Oxford man, 52, killed as motorcycle hits truck

An Oxford man died Tuesday in a motorcycle crash, and police are looking for witnesses who may shed light on the cause.

Police say Douglas Starbird, 52, was riding his 2008 Victory motorcycle on Skyway Drive toward outer Congress Street when he hit the side of an Atlas Van Lines moving truck, driven in the same direction by Scott Morton, 28, of Brunswick.

Starbird was not wearing a helmet, though one wouldn’t necessarily have saved him, police said.

Police are still trying to determine what led to the collision, though they say excessive speed does not appear to be a factor. Police ask that anyone who saw the crash call them at 874-8532.

The crash happened just before 7 a.m. and backed up traffic on the nearby Maine Turnpike exit ramp.


Man accused of smashing windows with bricks

Police have issued a court summons to a Portland man, accusing him of smashing windows in the Old Port with a brick.

Police were called to the corner of Moulton and Fore streets at 1:20 a.m. Tuesday and found witnesses pointing out Thomas Coolbirth, 30, who they said had broken windows at nearby businesses.

Coolbirth is charged with breaking windows at Merrill Lynch at 145 Commercial St. and Communiques at 3 Moulton St.


Hiatt, Lovett to perform at State Theater on Jan. 14

John Hiatt and Lyle Lovett will play together Jan. 14 at the State Theatre.

The acoustic evening will feature Lovett and Hiatt alternating songs from throughout their careers. The two have performed together off and on since 1989.

Tickets will go on sale, for $70, $50 and $40, at 10 a.m. Friday at the Cumberland County Civic Center, by phone at (800) 745-3000 or at www.statetheatreportland.com


Driver inexperience cited in fatal crash on turnpike

A 52-year-old woman who was driving on a learner’s permit died when the car she was driving on the Maine Turnpike drifted off the road and crashed into a tree Monday, police said.

Four women who were passengers in the car were seriously injured, with broken bones and internal injuries, police said. Rebecca Abukook of Lewiston was at the wheel when the car crashed at 6:20 p.m. Monday. Injured were Maria Dengdot, 38, Nybul Lual, 32, Ayok Lual, 28 and Achol God, 50, all from Lewiston.

State police Trooper Duane Doughty said driver inexperience was the likely cause of the crash.


Hunter charged with filing false report against wardens

A hunter has been charged with filing a false report of an unpleasant encounter with two game wardens, authorities said Tuesday.

The Maine Warden Service announced the charge against Justin Nichols, 26, of Limerick.

Nichols reported that he was confronted by two wardens, who aggressively approached him and demanded his hunting license and his gun before returning both of them, the warden service said.

No wardens were working in the York County town at the time, and the agency investigated to discover who was impersonating an officer, the warden service said.

Investigators became suspicious of the story and asked Nichols to take a polygraph examination, at which point he admitted to the fabrication, the warden service said.


Hunt election win is upheld in recount of District 131 vote

Election officials say a recount of ballots has upheld Democrat Robert Hunt of Buxton as the winner in House District 131.

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said Tuesday’s official tally showed Hunt with 2,131 votes, to 2,073 for Republican James Libby of Buxton.

The result leaves Republicans with 78 seats in the House, with 72 seats held by Democrats and one by an independent.


Fuel assistance awards to average $553 this winter

Housing officials say low-income households in Maine are expected to receive an average of $553 in heating fuel assistance this winter.

MaineHousing Director Dale McCormick said about 64,000 households are expected to receive help through the federal government’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

McCormick said this year’s benefit is far below last winter’s average payout of $844 per eligible household, but is in line with historic levels of funding.

Officials say $28 million is budgeted for Maine this winter. When combined with other funds, the state will have a total of $32 million available for heating assistance.


Flags at half-staff on Friday in honor of fallen soldier

Flags will be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Friday in remembrance of a soldier from New Portland who was killed last week in Afghanistan.

In honor of Cpl. Andrew L. Hutchins, Gov. John Baldacci has directed that the U.S. flag and the state flag be flown at half-staff.

Hutchins, 20, was a military policeman with the 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell, Ky. He was killed Nov. 8 while guarding a military base in Afghanistan.

His funeral will begin at 11 a.m. Friday at the Augusta Armory.


Chimney fire damages home on Greely Road

The residents at 275 Greely Road had to find temporary housing Tuesday night after a chimney fire damaged their home.

Lt. David St. Clair of the Cumberland Fire Department said the fire broke out around 5:30 p.m. in a chimney in the two-story house. It quickly burned through a wall and attic area, but firefighters prevented it from spreading. The home will need repairs, but should be habitable, St. Clair said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. No injuries were reported.


Sen.-elect Saviello sustains minor injuries in collision

State Sen.-elect Thomas Saviello, R-Wilton, and another driver suffered minor injuries when their vehicles collided Tuesday morning, police said.

Saviello, 60, said he was driving his pickup truck across the intersection of Route 133 from the corner of McCrillis Corner Road. Adam Sage, 30, of Livermore, was driving east on Route 133, police said.

The vehicles collided in the intersection about 6 a.m., causing Saviello’s vehicle to roll into a marsh off the road, police said. Both vehicles were heavily damaged, but Saviello and Sage escaped with minor injuries.

Neither speed nor alcohol was a factor in the crash, police said, and both drivers were wearing seat belts. Police are still investigating.


SMCC gets $1.9 million grant to promote student success

Southern Maine Community College has received a $1.9 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education to develop programs that promote students’ success.

“The Connected Student” programs will target students in the formative first semester of college, said Janet Sortor, vice president and dean of academic affairs.

The programs will include integrated student support services, redesigned instruction and academic guidance linked to student interest groups and career goals.

The program calls for building renovations and staffing for a new Learning Commons; technical resources such as equipment, online tutoring and advising software; and professional development for faculty.

Forty-eight U.S. colleges and universities received similar grants, which may be used for a variety of purposes, including faculty development, academic programs, and student services designed to improve academic success.