2017: A year in Presque Isle business

Compiled Paula Brewer, Special to The County
6 years ago

Editor’s Note: As 2017 draws to a close, we take a look back at some of the top business stories from the past year around Presque Isle. This article highlights events from January to June. The second half of the year will be posted next week on our website. 


Family Eye Care/Mavor Optical of Caribou officially opened its new location at 491 Main St. in Presque Isle on Jan. 18. Optometrist Dr. Craig Small and his wife, Jane Mavor-Small of Mavor Optical, said they also plan to bring daughters Abby and Paige, both in optometry school, into the practice when they graduate.

Northern Maine Community College chef Rob Ottaviano finishes one of his popular lobster rolls in preparation for the World’s Best Lobster Roll Competition in Portland on July 8. Ottaviano is one of 12 semifinalists nationwide in the Down East Magazine competition. He said he will attempt to claw his way to the top, but what it all boils down to is great food and a chance to tell a “tail” of glory. (File photo)

American Agri-Women (AAW) announced its officers for the coming year including Sue McCrum of Mars Hill, a member of Maine Agri-Women, who served as president in 2015 and 2016 and would remain on the board as past president for 2017.

Dead River Company expected to complete construction of its new propane depot at Skyway Industrial Park before February, replacing a similar structure in Caribou that’s no longer being serviced by the railroad and state government.

Jason Parent, executive director of the Aroostook County Action Program in Presque Isle, earned a John T. Gorman Fellowship to participate in a series of leadership seminars for exceptional nonprofit and public sector professionals in Maine.

Sukhwinder Bali was appointed University of Maine Cooperative Extension assistant professor and University of Maine at Presque Isle assistant professor of sustainable agriculture.


Bob Evans Foods acquired Mars Hill-based Pineland Farms from The Libra Foundation in a deal worth $115 million. The Mars Hill factory, founded by local businessman Rodney McCrum in 1997 as Naturally Potatoes, makes mashed and precooked potatoes.  

The Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce presented awards at its annual banquet Jan. 26. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Anah Temple Shriner and former two-time Potentate Dick Hallett. Tony and Sherry Sullivan, owners of Governor’s Restaurant and Bakery in Presque Isle, received the Business of the Year Award. Deborah Gray, founder of Life By Design, was named Citizen of the Year, and Jim McKenney, longtime chamber member and retired from The Aroostook Medical Center, received the first-ever President’s Award.  

A new restaurant was in the works for Mars Hill, led by town resident Michael Stiggle, at 45 Main St., the former J.J Newberry Building. Stiggle would create the Timberwolves Restaurant.

Meanwhile, in Presque Isle,  a first-time entrepreneur from Caribou announced his plans to reopen the town’s iconic Winnie’s Restaurant and Dairy Bar. New owner Dustin Mancos announced a March opening date.

Cafe Allegro held a grand opening celebration with the Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 21 at its Main Street, Presque Isle, location, the former Star City Coffee and, many years before that, Marston’s.


Presque Isle’s Riverside Inn Restaurant celebrated a grand reopening following an extensive renovation completed Friday, March 3. Owned by Danny and Sandy Collins, the restaurant was closed for three weeks while local contractors worked.

Northeast Publishing announced its new website, TheCounty.ME, providing local news from the Aroostook Republican & News, Houlton Pioneer Times and Star-Herald  newspapers on a daily basis. The company launched the site March 20.

The Van Buren food processor Northern Girl, in business since 2011, ceased operations and was looking for a buyer.

Mary Green joined the Aroostook County American Red Cross as its new community manager.

The 37th annual Northern Maine Agri-Business Trade Fair took place March 24 and 25. New this year was a specialty foods sample space, which joined the array of traditional farm and forestry displays. Circle B Farms, an apple and blueberry orchard in Caribou, joined the specialty section to showcase their dried blueberries, aka “blueberry raisins” or “Blaizins.”  

