[Creative spelling in Norridgewock]
[The economic realities of many in rural America]
Each of the five counties that make up Central/Western Maine is so very different than the others. In Androscoggin, primarily because the twin cities of L-A (It’s Happening Here), optimism abounds. The economy is better here, than probably any other part of Maine, save the greater-Portland area. A case could be made, in fact that L-A has experienced the state’s most dynamic economic growth over the past five years.
Leaving my office in Lewiston and driving west to Rumford, Farmington, or Skowhegan, the economic challenges and the struggles of rural America to adapt to the changes in the 21st century economy become apparent.
While some choose to highlight the negative aspects of our state, I still find reason to be optimistic, and I’m not a “glass half full kind of guy.” Maybe my optimism is fueled by the opportunity I have to meet people that care deeply about Maine and the communities they represent; the passion of a chamber director in Waterville, an economic development director in Somerset County, whose quiet confidence and unassuming ways have won the respect of the people he represents. In Rumford, a core group of people are doing their darndest to turn things around and root out those who care more about power, than the people, as well as counter the deliberately false reporting of the daily newspaper, by becoming the media. Maybe it’s nothing more than having the chance to walk around downtown Skowhegan and see the wonderful architecture, the ruggedness of the falls and then, having a few free minutes to visit the Margaret Chase Smith Library for the first time.[A library visit to learn more about one of Maine's great people]
College professors, TV talking heads and NPR reporters can sound Maine’s death knell and paint a bleak future for our state, but I choose to believe that the special quality of people that don’t always make the evening news will be the ones that help turn things around.