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This Hour: Latest Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont news, sports, business and entertainment - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

This Hour: Latest Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont news, sports, business and entertainment

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MAINE:

APPLE HARVEST-MAINE

Maine's apple growers expecting a good season

LIVERMORE, Maine (AP) - Maine's apple growers say they're expecting a good crop this season despite several hailstorms that caused damage at some orchards.

Rob Boothby, a sixth-generation farmer and owner of Boothby's Orchard & Farm in Livermore, tells the Sun Journal he was spared hail damage and is expecting a "better year than most."

Boothby's farm opened for the season on Aug. 16 and hopes to extend it all the way to Christmas. Paula Reds are ripening now and people are already arriving to pick them.

Cooper Farms of West Paris manager Sue Silver says despite some hail damage, growing conditions were good this year, with healthy rainfall making for large apples.

Tom Gyger of Five Fields Farm in Bridgton and Kathryn King of Greenwood Orchards in Turner are also optimistic.

RAIL SAFETY

FRA funds safety initiative for smaller railroads

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Federal Railway Administration is awarding two grants totaling $350,000 to help short line and regional railroads reduce the risks associated with shipping crude oil, propane and other hazardous materials.

Senators Patty Murray of Washington State and Susan Collins of Maine proposed the Short Line Rail Safety Institute, which is being launched with the funding. They told Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a letter that there's no silver bullet when it comes to safety but that the institute could be part of the solution.

Their efforts followed an April hearing that included testimony about an oil train derailment that claimed 47 lives in Lac Megantic, Quebec.

There are currently 550 short-line railroad companies that operate over 50,000 miles of track, or nearly one third of the national railroad network.

SCHOOL OIL SPILL

Hebron school oil spill cleanup discussed

HEBRON, Maine (AP) - A heating oil company is picking up the tab for a 1,500-gallon spill at a Hebron elementary school.

Superintendent Rick Colpitts and Jessamine Logan, a spokeswoman for the Department of Environmental Protection, tell the Sun Journal the C.N. Brown oil company of Paris has assumed full responsibility for the cleanup.

A company employee accidentally overfilled the tank at the Hebron Station School in December.

Authorities have said the spill occurred when a gauge on the oil tank malfunctioned, showing the tank was empty when it was not.

The accident caused the shutdown of the school for a week while oil flowed into nearby wetlands.

Logan says the school and the oil company have been good partners in the cleanup.

The exact cost is not clear.

PREGNANT WOMAN ASSAULTED

Bangor man charged with assaulting pregnant woman

BANGOR, Maine (AP) - A Bangor man charged with beating a pregnant woman so severely that she required multiple surgeries has been held on $100,000 bail.

Joshua Cole made his first court appearance on Wednesday on charges including elevated aggravated assault following the alleged attack Monday morning.

Neither the 34-year-old Cole nor his lawyer commented on the charges. He remains jailed.

Authorities say the woman's injuries were so severe she had to be transferred to a hospital in Boston where she remains in critical condition and may lose her eyesight. The baby is expected to survive.

Cole and the woman lived in the same apartment.

Police have not disclosed a motive.

Cole is due back in court on Friday to discuss a possible competency hearing.

OLDER BANK ROBBER

66-year-old bank robbery suspect pleads not guilty

BANGOR, Maine (AP) - A 66-year-old Maine man police say claimed to have a grenade and a gun when he robbed a Hallowell bank in June has pleaded not guilty.

John Cecil Slater entered his plea Wednesday in U.S. District Court and remains in custody.

Prosecutors say Slater, wearing a straw hat and sports coat, robbed a Bank of Maine branch on June 23, making off with $15,000.

The Kennebec Journal reports the robber allegedly passed a not to a teller that read in part: "I have a hand grenade, and a gun, no marked bills, or inked, if so, one day I will come back and kill all of you."

Slater was arrested in New Hampshire on July 9 after several people recognized the suspect's image from back surveillance that appeared in the media.

PHARMACY ROBBERY

Police ID Manchester pharmacy robbery suspect

MANCHESTER, Maine (AP) - Authorities have identified the suspect in a Manchester pharmacy robbery earlier this month.

Police say 31-year-old Thomas Bourque of Belgrade robbed the Rite-Aid in town on Aug. 3.

Chief Deputy Ryan Reardon of the Kennebec County Sheriff's Office tells the Morning Sentinel that Bourque has a lengthy criminal record and is a well-known player in the area's illicit drug scene.

