June 21, 2018
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People in Katahdin region react to Powerball win of former East Millinocket resident

By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff

EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — Leonard Jacobs would buy himself a new motorcycle, and Joseph C. Arsenault Sr. would make sure that his family’s needs were met.

Rick Russell would visit the grave of his girlfriend’s father, a soldier killed during World War II, in Belgium. He wouldn’t pay for the repair of Schenck High School’s roof, but Harold Plourde and several students there said they would.

The talk of the Katahdin region on Thursday was how former East Millinocket resident Gloria Mackenzie, an 84-year-old woman from Zephyrhills, Fla., won the largest single Powerball jackpot in American lottery history. Florida lottery officials announced her claiming of the winning ticket on Wednesday.

A lot of people in this part of Maine know how they would spend $370.8 million if they won.

“The first thing I would probably do is buy a new car,” Plourde, a Millinocket resident, said Thursday, “call all the kids and give them a great big bundle, put a new roof on the school down here, and probably buy a brand new rubbish truck.”

His family operates Plourde’s Trucking of Millinocket, he said.

Common themes ran through the thoughts of everyone interviewed on Thursday when they were asked how they would spend the money. The dreams they said they would indulge with such prodigious wealth were modest and altruistic: Family, friends and community would be cared for, and the $1.87 million needed to fix the high school roof would be donated.

Several people said they knew the MacKenzies and were proud and pleased that Katahdin region residents had won the Powerball prize. They said the MacKenzie family, which includes a Schenck High teacher and former town selectman, were good, hardworking people and deserving of such fantastic luck.

Everybody said they couldn’t imagine what cashing in the winning ticket would feel like — but they’d sure like to find out.

Arsenault said he would make sure his three boys got a share of the wealth. After, the Millinocket resident said he and his wife would go to Alaska.

“We haven’t been there yet. We have been across country twice. We’d buy a couple of ATVs. Have a good time,” the 80-year-old Millinocket resident said.

Russell, a Millinocket resident, said his girlfriend has never visited the grave of her father, who was killed during the Battle of the Bulge, and he would love to grant her that opportunity.

And he’d get in some golf. Europe, Russell said, has many fine courses.

“As far as the State of Maine getting a piece of the pie, they have already robbed everybody else. They don’t need to keep robbing everybody,” Russell said.

A mechanic at Custom Sled & Cycle of Medway, Jacobs said he would replace his old Harley Davidson motorcycle with something new, but he wasn’t sure what model. Before he did that, though, he said he would ensure that his children had nice homes and were well provided for.

A visit to the home of Larry MacKenzie, son of Gloria and a former town selectmen, went unrewarded — no one was home. His next-door neighbor said he was unaware that MacKenzie’s family had claimed the winning ticket. Attempts to reach Gloria MacKenzie also failed.

Twenty-year-old Alyssa Goody of Medway said she would “turn this town around. I would put in more stuff for the kids. I’d probably put in a nice park, fix up the schools.”

Eighteen-year-old Natasha Budge of Medway would go to a tropical island. Budge and her friends Tyler Doyle and Matthew Grant of Medway agreed that life might change dramatically for the MacKenzies, and not necessarily for the better. They imagined the sudden wealth corrupting their friendships.

“You’d have no friends, real friends, probably,” Budge said.

“You would have a lot of fake friends, people using you for your money,” Doyle said.

There have been rumors that the MacKenzies would replace the school roof, but AOS 66 Superintendent Quenten Clark and Clint Linscott, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said they have heard nothing from the family.

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