Business News

Caribou area Business Year in Review 2018

Editor’s Note: The following is a recap of some of the top business stories from 2018.


Roughly 59,000 Mainers will receive a direct wage increase on New Year’s Day as Maine’s minimum wage grows to $10 per hour, a $1 hourly increase over last year.  The federal minimum wage has not increased since 2009. Maine is one of 18 states, including three in New England, raising wages in January.

Caribou’s NAPA Auto Parts shop, formerly located on Bennett Drive, moved recently to a new building on the Access Highway, next to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Cary Medical Center held its annual board meeting Monday, Jan. 8, and Doug Plourde was named new board chairman for the next two-year term. The hospital also honored outgoing board members James (Jimmy) Mockler, who completed nine years of service, and outgoing Board Chairman Rob Kieffer, who has served the board for 18 years, twice as chairman.

Catholic Charities of Maine’s Food Bank recently was chosen by the Maine State Court of the Catholic Order of Foresters to receive $1,000 in funding from the home office’s Welfare & Relief Fund.  In 2017, the Food Bank helped feed more than 23,000 people throughout The County.

On the evening of Thursday, Jan. 25, the Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce presented its annual awards for 2017.  Business of the Year went to Big Cheese Pizza of Caribou and Presque Isle, Karen Gonya was the recipient of the Chamber’s President’s Award, and Larry Park of Presque Isle accepted the Chamber’s first 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award among the highlights.


A new Sudsies’ laundromat opened in the Bennett Drive shopping center recently, offering 26 dryers and 19 washers within walking distance of several stores in the middle of town. The laundromat replaces a third of NAPA Auto Parts’ space, which moved to Access Highway last month.

The James W. Sewall Company announced recently that Finn Bondeson of Woodland has joined the firm’s Engineering group as a civil engineer. Bondeson is a 2014 graduate of the University of Maine’s College of Engineering, and received its Top Scholar award.

Brian and Julie Weston of Limestone recently purchased the century old Masonic Lodge, opening a coffee shop and bookstore in the building and are working on expanding that business to include a laundromat and bottle redemption center in the basement. They recently purchased a small plot of adjacent land from the Town of Limestone to accommodate a new redemption center in the lodge’s basement.

MSSM recently hired Kirsten Wells as the MSSM foundation administrator. Wells lives in Hodgdon with her husband and four young daughters.

Phil Cyr, administrator of the Caribou Rehab and Nursing Center, with Jane Hanson, the new administrator of the Presque Isle Rehab and Nursing Center at the Presque Isle facility. Cyr is president of the family-owned company that operates both nursing facilities. (Anthony Brino)

The Halfway Home Pet Rescue now has more capacity to tend to the area’s homeless felines thanks to the purchase of a new van with a donation from the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation out of Freeport, who donated $33,800 in late 2017 to the pet rescue.


Phoenix Direct Care of Caribou held its ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening Saturday, March 3, in the downtown mall. The new healthcare clinic is the only Direct Primary Care (DPC) clinic north of Bangor.

The Forbes family of Caribou recently pledged $10,000 toward construction of the new elementary school in Caribou. The new tally for the fundraising has now reached $470,000, which will directly reduce the impact of the new school project on local taxes.

The Jefferson Cary Cancer Center has been recognized by the QOPI Certification Program, an affiliate of the American Society of Clinical Oncology for successfully completing a three-year certification program for outpatient hematology-oncology practices that meet nationally recognized standards for quality cancer care.

The Fort Fairfield Quality of Place Council made a decision to cancel the long-running Northern Maine Agri-Business Trade Fair due to a convergence of vectors. The fair has been running annually since 1980.

Eagles Redemption in Limestone kicked of its grand opening last Saturday by offering six cents per  bottle as opposed to five. The redemption center is owned by local entrepreneurs Briand Julie Weston.


Loring Job Corps recently honored Northern Maine Community College by presenting officials with the North Stars Community Impact Award for the college’s continued partnership and commitment to Job Corps students. Since the beginning of the partnership, over 300 Loring Job Corps students have matriculated into NMCC programs.

The U.S. Small Business Administration recently awarded Josh Nadeau, 32, of Connor Township, a Maine Small Business Development Center Excellence and Innovation award. Each day, Nadeau helps people who are trying to start their own business, expand their current business, or sell or buy a business.  

