Friday, January 27, 2023

Raymond resident launches military career as U.S. Marine

By Ed Pierce

If boot camp is a strong indication of the direction that his military career may take, Austin Goslant of Raymond is off to a promising start.

Private First Class Austin Goslant of Raymond
was honored as one of five Honor Graduates
during the Jan. 134 graduation ceremony for
new recruits at the U.S. Marine Corps boot
camp at Parris Island, South Carolina.
COURTESY PHOTO 
 
Goslant, a 2022 graduate of Windham High School, said that he decided to become a United States Marine because it’s always been a childhood dream and he knew it wouldn’t be easy. Never one to back down from a challenge, Goslant left the Lakes Region on Oct. 22, determined to excel at the 13-week test of moral, mental and physical strength at the U.S. Marine Corps boot camp and recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina.

Awakened at 4 a.m. by the sound of a bugle called “Reveille,” Marine Corps recruits present themselves for accountability and following a regimen of personal hygiene and morning clean-up, they undergo rigorous physical training from Monday through Saturdays. After a morning meal, the recruits begin the day's scheduled training, which typically includes classes, drills, or martial arts. On Sundays, recruits are offered the morning to attend various religious services and take personal time for personal activities such as writing letters, working out, doing laundry, or preparing uniforms and equipment.

“Some training and activities I did were obstacle courses, shooting range, marching and drilling, push-ups, pull-ups, planks, a lot of running, learning how to use tourniquets, how to read a map and compass, combat maneuvers and formations, and Marine Corps knowledge and customs,” Goslant said. “What I enjoyed most about boot camp was the constant exercise and being surrounded by other Marines and recruits who have similar goals to me. The brother and sisterhood you form doesn’t compare to any friendship from high school and earlier.”

He said what he disliked the most about boot camp were recruits that didn’t want to improve themselves and not try as hard as everyone else.

“They would hold us back constantly. I also had a hard time being away from my family,” he said.

Embracing each new challenge that came his way at boot camp as an opportunity, Goslant turned out to be a standout Marine Corps recruit at Parris Island.

“I became the Guide and Honor Graduate for my platoon because the original dudes that were in charge didn’t cut it. The guide before me ran out of the gas chamber and cried like a baby,” Goslant said. ”I showed my Drill Instructors how much I wanted to be the leader of the platoon by how badly I wanted to earn the title United States Marine, by getting good test scores, shooting high expert at the range, and having high first class Physical Fitness and Combat Fitness test scores.”

He said that the platoon guide has to be the picture perfect recruit and Marine, always trying to do the

right thing and be a good example for the rest of the platoon to follow.

“I originally went to boot camp not wanting to be one of those guys that stands out from everyone else because everyone told me to keep my head down, but I noticed how important it was for me to step up and build my leadership skills so I could be a better leader in the future,” Goslant said. “Boot camp really made me reflect on my past, thinking about my entire outlook on life and how to interact with others changed. I can say I improved as a man because of what I went through on Parris Island.”

On Jan. 13, Goslant graduated from the U.S. Marine Corps boot camp, leading his platoon across the parade deck as one of five Honor Graduates out of a graduating class of 264 Marines.

It was a moment of great pride for him as his family and friends were able to travel to Parris Island to watch the graduation ceremony.

“I had a big group at graduation. My mom Tammy, my dad Albert, my brother Jake, grandmother, aunt, and uncle, and my second family, the Morteros, were there,” he said. “It was an emotional experience seeing my loved ones again.”

He’s a Private First Class, E-2, currently stationed with his recruiters in Scarborough, Auburn, and Brunswick until February when he will be attending the U.S. Marine Corps School of Infantry at Camp Geiger in North Carolina.

“ I have a five- year Infantry contract and I’m hoping to be a 0311 (Rifleman),” Goslant said. “Some

things I look forward to doing during my career are to become a better leader and person, travel the world, meet good people, go to college, and keep our country, community, and my loved ones safe.”

Now that boot camp is in his rear view mirror, Goslant says in his spare time he likes spending time with his family, working out, playing video games, listening to music, and playing guitar.

“Some advice I would give to anyone who wants to earn the title United States Marine or join any of the branches is to be comfortable being uncomfortable and strive to be better every day,” he said. “Everything in the Marine Corps is a competition so you should set goals to make yourself better than those around you. A strong mind leads to a strong body.” <

Windham veteran on walk to visit all four corners of America

By Ed Pierce

By the time Matt Dyer of Windham finishes his journey across America, he is hoping to accomplish something nobody else has ever done before – walk to all four corners of America in one trip.

Matt Dyer of Windham is one his way to walk to all four
corners of America and hopes to reach Miami by July.
From there he will walk to San Diego and then north to
Olympia, Washington by July 2024.
PHOTO BY TIM JENSEN/PATCH MEDIA     
Dyer is an Army veteran who started his epic trek Dec. 30 and hopes to complete the long trip by July 2024. He’s walking the entire way pulling a cart of supplies and a tent and the adventure is something that Dyer will treasure forever.

“To my knowledge, no one has ever done this. I'm challenging myself. My cause is to exercise, unplug and be in nature, test the limits of my body and to have resiliency and the mental toughness to never tap-out and do something never done before,” he said. “I am sharing my journey for one, to prove I did it; two, to inspire people to do something outside of your comfort zone; and three, for self-exploration. I am clearing my head and taking it all in. The people I am meeting are making a lifelong impact on me so now my purpose is to share people's stories.

He's been averaging about 11.6 miles per day and at this pace, he expects to reach Miami by the end of May, and then San Diego by the end of February. From there he will head north to Olympia, Washington.

"The trip should be finished by July 6, 2024, the fifth-year anniversary of my father's death,” Dyer said. He lived in Windham from 1988 to 2019.”

If the walk itself wasn’t enough of a challenge, Dyer is hauling a cart filled with a tent, a 10-degree mummy bag, a Coleman hunting cot, two sets of wet weather clothes, sleeping clothes and walking clothes, and a ton of socks. He’s also brought along five pairs of gloves, two sets of outer reflective vests, a headlamp, miscellaneous tools, a machete, and a ton of empty carb foods like cereal, pop tarts, and gummies.

“I have 10 pounds of Whey Protein, beef jerkey, protein bars, and trail mix,” he said. “I carry at least 4 gallons of water. One is open, three reserve and electrolyte powders like Pedialyte and Gatorade.

He served in the Army from June 2012 to December 2017 as a Human Intelligence Collector for the intelligence sector and graduated from Windham High School in 2011. After his military service ended, Dyer became a Department of Defense contractor in Afghanistan starting in January 2018 for a year. His second deployment was from January 2020 to January 2021 supporting special forces (SOJTF/NATO Special Operations Component Command) as a Counterintelligence Analyst.

He and his late wife Marinna both attended Windham High School and Dyer was a member of the 2009 WHS state championship football squad.

According to Dyer, walking across America is nothing short of amazing.

“I haven't had a day where I've woke up saying ‘’Ugh. I don't want to walk today.’ I'm having a blast meeting people of all walks of life and the tranquility of walking alone down an empty road at night,” he said.

The most memorable sight he’s seen so far has been a shooting star that he observed in the Orion constellation while he was walking in Suffield, Connecticut.

“I actually have Orion tattooed on my wrist as my wife loved it,” Dyer said. I bought her a star in that constellation for Valentine’s Day in 2014.”

The most memorable place he’s passed through so far is Barre, Massachusetts,” he said.

“The walk into Barre was the toughest walk yet, 15 miles in the pouring rain. The final mile was a hill that ranks in the top five of the whole trip and I was so determined to climb it, all alone in the rain at 3 a.m.,” Dyer said. “Cooks Canyon where I slept was beautiful. There's nothing like sleeping with a babbling brook right outside your tent. In the morning I met Randy Marsden and his dog Emmitt, and I sat with them and Randy's wife, Laurie, for six hours talking about life in their kitchen, while Laurie washed and dried my stuff. Amazing people.”

While on his journey he’s noticed he’s not alone out there. He heard coyotes throughout the night in

Massachusetts and Connecticut.

“There was a skunk on the shoulder in East Granby, Connecticut who was more afraid of me than I of him so we didn't have a close encounter,” Dyer said. “I found some very cool animal bones yesterday in Canton, Connecticut that there's a nice picture of on my Facebook page.”

He said people he’s met in Connecticut have warned him to watch out for bears while walking.

“But Google, ‘Matt Dyer bear attack’ and you'll find that a man with my same name, from Maine has already been attacked by a bear and survived,” Dyer said. “So, I'm safe right?”

Logistics for his journey were reviewed in advance of his departure, where he went over possible thoroughfares and some other technical issues.

“I've only had one instance where my phone died. My fellow Windham friends James Conant and Dylan Nelson killed my battery video chatting,” he said. “I charge during the day while I eat and plan my route for the day.”

He’s not collecting donations for the trip and supports himself from a VA disability check and a survivor benefit from the death of his wife.

“If you skim my Facebook page, you'll see the jokes about the ‘no-cause cause.’ You will not find a donation link, and I am not asking for donations,” he said. “People have supported me by helping fix a flat tire, doing laundry, etc.”

As far as the trip goes, Dyer said he wants everyone to know that he’s a competitor.

“I want people to know that I want to do something never done before. I want to put myself through

anguish mentally and physically and become stronger and tougher. People don't seem to take that as an answer to the question ‘Why are you doing this?’ I truly believe that I can't be stopped by life and I'm proving it to myself. When I'm done, no matter what it is I want to do with my life, I'll say to myself, ‘I just walked around America and slept outside for 18 months, I can do anything.’”

As he continues to meet people across America on his walk and being impacted continuously by the interactions, he said he wants to use his platform to do good.

“I am filling the internet with good stories. I am coming up with ways to give back,” he said.

You can follow Dyer’s journey across America by visiting his Facebook page at 2023walkusa. <

Friday, January 20, 2023

Windham restructures bonds to save town $45,000

By Ed Pierce

Acting upon advice from a bonding agent, members of the Windham Town Council have voted unanimously to restructure some existing bonds which will save the town $45,000 by the time the bonds are eventually paid off.

The Windham Town Council has voted to restructure a
general obligation bond from 2003 to realize savings of
$45,000 for the town. PHOTO BY KEITH MANK
During a Windham Town Council meeting on Jan. 10, councilors were briefed by Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts about the potential for significant savings under a proposed bond restructuring plan.

The original bond of $36,333 million was approved by town councilors in 2003 and was used to pay construction costs for a new addition and renovation project at Windham High School. That general obligation bond was refinanced by the town in 2011 for the purpose of realizing debt service savings to the town at that time.

“When we were going through our current bond approvals, our bonding agent looked at it and we have just two payments left on that bond,” Tibbetts said. “But in refinancing it now, the net effect to us is that we can save $45,000 on this bond.”

The refinanced bond amounts to a total of $3,025 million, according to Moors & Cabot, Inc., the town’s municipal advisor for the issuance of the bond, and an investor has been secured for the restructured bonds.

Municipal bonds are a type of debt security issued by local, county, and state governments. They are commonly offered to pay for capital expenditures such as highway construction or for bridges, or schools. The bonds act like loans, with bondholders becoming creditors of the municipality.

In exchange for the borrowed capital, bondholders and investors are promised interest on the principal balance by being repaid by the municipality by the time of the bond’s maturity date. The bonds are often exempt from most federal and state taxes, which makes them attractive as an investment to those in higher income tax brackets.

