Baldacci lauds cooperation, signs budget-balancing bill

Gov. John Baldacci signed a budget-balancing bill Wednesday that he says demonstrates that Maine’s Legislature can rise above partisanship and make tough decisions.

Baldacci was surrounded by legislative leaders from both parties as he signed the bill to close a $310 million shortfall. The supplemental budget covering the next 15 months received overwhelming approval Tuesday in the House and Senate.

“While much of the country is torn apart by heated political rhetoric, in Maine things are different,” Baldacci said.

He said the budget makes state government smaller, reduces spending and will start replenishing state reserves. Human services and education programs were among those hit hardest by budget cuts.


Washington Avenue work forces lane shifts, delays

Starting today and continuing for three months, there will be traffic lane shifts along Washington Avenue to allow for storm drain installation work.

The lane shifts will take place at Berry Avenue, Chesley Avenue and Edgewood Avenue. Two-way traffic will be maintained. However, traffic delays, especially during peak hours, are anticipated. Commuters may want to seek alternate routes.

During this phase of the project, Drake Street won’t be accessible from Washington Avenue at times, and the Drake Street side of the Washington Avenue sidewalk may be closed. There will be temporary crossings before and after the work zone for pedestrians, and motorists are reminded to share the road with bicyclists.


Authorities say town clerk improperly looked at ballots

Charges have been brought against a town clerk accused of knowingly violating the law regarding absentee ballots, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.

Bowdoinham Town Clerk Pamela Ross is accused of unfolding the ballots when she removed them from envelopes, allowing her to see how individuals voted. Prosecutors say her actions violated the sanctity of the secret ballot.

The charge is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.


Man wounded in his home by intruder, then fires back

A man was shot by an intruder in his home Wednesday, police said.

Dana Dodge, 33, told police that a man entered his house on Battle Ridge Road shortly after noon, came into his bedroom and shot him once in the abdomen with a handgun, said state police spokesman Steve McCausland.

McCausland said Dodge grabbed his own gun and fired several shots in return, but there was no indication that he hit the intruder. Dodge was treated at a hospital for a minor wound and released.

Police said they are searching for the suspect.


Maine wins funds to help seniors with chronic illness

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services has been awarded a $200,000 grant to expand workshops to help seniors manage chronic illness.

U.S. Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree announced the grant, which is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The state program helps seniors with chronic illness improve their lives and remain independent and able to stay in their own homes. An additional 250 older Mainers will be able to enroll in the six-week workshops, which are taught by volunteers with chronic illnesses, Pingree and Michaud said.

Sen. Collins to visit Qatar for military operations briefing

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is visiting Qatar and western Europe this week.

She is part of a congressional delegation visiting the U.S. Central Command regional headquarters in Doha, Qatar, according to her office.

Collins, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Armed Services committees, is to be briefed by U.S. security officials on intelligence and military operations in the region. She is also meeting with Maine military personnel at Al Udeid base in Qatar.

Also this week, Collins is scheduled to visit American allies in western Europe. She plans to return to Maine on Monday.


No damage reported from minor earthquake in area

Scientists say rattling and noise reported Tuesday afternoon by people in eastern Maine was from a magnitude-3 earthquake.

No injuries or damage were reported from the quake, felt primarily in the Bucksport area. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was reported at 4:42 p.m. and was centered seven miles east-northeast of Bucksport.

Alice Kelley of the University of Maine said detection equipment there recorded a magnitude-1.1 aftershock about 20 minutes later.

Faith Johnson-Carr of BookStacks on Main Street in Bucksport told the Bangor Daily News that there was a boom and the glass shook.

Scientists rate a magnitude-3 earthquake as “very minor.”

The U.S. Geological Survey says the strongest earthquake ever recorded in Maine was a magnitude-5.1, in 1904.


Sign at the airport honors Maine greeters of troops

Bangor International Airport unveiled a new sign for the Maine Troop Greeters as the organization was honored for meeting its millionth service member.

The troop greeters reached the milestone last week when they greeted a planeload of soldiers from Fort Carson, Colo., who were on their way overseas. Since 2003, group members have been at the airport for every military transport flight returning from and going overseas.

On Wednesday, more than 100 greeters turned out at the airport to be recognized at a reception.

Rep. Mike Michaud, who turned out as well, offered thanks to the “patriotic Mainers who make sure that no soldier passes through Bangor without receiving a handshake and a heartfelt thank you.” 


Time Warner is expanding broadband service to islands

Time Warner Cable is expanding broadband services on the islands of Vinalhaven and North Haven, and the Long Lake area of Madawaska.

The expansion means Time Warner Cable’s High Speed Internet, High Definition/Digital Cable and Digital Phone services will soon be available to residents of those communities.

The $1.1 million project, funded entirely by Time Warner Cable, will be completed by this fall. Once finished, the company will provide broadband access in all of the 267 communities the company serves in Maine.

The expansion of broadband services at Vinalhaven, North Haven and Long Lake advances the goal of Gov. John Baldacci’s ConnectME Initiative to provide broadband availability to 90 percent of Maine homes and businesses by 2010.

Work has already started on the expansion, and will be completed in July on Vinalhaven, October at Long Lake and November on North Haven.


Police hunt for bank robber who fled with bag of money

Police searched for a male suspect Wednesday morning after a robbery at a downtown bank.

The robbery occurred around 9 a.m. when a man wearing a white “sailor” hat walked into the TD Bank on Main Street and handed the teller a note indicating he had a gun, said Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine State Police. Bank employees never saw a gun, and no one was injured. The robber made off with a bag of money, McCausland said.

The robber is believed to be in his late teens or early 20s and around 5 feet 6 inches tall, police said. He was wearing tan pants and a T-shirt under a black coat with a horizontal zipper on the breast and gray on the shoulders and sleeves, police said.

“The sailor’s hat he was wearing, similar to Gilligan’s from the old TV show, was later found behind the bank,” McCausland said.

A medium-sized red car was seen leaving the area shortly after the robbery, McCausland said. Police described the car as an older four-door sedan model with a distinctive rear taillight that had red on the top and bottom and orange in the middle.

State police asked anyone with information to call them in Orono at 866-2122 or 911 on a cell phone.


Tires break away from truck, strike an oncoming vehicle

An accident on Interstate 295 in Falmouth caused problems for commuters Wednesday morning.

Around 8 a.m., the rear dual wheels on the driver’s side of a northbound utility truck came off and rolled to the southbound side of the interstate around Mile 11.

A tire hit a southbound car driven by Margaret Vanesca. She was able to stop her car but may have been injured when her air bags deployed.

The driver of the truck managed to pull over into the breakdown lane.

Traffic was tied up for more than an hour and a half.


Two students charged with felonies after bomb threat

Two 17-year-old Biddeford High School students have been charged with felony terrorizing after a bomb threat at the high school Monday.

Police said the two girls were charged Tuesday and released to their parents’ custody. They are scheduled to appear June 10 in Biddeford District Court.

School officials closed the high school for the day after discovering the threat early Monday morning.




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