Court upholds laws assailed after pair of campaigns

A federal appeals court has upheld a Maine campaign reporting law that became an issue following the 2009 same-sex marriage campaign.

The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston rejected the National Organization for Marriage’s challenge to Maine’s political action committee laws. Also Thursday, the court upheld Maine’s law requiring disclosure of independent expenditures in candidate elections.

The court said Maine’s law meets constitutional muster, rejecting NOM’s claim that it’s too broad.

NOM was the primary donor in 2009 to Stand for Marriage Maine, a political action committee that helped repeal Maine’s same-sex marriage law. The PAC issue came up during last year’s legislative election campaigns.

Other legal issues between NOM and the state of Maine, including one dealing with disclosure of donors, remain unsettled.

Scam targeting cosmetic service shops, state says

Maine officials are warning of an apparent scam that’s been targeting barber shops, manicurists and cosmetology businesses.

The Department of Professional and Financial Regulation issued an alert Thursday saying that businesses in York and Aroostook counties have been contacted by somebody asking for personal information about their employees.

The caller claims the questions are part of an investigation being done by the state, and that fines could be assessed if the businesses don’t comply.

Commissioner Anne Head says the department is not calling those businesses, and that anyone who receives such a call should report it to the department’s licensing office.


Air Tran’s service cuts don’t affect Portland jetport, so far

AirTran has cut service to four cities, but airport officials in Portland said there’s no word on any change coming here as a result of the purchase of the airline by Southwest Air.

The deal has gone through on the corporate level, but AirTran isn’t expected to start operating under the Southwest name until early next year, said Paul Bradbury, director of the Portland International Jetport.

Bradbury said Southwest hasn’t given any indication to Portland of its plans for service here, but he noted that AirTran recently added another nonstop flight to Atlanta. The airline flies to Baltimore, Atlanta and Orlando from Portland.

Southwest recently announced that AirTran will stop serving Atlantic City, N.J.; Moline, Ill.; and Asheville, N.C., as of Jan. 7, 2012. It will also cease to serve Newport News, Va., on March 10, 2012.

Water main break may cause flooding, dirty drinking water

A water main break near the intersection of West Kidder Street and Washington Avenue forced police to redirect traffic around the area, and prompted warnings about dirty drinking water Thursday night.

There were also reports of some minor flooding near homes in the neighborhood.

The Portland Water District, which was called in to repair the break, said on its emergency call-in line that residents could expect to see dirty water, a loss in water pressure and, in some cases, a complete loss of water pressure.

The recording said there was no estimate on the amount of time it will take to restore water service.

A surge in water flow may have caused a pipe to burst. A Fire Department dispatcher said construction work is taking place in that area, which may have also been a factor.

The city started receiving complaints about street flooding around 5:30 p.m.


Ceremony today to launch Piper Shores improvement

A groundbreaking ceremony will be held at 10:30 a.m. today for a $5 million improvement project at Piper Shores, a retirement community managed by Life Care Services LLC.

Hebert Construction Corp. of Lewiston will lead the construction of a new spa, beauty salon, pool, fitness center and 180-seat multipurpose room. The project is an acknowledgement that more retirees are interested in staying fit and maintaining a high level of overall health, a spokeswoman said in a news release this week.

Opened in 2001, Piper Shores offers independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing care.

“One of the mistakes retirement communities make is to fail to recognize the need to constantly reinvent, re-position and to adapt to the needs of current and future residents,” Michael Bierley, the facility’s executive director, said in the release.


Police looking for suspect in credit union robbery

Police are searching for a man who robbed a Maine credit union of an undisclosed amount of cash.

Officials say a man in his 20s entered the Winslow Community Federal Credit Union in Winslow shortly before 10 a.m. Thursday, placed a bag on the counter and demanded cash from a teller.

Police told the Morning Sentinel that the suspect may have fled in a teal Pontiac Gran Prix driven by another man.

The robber was described as 5 feet, 6 inches tall, about 140 pounds and wearing a hooded sweatshirt with dark horizontal stripes.


Disabled sailboat towed in; two Canadian sailors safe

Two Canadian sailors are back in port after their boat was towed to shore by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard says the two people on board the 35-foot sailboat Excaliber, based in Stanley, Ontario, called for help Wednesday after their boat became disabled about 40 miles east of Southwest Harbor.

A 47-foot Coast Guard motor lifeboat was sent from Southwest Harbor to help the boat to shore.

The Coast Guard says both vessels reached Southwest Harbor at about 11 p.m. Wednesday.


Nonprofit created to raise funds for elephant care

A veterinarian and one-time elephant trainer and his wife have created a nonprofit group to raise money so they can bring a retired circus elephant to Maine.

Jim Laurita of Hope says the elephant, Rosie, now lives at a circus headquarters in Oklahoma. He says Rosie is well-cared for but unable to receive the special treatment she needs for leg and muscle injuries.

Laurita told WCSH-TV that the nonprofit called Hope Elephants will to raise money for a large barn and a fence around a one-acre field where Rosie will live. Laurita also plans to treat other elephants that need medical care.

Laurita says he’ll also open the facility to teach children about the animals.


Workers’ paycheck delays blamed on computer glitch

Officials say a computer glitch kept some of the 444 employees of Maine’s second largest city from receiving their paychecks on time.

Lewiston Finance Director Heather Hunter said only employees using the Lewiston Municipal Credit Union received their direct deposit checks as scheduled at midnight Tuesday.

The computer problem was fixed by 10 a.m. Wednesday and employees with accounts at large banks had received their pay by 11 a.m. Accounts at smaller banks and credit unions took longer.

Hunter told the Sun Journal she began getting calls from concerned employees at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.


UMaine chosen for high-tech energy-production project

The U.S. Department of Energy says the University of Maine has been selected for one of three high-tech energy-production projects nationwide.

The work involves improving the operations of advanced, zero-emission power systems and the improvement of operations at fossil energy power plants.

UMaine will receive $1.2 million to work with Orono-based Environetix to develop sensory materials that can withstand high-temperature conditions.

U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud of Maine says the project will help create jobs and improve the efficiency and use of domestic sources of energy.

– From staff and news services