Sunday, March 1, 2015

Couple's bowling career celebrated with Hall of Fame inductions - By Elizabeth Richards


Three years ago, Allyn Joy was inducted into the International Candlepin Bowling
Association’s Hall of Fame. Last year, his wife Valerie, joined him. It was the final recognition for two long and successful bowling careers.

Allyn started bowling as a child in a league run by his next door neighbor. As he got older, he stepped in for his father in a couples’ league, bowling with his mother. Later, when he was playing in a league at the Big 20 in Saco, the owner took notice as he started to bowl high scores. His career took off from there.
For Valerie, bowling started when she was in her 20s and married. She started out subbing in a couple of different leagues. Dave and Carol Little, who owned Beacon Lanes in Raymond, were instrumental in the beginning of her career, she said. When they saw that she had some talent, they connected her with leagues and tournaments to get her started.

Allyn and Valerie won the first tournament they bowled together, long before they were a couple. “It was one of those things,” Valerie said. “We met bowling, and after a while we got together and will be married 25 years this month.” 

The Joys bowled in tournaments from the 1980s to the early 2000s, traveling in Canada and throughout New England. The couple bowled on a pro tour called the WCBC that is no longer in existence. 

In most leagues, Allyn said, there aren’t more than four averages over 120. Allyn’s average often reached over 130 and Valerie’s average was typically around 120. Bowling a 200 string in candlepin is difficult, towards the top of the range, Valerie added. Allyn bowled 200 seven times, and Valerie also achieved that score. “It’s something that not a lot of bowlers can do,” said Valerie. “A lot of people are happy to bowl 100.” Allyn was the Maine state champion four times in his career, and Valerie won that title twice. 

Both of the Joys made some television appearances while they were competing, and Allyn had a long run on a show for a local cable station. In 1981, Florence Greenleaf wrote “The Game of Candlepin Bowling.” That was one of the years that Allyn won the state championship, and his picture and name showed up in the book. 

To be inducted into the hall of fame, a bowler must be nominated. They must be over 50 years old, and provide documentation of records, wins, TV appearances and more.

For the Joys, getting into the hall of fame is the culmination of two great careers. “We’re all done bowling, so that’s your final award,” said Allyn. 

 “I hoped at some point I would get in because I thought I was a really good bowler,” Valerie said. “You never know if you are going to make it because there are a lot of good bowlers, and a lot of bowlers come out of Massachusetts. For Mainers to get recognition is really nice. It sort of puts a stamp on the end of a career,” she said.

After long and satisfying bowling careers, the Joys said they left at the right time for them. “We didn’t hang around and embarrass ourselves throwing low scores and not being competitive,” said Valerie. “I think we both have a competitive spirit and we wanted to keep winning. You reach a point when you think it’s time.” 

Physical difficulties, family dynamics and the cost of bowling all played into their decision to end their careers when they did. “Bowling was getting more expensive and the prize money was going down, and the numbers were dwindling – it was just the right time to take a step back,” said Allyn.

After they stopped bowling, they began to explore other hobbies, like history, antiquing and golf. And because weekends were often filled with bowling, they found that they enjoyed having the time to just relax at home. “It is so nice to be able to sit home and watch a full football game,” said Valerie with a laugh.

The Joys have an area in their home that celebrates their accomplishments. The walls on each side of the stairwell are dedicated to plaques they have received, and their hall of fame plaques hold a place of honor in the center. “We met a lot of good people over the years,” said Allyn. “We’ve seen a lot of good bowling.”

While there is no physical structure for the hall of fame, a list of those inducted is on the website www.candlepinbowling.com.

Creating a passion for ukulele through Windham Adult Education - by Michelle Libby


For the second time, Windham Adult Education has added learning to play the ukulele to the course catalog. The first time there were 18 participants and this winter the class is up to 20. Instructor Dana Reed was asked to see if adult ed. would be open to hosting a class, if Reed was available to teach it. Reed the former minister at the North Windham United Church of Christ and retired military chaplain, has a degree in music and developed a passion for the ukulele while in Hawaii on assignment in 2006. He agreed to teach a class. 
 
“Windham Raymond Adult Education has always been at the forefront of unique and innovative programming,” said director Tom Nash. “We seek input from the community on potential courses, and topics of interest as well as possible teachers who wish to share their expertise and passion with others.”
A ukulele is a small guitar shaped instrument that is related to the lute with four strings that a musician strums or plucks. Tiny Tim was one of the musicians who brought the uke into popular culture. Now people are learning to play the uke as a way to relieve stress, learn to play an instrument and to socialize with a group of likeminded individuals. Now artists plan to “take it out of a toy into an instrument. It can be so therapeutic,” said Reed. 

