SAD 75 board OKs funding for Topsham stage repair

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TOPSHAM — The School Administrative District 75 Board of Directors unanimously approved contributing about $5,700 from a fund balance for a new stage surface at the Orion Performing Arts Center.

A fundraising campaign by the center’s advisory committee raised about $12,400 for the project, which is expected to cost more than $18,000.

“I’m excited to move forward, and thank the community for their support,” Orion Coordinator Judy Lloyd said on July 11.

She said in April that it was hoped the funds would be available to replace the stage this summer, but the project might have to be delayed until sometime next year.

But with the money now in hand, the project can go forward this summer.

The School Board on July 10 also approved seeking project bids. They will be opened Friday, July 18. The work is due to be completed by Aug. 21.

When Mt. Ararat Middle School – the center’s 66 Republic Drive home – was built in 2001, the stage was designed to be shallower than what became the finished product, Lloyd said in April.

“It was too small,” she said at the time. “They had a certain budget, and so in order to extend the stage to this size, they had to economize somewhere, and they economized on the stage surface.”

In the years since then, the plywood surface has suffered from gouges, pits, peeling paint and splinters.

The largest donation to the campaign, $8,000, came from the Alfred M. Senter Fund. By April the advisory committee had raised more than $2,000, thanks in part to food concession and raffle ticket sales, and a dinner at the Ninety-Nine restaurant.

The new floor will be composed of tempered hardboard, which should last longer and hold paint better, Lloyd said.

The Orion hosts events like plays, school band and chorus concerts, arts performances, and community group meetings. It serves as home to the Midcoast Symphony Orchestra, and hosts the Coastal Youth Orchestra, Downeast Country Dance Festival, Midcoast Youth Theater, The Ballet School, Maine Coast Heritage Trust Land Conference, Oratorio Chorale and New England Youth Theater.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A new stage floor will be built at the Orion Performing Arts Center in Topsham this summer. The current surface has suffered from gouges, pits, peeling paint and splinters, as pointed out in April by Orion Coordinator Judy Lloyd.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.