King says U.S. government needs to get house in order

Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine says the hard work is still ahead as the federal government tries to get its fiscal house in order.

King appeared Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” taking part in a roundtable discussion with 2012 Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra of California, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne and former business executive Carly Fiorina.

King said President Obama should gather a group from Congress and start negotiating the best way to cut spending and raise revenues.

He said he thinks Obama should call them up to the Camp David presidential retreat, “lock the door and say, ‘Let’s get it done.’ “

King was sworn in last week as Maine’s newest senator, replacing Olympia Snowe. 

Renovation work at civic center reported on track

Work on the Cumberland County Civic Center renovation is on track, and the only fly in the ointment at this point is a hot hockey team.

The first phase of the project, including a new Free Street entrance, is halfway completed and is on schedule even as events continue inside the building. But the civic center will shut down altogether in April for four to five months as work moves indoors.

The Portland Pirates are playing well and there could be a scheduling conflict with the renovation if the team makes it into the American Hockey League playoffs a few months from now, WCSH-TV reported.

If the team makes the playoffs, officials say they’ll have to decide whether to postpone work inside the civic center or move those games to another venue.


Grant to seek another term as Democratic chairman

Ben Grant says he’ll seek another term as Maine Democratic Party chairman when the state committee votes later this month.

The party committee is scheduled to vote Jan. 27 on a new chair.

Grant told the Sun Journal of Lewiston that he wants to head the party during the 2014 elections when Democrats will try to retake the governor’s office from Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

Grant, a Portland-based lawyer, became party chair in 2011. He said results of the 2012 elections, in which Democrats took back control of the Legislature, show the competitiveness of the party after earlier losses in key elections. 

Farmers come to Augusta for annual trades show

More than 5,000 farmers, woodland owners, livestock breeders, equipment suppliers and others interested in farming will be in Augusta this week for the 72nd annual Maine Agricultural Trades Show.

The three-day show, held Tuesday through Thursday at the Augusta Civic Center, is one of the state’s largest agricultural events and is hosted by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Gov. Paul LePage is scheduled to open the free-admission event.

This year’s show will feature dozens of lectures, demonstrations and meetings involving 40 major agricultural organizations and agencies. It also includes more than 150 exhibits featuring the latest in agricultural and forestry products, equipment and services. 

Nominations being taken for governor’s awards

Maine officials are accepting nominations for the 2013 Governor’s Awards for Business Excellence.

The awards recognize companies that are committed to employees, community, customer satisfaction, and manufacturing and service excellence.

Economic and Community Development Commissioner George Gervais said the awards showcase business innovation and spirit that have earned Maine a reputation for high-quality workmanship.

The awards were created in 1991, and 117 companies have received an award since then.

The nomination deadline is Feb. 15, and an awards ceremony will be held in the spring. Nomination forms are available on the Department of Economic and Community Development’s website.


Lewiston man charged with assaulting girlfriend’s child

Police have charged a Lewiston man with felony assault involving his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter.

Police said Kareem Johnson, 29, took care of the child at his girlfriend’s Waterville apartment while the mother was out of town.

When the mother returned, she noticed bruises on the girl’s legs, thighs and buttocks and called police.

Officials told the Sun Journal of Lewiston that the toddler was taken to Maine General Medical Center and is expected to make a full recovery. Johnson was being held at the Kennebec County Jail.


House basement damaged by Sunday afternoon fire

The basement of a house at 10 Hall Ave. in Saco was heavily damaged by fire Sunday afternoon.

Saco Fire Department Capt. Bill Madore said the fire broke out about 12:30 p.m., and 20 firefighters from Saco and Biddeford had the blaze under control in 15 minutes.

The kitchen was heavily damaged by smoke, Madore said, but no one was injured.

The cause of the fire was still under investigation Sunday afternoon, he said.


Longtime clerk resigns post in face of pending charges

A longtime northern New Hampshire town clerk who was found not guilty of stealing town funds says she’s resigned from the job she held for 31 years, and police say additional theft charges are pending against her.

A judge last Monday found Sandy York not guilty of theft for allegedly stealing $100 from the town’s daily cash receipts.

Dalton Police Chief Mario Audit told the Caledonian-Record that York will soon face additional charges based on an audit of the town’s books that revealed several accounting issues.

In her resignation letter, York said she can’t work in a town office where the select board and police have “no faith in my integrity.”

York told the newspaper she didn’t have any further comment beyond her letter.