Nova Star off to strong start in 2015

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- After underperforming in its first year in 2014, the Nova Star is off to a good start this summer. Passenger sales for the cruise ferry, which operates daily between Portland and Nova Scotia, are up 26 percent this June over last June.

The company attributes the success so far to a better marketing strategy this year. It has been working to get the word out throughout New England about the cruise.

This year, the company's seen return passengers, but also some new faces hoping to experience the cruise for the first time.

The Nova Star had about 8,500 passengers this June, compared to a year ago when it had around 6,700. The company is on track to meet or exceed its goal of 80,000 passengers for the season, but it's still much less than the 100,000-passenger target from last year.

Portland to remove Spring Street median

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The city of Portland will begin removing the median on Middle and Spring Streets next week.

Construction work will begin on Monday near the Nickelodeon Cinemas; the work will progress toward High Street. After the median is removed, the lanes will stay about the same size, but the sidewalk on both streets will widen.

Anyone driving in the area should know that traffic patterns may change and lane closures are expected. The construction project is expected to take about four weeks.

Longfellow House featuring new Revolutionary War exhibits

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Now through Aug. 2, Portland's historic Longfellow House is offering a few new tours, one of which focuses on the Longfellow family's involvement in the Revolutionary War.

There are currently two new exhibits on display. One has items that belonged to Longfellow's grandfather, including a sword and hand written letters. The other includes a variety of letters and signatures from some of our nation's most well known figures -- like John Hancock and Samuel Adams. It also has a copy of one of the first published versions of the Declaration of Independence, one of only 26 in existence. The exhibits give people of all ages a chance to explore a piece of Portland's past.

Bees swarming out of Children's Museum and Theatre

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- There might be havoc in the live bee exhibit at the Children's Museum and Theatre of Maine.

The museum has a live bee exhibit that has been around for about 10 years. Now, a swarm of bees has taken over the side of the museum on the outside. The museum believe a second queen bee has hatched and instead of staging a coup, has left to create her own colony.

Anita LaChance selected to serve as Portland's Deputy City Manager

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Incoming Portland City Manager Jon Jennings has selected Anita LaChance to serve as his Deputy City Manager.

LaChance currently serves as Acting Deputy City Manager alongside Acting City Manager Michael Sauschuck.

If approved, LaChance would earn an annual salary of $136,656 starting July 13, 2015.

"I have known Anita for a long time and have always been impressed with her commitment and passion for the City of Portland," said Jon Jennings. "Anita knows Portland's city government inside and out. Her depth and institutional knowledge of the various city departments makes her an excellent choice for this position."

Gov. LePage officially endorses Chris Christie for President

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Governor Paul LePage officially endorsed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for president Wednesday morning at Becky's Diner in Portland.

Christie announced his run for president Tuesday in his home state of New Jersey.

At Becky's Diner, both LePage and Christie took questions from the press while simultaneously supporting each other. LePage began his speech introducing Christie by mentioning how supportive Christie has been over the years.

"Christie is the real deal," LePage said, endorsing the New Jersey governor for president right before Christie took the podium.

Portland looks to private contributions for GA funding

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Portland city leaders are looking for ways to fund general assistance for asylum seekers now that state funding for those individuals has been taken away.

It will cost an additional $2.4 million to cover nearly 900 asylum seekers and some leaders hope to come up with a way to accept contributions from people, businesses and organizations.

"This is far from an ideal circumstance. What the federal government is doing is insufficient, having a hostile reception at the governor's office is not helpful, but we can make it work if we work together," said Councilor John Hinck.