Piscataquis investments yield high returns

Posted Feb. 16, 2010, at 8:45 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:05 p.m.

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — The Piscataquis County commissioners were told Tuesday that every dollar invested locally in the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council in 2009 brought about $45 in return through grants to the county.

The county was awarded 14 grants last year totaling $4,928,653, according to Thomas Kittredge, the council’s executive director. Meanwhile, the county contributed $100,000 and corporate contributions totaled $9,000, resulting in a ratio of about 45-to-1, he said. Historically, the ratio has been 10-to-1 but last year was a banner year, he told commissioners Tuesday.

“That sounds like a Ponzi scam,” Commissioner Tom Lizotte quipped Tuesday based on the high yield from the local investment. Joking aside, Lizotte said, “it’s a return on investments that I think is extraordinary.”

Kittredge said there are several pending grants in the pipeline, including four Environmental Protection Agency brownfields grants that, if awarded, would help the county establish a revolving loan fund to help private owners clean up contaminated sites; remove hazards from the former Maine Leathers site in Dover-Foxcroft; conduct an environmental assessment of former gasoline stations throughout the county; and remove asbestos and lead paint from the former Moosehead Manufacturing facility in Dover-Foxcroft.

Community Development Block Grants pending include one to help with the restoration of Bowerbank’s Historic Center School and for the conversion of a wing of the Monson Elementary School into a library.

In addition, the council has applied for a wood-to-energy grant to install a wood pellet system in the Dover-Foxcroft Municipal Building, a Public Utilities Commission Energy Efficient Block Grant to allow Greenville to install solar and wind power on the municipal building, and a recreation trail grant for a perimeter recreation trail in Greenville.

Kittredge said several more grants are being sought for housing improvements; construction of a new building for the Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District; facade and streetscape improvements in Monson; safety and building improvements for the former Moosehead Manufacturing plant, and funds to conduct an analysis of Dover-Foxcroft’s hydro facility located next to the plant.

“As you can see, we’re trying to do stuff throughout the county, both for the large towns and small towns, in trying to help everyone a little bit, at least,” Kittredge said.

The council is seeking a community development specialist to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Ken Woodbury. Twenty-four applicants from Piscataquis County, elsewhere in Maine and from out of state are being screened for the position, according to Kittredge.

“Our hope is to have one hired by the beginning of March,” he said.

Kittredge also noted the council has a new slate of officers. Brownville Town Manager Sophia Wilson is president, Union 60 Superintendent is vice president, and Dover-Foxcroft Town Manager Jack Clukey is secretary. Linda Gilbert, senior vice president of Camden National Bank continues her role as treasurer.

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