Public safety, utility and education projects net federal funds in County

2 months ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Utilities districts in Presque Isle and Fort Fairfield will beef up their water systems thanks to federal funds.

Congressionally directed spending will also help Portage Lake build a child care center, provide an ambulance in Ashland and boost offerings on college campuses.  

The funds are part of a $77.4 million package for Aroostook County, secured with help from U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The money will benefit 23 projects across The County.

In Presque Isle, the utilities district was awarded $2.4 million to upgrade the city’s water infrastructure and wastewater capabilities. 

Last year, crews started replacing some city pipes and water mains which were approaching 100 years old. At that time, district superintendent Ross McQuade said he hoped the federal funding would come through to help offset high labor and material costs.

Fort Fairfield will also see upgrades to its wastewater infrastructure, thanks to $1.6 million for the Fort Fairfield Utilities District.

Child care options will increase in Portage with a $641,000 package the town will use to build the Little Saplings Child Care Center.

Ashland’s ambulance service will gain a new ambulance and related equipment for first responders with funding of $431,000.

Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital in Presque Isle will benefit from new radiation therapy equipment for cancer patients, thanks to more than $3 million in funds.

The Aroostook Band of Mi’kmaqs will receive $530,000 to improve the streets and sidewalks near its housing area off Edgemont Drive in Presque Isle.

Northern Maine Community College will net $410,000 to purchase equipment to expand its diesel hydraulics program. Another award of $550,000 will help the campus upgrade its communications technology.

Mars Hill’s BigRock Mountain Ski Area was awarded $1.15 million toward its ongoing infrastructure improvements. The mountain’s total $5.4 million upgrades will include a new quad chairlift this year, more snowmaking equipment and other improvements to boost ski tourism.

Federal funding also came this spring to the Presque Isle International Airport, which received $20.4 million for its new terminal, and the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s Gauvin Family Center for the Arts, which received $4 million for auditorium renovations.