Ex-superintendent chosen one of five award finalists

Former Westbrook Superintendent Reza Namin, who resigned in March, is one of five finalists for a national superintendent-of-the-year award.

The National Association of School Superintendents announced the finalists Thursday. The other four are from Colorado, South Carolina, Louisiana and Wisconsin.

Theresa Daem, the association’s executive director, wrote in a news release that Namin’s outstanding achievements in Westbrook included the development of a strategic plan for the district, reduction in drop-out rates and the initiation of virtual high school courses.

Namin, who came to Westbrook two years earlier from the Ralph C. Mahar School District in Orange, Mass., announced in March that he had accepted a job as superintendent of the Spencer-East Brookfield Regional School District in central Massachusetts. He planned to stay through the end of the school year, but the Westbrook School Committee asked him to step down, as the district faced a budget crisis.

Longtime Westbrook High School Principal Marc Gousse has been the interim superintendent.

Lightning strikes TV studio, affects computers, phones

Lightning struck the WPXT-TV studio in Westbrook late Thursday night, knocking out transmission equipment and telephone lines, and frying some of the station’s computers.

The station has managed to continue broadcasting over Time Warner Cable through a fiber optic network, but Direct TV, Dish Network and over-the-air viewers will have to wait until today to watch their favorite programs on the local CW affiliate.

WPME was unaffected, Ledger said.

The lightning strike occurred between 10 and 10:30 p.m. Thursday. It took out the station’s phone lines, which were restored at about 1:30 p.m. Friday.

Jim Ledger, the chief engineer at the station, estimated the total damage will be in “the double-digit thousands.”


Underage drinking program ‘back in the game’ for funds

Sen. Olympia Snowe and Rep. Michael Michaud announced Friday that National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland is committed to exploring ways to find additional money to ensure an underage drinking program in Fort Kent receives funding.

Fort Kent residents were aghast when a contractor told a local organization it lost out on a $175,000 grant proposal because of the town’s remote location. The contractor described Fort Kent as “WAAAAAAYY off the beaten path.”

Snowe, who demanded an explanation last week, decried the decision to overlook Fort Kent as an example of “rural discrimination.” She said she’s assured that Fort Kent is “back in the game.”


Residents OK school budget that eliminates 23 positions

Residents approved the school budget in a referendum Thursday.

A total of 190 voters turned out, approving the $31.7 million budget by a margin of 89 votes.

Superintendent Sarah-Jane Poli said the budget calls for the elimination of 23 positions, including the Latin teacher at the high school, a number of educational technicians and library clerks. The budget takes effect July 1.


Vigil will mark anniversary of woman’s disappearance

Megan Waterman, the young Maine woman who was found dead in New York, triggering an investigation into possible serial killings, will be remembered at a vigil to mark the first anniversary of her disappearance.

The woman’s mother, Lorraine Waterman, and her brother Greg Waterman are planning a candlelight vigil today. It will be held near where Megan Waterman’s remains were found, along a remote Long Island beach highway.

Waterman, who was 22, lived in Scarborough. She disappeared after traveling to a hotel in Hauppauge, N.Y., to meet clients for sex.

Police said she was one of four women whose bodies were found dumped along Ocean Parkway in December.

The widespread investigation eventually led to six other sets of remains. Police said it’s possible there was more than one killer.


Weather service confirms tornado touched down

The National Weather Service has confirmed that a tornado touched down during a severe thunderstorm storm Wednesday night in northern Maine, the second time in a week that a tornado has been verified in the state.

Meteorologists say a tornado packing winds of 65 mph to 85 mph touched down at about 6:22 p.m. near Little Madawaska Lake north of Caribou and took an intermittent path that ended about 10 miles away.

The weather service said nobody was injured, but the twister knocked down trees and damaged and destroyed barns and other small buildings.

Another tornado was confirmed last week in the small Somerset county town of Embden.


OSHA officials plan to fine roofing contractor $243,000

Federal workplace safety officials are proposing that a Lewiston roofing contractor be fined $243,000 for alleged safety violations.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced the proposed fines Friday against Lessard Brothers Construction Inc.

OSHA said during visits to Lessard work sites, inspectors found employees exposed to potentially life-threatening falls while working without fall protection on a roof.

