Tuition to rise 4.3 percent for state university students

Students on average will pay 4.3 percent higher tuition rates in the coming school year under a budget approved Monday by the University of Maine System trustees.

Trustees described the tuition increase, a weighted average of rates at all seven universities, as the lowest since 2002. Average tuition and mandatory fees range from $7,300 at the University of Maine at Presque Isle to $10,588 at the University of Maine.

Rebecca Wyke, vice chancellor for finance and administration, said the universities have worked tirelessly to lower costs and achieve savings.

UMS Chancellor Richard Pattenaude also formally informed trustees Monday he’s not seeking a contract extension. His contract expires in June 2012. 

Suspect in slaying of couple sought money, police say

A man accused of killing a couple in Webster Plantation confessed to police that he was seeking money from the home where one of the victims ran an unlicensed pawn shop, operated a loan-sharking business and sold prescription drugs, prosecutors said Monday.

Nathaneal Nightingale, 32, helped a forensic artist create a composite sketch of a suspect after the killings, but he was actually a steady customer and later confessed to killing Michael Miller Sr. and Valerie Miller for money, said Assistant District Attorney Andrew Benson.

Defense lawyer Jeffrey Silverstein told jurors not to put too much stock in Nightingale’s statements to police. He said Nightingale was actually friends with the Millers.

Autopsies indicated both victims were shot in the head.

Before the killings, Michael Miller had been laid off from a mill. Both the prosecution and the defense agree that Miller, known as “Big Mike,” ran an unlicensed pawn shop and made loans, in addition to buying and selling prescription drugs.

Benson said Nightingale owed money to Miller.


Three finalists announced to replace SMCC president

Three finalists have been announced for the post of president at Southern Maine Community College.

John Fitzsimmons, president of the Maine Community College System, will pick the successor to Dr. James O. Ortiz, who will retire in July after 10 years in the position.

The candidates are Ronald G. Cantor, associate vice president and dean of Mohawk Valley Community College in Rome and Utica, N.Y.; Janet Sortor, vice president/dean of academic affairs at Southern Maine Community College; and Brad J. Stewart, vice president and provost at Montgomery College in Takoma Park, Md.

Fitzsimmons plans to nominate a candidate at a meeting of the Maine Community College System board of trustees on June 22. The expectation is to have the new president in place by the start of the 2011-2012 academic year.


Craig one of four finalists for Cincinnati police chief

Police Chief James Craig is one of four finalists for the job of police chief in Cincinnati.

Craig has been Portland’s chief since May 2009. He was formerly a captain in the Los Angeles Police Department.

Craig will now participate in an interview with Cincinnati’s city manager, who will make the final decision.

Also in the running are two Cincinnati assistant police chiefs and an assistant chief from the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department.

A search committee narrowed the list of 43 applicants to six semifinalists, then to four finalists. The interviews by the city manager will occur in the next two weeks. 

Three teens charged after robbery attempt with knife

Police have charged three people with robbery following an attempt to hold up a man at knifepoint last weekend.

The victim told police he had just left Peace Food Market on Cumberland Avenue at 10 p.m. Saturday when a group of young men accosted him. One man pulled a knife and demanded money.

The group left without any money when a bystander approached, police said. Nobody was injured.

The victim was able to provide a description and officers spotted two of the suspects on Anderson Street a short while later, police said.

Police charged three males from Portland: Samater Ali, 19, Amin Mohamed, 18, and a 17-year-old.


Man working on Jeep killed when it rolls on top of him

A 34-year-old North Waterboro man was killed when the vehicle that he was working rolled onto him, the York County Sheriff’s Department said.

Deputies said Robert Bachelder was pinned under his 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee while performing work on the vehicle Sunday.

Rescue workers were alerted at 5:43 p.m. and found Bachelder unresponsive. They were unable to revive him and he was pronounced dead at the scene.


More than 100 drivers cited in inspection sticker scheme

Police say the number of motorists who have been arrested or have received summonses for phony inspection stickers now tops 100.

Investigators said the counterfeit inspection stickers were selling for $75 to $100. That’s far more expensive than the $12.50 for a legitimate inspection sticker in 15 of Maine’s 16 counties, but it allows motorists to avoid costly repairs that might be needed after an inspection by a certified mechanic.

Police Chief Roger Beaupre said the stickers appear to have been made on high-end copy machines. Police said Monday that they’ve seized computer equipment, printers and paper products from a home in Saco.

Four people have been charged with aggravated forgery, and charges are being brought against a fifth.


Casino developers pick pair of Maine construction firms

The developers of a voter-approved casino in Oxford are tapping two Maine-based construction companies for the project.

Black Bear Realty says Stillwater-based Sargent Corp. will be the site contractor and Pittsfield-based Cianbro will serve as the construction manager. Cianbro CEO Pete Vigue said the project will bring “immediate jobs and spending to this region.”

Maine voters approved the $165 million casino and resort in November. Spokesman Peter Martin said site preparation is under way, and groundbreaking is set for June.

The first phase is a casino, restaurant and lounge, to be followed by a 200-room hotel. The final phase calls for meeting space for conventions.


Police weigh charges against man who drove into home

Police say charges are possible against the driver of a pickup truck that hit a home in Augusta and set it on fire.

There were no injuries in the incident, which was reported about 6:10 a.m. Sunday.

Homeowner Ken Ward said he and his wife, Linda, lost everything in the fire, but he is grateful they escaped uninjured.

Ward told the Kennebec Journal that when he looked for the driver of the vehicle, he was gone.

Police said that shortly after the crash, a vehicle was stolen nearby.

It was later stopped in Pittsfield and the driver, 26-year-old Jacob Russell of Bass Harbor, was charged with operating a stolen vehicle.


Motorcycle rider’s condition upgraded day after crash

The condition of a Kennebunk man who crashed on his motorcycle Sunday has been upgraded from critical to serious.

Eben Nieukerk, 19, was taken to Maine Medical Center with life-threatening injuries Sunday night after the motorcycle he was riding went down an embankment in Wells, throwing him into a tree.

A hospital spokeswoman reported Monday that his condition had been upgraded.