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OTIS donates to renovate Jay Union Hall

OTIS donates to renovate Jay Union Hall

Andrea Kantrowitz’s “Jay Strike Mural” is a familiar sight in Jay. SUBMITTED PHOTO

From left to right: Duane Lake, Chair of the OTIS FCU Board of Directors; Chris Bouchard, President/CEO, OTIS FCU; Samuel Howes, Chair of the OTIS FCU Board of Directors; Gary Desjardins, Vice Chair of the OTIS FCU Board of Directors; Linda Deane, Executive Director, WMLC; Marcel Shink, Member, WMLC Building Committee; Bruce Bryant, Member, WMLC and Past President of Union 14. SUBMITTED PHOTO

JAY — OTIS Federal Credit Union has donated $5,000 to the Western Maine Labor Council, the organization that purchased the Local 14 Union Hall at 6 Intervale Road in Jay. The donation will be used to renovate the building and preserve the building’s historic artwork.

The Western Maine Labor Council (WMLC), formerly headquartered in Lewiston, is made up of unions whose members work or live in Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties. Building Committee member Barbara Arsenault knew of OTIS Federal Credit Union’s ties to the paper industry, so she sought a partnership to renovate Local 14 Hall, as it will be WMLC’s new, more central headquarters. Before the building on Intervale Road can be fully used, Arsenault said the carpets would need to be removed, the chimney repaired, interior and exterior painting completed, and the bathrooms upgraded to be ADA compliant, she explained. She added that WMLC wants to keep the “Jay Strike Mural” on the outside of the building, and they also plan to add solar panels to the street down the road. According to Arsenault, the ultimate goal is for the building to be not only the WMLC’s new headquarters, but also a “center for labor history and community building” that will “bring new activities to the Jay area.”

After receiving the Labor Council’s donation request, the OTIS Federal Credit Union Board of Directors agreed to donate $5,000 to this project. Commenting on this decision, Gary Desjardins, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of OTIS FCU, said, “The Otis Mill, for which OTIS Federal Credit Union is named, was built in 1906. The Coating Preparation Department at the Otis Mill was the driving force behind the Credit Union’s founding in 1954. This check is a tribute to the hundreds of paper workers who worked at the Andro and Otis mills over many decades.”

The Western Maine Labor Council recently held a press conference thanking OTIS FCU for its donation as well as others involved in this project. “This contribution is not just a financial gift; it is a strong support of the Western Maine Labor Council, Local 14 Solidarity Center and our mission to preserve the rich history of papermaking in this area,” explained Linda Deane, executive director of the Labor Council. She also said, “With the Otis Mill being demolished, the Androscoggin Mill closing and no active paper mills remaining in the area, it is imperative that we preserve this legacy. The history of papermaking is not just about the industry; it is about the lives, struggles and triumphs of countless workers who have contributed to this community. Your support helps us honor their legacy and ensure their stories are not forgotten.”

The Labor Council welcomes additional donations as it needs additional financial support to complete the building renovations and mural preservation. Deane said, “We hope others will feel inspired by the generosity of OTIS Federal Credit Union and join us in our mission to preserve and promote our local labor history.”

To learn more about the Western Maine Labor Council or to donate to this project, please visit https://wmaineclc.org.

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