Chemical spill in home forces closure of street

A chemical spill inside a home on Chester Avenue forced the town to close the street for about an hour Thursday night.

Falmouth Fire Chief Howard Rice said his department was called to 3 Chester Ave. around 4:10 p.m. after the home’s owner reported he had accidentally spilled a small glass container of malathion, a pesticide, on the basement floor.

The Portland Fire Department’s hazardous materials team was called in to assist with the cleanup. A representative from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection also responded.

The home had to be ventilated and the owner was allowed to return after the fire department checked air quality levels. The street reopened at 5:30 p.m.


Police seize 86 poundsof pot in raid on home

Police say they’ve seized 86 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated $200,000.

Police Chief Edward Strong said police raided a home on Old Dennett Road on Wednesday night and found 51 marijuana plants in bloom and the remnants of another 28 that had been harvested.

Strong told the Portsmouth Herald that the basement had been converted into a sophisticated marijuana processing facility.

Charged with aggravated cultivating of marijuana were the renter of the house, 36-year-old Francis Burns of Kittery, along with 34-year-old Evan Ploof of Watervliet, N.Y., 38-year-old Matthew Taylor of Delmar, N.Y., and 30-year-old Melissa Neppl of Albany, N.Y.


Old Orchard motel operator convicted of sales tax theft

An Old Orchard Beach man who ran a motel has been convicted for the theft of sales tax.

Dennis Caris, 54, was convicted on charges of felony theft by misapplication of sales tax, failure to truthfully collect, account and pay over sales tax, Attorney General William Schneider announced Thursday.

The activity took place from January 2007 to October 2009.

Superior Court Justice William Brodrick sentenced Caris to two years in jail, with all but four months suspended and three years of probation. Caris was also ordered to pay $35,860 in tax and interest.

Caris ran The Caris Landings by the Sea in Old Orchard Beach.


Athletic fields’ completion will be celebrated today

The completion of several athletic fields off Hunter Road will be celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 3:30 p.m. today.

The fields are part of a $3.3 million  complex that will include trails for running, biking and cross-country skiing and a recreational lodge.

Developed by Freeport Fields and Trails, a coalition of local residents and business owners, the project is being paid for with $2.3 million in surplus town funds and $500,000 from L.L. Bean.

Next spring, the fields will be striped and construction will begin on the trails, she said.

The ceremony will be held at the Hunter Road entrance.


Official to serve dual roles while replacement is sought

The city of Portland’s economic development director will serve as its acting director of planning and urban development.

Greg Mitchell was appointed Thursday by the city manager to replace Penny St. Louis who is leaving her post at the end of the week.

City Manager Mark Rees said he will lead the search to find a permanent replacement for St. Louis.

Mitchell, who will serve the city in dual roles while the search for a replacement continues, joined the city staff three years ago.

He has led the effort to recruit new businesses to the city including Renys and Trader Joe’s.


Former Bay State trooper sentenced to prison for rape

A former Massachusetts state trooper convicted of rape in Maine is going to prison.

WMTW-TV reported that Joseph Silva was sentenced Thursday in York County Superior Court to 10 years for gross assault and seven years each for two aggravated assault charges.

He has been held without bail since being convicted last month.

Silva, of Newburyport, Mass., met the Portsmouth, N.H., woman on a social networking website and arranged to meet her for dinner in November 2009.

Authorities say he lured her to a Kittery hotel room under the pretense of watching a Patriots game, but instead sexually assaulted her.

He was arrested in December 2009.


Man charged with stealing firewood, released on bail

A Waterboro man faces theft and trespassing charges after he allegedly stole firewood from a Blueberry Road wood lot.

The owner of the land reported to the York County Sheriff’s Office at the beginning of October that he had experienced ongoing thefts of recently cut and split firewood.

The sheriff’s office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Maine Warden Service investigated and identified James Coffman, 44, as the thief, the sheriff’s office said in a release.

Coffman was charged Tuesday and was released on $500 bail.


Clean energy coalition kicks off ballot initiative for 2012

A coalition of business, environmental and labor groups is kicking off a ballot initiative campaign it says would control energy costs, create jobs and cut pollution.

The coalition announced Thursday in Bangor that it’s created a group called Maine Citizens for Clean Energy to collect signatures to put a question on the November 2012 ballot.

The question would ask voters if they want to require that at least 20 percent of Maine’s electricity come from new renewable energy sources by 2020, while also requiring electric utilities to invest in energy efficiency whenever it would reduce energy costs for ratepayers.

Coalition members include the Natural Resources Council of Maine, the Maine Renewable Energy Coalition, Reed & Reed construction company and the Maine State Building and Construction Trades Council.


Report: Maine colleges hadregion’s lowest tuition hikes

A regional agency that watches trends in colleges said that during the past five years, Maine community colleges had the lowest increases in in-state and out-of-state tuitions and fees in all of New England.

The New England Board of Higher Education’s report is based on figures from schools in the six states collected during the summer.

In New England, projections suggest that anywhere from 59 percent of jobs in Maine to 68 percent in Massachusetts will require some kind of postsecondary education by 2018.


Casino group won’t fight release of owners’ names

The development group behind a casino being built in Oxford said it won’t try and stop full disclosure of its ownership.

The state Gambling Control Board ruled earlier this week that Black Bear Development LLC could no longer keep the names of its owners, and the percentage of ownership, a secret.

A lawyer for Black Bear argued that disclosing names would be a violation of privacy and would unveil proprietary trade secrets.

But Black Bear issued a statement on Wednesday saying it would not pursue the matter further.

The casino is scheduled to open in the spring.

– From staff and news services

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