February 27, 2004
The smell of fresh paint and glossy shine of newly waxed floors fill the south wing of the new residence hall at the University of Maine at Fort Kent as 150 bed frames arrive to be matched up with the same number of mattresses delivered and placed a week earlier in each of the 27 suites that are now complete.
Final move-in preparations for the "maiden voyage" of UMFK's new magnificent, three-story, on-campus housing facility include the usual last-minute placement of furniture, cleaning, and ensuring keys unlock the doors for which they are intended.
That part of the scene is similar to what would happen prior to the opening of a new dormitory on any college campus in the country. At UMFK however, preparations have taken on a whole new dimension, as the campus community readies itself to welcome the world, in the form of 150 athletes and coaches from more than 20 nations who will compete in the upcoming Biathlon World Cup.
"You can almost hear a beehive-like hum coming from the new dorm as our entire residence life staff prepares for the athletes' arrival," said Scott Voisine, UMFK director of student services. "This is both an exciting and exhausting time for our team."
Voisine's staff has been busy making beds, delivering linens to rooms, creating signage for a multi-lingual audience, and moving into the facility so they can staff it for the week that athletes will call the building and Fort Kent, Maine, USA home.
"We are ready to give a warm Fort Kent and UMFK welcome," said Voisine, who has worked with his team at creating a special welcome packet of information and memorabilia from the campus and local community.
Preparing the new dorm to host some of the world's best athletes is one of the many ways that UMFK is readying itself for the week ahead.
"We have extended our full cooperation to event organizers and are working together with the hundreds of community volunteers to show the world the best skiing and warmest hospitality found anywhere," said UMFK President Richard Cost.
Toward that end, UMFK has allocated Nadeau Hall to serve as an off-site competition headquarters, which includes a press operations center, space for more than 400 volunteers to process their official accreditation, and the site where national team captains will gather to hear necessary information about the week's competition.
The campus dining hall is preparing to serve three meals a day to more than 200 athletes and coaches, and has set up a special high carbohydrate menu to facilitate the needs of athletes.
In addition to providing nourishment, the UMFK campus will also help keep the athletes in touch with family and friends by providing a campus computing lab for daily internet access.
Other campus facilities, including Fox Auditorium have been reserved to host cultural and performing arts events that will be held outside of competition times.
The internationally acclaimed Banff Film Festival, a performance by well-known Maine children's entertainer Rick Charette, and the spellbinding antics of a hypnotist will all be featured in the campus auditorium during the week.
Before the final curtain goes down on World Cup week in Fort Kent, UMFK will host all athletes, coaches and volunteers at a closing gala reception on the evening of Saturday, March 6. The event planned as a huge thank-you party will be the largest indoor activity all week, with more than 600 people invited to attend.