Types of municipal bonds include general government obligation and revenue bonds. In Windham’s

case, these specific general obligation bonds were issued by a governmental entity and were not backed by revenue from a specific project, such as from a toll road. Some of Windham’s general obligation bonds are backed by dedicated property taxes, while others are payable from the town’s general funds.

Typically, the interest rate of most municipal bonds is paid at a fixed rate and this rate doesn't change over the life of the bond. However, the underlying price of a particular bond will fluctuate in the secondary market due to market conditions and changes in interest rates and interest rate expectations are generally the primary factors involved in municipal bond secondary market prices.

When interest rates fall, newly issued bonds will pay a lower yield than existing issues, which makes the older bonds more attractive. Investors who want the higher yield may be willing to pay more to get it, and a town such as Windham may weigh refinancing a bond to yield savings, such as for this bond.

All bonds must be approved by the Windham Town Council, and some are voted upon by residents during Windham’s Annual Town Meeting every June.

Windham previously issued $19,045 million in advance refunding general obligations bonds on Dec. 15, 2011, as authorized by the Windham Town Council to refinance the debt owed on the 2003 bonds.

This is fantastic,” said Windham Town Council Chair Mark Morrison. “If we can save $45,000, it’s a no brainer.”

Following a brief discussion, Windham town councilors voted unanimously to approve restructuring the bonds as proposed by the bonding agent to realize the savings.

The restructured bond is expected to be paid in full by Nov. 1, 2033. <

100-year-old Windham resident has no plans on slowing down

By Ed Pierce

Phyllis Coffin of Windham marked a milestone that was a century in the making last month when she celebrated her 100th birthday on Dec. 10.

Phyllis Coffin of Windham turned 100 last month and
celebrated with family at a dinner in Portland. She has 
always led an active lifestyle and enjoyed roller skating,
water skiing, dancing, tennis and snow skiing when she
was younger. PHOTO BY GAIL HAMILTON
 
For the occasion, she enjoyed dinner at the Harbor Hotel in Portland with her family, including her children and grandchildren, her twin sister’s two daughters, and friends. Afterward, she was thrilled to converse at home via ZOOM with extended family across the country, while 100 birthday candles lit up the night sky outdoors, and more than 100 birthday cards decorated her porch.

Phyllis was born Dec. 10, 1922, some 10 minutes before her identical twin sister, Frances, in a farmhouse in Clinton, Maine to her parents, Grace Walls Lambertson and William Lambertson. She graduated from Clinton High school as salutatorian in 1940 and went on to attend Westbrook Junior College completing the Commercial Course with studies in bookkeeping, shorthand, law, mathematics of law.

On April 21, 1946, Phyllis married Herbert “Lucky” Coffin and the couple had two children, Jeffrey Coffin, and Gail Hamilton, who both live in Windham.

Her professional career included co-owning Friends Bridal Shop, working as a bookkeeper, and later as a Real Estate Broker.

She says that her most memorable job was when she was a full-time bookkeeper for Eastern Tractor and Equipment in Portland doing what she was trained to do and loved to do, working with numbers. To this day, she still tracks her own finances and signs her own checks to pay bills.

She’s lived an active life ranging from playing high school basketball and roller skating and dancing to

water skiing and snow skiing and in her senior years, playing tennis starting in the 1960s, which she continued until she was 90. Waterskiing became a genuine passion for Phyllis, and she became an AWSA-certified judge and served as the chief judge at numerous waterskiing tournaments throughout New England.

Her cooking was something special too.

“My favorite has always been her Hungarian rolls, which were traditional holiday fare at her house,” said her daughter, Gail Hamilton. “They were so gooey and sweet and made her holiday meals extra special.”

According to Phyllis, advances in technology during her lifetime have been nothing short of amazing, with a few inventions standing out among all the others.

“Telephones because they introduced us to technology,” she said. “And transporting of people from horse and buggy to car and flight and landing someone on the moon.”

She said the biggest historical event to take place in her lifetime is hard to choose because there have been so many.

“Bad things that stand out because they were so horrid,” Phyllis said. “The insurrection at the Capitol

floored me. I couldn’t imagine that happening in our wonderful country. And the destruction of the Twin Towers on 9/11 and the bombing of Pearl Harbor.”

Her husband passed away in 2012 and her twin sister, who was a huge part of her life, died in 2017. The twins attended the same college in Westbrook for bookkeeping and shared a mutual love for roller skating, performing together in shows at Old Orchard Beach to entertain U.S. servicemen during World War II.

As far as her own longevity in life goes, Phyllis said she credits having constant interests outside of just living, taking good care of her body, and helped by God in maintaining it.

For the future, she wants to continue to watch tennis on television and to do walking and exercises to maintain her mobility. She’s also planning to accompany her daughter to Idaho this coming summer for her grandson’s wedding. <

Friday, January 13, 2023

Sponsorship award humbles Windham auto racer

By Ed Pierce

There are special moments in life we never forget and Saturday, Jan. 7 was one of those memorable occasions for auto racer Bobby Timmons of Windham. In a special ceremony during the 34th Northeast Motorsports Expo at the August Civic Center, Timmons was honored with the 2023 GNG’s Gift Award, a valuable sponsorship presented by the family of the late New England racing legend “Grand National Greg” Peters.

Auto racer Bobby Timmons of Windham is the recipient
of the 2023 GNG's Gift Award, a valuable sponsorship
presented by the family of the late New England racing
legend 'Grand National Greg' Peters.
PHOTO BY JEFF BROWN 
The award is given annually to a New England auto racer who best exemplifies the qualities of “Grand National Greg” Peters of Westbrook, who won many races over the years at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway and the Oxford Plains Speedway before passing away in July 2021. The sponsorship is $5,000.09, with the .09 symbolic of the number that Peters used on his racecar over years of competing as a driver and crew chief in Maine.

“It means the world to me to have won the 2023 GNG's gift sponsorship. Greg and his son John have been friends of mine for as long as I can remember,” Timmons said. “Racing cars was Greg's passion in life and for them to choose me as the one who embodies what he stood for is truly an honor. My girlfriend, Abby, and my sister, Nicole, were with me during the presentation as well as many other of my friends in the racing community. The room was standing room only for the presentation and that was a cool sight.”

Timmons says that he’ll use the sponsorship this season to continue his racing career.

“This year we plan to race around 25 to 30 times this upcoming season, anywhere from Maine to Michigan,” he said. “The funds from GNG's gift will go toward all the expenses we have in racing. Tires, fuel, parts for the car, traveling expenses, and more.”

A third-generation racer, Timmons, who turned 30 on Monday, launched his career while competing in go-karts at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough after watching his father, Bobby Timmons, Jr. and his grandfather, Bobby Timmons, race super modified automobiles at racetrack in both Maine and New Hampshire. His devotion to living up to their legacy has led to numerous racing victories.

He won four races this past season. two at Star Speedway in Epping, New Hampshire where he races weekly. He also won two races on the 350 SMAC touring series in 2022, including one at the Hudson Speedway in Hudson, New Hampshire.

“That one was cool because I am sponsored by Hudson Speedway. The second one on the tour was at Wiscasset Speedway in Wiscasset,” Timmons said. “That one was special to me in the sense that it was the first time I had won a race in the state of Maine since 2014.”

Star Speedway is a one quarter-mile banked track and races there are typically 35 to 60-laps in length.

The racecar that Timmons drives most often is a 350-super modified. It has a 350-cubic inch Chevrolet small block engine that produces a little over 400 horsepower and has 10-inch-wide tires. He’s also competed in the past in an ISMA (International Super Modified Association) super modified car with a 468-cubic inch Chevrolet big block that generates about 800 horsepower and considered to be the fastest short track racecars in America.

"The challenge of trying to make a car go faster than everyone else in the garage and on the track, the friends I've made along the way, and the shear aspect of driving a car that fast are the best things about the sport for me,” Timmons said. “At the last ISMA race I competed in, we were reaching speeds of 150 mph.”

A 2011 graduate of Windham High School, Timmons says that the worst part of auto racing for drivers is the amount of money it takes just to be there, let alone to be competitive, so he said the GNG’s sponsorship is a blessing.

“We are very fortunate to be able to build a lot of the things we need to race in-house, but the costs of everything that we can't build or the things that we have to have continue to go up in price every year,” he said. “We have a couple of small sponsors that help us out with the weekly costs of new tires or fuel, but my dad and I fund the majority of it out of our own pockets.”

He’s worked for his father since he was 12 and is a machinist and a welder at his father’s shop, Timmons Machine & Fabrication Inc. of Windham, when not racing super modified cars.

For the 2023 season, Timmons says he plans to continue racing at the Star Speedway in New Hampshire and on the 350 SMAC Tour with his small block super modified car.

“We have races in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York planned with that car,” Timmons said. “My dad and I built a brand-new big block super modified last season. We plan on racing part time in the New England Super Modified Series and the International Super Modified Association with that car in Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and a trip to Berlin, Michigan in July for a special two-day race event.” <

WMS Altitude Program makes a difference through book donations

By Matt Pascarella

Shortly before the beginning of the holiday season’s school vacation, eighth-grade students at Windham Middle School’s Altitude Program, with the help of seventh graders within the program, helped gather a substantial stack of books that were brought by the students to the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center in Portland on Tuesday, Dec. 20.

Windham Middle School Altitude Program eighth graders
back from left, Rylynn Miller, Maddi Nolan, KJ Currier, Cam
Moreau, Izaiah Woodbury, Veronika Sullivan and Madi Cicci
donate books to the Giving Library at the Barbara Bush 
Children's Hospital in South Portland on Tuesday, Dec. 20.
Accepting the donation is Child Life Program Manager
Sharon Granville, front. COURTESY PHOTO 
The Altitude Program is one of service, and experiential learning. It stresses being a significant member of the community and its goal is to create more hands-on learning opportunities. For many of the students in the program the typical school setting can be harder for them, so the Altitude Program is a connector for them academically as well as personally. It aims to help students make relationships, build community and work on social skills and communication.

In early December, Windham Middle School teachers Lisa Anderson, Autumn Carsen Cook and Rich Meserve asked the members of the Altitude Program what they can do to make a difference and show compassion.

The eighth graders came up with the idea to donate books to the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center.

“We decorated boxes and put them around Windham Middle School and at the Field-Allen School,” said Windham eighth grader Madi Cicci. “The principal, announced there were boxes for book donations every morning.”

Letters went out to staff and parents informing them of the need to collect new books.

“Giving is kind and thoughtful,” said Windham eighth-grader Izaiah Woodbury. “It felt good to donate the books.”

Woodbury said it gives the kids who aren’t able to go to school the ability to learn through the donated books. If they cannot be visited by their families during the holidays, the books are a gift.

Windham eighth-grader KJ Currier said it felt good to donate the books. It meant a lot that they were able to bring the kids at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital something around the holidays.

“We have some core belief statements for students and some ‘I can’ statements,” said WMS Principal Drew Patin. “One is feeling a part of the community. The book donations fits in terms of being able to see what their impact is on other people.”

Patin said another of the statements is around engagement and seeing themselves in the curriculum but also feeling like what they are doing has a broader impact.

The students say that they are really grateful for being able to learn off campus and out in the community.

