Bear causes stir with tour through Mass. town ATHOL, Mass. (AP) — A black bear has caused a stir in Athol after taking a tour through downtown.The Athol Daily News reports that the bear was eventually tranquilized Thursday by Environmental Police. State officials say the animal is recovering in an undisclosed location and will be released back into the wild.But the bear’s got an eventful trip under its belt.The paper reports that the bear attracted a crowd after wandering through downtown, then climbing a tree in a bank parking lot. Environmental police coaxed the bear down, and it ran behind the Daily News building and climbed another tree.It was there that Environmental Police were able to tranquilize the bear with a dart. They then removed the animal in a pickup. Maine gets $200,000 to boost manufacturing jobs AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Republican Gov. Paul LePage said the U.S. Department of Commerce has awarded $200,000 to a program designed to create jobs in northern Maine.The governor said in a statement on Thursday that the Northern Maine Development Commission from Caribou received the grant for the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership program.The governor’s office says IMCP is a federal program designed to help bring manufacturing jobs back to cities. In Maine, the grant will be used to advance the manufacturing of biomass heating appliances in the northern part of the state with the aim of creating new jobs. Maine state employees kick off charity drive AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine state employees and retirees are launching their annual campaign to raise money for community organizations.Republican Gov. Paul LePage is helping kick off the 34th annual Maine State Employees’ Combined Charitable Appeal at an event at the State House today.LePage will be joined by Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Patricia Aho, who is leading this year’s campaign. Representatives from the Bread of Life Ministries and the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence were also expected to attend.The governor’s office says state workers and retirees contributed $300,000 to organizations through one-time gifts or schedule payroll or retirement reductions. The campaign has raised $6 million over 33 years. Maine group rates lawmakers on conservation issues AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A Maine conservation group has graded state lawmakers based on their votes on key environmental bills this session.Maine Conservation Voters released their 27th annual scorecard on Thursday.Lawmakers were graded on seven issues including wind power, paint recycling and genetically-modified food labeling.Sixty-nine representatives and 13 senators received a perfect score from the group with seven pro-environment votes. No lawmakers voted against conservation on all seven issues.Lawmakers are also given a lifetime rating and the group says that several GOP lawmakers improved their overall scores this year.Maine Conservation Voters is sending the report card to more than 13,000 Maine homes so residents can see how their representatives voted this session. Finalists named in Maine lobster chef competition PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Four chefs have been named finalists in this year’s Maine Lobster Chef of the Year competition.The Convention and Visitors Bureau in Portland said chef Jon Gaboric from Natalie’s in Camden, Shanna O’Hea from the Kennebunk Inn, Brandon Blethen from Robert’s Maine Grill in Kittery and Chris Long from Natalie’s in Camden will compete for the title.The winner will be crowned on Oct. 24 at the Harvest on the Harbor food festival in Portland.Four chefs have also been named finalists in the “Top of the Crop: Maine’s Best Farm to Table” competition. That winner will be crowned Oct. 25 at the food festival. Vt. Health Department touting car seat safety RUTLAND, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Health Department and the state’s emergency medical technicians are urging parents and others to learn the proper way to use child car seats.On Sept. 21, 83 cars were inspected by car seat technicians and all but two of the car seats were improperly installed, defective, or unused. In some cases, the child was not in a car seat at all, but instead sitting with an adult seatbelt draped over their lap.The Health Department’s is working with emergency medical technicians and law enforcement and fire safety partners to check for correct and safe usage of child car seats.Experts say children should not use seat belts until they are 4-foot 9-inches tall, and state law requires that all children up to age 8 be properly restrained. Vt. trees show color in higher elevations MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Fall has officially arrived in Vermont with leaves turning vibrant colors in the higher elevations.The Green Mountain National Forest said the fall colors are expected to be at their peak in the next couple of weeks in the higher spots.Vermont has the highest percentage of maple trees in New England, which contribute to the array of color from reds to oranges that the state is known for.The Vermont Department of Tourism offers leaf peepers online weekly foliage reports and a foliage forecaster as well as suggestions for scenic drives.