BELFAST (AP) – Officials say a Knox County jail guard is on leave following his arrest for alleged sex crimes involving girls.

Forty-three-year-old Ethan Columbia of Rockland faces two counts of unlawful sexual touching, assault and criminal restraint. He was freed on $1,000 cash bail last week.

Waldo County Sheriff’s Detective Jason Bosco say the charges stem from accusations made by 14- and 11-year-old sisters about conduct that happened in their home.

Columbia was romantically involved with the girls’ mother. Bosco says Columbia’s explanation was that the girls’ grandmother did not like him and may have put them up to the accusations.

EarthFirst! fights Maine project

AUGUSTA (AP) – A dozen protesters including a woman suspended 35 feet in the air are criticizing Plum Creek Timber Co.’s massive development plan for the Moosehead Lake region.

Maine EarthFirst! claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s demonstration outside the Augusta offices of the Land Use Regulation Commission, which is weighing the development proposal.

Meg Gilmartin, who was suspended atop a tepee-like wooden tripod, said the “destruction of the largest undeveloped area east of the Mississippi will not be tolerated.”

Seattle-based Plum Creek is proposing 975 house lots, two large resorts and protection of 430,000 acres in the Moosehead Lake region. LURC’s decision is expected by year’s end.

R.I. cop car yields hidden cocaine

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -Police in Providence, R.I., say an unmarked car that officers had been driving for several years came with a surprise – a half-pound of cocaine hidden behind the radio.

Deputy Police Chief Paul Kennedy says the Ford Taurus was confiscated from a drug dealer in 2000.

Kennedy says police do search for contraband in confiscated vehicles but sometimes they “miss stuff.”

Three packages of cocaine were found behind the dashboard about three weeks ago by a repairman who was cannibalizing the car for spare parts. Police estimated the stash would be worth almost $7,000 on the street.

Student skating USA for hunger

HANOVER, N.H. (AP) – A 21-year-old Dartmouth College student is skating across the country to raise money and awareness for global hunger.

Jack Sisson is raising funds for Action Against Hunger. He hopes to raise a total of $5,000 by the time he returns to school in the fall.

Sisson is traveling along a route based in part upon the Trans-Am, Grand Canyon Connector and Southern Tier routes. Starting in the East Coast, his trip has led him through Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. After Arizona and the Grand Canyon, he plans on arriving in San Diego between August 20 and 22nd.

AP-ES-08-13-08 1321EDT


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