“We are really appreciative of their work and generosity and thinking of others,” said Sharon Granville, Child Life Program Manager at Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital. “It helped us to add books to our Giving Library; we offer a library where families have the opportunity to come and look through different books for different ages of patients and any family that’s staying with us has the opportunity to select a book and use it and thankfully be able to keep it.”

Granville said what’s great about book donations is it allows the hospital to keep up with frequent titles kids are enjoying.

She said that when you are in the hospital, you don’t always have as many choices as you might want so by having a nice book selection, they are able to provide the children with an appropriate choice which allows them to select whatever book they want.

The small actions of the students in the Altitude Program made a big difference for kids who are not feeling well.

“I feel accomplished,” said Windham eighth grader Maddi Nolan. “It made me feel like I did a good deed for the community. It was important because we gave the kids what they needed and deserved. Some kids would not be able to see their families while in the hospital, so I thought this would make them feel happy."

Nolan also said she learned to take a pause and appreciate what she has. <

Friday, January 6, 2023

‘Wreaths Across America’ a transformative experience for WPD officers

By Lorraine Glowczak

After five years volunteering as police escorts for the Wreaths Across America (WAA) caravan, providing safety at intersections as it traveled through Maine, Windham Police Department (WPD) Detective Eugene Gallant and Sergeant Jason Burke received an opportunity this year to participate in the entire six-day convoy that travels to Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington D.C.

Windham Police DCetective Eugene Gallant and Sgt. Jason
Burke helped to lay 247,000 wreaths on the graves of fallen
soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery as part of the annual
Wreaths Across America event. They experienced many
meaningful moments on the trip and say it made a
significant impact on their lives. SUBMITTED PHOTO   
In its 30th year, this annual 730-mile one-way procession begins at the Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine where the wreaths are made and then delivered the first week of December. Upon arrival, Det. Gallant and Sgt. Burke helped to lay 247,000 wreaths, transported in 18 semi-trailers, onto the graves of fallen soldiers. They both agreed that laying wreaths and saluting fallen soldiers were very humbling experiences.

“Gene and I thought it was a great way to honor our soldiers and the people who sacrificed their lives for our country and the freedoms offered here,” Burke said. “Since we began escorting for WAA, it became a bucket list item for us to travel to Arlington to show our appreciation, so when the opportunity arose to be a part of this convoy, we jumped at it.”

Gallant and Burke also participated in wreath-laying ceremonies at the William H. Taft Memorial, JFK Memorial, RFK Memorial, USS Maine Memorial, the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They also paid their respects by rendering a salute at the gravesite of fellow WPD officer Justin Hudnor’s grandfather, a World War II veteran. Although there were many significant events that took place during the six-day period, the sergeant and detective shared two meaningful experiences.

“During the trip to D.C., we made many stops along the way at various New England towns,” Gallant said. “At one stop at a War Memorial in New Jersey, a woman approached us and asked us to transport a stone to Arlington. The stone had the name of her son engraved on it. He was stationed in Afghanistan and was on a convoy detail when he was hit and killed by an IED [improvised explosive device]. She asked us to take him. One of the truckers [delivering the wreaths] was a veteran who had a tour in Afghanistan and asked if he could take her son to D.C. with him. Of course, we gave the stone to the trucker to travel with a fellow comrade. This is an experience that Jason and I definitely did not expect. This made a great impact on us.”

Another significant experience happened while placing 184 wreaths at the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, a memorial for those who did not survive the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks. Burke said that a Pentagon Police lieutenant explained the monument and what the layout meant.

“The direction of the benches signifies the direction the plane flew into the building,” Burke said. “The names on the benches are laid out so that if you are looking toward the sky, it represents those on the plane. The names on the ground are of people in the building. It is a very powerful and meaningful memorial that Gene and I would encourage all to attend.”

The WAA tradition began in 1992 when the Worcester Wreath Company had a surplus of 5,000 wreaths, and the owner of the company, Morrill Worcester recalled a powerful experience of his own. He knew immediately what he had to do with the extra wreaths.

The story began when Worcester was 12 years old in 1963. He won a trip to Washington D.C. while working as a delivery boy for the Bangor Daily News.

“His first trip to our nation’s capital was one he would never forget, and Arlington National Cemetery made an especially indelible impression on him,” the Worcester Wreath Company website stated. “This experience followed him throughout his life and successful career, reminding him that his good fortune was due, in large part, to the values of this nation and the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.”

So, in 1992, Worcester remembered his boyhood experience at Arlington, and he realized he had an opportunity to honor our country’s veterans. “With the aid of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, arrangements were made for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington in one of the older sections of the cemetery that had been receiving fewer visitors with each passing year.”

The tradition continued, and in 2007, Wreaths Across America became a non-profit organization.

Although U.S. veterans are honored and remembered on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, Sgt. Gallant and Det. Burke understand more profoundly the appreciation the veterans deserve daily.

“We like to encourage others to honor and remember those who have sacrificed so that we may have the freedom to live the life of our dreams,” Gallant said.

For more information about the Worcester Wreath Company, one can peruse the company’s website at www.worcesterwreath.com. To learn more about Wreath Across America go to www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.<

Town hopes sidewalk improvements spur South Windham growth

By Ed Pierce

The revitalization of South Windham is yet another step closer after members of the Windham Town council have endorsed submission of an application for Community Development Block Grant funds to move forward with a concept planning study for sidewalk reconstruction in the area.

A project to rebuild an existing sidewalk along the east side of
Main Street from the Mountain Division Trail to Depot Street
and on the west side from the railroad tracks to Depot Street
is intended to improve safety for pedestrians and help spur
economic growth in South Windham Village.
PHOTO BY ED PIERCE  
Town councilors approved the application during a December meeting and the application is expected to be completed and submitted by the end of January. The proposed concept planning study would review the most cost-effective way to reconstruct existing sidewalks and construct new sidewalks running from Depot Street in South Windham to the Mountain Division Trail.

Town Manager Barry Tibbetts told councilors that the proposed sidewalk improvements are intended to improve safety for pedestrians in South Windham and boost economic growth along Main Street there.

According to Tibbetts, the project would rebuild some 1,250 feet of existing sidewalk along the east side of Main Street from the Blue Seal store near the Mountain Division Trail crossing to Depot Street in the center of South Windham Village.

He said other planned improvements would replace old and failing retaining walls along the 1,250-foot section of rebuilt sidewalk on the east side of Main Street and to install pedestrian lighting along that same 1,250-foot section of rebuilt sidewalk.

The project would also create 1,250 feet of new 5-foot-wide paved sidewalk with granite curbing along the west side of Main Street from the Mountain Division Trail crossing to Depot Street in the center of South Windham Village.

During last June’s Annual Town Meeting, Windham voters authorized a $275,000 bond for creation of a sidewalk from Blue Seal Feed on Gray Road to Depot Street in South Windham sometime in 2024 or 2025.

The new sidewalk coincides with a project that was completed last fall that repaved the parking lot at the Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District at 35 Main St. in South Windham which shares a driveway with the town’s South Windham Fire Station. Reconfiguring the parking lot was a collaborative effort between Cumberland County, the Soil and Water Conservation District and the Town of Windham.

The town approached the Soil and Water Conservation District several years ago with the idea that a multi-use parking lot could benefit all interests in South Windham. Tenants of the Soil and Water Conservation District building, hikers using nearby trails, individuals using nearby businesses, and the town itself have benefitted from the updated parking lot.

“Back when we first looked at this, we originally looked at entrance issues in that area,” Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts said. “We thought we could work a partnership short-term, to fix the entrance problems and repave the driveway for parking but it turned out to be so much more.”

Windham councilors unanimously voted in December 2020 to sell the old vacant South Windham Fire Station at 8 Main St. for $125,000 to Great Falls Construction of Gorham, owned by Jon and Cindy Smith. They plan to turn the property into a brewhouse and restaurant.

South Windham Village itself was once a thriving industrial and commercial location because of its access to Maine Central railroad and situated near the Presumpscot River but today the area is mostly residential and town councilors and the Windham Economic Development Corporation are seeking for ways to spur economic growth there.

Last fall, an agreement was announced to clean up and demolish the old Keddy Mill site at 7 Depot St. in South Windham under an initiative to protect human health and the environment. Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and ITT LLC, the company responsible for the 6.93-acre Keddy Mill site say that the former industrial building on the site will be razed and contaminated materials there will be removed.

In the past year, Windham and Gorham have agreed to collaborate on a master plan focused on developing a community guided vision for the villages of South Windham and Little Falls. <

Friday, December 30, 2022

2022 Year in Review (Part Two)

HISTORY MADE IN WINDHAM AND RAYMOND


JULY

Project relocates blacksmith shop to RCHS museum

The Raymond Casco Historical Society has disassembled and will restore the Watkins Blacksmith Shop at the society’s museum in Casco.

During a special ceremony on Sept. 17, Windham Fire Chief
Brent Libby honored the efforts of Lowe's employees, 
community residents and public safety personnel in saving
the life of a man who collapsed in the Lowe's parking lot
in July suffering from cardiac arrest. Their quick actions
saved the man's life and he was on hand to thank his
rescuers for their kindness. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE      
Steeped in history, the blacksmith shop is quite possibly the oldest blacksmith shop still in existence in Maine, first opened in the 1850s by William Watkins and was in use right up until the 1940s. Footage of the blacksmith’s forge and shop was included in a 1922 silent movie called “Timothy’s Quest” and it once was part of a thriving rural community in Casco, but over the past eight decades, the building has slowly become a crumbling relic of Maine’s past. That is, until an idea about moving the building was pitched to Frank McDermott, president of the historical society.

“For the first time in nearly two hundred years, those traveling across Quaker Ridge in Casco will no longer start their journey with the familiar view of William Watkin’s Blacksmith Shop sitting on its knoll overlooking the village,” McDermott said.

According to McDermott, the project was launched last fall when Steve Linne, the owner of the blacksmith shop, offered to give it to the Raymond-Casco Historical Society if it could be moved by Aug. 1 of this year. McDermott, the former Raymond Schools superintendent, who has led the historical society for the past four years, immediately saw the potential of moving the blacksmith shop to the society’s museum on Watkins Farm in Casco, restoring it and using it for live demonstrations for the public.

“I haven't been as enthusiastic about a project in many years as I am about this,” said McDermott. “I see this as the reincarnation of the Raymond-Casco Historical Society, and the reason I say that’s because I see us moving from a static museum where you go and stand and look, to rather a place where you go to both do and learn something.”

He pitched the idea to the historical society’s board of directors, and they liked the idea of relocating and turning it into a working blacksmith shop. Over the next several months, new rough-cut hemlock flooring will be installed, the unique split stone foundation will be painstakingly reassembled on its own frost wall, and the ox lift will be hoisted back into place to await further restoration, McDermott said. Further, he said that once the building has been made weather tight, work will commence to recreate the interior of the shop.

Windham dedicates new Public Safety Building

During a special dedication ceremony on July 13, Windham town officials, construction crews and town residents heard about what went into the decision to renovate and expand the Windham Public Safety Building on Gray Road and celebrated its completion.

The construction work for the $4.3 million expansion and building renovation was performed by Great Falls Construction of Gorham and began with groundbreaking in July 2021. It added a 15,247-square foot renovation to the existing 17,000-square-foot Public Safety building which houses space for first responders for both the Windham Fire Department and the Windham Police Department.

