Central Maine News: February 9, 2016
These are some of the stories central Maine is talking about today.
(AP) — Gas prices keep dropping across northern New England. Among the three states, the price-tracking website GasBuddy.com says gasoline prices are lowest in New Hampshire, where the average price fell 3.2 cents per gallon last week to $1.76. The average price per gallon in Maine was $1.85 down 3.2 cents from last week. In Vermont, the average price was $1.93, down 3.4 cents from the week before. The national average is $1.74, dropping 5.2 cents in the last week. The national average has dropped 24.6 cents per gallon in the last month and is 43.4 cents per gallon lower than one year ago.
(AP) — The arrival of thousands of Somali refugees in Lewiston sparked a backlash at first. Fifteen years later, though, Somali shops, restaurants and mosques serve as an example of how far the city of Lewiston has come. All told, more than 5,000 Africans have moved to the city of 36,500. As the U.S. prepares to bring in Syrian refugees, some point to Lewiston as an example of how immigration can be slow and sometimes painful, but ultimately successful.
(AP) -- Gov. Paul LePage is attacking "socialists, career politicians and their allies in the media" in his State of the State address. The Republican governor on Monday followed through on his decision to forego the "pomp and circumstance" of a formal address to a joint session of the Legislature in favor of delivering written remarks to state lawmakers. He criticized legislators who "play political games" and "socialist" politicians who sought to impeach him. He said he'd like to work with lawmakers to accomplish great things if they can cut out the "gamesmanship." In the nine-page address, he focused on further welfare reforms, additional income tax cuts, lowering energy costs, reducing student debt and fighting the drug crisis.
(AP) -- Maine Democrats say support for a bill to protect Mainers from voter intimidation shows the public is on board with protecting residents from harassment at the polls. The Legislature's Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee held a public hearing on the proposal on Monday. Windham Democrat Bill Diamond says his bill would set rules about the use of video cameras at polls. A group called Project Dirigo videotaped voters who in November signed petitions seeking to put a gun control issue on the 2016 ballot. Their actions raised concerns about voter intimidation. The Maine Municipal Association testified on Monday that voters should to be made to feel uncomfortable or distressed at polls. There was no opposition to the bill on Monday. The bill will see more work at the committee level.
(KJ) -- A Dollar General retail store is proposed to be built on Eastern Avenue just before its intersection with Cony Road. According to the KJ, the proposed new 9,100 square-foot building for the business would be built on a vacant, forested 2.37 acre lot at 296 Eastern Ave. The project goes to the Planning Board Tuesday for a major development review. The site is in the Planned Development zoning district, where a retail store is a conditional use. As a conditional use, the project faces a higher level of review than if a retail store was a permitted use in that zone and it would fit into the neighborhood.
(KJ) — A Waterville man is accused of breaking into the home of a 73-year-old woman early Sunday morning and sexually assaulting her at gunpoint. According to the KJ, Waterville detectives arrested Mark Daniel Halle, 32, Sunday night following a 20-hour investigation into the attack. Halle is charged with felony counts of gross sexual assault, burglary and aggravated assault and also assault and criminal threatening. Officials say the brutality of the sudden, apparently random attack was shocking and disturbing.
(AP) -- Transcripts of 911 calls show police had trouble finding an SUV in which two people were killed on Christmas morning in Manchester, Maine. Transcripts show 911 responders worked desperately to find the location after a woman called for help but was unable to provide an address. The line remained open after the woman went silent. Eric Williams and Bonnie Royer of Augusta were both dead when officers arrived after the location was pinpointed. Police charged 49-year-old David Marble Jr. of Rochester, New York, with the killings. Police have said the killings are drug-related, but have not offered more details about the case. An affidavit about the case remained sealed.
(AP) — New Hampshire voters head to the polls Tuesday to cast their ballots in the state's presidential primary. Registered voters in the tiny town of Dixville already have made their decision, with the polls opening shortly after midnight. All four voters that are registered Democrat voted for Bernie Sanders. Three registered Republicans voted for John Kasich and two for Donald Trump.
(AP) — On Tuesday, President Barack Obama will ask Congress for more than $1.8 billion in emergency funding to fight the Zika virus and the mosquitoes that spread it. Zika is suspected of causing babies to be born with abnormally small heads, and the virus is spreading rapidly through Latin America.