East Millinocket might be new home to private Christian school

Posted July 16, 2013, at 7:37 p.m.
Last modified July 16, 2013, at 7:56 p.m.

EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — Town leaders are hopeful that they can sell the former Opal Myrick Elementary School to a Millinocket minister next week after an Augusta businesswoman backed out of buying the building, officials said Tuesday.

The Rev. Herschel Hafford of ICare Ministries of Millinocket hopes to buy the school for $1. He met with three Board of Selectmen members on Monday night to discuss turning the building into a private Christian academy. Selectmen deferred a decision to the full board for its July 22 meeting, said Clint Linscott, the board’s chairman.

“His plan is good. We will see how that looks before the full board,” Linscott said Tuesday.

Hafford said that he is “very confident that the school is going to happen and I am almost equally as confident that we will get that building. We have a proposal and nobody else has one, and we have a track record for doing what we set out to do with ICare Ministries.”

Debbie Dawson of Augusta shelved her plans to turn the school into a 15-apartment building when negotiations with the town fell apart, she said Tuesday.

Dawson proposed she would live in it and operate a laundry wash-and-fold business at the school while catering to clients who would pay $34,999 for a lifetime lease of an apartment in which they could stay for as many as 185 days a year.

Her plan is modeled after apartment complexes such as Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco but would be much more moderately priced, she has said.

The town budgeted $34,310 this year to heat and maintain the building. The purchase would save the town the $38,235 it has tentatively budgeted for building maintenance, town Administrative Assistant Shirley Tapley has said.

Dawson’s talks bogged down when town officials declined to set a $100,000 valuation on the building for the first five years. She also believed that the building’s heating system had 3,000 gallons of No. 2 heating oil in it when it actually had 800, which upended her financial plans, she said.

Dawson lacked the funding to redress the difference, she said.

“The town was very helpful,” she said. “I think we would have worked every little detail of it out, but for that boiler issue. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

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