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