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This week’s edition!

Only Steps Forward Auburn residents step up to celebrate community

By Jonathan P. LaBonté

Mayor of Auburn

During the course of a week, I field dozens of phone calls and emails and was stopped in the grocery store or around town with residents’ ideas for how to grow our city, improve its quality of life or lower taxes.

Knowing the collective insights of a mayor and seven councilors pales in comparison to what the whole community can offer. It’s always fun to listen, dig a bit deeper into the conversation and, in a phrase coined by some local students, ask: “What can you bring?”

With so many issues or ideas, it can often seem easier to pass it along to someone else to handle, to have them do the heavy lifting. The challenge is that the person you are handing it off to may lack the expertise, the relationships or the passion you have to move it to the finish line.

What I saw during the last weekend, and again to be seen in the one upcoming, is a great demonstration of residents bringing something to the table.

Late last week, I was out to dinner and commented to a friend and local business leader what the weekend schedule looked like. Without hesitation, he offered: “It wasn’t always that way.” How fortunate we are to be living in an area of growth and revitalization of community here in Auburn, as well as in the greater community of Lewiston-Auburn.

The United New Auburn Association, backed by a core of active volunteers, hosted a neighborhood yard sale and pig roast, all while raising money to restore Auburn’s historic Marshall’s Popcorn Truck.

The Lake Auburn Community Center hosted a pot luck celebration for their volunteers, the horsepower behind not only the West Auburn Barn restoration, but miles of new trails open to the public near the lake.

Taber’s, the historic lakeside stand and mini-golf destination, celebrated 75 years of business, which has included hosting events such as regular reunion weekends for Edward Little High School graduates.

Another local small business, Uncle Andy’s Digest, in recognition of 20 years of publishing their light-hearted magazine, threw a bash at Mac’s Grill that raised more than enough money to grant two wishes in partnership with Make-A-Wish Maine.

There were several more, but you get the idea.

This weekend, as tens of thousands of people descend on L-A (along with hot air balloons!), dozens of non-profit organizations will be working overtime to serve those visitors and raise money for important year-round causes. And our local business owners will be all smiles as visitors and residents keep those cash registers busy.

This year, for the first time I can recall, the third and final leg of the Greater LA Triple Crown 5K running series, the LA Bridge Run, will take place starting in New Auburn and looping our shared riverfront. As has been the case recently, there will be nearly 1,000 athletes taking on the scenic 3.1-mile course that follows our riverwalk and the canal. The race and wellness event is made possible by volunteer efforts and the investment of local sponsors.

The beautiful part about each of these events is that they were envisioned and pushed forward by community members, volunteers and organizations made up of citizens of Auburn, Lewiston and the surrounding area. These events are indications of something much bigger: a city made up of those who not only dream big, but are also quick to grab a shovel and help.

There are plenty of ways the city government can partner and, in a number of the efforts I referenced above, the city did play a small role. But we cannot rely on the government to build community—only the people that call this place home can do that.

Some of my proudest moments as mayor of my hometown are when I can see the results of people’s vision becoming reality and I have the opportunity to thank them for what they bring to build Auburn.

As always, you can reach me by phone at 782-1174 or email at


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