Salvation Army hopes to raise $180K with Red Kettles



The Salvation Army kicked off its "Red Kettle" campaign Tuesday morning in order to raise money for less fortunate families to enjoy the holidays.

This year, the organization hopes to raise $180,000 by Christmas Eve, which is $40,000 more than last year, due to increased operating costs because more people are participating in Salvation Army programs.

As part of the Red Kettle campaign kick off, the Salvation Army handed out food baskets, complete with the ingredients for a Thanksgiving dinner, to families who applied for assistance.

Laura Fletcher of Westbrook has three kids: 18, 15, and 10 years old, respectively. She said she just started a new job, which recently decreased the benefits the company offers, including SNAP benefits.

No ice skating at Deering Oaks Park because of construction

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- If you drive by Deering Oaks Park, it's hard to miss the construction going on. Crews with bulldozers, excavators and dump trucks have been in the drained pond for the past few weeks, and they plan to be there through the winter.

They're removing the buildup of leaves and debris at the bottom of the pond, which is a couple of feet thick in some parts. They're also down a gravel base and concrete to build a road.

It will allow trucks to drive around more easily when the pond is drained for cleaning a couple of times per year. It will also help prevent erosion.

Thousands of Santas dash around the Maine Mall


, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Thousands of Santas dashed around the streets near the Maine Mall, before most people were just beginning to stir Sunday morning.

2,000 plus runners and walkers participated in the second Santa Hustle New England. Half half-marathoners dressed in Santa costumes set out at 7 a.m., and another wave of 5K runners started just 15 minutes later. The participants were provided all of Santa's essentials, a hat, beard and shirt. Many people took the look much farther with elaborate Christmas themed costumes.

The Santas were treated to free beer when they crossed the finish line.

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.

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.