The Star-Herald

2017: A year in Presque Isle business (Part 2)

Editor’s Note: This is the second of a two-part series highlighting 2017’s top business stories in and around Presque Isle; here we revisit July through December. 

July

The United Way of Aroostook set its 2017-2018 campaign goal at $600,000. Monies raised will be allocated to county health and human services agencies and United Way programs including, but not limited to Tax-Prep, Summer Slide Backpack Program, 2-1-1 Maine and the Pantry Project. Jessica Ouellette of the University Credit Union in Presque Isle and Jon Gulliver from the Northern Maine Development Commission in Caribou were tapped as campaign co-chairs.

Aroostook County Action Program has welcomed two new members to its senior leadership team: Human Resources Manager Alyssa Levesque and Resource Developer Monica Pettengill Jerkins.

Peter and Bette Briggs, who owned and operated the Aroostook Beverage Company in Presque Isle for over 50 years and now live in Kennebunk, made a seven-figure gift to Northern Maine Community College in the form of a charitable remainder trust. The majority of their donation was earmarked for the NMCC Foundation’s Investing in Innovation endowment, and the rest for a scholarship in their names.

Dental Hygienist Cheryl Bossie, left, and her daughter, new dentist Dr. Meagan Bossie, are working together at Dr. Smith’s Caribou office. Cheryl claims they are the first “mother-daughter dental team in Aroostook County.”
(Courtesy of Dr. Smith’s office)

Caribou native Meagan Bossie graduated from dental school, returned to The County and began work in her hometown as a dentist with Dr. David Smith’s Caribou office. Her mother, Cheryl Bossie, a longtime Presque Isle dental hygienist, also joined the practice, and called them the first “mother-daughter dental team” in Aroostook County.

Fort Fairfield’s marketing and economic development director, Tim Goff, announced plans to step down from his town role to begin a new challenge as bank manager for Machias Savings Bank in  Presque Isle.

August

Marcus Barresi, a local financial and retirement adviser for nearly 40 years, retired from his firm, Barresi Financial, at the end of 2017. He planned to remain at the Presque Isle company as a consultant for the foreseeable future.

The Aroostook Agency on Aging Board of Directors announced that Joy Barresi Saucier would take over as the agency’s executive director in October, upon the retirement of Steve Farnham after nearly 43 years of service.

The Presque Isle Kiwanis Club reported it would give the Riverside Park Playground project its first piece of equipment: An OmniSPin spinner. The club competed for the chance to win $25,000 in the 2017 Legacy of Play Contest put on by Landscape Structures, and placed in the top 10 out of more than 50 clubs in the nationwide competition.  Contest organizers awarded them an OmniSpin Spinner, valued at $6,800, for the coming playground.

Donald Burr, Northern Maine Community College program coordinator for the new mechanized logging operations program, which began in August 2017 with eight students in Millinocket. (Courtesy of NMCC)

Aroostook Aspirations Initiative received one of four 2017 Champion of Economic Development Awards from the Maine Development Foundation.

The new Harbor Freight Tools store in Presque Isle was bustling on its first day of business, Tuesday, Aug. 15.   The store took over part of the space left vacant by Sears at the Aroostook Centre Mall.  

Maine’s first mechanized logging operations training course began in Millinocket. The program was developed through a partnership between Northern Maine Community College, Eastern Maine Community College, Washington County Community College and the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine. Completion ceremonies were held for six graduates in September.

September

McCain Foods recognized D.C. Farms of Mapleton as this year’s champion potato grower during the company’s annual grower barbecue, held Aug. 24 in Presque Isle. The family operation is led by Darrell Chandler and sons, Darren and David.

A liberal studies student from Limestone got the surprise of his life just before the fall semester started at Northern Maine Community College in Presque Isle. Second-year student Jason Sprague won free tuition for a year in a drawing organized by the college’s Alumni & Friends Organization.

University of Maine at Presque Isle officials announced that the institution earned three top rankings on U.S. News and World Report’s 2018 Best Colleges list. In this year’s annual rankings, UMPI was named among the 30 Best Regional Colleges in the north, the 15 Top Public Schools in the north, and the Top Three Regional Colleges in the north for graduates with least debt.

United Parcel Service in Presque Isle recognized Patrick Buckley for his 30 years of service as a driver. Buckley, a Presque Isle resident, started his career in Fort Fairfield and has worked in the Presque Isle, Rockland, Island Falls and Houlton centers.

WAGM-TV news anchor/reporter Shawn Cunningham of Presque Isle won the Mrs. Maine American Woman of Service 2018 state title during a competition in Saco.

