FARMINGTON – Sen. Angus King spent the day in Franklin County Monday, visiting two schools and a hospital as he toured the facilities and answered student and staff questions.
King visited Mt. Blue Campus, Franklin Memorial Hospital and Mt. Abram High School. His stop at Mt. Blue included visits to Foster Career and Technical Education Center classrooms with Superintendent Thomas Ward, state Sen. Tom Saviello and Glenn Kapiloff, director of Franklin County Adult Basic Education. King spoke with Composites program students about their work creating snowboards, boat hulls and other items, as well as hearing about the ongoing housing project undertaken by the Building Trades program through a collaboration with the Western Maine Community Action Program.
“I can’t step inside a Maine school without being impressed by our thoughtful and hardworking students,” King said, in a statement released by his office after the visits. “There were innovative projects and insightful questions at both Mt. Blue and Mt. Abram today, and Maine has a bright future with such talented kids – and that’s a testament to the dedicated work being done by our educators every day.”
Meeting with students and staff after the tour, King described his day-to-day work in the U.S. Senate, where he sits on five committees. Those include the Select Committee on Intelligence, which King said could be particularly busy over the next few months given recent findings released by the Central Intelligence Agency that claim that hacks originating from Russia had been undertaken to influence the American election.
“I have a feeling I’ll be spending a lot of time [on that issue],” King said.
King identified the biggest issue facing the state in the immediate future as the decline of the forest products industry in the northern part of the state, tying that issue in with the recent announcement by Verso Paper that 190 employees would be laid off at the Androscoggin Mill early next year. The state needed to work to retain existing elements of the industry, King said, but also develop new ones. The University of Maine was developing 3d printers capable of using wood fiber and nanocellulose, among other initiatives, King said.
In the longer term, King said, the state’s biggest issue was a diminishing population. When he was governor, he told students, each class had approximately 17,000 students statewide. That number was now down to 13,000, King said.
In Washington, King said, he had started a small project of inviting a few senators to his house for dinner. He thinks one of the problems with Congress is that lawmakers don’t know each other well enough.
At Mt. Abram High School, King addressed the entire student body, discussing his work in Washington.