Police investigate theft of three prints from gallery

Portland police are investigating the theft of three prints from a Portland gallery earlier this month.

The art, valued at more than $7,000, were taken from Edward T. Pollack Fine Arts on Forest Avenue.

The gallery’s owner, Ed Pollack, said he believes the paintings were taken Feb. 4 by a couple who were browsing in the gallery while he was busy with other customers.

Later, he discovered three empty mats, from which the prints had been removed.

Pollack said he recently publicized the theft in art and antique magazines to alert prospective buyers that the items were stolen.

The prints are ”Going to Market” and ”At the Market” by Jacques Onfroy de Breville, and Conrad Felixmuller’s ”Erste Schritte.”


Court refuses to reverse 2007 robbery conviction

The state’s highest court has upheld the convictions in a 2007 robbery in Windsor that left a 65-year-old man tethered to his refrigerator.

Jacob A. McInnis, 25, formerly of China, asked the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to reverse his July 27, 2008, convictions for robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, burglary, kidnapping and theft by unauthorized taking. Oral arguments were held in mid-January in Portland.

McInnis was sentenced to almost 20 years in prison for the July 8, 2007, home invasion.

On Thursday, five justices upheld the trial judge’s decisions and found no error on the part of the prosecutor.

McInnis was one of four men convicted of breaking into the home of a mother and son, Shirley and Eugene Varney, to steal money for drugs. They bound Eugene Varney to a refrigerator and ransacked the house.

Varney was described in court as a physically and mentally disabled man.


Justices reject man’s appeal in 2006 beating death

Maine’s highest court has rejected the appeal of a Maine man who is serving a 55-year prison sentence for the 2006 beating death of his girlfriend.

Shannon Atwood of Canaan said his murder conviction should be thrown out because the presiding lower-court judge didn’t recuse herself from the trial after learning her former hairdresser had once been assaulted by Atwood. Atwood further claimed the court allowed inadmissible hearsay evidence into the trial.

In a unanimous ruling Thursday, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court rejected Atwood’s claims.

Atwood was convicted in July 2008 in the death of 38-year-old Cheryl Murdoch.

He was also charged with murdering his wife, Shirley Moon Atwood, in 2006, but that charge was dropped.


Truck crashes into overpass, briefly closing two roads

A truck that hauls Dumpsters crashed into the Maine Turnpike overpass on Warren Avenue Thursday afternoon, causing an estimated $300,000 in damage, authorities say.

The Reynolds & Sons Disposal truck was not carrying a Dumpster, but its apparatus used to lift the receptacles was in the up position and hit the bridge, police said.

Warren Avenue was blocked briefly, and one lane of the turnpike was shut down for a short while.

A structural engineer will examine the damaged overpass to determine what repairs must be done.


Divers recover man’s body from Kennebec River

Maine State Police and Marine Patrol divers have recovered a 42-year-old man’s body from the Kennebec River in Augusta.

The body was recovered Thursday afternoon. His name was being withheld until his family could be notified.

Police say it’s not known whether the man fell or jumped from the Calumet Bridge on Wednesday night, but witnesses reported hearing him call for help after he fell into the icy river.

Marine Patrol Sgt. Rene Cloutier said divers searched in challenging conditions for most of the day before locating the body. A Warden Service and plane and Coast Guard helicopter searched the river before the dive began.


Grants to be available for new AmeriCorps projects

Funding is available for future AmeriCorps programs in Maine.

The Maine Commission for Community Service has planning grants available to help develop ideas to the point where they can be implemented. The grants cannot be used to support AmeriCorps members or supplement existing programs.

A special focus will be placed on proposals from Aroostook, Franklin, Hancock, Kennebec, Oxford, Penobscot, Waldo, or Washington counties. Grant amounts typically range between $12,000 and $30,000.

More information about the request for proposals is available at www.maineservicecommission.gov.

The deadline is April 23.


Woman to serve 12 years for drunken driving fatality

A woman convicted in a drunken driving crash that killed another driver was sentenced Thursday to 12 years in prison, with all but six years suspended, and four years probation.

A jury three weeks ago found Heather A. Ducasse, 31, of Belgrade guilty of manslaughter and operating under the influence (death involved) in the July 11, 2008, crash in Belgrade.

Gail Hulsey, 57, of Litchfield died in the head-on crash. Hulsey’s teen-age son and Ducasse’s daughter, then 4, were injured.

At Thursday’s sentencing in Kennebec County Superior Court, Ducasse stood and faced the courtroom, speaking directly to Hulsey’s family members.

”I just want to say I’m sorry,” she said. She told them it has been difficult for her to live with this accident. ”I can’t imagine what you guys have to live with,” she said.


Labor Committee holds hearing on wage bill

A bill to index Maine’s minimum wage based on changes in the consumer price index was reviewed by a legislative committee on Thursday .

The Labor Committee held a public hearing on the bill to adjust Maine’s hourly minimum wage for inflation annually. Maine’s state minimum is now $7.50 per hour, 25 cents an hour higher than the $7.25 federal minimum.

The indexing bill, sponsored by Rep. John Tuttle, D-Sanford, was held over from last year’s session. Tuttle is House chair of the Labor Committee.


High school principal leaving at school year’s end

Patricia Conant, the principal of Scarborough High School, will not be returning next school year.

Board of Education Chairman Brian Dell’Olio confirmed that Conant will no longer be principal after her current one-year contract expires at the end of June. He said he could not say much, including whose decision it was, because of the confidentiality of personnel issues.

”All I can say is she is not going to return next year,” he said.

Conant could not immediately be reached for comment.

In 2006, the board unanimously selected Conant to fill the post. She had been the school’s guidance director and previously was principal of Falmouth High School, Dirigo High School in Dixfield and assistant principal and athletic director at Livermore Falls High School.

School administrators in Scarborough are hired to one-year contracts, Dell’Olio said. He said he did not know of any other administrators who would not be returning after the current school year.


— From staff and news services