2012 highway death toll up 50% over same time last year

Maine’s highway death toll is up by more than 50 percent this year over last year at this time.

State officials say there have been 47 vehicular fatalities so far in 2012, up from 30 in 2011.

The Bureau of Highway Safety said excessive speed was a factor in 28 of the 47 deaths, and alcohol was involved in 15 of the fatal crashes.

Six people were killed on Maine roads last weekend alone.

Maine has had four exceptionally safe years in a row for highway fatalities. Last year was the safest year since 1959.


Town holds memorial service for elm’s longtime caretaker

The town of Yarmouth is honoring the local resident who cared for New England’s champion elm.

Frank Knight, who died Monday at 103, spent five decades looking after the tree nicknamed Herbie, seeing it through 14 bouts of Dutch elm disease before the tree had to be cut down in January 2010. Knight’s devotion to the 110-foot-tall tree served as an inspiration to people across the country.

On Saturday, a public memorial was held at First Parish Church in Yarmouth.

Knight was already buried late in the week at Riverside Cemetery alongside his wife, Fran, who died more than a dozen years ago from cancer. Knight was laid to rest in a coffin made from Herbie’s remains.


Supporters get the word out for same-sex marriage vote

Hundreds of gay-marriage supporters in Maine are going door-to-door and working at phone banks to drum up support for November’s statewide referendum seeking to legalize same-sex marriage.

Mainers United for Marriage says more than 250 people were taking part Saturday in activities in at least 15 communities, from Kennebunk in the south to Fort Fairfield in northern Maine.

Supporters are canvassing neighborhoods, working the phones, distributing literature and holding open houses at campaign offices.

November’s referendum will be the second time Mainers will vote on same-sex marriage. The Legislature passed a gay marriage bill in 2009, but it was overturned by 53 percent of the voters in a referendum that fall.


N.H. police arrest Maine man in connection with robbery

A Maine man is facing charges after allegedly robbing a bank and making his getaway on a bicycle.

Police in Somersworth, N.H., say they arrested 46-year-old Scott Marshall of Sanford on Friday morning shortly after a man fitting his description robbed the Kennebunk Savings Bank in Berwick, located across the border from Somersworth.

Foster’s Daily Democrat said the suspect left the bank with an undisclosed amount of cash before pedaling away on a bicycle.

A Somersworth patrol officer arrested Marshall after spotting him on the bike. Police said Marshall was charged with being a fugitive from justice and will be extradited to Maine to face a robbery charge.


Event marks 9th anniversary by Maine Troop Greeters

The Maine Troop Greeters group Saturday celebrated its ninth anniversary of welcoming troops home from overseas with an open house at the Bangor International Airport.

The volunteers have welcomed every troop-carrying flight at the airport since 2003. That’s nearly 6,500 flights carrying 1.5 million troops.


Strategy session planned for fishermen affected by cuts

A group assembled to find ways to help fishermen survive an 80 percent cut in the yellowtail flounder catch on Georges Bank is meeting this week.

The group of fishermen, environmentalists and regulators was formed by national and regional fisheries managers to deal with the massive cut, which went into effect May 1.

Low catch limits on the yellowtail prevent fishermen from going after the more lucrative or plentiful fish swimming among yellowtail.

Fishermen have said the recent cut will devastate the regional fleet of fishermen who chase bottom-dwelling groundfish, such as cod, haddock and flounder.

Fishermen have already asked regulators to transfer hundreds of thousands of pounds of the yellowtail quota from the scallop fleet to fishermen. That’s because recent projections indicate scallopers will catch far less yellowtail this year than previously thought.


Giant transformer begins slow journey along Route 202

A giant transformer that’s part of Central Maine Power’s infrastructure upgrade is being moved along a busy highway between Greene and Lewiston this weekend.

Lewiston police said the 285-ton transformer was to be moved at a slow pace along Route 202 starting at 6 a.m. Saturday. Police said the transformer is big enough to take up most of the paved highway and were recommending that motorists find alternate routes from the north into Lewiston and even leaving the city.

The transformer was delivered to Portland Harbor last Saturday and was shipped via rail Wednesday to Leeds. From there, it was to be moved to Lewiston this weekend.

The transformer is part of CMP’s $1.4 billion infrastructure upgrade that calls for six new substations and upgrades to 40 existing substations.

— From news service reports