News

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.

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.

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.

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.

SoPo committee proposes new vision for Mill Creek


SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A city committee is proposing a new development for the Mill Creek area in South Portland with the idea of it being a walkable mixed-use urban village. The new plan is already causing controversy.

The Portland Press Herald reports that the plan images Mill Creek as an extension of Portland's Old Port. Mill Creek is directly off the Casco Bay Bridge, which connects downtown Portland to South Portland and Cape Elizabeth. Mill Creek would have more streets, taller buildings, more businesses and homes.

"It's an effort to establish an expanded, planned downtown for our city," said Craig Piper, an architect who is chairman of the Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee.

SoPo K-9 to receive protective vest


SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A South Portland Police K-9 named Zak is receiving a bullet and stab protective vest from the nonprofit Vested Interest in K9s.

Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provides vests for law enforcement dogs all around the U.S. Each vest is worth $950 and has a five year warranty. The vest for Zak comes from a donation from Maine resident Madeline Hamersley.

The South Portland Police Department and Zak's handler Shane Stephenson said they are thankful for the donation.


Developer submits plan for former South Portland armory


SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The developer that owns the former National Guard Armory in South Portland is planning to put $4.5 million into the building.

It sits at the foot of the Casco Bay Bridge and has been vacant for years.

Topsham developer Priority Real Estate Group is looking for permission from the city to build a convenience store and gas station on the property. Priority also wants to have a coffee shop or deli, office space, a conference room and a city information center at the site, all while maintaining the building's recognizable façade at the city's request.

The city and Priority both said they are working well together.