June 25, 2018
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Washington County commissioners approve grant for broadband service

By Sharon Kiley Mack, BDN Staff

MACHIAS, Maine — The Washington County commissioners Thursday approved the submission of a ConnectMe state grant on behalf of the county that would fund the purchase of land, the erection of a tower and broadband telecommunications service for some of the county’s Unorganized Territory.

Unorganized Territory Director Dean Preston said the grant would be administered in partnership with Axiom, a Machias-based broadband telecommunications provider. The grant funding would provide half of the project’s estimated $197,900 cost, he said.

The remaining funding would come from the county’s tax-increment financing program that serves the Unorganized Territory.

“This would service some true black holes,” where no Internet service is available, Preston said. The service would be provided in the townships of Brookton, Forest, Forest City, T8R3 and T8R4. He said approximately 192 homes exist in those places.

In other business, Chairman Chris Gardner stated that the county manager is working with the Passamaquoddy Tribe at both Pleasant Point and Indian Township regarding $38,510 owed in back county taxes. The money has been owed since 2006 and an agreement for repayment is near, he said.

Gardner also informed Preston that a community garden project he had submitted for tax-increment financing funding was ruled by the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development as an improper use of TIF funds.

“It is unfortunate but expected,” Gardner said. A similar request by Nancy Oden of Jonesboro was rejected earlier this year by the commissioners.

Oden told the commissioners that she would work with state officials to try to change the criteria so that community and individual garden projects could be funded.

“I will come back before you [with a garden proposal],” Oden promised. “I am really not going to give up on this. We need food security.”

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