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Milo couple’s giving to the community continues with opening of Greater Milo/Brownville and Points North Visitor Center

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MILO — An area of the Eastern Piscataquis Business Park off outer Park Street that once was empty has had several buildings constructed and donated to the Three Rivers Kiwanis Club of Milo/Brownville over the last few years thanks to the generosity of Milo residents Tom and Nancy Harrigan. The Harrigans have provided a Kiwanis Headquarters, auction storage facility, Harris Pond Pavilion and the Harrigan Learning Center and Museum of Fossils, Minerals, and Indian Artifacts.

The building count is now five with the addition of the Greater Milo/Brownville and Points North Visitor Center. The visitor center, adjacent to the museum and a short distance from Kiwanis Headquarters, was formally opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 18. The facility will include restrooms, which will help the Three Rivers Kiwanis host more outdoor events on the campus, as well as a consignment venue for local items and space for rent and/or to be used for events.

The Greater Milo/Brownville Area and Points North Visitor Center will provide additional electric power to reduce or eliminate monthly electrical operating costs for the entire Kiwanis complex. Thirty six solar panels have been added, increasing the total number to 72 within the complex and each solar panel has the capability of generating 285 watts of power under ideal conditions. Within the space, predominantly LED lighting throughout means most of the power generated by the new solar panels will go to providing electricity to the other Kiwanis buildings in the complex.

“It’s wonderful to think we have people who can donate such a building that all this volunteer work can go into,” Kiwanis District 2 Lt. Gov. Brenda Kelley said at the start of the presentation. Kelley explained how Kiwanis is an organization based on service to the community and how the Harrigans are the epitome of giving back.

“This will be an asset to our community for years to come and it will attract people to our area,” Three Rivers Kiwanis President Susan Schaffer said.

“What a change the town of Milo, and Brownville as well, is going through these last five years,” Milo Town Manager/Police Chief Damien Pickel said. “It’s all about community and also economic development.”

“As you build it, they will come,” Pickel said about the additions to Milo that have made at the site over the last half decade. “I am very proud to be here today and thank you very much.”

“I just want to say once again I applaud the generosity of Tom and Nancy Harrigan, the future is brighter than it would be otherwise,” Sen. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville said. He said the Greater Milo/Brownville and Points North Visitor Center will be used by area businesses and the Piscataquis Chamber of Commerce as well as serving as a stopping point for travelers.

“I think it’s a great thing, I think it’s wonderful and I thank Tom and Nancy Harrigan for their kindness,” Davis said.

“This is a great day and I think of Piscataquis County and how we often think things aren’t going well around here,” Rep. Norm Higgins, I-Dover-Foxcroft said. He mentioned examples of projects that are strengthening the region including the renovated Central Hall in Dover-Foxcroft, fixed up Derby Shops, the forthcoming craft brewery in Milo and multi-million expansion planned for Pleasant River Lumber in Dover-Foxcroft.

“Things are moving in Piscataquis County, things are brightening for all of us,” Higgins said.

“Acadia to Katahdin there are only two ways to get there, the Interstate and right here,” Higgins said. “People are going to stop and let’s get them to stop right here and make them stay here,” he said about the various attractions a stone’s throw off Route 11 north to the Millinocket and beyond.

The Harrigans “truly have put forth resources for all of us to be better,” Higgins concluded.

Piscataquis County Economic Development Council Executive Director Chris Winstead said he first met the Harrigans several years prior in his previous job working for former U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine. “I was amazed to see the dedication and commitment to community,” he said about the couple.

Winstead said the Harrigans’ efforts “really speak to their passion and commitment to communities and growing the economy.”

“It’s heartwarming all of the investments that have gone into the county and one of the greatest investments is in the people,” Winstead said. “The program says visitor center benefactor but I say philanthropist.”

Tom Harrigan then took his turn at the podium. “I designed the building, I had Ron Desmarais build the building, but if it was just him it wouldn’t be community,” he said “This is us, this is our community.”

Harrigan said the inside of the Greater Milo/Brownville and Points North Visitor Center will showcase the community so he reached out to a number of people for their input on what could be placed inside to promote the region. Among the individuals and displays Harrigan mentioned were Allen Monroe of the Milo Historical Society, Susan Worcester of the historical society in Brownville, Ken Jay for the Boy Scouts, a space for the works of local authors and where they could hold signings, Ethelyn Treworgy of the Three Rivers Kiwanis and artist Suzette East for 20 paintings showcasing area attractions.

He said one of his goals for the investments is to get children and adults involved in paleontology societies and rock clubs and being interested in these sciences for life. “I want to see participation, I want to see kids interested in doing things,” Harrigan said.

The benefactor also thanked his wife. “So much would never be accomplished with my wife, she’s my backbone — she’s the greatest.”

Before the audience headed over from their seats for the ribbon cutting, Piscataquis Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Denise Buzzelli said, “I love Milo. There’s something about this community, there’s a spirit and a heart here. There’s a belief that community can grow and there’s people that are visionaries.”

Buzzelli said in the last decade the county has seen about $100 million in investments. She said there also is a population shift as “younger families, under the age of 30 with children, are coming to Piscataquis County.”

“The economic impact of that is so much greater than we can even put a finger on,” Buzzelli said.

The chamber of commerce director said tourism is still the top industry of the region and the Greater Milo/Brownville and Points North Visitor Center will be a great asset. “I’m excited to be here a couple of times a month,” as Buzzelli will utilize the new space as a satellite office to make chamber of commerce services more accessible to businesses in eastern Piscataquis County and to provide as much support to the visitor center as she can.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
NEW VISITOR CENTER IN MILO — Facility benefactors Tom and Nancy Harrigan cut the ceremonial ribbon for the Greater Milo/Brownville Area and Points North Visitor Center during a May 18 ceremony. Holding the ribbon is Kiwanis District 2 Lt. Gov. Brenda Kelley, left, and Three Rivers Kiwanis President Susan Schaffer and looking on is Piscataquis Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Denise Buzzelli. The Harrigans have now contributed five buildings for the campus off of Park Street in Milo, including the previous Kiwanis Headquarters, auction storage facility, Harris Pond Pavilion and the Harrigan Learning Center and Museum of Fossils, Minerals, and Indian Artifacts.

Observer photos/Stuart Hedstrom
GREATER MILO/BROWNVILLE AREA AND POINTS NORTH VISITOR CENTER — A ribbon cutting for the Greater Milo/Brownville Area and Points North Visitor Center in Milo took place on May 18. The visitor center includes a number of exhibits to promote the region and has space available for various functions. The complex was made possible by benefactors Tom and Nancy Harrigan of Milo, one of several facilities they have given to the community including the adjacent Harrigan Learning Center and Museum of Fossils, Minerals, and Indian Artifacts and Three Rivers Kiwanis Headquarters.

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