Collins receives potatoes from TAMC plot

12 years ago

Collins receives potatoes from TAMC plot


Photo courtesy of The Aroostook Medical Center

    U.S. SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, center, accepts the first two five-pound bags of potatoes from the TAMC’s Centennial Potato Plot at a ceremony outside TAMC’s A.R. Gould Memorial Hospital in Presque Isle last Monday.

 Collins was presented one bag for herself to enjoy and another which she will take to the White House. Joining in the presentation were more than two dozen TAMC employees and, front row, from left: Robb Johnston, designer of the front panel of the commemorative bag; Sylvia Getman, TAMC president and chief executive officer; Collins; Scott Smith, farm manager for Cavendish Farms Operation, Inc. in northern Maine; and Bob Umphrey, NEPCO company president.

    PRESQUE ISLE — The first potatoes harvested from The Aroostook Medical Center’s Centennial Potato Plot were officially presented to County native U.S. Sen. Susan Collins last Monday. Officials with TAMC and project partners Cavendish Produce and Northeast Packaging Co. (NEPCO) handed over two, five-pound, commemorative bags filled with russet potatoes to Collins — one for her to enjoy and the other for her to deliver to the White House.
    “As potato harvest season gets under way here in The County, we are so pleased to present Sen. Collins with the very first potatoes harvested from the TAMC Centennial Potato Plot,” said TAMC President and Chief Executive Officer Sylvia Getman. “It is most fitting that someone with such strong County roots, who represents us so well in Washington, be the first to receive potatoes from our centennial plot.”
    The TAMC Centennial Potato Plot is a two-acre section of potato field owned by Cavendish Produce on U.S. Route 1 approximately three miles north of Presque Isle near the landmark PT Barn. The project was launched in June as part of TAMC’s 100th anniversary celebration to serve as a tribute to Aroostook’s rich agricultural heritage and its ties to the efforts to open Presque Isle’s first public hospital.
    When attorney Frank White first conceived the idea of building a public, charitable hospital in Presque Isle in the spring of 1908, he made frequent trips to outlying farms and neighboring smaller communities by horse and wagon, soliciting donations of any and all size. It was through the efforts of White and other community leaders, and largely with the support of the county’s agricultural community, that Presque Isle General Hospital was incorporated in 1912.
    “As an Aroostook County native, I am incredibly proud of the tremendous contributions that the potato industry has made to our state and local economy,” said Collins. “I applaud The Aroostook Medical Center for its centennial celebration and for honoring its ties to Aroostook’s rich agricultural history.”
    In accepting the two commemorative bags, Collins spoke about her own ties to The County’s most famous crop. She noted that as a young girl one of her first jobs was picking potatoes.
    Although Collins was presented with the first potatoes harvested from the two-acre TAMC Centennial Potato Plot, the field has not yet been harvested. Plans are for TAMC employees and their family members to pick the field by hand Saturday, Oct. 6, to celebrate another County tradition.
    For some members of the TAMC team not originally from the area and other younger employees, the upcoming experience will be their first time picking potatoes. The TAMC crew will be assisted by Scott Smith, farm manager for Cavendish Farms Operation, Inc. in northern Maine, and his crew who will dig the field.
    Once harvested, the potatoes will be placed in the official TAMC centennial five-pound commemorative potato bags produced and donated by NEPCO. Bob Umphrey, company president, worked with TAMC earlier this summer to launch a design contest for the front of the bag. The winner of that contest, 23-year-old Robb Johnston of Presque Isle, was also on hand Sept. 17 to autograph the bag for Collins and the one bound for the White House.
    The front of each bag, as designed by Johnston, features a potato barn with the Maine potato logo on it, several pine trees, and three potato barrels — two filled with spuds and the center barrel with a birthday cake coming out the top in the foreground. The barrels have a banner in front reading TAMC’s 100th Birthday, and the years 1912 and 2012 are displayed in the bottom left- and right-hand corner of the bag, respectively.
    The backside of the bag, designed by TAMC’s Bobbie-Jo Caron, features brief highlights of key milestones in TAMC’s history that are pictorially enhanced by images of a maturing spruce tree — the longstanding image used in TAMC’s logo. One side of the bag features the logos of both partners — Cavendish and NEPCO — and the other two filled potato barrels with a banner of TAMC’s centennial logo running across.
    “We are so grateful to these two generous companies for working collaboratively with TAMC and making this unique project possible,” said Getman. “We look forward to harvest day Oct. 6 and to sharing these potatoes with our TAMC family and our friends and neighbors throughout The County.”
    Once the potatoes are harvested and placed in the special commemorative bags, TAMC will present the spuds to other elected officials and dignitaries. In addition, TAMC intends to provide commemorative bags of potatoes to all of its 1,000 employees and to the first 700 attendees at the annual Fall Health Fair Oct. 13, which this year will be themed History, Harvest, and Health.
    The presentation of the potato bags to Collins was made during a press conference at TAMC’s A.R. Gould Memorial Hospital in Presque Isle that came at the end of a visit by Collins to the medical center.
    While visiting TAMC, Collins was given a demonstration of the recently implemented Bedside Medication Verification System that automatically documents the administration of medication using a barcode reader on the patient’s arm bracelet. The senator also sat down with TAMC leaders to discuss a number of innovations including the medical center’s participation as one of 32 pioneer Accountable Care Organizations in the nation, and efforts to explore alternative energy fuel sources to cut heating costs at TAMC facilities.