Local pizzeria in spotlight for its mashed potato pie

When most people think of Portland, they think of lobster, but today the city will get national attention for its pizza.

The Cooking Channel, a member of the Food Network family, will be in town today to film a segment on Otto Pizza at its 576 Congress St. restaurant.

A film crew will shoot a segment for a show titled “Pizza Out of the Box” that will air in August. Shooting starts at 7:30 a.m. and is expected to last until 1 p.m. The segment will feature Otto’s signature mashed potato, bacon and scallion pizza, which has become a customer favorite.

The mashed potatoes on the pizza are mashed with whole milk and real butter. The pie is topped with a little cheese, too: asiago on the bottom, then some whole-milk mozzarella and, sometimes, a sprinkling of fontina on top.

A Portland Press Herald features writer is scheduled to be interviewed about a review of the pizza that he wrote in 2009. According to a producer, the owners of Otto credit that review with helping to convince locals that they should give the unusual slice a try.

Filming will continue through lunchtime so the crew can interview customers about the pizza.

Otto is owned by Anthony Allen and Mike Keon. The pizzeria now has three locations, including one in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass.


New law will let hotel chain proceed with expansion plan

Gov. Paul LePage has signed into law a bill that will enable a Maine hotel chain to go forward with a project that had been blocked by a state sand dune protection law.

The bill signed Monday removes a barrier for Lafayette Hotels to start the $2 million project at its Wells Beach location. The work involves the addition of 13 guest rooms and the installation of an elevator, which Lafayette says will help older guests.

The state had denied a permit because of a law regulating sand dunes. Lafayette says the addition will not disturb any undeveloped beach or sand dune.

The company, whose owners attended Monday’s bill signing, says it will begin construction in the fall if local permits are granted.


Community College System tuition to rise by 2.4 percent

Maine Community College System trustees have voted to increase tuition by 2.4 percent at the state’s seven community colleges next fall.

Confronting a potential $2.3 million deficit, trustees said today that they sought to minimize the first tuition increase in two years. They said the increase amounts to $2 per credit hour, or $60 for a full-time Maine student taking 30 credit hours.

John Fitzsimmons, system president, said students’ ability to pay is limited, with three-quarters of full-time students likely to quality for some amount of financial aid.

Maine’s seven community colleges serve nearly 18,000 credit-seeking students. The system has seen a 76 percent increase in enrollment since 2003.


Police seeking information on man reported missing

Police are seeking the public’s help in locating a missing man.

Nathaniel Chappell, 37, was reported missing Monday by his mother. She has not seen him in five weeks.

Police said Chappell has bipolar disorder and has not been taking his medications.

Chappell is 6- foot-2, 180 pounds and has brown hair and blue eyes.

Anyone with information about Chappell’s whereabouts is asked to call the Scarborough Police Department at 883-6361. Anyone who has had contact with him is asked to have him call police.


Man faces charges in fire that razed boarding house

A man has been arrested and charged with arson in connection with a fire that destroyed a boarding house on Main Street on Monday morning.

Officials said the fire at the three-story apartment house was reported around 1:30 a.m.

Todd Fickett, 19, who lived on the first floor of the 12-unit building, was taken into custody at the Norway Fire Station by investigators with the state Fire Marshal’s Office around 5 a.m. Monday.

Fourteen people fled the fire that gutted the large building. They were alerted by a smoke detector and Norway police and firefighters who entered the building.

Fickett is being held at the Oxford County Jail. He initially told investigators that he was his older brother, Travis.


Local biker doing wheelies jailed on speeding charge

State Police say a motorcyclist spotted popping wheelies as he drove down Main Street in Bangor has been jailed on a charge of driving at excessive speeds.

Chad Pike, 26, of Bangor, was doing wheelies and going 61 mph in a 25-mph zone when he was stopped by Trooper Chris Hashey, who was driving an unmarked police car.

Pike was charged with criminal speeding and raising a motorcycle front wheel off the surface of the road.


‘Inside Edition’ to feature ex-Miss Maine USA today

The story of South Portland native Emily Johnson — the former Miss Maine USA winner who surrendered her title so she could attend her sister’s wedding next month instead of the national pageant — is scheduled to be broadcast on “Inside Edition” this afternoon.

The show will air at 3:30 p.m. on WCSH (Channel 6) in the Portland area. In Bangor, it will air at 3 p.m. on WLBZ and in Presque Isle at 5 p.m. on WAGM.

An unexpected change in the date of the national pageant led to the conflict.