After years of sneakers and shoes pounding on it and thousands of hours of wear and tear, Belfast Area High School’s wooden gymnasium floor was in serious need of tender loving care.

And the old floor, which has served its purpose well over the years, recently received that care — and a much-needed facelift — from Ben Knowlton and Earl Simpson of Ben Knowlton Construction of Swanville.

Those who see the new floor for the first time may not recognize it. In fact, one may be blinded by the beauty. Gone are the old, stained boards and back is the shine and luster, as well as colorful new features such as blue basketball court lines, a black box with the name Lions stenciled inside it, a giant orange basketball at center court and even big blue paws to, of course, signify it is the home of the BAHS Lions.

Sandy Knowlton, Ben’s wife, said it is her understanding the floor had not been resanded to the bare wood for more than 20 years. It had been cleaned and resurfaced over the years, but never completely sanded down and built back up, such as what Knowlton Construction recently did.

The floor project — all 6,000 square feet of it — started June 18 and was completed July 1. The project consisted of removing layers of finish built up over the past several decades to get to the wood surface. At that point, Ben and Earl reapplied new finish and new lines and logos.

Sandy said her husband’s company purchased a Ryder Sanding System to complete the BAHS job, other gym floor projects for Regional School Unit 20 and other schools.

“It is quite a unique system, which consists of two 12-inch sanding machines that are lined up and connected to a rider seat system that you actually sit behind to control the machines,” Sandy said. “It is my understanding that there are not many, if any, of those machines being used in the state.”

Ben, who has being working with residential and commercial floors for 20 years, said the BAHS gym floor project was especially rewarding because it was an opportunity for him to work in his “hometown” in the school where his children Laci (Class of 2006) and Jessi (Class of 2008) attended and graduated.

With his son, Benjamin, also being a senior at BAHS and a hopeful basketball player who could play on the floor his dad made look so nice, Ben said he “takes great pride in” completing the gym floor and “appreciates the opportunity to keep the work local and support the local craftsman.”

Village NetMedia Regional Editor/Sports Director Ken Waltz can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at