Maine Jewish Film Festival gets under way in Portland

Twenty-nine films are being shown over six days as the 16th annual Maine Jewish Film Festival kicks off in Portland.

The festival began Saturday and continues through Thursday, with most films being shown in Portland. A select few are also being shown in Brunswick, Waterville and Bangor.

The festival each year arranges for movies that explore the Jewish experience through feature films, documentaries and shorts. Besides viewing films, participants will be able to meet and talk with filmmakers.

Since its start in 1998, the festival has shown more than 300 foreign and domestic films while selling more than 32,000 tickets. Schedule information can be found on the festival website, www.mjff.org.


Stray dog near turnpike leads to Saturday crash

A stray dog on the Maine Turnpike led to a crash Saturday afternoon that injured four people and resulted in the deaths of two dogs in a vehicle involved in the crash, Maine State Police said.

Trooper Duane Doughty said several drivers on the northbound side of the highway near mile 54 stopped for a dog running loose near the turnpike.

Alicia Staley, 37, of Auburn, who was driving on the southbound side of the highway, slammed on her brakes in response to the activity on the northbound side, Doughty said. Staley’s van was then hit from behind by a car driven by Kristy Pendexter, 39, of Gray.

Staley’s van rolled over in a ditch because of the collision, which occurred around 1:30 p.m. Two dogs in her van were killed and one was injured as a result of the crash.

Staley and her passenger, a 15-year-old girl, were taken to Maine Medical Center for treatment of pain and cuts. Pendexter and her passenger, Daniel Call, 41, of Gray, were also taken to Maine Medical Center for pain and cuts.

Both vehicles were totaled, Doughty said, and traffic was backed up for about 90 minutes.
State police said the stray dog apparently ran off, and there are no reports that it was hit by a car.


SMCC hosts competitions spotlighting young chefs

The aroma in the air this weekend in the South Portland area will be unusually good.

Southern Maine Community College is hosting two competitions for young chefs, helping the next generation of culinary artists make their name.

On Saturday, the college hosted Maine’s second annual ProStart Culinary Competition. And Sunday, the school will host for the first time a regional event in the Young Chefs’ Competition.

On Saturday, four-student teams from six of the state’s technical centers each had to create a menu, cook three-course meals and serve them to judges. They were judged in the kitchen and on their final product.

On Sunday, 10 area chefs who will be under the age of 27 as of September will compete.


Future of N.H. cold case unit threatened by lack of funds

New Hampshire’s 4-year-old cold case unit has made some headline-grabbing arrests and has more than 100 other cases to investigate, but now it must solve perhaps its toughest mystery yet: the money game.

A lack of funds puts the future of the unit in peril. The unit was formed using federal grant money and has been sustained by federal stimulus money, but that funding ran out last month, according to Deputy Attorney General Ann Rice.

Gov. Maggie Hassan included money in her proposed budget that she says will allow the cold case unit to continue, but that budget is subject to approval by lawmakers. The money would go toward filling 10 state trooper vacancies and three openings in the Attorney General’s Office. “If the funding is taken out of our budget, whatever resources we have would really have to focus on the homicides that are happening now,” Rice said.

The state departments of Justice and Safety spent about $600,000 in federal funds over the past two years to keep the program going, according to figures compiled last month.