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USDA awards over $5 million to rural Maine community facilities

USDA
USDA(AP)
Published: Sep. 2, 2020 at 3:16 PM EDT
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Augusta, Maine (WABI) -

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $5.4 million to help eight essential community facilities in rural Maine.

The investment will serve roughly 730,000 people.

This funding helps expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas.

The money can be used for infrastructure improvements, business development, housing, community facilities like schools, public safety and health care.

It can also be used to assist with high-speed internet access in rural areas.

The award recipients are as follows:

· Children’s Discovery Museum, in Waterville, has been selected to receive a Community Facilities Loan in the amount of $692,500, and Grant in the amount of $67,500. This Rural Development investment will be used to purchase the building and make renovations located at 7 Eustis Parkway in the City of Waterville. The museum will provide high-quality exhibits and programs that children and families can enjoy while promoting social, cognitive, problem solving, and other developmental skills for children ranging in age from 6 months to 8 years of age. The building will serve as the new location of the museum and will meet the current needs of the museum as well as the future needs of the museum and community.

· Regional Transportation Association, Inc., located in Westbrook, has been selected to receive a Community Facilities Direct Loan in the amount of $2,700,000. This Rural Development investment will be used to construct a new office building and garage on the property that Regional Transportation Program purchased in 2019. The new location will provide them with the space, efficiencies, and location necessary to meet the organization’s and client’s needs. Regional Transportation Program, Inc. was established in 1976 as a small non-profit, paratransit agency designated by the State of Maine to provide specialized transportation services for the disabled, elderly, low income, and general public residents throughout Cumberland County. Regional Transportation Program provides the connectivity for individuals that enables independence, enhances quality of life, and empowers engagement of people and the communities in which they reside. For people who have no other way to get where they need to go, Regional Transportation Program plays a critical role in the chain of access to an individual’s needs. With a fleet of 29 lift equipped busses and vans, 30 agency certified drivers, and 20+ volunteer drivers; Regional Transportation Program provides more than 600 rides/day to individuals who need reliable transportation for medical appointments, grocery shopping, work, and other places of importance.

· The Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, in Littleton, has been selected to receive a Community Facilities Grant in the amount of $50,000. This Rural Development investment will be used to assist the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians by providing funds to improve their Community Center located on Tribal Lands in Houlton. The facility is enormously utilized by tribal members

of all ages and provides for many essential community services such as boys and girls club, after school activities, head start, community meetings, cultural activities, domestic violence awareness and training activities, celebrations, summer feeding program as well as many other essential services. The facility needs to be renovated and expanded to provide adequate space and food preparation for tribal activities and services.

Renovations include new ADA compliant restrooms, sprinkler and fire alarm system, electrical and lighting upgrades, exterior painting and parking lot paving. A 40′x60′ addition will be constructed that will provide the needed space, appliances and equipment for a commercial kitchen. This project will provide an adequate facility which will ensure essential services to tribal members for many years.

· The Piscataquis Regional YMCA, in Dover-Foxcroft, has been selected to receive a Community Facilities Grant in the amount of $67,400. This Rural Development investment will be used to upgrade the dehumidification system and other components of the facility’s heating ventilation and air conditioning system. These systems are antiquated, inefficient and no longer function properly. The project will result in significant energy savings and improved air quality.

· Kennebec Valley YMCA, in Augusta, has been selected to receive a Community Facilities Grant in the about of $42,000. This Rural Development investment will be used to provide funding assistance to purchase equipment and complete necessary renovations to their facility located in Augusta, Maine. The Kennebec Valley YMCA is looking to purchase new desk vestibules, purchase security cameras, install new signs, upgrade lighting fixtures, replace the outdated fire alarm panel and lighting control panel. The completion of these renovations and equipment purchases will result in a significant reduction in energy usage and will allow the YMCA to better serve the public through the various health, fitness, childcare, and personal development programs that are offered.

· Saint George Volunteer Fire Station, in Saint George, has been selected to receive a Community Facilities Direct Loan in the amount of $145,000 and Grant of $65,000. This Rural Development investment will be used to complete a previously funded Rural Development Project which encountered unexpected escalating construction costs. The ‘live’ training facility, also known as a ‘burn house’, addresses the real time safety concerns that firefighters face while on the job. In addition to classroom training, firefighters need a ‘live’ place to train as a team; and the ‘burn house’ provides an opportunity for on-the-job training. The facility will be a 2,100-sf two-story structure constructed of poured concrete with an attached 3-story tower.

There will be two burn rooms with ceramic tiles to protect the concrete, and the interior walls will be movable to change the configuration for different training scenarios. There will also be a hatch in the floor of                the second story to practice confined space rescues. The training facility will be used by firefighting personnel throughout Knox County. The proposed project is in an Agency identified target

area. Rural Development staff have been working within the Town over the past few years to extend our services and programs to help the community enhance their mission.

· Fiddlehead School, in Gray, has been selected to receive a Community Facilities Direct Loan in the amount of $1,555,000. This Rural Development investment will be for Fiddlehead School to purchase a building due to their continued success and increasing student base. Fiddlehead School’s enrollment has now reached a point where they have outgrown their existing space. The new facility is a single-story, 14,500+/- square foot stick-built building located on 2.25 acres of land in Gray’s downtown village center.

Along with adequate classroom space, the facility also has a performing arts room which is ideal for the School’s curriculum. Located in Gray, the School serves 15 districts throughout Cumberland County. The proposed project is in an Agency identified target area. Rural Development staff have been working within the Town over the past few years to extend our services and programs to help the community enhance their mission.

· Fryeburg Recreation Department, in Fryeburg, has been selected to receive a Community Facilities Grant in the amount of $50,000. This Rural Development investment will be used to provide funding assistance to purchase equipment and complete safety renovations to the community center located in Fryeburg. The facility was recently constructed but equipment is still needed to outfit the kitchen space. The completion of safety renovations such as the installation of a generator, security system, and first aid equipment is still needed. The Fryeburg Recreation Department is the nucleus of all community events and activities and offers a facility and space for all ages of the community to enjoy.

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