Central Maine News: January 7, 2016
These are some of the stories central Maine is talking about today.
(AP) — The United States, South Korea and Japan have agreed to launch a "united and strong" international response to North Korea's apparent fourth nuclear test. Meanwhile, experts are trying to find more details about the detonation that's drawn worldwide skepticism and condemnation. North Korea on Wednesday said that it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb, prompting the U.N. Security Council to hold an emergency session.
(AP) — Saturday's Powerball jackpot will be the largest jackpot of any lottery game in U.S. history. Lottery officials say the estimated prize for this weekend's Powerball drawing will be worth about $675 million. That's because no one matched the numbers drawn for Wednesday night's estimated $500 million jackpot.
(AP) — The health care repeal bill passed Wednesday by the GOP-led House now awaits President Barack Obama's veto. It's no surprise that the president will reject another effort to dismantle his signature health care law. But this is the first time such legislation has passed both the House and Senate. Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin says, "We are confronting the president with the hard, honest truth" that "Obamacare doesn't work." Democrats called the vote pointless political theater.
(AP) -- A school committee has approved a policy that would allow students to have medical marijuana administered in school under certain conditions. The Auburn School Committee voted unanimously Wednesday night in favor of the policy. Auburn Assistant Superintendent Michelle McClellan says any medical marijuana would have to be approved by a physician, and administered in school by a parent or guardian. Nurses wouldn't be able to administer the drug. Marijuana doses would have to be in non-smoking form. Superintendent Katy Grondin says a new state law requires all schools to adopt a medical marijuana policy. This policy would only apply to students under the age of 18.
(AP) -- Officials say a virtual charter school has seen a 25 percent drop in enrollment since it opened last fall. A Dec. 31 report says that at the 90-day mark for the school year, 76 students in the initial class of 297 had left the school. Officials say the school continues to have a high number of truants who aren't logging on enough for lessons. Maine Virtual Academy board member Peter Mills says some students left because they weren't prepared for a virtual school experience, which requires them to be self-directed and work with an at-home learning coach.
(AP) -- Maine is lowering the cost of some hard alcoholic beverages due to a change in the way it prices liquor products. Tim Poulin, deputy director of the state Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations, said Maine has negotiated the price markup for each alcoholic product with the supplier on an individual basis. Suppliers wanted a system with a consistent markup across alcohol varieties of the same type. Many of the price decreases and increases will take effect Feb. 1. Poulin says the change will cost the state $1.7 million, based on sales ending Nov. 30.
(WGME) -- A firefighter fell through a roof while fighting a fire Wednesday afternoon in Gardiner. According to WGME around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, crews responded to the fire at 37 Riverview Drive. Firefighters from a total of seven communities responded. Gardiner fire officials say that a firefighter fell through the roof while fighting the fire, but that he is fine. Firefighters say the building is destroyed. Investigators say the fire started in the back of the building. Investigators say the fire isn't suspicious and that the family wasn't home at the time.
(WABI) -- Drug agents say they arrested three people Tuesday night for selling heroin in Knox, Lincoln, and Kennebec Counties. James Millay, 42, of Thomaston and Jody Daniello, 35, also from Thomaston, are charged with trafficking the drug. Donna Johnson, 42, of China is charged with conspiracy to traffic heroin. Investigators say Millay and Daniello would regularly purchase heroin from Johnson and others and resell the drug in Knox and Lincoln counties. MDEA officials say they seized 20 grams of heroin, about 200 doses in a car. Agents later searched Johnson’s home and say they found 39 grams of heroin, a loaded handgun, and $5,000 cash.
(KJ) -- Law enforcement officials from several agencies have been invited to attend a meeting Thursday to find a better way to attack drug crime in the region. According to the KJ, Interim Kennebec County Sheriff Ryan Reardon has extended invitations to police chiefs across Kennebec County and communities in neighboring counties, the Maine State Police, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and the district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties. In the last two years, Reardon said, the nature and types of crime have undergone a shift to a more serious level. Drug crime is not new to the region, but the uptick in violent crime over the last two years is disturbing, he said. There is also a community meeting on this issue Monday at Cony High School and the public is welcome. More on that at our website.
(WGME) -- A New Hampshire legislator is pushing to lower the drinking age to 18 with some restrictions. According to WGME, New Hampshire State Representative Max Abramson introduced House Bill 1606, which says the goal is to stop excessive drinking among minors. The bill would allow people 18-20 to drink beer or wine as long as they don't get drunk and they're with someone over the age of 21. It says the intent is so younger people will start drinking alcohol while under adult supervision. "I think to pass such a legislation would be irresponsible," said acting Portsmouth Police Chief David Mara. Mara says more than 1/3 of all fatalities in New Hampshire are caused by drunk driving. He fears any changes to the drinking age would come with consequences. "There are more alcohol related deaths in this country than the current heroin epidemic," Mara added. If the bill were to pass, it would take effect January of 2017.