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 to rule on petition to regulate phthalates

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Maine's Department of Environmental Protection is soliciting comments from the public and is preparing to make a ruling on a citizens' petition to regulate phthalates in household products.

Phthalates chemicals are used in products like vinyl flooring and personal care items. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says some types of phthalates have affected reproductive systems in lab animals, and more research is needed about their effects on humans.

A proposed rule would elevate four phthalates from "high concern" to "priority chemical" status under state rules. That means manufacturers would have to report their use in products sold in the state.

A DEP spokeswoman says the state will take comments on the proposal until Sept. 29. The DEP commissioner will then have 120 days to make a ruling.


Investigator: Bird sanctuary fire was arson

ELLSWORTH, Maine (AP) - The district attorney is reviewing the results of a state fire marshal investigation into an arson fire last March at Birdsacre, a nonprofit bird sanctuary in Ellsworth.

Sgt. Tim York tells WNSX-FM that the fire at the Stanwood Homestead Museum was intentionally set. The interior of the building is still in a state of disarray with fire damage, pieces of the collection destroyed and numerous items awaiting restoration.

The museum is part of a 200-acre wildlife sanctuary that aims to preserve the vision of ornithologist Cordelia Stanwood.

District Attorney Carlotta (Car-LEE'-tah) Dee Bassano said Wednesday that she's meeting with fire investigators to see if additional information can be gathered. She says it's too early to talk about suspects.


Cops: No charges in fatal Maine accident

VASSALBORO, Maine (AP) - Police say there will be no charges stemming from a Vassalboro, Maine, accident that killed a Windsor man on Route 3.

Ninety-one-year-old Clifford Welch died in the Tuesday morning crash when a pickup truck hit a car he was a passenger in. Welch's wife, 82-year-old Grace Welch, was driving the car. Police say on Wednesday that they do not foresee any criminal charges in the case.

Grace Welch and 47-year-old Augusta resident Dayna Devaulk, the driver of the pickup truck, were taken to Alfond Center for Health for minor injuries.


6 MOO Milk farms sign on with Organic Valley

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - A Wisconsin-based milk distributor is expanding its Maine supply network and picking up half of the former MOO Milk organic dairy farms as suppliers.

Organic Valley official Steve Getz said an expansion into Aroostook County includes HB Farms in Woodland and Chase's Organic Dairy in Mapleton, two partners in the now-defunct Maine's Own Organic Milk, or MOO Milk.

Getz told the Portland Press Herald (http://bit.ly/1s4oplx) that Organic Valley also signed agreements with four other former MOO Milk producers: Webb Family Farm in Pittston, Two Loons Farm in South China, Clovercrest Farm in Charleston and Eagle View Farms in Dixfield.

The 26-year-old cooperative is made up of 1,500 farms and had total sales of $960 million in 2013. The farmer-owned cooperative acts as a milk wholesaler.



Republican House hopefuls square off in debate

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Republican Congressional hopeful Gary Lambert is accusing rival Marilinda Garcia of missing key votes at the New Hampshire Statehouse, while she says she wishes he had been absent more often instead of voting the wrong way.

Lambert, a former state senator, and Garcia, a four-term state representative, are seeking the Republican nomination in the 2nd District. Along with former state Rep. Jim Lawrence, they are competing for a chance to take on Democratic incumbent Annie Kuster in November.

During a debate on WGIR-AM Wednesday, Lambert said Garcia missed a chance to stop President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law when she was absent for a vote on Medicaid expansion. Garcia responded by reeling off half a dozen votes that Lambert cast that she said go against Republican values.


Detective charged with making threats, assault

(Information in the following story is from: Eagle Tribune (North Andover, Mass.), http://www.eagletribune.com)

BRENTWOOD, N.H. (AP) - A long-time New Hampshire police detective is facing trial on simple assault and criminal threatening charges.

The Eagle Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1qKPsVz) George Wickson of Plaistow is charged with threatening a man with a knife and grabbing a woman by her buttocks and hair in May 2013, when he was off-duty. He's also accused of trying to kiss the woman and throwing a beer at another woman.

Wickson's trial was getting underway Wednesday in Rockingham County Superior Court.

Wickson, a 14-year veteran of the Plaistow police force, has been on unpaid administrative leave for 13 months. He has maintained his innocence.


Helicopter pilot in serious condition after crash

BELLEFONTAINE, Ohio (AP) - A New Hampshire man who was injured after a tree-trimming helicopter he was flying crashed in western Ohio remains hospitalized. Investigators are trying to determine the cause of the crash.

The helicopter carrying an aerial saw crashed Tuesday near Bellefontaine (behl-FOWN'-tihn), 45 miles northwest of Columbus. A spokeswoman for Grant Medical Center in Columbus says Leo Boucher (boo-SHER') was listed in serious condition Wednesday.

A State Highway Patrol dispatcher says the preliminary investigation indicates that a mechanical failure of the helicopter may have led to the crash that injured the 50-year-old pilot from Manchester, New Hampshire. The investigation is continuing.

