Former mill workers go back to school

EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The people of East Millinocket are not strangers to the struggle that comes after a paper mill closes. The mill there has opened and closed several times over the years, but, for those former mill workers, the hope of a restart is now replaced by a desire to seek other opportunities.

Going back to school can be extremely intimidating, especially if it's to learn an entirely new career when you're only about a decade from retirement, which is the case for many ex-mill workers in East Millinocket.

East Millinocket to vote on national park, again

EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- East Millinocket is giving the town's residents another chance to vote on creating a national park on 75,000 acres of nearby forested land owned by Roxanne Quimby and her son Lucas St. Clair.

In 2011, the town rejected the proposal of the North Woods national park in a private vote. Now the town's Chairman of the Board of Selectmen said changes to the proposal would allow snowmobiling, hunting, fishing and other traditional outdoor activities that many people might not know about.

Those opposed to the plan fear that federal regulation of the park would affect the area's forest product industry, ruin any potential for the paper mill to reopen, and only create seasonal jobs. However, the chairman said the town needs to start taking steps towards rebuilding the local economy.

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.