Education chief to visit King Middle School today

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will visit King Middle School this afternoon on the final stop of a bus tour of schools in eight states, school officials announced.

During his “Courage in the Classroom” tour, Duncan plans to meet with and recognize teachers and others who are leading the way in improving student performance, teacher recruitment and school nutrition and safety.

Superintendent Jim Morse said the district has planned special events to welcome Duncan at King, in part because while Portland teachers officially return to school today, students don’t return until Sept. 7.

King has received national recognition for its success in using the Expeditionary Learning model, which has students work on multidisciplinary projects that address community issues.

In addition, King Principal Mike McCarthy is Maine’s 2010 Middle Level Principal of the Year and a finalist for the 2011 National Middle School Principal of the Year award.

Duncan will be at King for a little more than an hour, starting at 2 p.m., according to his schedule. His visit will include a tour of three Expeditionary Learning projects with students and teachers and a discussion of school safety with teachers, parents and community members.

Domestic violence suspect Tasered during his arrest

A Portland man faces charges of assaulting officers in a scuffle during a domestic violence arrest that ended in his being subdued with the help of a Taser.

Randy Webber, 31, is charged with domestic violence assault, two counts of assaulting an officer, a felony, and one count of refusing to submit to arrest.

Officers were called to 37 Tate St. at 3:30 p.m. Sunday for a report of a domestic assault. When they tried to take Webber into custody, he punched Officer Jamie Beals in the head, then started flailing and hit Officer Alissa Poisson, police said.

The officers brought Webber under control after subduing him with a Taser, police said.

Police investigating theft of manhole covers, grates

Police are investigating the theft of a large number of cast-iron manhole covers and sewer grates from city streets overnight Sunday.
Residents began reporting the uncovered holes in the Washington Street Extension area to the city’s Public Services Department on Monday morning.

The coverings weigh up to 300 pounds and cost about $130, police said.

Police were notified by Schnitzer Steel on Somerset Drive that 13 of the covers were discovered in the company’s scrap pile. The company said it does not accept the covers as scrap because most of the time they have been stolen and because stealing them endangers the public, police said.

Police suspect the heavy covers were buried in a load of legitimate scrap.

Fourteen of the covers had been reported missing to the city, and workers had already started installing replacement covers that are kept on hand, a city spokeswoman said.

A person who steals the covers is committing theft and possible aggravated criminal mischief, police said.

Effort to increase retention pays off, USM president says

The University of Southern Maine has increased its freshman retention rate, boosting the percentage of full-time students who returned this week as sophomores.

Just over 70 percent of last year’s freshmen are back as sophomores – 626 of 892 students – beating a previous retention rate of 68 percent.

USM President Selma Botman attributed the increase to new Student Success Centers, which consolidated various student services into one unit that focuses on retaining and graduating more students.


Driver strikes security fence outside author King’s home

Police say a security fence outside of Maine horror author Stephen King’s home may have sustained up to $100,000 in damage after a woman crashed into it.

Police Sgt. Paul Edwards said Renee Harris, 25, of Alton told police an oncoming car veered into her lane about 9 a.m. Sunday, causing her to swerve and crash into the custom-made, black iron fence outside King’s home.

Over the years there have been incidents involving people trying to reach King, but Edwards said there’s nothing to indicate that Sunday’s crash was malicious or intentional. Nobody was injured, and police did not issue a ticket.

King spokeswoman Marsha DeFilippo said the best-selling author was not at home at the time.


‘Dirty Jobs’ host tries hand at baking for future episode

“Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe was in the Rockland area this summer raking blueberries and making pies for an upcoming episode of his show, tentatively scheduled to air in early 2011 on The Discovery Channel.

Rowe spent some of his time making blueberry pies with “The Pie Moms” – Janet LaPosta, Ally Taylor and Anne Manneheim – at The Berry Manor Inn in Rockland. The three make more than 600 pies a year, as complimentary treats for the inn’s guests.

Now in its fifth season, “Dirty Jobs” is an unscripted show with Rowe trying his hand at various dirty jobs. There have been more than 130 episodes highlighting more than 200 jobs.

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