City Council gives blessing to Portland Reggae Fest

The Portland City Council gave its blessing Monday to the Portland Reggae Fest, a daylong outdoor concert to be held on the Maine State Pier on Sunday, Aug. 10.

The festival will feature six performers, ranging from local and regional acts to nationally touring bands. They include Freddie Mcgregor, John Browns Body, Might Mystic, Etana, New Kingston and Soul Rebel Project. Tickets are expected to go on sale Friday, May 9. Information provided by the city does not include ticket prices.

The concert will be held on the large open area of the Maine State Pier behind the Casco Bay Lines ferry terminal. The pier’s capacity is about 3,000 people for a concert.

The concert is for all ages, although a beer garden will be reserved for patrons over the age of 21.

Waterfront Concerts of Bangor is the producer of the Portland Reggae Fest and will sell tickets on its website. Waterfront Concerts also is producing a concert by 3 Doors Down on the Maine State Pier on Aug. 3.

Organizers announce lineup for July Fourth celebration

Portland’s annual “Stars and Stripes Spectacular” Independence Day celebration is scheduled this year to include a fife and drum group, a “Star-Spangled Banner” singing contest, a live performance by the Portland Symphony Orchestra, and – of course – fireworks.

Organizers announced the lineup Monday. The event will be held July Fourth, which is a Friday this year. The rain date is July 5.

This year marks the fifth year that the celebration, on the city’s Eastern Promenade, will be run by a nonprofit group. For more information on the “Stars and Stripes Spectacular” and related activities, go to www.july4thportland.org.


Clinton man facing charges after blaze destroys home

A Clinton man has been charged in connection with a fire that destroyed a mobile home in Albion on Friday and left a teenager with minor burns.

The Maine Forest Service summonsed Charles Frost Jr., 31, on charges of burning without a permit and burning on the land of another without permission, said Lisa Byers, a forest ranger investigator for the forest service.

The fire destroyed a mobile home on Winslow Road where Frost’s sister, Jessica Alley, lived with her two children. Byers said the fire originated from a barrel of scrap wood that was burning while Frost was home with his nephew and two other teenagers under the age of 18. The lot, which also includes the former Albion Fitness Club, belongs to Michael Gilman, of Oakland, although the mobile home belonged to Alley.

A 16-year-old boy was treated at the scene for burns to his hand and arm that he suffered while trying to put the fire out.

Frost said Friday that he had allowed the boys to burn the wood outside the trailer and thought the fire was out when he left with one of them Friday afternoon. He had driven about two miles when the fire rekindled, eventually spreading to the home and the nearby former fitness center building.

Frost is scheduled to appear in Waterville District Court on May 20.


Farmer loses horse, goats, equipment in barn fire

A farmer lost a horse, three goats and most of his farming equipment in a fire early Monday.

Jason Hilton, 37, said his dog Lucy alerted him to the fire when she started barking around 2 a.m. Monday. There were flames coming out of the family barn, which was built by Hilton’s grandfather and is located behind the house at 421 Elm St.

“I thought she had to go outside and when I went out I could see the embers falling out of the sky. It was pretty much fully engulfed,” Hilton said.

He said he went to the barn and opened the gates for the animals to get out, managing to save three calves and four goats. A horse, named Frosty, and three goats were lost, Hilton said.

The barn was destroyed and Hilton said he also lost a tractor and haying equipment. He didn’t have insurance on the building.

Norridgewock Fire Chief Dave Jones said the cause of the fire is unknown but it was likely an electrical fire. There will be no investigation.


Gov. LePage vetoes bill dealing with tax havens

Gov. Paul LePage has vetoed a bill that aims to prevent companies from avoiding paying taxes in Maine by holding their profits overseas in tax havens.

The bill was one of 15 the Republican governor vetoed Monday.

Democrats said the bill would save the state $10 million and is a matter of fairness.

But in his veto letter, LePage said it illustrates Democrats’ desire to “drive Maine into an economic wilderness and kill existing and future jobs” to score political points.

LePage also vetoed a bill that would force the state to rewrite contentious metallic mineral mining rules.

Others would expand Medicaid coverage for women’s health services such as cancer screenings and birth control and provide more children with private insurance coverage for autism treatment.

Maine compiles report cards on schools for second year

Maine is compiling report cards for its schools for the second year.

The Maine Department of Education said it developed the system in 2013 to bring more transparency and accountability to schools across the state.

The DOE assigns letter grades based on student proficiency and how students are improving. At the high school level, the graduation rate also factors in.

This year, the DOE is adding information to the assessment. It will assign schools grades based on the original formula.

The additional information includes the percentage of students receiving free or reduced-cost lunches and teachers’ education and experience levels.

Funding information, average daily attendance, and school and district contact information also are being added.

State accepting applications for agricultural grant money

A state agency has announced it will receive $600,000 to support research on specialty crops such as blueberries and potatoes.

The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry said Monday it is accepting proposals for the grant money for agricultural research on Maine crops.

The money stems from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Proposals are being accepted through May 20.

The Specialty Crop Block Grants will support research by the agriculture department, University of Maine and private industry.

– From staff and news services