Mass. man charged with DUI in crash that kills woman from Portland

PALMER, Mass. (AP) -- A Massachusetts man is facing drunken driving charges for allegedly causing a Thanksgiving Day head-on crash that left a Maine woman dead.

A not guilty plea was entered on behalf of 24-year-old Joshua Lacroix of Ware at his arraignment Friday on charges including motor vehicle homicide while operating under the influence of alcohol. Lacroix was released but ordered not to drive and to remain alcohol and drug free.

Police say Lacroix was driving east on Route 20 in Wilbraham at about 1:45 a.m. on Thursday when he swerved into the westbound lane and struck a vehicle with five people in it. Back seat passenger, 27-year-old Raina Jensen of Portland, Maine, was not wearing a seat belt and died.

Lacroix told police he fell asleep and does not remember what happened.

United Way serves Thanksgiving meal to hundreds

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Approximately 500 people in Greater Portland benefitted from a Thanksgiving dinner hosted by the United Way.

That meal was gobbled up in the elegant dining room of The Portland Club. This is the fourth year in a row the United Way's been given use of the club for Thanksgiving. It is the 17th year the organization has hosted a dinner in the Portland area.

Local businesses and individuals donated food, and handled the cooking and serving chores, too. More than 150 Volunteers, many making this an annual tradition worked throughout the weeks prior to the event to ensure a warm, fresh and inviting experience. This year brought a few changes- including fresh potatoes replacing the instant variety, along with abundant fresh vegetables. More than 50 donated turkeys were carved; carvers began their work at 6:30am.

Tree ceremony kicks off Portland's holiday season

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- The showcase holiday tree in Maine's largest city is being lit up in a tree-lighting ceremony that marks the beginning of the holiday season.

The lights on the 50-foot Colorado blue spruce will be illuminated at 5:30 p.m. Friday in Portland's Monument Square.

The tree, which was donated anonymously by a family in Portland, will be lit up with 1,5000 environmentally friendly LED lights.

Early Thanksgiving for some

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Thanksgiving came early this year as some teens in the Learning Works program put their cooking skills to the test.

It was not officially Thanksgiving, but it sure did look and smell like it. The special guests at this feast were members of the local immigrant and refugee community who are learning english through one of Learning Works' programs. For some of them it was their first Thanksgiving experience.

For the teens cooking and serving them it was an opportunity to learn about their culture and teach them about ours at the same time.

"Everybody should celebrate it, a thankful day for everything. You have to be thankful for something and for some people who don't have what we have its always a great blessing for me to share it with somebody else", said Amanda Fielder, one of the teens helping out.

Christmas tree or not?

LEWISTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- As we head into the holidays, communities are grappling with what to call their signs of the season.

In Portland, the big tree in Monument Square is not referred to as a Christmas tree, but the giant spruce in downtown Lewiston is. The Portland tree is simply referred to the tree that signals the holiday season. When asked about the name officials with the tree's sponsor, Portland's Downtown District, had no comment.

In Lewiston, crews hauled a giant spruce down the city's streets to it's final destination at Dufrense Plaza where it will serve as the communities official Christmas tree, that's right Christmas tree. While some communities have shied away from the term, Lewiston officials are keeping their holiday tradition alive.

Deadline Extended- Funding for 2011 Martin Luther King Jr. Day Grants

Plan a community volunteer service projects commemorating Martin Luther King Day of Service on January 17, in your community. Successful applicants will receive $500 to help implement projects.
The MCCS challenge to communities all over Maine is to develop volunteer service projects that; unite community sectors in service, address a problem or condition that impacts quality of life for individuals or a community, and provides those who serve an opportunity to reflect on the link between their service, the problem, and the local implications for the community residents.

National Survivors of Suicide Day offers solace

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The holiday season can be a difficult one for those who lost a family member or friend to suicide.

As part of National Survivors of Suicide Day Portland's Center for Grieving Children held a day of support Saturday.

The event included a candle lighting and the sharing of names of those who have died by suicide.  

Organizers say sometimes family members just need to talk with someone.  Often they say people are embarrassed to talk about their loss because of the stigma around suicide.

To learn more about the Center for Grieving Children click here.