Hurricane bringing waves, and warnings about safety

The Maine Emergency Management Agency is warning people to be cautious near the coast this weekend, as Hurricane Leslie kicks up high surf.

“With Maine still enjoying late summer weather, residents and visitors alike will be flocking to coastal areas,” said an alert issued by MEMA spokeswoman Lynette Miller. “While high surf is exciting and beautiful to see, it can also be extremely dangerous.”

Isolated large waves can sweep a person into turbulent waters and rip currents can pull a person out to sea quickly, the alert said.

The hurricane will be passing east of Maine and is no threat to make landfall, the alert said. However, high surf and swells are possible along the southern coast and midcoast areas late Saturday and Sunday.

Down East coastal areas will see the hurricane’s impact late Saturday into Sunday night.

The entire coast will continue to feel the impact of the offshore storm in the early part of the week, the alert said.


Commercial corridor plan set for two discussions

The town is looking for feedback on a plan to transform the North Windham commercial corridor.

The 21st Century Downtown Plan calls for street networks that would encourage denser neighborhoods behind the corridor.

The plan will be presented at a public forum on Sept. 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the Manchester School. A public meeting focusing on the concerns of downtown business owners will be held Sept. 20 at 7 a.m. at Windham Weaponry.

The process of creating the plan began two years ago. A draft was completed in July.

The goals of the plan are to improve the flow of traffic on Route 302 through North Windham, create a more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly shopping area and to develop a stronger “sense of place” downtown.

The plan notes that the problems with North Windham include a poorly designed layout with expansive parking lots, run-down buildings and excessive traffic.

It calls for revisions to zoning ordinances that would improve how the corridor develops, sidewalks and crosswalks, more housing and transportation improvements.

The plan will likely be presented in October to the Town Council, which would consider adopting it.


Freak accident injures infant riding on farm utility vehicle

A year-old girl was injured Friday when a strap on her car seat got wrapped around her neck and then caught on the tire of the utility vehicle she was riding in on a farm.

The Maine Warden Service said the accident happened about 3 p.m. at Celestial Farm. The girl was in the car seat on the utility tractor, being driven by the girl’s grandmother, who owns the farm.

The girl, who was not named, was playing with the excess strap on the seat when it got wrapped around her neck and caught under the tire, authorities said.

The girl was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where she was treated for what the warden services said was non-life-threatening injuries.


Resident who aided woman given valor award by police

A Lisbon man has been honored by local police for coming to the aid of a woman who was being attacked by her knife-wielding ex-boyfriend.

John Clark was given the “Award of Valor By a Citizen” by police Chief David Brooks at the town council meeting this week.

Police say Clark was in his home when he heard screams outside on the night of Feb. 27, 2011. He saw a car in his driveway where Leein Hinkley was assaulting the woman. Clark went to the woman’s aid and in the process suffered a knife wound.

Hinkley was found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison.


Man, 82, to serve 18 months for abusing two young girls

An 82-year-old Wilton man has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for sexually abusing two girls younger than 12.

Carl Seaward was sentenced recently to 13 years behind bars, with all but 18 months suspended, and 10 years of probation.

Seaward pleaded guilty Aug. 31 in Kennebec County Superior Court to three counts of unlawful sexual contact and one count of unlawful sexual touching.

Authorities say the abuse occurred in September 2006.

The Sun Journal reports that Seaward was a guidance counselor and teacher at Jay Elementary School until he retired in 2002, but authorities say the charges are not connected to any former students.


Nine new appointees sworn in by Gov. LePage

Following Senate confirmations, Gov. Paul LePage wasted no time in swearing in eight judicial reappointments and the state’s new labor commissioner, Jeanne Paquette.

The ceremony Friday was held in the Cabinet Room of the State House.

Taking the oath in addition to Paquette were Supreme Court justice Donald Alexander; Superior Court justices Jeffrey Hjelm, Thomas Humphrey, Thomas Warren, Joyce Wheeler, and Carl Badford; and District Court judges Keith Powers and Kevin Stitham.

Taking the other later this month will be Supreme Court Justice Warren Silver and two new judges, Dan Billings and John Lucy. Billings is LePage’s former chief legal counsel.


Readfield man pleads guilty to stealing from friends

A Readfield man authorities say robbed the homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses when he knew they were at church meetings has pleaded guilty to multiple burglary and theft charges.

Jarrod Bilodeau admitted Thursday in Kennebec County Superior Court to stealing jewelry and other items from homes in Augusta, Farmingdale, Vassalboro, Wayne and Winthrop, between Nov. 17 and Dec. 12.

The prosecutor said the victims considered Bilodeau, 27, family.

Bilodeau will be sentenced later this month so the judge can hear from victims.


Same-sex marriage backers to mark final push with rally

Mainers United for Marriage, the leading group in support of same-sex marriage, will hold a rally at City Hall at 1 p.m. Monday to kick off the final eight weeks of the campaign.

“We’re expecting a big crowd as we kick off the fall campaign with a ‘Yes on 1’ rally,” said Matt McTighe, campaign manager.

Portland Mayor Michael Brennan, Pastor Michael Gray and McTighe are all scheduled to speak at the rally.

Voters will be asked Nov. 6 whether they want to allow the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Maine is one of four states that will vote on the issue this fall, along with Maryland, Minnesota and Washington.


Aerial survey of moose puts number at 76,000

An aerial survey shows Maine has about 76,000 moose.

The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife uses a double-count technique in the winter where two observers independently report the number of moose observed while flying in a helicopter over northern and eastern Maine. One observer sits in the front of the helicopter while the other sites in the back on the same side. They feed data to a recorder.

The technique was adapted from Quebec and New Brunswick, where it was used to count deer.


Hospital offering buyouts as it moves to cut costs

Officials at Blue Hill Memorial Hospital say they will offer employees a buyout plan in an effort to avoid layoffs needed to cut costs.

The hospital announced Thursday that its “voluntary separation incentive plan” is available for all employees, but administrators will have the final say on who gets it.

The hospital now employees about 330 people. CEO Greg Raroff didn’t say how many positions it needs to eliminate or how much needs to be saved.

Raroff says the hospital will likely break even in 2012, but that isn’t enough.

Final decisions on the buyout are expected to be made by Sept. 17.

The hospital is affiliated with Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems.


14th annual Garlic Festival offers wide-range of foods

Garlic brownies and garlic cotton candy are among the garlic-flavored foods available for tasting at an annual festival in Southwest Harbor that celebrates all things garlic.

The 14th annual Mount Desert Island Garlic Festival will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

The event began in 1998 when Bar Harbor restaurateur Frank Pendola and a few friends got together to celebrate the harvest of his garlic crop.

It’s since grown into a gathering of local restaurants, musicians, brewers and garlic lovers that draws more than 800 people.

The festival serves as a celebration of garlic, with vendors over the years offering up dishes ranging from garlic sausage to garlic cornbread.


Differences in GPS systems blamed for wastewater spill

Authorities say differences between GPS systems in the U.S. and Canada were behind the international bridge construction error this summer that severed a wastewater discharge pipe.

A spokeswoman for the New Brunswick Department of Transportation tells the Bangor Daily News the GPS coordinate system upon which surveys typically are based is different in the U.S. than in Canada.

She said the problem was not, as has been speculated, a failure to convert metric and standard measurements.

Workers on the bridge connecting Fort Kent and Clair, New Brunswick, were installing a large metal wall in July when a pipe carrying treated effluent from the Fort Kent wastewater treatment plant to the river was severed.

The error had no environmental effects.

The cost of the $13.9 million project is being shared.