Articles by Ben McCanna

Connie Koengeter, owner of Cork & Barrel in Falmouth, is closing the Route 1 store after 22 years in business.

Despite vintage sales year, lack of qualified workers leads owner of Falmouth wine shop to close after 22 years

By Ben McCanna on April 21, 2014, at 7:37 p.m.
After 22 years, it’s time to put the cork back in the bottle. Early next month, the long-running wine and gift store Cork & Barrel will close its doors after a final event — a wine tasting on Friday, May 2. Owner Connie Koengeter is calling the …
Christopher Girard

Police seek Falmouth burglary suspect who sped off with victim’s Lexus

By Ben McCanna on March 25, 2014, at 12:22 p.m.
Police are searching for a third suspect in connection with a daytime burglary, car theft and assault last week on Merrill Road. Police said Christopher Girard, 30, is one of three men who were allegedly in the midst of a home burglary when they were interrupted by …
Tom Marjerison, left, and John Veilleux of Casco Bay Hockey Association at the site of a defunct outdoor ice rink on Hat Trick Drive in Falmouth. The association plans to build a new pavilion-style rink, if the Town Council grants the nonprofit group a lease for the land.

Falmouth ice arena directors wary of competition from new rink

By Ben McCanna on March 19, 2014, at 3:06 p.m.
A $1.3 million plan to add a new ice hockey rink on Hat Trick Drive is gaining momentum, but the effort has also generated increased scrutiny from operators of the town’s existing skating rink. On March 13, the board of directors of Falmouth Family Ice sent a …

Falmouth schools, teachers union agree on three-year contract

By Ben McCanna on March 19, 2014, at 2:50 p.m.
The teachers’ union and School Board have reached an agreement on a three-year contract that includes wage increases for each year. The contract, which was formalized on March 13, will add an estimated $830,000 to the roughly $30 million School Department budget. About $270,000 of the increase …

Falmouth Police Department makes case for adding detective to sort through evidence

By Ben McCanna on March 19, 2014, at 10:40 a.m.
The Falmouth Police Department hopes to add another detective to its workforce, but the proposal isn’t necessarily a response to increased crime. Rather, the new detective would help sort out evidence. Security cameras and other digital devices have increased the solvability of crimes, according to Lt. John …
Emmanuel Caulk

Portland school chief proposes $4.1M budget increase, 3.7 percent tax hike

By Ben McCanna on March 12, 2014, at 7:58 a.m.
A proposed school budget for fiscal year 2015 calls for a nearly 4 percent increase in spending and no cuts to staff positions. Portland Public Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk presented his proposed $102.3 million budget to the School Board on Tuesday night at Casco Bay High School, …
Crew leader Dave Baker (from left), Andrew Coughlin, and Eric Lunn of Falmouth's Public Works Department fill potholes Monday on U.S. Route 1.

Brutal Maine winter paves way for challenging pothole season

By Ben McCanna on March 05, 2014, at 9:21 a.m.
FALMOUTH | It may be difficult to reconcile against the backdrop of this week’s arctic temperatures, but mud season is upon us. And with the change of seasons comes the annual arrival of potholes. It has been a tough winter, one that introduced “polar vortex” to the national lexicon …
Benjamin E. LaMontagne

Community mourns Cheverus student who died after oral surgery; questions linger over sudden death

By Ben McCanna on March 04, 2014, at 11:48 a.m.
PORTLAND | It could take several weeks before the state’s medical examiner determines the cause behind the sudden death of a Cheverus High School student last month. Benjamin E. LaMontagne, 18, died Feb. 22 at his home on Long Island. About 1,000 mourners attended his funeral Friday, Feb. 28, …
Stephen Betters, 58, of Portland has gained international attention for going pink and turning a losing bet into a fundraising effort for Barbara Bush Childrens' Hospital.

Portland biker turns losing football bet into fundraising effort, goes viral with pink beard

By Ben McCanna on Feb. 21, 2014, at 2:55 p.m.
You don’t back out of a bet with a biker club, but you can improve on it. In January, Stephen Betters felt so strongly the New England Patriots would beat the Denver Broncos, he promised members of the Combat Vets Motorcycle Association in Bangor that he would …
Kelly Hansen, right, lead singer of rock band Foreigner, is accompanied by the Deering High School chorus in a performance of the band's 1984 hit song "I Wanna Know What Love Is" during a sold-out show Tuesday, Feb. 18, at the State Theatre in Portland.

‘At the age of 18, I sang with Foreigner': Portland teens relish chance to perform with rock stars

By Ben McCanna on Feb. 19, 2014, at 12:45 p.m.
During its 38-year history, rock band Foreigner has cycled through dozens of members. On Tuesday night, the group briefly gained another 24 when the Deering High School chorus joined their ranks for a sold-out show at the State Theatre. John Lappen, head of marketing for Foreigner, said …
Falmouth High School student Sarah Caldwell, who helped to raise money and awareness for ALS research, was named one of Maine's Prudential Spirit of Community Award winners.

