Northern Maine Community College to mark 50th birthday

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff
Posted June 13, 2011, at 7:16 p.m.

PRESQUE ISLE – Since the start of the spring semester in January, staff and students at Northern Maine Community College have been counting the days until a special event.

On Friday, that day will come.

A significant crowd is expected to gather at the Presque Isle college Friday to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of NMCC. Five decades ago, then Maine Gov. John H. Reed signed a bill into law creating the higher education institution.

Friday’s special luncheon event also will mark the 25th anniversary of the founding of Leaders Encouraging Aroostook Development, an economic development organization made up of County business leaders and community volunteers. The college served as the base of operations for LEAD when it was first established.

Festivities will get under way at 11 a.m. in the Edmunds Library with a reception hosted by LEAD to celebrate the organization’s 25th anniversary. In addition to current and former state lawmakers and college officials, attendees will include current and former LEAD members and other invited guests.

A luncheon will begin at noon in the Edmunds Conference Center at NMCC. Former and current legislators who have served Aroostook County in the past half-century will be recognized by the County and college leaders.

“As we mark the date 50 years ago that another outstanding County public servant, Fort Fairfield native and former Gov. John Reed, signed the bill into law that created NMCC, we wanted to take a moment to say thank you to those individuals who have so capably represented our area in the Legislature,” explained Tim Crowley, president of NMCC. “As a public institution of higher learning, our development has been directly and positively impacted by the efforts of these individuals over the years.”

The advocacy of area lawmakers over the years in supporting the mission and work of NMCC is visible across the college campus. Several buildings are named after prominent elected officials from the region, including the Reed Dining Commons, named after former Gov. John Reed); Snow Hall, for former State Sen. Paris J. Snow; Christie Hall, for former State Rep. Augusta K. Christie; Edmunds Building, for former State Sen. E. Perrin Edmunds; and the Martin Building, for former House Speaker and long-serving Aroostook lawmaker John L. Martin.

During the NMCC luncheon, former state Sen. Floyd L. Harding and former state Rep. Harold L. ‘Bud’ Stewart, both of Presque Isle, will be recognized for their outstanding efforts 50 years ago in ensuring the creation of NMCC.

Stewart, who represented Presque Isle in the Legislature during the 1961-1962 session, was a key supporter of the bill to create a vocational school in Aroostook County.

Harding was one of the key members of a committee of local citizens working to develop a vocational school in Presque Isle on the site of the former Army Air Base. The vision of the group was to use existing vacated military facilities to serve as learning spaces for the various trades and barracks to house residential students.

Although not a member of the Legislature at the time, Harding’s community activism toward this and other endeavors led him to run successfully for the state Senate in 1964. He represented central Aroostook County in that body in the 1965-66 legislative session, as well as in the 1967-68 and 1971-72 sessions.

Both Stewart and Harding are considered among the “founders” of NMCC and continued to support the institution throughout their time in elected office and afterward. The two former lawmakers will be honored with bronze plaques recognizing their contributions that will hang in the Edmunds Building near a similar plaque honoring the late Sen. E. Perrin Edmunds.

LEAD President Virginia Joles said the joint anniversary with NMCC will give the organization a chance to honor all of those who have contributed to the success of the economic development engine.

For information on the LEAD 25th Anniversary or NMCC 50th Anniversary, community members are encouraged to contact event organizers at 768-2808 or email info@nmcc.edu.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/06/13/news/aroostook/northern-maine-community-college-to-mark-50th-birthday/ printed on September 20, 2014