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Gov. Mills visits Greenville area to talk about economic development

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GREENVILLE — Gov. Janet Mills arrived in Greenville on Thursday afternoon, Nov. 14, to view the future home of the Dockside Inn and Tavern on the lakefront downtown, as part of her rural economic development discussions being held statewide. Mills had just come from Monson, where she visited the Monson Arts area, created in part by the Libra Foundation, and spoke with Monson businesses.

The Dockside, formerly the site of the Black Frog Restaurant, is being completely renovated by E. W. Littlefield, Inc. & Sons, Contractors, along with Snowman Construction. It is expected to open in the spring. Mills was impressed with the work being done.

“I do remember it when it was the Black Frog,” she laughed. “The menu offerings, as I recall, were pretty humorous. I’m really delighted to see it all coming together again.” She noted how nice the view was from an upstairs balcony, next to a suite that will be available to rent once the building reopens. “The contractors are doing a great job,” she said. “The Dockside will be an excellent asset to the downtown area.”

Observer photo/Shelagh Talbot GOVERNOR’S VISIT — Gov. Janet Mills enjoys the views of Moosehead Lake from a balcony at the Dockside Inn and Tavern in downtown Greenville on Nov. 14. Mills toured the area and talked about economic development with local business owners.

After a tour of the Dockside, Mills was whisked off to the Blair Hill Inn to meet with approximately 20 local business owners.

“I want to bring together business owners, economic development leaders, and local lawmakers to discuss ideas and strategies to foster economic growth and grow the economy in rural Maine,” she said. “I also think offering broadband Internet to rural areas like Greenville will have a positive impact on local commerce. That was one of the points of my special legislative session back in August.”
Dan McLaughlin, who with his wife Ruth owns the Blair Hill Inn, voiced concerns about the large wind turbines being erected in the area. “We can see the flashing red lights in the distance,” he said. “We would hope that these turbines would not be built in places where they disrupt our views as they are integral to our marketing this area.”

Jenny Ward, Maine Business & Community Relations Manager at Appalachian Mountain Club, added, “We are seeking an international Dark Sky Reserve status. Astro Tourism is huge nowadays and we as Mainers are second in the United States for that important status.”

Mills concurred that preserving the natural beauty of the Moosehead area is most important. “Of course, we would need to take these special considerations seriously,” she said. “And, as some of you know, I have issued an executive order pledging that Maine will become carbon-neutral by 2045. This is easily doable because, on the plus side, Maine has 90 percent of its land covered by forest. That’s the highest proportion in the country. With our record of sustainable forestry practices and a relatively small population statewide, this can be an achievable goal without sacrificing the natural beauty Maine is famous for.”

A number of business owners, including Sally Johnson, owner of Moosehead Hills Cabins, said that providing health care for their employees is a challenge. “I own a lodging business in town. Johnson said. It is a challenge to provide health care in attracting a workforce. There are still a lot of us that are vulnerable in that area.”

Mills suggested they check out www.CoverME.gov. “You can go to that site to find out what health insurance is available to you at the lowest cost and best coverage,” she said.

Sen. Paul Davis who represents District 4 (which includes Piscataquis County) and House Representative Paul Stearns, who represents Greenville in District 119, were also in attendance. Davis asked the Governor for an update on Big Moose (Squaw) Mountain Ski area just north of Greenville. “What’s going on with Mr. Confalone?” he asked, referring to James Confalone, the owner.

“Currently the lawyers in this case are in the process of depositions,” Mills replied. “I’m very hopeful someone will get him to the table and make a deal which will allow somebody or some group to buy back the mountain and open up the upper slopes. I’ve heard that there are the most beautiful views in the world from the top of the mountain and we have to bring that back. We have to have the whole resort open to the public again and usable.”

Observer photo/Shelagh Talbot
BUSINESS MEETING — Gov. Janet Mills, Sen. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville, center, and Rep. Paul Stearns, R-Guilford chat during the Governor’s meeting with local businesses at the Blair Hill Inn in Greenville on Nov. 14.

Cheri Goodspeed, owner along with her brother Randall Coulton, of Kamp Kamp, a popular shop in downtown Greenville, said that extending the tourist visits by having the mountain once again become a four-season resort could be very helpful. “We’ve got to have a longer season to entice others to move here and stay, especially young families,” she said.

As the meeting came to an end, Mills expressed gratitude to all who attended and vowed to consider all suggestions and concerns. “Thank you so much for coming to meet with me,” she said. “I appreciate your support and insight.”

If you would like to contact Governor Mills directly and share your opinion or concerns, go to: https://www.maine.gov/governor/mills/contact/share-your-opinion.

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