Portland man sentenced to 16 years for robberies

A Portland man was ordered Thursday to serve 16 years in prison for five counts of robbery and one charge of endangering the welfare of a child.

John Libby III, 36, had pleaded guilty in Cumberland County Superior Court to robberies in Westbrook and Portland, including ones where he and his girlfriend drove to the robbery with her 4-year-old son in the getaway car.

Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills sentenced Libby to three consecutive eight-year sentences for robbery, one of which was suspended. After he gets out, he will be on probation for four years and if he violates it, could serve the remaining eight years of his sentence.

Mills sentenced Libby to two consecutive 10-year terms for two other robberies, but that sentence was suspended. He also must pay $343 in restitution to Dollar Store Marketplace in Portland and undergo psychological and substance-abuse treatment.

City picks Portland company to help negotiate contracts

The city has picked a Portland company to negotiate its electricity and natural gas contracts.

Competitive Energy Services will monitor energy markets for the city and negotiate the contracts. The firm was picked after a competitive bidding process. CES is an energy consulting service that works for a variety of public and private sector clients around the country.

Ian Houseseal, Portland’s sustainability coordinator, said a consultant can keep a closer eye and have a better sense of the trends in energy markets than the city could itself and will recommend the best time to buy contracts with electricity and natural gas suppliers.

CES is paid per kilowatt hour and per therm — a measure of natural gas consumption — for the contracts it negotiates, Houseseal said. The city estimates that the company will earn $19,000 a year for negotiating electricity contracts and about $11,000 a year for the natural gas contracts.

Gun control groups’ vigils mark shooting anniversary

Gun control groups plan vigils Sunday at noon in Portland and Augusta to mark the anniversary of the shootings in Tucson, Ariz., in which a congresswoman was critically wounded.

Groups associated with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence are organizing the vigils, which will be held at Portland City Hall and Augusta City Hall.

Jared Loughner shot and killed six people and wounded 13 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was hosting the event where the shooting occurred on Jan. 8, 2011.

Local groups supporting the vigil include Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence, States United to Prevent Gun Violence, and Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

Study: Child care, education key to future work force

A new report says that investing in quality child care and education will produce a well-trained work force.

The study, released Wednesday by the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and the Maine Development Foundation, found that every dollar invested in early childhood education produces a dividend of up to $16 in economic benefit, said Laurie Lachance, chief executive officer of the Maine Development Foundation.

The full report, called “Making Maine Work: Investment in Young Children = Real Economic Development,” is available online.

The report found that Maine’s work force currently ranks low in both productivity and wages and that jobs of the future will require workers to be more skilled in math and science. The state’s education system, the report said, needs to be transformed to better prepare students for the jobs that will be most sought in the future economy.


Man is hospitalized with gunshot wound to head

A 51-year-old man was clinging to life at Maine Medical Center in Portland after he shot himself in the head in front of a convenience store in Lyman, authorities said.

Witnesses said the man went into the Firkinsnock Variety store at routes 111 and 35 at 11 a.m., said goodbye and then went to his vehicle where he took out a handgun and shot himself, according to Chief Deputy Matthew Baker of the York County Sheriff’s Office.

The man had recently had medical issues, although authorities could not be more specific. He was treated by rescue workers at the scene, taken to Southern Maine Medical Center in Biddeford, then transferred to Maine Medical Center.


Search pilot discovers body on shore of Stave Island

A search pilot looking for an eastern Maine man who was reported missing more than a month ago has found a body on the shore of an island.

Officials say they are waiting to hear back from the state Medical Examiner’s Office on the identity of a man’s body that was found Wednesday on the shore of Stave Island, which is part of Gouldsboro and located in Frenchman Bay.

The Bangor Daily News says the body was spotted by a Marine Patrol pilot who was flying over the area as part of a search for Wayne Hodgkins, 57, whose pickup truck was found nearby in early December. Hodgkins was last seen Dec. 3.


Skowhegan woman ticketed following rear-end collision

A Skowhegan woman was ticketed for distracted driving after her Pontiac rear-ended a van Wednesday on Skowhegan Road.

Fairfield police Officer Shanna Blodgett said five people, including a newborn, a 3-year-old and a partially paralyzed man, were taken to MaineGeneral Hospital Thayer Unit in Waterville. Blodgett said none of the injuries was life-threatening.

Jessica Ward, 24, was fined $119 for failure to maintain control of a motor vehicle, Blodgett said.

The officer said Ward admitted she was talking on her cellphone and reaching to tend to a child in the back seat when she hit the back of a 2004 Dodge Caravan driven by Paul Chaisson, 63, of Jackman.

Chaisson, who is partially paralyzed and drives with a mechanical aid, and his wife, Wanda Chaisson, 60, were both taken to the hospital, as were Ward and the two children in her car.


Four men, one woman face charges of welfare fraud

Four Lewiston men and a woman from Waterford are facing welfare fraud charges.

Police said the suspects were involved in the sale, purchase and trade of electronic benefit cards issued to them through the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. Authorities said in some cases the suspects traded the welfare cards for drugs.

