Officials tour federal stimulus projects

LEWISTON — Bettyann Sheats said she knows firsthand that federal stimulus money has helped the economy.

City Bus Tour
Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Lewiston Superintendent of Schools Leon Levesque, second from right, talks with Genevieve Lysen, right, from the Maine People's Alliance, Thursday morning during a bus tour of improvements to Lewiston and Auburn with funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Bus Tour
Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Longtime Citilink bus driver Roger Tremaine gauges if he can make it around a corner Thursday while driving city officials and others around Lewiston and Auburn to sites improved with money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Bus Tour
Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Kristen Walters of the St. Mary's Nutrition Center at 208 Bates St. in Lewiston speaks to the assembled tour on Thursday. The food pantry housed in the center is open five days a week and feed approximately 200 families per week.

Bus Tour
Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Lewiston Mayor Larry Gilbert points to improvements made on Russell Street with money from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act during a bus tour of Lewiston and Auburn on Thursday.

Sheats received two lead abatement grants last year totaling $48,000 that helped her renovate two downtown Lewiston apartment buildings, making them more livable and increasing their value.

"We received $24,000 for the two buildings but we spent more than that, and we wouldn't have been able to start without the grants," she said. "That helped me, but it also helped the people I paid to do the work. And it helped the people that live in those buildings."

Sheats' building was one of several stops for Twin Cities municipal officials, members of Lewiston and Auburn's delegates to the state Legislature and local media designed to showcase how federal stimulus money was spent.

"What we're trying to say is that the stimulus worked and helped a lot more than people realize," said Genevieve Lysen, organizer for the Maine People's Alliance, which sponsored the tour.

The tour started at Lewiston's Oak Street Bus Station, visited St. Mary's Nutrition Center at 208 Bates St. and then drove past Sheats' buildings.

After that, the bus stopped at newly-rebuilt Russell Street in Lewiston, drove through Auburn and returned to the bus station, with the group discussing the $7.4 million UV water treatment plant at Lake Auburn.

Lewiston Public Works Director Dave Jones said the tour was supposed to visit the UV facility, but organizers realized Wednesday afternoon that the bus would not fit on the Lake Auburn access road.

All told, the tour visited projects or programs that received more than $11.1 million in federal stimulus.

Beginning in the spring 2009,  Lewiston and Auburn received $72.2 million from the federal stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Most of that money, $52.7 million, is coming to the cities through the state. About $32 million went to local hospitals to repay the state’s debt for treatment of patients covered under MaineCare since 2005.

Most of the rest of the money was directed to  capital improvement projects.

"ARRA has provided critical help with infrastructure spending that has and will continue to create greatly needed jobs in this harsh economy," she said.

Projects highlighted Thursday:

— Transportation grants to purchase 13 transit buses statewide for a total of $390,000. Citylink, the Twin Cities bus system operated by the Lewiston Auburn Transit Committee, will receive three of those buses.

— St. Mary's Nutrition Center on Bates Street used a $23,000 grant to hire several youth workers.

— Sheats' Lisbon Street building, which was granted $8,000 per tenant to remove lead paint.

— Russell Street in Lewiston, which was rebuilt over the last two summers. The road project was paid with a $2 million state transportation grant.

— The city of Auburn's Perryville Combined sewer overflow project, which began last summer and wrapped up this spring. Work was paid with a $2.4 million grant.

— The Lake Auburn UV treatment facility, built with federal grants of $7.74 million.

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 's picture


Are you serious Wide?
You think it's ok to just run the presses and print worthless money?
What do you think this does to the worth of our dollar = it's not worth the paper it's printed on.

I wish I could sit back and believe the All Mighty Obama just has access to an unlimited amount of FREE money to pass around with no consequences. Unfortunately there are plenty of shmucks that are too ignorant to see the OBVIOUS . What happened to Common sense?
Do you run your household like this? If so, you are part of the problem with this country. The problems with the housing market are proof too many Americans have chosen to balance their sheets just like our government - thinking they can just borrow their way out of debt all the time. Robbing Peter to Pay Paul... doesn't work for long does it?

The millions that were so generously funneled through the hospitals into the hands of the state to pay for Medicaid payments is scary. Can't wait for that Obama Care! Whew! We won't have to worry about THAT being a problem again I guess..... that money will fall from the sky also!

I simply cannot believe so many people in this country have their heads so far up Obama's rear end! Hopefully the remaining 55% of my fellow taxpayers wake up and do something about this before we reach a ration of less than 50% paying taxes. We won't stand a chance then... and our country will fail to exists.

 's picture

You Missed My Point, Mr. WideStance

I'm willing to dispense with your juvenile vulgarity to help you understand my point.

My point is that this money, falling magically from Washington's Yum-Yum tree, is borrowed money. It is money that Obama, Pelosi and Michaud didn't have saved. It is borrowed. With interest due.

About 45% of Americans pay no Federal Income tax. This ratio is wonderful if you are a tax taker because you have no skin in the game. Who cares what Federal spending and borrowing is! Let the poor working schlumps pay!

A little over 55% of Americans work these days. Correlates nicely with the 45% figure cited above, no?

So, the recap: The kids should have been on the caravan. They'll be paying. And a large percentage of them will pay nothing, if the Wide Stance Democrats remain in control.

I'm not sure the term "weekend" means anything to you, but have a nice one anyway!

 's picture

They Should Have Taken the School Kids Along... a train of yellow school buses. Those students that will pay taxes when they grow up (now running at about 50%) will be paying the Red Chinese for this borrowed money.

A complete article would have discussed who actually paid for this "federal" money. Isn't it wonderful that President Obama sent us all this money? Yipee!


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