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Press Release: July 14 Celebration of Local Economy and Public Forum, Dexter

Ridge View Community School, Dexter, ME: On Saturday July 14, nearly 175 area residents and local and state officials met at a public forum hosted by Dexter and Dover Area Towns in Transition {DDATT} for an open discussion of the proposed East-West Corridor.

 

Residents spoke with a panel of local government officials of both parties, candidates for this fall’s state elections, and members of concerned citizens groups including Stop the East-West Corridor, and Defending Water for Life in Maine.

 

State Senator Doug Thomas, a central proponent of the plan, who had initially made three confirmations of attendance, did not attend.  Two other representatives, Paul Johnson and Ray Wallace, also cancelled their confirmed plans to attend on the night before the forum.

 

As residents asked questions and shared comments on the East-West Corridor proposal, panel members learned about the project, mostly from audience members, and panelists Chris Buchanan, statewide coordinator of Stop the Corridor coalition, and Hillary Lister, a local activist.   Both public officials and citizens are currently unable to access any specific information regarding location, investors and full intent for land use.  Questions also remain about how alternatives to the Corridor and the full impact of a Corridor would be assessed.  In addition, attendants questioned how public officials would address the exemption of Freedom of Access to private infrastructure proposals. These questions and many others remained unanswered by Representatives Herbie Clark and Ken Fredette.  They both expressed that, like the audience at large, they too sought to understand the proposal more clearly.

 

In his opening statement, representative Herbie Clark said that he listens to his constituents.  “90 percent say, ‘Herbie, we don’t need it,” he said.

 

While filing into the gym, many attendants remarked at the absence of any state, local or private security, in contrast to the heavily policed presentation by Cianbro’s Peter Vigue at Foxcroft Academy on May 31st. Despite the absence of law enforcement, and the urgency of the subject matter, those in attendance maintained a civil tone.

 

Although scheduled to end at 9pm, the forum was extended in order to allow all those interested to speak their turn. Some waited for up to an hour in line behind the microphone.  After the conclusion of the meeting people gathered outside the school to continue discussion.

 

The consensus at the end of the evening is that more transparent information is needed from those behind this proposal before many members of the community can accurately come to a well informed conclusion.

 

Panel members included: Dave Pearson, District 24 House Candidate; Dusty Dowse, District 27 House Candidate; Sherman Leighton, Senator, District 33; Frederick Dawson, District 25 House Candidate; Ken Fredette, House Representative from District 25; Sue Mackey Andrews, candidate for Piscataquis County Commissioners; Jim Aniss, selectman from Dover Foxcroft, candidate for Piscataquis County Commissioners; Herbie Clark, District 10 House Representative, candidate for District 27 Senator seat (against Doug Thomas); Hillary Lister, a local activist and representative of Stop the East West Corridor; Chris Buchanan, statewide coordinator for Stop the East West Corridor and organizer with Defending Water for Life in Maine.

 

Before the forum a community fair was held.  Local businesses and community organizations presented their crafts, trades and information.  This gathering seemed to set a positive tone with music, home made food and a robust exchange of local info. One small local businesswoman who sews finely crafted handbags and tote bags displayed a sign stating: “This is What Job Creation looks like.”

 

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