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County projects receive American Rescue Rescue Plan funds

AROOSTOOK COUNTY, Maine – Fifteen municipalities and nonprofits from across The County will receive a total of $2,157,808 in American Rescue Plan Act funds to support infrastructure upgrades, environmental clean-ups and business expansions.

The Aroostook County Commissioners unanimously approved the funds during a June 14 meeting at the Caribou Court House. The awards are the first round of ARPA funds that Aroostook County will distribute to qualifying municipalities and organizations as part of the over $13 million that it received from the legislation.

The projects receiving ARPA funds are as follows:

In southern Aroostook, the Houlton Water Company will receive $241,126 for a clean water project and the town of Smyrna will utilize $75,000 to build a salt and sand storage building.

The city of Presque Isle will receive $300,000 for sewer and clean water infrastructure upgrades to Echo Lake and $150,000 to install a new HVAC system at The Forum.

Ignite PI, a nonprofit community development organization, will receive $100,000 in its efforts to renovate the Northeastland Hotel and convert several spaces into a new entrepreneur center and restaurant.

Aroostook County Action Program has garnered $75,000 to support new staff hires for programs that have expanded during COVID, including workforce development and housing assistance.

Several EMS departments in central and northern Aroostook will utilize ARPA monies for emergency equipment purchases. Caribou Fire and Ambulance and Central Aroostook County Emergency Medical Service Authority (Bridgewater, Blaine and Mars Hill) will receive $150,000 and $33,332, respectively. The Fort Kent-based Ambulance Service, Inc. will purchase emergency radio equipment with its $50,000 award.

Also in central Aroostook, the town of Perham will conduct a clean water project using $73,500. Easton will expand broadband connection with $300,000 and Washburn will complete wastewater infrastructure upgrades with $150,000.

In northern Aroostook, the largest award goes to the town of Fort Kent, who will utilize $300,000 for a clean water project. Wallagrass is receiving $132,000 to build a sand and salt storage building and Eagle Lake will purchase telecommunications equipment for their town office using $3,000.

During Tuesday’s commissioners meeting, County ARPA Administrator Steve Pelletier noted that the first round of funding will utilize one-third of the County’s ARPA monies, with the remainder slated for awards in 2023 and 2024. He encouraged communities and organizations to apply, even if they were not accepted this year.

“Even if you did not make it this year, that gives you a leg up for next year,” Pelletier said. 

Perham selectboard member John Rasmussen heard his town’s good news in person and thanked Pelletier and the commissioners.

“Steve has been a real asset to our town in helping to answer questions and guide us through the process,” Rasmussen said.

The commissioners also praised Pelletier’s efforts to reach out to potential awardees across Aroostook.

“Steve has done an excellent job putting this program together and with the assistance he has provided to these towns,” said Norman Fournier.

The next County Commissioners meeting will be held Wednesday, July 20, at 1 p.m. at the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office on 25 School St. in Houlton.

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