High-speed ferry ends service
PORTLAND, Maine — A high-speed ferry that has run between Maine and Nova Scotia for more than a decade is discontinuing service because the operation is no longer financially viable.
Bay Ferries Ltd. announced Friday that it is ending the seasonal service after being told by Nova Scotia officials this week that government support would not be available for the 2010 season.
CEO Mark MacDonald says the company has been hurting from the weak economy, a strong Canadian dollar and new U.S. passport rules. Passenger counts this year were down 10 percent from 2008.
Bay Ferries operated The Cat from Bar Harbor and Portland to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. The ferry operated seasonally from late May to October, coinciding with Maine's tourist season.
The 320-foot catamaran can travel at speeds up to 40 knots.
CHP: No alcohol in teen crash
SONOMA, Calif. — Authorities say a 19-year-old driver who plowed into a minivan, killing a family of four, did not have alcohol in his system at the time of the crash.
California Highway Patrol officials also said Thursday they had found no evidence that Steven Culbertson had been at a bar prior to the Nov. 29 crash, despite initial reports he had been seen at one.
Authorities say the teen was going 70 mph to 90 mph when his car ran a red light and hit the minivan carrying Johnathan and Susan Maloney and their two young children.
They say there was no indication Mr. Culbertson had tried to brake. He later died at the hospital.
Teacher sentenced for lewd conduct
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — An Idaho middle school teacher who pleaded guilty to two felony counts of lewd conduct with a 14-year-old student has been sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Kari Jo Atkinson, 28, was sentenced Thursday in 7th District Court and must spend at least two years in prison before becoming eligible for parole.
The Post Register reported that the former Sandcreek Middle School teacher asked for probation so she could continue counseling and remain with her family and two daughters, ages 4 and 6.
But in deciding on the sentence, Judge Jon S. Shindurling said teachers had a special responsibility to protect children.
Crews shoring up crumbling cliff
PACIFICA, Calif. — Construction crews are working to shore up a Northern California bluff where a seaside apartment building is at risk of sliding into the ocean.
The 12-unit building in Pacifica, about 10 miles south of San Francisco, has been evacuated. It now stands about 10 feet from the edge of the cliff.
Pacifica's chief building official, Doug Rider, said a crane was scheduled to position large boulders at the base of the bluff Friday to help stabilize it.
Recent storms have saturated the cliff with water. Large chunks of it plunged into the ocean on Thursday, forcing the apartment building's residents to leave.
Two buildings nearby are being monitored. A wave-deflecting barrier was erected under them last spring.
No charges expected in tour bus crash
ALBERT LEA, Minn. — Prosecutors in Minnesota have reviewed the evidence from a fatal tour bus crash a month ago and decided not to file criminal charges.
Freeborn County Attorney Craig Nelson said the evidence shows the bus driver developed sudden, unforeseen internal bleeding, passed out behind the wheel and crashed the bus.
He said Friday that no charges will be filed against the driver, 52-year-old Edwin Erickson of Elgin.
The State Patrol reports that on Nov. 18 the bus was west of Austin on Interstate 90 when it crossed the centerline, hit a ditch and rolled on its right side.
Two people were killed and 20 wounded as Mr. Erickson drove a group of mostly older passengers home from a day trip to an Iowa casino.
Some schools drop driver's education
MIAMI — Some high schools across the country are leaving driver's education by the side of the road.
In recent years, school systems have been trying to save money by cutting back on driver instruction during the school day. Some are eliminating driver's ed altogether.
That leaves it up to parents to teach their children themselves or send them to commercial driving schools.
But not all parents can afford private classes or teach their youngsters to drive. That worries some educators because motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens.
• From wire dispatches and staff reports