Convictions of brother, sister upheld in killing of husband

Maine’s highest court has upheld the convictions of a brother and sister who appealed their convictions for killing the woman’s husband in his Old Orchard Beach home and trying to make it look like he was the victim of a home invasion.

Darlene George is serving 40 years and her brother, Jeffrey Williams of West Hempstead, N.Y., is serving a life sentence after the two were tried together in the 2008 death of George’s husband, Winston George.

In separate unanimous rulings, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday rejected their arguments that they should have had separate trials.

According to court documents, Winston George was suffocated with a plastic bag and then had rum poured down his throat to confirm he was dead.

UMaine System chancellor to address concerns at USM

University of Maine System Chancellor James Page will visit the University of Southern Maine next week to address concerns of students, faculty members and administrators in the wake of recent controversy.

Page announced his plan to visit today, after USM faculty members held a no-confidence vote Wednesday on the leadership of President Selma Botman.

Leadership, hiring and spending practices at USM and across the system have come under scrutiny since Page became chancellor in March.

A majority of USM faculty members who cast ballots in Wednesday’s vote supported a resolution expressing no confidence in Botman. However, the measure failed because it needed the support of at least two-thirds of the entire faculty.

“This vote reflects the divided sentiment of USM’s faculty and I take the viewpoints expressed very seriously,” Page said in a news release. “My first priority is to engage with all of the parties to move USM forward in a unified way to serve our students and our state.”

The vote was 194-88 to show no confidence in Botman, according to the university’s public affairs office. USM has 377 full-time faculty members on three campuses – Portland, Gorham and Lewiston – so at least 251 votes were needed for the resolution to pass.

Page said he will meet with Botman, the executive committee of the USM Faculty Senate and others in the campus community to learn more about their concerns.

Stock assessment says eel population at depletion level

A new stock assessment of American eels has concluded that the eel population is technically depleted in U.S. waters.

Baby eels, known as elvers, provide a valuable fishery to hundreds of Maine fishermen, who catch them each spring as they migrate up Maine rivers. Fishermen this spring were receiving up to $2,000 a pound for their catch.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which is based in Virginia and regulates the eel fishery, said Thursday the population along the eastern seaboard is at or near historically low levels due to a combination of overfishing, habitat loss, predation, environmental changes, disease, toxins and contaminants, food alterations and turbine mortality.

A commission committee is being asked to develop management proposals that could include more elver fishing restrictions in the future.


Police department to use online crime mapping site

The Saco Police Department announced Thursday that it will start using a crime map to track criminal activity in the city.

Under the partnership with BAIR Analytics Inc., a research company based in Virginia, the department has developed an online crime map (www.raidsonline.com) that officers can use to alert the public about the location of crimes that have been committed in Saco.

The map will include a brief description of the incident, the affected address, as well as the date and time of the crime.

“It is important that the public be kept informed of what’s going on in their community, and this is an important tool to help us better communicate with our citizens,” said Saco Police Chief Bradley Paul.

The online data map is being offered as a free service to the police department by BAIR Analytics.


Police seeking help locating woman missing two months

Police are seeking the public’s help in finding a woman who was last seen while moving from Lewiston to Bethel nearly two months ago.

Law enforcement officials said Thursday that Fay Johnson, 62, was last seen in Bethel on March 7 and that there are concerns about medical problems. She has a history of mental illness and wears a medical alert bracelet marked “pacemaker.”

Both Johnson and her car are missing.

Johnson is described as 5-foot-7 and weighing about 140 pounds with blond hair and blue eyes. Police say she has ties to both Lewiston and Biddeford, and police are investigating a recent sighting of someone resembling her two days ago in Biddeford.


Woodchuck killed by dog tests positive for rabies

Authorities say a woodchuck that was killed by a dog last weekend has tested positive for rabies.

Police say it’s the first confirmed case of rabies in the city this year.

Police tell The Times Record the animal control officer responded to a High Street address on Saturday after getting a report from a homeowner who said his dog had killed the woodchuck that entered his yard.

The resident said the woodchuck did not act strangely, but thought it unusual for the dog to kill an animal.

The Maine Health and Environmental Testing Lab confirmed that the woodchuck had rabies.

The dog was up to date with its rabies shots.

Police are urging residents to be careful of wildlife acting sick.


