School budget proposal up $3.2 million over this year

School Superintendent Suzanne Godin presented her 2014 operating budget to the South Portland Board of Education Monday night.

The $43.2 million school spending proposal does not call for any significant reductions or additions in staff or programs. The budget represents an increase in spending of $3.2 million over the current annual budget.

Godin’s budget, which will be examined in more detail by the Board of Education during three workshops, does propose making a part-time bus driver and bus aide position permanent and also calls for hiring a full-time person for communications and grant writing.

The budget would eliminate a kindergarten teacher position at Small School by not replacing a retiring teacher. It also proposes that a vacant technology support specialist job not be filled and eliminates a half-time English teacher position at the high school.

The superintendent’s budget includes $991,000 to cover the cost of salary increases for school department employees.

The Board of Education will hold budget workshops on March 21, 26 and 28, with a final vote on adopting the budget set for April 1. The school department will present its budget to the City Council on April 3.

Pock wins special election for vacant council seat

Michael R. Pock was chosen during a special Tuesday election to fill out the remainder of a term on the South Portland City Council.

City Clerk Susan Mooney reported that Pock received 180 votes, just two more votes than his closest opponent, Richard L. Carter.

The other candidates were Robert A. Foster III, who received 139 votes and W. Rob Schreiber, who got 111 votes.

The open seat, which represents District 1, became vacant when former city councilor Tom Coward took office in January as a Cumberland County commissioner.

Pock’s term on the City Council will expire in December 2014. Pock, 66, owns Pock Carpentry. He has no prior political experience.


New Yorker gets two years for passing phony bills

A New York man has been sentenced to two years in prison for passing counterfeit money at stores in Maine and New Hampshire.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Jamal Bradberry, 36, was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court. He was also ordered to pay $13,000 in restitution.

Prosecutors say Bradberry and Brittany Wildes of Westbrook passed bogus $100 bills when making purchases from October 2011 to January 2012. On several occasions, they returned the merchandise and received real money from the stores in exchange.

Wildes was sentenced in February to 1-1/2 years in prison for her role in the scheme.

Bradberry pleaded guilty in September. 

Museum tours of Homer studio to start next month

The Portland Museum of Art says it will begin giving tours of its Winslow Homer studio in Scarborough next month.

The museum said its spring tour season runs from April 2 through June 14.

The museum bought the building in 2006 and opened it to the public last September following a multimillion-dollar renovation. The studio overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and is where Homer lived from 1883 until his death in 1910 and where he produced some of this most notable work.

The museum is offering three tours of the studio a day in the spring and the fall. Tickets cost $55 per person, $30 for museum members. 

Oriental Table to be closed at month’s end, owner says

A longtime Portland restaurant will close at the end of this month, and its future is uncertain.

The Oriental Table at 106 Exchange St., which has been open since 1995, has been popular with the Old Port business lunch crowd and patrons of nearby Merrill Auditorium.

Its owner, Yan Lam, said a series of disputes with his landlord is forcing him to shut the restaurant down. He’s not sure if he will reopen somewhere else.

“I’d love to, but right now I don’t know,” he said. “I’ll wait until I wrap up here first, and then I’ll see what I can do.”

Lam is a Vietnamese refugee who became a U.S. citizen in 1985. His landlord, Joe Palacci, who operates an electronics shop next door, said he was perplexed by suggestions of a disagreement and surprised by Lam’s decision to leave.

“We’ve been more than fair to him all along,” Palacci said.

Lam said customers are understanding, but sad, about his situation.

“Everybody feels so bad,” Lam said. “Other people have given me their name and phone number. If I do reopen, they ask me to contact them.” 

Ice Bar event raises $18,000 for three nonprofit groups

The Portland Harbor Hotel’s ninth annual Ice Bar, held in late January, raised $18,000 for three nonprofit organizations.

The beneficiaries of the event this year are The Trauma Intervention Program of Portland, the Root Cellar and Share Our Strength of Southern Maine.

