Police: 1 dead in garbage truck crash in Maine 

STONEHAM, Maine (AP) — Police in Maine say a trash truck driver was killed and a passenger injured in a crash in the town of Stoneham in Oxford County. 

Police said 22-year-old Justin Gerickont, of Sangerville, was killed when the truck left the road, rolled onto its side and hit a tree. He was pronounced dead at the scene. 

A passenger was taken by LifeFlight helicopter to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. He was in serious condition. 

The crash remains under investigation by the Oxford County Sheriff’s Department. Maine State Police assisted in reconstructing the crash.  

Ex-school official arrested in sexually explicit images case 

BANGOR, Maine (AP) — Police in Maine have arrested a school district’s former top finance official on two counts of possession of sexually explicit material. 

The Bangor Daily News reports 62-year-old Alan Kochis was arrested by Brewer police Thursday. Kochis resigned from Bangor School Department earlier this month after state police seized electronics from his home. 

A police affidavit says state police received a report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in February about the uploading of a sexually explicit image of two boys to the internet. Law enforcement officials traced it to Kochis using an IP address. 

Kochis was the district’s business services director. His responsibilities included preparing the annual school budget. 

It was unclear Friday if he has an attorney. A call to a Brewer phone listing in Kochis’ name wasn’t immediately returned. 

Regulators to meet with lobstermen again on right whale plan 

WALDOBORO, Maine (AP) — Maine fishery regulators are planning a second round of meetings with lobstermen in the state to prepare for potential new restrictions designed to protect endangered whales. 

A federal government team has called for removal of many vertical trap lines from the Gulf of Maine to reduce risk to North Atlantic right whales, which number about 400. The Maine Department of Maine Resources held a series of meetings with lobstermen about the new rules earlier this year. The last took place in late June. 

The department says another round of meetings will concern what measures the state plans to send to the National Marine Fisheries Service to reduce the risk to the whales. 

The seven meetings will run from Sept. 3 to Sept. 18 in communities along the Maine coast.  

Maine lawmakers return to consider $163M bond package 

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine lawmakers are returning to Augusta to consider a $163 million bond package. 

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills called the special session to consider a borrowing proposal that lawmakers were unable to agree upon in the regular legislative session. She says the revised borrowing package is a “fair compromise” that should have bipartisan support. 

Transportation Commissioner Bruce Van Note has warned that next year’s entire highway repair program is at risk if lawmakers don’t act to put a highway borrowing package on the November ballot. 

The package also includes additional proposals for infrastructure, economic development, environmental protection and land conservation. 

Maine AG says robocall crackdown will help benefit residents 

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine’s attorney general says it will be easier for him to investigate and prosecute illegal robocallers in his state due to a new agreement with phone companies. 

Attorney General Aaron Frey says he joined a coalition of 51 attorneys general and 12 phone companies with a goal of fighting the annoying robocalls. He says the companies are adopting new principles such as implementing call-blocking technology. 

Frey calls robocalls more than a nuisance, because they are used to gather personal and financial information. He says his office receives complaints about the calls every day. 

Frey says the agreement with the phone companies will focus on prevention and enforcement. He says the companies will assist in enforcement by taking steps such as investigating suspicious callers and working with law enforcement. 

Maine bear hunters get started amid growing population 

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine’s bears have been snooping around barrels of bait for weeks now, and they’re soon to find out how all that free food got there in the first place. 

The state’s annual black bear hunting seasons begins Monday. Most of the hunt takes place over bait, which hunters began setting on July 27 this year. Bait is usually human food, such as granola or doughnuts. 

The portion of the hunt during which bait is legal runs until Sept. 21. It remains legal to hunt bears until Nov. 30, but the harvest slows down dramatically at the end of bait season. It’s also legal to pursue bears with hunting dogs from Sept. 9 to Nov. 1. 

The state’s bear population is growing, causing some to call for new hunting laws. 

NASA to help with UMaine project to study forest health 

ORONO, Maine (AP) — The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is helping Maine get a better handle on the health of its forests. 

The University of Maine says NASA is providing nearly $750,000 for a three-year project that will focus on assessing and monitoring “the quality, health and value” of Maine’s forested land. Maine is the most forested state in the U.S. 

UMaine School of Forest Resources assistant professor Parinaz Rahimzadeh is leading the effort. The university says a team of researchers will use remote sensing technology to develop models with “near-real-time data on forest tree species identification, and forest tree decline detection and damage assessment.” 

The work is expected to ultimately provide information on the composition of Maine’s forest and on damage caused by recent outbreaks of pests and pathogens. 

Southern Maine affordable housing to see boost from feds 

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The federal government is providing more than $4.5 million to help with affordable housing in southern Maine, where housing shortages can be a problem. 

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is providing the money to Cumberland County and the city of Portland, which is the largest city in the state. Republican Sen. Susan Collins says the funds will “help connect Cumberland County’s most vulnerable citizens with additional resources and promote their health, independence and overall wellbeing.” 

Most of the money is coming in the form of HUD Community Development Block Grants. Those grants are designed to provide housing and expand economic opportunities for low- and moderate-income residents. 

Some of the Portland grant money is through the HOME program, which also seeks to expand affordable housing availability. 

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