June 18, 2018
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County officials work on Squaw resort grant

By Diana Bowley, BDN Staff

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Piscataquis County commissioners plan to seek a $200,000 Community Development Block Grant to help the owner of Big Squaw Mountain Resort make improvements to the double chairlift that services the upper part of the mountain.

A letter of intent to seek a grant was filed earlier this month by the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council on behalf of the Piscataquis County commissioners and James Confalone, the ski resort’s owner.

Although the state changed the name of Squaw Mountain to Big Moose Mountain, Confalone retained the Squaw Mountain name.

“If we do decide to apply, we’ll make the best case we can that it [the ski resort] actually has a lot of indirect benefits to the surrounding area,” Tom Kittredge, the council’s executive director, said Wednesday.

Kittredge and county commissioners will meet with Confalone in the near future to further discuss the grant application, which must be submitted by March 6. Such applications are considered under the highly competitive private business category, Kittredge said.

The focus of the grant application would be to rebuild the double chairlift, repair the 28 towers along the lift and remove a rock outcropping at the upper part of the mountain that makes snowmaking inefficient and cost-prohibitive, Kittredge said.

Block grants for private business require a one-for-one financial match from the business owner. In Confalone’s case, his match would come from a land sale, according to the letter of intent filed with the state Department of Economic and Community Development. The property in question has not yet been identified. Confalone also would be required to identify the principals who own the ski resort and their ownership percentages.

The grants require the creation of one job per $30,000 in grant funds, or in Confalone’s case, a minimum of seven full-time jobs that pay above the average county per capita income, Kittredge said. The average county median income as of the 2000 U.S. Census was $28,250 a year.

If a grant were awarded for the project, the Piscataquis County commissioners would receive the funds and then turn them over to Confalone, Kittredge said. An agreement would be required between the county and Confalone to protect the county should the project not be completed as outlined in the grant. Without such an agreement, the county would have to repay the loan if the jobs were not created, Kittredge said.

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