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2012 February 20 - 12:00 am

MONEY TREE: $11M Maine Gift Will Expand Community College

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A gift of nearly $11 million will enable a state community college campus in central Maine to expand by as many as 2,000 students, helping to accommodate the huge demand from those seeking enrollment, Gov. Paul LePage and other officials announced.

The gift from the Harold Alfond Foundation will also help the Good Will-Hinckley School in Hinckley to reopen its new magnet high school, the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences.

“Mr. Harold Alfond’s legacy lives,” LePage said at the Blaine House announcement, which was attended by dozens of state officials and educators. The governor noted that the Legislature has also appropriated money for community college operations at the new campus and for the natural sciences school.

The Alfond Foundation has contributed tens of millions of dollars to educational, community and health care projects all over Maine. It carries on the philanthropic work of Harold Alfond, who founded the Dexter Shoe Co.

The gift sets into motion the purchase of 600 acres and 13 buildings at the Hinckley school for Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield, which is eight miles away. With a doubling of the college’s enrollment over the last 10 years to 2,500 students and prospective students being turned away, there’s a need for more capacity.

“This investment will create a new college campus and will mean that 1,500 to 2,000 more Maine people have access to a college education,” said John Fitzsimmons, president of the 18,500-student, seven-campus Maine Community College System.

A portion of the $10.85 million Alfond gift will help Good Will-Hinckley reopen and support its magnet school, which offers residential and day programs in agriculture, sustainability, forestry and environmental studies.

For more than a century, Good Will-Hinckley served at-risk young people until its core operations closed in the summer of 2009 because of financial problems.

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