$2.7 million for Franklin County infrastructure included in congressional funding bill, waiting for full approval

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WASHINGTON D.C. – Senator Susan Collins, Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, helped to introduce $2,785,000 for Franklin County projects into the Fiscal Year 2024 Agriculture and Rural Development appropriations bill, which was officially approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee in June. The bill now waits full approval from the U.S. House and Senate.

The Franklin County Emergency Operations Center will create a consolidated facility for county-wide emergency response services. The committee discussions around the project have proposed a more suitable space for the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, along with office space for the IT department and Franklin County Emergency Management Agency. Currently, Franklin EMA is located in the County Courthouse, a little over two miles from the Franklin County Regional Communications Center and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office; by relocating the offices the agencies can work more efficiently in the event of a large-scale emergency or catastrophe. The building is also expected to house a conference room for meetings and trainings across all county departments.

The project is a one-story building of approximately 7,000 square feet. Preliminary designs are expected in the next few weeks.

The amount requested and approved by the appropriations committee was $2,035,000. If federal funding is approved, the County is looking to raise a match of approximately $1,665,000, which can not be supplied from the county’s American Rescue Plan Act funds. Currently the Franklin County Commissioners are waiting to hear about this congressional funding before making decisions on how to spend the remaining ARPA funds.

An additional $750,000 was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee for a childcare facility in Rangeley. The Beth Brunswick Memorial Fund for Children has been working to develop plans for a childcare facility in Rangeley, collaborating with the Rangeley Lakes Regional School and stakeholders in the community, including local businesses and Saddleback.

Beth Brunswick, an advocate for health and wellness in the Rangeley Region, passed away last spring before her dream for a childcare center could be realized. A group of friends, family, and stakeholders gathered to take over that mission, and formed the Beth Brunswick Memorial Fund for Children.

The plans for the center include building a new facility on property adjacent to RLRS that can provide care for up to 76 children from infants to early school-age children. Working with the district, this facility will provide developmentally appropriate ‘school-ready’ curriculum to help build a strong foundation for children.

The project has received incredible support from the local community. Surveys have been conducted to identify the needs of the community, revealing that Rangeley has a small number of childcare providers and the need outweighs the available resources. The board members for the Beth Brunswick Memorial Fund for Children are also looking ahead at what the Rangeley Region will need in the future.

“We want to be additive, not competitive,” board members Ellen Oppenheim and George Bernstein said.

Projects include the possibility of a ‘wrap-around’ preschool program with the school district; the district’s pre-K program is currently a half day, so the childcare center may be able to provide care and services for the other half of the day. Collaborating with Rangeley Health and Wellness on after-school programs is also a possibility as the center looks to fill the gaps for children and families.

The center will accept childcare subsidies and assist families with the applications for those subsidies, along with other initiatives to help ensure childcare is accessible and affordable for those who need it.

A purchase and sale agreement has been established for the property, along with preliminary designs. The board is working with local builders and contractors and has an optimistic opening date of September 2024.

The entire cost of the project is estimated to be $2.5 million, with the potential for $750,000 in congressional funds and an additional $250,000 in state funding. Fundraising projects are underway. The board hopes to complete the project without taking on any debt, to help the facility be self-sustaining within a couple years.

The Beth Brunswick Memorial Fund for Children is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and is accepting donations towards the childcare center:

Beth Brunswick Memorial Fund for Children
PO Box 7038
Rangeley, Maine 04970

Or, direct deposit to:
Franklin Savings Bank
Routing # 2112 74492
Account # 93844033

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