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Bucksport residents and businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic will get $175,000 in relief from a new town fund — $60,000 more than initially expected thanks to a gift from a town native once named one of America’s most powerful young CEOs.
The Bucksport Town Council voted 7-0 on Thursday night to approve a $115,000 proposal from Town Manager Susan Lessard to issue $100 food vouchers to residents who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic and $500-a-month grants to small businesses in town for April and May. A $60,000 donation from Bucksport natives Andy and Shelby Silvernail makes the total amount of aid available $175,000.
Bucksport stands out as a municipal government offering direct, coronavirus-related aid to its residents. The federal government passed a $2 trillion aid package for individuals and businesses two weeks ago, and the Maine state government in March expanded unemployment benefits and made low-interest loans available to small businesses. Lessard hopes the program will help residents and businesses bridge the gap between now and whenever the other aid becomes available.
The Silvernails, both Bucksport High School graduates, said they made the donation out of love for their hometown. Andy Sivernail is CEO of IDEX Corp., which makes products including the Hurst Jaws of Life and valves for agricultural sprayers. Silvernail has been named one of the U.S.’s most powerful CEOs age 40 and under by Forbes Magazine and one of America’s top CEOs by Institutional Investor magazine.
Last year, the couple donated $250,000 to Bucksport High School’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs.
“We are very fortunate to find ourselves in a position where we can do this. There are a lot of communities that just can’t,” Councilor Paul Bissonnette said during Thursday’s teleconferenced meeting.
No one spoke against the proposal during the meeting, the first in which councilors videoconferenced from their homes in response to restrictions put in place to guard against the spread of the new coronavirus.
Lessard said the money will start going out by next Friday. Residents and businesses interested in applying for the assistance should check the town website for the documents on Monday, Lessard said.
Those who receive the aid would best serve Bucksport by paying it forward ― doing something charitable for their Bucksport neighbors, Lessard said.
“I hope they will do some charitable act that will help build a sense of community in this time of isolation,” Lessard said.
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