Sunday, April 28, 2013

Coming Together for Mary

Group seeks to renew interest in 35-year-old unsolved murder 
By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

 Charles Tanner III’s youngest sister, Mary Ellen Tanner, was murdered in 1978 when she was 18. Her killer was never caught. This July marks the 35th anniversary of her death. Charles and a growing group of supporters are planning a gathering. Coming Together for Mary: An Informal Meeting of the Minds will be held at 5:30 p.m. May 6 at the Kennebunk Free Library. (Alex Acquisto photo)
KENNEBUNK — This summer marks the 35th anniversary of the murder of Kennebunk’s Mary Ellen Tanner.

In an effort to commemorate her life, raise awareness and discuss any new developments in the unsolved case, Tanner’s brother, along with a number of friends, have organized an event, Coming Together for Mary: An Informal Meeting of the Minds, at the Kennebunk Free Library on May 6. Anyone interested is encouraged to attend.

Mary, who was 18 at the time, left a party around 11:30 p.m. with friends. They dropped her off at the intersection of Route 9 and 35; Tanner made it clear that she planned to hitchhike home. Tanner’s body was found two days later in Gracie Evans Airfield in Lyman. Her murderer is still at large. Tanner was the youngest of four siblings.

“Every few years someone scratches their head and says ‘Did they ever figure out who killed Mary?’ We finally all decided to form a group to do whatever needed to be done,” said Francine Tanguay of Wells.

“Charlie, Mary’s brother, was a school mate of mine. I didn’t know Mary, but I knew the family. And I witnessed what it did to the town of Kennebunk and how hard it was to not have resolution,” said Tanguay.

A Facebook page
titled “Justice for Mary” was started earlier this year by residents such as Tanguay and former classmates of the Tanner’s eager to ignite awareness once again.


Maine public schools to be assigned letter grades

Democratic legislators, school officials cry foul over Gov. Paul LePage's education initiative.

– Instead of handing out report cards, school officials will get grades themselves next week, as the state Department of Education announces A-through-F grades for Maine's 600 public schools.

The first report card has yet to land, but the plan was already drawing criticism Friday from Democratic legislative leaders and school officials.
"Of course we want every school to be the best school it can be, but it appears the governor wants nothing more than to affix an arbitrary letter grade onto our schools to shame them," said Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland.

Superintendents will get their schools' grades Monday, and the statewide database will be posted Wednesday on the state Department of Education's website.


Maine picks laptops – but not Apples

An exclusive contract comes to an end as the governor and state education officials go with Hewlett-Packard.

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Education has chosen Hewlett-Packard as its preferred contractor to purchase tens of thousands of laptops for middle school students, even though the company was not the cheapest option or the top choice in terms of quality by a multistate committee appointed to study the matter.

The decision, announced Saturday by the office of Gov. Paul LePage and the Department of Education, also ends the state's long-standing exclusive contract with Apple, which has provided the state with equipment since Maine's school laptop program began in 2002.

The naming of a preferred contractor was weeks overdue, and anxiously awaited by school district officials, who said the delay was interfering with their budgeting process for the 2013-14 academic year. A decision was initially expected by late February or March. The governor's office had to approve the contract before it could be awarded.

At $254 per device, the HP ProBook 4440, running Windows 8 software, will be made available to schools this fall through the Maine Learning Technology Initiative. Previously, Maine contracted with Apple, which uses a different operating platform, and students currently use MacBook laptops.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Schools struggle with additional state funding cuts

The same schools in southern Maine hit by Gov. Paul LePage's proposal to take on the cost of teachers' pensions are now expected to pay a larger percentage of staff health insurance — another example, some officials say, of the so-called property rich "gold coast" taking on a greater share of the state's financial burden.

The Maine Education Association Benefits Trust (MEABT), the organization that negotiates with Anthem on behalf of its estimated 68,000 members from Kittery to Fort Kent, formerly spread health insurance increases equally across school districts, according to Jim Amoroso, director of finance and operations for the York School District.

