,700, and almost $8,200 in cash alleged to be proceeds from the sale of crack.
Police said two children were in the apartment at the time of the search.
College signs gas deal saves $1 million in heating costs
The University of Maine at Augusta has signed a five-year contract to heat the campus with natural gas, a deal expected to save the school up to $1 million.
The deal with Brunswick-based Maine Natural Gas, a subsidiary of Iberdrola USA, was announced Tuesday. The campus will begin receiving natural gas on Oct. 1. The gas will replace No. 2 heating oil.
The University of Maine System solicited bids in December for cost-saving forms of fuel for campuses in Augusta, Farmington, Machias and Presque Isle. The Augusta project is the only one to move forward so far.
Pan Am says nothing spilled when four tank cars derailed
Pan Am Railways says four tanker cars went off the tracks near the Penobscot River in central Maine, but nobody was hurt and nothing spilled.
Executive Vice President Cynthia Scarano said three cars carrying liquid carbon dioxide and an empty tanker derailed about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday near the Veazie-Bangor town line.
Scarano said the 92-car train was going from Mattawamkeag to Waterville, carrying wallboard, wood products, sand, scrap metal and other products.
Scarano said the locomotive and the cars that were in front of the derailed cars continued on to Waterville.
ACADIA NATIONAL PARK
Two popular trails reopen after falcons unable to nest
Two popular trails at Acadia National Park have reopened after being closed in the spring to protect nesting peregrine falcons.
Park officials said sections of the Flying Mountain and Jordan trails at Valley Cove and Jordan cliffs reopened Wednesday. They had been expected to reopen in August, but the falcons failed in their nesting attempts.
The popular Precipice Trail remains closed to protect nesting there.
The peregrine falcon is listed as an endangered species in Maine. In the past 20 years, more than 100 chicks have fledged on Mount Desert Island.