New Bangor business owner speaks out over concerns surrounding Odlin Road incidents

TV5 caught up with the owner of Fielder's Choice Ice Cream off Odlin Road to see how they're dealing with these concerns.
Fielder's Choice Ice Cream Owner, Mike Jillson
Fielder's Choice Ice Cream Owner, Mike Jillson(WABI)
Published: Jul. 17, 2020 at 5:06 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Some Bangor business owners with properties along the Odlin Road are speaking out about people without shelter staying at a local hotel.

We shared with you Thursday night the growing concern from Bangor city officials about the number of those currently living at the Ramada by Wyndham Bangor as a result of the pandemic.

TV5 caught up with the owner of Fielder's Choice Ice Cream off Odlin Road to see how they're dealing with these concerns.

When Mike Jillson and his wife bought the former Blackbeard's property on the Odlin Road, they had no idea what would follow.

Construction began in April. By May, they were dealing with theft and trespassing.

Jillson says it all began after a group of individuals started staying at the Ramada by Wyndham Bangor next door.

“We did have one incident a few weeks ago where one of the individuals that was staying over at the Ramada started yelling at a person that was coming up our driveway just to see how we were doing and to see if we were close to opening and demanding money. We had to get a no trespass order on him,” explained Jillson.

Jillson says they've had tools stolen from the property. Some were retrieved by the Bangor Police Department.

Officials with Maine State Housing Authority confirmed to TV5 by email that Penobscot Community Health Care was able to secure funding and provide shelter at the Ramada to help curb the spread of coronavirus.

“PCHC moved quickly to provide the full range of homeless services necessary in Bangor to help curb the spread of COVID. Because of COVID and the need to socially distance, the facilities available were not adequate to house the number of people seeking shelter. With that increasing need, which somewhat resulted from the homeless encampments being cleared out, PCHC secured funding and has been able to provide shelter through a variety of approaches – ONE of which is the Ramada. When people who are experiencing homeless approach PCHC, they are offered a variety of shelter options that include a few hotels in Bangor. This undoubtedly has curbed the spread of COVID in Bangor. Those seeking shelter aren’t forced or told where they are allowed to go – they are offered options for shelter and are free to choose an option provided to them (or not).”

Cara Courchesne, Maine State Housing Authority

In a statement to TV5, PCHC officials say the individuals supported by PCHC and the Hope House in Bangor comprise about 20% of the guests staying there.

“Under a separate arrangement managed by the state at a different hotel location, PCHC is managing and supporting individuals who need to quarantine because they tested positive for COVID-19 or are awaiting test results but do not have a home or a safe place to quarantine. To be clear, there is no mandate requiring individuals experiencing homelessness to shelter in these hotels. As with all of us, they are free to make their own decisions in keeping with the law as to where they will shelter and what supports they will accept.”

Lori Dwyer, President & CEO of PCHC

Jillson, a former Maine State Trooper, understands this is a small group of people, some with severe addictions.

He says he has done his best to be compassionate and reason with people, but he does have a business to run.

“I think good intentioned people may have enabled bad behavior because the same individuals that I watch put needles in their arms at the hotel where they’re being housed are the same individuals holding signs on the street corner that say, “hungry and homeless.” I know that not to be true because I’ve seen it,” said Jillson. “At this point it’s no longer helping the individuals at the hotels, and certainly not the surrounding businesses here. Every business owner that I have talked to in this area is suffering a similar problem.”

Jillson says he has requested that police step up patrols there.

Bangor PD
Bangor PD(WABI)

And they have. Between April 29th and July 14th, police responded to the area of 339 Odlin Road more than 30 times. Calls ranging in nature from burglary to drugs.

During that same time last year, police responded just five times.

A Bangor city council committee is expected to take a closer look at the issue Monday night.

And Jillson will be there.

“We just want it to go back the Bangor that we purchased the property under. Not this Bangor, because this is not what I envisioned Fielder’s Choice Ice Cream to look like in July of 2020,” said Jillson.

TV5 reached out to the Ramada by Wyndham Bangor. A message to their general manager was not returned.

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