Rejection of school budget will likely lead to new vote

A second school budget referendum may be held on May 25.

School officials are targeting that date in response to voters’ rejection of a $34.4 million budget that would have eliminated 31 positions in the coming school year. The tally in Tuesday’s voting was 493 against and 483 in favor, according to unofficial results.

On a separate ballot question, 490 voters said the budget was too low and 387 voters felt it was too high.

The Board of Education will meet at 3:30 p.m. Monday to discuss adjustments to the budget, said Chairman Brian Dell’Olio. The plan is to submit the revised budget to the Town Council for its approval Wednesday and the validation vote May 25.

Dell’Olio said the board does not yet have a revised budget proposal.


Education coalition begins effort to increase excellence

The Maine Coalition for Excellence in Education will begin its Prepare Maine initiative today at Portland Arts and Technology High School.

The coalition is a statewide alliance of business and educational leaders who advocate for educational opportunity and equity. Prepare Maine will promote education as the foundation of the state’s economy.

Business leaders will discuss Maine’s urgent need for an educational system that prepares all Mainers for success in the new economy. They will highlight innovative programs such as the Expeditionary Learning curriculum at Casco Bay High School and the Early Childhood Occupations program at PATHS.


Fulbright has USM professor bound for South Africa

Richard Maiman, a political science professor at the University of Southern Maine, has received a Fulbright scholarship to teach and advise law students at the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

He will present a course on what can be learned from social science research, including his own, about the particular challenges of human rights law. Maiman’s Fulbright will run from January through June 2011.


Middle-schoolers’ project wins state competition

A six-student team from Lyman Moore Middle School won the top prize at the 2010 Project Citizen State Showcase in Augusta this month.

The team’s project, “Greening Our Schools,” focused on reducing energy use in schools. It will represent Maine in the National Project Citizen Showcase in Louisville, Ky., in July.

Team members are Josh Brown, Noah Libby, Ethan Pierce, Miranda Richman, Delaney Stokes and Chris Witting. This is the fourth time in a decade that a team from Lyman Moore has won the state competition. 

King Middle School event puts spotlight on curriculum

King Middle School will hold its annual Celebration of Learning from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at the Portland Expo.

More than 500 students in grades six through eight will display and explain educational projects developed through the school’s Expeditionary Learning curriculum. The public is invited.

The event will coincide with the school’s annual Expeditionary Learning site seminar today and Friday, which is expected to attract about 100 teachers and principals from across the country. 

Pair of professors honored for Science Bowl advocacy

University of Southern Maine professors Robert Sanford and Robert Kuech were honored recently for establishing a regional segment of the National Science Bowl competition.

Sanford, an environmental science professor, and Kuech, an associate professor of education, started the Northern New England Regional Science Bowl 10 years ago.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu presented a 10th anniversary plaque to each professor at the National Science Bowl in Washington, D.C., this month. The event included a team from Falmouth High School that won the regional competition in February.


Crackdown on speeders may elicit response, chief warns

Police Chief William Baker wants to make sure he has the backing of elected officials as he cracks down on speeders in the city.

Baker said an analysis of traffic on East Bridge Street showed that 97 percent of drivers speed there, most assuming a 5- to 10-mph enforcement cushion before speeding tickets will be issued. He said that is typical for other areas of the city as well.

“Since the vast majority of our vocal minority seem to be more concerned about speeding and traffic than they are about more significant public safety issues; and because speeding cars are a threat to public safety and have negative consequences on the quality of life in our neighborhoods, we have been working through our traffic officer to help people understand that 25 means 25 and 35 means 35,” Baker said.

Baker said he was alerting the City Council and mayor about the new enforcement effort because about half the feedback he has received has been from people who were angry about the new policy and planned to contact their city councilors.


Horticulturist to lead walk at Fort Williams arboretum

An informational walk about the Fort Williams Park arboretum project will be held Sunday.

The walk will begin a 2 p.m. at the picnic shelter on the bluff overlooking Portland Head Light.

Rick Churchill, a horticulturist and a former town tree warden, will lead the walk, which is free. He will discuss invasive species at the park and the plans for the arboretum.

The group behind the project hopes to break ground on the first of 15 planting sites this year.


Police establish Web venue to report crimes, incidents

Police are launching a system to let residents file some reports online for incidents like graffiti, car burglaries and vandalism for which there are no suspects or evidence.

The Web-based tool will let reports be filed more quickly because a resident will not have to wait until an officer is free to respond to the complaint. The option also means residents will not have to meet with an officer to report an incident.

The online reports will get the same analysis as reports submitted by patrol officers, said Lt. Frank Clark. The department will issue the resident a temporary police report that is adequate for insurance purposes.

The “Desk Officer Online Reporting System” can be accessed through the police department section of the city’s website at or a kiosk in the police station lobby. 

Bottle-redemption service offers small-volume option

CLYNK, a popular bottle and can redemption service based in South Portland, is offering a new service for people who might occasionally drop off small numbers of returnables.

The company announced the change this week, saying it resolves questions raised by state licensing officials in response to customer complaints last fall.

