Kennebec River searched after female’s clothes found

Police, fire and rescue personnel and game wardens took to the air, the water and shores of the Kennebec River on Saturday afternoon looking for a girl or young woman who might have gone into the river.

The person, thought to be age 16 to 20, was last seen by a cyclist about 2:15 p.m. on a bench near the Two Cent Bridge on the Winslow side of the river, according to Winslow police Officer Brandon Lund. When the cyclist returned 20 minutes later, he found the woman’s clothing folded up neatly on a bench, along with boots she was wearing, but the woman was gone, Lund said.

“We’ve contacted numerous resources in an attempt to locate her,” Lund said. “We’ve also photographed the clothing she was wearing. We do not know who she is.”

Lund said the woman is of slender build with short hair, about 5 feet tall with a nose piercing. She was wearing size 6½ black boots, with a zipper; black jeans; and a flowered-print, button-up blouse.

Lt. Paul Begin of the Winslow Fire and Rescue Department said teams from Waterville and Winslow in two boats and on two personal watercraft searched the river from the Ticonic Bridge, which connects the two communities, to the boat landing in Sidney. Rescue personnel also were stationed on the Donald Carter Bridge and along the riverbanks.

“Right now I have a feeling she did go in because her clothes were there,” Begin said.

An airplane from the Maine Warden Service was dispatched to search the river from Augusta upstream to the falls in Waterville. A game warden also was on the ground at the command post at Fort Halifax Park in Winslow, where the Sebasticook River flows into the Kennebec.


Bowdoin College awards degrees to 484 graduates

Bowdoin College awarded bachelor of arts degrees to 484 graduates at an outdoor ceremony on the Brunswick campus Saturday morning.

The graduates included 49 students from Maine. The other graduates are from 37 states and the District of Columbia and 15 countries and territories.

It was the college’s 209th commencement.

Two of its graduating students, James Denison and Kate Kearns, delivered speeches, following a tradition created at the college’s first commencement ceremony in 1806. Graduating seniors compete for the honor.

Honorary doctorates were given to civil rights advocate Mary Bonauto; career diplomat Christopher Hill, a 1974 Bowdoin graduate; ornithologist Richard Prum; and physiological researcher Harriet Wallberg.

President Barry Bills offered congratulations to the graduates. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, offered greetings from the state.


State will release beetles to fight invasive insects

Maine officials are beginning to release thousands of beetles in a long-term effort to eliminate an invasive insect that is attacking hemlock trees in the southern part of the state.

The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry will release predator lady beetles at Baxter Woods in Portland this week to help reduce hemlock woolly adelgid, an invasive insect originally from Japan that can cause the trees to lose needles and branches and eventually die.

The department expects to release more than 10,000 beetles in various locations throughout the state over the next several weeks.

Allison Kanoti, a forest entomologist with the department, said ensuring the health of the hemlock trees is vital because they often grow near bodies of water and can filter pollutants out of the soil so they don’t reach the water system.

In addition, their shade plays an important role in regulating water temperature, which is essential for other insects and animals that feed on and live in the water, she said.

Kanoti said there’s evidence that the beetles have made a difference in other states, like Connecticut, but it’s unclear whether they will be enough to control the population in Maine and how long it could take.

The hemlock woolly adelgid was first found in Maine in 2003 and has been discovered in several parts of the state including Sanford, Bangor and Sedgwick, the department said.


Widow gets husband’s buoy back from woman in Ireland

A Maine woman has gotten back a fishing buoy from one of her late husband’s lobster traps after it was found nearly 3,000 miles away on a beach in Ireland.

Barbara Fournier of Owls Head was recently told about a photo on Facebook that showed the buoy with her husband’s lobster license number and boat name on it. Joe Fournier died of cancer more than nine years ago.

Fournier told WCSH-TV that she learned that the photo had been taken by Rosemary Hill, who discovered the buoy on the beach in 2007 near her home in County Kerry, Ireland, and placed it in her garden.

Hill recently returned the buoy to Owls Head, 2,700 miles from where it had been found.

Police increasing patrols during holiday weekend

Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer in Maine. For police, it’s time to beef up enforcement of Maine’s seat belt laws as highways become busier.

Maine Highway Safety Director Lauren Stewart said 68 police agencies, including state police, are sharing $226,000 in federal funding to conduct overtime patrols.

The campaign, which is already underway, coincides with a national effort that will continue until June 1. Stewart said the campaign is important because half of last year’s fatal crashes in Maine involved motorists who were not buckled up.

In addition, state police plan more than 40 different enforcement activities of their own through the weekend as part of their annual Memorial Day safety efforts.

– From staff and news services