Central Maine News: Dec 17, 2015
These are some of the stories central Maine is talking about today.
(AP) — Attorney General Janet Mills says the number of overdose deaths attributed to heroin and other opioids is averaging about five a week across the state. Mills said there were 21 apparent drug overdose deaths in a recent month’s worth of data from the medical examiner’s office. She said eight of them involved prescription medications. Mills urged medical officials to be part of the solution by reviewing guidelines for prescribing opioid painkillers, using medication to treat opioid addiction, and to check with the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program before prescribing painkillers. She says other recommendations will be forthcoming from a heroin task force.
(AP) — A Maine working group has recommended that lawmakers pass legislation setting a blood-level limit for drivers under the influence of marijuana. The group, which includes state troopers and marijuana legalization advocates, recommended that marijuana should be regulated but disagreed on the extent. The majority said that the state should move to a standard similar to other states. But opponents say the science behind that number is inconclusive, suggesting Maine use a slightly higher standard. They say they’re concerned that regular marijuana users could be falsely convicted for driving while impaired because they have built up a tolerance to THC. Police don’t currently have a method to test marijuana influence the way they test intoxication.
(AP) — The Governor’s Energy Office says the average statewide cash price for heating oil is down another 5 cents from a week ago. The statewide average is $1.92 per gallon. Kerosene was also down 6 cents to $2.50 per gallon and propane rose a penny to $2.21 per gallon. The highest average price for heating oil in Maine was $2.07 per gallon in northern Maine. The lowest average price was $1.88 per gallon in eastern Maine. The highest heating oil price found in Maine was $2.19 per gallon in the southwestern part of the state. The average price for kerosene topped out at $2.64 per gallon in southwestern Maine while the average propane price rose as high as $2.34 in northern Maine.
(AP) — The governor and lawmakers plan to revisit limits on how welfare recipients can spend their money following a report that hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on lottery tickets. The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting based the estimate of money spent on $22.4 million in large prizes collected by welfare recipients between 2010 and 2014. Those included eight jackpots worth at least $500,000 apiece. Last year, lawmakers took up a proposal to ban the use of welfare benefits to buy alcohol, cigarettes and lottery tickets but lawmakers failed to reach a compromise. The agency compared a list of lottery winners against a list of people who are welfare recipients.
(AP) — Maine residents will gain access to clinical research trials of new cancer-fighting drugs at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute under a partnership with MaineHealth. Maine Medical Center lead oncologist says the agreement gives Maine patients access to experimental treatments. He says Maine has the highest rate of cancer in the country. The state has the oldest median age and it has about 9,000 new cancer patients every year. About 70 percent of the patients are treated in the MaineHealth network. In many cases a paitient will not even have to leave mean and the treatments can be given at Maine Medical Center Research Institute in Scarborough.
(AP) — State police say they have arrested a Portland High School teacher on suspicion of possessing child pornography. Forty-four-year-old Gerald White of Freeport was arrested at the school and charged with possessing sexually explicit material of someone under the age of 12. He was taken to the Cumberland County Jail. White teaches art at the high school. Police say an initial examination of his computer showed dozens of images of child pornography. They say none of the children are believed to be from Maine.
(WABI) — The former principal of Waterville Senior High School, fired by the town’s school board amid allegations he asked a student for sex, will not appeal the board’s decision. Reiter had 30 days from the time the school board dismissed him in November to file an appeal. The Kennebec County District Attorney charged Reiter with official oppression last month. Another attorney for Reiter says Reiter will plead not guilty to the misdemeanor charge.
(WABI) — Governor LePage will hold a town hall meeting in Waterville Thurday (12/17) night. It starts at 6 at Waterville Junior High School. He’s expected to talk about reducing student debt, cutting energy costs and trimming the income tax. Everyone’s invited.
(AP) — The bodies of the husband and wife who shot and killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California have been released by authorities and buried. Attorneys for family members tell NBC News that Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik were buried Tuesday afternoon in Southern California. Farook and Malik were killed in a shootout with authorities, hours after the Dec. 2 shootings.
(AP) — Federal officials have begun their civil rights probe into the Chicago Police department, and on Thursday, they’ll be speaking with the mayor, Rahm Emanuel. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the investigation Dec. 7, as crowds protested the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times by a police officer. Chicago joins 22 other police departments investigated since the start of the Obama administration, including Baltimore and New Orleans.
(AP) — Hours after a Baltimore jury said it couldn’t reach a decision in the trial of a police officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray, the city remains calm. There was a prayer and unity gathering Wednesday night at the intersection that was the epicenter of April’s unrest following Gray’s death. Gray died after his neck was broken while being transported in a police van. A total of six police officers face charges.
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