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AUBURN - Museum L-A presented four new awards as part of its third Annual Board Meeting and Dinner held April 28 at Martindale Country Club. Eighty people gathered to hear about Museum L-A's progress from Founder Elliott L. Epstein, Board Chair Edward Cormier, Executive Director Rachel Desgrosseiliers, and Scott Slarsky of DesignLAB architects, the Boston firm doing pre-design work on the Museum's future home at the former Camden Yarns Mill. U.S. Representative Michael H. Michaud also spoke as did Diane Jackson representing U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe and Carlene Tremblay representing Senator Susan M. Collins.

In his remarks to the gathering, Cormier made note of the Museum's many accomplishments and plans for the future :

  • Exhibit and office space for the museum has grown from 3,000 square feet to 12,000 square feet with additional space for collection storage.
  • A strategic planning process is under way to set a direction for the Museum's future. An interpretive-planning consultant, a museum design consultant, an economic-impact consultant, and architects and engineers are currently engaged in the process.
  • Through the generosity of board members and the community, the mortgage for the Museum's future home at Camden Yarns Building was paid off.

Epstein, Cormier, and Desgrosseillies each presented awards to the 2011 honorees:

Inspiration and Innovation Award to Raymond D'Amour - a textile designer at Bates Fabrics and Minette Mills for 50 years. He was the Museum's first volunteer, and a most valuable adviser and mentor. Ray strongly believed in Museum L-A's future as a vibrant part of the community and the education of our children. Georgette D'Amour accepted her husband's posthumous award.

Heritage Award to Robert Roy Jr. for his commitment to the heritage of the community as clearly evidenced in the restored beauty of the Ironhorse Court complex at the former Maine Central Railroad passenger depot, now known as the Royal Oak Room. It is a showcase of the best of the old, updated with the requirements of the new.

Revitalization Award to Thomas Platz for his vision and dedication to the revitalization of the mill buildings in the Bates Mill Complex and other architectural gems in our community. Also for his long-term support of Museum L-A, providing the space in Mill 1 for Museum exhibits and offices.

Business Support Award to Cote Crane-Rigging for the many times it has helped Museum L-A to preserve equipment stored in Lewiston's old mills by moving it to safe storage. Cote Crane has moved heavy machinery from the textile and shoe industries and also has helped move equipment from the site of the future Museum L-A.

Desgrosseilliers' presentation focused on the museum's role in the community. "We are not just about the PAST," she noted. "We are about inspiration that leads to innovation. We don't have to go very far to find the giants who give us that inspiration. We look to the stories of our ancestors - workers who built the community.

"It is time for the community to celebrate with great pride what it was many years ago, the many strides it is making in reinventing itself, and move once again toward being the soul of the state of Maine - the Creator, the Inventor, and the Innovator of the Future. Our awardees believed.

"I thank each and every one of you and, this is what I ask of all of you. I want you to be believers and I am counting on you. We can do it."