During the project, workers finished a two-story 5,840-square-foot addition that houses five apparatus bays, a new public safety decontamination space, bunk rooms, kitchen, and offices for the Windham Fire Department, created a new 1,305-square-foot standalone three-bay space for vehicle and evidence storage for the Windham Police Department, and installed a second elevator for the building.

Remodeling work was also performed throughout the entire building as workers installed HVAC and lighting upgrades to increase building efficiency and updated other areas during the project, including a revised locker room space; created an additional 10 new public parking spaces and addition of a new 1,305-square-foot, single-story secured evidence locker for police; additional employee parking; an outdoor patio space; a new dumpster area; and installation of a new generator for the reconfigured facility.

Back in 2020, Windham residents approved up to $4.9 million in bonds during the Annual Town Meeting for capital improvement projects, and that included funding the expansion for the town’s Public Safety Building. The additional funding for the building’s renovation was derived from town impact fees for new town residential developments and new commercial buildings.

“The need for this was obvious,” said Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts during the dedication event. “This building needed to be worked on. We chose not to tear it down, but to remodel it and make it work for the future.” The existing structure was originally built in 1988 at a time when none of the town’s firefighters were full-time staff members and Windham only had about 15 or so police officers on duty. The town now employs 20 professional firefighters while the town’s police force has doubled in size to 30 officers. <

Town of Raymond puts donated school bus to good use

Last fall, RSU 14 donated a 2012 International school bus from its fleet to the Raymond Parks and Recreation Department and it’s a substantial gift that town residents should take pride in. Raymond Parks and Recreation Director Joe Crocker says the idea to acquire a bus for the town came about after exploring ways to get skiers to Shawnee Peak for a recreational trip.

“We looked into renting a bus, but the quotes we received were very high,” Crocker said. “That’s when we started looking into obtaining an old school bus to lower the costs.”

Crocker said Raymond’s Public Works Director Nathan White spoke with RSU 14 transportation officials and rather than send the aging bus to salvage, the school district chose to donate it to the town.

Once acquired, the vehicle was repainted in Gorham and then earlier this summer, Raymond Parks and Recreation graphics were applied by Time4Printing of Windham.

“It didn’t take very long at all for them to do that, in fact, we probably got it back in about a day,” Crocker said. “They did an amazing job.”

The bus has about 120,000 miles on it and the bus itself is probably worth between $10,000 and $20,000. Obtaining this vehicle gives the Raymond Parks and Recreation Department plenty of flexibility and the town now all exterior and mechanical maintenance on it, keeping expenses down.

The community will see almost immediate results from the bus including partnering with the Windham Raymond School Age Child Care Program to help out with after school transportation needs in Raymond and using the bus at Tassel Top Park.

“Just having this bus now opens up many different possibilities for the Parks and Recreation department,” he said. “We can plan ski trips, shopping trips and use the bus for so many events that we couldn’t offer previously.”

Crocker says Raymond residents are grateful to RSU 14 for the bus donation and it demonstrates how successfully that the school district and the town can work together on behalf of the entire community. <

AUGUST

Windham teen wins prestigious pageant

Rosie Haibon of Windham set off to accomplish competing in a pageant and winning it. She entered the ‘Young American Women of Service Teen’ pageant at the DoubleTree Hotel in South Portland and was thrilled to be declared as the winner. When Haibon was crowned Miss Maine Teen a little more than a year ago, she signed a contract that stipulated she would have to compete in the ‘Young American Women of Service Teen’ pageant and became the first Windham woman to win the title.

Over the span of the week-long competition, Haibon participated in the pageant rehearsals and fun parties. In total, there were about 100 women competing and all varying in age and origin and from different countries. Each participant had gone through a state pageant and had won for their division. There were girls from almost every state, and a few girls from Canada and South America.

“This was the final tier in our pageant system, I am officially at the top of our pyramid. Our prize package is huge and is so incredible,” says Haibon. “I will receive a scholarship for school, modeling opportunities, and various other surprises throughout the year! Our director really likes keeping our gifts a secret.”

Haibon says that anyone can do pageants, no matter your physical or mental state.

“Everyone can do well in pageants, and I think it should be something you do once in your life. It’s such a blast to do and it gives you a family of sisters like no other. I was crowned as someone who is a size 12 dress, and as someone with autism. If you had told me when I was little that I would be an international titleholder, I never would have believed you. But here I am today,” she says.

She believes that everyone should do pageants, not just for the crown or title, but for the experience that you get when you do this.

“This is so amazing and something that Maine and the United States should be very proud of! I was selected out of girls from different areas of the world. I’m so excited to have this honor and to be this representative,” Haibon said. “I’m so proud to be representing Maine like this and to bring this honor to our state. Thank you to everyone who has supported me during this incredible journey, I could not have done this without your love and support. Remember to love who you are, you’re beautiful and perfect just the way you are.” <

Windham’s Keddy Mill site to be cleaned up, demolished

An agreement has been reached to clean up and demolish the old Keddy Mill site in South Windham under an initiative to protect human health and the environment.

Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and ITT LLC, the company responsible for the 6.93-acre site and structure off Depot Street in South Windham, say that the former industrial building on the site will be razed and contaminated materials there will be removed. Testing has determined that the two-story concrete industrial structure on the property contains elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), asbestos, and other contaminants known to pose a risk to human health and the environment.

Located at 7 Depot St., the crumbling two-story concrete building at the site is thought to have been built in the early 20th century, although mill operations at that location date to the mid-1800s. Throughout the site’s history, several buildings have been constructed there and added to the mill complex.

Originally the mill was used as a grist and carding mill before being converted to a pulp mill, a box-board manufacturing facility and a steel mill. The site is in a mixed commercial/residential area in South Windham and is bounded by Depot Street to the north, a former Maine Central Railroad right-of-way to the east, and undeveloped property and the Presumpscot River to the south, and by Route 202/Main Street and an operational hydroelectric facility to the west.

Use of the site for various industrial activities began in 1875, with its primary industrial use being for metal fabrication starting in 1945. The Keddy Mill Company began a metal manufacturing operation there in the 1960s which continued into the 1970s. Through the process of transforming scrap metal into products, electrical capacitors and transformers containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were used there. The building sits on a concrete/soil foundation and contains a full basement. The EPA reports that no wells or known private drinking water sources are situated close to the location.

Under the Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent reached between the EPA and the responsible party, the cleanup work will be done in compliance with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, commonly known as the "Superfund," and ensures that the cleanup will protect human health and the environment. Cleanup work is expected to be phased, initially consisting of pre-design investigation activities, beginning this year. <

Windham fifth on Realtor.com®’s Hottest ZIP Codes list

Windham, one of the communities served by members of the The Greater Portland Board of REALTORS® has been ranked No. 5 out of 29,000 ZIP Codes analyzed in the eighth annual Realtor.com® Hottest ZIP Codes Report released in August.

In the top 10 ZIPs, homes sold in just over a week (eight days) and received nearly four times (3.7) more buyer views than a typical U.S. listing.

A key theme of this year’s ranking is demand from out-of-ZIP home shoppers, driven by factors including relative affordability and convenient travel to bigger economic and population centers.

“Windham has grown so much. I remember saying to my business partner about 10 years ago, 'just wait and see, Windham is the next hotspot.' I could tell by watching the other local markets spill over into this area. Windham has a very tight community between the residents and businesses who care about each other, said Lisa DiBiase, co-owner and broker of Landing Real Estate with Matt DiBiase.

She said that Windham has something to appeal to almost everyone. "Windham has so much to offer with lakes of all sizes for everyone including a downtown area with a ton of locally owned shops mixed with large shopping, restaurants, annual Summerfest, golfing nearby. What’s not to love!” Lisa DiBiase said.

With rising inflation and mortgage rates squeezing monthly housing budgets, this year’s determined buyers are breathing new life into competition for homes in these top 10 ZIPs, said Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for Realtor.com®. <

SEPTEMBER

Windham veteran to lead American Legion as National Commander


A Windham resident who understands that freedom requires a huge commitment and responsibility is now leading the American Legion veteran’s organization as its National Commander. Vincent “Jim” Troiola was elected to the position during the 103rd American Legion National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin earlier this month. He served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1971 as a Boatswain Mate aboard the USS Nitro, an Ammunition Auxiliary Ship, when it was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea as part of the Sixth Fleet, and then as a reservist until being honorably discharged in 1974.

“I joined the American Legion Post 1682 in New City, New York in 1993,” Troiola said. “At the time I was involved in activities at my daughter’s elementary school and one of my friends whose daughter also went to the same school asked me to join the Sons of the American Legion, a program of the American Legion. The SAL is for sons or grandsons of veterans that have served. I actively participated in their programs and was approached by the Post Commander and was asked if I was a veteran. He recruited me to join the American Legion.”

After a year of membership, Troiola became 2nd Vice Commander of the Post and then in 1997 was elected Post Commander, a position he held for two years. “I became very active in many committees and programs in higher levels of the American Legion including County Commander, District Commander, Department (State) Commander (2010-2011) and National Vice Commander (2016-2017),” he said. “I also chaired many committees and commissions at all levels. At the Department level, I served on the faculty of the New York American Legion college, Membership Chairman, and the centennial task force for the future. At the National level, I served as Chairman of the Veterans Employment and Education Commission and the National Legislative Commission. I wanted to be involved.”

He was elected National Commander for a one-year term Sept. 1 and that requires 330 days of travel during that time.

“I will visit all 55 departments to include 50 states, Department of Mexico, Department of France, Department of Puerto Rico, Department of the Philippines and the Department of District of Columbia. In December I will embark on a Far East Trip to Okinawa, Philippines, Guam and Hawaii to participate at the Pearl Harbor Day Ceremonies. In June 2023, I will travel to Normandy Beach for D-Day ceremonies, Paris, France, the birthplace of the American Legion, Bastogne, Belgium, and Ramstein Air Base in Germany to meet the troops.”

His daughter, Laura, and her husband, Michael, moved to Falmouth about 2012 before Troiola and his wife, Saveria, moved to Maine.

“They were in New Hampshire where Michael did his residency at Dartmouth. We decided in 2015 to move to Maine to be closer to our two grandchildren at the time, now three grandchildren. Laura works from home, and we felt we were able to help with the kids, one of which has special needs,” Troiola said. “We shopped for a new home for about two months and came across a new construction home in the Sebago Heights subdivision. We purchased the house and moved in January 2016. We love the neighborhood and living in the Lakes Region.” <

Windham varsity girls’ soccer coach earns 200th win

Windham varsity girls’ soccer coach Deb Lebel has been coaching at Windham since 2011 and on Sept. 3 in Windham’s opening game, Lebel earned her 200th career win with a 10-0 victory over Westbrook.

Her varsity coaching career began at Falmouth in 2005 and over the years she has accomplished a lot, including being honored with a plaque marking her milestone accomplishment on Thursday, Sept. 8 at Windham. She is a six-time state championship winner which includes Windham wins in 2013, 2014 and 2021. She won three state championships while at Falmouth and was honored as the Southern Maine Activities Association Maine Coach of the Year and New England Coach of the Year in 2021.

“These 200 wins I feel I’ve been blessed with a ton of talent,” said Lebel. “At Falmouth I felt like this gift had been dropped in my lap. I think that in the 2013 and 2014 years [at Windham], I wouldn't have been successful if they hadn't won states. They were just so talented. This is a tiny bit me, but so much of them.”

