Winning Powerball ticket holder has until July 18 to claim prize

The Maine State Lottery announced Tuesday that no one has come forward with a winning Powerball ticket purchased last year – worth $200,000.

The unknown winner bought the ticket for the July 17, 2010, drawing at Circle K on Harold L. Dow Highway in Eliot. The numbers drawn that day were 22, 27, 35, 37, 45, a Powerball number of 3 and a Power Play of 4. The missing ticket matched the first five numbers.

Lottery tickets expire a year after they are drawn, so the Powerball winner has until 5 p.m.  July 18 to present the ticket at the headquarters of the Maine State Lottery in Hallowell.

Tim Poulin, director of operations at the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations, said he expects the winner unknowingly discarded the ticket. “They likely thought it was nonwinning and got rid of it,” he said.

“But anything’s possible. Some players keep their tickets in a box and take them in to double-check at some point. That could be the case. We want to get the word out in case the winner’s out there and also to raise awareness about the game and the prizes available.”

Poulin said that, if unclaimed, the money will be given out in the form of additional promotions in accordance with the rules of the lottery.


Drop in city’s truancy rate credited to absence monitor

Officials say the truancy rate in the schools in Maine’s capital city dropped by about 36 percent in the past school year.

According to officials, the effort to curtail truancy in Augusta schools was aided by creating a position to work with parents and students to keep students in school and, when all else fails, to force parents of truant students into court.

The first “reintegration specialist” at Augusta’s Cony High School, Chad Strout, was hired last September.

The Kennebec Journal said Strout monitors student absences and works with students and families to encourage attendance when students reach the state-mandated limit for unexcused absences.

The state describes a habitually truant student as an individual who reaches the equivalent of 10 full days, or seven consecutive days, of unexcused absences.

Measure offers Maine voters more voice in special elections

A bill awaiting Gov. Paul LePage’s signature would give voters greater voice in legislative special elections.

The bill, L.D. 1478, would allow a municipality that hasn’t held a once-every-two-years caucus to hold one within 15 days of the governor’s proclamation that a vacancy in the House exists. In effect, it would give residents of more towns an opportunity to choose nominees in special legislative races.

Republican Rep. Beth Turner of Burlington, who won a special election in March to fill a vacant House seat, is sponsoring the bill.

Turner said only a tiny percentage of the people in her eastern Maine district were able to vote in the January caucus in which she was nominated. Most were excluded because their towns had not held biennial caucuses. Her bill would change that.

Legislation lets school districts explore cheaper care options

A bill awaiting Gov. Paul LePage’s signature would enable school districts to explore options to reduce their health insurance costs.

The sponsor, Republican Rep. Ralph Sarty of Denmark, said the bill, L.D. 1326, gives school districts the flexibility to self-insure or find more affordable plans during this time of financial pressure.

Sarty said the bill does not mandate anything. School districts can stay with the coverage they have, he said, or they can look around for a better deal.

Maine school boards and superintendents’ groups support the bill.

School officials said health insurance consumes up to 14 percent of school district budgets.


Giant 9/11 commemorative flag to be displayed here Thursday

A giant American flag will be in Portland on Thursday as part of a 50-state tour before it is displayed in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa., in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Local firefighters and police will raise the 30-foot by 57-foot flag at 2 p.m., hoisting it between two fire department aerial ladders at the Preble Street Extension parking lot, and lower it at 6 p.m.

The public is encouraged to attend and sign the logbook at the Back Cove event.

One of two westbound lanes on Congress St. closed today

One of the two westbound lanes on Congress Street near Douglass Street will be closed most of today.

City officials said the lane will close from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. to allow crews to fix a leaking water main.
Drivers are advised to seek an alternate route to avoid delays.

Naples man charged in break-in at apartments’ storage units

A Naples man faces a series of charges after he allegedly broke into a pair of storage lockers at a Portland apartment house.

Police arrested Scott Valiere on Forest Street around 11:30 p.m. Monday, discovering bolt cutters in his backpack. Police had been called to 246 Park Ave. minutes earlier by a resident who said he confronted a burglar who had broken the locks off two storage units.

