PSO events will raise funds for Japanese disaster relief

The Portland Symphony Orchestra will work with the American Red Cross of Southern Maine to raise funds to support relief efforts for Japanese earthquake and tsunami victims.

The orchestra will open its rehearsal to the public at 7 p.m. Monday, and donations will be collected at the door. Donations also will be collected at the concert Tuesday evening.

Donations will benefit the American Red Cross, which has raised more than $120 million to help Japan following the March 11 disasters.

The concert on Tuesday, “Seasons and the Sea,” opens with Mendelssohn’s “Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage,” then showcases violinist Corine Brouwer in “Four Seasons of Buenos Aires” by Astor Piazzola. Brouwer is joined by PSO concertmaster Charles Dimmick and principal second violinist Ben Russell for “Interplay for Three Violins” by composer Chris Brubeck.

The highlight of the concert is “La Mer,” the impressionist masterpiece by Debussy. Attendees of the dress rehearsal are asked to arrive by 6:45 p.m. For tickets to Tuesday’s concert, call 842-0800 or visit PortTIX.com.

Art museum will host forum on removal of labor mural

The Portland Museum of Art will host a public forum titled “Whose Art Is It?” on April 8 that will include a roundtable discussion about public ownership of public art and the controversial removal of a mural from Maine’s Department of Labor.

Participants will include: Mark Bessire, director of the Portland Museum of Art; Sharon Corwin, director and chief curator of the Colby College Museum of Art; Christina Bechstein, sculpture professor and director of public engagement at Maine College of Art; and Chris O’Neil, government relations consultant for the Portland Community Chamber.

The event will take place from noon to 1:30 p.m. Co-sponsors include the Portland Museum of Art, Colby, Bates and Bowdoin college art museums, and the Maine College of Art. The event is free and open to the public.

The 11-panel, 36-foot-wide mural depicts scenes from Maine’s labor history and was installed in 2008 in the lobby of Maine’s Department of Labor headquarters in Augusta.

Gov. Paul LePage and the artist, Judy Taylor of Tremont, were invited but will not attend. She declined, and he will be vacationing in Jamaica.

LePage ordered the mural removed last weekend. He said it presented a one-sided view of Maine’s labor history and did not create a neutral atmosphere in the department, which works with both employers and employees on labor issues.

Final school budget to go before city voters May 10

Voters will get a chance to weigh in May 10 on a school budget that will likely include a small tax increase.

A $91.6 million budget has been approved by the School Board’s Finance Committee, but still needs approval from the full board and an OK from the City Council to go before voters.

There is a chance that the budget could change somewhat before a final proposal goes to referendum, but the current plan calls for an increase in property-tax revenue of about $1.2 million. It’s expected the budget would require a tax increase of 15 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or about $30 a year on a $200,000 home.

The council will vote Monday on setting the May 10 special election.

Portland dispatch will start taking South Portland calls

The transfer of emergency dispatching services from South Portland to Portland is set to occur Monday afternoon.

Emergency calls will be received and apparatus dispatched from the Portland dispatch center at the police station on Middle Street.

The South Portland facility will be used for training and as a backup in case the Portland facility breaks down or during major events like an ice storm.

Everyone working for South Portland will be able to work at the Portland facility, Police Chief Ed Googins said.

Cape Elizabeth emergency services already are dispatched out of Portland.


Three-alarm fire damages building on Clearview Drive

Firefighters fought a three-alarm blaze at the apartment building at 28 Clearview Drive on Friday night.

No one was injured in the fire, which was reported around 8:30 p.m. in the residential neighborhood off Route 1, near the Scarborough Connector to Interstate 295.

Firefighters from several surrounding communities provided backup support. The cause of the fire and other information were unavailable late Friday night.

Board agrees on parking for beach, will vote April 13

The Zoning Board of Appeals reached consensus late Thursday on a proposal to increase parking and public access at Scarborough Beach, town officials said Friday.

Board members agreed but took no vote on a plan to allow 370 spaces in a new grass-and-gravel parking lot. The Sprague Corp., the private contractor that operates the state-owned beach, initially wanted 500 parking spaces, but neighbors objected.

The board is expected to vote on the new plan on April 13.


First facility in Maine opens to dispense medical pot

Maine’s first medical marijuana facility has opened in Frenchville near the Canadian border.

WLBZ-TV in Bangor said the Safe Alternatives dispensary on Route 1 is also the first facility of its kind on the East Coast.

It looks like a typical house and has no signs. It does have video cameras and floodlights that town officials said operate 24/7. The facility is less than a mile from an elementary school, but state law calls for a minimum distance of 500 feet.

The town is working on a proposed ordinance that would be stricter than state law.

Maine voters in 2009 approved an expansion of the state’s medical marijuana law to allow dispensaries.


School Board will meet, vote on budget Monday

The School Board has moved up its vote on a new budget by a week.

The board had been planning to vote April 11 on a spending plan to send to the City Council, but it is now scheduled to meet and vote Monday.

The superintendent’s proposed budget totals $37.8 million and would require no tax increase. But board members have discussed possibly raising taxes to restore some eliminated positions.

The board will meet at 6:30 p.m. in the Memorial Middle School Library.


Authorities probe death after discovery of body

A Sanford man apparently died sometime Friday while working under a vehicle in the driveway of a garage on Old Falls Pond Road, state police said Friday night.

Basil Johnson, 50, of Aspen Lane was found dead around 7 p.m. by rescue workers. He appeared to have been dead for a while, said Ben Harris, an emergency medical technician.

Johnson’s death appears to have been medical-related because there were no apparent injuries, said Trooper Jeremy Forbes.

He said the state medical examiner is delaying an autopsy until police can contact Johnson’s doctor to get medical records.


Gardener makes final five on ‘Martha Stewart Show’

A gardener from Buxton just missed winning a new BMW on “The Martha Stewart Show” Friday morning.

Kendra Lord was on the show as one of five finalists in the Simply ReMarthable contest, pitting her against other gardeners or crafters whose work was inspired in some way by Stewart. Lord was selected as a finalist for her 5,000-square-foot garden, in which she grows more than 50 varieties of vegetables.

The winner of the contest — announced shortly before 11 a.m. on Stewart’s daily TV show on the Hallmark Channel — was Jody Lunsford of Roanoke, Va. She won for felted toy animals she creates. Her prize was a BMW customized by Stewart.

The finalists were selected from more than 3,500 entrants.


‘Ghost Hunters’ will reveal findings about Fort Knox

Fort Knox is going to be featured on a TV program about ghosts.

The Department of Conservation said stars of SyFy Channel’s program “Ghost Hunters” will reveal April 6 their findings on whether the fort along the Penobscot River near Bucksport is haunted.

State park historian Tom Desjardin said it’ll be nice to see Fort Knox presented on the national stage.

Desjardin said that if there are ghosts at Fort Knox, they’re polite and pose no threat to visitors.

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