2011-12-20 / Maine

BRIEFS

White Christmas odds grow in northern N.E.

GRAY (AP) — The National Weather Service says the latest outlook opens the door to a sliver of hope for a white Christmas in northern New England.

Meteorologist Stacie Hanes says the forecast calls for a low-pressure system to develop off the coast, bringing the possibility of rain or snow on Christmas Day. She says it’s too early to predict with any certainty what will happen. But she says it “ looks like some snow is possible.”

Across the region, Cornell University’s Northeast Regional Climate Center says there’s typically a 66 percent probability of a white Christmas in Portland, 70 percent in Burlington, Vt., and 73 percent in Concord, N.H. Right now, the ground is brown, not white, in those locations.

Coast Guard ends boat’s fishing trip

PORTLAND ( AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard stopped the trip of a fishing boat about 13 miles southeast of Portland due to safety concerns.

A guard cutter noticed Sunday there were not enough fire extinguishers or safety flares aboard the 45-foot boat called Still Mis Behavin. The guard said the life raft was not mounted in the right location and its emergency position radio beacon had expired.

The boat was escorted to Harpswell.

Occupy Maine fights eviction in court

PORTLAND ( AP) — A lawyer for Occupy Maine has filed a lawsuit against the city of Portland, meeting a deadline to avoid being evicted from Lincoln Park.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in Superior Court before the city’s noon deadline.

The Portland City Council voted to banish Occupy Maine because of concerns about safety and sanitation in the public park. Occupy Maine says the decision violated demonstrators’ constitutional rights, and it’s seeking a court order allowing demonstrators to remain in the park.

The group is protesting what it calls economic disparity and corporate greed.

Similar protests in other cities have been removed by police across the country. In Augusta, demonstrators were ordered out of Capitol Park. In Bangor, protesters left the Bangor Public Library grounds at the request of library officials.

Gift cards stolen from Lyman church

LYMAN (AP) — Gift cards collected by parishioners at St. Philip Roman Catholic Church in Lyman for distribution to low-income families and the elderly have been stolen.

Parishioners say the cards were likely stolen sometime last week.

Church members tell WCSH-TV that there was no sign of forced entry and it appears the alarm code was known to the thief.

The church is appealing to the public for help in recovering the cards in time for Christmas.

Drugs abuse blamed for surge in crime

AUGUSTA (AP) — Augusta officials are blaming a surge in burglaries and motor vehicle thefts to prescription drug abuse.

Chief Robert Gregoire says Augusta police have responded to 605 thefts, 399 motor vehicle burglaries and 248 burglaries of homes and businesses this year.

Home burglaries and motor vehicle burglaries, in particular, have jumped recently.

Gregoire tells the Kennebec Journal that the poor economy has something to do with it, but “drug abuse has been the most significant issue.”

Mayor William Stokes says drug abusers will do anything to get money to buy pills. He says the problem is hardly unique to Augusta.

They both say citizens can thwart crime by locking car and home doors, keeping valuables out of sight and reporting suspicious activity.

Maine gas prices fall more than 3 cents

AUGUSTA ( AP) — Gas prices in Maine are down, but still remain well above the national average.

Price monitoring website MaineGasPrices.com reports Monday that the average retail price of a gallon of gas has fallen more than 3 cents in the past week to $3.34.

That compares with the national average that has fallen more than four cents per gallon in the last week to $3.23.

Maine prices are 24 cents more than at the same time last year but more than 11 cents lower than a month ago.

Claims management system is certified

AUGUSTA (AP) — Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services says the state’s Medicaid claims management system has received federal certification.

Maine Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew says it’s an important milestone because the state’s previous system had well-documented problems.

The Maine Integrated Health Management Solution was designed and implemented by Molina Medicaid Solutions, a subsidiary of Molina Healthcare.

Since September 2010, the new system has been processing approximately a million claims a month and paying nearly 3,000 providers each week.

N.H. assault suspect captured in Maine

BANGOR ( AP) — A New Hampshire man suspected of sexually abusing a child has been captured in Maine.

A spokesman for the Penobscot County sheriff says 50- year-old Patrick Eschenbrenner was captured last week in Glenburn on a fugitive from justice charge.

Authorities say Eschenbrenner is wanted by Raymond, N. H., police on four counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault-incest.

Raymond police say the alleged assaults occurred when the child was between 7 and 11 years of age.

Eschenbrenner appeared in court on Monday and was held on $10,000 cash bail.

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