Three recommended for federal judicial post

Members of Maine’s congressional delegation are forwarding the names of two Maine attorneys and one judge for appointment to a federal judicial post in Maine.

Democratic U.S. Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree and independent Sen. Angus King said Wednesday they are forwarding the names of Jon Levy, William Robitzek and Jeffrey Young to President Obama.

Obama will choose a nominee to replace District Judge George Singal, who is taking senior status on July 31. The nominee faces a confirmation vote by the Senate.

Levy is an associate justice on the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, Robitzek is an attorney with Berman & Simmons in Lewiston and Young is an attorney with McTeague Higbee in Topsham. They are among the 14 candidates reviewed by a screening panel. 

Sap thieves tap maple trees on private property

Thieves are illegally tapping maple trees on private property in Maine and stealing sap that is used to make maple syrup.

Forest Ranger Jeff Currier says the Maine Forest Service has gotten a dozen complaints from landowners finding taps in their trees with buckets or jugs underneath to collect the sap.

Currier says he first started getting sap theft reports about five years ago but says the number of complaints is up this year. No arrests have been made, but the culprits could face theft, malicious mischief and trespassing charges.

A typical tap produces enough sap to yield about a quarter-gallon of syrup.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says a gallon of Maine syrup has sold for about $50 a gallon on average at retail in recent years


Man who escaped cruiser in handcuffs in custody

A 31-year-old York County man who escaped from a cruiser while handcuffed is back in custody and nursing singed wrists after grinding off the cuffs.

Kevin Lawlor of Standish turned himself in to York County sheriff’s deputies in Buxton at 1 a.m. Wednesday after deputies in York and Cumberland counties spent almost two days searching for him. He faces a felony charge of receiving stolen property and a misdemeanor charge of escape.

A deputy stopped Lawlor’s pickup truck about 1:15 a.m. Monday in Cornish and put Lawlor in his cruiser in handcuffs after seeing valuable metals in the back of the truck that were suspected to have been stolen. Deputies recovered about $10,000 in stolen carbide, according to the sheriff’s office.

When the deputy was interviewing Lawlor’s alleged accomplice, a passenger in the pickup, Lawlor escaped from the back of the cruiser and fled while handcuffed behind his back.

Lawlor stepped back through his arms to get the cuffs in front of him, then used a grinder to get them off, said Maj. Thomas Baran. “He has some burn marks as a result of the grinder obviously getting close to the skin.”


Storm delays closure of southbound offramp

State transportation officials say Tuesday’s snowstorm has delayed the closing of the southbound offramp for motorists exiting the Maine Turnpike to the Falmouth Spur.

The closing was scheduled for Wednesday, but the contractor is delaying that until Monday, weather permitting. The winter storm delayed work to prepare the ramp for closing and equipment setup.

The project to rehabilitate the Exit 52 Falmouth Spur interchange bridge over the Maine Turnpike will be completed in phases and limit southbound access to and from it until the project is completed in November.

Commuters who now drive south from points north of Exit 52 are encouraged to plan ahead and seek other routes before the start of the project.


Driver stopped with fake plate ‘of very poor quality’

It wasn’t just a fake license plate that a Maine state trooper saw on the back of an Albany Township woman’s minivan, it was a very poorly drawn one.

Trooper Eric Paquette said he pulled over the woman’s vehicle in Greene when he spotted the plate, which was nothing more than two pieces of heavy paper taped together with hand-drawn numbers in black marker.

Paquette tells the Sun Journal that it was “of very poor quality.”

He says Susan Powell, 58, said it was her vehicle and that there was something wrong with the plate but denied making it.

Paquette says he’s spotted many fake plates, but this is the first hand-drawn one.

Powell is awaiting trial in Androscoggin County Superior Court.


Kings offer matching grant to repair city library’s roof

Stephen King and his wife have agreed to pay $3 million to overhaul their century-old hometown library, as long as $6 million is raised from other sources.

Tabitha King, the author’s wife, serves on the building committee of the Bangor Public Library, which is planning a $9 million modernization. She’s also a former longtime board member.

One of the library’s most pressing needs is a new roof to protect its collection, described as the biggest in northern New England. The library’s copper roof was installed in 1912, when the library was built, and library officials say it’s beyond repair.

The Bangor Daily News, which first reported the Kings’ matching grant, says residents will vote in June whether to borrow $3 million for the roof repair.