Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King, center, leads a conversation while having lunch Monday with Skowhegan community leaders, including Dan Tilton of Skowhegan Savings Bank, left, and Samuel Hight of the Hight Family of Dealerships, at Brickyard Hollow Brewing Co. in Skowhegan. King received updates on various development projects that have received federal funding. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

SKOWHEGAN — U.S. Sen. Angus King met with town leaders Monday for updates on some of the projects that are part of $650 million in investments that are expected to spark the regional economy.

“It was really amazing there’s so much going on,” King said. “The thing that really came through was the energy and enthusiasm from a whole new generation of leaders. I was really, really impressed.”

King, an independent, told the Morning Sentinel about changes he has seen in Skowhegan over the past few decades. His first professional job was with Pine Tree Legal Assistance in Skowhegan as a staff attorney, when the town’s economy was dependent on its mills. But the town’s fortunes soured when the mills closed.

King began his tour Monday at the former Madison paper mill, which is now home to TimberHP, a division of Belfast-based GO Lab. The mill is now manufacturing wood-fiber insulation meant for the residential and light commercial construction markets. The insulation has been produced in Europe for more than two decades and accounts for more than $700 million in annual sales across the European Union, according to the GO Lab website.

TimberHP is looking to hire about 120 workers over the next few years.

“I met a guy there who had worked in the mills for 35 years, saw it close down and is now seeing them putting in new machines,” King said.


The mill is now a couple of weeks out from restarting production, he said.

King then went to Skowhegan and met with representatives from the Skowhegan Regional Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Skowhegan, along with local developers and entrepreneurs involved in development projects in town.

King and U.S. Sen. Susan Collins have worked to secure millions in federal funding for the region, including $2 million last year for Skowhegan River Park. But King said he was impressed by how much money has been raised locally.

“That’s an indication of how committed the community is,” he said.

Kristina Cannon, executive director of Main Street Skowhegan, provided an update for King on the River Park project, explaining how it is nearing the end of its design phase, and organizers will soon turn their attention to securing the proper permits.

Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King, center right, gestures while sharing lunch Monday with Skowhegan community leaders at Brickyard Hollow Brewing Co. in Skowhegan. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Cannon said King also toured the former Solon Manufacturing Co. mill in downtown Skowhegan. The 80,000-square-foot building is undergoing a $15 million renovation to transform the space into a home for Bigelow Brewing Co. on the ground floor, with market-rate apartments and a hotel filling out the space above.


The mill was built in 1922 and originally housed the Maine Spinning Co. The company was at its height from the 1940s to the 1970s, when it employed 300 people and produced 1.5 million to 2 million pounds of yarn for markets around the country.

Developer Dash Davidson said Monday the renovation process is “proceeding nicely.” The project is supposed to be completed next year.

King said he agreed to meet with local leaders on the roof of the mill next year as various multimillion-dollar projects near completion.

“It was a wonderful, positive day,” he said, “and it’s one that’ll keep me going in Washington.”

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