From the Bangor Daily News By Ramona du Houx, Posted Oct. 10, 2013, at 11:08 a.m.
Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci and former Governor John Baldacci will be co- hosting a Spaghetti dinner on Wednesday, October 30th at the Spectacular Event Center in Bangor from 5 to 7 pm. The former governor will serve up the spaghetti— with his family’s secret sauce.
“It’s our hometown – where we grew up witnessing how neighbors help neighbors. I’m excited by the opportunity to help out,” said the former Bangor Mayor Joe Baldacci. “There are few other public transportation options for people living in this region. The greater Bangor bus service serves 1500-2000 people per day throughout Bangor, Orono, Old Town, Veazie, Hampden and the University of Maine – it logged in over a million rides last year- twice as many as a decade ago.”
The dinner costs just $6 for adults and $3 for children under 12.
The community has been steadily coming forward to help. The co-owner of Spectacular Events Jane Arey deserves special recognition as she has kindly donated her place and is doing much of the cooking for the event.
On Wednesday October 9, 2013 Councilman Joe Baldacci took a trip up and down the Odlin Road bus route and the extension with volunteers Shawn Lewin from Bangor and Michael Costello from Orono to find sponsors for a planned community dinner to help save the bus service. Badacci met with managers and owners of several hotels, TV stations, banks, the Grace Evangelical Seminary, and other nonprofits.
“I look forward to working with many of them to cosponsor this dinner. There is great community support out there,” said City Councilor Baldacci. “We’re hoping for a large turnout. If there are any aspiring magicians, comedians, actors who would like an opportunity to entertain people at this dinner please contact me.”
Baldacci is committed to the cause to keep the Odlin Road bus route operational. He even donated his City Council salary to help defray short-term cost.
“But more funds are needed to keep this essential lifeline operating. So, I thought why not hold an old-fashioned Momma Baldacci spaghetti dinner?” asked Joe.
Hero’s in Bangor are donating a gift certificate Paula Paradis of Paradis & Foster Event Management are pitching in a piece of fine jewelry. Others have come forth.
“Andy Meucci of Family Fun Lanes is donating a twelve pound bowling ball and bag to be auctioned off at the Oct 30th dinner,” said Baldacci. “And Sonya Eldridge from Bagel Central who has kindly agreed to make pastries for the dinner and is donating two Bagel Central gift bags to be auctioned off. Reporter Wendy Chadwick will also be making desserts for people to enjoy after the pasta. And several local notables such as Don Cookson, Renee Ordway, and Rep. Adam Goode have agreed to be celebrity servers with John.”
The city has cited their goal of saving roughly $20,000 dollars as the primary reason for closing the route. The shut down of the bus route was proposed even though ridership has steadily increased.
“The network extends way beyond Odlin Road. People I knew, from Old Town, were commuting via BATT and transferring in Bangor to ride out to motels on outer Hammond and Odlin Road,” said Shawn Lewin. “The system is all interconnected, and deserves to be supported by all of us.”
The route serves primarily low-income working people who are struggling to overcome poverty.
“In this economy affordable transportation is key for many families trying to make ends meet. We are working a longer term goal of creating a public/private partnership to keep that bus route up and running,” said City Councilor Baldacci. “People rely on this bus service for work and other important services. This lifeline needs to continue for the well being of our citizens and the growth of Bangor’s economy.”
The Odlin route, which opened seventeen months ago, was the result of a five-year petition campaign by Bangor residents living on Odlin Road and Outer Hammond Street.
For years the Baldacci family ran an Italian restaurant in Bangor. Momma Baldacci’s became a meeting place known for its food, conversation, and community atmosphere. To highlight and help issues in the community and around the state the Baldacci’s started charity spaghetti dinners.