Central Maine News: February 1, 2016
These are some of the stories central Maine is talking about today.
(AP) — Presidential contenders are blanketing Iowa in a final frenzy to close the deal before Monday's Iowa caucuses begin the formal process of choosing President Barack Obama's successor. On Sunday Republican Donald Trump continued his attacks on Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, intensifying the battle between the two GOP leaders. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who is running third, pitched himself as the pragmatic choice for Republicans who want to win in November, promising to "unite this party."
(AP) — At least 50 people are dead following a triple bombing in a predominantly Shiite suburb south of the Syrian capital of Damascus on Sunday. Islamic State militants claimed responsibility. Meanwhile, a U.N. mediator held his first meeting with members of the main opposition group that seeks progress on humanitarian issues before it'll join formal talks on ending the civil war.
(AP) — Freight trains are rolling through New England carrying the first-ever shipping containers loaded on the Portland waterfront. The new service is the product of years of planning and millions of investment, with the goal of connecting this once-thriving port by rail with freight customers throughout North America. State officials see the rail link as key to reviving the port, which was among the largest on the East Coast a century ago but had fallen to a near-dormant state. The state has spent $29 million to modernize and expand the terminal, adding 27 acres to make room for storing containers and to connect with the rail line.
(AP) — Maine Game Warden Service officials say a Stockholm man died when his sled collided with several trees. 32-year-old John Anderson died instantly in the crash at about 9 p.m. Saturday. Anderson and a friend had been out riding all day and were returning to her Caribou home along Maine's Interconnecting Trail System 83 in New Sweden when Anderson's snowmobile drifted to the side of the trail and crashed. Officials say speed appears to be a factor in the crash. The investigation is ongoing. The accident was Maine's second snowmobile fatality in a week. On Jan. 24, 61-year-old Robert Milhomme of Saint George died from head injuries he suffered in an accident in South Thomaston.
(AP) — Maine's state parks are ready to start accepting campground reservations for Sebago Lake State Park, with other parks following in a week. Reservations for Sebago Lake open on Monday and all other parks follow on Feb. 8. The Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands' reservation system and call center will open for Sebago Lake at 9 a.m. State officials say the reservation fee has been increased from $2 to $5 per night. Individual campsite fees vary based on the campground. Gov. Paul LePage says more than 2.6 million people visited Maine state parks in 2015. That was the highest attendance since 1985.
(AP) — Maine state police say a man apparently drowned after his car went off the road in Pittston, rolled and crashed through the ice of a pond roof first Friday night. 67-year-old Edward McDonald of Woolwich was driving home from his job at the Maine Municipal Association in Augusta when his car went off the road on Route 27. Officals say the road was slick at the time of the accident, just after 7 p.m. Friday.
(AP) — Maine has used work requirements to remove thousands of residents from its food stamp rolls over the past 15 months. The number of healthy, childless adults receiving food stamps was 13,589 on Nov. 1, 2014. Gov. Paul LePage's administration then began enforcing work and volunteer requirements. The number was reduced to 1,206 by Nov. 15 of last year. The drop in food stamps recipients in Maine preceded changes at the federal level. Advocates for Maine's poor say the work requirements have negatively impacted low-income residents in a state where food security already is below average. The governor's office disagrees, and points to a falling unemployment rate.
(AP) — Police say they expect to charge a person who abandoned a dog outside a Maine animal shelter. The police say they've identified the individual who left the dog in the parking lot of the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society in Lewiston on Monday. The shelter has video showing the dog running after the car as it drove away, before the dog was killed by another vehicle on a nearby bridge ramp. The dog's body was found Thursday.
(AP) — Maine officials are reporting tax revenues that are about 13.5 percent higher this fiscal year than revenues a year earlier. The Maine Controller's Office said Thursday the state took in 2.1 percent more during the first six months of the fiscal year than expected. The Portland Press Herald reports revenues were boosted by personal income taxes and retail sales. The state has collected $1.67 billion in taxes and fees since July 1st.
(WGME) -- Police found weapons, cash and a "wide variety" of illegal drugs during a drug bust in Vassalboro. According to WGME officials arrested eight people as part of an ongoing investigation into heroin and crack distribution on Whitehouse Road in Vassalboro. Four people from New York and four from Maine face a several charges, including aggravated drug trafficking and possession of drugs charges. Police also recovered 28 grams of heroin, 68 grams of crack, 25 grams of powdered cocaine, 15 grams of methamphetamine and 12 grams of psilocybin mushrooms. The total street value of the drugs seized is more than $15,000. Police also found three handguns and about $2,000 in suspected drug proceeds.
(WMTW) -- Maine drug agents said they arrested two York County men Saturday night on heroin charges. Zachary Adams, 19, and Cole Gouley, 19, were stopped on the Maine Turnpike. Officers said the pair was returning from Massachusetts. Agents believe the men were part of a scheme where people traveled to Haverhill, Massachusetts, to purchase heroin to then sell out of a Saco motel room. Agents stopped the 19 year olds in a car on the Turnpike around 10 p.m. Saturday. Officers said they seized 30 grams, or about 300 doses worth, of heroin.
(KJ) -- Augusta officials are looking to change current rules that allow residents to stuff up to 100 pounds of trash into a single bag. According to the KJ, the public works director asked city councilors last week to update the rules for curbside rubbish pickup to reduce the maximum weight limit to 40 pounds per bag, which she said is in line with what other communities with curbside trash pickup allow. The proposed rule change will likely go to city councilors at their next business meeting on Thursday.