Search for burglary suspect prompts lockdown at school

Police locked down Saco Middle School on Tuesday as they searched for a suspected house burglar in the area.

Sgt. Ray Demers said police received a call Tuesday morning that someone was spotted breaking into a house. The suspect subsequently ran from the area, heading toward the  middle school on Buxton Road.

The suspect, who Demers said has a history of burglary in that area, wasn’t caught. Demers would not identify him.

Demers said he called the school resource officer, who was at the middle school, and the building was locked down at 10:10 a.m. For an hour, the school was under full lockdown, said Demers, with all students inside their classrooms. Students from an unattached classroom were also brought inside.

After an hour, the lockdown was modified. Students could move around inside the school, but no one could leave or enter the school.
Demers said eight patrol cars searched the area, as did nine officers on foot.

School Principal Rick Talbot said the lockdown went smoothly. About a half-dozen parents called with questions, he said.


Biddeford man charged in jail drug-smuggling attempt

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office has charged a Biddeford man with attempting to smuggle drugs into the jail.

According to a statement Tuesday, corrections staff became suspicious of an inmate who was reporting for a 48-hour sentence for domestic violence assault Monday. The statement said that John H. Fontaine, 33, asked to be kept in a specific unit of the jail, which staff found suspicious.

They searched Fontaine, the statement said, and found 40 doses of the prescription drug Suboxone in his sock. Suboxone is used to treat opiate addiction, similar to methadone, according to the statement.

Fontaine was charged with trafficking in prison contraband and is being held on $5,000 cash bail. The statement said more charges could follow.

Community group wins top environmental honor

A community group working to reduce waste in the city’s schools recently won the grand prize in the annual eco-Excellence Awards given by ecomaine, a nonprofit waste disposal and recycling agency owned by 21 area cities and towns.

The agency singled out the Portland Waste Reduction Group, a coalition of parents, waste managers, school officials and others that is working to implement successful pilot projects for managing the school district’s trash.

Organized in 2009, the group partnered with Huhtamaki Packaging of Waterville to replace foam lunch trays with recyclable, compostable paper trays at Lincoln Middle School. The group also helped Clifford Elementary School start recycling plastic milk bottles. The efforts are being expanded to other Portland schools.

The agency, which operates a trash-to-energy incinerator and recycling facility off outer Congress Street, presented 38 eco-Excellence Awards representing 35 communities at a recent appreciation luncheon.

Also recognized was Frank Kehoe’s carpentry class at Portland Arts and Technology High School, which is studying and applying green building practices.

Elliott May of Portland also was honored, for operating the Campus Consciousness Tour for Reverb, a nonprofit organization that educates musicians and audiences about sustainability.

Each winner received a framed award and a fleece jacket made from recycled plastic.

King, Lincoln math teams shine at state competition

Math teams from King and Lincoln middle schools placed in the top five at the state MATHCOUNTS competition Saturday at Kennebec Community College in Fairfield.

King and Lincoln also contributed four of the top 10 scorers at the meet, according to district officials.

King’s team, coached by Deb Treadwell, placed third. Member Evan Peaco, an eighth-grader, placed third individually. He is one of four students who will represent Maine at the national MATHCOUNTS competition at Disney World in May.

Other King team members were Ava Koenigsberg, Maddie Logan and Ali Gorashi. Jackson Treadwell qualified for the state meet as an individual competitor and placed 11th.

Lincoln’s team, coached by Zachary Brown, placed fifth in the state. Individually, Jordan Roche took fifth place, Zachary Duperry took eighth place and Benjamin Barnes took ninth place. The Lincoln team included Joseph Healy.


State: No need for inquiry into ferry line rate increase

The Maine Public Utilities Commission says there’s no need for a formal investigation into a rate increase imposed by the ferry line that serves the Casco Bay islands.

Island residents went to the commission after the Casco Bay Transit District increased rates last May, raising average passenger fares between 95 cents and $1.05 during peak season and between 35 cents and 45 cents in the off season.

The commission Tuesday concluded that the rate increase was justified. Casco Bay’s revenue by law must be adequate to meet its ongoing obligations.

Ban on insurance payment caps wins final approval

A bill to bar annual and lifetime caps on health insurance payments in Maine has won final House and Senate approval and been sent to Gov. John Baldacci.

The bill protects insurance policy holders from having to go into debt because they’ve been denied payments for medical treatments. It eliminates limits on payments, with exceptions for several specific types of health plans. It applies to policies issued or renewed after Jan. 1, 2011.

Theresa D’Andrea of Limerick lobbied for the bill’s passage on behalf of her husband, Rocky, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2008.

The D’Andreas hit a lifetime cap on their insurance plan, and Theresa’s medical debt is now about $60,000. Rocky D’Andrea died just days before the bill won final approval.

Sick leave requirement proposal killed in House

A weakened bill that would have required Maine employers to offer paid sick leave is dead.

Senate President Elizabeth “Libby” Mitchell proposed the sick leave requirement as swine flu was reaching a peak.

The Vassalboro Democrat later scaled back her proposal to prohibit Maine employers from firing workers who take paid or unpaid sick days.

The bill, which encountered opposition from business groups, was killed in the House on Monday.


Army to explore options for boosting work at facility

More work could be on its way to the Maine Military Authority in Limestone.

he Bangor Daily News reported that the Army is planning to send two representatives to Aroostook County to explore options for new work at the facility, which refurbishes Army National Guard vehicles.

Authority Executive Director Tim Corbett said the facility is seeking to line up work to make up for a decrease in the workload it usually sees from the National Guard.

About 370 workers now work at the authority.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, raised the issue with Army Undersecretary Joseph Westphal, who is also the former chancellor of the University of Maine System, before his confirmation hearing last year.

No date has been set for the visit by Army officials.

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