Houlton Band of Maliseets receive $245,000 for snow removal equipment
HOULTON, Maine — Although the need for snow removal equipment has seemingly come to an end for another season, the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians are getting a jump start on next winter.
Thanks to a $245,000 federal grant, the Maliseets will be able to purchase a front-end wheeled loader with plow and wing attachments to be used to maintain Tribal Transit routes in and around the Riverside Village community and tribal administrative offices.
According to Wade Hanson, economic development director for the Maliseets, the grant was made possible through the Tribal Transit Program. The program makes funds available to help federally recognized tribes with costs of capital, operating, planning and administrative expenses for public transit projects.
“The loader will be mainly used for snow removal and road maintenance, but will also be used for material handling while stockpiling winter salt, sand and gravel,” Hanson said.
The town of Houlton plows the access roads to and from tribal lands including the Foxcroft, Bell, Lowery and Currier roads, while the Tribal Transit maintenance unit plows Maliseet and Eagle Drives, Clover Circle, Pine Drive and Clover Court.
“In addition to these routes the HBMI maintenance team maintains the HBMI Administration HQ, HBMI Health Clinic, Youth Department, gymnasium, Wilderness Pines Campground, Rollerama and old Leon Little property,” Hanson said.
“Once the three-person crew has completed these areas, they move onto cleaning out the tribal elders’ driveways to insure their safety and accessibility to their homes. The addition of this piece of equipment will greatly enhance the crew’s capabilities and reduce overtime through the winter seasons,” Hanson said.
There was no local match required to receive the grant funds.
As a result of this funding, the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians will be able to operate its transit program — which transports youth and seniors — in poor weather conditions. This funding was awarded through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Tribal Transit Grant Program.
“The Tribal Transit Program offers crucial assistance to rural tribal communities working to improve transportation on their lands,” Senator Susan Collins said in a press release announcing the grant. “This investment will help to ensure that members of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians can safely travel on their roads during Maine’s winter months.”
Hanson said the tribe received five bids for the loader and selected Nortrax, a John Deere dealership based in Houlton, as part of a “Buy America” criteria for the funds. The bid was also the lowest received.