Police offer $2,000 reward in Christmas Eve robbery

Police are offering a $2,000 reward for information that leads to the identification of the suspect in the Rite Aid pharmacy robbery in Yarmouth on Christmas Eve.

The man, whose image was captured on surveillance cameras as he entered the store, wore a dark hat, sunglasses, a black jacket and gloves.

Pharmacy employees handed over oxycodone pills.

An employee said no weapon was shown during the robbery, and the man left the store quickly.

Police described his height as 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10.


Health officials urge caution approaching dead animals

Health and wildlife officials are recommending that people who encounter dead wild animals be cautious.

Examinations by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and University of Maine Animal Health Lab turned up lungworms in moose found dead in late winter.

Further investigation revealed small tapeworms that could be passed on by coyotes, foxes or domestic dogs.

Humans may become infected by ingesting eggs of the parasite picked up by contact with canid feces.

Biologists say it’s likely those tapeworms have been around for years with no apparent problems.

Still, officials are recommending care in dealing with dead animals, including wearing rubber or latex gloves when field dressing game, and thoroughly cooking any wild game meat that will be consumed.


Health care reform efforts awarded $33 million grant

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday that it has awarded $33 million to support health care reform efforts in Maine over the next three and a half years.

The grant is part of a $300 million round of awards to six states that are working to improve the quality and lower the cost of health care through new payment models and other reforms.

The other states receiving awards are Arkansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon and Vermont.

The six states will use funds to test multi-payer payment-and-service delivery models.

Models being tested in Maine include accountable care organizations that set quality standards and publicly report how well they meet them, and enhanced primary care, which includes financial incentives to keep patients from needing expensive tests and procedures.

The federal grant will enable Maine organizations to continue developing the models and measure their effectiveness. Future grants will depend on the performance of the efforts.


School bus damaged by fire while undergoing repairs

A school bus sustained extensive damage when it caught fire in the parking lot off Allen Avenue, school district officials said Thursday.

The bus was being repaired in the district’s transportation center on the Portland Arts and Technology High School campus when it caught fire shortly after 10 a.m., the district said.

A school employee was patching up damaged bus seats using tape, liquid vinyl and a heat gun when the fire began.

No one was injured in the fire, which was extinguished by the Portland Fire Department.

District officials said preliminary estimates indicate the bus sustained about $35,000 in damage.


Deering senior moves ahead to state poetry competition

Iman Omar, a senior at Deering High School, will compete in the state Poetry Out Loud competition March 20 at Gracie Theater in Bangor. Iman was one of five students competing in the Southern Maine Regional Poetry Out Loud competition who advanced to the state contest.

Iman won Deering’s Poetry Out Loud competition

At the regional contest Feb. 13 in Biddeford, she competed against 20 other students.

Iman recited “The Song of the Smoke” by W.E.B. Du Bois, “On Monsieur’s Departure” by Queen Elizabeth I and “a song in the front yard” by Gwendolyn Brooks.


EPA awards $5,000 grants for four projects in Maine

Maine Audubon, Maine TREE Foundation, the Appalachian Mountain Club (on behalf of the Maine Outdoor Coalition) and Schoodic Education and Research Center all have received $5,000 grants from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The four Maine projects are designed to contribute to increasing the environmental knowledge and skills of students, teachers and families in the state.

The EPA awarded a total of 19 grants in six states. Nearly 100 proposals were submitted to the New England Environmental Education Alliance, in partnership with the Maine Environmental Education Association, for review, covering educational programs that focus on learning about the environment.


Judge sets down conditions for woman to withdraw plea

A Wilton woman who conspired to burn down a convenience store in Livermore Falls so the owner could collect the insurance money will be allowed to withdraw her felony plea if she stays trouble-free for two years.

Nicole Hennessy was ordered by a judge Wednesday in Androscoggin County Superior Court to stay out of legal trouble, get substance abuse evaluation and counseling, and refrain from using alcohol and illegal drugs for two years.

The Sun Journal reported that if she complies, Hennessy will be allowed to withdraw an aggravated criminal mischief plea, punishable by up to five years in prison, and plead guilty to a lesser charge.

Prosecutors say Hennessy acted as a lookout for a man who was offered $4,000 to burn down the JP Corner Store in July 2011.