New Canada News

New Canada Town Office To Get Out of the Kitchen

By Julia Bayly
Special to the Bangor Daily News
Saturday/Sunday, July 13-14, 2002

NEW CANADA -- Elections in this small St. John Valley town center on Rodney Pelletier’s kitchen.

The town manager has hosted voters in municipal, state and federal elections for six years - ever since he took on the position - because there is no alternative. His home doubles as the town office and seat of community government.

But all that’s about to change, starting with a groundbreaking this weekend for a new community center, funded in part by a $250,000 Community Development Block Grant.

“This [building] is going to be a place for the community to come together,” Pelletier said Friday. “It will be for everything from town meetings to social functions.”

Construction is planned on the site of the old Holy Family Parish Church across from Daigle Pond. The 94-year-old church closed its doors on July 2, 2000 because of a shortage of priests. The building was demolished the next year.

The groundbreaking and a dedication of a monument to the old church begins at 3 p.m. Sunday, and includes a picnic open to the public.

“To lose our church, it was awful,” Pelletier said. “And people really did not realize how bad it was until it was gone.”

The church, Pelletier said, was the only public building for the town’s 306 residents and was used for meetings, social gatherings and religious services.

“The loss of the church left a real void and split the town,” he said. “People joined different parishes and now don’t see each other on such a regular basis.”

A year ago, Pelletier proposed the idea of building a new 40-by-70-foot community center on the Holy Family Parish Church site.

Thanks to the support of parishioners and the intervention of a local priest, the Diocese of Portland was convinced to donate the parcel of land where the church was located.

A $75,000 USDA Rural Development loan and $20,000 in the municipal reserve account will supplement the town’s successful application for the block grant money, Pelletier said.

The new building is slated for opening at the start of next year, and Pelletier said he is looking forward to moving the town records and ballot box to their permanent home.

“Right now, everything is in my house,” he said. “That’s one of the problems we had. Every time there was a change in town managers, the records got moved around.”

Over the years, he said, it is almost certain some documents were lost or misplaced.

The project goes out to bid next week, with the bid openings planned for August 7 and construction beginning soon after, Pelletier said.