Judge rejects family’s suit in shooting of armed man

A federal judge sided with South Portland police Friday and rejected a lawsuit by the family of a mentally ill man who was shot by an officer in 2008.

Michael Norton, 29, was killed on Aug. 25, 2008, by Officer Benjamin Macisso, a member of the South Portland special-reaction team, as Norton approached police with knives in each hand after a four-hour standoff.

Norton’s family sued on behalf of his estate, arguing that his civil rights were violated because police did not need to order Norton out of his house and could have used less than lethal force to subdue him.

U.S. District Court Judge George Z. Singal ruled that police acted reasonably in the case. He granted summary judgment to the city, rejecting the Norton family’s claims that Norton’s right to bear arms and his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act were violated.

Police had been called to Norton’s home three days before the shooting after receiving a call from his doctor that Norton was suicidal and had attempted to purchase a shotgun.

The next day, a Saturday, police were again called, and this time were able to contact Norton and take him to Maine Medical Center.

On Sunday, Norton’s father called to say Norton had checked himself out of the hospital and was still intent on killing himself. Police surrounded the house, and when Norton approached them, brandishing his knives, he was shot and killed.

The Maine Attorney General’s Office had ruled that the officers were legally justified in using deadly force against Norton.

Souther Portland Police Chief Ed Googins, who was named as one of the defendants, declined to comment on the decision, saying it could still be appealed.


Meetings of the City Council to be streamed live online

There’s now one less excuse for failing to keep up with what the City Council is up to: Meetings will now be streamed live online.

And if you miss the live webcast, you can download it as an on-demand video.

The meetings are being broadcast live at and will be available as on-demand videos at the Community Television Network’s website — — starting at the beginning of the new year.

Council meetings will also continue to be broadcast live on channels 2 and 5. More information on CTN’s programming is available at the organization’s website.

City Council meetings are generally held the first and third Mondays of the month.

Planned charter school finds space near the waterfront

The Baxter Academy for Technology and Science, a proposed charter high school, has signed a lease agreement for space near the waterfront.

The building at 54 York St. is owned by and next to the Rufus Deering Lumber Co. on Commercial Street, according to a news release. “This location fits perfectly with our mission,” said Executive Director John Jaques.

The school aims to link students with local businesses, scientists, researchers and other professionals working in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, Jaques said.

The Portland location offers easy access to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Maine Medical Center, the University of Southern Maine and Southern Maine Community College, he said.

The school hopes to get a charter from the state by May and open in September. It also hopes to be the first of its kind in Portland.

Democratic rivals criticize Snowe on director vote

Two Democrats who hope to unseat Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine are critical of her for failing to support President Obama’s choice to lead a financial watchdog office.

Senate Republicans have stopped a former Ohio attorney general, Richard Cordray, from becoming director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. A vote to overcome a GOP filibuster failed Thursday.

Snowe voted “present.” She recused herself from the vote because her husband is involved in student loans, something the agency will help to oversee.

Two Democrats vying for their party’s nomination attacked Snowe for failing to stop the filibuster. Matt Dunlap said Snowe is helping to kill an agency she helped to create. Jon Hinck accused Snowe of siding with the interests of Wall Street bankers and “not hard-working Mainers.”

Commercial fisherman gets jail for not paying his taxes

A commercial fisherman from eastern Maine is going to jail for five months after pleading guilty to not paying income taxes from 2005 through 2007.

Aaron Doherty, 51, of Milbridge was sentenced after pleading guilty Wednesday in Cumberland County Superior Court in Portland. He was also ordered to pay $31,000 to the state for taxes he owed from 1999 to 2008.

Attorney General William Schneider said Doherty also was convicted in 2005 of not filing tax returns from 1999 to 2004.


Town gives state treasurer an amended business license

The town of Phippsburg has granted the Maine state treasurer an amended business license for his Popham Beach Club despite objections from some neighbors.

Phippsburg selectmen and the planning board deliberated more than six hours before voting 6-1 early Friday to allow Bruce Poliquin’s summertime, members-only club to host catered functions year-round.

Neighbors who contend the new permit will allow more traffic, reduce property values and disturb people’s peace were angry that Poliquin sought to change the business stipulations that he won after a contentious battle in 2006. Terry Wyman, who lives next door, said Poliquin is a “bad neighbor.”

Poliquin, of Georgetown, sought to change the terms to improve cash flow in a difficult economy. He told the Bangor Daily News that he’s trying to be a good neighbor.