Lebel began coaching at the Fay School in Southborough, Massachusetts in 1999. She taught physical education and health and coached soccer, basketball and lacrosse. In 2005, Lebel came to Windham High School where she began teaching biology. She accepted her first varsity coaching position as the girls’ soccer coach at Falmouth High School where she coached for four years.

In 2009, she left Falmouth and began coaching girls’ lacrosse at Windham until 2013. In 2011, she started coaching varsity girls’ soccer in Windham.

Lowe's ceremony honors life-saving heroes

For those who believe that one person’s kindness can save a life, an event at the Lowe’s in Windham on Sept. 17 is confirmation of that fact. Back on Saturday, July 23, Thomas and Tammy O’Connell drove from their home in South Portland to the Lowe’s store in Windham to purchase a new grill. Thomas, 65, was loading the grill into the back of his truck in the Lowe’s parking lot when he collapsed, clutching his chest, and falling to the ground. To his wife’s horror, he was unresponsive and barely breathing as she cried out desperately for someone to help.

Fortunately for the O’Connells, Lowe’s employees Andrew Tanguay and Stephen Sargent were outside in the parking lot and saw what had happened. Tanguay tried to help Thomas up while Sargent ran into the Lowe’s store to obtain an AED defibrillator. Sargent had received training on use of the device three or four months earlier during a Lowe’s employee training session. Store employees called for emergency assistance and while waiting for help, Tanguay and Sargent worked to revive Thomas with the AED while a bystander started CPR on him. Seeing what was taking place and hearing Tammy O’Connell’s screams, a nurse from Windham who had just pulled into the Lowe’s parking lot, Danielle Dunnam, ran to assist and took over CPR compressions until Windham Police Officer Ernie MacVane and Sgt. Rob Hunt arrived at the scene and assisted with CPR.

Dunnam, who was at Lowe’s to buy trim for new flooring, performed CPR for three or four minutes on Thomas before MacVane and Hunt got there. Moments later, a crew from the Windham Fire Department including firefighter/paramedic Max Newton, firefighter/paramedic Mike Dube, firefighter/paramedic Tony Cataldi, firefighter/paramedic Paul Silva, firefighter/emergency medical technician Advanced Josh Merrill, firefighter/emergency medical technician Advanced Steve Bishop, and firefighter/emergency medical technician Grace Sawyer, all worked on Thomas to save his life and prepared him to be transported to Maine Medical Center for emergency treatment as he clung to life.

After 10 days in the hospital for what was described by doctors as a “cardiac episode,” Thomas was able to go home, thanks to the heroic efforts of everyone involved that day.

Windham Fire Chief Brent Libby said the quick actions of the Lowe’s employees and by Dunnam and the professionalism the first responders are responsible for Thomas still being alive today. “It shows that it takes a village,” Libby said. “For Mr. O’Connell, the Lowe’s staff and people in the parking lot recognized there was a problem and helped. It shows how everybody can work together in a time of need.” <

OCTOBER

Parking facility aims to revitalize South Windham


The Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District’s new parking lot at 35 Main St. in South Windham is a collaborative effort between Cumberland County, the Soil and Water Conservation District and the Town of Windham.

The town approached the Soil and Water Conservation District several years ago with the idea that a multi-use parking lot could benefit all interests in South Windham. The old parking lot has been transformed this fall into parking for tenants of the Soil and Water Conservation District building, for hikers using nearby trails, for nearby businesses and for the town, which shares a driveway with the district for the South Windham Fire Station.

“Back when we first looked at this, we originally looked at entrance issues in that area,” Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts said. “We thought we could work a partnership short-term, to fix the entrance problems and repave the driveway for parking but it turned out to be so much more.”

The town applied for a Community Development Block Grant through Cumberland County in 2020 for the parking lot and then went back a second time for additional funding. Eventually, Cumberland County contributed $205,295 to the project for surfaces and materials and the rest is history. As a result of the improved entrance and the redesigned parking lot, soon a new restaurant and brew house will be able to set up shop in the old South Windham Fire Station on Main Street. Hikers will be able to park safely and securely in the lot, and new tenants of the Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District will be able to park there too.

Tibbetts said this new parking lot is an accomplishment that all residents of Windham can be proud of.

“It has substantial long term benefits and we’re pleased at how this all has turned out,” he said. “We owe a lot of thanks to the multitudes of people who worked on this project, and we certainly appreciate all of the efforts to help from county government.” <

Windham sends contract zone request to planning board

The owners of the Northeastern Motel at 322 Roosevelt Trail in Windham have asked the town for a contract zone so the property of the existing motel can be redeveloped into residential dwelling units.
The 3.8-acre site is located on Route 302 and the northwest corner of Nash Road in Windham and the owners, 322 Roosevelt Trail LLC, say to achieve their vision for the property zoning changes will need to be made. The property is currently zoned as “F” for farming zone district.

Owners are asking that zoning for the site be changed to allow Dwelling, Multifamily as a permitted use. Under current “F” zoning requirements multifamily dwellings are only allowed for the conversion of an existing dwelling or accessory building that was in existence prior to May 13, 1986, and no more than three dwelling units may be created per lot.

A zoning change would allow the property owners up to 23 dwelling units on the property, which differs from the only two dwellings currently allowed there. The nine-unit motel with an attached owner’s unit building existed prior to Windham’s adoption of zoning ordinances on July 8, 1976. On Nov. 5, 1987, the town’s Board of Appeals granted permission to expand the non-conforming use “Suburban Pines Motel” to double the size and a 13-unit adjacent building was constructed on the property in 1988. Windham’s Planning Board approved a subdivision of the property into five lots on April 23, 1990, and over the past 32 years has been further reduced to its current 3.8-acre configuration.

The zoning change request is the second time that a contract zone has been requested for this property. In 2016, the previous property owner requested a contract zone to permit Motels and Multifamily Dwellings and increase density there. On July 12, 2016, a vote by the Windham Town Council failed to send the application to the Planning Board for review and recommendation.

By a general consensus of approval, town councilors sent the contract zone request to the Windham Planning Board for review. <

‘Triple B’ celebration honors RTT’s important work

For the first time since 2019, people gathered together in person to celebrate Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center’s 14th Annual Triple B ~ Boots, Band & BBQ on Saturday, Oct. 22 in Windham.

The excitement was palpable as attendees were welcomed back into the arena, some for the first time since before the pandemic. The joy of friends dancing together once again was matched only by the outpouring of support for RTT’s programs – with the evening topping more than $200,000 to benefit the clients, horses, and programs of Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center (RTT).

This year’s event was a celebration of the community’s support of and devotion to RTT’s mission through the pandemic. It welcomed back many familiar faces.

Popular local band Under The Covers, auctioneer Elizabeth Holmstrom, and emcee Michelle Taylor of 99.9 The Wolf, all returned to donate their time and engage the attendees in enthusiastic bidding. Schilly’s Catering and Food Services offered delicious barbeque to the hungry crowd and St. Joseph’s baseball team put their base running skills to good use, collecting bid cards as hands shot into the air.

There was no greater example of the power of being present at RTT than those set by the two keynote speakers.

Debbie Hutchinson, a RTT client, shared her story and the role that RTT’s horses have played in her journey navigating Multiple Sclerosis – detailing not only the differences that riding has made to her physical health, but also how her relationship with RTT’s Paxton has improved her emotional health. Janis Childs, a RTT volunteer and board member, took the microphone next, moving herself and the crowd to tears as she discussed the power of working with riders like Hutchinson and how the impact that the horses have on clients is always more than is known. She highlighted this with stories she was told by people after RTT had to say goodbye to a beloved member of the herd, Luke, this past summer.

Childs ended her speech by galvanizing the crowd gathered for the auction, pointing out that money is like manure – “spread it around and good things grow.” <

NOVEMBER

VFW recognizes ‘Patriot’s Pen’ and ‘Voice of Democracy’ winners


VFW Post 10643 Commander Willie Goodman honored three Windham students as this year’s winners of the “Patriot’s Pen” essay competition and the “Voice of Democracy” audio essay contest sponsored by the VFW post. The annual competition encourages students to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society. It provides them with a unique opportunity to express their own thoughts about democracy and patriotism with a chance to win college scholarship money.

Goodman said that Hunter Edson, a Windham Christian Academy senior, submitted the winning audio-essay. He was presented with a certificate for his achievement and a check for $250 at an event at the Windham Veterans Center and qualifies to compete in the district-level “Voice of Democracy” competition.

Edson said he was shocked and amazed that his audio-essay was chosen as this year’s VFW Post 10643 winner.

“Having the opportunity to go to that amazing event at the Windham Veterans Center was truly breathtaking. I am very grateful for our veterans and the people at the VFW for giving students around the country this amazing opportunity,” he said. “It makes me feel like I’m a part of something greater, I mean ‘Voice of Democracy,’ that’s saying a lot in and of itself. But I for one am just very happy that I get to be a part of that voice. Winning this year has been a great experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

During the awards presentation on Veterans Day, Goodman also honored this year’s “Patriot’s Pen” winner, Evangeline Williams and second-place winner, Lance Lake. Williams is a sixth grader at Windham Christian Academy and received a certificate and a check for $200 for her winning essay. Lake also is a sixth-grade student at Windham Christian Academy and received a certificate and a check for $150 for his second-place essay. <

Voters elect newcomers to legislative seats

In the Nov. 8 general election, two three-year positions on the RSU 14 Board of Directors representing Windham will be filled by former board member Christina Small, and newcomer Caitlynn Downs. Small had 4,301 votes, while Downs had 3,245 votes. Incumbent Marge Govoni finished third in the race with 3,055 votes.

For the State Senate District 26 seat representing Windham, Raymond, Casco, Frye Island and part of Westbrook, former Windham Town Councilor Tim Nangle, a Democrat, defeated former State Senator and State Representative Gary Plummer, a Republican. Nangle tallied 9,695 votes to Plummer's 9,358 votes.

In the newly renamed Maine House District 106, Barbara Bagshaw, a Republican, edged newcomer Dana Reed, with 2,372 votes to Reed's 2,348 votes after a state-mandated recount. In the newly renamed Maine House District 107, former State Representative Jane Pringle will be returning to Augusta as she defeated newcomer Michael Hall, a Republican. Pringle had 2,343 votes to Hall's 2,209 votes.

Incumbent Jessica Fay, a Democrat, won re-election in a newly redrawn and renumbered House District 86 representing Raymond, Casco, and Poland. Fay has 2,397 votes to Republican Greg Foster's 2,313 votes.

Newcomer John Henry won an At-Large position on Windham's Town Council for a three-year term. <

Windham to convert to automated trash removal

After months of negotiation and discussion with Casella Waste Systems, also known as Pine Tree Waste, the basic framework for an agreement to convert Windham to automated trash removal has been reached.

Although some contractual details have yet to be worked out, members of the Windham Town Council voted unanimously at a meeting to move ahead with the proposal. It means that by next fall, Windham residents will no longer use the Pay As You Throw (PAYT) system, eliminating the purchase of blue bags, and switching to a cart system with trash picked-up curbside by a driver using an automated retrieval system. Under the current system, trash and recyclables are manually collected at the roadside which requires a driver and a laborer and services about 5,400 stops in the town.

Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts told councilors that the proposed contract allows flexibility for the town to either purchase trash carts from Casella or to join in an initiative with other nearby towns to purchase receptacles separately and save money by purchasing them in bulk. Tibbetts said Windham’s 2022-2023 budget included $600,000 funding for a trash cart purchase for residents.