Falmouth teen who lost father to Lou Gehrig’s Disease awarded for activism

By Ben McCanna on Feb. 19, 2014, at 11:31 a.m.
Earlier this month, when Falmouth High School junior Sarah Caldwell was told to report to the principal’s office, two possibilities ran through her mind. “This is either really good or really bad,” she recalled. The news was good. Caldwell learned on Feb. 10 that she is one …
Portland Public Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk addresses a modest crowd Thursday at King Middle School during the district's first town hall-style budget meeting.

Public slow to embrace Portland’s new school budget approach

By Ben McCanna on Feb. 05, 2014, at 11:38 a.m.
The School Department’s unprecedented effort to solicit budget advice from the public was met with a middling response, but the superintendent is undaunted. On Thursday, about a dozen city residents met with local politicians and school teachers, administrators and board members at King Middle School for a …
Geoff Bruno, a candidate for superintendent of Falmouth Schools, answers questions during a meet-and-greet session with residents Wednesday, Jan. 29, in the Falmouth Elementary School library.

Falmouth schools down to one finalist for superintendent job

By Ben McCanna on Feb. 05, 2014, at 11:14 a.m.
The School Board could reach a decision next week on whether to hire it’s only finalist for superintendent. School Board Chairman Andrew Kinley said Tuesday that no date has been set to discuss Geoff Bruno’s candidacy. “Right now we’re moving as quick as we can to take …
Workers at ecomaine sort recyclable materials at the plant in Portland.

Southern Maine towns to share $2.9 million in waste disposal savings, but money won’t last

By Ben McCanna on Feb. 05, 2014, at 8:55 a.m.
PORTLAND | Easy come, easy go. That’s the assessment from several area municipal managers regarding a projected windfall of savings from the regional trash service, ecomaine. Those savings will likely be used to offset proposed cuts in state revenue sharing. Last month, ecomaine’s directors voted unanimously to eliminate assessment …
Blair Currier, Portland Public Schools' local food specialist, stirs soup with an immersion blender Monday at the district's Central Kitchen. Currier was recently honored by the School Board for serving 65,000 pounds of local foods to elementary students last year. This year, the kitchen is on track to double the amount.

Farm-to-school: Portland on pace to double amount of local produce, meats served in schools

By Ben McCanna on Jan. 29, 2014, at 1:13 p.m.
While high-end restaurants on the peninsula clamor for farm-to-table cred, a lesser-known kitchen on the city’s outskirts may be poised to outdo them. Call it the farm-to-school movement. In an industrial lot off Riverside Street sits Portland Public Schools’ Central Kitchen. There, a dozen kitchen employees scramble …

Falmouth residents criticize town plan to outsource assessing work

By Ben McCanna on Jan. 29, 2014, at 12:31 p.m.
Six residents and nearly all town councilors voiced skepticism during an hour-long discussion of a proposal to outsource Falmouth’s assessing services to Cumberland County on Monday. Nonetheless, the council voted 6-0 to authorize Town Manager Nathan Poore to negotiate a contract with the county. Regardless of the …

Hockey group proposes $1.3 million ice rink project in Falmouth

By Ben McCanna on Jan. 29, 2014, at 12:09 p.m.
A short meeting agenda turned into a long night for the Town Council on Monday when two items dominated discussion. First, a local hockey organization pitched a new ice rink on town-owned land. Then, the public sounded off on a proposal that would outsource the town’s assessing …
Kathy A. Vargas

Cleaner charged with stealing prescription drugs from elderly Falmouth client’s home

By Ben McCanna on Jan. 22, 2014, at 1:57 p.m.
A housecleaner was arrested Tuesday after allegedly stealing prescription drugs from an elderly client. Kathy A. Vargas, 45, of Portland, was charged with a felony count after she “stole various amounts of prescription medications,” according to a news release from Falmouth police. Vargas is owner of a …
Sarah Huling, an instructor for Circus Atlantic, dangles from silks during a demonstration of aerial acrobatics at the Portland YMCA. Circus Atlantic is a youth program recently started by the Circus Conservatory of America, which plans to soon announce the date of its opening on Thompson's Point.

Country’s first circus college, part of $100 million Portland development, quietly builds momentum toward launch

By Ben McCanna on Jan. 21, 2014, at 7:16 p.m.
The start date for a fledgling circus college on Thompson’s Point is still up in the air, but in some respects, the circus has already come to town. Several times a week, young students at Circus Atlantic learn how to juggle, tumble and swing through the air …
Griffin Kline

Former Falmouth firefighter indicted on arson charge

By Ben McCanna on Jan. 14, 2014, at 1:37 p.m.
PORTLAND | A former Falmouth part-time firefighter has been indicted for arson by a Cumberland County grand jury. Griffin Kline, 20, of Falmouth was indicted Friday, Jan. 10, on a single Class A felony charge, nearly two months after his arrest for allegedly setting two fires in Falmouth. Kline …