Economic Analyst suggests school consolidation

MILLINOCKET, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A consultant letter to the town of Millinocket said that if officials don't consolidate their schools, the community is putting another nail in the town's coffin.

A Virginia economic development firm offered free services to help refocus Millinocket's future and associated visited in late October and early November. The company sent a letter to the town and CZB Associates said Millinocket needs to increase taxes, beautify downtown, seek grants promote public land and tourism. It also said the town has to consolidate their schools.

Open letter to Millinocket could push national park

MILLINOCKET, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- An open letter from CZB Associates blatantly states that Millinocket's reluctance to embrace its inherent status as a gateway to the natural beauty of the Katahdin Region has held the community back financially.

The proposal for a national park has sparked fierce opposition and controversy over the years. Arguments against it include possible detriments to the area's logging industry and those opposed said it could be a waste of resources and time for something that won't create jobs or bring in revenue to the area. But supporters of the plan said now is the time to seriously consider the proposal after this letter was released, but that the region is running out of time to argue over options.

Millinocket residents see potential in region

(NEWS CENTER) -- Most of the Millinocket hadn't heard about the letter a consulting company sent to the town that said it needs to re-examine the possibility of a national park in order to revive its economy.

"As far as I'm concerned, our attitude is good towards people, people coming here," said John Dicentes, who has lived in Millinocket for 76 years.

Dicentes said he talks to talks to hikers that come through Millinocket and tells them to move there if they are looking for a place to raise a family or start a business.

Maine acquiring Moosehead Lake land for conservation

NORTHWEST PISCATAQUIS, Maine (AP) - Maine is acquiring two miles of shoreline on the north end of Moosehead Lake for conservation.

The Forest Society of Maine helped smooth acquisition for the state. State officials say the bulk of the funding for the $895,000 purchase is coming from a $500,000 federal Forest Legacy Program grant, along with other grants and private donations.

The group says the parcel is 81 forested acres that connect the popular northern Maine lake with inland forests. Piscataquis County Economic Development Council Co-director Robert Hamer says the acquisition "opens another door to Moosehead Lake" for visitors.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

EMMC focus on helping laid off mill workers

EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Since the East Millinocket layoffs in February, the former employees have been struggling to find work. With the mill now purchased by a company that doesn't appear to be interested in running the mill, it's the end of a long career for many former mill workers, with many having worked in the mill their whole life.

"Men and women who have lost their job and long-time employment at the mill for 30 to 40 years, and there's an understanding that they don't always think they can succeed," said Deborah Rountree, the associate academic dean at Eastern Maine Community College.

Rountree handles much of the job retraining for mill workers at this branch of the Eastern Maine Community College in East Millinocket. Even though the transition hasn't been easy, she has plenty of success stories.

Another challenge arises for East Millinocket

EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The sale of the Great Northern mill in East Millinocket should be completed by Friday, and when it is, the town will receive nearly all of the $750,000 the mill owes in back taxes.

However, East Millinocket still has a number of challenges, including payments to keep its wastewater treatment plant running. Great Northern built the plant, which handles wastewater from the mill, the town and the nearby Dolby landfill. The mill paid most of the cost of operating the plant, about $1 million a year. The state has brought in a company, Wright-Pierce, to try to cut costs in half next year, which officials said is a short-term stop gap measure.

Millinocket, Belfast show Maine's changing economy

BELFAST, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- For generations, people have been trying to make Maine's economy boom, hoping to find ways for the whole state to finally prosper. While greater Portland and a few other parts of the state appear to be doing fairly well, at least by Maine standards, most of the rural areas still struggle. The mill towns of Millinocket, East Millinocket, Old Town and Bucksport are struggling more than most right now, as paper and pulp mills close or go bankrupt.

Forty years ago, pulp and paper was king of the Maine economy. Millinocket and East Millinocket were the biggest of all, with the two mills employing about 4,000 people and paying some of the best wages in the state.