Homes in Windham would be issued two carts, one for trash and the other for recycling. The new contract calls for residential pick-up service scheduled once a week Monday through Thursday using designated routes and should a pick-up fall on a legal holiday or on a storm day, the schedule would be pushed back one day.

Casella Market Manager Chris McHale said all routes in Windham will be evaluated before the new system is implemented. McHale said Casella may purchase and deploy a smaller trash truck to service roads not accessible by the new automated trash vehicle. He stressed that the company intends to work with residents to provide the best service possible, but because of rising operational costs and advances in technology, the trash removal industry is converting to automated systems and can no longer continue to provide a similar system as currently used in Windham.

The initial contract will be for five years from July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2028. <

DECEMBER

Windham to wait to apply for some bond funding

Windham voters approved a $6.9 million bond for various projects during the Annual Town Meeting in June, but upon the recommendation of the town’s bonding agent, the town will wait before seeking some of that funding. During a discussion at a December Windham Town Council meeting, Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts briefed town councilors about the bond application status of eight different projects.

Tibbetts said from a financial standpoint, it would save money by waiting to apply for bonding for some of the projects by avoiding paying bond interest and associated fees in the coming year. According to Tibbetts, the bonding agent thinks bond interest rates could fall in the months ahead and not paying additional interest and processing fees to bond issuers in 2023 on projects not scheduled to start until 2024 would result in significant savings for the town.

“Financially that’s a really smart move for us to get to where we want to be,” Tibbetts said.

He said that if councilors agree, the town will proceed as originally planned to obtain bond funding for four projects in January for work to begin in 2023 that includes improvements to the Collonwood Drive and Running Brook Drive intersection; adding Merrill Preserve to the East Windham Conservation land; adding open space land abutting the conservation project property at the old Phinney Lumber property; and obtaining trash and recycling carts for town residents.

The total bonding of these four projects for 2023 is $2.95 million, Tibbetts said.

Bonding for four other projects authorized by town voters in June will wait to be applied for until a more favorable time, Tibbetts said.

Those projects include a $775,000 bond for River Road/Route 302 intersection/sidewalk in 2024 or 2025; a $275,000 bond for creation of a sidewalk from Blue Seal Feed on Gray Road to Depot Street in South Windham in 2024 or 2025; a $200,000 bond to create a sidewalk from Boody’s Corner to the Shaw’s supermarket along Router 302; and a $2.5 million bond for land acquisition in North Windham for the purpose of creating new connector roads in 2025 to alleviate traffic congestion on Route 302. <

Months of work result in dazzling AmFam holiday concert

Nothing sparks the holiday spirit for the greater Windham community than the annual and highly anticipated performance of An American Family Holiday (AmFam) concert by the Windham Chamber Singers and they performed two shows in a jam-packed auditorium at Windham High School on Saturday, Dec. 3.

Although this year was the WCS 21st AmFam performance, the group has been performing a holiday-themed show for over 35 years. As those early concerts have progressed to now include prominent musicians such as Noel Paul Stookey (of Peter, Paul and Mary fame) and Tony Award-Winning Broadway performer such as Sutton Foster and Norm Lewis, a Tony Award nominee, preparation is imperative to meet annual success and high expectations of concert goers.

WCS Director and WHS and WMS Music/Chorus Teacher Dr. Richard Nickerson said the well-attended AmFam performance is the WCS's one big fundraiser.

“Money made from their work at AmFam covers the expenses for their annual tour around New England in the spring,” Nickerson said. “So, the funds raised pay for the bus, the meals, hotels, and other expenses.”

WCS are grateful for the support from the Windham and Raymond areas and beyond.

“Thank you for helping to make An American Family Holiday such a wonderful event,” they recently posted on their social media webpage. “We wish everyone a happy, healthy and safe holiday season.”

This spring, the WCS will perform at schools, churches and at other public events throughout New Hampshire and Vermont. <

District 2 Music Festival honors Windham violinist

The violin is one of most difficult musical instruments to learn and master and for the past 12 years, Emily Greene has strived to overcome its unique challenges and perform to the best of her ability. That hard work has paid dividends as Greene has been honored by Maine District 2 Music Festival as 1st violinist and concertmaster for an upcoming concert.

The daughter of Michael Greene and Debbie Bernier, Greene, 17, is a senior at Windham High School and auditioned in October at Lincoln Middle School in Portland to be chosen to play in the music festival. The audition required her to prepare a piece to perform and two scales as she has done in previous years, but this time, Green achieved the results she was seeking, earning the highest score among the young musicians who auditioned.

“I was very excited but a little bit shocked as well,” Greene said. “I’ve auditioned for districts before and never been given the honor of serving as concertmaster.”

The concertmaster is the principal first violin player in an orchestra and after the conductor, is the second-most significant leader among the orchestra musicians.

Greene says that she first became interested in playing the violin at the age of 4 when her mother brought her to a concert that featured one.

“I heard it, and I told her that I wanted to play the violin,” she said.

At Windham High School, she takes music classes taught by Dr. Richard Nickerson and Katherine Herrle and is hoping to study music in college when she graduates this coming June. <

2022 Year in Review (Part One)

HISTORY MADE IN WINDHAM AND RAYMOND


In looking back at the year that was 2022, historians will say it broke new ground for residents of Windham and Raymond and will be remembered as a time of charting new goals for progress for the years ahead and a strong rebound for the Lakes Region emerging from two years of life during a global pandemic.

In the fall, voters in Windham elected an entire new legislative delegation with three new faces representing the town in the Maine Senate and Maine House of Representatives. During a special town referendum in the spring, residents of Windham also approved a proposal to create a sewer and wastewater treatment facility for North Windham.

Volunteer teams took pledges and raised more than $9,000
on Feb. 19 diving into the icy waters of Sebago Lake during
the Polar Dip sponsored by the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber
of Commerce to benefit local food pantries in Casco, Gray,
Naples, New Gloucester, Raymond, Sebago, Standish and
Windham. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE  
During a meeting in January, members of the Windham Town Council adopted a report advocating moving forward in the future with potential solutions to alleviating gridlock and improving safety and mobility in North Windham through the creation of access roads to Route 302 in the future.

The RSU 14 Building Committee also continued the screening process to find a suitable site to build the new Windham Middle School by the start of the 2026-2027 school year. Elections in the fall yielded new faces to represent the Lakes Region in the 131st Maine Legislature.

Local businesses showed consistent strength despite inflation concerns as tourists and campers to the area increased as summer travel slowly rebounded following pandemic years.

Before the chapter is closed for 2022, here’s a quick look back at another unforgettable year filled with historical decisions and milestones reached that will resonate in the community for decades to come.

Following a thorough review of all issues of The Windham Eagle from 2022, we’ve chosen to highlight the top three stories for each month as featured in the newspaper and we wish everyone a healthy and prosperous year ahead in 2023.

JANUARY

State group honors Windham teacher for agriculture lessons

Stacey Sanborn, a fourth-grade teacher at Manchester School in Windham, was awarded the Maine Agriculture In The Classroom Teacher of the Year (MAITC) Award for 2022.

The MAITC organization singled out Sanborn as a teacher who incorporates agricultural education in the classroom while at the same time, aligning that subject with core curriculum standards in science, math, social studies, and art. But perhaps just as importantly, Sanborn also introduces the importance of food insecurity and how it affects others’ lives.

This is not the first award Sanborn has received in terms of agriculture and how it can help others who are less fortunate.

“It was while I was in high school and a direct result of my work with a project, the 4-H Hunger Garden that I started, is where my interest in food insecurity began,” Sanborn said.

Her project was recognized for its contribution to the community, and she won her first award, the “America’s Future Award” presented by WCSH Channel 6. She said that this experience made a big impact upon her and became a driving force in her adult life and as a teacher.

“I continue to believe that everyone should have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. This belief has stayed with me during my years teaching at Manchester School and co-coordinating the school gardens,” she said.

In addition to the 12 raised beds for vegetable gardens and a hoop house with three raised beds, the Manchester School campus is also host to six apple trees, three pear trees, and two varieties of grapevines.

“Teaching students about agriculture helps them to develop the understanding of where our food comes from,” she said. “Students can see the importance of protecting a long Maine tradition of farming. It gets them out of the classroom and into the outdoors where the students are motivated learners with plenty of opportunity for fun and hands-on experiences.” <

Windham mother aims to win Mrs. Maine Pageant

Christina Erde hopes that her message of resilience will help win the 2022 Mrs. Maine America Pageant in April in South Portland.

Married and the mother of two children, Erde, 37, became interested in competing for the Mrs. Maine title following a discussion with a former state pageant winner.

“I met former Mrs. Maine 2017, Cynthia Peters, and she encouraged me to enter the pageant,” Erde said. “I have never competed in a pageant before but when she shared her experience and how much she enjoyed it and gained from it, I thought ‘You know what? I’m just gonna go for it!’ Two weeks after meeting her, I sent in an application and was awarded the title of Mrs. Windham to compete in the 2022 Mrs. Maine America Pageant.”

Erde said she saw this as a great opportunity for personal growth as well as a unique platform to promote mental health awareness, a cause that is very near and dear to her heart.

“Four years ago, I was hospitalized after suffering a severe mental breakdown. It took me a long time to feel comfortable talking openly with others about my diagnosis of bipolar disorder. I felt that if people knew I had a mental illness it would affect their view of who I am as a person. No one should ever have to feel this way. Just because you have a mental illness doesn’t mean you are less than. If anything, it means you are strong. You are capable. You can live a fulfilling and meaningful life.”

She said that experience has made her resilient and determined to assist others in similar situations. <

Couple creates connections through memories of a special boat

When Roger LeBlanc of Windham inherited a small rundown ski boat in 2009, he was uncertain what to do with it. “I kept it for a while, but eventually, I wasn’t sure if I should just scrap it or refurbish it,” LeBlanc recalls. “But my family reminded me that I would never be able to let it go.”

LeBlanc’s 1972 California Sidewinder wasn’t just any old boat. It came with heartfelt memories of youth and summers well spent on Cape Cod with what became a large, adopted family. The boat and all the experiences that came with those many summers guided LeBlanc’s life, even leading him to the shores of Little Sebago Lake in Windham.

It all began when LeBlanc was 6 years old and met Mrs. Jean McManus while attending Littleton Elementary School in Littleton, Massachusetts. “My second-grade gym teacher, Mrs. McManus, and her husband Warren didn’t have children. However, they wanted to help out families in need, so they ‘fostered’ those students on Saturdays during the summer by taking us to the beach.” LeBlanc, who came from a family of 11 children, said “looking back, I can see now that we were really poor, but my parents did such a good job at raising us and giving us a good life, we had no clue that we were considered a ‘family in need’.”

Eventually, the gym teacher and her husband, a Commissioner of Rehabilitation in Massachusetts at the time, purchased a small cottage along the waters of Cape Cod and the Saturday excursions to the beach became life on Cape Cod all summer long. Eventually, the LeBlanc’s summer experiences at the McManus’ cottage ended when he graduated and went to college and joined the military. However, this did not prevent him from visiting the couple when he came home during winter breaks.

LeBlanc eventually met his wife, Mary Parisi, and his own family grew to include three sons; Joe, Matt, and Roger Jr. and one daughter, Danielle, who now lives in Cumberland. Although his military career led him to Hawaii, he and the McManus couple never lost touch – each visiting one another every year - either in Hawaii or Cape Cod, where his own children got to ski and ride in the old ’72 California Sidewinder.