“We’re all musicians here,” said Reed. “People cover for one another.” In this group, it doesn’t matter if they are the best player or singer, as long as they try. “Eighty percent of the world wants to have fun with music, not construct chord scales,” Reed said. 

“I learned as a little kid when we had them in the family,” said Olivia Casey. “It’s so accessible, so easy to learn and light as a feather,” she added. 

Homer McLemore and his wife, Ellen, decided to get off their couch and learn some new skills at night. Ellen was the one who suggested that Reed teach a uke class. The couple began taking adult ed. classes including ukulele in the fall. McLemore came back for more uke, while his wife moved on to watercolor painting. Neither had played before. 

Other members of the class are music teachers, business professionals and one woman who played in Hawaii when she was young and is now relearning the skill. 

Abbie Barber did some singing along with YouTube and played along with the chorus to practice before class. “It’s the joy that drives the insanity,” Barber joked. “The ukulele is naturally disarming. You say it and people laugh,” said McLemore.

“You learn when you play with someone,” Reed said. His goal is to teach the students the basics, but ultimately to get them to have fun whenever they want to play. Dressed in shorts and sandals and a bright Hawaiian shirt, Reed strums his ukulele. Outside it was 15 degrees, but inside the group was playing “Surfing USA”. 

“The pure joy of sitting down and playing by yourself or with friends is what it’s all about,” Reed told the group.  

“I believe its popularity can be attributed to the fact that it is a relatively inexpensive way for someone to pursue their desire to play a musical instrument. It can be explored so in a fun and safe “shared” experience. Beyond learning a new skill, the social aspect of the class – and many of our adult education classes – draws participants to adult education,” said Nash.

It was week three of the class and the students were already playing full songs including “This Land is Your Land,” and “You Are My Sunshine”. Eighty percent of western music is based on the one, four and five chords, Reed said. With those you can play thousands of songs, he added.  

With the uke, the way to play it is very subjective. “However you feel the song,” said Reed. “That’s the joy of uke and music.”

Reed was excited about the progress his students were making. “Look at yourselves,” he told them. “You can do anything on this.”
 
“It’s like drinking water from a fire hose,” said student John Carter with a chuckle. The students admitted to practicing a lot between classes to contribute to the class.  

Starting soon Reed will help launch a ukulele club that will meet downstairs at Buck’s Naked BBQ once a month. They are looking for more players to express interest to come, socialize and play together. There is hope that the club will become a social thing and go to nursing homes and other venues to play. For more about the uke club, call Dana at 653-6593 or email dana.c.reed@roadrunner.com.












Survey reveals overall satisfaction in Raymond - By Walter Lunt


Raymond residents rate their quality of life and town services favorably, according to a community survey administered and analyzed by the research and consulting firm Pan Atlantic SMS Group of Portland. The survey was commissioned by the Raymond Selectboard in 2013 to determine the level of satisfaction with the town and to evaluate its future needs.
 
Utilizing a 4-page survey mailed to 2,871 registered voters and property owners (re-duped to ensure one survey per household), the firm sought to determine residents’ opinions on town departments such as public safety, public works, and town management, codes and ordinances. Further explored were the needs and priorities for Raymond over the next 10 years and the level of satisfaction with RSU 14 consolidation with Windham.

Pan Atlantic reported a response rate of 20 percent, considered “very high for a project of this nature,” yielding a +/- 3.8 percent margin of error.

Quality of life
Perceptions of Raymond, that is, as a place to live, raise children or retire rated an overall “good”, or 4.0 on a five point scale (where 1 is low and 5 is high). Respondents judged opportunities to participate in community matters and overall confidence in Raymond’s elected officials to be “average to good.” On members of various town boards and opportunities for adult education and enrichment, results came in as “average.”

Public Safety
Across the board ratings of public safety tested very strong with scores between 4.0 – 4.5; 41 percent favored keeping policing services provided by the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, 9 percent preferring enhanced services with the sheriff’s office, 5 percent opting for the town to organize its own police force, and the rest saying they did not have enough information to respond.

The overall quality and professionalism of Raymond Fire and Rescue personnel, including response times, rated extremely high, including a 4.98 score in one sub-category.

Public works and town maintenance
Residents expressed a high degree of satisfaction with curbside trash and recycling collection, which rated close to 4.4. The quality of public recreation areas scored favorably at just over 4.1.
Responsiveness of public works to address problems, the overall condition and quality of state and town maintained roads scored comparatively lower with ratings from 3.6 to just over 3.7, averaging out to a 57 percent level of satisfaction.

