Boy, 15, drowns in pool at apartment complex

A 15-year-old boy drowned in the swimming pool of an apartment complex off Forest Avenue on Tuesday night.

Rescue workers were called to the Princeton Pines apartment complex at 7 p.m., after other youths who were getting ready to swim found the boy.

Rescue workers tried to revive the boy. He was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7:50 p.m., police said.

The drowning appeared accidental. The boy, who lived in one of the apartments, was in the pool alone.

His name was not released.

MDOT wants public input on plan to replace bridge

The Maine Department of Transportation wants the public’s feedback on its plan to replace the Martin’s Point Bridge, a section of Route 1 that spans the Presumpscot River between Portland and Falmouth.

An informational meeting on the project, which will cost about $30 million, will be held at 6 p.m. July 13, in the Green Room of Merrill Auditorium.

Transportation engineers say they are interested in identifying concerns and issues, including how replacing the 67-year-old bridge might affect local resources.

The state is considering options that may include shutting the bridge down, building a temporary bridge, building a bridge in phases, or building a new bridge that would run parallel to the old one.

The bridge carries more than 15,000 vehicles daily. Mark Latti, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation, said construction is not likely to start until 2012.

Proposal would make pot lowest priority for police

Marijuana possession would be the Portland Police Department’s lowest enforcement priority under a proposed ordinance that a citizens group hopes to get on November’s city ballot.

Sensible Portland turned in 2,100 signatures to the city clerk’s office Tuesday aiming to let voters decide whether Portland should have an ordinance directing police to “refrain from arresting or fining” anybody 21 or older for possessing small amounts of marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia unless the person is committing a “violent criminal offense” or has prior convictions for violent offenses.

If the clerk’s office verifies at least 1,500 of the signatures, the City Council will take up the issue. The council would have the option of adopting the ordinance, putting it on the ballot or putting it on the ballot with a competing alternative.

Supporters say law enforcement resources can be spent better than by arresting people over small amounts of pot.

USM names new director of notable Cutler Institute

The University of Southern Maine has named a new director of the Cutler Institute of Health and Social Policy.

Richard Birkel has worked around the country as a psychologist, public health activist and researcher and is considered an expert on long-term care. He will take over leadership of the Cutler Institute, part of the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service.

Birkel most recently was chief executive of the Rosalynn Carter Institute, which established an international program that supports caregivers of individuals with disability, chronic illness and challenges of aging, according to USM.

The Cutler Institute of Health and Social Policy supports more than $26 million in applied research, technical assistance and training programs in all 50 states and every Maine county. It has a staff of more than 220 in Portland and Augusta.


Police: LePage’s son totaled his car in construction zone

Maine State Police said Gov. Paul LePage’s oldest son wasn’t hurt in a crash in a construction zone on Interstate 295 in Freeport.

Trooper Matt Williams said Paul LePage II, 22, lost control of his car on uneven pavement the evening of June 30 near the Brunswick line. The car hit the guardrail twice, crunching the front and back of the car. The 2009 Toyota was totaled.

LePage, a resident of Ormond, Fla., was in Maine visiting his family.


Fire destroys parked bus; passengers escape safely

Officials are investigating a fire that destroyed a propane-fueled bus that provided shuttle services to and around Acadia National Park.

The fire was reported around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday on an Island Explorer bus behind the Maine Coast Mall in Ellsworth. Nobody was injured.

Ellsworth Deputy Fire Chief Richard Tupper told the Bangor Daily News that the fire started as passengers sat waiting on the parked vehicle, and an alert passenger got everybody off before the bus became engulfed in flames.

Tupper said explosions during the fire didn’t come from propane tanks, as initially feared, but from tires that exploded because of the intense heat.

Fire officials don’t know how the fire started.


Land trust acquires farm once sought by Walmart

A farm property on Route 1 that attracted attention after Walmart expressed interest in using it for one of its Supercenters will never be developed. The Maine Farmland Trust has acquired the 68-acre Phillips farm property from its owner, Jim Phillips.

In 2005, Walmart’s interest in developing the site prompted Damariscotta to adopt an ordinance prohibiting stores larger than 35,000 square feet. Similar ordinances were adopted in nearby Newcastle, Nobleboro and Edgecomb.

Now, the property may be used only for farming.

Cate Cronin, campaign director for the Belfast-based Maine Farmland Trust, said the organization will partner with the Damariscotta River Association to manage the property, which will be resold. The association will enforce the terms of an agricultural easement on the land.

The Maine Farmland Trust still must raise about $115,000 to complete the acquisition. Cronin declined to disclose the purchase price. She said the Maine Farmland Trust has listed the property for $210,000.


Tramway board to discuss Sugarloaf’s lift derailment

The Maine Elevator and Tramway Safety Board is scheduled to meet July 18 to discuss last winter’s chairlift derailment at Sugarloaf Mountain Resort.

Sugarloaf’s 35-year-old Spillway East chairlift derailed on Dec. 28, dropping five chairs to the snow and sending eight skiers to hospitals.

Maine’s chief elevator and tramway inspector submitted an accident report to the board on June 10. The report did not point to any single cause for the derailment but cited factors such as wind, inadequate maintenance and a lack of formal maintenance training for mechanics.

The report did not recommend any discipline against Sugarloaf or the private inspector who certified the lift last fall, effectively leaving that to the board. Members of the board, who are appointed by the governor, have authority over the licensing of chairlifts and inspectors, and set standards for annual inspections and state oversight.

The meeting, which is open to the public, will begin at 9 a.m. at the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation in Gardiner.

Weekend turnpike traffic declines by 2.9% overall

Holiday weekend traffic along the Maine Turnpike was down from last year, but was higher than projected by turnpike officials.

The Maine Turnpike Authority said traffic Friday through Monday at the York toll plaza, at the southern end of the turnpike, was down 4.3 percent from the Fourth of July weekend in 2010. Officials expected a drop of 5.4 percent.

For the full length of the 109-mile toll highway, traffic was up on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. But the traffic count was down sharply on Monday, leaving an overall decline of 2.9 percent for the entire weekend.

Flags will fly at half-staff Saturday for WWII soldier

Gov. Paul LePage has ordered that the Maine and U.S. flags be flown at half-staff to honor a World War II serviceman, 2nd Lt. Robert Emerson of Norway. On Saturday, the flags will be at half-staff from dawn until dusk.

Emerson was one of five men who died on April 3, 1945, when their bomber crashed in the Philippines.

His remains were positively identified through advanced DNA analysis and his body is being returned to Maine. He was buried for decades in Missouri.

Emerson will be buried at Pine Grove Cemetery in South Paris at 2 p.m. on Saturday. LePage commended the military for its work in bringing Emerson home.

New law sets fine at $350 for ‘bath salts’ possession

Gov. Paul LePage has signed into law a bill targeting synthetic drugs known as “bath salts.”

LePage signed the bill Wednesday after conferring with Public Safety Commissioner John Morris. The bill establishes a $350 fine for possession of the drugs. It also establishes penalties for trafficking that can carry jail time for repeat offenses.

Bath salts were largely unknown a year ago, but recently there has been a surge of emergency room visits by people who have overdosed on the chemicals, which cause hallucinations.

Adrienne Bennett, spokeswoman for the governor, said the measure is a good first step in dealing with the chemicals.

– From staff and news services