Franklin Countys First News

Letter to the Editor: Question 4 invests $8.5 million in UMF campus and our community

Beyond its nationally recognized teacher preparation programs and reputation for affordable excellence as a public liberal arts institution, what makes the University of Maine at Farmington so special is its unique location in the heart of the Western Maine lakes and mountains.

The connection between our sense of purpose and our sense of place has defined and differentiated UMF for more than 150 years. We are stronger because Franklin County is our home and we also know Franklin County is stronger by our being here.

That’s why I am so excited about the historic opportunities that Question 4 on the statewide ballot this November provides not just for our campus but for our community.

Question 4 is a $49 million infrastructure improvement bond for the University of Maine System. The need-based investment plan is well within the state’s borrowing capacity and was supported by Governor Paul R. LePage and nearly every member of the Maine Legislature including our local representatives. And $8.5 million of the bond would come right here to UMF – the second highest allocation for any campus.

We have focused the bond investments in Farmington on facilities that serve both our students and our community, while the bond more broadly addresses the need Maine employers have for more skilled workers to fill thousands of open jobs in fields like nursing, engineering, and teaching that increasingly require a four-year or advanced degree.

Voting Yes on Question 4 will grow and strengthen Maine’s teacher workforce by increasing enrollment and hands-on training and observation opportunities for future and in-service early childhood educators through the construction of a new, expanded Sweatt-Winter Child Care and Early Education Center. This expansion will specifically reduce the state’s serious shortage of early childhood special educators and provide more qualified educators to support Maine’s growing public pre-kindergarten programs. As important, it will also increase access to affordable, quality childcare for many area families including, for the first time, those with infants and toddlers.

We also know how essential the Olsen Student Center is to this region. Whether for a community health or craft fair, a Rotary Club meeting or an educational presentation, nearly everyone in Franklin County has attended an event in the student center’s North Dining Hall and knows how well-used this public space is and how badly it is in need of the $1.9 million in long-overdue upgrades that Question 4 will support.

Improvements to this campus center will also make our college more competitive in recruiting and retaining students as will the extensive renovations planned to our residence halls, STEM classrooms, Merrill Hall, and Mantor Library.

UMF is a cornerstone of this community that keeps our young people here, supports our local businesses, and attracts new talent and vitality to Western Maine. Voting Yes on Question 4 positions UMF for a stronger future serving our students and this region. On November 6, please show your support for the contributions this campus makes to our community and join me in voting Yes on Question 4.

Dr. Eric Brown, Interim President
University of Maine at Farmington

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2 Responses »

  1. As I submitted in an earlier letter to the Editor, this bond issue # 4 will bring an historic investment into Franklin County. The Olsen Student Center is used by the wider community and serves as a major location for so many events. Our local senior college holds many of its offerings there.

    It is important to remember that much of the money allocated to UMF, and this Bond Issue is matched dollar for dollar with private and other public fund sources, would be directed at facilities that the community uses. The funds would also help make UMF more attractive to potential students, who then walk down to shop at the downtown stores, benefitting businesses in the area.

    This bond issue merits our strong support and I am happy to add my YES Vote to # 4. Eric Brown's letter deserves out attention, and his points are well taken.

    Eileen Kreutz
    Gold LEAF Senior College

  2. Also, while on the topic of education, can we please force the people who write these ballot questions to retake their elementary school writing etiquette classes so they can maybe learn to write an intelligible sentence? I think it would benefit Maine a lot if that were to happen. It's easier to read the atrocious grammar people spew out on internet forums than it is to read ballot questions.