The resident told police he and his cousin confronted the burglar who responded by pulling a survival-style knife on the pair, police said.

Valiere was charged with burglary, criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, refusing to submit to arrest, criminal mischief and possession of burglary tools.


Excess speed blamed in crash that killed Owls Head teenager

Maine State Police say excess speed is the likely cause of a car crash that killed a 17-year-old girl from Owls Head.

Police said Aleisha Sonksen died after the small sports car she was riding in went out of control on Route 73 just before midnight Monday and overturned several times.

The 17-year-old driver suffered minor injuries. He was treated at Penobscot Bay Medical Center in Rockport. The driver’s name was not released because of his age.

A team of state troopers and Knox County deputies is investigating the cause of the crash.
Police said that once the report on the crash has been completed, it will be reviewed by the Knox County District’s Attorney’s office.


Freeport hosting weekend of free wellness offerings

Freeport USA will host a series of free wellness activities this weekend throughout town.

Be Well Freeport runs from Friday through Sunday and includes exercise programs, nutrition advice and fitness counseling, said Myra Hopkins, executive director of Freeport USA, a branch of the Freeport Merchants Association.

Events include core-strengthening workouts at Freeport Village Station sponsored by Nike; cardio circuit training at L.L.Bean Discovery Park with Jamye Martin of the YMCA; full-body workouts by bicycle, canoe and kayak in South Freeport sponsored by Freeport Lifestyle & Age Management Medicine Center and Ring’s Marine; and bike tours sponsored by Freeport Ski & Bike.

Visit freeportusa.org for a full schedule.


Thousands of dollars in damage caused by vandals at ski resort

Vandals have caused thousands of dollars of damage to the Big Squaw Mountain Resort ski area in western Maine.

Guy Dow of the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department said the culprits smashed television sets, tossed chairs through plate-glass windows and chopped doors with axes sometime over Memorial Day weekend.

They also smashed a soda machine, rifled through offices and threw boots, chairs and ski lift parts through the ski shop windows.

The Bangor Daily News said the resort in Big Moose Township. outside Greenville, has had only limited operations in recent years and wasn’t open at all last winter.


Bus crash, rollover in Canada injures Maine Guard members

Officials say none of the 16 members of the Maine Army National Guard was seriously hurt when a bus they were riding in crashed and rolled over during training in Canada.

The soldiers, from 133rd Engineer Battalion, were taken to a hospital after the Monday morning accident at the Gage-town, New Brunswick, training center.

Maine Guard Capt. Shannon Cotta told the Bangor Daily News the soldiers were in the Canadian Forces base to train in gaining access to buildings, towns and other strategic locations and destroying them.


Fare increases proposed for monthly, quarterly bus passes

Fare increases are being proposed for monthly and quarterly passes for passengers who ride the ZOOM bus in southern Maine.

The Biddeford-Saco-Old Orchard Beach Transit Committee wants to increase the monthly pass for ZOOM riders from $80 to $100, and the quarterly pass from $210 to $260.

The ZOOM Turnpike Express provides transportation for weekday commuters from Old Orchard Beach, Saco and Biddeford to Portland.

The Journal Tribune of Biddeford said a public hearing will be held Thursday at the Old Orchard Beach Town Hall where people will get a chance to comment on the fare-hike proposal.


Four Cumberland County girls, 9 others get Scouts’ top award

Four Cumberland County girls – three from Brunswick and one from Cumberland – are among 13 Girl Scouts of Maine to earn the group’s highest award.

Earning the Girl Scout Gold Award, which recognizes great accomplishments in leadership, community service, career planning and personal development and signifies a huge commitment of service to others, were: Kerri Grant, Cumberland; Kalyn LeBlanc, Brunswick; Hillary Morin, Brunswick, and Haley Shaw, Brunswick.

Also earning the Gold Award were:
Danyle Boobar, Stillwater; Katelyn DeLong, Bangor; Grace Gonnella, Old Town; Elizabeth Orcutt, Dixmont; Elizabeth Pedersen, Hampden; Sabreena Phillips, Norway; Emily Shedd, Lisbon; Haley Smith, Presque Isle, and Kapricemari Tompkins, Woodville.