CLYNK collects bottles and cans at 25 Hannaford supermarkets in Maine. Customers who set up accounts get coded bags to fill with returnables. The company electronically credits the customers’ accounts with the value of the deposits and the credits are redeemed at the stores. New customers get 10 free bags, then pay 15 cents apiece for additional ones.

CLYNK originally had employees at Hannaford stores who could redeem small numbers of containers. Last year, however, it eliminated about 50 part-time positions and shifted to self-service only. Hannaford employees distribute bags and help new customers set up accounts.

Under the new program — to be tested over the next six months — smaller bags will be provided free to people who return a small number of containers infrequently. A customer can get three bags at a time, with each holding 10 to 15 bottles and cans. Customers still have to set up accounts to get the credit for the returnables, but there is no upfront cost.

Clayton Kyle, CLYNK’s chief executive, said the new service ensures that the company meets licensing requirements that were set up for traditional redemption centers.


Memorial honors officer who died in the line of duty

Former and current officers, town officials, family members and friends of the late Jim D. Swint gathered Tuesday to dedicate a memorial to the fallen Brunswick police officer.

Swint was killed in a car crash as he pursued a suspect, swerving to avoid a car that had pulled into his path on Pleasant Street and crashing into a utility pole, said former Cmdr. Don Goulet, now a captain with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.

The memorial was erected last year and was officially dedicated Tuesday as part of National Police Week observances. The ceremony included a delegation from the Marine Corps, in which Swint served for seven years.

The memorial was financed through donations and was erected on land donated by the town.

The memorial can be seen on the Brunswick Police Department website at:


Rapper 50 Cent planning June 20 show at Colisee

The rapper 50 Cent is scheduled to perform at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston on June 20.

Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show cost $31.50 in advance and $34.50 on the day of the show. They will go on sale at 9 a.m. Friday. Tickets are available at the Colisee, by calling 783-2009, or online at


Next year, UNE will host Fulbright scholar from Kenya

The University of New England will host a Fulbright scholar who teaches at the University of Nairobi in Kenya during the 2010-11 academic year.

Helida Oyieke is a professor of environmental studies and marine botany who also directs research and scientific affairs at the National Museums of Kenya.

While at UNE, Oyieke will teach courses about tropical marine plant communities and women in the African environment. She also will serve as adviser to the UNE Center for International Education, help develop a new minor in African studies, give several public lectures and do research for her professional development.


Driver, pursued by police, crashes head-on with SUV

State troopers say a car that was being pursued by police collided nearly head-on with a sport utility vehicle Wednesday, injuring both drivers and tying up Route 202.

Troopers say the driver of the car being chased by an Androscoggin County deputy was Glen Witham, 39, of Skowhegan, who was wanted for outstanding felony warrants. He was taken by ambulance to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston with critical injuries.

Troopers are investigating the collision, which happened before 2 p.m.

The driver of the SUV, Jenna Lawrence, 27, of Manchester, was taken to MaineGeneral in Augusta. Her injuries were not life-threatening.


Killers want to make cases for overturning convictions

Two men who were convicted of murder are seeking to have their convictions overturned.

Attorneys for Joseph Dumas, 51, and Thomas Mitchell Jr., 52, will make their cases May 19 in oral arguments before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Justices will hear the cases at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor.

Dumas is serving a 30-year-sentence for killing Mario “Sonny” Litterio in November 2007 in Prentiss. At his trial, he said was suffering from a cocaine-induced psychosis when he shot his friend five times in the back and head.

Mitchell is serving a life sentence for the 1983 rape and murder of Judith Flagg, 23, in Fayette. The crime went unsolved until 2006, when testing of old evidence revealed Mitchell’s DNA.


Motorcyclist, 21, arrested after reaching speeds of 150

State police say a college student is charged with driving 150 mph while fleeing police on a motorcycle.

Police say Chad Dionne, 21, of Madawaska was arrested Tuesday after the chase that began on Interstate 95 in Bangor. He was later released on bail. The Bangor Daily News said a trooper initially clocked Dionne at 85 mph, but he sped away and swerved in and out of traffic at speeds that hit 150.

Trooper Chris Hashey said Dionne admitted to speeding and later acknowledged that “he just basically was being stupid.”


Missing man, suffering from Alzheimer’s, found safe

Game wardens say a pair of surveyors found an elderly Maine man with Alzheimer’s disease who got lost overnight in the Union area.

Wardens say Gerald “Pete” Brooks, 75, of Union left home to go for a walk about 11 a.m. Tuesday and was reported missing several hours later. He was found Wednesday morning in good health.

About 130 people from a variety of agencies participated in the search. Wardens used an infrared camera system, aircraft, search dogs, professional search teams and volunteers.


Browntail moth infestation expected to be high in areas

The Maine Forest Service is warning residents in five communities to be alert to widespread infestations of browntail moth caterpillars.

Officials say the caterpillars are most prevalent in Topsham, Bath, West Bath, Brunswick and Bowdoinham.

Forest service entomologist Charlene Donahue said the caterpillars can leave people with poison ivy-like skin rashes or respiratory problems.

She said moth counts rose sharply last year and caterpillars are now emerging early from their nests because of the mild winter.



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