Craig takes oath, becomes city’s first black police chief

About 250 people watched Tuesday as former Portland Police Chief James Craig took the oath of office to become chief in Cincinnati.

Craig is Cincinnati’s first black police chief, and the first chief to come from outside the city’s police department.

Michael Sauschuck, who was Craig’s assistant chief in Portland, was sworn in last week as Portland’s interim chief. The city has not yet advertised for a permanent replacement.

“The city manager is looking into how he wants to conduct a search,” said Portland’s spokeswoman Nicole Clegg. “We are fortunate to have an acting chief who is very competent and capable,” so an immediate search isn’t needed.

Craig now will head a department with about 1,000 officers and faces potential police layoffs proposed by the city manager.


Firefighters respond to calls about lightning after storm

Firefighters responded to four reports of lightning strikes, including one at a church, during a powerful thunderstorm Tuesday afternoon.

Despite several calls, no one was injured and no homes were seriously damaged by the storm, said Fire Chief Howard Rice Jr.

On Cedarwood Drive, the occupants of a home reported hearing a boom followed by a loss of power. Smoke was coming from an electrical outlet in their garage.

Rice said a tree in their backyard was hit by lightning. A large hole was found next to the tree. Rice said it appears that an invisible dog fence carried the lightning to the garage, where it shorted out the home’s electrical service.

Rice said the first call came in at 1:36 p.m., after lightning reportedly struck the Foreside Community Church at 340 Foreside Road. A neighbor heard a clap of thunder followed by an explosion that set off the church’s fire alarm. Firefighters could find no evidence of any damage.


Woman accused of dragging man several feet with car

A Windham woman who allegedly dragged a man through a restaurant parking lot Tuesday night as he hung onto her car faces several criminal charges.

Police Sgt. John Sutton said Chaka Coleman, 27, was arrested on charges of aggravated assault, driving to endanger, simple assault and obstructing the report of a crime.

Witnesses told police that Coleman got into an argument with a man in the parking lot of Newick’s Lobster House at 200 Gorham Road shortly after 6 p.m. When the man tried to reach inside the car, Coleman drove away, dragging the man several feet.

The man, a 29-year-old Westbrook resident, was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland for treatment of a head injury. Sutton declined to release his name because the investigation continues.

Sutton said Coleman knocked a cellphone out of the hands of a witness who tried to call police, which prompted the obstruction charge. Coleman was held at the Cumberland County Jail on $75,000 cash bail.


Supreme court overturns drunken-driving conviction

Maine’s highest court has overturned the drunken-driving conviction of a motorcyclist who was stopped by a state trooper seeking information about a speeding motorist.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled unanimously Tuesday that prosecutors couldn’t use evidence obtained when the trooper stopped Robert LaPlante of Bangor on Route 179 in Hancock County to ask which way the speeding motorist had turned. The trooper realized that LaPlante had been drinking, gave up the pursuit and turned his attention to LaPlante.

LaPlante contended that the traffic stop violated his rights as an unreasonable seizure of his person, but a judge denied his motion to suppress the evidence in 2003.

The supreme court saw the case differently, ruling that a trooper’s investigation of another motorist’s speeding offense did not, by itself, justify LaPlante’s traffic stop.


P&G plans to hire disabled at its manufacturing plant

Proctor & Gamble says its diversification efforts include hiring people with disabilities at its manufacturing plant in Auburn.

The company has partnered with the Maine Bureau of Rehabilitation Services as it opens a customized packaging facility at the plant. It says initial hiring challenges at the new FlexiCenter include 30 percent of people with physical or developmental disabilities.

Officials say the new facility will provide job opportunities for individuals with disabilities who might otherwise have challenges finding employment.

Proctor & Gamble says the FlexiCenter will eventually house a total of 60 employees working around the clock. The plant produces Tampax feminine care products.


Council unanimously OKs $59 million arena contract

The Bangor City Council has approved an amended $59 million contract for a new arena and convention center to replace the Bangor Auditorium.

On Monday, councilors voted 8-0 in favor of the amendment to the contract with Cianbro Corp. Construction on the 5,800-seat arena is due to be completed by late 2013.

The Bangor Daily News said earlier cost estimates for the project pegged the cost of the arena at $65 million.


Ex-ski resorts’ CEO will lead broadband expansion effort

A former Maine ski resort CEO will serve as chairman of a task force charged with coming up with recommendations for expanding high-speed Internet in rural Maine.

Warren Cook will head the Broadband Capacity Building Task Force for the Maine State Planning Office. The panel will make its recommendations to the governor and the Legislature.

Cook was once CEO of Sugarloaf ski resort in Carrabassett Valley and Saddleback in Rangeley, and president of JAX Research Systems at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor.

He now heads an organization called Maine Network Partners.


Lightning blamed for 3 fires but no injuries are reported

Lightning strikes from overnight thunderstorms were blamed for at least three fires in Maine.

In the Penobscot County town of Garland, firefighters were called to a blaze around 9:30 p.m. Monday at a barn that had been turned into a sawmill. Fire officials told WABI-TV that the building was destroyed, but nobody was hurt.

Officials said lightning is also being blamed for a house fire in the Waldo County town of Searsmont shortly after midnight Tuesday. Firefighters say nobody was living in the house and nobody was injured.

Another fire around 2 a.m. Tuesday at a home in the Hancock County town of Orland is also being blamed on lightning.

That fire caused smoke and water damage, but, again, nobody was hurt.