JAY — Board of directors for Regional School Unit 73 approved the $301,088 bid from Ray Labbe & Sons, Inc. of Brunswick to complete Phase I of the Holland Strong tennis courts renovation.

“This is a long process,” Superintendent Scott Albert said prior to the vote. “This is the third set of proposals that we have asked for. We asked for the first set almost a year and a half ago because we had heard that we received a grant from Maine Land and Water Conservation but we hadn’t actually had it signed yet with them so we got the bids in and couldn’t accept because the government is so slow.”

Overhaul of the tennis courts next to Spruce Mountain Elementary School in Jay began in August 2019 through the efforts of Holland Strong. Hollandstrong.org is a foundation set up in memory of Michael Holland, from Wilton who was lost at sea off the coast of the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin on October 1, 2015, while working on the cargo ship El Faro. His mother, Deb Roberts began the fund and initiated work at the tennis courts. The foundation also has a goal to improve all RSU 73’s athletic fields.

In April 2022 voters approved establishing a $45,000 reserve fund for the Holland Strong tennis courts project with up to that amount being expended as needed. That December a $206,624 grant was awarded to the project from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry through the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Once the grant funding was approved last fall bid requests were sent out again but none were received, Albert noted. Requests were sent out again in February with the only bid received being quite a bit higher than the previous bids, he stated. Construction costs, everything has gone up over time, he said.

“We reached back out to Land and Water Conservation to request more money,” Albert stated. “They said that has happened in the past, other districts have experienced the same thing. When they started out the cost was this much, by the time of doing it the cost was this much. We also requested for an extension of time.”


The company has met with those involved with the project via Zoom meetings, is willing to break the work into phases, Albert said. “At the moment we only have enough money to pay for Phase I, we do not have enough money to pay for the whole thing,” he stated.

If Phase I is approved, the district’s lawyer will draw up wording so the district would only be responsible for that phase until it is agreed it is time to start Phase II, Albert noted. “When Phase II starts then we will have to be responsible for the rest of the amount,” he said. The district would also need to check with Land and Water Conservation to see if it would be getting more money from them, he stated.

“In order for Deb [Roberts] to ask for more grants, we need to approve a bid,” Albert said. “She can’t even ask USDA Tennis for money from them yet until we approve. Other groups are similar. It is very tedious; it has to be in a row. If we approve this tonight we are only on the hook for the first phase.”

The goal is to complete Phase I work this summer, start on Phase II next spring, Albert stated. “Worst case scenario we have some structure built over there and we don’t finish but Deb will have another Holland Strong Derby which we got $20,000 for, go to other places.”

People who have talked about wanting to donate in kind work need to see dates and times, are not comfortable with equipment usage lacking that information, he said.

“In order to move forward we need a positive vote on this tonight,” Albert stated. “It doesn’t guarantee anything, lock us in. When I talked to Land and Water Conservation I said, “What happens if we have got this money for this project and we don’t finish the project, what happens with the money, would we owe you any money?” They said no, we would end the project where it ended, they would take back some of their money.”


A big part of the project comes from matching funds, Albert stated. “They give us a certain amount, we match it,” he noted. “A couple of years ago the board moved $45,000, could use it for any in kind work.”

Roberts said Labbe & Sons is the contractor she has been working with. Engineering work on the project goes towards the in-kind match, she added.

Director Roger Moulton of Livermore Falls asked if there was money in the budget to maintain the courts if the bid were approved. “I am 100% behind this,” he said. “It has been an eyesore.”

Nothing is in the budget now as the project is not completed, Albert replied. “In the future we will be sitting down with Ken [Vining] and maintenance to figure out what we need to do,” he noted.

Director Holly Morris of Livermore asked if the company had done this type of work before. Albert said it had.

After the meeting Marc Keller, Spruce Mountain High School athletic director and boys tennis coach told the Livermore Falls Advertiser the tennis teams were holding a fundraiser for the tennis courts project. The online campaign lasts 28 days, by day three had raised $4,400, he noted.

“Raising dollars for extracurricular activities and facilities is very difficult to do but is vital for our program and our community,” Keller said in a later email which provided the link for the fundraiser.

“Each donation, regardless of size, is crucial to reaching our goal. Your support goes beyond just funding a program; it’s about building a foundation for achievement and new opportunities,” according to the site. As of Monday morning, May 20, $8,045 had been donated towards the $10,000 goal, it noted.

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