Monday, August 11, 2014

Forget the shortage of rural doctors and lawyers: A Maine town offers to pay for a plumber

NPR reports today from Jackman, Maine, population 862, where local benefactors are offering to educate a student to become a plumber--as long as s/he will return to Jackman to work.  The town's only plumber retired recently.  
To fill the void, one family has partnered with the local school district to create a scholarship. The 2015 Inza and Harry Hughey Memorial Scholarship will award $2,000 to a local graduate willing to become a certified plumber and come back to work in the town. 
Sheryl and Larry Harth run the scholarship fund and decided to focus it on plumbing once the void hit them acutely. They moved back to the area about two years ago and built a house, hiring a plumber who lived in that town about 50 miles away to work on the project. Last year, they needed more work done and they were promised that that plumber would return.
Harth reports:  
Well, it's been two years and we still have not seen that person.  
The Harths hope that a graduate of the local Forest Hills High School will take up the offer:  
With that, then we have somebody who is established, who knows the town, has a love for the Great [North] Woods.  
The most recent graduating class had just 12 students, and 168 are enrolled, K-12, for the coming academic year.  Jackman is part of the Moose River Valley. The State of Maine has designated Jackman an "on-shore island," meaning it is surrounded by trees instead of water.  Jackman is in Somerset County, population 51,706.  The poverty rate is 18.2%.     

Posts about the rural doctor shortage and rural lawyer shortage, respectively, are here and here.  

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