Carrabassett selectman pleads not guilty to OUI

A Carrabassett Valley selectman has pleaded not guilty to a drunken-driving charge in connection with his arrest last month in Portland.

Stephen Pierce, 60, of Woody Creek Lane was arrested March 6 after a worker at the upscale Fore Street restaurant refused to serve him alcohol and called police.

Workers said Pierce drove to the restaurant and parked across the street before coming inside. Police said he showed signs of intoxication.

Pierce was charged with having a blood alcohol content over the 0.08 percent legal limit and refusing to comply with a blood test. Authorities said an initial test showed Pierce’s blood alcohol content to be three times the legal limit to drive, but the test requires two samples and officers were unable to obtain a corroborating sample.

Pierce has no convictions for drunken driving in the previous 10 years, according to court records. His lawyer, Stephen Schwartz of Portland, entered the not guilty plea on behalf of Pierce, who is free on bail.

New downtown Renys store ready to open next week

The new Renys store on Congress Street will open a week from today.

The Maine-based department store chain is taking the place that was occupied by an L.L. Bean outlet store until last fall.

Faustine Reny, a company spokeswoman, said the store will open at 9 a.m. on April 14 and during the first few days the company will give away merchandise such as hats, water bottles and food, and hold raffles for items such as store gift cards.

Renys held a job fair last month and hired about 45 workers, full- and part-time, for the store, Reny said.

She said store hours will be 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. The store will stay open until 8 on nights of First Friday Art Walks.

Purchase Prizes awarded at launching of Art Biennial

The Portland Museum of Art Biennial opens today, but the festivities began Wednesday at a members’ opening reception where five prizes were awarded to artists in the exhibition.

The Purchase Prizes were awarded to four artists: Philip Brou for “Black Box”; James Groleau for “Arbil Rubia Riyadh” and “Sinjar Karbala Basra”; Siri Sahaj Kaur for “Kristie”; and Don Voisine for “High Time.” The prize-winners were chosen by members of the museum’s Collection Committee and will become part of the permanent collection.

The William E. and Helen E. Thon Jurors’ Prize of $4,000 was awarded to artist Michael Shaughnessy for “Cascade, Current and Pool (For the Vanquished Falls of the Presumpscot River).”

The Biennial remains on view through June 5.


Indictment says jail inmate collected unemployment

A Portland man who allegedly collected $3,000 in unemployment checks while serving a jail sentence was indicted Monday on charges of theft by deception and violating conditions of release.

Vincent John Cueto, 43, is accused of collecting cash from the Maine Department of Labor from Oct. 8 to Jan. 18. The indictment also charges him with violating a condition of his release, saying he made contact Feb. 13 with a person who is a potential witness in the case.

Cueto was sentenced in December in Kennebec County Superior Court to 364 days in jail, with all but six months suspended and two years’ probation, for two counts of domestic violence assault, in September and October in Augusta.

“He was in jail collecting unemployment, a little over $3,000,” said District Attorney Evert Fowle. “He asked someone on the outside to continue getting the money and processing the unemployment claims.”

Maine most peaceful state, according to think tank

While U.S. forces continue to be engaged in conflicts abroad, a survey of the home front by an international think tank finds that U.S. states have become more peaceful since 1995.

In a report released Wednesday, the Institute for Economics and Peace said Maine is the most peaceful state, while Louisiana is the least peaceful.

The Institute for Economics and Peace says key factors driving an increase in peacefulness are decreases in homicides and violent crimes. It says that reductions in crime pay dividends, reducing costs to society and spurring economic activity and job creation.

The Australia-based organization defines peace as an absence of violence. The top three states are Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Joining Louisiana at the bottom are Nevada and Tennessee.

Gutting environment laws gets little support in poll

The Natural Resources Council of Maine is touting a poll that shows most Mainers feel the cost of health insurance and energy, as well as the weak national economy, are holding back Maine’s economy more than the state’s environmental laws.

