East Millinocket voters say no to national park

EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A majority of East Millinocket voters casted their ballots against a controversial proposal to create a national park in the Katahdin region.

On Monday, 320 voted against the park while 191 voted in favor.

The town of Medway voted an overwhelming "no" in a similar vote last Tuesday. This non binding vote is for the board of selectmen to see where the community stands on the issue.

The proposed plan would be to establish a 75,000 acre national park along with a 75,000 acre national recreation area. The recreation area would allow hunting and snowmobiling.

Some proponents say that having a national park could create jobs, and increase tourism while some opponents say that they do not want to give up land to the federal government. So far, there has been a steady turnout.

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East Millinocket buys former mill wastewater plant

EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- East Millinocket has a new wastewater plant after buying the one attached to the former Great Northern paper mill. It only cost the town one dollar, but that doesn't mean it the deal was a bargain.

East Millinocket now has to pay to run and maintain a much larger waste water plant. It also plans to build a brand new facility on the same site.

According to town leaders, the cost of constructing the new plant is tied to what the state does with the mill's landfill. Right now leachate from the landfill is processed at the plant.

Opponents and supporters discuss national park proposal

EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Representatives on the both sides of the national park proposal are answering questions head-on about the proposal Thursday.

Opponents gathered earlier in the day to discuss their concerns. They say a national park in the Katahdin area it will hurt jobs and limit recreational access.

The park would make up 75,000 acres and another 75,000 acres would be a recreation area.

Opponents are skeptical of the plan and think it is vague. They also said it would only bring in low-paying jobs that wouldn't boost the economy. They also fear that the land isn't attractive enough for a national park.

Millinocket school system could see $400k funding cut

MILLINOCKET, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Millinocket has faced constant financial struggles since the loss of the paper mill, but now the town's schools are starting to suffer as enrollment decreases.

Millinocket School System is looking at a nearly $400,000 shortfall in its projected 2016 funding, largely due to fewer students. More than $300,000 was lost due to that lack of enrollment, and about $72,000 was lost due to students from outside territories moved into the district. The state Department of Education bases its funding on each individual school's enrollment, and Millinocket currently has only 500 students in the system, K-12, as opposed to four times that amount years back. And the number is expected to continue to decline after this school year with more than 50 seniors graduating, but little more than 20 kindergartners coming entering the system.

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Maine DECD plans to close Dolby Landfill in 2016

EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The state took ownership of the Dolby Landfill with the hope of keeping jobs in the Katahdin Region, but now it's looking more like an expensive waste of taxpayer dollars.

In 2011, the state agreed to assume ownership of the Dolby Landfill in East Millinocket. It was part of a deal set by Cate Street Capital in order for them to buy the struggling paper mill and preserve about 200 jobs. Cate Street saved those jobs for about a year before closing the mill, and the state was left with millions of dollars in costs.

The Landfill Oversight Manager for the State Department of Economic and Community Development, Michael Barden, said the department has budgeted for an allocation of $12 million from the state to close the Dolby Landfill. That process will start in 2016 and last three years.

National park economic impacts broken down

MILLINOCKET, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A new report by the National Park Service could help the supporters who want a new national park in the Katahdin region.

The report, which shows the economic benefits from the national parks around the country, stated that 2.56 million people visited Acadia National Park in 2014, spending $221 million in the communities near the park. That spending generated around 3,486 jobs.

Supporters of the proposed national park said the park would not attract the same number of people that Acadia gets each year.

Telephone town hall meeting will discuss national park

MILLINOCKET, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Those who still have questions about the long debated proposed Katahdin Woods And Waters National Park will have the chance to get answers at a teleconference town hall meeting on Wednesday night.

The national park and recreation area would be located on lands east of Baxter State Park, much of which is owned by Roxanne Quimby, who's been trying to bring another national park to Maine for some time. The plan includes 75,000 acres for the national park and another 75,000 acres for hunting, snowmobiling and other recreational activities. Quimby also wants to put $40 million in a trust for the park's future.