New single-family homes soon must have sprinklers

Starting next month, Portland will require that all new single-family homes and duplexes be built with sprinkler systems for putting out fires.

The City Council adopted the requirement when it voted last week to update the city’s fire safety code. Westbrook and Rockland also require sprinklers, according to the National Fire Sprinkler Association.

The new standard takes effect Sept. 15 and means that all residential construction now requires sprinklers, said Ben Wallace, Portland’s fire safety officer. Multifamily residential construction already was required to have them.

The cost of a sprinkler system could add 1 percent or 2 percent to the cost of a typical single-family home – one builder estimated as much as $4,500 – but also would reduce the costs of homeowner’s insurance, Wallace said.


Riverton parents invited to improvement plan meeting

Parents of students at Riverton Community School have been invited to a public meeting Thursday to learn more about a $3.4 million federal school-improvement grant the school has received.

The meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the elementary school off outer Forest Avenue.

The Maine Department of Education announced last week that it had accepted Riverton’s grant application, which calls for a wide variety of new student programs and staff development efforts to improve curriculum and instruction over the next three years.

Riverton was eligible for the grant because it was identified as one of the 10 persistently lowest-performing schools in Maine that receive or qualify for federal Title I funding for underprivileged students.

Riverton has 460 students. Seventy-three percent qualify for free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch, 48 percent are learning to speak English and 15 percent receive special-education services.


Some visitors to get a peek at Portland Head Light tower

Some visitors will get to peek at the inside of the Portland Head Light tower next month.

The tower will be open to visitors on Open Lighthouse Day, Sept. 18. Capacity is limited and tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Twelve tickets will be available for each 15-minute period between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Each ticket is good only for the time period printed on the ticket. Visitors must be able to climb more than 85 steps without assistance. Children under 10 will not be admitted to the tower.

Admission to the museum in the former keeper’s quarters will be free that day.

Open Lighthouse Day is an effort of the state Office of Tourism, the Coast Guard and the American Lighthouse Foundation. Twenty-five lighthouses are participating this year.

For more information, go to www.lighthouseday.com.


Scientists to do analysis on whale that washed ashore

Scientists will work to determine the cause of death of an endangered right whale after its carcass washed ashore in eastern Maine.

Sean Todd, director of the Allied Whale research group at the College of the Atlantic, said the whale was first spotted floating in the Gulf of Maine about a month ago and was discovered on shore last week.

Todd told the Bangor Daily News that researchers will clean the carcass, piece together the skeleton and donate it to a museum. He said the whale had two large gash marks on its underside, but those marks may have been made after it was already dead and floating in the ocean.

The number of right whales in the world is estimated at 350 to 400.


Realistic-looking fake bomb found in former chief’s home

Police in Millinocket say they don’t know why the town’s late police chief had a realistic-looking fake bomb in his home.

The device was found by the new owners of the home, which had remained empty for several years, when they were moving in Saturday. They called Millinocket police, who in turn called the Maine State Police bomb squad, and the neighborhood was evacuated for four hours.

The house had been owned by Millinocket Police Chief Wayne Scarano, who died in 2007.

Millinocket Police Officer Martin Legassey told the Bangor Daily News that the device had seven sticks of what appeared to be dynamite, a timer or clock, an alarm and wiring.

The Maine Fire Marshal’s office now has the device.


State employees association backs Mitchell for governor

The Maine State Employees Association is endorsing Democrat Libby Mitchell in November’s gubernatorial election.

The association, which represents more than 12,000 state employees, announced Monday that its board voted Friday to give the nod to Mitchell.

President Bruce Hodsdon said Mitchell has a proven track record of bringing people together and has shown she understands government and the budget process.

He said Mitchell and independent candidates Shawn Moody and Kevin Scott met with the association’s political action committee, but that Republican Paul LePage and independent Eliot Cutler did not submit candidate questionnaires.


Cost of home heating oil fell by a penny last week

The average price of home heating oil has dropped a penny in Maine.

The Maine energy office said Monday that its weekly survey found an average price of $2.58 a gallon, down one cent from last week.

Around the state, prices ranged from a low of $2.18 per gallon in southwestern Maine to a high of $2.76 a gallon in the eastern part of the state.


Officials to mark success of tidal power test project

Gov. John Baldacci, Rep. Mike Michaud and the Coast Guard commander in northern New England will celebrate a Maine company’s success in harnessing tidal power at a gathering today in Eastport, where Ocean Renewable Power Co. announced last week that its 60-kilowatt turbine-generator successfully produced grid-compatible electricity.

That same unit will be used for a 60-day demonstration project for producing power for use by the Coast Guard’s Eastport Station.

Ocean Renewable plans to install a 150-kilowatt system next year in the waters off Eastport. It will be connected to the Bangor Hydro grid.

Maine is already a leader in wind power generation. But Ocean Renewable sees big potential for tidal power in the coming decade.


Five boaters rescued at sea after collision with a whale

Rescue officials in the United States and Canada say five people were pulled from the Atlantic Ocean after their vessel capsized off Canada’s Campobello Island.

The U.S. and Canadian coast guards were both contacted Saturday evening after receiving a report that five people were in the water in Canadian waters between Campobello and Deer islands, not far from Maine waters.

The occupants of the vessel had been rescued by private boats before coast guard vessels could arrive. The passengers told rescuers their boat capsized after hitting a whale.


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