Winds strong, but 119 mph? Weather gurus are checking

A powerful storm produced hurricane-force winds off the Maine coast Wednesday, but scientists aren’t sure whether a 119-mph reading off Jonesport was accurate.

Rich Norton from the National Weather Service said the reading at a buoy off Jonesport could be accurate but that it’s under review because it was out of line with other readings. For example, the storm whipped up gusts of 70 mph at Matinicus Rock. On land, the storm produced gusts approaching 60 mph.

To the east, Canada also had some big wind readings: 106 mph off Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and 114 mph off Newfoundland.

Back in Maine, the storm didn’t live up to snowfall expectations. The National Weather Service said the biggest tally was 10 inches at Whiting.



Town official arrested on child porn charge

A member of the Rumford town budget committee was arrested Thursday afternoon by state police on a child pornography charge after investigators say they found hundreds of pictures of children on his computer.

Jeremy Vashaw, 41, of 798 Somerset St. in Rumford, was charged with one count of dissemination of sexually explicit material of persons under the age of 12, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Investigators seized Vashaw’s computer in December and sought the charge against him after the computer’s contents were analyzed by technicians at the computer crimes unit, which found hundreds of images of children.

Vashaw works at Sunday River ski resort.


Vashaw was arrested at his home and taken to Oxford County Jail in South Paris.

Rumford Town Manager John Madigan did not return a phone message left at his office late Thursday afternoon. Phone messages left at the homes of the chairman and vice chairman of the Board of Selectmen and at the home of the chairman of the Finance Committee also went unanswered.


Man linked to Bay State slaying arrested in Maine

Massachusetts authorities say one of two men sought in connection with the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old Waltham youth last week has been arrested in Maine.

Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Waltham Police Chief Keith MacPherson said 21-year-old Taylor Poulin of Newton was arrested Wednesday night in Windham, Maine. He is expected to be arraigned as a fugitive Friday in Portland. He was sought on assault, gun and drug charges.


Authorities are seeking 22-year-old Domingo Mendes of Belmont on murder, gun and drug charges.

Tyler Zanco, co-captain of Waltham’s wrestling team, was shot the night of March 20 at an apartment complex.

The Boston Globe reported that an arrest warrant affidavit says Zanco allegedly was shot when he and two friends attempted to rob Poulin, believing he cheated Zanco’s cousin in a marijuana deal.


Scammer threatens to cut off power unless bill paid

Oxford police are warning area businesses to be aware of a scam in which a caller claims to be from Central Maine Power Co. and threatens to shut off power unless he gets immediate payment of a bill.


Lt. Michael Ward says one business has already been cheated out of $500.

Ward told the Sun Journal the man claiming to be from the utility threatens to cut power unless the owner makes a payment with a credit card.

Ward says he contacted the number used by the scammer on Wednesday and briefly spoke to the person, who basically dared Ward to find him.

Ward says personal information should never be given out over the phone and he says people with questions about their bills should contact the utility directly.


Attempts to change state’s wind-energy laws rejected


The Maine Legislature has rejected two bills to change the state’s wind energy laws aimed at ensuring projects benefit the state economically and don’t hinder the beauty of the state’s natural resources.

The Democratic-led Senate voted 21-14 on Thursday in favor of rejecting Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s proposal to add that Maine wants to lower electricity prices and expand economic opportunities through wind power to its current megawatt targets.

The administration said the proposal would ensure that residents benefit from wind power, but environmentalists said it was an attempt to stymie wind power development in Maine.

The Senate also rejected a bill that would have changed some requirements for when a visual-impact analysis of a wind project must be conducted.

Both measures failed in the House on Wednesday night.



UNE picked for Gates incubator learning program

The University of New England is one of nine colleges selected to participate in a incubator program that will focus on competency-based education models.

The Next Generation Learning Challenges Initiative, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, selected the Biddeford-based university to take part in the 2014 Breakthrough Models Incubator in Washington, D.C., in July.

Participants will focus on innovative education models that reward students for skills they acquire, not just for time spent in class.

Each incubator team will include the president, provost, chief financial officer, chief information officer and at least one faculty member. They will craft a new degree sequence rooted in competency-based education that can be ready for student enrollment by 2015.

University President Danielle Ripich said UNE has “never done business as usual” and is committed to developing new models of learning.


“Accelerating trends in technology and globalization demand a bold new approach to education in the 21st century,” Ripich said in a prepared statement.

Other institutions participating in the incubator include Antioch University, Austin Community College, Central Wyoming College, Empire State College – SUNY, Excelsior College, Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, Paul Smith’s College and the University of Maryland – University College.


Decommissioning set for fire-damaged USS Miami

The U.S. Navy will officially remove the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Miami from service on Friday during a decommissioning ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery.

The Navy’s Public Affairs Office said in a press release that the ceremony is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. in the shipyard’s auditorium. The event will mark the end of the Miami’s 24 years of active service in the fleet. The vessel was commissioned on June 30, 1990, becoming the Navy’s 44th Los Angeles-class submarine.


The Miami, which was in dry dock at the time, received millions of dollars in damage in May 2012 when an employee intentionally started a fire on board because he wanted to leave work early. More than 100 firefighters responded to the fire, which burned for about 10 hours. The man, who set the fire, Casey James Fury, was sentenced to 17 years in prison and ordered to pay $400 million in restitution.

After the fire, the Navy told Congress that the cost to repair the vessel had gone from $450 to $700 million. The Navy, citing the cost and federal spending cuts, decided against repairing the submarine.

Miami’s 111 officers and enlisted personnel will be reassigned to other units by December.

The submarine’s first commanding officer, retired Capt. Thomas Mader, will be the guest speaker at Friday’s decommissioning ceremony.


More tests needed to find cause of woman’s death


Autopsy results that might indicate the manner and cause of death of 58-year-old Debra Barton were unavailable late Thursday.

“There’s more work to be done on this death investigation,” said Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety. “Medical examiners need to run additional tests, and we likely will be doing additional interviews.”

Barton was found dead Wednesday by family members in her home at 789 Main St. in Readfield.

Police questioned family members that day, and Dr. Margaret Greenwald, the state’s chief medical examiner, was called to the home. An autopsy was set for Thursday.

No other information was available, and police have not classified the death as suspicious.



Tribe won’t be allowed to reintroduce elvers bill

A bipartisan panel of legislative leaders is not allowing the Passamaquoddy Tribe to reintroduce a bill this session to exempt its members from individual catch limits for elvers.

The Legislative Council on Thursday rejected the bill, which was submitted after Maine approved legislation requiring catch limits for all elver fishermen.

The tribe says the limits will prevent equal access to the fishery. But the Maine Department of Marine Resources says the tribe can issue licenses to all of its members if it chooses and that a compromise has already been made.

The Legislative Council denied all proposed new bills. Jodi Quintero, spokeswoman for House Speaker Mark Eves, says the decision wasn’t a reflection on the merits of the bills, but that the Legislature is nearing deadlines.

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