Benjamin McEndarfer, a Northern Maine Community College Building Construction Technology student from Woodland, is this year’s Brian C. Thayer Memorial Scholarship recipient. McEndarfer says he has aspirations to work overseas for disaster relief in communities affected by hurricanes and other natural disasters.

The hour-long documentary, “Acadian Traditions” aired on Maine Public Broadcasting on Thursday, April 26, and Saturday, April 28. The film was created by Brenda Jepson and her husband Alan of Madawaska Lake.


The Maine Land Use Planning Commission hosted two public hearings on Irving Woodland LL’s proposed Fish River Chain of Lake Concept Plan, for lands within T15 R5 WELS, Madawaska Lake Twp., T16 R5 WELS, T17 R3 WELS, Sinclair Twp. and Cross Lake Twp. The hearing allowed the petitioner and members of the public to present testimony and evidence as to whether the proposal meets criteria for approval.

Thanks to a statewide program aimed at introducing trade and technical occupations to female students, 140 middle and high school girls in Aroostook County recently participated in a hands-on conference and learned more about careers they might not have considered before, including carpentry, welding, plumbing and heating, auto collision repair, computer and networking technology, heavy equipment operation and fire-fighting.

Limestone officials handed out four certificates to town employees for helping the community during a four month period in which the highway department was without a foreman. The town has been short staffed since January, when Foreman William Thibodeau resigned. Since then, Jim Leighton, the water-district superintendent and Stacey Michaud, the police chief/interim town manager, had stepped in to help with the highway department.

Eagles’ Redemption Manager Frank Beil prepares to cut the ceremonial ribbon on March 17 as business owner Julie Weston, from left, and employees Nate Labreck and Braydon Martin look on.
(Christopher Bouchard)

The Cubby Thriftstores in Presque Isle and Caribou recently installed security cameras outside their locations in the hopes of preventing potential theft and damage of donations left outside.  Owners Cindy and Chris Johnson said that they have come in to find boxes and bags ripped open and many items, especially clothing, stolen or damaged to the point they cannot be sold.

To support safer workplaces in Maine, workers’ compensation specialist MEMIC, based in Portland, has announced the appointment of Barrett Parks of Woodland to the position of safety management consultant. Parks graduated from the University of Maine with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering technology.


The Housing Authority of Fort Fairfield Board of Commissioners has announced Stacey Michaud has joined the authority as its new executive director as of May 1. Michaud has worked at the Housing Authority for six years, starting as the accounts clerk and working her way to occupancy specialist.

Carl Flynn, MD of Pines Health Services was awarded the Roger A. Renfrew, MD, Rural Teaching Award as voted by the Maine Track Program, Class of 2018.

The Halfway Home Pet Rescue of Caribou received $1,000 from Bangor Savings Bank as part of its Community Matters More program.

Porvair Filtration Group, located at 15 Armco Ave., recently completed a food drive which collected 214 food items for the Ecumenical Food Pantry in Caribou. The drive continues the company’s focus on giving back, initiated in 2017 with General Manager David Minka and the office’s employee activity team. Porvair, with headquarters in Segensworth, Hampshire, England, operated several locations both in the United Kingdom and the U.S.


The Central Aroostook Soil & Water Conservation District celebrated its 76th annual meeting on June 16 at the Presque Isle Fish & Game Club. Among the highlights included recognizing Ketch Organics of Woodland as the 2018 Conservation Farm of the Year.  

Two medical students from Tufts University have arrived in The County for nine months of training that will introduce them to rural health care. Corinne Carland Hannah Martin have joined Pine Health Services and Cary Medical Center through the Maine Track MD program, both graduating from the program in 2020.

Two longtime Maine School of Science and Mathematics employees will be leaving at the end of July. Executive Director Luke Shorty will be leaving for a similar post downstate, while longtime mathematics department chair Pete Pedersen will be retiring after 16 years at MSSM.

Micmac Farms joined more than 100 farms across the state and two others in Aroostook County in welcoming the public to Open Farm Day events on Sunday, July 22. The Maine Department of Agriculture sponsored the 29th annual event.

