January 
Regional School Unit 73 was in the news frequently after Spruce Mountain High School Principal Thomas J. Plourde was removed from his position in late December by District Superintendent Todd LeRoy. Plourde’s removal was said to be part of a process to decrease the district’s administrative team by one position in order to free up funds for student services. Two days later LeRoy released word of a plan to merge the Spruce Mountain middle and high schools into one secondary school. On Jan. 7 Plourde was welcomed back as principal of the high school by several students. On Jan.10 district directors accepted LeRoy’s resignation, effective immediately, and named Spruce Mountain Middle School Principal Scott Albert as acting superintendent.

The murder trial of James “Ted” Sweeney opened with the prosecutor focusing on Sweeney’s obsessive jealousy and the defense pointing to mental illness and deafness as factors in the beating death of Wendy Douglass at her home in Jay last year.

Justin Stewart cleans up after a Chef’s Table lunch shift. Stewart is a senior at Mt. Blue High School and is in his second year of the culinary arts program at Foster CTE. (Franklin Journal photo by Dee Menear) File photo

World class dining may be found at the Chef’s Table, operated by Sean Minear and his students in the Culinary Arts program at Foster Career and Technical Education Center in Farmington. Ingredients are purchased each day at a local grocery store. The year-long program focuses on fundamentals such as food safety, sanitation and different cooking methods.
Livermore Falls selectmen voted to accept a Code of Ethics for town officials and employees and a Code of Conduct for appointed and elected officials. Among the points outlined in the ethics code is that every resident, who is entitled, shall receive a fair and impartial hearing on any matter coming before the Select Board, its appointed agencies or any employee of the town.
The condition of town roads in Livermore was discussed by Selectpersons. The road plan presented at the town meeting in June was just to resurface roads, to hold steady. If money isn’t put in for roads, they are never going to get better.

February

Regional School Unit 73 announced later arrival Wednesdays are being eliminated Feb. 13 through June 5 with school starting at the same time as other weekdays. The district has already canceled school six times this year so far. One day needs to be made up. 15 hours or three days could be made up by eliminating late arrival Wednesdays.

Dan Ryder of Jay was recognized as one of the nation’s top educators at the National Education Association Foundation Salute to Excellence in Education Gala. Ryder and four other educators received the foundation’s prestigious 2019 Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence and $10,000 during the event. Ryder is a language arts teacher at Mt. Blue High School in Farmington.

Spruce Mountain High School students graduating in 2021 and beyond will have to earn 25 credits with one year-long economics course. Students currently must earn 24 credits to graduate. High school Principal TJ Plourde said academic programming offered at the school was examined as part of the accreditation process. Students need to be aware of economic factors that impact their daily lives, not only from an individual perspective. Appreciating economics locally, at the state and federal levels and how economics impacts the global economy must also be understood.

Spruce Mountain’s Julia Pomeroy competes in the giant slalom on her way to a Class B state title at Black Mountain in Rumford in February. File photo

Spruce Mountain’s Julia Pomeroy won the girl’s giant slalom state title during the Maine Class B Alpine state championships at Black Mountain. The girls’ team finished third overall and second in giant slalom. SMHS boys’ finished seventh overall and sixth in giant slalom. Spruce’s Gage Sampson finished in 14th place.

March

This week readers of The Franklin Journal were welcomed to the new, combined edition of the Livermore Falls Advertiser and Franklin Journal. The new version offers readers more content, more coverage and advertisers more visibility.

Spruce Mountain Elementary School Principal Chris Hollingsworth goes all out with his support of United Way of the Tri-Valley Area. This year he donned a rain poncho and ski goggles and had about 90 ‘pies’ thrown at him. Students paid $5 and staff $10 to throw a paper plate covered with whipped cream at his face.

Family night at Academy Hill School let students be teachers and got parents involved with school activities. Each classroom had a different game to play involving math. Pizza and other food was provided and there were door prizes for adults and students.

Brian Haynes and his dad Owen Haynes, both of Weld, play a version of Go Fish teaching place value at the AHS family Fun Night in Wilton. File photo

Steve Etzel was searching through the attic of his childhood home on Anson Street when a pair of suitcases caught his eye. One held an exhibit of personal and historical documents, artifacts and memorabilia that had belonged to his grandfather, Leon Emery. They were from Emery’s time as a U.S. soldier during World War I.

The Jay Planning Board approved flood plain and shoreland zoning permits for a sewer conversion project on the condition voters okay sewer easements and a lease, and the town receives state and federal permits. The proposed $3.9 million project will eliminate use of the North Jay Treatment Plant and connect the North Jay sewer system to the gravity sewer system near Jay Plaza in Jay Village. Sewage would go to the Livermore Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant.

