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Poitras joins Van Buren council’s effort to bring Main St. back to life

VAN BUREN, Maine — Van Buren’s newest town councilor, Anne Marie Poitras, is eager to see the town she has grown to love continue to thrive for many years to come.

Poitras won an uncontested election in June after former councilor Maurice Corbin let his term expire. In the past 12 months, the council has turned over almost completely, with Paul Nadeau being the last veteran councilor remaining. 

She was encouraged to run by people in town, and regularly attended meetings in preparation since earlier this year.

The council’s main priority is revitalizing Van Buren’s downtown and slowing the population drain by attracting new businesses and people to the area. A transplant from Madawaska, Poitras wants to help recapture the magic that brought her young family to Van Buren years ago.

“One of the things that drew us to coming back to Van Buren at the time when we did was it was a really good place for us to raise our family,” Poitras said. “I want to continue [to] help it be a good place to raise young kids, for kids to grow up. That small town life my kids grew up in.” 

For a long time, Poitras thought she wouldn’t be allowed to hold town office — she works for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. But state government employees can hold local office so long as they don’t need to declare a political party.

In fact, Poitras will be the third government employee on the town council. Her fellow councilors John Beaulieu and Peter Madore work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 

Since she won the election in June, Poitras said she has been focusing on learning the ropes of the job and looking for opportunities to get more involved in town development projects. She joins the council during the final planning stages of a park that the town won a $100,000 grant to build in the place of the now-collapsed Gagnon Hardware on Main Street. 

It’s projects like this one that made her want to join the council in the first place. She’s interested in finding ways to both cater to the needs of people already living in Van Buren while also drawing in new residents.

“Our asset is our people, the people we have in town already,” Poitras said. “But also whether it’s new businesses from people in town or new businesses from out of town coming in, I think both are important to revitalizing the town.” 

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