The dispatcher, Sgt. Jeremy Clemons of the patrol's Marysville post, says the helicopter had been clearing trees for a bike path as spectators watched.


Man charged with 15 counts of child pornography

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - A Concord, New Hampshire, man has been arrested on 15 counts of child pornography following an investigation that dates back to January 2013.

Police said the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children had been contacted by a juvenile who said a man contacted him online offering to perform sex and soliciting nude photos.

Police tracked the information to Christopher Merchant. They learned Merchant had failed to register any of his online identifiers, such as email addresses, instant message screen names and social networking website screen names. They executed a search warrant at his home and recovered a large quantity of computers and other electronic media evidence.

Merchant was convicted on charges of registration of online identifiers Monday.

It wasn't immediately known if he had a lawyer.


Fisherman finds 1-in-30-million calico lobster, donates it to New Hampshire aquarium

HAMPTON, N.H. (AP) - A fisherman has caught a rare lobster that's bright orange with dark blue spots.

Josiah Beringer found the calico lobster in one of his traps on July 23 in the mouth of New Hampshire's Hampton Harbor. He donated the 1.5-pound, 5-year-old male lobster to the Explore the Ocean World Oceanarium in Hampton.

Beringer tells the Portsmouth Herald (http://bit.ly/1zuh9T6 ) the lobster was found in an area known as Washerwoman Rock, an area between two rocks that gets its name from its "really rough" and "washing machine"-like waters.

The aquarium's Ellen Goethel says calico lobsters are the second rarest in the world, after albino lobsters. She says the spots are the result of a genetic pigmentation mutation occurring in 1 in every 30 million to 50 million lobsters.



Vermont can't take many immigrant children

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin says the state doesn't have the facilities to accept large numbers of immigrant children.

Shumlin was responding to a request from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services made to the states asking about the availability of a 90,000-square-foot facility that could host up to 1,000 children.

The agency is seeking shelter for thousands of Central American children who have entered the U.S.

The Burlington Free Press (http://bfpne.ws/1lW5YdE ) reports that in a letter to the regional HHS director, Shumlin said Vermont can only offer smaller facilities that would hold 75 to 100 children.

If asked, Vermont is willing to help Massachusetts.

Shumlin says that if the agency decides to look at smaller scale options the state could possibly participate, depending on community and federal support.


3 women claim Vermont agency paid less than man

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - A judge is considering whether three female Vermont state employees paid significantly less than a man in the same job are victims of sex discrimination.

Lawyers for the Human Rights Commission and the three women squared off Wednesday with lawyers for the Department of Corrections and the Department of Human Resources before Superior Court Judge Helen Toor.

The women, Lynne Silloway, Mary Bertrand and Lisa Deblois, are business managers in Vermont prisons. They say they're paid thousands of dollars less per year than an unnamed man who was hired in 2003 as a food service supervisor and promoted in 2006 to business manager at the Springfield prison.

The state says the man's pay was determined according to his experience when he was hired, and was not based on gender.


Man suffers serious burns in apartment fire

ST. ALBANS, Vt. (AP) - A 72-year-old physically disabled man has suffered serious burns to his back and arms in fire at his apartment in Vermont.

Firefighters say Thomas Page of St. Albans was in critical condition Wednesday at Fletcher Allen Medical Center.

Firefighters say they got a 911 call from Page at about 1:10 a.m. that his apartment was on fire and he was trapped inside. Police arrived at the scene first and heard him yelling for help. They went inside and carried him out.

Authorities rushed back and evacuated 11 other people in four attached apartments. They had to smash out windows and kick in doors to evacuate some of the occupants, who were sleeping.


Chester sees flood damage from 3-inches of rain

CHESTER, Vt. (AP) - The Chester fire chief says more than 3 inches of rain fell on his community creating the worst flooding since Tropical Storm Irene hit Vermont almost three years ago.

Chief Matthew Wilson says the Monday flooding was "bad like Irene," but came on a smaller scale and it came faster.

Gov. Peter Shumlin is due in Chester to view the damage.

The National Weather Service reported flash flooding late Monday afternoon on Route 11 between Chester and Andover. Portions of Route 103 were also under water.

Chester was hit the hardest by the fast-moving storm.

Wilson says there was structural damage to multiple properties.

All the state and local roads in Chester and Andover that were closed during the storm have since reopened, but some are limited to one lane.


Rancher appeals state's seizure of horses

LYNDON, Vt. (AP) - A Vermont ranch owner is appealing the state's seizure of his horses to the state Supreme Court.

Bruce Bona of Lyndon pleaded not guilty in May to 21 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty after police said they found dead and emaciated horses on his property in March. A judge ordered the forfeiture of 21 horses found at the ranch on July 8.

The Caledonian Record reports (http://bit.ly/1nHWbwC) the 64-year-old Bona appealed the ruling Monday, saying the state failed to prove the animals didn't receive adequate food or water or were neglected.

The horses were placed in animal foster homes. Bona has argued that he never intended to give the horses up permanently.

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