Talk about inspiring! Our Tell Me More Tour stop in Millinocket was less about the event's attendees telling us what specific stories Maine Public News should be covering and was more about how the entire region was getting back on its feet and we should be noticing.
Held at the North Light Gallery in Millinocket, our Tell ME More Tour stop followed a LIVE Maine Calling with Jennifer Rooks. Jennifer and a guest panel — Kala Rush, education coordinator, Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters, Lucas St. Clair, executive director, Elliotsville Plantation, Inc., and Tim Hudson, monument superintendent, National Park Service — checked in on how things are progressing with the Katahdin Woods and Waters Monument. It was an excellent program and spoke to the resurgence of the area and the spirit behind it.
With Senior News Editor Keith Shortall at the helm of the tour stop, attendees launched right from the beginning into detailing the challenges facing the area. In fact, that was the first point that they raised...attendees don't think of themselves as being from a single town, but rather from a region working together. The challenges they detailed included encouraging their youth to remain in the area, improving the school system, the need for a labor force, and encouraging others to settle in the region. And they believe they have solutions to many of these issues. "This is fertile ground for farmers and entrepreneurs," noted one attendee who also pointed out the number of Help Wanted signs in Millinocket and the surrounding towns. Collectively, the group stated that the area was a wonderful place to live and put down roots. With low housing costs, available jobs and a bevy of outdoor activities, this area is ripe to grow.
What was especially telling from this tour stop is how hard the residents are working to improve their communities. A recently released Vision and Action Plan was highlighted as a purposeful step in the right direction. Attendees asked us for more stories about rural revitalization, success stories from rural school systems, and how other communities are engaging and connecting youth more to their communities.
Thank you, Millinocket region!