October

The towns of Mapleton, Castle Hill and Chapman won a top recognition for their annual report following judging by the Maine Municipal Association. The towns earned a “Superior,” or second-place, award in the 2,500-to-4,999 population category for producing the highest-quality annual report.

Tourism officials in Aroostook County applauded the decision of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine to bring their BikeMaine event to The County in 2018.

The Maine Grocers and Food Producers Association has named Mark Kelley, owner of the Country Farms Market store in Washburn, the 2017 grocer of the year.
(Courtesy of Maine Grocers and Food Producers Association)

The Presque Isle Kiwanis Club, Presque Isle Rotary Club, United Way of Aroostook and the City of Presque Isle formed the Riverside Park Playground Steering Committee and launched a campaign to bring inclusive and safe play to the Riverside Park area. The park’s original playground equipment, installed 40 years ago, became unsafe and had to be removed. Committee members chose four designs, with price ranges starting at $100,000 to the ultimate goal for the project of $250,000. The designs include the first-ever handicap-accessible play structures in the Star City.

Thanks to a charitable remainder trust from the late Floyd and Jean Harding, more than $537,000 has been transferred to the Northern Maine Community College Foundation for scholarships. The funds benefited 19 NMCC students this past fall.

The University of Maine at Presque Isle took a bold step toward college affordability and accessibility with the announcement of The Way It Should Be, the state’s first comprehensive program that provides free and significantly reduced tuition for eligible Maine families. First-time, full-time college students who are Maine residents and Pell Grant-eligible will be able to take advantage of free tuition and no fees, saving them nearly $8,000 per year, while other Maine students may be eligible for $3,084 or more in financial aid.

The Maine Grocers and Food Producers Association named Mark Kelley, owner of Country Farms Market in Washburn, the “Grocer of the Year” for 2017.

November

The town of Washburn could welcome a new retail business in the near future if the Dollar General company decides to move forward with a preliminary proposal. The Tennessee-based discount chain won approval from Washburn’s Planning Board for the conceptual design of a store, which would be located on a town-owned lot near downtown Washburn.

The University of Maine at Presque Isle reported recipients of the Alumni Association’s annual awards. Alumna Judith L. Kierstead Atcheson was recognized for her lifelong achievements in education with the Educator of the Year Award. The late Jeanie McGowan was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award for her contributions to the establishment of the Northern Maine Museum of Science and the annual Planet Head Day.

A local telethon raised more than $43,000 to help area people heat their homes this winter. The United Way of Aroostook, along with Aroostook County Action Program (ACAP) and WAGM-TV, collected hundreds of donations during their Heating Homes with Helping Hands Telethon on Nov. 2.

The Maine Potato Board announced Nov. 9 that the popular Caribou Russet potato would once again be available to consumers at the Maine Harvest Festival in Bangor the weekend of Nov. 11 and 12, and later at statewide retail outlets.

A young professionals’ panel discussion highlighed the Aroostook Partnership (AP) Annual Meeting Nov. 16 at Northern Maine Community College. The panel included of Chelsea Henderson of FA Peabody Co., Jacob Buck of The Maine Malt House, Katie Zarrilli of WAGM-TV, Carter Vaillancourt of Daigle Oil Company and Kasey Soucy of Cary Medical Center.

The Ashland Area Economic Development (AAEDC) committee announced the opening of its new office at 190 Presque Isle Street in Ashland.

December

The Maine Credit Unions’ Campaign for Ending Hunger, which has raised and distributed more than $7.2 million to help Maine residents since 1990, hosted Brenda Davis, a longtime hunger advocate, as she visited The County during her statewide tour.  She presented checks to local food pantries on each stop.

Care & Comfort, a leading provider of home health and behavioral healthcare, earned recognition as one of Maine’s best employers for workers over the age of 50 for 2017 by the Maine State Workforce Investment Board’s Older Workers Committee.

Highlighting its nationally recognized achievements in patient safety and quality, The Aroostook Medical Center in Presque Isle was named a Top Rural Hospital by The Leapfrog Group Dec. 7

MMG Insurance and TAMC both signed on as supporters of the Riverside Park Playground Project, each contributing $5,000 toward the community effort.

Tim Hobbs of Presque Isle began his stint as the new Maine state director for the USDA Rural Development agency. Hobbs is the former grower relations director for the Maine Potato Board and also the former director of the Central Aroostook Soil & Water Conservation District.

And finally, a number of community organizations helped make the holidays brighter for area residents. Among those featured in the last edition of 2017 were the Presque Isle Kiwanis Club, Machias Savings Bank and the F.A. Peabody office of Presque Isle.

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