Town management and town codes and ordinances
Good to strong scores were garnered for town management and town codes and ordinances, including the town manager’s office, customer service at the town office, satisfaction with department heads and enforcement of town codes. Ratings in these areas ranged from 3.8 – 4.47.

Communications
Residents also gave favorable ratings to the town’s website (www.raymondmaine.org) and streaming video of various town and board meetings.

Taxes and enhanced services
Over one third of respondents indicated they “would not find any tax increase tolerable.” An additional 9 percent did not favor pursuing any additional services, facilities, infrastructure or other projects. Of the approximately 54 percent who agreed some level of tax increase would be tolerable, 16 percent would cap the hike at one percent.
 
Possible service enhancements that were identified in the survey included support for conservation (open space, milfoil eradication, etc.), Raymond Village Library and economic development.

School consolidation
The towns of Raymond and Windham formed Regional School Unit14 in 2009 to consolidate educational costs. The marriage has had a rocky start with many residents of Raymond calling for a divorce. Others contend the problems are growing pains and that the partnership should be given the chance to work, citing “economy of scale,” and the advantages of sharing resources. 

The survey showed satisfaction with the RSU to be low, with only 18 percent of respondents saying they are somewhat or very satisfied with the union. About a third indicated some level of dissatisfaction. Among those with children in the household, dissatisfaction was even higher.

Concern was expressed last fall with a proposal to build a new school in Windham that would likely have a high cost to Raymond residents. A vote by residents of both towns that would reduce Raymond’s share of the consolidation cost is scheduled for March 18.  The proposal for the new cost sharing formula was advanced after the Raymond community survey was conducted.

How do the Raymond survey results compare with other Maine towns of comparable size? The Pan Atlantic researchers noted that “it can be difficult to make direct comparisons because of differences in population, income levels, range of services provided by the town….and geographic location.”

Town officials have said the survey will be valuable in determining future policies in Raymond and in the formation of a new comprehensive plan.



Saturday, February 28, 2015

Students prepare for Regional One Act Festival - By Elizabeth Richards


A dedicated group of students is gearing up to perform at the Regional One Act Festival in Falmouth on March 6th and 7th
 
Schools are categorized as either A or B, and perform in regional competitions. This year, WHS students will perform the show The Chronicles of Jane, Book 7. A panel of three judges will give each group a 20 minute critique and then pick the top two shows to move on to the state competition. 

The show must run less than 40 minutes or the group will be disqualified. “Usually you’re very alert to timing, and you have a couple of timekeepers. If you are heading towards 39 minutes and 58 seconds you tell your actors to just get off the stage,” said Director Rob Juergens. “That’s going to hurt your score, but it’s better than being disqualified.”  

The Chronicles of Jane, Book 7 is about a high school girl who has put off writing a term paper until the very last night before it is due. It details the obstacles that come her way in trying to complete the paper, with characters like procrastination, time, the computer and the nymphs of slumber. 

A unique feature about this show is that the student actors become most of the set, said Juergens. They create desks and chairs, computers, plugs and walls with their bodies. “They do the whole set,” he said. “The only real big set piece is the book that holds the Chronicles of Jane and all her nefarious stories.”
The show is as much student driven as possible, Juergens added. There is a student assistant director, a student rhythm director who also oversees the pit band, students who have composed music and done the choreography and blocking. The group works together to brainstorm ideas and solve problems. “It’s a huge group involvement,” said Juergens.

Another interesting element of this particular cast, said Juergens, is that many students who are normally “techies” working behind the scenes on productions are in the onstage cast. “We made a concerted effort to get them into the show and do something onstage for once, which they thought was pretty cool,” he said. 

While not part of the official One Act festival, in Windham the students hold a preview weekend that is open to the public. This serves a few purposes, according to Juergens. It allows the cast a chance to do the show in front of an audience. They also invite guest judges to come and give critiques like they will receive at the festival. Finally, the preview weekend serves to raise a little money, since extracurricular theater activities are not funded by the school beyond paying Juergens’ salary. “We actually have to raise money if we want to do anything,” said Juergens. 

The preview weekend will take place at the Windham High School Auditorium on the weekend of February 27th and March 1st. Friday and Saturday will feature 7 p.m. shows, with a 4 p.m. show on Sunday, March 1. On Friday, the group from Gorham High School will also perform their play, giving audience members two shows for the price of one. Tickets to all performances are $5 per person. 

“We’d love for people to come to the preview weekend and support us,” said Juergens. It’s not a large investment of time, he added, since the show is only 40 minutes long. And the students love to see a big audience when they perform. “They want to be seen. They want to share what they are doing with people,” he said.