Delegates honing contest pitch

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LEWISTON – It will start with the shout, “Lewiston: Are you ready?”

With that, 27 local officials, residents and business owners will have 20 minutes to sell their city to judges in Anaheim.

Lewiston is one of 34 finalists competing in the National Civic League’s All-America City contest June 9-11.

At stake are bragging rights. A jury will pick 10 winning cities, giving them the right to use the All-America City emblem on road signs, letterheads and advertisements.

The contest spotlights communities that have faced difficult problems and turned them around. Lewiston’s presentation will focus on bringing new immigrants into the community, redeveloping the Southern Gateway and establishing a Youth Advisory Council.

The presentation will center on a hockey theme: “Scoring goals in Lewiston.”

“Basically, we’re in a fictitious lobby coming into a hockey game and someone is selling programs,” said community relations coordinator Dot Perham-Whittier.

The trick now is to hone their presentation.

“We have a lot of people on stage, and they’re all going to have parts,” Whittier said. “That’s been our challenge, keeping it below 10 minutes.”

Once they’ve finished, the judges have 10 minutes to ask them questions about their written application.

“Everybody is being prepared really carefully, making sure we’re all well-versed on the details,” Whittier said.

The delegation has two weeks left to prepare for the competition. They’ll leave on June 8 and will present their show at 4 p.m. Pacific time Saturday, June 10 – 7 p.m. in Maine. Winners should be announced on June 11, and the group will be back in Lewiston on June 12.

Delegates include Mayor Lionel Guay, City Councilors Normand Rousseau and Stavros Mendros, City Administrator Jim Bennett, Deputy Administrator Phil Nadeau and Youth Council Adviser Dottie Perham-Whittier. Nine members of the youth council are going, as well as five local business owners, four social service agency representatives and five members of Lewiston’s Somali community.

The junket will cost $23,917, and the city is hoping to pay for it through donations. It’s raised $6,659 so far – still $17,258 short of the goal.

Lewiston’s application was written by the Youth Council, 11 high school students appointed by the City Council to take on certain community-oriented tasks.

The application is a 20-page summary of good things happening in Lewiston over the past few years, from landing the Lewiston Maineiacs Quebec Major Junior semi-professional hockey team to being named one of the top 100 places to do business by Inc. Magazine.

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