Driver in fatal accident had no license, police say

Police said a South Portland man was driving without a valid license when he crashed his car into a tree in Falmouth last week, killing a passenger in the vehicle.

Matthew Blanchard, 24, faces a felony charge of causing a fatal accident while his license was suspended or revoked.

Police Chief Ed Tolan said Blanchard’s license has been suspended several times.

Authorities said Casey Green, 22, of Cumberland was killed Friday when Blanchard’s car drifted off Route 100 and hit a tree.

Police said Blanchard, who may have fallen asleep at the wheel, initially told investigators that Green was driving, but later said that he was behind the wheel.


Biker in critical condition after collision with Toyota

A motorcyclist was in critical condition after a crash on Johnson Road that snarled traffic near the Portland International Jetport.

The man was riding a Harley-Davidson inbound on Johnson Road at 1:20 p.m. when William Lyons, 83, of South Portland apparently tried to make a U-turn in front of him, police said.

The motorcycle hit the front left of Lyons’ Toyota Avalon and the rider was thrown from the motorcycle.

The rider was taken to Maine Medical Center with head injuries.

The inbound and outbound lanes of Johnson Road are separated there and drivers leaving City Line

Drive often turn right onto Johnson Road inbound, then make a U-turn when the lanes are no long separated to go toward South Portland or Scarborough.

Police are not releasing the name of the motorcycle rider until family members have been notified.
The motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet, police said.

Civic center’s board OKs stacked-suite approach

Marketing consultants have endorsed a plan to “stack” most of the luxury suites at the west end of the renovated Cumberland County Civic Center.

The center’s building committee was told that the consultants believe the seating plan will be attractive because most of the luxury suites will face the stage for concerts and other performances.

The plan calls for four suites at ice level around the hockey rink, and then two suites on the concourse level, two midlevel suites and two sky-level suites. Plans for four suites on the east side of the arena were eliminated, while the number of suites on the west side was increased.

Neal Pratt, a building committee member and civic center trustee, said the board adopted the stacked-suite plan Wednesday.

Pratt said the building committee expects to have those plans by the end of July, when it will likely give the go-ahead for the renovation to start in August.

The renovation was approved  last year by county voters, who authorized spending up to $33 million on the project. It’s expected to be done by fall 2013.

Bench-press competition raises $600 for vets’ charity

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office hosted its third annual “Behind Bars” bench-press competition to raise money for charity.

Saturday’s event drew 15 participants from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, the York County Sheriff’s Office and the Portland Police Department.

Cumberland County corrections officer Cory Stone earned overall honors when he pressed 325 pounds, 137 pounds more than his body weight.

The biggest lift was by Luke House, a Cumberland County corrections officer who pressed 365 pounds in the heavyweight class.

Hope Lanza of Cumberland County lifted 115 pounds to win the female class.

Cumberland County officers Scott Jordan and Jake Parson lifted 350 pounds and 325 pounds, respectively, to win their weight classes, and Portland officer Vincent Rozzi pressed 330 pounds to win the lightweight class, for participants weighing 180 to 199 pounds.

The event raised $600 for House in the Woods, a Leeds-based outdoor therapeutic program for recent veterans and their families.


School budget fails to pass after vote delayed by veto

Biddeford voters Tuesday rejected the proposed $32.9 million school budget, 445 to 208.

A second question that asked why voters opposed the budget indicated 413 residents wanted a lower number, while 27 people thought it should be higher.

The School Committee and City Council will reconsider the budget before a second referendum later this summer. The 2011-12 budget will remain in effect until a new budget is adopted.

The budget put to voters had remained unchanged after it and the city budget were vetoed earlier this month by Mayor Alan Casavant. The veto caused a delay in the school budget referendum originally scheduled for June 12.

The City Council last week approved a combined $59.7 million budget, cutting $170,000 from the city portion. Casavant wanted to cut $330,000 from school spending, but the council did not support it.

If the school budget had been approved, the combined budgets would have required the addition of $1.26, or more than 8 percent, to the city’s property tax rate – a $252 increase on the tax bill of a $200,000 home.