The funds raised surpassed last year’s event, which raised $15,000 for charity.

Since the hotel started charging admission to the ice bar four years ago, the event has raised a total of $63,000 for Portland-area nonprofits, according to Gerard Kiladjian, the hotel’s general manager. 

Short film by Portland man in Tribeca festival lineup

Maine filmmaker Ryan Spindell has had his short film accepted into the lineup of the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival.

This year’s 12th annual Tribeca Film Festival will take place in New York City from April 17 through April 28. Spindell, from Portland, was co-director of a film called “The Root of the Problem,” which will be shown at the festival as part of the short-film lineup.

The film, set in 1950s suburbia, follows a reluctant housewife who suspects the local dentist of hiding a terrible secret.

For more information on the festival, go to


Cape state chess champs for second year in a row

Cape Elizabeth High School has won the state chess championship for the second year in a row.

The school’s chess team won all four of its matches in Orono on Saturday, against Erskine Academy, John Bapst High School, Deer Isle-Stonington High School and Bangor High School.

Cape Elizabeth’s players were Matthew Fishbein, Brett Parker, Matthew Reale-Hatem, Ben Hansel and Colin Smith.

The team collectively scored 17.5 of a possible 20 points. Fishbein, Reale-Hatem and Smith earned perfect individual scores.

Cape Elizabeth’s chess team will represent Maine at the scholastic chess national tournament in Nashville, Tenn., from April 5 to 8.


Man, woman plead guilty to pair of pharmacy robberies

A Maine man and a Canadian woman have pleaded guilty to robbing a pharmacy in Newport twice.

Federal prosecutors say Jonah Masse, 26, of Dixmont pleaded guilty Tuesday to robbing the Rite Aid pharmacy last year on Aug. 16 and Sept. 16. Sydney Duff, 21, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the two robberies.

Court records say Masse robbed the pharmacy of more than $500 in drugs each time by handing the pharmacist a note saying he had a gun and wanted oxycodone and hydromorphone pills. Duff was accused of writing the notes and driving with him to the pharmacy. No gun was used.

They both face as many as 20 years in prison and a fine of as much as $250,000 for each robbery.


Convicted felon arrested on gun possession charge

Police say a convicted felon was arrested Tuesday after they found weapons and ammunition in his home.

Lt. Michael Murphy of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said officers searched the home of Robert Wallace, 54, after receiving a tip that he had firearms.

Wallace, who lives on Birch Lane in Newcastle, was convicted in 1980 for aggravated assault and in 1997 for possession of a firearm by a felon.

Police say they seized two rifles Tuesday, along with several rounds of ammunition. Wallace was arrested without incident and charged with possession of a firearm by a felon.

He was held in the Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset.


Plan for addressing impact of Alzheimer’s to be released

The first Maine State Plan for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias will be released Thursday during a news conference organized by the Alzheimer’s Association, Maine Chapter.

The plan was developed by a task force including family members, advocates and officials from the Maine Office of Aging and Disability Services, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Maine Area Agencies on Aging.

More than 37,000 Mainers have Alzheimer’s disease, and that number is expected to grow to 53,000 by 2020, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Maine and other states are developing Alzheimer’s disease plans to create the infrastructure and accountability needed to confront the sweeping economic and social impact of the disease.

The plans are linked to the association’s first national plan to allow strategic and coordinated implementation across the country.

The news conference will be held at noon in the Hall of Flags.


Shipyard employees brace for reductions in wages

Workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard are bracing for pay cuts as the Department of Defense works to trim its budget.

To meet required budget cuts, the Department of Defense is telling civilian workers they must take 22 furlough days over the next six months.

Paul O’Connor of the Shipyard Metal Trades Council told WMUR-TV that the cuts have caused a surge in applications for retirement. He said a month less of productivity means a costly backup of overhaul work on nuclear submarines.

Administrators are working with unions to figure out how to schedule the furlough time.

More than 5,000 people worked at the shipyard in Kittery, Maine, last year.