Faulty ceiling light to blame for building fire

GARDINER, Maine (AP) — The Maine State Fire Marshal’s Office says a faulty ceiling light is to blame for a fire that broke out at a historic building in downtown Gardiner.

The fire was reported just after 3 a.m. Friday, and it took crews from several fire departments hours to put out the blaze.

Investigators say the fire started in the ceiling in one of the offices on the second floor of the building and have deemed the fire accidental.

No one was inside the building at the time.

The brick building holds a Domino’s Pizza, law offices and other businesses, and it dates back to the 1850s.

Polar plunges are back after last year’s record cold

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Mainers are taking the plunge again after cold weather put the tradition on ice a year ago.

The tradition starts on New Year’s Eve with a Polar Bear Dip at Portland’s East End Beach. The Natural Resources Council of Maine sponsors the event, which is a fundraiser for environmental causes.

A year ago, organizers put the kibosh on the plunge as cold temperatures shattered records. Officials were concerned about the safety of swimmers.

This New Year’s Eve is relatively balmy by comparison. The high in Portland on Monday is expected to be near 40 degrees and it’ll be even warmer on New Year’s Day.

Snow on tap for New Year’s Eve in northern New England

By The Associated Press

New Year’s revelers in northern New England should be prepared for some snow.

Meteorologist Mike Cempa from the National Weather Service said snow will move into the region Monday evening and most areas should be seeing the white stuff by midnight.

He said the snow will turn over to rain on the coast and in southern New Hampshire and Vermont, while central areas could see some freezing rain and sleet. He said northern locations and higher elevations will stay snow with accumulations of 3 to 8 inches.

The precipitation will be over by Tuesday morning and the temperature will climb to nearly 50 degrees before plunging again on Wednesday.

Many King, Baldacci documents deleted from state servers

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Many documents from the administrations of Maine independent Gov. Angus King and Democratic Gov. John Baldacci have been deleted from state file servers — and are likely gone forever.

The Portland Press Herald reports that most of the document purges took place before the 2005 creation of the Office of Information Technology.

State Archivist Dave Cheever says officials transferred emails and documents to backup devices as part of routine purges to free up disk space. They didn’t realizing many should have been retained and transferred to the state archives.

Some of the documents could be backed up on magnetic tapes. But those cannot be searched by keywords and become unstable over time.

Cheever said it’s unknown how many documents vanished. That’s because there are no records of what was deleted.

Bluefish harvest to stay steady on East Coast in 2019

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Federal fishing managers are looking to keep the quotas for bluefish about the same next year.

Bluefish are a popular sport fish that are also harvested commercially as food. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it’s looking to implement proposed catch limits for the fish that are mostly status quo with the current year.

Bluefish have been harvested commercially from Maine to Florida over the years. They were once the source of a popular festival in Connecticut in which dozens of the fish were grilled outside as steaks.

The annual catch has been fairly consistent in recent years, with fishermen bringing about 4 or 5 million pounds of bluefish to the docks. The biggest producers in 2016 were North Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Maine doesn’t protect against contaminated medical marijuana

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine has no testing program for medical marijuana used by 50,000 certified patients who purchase $50 million of cannabis a year.

The Maine Sunday Telegram reports that one testing lab says the state’s medical marijuana is rife with contaminants from high levels of mold and bacteria to pesticides and residual solvents.

Sharon Corbett of Lincolnville says she paid for her own testing that determined the concentrated oil she’d been taking for years to ward off a return of cancer was contaminated by a chemical solvent used in paint thinner or lighter fluid.

Falmouth doctor Dustin Sulak, a cannabis specialist, urges his patients to grow their own marijuana and do their own extractions to ensure purity. New testing will be required, however, for recreational marijuana once it’s sold in Maine.

Westbrook, Maine, mill purchased by New Hampshire company

WESTBROOK, Maine (AP) — A New Hampshire company with a history of reinventing shuttered mills has made a purchase in Westbrook, Maine.

Chinburg Properties, of Newmarket, New Hampshire, paid $5.1 million this month for the Dana Warp Mill, a former textile mill at 90 Bridge St. The five-story brick building stretches along the Presumpscot River and overlooks downtown Westbrook.

President and CEO Eric Chinburg tells the Portland Press Herald that the company usually buys and redevelops vacant mill buildings. But the new purchase is different because the mill has been renovated and has existing tenants.

The 246,000-square-foot former textile mill is now about 70 percent leased by dozens of commercial tenants. Chinburg said apartments likely will be added to the mix.

Lawyers seek to suppress comments made by alleged cop killer

NORRIDEWOCK, Maine (AP) — A hearing has been scheduled for a defense motion to suppress statements made by a Maine man accused of killing a sheriff’s deputy in the town Norridgewock.

Lawyers for 29-year-old John Williams say statements made after his capture should not be allowed as evidence at his trial because he was beaten by police and withdrawing from drugs. Authorities say Williams got a black eye while resisting officers.

The Morning Sentinel reports that the hearing is set for Feb. 28 in Portland.

Cpl. Eugene Cole of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department was shot and killed April 25 after encountering Williams while on patrol in Norridgewock. He was the first officer killed in the line of duty in Maine in nearly three decades.

Animal fighting ban backed by Collins signed into law

BANGOR, Maine (AP) — A ban on animal fighting in the U.S. that had the support of Maine’s Republican senator has been signed into law.

Sen. Susan Collins was a backer of the Parity in Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act, which is part of the 2018 Farm Bill. The legislation passed both houses of Congress and has been signed into law.

Collins says the act is designed to protect animals from cruelty and crack down on criminal activities that are linked to animal fighting, such as drug trafficking and gang violence.

Collins says the act will also clarify federal prohibitions on animal fighting, and make sure they extend to all U.S. territories.

Rollercoaster temperatures create potholes aplenty

BANGOR, Maine (AP) — Spring is several months away but pothole season is already here in New w

The boomerang weather in which temperatures plummet and then warm up again is wreaking havoc on roads across the region.

In Bangor, Maine, Public Works Director Eric Willett tells WABI-TV that his staff is fielding plenty of calls from frustrated motorists. Crews are working to fill the potholes.

Meanwhile the boomerang continues.

Several seasonably cold days are being followed by warming temperatures in the 40s and lower 50s on Saturday across much of New England.


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