Police say a man wearing a dark zip-up hooded sweatshirt and a New York Yankees ball cap walked into the Rite-Aid and demanded prescription medication. The suspect kept a hand in his sweatshirt and said he had a gun. He made off with undisclosed amounts of oxycodone, and methylphenidate, a drug used to treat attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder.

A raid at an area residence on Wednesday came up empty.

SEAL SWIM

Navy SEALs swim 13-plus miles for charity in Maine

CASCO, Maine (AP) - Four active-duty Navy SEALs are swimming more than 13 miles for charity in Maine.

The SEALs plan to swim the entire length of Sebago Lake on Thursday to raise money to send dozens of military families to Camp Sunshine, a retreat for children with life-threatening illnesses.

The four SEALs are starting first thing in the morning and expected to finish at approximately 12:30 p.m.

Thursday's endurance swim is part of an effort to raise upward of $100,000 - enough to bring 40 or more military families for a Camp Sunshine session next year.

NEW HAMPSHIRE:

BRITAIN-JOURNALIST SLAIN

Authorities analyze voice in hunt for Foley killer

LONDON (AP) - Experts say police and security services are using voice-recognition software and other technology, as well as human tips, as they scramble to identify the militant recorded on a video showing the killing of American journalist James Foley.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said the masked jihadi is likely British. Linguists say his accent suggests he is from the London area.

The Guardian newspaper quoted an unnamed former captive who was held in Raqqa, Syria, as saying he appeared to be one of several British militants - nicknamed "The Beatles" by hostages - charged with guarding Islamic State prisoners.

John O'Regan, a linguist at London's Institute of Education, said Thursday that analysts would likely make a voice print of the speaker and compare it to recordings of known suspects.

JOURNALIST SLAIN-CONGRESS

Foley's death isn't changing views in Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) - The beheading of an American journalist in Syria appears unlikely to change U.S. lawmakers' minds about military intervention against Islamic State extremists.

President Barack Obama says the U.S. won't scale back its military posture in Iraq in response to James Foley's killing. But he's offering no specifics about what new steps he might take to protect additional captives and other Americans, and ward off what he describes as the al-Qaida offshoot's genocidal ambitions.

The initial response from members of Congress has been mixed, reflecting the divide of the American people. Hawks on Capitol Hill continue to assail the Obama administration's limited airstrikes in Iraq and its refusal to target Islamic State bases in neighboring Syria.

The president's supporters voice support for the current, cautious intervention in Iraq.

JOURNALIST SLAIN-MEMORIAL

Mass to be held in remembrance of slain journalist

ROCHESTER, N.H. (AP) - A mass in remembrance of journalist James Foley has been scheduled for Sunday in Rochester, New Hampshire.

The Foley family said a Holy Mass of "Healing, Hope and for Peace" is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary on 189 North Main St.

A memorial Mass will be held at the church for Foley on Oct. 18, on what would have been his 41st birthday.

Foley was abducted in 2012 and held for nearly two years. Islamic militants posted a video showing his murder on Tuesday and said they killed him because the U.S. had launched airstrikes in northern Iraq.

POLL-NH GOVERNOR

Poll: Hassan leading GOP challengers

DURHAM, N.H. (AP) - A new poll shows that Governor Maggie Hassan is leading both of her Republican challengers, who face off in a primary on Sept. 9.

The WMUR Granite State Poll shows Hassan ahead of Walt Havenstein, 49 percent to 32 percent. She's ahead of Andrew Hemingway by 20 points, 51 percent to 31 percent.

The poll shows that both challengers are still not well known in the state. Pollster Andy Smith of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, which conducted the poll, said he expects that margin to shrink after a winner is chosen in the primary.

The telephone poll of 827 randomly selected New Hampshire adults was conducted from Aug. 7-17 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

SENATE DEBATE

GOP primary candidates for Senate debate Thursday

RINDGE, N.H. (AP) - Candidates facing off in the Republican primary race for the U.S. Senate are taking part in a debate at Franklin Pierce University.

Those scheduled to attend the debate on Thursday are Robert D'Arcy, Mark Farnham, Bob Hegmann, Walt Kelly, Andy Martin, and former Senator Bob Smith. Candidates Jim Rubens and Scott Brown were not scheduled to attend.

The winner of the Senate primary will go on to face Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in November.

The debate, scheduled to run from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. is the last of three co-sponsored by the Fitzwater Center for Communication, New Hampshire Public Television and Monadnock Ledger-Transcript. Debates were held for candidates in the Republican primary for governor and the 2nd Congressional District.

