April 26, 2018
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Towns to form economic growth board

By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff

A six-member advisory committee will plan for the use of $75,000 allotted to it by the temporary shutdown of Millinocket’s paper mill to further develop the Katahdin region’s economy.

Mark Scally and David Dickey, chairmen, respectively, of the East Millinocket and Medway boards of selectmen, and Wallace Paul, Millinocket Town Council chairman, agreed Tuesday to form the committee. They seek residents for three more posts, Scally said.

East Millinocket and Medway administrative assistants Shirley Tapley and Kathy Lee, and Millinocket Town Manager Eugene Conlogue, will serve as ex-officio members, Scally said.

Tuesday was the fledgling committee’s organizational meeting.

“We accomplished a number of things in a short period of time,” Conlogue said Wednesday. “We dug the hole for the foundation. Now the next step is to build the foundation.”

John Richardson, head of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, urged the committee’s creation. He met Dec. 4 with area officials after acrimony arose among Katahdin officials in October over $75,000 that Brookfield Renewable Power Inc. paid Millinocket as compensation for the Brookfield-owned mill’s Sept. 2 shutdown.

The annual payment was to go to the economic development body serving the Katahdin region. Millinocket, the other towns claimed, got the designation and funds without their knowledge.

Richardson said regional economic efforts are most likely to get economic aid.

Town governing boards will decide the money’s use, Scally said.

Town leaders have supported using the money for a multiuse recreational bridge outside Millinocket to help create a regional ATV trail network that would develop tourism during warm seasons. Creating a public utility to attract more regional business with lower electric rates also is being considered.

“Let’s put the organization in place. Then we will talk about what we will do with the money because we have to have the organization in place before they [DECD] will release the money,” Scally said.

The committee will meet at 2 p.m. Jan. 12, at East Millinocket’s town office.

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