Man dies in accident while cutting tree with chain saw

A Westbrook man was killed Tuesday while cutting down a tree.

Police Chief William Baker identified the victim as John Larson, 55, of Bridge Street.

Baker said Larson was using a chain saw to cut down a 40-foot-tall white birch tree when the base of the tree snapped and hit him in the head. Larson was pronounced dead at the scene.

The tree is on Larson’s family property at 740 County Road. The accident was reported around 1:50 p.m.


Elderly couple found dead in SUV submerged at landing

The bodies of an elderly couple were discovered Tuesday in a vehicle that was found submerged at the end of a boat ramp in Tremont.

Maine Marine Patrol Spc. Colin MacDonald said two people saw the SUV around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday at the town landing in the Seal Cove area of town, on Mount Desert Island.

MacDonald said a Marine Patrol diver then found the bodies of Lewis Lawton, 92, and his wife, Inez, 86, in the vehicle. They lived in Seal Cove.

The vehicle was removed from the water. Autopsies were expected.

The Marine Patrol is leading the investigation, assisted by state police and the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department.


Body found near road may be that of missing woman

State police say a body was found in Rockland on Tuesday, and it may be that of a woman who was reported missing earlier this week.

The body was found Tuesday along Thompson Road, by a man who was walking his dog. State and Rockland police went to the scene, and the state Medical Examiner’s Office was notified.

Police have been looking for Katrina Windred, 47, of Friendship since Sunday evening, when she was reported missing from downtown Rockland. There was no immediate confirmation on the identity of the body.


Water district board OKs budget, improvement plan

The Portland Water District’s Board of Trustees has unanimously approved a $37.4 million operating budget and a $9 million capital improvement plan for 2011.

The operating budget, approved Monday, will increase by 0.6 percent over the current year. It assumes a 2 percent increase for residential users beginning in mid-2011, which would amount to a 46-cent increase on the average monthly water bill. The board will determine rates in the coming months.

The wastewater service fees the water district charges to municipalities will remain steady at 2010 rates. Municipalities determine the wastewater rates for residential users.

The capital improvement plan allocates $1 million for a pilot study and engineering design of an ultraviolet treatment system, $2.2 million for upgrades of wastewater facilities and $4.6 million in water distribution system renewals.


Eastern Trail to celebrate addition of five-mile section

A celebration next week will mark the opening of a bicycle and pedestrian trail as part of the Eastern Trail.

The five-mile section of trail runs from West Cole Road in Biddeford through Arundel and connects with Emmons Road in Kennebunk, along a historic rail corridor.

It is the third major section to open on the Eastern Trail, which includes a 5.7-mile paved section in South Portland and a 6-mile section connecting Scarborough and Old Orchard Beach through the Scarborough Marsh.

The Eastern Trail Alliance plans an additional 1.2 miles to extend the trail over the Maine Turnpike, expected to be completed in 2011. The multi-use trail will be open to the public after the ceremony, at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the beginning of the trail off West Cole Road in Biddeford. 


EMMC nurses back to work after brief lockout, strike

Nurses at Eastern Maine Medical Center went back on the job after a two-day lockout and a one-day strike.

Nurses picketed the hospital Monday as part of the one-day strike. The strike followed a two-day lockout imposed by hospital administrators before the beginning of the strike.

The hospital says the nurses were back on the job Monday. The hospital hired replacement nurses during the strike. The nurses’ contract with the hospital expired Sept. 30.

Among the issues separating the two sides are nurse staffing levels, health insurance costs and the practice of moving nurses from one specialty unit to another against their wishes. A negotiating session is set for Monday.


Remains found by hunter identified by dental records

State police say skeletal remains that were found last weekend in the Waldo County town of Belmont have been positively identified through dental records.

Police say a crime isn’t suspected in the death of Charles Springer, 68, who hadn’t been seen since he wandered away from his home in May 2008.

His remains, which were found Saturday by a hunter less than two miles from Springer’s home, were taken to the state Medical Examiner’s Office for identification.


Portsmouth-Kittery bridge to close for eight hours

The New Hampshire transportation department plans to close the bridge between Portsmouth and Kittery, Maine, for eight hours to conduct an inspection.

The Memorial Bridge will be closed to traffic from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

The bridge carries Route 1 over the Piscataqua River between the two states. Transportation officials want to inspect the bridge’s lift machinery. If the weather is bad, the work may be postponed.


Forest harvesting declines 15 percent; timber prices fall

Forest harvesting in Maine dropped by 15 percent last year from the year before, according to a new report released by the Maine Forest Service.

The total number of acres harvested fell from 463,200 in 2008 to 394,100 last year.

Landowners’ investment in pre-commercial activities aimed at boosting forest productivity, such as thinning and tree planting, declined 20 percent.

Timber prices were also down, according to the annual report on the Maine forest industry, which contributes several billion dollars to Maine’s economy each year.

Donald Mansius, director of the forest service’s policy and management division, attributed the declines to the recession.

The report can be viewed online at maine.gov/doc/mfs/


Public forum to discuss new smart meters on Monday

Central Maine Power Co. representatives will be at a public forum on smart electricity meters Monday.

The discussion will begin at 7 p.m. in the Scarborough Municipal Building, at 259 Route 1.

The Town Council approved a resolution last month that urged the utility to participate in such a forum so residents can learn about the smart meter system and voice any concerns.

CMP has already started a two-year project to replace 620,000 meters with the digital devices.

Sanford and Cape Elizabeth have adopted resolutions similar to Scarborough’s.