WILTON — Jack Gibson remembers the towns that supported his paving work over the years. Now he’s in a position to give them some help.

Gibson, 83, of South Portland started a program, the Marshall L. and Ruth-Anne Gibson Municipal Charitable Program, designed to help municipalities.

The program awards $10,000 grants, one grant a month or 12 a year for five years, a total of $600,000.

In April, Wilton was offered a chance to apply for one of the grants and immediately did so, Town Manager Rhonda Irish said.

At the end of the month, Gibson notified the town that the one-time $10,000 grant would come in June to help improve and upgrade playground equipment in three of the town’s parks.

After 59 years in the road construction and paving business, he sold Commercial Paving & Recycling LLC in 2004.

In a packet sent to the towns of his choosing, Gibson said, “I have not forgotten the loyalty and trust afforded me by the municipal officials and taxpayers of your community. Due to the present economic conditions, I feel it might be an appropriate time to institute this program.”

The company was based out of Scarborough but Gibson traveled the state. Company officials had a full schedule during paving season and it was the town managers, public works directors and the selectmen who supported them.

“A lot of municipalities worked with us, a lot were very helpful,” he said. “While we were there, they’d help with traffic control. Police departments would keep watch for us. I never forgot.”

He remembered Wilton.

He started in Aroostook and Washington counties giving the most needy municipalities the first chance at the grants. Now it’s coming down to other counties. He’s given out about 10 so far and is amazed that three towns never responded, he said.

Wilton is looking to upgrade as much playground equipment as it can in Bass Park, Prospect Street Park and Bishop Park in East Wilton,  Irish said. A project delayed for several years due to lack of funding.

“We haven’t figured out how much or for where,” she said. All three will benefit with new equipment that allows for future additions. “We’re making up a plan.”

Irish was not aware of the program when Gibson’s packet arrived in the mail, giving the town 60 days to respond. She did know of his company and the work he did in Wilton.

His philanthropic work and the information supplied about giving back to municipalities is “very different, very welcome and very much appreciated,” Irish said.

The first grant recipient, Mapleton in Aroostook County, is also upgrading playground equipment, Gibson said Thursday. Washburn in Washington County is working on a pond on Main Street where a swimming area was closed.

He remembers the town manager coming to their trailers set up at the town garage on those hot summer nights and taking them to the pond for a swim, he said.

He doesn’t try to dictate where to use the money but does share his memories.

In Norway, the funds were used to help seniors pay property taxes. Taxpayers were allowed $500 credit per family.

“You should see some of the cards and letters I get back from people who benefit,” he said.

A collage of the cards is being set up in his Gibson Realty LLC conference room in South Portland to “show the younger generation you can do this.”

He enjoys working and dealing with people and hasn’t considered retirement, he said. His two sons support his work.

“The way the economy is, all the municipalities are hurting,” he said.

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