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Former Orland School Now Bustling Business Center 

Five years ago, residents in Orland voted to close their only school in a cost saving measure.

Now, the former school house is back open, this time for business.

Joy Hollowell takes us to the Orland Community Center.

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“In 2011, with the consolidation of schools, they closed down the Orland Consolidated School,” says Mike Malenfant, who was maintenance director at the school for more than a dozen years.

For about two years, the building sat idle.

“We didn’t know what to do with it at the time,” says Orland Town Selectman Edward Rankin, Senior. “Put it up for sale for awhile but that didn’t work out.”

Meanwhile, taxpayers were shelling out $15,000 in annual heating costs for the empty school, plus more for maintenance.

Then came an idea- why not turn the building into an incubator for different businesses?

In 2013, the Orland Community Center opened.

Soon after, tenants started moving in including Lethabo Massage Studio & Day Spa.

“That was kind of a big draw in a sense where a lot of people were coming in,” explains Malenfant, who was hired by the town to be the property manager for the Orland Community Center. “Then Eastern Maine Development Corporation moved in to help with the mill workers.”

Now, the community center is nearly at capacity.

“It puts you right in the hub of town,” says Daniel Watt, owner of Shutter Images. He opened shop at the community center last January.

“This is great for Orland and to use the old building, the old school. You get a lot of people coming in and talking about their school days and they really like to see it being used.”

A grant from the Maine Community Foundation helped purchase equipment to open a fitness center. Gym memberships are available to anyone in Orland as well as surrounding communities.

“I use it for the exercise rooms, which is wonderful,” says Roberta Kuriloff. “I’m going to start using it for the cardio workouts in the evening. I’ve attended some of the events that they had here. And I get my nails done and a massage sometimes here.”

There are still reminders of the past, including white boards left in some of the rooms and the school cafeteria kitchen which is now rented out for commercial use. This unique business model is one other towns are now expressing interest in, particularly the burden being lifted from taxpayers.

“I think by the end of this year, we’re going to be very close to sustaining,” says Malenfant.
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Malenfant was recently invited to East Baldwin to speak with selectmen there about what the town of Orland has done with its former school.

The Community Center’s gym and fitness classes are available for Orland residents as well as the surrounding community.

You can also rent out space for events.

For more information, check out the Orland Community Center on Facebook.

Or log onto

Five years ago, residents in Orland voted to close their only school in a cost saving measure.

Now, the former school house is back open, this time for business.

Joy Hollowell takes us to the Orland Community Center.

====
“In 2011, with the consolidation of schools, they closed down the Orland Consolidated School,” says Mike Malenfant, who was maintenance director at the school for more than a dozen years.

For about two years, the building sat idle.

“We didn’t know what to do with it at the time,” says Orland Town Selectman Edward Rankin, Senior. “Put it up for sale for awhile but that didn’t work out.”

Meanwhile, taxpayers were shelling out $15,000 in annual heating costs for the empty school, plus more for maintenance.

Then came an idea- why not turn the building into an incubator for different businesses?

In 2013, the Orland Community Center opened.

Soon after, tenants started moving in including Lethabo Massage Studio & Day Spa.

“That was kind of a big draw in a sense where a lot of people were coming in,” explains Malenfant, who was hired by the town to be the property manager for the Orland Community Center. “Then Eastern Maine Development Corporation moved in to help with the mill workers.”

Now, the community center is nearly at capacity.

“It puts you right in the hub of town,” says Daniel Watt, owner of Shutter Images. He opened shop at the community center last January.

“This is great for Orland and to use the old building, the old school. You get a lot of people coming in and talking about their school days and they really like to see it being used.”

A grant from the Maine Community Foundation helped purchase equipment to open a fitness center. Gym memberships are available to anyone in Orland as well as surrounding communities.

“I use it for the exercise rooms, which is wonderful,” says Roberta Kuriloff. “I’m going to start using it for the cardio workouts in the evening. I’ve attended some of the events that they had here. And I get my nails done and a massage sometimes here.”

There are still reminders of the past, including white boards left in some of the rooms and the school cafeteria kitchen which is now rented out for commercial use. This unique business model is one other towns are now expressing interest in, particularly the burden being lifted from taxpayers.

“I think by the end of this year, we’re going to be very close to sustaining,” says Malenfant.
+++
Malenfant was recently invited to East Baldwin to speak with selectmen there about what the town of Orland has done with its former school.

The Community Center’s gym and fitness classes are available for Orland residents as well as the surrounding community.

You can also rent out space for events.

For more information, check out the Orland Community Center on Facebook.

Or log onto http://www.orlandme.org/community%20center.htm

You can also call Mike Malenfant at 469-7691.