This year, the MEABT created a tiered rate system as an incentive to keep school districts that have fewer claims — generally the smaller districts — from going to another insurer. The new plan gives schools with fewer claims, or above-average "risk experience," a rate increase of up to 6 percent.
Those with a below-average risk experience, including York and school districts for South Berwick, Eliot, Wells, Ogunquit, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel, are being charged the top rate increase of 13 percent. All of the districts had budgeted health insurance increases at 6 to 7 percent, resulting in more than $200,000 in last-minute added costs when school budgets have been or are about to be finalized.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Stay informed: Arundel Marketing & Branding Study

and understand the Arundel Marketing & Branding Study.
The Town of Arundel needs your help.  As part of the Marketing and Branding Study, we need to collect data from area residents and the people who work, commute through, and recreate in Arundel.  Please click on the link below to complete this survey.  Your time and input is greatly appreciated.

RSU board approves $37.2 million budget

KENNEBUNK — The proposed $37.2 million RSU 21 budget will head to voters after receiving support from the board of directors.

The board voted in support of the budget April 11, and the district budget meeting will now be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 30, at Kennebunk Elementary School, followed by the budget referendum on Tuesday, May 14, when residents of Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel will vote in their respective communities.

The $37.2 million budget represents a 3.5 percent increase over last year. To lessen the impact of an increase in health insurance costs, an anticipated drop of $766,865 in state general purpose aid, and an increase of $448,134 in retirement costs previously covered by the state, a total of $1.2 million will be taken from the district's general fund balance and a total of 12 staff members will face a reduction of hours or elimination of their positions.

During the April 11 meeting, director Diane Robbins expressed concern that the district will not be able to sustain taking money out of the general fund balance and what that could mean in the years to come.

"Next year, this is going to be shell shock to taxpayers," she said. "It's not sustainable."

Arundel Historical Society Baked Bean & Pasta Supper

The Arundel Historical Society will host a baked bean & pasta supper on Saturday 27th April.
Time:  4:30 pm to 6:00 pm
Place:  Mildred Day School

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Town of Arundel needs your help.

The Town of Arundel needs your help. 

As part of the Marketing and Branding Study, we need to collect data from area residents and the people who work, commute through, and recreate in Arundel. 

Please click on the link below to complete this survey.  Your time and input is greatly appreciated.


Friday, April 5, 2013

State approves football realignment

Kennebunk High School will compete in Class B this fall

The Maine Principals’ Association will expand the state’s high school football programs into four classes next year, shrinking Class A from 24 teams to 16.

The new four-class system was approved at the MPA’s interscholastic business meeting on Thursday morning, March 28.

Biddeford, Scarborough and South Portland football will remain in Class A West, but Kennebunk’s football team will move down a level to Class B West.


Police ready to resume work

Zumba instructor pleads guilty in prostitution case
KENNEBUNK — Kennebunk Police will resume their investigation into Alexis Wright’s alleged clients after the Zumba dance instructor reached a settlement deal to avoid a court hearing.

Wright pleaded guilty to 20 counts, including engaging in prostitution, tax evasion and theft in Portland on Friday afternoon, March 29. Although a grand jury brought felony charges against Wright in October, each of the counts she pleaded guilty to were downgraded to misdemeanors, according to various reports.

She faces up to 10 months in prison when she is sentenced in May.

Wright’s plea deal came just eight days after her business partner began serving his jail sentence.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Proposed RSU budget carries increase, staff cuts

KENNEBUNK — The RSU 21 Board of Directors took a close look at the superintendent's proposed budget Monday, coming in at a 3.5 percent increase over last year.

The district's proposed $37.2 million budget reflects an increase in health insurance costs, a drop of $766,865 in state general purpose aid, and an increase of $448,134 in retirement costs previously covered by the state.

To minimize the impact, Superintendent Andrew Dolloff has presented a proposal that would cut 12 staff positions and use $1.2 million from the district's general fund balance. The fund balance currently contains more than $2.6 million.

RSU 21 Board of Directors Chairman Kevin Knight said the proposed budget aims to minimize taxes while maintaining quality school programming.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Alexis Wright pleads guilty in Kennebunk Zumba prostitution case

also by

PORTLAND, Maine — Alexis Wright on Friday pleaded guilty to 20 charges that she worked as a prostitute for more than a year and a half in her Zumba studio in Kennebunk. Felonies in the case have been reduced to Class D misdemeanor crimes as part of the deal.

Prosecutors and Wright’s defense attorney Sarah Churchill have agreed to a plea deal that recommends Wright serve 10 months in jail. She is due to be sentenced May 31 and is out on bail 
Wright also pleaded guilty to charges of tax evasion and theft.

Friday's plea talks came a week to the day after her co-conspirator, Mark Strong, was sentenced to jail for being her pimp.

