Voters save one school, decide to close another

Voters saved one elementary school from being closed on Tuesday, but chose to close a second elementary school in School Administrative District 55.

Cornish Town Clerk Diane Harrington said residents voted 132-111 to close Cornish Elementary School. Built in 1976, the grades K-4 school will be permanently shut down June 30.

Baldwin voters, however, took the opposite stance. They voted 227-199 to keep the 60-year-old Baldwin Consolidated Elementary School open.

The district school board had recommended that both schools be closed in order to reduce education costs and because of declining enrollments across the three-county district, which includes Baldwin, Cornish, Porter, Parsonsfield and Hiram.


Superintendent Carl Landry said the current plan calls for students in grades K-3 to be relocated to the South Hiram Elementary School with fourth-graders attending Sacopee Valley Middle School. Baldwin’s elementary school will remain open for at least another year.


One dead, one injured in head-on Route 1 crash

Police say a 21-year-old man has died in a head-on crash on U.S. Route 1 in Orland, and the weather may have been a factor.

Authorities say the victim was headed north just after 4 p.m. Monday when he lost control and his car crossed the center line, colliding head-on with another vehicle.

The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.


The driver of the other vehicle was taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.

Names were not immediately available.

The crash remains under investigation, but police say roads were slushy and icy at the time.


Though home after surgery, ‘flag lady’ still off duty

A member of the Freeport Flag Ladies who underwent open-heart surgery recently has returned home from the hospital but again was unable to participate in the group’s weekly tradition of standing near the corner of School and Main streets in Freeport and waving American flags.


Carmen Footer, 72, who underwent surgery at Maine Medical Center on March 21, could not participate in the Flag Ladies’ weekly ritual Tuesday morning, according to a message posted on their Facebook page by her housemate and fellow flag lady, Elaine Greene. JoAnn Miller is the group’s third member.

The Flag Ladies have held flags in honor of U.S. troops every Tuesday morning since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The weekly ritual involves the Flag Ladies walking a short distance up a hill from their home on School Street to Main Street.

“We headed to the hill this morning to hold our flags in honor of our troops as we have every Tuesday morning since 9/11. Carmen was missing again this morning as she is recovering from open heart surgery.

“She is back home but still has a long road to recovery. Two of her sisters held her flag and again many people joined us on the hill in her honor in spite of the cold wind,” Greene wrote.

Last Tuesday was the first week in years that Footer, Greene and Miller had been unable to stand together.



Second suspect charged in string of dumpster fires

Portland police have arrested a second man in connection with a string of dumpster fires in downtown Portland last month.

Police arrested Aaron Hornbeck-Fielder, 18, of Portland on Monday and charged him with Class A arson.

Hornbeck-Fielder is charged with setting a fire in a dumpster at 121 Center St. early on March 23, police said. He is the second suspect charged in connection with the fires, which were set March 22 and 23 on Center Street, Forest Avenue, Commercial Street, Danforth Street and Congress Street.

Police say they believe all the fires are connected.

Police previously charged Robert Johnson, 19, with setting a pile of trash on fire near the Portland Museum of Art at 99 Spring St. the night of March 23.



Computer chats with minor lead to arrest of man, 19

Fryeburg police have arrested a 19-year-old local man for alleged inappropriate conduct with a 13-year-old girl.

Police charged Dylan Thorner with endangering the welfare of a child after he supplied the girl with tobacco products.

Investigators alleged that Thorner had inappropriate computer conversations with the minor after meeting her through a mutual friend. The girl’s parents discovered the chat and notified police.

WCSH-TV reported that at the time of his arrest, Thorner was out on bail from a previous arrest for alleged home invasions, burglaries and arson.


Police continue to investigate the relationship between Thorner and the girl.

Thorner is being held at the Oxford County Jail without bail and it’s unclear if he has a lawyer.


Bill to study casino market in Maine endorsed by panel

A Maine legislative panel has approved a bill to have the state study the market potential for building more casinos in Maine.

The Veteran and Legal Affairs Committee unanimously endorsed the measure Tuesday.


The bill directs Maine to contract with a consultant who would study whether a market exists for more slot machines in the state.

Once the study is done, lawmakers would work on developing a comprehensive process for regulating future gambling expansion.

The bill comes on the heels of the rejection of several gambling proposals in the Legislature last week. The Senate killed bills that would have allowed Scarborough Downs and the state’s American Indian tribes to ask voters if they can operate casinos.

Maine currently has two casinos, in Oxford and Bangor.

House OKs bill to study single-payer system potential

Maine’s Democratic-controlled House has given initial approval to a proposal to have the state examine whether to implement a universal health insurance coverage system.


The House voted 91-52 in favor of the bill Tuesday that would direct the state to contract with a consultant who would study options for establishing a single-payer system in Maine and submit a proposal to the Legislature.

Single-payer advocates have long been trying to implement the model in Maine with little success. They say a single-payer system would cut costs by streamlining the health insurance process and eliminating unnecessary paperwork.

But critics say the state should focus its resources on providing care to the elderly and the poor, and they question how the state could afford universal health care.

The bill faces further House and Senate votes.

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