Students in the forestry program at Foster Career and Technical Education Center in Farmington have been doing some roadside work on Borough Road in Chesterville. Josh Hebert cuts a tree into smaller sections as part of the work. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

CHESTERVILLE — Some area students are learning their craft while helping clear the sides of Borough Road.

“Both classes are working on it,” instructor Rodney Spiller said during a recent work session. “This is the fourth or fifth week we’ve been here.”

There are currently 12 students in the forestry and wood harvesting program at Foster Career and Technical Education Center in Farmington; five are advanced students and there are two classes, Spiller noted.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, it has been challenging to recruit students, he said. Instructors couldn’t visit schools or have students come to the center, Spiller said. He has one student from Mt. Abram this year and the remainder is from Mt. Blue.

Brenda Medcoff is his assistant this year after Dean Merrill retired in June. She is a 1994 graduate of the forestry program and has served as the code enforcement officer for several local towns, including Chesterville.

Nick Rowe uses a chainsaw to cut trees into smaller sections. Forestry students from the Foster CTE Center in Farmington have been clearing the sides of Borough Road in Chesterville. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

“Brenda has a forestry background,” Spiller said. “With her CEO experience she’s got me where I’m the weakest.”

“It’s surreal,” Medcoff said. “It’s been great getting back into forestry and teaching these kids.”

“They compliment each other,” Chesterville Selectperson Chairman Tiffany Estabrook said.

Estabrook and Selectperson Tim LeSiege have been in contact with Spiller regarding the town’s woodlots. Chesterville has two lots, approximately 90 acres.

“I will be developing a forestry management plan that includes best management practices for harvesting the land,” Spiller said. He will be giving a presentation on the proposed cutting plan at the town’s annual town meeting next year.

Cole Sillanpaa, a forestry student at Foster CTE Center in Farmington makes a cut in a tree on the side of Borough Road in Chesterville. The students are clearing the roadside as a community service project. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

The goal of the tree clearing work on the sides of Borough Road is to open the road up so people will be able to see around corners, Spiller said. “In some places there is barley room enough for two vehicles to pass each other,” he noted. “It will allow the snow to melt in winter.

“We support and encourage community service projects whenever feasible,” he said. “We’re glad to be able to help the town in some way so long as it fits into our curriculum and we can follow all safety guidelines.”

Students have been working on the road two or three times a week, Spiller said. He has to teach and hold safety meetings in between. In the afternoon he has been in Chesterville making up work plans for what will be done next.

“I want it to be aesthetically pleasing while helping the town with needed work,” Spiller said. “The kids are doing really good, working hard, putting in lots of effort. It’s good to be out of the building, not having to wear masks.

“It’s been such a good year,” he added.

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