January

Bristol Paige, the first baby born at Franklin Memorial Hospital in 2019, arrived at 3:40 a.m. Jan. 1. Bristol Paige, daughter of Larissa and Jason of Rumford, weighed in at 7 pounds, 10.8 ounces and was 19 1/4 inches long.

W.G. Mallett School students Allie Lesperance, front, and Aubrey Fournier take part in the WinterKids Winter Games opening ceremonies Monday, Jan. 7. (Franklin Journal photo by Dee Menear) File

W.G. Mallett School students and staff kicked off the second annual WinterKids Winter Games on Monday, Jan. 7 with an Olympic-style opening ceremony and a parade of flags. Mallett was chosen as one of 31 elementary schools statewide to participate in the month-long competition.

The Department of Labor’s rapid response team partnered with a Community Transition Team and others offered assistance to Barclaycard employees after Barclaycard US announced it would close its Wilton call center March 31, leaving 227 people without a job. Other business closures announced in January included Coca Cola’s Farmington sales office and Key Bank branches in Wilton, Bethel, Guilford and Winthrop.

K9 Axel of Farmington Police Department was a recipient of a protective ballistic vest through Maine K9 Vests, a non-profit organization run by the Robichaud family of Oxford.

The Town of Wilton was awarded a total of $500,000 in grant and loan funding through Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments and Maine Department of Environmental Protection for the continued asbestos removal and building demolition of the former Forster Mill on Depot Street.

Representatives of local education and economic development organizations held a roundtable meeting on Jan. 25 to address and discuss an initiative to collaborate efforts between service providers, educators and community connectors for the purpose of facilitating a workforce training program. Foster Career and Technical Education Center, Franklin County Adult Education, Spruce Mountain Adult and Community Education and Greater Franklin Development Council hosted the meeting at the Chef’s Table at Mt. Blue Campus. In attendance were representatives from Regional School Unit 9; Maine Department of Labor; Department of Corrections; and local municipalities, service organizations and churches.

February

Young readers at Cape Cod Hill School in New Sharon welcomed a wonderfully unique — and unusually furry — guest. Jasper, a therapy and emotional support dog owned by Principal Lisa Sinclair, visited the school to listen to first-grade students read out loud.

Mt. Blue Middle School students Kamryn Joyce at left and Callahan Towle skate at the Sugarloaf Outdoor Center in Carrabasssett Valley. As part of a long-standing reciprocal exchange program, MBMS eighth grade students hosted students from Arcola Intermediate School in Norristown, Pennsylvania. (Franklin Journal photo by Dee Menear) File photo

Moriah Reusch, an eighth grade student at Mt. Blue Middle School was the champion speller at the Franklin County Spelling Bee.  Reusch was one of 14 competitors from seven area schools. She was declared the winner after correctly spelling canapes.

RSU 9 faced a hiring challenge with more than a dozen ed tech positions open, as well as custodial and bus driver positions.

Chesterville selectmen voted 4-1 to nix putting a school withdrawal article on the upcoming town meeting warrant. The vote was in response to a request by RSU 9 School Board Director Craig Stickney, who had hosted a town forum to share concerns he had with the district.

Mt. Blue High School educator Dan Ryder of Jay was recognized as one to the nation’s top educators at the NEA Foundations Salute to Excellence in Education Gala in Washington, DC. Ryder and four other educators received the foundation’s prestigious 2019 Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence and $10,000 during the event.

Kingfield Fire Department purchased a 2018 Can-Am Defender utility vehicle, which Fire Chief Fred Nichols said was much needed for rescue and firefighting operations in the remote backcountry terrain serviced by the department. The vehicle came with a hefty price tag but, thanks to a trio of grants totaling $30,500, taxpayers were not left to foot the bill.

March

Forty-nine Foster Career and Technical Education Center students were the first to be inducted into the National Technical Honor Society. Foster CTE serves students from Mt. Blue High School, Spruce Mountain High School, Mt. Abram High School and Rangeley Lakes Regional School.

On March 13, Farmington’s Boston Post Cane was presented to Nada Keeling, the town’s oldest resident. Pictured from left are Keeling’s son-in-law Bob Vallette, daughter Myrna Vallette, Keeling and Farmington Town Manager Richard Davis. (Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harnden) File photo

Wilton voters showed overwhelming opposition to Central Maine Power Co.’s New England Clean Energy Connect project at a special town meeting. The nearly unanimous vote by more than 200 residents rescinded the selectboard’s Nov. 21, 2017 letter to the Public Utilities Commission expressing support for the project and directed the board to issue a statement on behalf of residents showing opposition.

Sugarloaf defendants reached an agreement in a $15.9 million violation of civil rights lawsuit against the Town of Carrabassett Valley, its Police Chief Mark Lopez and Town Manager Dave Cota, Sugarloaf Mountain Corporation, Boyne USA Inc., Sugarloaf General Manager Karl Strand, Sugarloaf Chief Executive Officer and Boyne USA President of Eastern Operations Stephen Kircher. The plaintiff, Michael Jutras, formerly of Carrabassett Valley, claimed “deprivation of rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution …”. A federal judge later ruled in favor of the Carrabassett defendants. No determination has yet been made on an appeal Jutras filed with the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.

