Navy to convene panel to probe submarine fire

The Navy is convening a special panel to investigate the fire that damaged the submarine USS Miami while it was in dry dock for an overhaul at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in the river between Maine and New Hampshire.

All other investigations will be folded into the committee’s probe, which was ordered by U.S. Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, Va.

Early estimates put the fire damage at $400 million. It started on May 23 after burning material was sucked into a vacuum cleaner.

Lt. Cmdr. Mike Kafka, a Navy spokesman, says the goal is to gain a detailed understanding of what happened to ensure nothing similar happens in the future. He says the Navy has not yet concluded whether the submarine will be repaired or retired.


More tickets to Mumford & Sons on sale today

A block of tickets for the sold-out Aug. 4 concert by British folk rockers Mumford & Sons on Portland’s Eastern Promenade will go on sale at 10 a.m. today.

The $69 tickets will be on sale until 6 p.m. at Port City Music Hall, at 504 Congress St. At 10 a.m. Saturday, remaining tickets will go on sale online at

A total of 3,000 tickets are to be sold.

Tickets went on sale for the day-long music festival event June 1, and sold out that day. The show’s local promoter, Lauren Wayne of the State Theatre, has said she expects as many as 12,000 people for the show. In announcing the new block of tickets Thursday, Wayne did not explain why more have become available.

The show will begin at 2 p.m. Aug. 4 and will include performances by St. Vincent, Dawes, Maccabees, the Apache Relay, and Haim.

Homeless group opposes bid to stop median panhandlers

Advocates for the homeless plan to oppose a proposed ordinance that would prevent panhandlers from standing in median strips in Portland.

Members of Homeless Voices For Justice and staffers from the Preble Street Resource Center plan to speak against the ordinance when it comes before the Portland City Council on Monday, said Betsy Whitman, community organizer with Homeless Voices for Justice.

Proponents say that standing on median strips poses a safety hazard for both passing vehicles and the panhandlers. The ordinance would prohibit anyone from standing on a median.

But Whitman said that panhandling on the street is not dangerous. However, it does bother some people who simply don’t want to see homeless people on their commute, she said.

“It’s uncomfortable to see the homeless in our community,” she said. “The way to address that isn’t to make the homeless invisible, but to provide services and change the systems that are creating homelessness.”

Man undergoing hospital evaluation after shooting gun

A Marlborough Road man has been taken to a hospital for evaluation Thursday after firing a handgun in his North Deering neighborhood.

Police were called to the house at the corner of Marlborough Road and Ivaloo Street at noon by neighbors who said they heard gunshots coming from the house, said Cmdr. Gary Rogers.

When police arrived the man followed officers’ instructions and put down the gun. He told officers he had fired at two men but police suspect he was delusional.

Police shut down nearby streets while they searched the man’s house for potential evidence or victims.

Nobody was injured in the incident. Police have not decided whether to charge the man.


Resident arrested on drug, domestic assault charges

A Falmouth resident has been arrested on drug-dealing and domestic-violence charges.

Police Lt. John Kilbride said Christopher Michaels, 24, who is renting a home on Hillside Avenue, was charged with unlawful possession of scheduled drugs, unlawful furnishing of scheduled drugs, domestic violence assault, and domestic violence terrorizing.

Police went to Michaels’ home around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday to serve him with court papers. During the course of their investigation, they say they noticed that Michaels was trying to conceal cocaine.

At that point, officers took Michaels into custody. When they returned with a search warrant, the officers found marijuana, cocaine, drug scales, packaging material, two handguns and about $8,500 in cash inside the home, police said.

Michaels was taken to the Cumberland County Jail, where he was released on bail. He is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 16.


Former Maine AG to head N.H. health foundation

A former attorney general and state legislator in Maine has been selected to lead New Hampshire’s largest health foundation.

The Endowment for Health board has chosen Steven Rowe. He will succeed James Squires, who retired from the foundation last year.

Rowe most recently served as counsel at the Portland-based law firm of Verrill Dana LLP. He served as Maine Attorney General from 2001 to 2009. He was speaker of Maine’s House of Representatives from 1999 to 2000.

He starts at the foundation in September.

The foundation was established in 1999. Its mission is to “improve the health and reduce the burden of illness for the people of New Hampshire — especially the vulnerable and undeserved.” Since 2001, it has awarded 873 grants totaling more than $35 million for health-related programs.


Woman, three teens held in series of home burglaries

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department says a New Gloucester woman and three teenage boys have been arrested in connection with a series of home burglaries over the past few months in Gray, New Gloucester and Pownal.

Police say Juanita Small, 40, was charged with attempted burglary and theft.

The boys, all ages 15 to 17, have also been charged. Their names were not released because of their age.

Police say the suspects were caught in the act while robbing a New Gloucester home on June 28.

The burglaries resulted in the loss of jewelry, electronics, sporting equipment and alcohol. Some of the stolen items have been recovered.


Two escaped convicts recaptured near prison

Two convicts who escaped from a state prison have been recaptured.

Authorities told WABI-TV that the men who escaped from the Charleston Correctional Facility on Sunday were caught just after midnight Thursday in the Glenburn area, not far from the prison in central Maine.

An official says Randall Moulton, 20, of Bangor and Phillip Gardiner, 25, of Belfast were in prison for burglary and other charges. Moulton was scheduled to be released later this year and Gardiner in 2014.

They now face up to an additional five years each for escaping.

There was no word on whether an inmate who escaped from the Somerset County Jail on Monday had been caught.


Man pleads guilty to charge of trafficking in oxycodone

An Ellsworth man has pleaded guilty to trafficking the prescription painkiller oxycodone.

Craig Strout-Desmond, 25, was charged with unlawful trafficking of a scheduled drug, unlawful possession of oxycodone and violation of conditions of his release.

Drug agents say they found $3,400 worth of oxycodone in the Strout-Desmond’s vehicle after he returned from a trip to the home of Robert Strout, his grandfather, in Aroostook County in August of 2011. Robert Strout is serving four years for aggravated furnishing of oxycodone and for crimes committed in connection with a triple homicide in Amity.

The Bangor Daily News reported that Strout-Desmond will be held until Friday when a drug court will decide if he is eligible for the program which offers deferred sentences in return for participation in a rehabilitation regime.


$600,000 grant given for enhancements to airport

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority a $600,000 grant for enhancements at Brunswick Executive Airport, according to U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe and U.S. Sen. Susan Collins.

The money, funded under the Airport Improvement Program’s Military Airport Program, will pay for the removal of military markings at the airport and replace them with civilian airfield markings.

The funds are being used to deter unauthorized access to the airfield and meet Federal Aviation Administration standards, the senators said in a joint statement.

The Brunswick Executive Airport, which opened last year, is at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station. The Navy discontinued use of its Brunswick base in January 2010. The base was officially closed last year, the victim of a national effort to close military installations.

The Navy gave more than 990 acres with runways, hangars and other aviation facilities at no cost to the redevelopment authority, which is overseeing the redevelopment of the air station.


LePage says legalization of fireworks sales boosting jobs

The LePage administration says legalization of fireworks in Maine has sparked a small business boom in the state.

Officials say dozens of Maine jobs have been created and millions of dollars in new revenue have been generated, thanks to the legalization of fireworks.

Fireworks became legal on Jan. 1 for the first time in 63 years. Since then, a dozen new retail stores have opened in 11 communities from Presque Isle to Scarborough.

Gov. Paul LePage says legalization has opened a new market, creating jobs and sustaining economic growth.

Fireworks were legal in Maine this July 4. The state fire marshal reported relatively few fireworks-related injuries around the holiday despite a change in the law.