Missing toddler’s father late for court in a separate case

The father of Ayla Reynolds, the toddler whose disappearance generated national attention, pleaded not guilty to an unrelated assault charge after arriving late for court Thursday.

Justin DiPietro, 26, was initially absent from court, leading to the threat of an arrest warrant. Reporters had left by the time he arrived later to enter his plea.

DiPietro was arrested July 6 and accused of assaulting a former girlfriend in Portland. Police said he grabbed and pushed Courtney Roberts while the two were arguing. DiPietro was released on $300 bail.

The disappearance of Ayla Reynolds remains unsolved. DiPietro reported her missing Dec. 17, 2011, from his mother’s home in Waterville.

Ayla was 20 months old, and police say she’s presumed to be dead. Police have called the case one of the biggest criminal investigations in Maine history.


Panel suggests second vote on school budget be Sept. 3

Members of the City Council’s Finance Committee voted 3-1 Thursday night to recommend that the city hold a supplemental school budget validation referendum in September.

If the full council agrees at its Aug. 5 meeting, then voters will be asked on Sept. 3 to approve a revised school budget that includes an additional $1.9 million in expenditures.

School officials said the Legislature increased Portland’s subsidy by $1.9 million before its session ended. Those funds can be spent in the coming school year, but not without approval from voters.

Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said the school department plans to use $1.3 million to pay for teacher retirement costs that were shifted from the state to the district, $20,336 to pay for two additional students to attend the Baxter Academy for Technology and Science charter school — there are nine students total — and $523,483 to restore eight staff positions that were cut from the budget.

Caulk said he wants to hire an assistant elementary school principal; literacy specialists for each middle school; high school teachers to support technology, world language and visual arts programs; and four educational technicians.


Maine-based railway’s office raided in derailment probe

Police raided the Canadian office of a U.S. railway company to collect evidence in a criminal investigation related to an oil train derailment this month that devastated a Quebec town and killed 47 people.

Quebec provincial police inspector Michel Forget said Thursday that officers are searching the Canadian offices of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, based in Hermon, Maine, to collect undisclosed evidence.

The company owned the train that was carrying crude oil when it derailed and exploded in downtown Lac-Megantic on July 6.

The company’s director of administration, Sara Osborne, says she is aware of the police operation but isn’t offering details.


Police resuscitate fallen man, then charge him with crimes

Bangor police helped revive a man — then arrested him.

Officials said Officer Jeremy Brock provided CPR to a motionless man Wednesday before paramedics arrived to fully revive the man in the Mansfield Stadium parking lot. Police later visited the man at a hospital emergency room after the discovery of pills and a switchblade knife.

Police said Michael Kashey, 34, of Dedham, faces charges of possession of heroin, trafficking drugs and trafficking knives, in addition to outstanding warrants.

Police said the man’s girlfriend told them that he injected heroin before losing consciousness.


Council enacts quiet zones at eight railroad crossings

The Downeaster passenger train soon will become a lot quieter for people living along the tracks in Freeport.

The Freeport Town Council has voted to enact a quiet zone for the town’s eight railroad crossings beginning Aug. 9. That means the Amtrak train will no longer sound its whistles and horns as it passes through town.

Residents who live near the track have complained about the noise since the Downeaster extended its service north of Portland to Freeport and Brunswick last November.

WMTW-TV reported that councilors enacted the noise ban following a Maine Department of Transportation study showing there are fewer vehicles crossing the tracks than previously thought. All the crossings have gates that go down when trains are approaching.


Newly planted tree saplings stolen twice from local park

Police in Bath are investigating the theft of 11 apple tree saplings from a public park.

The thefts occurred last month at the 10-acre South End Park along the Kennebec River. The trees were planted with help from an $8,000 grant from the state under the Project Canopy urban forestry mission.

City Arborist Tom Hoerth told The Times Record that the first five saplings he planted were stolen within days. So he planted six more. Those were taken too.

The trees were only an inch in diameter, making it easy for them to be removed. Larger trees were not stolen. He says the stolen trees are worth a total of about $550.


Rail company, Maine DEP disagree on oil reports, fees

The state Department of Environmental Protection is telling a Massachusetts-based railroad to report its oil transports across Maine and pay the associated fees.

DEP spokesman Jessamine Logan said the department sent a notice of violation to Pan Am Railways asking it to report the oil transports and pay the fees as required by law for April and May, or explain why it isn’t doing so. The company has until Aug. 6 to respond.

Pan Am Executive Vice President Cynthia Scarano said the company is not filing reports because Maine law requires reports only for refined oil, not crude oil.

Legislators this spring changed the law so it now includes crude oil, but it doesn’t go into effect until Oct. 1.

From January through March, the railroad carried 47.9 million gallons across Maine and paid more than $34,000 in fees that go to the state’s oil-spill cleanup fund.


Tennessee woman vanishes while hiking trail in Maine

A Tennessee woman has disappeared while hiking in western Maine.

Game wardens said 66-year-old Geraldine Anita Largay of Brentwood, Tenn., was supposed to meet her husband Monday in Wyman Township. Wardens say she texted her husband but never arrived.

The Maine Warden Service said an employee of the Stratton Hotel received a call from a female hiker Wednesday evening who said she spent Tuesday night with Largay at a lean-to on the Appalachian Trail.

Largay was wearing a black pullover shirt, tan pants, a blue hat and a black-and-green backpack when she was last seen Sunday on Route 4 in Sandy River Plantation.


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