Two brothers found dead after early-morning blaze

Officials say the bodies of two brothers have been found in a burned-out house following a fire in Orono.

The Fire Marshal’s Office said the victims are believed to be Cris Davis, 49, of Milford and Randy Davis, 47. They were killed in a fire that was discovered shortly after 3 a.m. at Randy Davis’ home on Hillside Road.

One body was found on the second floor, and the other was in the first-floor living room.

Officials say the fire was possibly caused by either the wood stove or chimney. The house didn’t have working smoke detectors.

Investigators said the brothers and a friend had been out drinking Saturday night and took a taxi home. The friend had the taxi continue on to his apartment in Bangor.


Man guilty in knife attack to serve more than 6 years

A 29-year-old Maine man is going to prison for 6 1/2 years for a savage knife attack on his girlfriend after a night of drinking.

Matthew Wycoff previously pleaded guilty to elevated aggravated assault for stabbing Katherine Erbes of Bath in the throat and neck on Feb. 20. In a plea agreement, he was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in prison, with all but 6 1/2 years suspended.

The Times-Record reported that Erbes told the judge that Wycoff deserved more time in prison, calling the plea agreement “insulting.”

Wycoff apologized, saying he takes responsibility for his actions.

Wycoff’s mother told the judge her son was class president in high school, graduated with high honors and was accepted into the pre-med program at the University of Maine.


Hours for counter service cut at 5 Maine post offices

The U.S. Postal Service says 5 small Maine post offices have reduced their hours as part of a cost-cutting plan, and 200 more will do the same in the next two years.

The financially troubled Postal Service announced this year it was planning to shut down post offices but this plan was shelved in favor of reducing operating hours.

The Bangor Daily News reported that most post offices that regularly had eight hours have been cut to six or four hours.

In more extreme cases, some post offices are open only two hours a day.

Postal Service spokesman Tom Rizzo said the changes affect only counter service, and in most cases  people will still be able to gain access to the lobby and post office boxes when counters are closed.

Note: This dispatch was changed on Wednesday, December 26, 2012 to correct inaccuracies.

Council OKs forming panel to find steward for school

The Portland City Council has approved creation of a committee that will attempt to find a new steward for the former Nathan Clifford School.

City Councilors this month unanimously endorsed a list of recommendations, which were developed by a school Reuse Advisory Task Force.

Those recommendations will require that future occupants preserve the century-old school’s historic features — including having the school placed on the National Register of Historic Places — and that future uses contribute to the character and vitality of the surrounding Oakdale neighborhood.

The Task Force said suitable uses could include educational purposes, residential dwelling units, or low impact uses focusing on products that could benefit area residents.

The timeline adopted by the City Council suggests that the school be sold to a new owner by no later than November 2013.


Forums to seek public input on state of lobster industry

Maine fishery officials have scheduled a series of forums seeking public input about the state of the lobster industry and recommendations for the future.

The meetings come in the wake of this year’s strong lobster catch and low lobster prices, and on the heels of a report that analyzes Maine’s lobster licensing system.

Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher said he hopes to get ideas from people in the lobster industry about the harvest, prices, Maine’s relationship with Canada, the state’s marketing strategy and the licensing system.

Sixteen meetings are planned in January in coastal towns from York to Machias.

The schedule is posted on the department’s website: www.maine.gov/dmr/LobsterIndustry.htm.


Maine residents cautioned to beware of fake charities

Maine consumer protection officials are warning of bogus charities reported to be springing up in the aftermath of Sandy and the school shootings in Connecticut.

Commissioner Anne Head of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation encourages Maine residents to check the legitimacy of unknown charities, especially those that seem to quickly appear following a tragedy.

Consumers can check with the department on whether a charity is authorized to raise money in Maine and whether disciplinary action has ever been taken against the organization.

Information about charitable solicitations is available on the department’s website at www.maine.gov/pfr/professionallicensing/professions/charitable.

Information and other resources are also available from the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/charityfraud/.


Paper mill’s parent company no longer in bankruptcy

The parent company of a large paper mill in western Maine has emerged from bankruptcy protection.

NewPage Corp. has announced that it has completed its financial restructuring after receiving financial backing and a revolving line of credit 15 months after filing for bankruptcy.

NewPage employs about 900 workers at its mill in Rumford.

Headquartered in Ohio, NewPage has other mills in Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Nova Scotia.


Georges Bank areas opened for clam, quahog harvesting

Regulators will allow fishermen to target Atlantic surf clams and ocean quahogs in areas of Georges Bank that have been closed to harvesting for 22 years.

The areas, which will reopen in January, have been closed since 1990 on the recommendation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which found high levels of a toxin there that can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning in humans.

But officials said levels of the naturally occurring toxin have been low recently.

And the industry, regulators and academics have developed a testing approach for fishermen to check the shellfish for the toxins on board. Then, scientists at approved labs conduct further testing to ensure the shellfish are safe.

The two shellfish species support a multimillion-dollar East Coast fishery that had 47 active permit holders last year.

Mayor leaves rehab hospital with no decision about work

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has left a hospital just in time for Christmas.

The longest-serving mayor in the city’s history was released Sunday from Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. He told reporters from inside an SUV that it’s great to be out for Christmas.

He joked that city government has been running well, even without him.

Menino spent about six weeks at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He was admitted for treatment of a respiratory infection that developed during a vacation in Italy.

While at the hospital, he suffered complications including a compression fracture in a vertebra in his spine. He also was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

A spokesman said the mayor has not made a decision about his work schedule.


Wanted man arrested, faces charges in Kittery

The U.S. Marshals Service has arrested a man in New Hampshire they allege is facing aggravated assault and kidnapping charges in Kittery.

Doni Dale Thompson, 33, was arrested Friday in Dover by New Hampshire State Police.

The Associated Press reported that Thompson was taken into custody during a traffic stop. He was being sought for a parole violation following his conviction for a first-degree assault.

Kittery police were unable to provide any details concerning the alleged assault and kidnapping, which took place Dec. 20 in Maine.


Morning house fire kills two and leaves five others injured

Authorities say two people have been killed and five others injured in a house fire in New Ipswich.

Officials said the blaze was first reported about 5:30 a.m. Sunday.

Firefighters from New Hampshire and Massachusetts responded to the scene. It took them about two hours to get the fire under control.

Authorities say they found two bodies in the rubble.

Five other people were taken to area hospitals. Their conditions were not immediately available.

The names of the victims have not yet been released.

Fire officials told WMUR-TV that the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

— From news service reports