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Sally Bouchard

Tourism and the Millinocket Economy
By Sally Bouchard
Jan 31, 2007 - 2:00:24 PM

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With almost no snow in the Millinocket region last winter, many of the town's businesses were hurt, and never recovered.

Some of us have been saying for years that we need more than just tourism to make our town viable, and that it was foolish to put all our hopes on the weather. But they wouldn't listen.

Instead, we were called negative and anti-tourist by most of those who were promoting a tourism-only economy.

Sure, there is money to be made in tourism, and Millinocket has had tourists for many years. But in order for us to be a healthy community, with a good economy, our town needs something more than tourism. We need growth.

We have had snow in July on Mount Katahdin, and the tourists didnít like that.

We have seen damp and rainy weather in the summer and the tourists didnít like that either.

We have suffered droughts in the summer; and, without rafting, the tourists didn't come.

No snow in the winter means no snowmobiling, and no cross-country skiing, so it is foolish to depend on Mother Nature alone.

Some of the motel owners are now asking why Millinocket has based its economy on tourism only.

The answer to that question is Don McNeil, who was president of MAGIC, the Millinocket Area and Growth and Investment Council.

He wanted tourism to be the number one priority for economic development in the Katahdin Area, and it was his voice that was listened to, not to the people of the area who knew better.

A gateway to the park, or a town like Bar Harbor, is what the director of MAGIC, the Millinocket Area Growth and Investment Council stated at a town meeting. There's nothing wrong with Bar Harbor but if we wanted to live in Bar Harbor, and could afford to, we'd move there. Bar Harbor is a tourist town and a lot of the citizens of Millinocket do not want to be another Bar Harbor. But that didn't matter to those who thought they knew better.

In their arrogance., and with the power and money, they did not think that they had to listen to the people of the area They were more educated, they thought, while the majority of the people of Millinocket were just hardworking, uneducated people.

But they had something that far too many educated people lack, which is just plain common sense.

So it was MAGIC, the Millinocket Area Growth and Investment Council, who had decided what was best for our town, and now it is clear that too many people have put all of their hopes in an organization that only had their own best interests in mind.

All of the information has been there for people to read, but they didnít care to do so; nor did they want to listen to what their fellow citizens were saying.

The fault lies with you, the people of Millinocket, who have ignored what has been going on in your town.

For far too many years, too much money went into this organization whose members would not listen, and it is past time that Millinocket does something else with its money and try to get something else in this town that will bring decent paying jobs to the people of this community.s

Let's let our money work for us for a change.

Yes, we still want the tourists to come to our beautiful area and to enjoy all that we have to offer. But we, the people who live here, also want to stay here and to keep our community alive.

It is past time for the citizens of Millinocket to join together to help bring back the community we once were.

Get involved, help Kathy Gagnon and Rose Weymouth bring back the Millinocket Pride. Your Town needs you.

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