Propane rail terminal likely to be operating by autumn

A Minnesota-based company has started construction on a propane rail terminal in Biddeford.
CHS Inc., an energy, grains and food company, is building the terminal in the Biddeford Industrial Park on land leased from Westfield Inc. of Kennebunk. The terminal will be able to handle 20 million gallons of propane annually.

The terminal will be served by Pan Am Railways and is expected to be fully operational by fall.

“This is a collaborative effort designed to help propane retailers serve New England homeowners and businesses with a safe, reliable and competitive supply of propane primarily from North American sources,” CHS Vice President Darin Hunhoff said in a statement.

Biddeford officials and representatives of CHS Inc. were not immediately available for comment.
The Biddeford Industrial Park is located west of Route 1 near the city’s turnpike exit.


Ex-Husson basketball star indicted over child porn

A former basketball star who was inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame last month has been indicted on a child pornography charge.

A Penobscot County grand jury on Wednesday indicted Dana E. Wilson, 61, of Brewer on a charge of possession of sexually explicit material.

Brewer detective Sgt. Jay Munson told WZON-AM that police began investigating Wilson after receiving a tip in February 2011.

A message left at Wilson’s home was not immediately returned.

Wilson graduated from Bangor’s Husson College graduated in 1974. The hall of fame said Wilson averaged nearly 35 points a game his senior year, best among all NCAA Division III schools that year.

Fairfield man found guilty of being accessory to heist

A federal jury has convicted a Fairfield man of being an accessory after the fact to a credit union armed robbery in Skowhegan.

Prosecutors said Wednesday that Forrest “Teddy” Goodwin Jr., 33, was found guilty of the accessory charge following a four-day trial, but was found not guilty of robbery.

Evidence presented during the trial in U.S. District Court in Bangor showed that Goodwin assisted Paul Garland after Garland robbed the Taconnet Federal Credit Union in June 2009. Goodwin waited outside the credit union and drove the getaway motorcycle.

Garland has pleaded guilty to an armed bank robbery charge and is awaiting sentencing. Goodwin faces a sentence of up to 12 and a half years’ imprisonment and up to a $125,000 fine. He was detained pending sentencing.

Youngest to climb Everest tackles each state’s highest

The youngest person to ever climb Mount Everest is set to climb New Hampshire’s highest mountain a day after climbing Maine’s highest peak.

Jordan Romero, 15, of Big Bear, Calif., kicked off his 50-state hiking tour, “Find Your Everest,” on Tuesday by climbing Maine’s Mount Katahdin. He had planned to climb New Hampshire’s Mount Washington on Wednesday.

Romero is hoping to inspire people to get outdoors, be healthy, set goals and do things as a family. To spread the message, he and his father and stepmother are climbing the highest mountain in each state and inviting people to climb with them.

The Bangor Daily News said Romero will be in Vermont today to climb Mount Mansfield.

Bangor woman indicted over theft of $56,000

A Bangor woman has been indicted on a theft charge for allegedly stealing tens of thousands of dollars from a Maine nonprofit where she worked.

Laurena Cunningham, 46, is charged with theft by unauthorized taking for misusing funds collected by Healthcare Charities, the charitable arm of Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems.

The Bangor Daily News reported that Healthcare Charities determined that more than $56,000 in donated money was diverted between last November and March.

Healthcare Charities raises $10 million to $15 million each year to benefit the health organizations that fall under Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems.


Elderly sailor found dead on boat adrift in harbor

Rockland police and the United States Coast Guard are investigating the death of a sailor whose boat was found adrift Wednesday night in Rockland Harbor.

Chris Berry, a spokesman for the Coast Guard in South Portland, said the Coast Guard base in Rockland received a report of a vessel adrift  just before 7 p.m.

Berry said the sailboat had collided with a couple of other boats in the harbor, whose crews reported that there did not appear to be anyone on board.

The Coast Guard sent a team to investigate and found an “unresponsive elderly man” in the pilot house. He was taken to shore where an ambulance crew pronounced him dead.

Authorities are not releasing the man’s identity or age until his next of kin have been notified.

Surgeons trying to reattach boy’s hand after accident

Surgeons in Boston are attempting to reattach a 5-year-old Maine boy’s hand after he lost it in a freak accident.