Leanne Robbin, assistant attorney general who heads the financial crimes division, told the Sun Journal the state is working with local police to identify welfare fraud cases.

Those charged Wednesday were Katherine Pike of Waterford, as well as David Stain; Manny Souza; Christopher S. Frazer; and Robert W. Baylor, all of Lewiston.


Longtime director of LURC steps down from position

The longtime head of Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission has stepped down to become senior planner at the state’s Bureau of Parks and Lands.

Catherine Carroll was with LURC for 24 years, the last 10 as director. The agency regulates development in the state’s 10 million-acre Unorganized Territory

The Bureau of Parks and Lands and LURC are divisions within the Department of Conservation.

Gov. Paul LePage has appointed Samantha Horn Olsen, manager of LURC’s planning division, as acting director of LURC.

Maine’s fire marshal says he’ll retire at end of month

Maine’s fire marshal for the past 14 years is retiring at the end of the month.

John Dean of Winthrop was a Maine firefighter for 27 years before becoming fire marshal in 1998. He was a member of the Old Town department from 1971 to 1989, rising to the rank of deputy chief. He was Wells fire chief from 1989 to 1998.

Dean oversaw the updating of Maine’s fire codes. He also oversaw the reduction in inspection backlogs by his office of public buildings, day-care centers and nursing homes. He promoted legislation to prohibit the sale of novelty lighters, the enactment of fire-safe cigarettes and the establishment of Maine’s Juvenile Fire Safety Collaborative.

Assistant Fire Marshal Joseph Thomas will serve as fire marshal until a successor is named.

DEP will resurrect program for Governor’s Awards

Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection is resurrecting a program that recognizes environmental stewardship.

The DEP is taking nominations for the Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence. The awards honor businesses, nonprofits and public entities.

Applicants will be asked to show how their project or program was innovative while resulting in meaningful environmental and economic benefits.

Commissioner Pattie Aho said the program aims to recognize those who can show what is good for Maine’s environment can also be good for the economy.

The application deadline is Feb. 17. Applications can be found on the DEP’s website.


Maine companies team up for L.L. Bean anniversary

Two Maine companies are teaming up to make limited edition 100th anniversary paddles for L.L. Bean.

Shaw & Tenney in Orono has been making wooden oars and paddles since 1858. West Branch Heritage Timber in Millinocket reclaims historic timber left behind in Maine waterways from the river logging drive days of a century or more ago.

For L.L. Bean’s 100th anniversary, Shaw & Tenney will hand-craft paddles made out of material that West Branch Heritage Timber reclaimed from the Quakish Lake in the woods of northern Maine.

The commemorative paddles will be available for purchase on L.L. Bean’s website beginning later this month.


Bangor man to face charge of falsely accusing officer

Police say a Bangor man has been charged after falsely accusing an undercover officer of stealing $500 from him.

Officials said Bangor police Lt. Tim Reid approached a man who was acting suspiciously on a street corner about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday before being joined by a uniformed officer. The man, later identified as Shawn Beede, 21, was argumentative and told to leave the area.

Police said Beede and a friend later showed up at the police station and claimed that Reid had taken $500 from Beede, saying he was taking the cash because it was drug money.

After the men were separated and interviewed, police charged Beede with filing a false public report. He was jailed before being released on bail.


Investigators say explosion likely a homemade device

Investigators say an explosion this week on a remote Farmington road was likely caused by a homemade pyrotechnic device.

The state Fire Marshal’s Office said some of the debris recovered from the explosion Monday on Bailey Hill Road will be sent to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ lab for further analysis.

Authorities said it appears the device was made up of paper products, consistent with homemade fireworks. No one has been charged in connection with the incident.


Ludlow man arrested after SUV crashes into house

Maine State Police have arrested a Ludlow man who is accused of striking a home in Linneus with his SUV and then driving away.

Police said the homeowner was asleep just after noon Wednesday when she was awakened by a loud crash. She got up to discover that the vehicle had ripped a large hole in her home. She told police the SUV then backed out and drove off.

State police alerted other law enforcement agencies and an SUV with a significant amount of damage was soon located by Houlton police.

The vehicle’s owner, Brian King, 55, was arrested on charges of drunken driving and failing to report an accident.


Police seek woman suspect in pharmacy robbery

Maine State Police are looking for a woman who robbed a Corinth pharmacy of a large amount of prescription drugs.

The Whitney Family Supermarket was robbed around 6:45 p.m. Wednesday. Authorities said the woman handed the pharmacist a note saying she had a gun and would shoot the clerk if anyone moved near a phone. The woman left with a large amount of Oxycontin.

Police said she was seen driving a light colored sedan or convertible, possibly a Chrysler Sebring.

The woman is described as around 30, 5-foot-4, and weighing between 140 and 160 pounds. She was wearing two hooded sweat shirts and a red or maroon men’s flannel jacket.

Anyone with information is asked to call state police in Orono.

— From staff and news services