The McManuses and LeBlanc continued to remain close until Jean’s death at the age of 70 in July 2009 (her husband passed away six years earlier at the age of 65 in 2003). Yearning to be near water again, he and his wife envisioned a retirement home like the McManus cottage and loved the area of Maine where their daughter lived.

“We finally found this perfect home on Little Sebago Lake,” Leblanc said. “It reminds me so much of my childhood experiences.”

FEBRUARY


WHS graduate fulfills her soul on Broadway

Chelsea Williams lives her dream as an actor, currently performing on a Broadway national tour in the ensemble of “Jesus Christ Superstar” and being an understudy of the Mary Magdalene role. The 2008 Windham High School graduate got her first big break performing in the role of Sophie on the Broadway national tour of “Mamma Mia” in 2013.

At age 12, Williams began taking voice lessons and performing in choirs. She was also a member of the WHS’ Windham Chamber Singers.

Upon graduation from WHS, Williams earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in musical theater from Emerson College in Boston in 2012. She remained in Boston, selling pastries at an upscale bakery during the early morning hours and bartending in the evening while performing at local Summer Stock Theaters and other professional theater groups. Although she dreamed of moving to New York City to make her big break, it took confidence and bravery on her part to finally make a move to the Big Apple.

“I was pretty intimidated by the thought of moving to New York,” Williams said. “Between the competition on Broadway and the cost that comes with living there, it seemed like a huge challenge. But I decided to work my tail off to save money; I took deep breaths and small steps toward action.”

For one year, Williams said she would often work her morning shift at the bakery and the evening shift at the bar and then hop on the train to New York for an audition. Within seven months of repeated long-distance auditions, Williams accepted an offer to perform on a Broadway national tour of “Mamma Mia.” She toured for almost two years, playing Sophie in different cities around the U.S.

“Being selected to tour with “Mamma Mia” was the gift that kept on giving,” Williams said. “It was my first national tour and my first show performing in Las Vegas at the Tropicana. Then, toward the end of my second year with the company, I was asked to be in the ensemble and understudy for the role of Sophie on Broadway. It was at this point I finally made my move to act and live in New York.” <

Maine Education Commissioner visits Windham High School

The students and staff at Windham High School hosted a special guest on Monday, Feb. 7, when Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin spent the day with students, educators, and staff as well as teachers and students of the Katahdin Program.

“We are here today to shine a light on the amazing work being done by the educators, school staff, and students in our public schools and to call attention to the need for communities to support schools by volunteering and substituting,” Makin said. The commissioner, who was the principal of the REAL (Regional Education Alternative Learning) school from 2003 to 2014, of which RSU 14 participated, began her day at WHS at 10:45 a.m., arriving with homemade baked goods as a gift to staff to show appreciation for their dedication during challenging times. She was welcomed and greeted by Superintendent Christopher Howell, RSU 14 School Board Chair Kate Brix, and WHS Assistant Principal Phil Rossetti, who acted as her host for the day.

“It was an honor to have her visit WHS to shed some light on the great things happening in our school and RSU 14,” Rossetti said. “Being a former colleague of so many in the district, it was nice for her to reconnect with so many of us and to see her interact with students which is something she excels.”

As Maine Education Commissioner, Makin leads the state agency that administers both state education subsidy and state and federal grant programs; coordinates the authoring of the rules for Maine State education statutes passed by the Maine State Legislature; provides professional development, information, supports and resources, as well as a system for educator credentialing; and leads many collaborative opportunities and partnerships in support of local schools and districts. <

Polar Dip participants brave icy Sebago Lake for ‘Feed the Need’

Adventurous Mainers demonstrated their spirit, courage, and tenacity last Saturday as they jumped into the icy waters of Sebago Lake for “Feed the Need” on Feb. 19. Hosted by the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, the 2nd Annual Sebago Lake Polar Dip was held on Sebago Lake near Raymond Beach last Saturday. This year, with 12 teams participating, with more than $9,000 pledged to benefit local food pantries in Casco, Gray, Naples, New Gloucester, Raymond, Sebago, Standish and Windham.

According to Robin Mullins, executive director of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, there are still additional donations that have not been received yet. Once all pledges have been turned in, a grand total will be calculated, and this year’s proceeds will be donated to “Feed the Need” which provides support for local food pantries in the area.

To ensure the safety for those participating in the Polar Dip, emergency medical personnel were on hand from the Raymond Fire and Rescue Department as were divers from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. Volunteer crews directed traffic into the Raymond Beach Boat Launch off Route 302 so participants and their families could park safely.

Mullins said on behalf of the entire Sebago Lakes Region Chamber team she wanted to thank all of those participating in this year’s Polar Dip and all the volunteers for helping make the event so exciting. It was just the second time that the Chamber has hosted the Polar Dip. She said volunteers were instrumental in setting up the event as well as donating heated trailers to keep those participating warm before and after their scheduled jump. <

MARCH

Raymond resident overcomes obstacles to become U.S citizen

Merary “Mae” Paredes Plummer, originally from Honduras and now living in Raymond, officially became a United States citizen on Thursday, March 1 in a quiet, low-key Naturalization Ceremony – an event that is normally attended by supportive family and friends. However, because of the pandemic, the ceremony that took place in South Portland was limited in attendance to the new citizens and officials.

That didn’t stop Mae, her husband Daniel of 17 years, and their 16-year-old son Joshua from celebrating her journey in becoming a citizen with hugs and kisses. In 2004 at the age of 24 while still living in her Central American country, Mae decided to take the week off from work to join her cousin who was attending one of the many colorful and well-known festivals in Copan - an ancient Mayan city located along the Guatemalan border. Little did she know by attending that big event - it would change her life in a big way.

“I met Dan at the festival, and it was love at first sight,” Mae said. “The only thing is, we could not speak each other’s languages. We had to communicate through my cousin who lived in the U.S. for many years and knew how to speak English and Spanish.” They moved fast romantically, despite the fact that her future husband’s vacation was nearing an end and had to return to Raymond and his life in Maine.

In the winter of 2004, Mae arrived in Maine where she could be with the man she loved and start a family. During the pandemic Mae’s visa expired. Due to the temporary closure of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field offices, Mae wasn’t able to renew her visa. It was through that experience that Mae decided to become a U.S citizen so she would not have to keep renewing her visa to travel back home.

To prepare for the U.S. citizenship exam and to improve her English communication skills, Mae, who works at Chipotle, applied to take courses at Windham/Raymond Adult Education. Through hard work, Mae passed the Adult Ed courses – and the citizenship test - with flying colors. <

Windham nixes moratorium for solar projects


After consuming much of the Windham Town Council’s attention over the course of the past month, the idea of councilors imposing a moratorium for solar projects was voted down by a vote of 4-3 during a lengthy town council meeting on March 8.

At the meeting, supporters and opponents of a moratorium on solar projects were given time to share their thoughts in advance of the Windham Planning Board’s March 14 public hearing and final plan review of a Green Lantern Solar project near Linnell Road in North Windham. The project would abut three residences on Linnell Road, and those residents advocated for the council to impose a moratorium until Windham’s ordinance for solar projects could be reviewed, clarified, and updated.

Louise Densmore lives on Linnell Road and told councilors she didn’t see how the buffer could be defined without a moratorium.

But Green Lantern Solar developer Geoff Sparrow told the council that the project has met all required zoning requirements mandated by the town and clarified what he said were some misconceptions shared on social media prior to the council meeting. Sparrow said that there is no road planned for inside the buffer and no studies have shown that having a solar project near residences reduces property values. He said some mature trees would have to be removed for the project but that would have to be approved by the Windham Planning Board.

Maxfield, along with Councilors David Nadeau, Ed Ohmott and Mark Morrison voted against imposing a moratorium, with Councilors William Reiner, Brett Jones and Kalogerakis voting in favor of a moratorium. <

Female veterans share their stories for Women’s History Month

Two women veterans, Alola Morrison and Phyllis Page, both of Windham, recently shared their achievements, courage and strength as each chose a life in the military while at the same time choosing a life of marriage and motherhood.

Page attended over 13 different schools during her youth, graduating from Windham High School in 1973. In late fall of 1974, she enlisted in the Navy at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs.

“I always knew from a young age that I wanted to be a part of the military - I wanted to travel because there were so many other parts of the world I wanted to see,” Page said.

Morrison also grew up in a military family, with a father who enlisted in the Coast Guard. Admiring her father and his dedication, Morrison wanted to follow in his footsteps. Morrison joined The Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, which is currently a federal uniformed service of the U.S Public Health Services that encompasses eight uniformed services of the U.S.

Morrison and Page encourage women to join the armed forces if they consider it but recommend talking to other women who have been or still are in the military.

Page and Morrison are both members of American Legion Post 148 in Windham where Morrison is the Second Vice Commander. <

APRIL

State honors Raymond employee as ‘Parks Professional of Year’

The employee that ensures that Raymond’s Tassel Top Park is a clean, safe, and family friendly destination prefers to work behind the scenes, but on April 10, Barry Alden received well-deserved recognition for his work.

Alden was honored by the Maine Recreation and Parks Association as the organization’s “Parks Professional of the Year.” For nearly two decades now, Alden has displayed a work ethic second to none while keeping Tassel Top Park a place visitors and residents of the Lakes Region want to go.

An awards committee of the Maine Recreation and Parks Association selected Alden for the honor which is presented annually to municipal employees in the state who work in recreation. Alden is just the fourth recipient of the award since its inception in 2018. Keeping the park in great shape is no easy task for Alden. Tassel Top itself is a 38-acre park with a 900-foot sandy beach with a secured swimming area, and includes a popular snack shack, and a hiking and nature trail situated on Jordan Bay of Sebago Lake.

He said he was humbled by the surprise awards ceremony staged in his honor.

“I’m pretty happy about it,” he said. “I’m excited, I’m honored, and I never expected anything like this to happen. I just do my job and I enjoy doing it.”

Raymond Town manager Don Willard said without Alden’s hard work and devotion to the park and his job, Tassel Top Park would not be what it is today. <

Windham volunteer assists Ukrainian refugees in Poland


Watching the invasion of Ukraine unfold and the displacement and suffering of millions of refugees, Renee Darrow of Windham felt she was faced with a choice. She could choose to be affected by the world or she could choose to affect the world. Darrow decided to make a difference and will fly to Poland later this month to volunteer for World Central Kitchen, an organization assisting in the feeding of Ukrainian refugees.

As a volunteer, Darrow will be working in the kitchen and helping directly with refugee meal distribution in Poland.

“I have no direct connection to Ukraine. My husband’s forebears escaped the pogroms in Ukraine over 100 years ago, he believes they were from Odesa,” Darrow said. “The family members that didn’t flee were almost entirely wiped out by pogroms and then the Nazis. Maybe his family received help from strangers on their way to safety; maybe I can be that stranger to others 120-ish years later.”

“When Russia invaded Ukraine, something in me just snapped and I decided that feeling bad and doing nothing was no longer tenable,” Darrow said. “I had to do something constructive, to put my idle hands to use.”

A former information technology recruiter, Darrow moved to Windham three years ago with her husband, who is supportive of her efforts to do something to help the refugees. She does not consider herself heroic by any means but she’s just a caring person who is doing what can she to help.

