Amtrak Downeaster prepares for hundreds more travelers


PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --The Amtrak Downeaster added an extra car to its train service to accommodate for the hundreds more passengers it expects to have during the holiday season.

"People are usually in good spirits. There's a little bit of stress around the holidays," said Patricia Quinn, the executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority.

Quinn said she expects that there will be between 1800 and 2000 people travelling on the Downeaster every day from Wednesday to Sunday surrounding Thanksgiving. She said normally, there are about 1300 travelers per day.

Quinn said the service added an extra car that contains about 70 seats to make more room for those trying to get to their holiday destination.

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Portland landlord charged with manslaughter due back in court Friday


PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Gregory Nisbet, the owner of an apartment house in Portland where six tenants died in a fire, is returning to court Friday.

Back in late July, Nisbet entered not guilty pleas to six counts of manslaughter and other charges at the Cumberland County Superior Court. Those indictments were handed down earlier in the month after plea negotiations fell through.

The manslaughter charges stated that Nisbet "did recklessly, or with criminal negligence, cause the death of another human being." The life safety violations are for "secondary means of escape; detection alarm and communications systems; stairways; and smoke alarms." The smoke alarms in the duplex had the batteries taken out, or were not working, said the Fire Marshal's office.

Portland man charged in two house break-ins


PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Portland police have charged Michael Schwartz, 36, of Portland with two daytime residential burglaries.

Schwartz, was arrested Thursday on a probation violation charge. Police said he is linked to burglaries occurring over the previous two weeks.

Police charged Schwartz with breaking into a house on Carroll Street on Nov. 9 and on Emery Street on Oct. 30. In both cases, the burglar entered though a basement or first-floor window. Schwartz allegedly stole jewelry, electronics and cash.

Police expect to file additional charges and say other people suspected of selling the stolen items have been identified and will be charged.

Schwartz is being held on $5,000 bail at Cumberland County Jail in Portland.

Pratt Abbott is latest Nova Star vendor to file a claim


PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Westbrook-based laundry service provider Pratt Abbott says the operator of the Nova Star ferry owes it $262,000.

The Portland Press Herald reports that the charges are for unpaid cleaning bills and for the thousands of Pratt Abbott's bed sheets and towels that remain aboard the ship, which is anchored in Portland Harbor under seizure by the U.S. Marshal's Service.

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Portland rental vacancy rates "unhealthy"


PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- There is a growing gap between what Portland citizens can afford to rent and what apartments are actually available, and many people are moving farther out of the city to find an affordable place to live.

In Portland, the rental vacancy rate is between zero and two percent, according to Mark Adelson, the executive director of the Portland Housing Authority. He said a "healthy" rate for a city is between five and 10 percent.

In Bangor, the latest data from the U.S. census says the rental vacancy rate is 4.5, while in the entire state it was 7.2.

But numbers from the city of Portland indicate that a person who makes the median income cannot afford what the median apartment costs.

Portland police investigate shooting and stabbing in Old Port



PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --
For the second time in 6-months gunshots rang out in Portland's Old Port section.

Police say this shooting, and the one in May the claimed the life of a young man, are not connected. The incident early this morning sent one person to the hospital with a gunshot wound. Another checked himself into the hospital with stab wounds.

It happened in the area of Market and Fore Streets. Police were called around 12:30am to reports of a shooting.

When they arrived, they found a 22-year old man from Westbrook with a gunshot wound. A second victim, a 23-year old man also from Westbrook, was being treated at the hospital for stab wounds. Investigators say none of the injuries were life-threatening.

Price of gas in Maine drops about a penny


PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- The average retail price of gasoline has fallen nearly a penny per gallon in the past week.
    
GasBuddy's daily survey of 1,228 gas outlets in Maine says prices are averaging $2.22 per gallon. The national average has fallen 5 cents per gallon in the past week to $2.16 per gallon.
    
Maine gas was about 75 cents more expensive per gallon at this time last year, and it was also 1.7 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average dipped 11.4 cents per gallon during the last month and is about 72 cents less than a year ago.