Cable guardrails prevent tractor-trailer accident

New cable guardrails installed along Interstate 295 north of Portland may have prevented a major accident Monday when they stopped an out-of-control tractor-trailer from crossing into the median.

State Police say the tractor-trailer was headed southbound at 2:04 p.m. when it apparently blew a tire, causing it to swerve toward the median. The cable guardrails, which were installed this summer, are designed to absorb the impact of a vehicle without breaking or forcing it back into traffic.

Trooper Marvin Hinkley said the cables caught the truck and prevented it from going into the northbound lanes of oncoming traffic. He said a truck crossing into the oncoming lanes would have caused a “catastrophic” accident.

Traffic lanes remained open, though passing lanes were temporarily shut down while the truck was removed, Hinkley said.

The truck is owned by Sam’s Transportation of Georgetown, Mass., and was driven by Michael Willett of Newton, N.H.

The Maine Department of Transportation installed the guardrails along stretches of I-295 where the median is narrow and the potential for vehicles to cross into oncoming traffic is severe.

“We don’t want to test it often, but it’s good to see, even with a large vehicle such as that, it’s doing what it’s designed to do,” said Duane Brunell of the transportation department’s safety office.


Man charged with firearm possession after standoff

Police in Bangor have charged a man with possession of a firearm by a felon following an armed standoff over the weekend.

Bangor police evacuated several homes and businesses late Saturday afternoon following reports of a suicidal man with access to guns inside a house. Police eventually used tear gas to take Shawn “Dominic” Nobrega into custody.

Nobrega is undergoing an evaluation at Eastern Maine Medical Center, WZON-AM reported.

There could be more charges. No injuries were reported during the standoff.


Ban on grinding doesn’t hurt homecoming crowd

Portland High School’s homecoming dance drew nearly 500 students Saturday night despite a ban on the controversial dancing style known as grinding.

The senior class and student council sold 497 tickets to the annual event, which usually attracts 325 to 350 students from the 1,000-student school.

Johnson said he stopped the DJ’s music once and reminded students of the ban when some of them appeared to be on the verge of grinding, which usually involves boys dancing closely behind girls and rubbing pelvises.

Otherwise, students found acceptable ways to dance and the gym was packed until the four-hour event ended at 11 p.m., Johnson said.

“The students were very respectful about the whole thing,” he said. “Even the ones who disagreed with me.”


Police search for suspect in Cumberland Farms robbery

Portland police were searching Monday for a man who robbed a Cumberland Farms store early Sunday morning.

The man entered the store at 1136 Forest Ave. around 12:53 a.m., said police Lt. Gary Rogers. He threatened the clerk, said he had a gun and demanded cash. The clerk handed over an undisclosed amount of money, Rogers said.

The suspect then grabbed some cigarettes and left the store. Witnesses described him as a black male in his early 20s, wearing a white bandana over his face, and a white hooded sweatshirt.

Anyone with information should contact Portland Police at 874-8533.


Fed awards funds to improve Amtrak service

The federal government is awarding $600,000 for a study on how improvements can be made on Maine’s Downeaster passenger train line to expand service, cut travel time and increase the number of daily trips between Portland and Boston.

U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins announced Monday that the Department of Transportation had awarded the funding to the New England Passenger Rail Authority.

The senators said the funding will build upon previous studies to provide more information for planning on the passenger rail line.

The Downeaster now runs from Boston to Portland, but work has begun to expand service to Brunswick by the end of 2012.


Teacher honored with $25,000 national award

A second-grade teacher at Montello Elementary School received a $25,000 national award Monday that recognizes excellence in teaching.

Kristie Clark received the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award during a surprise assembly at the school, according to the Maine Department of Education.

Education Commissioner Angela Faherty presented the unrestricted prize to the 20-year teaching veteran.

“Mrs. Clark has a wide array of outstanding teaching and interpersonal skills. Her calm and focused strategies encourage all of her students to achieve their personal best,” Faherty said. “She touches others in ways that positively change their lives.”

Outside the classroom, Clark is a leader in curriculum, instruction and professional development at Montello Elementary School. She is a member of the Montello leadership team and is the grade-level leader for second grade.

Since first presented in 1987 to a dozen California teachers, the Milken Educator Awards have become the nation’s pre-eminent teacher recognition program, having honored more than 2,500 teachers, principals and specialists.


Somali-language radio show aims for immigrants

A new Somali-language radio program has begun airing in Lewiston, home to a sizeable Somali-American community.

“The Somali Show” is the first of its kind in the area to reach out to the Somali, Kenyan and Djibouti populations, The Lewiston Sun Journal reported. Fatouma Ahmed, host of the show and a former radio broadcaster in Africa, says the Maine show will include Somali music, interviews and news stories from Somalia and other African countries.

The show will be broadcast from 11 a.m. to noon Sundays on WEZR 1240-AM.


Libraries move to provide books over the Internet

The libraries in Lewiston and Auburn are joining the state’s electronic book program called Maine InfoNet, which allows people with most home computers and some e-readers to borrow, download and read a growing list of books.

The Auburn Library and the Lewiston Public Library have committed to buying several new e-readers, at a cost of between $130 and $200.

People can sign in at the Maine InfoNet website using their library cards and browse through 1,800 book titles in a variety of genres, The Sun Journal of Lewiston reported.


Cutler’s campaign leads gubernatorial spending

The latest campaign finance reports show independent Eliot Cutler has spent $1.5 million in Maine’s gubernatorial race, more than any of his traditionally financed rivals.

Reports filed Friday with the state ethics commission show Cutler spent more than Republican Paul LePage, who reported $950,000 in expenditures. Independents Shawn Moody and Kevin Scott have spent $534,000 and $24,000 respectively.

Democrat Libby Mitchell, whose campaign is publicly financed through the Maine Clean Election Act, reported $1.7 million spent.

The totals do not include money spent by non-campaign organizations to air advertisements targeting a specific candidate.