SoPo High School students criticized for pledge

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- At South Portland High School, three students are facing criticism for giving students the option not to say the Pledge of Allegiance.

"Ever since I was in kindergarten, you just say the pledge and that is that. No one ever asks any question," said senior Morrigan Turner.

Across the country schools begin their morning reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Turner, Student Body President Lily SanGiovanni and fellow senior Gaby Ferrell discovered under Maine law it is optional if a student wants to recite the pledge. SanGiovanni began adding "if you'd like to" before she led the school's pledge.

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Historic lighthouse on South Portland waterfront in need of repairs

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - For 117 years, the Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse has been a fixture on the South Portland waterfront and it's in need of serious repairs.

The trust overseeing it is facing a hefty repair bill after a structural study found a lot of deterioration. Over time the ocean water has eaten away at the base of the lighthouse building. Water has gotten inside of the cracks that have formed, causing even more damage.

"It's going on every day, of every week, of every year and it doesn't get better with age," said Keith Thompson, director of the lighthouse trust.

While the building is still structurally sound, trustees said they must begin making repairs. The bill could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The repairs are needed at a time when the lighthouse is more popular than ever with tourists.

Caring for someone with dementia? The Stewart Center offers respite and more

Caring for someone with dementia? The Stewart Center offers respite and more

Millions of Americans have Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia. As baby boomers age, the number is expected to escalate. Family members usually provide most of the care, often while they are also trying to hold down a job and run their own households. Studies have documented the toll it can take — depression, anxiety and other serious medical problems. The Stewart  Center, an adult day center for people living with dementia, recently opened in Falmouth.

Heart Healthy Tips in 140 Characters or Less

Heart Healthy Tips in 140 Characters or Less

I was invited by MaineHealth to "watch" a Twitter chat recently. It was organized by the Maine Health Learning Resource Center and was its first ever.

For those of you who don't know, a Twitter chat is a live conversation on Twitter centered around a specific topic. In this case, since it's American Heart month, the conversation was about heart health. Read the Catching Health blog to find out what I learned — about participating in a Twitter chat and about how to have a healthy heart.

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South Portland maps out new vision for Mill Creek

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The city of South Portland is working on a new vision for Mill Creek.

Mill Creek was designed as a car-friendly shopping district after World War II. But as the city has grown and retail chains have moved to the Maine Mall area, there has been demand for a more urban downtown area.

A committee has been working on a draft plan that would change zoning and use some public money to improve the gateways into the city. The plan would also lay out a vision for property owners in Mill Creek, and give them incentives to develop taller, mixed-use buildings with local shops, restaurants, and housing.

"People can have a type of experience where they could live and work and get services go about their daily lives without necessarily having to jump in a car every time they want to go someplace" said Tex Haeuser, South Portland's Director of Planning and Development.

Don't Ever Shovel Like My Husband Does

Don't Ever Shovel Like My Husband Does

Shoveling pounds and pounds of snow can take its toll on your heart and your back. Diane Atwood has some helpful tips in this Catching Health blog post, including why you shouldn't shovel like her husband does. Read more ...

Officials calling for more oversight of medical marijuana industry

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- South Portland's police chief is calling for more oversight of the medical marijuana industry in Maine.

He said since the state's medical marijuana program has expanded in the past few years, his department has had to investigate what, at first, appears to be illegal activity, but ultimately turns out not to be.

"They are cropping up several times a year now, where they were not an issue before," South Portland Police Chief Edward Googins said.

In late January, South Portland Police responded to a disturbance call at a house on Southwell Avenue. Once at the home, officers noticed cooking equipment and other materials they believed could be used to make methamphetamine, or crystal meth.

"We had to get obviously resources in there to find out just what the heck was going on," Googins said.