Northern Maine Community College purchased two new pieces of equipment for its diesel hydraulics program: a single-filter fuel unit and a double-filter kidney machine, which have the capability of cleaning diesel fuel and hydraulic oil that would otherwise be waste byproducts.


Drs. Nicholas and Andrea Pesut welcomed new associate veterinarian, Dr. Deanna Anderson, to the Presque Isle Animal Hospital.

The Parsons Street Shell gas station/Brewster Farms convenience store, adjacent to the main entrance to Skyway Industrial Park, closed as its owner said he couldn’t keep pace with the competition.

The Pizza Box of Presque Isle moved from Main Street to 19 Davis Street under new owners Mike and Sherry Theriault. The take-out held a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, April 7.

Todd Hedrich purchased Kelley’s Laundromat, adding it to his statewide network of laundry businesses and modernizing the 60-year-old Summer Street facility. Following the purchase, Hedrich closed the Industrial Street Laundromat.

Group fitness facility LiveWell United, owned by Renee Chalou, celebrated a move to its new location on Industrial Street.


Northern Maine Community College announced the retirement of its dean of development and college relations, Sue Bernard. Bernard, best known for her years as news director on WAGM-TV, returned to Aroostook County to accept the position five years previously.

A Fort Kent logging contractor, Josh Rich, of JL Rich Timber Harvesting, became the  2017 Aroostook Partnership Entrepreneur of the Year in the annual contest. Judges announced winners at an awards banquet at Northern Maine Community College on May 18. Bruce Sargent of Falcon Transportation in Presque Isle was first runner up, and two Houlton business owners tied for second runner-up: Cameron Clark of Cameron’s Lawncare and Chainsaw Carving and Peter Chase of Buildings Etcetera.

The Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce held a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony May 12 at 121 Main Street in Mars Hill, the home of Dayna Collins’ new ice cream shop, The Inside Scoops.  

Northern Maine Community College chef Rob Ottaviano was named a semifinalist in the World’s Best Lobster Roll competition, to be held July 8 at the Down East Lobster Roll Festival in Portland.  

The Aroostook Medical Center’s Crown Ambulance opened a station in Washburn, in a partnership with the neighboring town of Wade.  


A brother and sister team originally from Cherryfield became the new owners of the Presque Isle Animal Hospital and veterinary practices in Caribou and Houlton. Veterinarian doctors Hanna Cook and Jonah Babiarz purchased the Presque Isle Animal Hospital and Caribou outpatient clinic from veterinarians Nick and Andrea Pesut, who were to stay on as consultants.

Dr. Norma Desjardins and her husband Paul were recognized as Maine Stars of Community Action for their work to provide dental care to County children through the St. Apollonia Dental Clinic in Presque Isle. The couple were honored at the annual Community Action Conference in Sunday River.

Retired Northern Maine Community College Computer and Network Technology instructor Joseph McLaughlin and his wife, Rebecca, donated $10,000 to the Northern Maine Community College Foundation. The funds established a new scholarship for a student in the Computer and Network Technology program.

Dale and Laurel Shannon, a husband and wife team from Crouseville, purchased the former Ray’s Corner Variety on Academy Street from Raylene and Barry Shaw,  changing the name to Shannon’s Home Style Variety.

 Country Collectibles in Presque Isle marked its official grand opening under new owner Paula Shaw on Friday, June 16, with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

The Aroostook Aspirations Initiative welcomed the 2017 Gauvin Scholars: Kyle Beaulier, Kassandra Bouley, Meghan Cole, Jessy Devoe, Rachel Driscoll, Morganne Emery, Lindsey Gendreau, Sarah Gerritsen, Jadeyn Giberson, Kathleen Haney, Kirsten Haney, Zachary Haney, Cameron Hartford, Cole Jackson, Kelsea Jencks, Kevin McAfee, Faith Morrow, Taylor Reed, Alexander Ruest, Libby Theriault, Caleb Thompson and Jacquilin West.