June 24, 2008

Ellsworth Breaks Ground for New School


ELLSWORTH - More than 700 students crowded the athletic fields outside the Ellsworth Middle School on Friday morning for the groundbreaking ceremony for the new elementary school.

"This is an exciting time," said interim Superintendent Wayne Enman during the ceremony. "It is exciting for me to know my grandchildren will be attending this facility."

Students used trowels to dig up pieces of grass and dirt alongside city councilors and teachers, while parents and other onlookers clapped.

"We have the best kids, the best educators, and now we are going to have a facility to match," said City Manager Michelle Beal.

JCN Construction Co. Inc. of Manchester, N.H., will be building the $30.2 million school that has been on the planning boards for nearly three years.

The company plans to be "on time and on budget," said JCN Superintendent Jon Famolare.

The children are looking forward to the new school as well.

"I am excited for a playground," said kindergartner Cloe Robbins, 6, of Ellsworth.

Construction will include first the renovation of the existing middle school on Forrest Avenue, then the building of an attached elementary school. The project will result in the closure of Ellsworth's two elementary schools, the Dr. Charles C. Knowlton School and the Gen. Bryant E. Moore School.

The middle school will be closed during the construction and renovation. Students will be displaced to portable classrooms, the Knowlton School, Moore School and the Ellsworth High School during the construction phases, said City Councilor Gary Fortier, who dug in alongside the students.

Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders will be moved for a year until renovations are complete, and the elementary students will begin classes at their new school in two years, according to Enman.

Moving students during construction will ease liability concerns for JCN and make it easier for workers, said Enman.

Bids came in high earlier in the year for the project, resulting in a delay until the city could put the project out for bidding again.

Construction is scheduled to begin July 1, but according to Enman, crews will be there as soon as Monday to get the area ready.

"We have to thank the citizens of Ellsworth for supporting this and making it possible," he said.

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