Exit to Falmouth Spur to be closed extra month

Officials say motorists driving south on the Maine Turnpike will have to wait an additional month before they can exit onto the Falmouth Spur.

The Maine Turnpike Authority says construction delays have pushed the reopening of the turnpike’s off-ramp from November until late December.

The ramp has been closed since May to complete major repairs to the 60-year-old bridge that connects the off-ramp and the Falmouth Spur. The work includes repairs to the bridge’s steel superstructure, partial replacement of the bridge deck under the pavement, and replacement of the bridge railings.

The reopening is being postponed because construction crews found more structural damage than anticipated. Officials say the contractor has been working double shifts to speed up the work.


Electronic health network halfway toward completion

AA consortium that is electronically linking rural and urban health care facilities across Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont has hit a milestone.

The Bangor-based New England Telehealth Consortium says it has now connected 200 facilities, marking the halfway point toward the 400 or so facilities in the group.

The consortium is creating a broadband network connecting hospitals, community health centers and other facilities in primarily rural locations so they can share medical information and consult over the Internet.

Jim Rogers, founder of the consortium and president of the company managing the network’s implementation, says the system will improve health care capabilities in northern New England while cutting costs.

FairPoint Communications continues to build out its broadband system to handle the telemedicine services.

Man in July 4th standoff enters plea of not guilty

A Bangor man, who authorities say fired as many as 70 shots from his apartment window during a standoff with police, forcing the city’s Fourth of July parade to be rerouted, has pleaded not guilty to federal firearms charges.

Oliver Perrin remains in federal custody after his appearance Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Bangor.

The 43-year-old Perrin is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

WABI-TV reports that according to court documents, Perrin was not allowed to have guns due to a conviction in 2008 in New York.

The four-hour standoff ended when a tactical team used tear gas to take him into custody. No one was hurt.

Perrin was charged in state court with criminal threatening and reckless conduct with a firearm.

Some students disciplined after fight shown online

School officials launched an investigation after a video of a fight between two girls in a Bangor High School hallway showed up online.

Principal Paul Butler said the fight Tuesday morning was quickly broken up by teachers, who acted in accordance with district policy on student conflict. He said the fight lasted less than a minute.

He told WABI-TV that he has disciplined the students involved, including those who recorded the brawl.

The mother of one of the girls says her 15-year-old daughter was attacked and the dispute started with messages sent through Facebook over the last several days. She says the video posted on Facebook on Tuesday night shows other students standing around cheering.


One driver killed, one hurt in early-morning crash

Sabattus police are investigating a fatal crash that happened on Middle Road at 5 a.m. Thursday.

A 2002 Chevrolet sport utility vehicle driven by Felicia Hinkley, 28, of Sabattus, crossed the centerline and collided with a 2003 Oldsmobile sedan, driven by Tracy Richard, 38, of Sabattus, police said. The crash killed Richard.

Both vehicles were destroyed in the crash. Hinkley was taken to Central Maine Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries.

Police are still investigating.


Cumberland County Jail near perfect in latest audit

The Cumberland County Jail has earned an almost perfect accreditation score from a national standards watchdog.

The American Corrections Association audited the 19-year-old jail Tuesday and Wednesday and issued a grade of 99.85 percent, according to the Sheriff‘s Office.

“The staff . . . work very hard, each day, under extraordinary budget constraints to maintain this level of perfection, which enhances public safety, and (the safety) of those placed in our charge,” Sheriff Kevin Joyce said.

The jail was the first in the state to be accredited by the ACA when it obtained the distinction in 2001. To maintain that accreditation, which among other things can help blunt litigation, the jail has its policies and procedures audited every three years.

The jail adheres to 400 ACA standards covering policies like health care, sanitation, food service, tool and chemical controls, training and fire safety, according to the sheriff’s office.

Adult Ed will use grant to expand English classes

Portland Adult Education is creating a new language learning lab with about 20 computers and tablets thanks to a $68,000 grant from the John T. Gorman Foundation, officials announced Friday.

The lab is for students who are on the waiting list for i English language classes. The popular courses have been maxed out for years, and despite adding classes cannot keep up with demand. This fall, a record 1,153 students are enrolled, and the waiting list is at about 120 people.

The lab, with a full-time staff coordinator and a team of volunteers, will be located at the program’s new location on Locust Street, in the former Cathedral School..

Portland Adult Education reaches more than 4,000 people each year, teaching English language skills, giving GED testing and teaching job skills.


State employees union will support Michaud

The union representing Maine state workers is putting its support behind Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud for Maine governor.

The Maine State Employees Association said on Thursday that Michaud’s advocacy for affordable health care among other things earned him their endorsement in the 2014 election.

Michaud is running to unseat Republican Gov. Paul LePage next year.

LePage hasn’t officially launched his re-election bid but has started fundraising.

Independent candidate Eliot Cutler, who lost to LePage by less than 2 percentage points in the 2010 election, is also running.

Union members say in a statement that Michaud, who is serving his sixth term representing Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, has a proven record protecting Maine’s working families.


Woman struck by branch while walking in the wind

A 30-year-old woman out walking her dog in Lebanon was injured when a 12-foot branch fell between 25 and 30 feet, hitting her in the head.

The woman was walking on Smith Road at about 9:45 a.m. and winds were between 15 and 20 mph,, according to Lebanon Rescue Assistant Chief Jason Cole. She was taken to Goodall Hospital in Stanford with non-life-threatening injuries.

“Fortunately the female had left a small child inside the house,” Cole said. “Even though the branch was rotten, it was still very heavy.

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