Child dies after being crushed by tree

A 5-year-old boy from Pownal died Sunday after being crushed by a tree.

Chief Deputy Kevin J. Joyce of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office said the boy, whose name is not being released, was playing Sunday afternoon in a hole made by an uprooted tree that had blown over during last week’s windstorm.

The child’s grandfather began cutting the tree with the intention of removing it, but he was unaware the child was in the hole. After he cut through a midpoint in the tree, its lower half “kicked up” into position as if the tree were standing. The boy became pinned under the roots and the remaining portion of the tree trunk.

When the grandfather did not see boy or his older sister, he began to look for them. That is when he discovered a portion of the boy’s sweat shirt under the roots.

Joyce said the grandfather dug frantically while other family members called the Pownal Fire Department. Firefighters were able to move the tree enough to free the boy.

He was taken by Freeport Rescue to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

The accident, which took place at 283 Merrill Road, remains under investigation.


Man admits reckless conduct in motor vehicle threat

A Chelsea man pleaded guilty to a charge of reckless conduct Friday as jurors selected to hear his case waited in an adjacent room.

Christopher Q. Burns, 45, entered the plea to the felony charge in Kennebec County Superior Court. The reckless conduct is related to an incident in Augusta on Sept. 29, 2009, in which Burns allegedly used a motor vehicle to threaten three members of a family.

The sentence for Burns was deferred for a year. If he successfully meets the terms of the 12-month deferred disposition, he would be able to withdraw his guilty plea and be convicted only of a misdemeanor charge.

The sentence would then be 364 days in jail with all but two days suspended, and one year of administrative release. He also would have to pay $2,410 in restitution.

As part of the agreement, the state dismissed a charge of aggravated criminal mischief.

Man offers plea of not guilty to counts of burglary, theft

A Hallowell man has pleaded not guilty to a 22-count indictment charging him with a string of burglaries in southern Kennebec County between March and July.

Troy M. Hallett, 42, was indicted in late October, but the documents were sealed until his arrest.

Hallett pleaded not guilty Nov. 3 in Kennebec County Superior Court. A judge set bail at $5,000 cash or $50,000 worth of property, and Hallett remained in jail as of Friday.

Listed in the indictment are 11 counts of burglary, 10 counts of theft by unauthorized taking and one count of criminal mischief.

Items listed as stolen include cameras, electronic equipment, coins and jewelry.


Police to check for seat belts at high-accident locations

Maine State Police today will begin a special, two-week seat belt enforcement check at high-crash locations in northern Kennebec, Franklin and Somerset counties.

The time period coincides with the national Click it or Ticket campaign. Police say that, even though seatbelt use is up to 85 percent nationwide, millions of Americans still do not buckle up.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics, about 38 passenger vehicle occupants who are not buckled up are killed on any given day in motor vehicle crashes.

The same statistics indicated that those most like to avoid wearing seat belts are teenagers, young adults, males, nighttime riders, rural motorists and people in pickup trucks.

“Wearing a seat belt costs you nothing, but not wearing it could you cost you a ticket or worse — your life,” said Lt. Donald R. Pomelow, troop commander for Franklin, Somerset and northern Kennebec counties. “We want all drivers and passengers to Click It or Ticket, day and night.”


Volunteer weather watchers sought to aid federal agency

The National Weather Service is looking for volunteer weather observers to measure and map rain, hail and snow in Maine and New Hampshire.

The weather service is seeking weather enthusiasts to take part in its Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network. Each time it rains, hails or snows, backyard weather watchers take measurements that are then posted on the network’s website.

The next training session is Dec. 14, at the Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire.

Interested persons can go to www.cocorahs.org for more information.


Furloughed state workers to get discounted lift tickets

Maine’s Saddleback ski area is offering discounted lift tickets to state employees on upcoming furlough days, when they are given unpaid days off to help balance the state budget.

Saddleback said that state employees can purchase lift tickets for $29 by showing their state worker IDs on Dec. 23, Jan. 24 and March 18. The ski area in Rangeley is also offering discounted rental packages and lessons to furloughed workers.

The state has six more shutdown days through next summer as a cost-saving measure to help balance the budget.