USDA invests in infrastructure for 5 organizations in Maine

WILLARD, Mo. – The United States Department of Agriculture plans to invest $ 222 million to build and improve essential community facilities in 44 states, Guam and Puerto Rico.

This community infrastructure funding aims to benefit nearly 2.5 million people in rural communities. It also includes $ 132 million to support health care, food security and emergency response services for more than 850,000 rural residents in 37 states.

In Maine, five community facilities, including one at Harmony, will receive a total of $ 176,800 in grants.

“The Biden-Harris administration is keeping its promise to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and rebuild our economy,” USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small said, according to a press release from USDA. “Rural Americans need emergency response, hospitals and medical facilities, and USDA loans and grants are investing in critical infrastructure to make this possible. USDA Rural Development puts rural people at the forefront of investments and opportunities to help us all build back better, stronger and more resilient.

USDA State of Maine Acting Director of Rural Development Tommy R. Higgins said, “This rural development funding supports several projects in Maine that benefit critical community facilities. From repairing a rural library to expanding a pantry to upgrading other essential and important facilities, this key funding improves the quality of life for residents of rural communities.

In Maine, the organizations receiving a total of $ 176,800 are:

• The Patriarches Club receives $ 50,000. This investment will be used to expand the Harmony Cares pantry at Harmony. This project involves the construction of a 28 foot by 30 foot addition that will provide the space needed for food distribution, storage and washrooms.

The Pantry also serves the nearby towns of Cambridge and Wellington. Since the pantry opened in 2017, the number of food insecure families served by this establishment has tripled. Additional food distribution / storage space and refrigeration / freezing capacity are desperately needed to meet growing demand.

The project will also provide facility upgrades, an emergency generator and commercial refrigeration / freezer units.

• The Downeast Salmon Federation Inc. is receiving $ 23,500, which will be used to replace deteriorated roof shingles with a metal roofing system at the East Machias facility. In addition to the roof replacement, the flashing, trim, soffits, vent and ridge cap, fascia bird guard and other support accessories will be replaced.

This facility operates a conservation hatchery and administrative offices. The Downeast Salmon Federation, in a formal partnership with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, raises endangered Atlantic salmon from egg to parr stage and releases fish into the waters of the East Machias River on an annual basis.

• The well in Mars Hill, Maine, will receive $ 25,300, which will be used for minor renovations at an after-school children’s center in Mars Hill. Repairs will include new flooring, updated electricity, interior painting, new lighting and door replacement.

The Well of Mars Hill Maine offers after-school and evening programs, private lessons, mentoring, live lessons, internet access, educational and cultural programs. They will also remain open during school holidays to provide a safe environment for young people as well as free drinks, snacks and a meal.

• The Eastport Public Library Association is receiving $ 50,000, which will be used to replace and repoint nearly 1,000 square feet of brick at the Peavey Memorial Library in Eastport. In recent decades, the masonry facade, roof and dome have suffered significant deterioration. Completion of these repairs will ensure the preservation and availability of the library to support and serve future generations.

Since 1893, the library has provided a gathering space for residents, visitors and researchers. It is the community’s learning center offering educational and cultural services, a balanced collection of books and other materials, and free public access to the Internet seven days a week, year round. Designated in 1982, the library was included among 29 other structures in the Historic District of Eastport of late 19th century and early 20th century structures.

Center Theater Inc. receives two grants totaling $ 28,000 ($ 15,600 and $ 12,400). This investment will be used to renovate the Center Theater in Dover-Foxcroft. The Center Theater is the only professional performing arts venue in Piscataquis County and a major resource for schools and the community. The funds will be used to repair the columns and footings supporting the theater on the banks of the Piscataquis River.

The theater is a historic building, and over time there has been damage from flooding, ice and erosion. Damage was also caused by inadequate roof drainage, which will be corrected as part of this project.

Many theater programs focus on children and education, including drama camps, after-school programs, educational programs and children’s theater productions in cooperation with Foxcroft Academy. The theater also produces a number of live theater productions during the year, as well as concerts, meetings and community events. Another component of the theater’s programming consists of first and second-run films, as well as documentaries and art films.

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