Bangor, Maine, Jun 06, 2012 -- USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager today met with community and business leaders and announced funding that will create jobs, increase access to health care, enhance educational opportunities and improve community facilities in several Maine communities.
“Today I am announcing funding for several Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) projects, two Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) projects and a local community facilities project, Tonsager said. “This funding will help reduce energy costs for local businesses, create jobs and improve access to health care and expanded educational services in rural communities.”
Ten projects will be funded under REAP. This program helps farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses develop renewable energy systems and make energy-efficiency improvements to their operations. The following recipients were selected for funding:
• Broadturn Farm, Inc., Scarborough, ME — $8,062 grant to purchase and install a renewable energy biomass system;
• Inn of Acadia, LLC., Frenchville, ME — $33,250 grant to upgrade the HVAC system in a building constructed in1956;
• Long Meadow Farm, Gardiner, ME — $3,854 grant to purchase and install a renewable energy solar photovoltaic system;
• Cozy Acres Greenhouses, North Yarmouth, ME — $48,750 grant to purchase and install a new solar system and geothermal system;
• Potts’ Harbor Lobster, Inc., Harpswell, ME — $11,750 grant to install a renewable energy solar photovoltaic system;
• Meadowmere Motel Corp., Ogunquit, ME — $20,000 grant to purchase and install a solar renewable energy solar photovoltaic system;
• Hutchings Greenhouse, Inc., Eddington, ME — $5,850 grant to purchase and install a geothermal heat pump system to reduce the cost of fossil fuels;
• LaJoie Growers, LLC, Van Buren, ME — $6,612 grant to replace light fixtures and light sensors;
• Haley Construction, Inc., Sangerville, ME — $3,705 grant to purchase and install a propane-fired boiler that will save the company an estimated 274 million BTUs annually;
• IZE, LLC, Lewiston, ME — $19,275 grant to purchase and install a new natural gas system with a solar heating coil.
To improve the delivery of educational and medical services in rural communities, Tonsager also announced that USDA is awarding two grants under the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Program. This works to improve access to health care and expanded educational services in rural communities. One DLT grant was awarded to a local healthcare firm; the other to a regional school. In Lewistown, ME, Central Maine Healthcare Corporation will use a $309, 619 grant to purchase video conferencing and related equipment for a telemedicine project that covers five counties in western, central and coastal Maine whose residents suffer from high rates of chronic disease. The telemedicine system will be used to offer degree courses in nursing and radiologic technology to support a family medicine residency program.
Regional School Unit 24/Ellsworth District in Ellsworth, Maine, received a grant of nearly $500,000 to purchase video conferencing equipment that will serve students in five Maine and two Vermont counties. An estimated 11,000 rural residents are expected to benefit from the educational and professional training opportunities provided by this grant. While visiting here today, Tonsager announced more than $809,000 in DLT grants.
Finally, the Northern Maine Medical Center in Fort Kent was selected to receive a $6.6 million guaranteed loan under Rural Development’s Community Facilities program, which supports essential infrastructure and services for public use in rural areas of 20,000 residents or less. Financing for Community Facilities projects covers a broad range of interests, including healthcare, education, public safety and public services. Funding for the medical center will be used to replace a 50-year-old, outdated and inefficient heating system with a wood-chip, biomass boiler system.
Since taking office, President Obama’s Administration has taken historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities. From proposing the American Jobs Act to establishing the first-ever White House Rural Council – chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack – the President wants the federal government to be the best possible partner for rural businesses and entrepreneurs creating job opportunities and for people who want to live, work and raise their families in rural communities.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure, and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $165 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers, and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay).