LEWISTON — The Franco-American Heritage Center and Museum L-A have each been awarded half-a-million dollars in federal money.

U.S Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both Maine Republicans, announced the awards early Wednesday. They are two of five organizations and communities in Maine given funding by the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program. The total amount of the awards is $1.5 million.

“This funding will benefit residents by enhancing local culture and recreation while promoting the development of small businesses in Maine,” Collins and Snowe stated in a joint release.

Rachel Desgrosseilliers, executive director of Museum L-A, said in a written statement to the Sun Journal that, “The funds will be used to assist in the expansion of the museum’s programs and exhibits and especially with the development of the new museum on the riverfront in the former Camden Yarns mill site.”

“This grant means
that we will be able to continue on the path of excellence we have
established and will help us plan for an exciting future,”  Desgrosseilliers said.

Rita Dube, executive director of the Franco-American Heritage Center, said the organization is “excited” and “thrilled” about the news. Dube added that the grant will allow the center to restore its basement, “to the same level of quality and beauty as the performance hall upstairs.”

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In a written statement, she said that the grant has created jobs, “brought in economic dollars to the community” and “offers free programs to youth that provide them with a deeper appreciation for the arts.”

These three reasons are, “why we should all rejoice at the prospect of creating an even better facility for everyone,

” Dube said.

The state’s three other award recipients are Northern Maine Finance
Corporation, the town of Limestone, and the town of Frenchville.

The USDA Rural Development program works to increase economic opportunity and improve community facilities for health care, public safety and public services, according to the program’s Web site.


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