Teen pleads not guilty to charges stemming from fatal crash

A teenager from Oxford has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter for a crash in January that killed two friends.

Kristina Lowe, 19, pleaded not guilty in Oxford County Superior Court on Tuesday to two counts of manslaughter, two counts of operating under the influence and leaving the scene of a motor vehicle crash resulting in death.

Police say Lowe was drunk and sending text messages while driving 75 mph in West Paris when she lost control of her car and crashed into some trees shortly after midnight on Jan. 7. Logan Dam, 19, of Norway and Rebecca Mason, 16, of West Paris were killed.

The Sun Journal says Lowe’s attorney denies that she was drunk or texting at the time of the crash.

Lowe remains free on $50,000 bail.


Conservative policy center names chief economist CEO

The chief economist for the Maine Heritage Policy Center has been tapped to lead the organization.

Scott Moody is being promoted to CEO after the departure of Lance Dutson, who’ll serve as campaign manager for Charlie Summers, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.

Dutson has described the policy center as the “heart and soul of the conservative movement in Maine.”

Peter Anania, chairman of the organization, says Moody has a strong policy background, having directed the group’s studies in tax and regulatory policy for six years.


Former drug prosecutor injured after losing control of motorcycle

A former drug prosecutor who was convicted in 2010 on child pornography charges was injured Monday when he crashed his motorcycle on Water Street.

James Cameron, 50, of Hallowell was taken to Central Maine Medical Center with head and neck injuries that were not believed to be life-threatening, said Hallowell Police Chief Eric Nason.

A hospital spokeswoman said Tuesday that information on Cameron’s condition was being withheld at the family’s request.

The crash occurred around 2 p.m. Monday. Cameron, driving a 1997 BMW motorcycle, was thrown from the bike when he went off the right side of the road and hit a curb, Nason said.

Cameron told police he lost control of his motorcycle as he slowed in traffic. There are no charges in connection with the crash, Nason said.

Cameron was convicted in August 2010 of 13 charges of transportation, receipt and possession of child pornography. He was sentenced in March 2011 to 16 years in federal prison, but was freed five months later while his convictions were appealed.

The appeal is pending in the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.


Dispute leads to arrests of 3 men on charges of robbery, assault

Three men face charges of robbery and aggravated assault in a dispute on Huntress Road in South Portland late Monday into Tuesday morning.

Police stopped a sport utility vehicle shortly after the alleged assault was reported and charged the occupants in connection with the incident.

One of the men, Mekonnen Berhe, 19, who is listed as having no address but living in Greater Portland, was charged with drug trafficking after police found $500 worth of crack cocaine in the car, according to police.

Berhe, Raoul Tshiyuka, 19, and John Kanda, 19, are charged with beating up the victim and taking his backpack and cellphone.

The suspects and victim know each other and the fight supposedly broke out because of the way the victim was behaving toward women who were present, police said.

The victim was taken to the hospital but later released after treatment, police said. There was no weapon involved.


Former House candidate jailed for breaking Clean Election law

A former Republican candidate for the Legislature is going to jail for seven days after pleading guilty to violating Maine’s Clean Election Act.

Michael Hein was sentenced Tuesday in Kennebec County Superior Court in a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Hein told state officials he had collected $5 contributions from 60 registered voters to qualify for public campaign funds to run in House District 57. The state ethics commission later determined that 15 of the contributors had not signed Hein’s application or made $5 contributions.

The Attorney General’s Office said that if Hein’s misrepresentation hadn’t been uncovered, he would have qualified for $486 in public campaign funds for the primary and $3,937 for the general election.

Hein lost in last month’s GOP primary.


State unveils list of 49 chemicals that could endanger children

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has released the state’s official list of 49 chemicals used in everyday products that could represent a danger to children.

In partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the DEP published the list of “Chemicals of High Concern” late last week, before its July 1 deadline.

The list includes a dozen chemicals proven to cause cancer in humans, including formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl chloride, arsenic and cadmium. Others include four chemicals used in flame retardants, three used in sunscreens and so-called hormone disrupters like parabens and phthalates.

Sierra Fletcher from the Environmental Health Strategy Center says the list represents a “baby step” and that the state should now mandate replacement of those chemicals with safer alternatives.


LePage spokeswoman promoted to director of communications

Gov. Paul LePage’s spokeswoman, Adrienne Bennett, has been promoted from press secretary to director of communications.

The change means she will be in charge of communications strategy in addition to being the governor’s primary spokesperson. Bennett has been filling the director’s role on an acting basis since the departure of Peter Rogers in February.

In addition, LePage has hired a former aide to Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, to be the new deputy press secretary. Evan Beal was a staff assistant in Snowe’s office for a few months and is a 2011 graduate of George Washington University.

Beal assists Bennett with all media relations and will develop LePage’s social-media presence, according to an announcement of the personnel changes issued today.


Makeshift shrine for missing tot dismantled; reward offer expires

A pile of stuffed animals, toys and keepsakes placed in front of the house where 20-month-old Ayla Reynolds was last seen has been removed.

The makeshift shrine outside the home of Ayla’s father, Justin DiPietro, emerged in the days after she was reporting missing from the home on Dec. 17. It remained as of Friday, when an Associated Press reporter visited the house, but WABI-TV reported Tuesday that it had been removed.

Charles Rumsey, deputy police chief in Waterville, told WABI that no one called the police department regarding the removal of the items. DiPietro didn’t return a call seeking comment.

A $30,000 reward for information leading to the missing toddler went unclaimed as the reward expired last weekend. Police are continuing their investigation.


Volunteers find note in bottle cast off from Canada in 2000

Volunteers picking up trash off a coastal Maine island found a message in a bottle that floated down the coast from Canada.

Becky Lee of the Downeast Coastal Conservancy said she discovered the note in a plastic soda bottle as she and others cleaned up Tibbett Island off South Addison.

The note from a young Canadian girl named Taryn had been tossed in the ocean in July 2000. Lee told the Bangor Daily News she suspected Taryn got help from her parents writing the note about her vacation in New Brunswick because it said she was just 3 years old.

Now 15, Taryn McKee of Welland, Ontario, told the Welland Tribune that she doesn’t even remember the note or the bottle, but she recalls parts of the family vacation like collecting seashells and getting seasick on a whale-watching boat.

Taryn’s mother, Cheryl McKee, said she wrote notes in bottles for Taryn and her son, Jacob, who was 2 at the time. The bottles were thrown in the ocean on the family’s last day of vacation in Letete, New Brunswick, which is about 50 miles from South Addison.

“I had hopes it would go far,” McKee said. “Who would have thought, 12 years later.”


Sarah Mildred Long Bridge will be closed nightly through July

A lift bridge between Maine and New Hampshire will be repaired over the coming month.

The Maine Department of Transportation says the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge connecting Kittery and Portsmouth, N.H., will close nightly for safety repairs starting Thursday night.

Maine DOT spokesman Ted Talbot said crews will install prefabricated steel barriers because of corroded guardrails along the entire length of the bridge. Repairs will continue through Aug. 1.

The Interstate 95 bridge over the Piscataqua River will remain open while the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge is shut down during the evenings and overnight. The bridges are getting heavier-than-normal use during demolition and replacement of the Memorial Bridge, the third bridge between Kittery and Portsmouth.