Jay receives letter of support from Androscoggin Bank in light of mill closure

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JAY – At the Jay Select Board meeting on Monday night, Director of Government Banking John Simko presented the board with a letter of support from Neil Kiely, President and CEO of Androscoggin Bank, indicating the bank’s commitment to the future of Jay regarding the closure of Pixelle Specialty Solution’s Androscoggin Paper Mill. Simko was also joined in attendance by Lena Hann, VP, Business & Government Services Officer at Androscoggin Bank.

After the mill’s pulp digester exploded in 2020, Androscoggin Bank began to look for ways to help through the Jobs for New England Recovery Grant program. In 2021, the bank secured a $50,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston that was originally intended to be used as COVID-19 relief funds. The funds instead were injected into the community to mitigate the loss of the digester.

“Between the loss of the digester and the expected loss of value from remaining papermaking equipment, the Town of Jay will lose over $210 million in property valuation,” the letter from Kiely states. “This loss will have significant ripple effects to the adjoining communities of Livermore and Livermore Falls as the cost of shared services such as public education is re-distributed.”

Leveraging grant funds, Androscoggin Bank awarded over $7,000 to seven local businesses that were negatively impacted by the loss of the mill’s digester. In 2021, they injected $50,000 into the local economy to mitigate this loss.

The bank has also formed an Androscoggin Mill Closure Response team that is dedicated to attending meetings and special events as necessary to support economic and community development efforts. To help these efforts grow, Androscoggin Bank will be donating $10,000 per year to businesses who have been or will be effected by the mill closure for the next three years.

“We are proud to state with the Town of Jay and its many community and economic development apartments in this time of economic transition,” the letter reads. “We are proud to be Jay-Strong, and to help make the region even strong in its future.”

The board voted unanimously to approve the letter of support.

Justin Merrill of Merrill’s Garage Inc. is helping to coordinate the Master Logger’s Program, which travels around the state conducting Best Management Practices training for master loggers and their employees.

The Master Logger’s Program requested to use the East Jay Gravel Pit for their training on May 24, and are expecting a total of 40-50 participants. The training will be focused on Best Management Practices surrounding water crossings, and the program will be providing instructors while Merrill’s Garage will be providing the machines required for training.

The board voted unanimously to approve Merrill’s request.

Sewer Superintendent Mark Holt explained to the board at a previous meeting how recent legislation has made it more difficult to dispose of sludge from wastewater treatment facilities. In August 2021, they were paying $114 per ton to dispose of the sludge, and now they are paying $153.75 per ton.

Due to the increasing change in rates, Holt went to the Livermore Falls Select Board to make recommendations to change the septic receiving fees. Holt had suggested increasing the fees from $130 per 1,000 gallons to $140 per 1,000 gallons which was approved by the Livermore Falls board.

The Maine Department of Transportation is currently working on the Route 17 Project in Livermore Falls which will be replacing water lines that were installed in 1899. The replacement of these water lines will work to increase fire protection and help the District comply with new Federal lead rules.

The total estimated cost for the project was previously $14 million, but the scope has been increased to include a control unit which will cost an estimated $2.1 million, increasing the project total to $17 million.

Holt worked with Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere to submit a Congressionally Delegated Spending application for a $7 million grant. If they are approved for the grant, Holt suggested that the money could be used to pay down any remaining loans that the department has not started paying on.

Dennis Emidy from the Maine Department of Transportation’s Safety Office presented to the board an overview of the plans that the DOT has had for the Beans Corner Intersection. The intersection has been deemed a high crash location with a total of 75 crashes between 2013 and 2022, and an injury percentage of 57.3%.

Emidy suggested temporarily installing an All-Way Stop for the intersection as soon as possible to help reduce the number of crashes. The AWS would include double stop ahead signs, pavement markings, flashing signs, and a sign that will indicate the traffic pattern changes two weeks prior to the installation of the AWS. The overhead flashing beacon would also be converted from yellow to red, and the speed limit of 35 miles per hour would be stenciled in red on the pavement.

Emidy also suggested the installation of a modern roundabout, which would be a Candidate Safety Project for 2026. Modern roundabouts in Maine have shown the lowest percentage of crashes resulting in injury of any intersection type, and the lowest severity of crashes at any intersection type.

The AWS would have a total cost estimate of $20,000 and the roundabout would cost approximately $3.6 million to install. The roundabout would also have a 5.55% safety benefit-cost ratio based on data gathered from the past ten years.

Emidy requested a letter of support from the board to install the AWS at the intersection and to move forward with the roundabout as a Candidate Safety Project. The board voted 4-1 to approve Emidy’s request and to install the AWS at the Beans Corner Intersection.

This meeting was recorded by Mt. Blue TV and is available for viewing online at MtBlueTV.org

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