Drug agents search suspected meth lab

The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency is leading a multi-department search of a suspected meth lab at 24 Dummer St.

Police from several departments put on protective suits and began searching the house just before noon, said agency spokesman Steve McCausland.

This is the fourth suspected methamphetamine lab found in Maine this year, McCausland said in a news release. Thirteen meth labs were discovered during 2012.


Off-ramp to turnpike spur will be closed for 3 weeks

The Maine Turnpike Authority will close a portion of the Falmouth spur for three weeks starting Monday.

The southbound off-ramp exiting the Maine Turnpike at exit 52 will be closed between March 18 until early April to allow the exit’s overpass bridge to be rebuilt, according to the authority.

The $3.5 million project will be done in phases. For one week in late May or early June, the on-ramp for southbound travelers will be closed, and starting around the same time, the southbound off-ramp will close again until November.

The work will replace the overpass deck concrete, side railings, and superstructure underneath. Engineers will also raise the bridge to allow for more clearance for traffic that passes below.

Southbound drivers are advised to use alternative routes, including Interstate 295 at Exit 45, Exit 48 to Brighton Avenue, and Exit 53 at West Falmouth to Route 100 and Washington Avenue.


Man shoots himself as police arrive to arrest him

Maine State Police say a man wanted on child sexual abuse charges shot himself when troopers arrived to arrest him. The man survived and was taken to a hospital.

Steve McCausland of the Maine Department of Public Safety says the man refused to answer the door when troopers arrived in Troy on Wednesday to arrest him for sexual exploitation of a minor.

McCausland says troopers called in the State Police tactical team, and the man shot himself with a .22-caliber rifle after team members arrived.

Troopers declined to release the identity of the man. Police say he was being treated at a hospital but his condition was not known.


Man arrested, woman hurt in bleach-throwing incident

An Augusta man has been charged with throwing bleach in a 60-year-old woman’s face after claiming to be a police officer.

Authorities say Charles Cortright, 44, had an argument with the woman on Monday night.

He left the area and returned a short time later. Police say he knocked on the woman’s door and when she asked who was knocking, he said he was an officer. Police told the Kennebec Journal she opened the door and Cortright threw bleach in her face. She required hospitalization.

Cortright also allegedly punched a 56-year-old man in connection with the same incident.

The suspect and the alleged victims know each other.

Cortright was held without bail Tuesday on charges including aggravated assault and impersonating a public servant.


Former teacher changes plea, will avoid jail time

A former middle school teacher who originally pleaded guilty to a felony child pornography charge has withdrawn that plea and instead admitted to a lesser offense that allows him to avoid jail time.

The Kennebec Journal reports that Christopher Brown, a former Monmouth Middle School fifth-grade teacher, pleaded guilty a year ago to felony possession of sexually explicit material depicting children under 12 and theft of a school laptop.

But on Tuesday, under a deal reached a year ago with prosecutors, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession of sexually explicit materials depicting children under 16. He received a one-year suspended jail sentence and two years of probation.

Brown, 56, was arrested in June 2011.

Police say none of the images was of local children.


Delegation backs request for federal disaster status

Maine’s congressional delegation is backing Gov. Paul LePage’s request for a presidential disaster declaration for the state to help cover the costs of severe weather and a blizzard that hit in early February.

The delegation sent a letter to President Obama on Wednesday saying many communities don’t have the funds for future snow removal and infrastructure repairs after responding to the storm on Feb. 8 and 9. They say the economic downturn and natural disasters last year had already shrunk local budgets before the storm hit.

The storm dropped as much as 30 inches of snow in some areas. Coastal flooding also caused damage.

LePage has sought federal public assistance for Androscoggin, Cumberland, Knox and York counties to recover from severe winter weather and flooding in the state last month.


Police seek help finding out who vandalized Scout camp

Police are seeking the public’s help in finding those responsible for widespread vandalism and theft from a Central Maine Girl Scout camp.

State police say every building at Camp Kirkwold in Readfield had doors and windows broken, and in those buildings with plumbing, all the copper piping was ripped out.

Supplies were strewn throughout the 100-acre lakeside camp.

Police said the vandalism was discovered early this month during a routine check, but probably occurred in January or early February.

Suspects used canoes to transport stolen property up a hill to a road.

A Girl Scouts of Maine spokeswoman says officials are still estimating the cost of the damage, but the property is insured and the camp is expected to open as normal this summer.


Fatal fire blamed on careless use of smoking materials

Investigators with the state Fire Marshal’s Office say careless disposal of smoking materials is the likely cause of a fatal house fire in Presque Isle last weekend.

The blaze discovered about 4:30 a.m. Sunday killed Shawn Withington, 36. He was found in a bedroom.

WABI-TV reported Tuesday that the medical examiner determined he died from smoke inhalation.

Investigators said there were no working smoke detectors in the home.

Withington lived in the home with his girlfriend and 4-year-old daughter, but they were not home at the time.

His girlfriend discovered the fire when she returned home with friends. Withington had gone out with them but returned home early.


College agrees to rid itself of fossil-fuel investments

The College of the Atlantic is selling off its investments in fossil fuel-related businesses such as oil, gas and coal companies.

At a special meeting Monday, trustees accepted a student’s proposal calling on the college to divest itself of those investments in an effort to combat global warming and affirm its commitment to the environment.

Second-year student Lucas Burdick, who led the divestment campaign, said divesting is “morally and politically just.” He said divestment is nothing more than reinvestment and doesn’t mean the school will lose money or have to raise tuition.

The college says about $1 million of its $30 million endowment was invested in fossil fuel companies.