Child playing with stove starts fire in basement

A preschool child playing with the buttons of a stove ignited a fire that damaged a home in Berwick and sent three people to the hospital.

The fire broke out at 7 a.m. Sunday when the 2-year-old child pressed buttons on a stove in the basement, which ignited a photocopier set on top of it, according to an investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

The fire at the house on Old Pine Hill Road was brought under control in 30 minutes but the boy and two adults were treated for smoke inhalation. The boy’s father, Rolly Tibbetts, 44, remained hospitalized in stable condition Monday at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover, N.H., for treatment of smoke inhalation.

The boy and his grandfather, Kenneth Tibbetts, 80, were treated for smoke inhalation and released.


DHHS says budget shortfall likely to exceed $70 million

Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services projects a budgetary shortfall of more than $70 million in the current fiscal year.

Commissioner Mary Mayhew said Monday the projected shortfall stems from underfunding programs and reflects an increased use of social services and loss of anticipated state revenues.

Mayhew said officials are analyzing the budget to better understand this challenge, seek immediate solutions and to plan for the future.

The department projects more than $10 million in additional physician claims for services than what was originally budgeted, and nearly $5 million in claims carried forward from last fiscal year. Also contributing to the shortfall are projected increases in Medicare Part A, B and D premiums, adding up to $5 million, and failure to achieve some planned cost savings.


State conference on tourism scheduled Jan. 26 in Newry

Maine tourism officials say registration is now open for the Governor’s 2012 Conference on Tourism.

The conference is being held Jan. 26 at Sunday River ski resort’s Grand Summit Hotel in Newry.

The event includes breakfast, lunch, a trade show and workshop sessions. The keynote speaker will be the chief marketing officer from L.L. Bean.

The conference is put on by the Maine Office of Tourism and the Maine Tourism Commission.


Maine Beer Week celebrates state’s craft-beer industry

Maine Beer Week is kicking off this week to celebrate the state’s growing craft-beer industry.

During the weeklong celebration, restaurants and brewers will team up to hold beer-centric dinners, beer tastings and chances to meet the brewers who are behind Maine’s micro-brews. The event begins Thursday and runs through Nov. 17.

Maine Beer Week is put on by the Maine Brewers’ Guild and gBritt PR company. The event is an adjunct of Maine Restaurant Week, which is held in early March each year.


Snowmobiler support thin for park plan, leader says

The head of the Maine Snowmobile Association says an offer from conservationist Roxanne Quimby offering snowmobile clubs five years of access to trails on her land in exchange for their support for her national park plan doesn’t have much support.

Bob Meyers told the Bangor Daily News that Quimby is now offering snowmobile clubs one year of access to trails on her land if they submit letters seeking permission.

Meyers said Quimby had received some support from the clubs for her five-year offer, but not enough to make it viable.

Quimby wants the support for her proposal to give the National Park Service 70,000 acres she owns or plans to own adjacent to Baxter State Park.



Woman charged with OUI after car crashes into house

Authorities say an Owls Head woman faces drunken driving charges after crashing her car into a home over the weekend, totaling the vehicle and causing extensive damage to the home.

The Knox County Sheriff’s Office said 25-year-old Haley Watkinson was released from jail on $500 unsecured bail Sunday morning following the Saturday night incident.

Watkinson told police that she crashed after looking down to find her cellphone.

Police said she crossed into the other lane and into a ditch, struck a fire hydrant and then a vacant seasonal house. The house had about $30,000 in damage.

Watkinson was not hurt but was arrested at the scene and charged with operating under the influence.

The crash remains under investigation.