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The biggest challenges facing Caribou

As part of NEWS CENTER Maine's series "Tapping into your town," Hannah Dineen sits down with Caribou Mayor Mark Goughan

CARIBOU, Maine — In the city of Caribou, the title of "Mayor" is a ceremonial one. While the city council members are elected by the voters, the mayor is appointed by the council members.

The irony, in this case, is that Mayor Mark Goughan has never cared much about titles. In fact, he prefers to go by the title "Farmer Mark." 

He and his wife Gloria have run Goughan's Farm in Caribou for decades. 

Farmer Mark has been serving the city of Caribou for the past eight years. First as a councilman, now as Mayor.

Mark says, "I really don't believe Caribou is any different than any other small town, rural, community in the United States."

Mark believes the biggest issues facing Caribou are job creation, an aging population, and attracting young people.

"There's an outward migration of our young people." Mark knows this first hand. At one point, he lost all three of his daughters to larger Maine cities.

He recalls conversations he had with his daughters before they left Caribou, all hemmed on a drive to find more lucrative work opportunities. "Dad, do you know how much money we can make in Portland?" they told him. "Dad, do you know how much money we can make in Bangor?" 

How do you keep local in town and attract more people and businesses to Caribou? One answer Farmer Mark presents is by taking advantage of the city's natural resources, specifically the Aroostook River. 

"My friends from all over that come and visit and they say wow, what a river! And the river is full of so many fish! You wouldn't believe it!" 

Mark says Caribou's future is "agritourism." Broadly, that involves any agriculturally-based operations that bring visitors to rural areas, specifically farms and ranches. 

Mark practices what he preaches. He and his wife Gloria have laid out a plan to create a golf driving range and campground. Those features would be additions to the existing family farm that already has a maple hut, mini golf course, greenhouse, animal barn and more. 

Aside from natural resources, Mark says the biggest attraction in Caribou is the people and community-first culture.

"We have that 'we all know each other' type attitude, and in my world, that's worth more than any money you could possibly have."

For more from NEWS CENTER's Hannah Dineen-- Twitter: @hannah_dineen, Instagram: @hannahdineen.journo, Facebook: @Hannahedineen