Powerball winner makes 1st payment on $1.8 million gift to Schenck High

Gloria C. Mackenzie, an 84-year-old woman from Zephyrhills, Florida (center) and her son Scott (right) leave the Florida Lottery offices after claiming the largest single jackpot in American lottery history, valued at $590 million, in Tallahassee, June 5, 2013.
COLIN HACKLEY | REUTERS
Gloria C. Mackenzie, an 84-year-old woman from Zephyrhills, Florida (center) and her son Scott (right) leave the Florida Lottery offices after claiming the largest single jackpot in American lottery history, valued at $590 million, in Tallahassee, June 5, 2013.
Posted Nov. 26, 2013, at 11:55 a.m.
Last modified Nov. 26, 2013, at 6:05 p.m.
Schenck High School of East Millinocket, as seen on Friday, May 17, 2013.
Schenck High School of East Millinocket, as seen on Friday, May 17, 2013. Buy Photo

EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — Town officials got a $1 million check Monday from a Florida woman who promised in July to donate some of her $370.9 million Powerball winnings to renovate much of Schenck High School.

The Board of Selectmen voted 4-0 to accept the check during a meeting Monday. The check is the first of two payments totaling $1.8 million. The other approximately $800,000 check is expected in January, town Administrative Assistant Shirley Tapley said.

AOS 66 Superintendent Quenten Clark was rather pleasantly surprised when Scott MacKenzie, son of East Millinocket native and Powerball winner Gloria MacKenzie, dropped the $1 million check off at Clark’s office on Monday.

“It’s a little different. It doesn’t happen every day,” Clark said Tuesday of receiving the check. “I have had a few of those because of school construction projects. It’s a great thing. What can I say?”

Rumored since MacKenzie came forward with the winning $590.5 million Powerball ticket on June 5, collecting a lump sum of $370.9 million that totaled $278 million after taxes, she sent word of her intent through family members who visited Clark’s office on July 23.

Selectmen were grateful to get the check.

“It’s really good of the family to do,” board Chairman Gary MacLeod said after the meeting.

“This board owes the family a ‘thank you,’” Selectman Clint Linscott said.

Family members have declined to comment since the ticket was cashed.

The gift will be used to fix the school’s roof and improve the building’s compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, among other repairs, Clark said Tuesday.

School officials had considered replacing the gymnasium floor, which they expected would be damaged by exposure during the roof work, but now believe it can be protected, Clark said. Engineers are developing plans for school board review in January. Bids to do the repairs could go out in February.

Residents found news of MacKenzie’s offer thrilling when it was first announced. They had wrestled with the problem of the school’s leaky roof all year. The school board had recommended that voters support a $1.87 million proposal to fix the roof and make some other repairs at a referendum that has been delayed until the school system’s proposed budget is passed. Selectmen had opposed it, but wanted voters to decide.

Schenck, which also houses students in kindergarten through fourth grade in the Opal Myrick Elementary School wing, will still get about $636,000 in state aid for the renovations, Clark has said.

The school building, which has portions that date back to the Eisenhower administration, also has an aging boiler system and a declining population.

Schenck’s population peaked during its approximately 55-year-history with 600 high school students. As of Tuesday, AOS 66 had 133 students at Schenck, 118 at Medway Middle School, and 132 at Opal Myrick, said Clark, who at one point publicly questioned whether the school should remain open.

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