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For Immediate Release

January 23, 2018

Hegemann Named Festival Director

Fort Fairfield native, Meg McLaughlin Hegemann has been named as the new director of the Maine Potato Blossom Festival. Hegemann has experience planning a variety of events, as well as a deep love for the potato industry and the festival that celebrates it.meg 350 “Working the fields gave me a connection to the land here such that no other place felt like home.” After decades in Missouri, Meg and her husband, Brad, moved to Fort Fairfield in June 2016. As director, Hegemann will work with existing volunteers and recruit new ones to facilitate the week long event. “The Festival doesn't just celebrate the town of Fort Fairfield, it celebrates an industry that in many ways defines the County. It takes cooperation from a lot of people and places to make it happen. I look forward to working together to make the 2018 Festival one of the best.” The 2018 Maine Potato Blossom Festival will take place July 14 – 22 with the parade on Saturday, July 21. To sponsor an event or volunteer, contact Hegemann at mpbf@fortfairfield.org.


You can download the survey by clicking this link.  You can return completed surveys to the town office or email tgoff@fortfairfield.org

When the internet first came into existence, it promised to connect people from across the globe, allowing folk’s access to information and markets from anywhere they could connect to the World Wide Web.  And while this promise has held true, the ability for all people to connect from everywhere has proven to be a more difficult than imagined task.  From businesses required to send large data files to gamers and movie lovers streaming their favorite flicks, traditional infrastructure has proven insufficient to handle the vast amounts of megabits traveling through wires and conduits.  Fiber optic cables, with nearly unlimited capacity to send information at the speed of light, are expensive to install and maintain.  This reality has left many rural communities in the dark, with slow to no internet access in some surprisingly well-populated areas.

The Town of Fort Fairfield is one of those places.  It is not unusual to see people sitting in their cars or trucks outside of the town library so they can use the Wi-Fi to check their email.  Roughly sixty percent of the geographic area of Fort Fairfield is unserved or underserved by broadband internet service according to the State of Maine’s definition of high-speed internet.  As communities across the country race towards a future with gigabit service, citizens in communities like ours can watch the bits count-off as the minutes pass by while an email downloads. 

“If we are to compete both locally, nationally and internationally, we have to invest in our internet infrastructure,” explained Tim Goff, Marketing and Economic Director for the Town of Fort Fairfield.  “It may not seem like a necessity to some, but a lack of access to high-speed internet has impacts on our ability to attract new business development and retain young people who demand connectivity at ever-increasing speed to work and play.”

After spending a tremendous amount of time studying the different approaches and opportunities available to improve internet access in Fort Fairfield, town staff have determined that forging private/public partnerships and seeking grants to help cover some of the costs will be the best, most cost-effective, and expeditious solution to the problem.  In order to determine the wants and needs of residents, and provide important potential customer data for companies interested in investing in the town’s infrastructure, the Town of Fort Fairfield will be conducting a survey of residents.

“One of the most important steps for us to take as we begin this process is to query our residents about their current internet access and usage, determine their interest in high-speed internet service and develop our story to spotlight the competitive disadvantages, lost economic opportunities and other challenges that we face without this crucial investment in our community,” stated Goff.  ”This information will play a critical role in explaining who we are, what the need is and why this issue is so important to us.” 

To gather the necessary information, the town has crafted an internet access survey that they encourage all residents to participate in.  All answers will be kept confidential. The responses gathered will be used to help craft grant proposals and provide data to companies interested in investing in Fort Fairfield.  The survey can be downloaded by clicking here. It can also be completed in person at the Town Office during regular business hours. 

In addition, town staff conducted door-to-door survey work during the weeks of August 24th and 30th in select neighborhoods to solicit the data in person.  These neighborhoods are part of a grant proposal the town has been working on in partnership with Pioneer Broadband over the past year. 

The neighborhoods are as follows:

Presque Isle Road from the Nordic Heritage Center to Houlton Road

Houlton Road from the intersection with Presque Isle Road to the intersection with Conant Road

Riverside Ave

North Caribou Road

Strickland Road

Murphy Road

West Limestone Road

Limestone Road

Center Limestone Road

McCrea Road

Turner Road

McNamee Road

Russell Road

Old East Limestone Road

Terrace Drive

McGillan Drive

“The goal is to bolster our case and win funding for a project that targets unserved and underserved portions of our community and bring improved access to them as part of this ongoing effort,” explained Goff.  “I am confident that this important step will help position our community favorably for future projects as we compete for the limited amount of money set aside for internet access improvement grants.”

For more information, please contact Tim Goff at 472-3802 or tgoff@fortfairfield.org   

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