Students and parents transplant flowers at Dike Newell’s new location. From left, Jan Loeb, Ash Loeb (first grade), Keely Colby, Henry Colby (third grade) and Rebecca Porter. Photo contributed by Katie Walker

As contractors transform the former Bath Regional Career and Technical Center to fill in for the burned Dike Newell Elementary School, community volunteers are pitching in this week to move furniture, transplant gardens and put together classrooms.

Dike Newell Principal Jennifer McKay said the school received a lot of support following an Aug. 9 Facebook post asking for volunteers.

Morse High School students move salvaged furniture to new school location. From left are Dante Stokes, Gage Creamer and Bradley Creamer. Photo contributed by Katie Walker

“We had the Morse High School football team get a U-Haul, bringing salvaged furniture to the new location,” she said. “I had parents here today transplanting hostas, so our garden is getting transplanted. They even put flowers outside my office window.”

In addition to students and parents chipping in, McKay said Bath Iron Works naval officers are building new staff mailboxes and shelving for closets, while Bath firefighters stopped by to move several heavy items.

“I’m glad to see the children and staff will have a place to teach and learn while RSU 1 navigates the process of building a new school, also proud to be part of the city staff to help facilitate this process,” said Bath Fire Chief Lawrence Renaud.

On June 11, Bath firefighters battled a blaze that destroyed over half of Dike Newell Elementary School. Allan Vigil, who is facing arson charges, allegedly broke in and started the fire in an art supply closet, according to an affidavit.


Vigil is currently being held at the Two Bridges Jail in Wiscasset and will appear at the West Bath District Court on Aug. 24.

Regional School Unit 1 Superintendent Patrick Manuel said school officials are still waiting for the final figures from their insurance company estimating the cost of the damage.

Firefighter paramedic Ben Huebler, left, firefighter paramedic Caleb Stahl and Deputy Chief Chris Cummings of Bath Fire Department help move boxes at the new Dike Newell location. Photo contributed by Katie Walker

“It’s such a gift that this building was here and hadn’t been converted yet or sold,” McKay said of the former Bath tech center. “Otherwise, we would be in portables on a construction site with our young students.”

The former technical center was originally connected to the old Morse High School and had been gutted, meaning a lot of supplies needed to be brought in to bring it back to life.

Originally designed for older students, McKay said contractors have added steps to ensure the younger students can reach sinks, toilets and chairs.

McKay said officials are still seeking volunteers and a community group or organization that would buy lumber and build picnic tables for outdoor seating in the playground area. She said funds are available to reimburse material costs.


Due to an extensive backlog for new playground equipment, McKay said contractors will be bringing the old playground from Dike Newell to reassemble at the alternate school location.

While there haven’t been any official meetings regarding the fate of the former Dike Newell school, McKay said there are many ideas floating around. With the support of the community, she said a new school for pre-K through grade 5 could be built on the former Dike Newell site.

“I’m honestly not sure. The focus right now is being ready for September,” McKay said. “There are many ideas out there, and those conversations will come.”

School faculty will return and set up their classrooms starting next week, and students will attend after Labor Day.

A vendor and craft fair benefiting Dike Newell will take place this Saturday on Commercial Street in downtown Bath.

“We are getting a lot of support. It kind of takes your breath away,” McKay said.

For more information on the fundraiser, visit

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