CHESTERVILLE — Several people attended an open house Friday afternoon at the first home built through Western Maine Community Action’s Community Home Replacement Program.

With federal, state and local partners, students in the building construction and plumbing and heating programs at Foster Career and Technical Education Center in Farmington helped build a new home for Joe and Pam St. Pierre. 

William “Bill” Crandall, program manager for housing services at Western Maine Community Action, said 15 organizations, 30-plus people and 22 students made the home a reality. Financing was provided through federal funds, private foundations and a homeowner loan.

“Franklin County works together to get things done,” Crandall said. “This is a great model that we should be using across Maine and perhaps the nation.” 

State Sen. Tom Saviello, R-Wilton, said, “The way Bill has blended this with the school and the community is phenomenal. What he’s done, that’s the way it’s supposed to work.”

Building Construction instructor George Chimenti said this is the first home his students have built with WMCA.

“They were excellent to work with,” Chimenti said. “We didn’t start pounding nails until Jan. 6 and there were trials and tribulations. I’m looking forward to doing another project.” 

Crandall said, “The students were always smiling. It was a tough year, with both work and life experiences.” 

After a tour of the new home, many of the partners and supporters gave remarks.

Ben Tucker, regional representative for U.S. Sen. Angus King, said, “This is a positive news story in a world that isn’t very positive. The spirit of neighborliness, looking after their fellow man, is alive and strong in Maine.”

Tucker read a letter from King that said in part, “This project had the added benefit of teaching a firsthand lesson in the building trades and the importance of civic responsibility to area youth.”

Tim Gallant read from U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s letter, “This accomplishment is a reflection of the hard work and commitment to assisting neighbors in the most effective way possible.”

Student Lawrna Paul said building the house meant a lot.

“We first came when there was nothing,” she said. “The ground hadn’t been broken. There was a lot of snow we had to shovel. We started out as eight Blue Day students who knew nothing. We became a family and learned.”

Building contractor Mark Chretien said he and three others are alumni of Foster Tech.

Architect Emily Mottram said, “There is nothing more important than coming out of school with additional skills.”

Crandall said two-thirds of the funding is in place for the next project, which he hopes will begin in in the fall of 2018.

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An open house was held in Chesterville on Friday afternoon at the new home of Joe and Pam St. Pierre built through the Western Maine Community Action’s Community Home Replacement Program. Pictured from left are Tim Gallant, a representative of U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine; Pam St. Pierre, WMCA program manager; William “Bill” Crandall; student Lawrna Paul; and building construction instructor George Chimenti.

At an open house Friday afternoon, advanced building construction program student Elijah Tyler, at left, talks with instructor George Chimenti. Students in the beginning and advanced programs helped build a new house for Joe and Pam St. Pierre in Chesterville through WMCA’s Community Home Replacement Program. 

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