Distress signal prompts search for fishing boat

The Coast Guard was searching late Tuesday night for a fishing boat based in Harpswell.

Coast Guard officials said they received an electronic distress signal around 8 p.m. from the crew of the Zig Zag Four, a pleasure and fishing craft based on Bailey Island, a part of Harpswell.

The Coast Guard unsuccessfully tried to contact the crew. A Coast Guard jet based in Cape Cod was expected to be called in to search the area around Cashes Ledge.


Findings due today in probe of nursing home complaint

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services is investigating a complaint about Saint Joseph’s Manor in Portland and plans to present its findings to the nursing home today.

Geoffrey Green, a deputy commissioner of operations, said the agency sent inspectors to the Portland nursing home last week. He would not provide details about the complaint or the findings.

“We have received a complaint about a situation in that facility and we sent inspectors to check it out,” he said. “A statement of deficiency is being completed and will be sent tomorrow.”

Once the state presents its findings, the nursing home will have 10 days to respond with a plan to correct any problems.

Had state inspectors found any unsafe conditions, those would already be resolved, Green said. “Any time an immediate jeopardy situation is identified … the facility is required to correct that immediately.”

The administrator of the nursing home was not available to comment Tuesday.


Committee gets draft report on Civic Center renovation

Consultants examining the economic viability of renovating the Cumberland County Civic Center have turned in a draft report to the committee studying the idea.

The draft was accepted in executive session Tuesday and will not be released, said Neal Pratt, chairman of the Civic Center’s board of trustees.

Pratt said the task force considering renovation options will look at the report and provide the consultants, Brailsford and Dunlavey, with comments on Friday. The consultants will then prepare a final report, which could be ready within a couple of weeks, Pratt said.

The consultants are evaluating the costs and benefits of various options for renovating the 34-year-old center, such as whether to add premium seating.

The task force will make its recommendation to the full Civic Center board, which will make the final decision on whether to renovate. If so, the board will put a bond proposal on the county ballot next year to raise the money for the renovation.


School officials to exam team leadership for Reiche

School officials want to examine whether to have a team of teachers lead Reiche Community School instead of a single principal, Superintendent Jim Morse said today.

Morse plans to float the idea at Wednesday’s School Committee meeting, hoping to win support for a yearlong study of the proposal.

Morse said Reiche’s teaching staff and the district’s teachers’ union raised the idea after Reiche Principal Marcia Gendron was given the principal’s job at East End Community School.

Reiche has a strong, cohesive teaching staff with diverse skills, making it ripe for team leadership, which is used at other schools in the United States, Morse said. The 314-student elementary school also enjoys strong community support, he said.

Morse said school officials recently met with Reiche parents and they supported the study. The district won’t attempt the teacher-led model without approval from the School Committee and strong support from Reiche parents, he said.

In the meantime, Morse has named Paul Yarnevich to serve as Reiche’s principal for one year. The committee will be asked to endorse the appointment when it meets at 7 p.m. today in Room 250 at Casco Bay High School.


Leader among Greens seeks House seat as independent

Ben Chipman, who has been a leader in the Green Independent Party in Maine, announced today that he is running for House District 119 seat as an independent candidate.

Christian McNeil, who won the Green primary race in June, has withdrawn from the race and won’t be on the Nov. 2 ballot.

The district includes Portland’s Parkside, Bayside and East Bayside neighborhoods.

Chipman moved into the district in May when he bought a three-family house on Mayo Street. Chipman missed the deadline for establishing residency for a primary race, but he is allowed to run in the general election as an independent. Chipman has unenrolled from the Green Party.

Chipman worked in the Legislature from 2002 to 2006 as the Green Party’s staff when it had one member in the House, John Eder of Portland. Chipman also has worked as campaign coordinator for the Greens. He recently served on the Portland Charter Commission.

Chipman’s opponent will be Jill Barkley, who won the Democratic primary against  Mohammed Dini with 63 percent of the vote.


Proposal to require helmets on bicycle path is tabled

A proposal to require adults to wear bicycle helmets while riding on the Androscoggin River Bicycle Path has been tabled.

Town Councilor Ben Tucker, who sponsored the proposed ordinance, said councilors had questions about enforcement and infringing on people’s rights. They voted to table the proposal on Monday night.

“The bike path would have been a good place to start,” Tucker said. “I’m still hopeful that someday we will require everyone to wear helmets. It’s just not going to happen for a while.”

Brunswick would have become the first town in Maine to pass such a law. State law requires anyone younger than 16 to wear a bicycle helmet. Tucker said cities such as Seattle and Dallas require adults to wear helmets.


Fire breaks out in building near military commissary

Firefighters responded to a fire late Tuesday night at a Navy installation off Route 201.

The fire broke out in a vacant building at the Topsham Annex on Liberty Circle, said a dispatcher for the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Department.

