RUMFORD – Construction bids have gone out and legislation that could provide more funding is in the works for developing the new River Valley Technology Center.

In the meantime, the first group of students in the precision metal manufacturing program are preparing to graduate.

“Look at it and you see a tired old building that is coming to life,” said RVTC Director Norm MacIntyre at the board’s monthly meeting.

By this time next month, the contract should be awarded for the renovation of a major portion of the century-old brick building that once served as a bag mill. And within nine months, the students who took the metal precision classes at several sites under the umbrella of the RVTC will be replaced by students who take most of those classes in the newly renovated technology center.

Seven general contractors and several subcontractors attended the mandated pre-bid conference last week with the project’s architects. Bids for the nearly $2 million project are due back on May 1. From there, they will be opened, then the apparent low bid will be sent to the federal Economic Development Administration for approval.

Work is expected to begin in June. Right now, asbestos is being removed.

In the meantime, the RVTC board hopes people will vote yes on an economic development bond issue in June. Among the projects that will receive partial funding if the bond is approved is the RVTC.

MacIntyre said $2 million will be divvied up between the Rumford site and other technology sites in South Portland, Fairfield and Greenville. For the RVTC, this means more of the old bag mill will be renovated than now planned.

“This would be a good layer to go on top,” said Sen. Bruce Bryant, D-Dixfield, and chairman of the RVTC board.

The current construction project calls for completely renovating level two, which is about 16,000-square feet. It will provide space for precision metal manufacturing, for training, and for a business incubator. Eventually, the RVTC would like to renovate the entire building.

MacIntyre said he has a potential tenant who would like to use the entire fourth level if it was ready.

Two groups of adult students have recently completed the RVTC precision metal trades program by taking classes at Auburn’s Central Maine Technical College and the Region 9 School of Applied Technology in Mexico. Another class began the one-year program in January and the fourth will begin in May.

The first graduates of the new technology center precision metal trades program will be honored not only at graduation ceremonies at CMTC in May, but also in the Rumford area soon after.

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