Teen charged with arson in school fire
VASSALBORO (AP) — Fire investigators have charged a 13-year-old Maine girl with arson for allegedly setting fire to toilet paper at her school, forcing hundreds of students to be evacuated.
The state fire marshal’s office says Monday’s fire started in a toilet paper dispenser in a second-floor girl’s bathroom at Vassalboro Community School. More than 500 students from kindergarten through eighth grade were evacuated, but the fire was confined to the bathroom and nobody was hurt.
Officials say the seventhgrade girl will appear in juvenile court in February. She’s been released to the custody of her parents.
Heating oil price remains unchanged
AUGUSTA (AP) — Maine energy officials say the price of heating oil remains unchanged from a week ago.
The Governor’s Office of Energy Independence and Security said Tuesday the average cash price for No. 2 heating oil is $3.66 a gallon.
The lowest average price, $3.63 gallon, was found in southwestern Maine. The highest price was in the northern part of the state, where oil was averaging $3.79 a gallon.
Kerosene was averaging $4.08 a gallon, up 2 cents from a week ago.
Propane was going for $3.10 a gallon, which was up a penny.
Maine jobless rate 7.3% in October
AUGUSTA ( AP) — The Maine Labor Department says the state’s October unemployment rate was 7.3 percent, a slight drop from September’s revised figure.
Labor Commissioner Robert Winglass says October’s preliminary rate was 0.2 percentage points lower than September’s 7.5 percent, and 0.3 percentage points lower than the October 2010 rate.
Maine’s October 2011 figure compares to the national 9 percent unemployment rate.
The Labor Department says the number of Maine unemployed workers in October totaled 50,700, down 2,100 from a year ago.
50 laptops stolen from Maine school
WATERBORO ( AP) — Police say about 50 laptop computers are missing after a burglary at a southern Maine high school.
The York County Sheriff ’s Department says one or more burglars broke into the East Building of Massabesic High School in Waterboro on Monday night and took the laptops and a projector. The burglars pried open a rear window to the building.
The laptop Apple Intel Mac Book computers were used in the freshman academy at Massabesic. The laptops are all white and had identifying stickers showing they are the property of RSU 57. When the laptops are turned on, the background screen identifies the computers as the property of RSU 57.
The school says the replacement cost for each computer is $1,200.
Survey: Economic outlook is bleak
PORTLAND (AP) — As the Christmas shopping season dawns, a new survey shows Maine consumers’ outlook is pessimistic.
The survey by Market Decisions of Portland shows consumer sentiment and longerterm perceptions of the national economy have fallen. Now, 65 percent polled expect the national economy to be worse in five years.
Forty- four percent of Maine residents say it’s a bad time to make a major purchase. That’s well below the peak of 63 percent in October 2008, but the percentage is virtually unchanged over two and a half years.
Market Decisions President Curtis Mildner says survey results suggest that perceptions of the future economy are a drag on perceptions of the current economy.
The phone survey of 400 Mainers was conducted Oct. 5 -25 and has an error margin of 5 percent.
Maine manufacturers participate in survey
LEWISTON ( AP) — Congressman Mike Michaud says an online survey he developed shows that Maine’s manufacturing work force has declined by 40 percent since 1994.
A total of 85 manufacturers voluntarily responded to the survey on Michaud’s website.
Michaud says 13 percent of Maine’s factories have closed in the past decade, and that 141 plants have shut their doors in just the last three years, putting 8,600 employees out of work.
Despite those difficulties, Michaud says many manufacturers are hiring — but they’re having a hard time finding qualified workers with the right skills.
He says the most pressing concerns for manufacturing businesses are health care costs, government regulation and taxes.
High court clears way for supermarket
LEWISTON ( AP) — Maine’s highest court has paved the way for a new supermarket in Turner.
The Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday affirmed the judgment of a lower court that determined the Turner Planning Board properly gave Hannaford Bros. Co. the goahead last year to build a supermarket at the corner of Route 4 and Snell Hill Road.
The grocery store’s plan had been challenged by neighbors who alleged the board erred when it granted permits for the store.
The neighbors appealed the planning board’s decision in a lawsuit filed in Androscoggin County Superior Court in April 2010.
A spokesman for Hannaford tells the Sun Journal that the company is pleased with the decision and plans to begin construction in the spring and open the store in the winter of 2014.
Man pleads guilty to hammer attack
AUGUSTA ( AP) — An Augusta man who has already spent six years in federal prison for the armed robbery of a pharmacy is going back behind bars for another four years for assaulting a man with a hammer.
Zachary Gagnon pleaded guilty Tuesday in Kennebec County Superior Court to aggravated assault in connection with the attack last summer in Augusta as well as possessing heroin when he was arrested on that charge Aug. 11.
Gagnon was sentenced to 10 years in state prison, with all but four years suspended, and three years of probation.
The sentence will run concurrent to the final three years of his federal sentence.
The Kennebec Journal reports that Gagnon was freed from federal prison in December 2008 after serving nearly six years of an eightyear sentence.