April

Maine-made Easter eggs were on the roll from a local manufacturer to the lawn of the White House. Maine Wood Concepts, located in Franklin County, was once again producing 110,000 wooden commemorative eggs for the White House Historical Association. It is the official egg of the association with some given to children in the annual Easter Egg Roll. The rest were sold in a fundraiser for White House preservation and educational activities.

Eli Yeaton of Mt. Blue. File photo

Eli Yeaton, a junior at Mt. Blue High School was named Sun Journal All-Region Boys Alpine Skier of the Year. Yeaton was runner-up in both slalom and giant slalom at the KVAC championships. He finished second in giant slalom and third in the slalom at the Class A championships.

Zach Keene was reinstated as Spruce Mountain girls basketball coach after a meeting with administrators. He had been informed March 28 during his regular end-of-season evaluation that he would not be asked to return as coach. About 50 people, including players, parents and school board members overwhelmingly expressed support for Keene at an April 1 meeting.

The 8th Annual Flowers for Food fundraiser was held. The fundraiser uses local fresh-cut daffodils from several large private gardens to raise money for the Tri-Town Ministerial Association Food Cupboard. This year, the fundraiser honored the memory of Marcel Castonguay who was an active member of the community.

May

The Jay Board of Selectpersons received a petition signed by 218 registered voters requesting a town meeting be held within 60 days to determine whether residents oppose a proposed Central Maine Power transmission line. The $1 billion, 145-mile power line would bring electricity from Canada through Western Maine and Lewiston to Massachusetts. The board opposed holding the meeting.

Roasted cricket snacks were available for purchase at Ron’s Market in Farmington. The snacks came in orange Creamsicle, mango habanero, Italian lasagna, lemon meringue, sun-dried tomato, jalapeno garlic, Mexican mole, cotton candy, white cheddar and Indian curry flavors.

Aimee DeGroat took a chance and found her passion. At age 45, she graduated from the creative writing program at the University of Maine at Farmington. The Jay woman was among the 360 bachelor’s and master’s degree graduates, out of a total of 384, who marched in the university’s commencement exercises.

Foster Career and Technical Education Center Student of the Year Matthew Otte, at right, signed his appreciation to Regional School Unit 9 directors, staff, students and community while Foster CTE Director Melissa Williams looked on. File photo

Matthew Otte of Farmington was recognized during a Regional School Unit 9 board of directors meeting as the Foster Career and Technical Education Center 2019 Student of the Year. Otte used the opportunity to convey his deep appreciation to Regional School Unit 9 directors, staff, students and community. Born profoundly deaf, he used American Sign Language to share his background and goals with the audience.

Spruce Mountain Middle School students’ 1-minute video created for the annual World of 7 Billion contest sponsored by Population Education was named the top video from Maine. The students gave a presentation on their video and how it came about to the Regional School Unit 73 directors. Gifted and talented teacher Rob Taylor said he received a postcard about the annual contest from Worldof7billion.org. Participating students were asked to identify a real-world problem tied to population growth, come up with a solution and create a 1-minute video.

June

Franklin County cut non-profit funding 75%, sparking debate. A handful of non-profit groups have been receiving less and less funding in recent years from Franklin County. Several county commissioners and members of the Franklin County Budget Committee have argued that taxpayer money shouldn’t be going to non-profit groups that provide transportation and social services and are used by a few. Non-profits whose funds have been trimmed argued their services are important.

Mt. Blue High School added 149 graduates to its list of alumni. Valedictorian Marielle Pelletier said she set and achieved a silent goal, one she would not share. She urged her classmates to do the same. Salutatorian Maeve Hickey reminded the audience to remember those who do much for little recognition.

Spruce Mountain seniors walked to the future as they followed a graduation filled with words of wisdom and acquired memories. Salutatorian Lilly Towers spoke of the changes that occurred when Regional School Unit 73 was formed. Valedictorian Gabrielle Beaudoin said addressing everyone was an honor but a pretty daunting task. She thanked the faculty and parents, whom she called ‘lifelong teachers’, for making the past four years beneficial and memorable.

First responders on the scene of the fire at the Edgewood Rehabilitation & Living Center on Sunday, June 16. Submitted photo

More than 40 residents displaced by a fire at Edgewood Rehabilitation and Living Center on Route 4 were relocated to other facilities or placed with their families. A malfunctioning ceiling fan in a bathroom was the suspected cause, Farmington Fire and Rescue Chief Terry Bell said. Residents at the center were initially taken to Mt. Blue High School on school buses. Fire departments, police and other emergency responders in the area helped with the building evacuation, while Regional School Union 9 staff and others helped.

After six years of planning and fundraising, Western Maine Play Museum hired an executive director and set its opening date. Joni James, a longtime WMPM volunteer, was to begin her executive director duties July 15. WMPM is seen as a value to the community, with people excited to have a rental space for parties. In the future, school vacation or overnight camps are possible.


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