January 17, 2018
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VISTA volunteer to use Internet to boost Milo

By Diana Bowley, BDN Staff

MILO, Maine — An AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer working through a partnership between the University of Maine and the town of Milo hopes to raise the aspirations of youth, energize residents to enhance their skills and promote the town through the Internet.

Andrew Barnes, a volunteer with the national service program designed specifically to fight poverty, provided selectmen last week with an update of his activities.

“It’s a very exciting project,” Barnes told selectmen Tuesday. “It’s an ongoing process how we develop this partnership.”

Barnes, who will reside in Milo until August, said he intends to help capture the unique attributes and stories of people in the community, which will help promote the town’s economic and community assets. His approach will involve raising the college aspirations of youth in the community, cultural and community enrichment and resource development.

For the former, Barnes said he plans to work to expand an existing popular University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service 4-H program in Milo to grades three through six in LaGrange and Brownville. He hopes to engage the children in online publishing, photography, and blogging.

To help raise aspirations, Barnes said he will assist Penquis Valley High School students in the college application process and will provide them with tips on how to do personal essays. Working with school officials, Barnes would invite former Penquis students, who are either in college or have graduated, to return home to help work with the students.

To help promote the town’s history, Barnes said he would enlist the help of students to work with the Milo Historical Society to create oral histories of the town’s oldest residents.

As for resource development, Barnes said he would work to improve the town’s online infrastructure and would help the town find a brand of ownership.

“Milo can be a brand in itself,” Barnes told selectmen.

In addition, Barnes said he would investigate a municipal Wi-Fi network that would allow Internet access throughout the town; bring together community organizations to get them engaged; work to help the town prioritize its tourism work force opportunities; and investigate grants to achieve the goals set by his work plan.

Milo Town Manager Jeff Gahagan said he was pleased with the project. “I think this is a great partnership and it’s off to a great start,” he said Tuesday.

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