To the Editor:

When we at the Bridgton-Lake Region Rotary Club first heard of the Innovation Lab and Learning Center envisioned for the Magic Lantern Theater here in Bridgton, we were excited and almost immediately jumped on board. Soon, with the support of the University of Maine, 4-H Foundation and community leaders, it began to take shape. Like everything during the pandemic, things went on hold for a while, but they are coming back. That means the support of the necessary big-name backers. But we are among the individual, nonprofit and smaller business supporters in the community. Our support is needed as well. To help stimulate that, the Bridgton-Lake Region Rotary Club has agreed to match the first $10,000 brought in by donations from Bridgton and the surrounding communities to support this outstanding project.

We love the idea of living in a town that is home to a state-of-the-art theater in the evening and a University of Maine 4-H Innovation Lab and Learning Center during the day. Let’s make it happen. You can find out more about the project, including how you can donate, by googling Magic Lantern Innovation Lab or going to https://extension.umaine.edu/4hfoundation/magiclantern.

The goal of the Innovation Lab and Learning Center project is to increase the educational opportunities for youth and the community. The programs connected to the Magic Lantern will focus on creative learning, career opportunities, internships, and UMaine research-based curriculum. The plan is to utilize the spaces for special presentations, programs and events to support youth.

These programs will not change the numbers of people in the theater, the traffic pattern, parking, or uses that have already been approved by the town. UMaine 4-H Learning Centers (there are four in Maine) are dedicated to bringing the latest research into communities, welcoming research professors, graduate students and lecturers for special programs. Educational programs provide students and the community opportunities to be involved directly with very exciting and valuable cutting-edge research and education.

In addition, the learning center plans to partner with local nonprofits and businesses. The intent is to build a community education program serving the needs and interests of Bridgton and the region.

Thank you for your partnership.

Dave Barker, past president, treasurer
Bridgton-Lakes Region Rotary Club

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