CENTURY RIDE-BICYCLISTS KILLED

Woman sentenced in drug-fatal crash case

BRENTWOOD, N.H. (AP) - A New Hampshire woman accused of giving a drug to a 19-year-old woman hours before the teen drove into some cyclists, killing two, has pleaded guilty and has received a three-to-six-year sentence.

Cindy Sheppard was indicted on charges of dispensing a controlled drug and possession of fentanyl, cocaine and methadone. Police said Sheppard gave fentanyl to Darriean Hess last year after Hess was pulled over for speeding. Hours later, the unlicensed Hess was speeding in the same stretch of road when she crossed the center line and hit some cyclists.

Killed were Pamela Wells and Elise Bouchard of Massachusetts.

Prosecutor Karen Springer said Wednesday the 49-year-old Sheppard was a productive member of society until she was injured and lost both legs nine years ago, becoming addicted to painkillers and selling drugs.

BEAR GUIDE RULES

Hearing scheduled for bear hunt guide rules

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - New Hampshire's Fish and Game Department is holding a public hearing next month on proposed rules regarding bear hunt guide permits.

The proposed rules would increase the number of bear guide permits issued from 35 to 50 and change the manner in which they are issued.

The hearing is on Sept. 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the department's headquarters in Concord.

VERMONT:

MILNE-CONFERENCE CALL

Vermont GOP governor candidate to host call

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - The Vermont Republican gubernatorial candidate who has won the backing of most party leaders says he'll take part in a public discussion with voters on a conference call.

Pomfret businessman Scott Milne, who is believed to be the leader among four people seeking the GOP nomination in next week's primary, has set the session for 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

The campaign will place the call to 30,000 registered voters and ask them to stay on the line for the forum.

The hour-long discussion will be moderated by Milne's children, Elise and Keith Milne.

Milne says he'll make some remarks and then ask participants what questions they have.

He is seeking to unseat Democratic incumbent Governor Peter Shumlin, who is expected to win his party's nomination.

COMMERCIAL BUILDING-FIRE

Firefighters battle blaze at Vermont business

RUTLAND, Vt. (AP) - Firefighters brought a fire under control at a plywood plant in Rutland, Vermont, only to return to face a five-alarm blaze that destroyed the building.

A fire started Wednesday afternoon at the Rutland Plywood Corp. plant. Firefighters credited three workers with helping to control the fire.

The Rutland Herald reports hours later, at about 1:10 a.m. Thursday, firefighters went back to the scene. About 100 firefighters worked on the fire overnight.

Firefighters don't believe the fires are suspicious and that a mechanical failure was involved.

The American Red Cross sent volunteers to help the firefighters.

DOUBLE SHOOTING-VERMONT

Man, woman killed in Vermont shootings

TOWNSHEND, Vt. (AP) - Vermont State Police are investigating shootings that left a man and woman dead in Townshend.

State police received a 911 call around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday requesting help at a house on Grafton Road. While on the telephone with the caller, a dispatcher heard what is believed to be gunshots. The call then ended abruptly.

When troopers arrived they found a man dead outside the house from an apparent gunshot wound. Inside was a woman who'd been shot. She was airlifted to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, where she later died.

The identities of the victims are being withheld until their families are notified. The state medical's examiner will perform autopsies.

State police say there's no known threat to public safety.

WATERFOWL HUNT PERMITS

Sept. 15 deadline for waterfowl hunt applications

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department says applications for controlled waterfowl hunting permit are due Sept. 15.

A public drawing to award hunting permits is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 19 at noon at Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area headquarters in Addison. Successful applicants will be notified by mail and must pay a $10 permit fee on the day of the hunt.

Hunting under controlled conditions for ducks at Mud Creek in Alburgh and geese at Dead Creek in Addison has been popular since the early 1970's.

The applications may be downloaded from the department's website, www.vtfishandwildlife . Printed applications will be available at Vermont Fish & Wildlife offices in Montpelier, Essex Junction, Addison, Barre, St. Johnsbury, Springfield and Rutland.

YOUNG ADULT VACCINATIONS

Health Department urges young adult vaccinations

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - The Vermont Health Department is urging young adults to be sure they are up to date with their vaccinations.

The Health Department is joining with other groups across the country by recognizing August as National Immunization Awareness Month.

Every year, thousands of young adults suffer serious health problems, are hospitalized, and even die from diseases that could have been prevented by vaccines.

Immunization Program Chief Chris Finley says the state needs to remind young adults to get vaccinated to be sure they are protected against diseases like flu and whooping cough.

Influenza, for example, can sicken people of all ages, but less than one third of young adults receive the annual flu vaccine.

Young adults should talk to their health care providers to determine which vaccines are right for them.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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