New York investment firm among Oxford casino owners

Documents show that a New York investment firm is among the owners of a casino under construction in western Maine.

The Maine Gambling Control Board on Friday released BB Development’s application for a casino slated to open next spring in Oxford. The Associated Press requested the application though Maine’s Freedom of Access law.

The application shows that a firm owned by Gary and Robert Bahre, former owners of the New Hampshire International Speedway and Oxford Plains Speedway, owns the largest share of the casino.

A portion is also owned by Maine Funding LLC, which is owned by Och-Ziff Real Estate Advisors. According to the application, Och-Ziff has been involved in numerous gambling investments over the years ranging from large destination casinos to small slot-machine operations.

FBI task force to target street gangs in Maine

The FBI says it’s preparing to deploy a task force aimed at targeting street gangs in Maine.

Richard DesLauriers, special agent in charge in Boston, said Friday that the FBI is working with local police to establish the Southern Maine Safe Streets Task Force. Similar task forces are already at work in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

DesLauriers says targeting violent street gangs is a priority for the FBI.

Todd Difede, the FBI’s supervisory special agent in Portland, says the goal is to have the task force up and running in one to two months.

The task force will work closely with the Portland Police Department which has identified street gangs — groups loosely affiliated around illegal activity — as a problem that would benefit from focused, coordinated enforcement and federal assistance.

Rash of car burglaries targeting unlocked cars

Portland police are urging residents to lock their cars and hide valuables after a string of car break-ins that exclusively targeted unlocked cars.

Portland police assessed the rash of car burglaries as part of the department’s weekly CompStat process. The statistical analysis showed that all 14 car burglaries reported last week were from unlocked cars, where iPods, sunglasses, compact discs and change were stolen.

“It is certainly a crime of opportunity,” said Detective Sgt. Dean Goodale. “If they see it and the doors are unlocked, they’re going to take it, or if they see the door is unlocked, they’ll look for it.”

Those burglaries were not concentrated in any one area of the city and probably involved different thieves, police said.

The final two weeks of October saw a cluster of car burglaries in the area bounded by St. John Street, Forest Avenue, Noyes and Washburn streets. Those 13 cases included two where someone entered an unlocked garage and then an unlocked car, technically a home burglary, which is a felony.

There have been 590 vehicle burglaries so far this year compared to 665 last year, police said.


Ratepayers group going to court over ‘smart meters’

A group of Central Maine Power ratepayers says it’s going to the state’s highest court in its fight against the utility’s use of so-called “smart meters.”

The Public Utilities Commission this summer dismissed a 19-person complaint that challenged CMP’s smart-meter program, in which it’s replacing 600,000 traditional electric meters with wireless digital devices.

The PUC allows CMP customers to opt out of using the meters at a cost of $12 a month, but the commission dismissed the complaint raising concerns about safety, privacy and other issues.

Lead plaintiff Ed Friedman of Bowdoinham says the notice of appeal to Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court was filed Monday.

CMP says smart meters are safe, cut energy use and allow utilities to pinpoint problems during power outages more quickly.

State House honors vets who made special sacrifices

Families of fallen soldiers from Maine and veterans who made special sacrifices have been honored in the State House.

Gov. Paul LePage and Maj. Gen. Bill Libby of the Maine National Guard presented Gold Star Honorable Service Medals Thursday to veterans and family members for their service and sacrifices dating back to World War II. More than 50 people attended the ceremony.

Families of the fallen soldiers received gold medals in honor of their family member’s service. Silver Star medals were given to veterans who are former prisoners of war or Purple Heart recipients. Honorable Service certificates were presented to those who served during wartime.

LePage says Maine continues to have large numbers of military members serving, and he salutes them for their dedication to the defense of freedom.


USDA will allow port to keep cattle export business

The port of Eastport will be allowed to continue its growing cattle export business now that federal agriculture officials have agreed to continue livestock inspections at the city’s shipping terminal.

Port officials say the U.S. Department of Agriculture has agreed to send an inspector to the port on an as-needed basis when shipments are made.

The Eastport shipping terminal for years has largely handled pulp and pulp-related products. The Bangor Daily News says the terminal has gotten a boost over the past year with pregnant cows from Maine, other New England states and as far away as Wisconsin that have been transported to Eastport for shipment overseas.

Since January, an estimated 17,000 cattle have passed through the port.


Sheriff’s deputy suspended for hitting deer at 90 mph

A Hancock County sheriff’s deputy was suspended without pay for one day last month after he struck a deer while driving more than 90 mph on his way home, causing more than $8,000 in damage to the police cruiser, the Bangor Daily News reported.

The crash happened just before 3 a.m. Oct. 6 while Deputy Christopher Sargent was returning home at speeds he later acknowledged were unnecessary. While driving on Route 172 in Ellsworth, Sargent was unable to avoid a deer standing in the road.

The patrol car’s on-board camera showed Sargent was driving 92 mph at the time of the accident, although earlier in the trip he had reached speeds in excess of 100 mph, according to documents provided by the Sheriff’s Department.

The collision caused enough damage that the Hancock County commissioners voted to purchase a new car for $26,100 rather than repair the vehicle. Sargent, who immediately disclosed his excessive speed to a superior officer, suffered minor injuries in the crash.

As a result of the incident, Sargent will not receive a new patrol car for one budget year. The new cruiser being purchased by the county will be given to another officer at the department.


Alan Bradstreet taking over as ‘incredibleMaine’ host

Alan Bradstreet is taking over as host for the Maine-focused TV show “incredibleMAINE,” seen on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network.

Bradstreet is taking over for original host LC Van Savage, who has retired. Bradstreet will make his debut as new host of the show on Nov. 12.

Over the next few months, Bradstreet will explore the Maine Wildlife Park, Acadia National Park, a South Paris tourmaline mine and the work of sculptor Andreas Von Huene.

Bradstreet has spent much of his life as a woodworker, best known for his scroll-sawn wooden bookmarks available in many retail locations throughout the state.

“incredibleMAINE” airs weekly on MPBN time at 10:30 a.m. Saturdays.


Investigation stepped up in wake of harbor seal deaths

Federal officials are stepping up investigations into the deaths of 146 harbor seals along the New England coast since September after samples of five animals tested positive for the Influenza A virus.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Friday that the deaths were declared an “unusual mortality event,” enabling the agency to pour more resources into the probe.

The seals are generally less than a year old and have a healthy appearance. They have been found in Maine, New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts.

NOAA says more tests are being done to determine whether the influenza virus has a role in the overall deaths after results for six other pathogens and substances came back negative.

Officials warn people and pets to stay away from seals to avoid risking their health.