Fire destroys garage and vintage vehicles inside it

A fire on Balsam Lane destroyed a garage containing eight cars, several of them antiques, early Wednesday.

An alarm system woke the owner of 5 Balsam Lane at 12:43 a.m. When he looked outside, he saw an orange glow coming from the detached, three-bay garage about 75 feet away. Firefighters arrived but the garage was already burning, said a statement from Fire Chief Howard Rice.

Firefighters laid a 3,000-foot hose to the nearest hydrant, and used a 5,000-gallon storage tank in front of the home. The fire did not spread and nobody was injured, but it did destroy the garage and the cars inside.

The state Fire Marshal’s Office has been called in to investigate.


Cheverus faculty member honored by debate society

Daniel Haskell, the theology department chairman and debate team coach at Cheverus High School, recently was named one of 11 educators in the nation to receive the prestigious 1st Diamond Award from the National Forensic League.

The award recognizes excellence and longevity among coaches of speech and debate teams. Diamond Award winners will be recognized in June at the league’s tournament in Dallas.

Haskell is a 1990 alumnus and a 16-year faculty member of Cheverus.

For older teens in Maine, birth rate drops significantly

Maine was among the states that had significant decreases in teenage birth rates from 2007 to 2009, according to new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The rate for 18- and 19-year-old women fell 19.6 percent — the fourth largest decrease in the nation. The rate fell from 55.2 births per 1,000 women in that age group to 44.4.

Nationally, the birth rate for that age group fell 10.4 percent, from 73.9 births per 1,000 women group to 66.2.

For 15- to 17-year-old girls in Maine, the rate rose from 9.4 births per 1,000 to 10 births — a change that the CDC deemed not statistically significant. Nationally, the rate for that age group fell 9 percent, from 22.1 births per 1,000 to 20.1.

The national birth rate among teenagers fell by more than one-third from 1991 through 2005. In the next two years, the rate increased 5 percent. The new data indicate the long-term downward trend has resumed.

The teenage birth rate reached its historic high in 1957, when there were 96.3 births per 1,000 in the 15- to 19-year-old age group.

Grant will aid collaborative Mentoring Project

The West End-Parkside Neighborhoods Mentoring Project has received a $2,500 grant from the Maine Community Foundation, say Waynflete School officials.

The 12-year-old project is a collaboration of Portland’s Reiche Community School, Waynflete and the community policing centers in the West End and Parkside neighborhoods.

The project pairs Reiche and Waynflete students for lunch programs and other learning experiences during the school year, and recreational programs during the summer.


Postal consolidation could bring work to Scarborough

The U.S. Postal Service plans to study whether some operations at its processing and distribution center in Portsmouth should be consolidated. The study will examine whether some functions can be done at centers in Manchester and Scarborough, Maine.

The Postal Service faces one of its most difficult challenges. The economic downturn and Internet diversion have led to a 20 percent decline in mail volume since 2007. Even when the economy fully recovers, the Postal Service does not expect mail to return to previous peak volume.

If the study supports the case for changing mail processing operations, the Postal Service will hold a public meeting for input.


New director’s first day at McArthur Library is Feb. 28

The McArthur Public Library will welcome a new director this month.

Jeffrey Cabral will start the job on Feb. 28, said interim director Sally Leahey. He is now director of the Yeadon Public Library near Philadelphia.

“He seemed really interested in Biddeford and had done quite a bit of research. He is very interested in being active in the community,” Leahey said.

Cabral has a master’s degree in library sciences from Victoria University in New Zealand and a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

Leahey has been interim director since Dora St. Martin left the position in early November to sail the world with her husband.


Haystack Mountain School awarded preservation grant

The Haystack Mountain School of Crafts has received $125,000 from the Save America’s Treasures program, in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The grant is part of $14.3 million in competitive federal grants announced Wednesday. Haystack is the only organization in Maine to receive a grant and one of 61 across the country. The grants are intended to conserve nationally significant cultural and historic sites, buildings, objects, documents and collections.

The Haystack campus, designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes, has influenced generations of American architects. Grant money will be used to replace the rotted carrying timbers and supporting posts and piers, and to repair roofs and windows.


‘Heaven’ for mink not so divine for seller of live bait

The owner of a store that sells live bait for ice fishing says his tank became “fish heaven” for a mink.

John Belvin of the Junction Store in Brownville said he heard a noise in the bait room on Saturday, and when he investigated he found a mink in the tank, eating fish.

He caught the mink and released it about a mile away.

The next day, discarded fish were stacked like cordwood outside the door of the store. Belvin caught a mink in a trap and let it go, although he wasn’t sure it was the same one.

Belvin told the Bangor Daily News that if the mink returns he might not be so nice. He said he has lost about $100 worth of bait.


University trustees OK plans for new building at Husson

Husson University trustees have given their approval for a new five-story building on campus.

Officials at the school say the multipurpose building, which will cost more than $11 million, will have classrooms, faculty offices and suite-style living space for 240 students. Construction will begin in April, with completion set for August 2012.

The university also plans to expand and renovate the Dickerman Dining Commons, at a cost of more than $3 million. The plan calls for a 10,000-square-foot expansion, a new kitchen and service area, and a total renovation of the dining area.

Husson’s enrollment has tripled in the past 15 years, to 3,000 students.