All safe after Coast Guard aids Massachusetts vessel in distress

The Coast Guard came to the rescue of a disabled Massachusetts-based fishing vessel that started to drift Wednesday afternoon when its engine suffered a mechanical failure in a stretch of ocean roughly 50 miles off the coast of Cape Elizabeth.

Kenneth Stuart, a command duty officer for the Coast Guard station in South Portland, said the crew of the 55-foot Mary Elizabeth sent out a distress call around 4:10 p.m.

Stuart said the Coast Guard was unable to contact mariners in the vicinity of the vessel, who might have been available to provide assistance, and responded by diverting one of its own vessels.

The 110-foot Coast Guard cutter Jefferson Island found the fishing boat and towed it to Portland. The vessels were expected to arrive in port around 2 a.m. Thursday.

All five crew members were said to be in good health. The Mary Elizabeth is based in Scituate, Mass.


Newspaper deliverywoman dies in early-morning crash

A woman completing the second day of her newspaper delivery route in Maine has died in a crash.

Police said 24-year-old Bethany Dias of Clifton was heading south on Route 181 in Mariaville early Wednesday when she failed to negotiate a corner and overcorrected. The vehicle went off the road and rolled over, ejecting Dias.

Police said the vehicle came to rest on top of Dias. She died at the scene.


Collapsed pier not believed to pose environmental threat

Coast Guard officials responded Wednesday to reports that a pier collapsed into the water off Georgetown, a Sagadahoc County town east of Brunswick.

Lt. Scott McCann with the Coast Guard office in South Portland said a team was dispatched to the Bay Point peninsula of Georgetown to ensure that no one was injured and the collapse didn’t result in any environmental risks.

McCann said crews quickly realized that there was no need for a search-and-rescue operation but said the Coast Guard would work with Maine Department of Environmental Protection officials to test the water for pollution.

“At this point, we have no reason to believe there is any,” he said.

McCann said the pier is private, not public, and he declined to identify the homeowner. He said he didn’t know what caused the wooden pier to fall, but said such collapses do not happen often.


Cleanup organizer alarmed over discarded syringes

The organizer of an annual trash cleanup event in parts of New Hampshire and Maine says she’s concerned about the number of discarded medical needles that were found.

Valley Pride Day organizer Donna Woodward of Fryeburg tells WMWV-FM more than 60 cubic yards of trash and recyclables were collected in North Conway, N.H., and taken for disposal.

More than two dozen communities in the valley area and western Maine participated.

Woodward says the most common items picked up were cigarettes, beer cans and fast food wrappers. But she says volunteers also reported finding syringes used for injecting drugs, some of them near schools.

Woodward says she will discuss her concerns with police departments in Fryeburg and North Conway.


Father Phillips is interim leader of state’s Catholic schools

The bishop of the Diocese of Portland has named an interim superintendent for Maine’s Catholic schools.

According to the diocese website, Bishop Robert Deeley has named Father Louis J. Phillips to succeed Sister Rosemary Donohue, who announced that she will step down after 21 years on June 30.

Phillips will leave his current assignments as rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and administrator of the Portland Peninsula and Island Parishes to assume the superintendent post.

According to the diocese website, Phillips holds a master’s degree and Ph.D. in education administration from Boston College.

He has held jobs as a theology teacher and principal at schools in New Jersey; as an assistant professor of education at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio; as a coordinator of faith development at Iona College in New York; as an assistant professor of education at Notre Dame of Maryland University; and most recently, as an adjunct assistant professor of education at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine in Standish.

Phillips also has served in a number of parishes since arriving in Maine in 1998, including Augusta, Ellsworth, Auburn and Portland, the website said.


Ex-teacher/coach pleads innocent to sex charges

A former teacher and coach at a Maine school has pleaded not guilty to having a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old student 15 years ago.

WABI-TV reports that Ben Hodgdon, a former teacher at Tremont Consolidated school, remains free on $5,000 bail after his arraignment Tuesday in Hancock District Court.

Prosecutors allege the 45-year-old Hodgdon had sex with a 13-year-old girl multiple times in 1999. Authorities say the girl was a member of the cross country team he coached.

He faces eight counts, including gross sexual assault, unlawful sexual contact and sexual abuse of a minor.

The woman recently reported the allegations to police.

He has not been a teacher at the school since 2003.

His lawyer had no comment.

Hodgdon is due back in court in July.

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