More than 90 percent of those polled agreed that “preserving and protecting” Maine’s environment should be at least somewhat of a priority, according to the survey, which was funded by the council.

The poll, by Critical Insights in Portland, surveyed 402 registered Maine voters by telephone from March 21 to March 24. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points. The sample consisted of 36 percent Democrats, 32 percent Republicans and 25 percent independent voters.

The poll also asked voters about policies being debated by the Legislature, including a banning bisphenol-A, repealing Maine’s bottle law and weakening shoreland zoning regulations.

More than 80 percent of respondents said they approve of banning BPA from baby bottles, about 70 percent said they oppose repealing the bottle law and about 70 percent said they oppose changing shoreland zoning to allow people to build closer to water if it led to increased water pollution.


Top Passamaquoddy cop admits stealing from tribe

The former longtime chief of the Passamaquoddy Tribe’s police department has pleaded guilty to charges of stealing more than $33,000 from tribal accounts to feed his gambling habit.

Joseph Barnes of Pleasant Point pleaded guilty Wednesday in Washington County Superior Court to taking the money from April 2007 to May 2008.

The Bangor Daily News reported that Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin said Barnes, 42, used the money to feed a gambling habit in Connecticut and Louisiana.

Barnes, who resigned as chief in late 2008, received the National Native American Law Enforcement Association’s Chief of Police of the Year Award in 2006 for his crackdown on drug dealing on his reservation in eastern Maine.


First methadone clinic approved on 4-3 vote

The City Council has given its approval for the first methadone clinic in the city.

City councilors voted 4-3 Tuesday night in favor of allowing Massachusetts-based Community Substance Abuse Centers to open a methadone clinic on Mollison Way.

According to the Sun Journal, councilors stipulated that the clinic can have no more than 500 patients.

Methadone is a synthetic narcotic used to treat those addicted to heroin and other opiates.

Community Substance Abuse Centers CEO Matt Davis said he expects to begin moving into the space within four months.


Disabled elementary pupil wins penmanship honor

A fifth-grader who was entered in a national penmanship contest is getting a category all his own. That’s because Nicholas Maxim writes without hands.

The student at Readfield Elementary School is known for his penmanship, even though he was born without hands or lower arms.

The judges at Zaner-Bloser in Columbus, Ohio, who sifted through 200,000 handwriting entries, were so impressed by Maxim, who writes by holding a pencil between his arms, they created a new category for students with disabilities.

The 10-year-old learned that he was the winner of the first Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellent Penmanship at a school assembly on Monday.

Maxim, who said he likes writing and illustrating comic strips, didn’t know his paper had even been submitted to the contest.

“We submitted his entry because we felt his penmanship was amazing considering he completes most of his work without using his prostheses,” said Principal Cheryl Hasenfus.


Drug suspects arrested after out-of-state trip

Two men were in custody Wednesday after an investigation into the sale of prescription drugs.

Police said Jamie Boyd, 26, and Shawn Bryant, 27, both of Veazie, were arrested early Wednesday after the car they were in was stopped on Interstate 95.

Investigators found almost 600 drug tablets in the car and at their home in Veazie.

The investigation began after police began receiving complaints that the two were selling drugs.

On Tuesday police followed their vehicle to southern New England and back. Drug agents had state police stop the car in Carmel and they searched Boyd, Bryant and the car. Police later searched their home and seized more drugs and a shotgun.

The two were held in Penobscot County Jail.


Grand jury charges man in murder-for-hire plot

A Mars Hill man is charged with trying to hire a person to kill someone for him.

Mark Stetson, 40, was indicted by an Aroostook County grand jury last month on a variety of charges, including solicitation of murder.

Aroostook County District Attorney Todd Collins said he can’t release details until documents are filed in court.

But Collins said Stetson tried to hire someone to kill one of the victims and kidnap one of that victim’s relatives. A person who stayed at the home of one of the victims was also targeted, he said.

Stetson could get 30 years in prison.

The Bangor Daily News says the case was investigated by the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Department, Maine State Police, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and prosecutors.


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