“I think it’s extreme to do nothing, to not go when I have the means, the time, the energy,” she said. “Doing nothing seems inhumane, a sin of omission.” <

Organizers grateful for support of Cinderella Project event

Hannah McFarland believes that through her actions, she can be an agent of change leading to a better community. And if the first event hosted by her new nonprofit organization is any indication of how much of an impact it is making in Windham, she’s on the right track.

McFarland, a 2016 Windham High School graduate, has created the Compassion Cloud Collective, a nonprofit which conceived and staged a special fundraiser “Oscars Viewing Party” at Smitty’s Cinema in Windham to assist The Cinderella Project of Maine in collecting new and gently used prom attire for teens to make sure every student will have an opportunity to attend their high school prom without the added stress of cost. In all more than four dozen gowns, four suits and a tuxedo along with several shoe and jewelry donations were donated to Windham High School because of the event.

The Compassion Cloud Collective is a multi-mission, nonprofit organization owned and operated by female business owners who seek to find the silver lining in all of life's storms by using the strengths of each of their partners.

According to McFarland, it was necessary for the Compassion Cloud Collective’s first fundraiser to be in Windham.

“It was important to me for the first event of my own nonprofit be in the town that watched me grow into the person I am today,” McFarland said. “My hope is that it starts a wave that people will follow in their own communities and that the CCC can lead by example and possibly collaborate with other non-profits and businesses, in the future,” she said. <

MAY

Fate intervenes in kidney donation for best friends in Windham

Jean Bennett, a team leader at Walmart, first struck up a friendship instantly with Michelle Davis when they were both assigned to work together at the Windham store in 2016. They became best friends and Bennett, a divorced mother of two, anguished as Davis, a married mother of four children, experienced kidney failure and then was told she needed a kidney transplant to survive.

“Michelle’s been suffering from kidney disease for the past four and a half years,” Bennett said. “It was really hard to watch my best friend go through that and suffer so much.”

Last year Bennett herself got tested and as unbelievable as it sounds, turned out to be a potential match for Davis. Bennett then underwent immune system testing and blood work last October and that was followed up by a battery of intense and rigorous kidney donation testing in February of this year.

Eventually, Bennett’s donation to Davis was approved and both friends flew to Florida for the kidney transplant surgery, which was performed May 5 at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville.

“She’s my best friend and she truly helped me through a tough time a few years ago,” Bennett said. “I couldn’t just sit by and let her die, I knew I needed to step up and do something. I told her I would do anything for my best friend and if I can prolong your life, I’m willing to do it.”

Davis said that she’s grateful for meeting someone as wonderful as Bennett.

“I think it was a higher power that put us together working in the same department at Walmart,” Davis said. “I believe in fate and there’s a reason we met. Having her to do this for me is a godsend.” <

Cancer claims life of community leader McAfee

Former Windham High School Principal Deb McAfee would often tell students that “The only thing you take with you when you’re gone is what you leave behind” and that quote seems to best sum up her life and 38-year career as an educator before she passed away from cancer on May 18. Devoted to her community and always encouraging the best from her students, McAfee leaves behind a legacy of service and leadership that will not be forgotten by those who knew her and generations to come.

She joined Windham High School as principal for the 1996-1997 school year and served as Windham principal for 14 years, stepping down in 2010 to undergo treatment for cancer before returning in the fall of 2011 as the school’s assistant principal and held that position for seven years before retiring in 2018.

RSU 14 Superintendent Chris Howell said McAfee played a significant role in the development and construction of Windham High as principal.

“Completing a renovation/addition of a school while it is in session is a very difficult task to complete. In addition to the organizational skills that are required to keep classes going during construction, there is also a need to coordinate the safety needs of a school in the middle of a construction site,” he said. “I doubt that the public is aware of the number of hours that it took for Deb to coordinate all of the moving pieces during the construction of Windham High School.”

Marge Govoni, who served with McAfee on Windham’s Human Services Advisory Committee, said Deb’s drive to help others was enormous.

“She cared for and about everyone, no matter the age, or gender,” Govoni said. “She wanted to help everyone, and she was the kindest individual I ever met. If you needed anyone to step up to help, Deb was your person. There is no one story that speaks to her commitment when she decided to help, whether it was her continued support to her students and there were many, all the work she did with Neighbors Helping Neighbors, her guidance and commitment to the Human Services Advisory Committee and lastly her work with the Age Friendly endeavor that she was helping to lead until now. I don’t think she ever had an unkind word about anyone, and our community has lost a champion that you felt proud to call your friend and she will be missed by many.” <

Grey’s Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey pays visit to WHS

The Windham High School auditorium was filled to the brim with students and staff on Tuesday, May 24 as actor, director and philanthropist Patrick Dempsey visited the school for a special assembly. The purpose of Dempsey’s visit was to give thanks and celebrate WHS and the Junior Class for winning the statewide Dempsey Challenge high school contest last fall.

In September 2021, WHS students participated in the first ever Dempsey Center High School Challenge, competing with other area high schools to raise funds for the center’s mission – to make life better for people managing the impact of cancer. WHS and the Junior class raised the most money, winning the event by raising $560.

“In the past we have done a food drive or change wars to support local food pantries,” WHS Assistant Principal Phil Rossetti said in a previous interview. “We have several staff and students that have been impacted by cancer and the Dempsey Center has been a great support to many in the RSU community. Rod Nadeau, a counselor in the Katahdin Program, approached us about the opportunity to participate as a school in the Dempsey Challenge. Administration reached out to Pete Small, teacher and coach at WHS, who also helps coordinate homecoming activities to see if this would be a great fit for our school.”

Dempsey, who was born in Lewiston and is a well-known film and television actor, is the founder of the Dempsey Center and he wanted to personally visit the school and thank students for their contributions to such a worthy cause. <

JUNE

Windham earns near $1 million grant for conservation project

The purchase and conservation of 661 acres of land amounting to the largest block of unfragmented forest in Windham, and one of the largest in the Greater Portland area, inched one step closer to becoming a reality after the Lands for Maine’s Future Program awarded the East Windham Conservation project $998,000.

If a plan is approved by voters at Windham’s Annual Town Meeting on Saturday, June 18, a partnership between the town and the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust would dramatically expand and diversify recreational opportunities in Windham with the purchase and conservation of 661 acres of forested land and 1,545 feet of undeveloped water frontage on Little Duck Pond. The land also contains the 150-acre Deer Wintering Area, a traditional area for hunting by permission, and the 580-foot Atherton Hill, the tallest hill in Windham. When completed, the project will directly abut more than 1,000 acres of other conserved land in Windham and Falmouth, including Lowell Preserve, North Falmouth Community Forest, and Blackstrap Hill Preserve, providing 20 miles of interconnected trails and five trailheads for public access.

Town residents will be asked to approve a bond at the Annual Town Meeting to match the state grant funds.

“The bond will be paid for with open space impact fees so there will be no impact on the mill rate. Not only does the acquisition of this property preserve a part of Windham that residents have identified as an important area to conserve amidst increasing development pressures, it also provides exceptional scenic views of the western mountains, and the opportunity to recreate close to home,” Lessard said.

Lessard said that Windham has been collaborating with the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust over the past six months to engage the community on developing a vision for this property.

Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts said the town is grateful to the Lands for Maine’s Future organization for helping to fund this project.

“The timing of this land being available to be conserved for the future with recreational usage combined with the state’s renewed commitment to funding with the Land for Maine’s Future program has been ideal,” Tibbetts said. “The LMF Board’s award to grant the town nearly $1 million for the acquisition of this property is an opportunity we can’t afford to pass up.” <

Windham’s Bubar makes great strides on racing circuit


Before he had even reached his teenage years, Windham’s Corey Bubar was racing go-karts at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough in 2004. After doing that for a few years, he moved up to the sports series division in 2007, and then just one year after graduating from Windham High School, Bubar won the championship in the Sports Series division at Beech Ridge in 2011. Following his championship, Bubar moved up to the Pro Series division in 2012 and his overall time in that division was also incredibly successful, winning more NASCAR Night races than any other racer at Beech Ridge and he also won the “Driver of the Decade” award for the 2010s.

“I got into racing because my dad has raced since the 1980s,” said Bubar. “He stopped in the early 2000s and when the opportunity came for me to get started in go-kart racing, we didn’t hesitate and we’ve been at it ever since.”

“Last season was pretty good for us,” said Bubar. “I had a chance at the championship, but ended up in second place, just four points behind. A lot of credit goes to my team, we had a fast car just about every week.”

Following his exceptional season in 2021, Bubar was excited for what this season had in store, but with Beech Ridge Motor Speedway closing at the end of last year, he and his team didn’t enter 2022 with many expectations. Despite the closing, Bubar and his team have competed in some races, and while their luck hasn’t gone their way so far this season, Bubar and his team still have hope for what’s yet to come.

“The results from our season have been a little bit discouraging,” said Bubar. “However, we have still had good speed at a few of the races, so hopefully we can get some good finishes this year. “I don’t really have any higher aspirations for my career. I just like doing what we are doing now,” said Bubar. “I would just like to thank all of my family, crew and sponsors who help me out to be able to keep racing.” <

Beloved RSU 14 music teacher sails into retirement

After inspiring students in music education for 43 years, and 41 years devoted to RSU 14, Nancy Cash-Cobb is shifting her youthful tomfoolery from the classroom to retirement. She plans to spend time with family and friends and her husband, Jerry Cobb, on their lakeshore home on Crescent Lake in Raymond during the summers while hitting the road in their RV to the warmer climates of Florida and Texas during the Maine winters.

“I have a whole list of things I plan to do during my retirement,” said Cash-Cobb, whose small physical demeanor explodes with a big personality. “I plan to meet with friends for lunch, spend time floating on our newly purchased pontoon boat, babysitting my grandson, and exploring the U.S. in the RV my husband and I purchased last fall.”

Her petite but mighty 4-foot-9 presence has impacted the Windham/Raymond community in many ways, including her recent induction into the Maine Music Educators Hall of Fame on May 19 at the Maine Music Educator’s Conference in Orono.

Cash-Cobb said she loves every student she has met and does it with unique joy.

“I have always said that I go to school every day and act like an idiot, and they pay me for it,” she said. “I’m silly. It’s part of my personality. I believe that teaching style brings the kids to the teacher and provides an atmosphere of home in the classroom.”

Her impact has also gone beyond the classroom. She is actively involved in many statewide and national organizations that include the following: the Maine Chapter of the American Orff-Schulwerk Association for music and movement, spent many years as a Sunday School teacher, was a board member of Maine Music Educators, was a Girl Scout leader, taught Vacation Bible School, was a teacher at the New England Suzuki Institute and is the treasurer for the American Legion Auxiliary.

Cash-Cobb, who grew up playing the violin and was part of the Christian folk/rock group “Free Spirits,” graduated from the University of Southern Maine in music education in 1979. She began her career as a music teacher that same year, where she taught Band, Chorus, and General Music at Sacopee Valley for two years before landing a teaching job in Windham.

Dr. Kyle Rhoads, Windham Primary School principal, said that Cash-Cobb will be greatly missed and speaks highly of her role with the students.

“Mrs. Nancy Cash-Cobb has splendidly taught music education at WPS for over 40 years,” he said. “She has touched the lives of generations of Windham students with her enthusiasm for music and her kind soul. As Nancy prepares to retire, she will be greatly missed by the entire Windham community. Thank you, Nancy!” <