Central Maine News: January 4, 2016
These are some of the stories central Maine is talking about today.
(WGME) -- A man is found dead in his car in the I-295 median. Troopers say Ian Carter, 27, was found by a driver who called police. Troopers say it appears Carter went airborne and hit the trees about 25 feet in the air before spinning around and landing on the ground. Carter was last seen Monday morning before he left for work in Westbrook. Its unclear when the crash happened.
(WGME) -- A car is mangled and three people are seriously hurt after a single vehicle crash on Route 126 in Wales. Fire officials say they had to pry the victims out of the vehicle. Fire officials say life flight was needed to transport one of the patients.
(AP) - More motorcyclists died in Maine in 2015 than in any year during the previous two decades. The state finished the year with 32 motorcycle deaths, the most since 1991. Safety officials say there's no single factor that seems to be behind the spike. Mild weather that extended the riding season may have contributed to more cyclists being on the road. Ten of the deaths happened between September and December. Biggest factors in fatalities were excessive speed, alcohol, lack of training - and lack of a helmet.
(AP) — Maine lawmakers return to work this week to face a number of issues. One of them is what, if anything, to do about the governor's actions that cost the House speaker a private-sector job. Speaker Mark Eves, a Democrat, says many lawmakers support some sort of response, whether it's a formal rebuke or a special investigation. But many Republicans want to move on. The session starts on Wednesday. Among the first items to be discussed is legislation to address an epidemic of overdose deaths tied to heroin, fentanyl and other opioids.
(AP) — A 14-year-old Wilton student who started a diaper bank for families in need as part of a school project continues to do well. Gracie Ward has collected more than 8,000 disposable diapers since she started The Little Tushies Diaper Bank in March. She has personally served 53 families and also works with a home health care service in her town. She continues to receive coupons and donations from across the country and a Facebook page on her diaper bank has followers worldwide. Ward says she started the diaper bank to raise awareness that all babies need clean diapers. She won a $700 competitive grant from Farmington SOUP at the University of Maine, and put that toward her diaper bank.
(AP) — Two former Acadia National Park superintendents and two former presidents of Friends of Acadia are throwing their support behind a proposal for a new national park in the Katahdin region. Former superintendents Sheridan Steele and Paul Haertel, and Ken Olson and Marla O'Byrne say minority factions also fought Acadia, Baxter, the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, the Bigelow Preserve, and Moosehorn National Wildlife refuge. But they say all of those are now revered by Mainers. They also say scientific polls indicate a strong majority of Mainers support a national park adjacent to the existing Baxter State Park. Burt's Bees founder and conservationist Roxanne Quimby proposed donating land for the park in 2011. Her son, Lucas St. Clair, hopes to win support next year — on the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.
(CNN) -- Armed anti-government protesters have taken over a building in a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, accusing officials of unfairly punishing ranchers who refused to sell their land. One of them is Ammon Bundy, the 40-year-old son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who is well-known for anti-government action. According to CNN he was asked several times what he and those with him want, he answered in vague terms, saying that they want the federal government to restore the "people's constitutional rights." The group is occupying part of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns after gathering outside for a demonstration supporting Dwight and Steven Hammond, father-and-son ranchers who were convicted of arson. Prosecutors said the Hammonds set a fire that burned about 130 acres in 2001 to cover up poaching. They were sentenced to five years in prison.
(AP) —President Barack Obama is turning his attention to the issue of gun violence. He's scheduled a meeting Monday with Attorney General Loretta Lynch to discuss a three-month review of what steps he could take to help reduce gun violence. The president is expected to use executive action to strengthen background checks required for gun purchases.
(AP) — Some locations along the flooded Mississippi River in Missouri and Illinois are still rising. But the water is starting to recede in most areas where last week up to 14 inches of rain fell. The death toll in both states is now 25, and flooding is expected to worsen in Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and other southern states.
(AP) — Saudi Arabia says it's severing diplomatic relations with Iran as tensions escalate over the Sunni kingdom's execution of a prominent Shiite cleric. Sunday's announcement came hours after protesters stormed and set fire to the Saudi Embassy in Tehran and followed harsh criticism by Iran's top leader of the Saudis' execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and 46 others.