School officials say Hall should get higher priority

School officials say they will appeal the state’s decision to rank replacing Hall Elementary School at No. 12 on the list of school construction projects in line for state funding.

“The building’s poor condition has forced us to stop using one of the kindergarten classrooms,” said Superintendent Jim Morse. “I fear that more rooms will become uninhabitable until we lose use of the building completely.”

Although a final determination on the number of projects to receive funding has not been made, “people are right to think that we won’t get as far down on the list as in the past,” said David Connerty-Marin, spokesman for the Maine Department of Education.

Connerty-Marin said the second project on the list, a replacement for Sanford High School, is projected to cost $70 million to $80 million.

In the last school construction funding cycle in 2004-05, 22 projects were funded by the state. The time before that, about 10 were funded, Connerty-Marin said.

Four other Portland school projects are on the list: Longfellow Elementary (18), Reiche Community School (21), Presumpscot Elementary (33) and Lyseth Elementary (43).

Public invited to weigh in on hiring of city manager

The City Council committee leading the search for a new city manager will be looking for advice today on what qualifications to look for.

The search committee, chaired by Councilor Cheryl Leeman, and a consultant will meet with various groups during the day and then get input from the public tonight.

For those unable to attend the meetings, the committee will take advice by email at [email protected] The job description is available online at www.portlandmaine.gov/citymanager.htm.

The city has set an application deadline of April 1 and is expected to hire a new manager by the end of June.

The daytime meetings begin at 7:30 a.m. in City Hall’s State of Maine room, except for a “Lunch & Learn” session with the Portland Community Chamber at the Residence Inn on Fore Street.

The evening public session will be in the council chambers at City Hall beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Police search for man who robbed Congress St. store

Police are searching for a man who stole gold and silver rings from a Congress Street store and threatened the 81-year-old shopkeeper with a knife.

The man, wearing a blue-hooded sweatshirt with a red mask over his face, robbed Ireland’s Crystal and Craft at 558 Congress St. at 5:15 p.m. Monday.

The man entered the store, pulled out a knife and yanked the telephone away when the owner tried to call for help, police said.

The man smashed a case and stole a number of rings, police said. The owner ran to a nearby store and called police.

The suspect is described as about 6 feet tall, 175 pounds and wearing blue jeans and a navy blue jacket over his sweatshirt.

Sister of ‘Bachelor’ star gets her own crack at TV stardom

Apparently, reality television runs in her family.

Chrystie Corns – sister of “The Bachelor” star Ashley Hebert – will be featured this spring on the TLC network’s new reality show “Extreme Couponing.”

The show will follow 24 “super couponers” over 12 half-hour episodes as they shop for bargains across America. Corns, who is 33 and works as a social media consultant in Portland, will be featured on one episode. The series will premiere April 6 at 9 p.m.

Corns’ “extreme couponing” methods were detailed in a profile in The Portland Press Herald in February. 

Planning to remodel? Get an architect’s advice for free

The Portland Society of Architects will sponsor “10-Minute Architect,” a free design clinic, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. today at Bard Coffee, 185 Middle St.

The clinic is offered to homeowners and business owners who are considering when and how to use an architect for a project or want design guidance.

The Portland Society of Architects has held seven of the sessions. There will be more than two dozen Maine-based architects available for consultation at the design clinic.

Preregistration is encouraged, but walk-ins are welcome. To sign up and for more information, visit portlandarchitects.org.

Union workers protest bills that would affect dues rules

An estimated 300 union members visited the State House on Tuesday to oppose bills that would change union-dues rules and to speak out against the governor’s budget.

A Bangor firefighter, a nurse, a paper mill worker, a shipbuilder and a corrections officer all spoke at a packed press conference in the State House Welcome Center.

At issue are two bills sponsored by Rep. Tom Winsor, R-Norway, that would prohibit employers from deducting fees from nonunion workers represented by collective bargaining agreements. Current state law does not require workers to join a union, but the unions do have a right to collect a portion of their pay to cover the expense of collective bargaining.

The bills are L.D. 309 and L.D. 788. Public hearings on the bills have yet to be scheduled.

Mainers warned to beware fraudulent quake charities

Maine Attorney General William Schneider says residents must be wary about donating to relief efforts linked to the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

Schneider says a tragedy like the one in Japan creates an opportunity “for good-hearted people to be victimized by scammers.” He reminds residents to never give out a credit card, debit card or bank information over the phone or Internet.