The dispatcher said the fire did not affect the military commissary, which is also at the Annex. The commissary provides food at discounts to enlisted personnel and their families.

Topsham Annex is part of the Brunswick Naval Air Station, which is scheduled to close in May.


Incident involving alcohol, rifle will result in no charges

Officials with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office say no charges have been lodged against a Gray man whose family was concerned about him because he was allegedly drunk, holding a rifle and refusing to speak with sheriff’s deputies.

Relatives of the man, who lives on Center Road, called police around 10 p.m. Monday because they were concerned about their safety. They said the man had been drinking most of the day and had become verbally abusive toward them, according to a press release issued today by Capt. Jeff Davis.

Davis said deputies convinced the man to leave his house around midnight. He was not charged with any crimes because he did not threaten to harm himself or others, Davis said.


Health officials are writing ‘prescriptions’ for veggies

Physicians fighting obesity have long told patients to eat their fruits and vegetables. Now they’re writing prescriptions for it.

Health care providers are offering vouchers worth $1 per day to members of low-income families in Maine and Massachusetts participating in a new program. The idea is to boost consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables by one serving a day from local farmers markets.

The program will measure how the fresh produce affects blood pressure, weight and Body Mass Index; blood-sugar levels; and weight gain in pregnant women.

It was created by Bridgeport, Conn.-based nonprofit Wholesome Wave. It’s being formally launched in Maine today, five days after it began in Massachusetts.


State improves food stamp error rate, earns $1.3 million

Former Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Kevin Concannon will be back in Maine to present the state with a $1.3 million check for improving its food stamp error rate.

Concannon, who is now an undersecretary at the USDA Food and Nutrition Program, will present DHHS Commissioner Brenda Harvey with the check today during a ceremony at a DHHS facility on Civic Center Drive.


Judiciary Committee OKs District Court appointments

The Judiciary Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved the appointments of District Judges Ann Murray of Bangor, MaryGay Kennedy of Brunswick and Robert Murray Jr. of Bangor to the Superior Court bench.

Also receiving unanimous approval were Peter Goranites of Cumberland, Charles LaVerdiere of Wilton, Robert Mullen of Waterville and Bernard O’Mara of Easton for reappointments as District Court judges.

Other legislative committees reviewed nominees for several other state boards and commissions in advance of Senate confirmation votes next week. Positive committee votes virtually assure final Senate approval.

Additional hearings are scheduled for today and Thursday.


South Thomaston man held on cocaine trafficking charge

A South Thomaston man found hiding at a house in Monmouth has been charged with aggravated cocaine trafficking, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency said Tuesday.

The charge is the latest in a long criminal history for John Wall.

Wall, 45, had been missing since early spring when he realized drug agents were investigating him for cocaine trafficking, investigators said in a prepared statement. Drug agents say Wall is a major cocaine supplier in the Rockland area.

He was found hiding in the Monmouth house on Aug. 10, according to the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.

He was charged with aggravated cocaine trafficking, cocaine trafficking and violation of bail. Wall’s criminal record includes prior charges of burglary and cocaine possession, according to police.

Drug agents say Wall supplied cocaine to a number of other people facing cocaine trafficking charges.

Wall’s arrest was part of a string of drug arrests the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency has made this month in Knox County.

David Libby, 40, of Rockland was arrested Aug. 3 and charged with aggravated trafficking of Xanax. His fiancee, Charlotte Shellman, 36, was issued a summons on charges of aggravated trafficking of Xanax and Ritalin.

She was already in police custody on unrelated theft charges, according to police.

Wall, Libby and Shellman are being held at the Knox County jail in Rockland.


N.H. lawmaker involved in fatal motorcycle accident

A New Hampshire lawmaker was the driver of a car involved in a fatal accident with a motorcyclist on Friday.

Maine State Police said Republican state Rep. Laurie Boyce of Alton, N.H., turned left onto Route 111 in Alfred, into the path of the motorcycle. Shane McCarthy, 45, of Lee, N.H. was killed in the crash, and McCarthy’s wife, identified as 41-year-old Lezile Perham, was seriously injured.

The accident remains under investigation.


Jackson Lab develops mouse for typhoid fever research

Jackson Laboratory announced it has developed the first mouse strain aimed at helping researchers find treatments for typhoid fever.

The life-threatening illness strikes more than 21 million people, mainly in Africa, Asia and Latin America, each year. Most patients have limited access to antibiotics, and currently available vaccines for typhoid prevention offer only limited effectiveness.

The mouse has an immune system that mimics that of a human, which opens the door to further research on treatments and vaccines.

The Jackson Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution based in Bar Harbor, with a facility in Sacramento, Calif.


American Red Cross says need for blood is urgent

The American Red Cross is putting out an urgent call for northern New England residents to give blood.

All blood types are needed but especially type O negative. Officials say that’s because type O negative can be given to patients with any blood type and is often given to trauma victims.

A number of blood drives are scheduled around Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine this month.


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