Portland's landlord registration system ready to go live

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- Portland is launching its rental housing registration process in the wake of a fatal fire last year that killed six people.
The city created a Housing Safety Office in June. The registration program requires landlords to register rental properties and pay $35 per unit by Jan. 1.
City Manager Jon Jennings says the registration will allow Portland to gather data on its rental housing stock. The city will use the information to build a database for inspectors.
Landlords can reduce the registration fee with discounts that are available for adhering to strict safety standards.


Ethan Strimling sworn in as Mayor of Portland

(NEWS CENTER) -- Portland's new mayor spent his first official day on the job after being sworn in this afternoon. It was a fairly brief ceremony with Ethan Strimling opting to give his inaugural address at his reception later this evening.

Ethan Strimling becomes just the second elected mayor in the city in more than 90-years. He beat out incumbent Michael Brennan back in November.

Strimling says priority number one is bringing the council together, which at times appeared very divided last year.

"We all represent different parts of the city and all of the city, so it's imperative we're all on the same page and rowing in the same direction", he said.

Portland city manager considering disciplinary action for "closed" sign at fire station

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Portland City Manager Jon Jennings is looking into taking disciplinary action after a "closed" sign was put up in front of the Munjoy Hill fire station.

It's unclear who put up the sign, but it appeared after an overnight ambulance was taken out of commission to cut overtime costs.

The sign has been removed and the ambulance is operating again, but some firefighters, including a union representative, said not using that ambulance put the public's safety at risk.

Jennings said that's not true. He said the sign made it look like the whole station was shutting down. Now he's looking into all possible options, including taking disciplinary action.

He's asked the fire chief to look into what happened and bring a report to him.

Jennings said whoever was responsible for the sign should've gone to him directly.

All clear after suspicious package found at 100 Middle Street

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- 100 Middle Street in Portland was evacuated Monday morning after a suspicious package was found in the lobby of the building, police say. The street is now back open.

According to police the suspicious device has been inspected and is not explosive. Police say the package was not just something someone left behind, but intentionally presented as a potential threat.

This building holds several offices such as various law firms, the secret service and homeland security.

Muslims in Portland denounce ISIS, terrorism

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Muslims in Portland want people to know that Islam is a peaceful religion and not associated with ISIS. Dozens of demonstrators marched down Congress Street Thursday afternoon to make their message known. The march also fell on a holy day for Muslims.

After the attacks in Paris and other recent terrorist attacks, the group is denouncing any type of killing in the name of Islam.

"No for ISIS, yes for peace," they chanted as they walked.

As they marched, they carried the American flag alongside Iraq's flag, a visual representation of their message.

The demonstrators were part of the Iraqi community in Portland. They said anyone who kills or commits a terrorist act, such as members of ISIS, is not a Muslim.

Portland officials unveil new program to tackle opiate epidemic

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Officials in Portland are rolling out a new program to tackle the city's opiate epidemic. They announced plans to create the Law Enforcement Addiction Advocacy Program, or LEAAP, program. It's modeled on an initiative in Seattle, Wash.

The three main goals of LEAAP are to educate people about drug use and addiction, raise community awareness and help addicts find treatments.

"We're trying to step away from the conference table and get on the street," Police Chief Michael Sauschuck said.

The city's Substance Abuse Committee, local and state officials, and organizations in Portland that focus on addiction treatment and recovery have been working for months to develop the program.

College student attaches free coats to light poles

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - When Gabby Kaper walked out into the cold air after finishing up classes for the day, she wanted to do something to help people keep warm.

It was a unique approach that caught the attention of people making their way through the Congress Square area of Portland. Winter coats zipped and buttoned up to light poles. Each of them free for the taking for anyone who needed one.

Kaper attached the coats to five different poles. It was actually a simple gesture. She went to a local Goodwill Store on dollar day, where a lot of items cost just a dollar. She found the five heaviest coats and bought them for a total cost of $5.00.