Island business owners discuss issues during Doudera tour

Feb 15, 2020
Courtesy of: Rep. Vicki Doudera Shey Conover with some of the 125 boats she and husband Josh care for at Islesboro Marine, pictured Jan. 31 during Democratic Rep. Vicki Doudera's tour of island businesses.

Islesboro — Rep. Vicki Doudera, D-Camden, spoke with several small business owners on Islesboro recently on her business tour of District 94.

Her first stop Jan. 31 was Island Plumbing, where owner J.T. Zlotkowski explained the growth and scope of his plumbing business, with four employees who, with him, serve hundreds of customers. Like many Maine business owners, Zlotkowski could use more trained workers, as he occasionally has had to turn away new business.

Doudera’s next stop was the Island Market. There she spoke with owner David “Shake” Mahan, who has run the store with his wife Linda for 24 years. Mahan feels the number one issue for Islesboro businesses is the stability of the ferry system, specifically the rates charged for residents, which have recently been in flux.

Next, Doudera toured the Islesboro Health Center, where Physician’s Assistant Owen Howell cited as challenges the high cost of pharmaceuticals and salaries for locum tenens – medical professionals from away who fill in on the island when needed. Howell said he is grateful for LifeFlight, whose services often support the health center’s medical care, as well as the island’s well-trained EMS team.

Her tour next took Doudera to Islesboro Marine, where owner Shey Conover gave Doudera a tour of the boatyard. Conover and her husband Josh store and maintain 125 boats, and service more than a hundred moorings, piers and floats.

In 2016, the couple launched Marshall Cove Mussels, recognizing the opportunity aquaculture represents. They participate in Islesboro Central School’s Pathways Program, helping to mentor students interested in marine careers. A challenge for them is one common to many small business owners: affordable health care.

Doudera’s last stop was Durkee’s General Store. Owner Richard Durkee discussed the state’s liquor pricing, which makes stocking spirits especially difficult for small stores, as well as the effects of the minimum wage on small businesses.

Michael and Pam Hutcherson, who moved to Islesboro four years ago, met Doudera at Durkee’s to discuss their market garden business, as well Maine's first-in-the-nation food sovereignty law, which allows local governments in the state to pass ordinances that exempt many direct-to-consumer food sales from state licensing and inspection requirements.

Doudera concluded her tour with a visit by longtime island residents Mary and Brian Hauprich, who manufacture, sell and distribute Tick Me Off Maine®, an all-natural tick repellent. Their questions centered on navigating the rules and regulations set by the EPA and Maine’s Board of Pesticides.

“It was a wonderfully varied and interesting day,” Doudera said. “I’m grateful to all of the business owners for their time and candor, and especially thankful to Richard Durkee for allowing me space to host the last several interviews.

“Listening to the challenges and successes of businesses in our district is so informative, and bolsters my conviction that we need to keep working to solve the state’s workforce challenge, make government more responsive, and fight to make health care and prescription drugs more affordable.”

Doudera also thanked her friend, Islesboro resident Donna Seymour, for her help with the day, commending Seymour’s “flawless scheduling and expert chauffeuring.”

Doudera will be working on small business challenges in her district and can be reached at Victoria.doudera@legislature.maine.gov. She represents the towns of Camden, Islesboro and Rockport.

 

Pam Hutcherson, left, owner of a market garden business on Islesboro, with Rep. Vicki Doudera Jan. 31 at Durkee's General Store. (Courtesy of: Rep. Vicki Doudera)
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