Central Maine News: Nov 3, 2015
These are some of the stories central Maine is talking about today.
Those seeking signatures will be at the polls today as voters in Maine take on three referendum questions as well any local issues, and many communities do have local referendums and elections. (Voting locations, centralmaine.com, Sun Journal, Referendum Questions
Gas prices in Maine have dropped nearly a penny in the last week, averaging $2.20 a gallon.
The national average has fallen 1.1 cents, to $2.18 a gallon. The price in Maine was 87.8 cents less per gallon than a year ago, and 5.2 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average decreased 10.9 cents per gallon during the last month and is 79 cents lower than a year ago. (AP)
Mainers are going to the polls to vote on whether to approve changes to the state's campaign finance rules and authorize $100 million in bonds. The bonds are divided between two questions. One would authorize $85 million for infrastructure projects. Most of the money would pay to construct, reconstruct or rehabilitate state highways and replace and rehab bridges. The other question would provide $15 million for housing for seniors. Most of the money would be used to build new, affordable homes for low-income households headed by a person who is over 55 years old. (AP)
The Maine GOP has the green light to collect signatures for proposals to slash the state income tax and to reform welfare. The Republican Party learned Monday that its petition was approved by the secretary of state. Executive Director Jason Savage said the party hopes to have petitions printed and distributed to more than 100 locations by Tuesday. The GOP needs to collect more than 61,000 signatures by Feb. 1 to put the measure on the November 2016 ballot. The proposal would cut income tax to 4 percent over four years, and it provides a pathway for its elimination altogether in later years. The proposals were championed by Gov. Paul LePage, who vowed to go to the people after failing to win support from the Legislature. (AP)
Prosecutors say a judge is allowing the state to review treatment records in the case of a Maine man accused of killing and dismembering his father. Leroy Smith III of Gardiner is charged in the May 2014 killing of 56-year-old Leroy Smith Jr. inside an apartment they shared. The 26-year-old Smith was declared incompetent to stand trial after he was diagnosed with acute delusional thinking. Prosecutors want Smith to take medication involuntarily in hopes he can become competent to stand trial. Smith's attorney has opposed the forcible medication request. The next hearing is expected to be held on Dec. 1. (AP)
The Maine supreme court is hearing arguments over the safety of so-called smart meters installed by Central Maine Power. Opponents who contend smart meters cause symptoms including headache, fatigue and sleep loss are challenging a December conclusion by the Maine Public Utilities Commission that 600,000 smart meters installed in homes and businesses pose no credible health threat. They say the PUC disregarded its mandate to ensure "safe, reasonable and adequate services." CMP contends the smart meters are safe. This is the second time smart meter opponents have gone to the state supreme court. (AP)
One man was taken to a hospital with stab wounds after a confrontation in a Hallowell cemetery Monday. According to WABI, a bleeding man who appeared to be in his 20’s walked into Dom’s Barber Shop on Water Street and told staff and customers that he’d been stabbed in in a nearby cemetery nearby and asked to use a phone. He was taken to MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta with stab wounds to his neck and abdomen. Police say the man’s injuries did not appear to be life threatening. (WABI/centralmaine.com)
Governor LePage is holding another town hall meeting, this one Wednesday night in Rockland. It will likely focus on the Governor’s proposals to reduce the income tax, reform welfare, cut energy costs and address student debt. The meeting is from 6 to 7 PM at Rockland City Hall. Everyone is invited. (WABI)
Police are looking for a Skowhegan man who, investigators say, set fire to his apartment last week. 63 year old Peter Gray was injured in the fire that destroyed the 10 unit building on Water St. He was released from the hospital last week. Nobody else was hurt. Now an arrest warrant has been issued for Gray. Investigators plan to charge him with arson. Police say Gray may be staying with friends or at a homeless shelter. Anyone with information is asked to the police. (WABI)
A Carthage man is at large and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department is looking for him. There is a warrant for his arrest following an alleged domestic assault early Sunday morning that left a woman with serious injuries. According to the KJ, 47 year old Benjamin Bowie II is at large with a warrant for his arrest. He is facing class B domestic aggravated assault charges. (centralmaine.com)
In his first comments about possible U.S. ground action in Syria, President Barack Obama is knocking down comparisons to Iraq. He told NBC News that U.S. forces won't be on front lines going after Islamic State. The White House announced last week that about 50 special forces troop will coordinate with local fighters battling IS. Obama calls that an extension of current operations. (AP)
The Israeli military says it raided a Palestinian radio station and confiscated equipment used to broadcast calls to attack Israelis. The military says it shut down the Al Hurria radio station in Hebron overnight Tuesday. It says the station had been inciting violence in the volatile West Bank city. (AP)
A Russian official says the first nine bodies of the victims of Saturday's crash of a Russian airliner in Egypt have been identified. An official in St. Petersburg says that the families of the victims identified the bodies. The Metrojet Airbus A321-200 was flying from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg when it crashed over the Sinai Peninsula. All 224 people onboard were killed. There's been no determination of the cause. (AP)