Police said the boy had one end of a jump rope wrapped around his wrist and the other end dangling out the window while riding in the back seat of his grandmother’s car in downtown Rockland on Tuesday night.

Authorities told the Bangor Daily News that as another vehicle passed by the car, the rope got caught up on the other vehicle, pulling the rope and severing the boy’s hand.

The child was taken to Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport before being driven to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. A medical helicopter could not be used because of poor weather conditions.

Police aren’t releasing the boy’s name.


Flags flown at half-staff for vet who died at lake

The death of a former Maine soldier from Gorham prompted the governor to order state flags to be flown at half-staff in the town.

Gov. Paul LePage has directed that the state of Maine flag be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset in Gorham on Wednesday in remembrance of Durward Benjamin “Ben” Worster, who died a week ago at Frye’s Leap on Sebago Lake.

Worster attended Gorham High School, and later was awarded numerous honors and medals during his Army tour in Iraq. After his discharge, Worster was as an officer at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham.

Maine vehicle registrations can be renewed on devices

Maine residents can now renew their vehicle registrations on their mobile devices.

The Secretary of State’s Office said the new upgrade to the Rapid Renewal system includes a design that automatically reformats to work on any screen size. Users can renew through Rapid Renewal on smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktop computers.

Rapid Renewal is currently offered in 161 cities and towns from York County to Aroostook County.

Through Rapid Renewal, citizens can renew their vehicle registrations 24 hours a day, seven days a week and pay their municipal excise taxes in one simple online transaction.

The website is www.Maine.gov/vehicle.


Cost of storm’s damage expected to top $4 million

Officials said the cost of the damage from a severe weekend thunderstorm in central Maine is likely to top $4 million.

Gov. Paul LePage said Tuesday after touring the hardest hit areas that crews are working hard to repair the damage caused by the flooding, which was blamed for the death of a man in Milo.

The head of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway told the Bangor Daily News it will cost the railroad $500,000 to fix a stretch of track in the Brownville area that was wiped out by the flooding, along with the impact of service disruptions on customers.

LePage said the state’s emergency management agency is working to document the minimum $1.8 million in damage for the state to qualify for federal disaster assistance.

Collins’ wedding registries show mostly modest items

Red and white kitchen towels, a lemon-yellow hand mixer and a gas grill are among items on the wedding registries for U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and Thomas Daffron.

The Sun Journal said the couple, who will wed this summer in Maine, have registered at the chic Sur La Table, as well as Williams Sonoma and Crate & Barrel.

Wedding details are under wraps.

The registries feature mostly modest items, ranging from $2.95 for white pillar candles to $395.95 for a Weber grill. Most items cost $10 to $40.


Officials hoping to retrieve former Mainer’s body today

Mount Rainier National Park officials said they do not immediately expect to be able to retrieve the body of a climbing ranger killed during a rescue last week. The weather is good, but the avalanche risk is too high.

Nick Hall fell 2,500 feet last Thursday on the Emmons glacier after helping to rescue four climbers from Waco, Texas.

Aaron Hall, the brother of ranger Nick Hall, said his brother wasn’t about making money, but about “cutting straight to the spirit of what he wanted in life.”

Aaron Hall told reporters at Mount Rainier on Wednesday that his brother’s “empty pockets had a lot of wealth in them.”

Hall was originally from Patten, Maine. He had been a ranger for four years.

A park spokeswoman said officials now hope to be able to retrieve Hall’s body today.


Auditions today for role of lost boy who survived

A Boston-based filmmaker is planning a feature film based on the story of Donn Fendler, who as a 12-year-old boy survived nine days lost and alone in the Maine wilderness.

Ryan Cook, a Waterville native, plans to audition young actors in Waterville today to play the role of Donn in the movie based on the 1992 book “Lost on a Mountain in Maine.”

Donn became separated from other hikers on Mount Katahdin in 1939. While hundreds of volunteers searched in vain for him, Donn used his Boy Scout training and followed a stream until finally reaching safety.

His story was retold last year in a graphic novel called “Lost Trail, Nine Days Alone in the Wilderness.”
Now 85, Fendler hopes the movie will inspire tenacity in children.