Photo Courtesy of Lee Bryant/Nickerson & O’Day Construction of the Charles M. Sumner Learning Campus is underway, with crews from Nickerson & O’Day, Inc. of Brewer blasting the area behind the current Sumner Memorial High School. The $44-million project is “on track for occupancy in Sept. 2022,” said Regional School Unit 24 Superintendent Michael Eastman. PHOTO COURTESY OF LEE BRYANT/NICKERSON & O'DAY

Sumner construction underway



SULLIVAN — Construction of the future Charles M. Sumner Learning Campus is underway and, despite the pandemic, on time, said Regional School Unit 24 (RSU 24) Superintendent Michael Eastman.

“As of today, the timeline is still on track for occupancy in September 2022,” he said in an interview with The American on Monday. 

Construction is estimated to cost $35,180,041. The project was awarded to Nickerson and O’Day, Inc. after what Eastman called a “competitive bidding process.” The total project cost, including state and local permitting fees, architectural engineering services, the purchase of a half-acre plot adjacent to the property and furnishing and equipping the building, is $44.1 million.

The Brewer construction company beat out four other bids for the project to build the new combined middle and high school campus, which will be located behind the current Sumner Memorial High School. Lee Bryant is the project superintendent.

Blasting for the project has been occurring for about three weeks. 

“So far it’s been a very easy process, we are notified very quickly by the site superintendent on the construction project and we have everyone in the building and everyone expects the blast to come and it’s over in about a second and half and you can feel a little rumble and then we’re right back to our regular operating schedule,” said Sumner Principal Ty Thurlow in his Nov. 18 weekly Facebook update.

Blasting will continue for at least another week, said David Bridgham, consultant for the project from the Maine Department of Education.

Bridgham explained that the next steps for the project include “removing soil down to the organic, native soils and bedrock and replacing that soil with more suitable soil,” that will better hold “a very large foundation.”

In the middle of December, “people will start to see forms being placed and concrete being poured,” Bridgham said. This will be followed by the arrival of structural steel and “the beginnings of a very large building.”

During the 2022-2023 academic year, the current Sumner Memorial High School will be demolished to make way for a competition athletic field, Bridgham added. 

Until last June, Bridgham was the business manager for the school district. His new role allows him to see the new building come to fruition, a project he helped start back in 2010 with the project’s initial application. 

“It’s the perfect way to retire and keep my hands in a project I’ve been working on for a long, long time,” he said. 

“It is really, really exciting,” he added, noting it is “going to be great for the students and people of the area.”

A formal groundbreaking ceremony was scheduled for Nov. 16 but has been postponed due to the recent spike in coronavirus cases throughout the state. 

Drone footage of the project provided by Downeast Cowboy can viewed on the Sumner Facebook page. 

Rebecca Alley

Rebecca Alley

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Rebecca is the Schoodic-area reporter and covers the towns of Eastbrook, Franklin, Hancock, Lamoine, Sorrento, Sullivan, Waltham, Winter Harbor and Trenton. She lives in Ellsworth with her husband and baby boy who was joyously welcomed in June 2020. Feel free to send tips and story ideas to [email protected]
Rebecca Alley

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