A child soldier and a childhood hero

Good evening and happy Friday from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Tonight we meet a hero of the ‘67 Red Sox; two Mainers escape war in South Sudan; and the city council ain’t keen on giving the mayor a raise.

What we’re talking about

How the Flop Sox saved baseball in New England — BDN political editor and baseball umpire Robert Long reports on meeting a hero from his youth:

Rico Petrocelli threw out the first pitch at Hadlock Field on Thursday night, but it was a catch he made 50 years ago that changed my life.

Petrocelli, the shortstop for the Boston Red Sox, drifted back under a humpback liner by Rich Rollins of the Minnesota Twins to end the last game of the season, eliminating the Twins and securing an improbable American League pennant for the Sox…

Boston sports were different then. There was no Red Sox Nation. The Patriots were a sideshow act in a soon-to-be-defunct league. The Celtics were churning out NBA title banners, but no one paid much heed. And Bobby Orr was just beginning to make the Bruins big, bad and worth watching.

A raise for the mayor? Meh, say councilors — The city council is in no rush to act on Mayor Ethan Strimling’s request that it re-evaluate the $71,100 salary plus benefits he receives for a full-time position with no executive authority over city operations, the Press Herald’s Randy Billings reports. The council decided Thursday to put off any decision about the mayor’s salary for at least a year. Councilor Jill Duson suggested that the mayor’s salary should be brought into line with the minimum established in the City Charter of 150 percent of the area’s median income, or about $69,000. Councilor Belinda Ray suggested eliminating the job of the mayor’s assistant, who will make $69,000 in the next budget cycle, to pay for a waterfront manager.

Officers wanted — Must like hats and look good in blue. The Portland Police Department is offering $10,000 signing bonuses to help recruit cops and police dispatchers workers. According to a press release, new officers averaged an annual salary of $54,000 plus benefits last year. They need 10 people to start the police academy this August and four more to handle dispatch calls. Attention Millennials: you must complete five years of service to cash in. — Kathleen Pierce

How two Mainers escaped South Sudan’s civil war — BDN Portland’s Jake Bleiberg reports on two Maine men who were trapped by war and believe the United States can help bring peace:

In South Sudan, Peter Machar is a marked man.

Although many people in his adopted home in Maine might mistake the six thin scars running across his forehead for wrinkles, in the land where Machar once fought as a child soldier and then fled as a refugee they designate him as a member of the minority Nuer people.

Last summer, when he was caught in the country’s rekindled civil war, they marked him as a target for violence.

Missing man may be trying to walk to Canada — A Portland man with behavioral health problems who has been missing for weeks may be attempting to walk to Canada, police said. Benvindo Nzau, 39, was last seen by his roommate at their Washington Avenue home on April 20. He suffers from progressively deteriorating mental health and made an attempt to walk to the border in April. Anyone with information on Nzau is asked to call the Portland Police Department at 207-874-8575.

Taxi driver stabbed for ‘no apparent reason’ — A bit before 2 a.m. on Friday, police say Justin Kristiansen was leaving a Portland strip club in a cab when he attacked the 60-year-old driver with a knife, BDN’s Nick McCrea reports. The victim suffered knife wounds to his neck and hand. Police said they don’t yet know what motivated for the attack, but added that it seems to have happened for “no apparent reason.”

SPACE gallery needs an executive director — In other Portland job news, the avant-garde art venue on Congress Street just opened its search for an executive director and the art crowd is going wild. Since the fall when long-time head Nate May left SPACE, the gallery has been temporarily overseen by Portland’s poet laureate Gibson Fay-LeBlanc. Known for pushing boundaries in art, music and film, SPACE is looking for leader to take this “vibrant arts organization from its foundational roots into the next level of growth.” No word if the salary pays more than a Portland cop. The deadline to apply is June 5.— Kathleen Pierce

Gritty, grimey and graceful — Tonight is the city’s First Friday Art Walk. The Union of Maine Visual Arts is opening a street photography exhibit called “Grit, Grime & Grace” in the CTN gallery at 516 Congress St. It features work by street shooters Joanne Arnold, Nick Gervin and Colin Malakie. They say the show is “in response to the serious distortion of facts and the proliferation of half truths, outright fabrications, and falsehoods that have become so rampant in America today.” — Troy R. Bennett

Don’t do doggie discrimination — A dog-friendly solidarity march is planned for May 13 in Congress Square protesting proposed legislation in Quebec that might ban pitbulls or other specific dog breeds deemed dangerous. Organizers contend there’s no evidence that breed-specific laws reduce dog bites or attacks on people. The Quebec bill was put forward nearly a year after a dog, described at the time as a pitbull, killed a woman in Montreal. — Troy R. Bennett

Tweet of the day

From Bethan L. Evans:

The Big Idea

The largest outbreak in decades — Anti-vaccine activists have been targeting Minnesota’s Somali immigrant community. The result, The Washington Post’s Lena Sun reports, is the state’s largest measles outbreak in nearly 30 years.  

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Jake Bleiberg at jbleiberg@bangordailynews.com, or tweet @JZBleiberg.

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