MACHIAS — The Machias Savings Bank has pledged $500,000 to the campaign to build a Lifelong Learning Center at the University of Maine at Machias, according to an announcement Tuesday by Paul Nordstrom, the campus’ president.
Nordstom said the gift is the largest to date in the $3 million fund-raising campaign the campus launched last month.
Phase I of the learning center will be an Olympic-size swimming pool. Groundbreaking is scheduled for early summer, and the swimming complex is expected to open in the fall of 1999.
Phase II, which entails raising an additional $1.5 million above the $3 million, will include a conference center, Internet cafe, expanded bookstore, day-care center, dual fitness areas and a reading room.
Nordstrom said the bank has made an “extraordinary statement to the university community and to all of us in Washington County.”
“This commitment should send a message to the entire state of Maine that this University and higher education are valued by the people of Downeast Maine,” Nordstrom said. “We are extremely grateful for this generous action by the Machias Savings Bank.”
The $500,000 will come from the Machias Savings Bank Development Foundation over the next five years. Bank president Edward L. Hennessey Jr. said the bank established the fund with an initial donation of several capital stock issues that have been in the bank’s stock portfolio for many years.
Yesterday’s announcement of $500,000 for the university learning center follows on the heels of the bank’s $20,000 pledge to an endowment fund for the Sunrise County Economic Development Council. Those funds are also to come from the foundation over the next five years.
Hennessey said Machias Savings Bank is dedicated to stimulating the eastern Maine economy.
“Who else is there?” he asked.
Hennessey said Washington County would be a very different place if it were not for the university. UMM has an enrollment of 1,000 students, and 65 percent are from Washington County. Hennessey said many are nontraditional students who would not have been able to pursue an education if it weren’t for the university.
Machias Savings Bank employs many graduates of UMM, Hennessey said, and they are very good employees.