Dr. Caleb Swanberg, a native of Caribou, returned to the area and is Pine Health Service’s newest family practice physician. Swanberg received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine and earned his medical degree at Tufts University in Boston. He completed his residency program and served as chief resident at McKay Dee Family Medical Residency in Ogden, Utah.


Cary Medical Center was among a select group of hospitals nationwide recognized for promoting enrollment in state organ donor registries in a national campaign sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).  

Nancy Brewer will retire from Barresi Financial Inc. of Presque Isle after a 50 plus year career. Brewer started her career at Cary Medical Center in 1966 and later joined Barresi Financial in 2002 as a Retirement Plan Administrator.

The Halfway Home Pet Rescue of Caribou was the recipient of $1,000 from Bangor Savings Bank as part of its Community Matters More program. It marks the second straight year that the group has won as a write-in. Taking part in the presentation are, from left, Jody Harvey, assistant bank branch manager; Norma Milton of Halfway Home Pet Rescue; and David White, bank branch manager. (Joseph Cyr)

The Loring Job Corps Center recently awarded one of its own for exemplary service.  Custodian Tim Curtis received the annual Pat on the Back Award for his overall tireless efforts and commitment to the needs of the center and its students.

Bernadette Sanders recently moved her quilting shop, “Quilting Around the Corner” from her home to 13 Access Highway, the former site of Friendly Redemption. The location gives her the opportunity to do a number of things she has been waiting for the right time to do, according to a press release from the Limestone Chamber of Commerce.  Sanders lives in Limestone with her 8-year-old macaw, Romeo.


McCain Foods honored its Top 10 Potato Growers at the annual McCain Grower Barbecue in Presque on Aug. 24. Leavitt Farms LLC of Limestone earned Champion Grower honors. Selection is based on the highest standing quality of the following three categories: field direct delivery, winter storage delivery and refrigerated storage.  Leavitt Farms placed first in field direct category and second in the refrigerated storage category to receive the position of Champion Grower.

The North Lakes Fire and Rescue fleet of Cross Lake Township will be getting two used fire trucks to add to their fleet.

Spectrum cable subscribers were required to have a converter box for all TV’s as the company rolled out its all-digital format around the County. The upgrade became official Wednesday, Sept. 5.

Mockler Funeral Home announced the return of local funeral director Idealla Thompson, who received her degree in mortuary science from Worsham College of Mortuary Science and was the top five in her class. She is from Caribou and is the daughter of Dana L. and Penny Thompson.

Local pastor Fr. David Raymond became a nominee for the 2018-19 Lumen Christi Award, an annual honor given to an individual or group who demonstrates how the power of faith can transform lives and communities.


ACAP received a 12-month federal grant last year to help train women for non-traditional occupations in three counties in rural Maine: Aroostook, Washington and Hancock. The agency recently received word that it had been selected for a second year of that grant.

Washburn’s new Dollar General store celebrated its grand opening Oct. 6 with a ribbon cutting by the Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce.

Cary Medical Center conducted a non-perishable food drive at its 38th annual Health Fair, held Sept. 29, to benefit the local Catholic Charities Maine Food Bank. Through the generosity of nearly 200 local community members who brought food or cash donations, personnel were able to deliver nearly 500 pounds of food and more than $100 in cash donations to the food bank.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins attended a ribbon-cutting for the new allied health simulation center at Northern Maine Community College and also visited the precision machining technology lab. The simulation center at NMCC provides “the highest quality clinical experience for students and current health care professionals.”


Limestone’s Dollar General held its grand opening ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 3, at 8 a.m. with prizes, deals and a complimentary hot dog lunch. The company employees six to 10 people at its Limestone location.

Van Buren’s Dr. David Levasseur was awarded an Excellence in Oral Health Award for 2018. Levasseur’s general focus includes preventative and restorative dental services.  He also has a special interest in nutritional counseling, tobacco cessation and other general health and wellness information that support oral health.

Rite Aid’s is slowly transitioning to Walgreens as the Rite Aid sign was taken off of the store in Caribou this past week.  


The F.A. Peabody Company made two recent promotions as a result of a change to its management structure. Chris Anders, FAP-CO president announced the promotions of Troy Heald of Caribou to becoming regional manager of the new Northern Aroostook division and Mary Cray of Mattawamkeag as the regional manager of the new Northern Penobscot division.

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