I would like to preface this article with the fact that I no longer live in Millinocket and so I cannot vote there and cannot take part in the politics of the town, but I would like to express a thought or two about the town that I called home for over seven years.
There are quite a few things about the town of Millinocket that I so clearly miss. I miss going to get my Saturday morning breakfast at the AT Cafe; I miss getting my hair cut at the Barber Shop downtown; I miss being ten minutes from my family's camp on South Twin Lake; and I really miss spending time with some elderly family members that I have in the area.
On the other hand, there are things about Millinocket that I don't miss. I don't really miss the small town politics; I don't really miss groups of people fighting back and forth about secret agendas and hidden plans; I don't miss the insane setup of the Millinocket Town Government; and I certainly don't miss the way that the Town handles itself when it comes to not helping local small businesses.
So if I were in charge and could change a few things, what would I do? How would I make Millinocket a better community to live in?
Well, first of all I would change the way that the Town Government is set up. The times of Town Council people would be over. I would get rid of the whole idea of seven Council men/women and go with what most small communities in the state have: a board of Selectmen and Selectwomen. And I would trim the number of people on the board from seven to five. There is no need for a community like Millinocket to pay seven people to be on the board when five people could do the job just fine.
Secondly, I would stop all funding for the local Growth and Investment Council. In this, I mean nothing personal towards the people who are on it or who work for it, but the community of Millinocket is not growing and it seems that no one is investing in it, either, so that means that the Growth and Investment Council has failed. The town should look into contacting members of the LDA in Limestone and see what they are doing to attract jobs to their community. Over the last eight years, over 1,600 jobs have been created in a community that was even more devastated over the loss of its military base than the town of Millinocket was when the mill closed.
Thirdly, I would somehow find a way to invest in the future of Millinocket by investing in the children and young people who live there. There are two facts about the children and young people of Millinocket that must be kept in mind. First, the Millinocket area has lost over 75% of its young people over the last ten years. And second, over 70% of the children and young people in Millinocket come from broken homes. The town must offer arenas where children and young people can achieve success both in and outside of the classroom. Many children and young people in Millinocket have given up on the high standard of getting good grades in school and behaving well, and have instead compromised them because there is no stability in their homes and they have no stable role models in their lives. I would set up a volunteer board of people in the community who care about the future of the area, and use it as a tool to invest in the children and young people of the community. Maybe with the budget surplus the town has, they would think about investing some of it into the children and young people of the community. As I said earlier though, I am no longer a resident of Millinocket, so I can't get involved with Town Politics.
I believe that the people of the town of Millinocket have some very hard decisions to make in the near future concerning the future of their town. I hope and pray that they will make the right decisions, based not on political or personal agendas, but on the single principle of what is best for the town of Millinocket and its people.
Matt McDonald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.