Vocational school expansion money approved

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MEXICO — Residents in the 16 towns supporting the Region 9 School of Applied Technology voted 646-476 Tuesday to go ahead with a $4.9 million renovation and expansion project.

David Driscoll, director of the school, said he was delighted with the results.

“This is a tremendous new opportunity for the high school kids in this area. They’ll be on an equal footing with other kids in the state,” he said Tuesday night. “More adults will use the space, too, because it will be a much nicer facility.”

In a very light turnout, residents of SAD 43 voted 264-146 to approve the project; voters in SAD 44 voted 175-153 to go ahead with the renovation/expansion.

Only SAD 21 voted it down, 159-156.

The unaffiliated towns votes: Gilead, 14 no, 8 yes; Upton, 11 yes, 2 no; and Hanover, 32 yes, 2 no.

The breakdown for SAD 43 towns was: Byron, 13 yes, 3 no; Mexico, 38 yes, 15 no; Roxbury, 8 yes, 8 no; and Rumford, 205 yes, 120 no.

For SAD 44, Andover, 21 no, 15 yes; Bethel, 104 yes, 67 no; Greenwood, 17 no, 15 yes; Woodstock, 27 no, 19 yes; and Newry, 22 yes, 21 no.

In SAD 21, the vote was: Canton, 22 yes, 7 no; Carthage, 19 yes, 16 no; Dixfield, 44 yes, 43 no; and Peru, 93 no, 71 yes.

“We just had the shortest count in history,” said Canton’s administrative assistant, Kathy Hutchins, who said the count took three minutes.

The Region 9 board will meet at 7 tonight to confirm the vote, then on Jan. 16 will likely sit down with architect Jim Reuter of the Bethel firm of Smith Reuter and Lull, to discuss how to complete the project.

Plans are to have the 17,000-square-foot addition and extensive renovation of the existing building completed by the fall of 2008.

Tuesday’s vote was the last chance Region 9 had to use a state grant of $673,000 and a no-interest loan of $1.06 million. The remaining $3.1 million will be borrowed at the prevailing interest rate for 20 years.

Region 9 board Chairman Norman Clanton said late Tuesday that he was gratified by the confidence residents had shown by letting the board move forward.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for all citizens of Region 9 and a recognition that it’s an investment in the community and in the futures of the students,” he said.

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