Consumers who wish to determine whether a charity is legitimate are encouraged to check the Maine Office of Licensing & Registration.

Latest version of school budget still includes cuts

Most of the job cuts in the superintendent’s proposed school budget remain after a review by the Board of Education’s Finance Committee.

The committee is sending the school board a budget that would reinstate a half-time guidance counselor at the high school, keep activity fees steady at the middle and high schools and add a position for math curriculum for kindergarten through fifth grade.

The $35.3 million budget presented by interim Superintendent Jo Anne Sizemore would eliminate nearly 24 full-time positions. The Finance Committee’s adjustments would add about $200,000 in expenditures but also include updated revenue figures.

The Finance Committee’s budget represents an increase in spending of about 1.4 percent over the current budget, according to Robert Mitchell, the panel’s chairman.

The budget goes to the school board for possible final approval Thursday. The budget then goes to the Town Council, which must approve the bottom-line figure.

Two charged after allegedly beating, terrorizing woman

Two people are facing charges after a woman was allegedly beaten nearly unconscious while trapped inside an ex-boyfriend’s home.

John Zenonos, 26, of Bowdoin is charged with kidnapping, domestic assault, domestic terrorizing, criminal mischief and obstructing the report of a crime, Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel Merry said in a release.

Zenonos’ girlfriend, Amy Belanger, 27, of Livermore Falls is charged with possession of a concealed weapon and possession of a loaded firearm in a vehicle.

Sheriff deputies were called to Litchfield Road around noon on Saturday after Zenonos’ former girlfriend fled to a house near Zenonos’ home at 441 Litchfield Road, Merry said.

The victim told deputies Zenonos had threatened her life and beat her on the head and face, Merry said. Zenonos also had destroyed the woman’s cellphone and removed her outer clothing in an attempt to keep her in the house, Merry said.

“The assaults were so significant that she almost lost consciousness,” Merry said. “In between the assaults, Zenonos called (Belanger) and asked her to come to the house to help him. It was around this point that the victim was able to flee.”

Deputies stopped Belanger’s car as she approached the Zenonos house, Merry said. Police found a loaded 9 mm handgun.

Thomas College to receive $5 million Alfond grant

Thomas College is set to receive a $5 million grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation, officials announced Tuesday morning.

The foundation’s pledge, which Thomas College officials said is the largest single gift the school has ever received, is earmarked as part of a fundraising challenge. The foundation will match up to $4 million toward a new Harold Alfond Academic Center and up to $1 million toward the college’s annual fund for student scholarships.

Elderly man stuck on floor for four days after falling

Officials say a 76-year-old man who fell at his home and was stuck on the floor for four days before a newspaper delivery man called police was near death when he was rescued.

Jerome Mishou of Bangor says he doesn’t remember how he fell or his rescue.

Bangor Daily News delivery man Jody Mackin noticed that Mishou wasn’t picking up his papers and that the car was missing from his garage a few weeks ago. So he called the police.

Officers found Mishou unconscious at the bottom of the stairs.

Mishou was hospitalized for about 10 days, and he’s now at a rehabilitation facility waiting to recover enough to go home.

State sentence adds to prison time for Web abuse

A judge has imposed a 15-year prison sentence on a woman who sexually abused a 2-year-old child while a man in the United Kingdom watched live via webcam.

Julie Carr, 33, of Mars Hill was sentenced last week to 20 years in federal prison on child pornography charges. The state sentence was imposed Tuesday after she pleaded guilty to gross sexual assault and sexual exploitation of a minor. The sentences will be served concurrently.

Maine officials were alerted in June 2009 after police in England came across the videos, recorded by Nicholas Wilde, while investigating another child pornography case.

Penobscot County District Attorney Mike Roberts said the federal case focused on pornography and not the sexual acts. He says the state wanted the molestation conviction in her record.

Bill would slow plan to bring hydro power from Canada

A New Hampshire House committee has recommended passing a bill that would slow down a project to carry hydroelectric power from Canada to southern New England.

The House Science Technology and Energy Committee voted Tuesday in favor of the bill, which would prevent public utilities from taking private land to build a plant or transmission facility.

The bill was amended to allow construction if the transmission facility is needed for reliability of the electric grid.