Bleachers will go up before famous elm comes down

The removal of Scarborough’s most famous tree could become a spectacle.

Town Councilor Carol Rancourt, who serves on the committee that has been investigating the removal of Elsa the Elm, said bleachers will be erected across Route 1 from the tree on Oct. 15.

People will be invited to sit and watch as arborists take down the tree, which has loomed over the Oak Hill intersection for about 190 years. The tree is across Route 1 from an Amato’s sandwich shop and the Scarborough police station.

Rancourt urged people to arrive by 7 a.m. on Oct. 15. Tree removal experts expect to finish the job by about noon. The tree’s remains will be taken to Hillside Lumber and milled into pieces that the public and artists can acquire.

Elsa is the only local survivor of the Dutch elm disease that killed tens of millions of elms in the United States, beginning the late 1920s. The tree must be taken down before its large branches begin falling onto Route 1.


Water main break damages public safety building cellar

A water main break inside Westbrook’s public safety building damaged records and narrowly missed soaking expensive computer equipment.

One of the fire department captains was in his office of the seven-year-old building at 7:20 a.m. Wednesday when he heard a loud bang and the sound of gushing water, said Public Safety Chief Mike Pardue. The firefighter went to the basement and found that a water main had ruptured.

The basement of the building houses the department’s information technology, fitness center, locker rooms and records, Pardue said.

Within a couple of minutes, the water was 6 to 8 inches deep on the floor and the force of the water coming from the pipe had blown a hole in the women’s locker room, he said.

Nobody was in the basement at the time. The water main was shut off and repairs begun. Engineers were examining the equipment to determine why it ruptured.

The water line serves the building’s sprinkler system and the drinking water supply was not affected, Pardue said. Some archived records were damaged, but none that are used on a regular basis.

Computer servers were elevated and missed getting wet.

So far, mayoral race looks like repeat of last election

The city’s mayoral race in November will be a repeat of the last election two years ago if no new candidates join before the Friday deadline.

Mayor Colleen Hilton was nominated by the Democratic City Committee at the party’s caucus Sunday to run for re-election to a second term. A week earlier, Bruce Chuluda, who was unseated by Hilton in 2009 after three terms as mayor, was nominated by the Republican City Committee.

Also nominated at the Democrats’ caucus were Michael Foley, Brendan Rielly , Victor Chau, Paul Emery and Michael Sanphy – all current councilors running for re-election to their two-year seats.
Suzanne Salisbury, Alexander Stone, Veronica Bates and James Violette were all nominated for seats on the School Committee.


Saturday walk will benefit East African famine victims

A benefit walk across Portland’s peninsula Saturday will raise awareness and donations to support East Africans who face famine because of a historic drought.

The “Maine Walk for Humanity Just Another Bridge Away” has been organized by members of Portland’s Somali community, most of whom have relatives and friends affected by the famine in their home country.

“More than 750,000 people are living on the edge of famine,” said Mohammed Dini, an organizer of the walk. “This walk can help bridge the gap between the coast of Maine and the coast of Africa and sends a message to the millions affected by this famine that we are not blind to their tragedy.”

The walk will begin at Erskine Park, at the intersection of Broadway and Waterman Drive in South Portland, at 12:30 p.m.; cross the Casco Bay Bridge and finish alongside Tukey’s Bridge at Payson Park. Each participant is asked to make a $5 donation.


Ex-Maine school bus driver charged in boy’s sex assault

A former Maine school bus driver has been charged with sexually assaulted a disabled 6-year-old boy he was driving to camp for special-needs children.

The Portsmouth, N.H.,-based Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force identified the boy from videos stored in a computer belonging to John Allen Wright, 45, of Milton, N.H.

The assaults are alleged to have taken place in July.

Wright was arrested earlier this month on six counts of possession of child pornography stemming from an investigation by the task force. He’s being held at a New Hampshire jail.

Kittery police Detective Steve Hamel told the Portsmouth Herald that there may be a second victim from Kittery. Police are trying to enhance a video to identify the child.