Officials with the Town of Phillips and Franklin County Emergency Management met to address the potential for a spring flooding issue and to develop a proactive approach in the event of a flood. Spring flooding is a perennial issue for the town, which is situated on the banks of the Sandy River and several of its tributaries.

Mt. Blue freshman Emma Charles was named Morning Sentinel Girls Nordic Skier of the Year. Charles dominated during the 2018-19 ski season, sweeping the classical, freestyle and pursuit titles at both the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference and Class A state championships.

April

The Wilton Board of Appeals denied a challenge filed by a group seeking to reverse a Planning Board approval of a new employee entrance and parking area at Jarden Plastic Solutions. The East Wilton Community Neighborhood Action Group filed the appeal for the 98-space parking lot and entrance, which would reduce vehicle trips on Mill Street while increasing traffic in the residential area of Pleasant and Temple streets. The Board of Appeals voted 3-2 that the Planning Board had adequately addressed the matter.

Noah Nilo, 5, of Industry, at left, and Bryce Gopsill, 4, of Farmington take a break from a game of freeze tag Wednesday, April 17 at W.G. Mallett School playground. (Franklin Journal photo by Dee Menear) File photo

RSU 9 Board of Directors unveiled a $37.12 million budget proposal at a public forum. The proposed budget was $1.6 million more than the previous spending plan. Superintendent Tina Meserve said the 0.5% increase was partially attributable to recent gains in enrollment, costs of books and supplies, and pay raises for teachers and support staff.

A well-attended retirement celebration for the longest-serving Franklin Savings Bank employee was held Thursday, April 11. For an unprecedented 42 years, Tom Sawyer had helped countless community members with their banking and financial needs.

Forty-five volunteers donned gloves, grabbed trash bags and set out to make the town a little greener for the 6th annual Farmington Earth Day Volunteer Cleanup. The event also signaled the launch of edible landscaping with the planting of highbush blueberries at Bjorn Park and Farmington Public Library.

May 

Nearly five dozen presenters shared information about dozens of occupations with students at the annual Mt. Abram High School Career and Trades Fair. Middle school students from across Maine School Administrative District 58 and Stratton School attended the events, as did Mt. Abram high school students.

Patty Cormier of Farmington was named the new State Forester in May. (Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harnden) File photo

Wilton voters learned the details behind a two-part water rate hike in order to meet increases in operating and maintenance costs to run the water district. The first increase of 12.66% would be effective July 1. The second increase of 16.57% will be effective July 1, 2020. The increase was somewhat large since rates had not been raised since 1993, said Cathy Robinson of Maine Rural Water Association.

RSU 9 directors voted unanimously to livestream district budget meetings despite an earlier decision to halt livestreaming for one year. The decision to suspend livestreaming included challenges with staff to set up equipment, availability of Foster CTE students to run the equipment and an outdated microphone system.

Edward Serna was appointed the 15th president of the University of Maine at Farmington, effective July 1. Serna previously served as interim chancellor at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith.

SAD 58 voters were introduced to newly hired Superintendent Todd Sanders, a 30-year veteran teacher and administrator. Before coming to SAD 58, he was principal of Gardiner Regional Middle School for 11 years. Sanders replaced Superintendent Susan Pratt, who was set to retire in June.

June

The Wilton annual town report was dedicated to Charles “Dick” Hall of Wilton. Hall, a seventh-generation dairy farmer, put in 40 years of service to the fire department in East Dixfield, 30 of them as chief.

SAD 58 voters approved a $9.74 million budget for 2019-20. By supporting the spending plan, voters also approved $1.6 million to pay costs not covered by Maine Department of Education such as co-curricular activities, athletics, student transportation and special education. The 3.5% increase to the overall budget meant towns were required to contribute more to school spending.

At a fun day at Cushing School in Wilton June 19, Jorja Latimer and Kyla Ryder played cookie face. The goal was to get the Oreo cookie from their foreheads to their mouths. Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harnden

A century of programs and services provided by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Franklin County office was celebrated. At Meetinghouse Park, 4-H youth and clubs showed their animals and set up displays showing their project work and results. In the Extension office, staff members were on hand to greet visitors, answer questions and reminisce.

The Farmington selectmen unanimously voted to get quotes to replace Engine 1, then put the proposed purchase before voters in a November referendum, and to get the true cost of keeping Engine 2 roadworthy for the next five years. Estimates to replace Engine 1, a 2002 vehicle with frame and electrical problems, ran between $675,000 and $790,000. The pump and plumbing on Engine 2, a 1995 vehicle, needed replacement, estimated to cost up to $75,000. The estimates to replace Engine 2 were between $565,000 and $690,000.


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