Help (Still) Wanted: A Plumber For A Rural Town In Maine In August, a couple in Jackman, Maine, created a scholarship for a student willing to train as a plumber and come back to work in the rural town. Months later, no student has taken the plunge.
NPR logo

Help (Still) Wanted: A Plumber For A Rural Town In Maine

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/373293620/373494652" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Help (Still) Wanted: A Plumber For A Rural Town In Maine

Help (Still) Wanted: A Plumber For A Rural Town In Maine

Help (Still) Wanted: A Plumber For A Rural Town In Maine

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/373293620/373494652" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Something's missing in the small town of Jackman, Maine. They've have an electrician and some carpenters among their 800-odd residents, but no plumber — even after establishing a scholarship for local students to become certified. Ruediger Wittmann/iStockphoto hide caption

toggle caption
Ruediger Wittmann/iStockphoto

Something's missing in the small town of Jackman, Maine. They've have an electrician and some carpenters among their 800-odd residents, but no plumber — even after establishing a scholarship for local students to become certified.

Ruediger Wittmann/iStockphoto

In August, a couple in Jackman, Maine, created a scholarship for a high school student willing to train as a plumber and come back to work in the rural town. Months later, the search continues.

"From the school standpoint, we haven't had anyone terribly interested," says Denise Plante, the principal of Jackman's Forest Hills Consolidated School District.

In August: 'Rural Town Needs Plumber'

As 2014 draws to a close, NPR's Weekends on All Things Considered is checking back on some of the most compelling stories of the year. Here's what we wrote about Jackman in August:

In the isolated town of Jackman, Maine, which has a population of around 800, the local plumber recently retired. Now, the closest plumber is in the nearest town — 50 miles away.

To fill the void, one family has partnered with the local school district to create a scholarship. The 2015 Inza and Harry Hughey Memorial Scholarship will award $2,000 to a local graduate willing to become a certified plumber and come back to work in the town. ...

The preference is to have a student or past graduate of Forest Hill High School receive the scholarship.

Read more

There have been inquiries from people around the country and even overseas, but because the town is so isolated, the scholarship's goal is really to get a student familiar with the area to train and come back.

There is one student, a high school senior, who might be willing to take the plunge: "One of his top three plans is to go to be trained and to earn certification to be a plumber and return to town," says Plante.

If that student does decide to train, it could still be years before he's certified. Until then, Plante jokes, "We'll save our flushes."

There are some stopgap options, she explains: "We have some plumbers that kinda do handy work that may not be certified, and some that travel."

This scholarship was established after a couple moved back to town and reached their wits' end trying to get a water softener installed in their home.

"We've been chasing plumbers for two years. So, yeah, we'd like to see a plumber," says Larry Harth, who established the scholarship with his wife, Sheryl Hughey Harth.

He says they have heard from a lot of towns in similar situations — and from interested candidates who aren't familiar with Maine. But in a small town so isolated that it's been designated as an "on-shore island," Harth says, it's important to have a local, permanent plumber.

"We really would love to have people learn a skill and return to town. Plain and simple," says Harth.