Cape, Hampden students to compete in Mock Trial final

Teams from Cape Elizabeth High School and Hampden Academy will face off Thursday in the final round of the Maine High School Mock Trial Competition.

The teams will compete for the championship in the Maine Supreme Judicial Courtroom at the Cumberland County Courthouse. Maine Supreme Judicial Court Justice Jon Levy will be the presiding judge. U.S. Attorney Thomas Delahanty and Maine Law School Dean Peter Pitegoff will serve as evaluators.

The scenario for the competition involves the prosecution of the leader of an environmental activist group who is accused of murdering a paper company executive.

The competition has been sponsored for 18 years by the Maine State Bar Association, with support provided from the Maine Bar Foundation and Friends of Mock Trial.

Twenty high school teams – about 300 to 350 students – participated in this year’s competition.

USM to award additional $1 million in scholarships

The University of Southern Maine will award an additional $1 million in financial aid next fall.

About 83 high school seniors will benefit from the new scholarships, which will be given to students who show academic promise, according to a news release from the college.

The four-year scholarships will range from $2,000 to $13,000. Class rank, standardized test scores and financial need will be considered in deciding who will receive the scholarships, two of which will go to minority or first-generation college students.

The university now gives $7 million in financial aid annually. About 85 percent of first-time, full-time students at USM receive aid.

Buying from local merchants boosts economy, study finds

A group of Portland business owners and the Maine Center for Economic Policy unveiled a study Tuesday that says spending money with local merchants generates more economic activity – and more local jobs – than shopping at national chains.

The study found that every $100 spent at locally owned businesses contributes an additional $58 to the local economy, compared with $33 when the same amount is spent at national chains.

“The data shows pretty clearly that a slight change in consumer behavior can have a dramatic impact on the economy,” said Garrett Martin, executive director of the Maine Center for Economic Policy.

Martin said a shift of 10 percent in consumer spending in Cumberland County from national chains to locally owned businesses would result in $127 million in extra economic activity and support 874 new jobs.

The news conference announcing the study was held in the foyer of Longfellow Books, a locally owned bookstore in Monument Square. Owner Chris Bowe praised the efforts of the Portland Independent Business & Community Alliance, the nonprofit organization behind Portland’s “buy local” campaign.

Melissa Rivera, owner of Lalo Boutique on Congress Street, said her shop specializes in products made in Maine, and many of her customers shop there for that reason. She said the city merchants’ “buy local” efforts have paid off in customer traffic.

“If they’re looking for me, then they know what I’m specializing in,” she said.

Nature Conservancy creating groundfishing ‘permit bank’

The Nature Conservancy has purchased a groundfish permit that will be provided to Maine fishermen with a dual goal of keeping fishermen busy and conducting research.

The Nature Conservancy is working with the Island Institute and Penobscot East Resource Center on creating Maine’s first “permit banks” in which they buy fishing permits. Then they’re given to Maine fishermen for research on fish population, fishing gear and fishing practices.

So far, three permits have been purchased.

The environmental and conservation group says local fishermen will soon be working under the new permit in the Port Clyde Community Groundfish Sector.


Couple charged with stealing items from emergency room

A woman who had been treated for minor injuries after a car accident Monday night was caught with her boyfriend stealing items from the emergency room, police said.

Deputy Police Chief Charles Rumsey said Faith O’Connor, 37, suffered minor injuries in the accident and was driven by ambulance to the emergency room at MaineGeneral Medical Center.

At 9:50 p.m., Officer Robert Bouley was dispatched to MaineGeneral after emergency room nurses reported seeing O’Connor and her boyfriend, Griffin Ringle, 21, stuffing items into a backpack.

Rumsey said nurses confronted the pair, who returned the items – gauze pads, tape, a flashlight, a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, large bandages, alcohol prep wipes and a digital thermometer – valued at about $55.

“It was obvious when officer Bouley arrived that the hospital staff was not happy,” Rumsey said. “You don’t mess around with ER nurses.”

O’Connor and Ringle, both of Waterville, face charges of theft by taking or unlawful transfer, which is punishable by up to six months in jail and $1,000 in fines.


Maine Democratic leader nominated for federal post

A former Maine Democratic Party chairman has been nominated for a U.S. State Department post.

President Obama has nominated former Maine Democratic Chairman Frederick “Rick” Barton to be assistant secretary for conflict and stabilization operations and coordinator for reconstruction and stabilization.

The state Democratic Party made the announcement today.

Barton was party chairman in the late 1980s. Since then he has been involved in conflict resolution matters. He now serves as senior adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Barton previously held a post in the United Nations in New York.

Winter campsites available along Allagash waterway

The Allagash Wilderness Waterway will provide winter campgrounds at Chamberlain Bridge and Kellogg Brook.

Registration for the campgrounds will begin at 8 a.m., Saturday at the Chamberlain Bridge ranger station. The 48 campsites will be allotted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Allagash waterway Superintendent Matthew LaRoche anticipates renting out most of the 48 available campsites by noon on the first day of registration. To be sure of getting a site, he suggests that campers arrive at Chamberlain Bridge before 8 a.m. on Saturday.

The Allagash is a 92 mile-long ribbon of lakes, ponds, rivers and streams.