Franklin County Commissioners Lance Harvell of Farmington, left, Chairman Terry Brann of Wilton, center, and Clyde Barker of Strong listen to county Finance Manager Vickie Braley, not shown, at their Tuesday meeting. Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal

FARMINGTON — Franklin County commissioners will hold a workshop at 10 a.m. Tuesday with municipal representatives to discuss plans for the county’s $5.86 million in American Rescue Act funds from the federal government. They will meet at the county courthouse.

Each town is also expected to get its share of funds.  The meeting will be an opportunity to see what needs they may also be facing and if there could be some collaboration.

Commissioners would like to see if the water and sewer lines in Farmington can be connected to the county jail, dispatch center and sheriff’s office. The lines stop at the old hospital, which is an apartment complex. Commissioners mentioned an estimated project cost of $2 million or more, however, it would take collaboration with the town.

Philip Saucier, an attorney from Burnstein Shur law firm in Portland, answered questions via Zoom on what the stimulus funds money could be used for. Some project ideas included wastewater and water infrastructure; a $1,000 stipend for essential employees who worked during COVID-19; heating, ventilation and air conditioner systems for county buildings; and replacing deteriorating sills at the county courthouse. Jim Desjardins, IT systems manager, also brought up implementing cybersecurity measures.

Charlie Woodworth, executive director of Greater Franklin Development Council and co-administrator of the county tax-increment financing program, said he would contact town managers and a selectman from towns that don’t have a manager to invite them to the workshop.

In other business, commissioners voted 2-1 to approve $247,000 for five projects to be funded through the county TIF grant program. Woodworth explained how the grant applications are evaluated and scored by a committee of residents. The committee unanimously supported the projects, he said.

Receiving $17,000 is Maine High Peaks Barn Quilt Trail, a network of 25 hand-painted quilt murals displayed on historic barns and buildings in Strong, Avon, Phillips, Madrid, Rangeley, Eustis, Kingfield, and New Vineyard. Often the geometric quilt design is carefully selected to reflect a location’s heritage, culture, and sense of place. The project connects and celebrates two parts of American culture: agricultural barns and quilting.

The quilt murals were curated by artist Saskia Reinholt and painted by over 600 children in north Franklin County under the guidance of Reinholt and fellow teaching artist Natasha Bogar, according to highpeaksmaine.org. It promotes, among other aspects, arts and culture, and is good marketing for the region, Woodworth said.

The Carrabassett Region Chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association was awarded $35,000 to add to recreational assets in the High Peaks mountains in Franklin County, Woodworth said.

The Madrid Turnout on Route 4, Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust will receive $25,000 for completing the turnout and a kiosk. The property is at Reed’s Mill Road and Route 4, and is considered the Madrid Gateway turnout to the Rangeley area.

The Madrid Historical Society was approved for $50,000 in a TIF grant in September 2018. Subsequently, society members turned the property over to the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust. Commissioners agreed to transfer the grant to the organization. In July 2019, commissioners agreed to release $15,000 in tax-increment financing funds to the trust to buy a former store and dance hall in Madrid Township.

Tim Pond Camps will receive $50,000 to renovate an unused fishing cabin built in 1889. Woodworth said the work will allow the cabin to become a revenue-generating asset.

Brann voted against funding the grants, particularly for Greater Franklin Development Council.

Commissioners Clyde Barker of Strong and Lance Harvell of Farmington were in favor of the council getting the funds. Harvell said he wanted to work with Woodworth for a year to find a way to put a performance measure in place in regard to what the organization is doing.


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