AUGUSTA

AG’s office releases video of Togus shooting in July

The Attorney General’s Office has released video shot on a cell phone July 8, the day retired Marine James F. Popkowski was shot by law enforcement officers at the Togus Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Paul Stevens, 43, of Belgrade was standing in a driveway across the street from the shooting scene. Investigators from the Attorney General’s Office used Stevens’ video in their investigation into whether the shooting was justified.

In a report released Tuesday, the Attorney General’s Office said police were justified in shooting Popkowski.

The four 15-second clips are all the video shot by Stevens, according to Attorney General’s Office spokeswoman Kate Simmons. They are online at pressherald.com.

Legislature names leaders of standing committees

House and Senate leaders have announced members of the Legislature’s standing committees, saying they’re putting forth a common-sense slate for strengthening the state’s economy.

The co-chairs were announced Wednesday by Republican Senate President Kevin Raye and House Speaker Robert Nutting.

A key committee is Appropriations and Financial Affairs, which will leave its imprint on a two-year state budget in the face of deep revenue shortfalls. The Senate chair will be Richard Rosen of Bucksport. The House co-chair will be Patrick Flood of Winthrop.

Nutting said that with the committee assignments, the Republican-controlled Legislature is ready to move forward on a pledge to get the economy back on track.

All of the committee chairs are Republicans. Full committee member lists are online at www.maine.gov/legis/house/jtcomlst.htm.

Maine shellfish harvesters now eligible for disaster aid

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has determined that the red tide outbreak of 2009 caused a commercial fishery failure in Maine.

Wednesday’s disaster declaration makes Maine shellfish harvesters eligible for disaster aid, but it will be up to the incoming Congress to approve funding.

Much of Maine’s coast was shut down to shellfish harvesting from April to September 2009 because of outbreaks of toxic algae blooms.

Gov. John Baldacci asked in October 2009 that a fisheries disaster be declared for the state’s shellfish industry to help with losses from clam flat closures. 

LEWISTON

Sun Journal requiring names attached to online comments

The daily Sun Journal will soon require people to attach their names when commenting on stories on its website.

Executive Editor Rex Rhoades said that, beginning Feb. 1, all online comments will be accompanied by the names of those writing them.

Rhoades said the newspaper does not use unidentified sources in stories and requires that readers use their names when writing columns or letters to the editor in its print version. The new policy applies the same rules to the paper’s online version.

He said some anonymous comments posted online have been “factually incorrect, reckless and mean-spirited.”

Rhoades said the decision won’t please everyone but will produce a “better online experience for all.”

AUBURN

Reporter suing ski area after injury on assignment

A reporter is suing the Lost Valley ski area, two years after breaking her back while riding down a ski trail inside a giant ball for a story.

Rebekah Metzler of Brunswick was working for the Lewiston Sun Journal in June 2008, when the ski area in Auburn invited her to write about its newest attraction, the Zorb, a car-sized inflatable sphere in which riders roll down a hill.

In her complaint in Androscoggin County Superior Court, Metzler said she suffered painful and permanent injuries after the ball went out of control and off the course.

An owner of Lost Valley told the Sun Journal that she had no comment on the lawsuit.

Metzler now works as a reporter for MaineToday Media. 

BIDDEFORD

City Council rejects local property tax rebate plan

The City Council has rejected a proposal for a “circuit-breaker” rent and property tax rebate program for residents.

The proposal to set aside $50,000 for rent and tax relief was defeated in a 5-2 vote Tuesday night, with Councilors Jim Emerson, Pat Boston, Rick Laverrier, Alfred Lamontagne and David Bourque opposed and Councilors Clement Fleurent and Bob Mills in favor.

The proposal was modeled after the state program.

Boston said it wouldn’t be the best use of taxpayers’ money. If the more than 2,000 Biddeford residents who received state rebates last year applied for the local rebate program, they would receive only $25 each, she said.

Mills, a member of the committee that proposed the rebate program, said, “This is the greatest good that we can do for the greatest number of people.”

Mills said his goal is to submit a “revamped and reworded” circuit-breaker proposal in 2011.

Business board of directors welcomes new members

The Heart of Biddeford’s Board of Directors has had a change in leadership and welcomed new members since the firing of Executive Director Ezekiel “Zeke” Callanan earlier this month.

Tammy Ackerman, co-founder of Engine, a nonprofit arts organization in Biddeford, will be the new board president.

She has served on the Heart of Biddeford board and as part of the nonprofit organization’s design committee.

Megan Rochelo stepped down from the position, Ackerman said. Rochelo, who was elected to represent District 136 in the Maine House of Representatives, will remain on the board. Jen DeBurro and the Rev. Ron Labarre are new members of the board, and Holly Culloton, owner of LaCava on Water Street, is a returning member.

Ackerman said she expects a job description for the next executive director to be posted after Jan. 1. The board is searching for community members to serve on the organization’s committees.

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Defense budget includes $15.7 billion for BIW projects

The defense budget that received final congressional approval includes full funding sought by the Navy for destroyers to be built by Bath Iron Works.

Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine said Wednesday that the budget includes $15.7 billion for the DDG-51 Arleigh Burke and DDG-1000 Zumwalt destroyer programs. Included is $2.9 billion for two Arleigh Burke destroyers, one to be built in Bath and the other by Northrop Grumman in Mississippi. Also included is $186.3 million for completion costs of the DDG-1000 program. Bath will build all three DDG-1000 destroyers in the production run.

Snowe said the budget indicates the “hardworking employees at Bath Iron Works are continuing to produce great ships that meet our nation’s naval needs.”

STANDISH

Five fire departments respond, contain fire to kitchen

Several fire departments responded to a house fire Wednesday night, but damage was mostly contained to the kitchen area, according to the Standish Fire Department.

The fire in a single-family home at 21 Easy St. was reported around 7:30 p.m. Firefighters from Windham, Gorham, Sebago and Baldwin assisted Standish. The fire was quickly brought under control and no injuries were reported. The cause remains under investigation.

ROCKLAND

Lobsterman gets two years for beating competitor in May

A lobsterman who admitted to beating a competitor over a fishing dispute and stealing his gun will spend two years in prison.

Joshua Anthony, 29, was sentenced Monday in Rockland.

Anthony and Jason Luce, 39, have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from an assault on Matinicus on May 1. Luce is due to be sentenced later this month.

The Bangor Daily News said the victim claims the episode began after two of the victim’s friends set fishing gear off the island. Tension over fishing off Matinicus was highlighted after a lobsterman was wounded in a shooting in the summer of 2009.

BANGOR

Officer suffers broken leg while arresting Bradford man

A Bradford man who allegedly broke a police officer’s leg while being arrested after a stabbing is facing multiple charges.

Bangor police say Andrew Borg, 36, came at them with a baseball bat Tuesday when they responded to a report of a stabbing at an apartment house.

During the ensuing struggle, Borg allegedly kicked over a cast-iron radiator unit that fell onto Officer Jim Dearing, breaking his left leg.

Police said the stabbing victim, a 32-year-old Bradford man, went to Eastern Maine Medical Center, where he was treated for non-life-threatening wounds.Dearing was released from the hospital Tuesday.

Borg is charged with elevated aggravated assault and assault on a police officer, as well as assaulting his girlfriend.