D-F student loan program to resume

By Stuart Hedstrom 
Staff Writer

    DOVER-FOXCROFT — In 1922 George J. Babson established a loan fund for students in Dover-Foxcroft under the age of 25 to secure a professional or technical education. The fund for Foxcroft Academy students had been inactive for the last two decades but will resume after the Dover-Foxcroft Board of Selectmen voted to move forward with the program during a Jan. 14 meeting.

    “Since 1992 it’s been inactive,” Town Manager Jack Clukey said, explaining one possibility may be that the early 20th century program language referred to just male students and the program would be offered to both young men and women. “We wrote some guidelines and basically we feel we can offer that program again,” he said.

    The George J. Babson Student Loan Fund would be administered by Foxcroft Academy’s scholarship committee —  pending final approval by the Board of Trustees — and the committee would make recommendations to the selectmen based on students who apply for the funding. The maximum that can be awarded to a student is $5,000 annually over four years — the maximum distribution to students in a calendar year is $15,000 — with loans administered on a first come, first served basis and with the scholarship committee making recommendations if multiple students apply. Recipients will begin repayments six months after finishing their schooling over the ensuing five years.

    “I think it’s basically ready to get going in 2013,” Clukey said.

    Select Vice Chair Cindy Freeman Cyr said a thorough review of the town’s trust funds determined what would be the best use of the some of the various funds for Dover-Foxcroft citizens. “It feels really good to get this program going again,” she said.

    In other business, Clukey said earlier that day he had a preliminary discussion with State Rep. Paul Davis (R-Sangerville) on the possibility of less municipal revenue spending in the state budget. “The state budget proposal came out at the end of last week, there’s a lot of things in there that will affect us,” he said, mentioning reductions in the school, Homestead Exemption, business equipment reimbursement and commercial excise tax programs.

     “By far the biggest impact on the municipal side is the state revenue sharing,” Clukey said. “Ours is $330,000, that would be over a mil or about 6 percent on the tax rate to just not have that. For that not to be  here is substantial so we will just have to see what comes of it, what comes of other formulas and figure that into the budget process,” he said with the impact potentially increasing property taxes.

    Clukey said it is unclear when the state budget will be finalized as the Dover-Foxcroft Budget Advisory Committee is scheduled to have its first meeting in early March. Clukey said Davis told him he “is very concerned about this proposal and its impact on communities.”

    “People have a choice about sales tax or excise tax if you’re going to buy a nice new vehicle,” Freeman Cyr said about ways property owners could have some control over how they would handle a tax increase. “But people are trying to hang on to their homes and I don’t think there’s really a choice there.”

    Clukey said last month the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council (PCEDC) met with several Internet service providers and state officials about the data center at the Riverfront Redevelopment project (the site that most recently was the home of Moosehead Manufacturing). “That’s something that we are looking at the feasibility of,” he said, to determine if wireless Internet service for the downtown could be incorporated into the project.

    “Sue Mackey Andrews is the new president and one of our priorities is to update the countywide economic development strategy,” Clukey said about PCEDC developments. He said efforts will begin with a review of the literature, which was last revised about a decade ago, and then a series of meetings will be held to gather public input.

    Clukey said the PCEDC meets the first Wednesday of the month at 8 a.m. at the Penquis Higher Education Center on Mayo Street in Dover-Foxcroft.

    He said Foxcroft Academy is interested in installing a high quality LED sign to advertise its upcoming events along with happenings in the community. “It would be very modest as LED signs go,” Clukey said, as the school is looking to have LED lettering, with no graphics, on a brick and granite base.

    “In order for them to do that there will need to be some of sort of revision to the Land Use Ordinance,” he said, as a letter will be sent to the planning board and the town will work with Foxcroft Academy on potential ordinance amendments.

    Providing an update on a recreation committee meeting, Selectmen Scott Taylor said they met with officials from Foxcroft Academy, which administers a youth sports program. “Basketball season’s been a success once again,” Taylor said, mentioning at some levels there are multiple teams and participants in the cheering program number close to 30.

    Taylor said a children’s learn to skate program will take place at noon on several consecutive Saturdays starting Jan. 19 at the rink at the fairgrounds. “We have got little training aides as they go around the ice,” he said.

    “We talked about snowshoeing and cross country skiing,” Taylor said as Dr. Richard Swett has agreed to let his land be used for these recreational purposes and a map of the routes on an aerial photo will be posted soon on the town website.

    “It’s all laid out and we’re going to do the same on Vaughn Street, so people can have a choice where to go,” Taylor said. “Probably we will put in markers in the trees to keep them on the trails.”

    Speaking on another outdoor event Taylor said, “The fire department is putting on a fishing derby the first weekend in March in town on the lake (Sebec Lake).”

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