Police make arrest after man is beaten with a bat, robbed

A Raymond man is in jail after police said he beat a man with a baseball bat, threatened him with a gun and took his money.

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office said the victim was taking a stroll on a road in Raymond at about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday when two men attacked and robbed him.

Although badly beaten, the victim was able to provide descriptions of his attackers and their vehicle. He was treated at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston and is recovering at home.

Andrew Easter, 31 was arrested Thursday night and charged with robbery. Police are looking for a second assailant.


Council plans public hearing on removing two river dams

The Town Council will host a public hearing in January on the possibility of removing two dams in the Royal River to restore its natural flow into Casco Bay.

Five of seven councilors agreed Monday that the town-owned dams — one just above Bridge Street and one just below East Elm Street — should be removed, said Chairman Steve Woods.

The council will discuss the issue in a workshop session Jan. 5 and hold a public hearing Jan. 19.

“We’re inviting the public to come out and tell us what they think,” Woods said.

Councilors Erv Bickford and Carl Winslow weren’t at the Dec. 5 meeting.

If the council decides to remove the dams, the town would still need to secure funding and permission from several government agencies, Woods said.

Town leaders have been seriously considering the idea of removing the dams for several months.

The granite and concrete barriers, which create a lake effect in the river, once served industries that occupied the banks of the slow-moving river.

Municipal officials dropped the water level to inspect the Bridge Street dam last summer, and advocates for removing the dams recently held two informational forums.


Council endorses rink plan, votes to join busing study

Residents and visitors will soon be able to enjoy a new outdoor skating rink in the village center, if the weather cooperates in the coming weeks.

On Tuesday, the Town Council unanimously endorsed a $4,500 plan that calls for buying a rink kit and setting it up in a parking lot on Depot Street.

The council agreed to contribute $3,000 to the project from a developers fund; the rest of the money will come from donations by businesses and civic groups.

The council also voted 4-3 to spend $5,000 to study the possibility of having the Brunswick Explorer extend bus service to Freeport.

The town will join an ongoing study being done for Bath and Topsham. The money will come from a fund reserved for transportation issues.

Kingfield wins crown for state’s best drinking water

The western Maine town of Kingfield has been judged to have Maine’s best-tasting drinking water. The Kingfield Water District and the Madison Water District were judged to have the best water at the Maine Rural Water Association’s 25th annual drink water taste test, held Thursday in Freeport.

The Madison utility won for best chlorinated water, while Kingfield won for untreated water.

In a runoff between the two, Kingfield was named the winner. It will represent Maine in the Great American Water Taste Test in February in Washington.

For the contest, judges sampled water from community water supplies for taste, clarity and aroma.


Head-on crash with SUV kills woman from Canaan

Police are investigating a head-on crash that killed a 59-year-old woman in Skowhegan

Dawn Poplawski, of Canaan, was pronounced dead at a hospital after the Thursday morning accident on Route 2.

Police said her car collided with an SUV that was traveling in the opposite direction and drifted over the center line of the road.

Emergency crews had to extricate both drivers from their vehicles after the crash. The driver of the SUV, John Patterson, 66, of Skowhegan, was hospitalized with a leg injury.


Vehicle powered by Mentos and Coke travels 239 feet

The Maine guys known for creating colorful geysers from Diet Coke and Mentos candies say they’ve set a distance record for a vehicle with soda-and-candy-powered propulsion.

Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz created a single-seat rocket car powered by 54 bottles of Coke Zero and 324 Mentos. They say the Mark II went 239 feet, improving upon last year’s 220 feet, with only half the fuel. They posted video of a 209-foot attempt online.

Voltz said Thursday they incorporated a simple piston-and-cylinder mechanism to get the vehicle moving. He says it’s powerful enough that people shouldn’t try the experiment at home.

The Buckfield-based entertainers shot to fame five years ago when they wore lab coats and goggles during their online videos demonstrating elaborate geysers set to music.


Aircraft rehab company says it will hire 20 more workers

The aircraft-refurbishing company Oxford Aviation says it plans to hire another 20 workers over the next two months as business picks up.

Oxford Aviation currently employs about 45 people. Company official Diana Allen told the Sun Journal that most of the jobs are expected to be long-term positions.

Allen said the clients are now moving forward with work that had been delayed because of the tough economy in the U.S. and around the world. Almost all of the company’s customers come from outside Maine.

Oxford Aviation is based in a 40,000-square-foot facility at the Oxford County Regional Airport.

— From staff and news services