Ex-housing worker pleads guilty to theft from agency

A former Portland Housing Authority worker accused of stealing more than $10,000 from her then-employer pleaded guilty Monday to one count of theft by unauthorized taking or transfer.

Chandra Snowdon, 33, of West Bath was charged after discrepancies were discovered among rent checks and records at the housing authority in 2010.

The authority later found that Snowdon had handled 31 fraudulent transactions, worth an estimated $10,500, according to Assistant District Attorney Deb Chmielewski. An investigation by Portland police found that a number of large drafts from Snowdon’s bank accounts appeared to correlate with the housing authority fraud, she said.

A second count of theft by unauthorized taking or transfer was dismissed Monday in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court.

Snowdon plans to make full restitution at her sentencing, according to J.P. DeGrinney, her appointed lawyer. The hearing has not yet been scheduled.

The judge has indicated he will not accept a plea deal that does not involve jail time.

Deering principal may be named acting schools chief

The Portland Board of Public Education today will consider naming Deering High School Principal Ira Waltz as acting superintendent until a new city schools chief is hired.

Waltz would begin as superintendent on July 1 and remain in that position until a new superintendent begins work or until Aug. 31, whichever comes first.

The board is considering candidates to replace outgoing Superintendent Jim Morse, whose last day is Saturday.

Waltz was an administrator for the Portland Public Schools in the 1990s. He served as interim principal at Reiche Community School (1997-1998), Deering’s assistant principal (1996-1997) and as teaching principal at Peaks Island Elementary School (1993-1996).


Officials decide town won’t apply to own lighthouse

Selectmen have decided not to apply for ownership of the Boon Island Light Station.

Town Manager Rob Yandow said the town’s five selectmen discussed the possibility Monday night but agreed that owning a lighthouse would not be in the town’s best interest.

Boon Island is about six miles offshore from York.

“They could see no benefit to the town owning Boon Island,” Yandow said.

The U.S. General Services Administration is offering Boon Island Light as well as Halfway Rock Light Station off Harpswell at no cost to a state or local government, a nonprofit corporation or a historic preservation group willing to maintain the lighthouse to historic standards and make the structures accessible to the public.

If no agency comes forward by the July 16 deadline, the lighthouses will be sold at auction.


Lightning damages bridge, temporarily closes lane

Transportation officials say two-way traffic has resumed on a lift bridge between Maine and New Hampshire that was struck by lightning.

New Hampshire Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Boynton says the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge was in lift mode when lightning hit.

He said the lift span came down at an uneven angle, causing damage that left a normally underground metal plate jutting out into one of the two lanes.

He also said several gauges were knocked out by the lightning strike at 11:35 a.m. Monday.

No one was hurt.

The Piscataqua River bridge connects Portsmouth to Kittery, Maine, and is getting heavier-than-normal use during demolition of the Memorial Bridge. Police were directing alternating one-way traffic on Monday.

Two-way traffic resumed Monday evening.


UNE to expand to Morocco with program at Tangier

The University of New England has reached a deal to expand the school’s reach to the North African kingdom of Morocco.

A delegation from UNE, led by board Chairman Mark Doiron and Anouar Majid, associate provost for global initiatives, was in Morocco last week to sign a formal agreement.

The newest UNE campus is expected to open by this time next year at the American School of Tangier, the oldest American school in Morocco.

Under the agreement, UNE students can spend a semester or a full academic year in Morocco at no extra cost.

Majid said UNE’s presence in Tangier could help build the foundation of a much-needed dialogue between the West and the Muslim world.

The campus is within walking distance of downtown Tangier and the Mediterranean Sea.

From Tangier, students can travel to other parts of Morocco, connect with UNE’s existing programs in Spain, and explore European countries and cities.


More bears get into feeders this year, state officials say

The warm weather is bringing out plenty of hungry bears around the state.

State officials say that in general, bear sightings have been running higher than usual.

The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife reports more than 400 bear complaints since the start of this year, about double the number of complaints at this same time last year.

District Game Warden Steve Allarie says the vast majority of complaints are related to bears getting into bird feeders.

State biologist Kendall Martin told the Kennebec Journal that the bears are out looking for food and for mates.

There have been no reports of any aggression toward humans.

At least one bear has been spotted dozens of times in the Augusta area in recent days.


College president climbs all Acadia peaks in a day

The president of the College of the Atlantic pledged to climb all 28 mountain peaks in Acadia National Park in a single day in an effort to increase alumni donations to the school.

Darron Collins was to be joined by two students when he began his climbs at 4 a.m. Monday. After finishing the peaks on the east side of Mount Desert Island, they were to swim across the Somes Sound fjord to tackle the mountains on the island’s west side.

The combined height of the peaks is estimated at 22,000 feet. In all, the hikes totaled 45 miles.

College officials say hiking every mountain in the park is a rite of passage for many students, but that they don’t know of anyone attempting the feat in a single day.


Bail denied in shooting that killed man in Lamoine

A judge has denied bail to a Lamoine man charged with killing one man and injuring two others outside his home in March.

Justice William Anderson’s ruling Monday will keep Michael Carter, 30, behind bars. Carter was arrested June 8 on charges of murder, elevated aggravated assault, aggravated assault and illegal possession of a firearm. He pleaded not guilty.

In March, Randy Sinclair, 32, of Ellsworth was shot to death outside Carter’s house.

Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese told the judge that Carter held his gun about 12 inches from Sinclair’s head as the victim tried to drive away. The Bangor Daily News said she also told the judge that Carter harassed victims and failed to show up for previous court appearances.


Red Cross seeks donors as it faces blood shortage

The Northern New England Region of the American Red Cross is seeking to collect 8,300 units over the next two weeks to address a blood shortage.

The Red Cross is adding emergency blood drives and extending blood drive hours and scheduled drives.

It also is reaching out to eligible donors, blood drive sponsors and community leaders to ask them to recruit blood donors to help meet the needs of patients across the country.

The chapter serves Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire.