JAY — Board of Directors Thursday, June 9, gave permission to obtain timber harvest bids and were told about a special program being brought to the district in October by the Portland Symphony Orchestra.

Incoming freshmen Brenden Veillieux requested permission to obtain bids for a timber harvest on nine acres in Jay owned by Regional School Unit 73.

There was a timber harvest conducted in 2011 when the land was still owned by the Town of Jay, he said.

“When the schools consolidated, it became owned by RSU 73,” Veillieux noted. “There will be a timber harvest in the winter 2022-2023 that will be conducted also by the Town of Jay.

“While nine acres may seem like a small lot to timber harvest, we think it would be suggestible to do it when the Town of Jay does their timber harvest.”

Rob Taylor’s Maine Natural Resources class in the fall of 2021 conducted a timber inventory on the acreage, Veillieux noted. “While we have a low number of trees, we have a high basal area which means we have a lot of large trees which creates a large canopy which prevents new trees from growing,” he said.


“By doing a selective harvest it would allow new trees to grow,” Veillieux stated. “They are better for the environment than older trees because they take in more carbon and produce more oxygen which creates a positive environmental factor.”

At about $1,000 profit for each acre the harvest would yield about $9,000, Veillieux noted.

“We would like to propose that money go towards different STEM projects in the community and a possible recreational area,” he said. “We propose the land be harvested during winter 2022-23 by Steve Gettle who is doing the timber harvest for the Town of Jay and propose we do an outdoor learning space at the elementary school.”

Doing a small clear cut area during the harvest would create the outdoor learning space that would be available to SMES students, Veillieux noted. The school’s social worker, Jennifer Stone is working with a grant fund that would support the creation of the space that would include a raised platform, he added.

“What we are looking for as a board is a motion to give them permission to proceed,” Chair Robert Staples said. “They would still have to come to us to approve the bid. This gets the ball rolling.”

Are there any plans to plant new trees, Director Andrew Sylvester asked.


“We don’t plan to plant new trees, we just plan to allow new trees to grow,” Veillieux said. “By allowing the canopy to open it will allow new species to grow. Normally timber harvests happen every 10-15 years.”

New trees will come up, the trees left behind during the previous cut can be removed, a sustainable timber harvest is created, Veillieux added.

Director Joel Pike asked if the district had the rights, the ability to do this harvest given previous experiences with the tennis courts.

Superintendent Scott Albert said there were no issues to his knowledge.

“This proposal was so well written and so well researched,” Director Elaine Fitzgerald said. “We know what it meant to the community the last time in 2011 and that these proposed funds will go back into the STEM program and groups like the Envirothon is just wonderful.”

Veillieux sounded like he knew what he was talking about, which was appreciated by Director Patrick Milligan. He asked if Gettle surveyed the RSU 73 portion, if he had corroborated on the survey.


“Mr. Taylor who taught the Maine Natural Resources Class that conducted the survey worked closely with Mr. Gettle and he is the person who will be conducting the timber harvest,” Veillieux said. “The school board and Mr. Taylor would also work closely with him during [the timber harvest].”

In the other matter, Spruce Mountain Adult and Community Education Director Robyn Raymond said she met John Elliott, director of education and community engagement for the PSO through the institute of civil leadership program she participated in this year.

“We toured Merrill Auditorium and the PSO and we have decided to strike up this partnership and hopefully bring some community programming to this area,” she said in introducing Elliott to the Board of Directors.

The Portland Symphony Orchestra will have “Violins of Hope,” a very special collection of instruments that have survived the Holocaust, Elliott said. “Eventually, over a long period of time they made their way to a luthier – which is a very expensive word for somebody who is a violin repairman – who lives in Israel,” Elliott said. “He has collected these instruments into this collection, occasionally this collection will tour.

“PSO has worked to bring these instruments to Portland this October. We will be using them onstage for a performance we will be doing of the Verdi’s Requiem, a piece of music itself which has a long history with the Holocaust. In addition to using them in our home in Portland, we are trying to get them out into the community so we are creating a special education program for middle school students alongside the Holocaust and Human Rights Center in Augusta.”

Elliott said he would be working with Raymond and other community members to bring the program to students ideally in grades six, seven and eight in the district. There may also be an event for the greater community and the program is totally self-funded with no cost to the district, he noted.


“We are very excited to take this opportunity to service this community,” Elliott said. “If you look at the map of all of the places we go, this is one of the areas where we haven’t had the kind of engagement that we would hope for so we are excited by this opportunity.”

Sylvester noted Farmington’s strong string program and asked if they might be able to participate.

“We have a very small window when we will have these instruments on hand but boy do we want to reach every single child we possibly can,” Elliott said. “It really depends on the strength of the collaboration, removable objects like calendars and bus schedules. If there is a way where we can get as many students crammed into one space as we possibly can for one, two or maybe even three performances over the course of the day we are absolutely game to do it.”

Elliott said PSO education programs have been for five people or as many as 2,000, are capable of reaching as many people as they can.

Bringing something new and different to the table was appreciated by Milligan. “I actually am familiar with the history of this portion of it,” he said. “I think oftentimes it can be understated how much of an impact music has had on our history … and this is a pretty incredible story. I encourage everybody to take some time to look into it.”

Elliott noted Raymond’s work in getting the collaboration started and on the right path.

“As much as I would like to just kick in the doors and start playing for kids here, that is generally frowned upon so we need partners like Robyn who made it all possible,” he said.

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