Mother, two children found after being lost in woods

The Maine Warden Service says a mother and her two children are safe after they became lost while walking in the woods near their home in Argyle Township.

Officials say 42-year-old Kristina Ivey called for help about 8 p.m. Wednesday to report she and her 9- and 14-year-old children were lost and darkness was approaching.

Neighbors had made voice contact with Ivey, but they were unable to find her.

Wardens took a compass bearing on Ivey’s distance voice. The three were found about 500 yards into the woods. They were led back to their home.

The Maine State Police, the Penobscot Nation Warden Service and the Penobscot Country Sheriff’s Department also responded to the call for help.


Rumford Point bridge put on priority replacement list

A bridge in Rumford Point is being identified as structurally deficient by federal highway officials and is a state priority for replacement.

The Maine Transportation Department is seeking $5.2 million in federal transportation funding to help replace the 57-year-old Martin Memorial Bridge.

That endeavor will get help from U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who is the senior Republican on the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee. Collins inspected the deteriorating bridge with state Transportation Commissioner Dave Bernhardt on Thursday.


Quimby has more logging roads blocked on her land

Workers for philanthropist and conservationist Roxanne Quimby have blocked more logging roads on Piscataquis County land she owns, but county officials say there does not appear to be a problem as there was when she blocked a road last year.

County Manager Marilyn Tourtelotte tells the Bangor Daily News the roadblocks are all on Quimby’s private property beyond the end of county roads.

Quimby ran afoul of the county last year when she gated a road in Elliotsville Plantation she thought was abandoned.

County commissioners ruled that the gate was not legal because the road was still a county road.

Quimby’s workers removed the gate on Jan. 17.

Quimby made millions of dollars when she sold the Burt’s Bees line of personal care products she co-founded in the 1980s.


Chick-A-Dee Restaurant closes doors after 77 years

A restaurant that has been serving up fried seafood to Turner residents for 77 years has shut its doors.

The Chick-A-Dee Restaurant on Route 4 had a sign outside Wednesday that says “Sorry we have closed.”

Another sign says “We are sorry to say we have been forced to close our doors due (to) the tough time in this economy. We would like to thank all of you for your patronage.”

The Sun Journal reports that the restaurant was opened in 1935 by Francis Donovan.

The current owner bought it in the early 1970s. A fire destroyed the restaurant in June 1991, but the family rebuilt and expanded.

The owners were unavailable for comment.


Boys-only third-grade class going back to mixed gender

A boys-only third-grade class at a Maine public elementary school is ending.

The local curriculum committee plans to ask the school board to reintegrate the boys in a Camden-Rockport Elementary School single-gender class into mixed-gender classes next fall despite the success of the program.

The school district’s assistant superintendent Elaine Nutter, says the boys only class was a “very positive experience” but was never intended to be a long-term program.

It was originally established to address a gender imbalance in the third-grade, which had twice as many boys as girls, and to give the boys a role model with a male teacher.

Nutter tells the Bangor Daily News that school officials and parents agree that boys need to mix with more classmates, including the girls.


Police grab man threatening to jump off I-95 bridge

State troopers from New Hampshire and Maine and a local police department are being credited with saving a man who was threatening to jump from the Piscataqua Bridge on Interstate 95 between the two states.

New Hampshire State Police say they were called to the bridge at about 8 p.m. Wednesday after receiving a report a man was standing on the outside of the railing and threatening to jump.

The man, whose name was not released, refused attempts to get him to climb to safety so troopers from the two states and an officer from the Portsmouth police department grabbed him and pulled him to safety. The man was hospitalized.

In addition to the troopers and the officer, the U.S. Coast Guard participated in the incident.


Rhode Island no longer the most heavily Catholic state

Massachusetts has replaced Rhode Island as the most heavily Catholic state in the U.S.

The Providence Journal reported that a national survey of religious participation found that the number of Catholics belonging to parishes in Rhode Island is down by 14 percent since the 2000 survey.

The 2010 Religion Census found that Massachusetts now has the greatest percentage of Catholics.

Despite declines in Rhode Island, the religious census says Catholics make up 44 percent of the Rhode Island’s population, outnumbering members of other faiths.

The study says that overall, the state has nearly 577,000 religious adherents, or nearly 55 percent of the state’s population. That’s down 12 percent since 2000.

The census is published by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies.