Editor’s note: We are aware the COVID-19 situation is rapidly evolving. When this article was compiled Tuesday morning, the information was accurate. There is an ongoing list of closures on the Livermore Falls Advertiser and Franklin Journal websites but we urge readers to reach out to organizations directly if you have any questions about changes in operations.

REGION — Several downtown Farmington business representatives reacted last week to the news that University of Maine at Farmington students would transition to remote instruction to limit exposure of COVID-19. The new learned protocols would be effective Monday, March 23 following spring break.

By Sunday afternoon,  officials with Regional School Unit 9, Regional School Unit 73 and School Administrative District 58 announced school closures through March 27.

Gov. Janet Mills declared a civil state of emergency Sunday as health officials reported new coronavirus infections. Mills also issued a new set of recommendations aimed at slowing public transmission of the virus, including advising schools to stop holding on-site classes and recommending against gatherings of more than 50 people.

By Monday, several businesses who initially voiced concern over lack of business from a lack of college students had made decisions to either close or limit services.

“I am a little concerned. We’ve only had this place a little over a year. It’s pretty new to us. A good portion of our business does come from the college,” Chris Bracy said Thursday, March 12.  He and his wife, Brianna, own The Downtown Press Cafe at Marceau Court.


Three of the staff are UMF students.

The business is typically a hub for breakfast and lunch, its tables packed with guests. Tuesday, it was open for lunch only. Like many other establishments, Downtown Press had transitioned to takeout orders only.

Java Joe’s Corner Cafe on Main Street will “absolutely” be affected, Assistant Manager Scott Hisman said last week.

“We absolutely think it will,” he said. “That decreases the population vastly. At the same time, we want people to be safe.”

The cafe turned off its WiFi and shut down its tables Tuesday, opting to fill to-go orders only.

The loss of students and staff will “directly and indirectly affect the businesses and community,” Bill Marceau, principle/owner of Foothills Management, said last week.


About “50% of people who we rent to are from UMF,” he said. Many of his leases are through May. He has students, staff and college professors who lease from Foothills Management.

Nobody is trying to be adverse, he said.

“We’ve been through adverse situations before” and it all worked out in the end, Marceau said.


Scott Albert, superintendent for RSU 73 said in an email Sunday that schools would be closed for students from March 16 through March 27. “This is being done as a response to COVID-19 and in hopes of “flattening the curve”, which means helping to slow down the spread of the virus by using social distancing.  We will re-evaluate near the end of those two weeks as to whether or not to extend our time out of school,” he wrote.

“Please understand we do not have any confirmed cases in RSU 73. This is meant as a deterrent and is the district being pro-active. We will be updating you by our RSU 73 website:  www.rsu73.com , by school messenger and the local paper.


“Also please understand that this decision was not made lightly as I understand the burden that it will put on many of our families in our community. For these 2 weeks, there will be no official educational expectations put upon students. Staff and administration will be working together towards plans to educate all of our students if we end up being out longer than the two weeks,” he said.

Sunday afternoon Superintendent Tina Meserve also announced schools in RSU 9 would also be closed to students through March 27. Staff was expected to meet Monday to organize and review procedures.

“We understand families will have questions. We will reach out as soon as we have more details to share,” she said.

Both districts began distributing breaksfast and lunch to children Tuesday. Meal distribution will continue weekdays until further notice.


Several municipalities changed the way they are doing business. Some town offices, like Wilton, are remaining open but urged residents to conduct their business online, through the mail or by using a dop box at the town office.


“If you do need to come into the office, you may notice that we will be attempting to maintain a social distance while conducting business. Please do not take offense. We are trying to keep you, as well as ourselves, healthy,” Town Manager Rhonda Irish wrote in a notice to residents.

Other town offices, like Kingfield, began offering “curb side” services only and restricted anyone from coming into the lobby.

In Livermore, a budget meeting scheduled for this week was postponed to April 8, subject to change.

Many town officials were also struggling with whether or not to postpone annual town meetings.

The Avon town meeting, scheduled for Saturday, March 21 was postponed, Board of Selectman chair Greta Espeaignnette said Tuesday evening.

Farmington Town Manager Richard Davis said selectmen will hold a meeting Thursday to discuss the annual town meeting.



Amid a flurry of closing announcements, several organizations and businesses announced they would continue to serve the community and customers although the delivery of service would be altered.

Western Maine Play Museum in Wilton followed the direction of RSU 9 and will not be open to the public. However, there were plans for livestream storytimes, contests and resources to be shared via its Facebook page.

Devaney Doak & Garrett Booksellers in Farmington announced it would offer curbside pickup and $1 freight special on orders made through its website.

Franklin County Animal Shelter announced it would be closed through March 30 but adoptions would still be available by appointment.

“While the environment around us is uncertain, we feel it is in the best interest of our community to close to the public through Monday, March 30, effective immediately,” Jennifer Pooler, media, fundraising and volunteer coordinator said in a release Monday.

“You can view our available animals at fcanimalshelter.org  under the “Our Animals” tab, or by visiting our Facebook page. To meet an animal you are interested in adopting, please email info@fcanimalshelter.org,” she said.

The Care and Share Food Closet in Farmington will remain open but will serve individuals outside.

Livermore Fire Chief Donald Castonguay said a few protocol changes have been made. “Dispatch will ask a series of questions now. Livermore will still respond to medical calls but any respiratory calls they will wait for North Star to arrive. I’ve got to protect my guys,” he said.

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