Portsmouth yard upgrading nuclear-powered submarine

A nuclear-powered submarine has arrived at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for system upgrades and maintenance work.

The Portsmouth Herald reported that the USS Pasadena arrived Wednesday with a crew of 18 officers and 126 enlisted personnel.

Originally assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, the 20-year-old submarine later transferred to the Pacific Fleet and has conducted operations from the west coasts of North and South America to Australia.

The town of Eliot is serving as the crew’s host community.


Wardens recover body of Maine Guide in pond

The Maine Warden Service dive team has recovered the body of a 59-year-old registered Maine Guide whose empty boat was found floating on Big Wood Pond.

Wardens found the body of Stephen Coleman of Dennistown at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The search for Coleman began Tuesday afternoon after a report that an unoccupied boat had been found on the pond shortly after noon.

Coleman’s body was found in 8 feet of water near the confluence of Big Wood Pond and Moose River. Officials say Coleman was a guide who owned a campground along the river.

A life jacket was found in Coleman’s boat, but he was not wearing one.


Father: Son got 64 stitches following attack by pit bull

A father said his 1-year-old son needed 64 stitches to close wounds inflicted by a pit bull who mauled the boy at his grandfather’s home.

Henry Irish said his son Devin is home from the hospital but wakes up at night crying out in pain. He said the boy suffered puncture wounds and a broken nose on Tuesday.

He told WGME-TV that he blames the boy’s grandfather and the breed of dog for the attack.

But Bennett Wilson, a veterinarian in Portland, said any dog, regardless of breed, is capable of injuring another animal or a person under certain circumstances.

Plan to improve downtown will be presented tonight

A plan to improve the experience of traveling, shopping and doing business along Windham’s busiest section of Route 302 will be presented at a public meeting tonight.

Since an initial meeting in June to gather public input about problems with downtown, a committee has developed a preliminary plan for the future of the area.

Images and maps depicting that plan will be presented at the meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. at the Manchester School on Route 302.

For more information, call Town Planning Director Brooks More  at 894-5960, extension 2.


Senate panel OKs bill to let heavy trucks use interstates

The Senate Appropriations Committee has signed off on a measure that would once again allow heavy trucks to use interstate highways in Maine and Vermont.

The provision approved on Wednesday was placed in the transportation spending bill by Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

The proposal now goes to the Senate. There’s no similar language in the House version.

Trucks weighing from 80,000 to 100,000 pounds are now forbidden from using the interstates and must use secondary roads that pass through towns in Maine and Vermont.

Snowe receives award named after suffragist Paul

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, was a co-recipient Wednesday of an Alice Award, named after suffragist Alice Paul, the founder of the National Woman’s Party.

Snowe accepted the award during a luncheon Wednesday at the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum next to the Hart Senate Office Building, which is maintained by the National Woman’s Party in honor of Paul.

Receiving the award along with Snowe was Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.


Panel endorses 13 nominees for boards and commissions

The Legislature’s Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee endorsed 13 nominations Wednesday for various boards and commissions.

Gov. Paul LePage has forwarded more than 90 nominations for lawmakers to consider before Tuesday’s legislative special session. If they win committee approval, the nominees will go to the Senate for votes.

Receiving committee endorsement Wednesday were: Daniel A. Daggett of Woolwich, John Shattuck of New Gloucester, John Dorrer of Brunswick and Lois Napier Skillings of Brunswick to the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority.

Susan L. Higgins of Kennebunk was endorsed as a member of the Maine Labor Relations Board.

Also endorsed were Jason W. Elliott of Bangor, Renee W. Kelly of Carmel and Michael A. Duguay of Waterville to the Maine Rural Development Authority.

Endorsed for the Loring Development Authority were Michael L. Edgecomb of Spruce Head, Daniel LaPointe of Van Buren, Janet A. McGillan of Fort Fairfield and Carol S. Bell of Presque Isle.