Snow hits northern Maine hard, causes power outages

Heavy snow fell across the northern half of Maine in the state’s first major snowstorm of the season Monday, knocking out power for thousands of homes and businesses, closing scores of schools, and causing treacherous travel conditions.

Nearly a foot of snow had fallen in many places by this afternoon, with the National Weather Service calling for some locations to get 20 inches by the time the snow stopped in the overnight hours.

More than 2,000 homes and businesses were without power due to heavy snow, and conditions forced several roads to be closed. Route 9, the busy east-west highway from Calais to Bangor, was shut down for several hours after a number of tractor-trailer trucks slid off or blocked the road, but no injuries were reported.

A late-fall storm with more than a foot isn’t unusual in northern Maine, said Joe Hewitt, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Caribou.

“Up here, by late November, winter’s arrived,” Hewitt said.

The storm caused businesses and courts to shut down for the day; schools and universities, including the University of Maine in Orono, canceled classes.

The snowstorm was welcomed by outdoors enthusiasts, particularly after last winter’s warm temperatures and relatively light snowfall.

Snowmobile clubs are heartened that recent storms coming into Maine have come from the east, which can be big snowmakers in the winter, said Bob Meyers, executive director of the Maine Snowmobile Association. About 100,000 people ride snowmobiles each year in Maine, which has 14,500 miles of trails.

“This storm can be only good news,” Meyers said. “It’s got everybody jazzed up.”


Police suspect Facebook played role in school fights

Police are investigating three fights, each involving Westbrook High School students, that took place last Friday toward the end of the school day.

Police Chief William Baker and school authorities say that two of the scuffles appeared to have been discussed or organized on Facebook, a popular social networking website.

Baker said a female student was attacked in a parking lot outside the school by a male and female who are currently not students in Westbrook. Baker said the male suspect was questioned and charged by police.

Baker said a second, unrelated fight, involving several boys, took place on a soccer field on East Bridge Street. Baker said that fight also appears to have been organized on Facebook.

A third fight took place Friday afternoon on school grounds and involved two female students.

Baker said all of the altercations remain under investigation and charges could be filed.


Man faces potential charges after near-naked skirmish

A 45-year-old man could face charges after allegedly being discovered outside a Standish man’s house wearing nothing but a windbreaker.

A Cumberland County sheriff’s deputy responded to a report of a prowler at a home on Richville Road at 8:13 p.m. Sunday. When the deputy arrived, he learned that the resident had confronted a man whom he had seen in the bushes near his house. The two men fought and the alleged prowler, naked except for a windbreaker, was injured.

Police found the man bleeding from his injuries at his home not far away. He was taken to Maine Medical Center for treatment of his injuries and signs of hypothermia, the sheriff’s office said. Police did not identify the man because he has not been charged.

Information about the case has been presented to the Cumberland County district attorney, who will determine whether charges should be brought and whether any mental health issues contributed to the man’s behavior.


Teenage girl arrested for stabbing taxi driver

A 14-year-old girl has been arrested in last week’s stabbing of a taxi driver.

The girl, whom police did not identify because of her age, was arrested Saturday after police got a tip from the public, Police Chief Joseph Massey said Monday.

The girl told police that she used a knife to stab the cab driver twice in a botched attempt at robbing him, Massey said. She was charged with two felonies, robbery and elevated aggravated assault.

Massey said police continued to investigate the identities of two dark-skinned males who reportedly accompanied the girl in the cab when the incident happened late Wednesday night.

The cab driver was released from MaineGeneral Medical Center’s Thayer Campus a day after the stabbing, Massey said.


Warrant roundup leads to 38 arrests, 52 charges

A total of 38 people were arrested in York County on outstanding warrants during the month of November, according to Maine State Police.

Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said state police conducted the roundup with assistance from the York County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Marshals Service.

“There were a number of outstanding warrants that were beginning to pile up,” McCausland explained.

In all, 52 separate charges were filed against the suspects. Those charges ranged from robbery, burglary, aggravated assault and receiving stolen property to drug charges, failure to report for jail sentences, habitual traffic offender, driving drunk and operating after suspension.

Among those arrested were: Corry Christensen, 20, of Hollis, who had been wanted for the past two years for aggravated assault in which he allegedly struck a person in the head with a baseball bat; and Shaun Buck, 33, of Portland, who had been wanted by Portland Police for possession of drugs, violation of bail, criminal forfeiture and probation revocation.

Buck initially provided officers with a false name, but troopers were able to identify his tattoos and placed him under arrest.

Three people were also arrested for being a fugitives from justice for charges pending in New Hampshire.


Woman charged after attack with kitchen utensils

Police charged a Portland woman with robbery, assault and theft after she allegedly attacked a man she knew with a fork and a butter knife.

Police say Miranda Snowdon, 25, had gone to an apartment in the 200 block of Cumberland Avenue Saturday to retrieve some of her belongings and decided to take a Toshiba laptop belonging to the resident. During a confrontation, she grabbed the utensils and caused a minor cut on the victim, police said.

Police say they made contact with a local pawn shop and had the laptop returned to the owner.

Snowdon was taken to the Cumberland County Jail pending a court appearance.


Casino company says it’s had thousands seek work

The company that plans to build Maine’s first casino with table games says it has received thousands of inquiries from job-seekers and companies in search of business.

Black Bear Entertainment LLC said Monday it has gotten 4,231 inquiries on its website from people interested in employment at the future casino and from companies looking for business opportunities.

Voters last month approved a referendum allowing Black Bear Entertainment to build a $165 million resort and casino in the western Maine town of Oxford. Ballots are now being recounted under a challenge from casino opponents.


Feds investigate death of man working on bridge

Federal officials are investigating the death of a 29-year-old man who fell while working on the Deer Isle-Sedgwick bridge in eastern Maine.

The Hancock County Sheriff’s Department says Ercio Gasques suffered fatal head injuries when he fell about 40 feet Sunday afternoon. He died while being taken to the hospital.

Sheriff’s officials said Gasques was from New Jersey and was part of a painting crew working for a Pennsylvania contractor that has been working on the span, a well-known suspension bridge that connects Sedgwick to Deer Isle.