May 27, 2018
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Former Rockland development director hired to run Many Flags

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — Audrey Lovering, whose unexpected departure last year as Rockland’s Community Development director drew considerable scrutiny, has been tapped to be the first executive director of Many Flags, One Community, which aims to combine secondary education with college and technical training for midcoast students.

The Many Flags board met with Lovering on Thursday evening and agreed to offer her the post, said board Chairman Loren Andrews.

Lovering has been working as a consultant with businessman Martin Cates of Martincates Inc. of Rockland. Andrews said Many Flags will get the expertise of both Lovering and Cates.

“This is a great two-for-one-deal,” Andrews said Friday, citing Lovering’s experience and understanding of the area.

“With her experience. she can hit the ground sprinting, not just running,” Andrews said.

Andrews said a six-month contract for Lovering has not been signed, so he wanted to wait to say how she would be paid.

She could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.

Many Flags’ next goals are to work on common curriculum and scheduling form the schools in the region. He said that eventually the goal is to have a facility where high school, college, technical education and work training can be on one campus.

Andrews noted this is not on the nearby radar, however, because there is no money for that facility in the state budget.

Many Flags also will be focusing, Andrews said, on the $348,100 Promise Neighborhoods grant, which Many Flags and Penquis received to help design a plan to provide social, health and family services within the participating schools. At the completion of the 12-month planning grant period, Many Flags/One Community and Penquis can apply for a U.S. Department of Education implementation grant of up to $6 million per year to run for three to five years.

Andrews called the grant exciting, noting that other recipients have been large cities such as Boston, rather than rural areas.

“With this, we can reach out and help children from birth throughout their lives,” Andrews said.

Lovering worked as Rockland’s community development director for 16 months when she resigned and received a severance that totaled about $32,000. The dismissal generated considerable questions from the public and praise for the work Lovering had done for the city. City Manager James L. Smith would not disclose what led to Lovering’s departure, saying that state law protects the confidentiality of such information.

There was a disagreement, however, between Smith and Lovering on how to spend state Community Development Block Grant funds on the downtown, one source told the Bangor Daily News. Part of the dispute was about whether Lovering provided Smith with accurate information on whether the cost of relocating light poles downtown could be covered by a grant the city received to upgrade sidewalks and pedestrian crosswalks on Main Street.

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