Three local entities received word Monday, March 11, that nearly $1.68 million in federal funds were appropriated for renovations and expanded program offerings at the AYS Building in Livermore Falls. In this file photo from last year, AYS President David Frey shows the kitchen area of the former Livermore Falls High School now owned by AYS. The space would be ideal for the adult education culinary arts program which has limited space in its current location. File photo/Livermore Falls Advertiser

REGION — Three local entities received confirmation Monday morning, March 11, that nearly $1.68 million in federal funds were appropriated for a local project.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins announced Friday evening, March 8, that Maine would receive over $426 million in funds from the $468.7 billion budget passed by the U.S. Senate that evening. On Saturday, President Joe Biden was given the six-bill appropriations package to sign into law.

United Way of the Tri-Valley Area and Spruce Mountain Adult and Community Education in conjunction with Area Youth Sports submitted an application in March 2023 for Congressionally Directed Spending [CDS] that would allow for building repairs and use of the building for expanded adult education programs and other opportunities.

“Because of what is happening in our three towns with the mill closure, Kendra [Baker, executive director of United Way of the Tri-Valley Area in Farmington] and I had some conversations of looking at grant opportunities, what is available and what we can do to bolster and strengthen our communities,” Robyn Raymond, director of Spruce Mountain Adult and Community Education, said during a meeting last March with representatives of U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and U.S. Rep. Jared Golden.

During that same time, directors for the AYS non-profit were working to bring the former Livermore Falls High School building up to code to meet regulations of the Maine State Fire Marshal’s Office. The issue was brought to light when United Way of the Tri-Valley Area moved its Halloween fundraiser to the AYS building from Farmington last October. Sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers, exit signs and lights were among items either missing or not up to current code.

The former high school has a large kitchen area that would be ideal for the adult education culinary arts program. Space at the current facility is limited. Workforce development, childcare, youth mentoring/tutoring and a conference center were other potential uses for the building noted at that meeting.


“The entire region can benefit,” Raymond said then. “It is so timely with what is happening with the mill. We can rebuild, find new purpose for our community.” Space availability to develop opportunities is one challenge, she added.

After receiving the confirmation the three met and jointly answered questions submitted them by the Livermore Falls Advertiser.

What is your reaction to the funding news?

This Congressional Directed funding shows a commitment from the highest level of leadership to the Jay/Livermore/Livermore Falls region, and we are thrilled our small mill towns will be able to access resources such as affordable childcare, workforce development, and robust youth sports programming that most rural communities lack.

“Our collective agencies [United Way of the Tri-Valley Area, Area Youth Sports and Spruce Mountain Adult Education] are excited about the investment into our region and the opportunities it creates”, Kendra Baker, executive director of United Way of the Tri-Valley Area shared.

What are some things that will be done at the building with the funds?


First and foremost, the safety and structural integrity of the building is of utmost importance. We are actively working with contractors to develop a plan to maximize the impact and the space available for our community members.

Do you have any estimate of the timeline and how things will proceed?

Now that the funding has been officially approved, timelines and specific plans are being determined and finalized.

How will this grant benefit AYS center? United Way? Adult Ed?

The United Way of the Tri-Valley Area plans to increase visibility in the Jay, Livermore, Livermore Falls areas by offering more local access to programs such as the Packs for Progress, Free Tax Prep, the Hope Fund, Don’t Despair Car Repair program and the opportunity for local volunteers.

Area Youth Sports will benefit from the funding by ensuring the building is properly renovated and brought up to code, which will secure a safe space to continue and enhance youth sports and programs.


“This will also increase accessibility for all community members, which is a great thing for our community,” AYS Board President, Dave Frey, noted.

“Spruce Mountain Adult Education plans to expand workforce training offerings, particularly the Culinary Arts Cafe led by Executive Chef Wayne Kregling. Our to-go cafe has been a successful initiative, and this additional space will allow for a dine-in experience run by our culinary students. In addition to workforce training, it is our goal to work with local agencies to bring reliable and affordable childcare to the center for our learners who have identified childcare as a barrier to continuing their education as well as to the greater community,” Robyn Raymond, director of Spruce Mountain Community and Adult Education shared.

What does it mean for the broader community?

This project will specifically benefit the broader community by providing them with safe, enjoyable space with increased accessibility to participate in activities, socialize with others, and potentially participate in community classes, learn about resources, and much more.

“It is our hope that a multifaceted center will instill a sense of belonging for community members. The increased presence of the United Way in the Jay, Livermore, Livermore Falls region will be an added benefit to those with transportation barriers that may find travel to Farmington challenging. This project also creates an awareness of programs that aid in improving quality of life for residents within the three towns,” Raymond stated.

Please share any additional information readers should know.

United Way plans on sharing specifics about the project as it becomes finalized. Currently, the three organizations [UWTVA, AYS, and Spruce Mountain Adult and Community Education] are in the planning stages of a capital campaign to raise the necessary match funding [approximately 10%]. Anyone [individuals or businesses] interested in being part of this amazing opportunity should reach out to United Way at or call (207) 778-5048.

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