UMaine president outlines cuts to academic program

University of Maine President Robert Kennedy is recommending cutbacks and other changes to the university’s academic programs to adjust to budget reductions.

The recommendations, by a faculty and administration committee, are aimed at reducing UMaine’s academic budget by $12.2 million over a three-year period beginning in July 2011.

They call for eliminating the Department of Public Administration, suspending German and Latin language majors and suspending the theater and women’s studies majors. Also suggested: downsizing other programs, consolidations in the College of Engineering and elimination of bachelor’s degrees in aquaculture, wood science, forest operations and forest ecosystem science.


Bank robbery suspect released from hospital

A Portland bank robbery suspect who was arrested following a six-hour standoff with police has been released from the hospital.

Jill Polley, 34, of 1808 Forest Ave., was transferred Tuesday from Maine Medical Center to the Cumberland County Jail. Bail was set at $100,000 cash or $500,000 property.

Polley, who has been charged with robbery, endangering the welfare of a child and creating a police standoff, is scheduled to make her initial court appearance today.

Police allege Polley robbed the Norway Savings Bank on Congress Street last Saturday. When police went to Polley’s home on Sunday after receiving a tip, she refused to leave her home or allow police to remove her 5-month-old baby, and threatened to kill herself with a gun.

The child was not harmed. 

Grant applications prepared for schools, music program

The city’s public schools are preparing federal grant applications that could bring millions of dollars to improve Riverton Community School, Portland High School and the district’s music education program.

The School Committee will be asked to authorize the applications when it meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Room 250 at Portland Arts and Technology High School.

The district plans to seek school improvement funds for Riverton through the Obama administration’s Race to the Top education-reform initiative. The elementary school recently was listed among the 10 lowest-performing schools in Maine.

The district also plans to apply for an Investing in Innovation grant to reorganize Portland High to better prepare all students to have college or career plans by 11th grade, said Superintendent Jim Morse. Learning Works will be the district’s nonprofit partner in securing the grant.

The district plans to seek a second innovation grant to bring in a Jose Abreu Fellow from the New England Conservatory of Music to help develop an El Sistema-inspired music program in Portland schools. The Portland Symphony Orchestra will be the district nonprofit partner in securing the grant.

Founded by Abreu, El Sistema is Venezuela’s national youth orchestra program targeting disadvantaged students.


Police searching for suspect in armed drug store robbery

Biddeford police are investigating an armed robbery at the CVS at 384 Elm St. this morning.

A man entered the store at 11:20 a.m., went to the pharmacy counter and demanded and was given some OxyContin. He did not show a weapon, police said.

The man fled west from the store.

He is described as white, 5-foot 8-inches to 6 feet tall, thin and was last seen wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, khaki cargo shorts, black and white sneakers, dark sunglasses and a black baseball cap with a DC emblem.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 282-5127.


Downeast Energy sells its building supply business

Downeast Energy on Tuesday announced it has sold its Brunswick-based building supply business on Spring Street to the Hammond Lumber Co. of Belgrade.

John Peters, President of Downeast Energy, said the building materials operation will remain at the same location, but with a Hammond Lumber sign. The store will close Saturday and will reopen Monday.

Company officials say Downeast’s energy business has 13 offices in Maine and New Hampshire, and employs 400 people.


Former garment worker attends candidate forum

A former garment industry worker in Bangladesh was among those who attended a forum for Maine gubernatorial candidates on international trade policies.

The three candidates who attended Tuesday’s forum — Democrats Pat McGowan, Libby Mitchell and Steve Rowe — all expressed support for policies Maine has adopted to encourage purchases of clothing made in non-sweatshop conditions.

A representative for Republican candidate Les Otten also expressed support. The other six Republican candidates weren’t represented.

Maine is one of nine states that demands its vendors provide products made under fair labor conditions.

Bangladeshi worker advocate Kalpona Akter, who went to work in garment factories when she was 12, spoke of conditions that include long hours, frequent fires and a minimum wage of $24 per month. 

Forest Service releasing beetles to fight adelgids

The Maine Forest Service is releasing more predator beetles in southern Maine to fight hemlock woolly adelgids, which kill eastern hemlock trees.

Officials said Tuesday that about 9,000 laboratory-reared beetles are being released this week and next week in Saco and York in areas where they haven’t previously been released. There are about 160,000 acres of hemlock-dominated forest in southern-coastal Maine.

The Maine Forest Service began releasing the beetles in 2004, and nearly 27,000 have been released to date. The beetles feast on hemlock woolly adelgid adults and their eggs.


Ex-jail guard pleads guilty to falsifying time sheets

A former corrections officer in Maine is facing jail time after pleading guilty to stealing more than $10,000 by falsifying her time sheets.

Hancock County District Attorney Michael Povich told the Bangor Daily News that Janine Gardner, 53, has pleaded guilty to theft as part of a plea agreement. Her sentencing has been pushed back until April 2011 to give her time to pay $11,550 in restitution.

Gardner was accused of falsifying her hours at the Hancock County Jail for more than four years from 2005 to 2009. She resigned shortly after the allegations surfaced..


Death of homeless woman ruled from hypothermia

The Medical Examiner’s Office says a 48-year-old homeless woman who was found dead in a wooded section of Bangor died of hypothermia.

The office says chronic alcoholism also contributed to the death of Jayne Blackington.

Bangor police say Blackington was found early Thursday morning in a wooded area known locally as “The Pines.”

Temperatures the night before Blackington was found dropped into the low 30s and it had rained.

Blackington appeared in a news story about homeless people in the Bangor Daily News last November, but her last name was not used.

Blackington was known to stay at the Acadia Recovery Community and at the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter.


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