Message on bathroom wall leads to schools’ evacuation

Two school buildings were evacuated Thursday morning after teachers discovered “a threatening message” in a student bathroom at Pond Cove Elementary School.

Students and staff were allowed to return to the buildings — the Pond Cove Elementary School and the Cape Elizabeth Middle School buildings are connected — about 20 minutes after they were evacuated.

School officials described the evacuation as “calm, orderly, and brief,” but gave no indication why they considered the message found in the bathroom to be threatening.

An e-mail alert sent to parents by Pond Cove principal Kelly Hasson and interim middle school principal Doug Perley said public safety officials checked the buildings and “determined that there was no credible threat to the safety of the school community.”

All the town’s schools, including the high school, had rehearsed an emergency lockdown drill Wednesday, according to a notice sent home to parents and guardians.


Snowe gets standing ovation at final committee hearing

Sen. Olympia Snowe continued to stress the need for compromise Thursday in her final hearing as ranking member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

Snowe, R-Maine, has served on the committee since her arrival in the Senate in 1995, and was chairwoman from 2003 to 2006. She had also served on the House Small Business Committee.

Snowe, who received a standing ovation from fellow committee members, cited corrosive partisanship for her decision to leave Congress after more than 30 years in the House and Senate. She said none of the committee’s goals can be accomplished without bipartisanship.

Her final committee hearing focused on wide-ranging bills on entrepreneurship. David Clough, the Maine state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, was among those who testified.

Snowe cited among her achievements the elevation of the administrator of the Small Business Administration back to a Cabinet-level position under President Obama.


Former police chief avoids jail time due to ill health

A former Maine police chief has avoided jail time after admitting to drug and illegal hunting offenses.

Everett H. Leonard, 61, of Turner, the one-time chief in Mechanic Falls, agreed in September to a deal that would have required him to spend three months behind bars. But a judge suspended the sentence Wednesday because of Leonard’s health problems. In the past year, he has undergone prostate surgery, been diagnosed with diabetes and suffered a stroke.

The Sun Journal reported Leonard had faced as much as 42 years in jail and $84,000 in fines for illegal hunting in 2010. He was also charged with selling oxycodone.

When Leonard and his son were arrested in January 2011, police seized hundreds of pounds of deer meat, guns, and other hunting-related equipment from their homes.


Woman faces manslaughter charge in boyfriend’s death

A woman accused of running over her boyfriend following an argument in Blue Hill has been arrested on manslaughter and other charges.

The Hancock County Sheriff’s Department says Kimberly Phelan, 29, was arrested Thursday on charges of aggravated drunken driving and reckless conduct, in addition to manslaughter.

Police say the victim, Andrew Ray, 31, of Deer Isle, was outside the vehicle during an argument when Phelan put the vehicle in reverse and ran over him early on Sept. 15. He died later at a hospital.


Council re-elects Ahlquist, Roy as chairman, vice chair

Ronald Ahlquist will serve as the Town Council chairman for another year.

The new Town Council on Wednesday selected Ahlquist to serve in the post, which he also held during the previous year.

Judith Roy was again chosen to serve as vice chairwoman.

The decision for both posts was unanimous, according to Town Clerk Tody Justice.


Police: Suspect twice tried to torch boyfriend’s belongings

Police say the Lewiston woman who led police on a high-speed chase through several communities this week tried to torch her boyfriend’s possessions with homemade Molotov cocktails.

Heather Kullson was charged Tuesday with arson, assault and eluding police after she was finally stopped following two chases that reached 80 mph.

Police say they responded to a Lewiston home at about 6 p.m. after a report that Kullson, 21, had tried to start a fire.

Police chased her, but called the pursuit off. Police say she returned to the scene and again tried to start a fire. Police chased her again, this time catching her in Poland.

The Sun Journal reported Kullson is being held in the Androscoggin County Jail on $25,000 cash bail.


Police: Man admits to sex with minor while out on bail

Authorities say a Monroe man who was out on bail after being charged with having sex with a 14-year-old girl is back behind bars for having sex with the same girl.

Christopher Whitcomb, 35, was first charged by the Maine State Police on Nov. 13 with sexual abuse.

The Waldo County Sheriff’s Office said police received a report Monday, while Whitcomb was out on bail for the first charge, that the teen had run away from home and might be with him.

Police say they brought Whitcomb to the sheriff’s office and he admitted to having sex with the girl again. He was charged with violation of release conditions and sex abuse of a minor.

He remains in jail without bail. It was not clear if he had a lawyer.


Cast-iron tomb door discovered missing

Thieves made off with a cast-iron tomb door from an Albion graveyard this month, police said.

The door was taken from Maple Grove Cemetery sometime between Thanksgiving and Saturday, police said.

Kathryn Sawtelle, chairwoman of Albion’s cemetery committee, says there has been vandalism at all the town’s three cemeteries, but the door theft is new. She thinks it was stolen to be sold as scrap, even though cast iron fetches just a dime per pound.

She said she doesn’t know the exact dimensions or weight of the door but thinks it was heavy enough to require a couple of people to carry it.

The door likely dates to the cemetery’s establishment in 1820.

Police say there are no suspects.


Poliquin: Costs of developing public housing are dropping

A year after accusing the Maine State Housing Authority of spending too much to develop public housing, a board member says those costs are coming down by 25 percent.

Board member Bruce Poliquin, who is also state treasurer, says the average development costs of new housing, rehabilitated buildings and historic structures will drop from $197,000 per unit this year to $150,000 per unit for projects to be approved next year.

A year ago, Poliquin said per-unit development costs at some housing projects exceeded costs of single-family homes. That became a theme in his push to eliminate waste and cut costs in state government.

Poliquin said savings in housing costs were achieved by eliminating unnecessary “green” regulations, and rewarding developers who come up with their own money-saving plans.


Suspect in drug store’s third robbery of year described

A pharmacy has been robbed of prescription medication for the second time in a week and the third time this year.

Police say the CVS on Capitol Street was robbed about 3 p.m. Wednesday.

There have been nine drug store robberies in the city this year. Police say that statewide there have been 53 pharmacy robberies, more than double last year’s total.

No one was hurt in Wednesday’s robbery and police were still looking for the suspect, who was described as a slender man, about 5 feet, 6 inches tall, wearing khaki pants, white sneakers, black gloves, a dark hooded sweatshirt with a hood and a dark ski mask. No weapon was used.

— From staff and news services