The agency said it has previously cited Lessard Brothers Construction and its predecessor 10 times for fall protection violations at various Maine work sites.

Company owner Stephen Lessard said his company hasn’t willfully violated any rules and that OSHA has singled out his firm. He said his company has a good safety record.


Ex-police chief sentenced for stealing tribe’s money

A former police chief has been sentenced to nine months in jail for his conviction on charges of stealing more than $33,000 from the Passamaquoddy Tribe.

A judge called the behavior of 42-year-old former Pleasant Point Police Chief Joseph Barnes “a stunning betrayal.”

Prosecutors said Barnes took the money between April 2007 and May 2008 to fuel a gambling habit. Most of the money was spent at casinos in Connecticut and Louisiana.

Barnes pleaded guilty in April. He was sentenced Thursday.

Barnes resigned his job as the Pleasant Point police chief in May 2009 after being confronted about the missing money.

The Bangor Daily News said Barnes was ordered to pay back all the funds he stole from the tribe as well as the tribe’s attorney’s fees, about $42,000.


Annual Alzheimer’s forum to be held at hotel Tuesday

The Maine chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association will hold a statewide “Living with Dementia” forum in South Portland on Tuesday.

The annual event for patients, caregivers and health care professionals includes workshops, exhibits and a lunch presentation about fighting back against Alzheimer’s.

The conference will be held at Wyndham Portland Airport Hotel at 363 Maine Mall Road from 7:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Space is limited and advance registration is required.

Professionals are asked to pay $95 to attend, while the fee for friends, family members and people with dementia is $45. Scholarships are available.

For more information or to register, call (800) 272-3900 or 772-0115 or go to: www.alz.org/maine.


Owner of closed mill gives $75,000 to recovery effort

The owner of a now-closed Maine paper mill in East Millinocket is helping the area recover with a $75,000 donation to the regional economic development board.

Mill owner Brookfield Asset Management Co. gave the money to the Katahdin Area Recovery and Expansion committee as part of an agreement between Brookfield and the state that required the payment if the mill closed.

East Millinocket Selectman Mark Scally said that in return, Brookfield will be able to keep generating electricity with its dams on the Penobscot River.

Millinocket Town Manager Eugene Conlogue told the Bangor Daily News that officials would rather have the mill running than the $75,000.

The East Millinocket mill closed earlier this year after officials were unable to come up with a plan to sell it to another company.


Woman indicted in robbery that led to shooting death

A 24-year-old woman has been indicted on charges stemming from an Eastbrook robbery that led to the shooting death of the woman’s boyfriend.

Ashley Crowley of Beals was indicted on a variety of charges Thursday by the Hancock County grand jury.

On Dec. 13, Crowley and her boyfriend, Nicholas Richards, 23, of Machias, went to an Eastbrook home and lured the resident outside by claiming she had been in a car crash. The suspicious resident carried a handgun and shot and killed Richards after he was allegedly attacked by Crowley and Richards.

The Bangor Daily News said Crowley was also indicted on a number of other burglary charges.


Maine will receive $43,000 in epilepsy drug settlement

Maine stands to get about $43,000 as part of a $34 million settlement that the maker of an epilepsy treatment drug has agreed to pay for marketing the drug in violation of U.S. drug laws.

The U.S. subsidiary of Belgian manufacturer UCB pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Washington to a misdemeanor in connection with the misbranding. The company will pay a criminal fine of more than $7 million, forfeit $1 million in assets and pay nearly $26 million to resolve civil claims that it promoted off-label uses of the drug, including for migraines, pain, mood disorders and anxiety.

As part of the civil settlement, nearly $10 million will go to Medicaid programs in Maine and other states.

Maine Attorney General William Schneider said UCB put “profit ahead of patients.”

Man sentenced for setting off soda acid bomb in April

An Augusta man will spend 11 months behind bars for setting off a soda acid bomb that injured a woman.

Paul D. Glidden, 22, pleaded guilty Thursday in Kennebec County Superior Court to domestic violence that occurred April 24 in Augusta.

He was sentenced to five years in jail, with all but nine months suspended and two years’ probation.

District Attorney Evert Fowle said the woman suffered minor injuries.

Glidden, who has prior convictions for domestic violence, was ordered to pay up to $1,000 restitution.