2011-12-27 / Maine

BRIEFS

Marijuana facility amenities targeted

PORTLAND (AP) — A state health official says plans by the operators of a medical marijuana dispensary scheduled to open in Portland next month to include a coffee bar, acupuncture clinic and “vapor lounge” at the facility run afoul of state rules.

John Thiele of the Health and Human Services Department says a dispensary with such amenities would violate state regulations aimed at ensuring that dispensaries are places to get medicine for serious illnesses, not places to “hang out.”

He tells The Portland Press Herald creating a social setting for the dispensation of medical marijuana is unhealthy because it promotes more marijuana use than is medically necessary.

The operator, Wellness Connection of Maine, could not be reached for comment. Their two other dispensaries in Maine do not have the same amenities.

Maine convicted killer appeals to high court

PORTLAND ( AP) — Maine’s highest court is scheduled next month to hear the appeal of a Portland man convicted of killing his girlfriend, cutting the head off the corpse and setting fire to the body.

The Portland Press Herald reports that Chad Gurney goes before the Supreme Judicial Court on Jan. 10.

His lawyer intends to argue that Gurney was delusional and did not understand that his actions were wrong when he killed Zoe Sarnacki in May 2009. His attorney says psychotic episode stemming from a personality disorder, stress and withdrawal from an opiate painkiller is the likely explanation for the killing.

Prosecutors argue that the 30-year-old Gurney showed that he could act with rationality the day of the killing.

Gurney was convicted and sentenced to 60 years in prison.

1 dead, 2 hurt in Glenburn crash

GLENBURN (AP) — A 22- year-old woman has died and two other people have been hospitalized after a two-vehicle crash in Glenburn.

Police say the Hudson woman was driving north on Pushaw Road at about 1 p.m. on Monday when she apparently lost control and crossed the center line, where her car was struck by a pickup truck.

The woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver and the passenger in the truck, both 20, were treated at hospitals.

No names were immediately released.

The crash remains under investigation but police say speed and slick roads may be factors.

Maine offers Jan. 1 hikes at state parks

AUGUSTA ( AP) — Many people will spend New Year’s Day watching football games and eating, but Maine conservation officials are encouraging residents to take a hike to ring in the new year.

The Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands is offering four guided “First Day Hikes” on Jan. 1, joining a nationwide initiative among all 50 states to get families outdoors for the holiday. This is the first time all U.S. state park systems have joined together to sponsor the event.

In Maine, guided hikes are being offered at Aroostook State Park in Presque Isle, Cobscook Bay State Park in Edmunds Township, Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park in Freeport, and Popham Beach State Park in Phippsburg.

More information is available on the agency’s website, at www.parksandlands.com .

Landmark Mexico restaurant closes

MEXICO ( AP) — A landmark Mexico restaurant has closed after more than four decades in business.

The owners of Maddy’s Pizza say the tough economy, competition from chains and a serious illness in the family all contributed to the closure Friday.

Greg and Norma Arsenault have owned Maddy’s for 17 years. They took over from Norma’s mother, Maddy Lauzier, who opened the eatery in December 1970.

Norma Arsenault tells the Sun Journal that her husband was recently hospitalized for what doctors believed was toxic shock syndrome. He was on life support for three days but is now expected to recover.

Greg Arsenault was also the town’s recreation director and lost his health benefits when the town reduced the job from full-time to 20 hours per week.

Livermore seeking out musty water source

LIVERMORE (AP) — Water samples from the well at the Livermore highway garage have been sent to a state lab in Augusta for testing.

Town administrative assistant Kurt Schaub and Highway Department foreman Roger Ferland have been trying to figure out the source of musty odor from the water supply at the garage.

Schaub tells the Sun Journal he wants to make sure the water is safe, especially because it is the source for the eye-wash station.

The well was drilled in the 1990s but is near the location of an underground diesel thank that has since been removed.

Christmas message gets worker in trouble

BOSTON (AP) — For travelers stuck in a Boston subway station on Christmas Day, it was a reason to chuckle, a bit of holiday levity.

For MBTA brass, however, it was a serious breach of protocol.

A spokesman for the T says a dispatcher who programmed an LED message board in the Park Street station to scroll the lyrics of “Deck the Halls” instead of the usual service announcements faces punishment, from a written warning to possible termination.

Maryam Monalisa Gharavi, a Harvard University student who witnessed the words “deck the halls with boughs of holly fa la la la la la la la la” light up the message board as a metallic monotone voice filled the air, tells The Boston Globe the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority ought to lighten up.

Gharavi says everyone on the platform smiled.

Vt. defense lawyers challenging DNA law

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Some Vermont defense attorneys are challenging the expansion of state law that allows DNA samples to be taken from more criminal suspects and the issue is likely to end up before the state Supreme Court.

Defense attorneys across the state are claiming that requiring more people to submit DNA samples, even when they haven’t been convicted of crimes, raises privacy issues.

But prosecutors contend that providing DNA samples is no more intrusive than providing fingerprints or having one’s picture taken.

“Requiring a DNA sample from all adults charged with a felony offense after arraignment violates an individual’s right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures under both the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and Chapter I, Article 11 of the Vermont Constitution,” said a memorandum of law written by attorney Rory Malone, who works out of the public defender’s office in St. Albans.

Variations on Malone’s arguments are being used by attorneys across the state.

Assistant Attorney General John Treadwell said he expected the Supreme Court to settle the issue. He says the law “is a valid statute, enacted by the Legislature, and entirely constitutional.”

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