Town councilors to consider ending Metro bus service

The Town Council will consider ending Metro bus service in 2013 after a public hearing on the proposal tonight.

Councilor Tony Payne said he raised the issue because he wants a public review of the bus service that expanded into Falmouth seven years ago. The council meeting starts at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

The agenda also includes a public hearing on a proposal to make railroad crossing improvements for no-whistle zones in anticipation of the Amtrak Downeaster expanding service to Freeport and Brunswick next year.

Since 2005, the town’s annual tab for the Metro service has grown from $120,000 to $137,000 in the coming year, Payne said. The Metro makes 13 round trips, six days a week, from downtown Portland through Falmouth, carrying an average of 22 riders per round trip, Payne said.

Ridership on the Falmouth route has increased steadily, from fewer than 55,000 passengers in the first 10 months of 2005 to 65,145 passengers in the same period this year, according to the Greater Portland Transit District.

Though Payne believes a majority of councilors want to keep the bus service, he wants to withdraw from the district, which also serves Westbrook.

“The cost continues to rise and I want a public dialogue about it,” he said.


Portland woman charged after vehicle hits utility pole

Police said a Portland woman was charged with drunken driving early Sunday after the vehicle she was operating crashed into a utility pole on Pleasant Street.

The crash happened shortly before 3 a.m. near 181 Pleasant St., Lt. Lynne Doucette said in a news release. Kaitlynn Gatchell, 23, was charged with operating under the influence, the release said.

The crash knocked out power in the neighborhood and closed Pleasant Street to traffic until 6 a.m.


Biddeford chosen as site for annual Maine Bike Rally

Biddeford has been chosen to be the site for the annual Maine Bike Rally in 2012 and again in 2013.

The 24th annual rally will take place from July 6-8. The event is sponsored by the Casco Bay Bicycle Club, the Merrymeeting Wheelers Bicycle Club and the Bicycle Coalition of Maine.

The event regularly draws about 300 people from around Maine and elsewhere who can choose from more than 30 rides that vary in length from five miles to 100 miles. The 2010 and 2011 rallies were held in Brunswick.

Rally organizers said on-site camping and several meals will be provided at the middle school in Biddeford. There also will be a bike expo, an ice cream social and musical entertainment.


Eight campuses recognized for addressing tobacco use

A coalition that promotes tobacco-free policies at Maine’s colleges is giving recognition to eight colleges and universities for their efforts to address tobacco use on campus.

The Maine Tobacco-Free College Network recognized the schools at an awards ceremony in Bangor earlier this month. The schools were graded on criteria such as campus tobacco policies, the availability of tobacco-cessation information, bans on tobacco distribution and divestment of tobacco investments.

The University of Maine at Orono was given the highest rating of 10 stars. Also honored were Kennebec Valley Community College, the University of Maine Hutchinson Center in Belfast, Unity College, Northern Maine Community College, UMaine at Machias, UMaine at Presque Isle and the University of New England.


Hunter’s body discovered after hunting party search

A hunter’s body was found in the town of Shirley, south of Greenville, over the weekend, the Maine Warden Service said.

Officials said 54-year-old Dean Poulin of Waterville was hunting Saturday near routes 6 and 15 when he was separated from the rest of his hunting party.

When he failed to return at the end of the day, members of his party searched for him. Poulin’s body was located in a clear-cut in the area where he had been hunting. Officials said his death is believed to be the result of a medical incident.

The state Medical Examiner’s Office will examine the body to confirm the cause of death.


Groundbreaking to be held for new Catholic church

At a time when more is heard about Catholic church closings than openings, a new church is planned in southern Maine.

The Diocese of Portland said Bishop Richard Malone will bless the site during a groundbreaking Wednesday in South Berwick, which comes after four years of discussion and planning.

The new Our Lady of the Angels will replace the former St. Michael’s church in South Berwick and Our Lady of Peace in Berwick. Construction is expected to begin in March and end in November 2012.

The decision to close two churches and build a new one was made because both churches needed repairs. The parish wanted to maintain fewer properties, and neither one could expand the seating or parking area needed to accommodate the population of both.


Book publisher uses auction to join fight against hunger

A Maine book publisher is going to bat in the fight against hunger with an online auction featuring signed copies of books by some of Maine’s best-known authors.

Islandport Press’s Online Literary Auction to Fight Hunger kicks off today and runs through Friday. The Yarmouth-based company has set a goal of raising enough money to buy $10,000 worth of food. Proceeds will go to the Maine Credit Unions’ Campaign for Ending Hunger.

More than 20 authors are contributing books for the effort, including Richard Russo, Tess Gerritsen, Cathie Pelletier, Dahlov Ipcar and Colin Woodard. Different books will be auctioned on different days during the week.

People can participate in the auction through the www.islandportpress.com/fighthunger website.


CMP beginning construction on 39-mile transmission line

Central Maine Power Co. has begun construction on a new 39-mile transmission line.

The $33 million line will extend from Moscow to Benton. Company officials say it will enhance the reliability of power in Somerset County and be able to accommodate wind-generated electricity in the future.

The line will consist of about 465 utility poles, each 70 to 80 feet high, and is being built parallel to an existing line in an established transmission corridor.

CMP said the cost will be shared by utility customers throughout New England, with CMP customers paying about 7 percent. Completion is scheduled for next spring.


Fire that damaged house found to be accidental

A two-alarm fire that severely damaged a house on Osborne Avenue on Friday was accidental, fire officials said.

No one was home at 17 Osborne Ave. when the fire broke out around 4:25 p.m. near the kitchen stove, Lt. Robb Couture said Sunday.

The fire was under control by 5:45 p.m., but the single-family home is not habitable, he said. Pets were killed in the blaze.

Firefighters from Cape Elizabeth, Portland and Scarborough assisted city firefighters.


Four teenagers face charges for man’s shooting death

Massachusetts authorities say four teenagers face murder charges in the shooting death of a 21-year-old man outside of his Randolph home.

Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey said Kyle McManus knew at least one of the people charged in his death late Saturday.

Morrissey said four people were being held Sunday: 19-year-old Allison Deshowitz of Stoughton and Brockton residents Devonte Thames, Brian Moulton and Nathan Lugo. Thames and Moulton are 18, and Lugo is 17.

– From staff and news services