Wright had been indicted on 106 charges ranging from prostitution and invasion of privacy to welfare fraud.

A heavily made-up Wright appeared at the courthouse Friday in a black and white checkered miniskirt, salmon pink blouse and nails, black jacket and stiletto heels, with her hair elaborately coiffed. Her look was in stark contrast to the one she sported during the first settlement negotiation on March 13, when Wright wore little makeup and a calf-length cream-colored coat with a matching scarf and pumps.

As details of the deal were revealed at about 4:30 p.m., after the court's normal closing time, Wright kept her head down, appearing to weep.

The only thing Wright said Friday was “guilty,” when Judge Nancy Mills asked her how she pleaded.

Stuck on making syrup

Hobby turns into a passion for an Arundel teenager
By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer
ARUNDEL — Blake Douston, a sophomore at Thornton Academy, has been producing maple syrup for five years.

Comparably young for a syrup producer, Douston is surprisingly well versed in the craft. When asked about the impetus for his piqued curiosity, his response was succinct: “The first time I made it, the fresh syrup was so good, I wanted to keep making it.”

The art of producing syrup from matured maples is an iconic New England pastime.


Atlantic Gymnastics: Teams compete in Trinidad

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad — When Portsmouth's Atlantic Gymnastics owner and coach Tony Retrosi traveled to Trinidad in 2009 to conduct a safety certification course for 32 local coaches, he did not imagine he would return someday to the island nation with a group of his own gymnasts.

Several families committed, but it was not until Joe and Denise Toshach, of Arundel, Maine, agreed to go that Retrosi could give the trip the green light. The Toshachs would be traveling to Trinidad with five children, four of whom would be competing at the meet. The Toshachs' eldest daughter, Julia (13), competed at Level 6 and earned a third place all-around finish. Three of four quadruplet siblings — Sarah, Elizabeth and Grace (11) — competed Level 5, with Grace finishing second in the all-around, Elizabeth posting four solid scores for all the apparatus, and Sarah placing on beam.


Atlantic gymnasts take third at Starlight

Friday, March 29, 2013
CAMBRIDGE, Mass — Level 5 gymnasts from Atlantic Gymnastics Training Center (AGTC) of Portsmouth recently returned home from the Starlight Invitational competition hosted by Massachusetts Gymnastics Center’s Masstars held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The team started off the meet on the balance beam with solid routines from Cailey Brickett (Wells, Maine) who earned a 9.05 closely followed by Jennifer Ross (Portsmouth) and Alysia Tellez (Dover) who both earned 9.0 on the event. In the second rotation, on floor exercise, both Tellez and Brickett executed a near perfect routines earning a 9.70 and 9.50 respectively on the event and boosting AGTC ahead in the team rankings. Other team standouts on floor exercise include Katherine Carter (Dover) with a 9.15 and Ross who earned a 9.10.


Arundel man charged in connection with fatal heroin overdose

Posted March 29, 2013, at 4:29 p.m.
KENNEBUNK, Maine — A York County man was arrested Friday by drug agents in connection with a heroin overdose that killed another man.

Matthew Danis, 27, of Arundel was taken into custody in Kennebunk, according to Maine Drug Enforcement Agency director Roy McKinney.


Arundel man arrested in connection with January home invasion

BIDDEFORD, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- An Arundel man has been arrested in connection with a home invasion in Winthrop back in January.

Winthrop police with assistance from Biddeford and state police arrested 36-year-old Christopher Harmon without incident near the Biddeford Walmart Friday.


LePage’s budget has wrong priorities for Maine

Monday, April 1, 2013 12:05 PM EDT
Budgets are a reflection of priorities. Whether it’s our own personal budget or the state’s budget, we plan, save and spend based on what is important to us.

One of the biggest responsibilities faced by the Legislature this session is to craft the state’s next two-year budget. Already, the Legislature’s budget writing committee has spent weeks reviewing the budget proposal put forth by Gov. Paul LePage. And right now, the committee is conducting public hearings on his proposed two-year budget. By all accounts, the governor’s proposal contains many controversial items. In fact, even his own budget analyst called it “a budget of desperation.”

For us, in our community, one of the most difficult aspects of this budget has to do with the governor’s proposed cuts to public education. Our community is not alone with our concern about the harmful impact the governor’s proposal will have. In fact, more than 26 towns, including Biddeford, and school districts across the state have enacted formal resolutions in opposition to the governor’s proposed budget.