November 23, 2012

New England Dispatches

MANCHESTER, N.H.

Alleged scammer charged after gas station incident

A Manchester man allegedly posed as a gas station attendant and then took off with the customer's cash.

Manchester police said Ariel Mejias, 46, walked up to a patron getting out of his car at the NH Convenience Store Monday and offered to pump his gas.

When the customer agreed, police said, Mejias asked him for cash in advance so he could activate the pump. Police said he took the customer's cash into the store, but didn't return.

Mejias was arrested in the common bathroom of a nearby apartment house. He was charged with theft and resisting arrest, according to police.

PORTSMOUTH, N.H.

Penalties reduced for fatality at Redhook brewery

A federal agency has agreed to lower fines against a New Hampshire brewery where an employee was killed in a keg explosion.

Ben Harris of Redhook Ale Brewery in Portsmouth was emptying a plastic keg with pressurized air when it blew apart at the seams in April, killing him.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration concluded Redhook was at fault because its equipment for emptying kegs was operating at a pressure that exceeded the maximum threshold recommended by the keg manufacturer.

Redhook's parent company, Craft Brew Alliance, has taken responsibility for failing to install a device that would have regulated the pressure inside the machine.

Foster's Daily Democrat reports in a settlement reached last week, OSHA threw out some violations and lowered the fines from about $63,000 to $44,000.

PROVIDENCE, R.I.

Elections overseerers ask state for new voting machines

The Rhode Island Board of Elections plans to ask the General Assembly to approve funding for the purchase of new voting machines.

The Providence Journal reports that the board executive director Robert Kando estimates the machines will cost $9 million to $10 million. He says the cost would be spread over several years under a lease-to-own agreement.

Kando also said he's considering the purchase of electronic voter books that would let voters use any line to check in, rather than just the one designated for the first letter of their last names.

Voters complained about long lines during the Nov. 6 election, and some voting machines malfunctioned. Kando says that long ballots, a shortage of poll workers and confusion over redistricting also contributed to the lines.

WOONSOCKET, R.I.

Incense burner's ashes blamed for church blaze

Fire officials have determined that ashes from an incense burner caused a fire that heavily damaged a Woonsocket church.

The Providence Journal reports that the state fire marshal has concluded the fire at St. Michael Ukrainian Orthodox church was an accident.

The fire broke out Wednesday around 4:30 a.m. No one was injured, but the blaze heavily damaged the building.

All 26 members of the Woonsocket Fire Department responded. Officials believe the fire was started by ashes that weren't properly disposed of after incense was used at a service Tuesday night.

Father Anthony Perkins says the church plans to hold upcoming services in the church hall, which is in a separate building.

BARNSTABLE, Mass.

Nonprofit agency suspends worker for disrespectful act

A Plymouth woman who posted a photo of herself pantomiming a yell and making an obscene gesture at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has been placed on unpaid leave from her job at a Cape Cod home for the disabled.

LIFE, Inc. said they are investigating the incident involving Lindsey Stone and a co-worker who took the photo. The chief financial officer told the Cape Cod Times Tuesday that the Hyannis nonprofit is "appalled."

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